Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is he that com• eth in the name of the Lord." This is evidently addressed to them nationally, since the generation then living rejected the Lord to the last. And I consider this passage as affording a sort of paraphrastic exposition of the words now under consideration: for it declares of the Jews, that, though they should be preserved nationally, they should remain in their unconverted state during the time of the desolation, even until the advent of the Lord.

[ocr errors]

These considerations are very decisive in my mind, as to the general meaning of the word yɛvɛɑ in the γενεα New Testament, and in this place in particular:* but Mr. Cuninghame, whose opinions on these subjects are entitled to great respect, takes a different view of this particular, and therefore I think it necessary to notice it.


Mr. Cuninghame admits that the word yɛɛa does sometimes in the Scriptures mean a nation;—but in such case he thinks the context always points out its meaning; and as the Seventy more commonly use yɛvɛa to translate 17, which γενεα signifies a generation in the ordinary sense of the word, he would have that to be its meaning in this instance.† And yet he extends the events contained in the prophecy down to the second advent of Christ; but he gets over the difficulty by maintaining, that in the words εως αν παντα ταυτα γενηται (“ till all these things be fulfilled”) the verb yivoμaι does not signify to be completely fulfilled, (in which case




it should be τελέω οι πληροω) but commencement running into subsequent continuance of action." In corroboration of this view he instances. Luke xxi, 24—“ until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled,"-and contends, that if yɛvwvraι were there substituted for πλŋρwwσ it would not signify the fulfilment of the times, but their arrival or commencement. He concludes therefore that the words “ till all these things be fulfilled" merely intimate, that the series of events foretold should begin to be accomplished before that generation then existing should be passed away.‡

Much as I am inclined to defer to Mr. Cuninghame in questions which involve criticism, I nevertheless cannot in this instance fall into his views. What I have said on the times of the Gentiles will in some measure serve for a reply, so far as regards the word translated fulfilled; but I shall here briefly offer one or two other considerations.

First, the words are so precise— "This generation shall not pass


away till ALL these things be fulfilled,”—that admitting the propriety of the translation, till all these things commence," (or I would say come into existence," though they may not be terminated,) yet to make the first of the series mean the ALL, is an interpretation which I apprehend cannot be borne out by any unequivocal passage in Scripture at least I have examined numerous places, but without any satisfaction on this point.

Secondly, in St. Luke's account

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* Most commonly, when the word generation means a period of time, it is in the New Testament used in the plural number: and this in some instances when it is translated into the singular number ;-e. g. Luke i, 50; Acts xv, 21.

+ It must however be borne in mind, that this is not the only word which the Seventy translate by yɛvea; of which the instances already cited are sufficient evidence.

See his work on the Apocalypse, page 239.

[ocr errors]


of this prophecy we have, only a few
verses before, the actual expression
which Mr. Cuninghame contends to
be the sense of the verse now under
discussion—“And when these things
BEGIN to come to pass, then look up,
' and lift up your heads: for your re-
demption draweth nigh.' Now
according to Mr. Cuninghame's pro-
posed interpretation, when the be-
ginning of the series of events (the
destruction of Jerusalem, e. g.) came
into action, then the redemption of
Israel and the kingdom of God"
(v. 31) were to be viewed as at hand.
Instead of this, that event proved the
signal for the dispersion and cap-
tivity of Israel; and that long night
of popish darkness and oppression
came afterwards upon the Christian
Church, to cause it to droop the
head, instead of lifting it up in the
immediate expectation of deliver-


[ocr errors]

Thirdly, to limit the fulfilment of these events to the term of existence of the persons alive when our Lord spake of them, is in my opinion greatly to take from the striking character of the sign, and to deprive the Church of a very important index and criterion towards the interpretation of prophecy. There is a largeness and magnificence, when the word generation is understood of the Jewish nation, which, whilst it increases the sublimity of the prophecy, has been remarkably fulfilled by the event. To the majority of the Church there would be a great obscurity in the sign in the former

