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Having now, I trust satisfactorily, interpreted the true meaning of that difficult text, Matt. xvi. 28. which formed the grand objection to the hypothesis I have been endeavouring to establish, the explanation of the rest will be easy upon the same principles:
ļ. When our Lord, at the commencement of his public mission, proclaimed, “ the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” as a motive to national “ repentance,” Matt. iv. 17. he plainly referred to “the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Dan. ix. 26. And Mark has recorded a circum. stance, decisive of this interpretation; “the season is fulfilled;” Mark, i. 15; or, “the sixty-two weeks” are coinpleted, after which,“ Christ should confirin a [new]. covenant with many, during the passion week.” Dan. ix. 26-27. But should “ smite the land with a curse, unless they were converted,” according to the awful prophecy, which closed the Jewish dispensation, Mal. iv. 6. The commencement of the kingdom of Heaven," or “ kingdom of the Stone, Dan. ii. 34. was at the resurrection of our Lord; Psal. ii. 7. Rom. i. 4. Matt. xxviii. 18. Phil. ii. 9. &c. .
3. When he also declared, in his first instructions to the twelve apostles, “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man come.” Matt. x. 23. This has a reference to their last general commission, “Go into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to all the Creation.” Mark, xvi. 15.-for “ the cities of Israel” were then dispersed over all the world. And accordingly, our Lord, in the ensuing discourse, declares, " This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world; for a witness to all the Gentiles, and then shall come the end [of the Jewish dispensation.] Matt. xxiv. 14. Pursuant thereto, Peter, shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem, addressed his general Epistles, to those of “the dispersion," in the Eastern provinces of the Roman empire; Paul, his general Epistle to the Hebrews; and he triumphantly exclaims-" Have they not heard ? yea, verily, the report [of the Apostles] went forih into all the earth, and their sayings unto the ends of the world, Rom. x. 18. And he thus exhorts bis Colossian converts to patience and perseverance. “ Be not removed from the hope of the Gospel (by present trials or persecution) which ye have heard; which hath been preached in all the creation under heaven; of which I Paul was made a ininister.” Col. i. 22-23.
4. When our Lord, in his last public discourse in the Temple, declared, “ All these (Woes, denounced, Matt. xxii. 3-34) shall come upon this [wicked and apostate] generation,” it fully explains his subsequent observation to his disciples: “ This generation shall not pass away, till all these be fulfilled,” Matt. xxiv. 3-34, in the destruction of Jerusalem, which is plainly equivalent to the foregoing, Matt. xvi. 28.-While he carefully distinguishes the determined time of this nearer event from the undeterinined time of his remote advent, • But concerning that day and hour, knoweth no one, not even the Angels of heaven, save MY FATHER only." Matt. xxiv. 36.-This, as he informed them, at his parting interview, was among “ the times and seasons, which HIS Father reserved in his own disposal.” Acts, i. 7. And he carefully distinguished the manner also, in a foregoing passage; the drift of which has not been sufficiently attended to:
After reciting the signs or prognostics of the destruction of Jerusalem, ending, “ Lo, I have foretold (themn] to you.” Matt. xxiv. 4–25. He warns them against false reports of his second advent; many of which were rife shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem, when the nation in general imagined that “ the kingdom of God would immediately appear.” Luke, xix. 11.-" If then, they say to you, 'lo, He is in the desert,' go not forth sto meet Him]: Lo, He is in the closets, believe it not; for, like as the lightning issueth from the East, and appeareth unto the West, so shall also be the presence of the Son of Man." Matt. xxiv. 26–27. That is, his personal appearance shall not be partial or obscure, in a retired corner of the land, but glorious and conspicuous to the whole world. Neither will the signal and exemplary vengeance to be inflicted upon all the foes of his church, about that period, be confined as at first, to Judea, but will extend throughout the earth; “ for," proceeds our Lord, “ Wheresoever the carcase is, there shall the eagles be gathered together.” — 28. And that this is the full, comprehensive meaning of this terrible proverb, (which is usually, but unskilfully, limited to the Roman eagles, or standards, at the destruction of Jerusalem) is evident from the frequent references of the an. tient prophets, Isaiah, Ezekiel, &c. to " the day of great slaughter, in the land of Edom, (or of the Gentiles]; the day of vengeance for THE LORD; a year of recom D .
p nses for the controversy of Sion;" when “the Lord will give” the apostate and persecuting powers of the earth, “ to the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the wild beasts of the field, to be devoured;" and so awfully confirmed in the Apocalypse, by the Angels şublime in. ritation “ to the birds of prey, to come and glut theniselves with the flesh of the slain, at the supper of the GRÜAT GOD.”. Compare Isai. xxxiv. 1-8; 1x. 12; 1xvi. 24; &c. Ezek. xxxix. 4. ; &c. Rev. xix. 17-21. &c.
