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" by the names of the heavenly luminaries--their misfortunes “ and overthrow are represented by eclipses and extinction : “ Stars falling from the firmament, are employed to denote “ the destruction of the Nobility, &c. In a word, the “ Prophetic style seems to to be a speaking Hieroglyphic. “ These observations,” the Bishop adds, “ will not only “ assist us in the study of the Old and New Testament, but 6i likewise vindicate their character from the illiterate cavils 6i of modern libertines, who have foolishly mistaken that, “ for the peculiar workmanship of the Prophet's heated ima
gination, which was, the sober, established language of " their times, and which God and his Son condescended to
employ, as the properest conveyance of the high myste" rious ways of Providence, in the revelation of themselves
to mankind.” * From the examples which have been laid before the Reader, of this kind of language, taken from the Prophecies of the Old Testament; and from the observations of these learned men, it must appear extremely evident, that our Lord copied it from them, and when this language is taken in connection with his preceding description of the calamities which he had predicted, as approaching, scarcely a single doubt can remain, that he meant to describe, by this language, the very extensive and durable effects which they would produce. Should, how ever, any one still think that Jesus used a strength of expression superior to that of the Prophets (which however does not appear to be the case) it may be observed, that it might natu. rally have been expected, that his quick sense of the greatness of those calamities, together with the affecting consideration of their near approach, would be discovered, in the peculiar strength of his language ; for the calamities which were coming upon the Jewish nation--the Evangelists all concur in representing, as tremendous in the extreme, and such as never had been exceeded or would be hereafter.
* Mr. Kett says,
" that great and extraordinary political revolutions, such ." as the fall of Kings and the overthrow of Governments, are represented by “ the antient Prophets, by changes in the course of nature and disorder
among the heavenly bodies--extraordinary commotions among the lowest " classes of the people, by the raging enrbulence and roaring of the Sea." And speaking of Matt. xxiv. 29. 30. he says, “ Our Lord in the following “ Prophecy uses the same metaphors with the same meaning." See Kett ou Prophecy, Vol. I. pages 245, 246.
Thus Matt. xxiv. 21. Then shall be great tribulation, such as, was not since the beginning of the world to this time-no, nor ever shall be. *
Mark, xiii. 19. In those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation unto this time, neither shall be. And, St. Luke calls them days of vengeance. In short, they all seem to labour for strength of expression, sufficient to describe the greatness of the calamities of those times. This seems not to have been sufficiently attended to, by the patrons of a double meaning, in these chapters; or, it may be presumed, they would have readily admitted, that the language of our Lord, related solely to the calamity which he had, in the preceding part of the chapter, been describing ; especially, when they
found all the Evangelists declaring, in the most unqualified and energetic terms, that all these things were to happen, in that generation, But of this more hereafter In fine, the language of antient Prophecy appears to be, the only legitimate commen. tary, upon that of our Lord, in the verse under consideration; and to seek for any other, is only to puzzle and per. plex, what appears to be perfectly clear and intelligible, and free from all ambiguity. It must also be added, as particu, larly worthy of notice, that the very use of this language is one, among a multitude of strong internal characters, of the genuine authenticity of the History; for nothing could possibly have been more natural than for a few, to have expressed himself, more especially upon such a subject, in the language of antient Prophecy--not only as it must have been
* Mr. Kett has observed, upon this passage, that “ though the history of “ mankind, will furnish numerous instances of the hardships and sufferings " to which the inhabitants of great and populous cities have been exposed, “6 during a protracted siege ; yet we may venture to assert, that the detail of “ the horrible distresses, related by an eye witness, of the siege of Jerusalem, “ exceeds any description that can be found, in any other Author, both, in “ the nature and extent of the miseries to which it was subjected, Josephus “ remarks, that all the calamities that ever befel any other nation, since the “ beginning of the world, were inferior to those which happened to his “ countrymen, at this awful period of their history.' And this fact is " corroborated, by the opinion of their enemies, who ascribe these extraor"5 dinary sufferings to the character of this extraordinary people, as some " extenuation of their own oppression and cruelty. Our Lord's emphatic
words therefore need not be considered, as hyperbolical, but as intended - Of to mark that peculiar accumulation of woe, which the peculiar aggravation “ of the sins of this people would draw down upon Jerusalem." See Kett on Prophecy; pages 229, 230.
perfectly familiar to his hearers--but, afterwards, when they came seriously to reflect upon it, must have made a much deeper impression upon their minds.
With respect to the 30th verse, the learned University Preacher has indeed asserted that it seems strongly to oppose, if not irrefragably to refuse the opišion, that the chapter relates ENTIRELY to the destruction of Jerusalem--but per. haps, a more accurate enquiry into the meaning of this verse will shew; not that it opposes, but in the fullest manner, confirms, the unity of sense which is here contended for. It hath already been shewn, with an evidence bordering upon demonstration, that the question of the Disciples-What shall be the sign of thy coming, means the coming of Jesus as the Messiah or when he would manifest himself to them under that character, if what he had predicted concerning the destruction of the Temple, was to come to pass. It hath been shewn likewise, that in the answer to their question, Jesus asserted, in the 27th verse, that the nature of his coming, as the. Messiah, would be as visible as the lightning which shone from East to West, and that this coming would, in fact, be in vengeance, as in the days of Noah: in other words, that the coming of the Messiah, instead of being, as they imagined, productive of great temporal prosperity to them as a nation, would, on the contrary, through their own fault, be most calamitous and destructive to them. This is so obviously the meaning of this verse, that it cannot, with any appearance of reason, be controverted, by those who view the Gospels, in the light in which they ought to viewed, as histories, and particularly as histories of the great controversy concerning the true nature of the Messiah's Character. Most consonant therefore to this declaration of our Lord, and ina deed, as will hereafter more fully appear, to the general tenor of the whole chapter, is his assertion, that all the Tribes of the land should mourn, and that they should see the Son of Man, the Messiah, coming in the clouds of Heaven with powen and great glory.
