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2. From “ The Holy Bible, with Original Notes and Practical Obser
vations,” by Rev. Thomas Scott, D. D. [The following quotations from the popular Commentary of the excellent Dr. Scott are given, to illustrate the theory of a double sense in its application to Mat. xxiv. 29-41. They present this theory as unobjectionably as I have anywhere seen it presented. It seems needless, therefore, to add quotations from other Commentators who interpret in like manner.]
MATTHEW, Ch. xxiv., “ V. 29-31. The language of these verses is suited, and probably was intended, to lead the mind of the reader to the consideration of the end of the world and the coming of Christ to judgment: yet the expression, immediately after the tribulation of those days,' must restrict the primary sense of them to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the events that were consequent to it. The darkening of the sun and moon, the falling of the stars, and the shaking of the powers of the heavens, denote the utter extinction of the light of prosperity and privilege to the Jewish nation ; the unhinging of their whole constitution in church and state ; the violent subversion of the authority of their princes and priests ; and the abject miseries to which the people in general, especially their chief persons, would be reduced, and the moral darkness to which they would be consigned. This would be an evident sign and demonstration of the Son of man's exaltation to his throne in heaven; whence he would come in his divine providence, as riding upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, to destroy his enemies, who would not have him to reign over them ;' at which events all the tribes of the land would mourn and lament, whilst they saw the tokens and felt the weight of his terrible indignation. At the same time he would send forth his angels, (or messengers, the preachers of the Gospel,) as with a great sound of a trumpet, proclaiming the year of jubilee, the acceptable year of the Lord.' Thus he would gather his elect into his Church, from every quarter, all over the world. The remarkable
appearances in the heavens, that attended these transactions, might be alluded to, and the great spread of the Gospel about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem was predicted: but the whole passage will have a more literal and august accomplishment at the day of judgment.
66 V. 32 - 35. Our Lord here answers the former part of the apostle's question, concerning the time when these events would take place. In general he assured them, that their approach would be as certainly determined by the signs that he had mentioned, as the approach of summer was by the budding and the tender branch of the fig-tree, and that they would all be accomplished before that generation was passed away. This absolutely restricts our primary interpretation of the prophecy to the destruction of Jerusalem, which took place within forty years. ...
“ V. 36-41. Some expositors explain these words exclusively of the day of judgment, as being emphatically that day;' and the context denotes, that Christ meant to lead the attention to that solemn occasion : but might not this be done with reference also to the precise day and hour of Jerusalem's destruction ? Even this was not declared to either man or angel, so far as we can learn : but the disciples were warned to expect and be ready for its approach, and to mark the signs which had been given them. ...
66 V. 42-44. Our Lord here at length more clearly speaks of his coming to take men away by death and of his second advent to judge the world. The disciples were exhorted to watch and be on their guard, expecting and preparing for his coming, as they would not know when that would be.”
[In reading these remarks of the excellent Dr. Scott, a few questions occur.
1. If, as Dr. S. thinks,“ the language of” vv. 29 - 31 “ intended to lead the mind of the reader to the consideration of the end of the world and the coming of Christ to judgment,” was it not manifestly intended to lead the mind to the consideration of
these events as to occur “immediately after the tribulation of those days "'? And if this expression “must restrict the primary sense of” these verses to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the events that were consequent to it,” why must not the restriction of time extend equally to the secondary sense, especially if this sense refers to the “ more literal and august accomplishment ” of “the whole passage”?
2. If v. 34 “absolutely restricts our primary interpretation of the prophecy to the destruction of Jerusalem," must not the restriction of time apply in like manner to every admissible interpretation ? Did our Lord intend to say, “ This generation shall not pass, part of these things be fulfilled,” — and that a very small part ?
3. What proof do we find, in respect to vv. 42–44, Lord here at length more clearly speaks of his coming to take men away by death and of his second advent to judge the world,” than he has done in the preceding verses ?]
From "A New Literal Translation of all the Apostolical Epistles, with
a Commentary,” &c., by Rev. JAMES MACKNIGHT, D. D. [I am not aware, that the theory of different comings of Christ subsequent to the first is anywhere more distinctly stated than in Dr. Macknight's great work upon the Epistles, in the preface to 2 Thessalonians, Sect. 4, “ Different Comings of Christ are spoken of in the New Testament." It will be observed, how strongly the learned author feels the limitation of time and the necessity of a figurative interpretation, in the case of a large class of passages often applied to a coming still future.]
“ In this Article, I propose to show, that there are other comings of Christ spoken of in Scripture, besides his coming to judgment; and that there are other things besides this mundane system, whose end is there foretold : and that it is of these other matters the apostles speak, when they represent the day of their master and the end of all things as at hand.
“1. First, then, in the prophetic writings of the Jews, (2
Sam. xxii. 10 – 12, Psal. xcvii. 2-5, Isa. xix. 1,) great exertions of the divine power, whether for the salvation or destruction of nations, are called the coming, the appearing, the presence of God. Hence it was natural for the apostles, who were Jews, to call any signal and evident interposition of Christ, as governor of the world, for the accomplishment of his purposes, his coming, and his day. Accordingly, those exertions of his power and providence, whereby he destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, abrogated the Mosaic institutions, and established the gospel, are called by the apostles his coming and day: not only in allusion to the ancient prophetic language, but because Christ himself, in his prophecy concerning these events, recorded Matt. xxiv., hath termed them the coming of the Son of man, in allusion to the following prophecy of Daniel, of which his own prophecy is an explication. Dan. vii. 13, 14, ' I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations,
ages should serve him : his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.' This prophecy the Jewish doctors with one consent interpreted of their Messiah, and of that temporal kingdom which they expected was to be given him. Farther, they supposed that he would erect that temporal kingdom by great and visible exertions of his power, for the destruction of his enemies. But they little suspected, that themselves were of the number of those enemies whom he was to destroy; and that his kingdom was to be established upon the ruin of their state. Yet that was the true meaning of the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven. For while the Jewish nation continued in Judea, and observed the institutions of Moses, they violently opposed the preaching of the gospel, by which the Messiah was
to reign over all people, nations, and languages. Wherefore, that the everlasting kingdom might be effectually established, it was necessary that Jerusalem and the Jewish state should be destroyed by the Roman armies. Now, since our Lord foretold this sad catastrophe in the words of the prophet Daniel, Matt. xxiv. 30, ' And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory ; ' and, after describing every particular of it with the greatest exactness, seeing he told his disciples, ver. 34, “This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled ; 'can there be any doubt that the apostles, (who, when they wrote their epistles, certainly understood the true import of this prophecy,) by their master's coming, and by the end of all things, which they represent as at hand, meant his coming to destroy Jerusalem, and to put an end to the institutions of Moses?
" It is no objection to this, that when the apostles heard Christ declare, • There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down,' they connected the end of the world, or age, with that event : Matt. xxiv. 3, • Tell us, when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming, και συντελείας του αιώνος, αnd of the end of the age.' For, as the Jewish doctors divided the duration of the world into three ages, the age before the law, the age under the law, and the age of the Messiah ; the apostles knew that the age under the law was to end when the age under the Messiah began. And therefore, by the end of the age, they meant, even at that time, not the end of the world, but the end of the age under the law, in which the Jews had been greatly oppressed by the heathens. And although they did not then understand the purpose for which their master was to come, nor the true nature of his kingdom, nor suspect that he was to make any change in the institutions of Moses ; yet when they wrote their epistles, being illuminated by the Holy Ghost, they certainly knew that the institutions of