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more nations to heal. Therefore this second coming will be long before the end of the ages.
Isaiah tells us (xi. 4), “ The Rod out of the stem of Jesse shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and slay the wicked by the breath of his lips. Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb; the leopard shall lie down with the kid ; the lion with the sheep; and a little child shall lead them : the cow and the bear shall feed together : the lion shall eat straw like the ox: the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
Nothing can be more clear and decisive than this passage. The first verse announces most surely the second coming of Jesus Christ, since St. Paul declares, in his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians (ii. 9), that the wicked, or Antichrist, who shall come to finish apostasy by finishing the mystery of iniquity, shall be “consumed by the breath of the mouth of the Lord, and with the brightness of his coming.” The following verses of Isaiah announce, then, that after the destruction of Antichrist, and after the coming of Jesus Christ, there will still be wolves, lions, leopards ; which shall feed with lambs, sheep, and kids; little children, who shall lead them to pasture; sucking children, who shall play with serpents, without cause for fear. But I suppose it were needless to
that after the end of the ages there will be neither sucking children nor those just weaned; nor children to lead the flocks to pasture. Therefore, before the end of the ages Jesus Christ will come to destroy Antichrist and ungodliness.
The prophet Micah (chap. iv.), after announcing the blessings which will accrue to other nations through the Jews; the universal peace which must pervade the globe at the time of their conversion; adds (ver. 4 & seq.), “They shall sit every man under his vine, and under his fig-tree, and no one shall make them afraid ; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it. For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God. In that day, saith the Lord, I will assemble her that halteth ; I will gather her that is driven out; and her that I have afflicted : and I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast off a strong nation; and the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.
And thou, O tower of the flock, the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.”
The words, “ I will gather her that is driven out,” cannot, in
a primary sense, be applied to any but the Jews, rejected as a punishment for their sins; and the other expression, “ make her that halted a remnant,” cannot allow us to put off to the end of the ages that coming of Jesus Christ, when (as he told his Apostles) He will “restore the kingdom of Israel,” and (as in the prophet Micah)“ reign on Mount Zion ;” since the restoration of the kingdom of Israel, and the promise of posterity to the Jews, must necessarily precede the end of the ages.
Isaiah (chap. ii. in init.), using the same terms as the prophet Micah to describe the re-assembling of the Jews at Jerusalem, and the consequent universal peace, in like manner forbids our post-dating the time when (ver. 19) “the Lord shall arise to shake terribly the earth, and men shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord and his glory;” that is, the time of the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Zechariah furnishes us with a still more incontestible proof that the second coming of Jesus Christ must happen long before the end of the ages. “ The Lord (ii. 4) shall stand upon the Mount of Olives, with all his saints, to smite those that have fought against Jerusalem” (with Antichrist), “ and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and west :” (Does not this passage recall what the angels said to the Apostles on the same mountain ? “This Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come,” &c. Acts i. 11. There is a tradition transmitted by St. Jerome, St. Sulpicius-Severus, St. Paulinus, St. Augustin, confirmed in the eighth century, attested by modern travellers, that the print of our Saviour's footsteps are still visible on the Mount of Olives, indelibly impressed, notwithstanding the anxiety of believers to carry off the soil of that spot). What Zechariah adds, cannot be verified but on earth, and requires a long series of ages for its full accomplishment: “ It shall be in that day (ver. 8) that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem, half of them toward the former (eastern) sea, and half them toward the latter (western) sea ; in summer and in winter shall it be: and the Lord shall be King over all the earth : all the land, reduced to a desert, shall be re-peopled, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, which shall be lifted up in glory : it shall be inhabited in the place which it occupied, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner-gate ; from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's wine-presses.
It is evident that the distinction of " eastern and western sea,” and that of " summer and winter,” cannot take place after the end of the ages. Who does not see that the prophecy, “ The Lord shall reign over all the earth,” is unintelligible of the reign of God in heaven, the abode of the blessed ? since, on one hand, we cannot, without absurdity, confound heaven and earth; and,
of the ages.
on the other, “ Jerusalem re-established in the place which it occupied,” and from this hill to that, must mean the capital of Judea, and not heaven. It is therefore demonstrated that the advent announced by Zechariah must not be referred to the end
This is also proved by verses 16, 17 : “ And every one that is left, of all the nations which came against Jerusalem, shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles ; and if any one of the families of the earth will not come to Jerusalem, to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, upon them shall be no rain.” Upon texts so striking all comment were superfluous.
Malachi (chap. iv. 5) affords additional evidence : " Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. He shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; lest I come and strike the earth with a curse." Since, then, at the coming of which Elias is to be the precursor the conversion of the Jews, effected by that prophet, will avert the threatened curse on the earth ; this will not be the last coming, when “the heaven and earth shall pass away,” according to the declaration of Jesus Christ in the Gospel ; when, according to St.John (Apoc. xx. 11), "they shall fly away, and even their place shall not be found. This coming must therefore be long before the end of the ages.
