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person who, at a proper time, would exhibit the necessary proofs of his being the Messiah, on account of those predictions, and looking out for others who might ļay claim to that character. Ver 4, 5. And Jesus said to them—Take heed lest any man deceive you ; for many shall come in my name saying, I am the Christ--or the Messiah, and shall deceive many. Nay--so strongly does he appear to have been impressed, with the urgent necessity, of this caution, and to have entered, so thoroughly, into their views, upon the subject that, having in the 21st verse,
told them that the afflictions of those times would be such, as were not, from the beginning of the world, to that time--he, evidently, appears to have been unable to proceed in the dreadful detail of sufferings, which were coming upon their nation, without renewing, in the most earnest and affectionate manner, his caution to them, to beware least they should be drawn away from their stedfast attachment to him, as the Messiah, by the arts and artifices of Deceivers. Ver. 23, 24, Then, i, e. when those things, which he had before been describing, should come to pass if any Man shall say unto you—Lo here is the Christ-or the Messiah--believe him not i for there shall arise false Christs or false Messiahs--and false Prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very Elect. And, that this caution, thus energetically and repeatedly enforced, might make the deepest impression upon their minds, he adds this remarkable and solemn memento. Behold I have told you before ; wherefore, if they shall say to you-Behold her to wit, the Messiah, is in the desert, go not forth--behold he is in the secret chambers *, believe them not,
As it thus appears to have been the first object of our Lord, in St. Matthew's narration, to guard his Disciples against Deceivers, who should assume the character of the Messiah ; so it is, likewise, in that of St. Mark, Chap. xiii. 5. 6. And Jesus answered, and began to say,--Take heed lest any man deceive you for many shall come in my name, saying I am the Christ-or the Messiah-rand shall deceive many. And, having
* Arch Bp. New.come has very judiciously observed, upon this passage, " that the natural course of Impostors is, to increase their strength clandestinely
at first, and that the beginnings of those whose designs were never brought “ to maturity, are too inconsiderable to be taken notice of in History." See his observations on our Lord's conduct as a divine Instructor, p. 194.
describede described, the exceeding greatness of the calamities which were coming, upon the Jewish nation, he, in like manner, with St. Matthew, repeats the same caution, with the same intention; ver. 21–23. Then, if any man shall say unto youn-Lo here is the Christ-or the Messiah-orlo.he.is there, believe him not, for false Christs and false Prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, * to seduce, if possible, even the elect. And; with a like view, to its making the strongest impression upon their minds, he addsBehold I have told you before. "St. Luke, in his account of this prediction, does not repeat the caution--but, it is equally remarkable, that it stands the foremost, in answer to the questions of the Disciples. Ch. xxi. 8. And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived for many
in my name, saying, I am the Christ or the Messiah—and the time draweth nigh, when the Messiah should appear--Go not therefore after them.
These cautions, so harmoniously related, by all the three Evangelists, as occupying the first thoughts of our Lord, in his reply to the question of the Disciples, upon the subject of his coming; the judicious Reader will, nay must, perceive, afford a demonstrable proof, that they did not, at this period, consider that Jesus had yet given them, such proofs of his being the Messiah, as they had affixed to that Character; for, if he had given them these proofs ; it would have been not only, unnecessary, but absurd, to have cautioned them, in so very particular a manner, against false Christs, who might; afterwards, assume the Character of the Messiah.
* " They will give, that is appeal to--promise, or undertake to produces « such signs, using the very language of the Jewish Legislator---who repre* sents a Prophet as giving, (Deut. xiii. 1 in the Septuagint) that is proposing * and appealing to a sign or wonder, whether it did, or did not come to " "pass;" — Farmer on Miracles, p. 304. And again p: 307, 8. They “ shall give (or understake to exhibit) great signs and wonders, says the
Prophecy: and the History relates the fact in perfectly corresponding " language. They promised to shew, or exhibit, evident wonders and signs.” Jos. Ant. 20. 8. 6. And this very learned and excellent Writer thus explains Deut, xiii. 1.
“ To give a sign or wonder must mean the proposing and %appealing to any particular prodigy or portent, as a token or proof of a " divine interposition, as a declaration of the decrees of the Gods, and an "s indication of of futurity." · Arch Bishop Newcome from whom this note is taken, bas some farther observations upon this subject, which the learned Reader may consult to advantage. See Observations on our Lord's conduct as a divine instructor, p. 186.
But our Lord did not, upon this important occasion, stop here ; for he not only cautioned them agairst false Christs and false Prophets—but he plainly avowed that he himsell, actually did sustain the Character of the Messiah. v. 5 Many shall come in MY NAME, i. e. with my pretentions, to the Messiahship and shall deceive many. See also Mark xiii. 6. . Luke xxi. 8. And, as the Disciples had expected him to appear, in the Character of a temporal Prince, to raise their Nation to the highest pitch of worldly prosperity; he, in opposition to this opinion, which they had so strongly imbibed, particularly, pointed out to them, the true nature and manner of his coming, to wit, that it would be, in clouds, or in the execution of vengeance. Matt. xxiv. 37. As the days of Noah were-which, most certainly were, days of vengeance-so shall also the nature of the coming of the Son of Man the Messiah be. In like manner St. Luke says, in a passage which, as will hereafter, with the fullest evidence appear, is parallel to this, Ch. xvii. 26. As it was, in the days of Noah-50 shall it be, in the days of the Son of Man. And v 28. Likewise, as it was, in the days of Lot; which were, likewise, days of vengeance-even thus shall it be, when the true nature of the coming of the Son of Man, the Messiah is revealed. Now, what was all this, but saying, in other words, what he had said, in the beginning of the xxivth Chapter of St. Matthew, concerning the destruction of the Temple? What was it, but forbidding them to indulge, the expectation of his coming as a temporal Prince ?-What was it, in a word, but a direct and explicit answer to their question, what shall be THE SIGN of thy coming?
