Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

tiles, as Abdiel and others suppose. I confess in reading Romans ix, it seems at first sight to accord with Abdiel's view: yet on closer examination I cannot understand the Apostle to mean the Gentiles. For in the 27th verse he says,

[ocr errors]

Esaias also crieth concerning Israel," (as if he had said, Isaiah also, as well as Hosea, is speaking about Israel,)—“Though Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved :" and when we turn to the words in Isa. i, 9, we find that they relate to Israel (or Judah ;) -how then should Paul quote them as relating to Gentiles? I am aware that the 25th verse of Romans ix, following as it does the word Gentiles in the 24th verse, has a tendency to lead one to understand it, as meaning the Gentiles: but if the words

Not of the Jews only but also of the Gentiles" were in a parenthesis, it would in my view of it express the Apostle's meaning clearer. I observe at the end of the 24th verse a note of interrogation, which I am at a loss to understand perhaps you can see an occasion for it.

Abdiel, just before he mentions this of Hosea, quotes from the Apostle words that exonerate the Jews from their dulness in apprehending the calling of the Gentiles; viz. "that in other ages was not made 'known unto the sons of men that the Gentiles should be fellow 'heirs, &c."

[ocr errors]

of Christof Christ-" Other sheep I have which are not of this fold, &c." to show that the Gentiles were to partake of the same blessings with the Jews: which I conceive just, if referred to the resurrection; but the words that Christ spake I cannot but think have a different meaning,-though my opinion of them may appear singular. We cannot but observe the preference that Christ showed to his brethren the Jews;-in that he did not teach in any other country; that he said he came but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; that when he sent his disciples forth he charged them to go into none of the cities of the Gentiles; and we find in one place he call them dogs, but in no one place that he calls them sheep: so that if in the text, John x, 16, he means the Gentiles, then it is peculiar, and different from all other parts of Scripture. But to me it appears nearer the truth to suppose, that Christ meant the dispersed among the Gentiles: that is, the ten tribes that were carried away captive and never yet returned to the Jewish fold; but who, we are positively assured, shall be restored to them in the latter days, and be one people. I cannot help thinking, that the distinction between Jew and Gentile, so very conspicuous in the Scriptures, is overlooked and not sufficiently noticed by the generality of christians; for though the Gentiles are fellow-heirs with Jews of the same promise (not promises) which is by Christ; yet, as in Romans ix, "To the Israelites pertaineth the adoption, covenants, &c.;" which I conceive will continue the same to the resurrection.

All my desire is to investigate and come at the truth; so that if this lead to further search it will abundantly satisfy,

Sir, yours, &c. XATAX.

He says Peter also presses the same in saying, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, &c." We certainly ought to consider that Peter was writing to the Jews in both his epistles; and further that no such words as royal priesthood, holy nation, &c. were ever in the sacred Scriptures applied, as refering to the Gentiles by any of the Apostles, or by Christ himself.

Again, Abdiel refers to the words

[ocr errors]

ON THE ADVENT AND KINGDOM OF CHRIST,

No. XII.

Our Lord's Prophecy.

MATTHEW XXIV, XXV; LUKE XXI.

Having discussed in my last the meaning of " the abomination of desolation," the "great tribulation," the word γενεα οι generation," and the times of the Gentiles," I purpose now to commence the prophecy, and pass regularly through it; chiefly following St. Matthew's Gospel for my text.

I. First we must notice the occasion of it, which was the questions of our Lord's disciples. These questions are differently stated by the Evangelists, and form in St. Mark's and St. Luke's Gospels only two distinct particulars; but in St. Matthew's three. In all of them however the first question is the same-WHEN SHALL THESE THINGS BE?-which question arose from the disciples having drawn our Lord's attention to the magnificence of the temple, and his taking occasion thereupon to admonish them, that the days were approaching when the whole should be destroyed.

Now it is worthy of remark, (bearing as it does upon the general principles of Scripture inspiration and interpretation,) that the remaining questions, and the reply of our Lord, are in each Evangelist made consistent with the context of the narrative of each. There is nothing in the previous chapter of Mark and Luke that has any ob

[ocr errors]

vious connexion with the advent of Christ; and therefore the second, and only other, question in each of them was for A SIGN, by which they might know when these things were to be accomplished.* But in Matthew the context concerns also the desolation of the Jewish Church and nation, together with the advent of Christ—-" Behold your house

<

is left unto you desolate : for I say 'unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, until ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord "a and then immediately follows the circumstance of the disciples pointing to the buildings of the temple; to which they seem to have been moved by the very circumstance of our Lord declaring, that their house was to be left desolate. Accordingly, the questions as related by St. Matthew have an evident reference to the other matter introduced by him into his narrative.-1st. "When shall these things be?" including, as I apprehend, the persecutions of the disciples in verse 34 of the preceding chapter, as also verse 38: 2ndly. What shall be the sign of thy coming?" (rns ons Tapsoras) spoken of in verse 39 of the previous chapter: 3rdly. And of the end of the world," or rather, of the consummation of the dispensation

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* In Mark και τι το σημειον όταν μελλῃ παντα ταυτα συντελεῖσθαι “ and what the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished." In Luke kai ti to oɛμɛiov και τι το σεμειον όταν μελλῃ ταυτα γινεσθαι “ and what the sign when these things are about to come to pass. In which observe, that the same thing is expressed by two different words, OvvTEXεiobaι and yɩvɛola; which bears against Mr Cuninghame's distinction: see page 378 of No. XI.

a Matt. xxiii, 38, 39.

