Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

of the sun, and of the moon, &c., which by no ingenuity can be shewn to have received their fulfilment. Hence, as we cannot charge Inspiration with inconsistency or falsehood, we must admit, in spite of the theories of Philosophical Critics to the contrary, that this prophecy contains a double

sense.

II. The remarkable variation in the language of one Evangelist from the other two in relating the prophecy, though hitherto, as far as my knowledge extends, unnoticed by Expositors, is so systematic, as to convince every one, that it must have been done with some special design. Whilst Matthew and Mark agree in describing the attack upon Jerusalem, the consequent tribulation of the inhabitants &c., in such terms as can only apply in their strict and proper sense, to some future and similar course of events,—the only other Evangelist who relates the prophecy, Luke, throughout the passage

describes the Jewish war alone, and in no single instance employs expressions susceptible of a double sense.

In order to convince the reader of the truth of this statement, I will briefly point out the difference of language observable in these two variations of the same prediction : (1.) The first instance in which Luke differs from the other two Evangelists is, in omitting to use the expression abomination of desolation,” and employing in its place the language, “ Jerusalem encompassed with armies.” Had he referred as the others have, to the prophecy of Daniel, in which that abomination occurs (Dan. xii. 11), he would at once, as we shortly shall see, have given to his prophecy a double sense. (2.) The next instance, a most important contrast, is, that Luke says nothing of “ the tribulation such as never was, no, nor ever shall be.He describes, it is true, the sufferings of the Jews during the war under Titus, but nowhere refers to its unparalleled character. His language is, These be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written might be

fulfilled," &c. The language of Matthew and Mark, on the contrary, if inspired writers are to be understood according to the ordinary import of the words employed, can refer to nothing but the yet future period predicted in Daniel (chap. xii. 1.) " And at that time shall Michael stand

ир,
the

great prince which standeth for the children of thy people ; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered.(3.) The Evangelists, Matthew and Mark, expressly state, that “ Except the Lord had shortened the days of trouble, no flesh should be saved," and adds, “but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened,” clearly implying, as I think, that they who escaped destruction were ordained unto eternal life. This language, therefore, can only apply to some future event, since in the previous tribulation of the Jews it was not fulfilled. Accordingly, on turning to Luke, this part of the prophecy is omitted, and in its place we read that which every one knows has received its full and literal accomplishment. There shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations : until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."-(Luke xxi. 23, 24.) (4.) Lastly, in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, we find all the revolutions and mighty judgments contained under the Sixth Seal, expressly described as happening immediately after the tribulation of the Jews : "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken," in which representation other prophecies perfectly agree. Luke, on the contrary, omits this mark of chronology when speaking of these signs in the heavenly bodies. After dwelling upon the dispersion and captivity of the Jews after the destruction of their city, and stating that Jerusalem should be

trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled,—his language, in reference to the above-mentioned judgments is, “ And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars," thus evidently avoiding that which would, to the former part of his prophecy, give a second and further sense than that course of events which transpired during the Jewish war.

It is thus manifest, that a striking and uniform variation may be traced between this celebrated prophecy as related by Luke, from that which the other Gospels contain. The former Evangelist in no instance uses an expression which requires any further accomplishment than what it has already received in the destruction of Jerusalem, and subsequent events, whilst Matthew and Mark agree in delivering a prophecy, which no ingenuity can shew to have been fully accomplished on that occasion, and which, therefore, like many predictions of the fall of ancient Babylon, Edom, Tyre, and other cities, is yet destined to receive the grand and complete fulfilment of its awful contents.

III. The call to pause and reflect with which the Saviour interrupts the narrative, on referring to the prophecy of Daniel, has been quite passed by. From the numerous commentaries and expositions upon this prophecy, nothing can possibly be plainer than the meaning of this part of the prophecy,—the reference is plainly, it is said, to that passage in Daniel which describes the pollution of the temple, by the idolatrous standards of the Romans (Dan. xi. 31). Yet, it is certain, that a sudden interruption like this, in order to direct particular attention to the meaning of the “abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet," is a proof that this part of the prophecy required the exercise of unusual caution and deliberation, in order to arrive at its true meaning,—“Let him that heareth understand, "-especially as it is omitted in Luke's Gospel. Hence it is natural to conclude, that the interpretation of this celebrated prophecy of Christ, given in our Commentaries, is radically wrong.

Let me now attempt,-in humble dependence upon the Spirit of Truth,—to expound this difficult chapter, according to the principles I have thus laid down. A glance only at the prophecy is sufficient to shew us, that its contents may

all be classed under the following heads :

1. The events that precede the time of the end.—(ver. 4-14.)

2. The end itself,—the period of the abomination of desolation, and its accompanying troubles.-(ver. 15—28.)

3. The immediately following judgments and revolutions, symbolized by signs in the heavenly bodies, &c.—(ver. 29, 30.) ?

4. The coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven, and its attendant circumstances.-(ver. 31 to end of chapter.)

1st. The events which precede the time of the end : " And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no deceive you.

For
many

shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars : see that ye be not troubled : for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom : and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you : and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations ; and then shall the end come.”—Matt. xxiv. 4-14.

man

sorrows.

No mention is made of the period of these events, except that they precede the time of the end. I am inclined to think, the language embraces the whole time from the introduction of Christianity, to the time of the end itself. Certainly, History records events which fully agree with the particulars here mentioned, without waiting for any future accomplishment.

The last circumstance, however, mentioned in this part of the prophecy must clearly be excepted, since it is expressly said to introduce the time of the end,-" This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations ; and then shall the end come.This prediction, therefore, respects the future, and is probably parallel with Rev. xiv. 6, 7,—" And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him ; for the hour of his judgment is come.” The plain import of the verse therefore clearly is :-“ The glad tidings of salvation will, immediately before the end arrives, be preached to every nation under Heaven, in order to testify their guilt, and justify their universal condemnation, and then shall the end and all its unprecedented miseries arrive,”—“ The hour of his judgment will come.

2. The end itself:-“ When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand :) Then let them which be in Judæa flee into the mountains : Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house : Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day :

« ÎnapoiContinuați »