« AnteriorContinuar »
the time from the birth of a man till he has a son, about thirty years.” There are to this exposition, then, the following objections. 1. There are predictions preceding this declaration that are not yet fulfilled. “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled,” is certainly yet in its course of accomplishment, is yet unfulfilled. One single prediction unaccomplished, is fatal either to the exposition, or the prediction. We would not invalidate the prophecy, but only question the exposition. The prediction of the coming of the Son of man, and every prediction following that, remains unfulfilled. The figurative coming of Christ with the Roman army, at the commencement of, and causing the tribulation of the Jews, could it be made to appear, would not fulfil the prediction of a coming of Christ, after signs that are after that tribulation. Could it be made to appear that Christ left the mediatorial seat, and became the executioner of his father's vengeance by the Roman army, that would still leave the prophecy of his coming, after that tribulation, to be fulfilled. Is there any pretence of an appearance, a coming of Christ, after that tribulation, in any past event? There is not. Then all those predictions remain yet to be fulfilled. But even the destruction of Jerusalem did not take place before that age passed away. None of this age shall pass away. This age shall not pass away; or, all of the men of this age shall not pass away, would each convey a different idea to the mind. By the first, we should understand that it must occur at once, before death had time to make any sensible inroads upon the living. By the second form of expression, we should suppose it must happen while the greater portion or body of them were living; by the other, we might suppose the term protracted, while any of the men were alive. Jerusalem was destroyed from thirty-seven to forty years after this prediction. Was the great body of the men of that age still living to prove those calamities? Or had they, with a few exceptions, left the stage, and the next generation or age succeeded to taste the cup of Jerusalem's calamities? 2. It does not appear to have been the Saviour's design to answer the question as to the time. His answer to the question, “ When?" is, “Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”_" Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.”_" It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power." Nor are we taught that it was then nigh: but only that it might be known to be so, when all these things should come to pass. If generation, then, means age, it must mean the age living on the earth at the time these signs shall be accomplished; and to this the language " Ye shall see," is no more objection, than the apostle's language, “ We which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord,” proves that the dead were raised in his day, and is an objection to the doctrine of the future resurrection of the dead.
But whatever exposition may be given it, such an one as will accord with Luke xxi., 24, will answer all our purposes, on the ground here taken; and he who, to support a favorite view, would array one part of the prophecy against another, does it at his own peril.
Mat. xvi., 28. “Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” The subject of the Jews tribulation, and the destruction of Jerusalem, are not named in this connexion. There is nothing said here that refers to that time of calamity. Hence, there is no reason for applying it to that event, unless, from other scriptures it can be proved that the Son of man did come in his kingdom at that time. The scriptures, and the only scriptures relied upon, in which the two subjects, Christ's coming, and the destruction of Jerusalem are embraced, are those at the head of this article. We have seen, that instead of asserting that Christ came in his kingdom at that time, that the two events are distinct from each other, introduced by different signs. The signs of one event declared to be after the tribulation of the other, and they separated from each other by the undefined term of time, “ And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” So we have yet to seek the place where they begin to be made the same, or simultaneous events. The only ground on which this can be referred to the destruction of Jerusalem, is, that there were some standing there that should not taste of death till they saw it, and John was alive at the time of Jerusalem's destruction. Hence, it is assumed that it must mean the time of Jerusalem's destruction, and that Christ came at that time.
The three most satisfactory expositions of this passage which I have ever seen, are given by Matthew xvii., 1–8, by Mark ix., 248, and by Luke ix., 28–36. The inquirer will learn from them, that one week after this saying, Jesus took three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John, into a mountain apart, and was transfigured before them. That his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. That two men, Moses and Elias, appeared in glory, talking with him. That a bright cloud overshadowed them. That the whole was such a display of glory, as to be overwhelming, overpowering to the disciples. That by the voice of God both the law and the prophets, represented by Moses and Elijah, were superseded, and Jesus Christ invested with full, supreme authority in the kingdom of God. “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” I can find nothing more satisfactory to me than this.
The objection to this is the improbability that Jesus would say they should not taste of death, till they had seen it, and it occur within eight days. But to this it may be answered, it might have been the meaning of the Saviour. Although the kingdom of God is
not of this world, although flesh and blood cannot inherit it, and man must be changed from this dull, mortal, earthly state, to see and enjoy it, yet I will exhibit its glories to some of you, without passing through death ; or, in your present mortal state. That this transfiguration was the fulfillment of the promise in the minds of the evangelists, I think is rendered certain from the immediate introduction of the events, with all the minuteness with which they describe them. That Peter, one of the witnesses so understood it, I think is evident from 2 Pet. i., 16–18. “ For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father, honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” This I believe the fulfilment of this promise. If it were not, it must have been fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. But I have no doubt it was the former.
