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The event will prove the Apocalypse; and this prophecy, thus proved and understood, will open the old prophets, and all together will make known the true religion, and establish it. For he that will understand the old prophets must begin with this, but the time is not yet come for understanding them perfectly, because THE MAIN REVOLUTION, predicted in them, is not yet come to pass. In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets: and then the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, and he shall reign for ever, Apoc. x. 7; xi. 15. There is already so much of the prophecy fulfilled, that as many as will take pains in this study may see sufficient instances of God's providence: but then the signal Revolutions, predicted by all the holy prophets, will at once both turn men's eyes upon considering the predictions, and plainly interpret them."
His first chapter on the Apocalypse Sir I. Newton con. cludes with the following observation: *Among the interpreters of the last
age, there is scarce one of note, who hath not made some discovery worth knowing; and thence I seem to gather, that God is about opening these mysteries 34.'
33 P. 251, 252. Like Sir I. Newton, Jurieu is disposed to believe, that the Deity may think proper ' at last to make the prophecies be understood, that they may the more easily be fulfilled. See Suppl, to the introd. of Jurieu ; and vol. II. p. 39.
34 This observation is adopted by bishop Law (in his Theory of Religion, 3d ed. p. 170); and not unsimilar is the language of another learned and liberal prelate. Though the name has been disgraced by a number of bireling compilers, yet no competent critic has,' says bp. Newcome, carefully studied the scriptures for himself, without smoothing the ruggedness of the way to those who follow him.' Vers. of the Twelve Minor Prophets, pref. p. 9.
ON THE LATTER PART OF THE PROPHECY OF JESUS, RECORDED
IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CHAPTER OF LUKE.
A MEMORABLE passage in the invaluable prophecy of Jesus, delivered by him on the mount of Olives a short time before his crucifixion, has been explained'; and it has been seen, that its symbolic import is scarcely darkened by any degree of doubt or ambiguity. But it is not sufficient that its meaning be ascertained. That of the context ought also to be examined into; and the result of the enquiry, I apprehend, will be, not merely that the interpretation of the verse alluded to perfectly harmonises with the context, but that it is the only one which does. In truth, the common explications of our Lord's prophecy labor under insuperable difficulties; and Dr. John Edwards, an orthodox clergyman, who flourished at the conclusion of the last and the commencement of the present century, accordingly observes, that he had never met with any expositor, that gave a clear and satisfactory account of it?.?
Another Dr. Edwards, a clergyman of a different period and different principles, speaking of the xxivth ch. of Matthew, says, the various and opposite methods, which theologians have adopted to remove an objection which is too obvious to be overlooked, form, it must be confessed, a very considerable presumption, that an adequate solution of the difficulty: has not hitherto been discovered, and that the objection is founded on the basis of truth. Some interpreters imagine that the prophecy relates entirely to the
1 In chapter xxii.
3 of the particular difficulty to which Dr. Edwards alludes notice will hereafter be taken.
ruin of the Jewish nation: others, by the convenient introduction of types and double senses, preserve in it a reference throughout to the consummation of all things : some have contended that it partly belongs to the former, and partly to the latter; but what portions of it are applicable to the one, and what to the other, they cannot ascertain: while a few have ventured to assert, that it represents the final judgment as immediately subsequent to the Jewish calamities4.' The different modes of explaining our Lord's prophecy Dr. Edwards here professes to state. But there is another method of explication, of which this learned writer appears to be entirely ignorant; a method which has not, indeed, been adopted, or even been noticed, in any of the commentaries on the Gospels which this country has produced, but which I nevertheless believe to be the true
That the prophecy of Jesus is of very difficult interpretation is very generally admitted. Grotius and Lowth, Sykes, Benson, and Macknight, bp. Watson and the Taylors, have, Mr. Nisbitt acknowleges (he is here speaking of the scripture-doctrine of the Coming of Christ), all of them, without exception, manifestly discovered their embarrassment, and the difficulties which they labored under, in considering the subject.' Surely this affords a strong presumption. that they have all failed of discovering the true import of Christ's celebrated prediction. To attempt to develope its meaning, after this declaration, may, perhaps, appear bold and presuming. But however desirable
4 Serm. on the Predictions of the Apostles concerning the End of the World, 1790, p. 18.
5 Accordingly, when I first applied the latter part of the prophecy of Christ to the downfal of antichristian usurpation, and particularly that verse in it, which has been so copiously explained in ch. xxü. like Dr. Ed. wards, I knew not that this application of it had received any countenance from preceding writers, being led to it solely by my knowlege of the import of our Lord's symbols, and the internal evidence which appeared for embracing the interpretation.