instance, arising from the difficulty of satisfactorily ascertaining, when all the persons born at that time had terminated their lives: that is to say, supposing any considerable portion of the Church had expected the “ all things" named in the prophecy were to have come into a state of inceptive accomplishment, (as we find the Church did generally understand it;) and those events had been prolonged above 60 or 70 years, as we see they were. For a considerable period (at least half a century,‡) the Church would have been much embarrassed how to judge by this criterion. But when we understand, that the Jewish people was to be continued in existence, though led away captive into all nations ;—that they were to retain, as their peculiar characteristics, all that malignity against the Gospel, and that selfrighteous confidence, which caused them to be called in those days a faithless," a perverse,' a crooked," a wicked generation ;" -and that they are to remain in this state even down to the very gathering of the elect and the advent of Christ;-then we have a sign which is most conspicuously manifest to Jew and Gentile, to believer and infidel,—a sign corresponding with what is declared in other prophecies other prophecies concerning the time and the mode of Israel's conversion,-a sign which, judging by my own experience, is calculated to fill the mind at once with admiration and conviction.






[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* Here the word all is omitted, and in the Greek text the word apxoμɛvwv is for precision put before γινεσθαι.

† I do not mean however to lay any emphasis in the way of argument upon the greater majesty of the prophecy in this instance, independent of other and more decisive considerations.

Taking the extreme term of the life of individuals in some parts of the world to be 120 years, which it even now is.

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

To the Editor of the Investigator.
Dear Sir,



In No. VI, page 187 your Correspondent λos observes, The following passage presents a difficulty which I have never seen satisfac'torily solved. In Matt. x, 23 our Lord says that his disciples "shall ' not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of Man be come." Now as I am a great advocate for the literal exposition of Scripture, and understanding as I do the com'ing of the Son of Man to refer always to his second appearing to set up ‹ his universal kingdom I am much 'perplexed with this passage, &c. I can easily conceive the perplexity of a lover of truth here, and beg to present this humble attempt, with a hope that, in some degree, it will lesson, if not quite remove, the difficulty. It is very necessary for us to make a decided pause at the threshold of our way here, to inquire if it be quite correct to consider the simple sentence coming of the Son of Man" as ALWAYS referring to his second VISIBLE advent. I think not, for the following reasons.



I. There are evidently two series of expressions, if I may so speak. In the one series, the coming of the Son of Man" is named, but no SIGHT is hinted at;—simply the coming”—neither "sign," nor "glory," nor personal appearance being mentioned at all. The other series contains texts in which "the sign,'

the glory," and the " sight of him" are most DISTINCTLY stated. Here follow two of the first kind, -Matt. xxiv, 27; Luke xviii, 8: and here a sample of the second,-Matt. xxiv, 30; xxvi, 64; Mark xiii, 26;

Luke xxi, 27; &c. I am aware that the latter series is by far the most numerous; but that is easily accounted for if we call to mind, that the second visible coming of the Lord will involve the destiny of ALL the nations of the earth. The Scripture critic will readily perceive, that where the "coming" is simply named, as in the first two Scriptures referred to, without any personal sight, the connexion alludes to the destruction of Jerusalem; but where the supernatural sign, glory, or personal εipavɛia is superadded to the "coming" the connexion refers to the end of the present dispensation. The text, Matthew x, 23, which perplexes dos comes under the former class of Scriptures.


II. It appears very plain that long habit, without bringing that habit to the rigid test of the Word, has led us to speak, but very improperly, of a figurative coming: this however is an unmeaning phrase: a" figura“The_tive_coming" is a real nothing. A fact may certainly be couched in figurative terms, but the thing intended must be a reality. It would be strictly correct to speak of a personal or impersonal coming, (I mean, a visible or an invisible one,) whenever any thing in reference to God's acting supernaturally, either with or without any natural agency, takes place. Thus we read the Lord is said to come, by his judgements or his mercies when he interferes with the order of human events. See Isaiah xxvi, 21. See also Gen. xviii, 10, as explained by Paul, Rom. ix, 9, "at this time will I come." The language is quite the idiom of the Hebrew; and our Lord, be it remembered, was a minister of the


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

circumcision ;"a and his ministry as he himself tells us was restricted to the house of Israel.b He therefore He therefore addressed the Jews in their own phraseology.

That the expression "the coming of the Son of Man" was not altogether without meaning to the Jews, is evident from Josephus; who states, that when the stones that battered down the walls of their city were hurled against it,


the watchmen that sat upon the 'towers gave notice, when the engine was let go and a stone came from it, and cried out aloud in their own country language," << THE SON COMETH."C Here is enough from a profane Jewish historian to shew, that the idea was as

[ocr errors]

Matt. xx, 40, 41.