Mat. X., 23. “ Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” There may be some doubt what this may mean. There can be no doubt that it does not mean that they shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the destruction of Jerusalem : for, before that event, they had preached the gospel of the kingdom throughout the cities of Israel, and had received a commission to “ go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” and had planted churches in most of the heathen cities in the world. Probably, as good an axplanation as can be found, is in Luke x., v. 1. “After these things, the Lord appointed other seventy also; and sent them two and two, before his face, into every city and place whether he himself would come.” While Jesus thus sent his disciples before him into the cities of Israel to preach the gospel, he assured them that he would overtake and be with them, before they should have completed their tour on which he sent them.
But it may be replied to every objection of this character, that a thousand circumstances which we can not satisfactorily solve, or which we may imagine have a little bearing towards a given position, weigh not a feather in the balance, against the direct testimony of an unimpeachable witness. Jesus has said, the signs of his coming are after that tribulation. Now, suppose we were without any light upon the texts last named, we might say we did not understand their meaning ; but we should have no authority whatever, to apply them to Christ's coming at the time of the Jews tribulation, when no such coming is mentioned, or hinted at, at that time; but the express testimony of Jesus, places his coming after that tribulation. It is certainly surprising what should have led to an exposition of those scriptures, in a manner so to derange the order of the events, and contradict the "True witness."
XI. 1. I have presented in this article that part of the chapters I discuss, in such divisions as I have supposed was best calculated to exhibit the order of the predicted events, and give the reader an opportunity to compare the evangelists with each other.
2. I have given a few rules of right exposition of this portion of the writings of the evangelists; rules, which I presume, no reader will call in question or dispute.
3. I have referred to some of the principal predictions given in this prophecy, embracing the two principal events, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the coming of the Son of man. The two classes of signs that precede each event, and the important circumstances depending upon those events, or following them.
4. I have noticed that there are two different expositions of the predictions relating to the coming of the Son of man; one, making the language highly figurative, and referring to the destruction of Jerusalem for its accomplishment; the other, giving a literal exposition of the language of the predictions, and looking forward to the future for their accomplishment. I have given some of my objections to the figurative exposition, and some of the reasons which led me unhesitatingly to adopt the literal. I will here repeat them. I object to the figurative, because it is figurative. I can see no sufficient reason why, after a course of predictions which receive a literal accomplishment, the same events should be predicted again in language highly figurative.
I object to it, that it entirely deranges the order of the events as predicted, and that order, preserved by the three evangelists who record the prophecy. If this objection be founded in fact, it must require a weight of evidence to counteract it.
I object, that it plainly and positively contradicts the Saviour's express language, declaring the signs of his coming to be after the tribulation of the other event. This objection is to me insurmountable. I can see no way to question it; I can see no way to obviate it.
I object, that there is an entire failure of meeting the particulars of the prophecy in a satisfactory manner. Such as his being seen by all the tribes of the earth coming in the clouds of heaven, the gathering the people of God, (the elect,) from one end of heaven to the other, the redemption of the saints, and the approach of the kingdom of God.
That there are no other scriptures that connect his coming with the destruction of Jerusalem ; no other scriptures that speak of redemption, or the gathering of the saints at that time. To adopt the figurative exposition, I must find a satisfactory answer to these objections, and many more. But when all these objections are obviated, were it possible to do it, and the figurative exposition established, what should we gain? We have still the certainty that every prediction there given is to receive a literal accomplishment in future time,
5. I have shown that the literal exposition agrees with the order in which the events are predicted, as recorded by the evangelist. That it accords with the language of Jesus Christ ; that it answers all the predictions, fully and satisfactorily; and that it agrees with, and is fully sustained, by other scripture in every particular.
6. I have endeavored to answer the objections raised against the literal exposition, arising from several passages of scripture ; and have designedly avoided no objection in my answer that I regard as of any weight. It is now for the reader to examine the subject, and I would entreat him to remember, whatever may be his view of this argument, that Jesus Christ is yet to come, and at that coming, every prediction here given is to receive its accomplishment. Are you ready? Let not preparation for that event be delayed a single moment.
Illustration of Scripture. “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them : and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded, for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they ezesan, lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead, anezesan, lived not again till the thousand years were finished. This is the first anastasei, resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first anastasei, resurrection ; on such the second death hath no power ; but they shall be priests of God, and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years ;" Rev. XX., 4–6.
Those who maintain the doctrine of the second advent, in 1843, contend that this passage teaches the doctrine of the literal resurrection of all the righteous, at the second coming of Christ, who are to reign with him on the earth in his everlasting kingdom, not merely for a thousand years, but for ever and ever. On the other hand, we shall attempt to show that the resurrection here spoken of, is not a literal, but a metaphorical resurrection, and that those who are the subjects of this resurrection will enjoy a spiritual reign, under Christ, of exalted piety and of great blessedness.
1. To sustain their position, they affirm that the word resurrection uniformly means, in the Holy Scriptures, a revival of the dead, and, consequently, to give it any other interpretation, in this place, is a violation of the analogy of Scripture. But this assertion is a