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THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
The Coming of Christ is an event which is frequently mentioned in the New Testament, and has two different significations, which must be determined by the context. It sometimes denotes his personal advent, when He shall come to be the Judge of quick and dead. In other places, it designates those visitations of his providence, by which He inflicts in this world the predicted judgments on the enemies of his church.* It is evidently in this latter sense that the word is to be understood in the passage before us. Those final judgments, by which all the anti-christian powers will be destroyed, and the sanctuary cleansed, will re-commence at the pouring out of the Seventh Vial, when, “ the great earthquake, such as has not been since men
* See Matt. xvi., 28. where the event predicted under this expression is generally understood to be the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Jewish state and polity.
Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great,” will take place, and will usher in the time of unprecedented trouble, of which Daniel speaks. When, therefore, in the midst of the avowed preparations for these aweful events, for “ gathering the kings of the earth and of the whole world to the battle of that great day of God Almighty ;” and but just before the announcement of the Seventh Angel pouring out his Vial of Wrath, the signal of their commencement; — when, in this very crisis of the prophecy, an admonition is suddenly introduced, and the voice of Christ is heard exclaiming, “ Behold I come ;” in what sense are we to interpret this expression, but in reference to the predicted judgments, and in intimation of their near approximation; especially when we find Him in the memorable prophecy which He delivered to his apostles, foretelling these very judgments, by exactly the same expression of “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory?" Even in the prophecies of Daniel, the same expression had been applied to the same period and to the same event. “ I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom.”
* Luke, xxi. 27.
“ And I beheld ; and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High." * The coming of the Son of Man, the coming of the Ancient of Days, is the language here employed to denote those visitations of Providence, by which the Lord will “ consume and destroy unto the end” the dominion of the Fourth Beast, and will make way for the extension and establishment of his own universal and everlasting kingdom. But these visitations are the same with those which are consummated under the Seventh Vial; and in allusion therefore to which, and to their near and rapid approach, Christ may assuredly be understood to say, “ Behold, I come.”
But while He thus predicts the near approach of these judgments, He farther intimates the sudden and unexpected manner in which they will at last arrive; “Behold, I eome as a thief.” This phrase was probably proverbial; but it is one which our Lord when on earth used, and which both Peter and Paul, in reference to the use which He had made of it, employed as indicative of the way in which wicked and ungodly persons are often suddenly overtaken by those visitations of Providence, of which they have
* Daniel, vii, 13, 14, 21, 22.
disregarded the pre-intimations and the approach. Such, then, is doubtless the meaning of the expression in the passage before us. It is intended to denote the total disregard which the kingdoms of the Beast in general will manifests notwithstanding the visitations which they have already experienced, towards the prophetic intimations of impending wrath, and the sudden and signal manner in which they will at length be surprised by the predicted judgments. “The wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand.”
Let it be further remarked, that it was in reference to these very events, and to the very subject on which we are now speaking, that Christ himself delivered those aweful predictions recorded by St. Matthew: “ Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." “ Watch, therefore; for ye know not what These pas
* Daniel, xii. 10.
hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up." * sages, together with the parallel places in the other Gospels, clearly designate what is meant by the expression of “ Christ coming as a thief." They plainly intimate, that while the true people of Christ, though ignorant of the precise day and hour in which the final judgments of God will fall on his apostate church, yet, forewarned of their near approach, are in some degree watching and waiting for it, - those who will be the immediate objects of his wrath will continue utterly insensible of the gathering storm, and will consequently make no efforts to avert it, till they shall be suddenly overwhelmed by its desolating fury.
How awefully and circumstantially do the great nations of the Papal earth, at this moment, answer to this description ! Unreclaimed by past judgments and mercies, and undisturbed by apprehensions of impending evils, they are, in general, still cleaving, even with increased tenacity, to their superstitions, abominations, and idolatries t; still pertinaciously excluding
* Matthew, xxiv. 36, 37, 38, 39, 42, 43. + See Appendix.