[ocr errors]

or age,—(TMns ovvteλelas t8 auros,) which they would justly consider the desolation of their house to be, in regard to the Jewish dispensation.* The questions of the disciples were probably shaped according to their previous expectations of the manifestation of Messiah's kingdom and glory; for we can hardly suppose them to have had, at this particular moment only, a correct view of the order in which the three events inquired of were to take place.

down to the end of verse 31. It is not however greatly important: for my view is substantially the same with Mr. Begg's, in which ever way these verses are taken : taken: I shall therefore state my reasons for differing with him on the point in question, and leave them with the Reader.

First, there appears to be a repetition of some of the circumstances herein mentioned, as occurring at the end of the great tribulation; which we have seen from Luke xxi, 24 extends itself throughout the Gentile times. I refer to the coming of false prophets. (Compare verses 11 & 24.) Secondly, in the parallel verses of St. Luke there is inserted at verse 11, in connexion with the earthquakes, &c. "fearful sights and great signs from heaven.” These would also be repeated, according to Mr. Begg's view, at verses 24 and 25 of Luke: but I hold it important to keep these occurrences distinct. Thirdly, the whole is susceptible of an easy interpretation as applicable to events transpiring whilst the Jewish polity existed; as may be readily proved from Scripture and profane history.

With regard to the false christs and other deceivers, mentioned both in verses 5 and 11, Josephus names some (as Theudas and the Egyptian, see Acts xxi, 38,) and says, that they became so numerous during the procuratorship of Felix, that he

II. Verses 4 to 14 of St. Mat

thew's Gospel comprehend the next portion of our subject. These are considered by Mr. Begg† to form an outline of the whole substance of the prophecy, down to the very end; and that then our Lord reverts back to the commencement, and dwells more minutely on important particulars. I must acknowledge, that this appears to me to be a frequent mode of communicating prophetical truth, as was justly illustrated by the writer of the "Original notes on the Apocalypse" at page 348. I think also that verse 13 is designed to be accommodated to the circumstances of believers at all periods. But there are reasons which nevertheless induce me to think, that the whole of these verses had their fulfilment prior to the desolation of Jerusalem ; and that the prophecy is with little deviation chronologically regular

* In our Lord's reply the word reλog is invariably used, instead of ovvreλeta; but I do not, as some, consider any distinction is intended, and that rλog refers to the end of the Jewish polity only, whilst i ovvreλɛia тe aιwvos regards the termination of the Christian dispensation. In Heb. ix, 26 ETTI OVVTEXEIα TWv alwvwv (in the plural, which one would conceive must more decidedly mark the end of the latest dispensation) must from the context be necessarily connected with the end of the Jewish dispensation; and I apprehend the context must always determine its meaning.

+ I would once for all refer to the whole of his able work on these chapters.—viz. "Letters to a Minister of the Gospel on his and other Interpretations of Our Saviour's predicted Return, recorded Matt. xxiii, xxiv, xxv, &c." Nisbet, London.

Mr. Begg takes the heaven of verses 24, 25 in a literal sense but I differ from him on this point toto cœlo, as will presently appear.

daily put some to death.b Whitby also mentions Simon Magus and Doritheus among the number of false christs.c The rumors of wars, the actual insurrections and contests, the famines, pestilences, and earthquakes (or commotions*) which follow in verses 6, 7, are equally remarkable, as described by Josephus, Tacitus and others; as likewise the supernatural prodigies mentioned by St. Luke. Scott says on all these particulars—“ It suffices 'to observe, that by the concurrent testimony of ancient historians, and the judgement of modern learned men, the period alluded to was distinguished from all others, ' which went before and which have followed, by such events as are here predicted."d Yet they are warned, that the end (which I take to refer to the great overthrow of the Jewish polity) was not yet; and that these are only the beginning of sorrows; (v. 8) which words appear manifestly intended as a contrast to that great tribulation which followed, and the period of which is called "the days of vengeance.