Joel is equally strong on this point: he concludes his second chapter with these words : “ The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come ; and then, whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered; for in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, shall be deliverance, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.” He begins the third chapter with these words, which connect it with the foregoing: "For in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations, and bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for the manner in which they have scattered my people, and my heritage Israel.” At vers. 14, 15, he returns to that “ day of the Lord, and darkening of the sun,” which he had mentioned in the
preceding chapter. At vers. 16, 17, he says, “ The Lord shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem ; the heavens and earth shall shake. The Lord shall be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. The Lord shall dwell on Mount Zion; Jerusalem shall be holy; and strangers shall not pass through her.”
These last words clearly shew that the Mount Zion where the Lord shall dwell; the Jerusalem which shall be holy, and through which strangers shall not pass ; is not heaven, because heaven has ever been holy, the Lord hath ever dwelt there, and
strangers could never pass through. Nor is it the actual church, because he is there speaking of the conversion of the Jews, and the great and dreadful day of the Lord. The rest of the chapter also shews that it relates to an advent which will take place before the end of the ages. Let ver. 20 suffice, “ Judah shall be inhabited for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation ;” and ver. 21, “ The Lord shall dwell in Zion.”
The third chapter of Habakkuk is a magnificent canticle, where, in describing the advent of Christ the Lord to fulfil the promises made to the tribes (ver. 9), he employs many of the terms used by Jesus Christ in the Gospel to characterize his second advent : and as it is there twice said, “ In the midst of the years, in the midst of the years, He will revive his great work” (ver. 2) of mercy towards the tribes, this advent must be placed, not at the end, but at the middle, of the ages.
The New Testament, beside the texts which we have already cited from the Apocalypse, supplies more than one additional proof. When, for instance, Jesus Christ tells us, “ Elias must come,” as the precursor of his second advent, and that he must “ restore all things,” he thereby teaches that such advent will happen before the end of the ages, since the end of all things is not the restoration of all things.
Again : we find (Acts iii. 21) that “the heavens must receive Jesus Christ until the times of restitution of all things-that the sins of the Jews may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord shall come.” From this we learn that his second advent must not be referred to the end of the ages, because the time of " the restitution of all things cannot be confounded with the last coming to destroy the earth and mankind.
So, when, in St. Luke (chap. i. 32), the angel Gabriel says to the holy Virgin, “ the Lord shall give unto Him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end ;” it is evident that the second part of the promise announces a spiritual and eternal reign of the Son of God; but it is no less certain that the first part, literally interpreted, like the second, announces a reign of Jesus Christ in the midst of the Jewish people: for this remarkable expression, “ the Lord will give unto him the throne," &c., cannot signify the reign of Jesus Christ in heaven, since the throne of David was not in heaven, but upon earth ; nor a spiritual reign, since David did not reign in that manner; nor the reign of Jesus Christ in the church, because David never reigned there. The throne of David was a temporal throne, a tangible throne ; a throne where he reigned visibly among
the Jews. It follows, that Jesus Christ must one day reign in a similar way, and come for that purpose before the end of the ages.
This visible reign will have no end—that is, it will not be subject to decay, to destruction by men, like other kingdoms. But, in another sense, it assuredly will have an end ; since St. Paul (1 Cor. xv. 24—28) expressly tells us, that, “ when all things shall have been subdued unto him” (in this “ world to come,” of which St. Paul writes to the Hebrews)," then cometh the end, when he shall have given up the kingdom to God his Father.” We see that St. Paul, like the angel, attributes to Jesus Christ a visible and earthly kingdom, which has an end, though wholly different from that of other kingdoms. Accordingly, to reconcile the words of the angel with those of the Apostle, we must say that the reign of Jesus Christ will have no end, with reference to heaven and earth together; this is the angel's meaning : but that it will have an end, with reference to earth only ; which is the meaning of the Apostle.
This reign of Jesus Christ on the throne of David is implied in the question put to him by the Apostles : “ Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel ?” for Jesus Christ, by his answer, confirmed the idea that he would some day restore this kingdom and throne; and declared that their expectations were well founded, by saying, It was not for them “ to know the times or seasons” of that event, " which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts i. 6, 7). But since Jesus Christ will “restore the kingdom of Israel,” it must be a long time before the end of the ages; otherwise his return would be an annihilation of the Jewish people, rather than a re-establishment of the throne of David and kingdom of Israel.
It is of this very reign Jesus Christ speaks, when he said, “ I am the King of the Jews.” But to shew it was neither in this present world, nor at his first advent, that he should reign over them, he adds, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, my soldiers would fight for me, that I should not be delivered up to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not of this world.” Perhaps there is not a single French translation in which this word now is inserted; but as it is most indubitably found in the Latin of the Vulgate, and in the original text of St. John, the Greek text, we are led to conclude that if the kingdom of Jesus Christ was not then of this world : it will be hereafter, as the Apocalypse further indicates in these words; “ The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ.”
We may also conclude, in another point of view (which, however, perfectly accords with the first), that Jesus Christ will not reign over the Jews " in the world that now is," as St. Peter calls it, but in the world renewed by a flood of fire; on that “new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness," as the same Apostle says; in short, in that “world to come” where, St.