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tion of Jerusalem, which was actually the case. to this he refers when he says to Peter, "If I will that he," i. e. John, "tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" John lived to behold this metaphorical coming of Christ..
From the similarity of the language in which this coming of Christ is foretold, it has been supposed that Christ, in these two verses, describes his appearance for the last judgment; for he is then to come in the clouds of heaven: but as the passages just quoted show that there was to be a coming of Christ at the destruction of Jerusalem, and he is here speaking upon that subject, it is most natural to refer what he says to that event: he himself, also, expressly limits us to it, when he says, a little below, "that that generation should not pass, until all these things, of which he had been before speaking, be fulfilled."
And he shall send his angels, "his messengers," with a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
By the elect we are here to understand converts to the Christian religion, who are now the chosen people of God, as the Jews were of old; by his messengers, improperly rendered angels, the preachers of the gospel; and by the great sound of the trumpet, the public invitations and exhortations of these preachers: for as the trumpet was the instrument employed by the Jews to call the people to their public assemblies, the sound of this instrument would naturally be used for a public summons, although delivered by the word of men. The meaning of Christ in this verse, then, is to foretel, that when the opposition before made to the Christian religion by the Jews should cease, by the overthrow of their power, he should send forth his preachers to every quarter of the globe, and that their labours should be attended with new and greater efficacy, in making pro
selytes. That this verse cannot be a prophecy of what would take place at the final judgment, is evident from the reasons already assigned.
32. Now learn a parable, rather, "the comparison," of the fig-tree. When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh.
33. So, likewise, ye, when ye shall see all those things, know that it is near, rather, "he," i. e. the son of man, "is near," even at the doors.
The disciples had asked Jesus what would be the sign of his coming, and of the end of the age: in answer to these questions he had mentioned several appearances, which would mark the approach of the event about which they were inquiring. These he now teaches them to regard, not as distant presages, but immediate forerunners; just in the same manner as the appearance of leaves upon the fig-tree, a tree common in Judæa, was considered as announcing the speedy approach of
34. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
The destruction of Jerusalem took place about thirtyseven years from the time at which these words were delivered; so that several who then heard him might live to behold the event. This passage shows that the whole of the preceding prophecy relates to the same subject; and that those must be mistaken who apply any part of it to the day of final judgment.
35. Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass
Christ does not here mean to assert that heaven and earth should pass away, or be destroyed; but that this event should sooner take place, than the prophecies which he now delivered fail of their accomplishment: for that they would certainly be fulfilled. A similar expression in Matt. v. 18, "for till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law, until all be fulfilled," is explained by Luke, xvi. 17, by saying, "heaven and earth shall sooner pass away, than one jot or tittle of the law fail.”
36. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, 66 no one;" not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Jesus had mentioned many forerunners of the event, by which they might be sure of its approach; but as the disciples would wish to know the exact time, he tells them that this was known to the Father only; which plainly implies, what indeed is asserted by Mark in direct words, that it was unknown to the Son. This is a proof, amongst many others, that Jesus Christ is not the one God: for had he been so, he must have known the particular time when the destruction of Jerusalem would take place. To suppose that Jesus said this of his human, and not of his divine nature; and that one might know what the other was ignorant of, is to attribute a mental reservation to our Saviour, fit only for a Jesuit*.
37. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the son of man be.
There will be the same security and unconcern about the coming of the son of man, among the Jews, as there was in the antideluvian world about the deluge.
38. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and
*See Emlyn's Tracts, (1719) p. 19.
drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark;
39. And knew not, i. e. "did not consider," until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the son of man be.
As the inhabitants of the world before the flood, notwithstanding the warnings of Noah, that unless they repented they would be destroyed, lived in perfect security, pursuing their pleasures, and thinking of future settlements; so there would be the same security, when the son of man came to punish the Jewish nation. They were to trust, therefore, to the predictions of Christ, rather than to the expectations of those around them, who might imagine themselves most secure, when they were nearest to danger.
40. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left. 41. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
In these two verses our Lord declares that the condition of persons who appeared to be exactly alike, who were in the same place, and engaged in the same employment, shall, in consequence of the attention of Providence, or the effects of Christ's forewarning, be very different: for that one shall be destroyed, while the other is left. The unbelieving Jew shall be destroyed with his unbelieving countrymen; but the Christian, although placed in the same situation with the other, shall be preserved. Since no conclusion then could be drawn from external appearances, there was the more ground for watchfulness*.
Dr. Shaw, in his travels into the east, tells us, that most families grind their wheat or barley at home, having two portable mill-stones
Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
1. If the words of Christ cannot fail, there is much ground both for joy and fear. What gives assurance of truth and stability to the declarations of Christ respecting future events, is that they are founded not upon his own authority: for of some things, by his own confession, he was ignorant; but upon the authority of God, who cannot wilfully deceive us, or be himself mistaken. Men, indeed, are ignorant of future events, and know not what must be on the morrow; but he is as well acquainted with the future as with the present and past: for it is knowing no more than what he intends, or has resolved to do at a particular time; and although men may change their intentions, or be prevented from executing them by events which they did not expect, or could not avoid, nothing can occur to alter the mind of God, or to hinder him from accomplishing his purposes. The word of the Lord, and therefore the word of Christ, abideth for ever.
We have, in the words of Christ, then, a firm foundation on which to build our hopes of those future blessings which he has promised or predicted to his followers. Has he foretold that he will raise them all from the grave? That he will place them in a new state of existence, with himself, where they shall enjoy uninterrupted pleasure throughout an eternal duration? He will certainly fulfil what he has promised: he had the
for that purpose; that when expedition is required, two persons assist in the operation; and that it is usual for women only to do this business. Shaw's Travels, p. 231, 296, 297. Fol. This shows the propri ety of what our Lord here says, about two women being in the mill.