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more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, in a day of judgment, than for that city.' And the latter is inclined to refer this and the parallel passages to the destruction of the Jewish state. Improved Version, &c., on Matt. x. 15. Kenrick's Commentary on the New Testament, on Matt. x. 15, compared with xi. 22, 24.1
Such is the judgment of these authors, whom none will suspect of any partial bias in favor of the application to a time of temporal calainity, since all their prejudices of a general kind would have naturally disposed them to the contrary. Of course, we conclude, that, intimately acquainted as most of them were with the character of Scripture language, and in particular with that of the New Testament Greek, they did not discover, in the future tense of the verbs, any objection of moment against their interpretation. We must, indeed, con. fess that, so far as our knowledge extends, no example can be adduced that is altogether parallel will the anomaly supposed to be found in this case; but every body who has read the original, knows that the tenses are not there used with the same precision as in our own language at the present day, and that instances often occur which can be reduced to no fixed rule either of grammar or of rhetoric. Even the mere English reader of the Bible must have observed that, in strong expressions, the verbs as well as the other parts of speech frequently assume a license, equally irregular, if not precisely the same in form. Thus, the prophet Ezekiel says 10 Jerusalem, 'thine elder sister is Sainaria, she and her daughters, that dwell at thy left hand ;' though his meaning was, not that they dwelt there at that time, but that they had dwelt there; since it appears from what the prophet afterwards said, that they were then carried away into captiviiy. And thy younger sister,' adds he, 'that dwelleth at ihy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters ;'2 though it is well known that
i Poole, in his Synopsis Criticorum in Matt. x. 15 refers to Piscator also, as applying the text to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. In his regular commentary on Matthew, however, Piscator refers it to a future judgment. Poole may have alluded to some of nis other works. Piscator was an orthodox commentator, and a Professor of Theology at Strasburg.
Ezek. xvi. 46–56. Perhaps the nearest approach to a parallel phrase is to be found in our Saviour's solemn protestation concerning his prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem, 'Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away;' of which, it is now generally agreed, the meaning was, It is easier for heaven and earth to pass aray, than for my
Sodom and her daughters had not dwelt there, for ages. Other instances might be alleged of as great a latitude in the use of tenses as the authors just quoted have implicitly attributed to the text under consideration.
In order to prevent, as far as possible, our interpretation from being affecied by prejudices derived from our own doctrine, we shall examine the text independently of the leading question, whether the Scriptures teach a day of judgment in the future state. Let the only inquiry be, What is the most natural meaning of this one passage in particular, and of its parallel passages ? Now, it should not be overlooked, that our Saviour here speaks of the land of Sodom and Gomorrah :
it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah ;' an expression plainly referring to their earthly and political existence. Had he meant to allude to them as a class of individuals in the world of spirits, would it not be absurd rather ihan natural or striking, to call them the land of Sodom and Gomorrah? We do not ask whether it is possible that he could use this form for that purpose ; the proper question is, would it be likely thus to occur to any speaker either as a simple or as a customary phraseology, or even in the way of strong and vehement diction? If not, we ought by no means so to apply it, without apparent necessity. To us there appears a very impressive figure in the transfer of the tense, representing the judgments on both the ancient and the existing cities as inflicted at the same time, and thus rendering the comparison the more vivid, and the contrast the more striking. But what propriety or force there would be in carrying the land of Sodom into the future world, we cannot conceive. Again : we must observe that the literal translation of the next phrase, is, not the day of judgment,' as it stands in our common version, but, ' a day of judgment,' meaning whatso
words to pass away. (Matt. xxiv. 35; Mark xiii. 31 ; Luke xxii. 16.) Here, as in the case of the text in question, the object manifestly is to express a comparison in the most striking manner.
