Page images
PDF
EPUB

expired, and the fifth kingdom or the kingdom “ of Christ shall be set up in their place, and the “ saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom,

possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever " and ever *."

Whether the remarkable hieroglypbical passaget, which succeeds this prophecy, may be applied to the times of the second advent, or whether it must be confined to the figurative coming of our Lord in judgment against Jerusalem when it was sacked by the Romans, depends entirely, as it appears to me, upon the meaning of the word generation in the 32d verse. Verily I say unto you,

this

gene“ ration shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled I. If generation here denote a generation of contemporary men, it seems unwarrantable to extend the prediction, relative to the coming of the Son of man, to the second advent; when Christ, so ex. pressly tells us, that both it, and his preceding lis teral prediction of the sacking of Jerusalem, will be accomplished ere the then existing generation shall have passed away.

But, if with Mr. Mede we suppose it to denote a nation or people, as the

[ocr errors]

Bp. Newton's Dissert. xx. See likewise Mr. Mede's opirion cited at the beginning of this work.

+ Luke xxi. 25--28.

| The same declaration occurs, and in the same part of the prediction, in the parallel prophecies recorded by St. Matthew. and St. Mark, though neither of those evanjelists mention the implied promise of the restoration of Judah, VOL. II.

word

Y

word yavec undoubtedly may do, and if by this nation we understand with him the nation of the Jezes; we are then at liberty to extend the prophecy to the times of the second advent. In that case, our Lord's declaration, when paraphrased, would amount to this : “ I solemnly assure you, “ that, notwithstanding this people shall be led

away captive into all nations, and their capital

city trodden under foot, until the times of the Gentiles shall be accomplished; yet they shall “ in no wise pass away; they shall in no wise lose " their separate existence; but shall be wonder

fully preserved in the land of their dispersion a “ distinct and unmixing nation, till all be fulfilled, " till a series of tremendous political revolutions " has uishered in my second advent, till I appear " in the clouds of heaven pouring down vengeance

upon Antichrist and his confederated multi* tudes." I believe it to be almost an axiom in prophetic interpretation, that there is scarcely a prediction relative to the first advent which does not look forward ultimately to the second advent ; aud certainly no prediction seems more worthy of such an extension than that of our Lord himself, provided only we be warranted in thus extending it by his assertion that “this generation shall not

pass away till all be fulfilled.” That the prediction primarily relates to the sicge of Jerusalem, no one I apprehend will be disposed to deny; and I think we may venture to add, that our Lord himself elsewhere seems peculiarly to direct our attention to this event. He declares, that the disciples “shall not have gone over the cities of “ Israel, till the Son of man be come* ;” and, in another place, yet more explicitly, that some of those very disciples “shall not taste of death, till “ they see the Son of man coming in his king“ dom f.” Assertions like these, plainly delivered in allusion to his subsequent prophecy, lead onę to doubt the propriety of Mr. Mede's exposition of the word generation, and incline one rather to think that its most obvious meaning is that intended by our Lord. If then it do mean simply a generation of co-existing men, we are scarcely warranted in extending the prediction to the times of the second advent. It is in this sense that Bp. Newton takes the word, and thence very naturally argues as I have done.

self Vatt. X. 23. ✓ alatt. xvi. 28. See also Mark ix, 1. and Luke ix. 27.

“ It is to me a wonder,' says he,“ how any man can refer part of the

foregoing discourse to the destruction of Jeru

salem, and part to the end of the world or any other distant event, when it is said so positively “ here in the conclusion, All things shall be ful

filled in this generation. It seemeth as if our “ Saviour had been aware of some such misappli" cation of his words, by adding yet greater force " and emphasis to his atfirmation, Heaven and

[ocr errors]

4 earth 1 2

earth shall pass away, but my words shall not

pass axray-In another place he says, There are

some standing here, who shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom : intimating, that it would not succeed im

mediately, and yet not at such a distance of time, 66 but that some then living should be spectators " of the calanities coming upon the nation." Yet does his Lordship afterwards, not very consistently with his prior remarks, suppose the prophecy ultimately to relate to the end of the world and the day of judgment. He observes, what no doubt is perfectly true, that “it is usual with the prophets “ to frame and express their prophecies so, as " that they shall comprehend more than one event, “ and have their several periods of completion.” But, if our Lord expressly limit this prediction to the siege of Jerusalem, as he certainly does, if with the Bishop we suppose generation to mean a generation of co-existent men, what right have we, contrary to his own declaration, to extend it to the end of the world* ?

But, in whatever sense we are to understand that part of the prophecy, which speaks of signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars, of distress of nations, of the roaring of the sea and the wates,

* Sec Bp. Newton's Dissert. xxi. The reader will find the whole of Mr. Mede's scheme of interpretation in his Works, Book iv. Epist: xii. p. 752, 753.

of

of the shaking of the powers of heaven, and of the Son of man coming in the clouds ; whether we are to understand it limitedly as referring solely to the destruction of Jerusalem and the wars which preceded it, or extendedly as referring likewise to the awful political revolutions of the last times which according to the general voice of prophecy will usher in the second advent: in whatever sense, I say, we are to understand it, there is no ambiguity, or difficulty in our Lord's explicit declaration, that th Jews shall be scattered through all nations, and that Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled. Since this prediction was delivered, the Jea's have been led away captive by the Romans, and to this present hour continue dispersed over the face of the whole earth. Jerusalem has never ceased to be trodden down of the Gentiles; being successively occupied by the Romans, the Persians, the Saracens, the Turks of the Seljuccian race, the Egyptian caliphs, the Latin Christians, the Egyptian caliphs a second time, the Mamalucs, and the Turks of the Ottoman race. These last are its ,

present masters. But, when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilledl, when the 1260 year's shall have expired, it will begin to be delivered out of their hands and to cease to be trodden down; and at length, after all the political changes which it has witnessed, it will once more revert to its ancient possessors, the children of Juah. Thus are Y 3

the

« PreviousContinue »