The coming of the Son of Man, in the clouds of Heaven ; it must carefully be observed, was not originally, our Saviour's, language—but like that in the preceding verse, was evidently borrowed from antient Prophecy; and like that also, it could not but have been perfectly familiar-not to the Disciples only-but to the whole Jewish Nation : particularly as they
understood it in a sense, the most favorable to their own worldly and ambitious views. Dr. G. Benson, in his Essay on the Unity of the sense of Scripture, has observed, " that “ Christ's coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great * glory is a plain allusion to Daniel vii. 13, 14. which Bishop “ Chandler judiciously applies to our Saviour's receiving the 66 investiture in his new dignity, at the hands of God or the
entering upon the exercise of his universal and everlasting kingdom. "Clouds are a known symbol of Heaven, and of divine power and majesty. And the ascribing this symbol
to one like the Son of Man, is a declaration of the supreme “ magnifcence and authority, which God shall give that Son " of Man, the Messias : saith that eminent Jew, Saadiah
Gaon. See Bishop Chandler's defence of Christianity, p. 128, " &c. Sir Isaac Newton, likewise, (in his chapter of the Pro
phetic language,) says—The heavens and the things there. “ in, signifie thrones and dignities.-And riding on the clouds “ is put for reigning over much people. Our Saviour, there“ fore, in prophetic language, foretells that all power should “ be given unto him both in Heaven and upon Earth ;
and when destruction was coming upon his enemies and
murtherers, then should all the Tribes of the land mourn, " and see evident signs of Jesus, his being invested with
great power and glory ; which he would make use of to “ take vengeance on his enemies, and to deliver his own
people out of their distresses.” See Benson's Essay, pages 27, 28. * And Mr. Mede says " this expression of the Son 5 of Man's coming in the clouds of Heaven, so often incul.
cated in the New Testament, is taken from, and hath " reference to the Prophecy of Daniel ; being no where " else found, in the Old Testament. As our Saviour also “ calls himself so frequently the Son of Man because Daniel
so called him, in that vision of the great Judgment, and $6 and that we might look for the accomplishment of what is for there prophecied of, in him ; it was not in vain, that wherz
* Bishop Newton says, " in the antient Prophets. God is frequently “ described as coming in the clouds, upon any rernarkable interposition and “ manifestation of his power ; and the same description is here applied to * Christ. The destruction of Jerusalem will be as ample a manifestation of " Christ's power and glory, as if he was himself to come visibly in the 6 clouds of heaven." See his Dissertations on the Prophecies, Vol. II. pages 305, 306.
our Saviour quoted the Prophecy of Daniel," he added. 56 He that readeth let him understand.” See Mr. Mede's first letter to Dr. Meddus, touching the great day of Judgment. 4to Edit. 1650. Vol. I. pages 424, 425
Mr. Mede, it is true, understood this language to refer, not to his first coming as the Messiah, but to his second coming to Judgment : * But the Prophecy of Daniel, from which, he acknowledges our Lord to have borrowed his, cannot, without violence, be applied to any other, than to his first coming.. Ch. vii. 13. I saw in the night visions and behold one like theor a Son of Man, came with the clouds of Heaven, and came to the Antient of Days, and they brought him near before him, and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, and nations, and languages, should serve him.
When the Prophet says that the Son of Man came with the clouds of Heaven, previous to there being given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, he appears particularly to have represented the manner of his coming---or in the execution of vengeance. And it is an observation of Dr. Gerard, that " the Jews could scarcely fail to perceive this; for the ex
pression is used several times, in their own Scriptures, “ and always means no more than this.” It must also be extremely obvious to every one that as clouds produce darkness and not unfrequently storms and tempests, sometimes attended with tremendous desolation--the expresa sion became a very convenient, and at the same time, a very significant symbol, to denote great national calamities and the
* Mr. Medę when he asserted that it was not in vain that our Saviour said -He that readeth let him understand, says truly, but he should have attended to the connection of this passage ; which is, that they should see the abomination of desolation, and that then those who were in Judea were to flee to the *
Now what has this to do with the great day of Judgment ? If the sense of these passages be as Mr. Mede contends for---of what use is lan, guage? But let the Reader judge for himself. Matt. xxiv. 14, 15, 16. And this Gospel of the kingdom shall bě preached in all the world, for a witness to all nations, and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth let him understand): Then let them that are in Judea flee to the mountains. The
passage in St. Luke which appears to be parallel to this is, Ch. xxi. 20, 21. And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with Armies—then know that the des solation thereof is righ-Then let them that are in Judea flee to the mountains, Mark xiii. 14.. When ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand) ihen let them that be in Judea, flee to the mountains.