Page images

quent destruction of the nations, such of the Jews as had been restored by Antichrist, and placed in the capital of Palestine, will be converted to the faith. They will look upon him whom they have pierced, and mourn for him as one that mourneth for an only son. This conversion to protestant Christianity, and consequent dereliction of the cause of Antichrist, is in fact the only reason that can be assigned for his turning his arms against his late allies. We may collect from Daniel, that, after he had settled them in Jerusalem, and while he was engaged in the conquest of Egypt, suddenly he hears from the north and from the east (as he would do, supposing him to be then in Egypt) the unpleasant tidings of the landing of the great maritime power with the converted Jews, and of the penitence and defection of those whom he had himself restored in an unconverted state. Enraged at the intelligence, he goes forth menacing utter destruction to all his opponents: and, as Zechariah similarly predicts, he plants the curtains of his tents between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; or, in other words, he besieges and takes Jerusalem *. Then, and not till then, he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

Here it must be observed, that Zechariah very remarkably divides the restored of Judah into two parts; styling the one the tents of Judah, and the other the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and he asserts, that the Lord shall save the tents of Judah first †. Afterwards he proceeds to describe the conversion of the house of David and Jerusalem, as taking place subsequently to their restoration. Judah in tents then is placed in contradistinction to Judah in Jerusalem; Judah the first saved by the Lord, to Judah not brought to salvation till afterwards. This exactly accords with the opinion, which I have more than once had occasion to advance that part of the Jews will be restored, in a converted state, by

* Compare Dan. xi. 41---45, where the route of Antichrist is very minutely described.

"The meaning here is, that God would save the tents of Judah first, or previously to any other; and for this the reason immediately follows, that the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem might not be tempted to value themselves too highly on the preference given to them (supposing that had been the case) above the rest of Judah." Dr. Blayney in loc.

the great maritime power; and part, in an unconverted state, by Antichrist. The converted Jews are described as being in tents; because they are attached to the army of the maritime power, and have not yet acquired a permanent settlement: while the unconverted Jews, whose conversion in their own country Zechariah foretells in the present prophecy, are said to be dwelling in Jerusalem. Here they are besieged by Antichrist; and, as a just punishment for their former impiety, several of them, so far as this world is concerned, are suffered to perish. Such a fate precisely agrees with the many predictions, which very explicitly declare, that the Jews shall return in a time of great trouble, and shall be made severely to suffer in the course of their restoration *. In short, these two divisions of Judah are clearly those two divisions of the flock, which Ezekiel calls the sheep and the goats †. The overthrow of Antichrist, as I have repeatedly had occasion to observe, will take place in Palestine, or the

* Jerem. xxx. 1---17. Ezek. xx. 33---38.

†See Ezekiel xxxiv. In the first edition of my Dissertation on the 1260 years, I was right in asserting, that this passage plainly taught us to expect a two-fold restoration of the Jews; but at that time I had by no means a clear conception of the precise meaning of it. Hence I mistook the import of the expression "the Lord shall save the tents of Judah first;" supposing it to denote, that the division called Judah should be restored previous to the restoration of the other division called the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem but, how the one was to be distinguished from the other, I could not then conceive; being aware from their description, that both the divisions must be composed of Jews properly so called. I readily acknowledge, that, when that work was first published, I did not entertain the slightest suspicion that the house of Israel would ever be restored separately from the house of Judah, and that afterwards the two would coalesce into one kingdom. Taking up the common notion, that the ten tribes are irrecoverably lost excepting such individuals as returned from Babylon with Judah, I had a confused idea, that all those prophecies, which speak of the restoration both of Judah and Ephraim, meant that of Ephraim only as included in that of Judah. A more exact, laborious, and connected, view of the subject has now led me to adopt a very different opinion. Not that the present passage of Zechariah relates to the two-fold restoration of Judah and Ephraim in supposing it to relate to a two-fold restoration of Judah only, I was perfectly right; but I erred in fancying it to relate to a two-fold successive restoration of Judah. I am now convinced, that it predicts a two-fold contemporaneous restoration of Judah, previous to the subsequent restoration of Israel: the one division of Judah, accurately denominated the tents of Judah, will be first brought to salvation, being restored in a converted state by the great maritime power; the other division of Judah, no less accurately denominated the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, will afterwards be brought to salvation, being restored in an unconverted state and for mere political purposes by Antichrist. See my Dissertation, vol. ii. p. 395, 396 (1st edit.).

