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Lord, there shall not be light, but cold and a thick fog; that it shall be, as it were, neither perfect day nor perfect night; but that in the evening it shall be light. It seems most natural to understand these expressions allegori. cally. The meaning of them may perhaps be, that, at the beginning of the period styled the great day of the Lord, the high counsels of God shall not be clearly understood. The temporary success of Antichrist, particularly his taking Jerusalem even after the conversion and penitence of its inhabitants, will throw over them a veil of darkness and obscurity. Even the pious may begin to doubt, whether the time for the restoration of God's ancient people be yet arrived. But, when the Lord goeth forth to fight against his enemies, when his feet stand upon the mount of Olives, when the hitherto victorious legions of Antichrist are suddenly cut off in the midst of their strength; then will all darkness be removed, then will the purposes of heaven be clearly understood, then will the interposition of the Almighty be acknowledged. Obscure as the greatest part of that wonderful day may be, at evening-time it shall be light. · When the enemies of God and his people are subdued, living waters shall go forth from Jerusalem. The children of Israel shall be sown through all nations, and shall be greatly instrumental in spreading universally the knowledge of the truth. Every one then shall have an opportunity afforded him of drinking of the waters of life.
The prophecy concludes with foretelling the holiness and happiness of the Millennium, when the Lord shall be ! king over all the earth. It intermingles however with
will be relieved by the arm of divine power, exerting itself wonderfully in their behalf, and attended with the most beneficial consequences ; such as living waters going forth out of Jerusalem ; the name and majesty of the true God acknowledged through the whole earth; and the entire re-establishment of Jerusalem in security. In the mean time, the hostile invaders, debilitated by sickness, thrown into confusion, and falling foul upon each other, will yield themselves and their wealth an easy conquest to the assailing Jews. After this a conformity in religious worship will be required of all the nations under a severe penalty; and all things in Judah and Jerusalem, from the least to the greatest, shall thenceforward be accounted holy. Such are the great outlines of this extraordinary prophecy ; to fill up which with any tolerable certainty, it will be necessary perhaps to wait the times of its accomplishment.” Dr. Blavney in loc.
to worship the asshall refuse to unced against such
these promises of general felicity an oblique intimation, that some will, notwithstanding such visible tokens of divine interposition, fall away from the faith even of the Millennian Church. A plague is denounced against such families of the earth as shall refuse to come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts : whence it is natural to infer, that some families will withhold the adoration which is due from them. Accordingly we are told very particularly by Ezekiel and St. John, in their prophecies concerning those last rebels against God whom they agree in calling Gog and Magog, that this will certainly be the case. But the last confederacy will be overthrown like the former confederacy; and the Church will at length be translated from earth to heaven.
PROPHECY XLI. ..i
The restoration of the Jews at the close of the times of the
Gentiles. Luke xxi. 20. When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know, that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let' not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days ! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations : and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
In these words of our Lord, we have an oblique though a decisive prediction that the Jews shall be restored. Having foretold, that Jerusalem shall be besieged and
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taken by the Romans, and that the Jews shall be led away captive into all nations, Christ adds, that Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Hence we must necessarily infer, that, so soon as the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, Jerusalem shall cease to be trodden down by them, and the scattered Jews shall be restored to their own land.
What is meant by the times of the Gentiles is sufficiently plain from the circumstance of the expiration of those times being coupled in point of chronology with the return of Judah. When Judah begins to be restored, the 1260 years will be finished, and the judgments of God will go forth against the Roman empire under its last head. Hence it follows, as Bp. Newton observes, that “the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled, when the times of the four great kingdoms of the Gentiles according to Daniel's prophecies shall be 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, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever *."
Whether the remarkable hieroglyphical passage t, 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 generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled f.” 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 expressly tells us, that both it, and his preceding literal 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 word geveu undoubtedly may do, and if by this nation
* Bp. Newton's Dissert. XX.
sf Luke xxi. 25-28. # The same declaration occurs, and in the same part of the prediction, in the parallel prophecies recorded by St. Mathew and St. Mark, though neither of those evangelists mention the implied promise of the restoration of Judahi * Matt. x. 23. . † Matt. xvi. 28. See also Mark ix. 1. and Luke ix. 27.
we understand with him the nation of the Jews'; 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 wonderfully preserved in the land of their dispersion a distinct and unmixing nation, till all be fulfilled, till a series of tremendous political revolutions has ushered in my second advent, till I appear in the clouds of heaven pouring down vengeance upon Antichrist and his confederated multitudes.” 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 ; and 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 siege 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 kingdom t.", Assertions like these, plainly delivered in allusion to his subsequent prophecy, lead one 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 coexisting 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. “It is to me a wonder,” says he, “how any man can refer part of the foregoing discourse to the destruction of Jerusalem, 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 fulfilled in this generation. It seemeth as if our Saviour had been aware of some such misapplication of his words, by adding yet greater force and emphasis to his affirmation, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away-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 immediately, and yet not at such a distance of time, but that some then living should be spectators of the calamities 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 waves, 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
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* See 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.