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As applied to the catastrophe in view, these words may be considered as true in the strictest, most literal
He who, in those trying scenes, shall endeavour to save his life, or the enjoyments of life, at the expense of his confession of my name, shall lose that life in the common destruction of his people; but he who has actually lost his life for my sake, and the Gospel, shall preserve it; because the resurrection of the just will be at that very hour: so that even with regard to this present lower world, at the season of Christ's second advent, the martyr lives and the apostate dies.
34. “ I tell
in that night there shall be two men in one bed: the one shall be taken and the other left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left."
It is the interference of the deliverance, not the infiction of the judgment, that is here described. From the whole structure of the context, he that escapes from the devoted city, is saved; he that remains in it, perishes. He that is taken away is delivered from the wrath to come; he that is left behind is the victim whom the judgment overtakes. This passage, therefore, tells us, that when God shall send to gather out his elect from those parts of the world that are doomed to be destroyed, his call will separate between the closest friends, between persons engaged at the moment at the same appointed household task, or engaged together in the same agricultural labours: and this employment in field-labour is certainly against the supposition that the surprisal of Jerusalem is intended. There is room, also, for the gloss, that the manifestation of deliverance is made to some in the dead of night; to others, during the labours of the day. This, it is obvious, would be the case" in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” He comes not with observation -- he stands confessed on a sudden in the midst of his waiting people, under the whole heavens — and the angels sent to summon to his immediate presence, and to deliver them as Lot from the destruction of Sodom, will not wait the slow progress of the sun, but will penetrate, at the same instant, the confines of light and darkness on the face of the terraqueous globe:
37. “ And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither shall the eagles be gathered together."
This is nothing more than a proverbial expression. Wherever the guilty victim shall be found, there shall the messengers of divine vengeance find it out. To suppose an allusion to the standards of the Roman army, were perfectly gratuitous, even if the destruction of Jerusalem by that people were the object of the prophecy, which it is not
In entering now upon the larger prophecy which our Lord uttered, in reply to the question of his disciples, “ When shall these things be?” and “ what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" must keep carefully in view this shorter prophecy, occasioned, as we have seen, by the demand of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come. There can be no doubt that each prophecy embraces the same grand object, “ the power and coming” of the Messiah, to establish that glorious kingdom which the disciples, as well as the Pharisees, fully expected.
Luke, xxi. 8.-“ And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived, for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ," — Matt., Mark, " and shall deceive many;"_"and the time draweth near: go ye not, therefore, after them.”
I understand these words as a general and leading caution to the church of Christ, in all ages, waiting his second coming. Her great danger would be deceivers, usurping the office - by implication, if not professedlyof the only Mediator between God and man. “The time draweth near” may admit of two expositions: the time is near at hand when you, my disciples, will be exercised with this temptation : or they may mean, the abounding of these successful seducers will be a very conspicuous sign of my appearing ; and to this agree the words of subsequent prophecies.
Another afflictive circumstance, which would long exercise the patience of his waiting people, and, in its extreme prevalence towards the last, serve as a sign of his appearing, was the circumstance of great wars and tumults breaking out among the nations of the earth, those nations especially which
which were professedly the people of God.
9. “ But when ye hear of wars and commotions,”-- Matt Mark, and rumours of "__“ be not terrified, for all these things must first come to pass. But the end is not by and by.”
That is, “ the end” of the world, for this was part of the disciples' question : “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world ?" The answer is, generally, “ The appearance of evil seducers, and the prevalence of wars.”
Our Lord's discourse next prepares them for the ap
THE APOSTOLICAL EPISTLES.
In pursuing the object of our inquiry through the apostolical Epistles, I shall generally observe the same chronological order which we have observed in consulting the former oracles of God, and take the Epistles according to their known or supposed dates.
In this view, the first and second Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians will first demand our attention: the Epistle to the Galatians containing nothing specific respecting the second advent, except that it distinguishes “ the Jerusalem that is above,” the “ mother of all true believers," from “ the Jerusalem that now is ;" which distinction we have already quoted in illustration of former prophecies, and to which we may again have to refer.
The last Part of the Fourth Chapter of St. Paul's First
Epistle to the Thessalonians.
In the fourth chapter of St. Paul's First Epistle to the Thessalonians, we have one of the most express revelations of the second advent any where found in the oracles of God :
13. “ But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."
As surely as Christ has died, and is risen again, that he might be the Lord both of the quick and of the dead, so surely shall God bring with him -- with the great Redeemer when he returns again on the earth, those that sleep in him : the believing dead, who — as to their bodies, sleep in the dust of the earth -- as to their spirits, rest in Paradise, waiting, in incipient happiness and undisturbed repose, the coming of the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
“ For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, That we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them that are asleep."
The apostle says this by express revelation and command of Christ. We notice in this place, again, the peculiar style which the Scripture very generally uses concerning the second advent. It views the church as one and the same waiting family, commanded to watch in constant expectation of its Master's return. Many members of this family, it is true, will die, and be numbered with those that sleep in Jesus, ere the coming of the Lord draws near; but they are equally interested in the approach of that day with the living members of the church that shall then exist on earth : nay, those that are alive and remain to the coming of our Lord will not “ prevent,” anticipate,” or “ be beforehand with,” those that are asleep - God will bring them with Christ. It even appears, from what follows, that they anticipate rather, in the glorious resurrection, those that are on earth :