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things might require. These assurances were given upon those great occasions, particularly when they appear to have been absolutely and essentially necessary-when he at first gave them a commission to act as his Delegates and Apostles, attended with the most frightful and discouraging picture of the mighty opposition they must expect to meet with from their own countrymen, and of their being exposed to universal hatred for faithfully discharging the duties of their office-when he told them he was himself to be put to a most cruel and ignominious death, as an Impostor ;-and lastly, when he foretold the total ruin of their country, and the entire destruction of their city and temple! Was it pose sible in any of these cases to tell them explicitly that he was come--or that notwithstanding what he had told them--they saw in him, the full accomplishment of all their expectations. To have used such a language, in such circumstances, would have been to strike at the root of all their dearest prejudices, and totally to have quashed their expectations of his being the Messiah whom they so ardently expected, and to have compelled them to have forsaken him, if not to have destroyed him, as an Impostor.
But by telling them of a fixed period, beyond which their expectations of the coming of the Messiah would not be deferred, attended with the most indubitable proofs of his being an extraordinary personage, they were encouraged to perse verance, and notwithstanding they were unable to reconcile what he had told them, with their ideas of the nature of the Messiah's character, to wait the issue of their attachment to him. The assurances of Jesus, that they should not have gone over the cities of Israel, before the Son of Man, the Messiah, came that there were some standing with him, who should not taste of death till they saw the Son of Man, the Messiah, coming in his kingdom--and his declaring that the kingdom of God should come in that generation--being, in a particular manner, connected with the disclosure of the important events which were to happen, prove demonstrably that his object, in these assurances was, to encourage their expectation of the coming of the Messiah, and to prevent the effects which such discoveries had a natural tendency to produce!
If it be considered as an indubitable mark of the truth of an history, that the persons who are the subjects of that his. tory, act in such a manner as the situation and circumstances
of things necessarily require them to act-then it may without fear of contradiction be affirmed, that the Gospel history contains in it, every internal character of truth which the strictest scrutiny can require. This is so strongly exemplified, not only in the conduct of Jesus in the cases just mentioned, but in that of the Disciples likewise ; and it is so ably represented by Mr. Maltby, that it will require no apology for presenting it to the Reader in his own words.
“ We should,” says he, “ naturally expect at first to - meet the same sort of opinions and prejudices, in the Dis“ ciples of Jesus, as in their countrymen. We should expect " that these opinions would occasionally appear, and these
prejudices, often start forth. We should expect to observe “ marks of disappointment, when their worldly and carnal 66 views of the Messiah were discountenanced, and their own “ hopes, founded upon those wrong conceptions, baffled 16 and crushed. We should expect to find these deeply 6. rooted prepossessions gradually and slowly worn out of " their minds, by the indubitable proofs which Jesus gave “ of his being really the character which he professed to be
should expect to see them often returning to the charge, 66 as it were, and then retiring, at some fresh exertion of " miraculous power; rising again into full strength, when
any event occurred, which might seem to confound their 66 expectations; and not completely subdued, till after a r series of divine agency, which no pre-conceived opinions 66 whatsoever could possibly withstand. In short, we should
expect to find them resembling the rest of their countrymen, except in the opportunities they had of observing
more narrowly the character and works of Jesus, and in “having dispositions not so inveterately hostile to every
species of evidence. These, doubtless, would be our exfor
pectations, and if in the accounts, which are left of the o conduct of the more immediate followers of Jesus, we 16 meet with these marks of truth and nature, w bound in reason and in equity to receive their recorded o testimony." Pages 118, 119, 120.
By attending to the Gospels as Histories, and particularly as Histories of the great Controversy concerning the true nature of the Messiah's character, it has appeared with great force of evi. ence in the preceding pages, that the Disciples of Jesus did conduct themselves precisely in the manner which was to have been
expected, and the more closely they are attended to as historiis -the more numerous will be the proofs of this, and consequently the more irrefragable will be the evidences of their genuine authenticity, with all who are capable of judging of the nature of evidence. If they had been considered in this light, it would have been utterly impossible either for the friend or the enemy of Christianity to have conceived that Christ predicted his second coming in that generation ; for it would have been seen, with an evidence which is not to be resisted by any one who possesses the smallest pretensions to candor, that the language upon which this opinion has been founded naturally arose out of the circumstances of the times, and of the difference of the character of the Messiah from that which the Jews had invariably affixed to it. It may confidently be affirmed, that if the Gospels be viewed in this light, they will not only, in many important instances, be unintelligible, and half their beauties be concealed, but a thousand internal evidences of their authenticity must inevitably escape the Reader's notice. The instance of the charge brought against our Lord, by the Historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and but too much countenanced by Divines of all descriptions, of Christ's having predicted his second coming in the clouds to judge all mankind, is one of the most striking proofs of this ; for, if the represntation which has, in the preceding pages been made of this matter, shall be found to be correct, it must now appear that the language which he made use of to describe his Coming, is among the most decisive and authentic evidences of the truth of the History. And what renders this evidence the more valuable and important is, that no lapse of time can lessen its force, or render it less capable of producing conviction. The importance therefore of viewing the Gospels in this light must be particularly striking, and must be attended with the most beneficial effects in banishing Scepticism and Infidelity, and in shewing, in a strong point of view, that Christianity is worthy of all acceptation !