In the - relation of St. Matthew, there is, an additional question, which is peculiar to St, Matthew ; which the generality of Divines appear to have admitted, to relate, not to the end of the World but, to the end of the Jewish Dispensation ; and, it seems to be no trifling presumption, in favor of this interpretation, that the questions of the Disciples, as related, in the parallel Chapters, both of Mark and of Luke, are confined, solely, to the prediction of our Lord concerning the destruction of the Temple; with which he, most evidently, connected, the full manifestation of the true nature of his coming, as the Messiah, in opposition to the manner in which they expected him to come as a temporal Prince. In St. Mark, Ch. xiii. 4. the Disciples are represented as saying— Till us;
when shall these things be, and, if they must be, what sign wilt there be when all these things shall be fulfilled ? In St. Luke, it is said, Ch. xxi. 7, they asked him saying-Master--but wher shall these things be, and what sign will there be, when these things shall come to pass ?
The Reader will here, be pleased to observe, that though the coming of Christ-or of the Messiah, is not, particularly, mentioned in the questions, as stated by St. Mark and St. Luke-yet our Lord appears, evidently, to have understood it to be implied in their questions; for, as has already been observed his first care was, to caution his Disciples to beware of Deceivers who might assume the. Character of the Messiah.
As neither St. Mark nor St. Luke, put any question to Jesus, respecting his coming as the Messiah, though by the questions which they did put ; it was plainly implied so they likewise omit St. Matthew's additional question--what shall be the sign of the end of the World--or age—but, it is deserving of particular attention that, both of them, in common with St. Matthew, in their narration of the answer of Jesus, speak of the coming of the end, and nearly in the same words... St. Mark says-Ch. xiii: 7. When ye shall hear of Wars: and rumors of Wars-be ye not troubled; for such things must needs be-but THE END is not yet. St. Luke says, Ch. xxi.9. When
ye shall hear of Wars and Commotions—be not terrified --for these things must first come to pass but THE END is not immediately. * In like manner, our Lord says, as recorded by Matthew, Ch. xxiv. 6, Ye shall hear of Wars and rumors Wars--see that ye be not troubled for all these things must come to pass—but THE END is not yet. So again, he says V. 14. This Gospelmor good news of the Kingdom, i, e. of the Kingdom of the Messiah, which he had announced to be AT HAND, shall be preached in all the world, for a witnessor testimony to all nations, that the promise of the coming of the Messiah, in whom all the Nations of the Earth, should be blessed was fulfilling, and then shall THE END come. ,
If the answer which our Lord has here given, as related by these several Evangelists, and particularly by St. Mark and St. Luke, has any relation, to the questions of the Disciples and to his own prediction-THE END, so distinctly pointed
* Our Translators have rendered the Greek word not immediately, but, by and by--- which seems not accurately to convey the Evangelist's meaning.
out, and connected, with Wars and rumors of Wars, and with Wars and Commotions, must, as it should appear, relate to THE END of the Fewish State. And, if so, it is submitted to the judicious and attentive Reader, to consider, whether it is not the same, in signification, with the more full expression, which is contained in the additional question, recorded by St. Matthew What shall be the sign of THE END of the World or Age?
In the Prophecy of Ezekiel, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem--the language which is there adopted, so strongly resembles that which is made use of, by the Evangelical His. torians, upon
this subject, that it cannot fail to make, a considerable impression, upon the mind of the Reader ; especially, es it appears to relate to that very destruction, predicted by our Lord. Ezek, vii. 2. Thus saith the Lord God unto the land of Israel AN END THE END is come upon the four corners of the land. V. 3. Now is THE END come upon thee. And, in the 6th Verse, the same language is again repeated, as if, on purpose, to make the strongest impression, upon the mind of the Reader. AN END És comem-THE ENDis 'come--it watcheth for thecbehold it is come.
It seems almost impossible to doubt that THE IND here mentioned by the Prophet Ezekiel, with so particular an emphasis, and so closely adhered to, by all the three Evangelists, means THE END of the Jews, as a Nation. And it will not, perhaps, be thought very improbable, that when the Disciples put the question-What shall be the sign of THE END of the World; and Jesus, in his answer to it, might have had this passage, immediately, in their view. But however this be there seems to be good reason for thinking that the phrase THE END of the World signifies, diot the final Judgement of the World but THE END of the Jewish Dispensation or the destruction of Jerusalem ; to which the prediction of our Lord, most indisputably, was confined.
It cannot but be, extremely, satisfactory to find this exclu. sive view of the meaning of the questions of the Disciples
* The Reader who is inclined to attend to a more full investigation of the meaning of St. Matthew's additional question, What shall be the sign of the end of the world? is referred to the Appendix, No. 1, where he will find some strong arguments to induce him to think that it relates, not to the end of the World, in che scriçi sense of that expressione--but to the end of the Jewish Dispensation.