(

That the followers of Jesus were persecuted and delivered up to synagogues and councils to be beaten, (as they were first warned in chap. xxiii, 34, and here in verses 9-11,) must be known to all who are acquainted with the Acts of the Apostles. I only observe, that the particular reference to their suffering these things in the synagogues, seems to limit the fulfilment to the

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

b Joseph. Ant. B. xx, c. v & viii: Ant. B. xviii, c. 9; xx, 2; War, ii, See also Acts xi, 28. d

and Luke xxi, 12—16.

8 Col. i, 6. h Ibid. i, 23.

g

period during which the Jews still possessed some ecclesiastical authority.

I pass on to the 14th verse; "And the Gospel of the kingdom

shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." I have no doubt but this is one of the special signs of the latter days; but I ground it upon Rev. xiv, 6, 7, and not on this text, for this I consider to have been fulfilled prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. St. Paul says to the Colossians, that "the Gospel was come unto them, as in all the world;"'g and again, "that it was preached to every creature which is under heaven :”h which passages are decisive as respects a fulfilment adequate to the meaning of the text. of the text. It is also remarkable, that this preaching of the Gospel (which is only instanced by Matthew and Mark) is the only circum-· stance which in Mark's narrative of this prophecy is not placed in a régular parallelism with the same events noticed by Matthew. He inserts it at verse 10, as a parenthesis between the warning, that they should be delivered up to the synagogues, and the direction, not to premeditate when delivered up as if to point out, that this persecution should be connected with the preaching the Gospel to all nations, and afford additional opportunity of bringing their testimony before kings and rulers.† (See v. 9.) III. Verses 15-28 will form the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and Jewish War, B. xx, c. 13. c Joseph. 10; iv, 4. Tacitus, Annal. xii, xiv; Hist. v. See in loco. e See the parallel places Mark xiii, 9-12 f Acts iii, v, vii, viii, xii, xvi, xvii, xviii, xxi to the end.

* So Dr. Adam Clarke is most inclined to interpret ououoi, from its original oɛw, to agitate. The history of those times shows, that in either sense it was fulfilled.

† I would here notice that the word then, as used in this prophecy, must not be always understood in an ordinative sense, as if the event it introduces must necessarily

next portion for our consideration. The tribulation which is the subject of them has been so fully discussed in my last essay, that I trust I need not repeat it here. I shall only beg to remind the Reader, (as an important circumstance to be kept in view in the interpretation of this chapter,) that I have proved this time of affliction to be connected with that mentioned in Daniel xii; who there speaks of the termination of that period of wrath, which in St. Luke's account of this prophecy begins with Jerusalem being compassed with armies, (when the people fall by the edge of the sword and are led away captive into all nations,) and terminates only with the fulfilment of the Gentile times. This is the more important, inasmuch as it determines the period when those signs are to be hibited, mentioned in verse 29. Matthew says, immediately after ;” (ευθεως δε μετα την θλιψιν.) Mark makes it so immediately, that he says, CC IN those days, after that tribulation:" whilst St. Luke makes no discrimination at all, but connects it at once with the tribulation by the words, " and there shall be signs in the sun, &c." (v.25.) In his narrative all that is contained in verse 22 and six following verses of Matthew's account is omitted; so that verse 25 joins on immediately to the words-" until the times of the Gentiles be fufilled:" as much as to intimate, that then there shall be this distress of the Gentiles

ex

..

[ocr errors]

407

with perplexity: viz. synchronous with the passing away of the Jewish tribulation.*

To return to the passage in Matthew more immediately under consideration: I see no reason to deviate from the ordinary interpretation of verses 16-20; which seem to me clearly to contain a direction, how the disciples were to act, as soon as they should see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place; (i. e. Jerusalem compassed with armies ;) by which they were to that the desolation understand, thereof" (i. e. of Jerusalem) was To these dinigh. Luke xx, 21. rections warnings are added to stir up the disciples to prayer, watchfulness, and decision showing what promptitude they must use (v. 17) when they were menaced with the danger; how questionable the possibility of escape would be rendered to those labouring with child; and how necessary it was for all to pray that this compassing of Jerusalem should not take place in the winter or on the sabbath day. In the first instance the roads, I presume, would be broken up, so as to render flight more difficult; and in the second, they would be exposed to molestation from the pharisaical zealots, should they be observed to exceed the limits of a sabbath day's journey.

In verse 22 it is declared, that except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall

CC

[ocr errors]

follow next in order of succession. As a proof of this St. Matthew says, (v. 9) " then shall they deliver you up, &c." St. Luke however has it; "but before all these, they shall lay hands, &c." adverting to those same commotions, wars and pestilences, that are connected by Matthew with the word then.

* There is no article before the word Gentiles in the original in either instance. The passage stands literally thus :-" Jerusalem shall be trodden down by Gentiles, until times of Gentiles be fulfilled; and there shall be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of Gentiles with (or in) perplexity, sea and waves roaring." The context shows that the style of this passage requires the article to be uniformly supplied, and that the Gentiles of verse 25 are identical with those of verse 24.

« AnteriorContinuar »