And to quiet the apprehensions of some early Chris, tians of his time, St. Paul thus instructs them, 2 Thess. ii. 12:
“ Moreover, we intreat you, brethren, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our assemblage unto Him. (Matt. xxiv. 90---31. ; 1 Thess. iv. 7.)-in order that ye be not shaken from your opinion, nor alarmed, neither by any Spirit (or spiritual teacher), nor by discourse or episile as delivered by us [Apostles); as supposing, that the day of Christ is at hand; Let no one deceive you in any wise; for (it will not come until the Apostacy come first, and the Man of Sin be revealed; the Son of Perdition [like Judas, John, xvii. 12,] who opposeth himself (to CHRIST] and exalteth himself against every one that is called God, or entitled AUGUST; insomuch, that he sitteth in the temple of God, as a God, shewing himself that he is a God.- Do ye not recollect, that while I was with you, I told you these things?":
“And now, ye know what restraineth; in order that he might be revealed in his proper season: for the mystery. of iniquity is already at work [secretly), only waiting until the restrainer be removed; and then shall be revealed the lawless one: whom the Lord will consume with the Spirit of his mouth, (Isai. xi. 4.) and will abolish, at the appearance of his presence.”
In this mysterious passage, the Apostle întimates the rise of the grund apostacy in the Christian Church, by the Papal Antichrist; in perfect conformity with the description of that ecclesiastical blasphemous persecuting power, in Daniel, as we liare secn in the foregoing communications. The restraining power that prevented its specdier appearance, was the Roman Empire, as understood by primitive tradi'ion; whence it was customary, in the ancient Liturgies, to pray for the preservation of that empie, thar the coming of the destruct.ve power of
Antichrist might be retarded, as we learn fron Tera tullian:
Est et alia major necessitas nobis orandi pro imperatoribus, etiam pro omni statu imperii-gui vim maximain universo orbi imminentem-Romani imperii commeatu seimus retardari. See Mede, p.656. and Bishop Newton on Prophecy, Vol. II. p. 416. &c.
And St. Paul, who so fully and pointedly announced by the Spirit the leading conceptions of the Church of Rome in the latter times, 1 Tim. iv. 1–4, as explained on a former occasion ; was not inattentive to the seeds of the mystery of iniquity, sprouting even in his time; when he prophetically, as it were, warned them against that first of the deadly or inortal sins, Pride, which that primitive Church inherited from Pagan Rome, the mistress of the world :-“ Be not high-minded, but fear;" adding, that if they continued not in the goodness of God, they also should be cut off, by his severity, like their “ root, the Jewish Church. Rom. xi. 20-21.
(To be continued.)
AN ESSAY ON THE TITLE, “ ONLY-BEGOTTEN."
GIVEN IN SCRIPTURE TO CHRIST.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
MAGAZINE. sir, ITHOUGH the following Essay, written by the late
T Rev. William Ludlam, appeared in the Theological Miscellany for March 1787, your readers, I am persuaded, will thank you for admitting it into your Miscellany. Independently of its intrinsic merit, it seems proper, that your collection of the fugitive Theological pieces of the excellent author should be completed by the insertion of this. I am sorry to say, that there is no prospect of obtaining any more, which, in the judgment of his venerable brother (frater fratri haud dissimilis) are in a state fit for the public eye; so that the six Essays published by himself, and the four, which, with this, will have been published by you, will comprise all his Theological productions, with which the public are likely to be favoured.
I am, Sir,
Your obedient Servant, Rempstone, July 3,
E. PEARSON. 1804.
AN ESSAY, &c. WHEN Christ is styled in Scripture the “ Only-begotten Son of God,” there are those, who say, that it only means, " He was constituted Mediator between God and sinners;” that the term begotten signifies “ his apa pointment to the office, nature, and work of man's redemption;" and that this terın is applied in Scripture to transactions, which took place in time, and particularly to Christ's incarnation and resurrection. That the term begotten may sometimes be used in a figurative 'sense, and depart greatly from its original meaning, as in 1 Pet. i. 3. we allow; and the same observation is made by some, respecting the word God. But the question is, pot what sometimes may be, but what generally is the sense of these words; and whether such an inferior sense can be put upon them in numberless passages of Scripture. Let us exainine a few.
John iii. 16. The whole force of the argument here used, lies in that near relation, which Christ by nature bath to God; his relation as the only-begotten Son of God; as such most dear to his Father, who nevertheless gave him up to pain and death, out of love and compas sion to us miserable sinners. So, in the trial of Abraham's faith and obedience, God says, “ Take now thy Son, thine only Son, whom thou lovest.” The trial would have been much less, had not Isaac been an only-begotten Son; nor would the case havę corresponded so exactly with what God was about to do for the salvation of mankind; nor vould this method of information have been so striking to Abraham, if the two cases had not been in this respect parallel. "
John iii. is. Because he bath not believed on the $AXE of the only begotte? Son of God.” The sense will