With respect to the Epistles-the view which has, in the preceding pages, been given of them, establishes such a 'de. lightful harmony between them and the Gospels, and so completely does away all suspicion of the Authors of them, having expected the end of the world in their time, that the mouth of infidelity must become dumb, and the credit of the Apostles
be established, as being well acquainted with the doctrine of their great Master with respect to his coming, and with the ex. tensive designs of Christianity with respect to future ages.
The xxivth of Matthew and the parallel chapters are of particular importance, in consequence of our Lord's having connected with his prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, the final proof of the true nature of his character, in opposition to the manner in which the Jewish Nation expected him to come. More attention, unquestionably, should have been given to these chapters, in this view, than has been given to them, as it would necessarily have pointed out the importance of ascertaining with precision their true meaning, and of keeping close to that meaning, in examining the Apostolic Epistles. Nothing can be more evident than that these chapters contain the true Key to the unlocking the genuine meaning of many important parts of the Epistles. A better proof of this cannot be given, than that all Commentators have, in their explanation of these Epistles, referred to those chapters--but, not having understood them, have made the Apostles speak a language which never was intended by them, and subjected them to the charge of having predicted the near approach of the end of the world, when in reality they were. only reminding those to whom they wrote, of the near approach of the destruction of Jerusalem. That awful calamity had not then taken place, and the noticing it, in the particular manner they have done, must, in the estimation of all good. judges of the nature of evidence, constitute a most striking proof of their authenticity. The earnestness with which our Lord pointed out the signs of its approach, and directed them to be particularly attentive to those signs, especially when connected with the declarations that the destrution of Jeruu salem, would be the crowning proof of the true nature of his character, rendered it absolutely impossible for the Apostles, if they were faithful to their trust, not to make it the subject of their particular attention! For what reason else did our Lord dwell so much upon it as he appears to have done?
It may not be without its use, perhaps, to observe the gradation of language made use of by the Apostles in describing the approach of this awful calamity. In the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, which has generally been supposed to have been written as early as the year fifty-two, the Apostle asserts, that the day of Christ shall not come except there be an apostasy * first, &c. i. e. that certain signs would intervene which had not yet appeared. The Epistle to the Philippians is supposed to have been written ten years later, and there St. Paul declares that it was at hand. In that to the Hebrews, which was written at a still later period, the Writer's language' is- The day is approaching ---Yet a little while and he that shall come will come, and shall not tarry. St. Peter, in his First Epistle, mentions particularly the day of visitation, and the fiery trial, and declares that the end of all things was at hand, and that the time was come when judgment must begirat the house of God. And St. John, in his First Epistle, intimates that it was still nearer, by saying, that it was the last hour, and that there were many Antichrists, whereby they knew that it was the last hour. These, the judicious and attentive Reader will consider, as decisive proofs of accuracy, and are, perhaps, among the best proofs of the time when the Epistles were severally written.
Of the accomplishment of this prediction no notice whatever is taken in any part of the New Testament, from whence it has, very properly been inferred, that the Epistles and Gospels were all written before it had taken place. But the faithful
page of history written by Josephus, an unbelieving Jewan eye-witness of the fatal issue of the war, fills the chasm, and declares, with an evidence not easily to be resisted, that all things which Jesus foretold of the destruction of Jeruz salem, were truly and literally fulfilled.
The present Bishop of London, speaking upon this subject, says, " we may safely consider this prophecy, as an
unquestionable proof of the divine fore-knowledge of our “ Lord, and the divine authority of the Gospel ; and on this “ ground only, (were it necessary), we might securely rest the « whole fabrick of our Religion. Indeed this remarkable pre« diction has always been considered, by every impartial per
son, as one of the most powerful arguments in favor of Christianity; and in our own times more particularly, a man * In mentioning the opinion of the present Bishop of St. Asaph, Dr. Horsley, upon the subject of the Man of Sin; it was omitted to be observed that speaking of the Apostasy, as applied to the Church of Rome, he says it was, a constructive Apostasy ; never understood to be such by those to “ whom the guilt has been imputed.” And in this he appears to be right ---but like most other Commentators, he understands the Apostasy in a religi
The criticism upon this word as used in the New Testament, in pages 199, 200, of this Work, is earnestly recommended to his attention.