" The article is omitted in the Greek text. Bishop Middleton, who wrote a large and celebrated treatise to illustrate the usage of the Greek article, tacitly admits that according to all the established rules it ought to have been found here in the original, if the reference was to the last and general judgment; though he still contends, on other grounds, that this must have been the judgment alluded to.- Doctrine of the Greek Article, Pt. ii. on Matt. 2. 15.
ever time in which God should see fit to administer retribution to that city : It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, in a day of judgment, than for that city,' and so ought the parallel texts to be translated. Of course, the allusion here is not intended to point out in a direct manner any one fixed ad definite period, such as the last and general judgment is supposed 10 be; but to recognize the fact, in a general way, that a time of recompense would come. And this time seems left to be more particularly defined by the succeeding context, in which Christ assures this disciples, that notwithstanding all the persecutions and dangers they were to encounter, be that should endure to the end,' would be saved. "Verily I say unto you,' adds he, 'ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be coine.'' The end' here mentioned, and this coming of the Son of man, were, without question, events then near at band, and probably those connected with the destruction of the Jewish state.
The interpretation suggested by the foregoing considerations, will be confirmed, if we now proceed to examine the parallel passages. The text on which we have thus far remarked, is quoted from St. Matthew's record of Christ's address to his twelve apostles, on first sending them forth to preach and to work miracles. St. Mark records, though much more briefly, the same address; and here we find, in the common copies of his Gospel, the same expression, almost verbatim : Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment (literally, in a day of judgment,] than for that city." But these words are said to be spurious, and to have been interpolated in this place from the corresponding passage in St. Matthew. We therefore pass them by. Only two other texts are found, that can be considered parallel.
One is in the eleventh chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel : "Then began he [Christ,] to upbraid the cities wherein most of bis mighty works were done, because they repented not. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida ! for if
1 Matt. x. 22, 23, compared with ver. 15-22. Mark vi. 11.
Griesbach rejects them, and stamps them with his strongest mark of a spurious reading. See his New Testament, in loco.
the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloih and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment (literally, in a day of judgment,] than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell, [literally, to the place of the dead]; for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained unto this day. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment (literally, in a day of judgment] than for thee."
Here it is manifest ibat all the assertions (excepting, for the argunieni's sake, the particular phrase in question.) related to temporal concerus and circumstances. The address was made io cities rather than to individuals. Tyre, Sidon and even Sodom would have repented and remained unto that day, (such would have been the consequence,) had the mighty works been wrought in them, which were doing in Chorazin, Beibsaida and Capernaum. Since these cities, therefore, continued still impenitent, they would, whenever their time of retribution should arrive, be visited with a more intolerable judgment, than that of the former. And the general character of this judgment is plainly enough intimated : Capernauin, which was highly exalted, should fall to the very depths of desolatio. ; as we find it actually did, probably in the approaching Jewish war, so that even its site cannot be now ascertained. If, then, those explicit ideas that form the chief links in the chain of thought which runs through this passage, may be allowed to aid in the explanation of the more doubtful phrase, all will be clear.
The remaining text is in the tenth chapter of St. Luke's Gospel; and it deserves the more careful notice, since it is evidently but a repetition both of the passage just quoted from St. Matihew, and of that which stands at the head of this article. But into whatsoever city ye enter and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you. Notwithstanding, be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say
unto you, that it shall be more tolerable, in that day, for Sodom than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon wbich bave been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at [in, the judgment than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell (literally, lo the place of the dead).” The same remarks that were made on the preceding passage, might be applied also to this. And, in addition, it should be observed that what is called 'a day of judgment,' in the leading text of this article, is here called that day,' referring apparently to the time of the kingdom of God,' mentioned just before as having already come nigh.' This day of the kingdom of God was probably the period in which the Jewish state was to be destroyed,a certainly, it was a tiine which had already come nighi,' and which, therefore, cannot still be future.
Thus if we mistake not, all the circumstances of the casethe context of the passage, the general tenor of the passage itsell, the paralled texts, and all the phraseology, except the future tense of the verb, -coincide ju favor of a reference to the temporal calamities then approaching The reader will judge whether the tense alone affords sufficient ground for selling aside all these considerations; or whether it may not be more properly regarded as an impressive figure, in a vehement and ellipitical sentence.
H. B. 20.