6 Scripture Doctrine concerning the Coming of Christ, p. 13.
may be to be exempt from the charge ; I do not conceive, that it is of such a nature as to command silence, or that the publication of important truths, or of probable conclu. sions, ought, in any case, to be suppressed from the apprehension of it.
As the prophecy of Christ was a reply to a question, the scope of that question it will be proper to state. It is in the Gospel of Matthew that it is given at the greatest length. Jesus having assured his disciples (xxiv. 2.) that the time would arrive, when not one stone of the temple would be left upon another; they came to him (v. 3.). say. ing, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?;
7 The word worlil is given up by the majority of English commentators as an improper rendering; and, in the Latin versions of Jerom, Erasmus, Beza, and Montanus, ollwbos is translated not mundi, but seculi. • Αιων, ,' says Mr. Waple (On the Rev. p. 248), signifies an age of the world or some eminent period of it;' and in correspondence with this Dr. Hammond observes (on Luke. i. 70), that in the New Testament it most commonly is used in a general sense, not for the age of a man, nor again for an hun. dred
years, but for an age of the world, or some eminent part in the division of that.' • Sometimes,' says Leigh in his Critica Sacra, “it is put for that which continues a long time, and of which the end is not so clear; and this appears to be the exact meaning, which the disciples here annexed to the word. They enquired what would be the signs of the DUYTENEBOL 78 Alwyos, at the expiration of which another alwv, or eminent period, was to commence; and accordingly, in the writings of the fathers (see Suicerus), the word alw frequently stood for this last period, that is to say for the Thousand Years. In an ancient work, the book of Tobit (xiv. 5.), alw appears manifestly to signify the first of these great periods, namely, that which is to continue till the commencement of the millennium ; for it is there said of the Jews, that when the times of the period are fulfilled (it impw. Swot talpos 78 aswos are the words of the Septuagint), that they shall return from all places of their captivity. In Isaiah, on the contrary, ch. Ixv. 18, the expression, the age to come, signifies the second of these long periods. namely, the millennium ; for when speaking of the future restoration of the Jews to their own land, he says (according to the amended versions of bishop Lowth and Mr. Dodson), but ye shall rejoice and exult in the age to come. To v. 6 of ch. ix. of Isaiah reference also deserves to be made ; for in that verse, according to the best copies of the Septuagint, and agree. ably to the existing Hebrew text, Christ is called πατηρ το μελλοντος αιώνος, VOL. II.
or, as it ought rather to be rendered, of the end of the period, i. e, the period then present ? Dr. Campbell's translation is, What will be the sign of thy coming, and of the conclusion of this state?
The question of the disciples was two-fold: and its import, when shall that destruction of the temple which you mention happen; and what are the indications of thy coming, which Daniel foretells, and of the end of the present æra, when that coming is to take place?
The latter part of the question, as paraphrased by the great Dr. Clarke, strictly answers to my ideas. what signs shall we know, when the consummation of the present state of things in the world shall be? And when, and by what Revolutions, the kingdom of the Messiah shall be established ?'
Supposing we had no positive information on the subject, it might fairly be presumed, that the remarkable prophecies of Daniel, relative to the erection of the proper kingdom of the Messiah, were familiar to the minds of the apostles. That they should be solicitous respecting their fulfilment, and should make enquiries respecting them, though far
the Father of the future period. In like manner, in the Vulgate, it is Pater futuri seculi. See Mr. Dodson's valuable Translation of Isaiah, and his elaborate note on this verse.
In the Targum on Kings the period of the Messiah is denominated the age to come; and says bishop Kidder, “among the other Jewish writers Mothing is more common than to call the times of the Messiah, the Olam Hava,' i.e. o dia undrar, or the age to come. Demonstr. of the Messiah, vol. III. p. 381. I close the note with a quotation from Dr. Thomas Bur. net. “The expression, aim undran, is either taken largely for the times of the Messiah in general, or more particularly for the times of the Messiah's reign. In this last confined and more proper sense it is distinct both from the present age and from eternity, or that time, when Christ is to deliver up all dominion into the hands of the Father.' 1 Cor. xv. 24. 28. And in this proper sense, viz. taken for some age between this present and eternity, it is often used in scripture. Christ, it is said, will reign Ev TU alone Med Rorti.' Ephes. i. 22, 23. On the State of Departed Souls, p. 282. See some similar observations in Dr. J. Edward's Hist. of the Dispensations: of Rel. vol. II. p. 641.