region between the seas: and St. John even tells us the particular part of that country, where this great event will happen; informing us, that it is called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon, or the cursing to utter destruction at Megiddon. It is remarkable that Zechariah has an allusion to the same place, which he interweaves with his account of the penitence manifested by the converted Jews. "Their mourning," says he, "shall be like the mourning at the vintage-shouting of Rimmon in the valley of Megiddon." He may, I believe, primarily refer to the mourning on account of the overthrow of Josiah, which happened in this valley *: but, from the peculiarity of his phraseology, I am strongly inclined to think, that he ultimately though covertly alludes to the destruction of Antichrist. Adopting the metaphorical language of Isaiah, language adopted on the same occasion by St. John, he directs our attention to the vintage-shouting of Rimmon, which is a small town in the valley and neighbourhood of Megiddon. Hence we may naturally suppose, that this shouting is the shouting when the vintage of God's wrath is gathered in, and when the Almighty Word treads the wine-press of the mystic Edom and sprinkles his garments with the blood of his enemies. The other Rimmon, which the prophet afterwards mentions in connection with Gebat, is a different town of the same name, which lies south-west of Jerusalem.

The same subject is continued in the 13th chapter. When a fountain for sin and for uncleanness is opened. to the house of David, and when the inhabitants of Jerusalem have availed themselves of the mediatorial sacrifice of Christ, then all idolatry and all false prophets shall for ever cease among them. They shall at once enjoy the blessings of true religion and temporal security; for in that day the Lord will smite him, who is both their oppressor and the enemy of his Church. The sword of divine justice shall awake against Antichrist §, against

†Zechar. xiv. 10.

2 Kings xxiii. 29, 30. "The blood of Christ, which cleanseth from all sin, is manifestly here intended, the Jews being upon their conversion and repentance to be admitted to all the privileges of the Christian covenant." Dr. Blayney in loc.

S After having examined this passage as carefully as I am able, I rest in the opinion of Dr. Blayney, that it has not the most distant relation to the death

that presumptuous shepherd or ruler, that mighty tyrant; who, after having spoken marvellous things against the God of gods, at length in the last days, even when the

and sufferings of Christ. I believe that our Lord cites a part of it merely as a proverbial saying, laying it down as a matter of course, for the followers to disperse when their leader was taken off. The arguments, which Dr. Eveleigh brings to prove that the word my denotes the equality and consub. stantiality of the Father and the Son, do not appear to me conclusive. The word itself signifies a neighbour or fellow-citizen, in which sense it frequently occurs in the book of Leviticus. Now, when one man is said to be the neighbour of another, that they are of the same nature follows indeed of course, but certainly not because they are neighbours but because they are men; that is to say, the idea of sameness of nature is incidental, it does not spring out of the term neighbour. So again, the circumstance of two men being neighbours or fellow-citizens does not prove that those two men are equal or upon the same level in society. This being the case, if a person be said for some reason or another to be the neighbour of God, I see not how either consubstantiality or equality is at all necessarily implied. The subject of the present prophecy is the restoration of Judah and the overthrow of a mighty confederacy before Ferusalem. In the course of it we are told, that some shepherd or prince, some mighty man who made himself the neighbour of God, should be smitten by a sword: that the wrath of the Almighty should be kindled not only against him, but against the little ones or mean ones; or those, as Dr. Blayney justly observes, "that are usually held of less account, the common people :" that, in consequence of this display of the divine vengeance, such as escaped should be scattered: that these scattered ones should compose the third part of the whole, the two other parts having been cut off: and that this third part, consisting of the scattered ones, should by the severity of their sufferings be converted to the profession of the truth. In all this there is so much that is applicable to the general drift of the prophecy, and so little that is applicable to the times of our Lord, that I think with Dr. Blayney, "perhaps the passage in question might never have been considered differently from the rest, had not our Saviour thought fit to make use of it for the purpose of illustration."

