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the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the
Son of Man be.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
that Noe entered into the
in the days of Noe, so shall
33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time
34 For the son of Man is as man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
35 Watch ye therefore; for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning;
36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
32 Remember Lot's wife.
33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life, shall lose it;
and whosoever shall lose his
life, shall preserve it. 34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken and the other left. 36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
34 And take heed to yourselves; lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you
35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.
45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? (46) Blessed is that servant whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing. (47) Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. (48) But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming; (49) And shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; (50) The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, (51) And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.*
*See Luke xii. 37-46. These numerous excerptions from Luke xxi. (inserted elsewhere in the same Gospel) seem intended to restrict this chapter to a more particular application than that of the parallel chapters in Matthew and Mark.
ADVENT AND KINGDOM OF CHRIST.
Our Lord's Prophecy.—Matt. xxiv. xxv.
When the attention is at length arrested by the voice of prophecy, and the mind becomes engaged in the contemplation of future events, that question put by the disciples to our Lord will continually obtrude itself: "WHEN SHALL THESE THINGS BE?" I cannot at all subscribe to the opinion, apparently entertained by some, that such a question is unlawful. The indulgence shewn by Jesus, in his reply to these inquiries, the things moreover which have been spontaneously revealed to other servants of God-above all, the reproof cast by our Lord upon the great bulk of professing Israelites, because they knew not "the signs of the times,"-all these things, I say, would lead to the conclusion, not only that it is lawful to take heed to them; but that we are obnoxious to the imputation of hypocrisy if we do not. Having therefore dwelt upon the principal events connected with the glorious advent and Kingdom of Christ, I now proceed, with an equal assurance of its scriptural propriety and practical utility, to submit a few observations on the period when they may be expected.
There are two principal modes in which it has pleased the Holy Spirit to communicate light to the Church in regard to the times and seasons. The one is by assigning an event, as the epoch from which a certain period of time is to be reckoned; which time must elapse before that which is more espea Matt. xvi. 3.
cially the subject of promise shall come to pass. The other is by a delineation of those great characteristics which shall signalize the time, when the thing foretold is about to be accomplished. In regard to the first advent of Christ, the "seventy weeks" of Daniel ix. 24, will afford an example of the former mode of foretelling the time; and the prediction of Jacob, that the sceptre should not depart from Judah until Shiloh should come, may serve as an instance of the latter mode. In respect to the second advent of Christ, Daniel will again supply us with dates, and also the Apocalypse; whilst the characteristics of the last days are abundantly scattered through the Old and New Testaments.
I do not however intend to enter into the question of dates; but purpose to consider one or two remarkable prophecies relative to the character of the last times, which (if it please the Father of light to guide us by his Spirit into a right apprehension of them,) will enable us to form a judgment, when those things, which I have previously treated of, shall come to pass.
I. First I enter upon that elaborate prophecy of our Lord, contained in Matthew xxiv. and xxv.; in regard to which there are certain points of difficulty which it may be better previously to discuss. Great obscurity has been thrown upon this prophecy by its being divided into two chapters: whereby many are wont to limit the subject to the 24th chapter. But it will be manifest, I trust, as we proceed, that it is continued throughout the 25th chapter.
Another source of obscurity is the circumstance, that it is commonly treated as an involved prophecy; that is to say, the Lord is presumed to speak primarily of the destruction of Jerusalem; and is supposed to predict his second advent and the end of the world only under the type or figure of this his providential visitation on Jerusalem. From the difficulty indeed of explaining all the details as referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, a most arbitrary and unwarrantable system of interpretation has obtained. The expositor has taken upon himself, without any internal evidence or notice in the prophecy, to say of one event, "This refers to Jerusalem❞—of another, "This belongs to the end of the world"-of a third, "This applies to both events." I feel persuaded that the prophecy is as chronologically regular as any in the Scriptures; and that to view it in this light is absolutely necessary, in order to arrive at a correct interpretation of it.
A third source of obscurity is, I believe, more immediately designed of God, not only in this, but in many other Scriptures; to the intent, that whilst the humble but diligent inquirer
b Gen xlix. 10.
is led to penetrate within the veil, the proud, the superficial, the indifferent and the worldly may not be able to understand. The source of it is, the indistinctness of the subject revealed if only one Gospel be looked at.
And here I would throw out an observation, which I consider important in order to a right understanding of the Scriptures in general, and of the Gospels more especially. From the third verse of the chapter which begins this prophecy, as also from other parts of the Gospels, we may infer, that the disciples of our Lord were wont to come to him privately, for a fuller exposition of those things which they had previously heard touched upon in public.* In Mark iv. 34, we are further informed, that all things whatsoever which were preached to the multitude were afterwards expounded to the disciples by Jesus, when he was alone with them. I am therefore of opinion, in regard to the prophecy now under consideration, that Jesus, in condescension to renewed inquiries, has further expounded at some subsequent period certain portions of this subject. In no other way can I reconcile the important variations in the accounts given of it by St. Matthew and St. Luke, than by supposing, that when two or more disciples came to write or converse on the subject, their narratives would vary, according as their minds were prepossessed with the prophecy as at first delivered, or with the subsequent expository matter. In this instance I take it, that St. Matthew generally (though not always) relates the simple prophecy, as he had heard it in the first instance from our Lord: whereas St. Luke frequently gives us exposition or paraphrase instead. At all events we shall find that St. Luke's Gospel is an important commentary on St. Matthew's; in proof of which I shall instance an example tending to our better apprehension of the subject.
St. Matthew says; 66 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of DESOLATION, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth let him understand:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains, &c." (vv. 15, 16.) The special exhortation of the Lord, to take heed and understand this point, renders it more probable that further information would be elicited concerning it; and accordingly we find St. Luke gives us the exactly parallel passage in these words: "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the DESOLATION thereof is nigh. let them which be in Judea flee, &c." Now to me it is manifest from this, that "the abomination of desolation" is the Roman power, whose armies soon after compassed Jerusalem;
*See Matt. xiii. 36; xv. 15; Mark ix. 28.