When therefore the LORD of the vineyard COMETH, what will he do unto the husbandmen? He will miserably destroy those wicked men and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, &c.

Mark xii, 9, 10.

What shall therefore the LORD of the vineyard do?

He WILL COME and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard to others.

Now it is beyond all refutation, from this triple testimony, that the verb " TO COME" is used in reference to the Lord's judgements on Jerusalem; and that Jesus, who was the Son of Man on earth at the time he gave the predictions, was the glorified Lord when they were fulfilled ;—first, in taking away the vineyard, as to the covenant promises of it, and giving them to the Gentiles; (as Paul beautifully argues, Rom. xi, 19, 20;) then in the complete ruin of their temple and city by the Romans, so that as a body politic they were cut off till

sociated in their minds, to a certain extent, with the destruction of Jerusalem; and this is sufficient to make the gratuitous assumption of os, as to its always referring to the last advent, a very dubious conclusion. But I do not mean to accept even of this strong collateral aid, however correct; for enough will be found in the Word itself for my satisfaction on this head. It will I presume be conceded to me willingly, that unity of style in our blessed teacher the Lord Jesus is eminently conspicu


If so, I would submit to the attention of all lovers of truth, seeking information on this point, the statement of three of the Evangelists as I have here collated them in reference to the ruin of the holy city.

Luke xx, 15, 16.

What therefore shall the LORD of the vineyard do unto them? He SHALL COME and destroy these husbandmen and shall give the vineyard to others.

the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Read, as relative texts, Acts xiii, 46, with Luke xxi, 24.

a Rom. xv, 8. b Matt. xv, 24. c Wars, book 5, chap. 6.

The destruction then of Jerusalem was a real destruction, and stated by three evangelists as the Lord's coming to do it. Assuredly too it must be considered a supernatural event, when we look at all the circumstances at the very time, and its subsequent effects to the present day. It is equally certain we have no evidence, that the very identical disciples to whom the Lord spake had gone over the cities of Israel before he so came; while from the

Lord's words it is evident they did not. We know that they were all dead, except John, prior to that event. This appears to me a more simple and legitimate illustration than the one given by Hilary, at which you, Christian Sir, have glanced in your note 3.

I am not ignorant of the learned criticisms on the construction of the Greek text of this verse, and the attempts at removing difficulties by these means. But I am convinced that the clashing critiques of the learned are often palpably strained, and tend much to bewilder those who can only read the English Bible. I am therefore very tenacious, lest we should, by our unnecessary departure from the authorized ver


(7) An Inquiry after Prophetic Truth relative to the Restoration of the Jews and the Millennium; &c. by JOSEPH TYSO.

Holdsworth and Ball, London, 1831, Svo. pp. 252. 7s. 6d.

There are two things affecting our religious views and principles, which, though they sometimes exercise a salutary influence, and are through God's mercy made instrumental both in advancing the knowledge of the truth and in confirming the weak brethren, are nevertheless often productive of pernicious consequences, owing to the proneness of the human heart to rest improperly in every means of grace. We advert to the labors of Commentators, and to the opinions entertained by that circle of the household of faith, in which by God's providence we may be placed.

sion, weaken the reverence to which it is entitled, where the translation is certainly as simple as the idiom of two so different languages will allow. I am not insensible of, nor ungrateful for, the labors of the learned: what I am aiming at is, to preserve our excellent version from unnecessary revision. I beg leave, Christian Sir, to say I would not dogmatically enforce my remarks: I only submit them to the consideration of your more able christian correspondents, as worthy of review. I shall be glad to find my observations have elicited a clearer illustration. I pray the Lord the Spirit to bless your Journal and to make it increasingly useful for his glory. I am with all due esteem, Εἷς των αδελφων.

[ocr errors]

We are very far from wishing to repudiate commentaries altogether: as well might we reject the ministry of the word; since the printed exposition is often nothing more than that, which has first been carefully meditated on and preached with unfeigned dependance on divine aid. But when the commentaries become a sort of urim and thummim to their possessor-the only oracles from which he expects light to enable him to understand the word; when he begins systematically to refuse every exposition which agrees not with his favourite authors; and even to quench within himself every opening view and inward suggestion, that would seem to lead him contrary on any point to some one or more of these human authorities ;--then their effect unquestionably is to imprison the mind, in the same manner as do pharisaical or popish tradi

« AnteriorContinuar »