A shepherd denotes a prince. But what remarkable prince is to be smitten at the era of the restoration of Judah, except Antichrist now become the last head of the Roman beast? God styles him my shepherd, as he styles Nebuchadnezzar my servant, merely because he is an instrument of vengeance in his hand. And he speaks of him as being mighty, and as making himself his neighbour, because he attempts as it were to elbow the Almighty out of his own peculiar residence, the glorious holy mountain of Zion. I take the idea to be something similar to that of Milton :

"The chief were those, who from the pit of hell
"Roaming to seek their prey on earth durst fix
"Their seats long after next the seat of God,

"Their altars by his altar, gods ador'd
"Among the nations round, and durst abide

"Jehovah thundering out of Zion, thron'd

"Between the Cherubim; yea, often plac'à
"Within his sanctuary itself their shrines,
"Abominations; and with cursed things
"His holy rites and solemn feasts profan'd

"And with their darkness durst affront his light."

[ocr errors]

This interpretation exactly harmonizes with the general tenor of the present prediction, and with what we are taught to expect by the other inspired writers at the eventful period of the restoration of Judah. Antichrist will then place himself in the mount of God. But the sword of the Messiah will speedi

[ocr errors]

judgments of heaven are abroad, dares to make himself the immediate neighbour of the Lord, and sets up a new abomination of desolation in the peculiar city of the Most High, by planting the curtains of his pavilions between the seas in the glorious holy mountain *. When the shepherd is smitten, such of his flock, as escape the avenging sword of him that rideth on the white horse †, shall be scattered far and wide; and, agreeably to the parallel prophecy of Isaiah †, shall carry into all nations the tidings of their overthrow, and of the marvellous manifestation of the power of God. Great however will first be the slaughter of them; for the Lord will turn his hands, not only against the leader, but likewise against the mean ones, even all his inferior followers. Of the whole Antichristian army two thirds shall perish, and one third only shall be preserved. This third part shall be brought through the fire of affliction to sincere faith and repentance; and every one, that is left of all the nations. which came against Jerusalem, shall go up from year to year to worship the king, the Lord of hosts. But first, as I have just observed, and as we are taught both by Isaiah and Zechariah, they will be scattered through all countries; and, carrying wherever they go the wonderful tidings of their own defeat and of the restoration of Judah, they will be made instrumental in bringing about also the restoration of Israel.

In the 14th chapter, which contains a prediction of the sacking of Jerusalem, and a more particular account of the manner in which the confederacy of Antichrist will be overthrown; it is said; that, in the great day of the

ly be drawn against him; and he will come to his end, none being able to help him. His vast armament will be overthrown with dreadful slaughter; and such as escape will be scattered over the whole world, and in the severe school of adversity will at length be brought to a hearty penitence for their past offences.

* "A new section commences here (Chap. xiii. 7.), but not, I think, a new subject of prophecy. For, as far as we can judge of a prophecy before its accomplishment, it appears to be a continuation of the same subject, which was entered upon at the beginning of Chap. xii; namely, the alarming invasion of Judah, and siege of Jerusalem, by a numerous body of nations." Blayney in foc...

† Rev. xix. 11, 15.

Isaiah lxvi. 19, 20.


"This chapter goes on to foretell a siege, in which Jerusalem will be taken and sacked, and half of its inhabitants carried into captivity, whilst the rest will be enabled to stand their ground. In this critical situation they

« PreviousContinue »