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fire, at the time of thine appearing." “ Therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.”+-“ It is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion; and the streams thereof (of the spiritual Edom] shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched day nor night; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever.” I
For, behold, the Lord will come with fire and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by
For by fire and by his sword will Jehovah plead with all flesh,” &c.|| Compare also the vision respecting the “ Ancient of Days,” in Daniel : “ His throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels burning fire: a fiery stream issued and came forth from before him," &c.—“The body" of the fourth beast is destroyed and given to the burning flame.”
Here, too, we remark again the same style ever used in Scripture respecting this great day, when the Son of Man is revealed. It addresses the church as a society that is to remain till that day arrives, and in that day alone is she, as a body, to expect the redress of all her wrongs. But we have already seen how every individual member of the church, in every age, will be equally interested in the events of that day: because all the elect of God, “ whether they sleep or wake, will live together with Christ,” and be among the “ holy myriads” that come in that day with the Lord from heaven. The passage before us, moreover, speaks of those who trouble the
* Psalm xxi. 9.
Isaiah, xxxiv. 8, &c.
+ Isaiah, xxiv. 6.
the Pharisees on a former occasion, and of the disciples on this; and the answer on both occasions, is, The coming is after particular corruptions of the professed church, through religious impostors, and after 'unprecedented wars, and tumults, and revolutions, among the kingdoms of the earth. As surely as the swelling bud indicates the approach of summer, shall these signs indicate the coming of the Son of Man in his kingdom. These wars and desolations cannot mean the destruction of Jerusalem, nor the kingdom predicted to follow the reign of Gospel-grace among the various nations of the civilized world; as well because of what has been already advanced to dissuade from that error of many commentators, as from this circunstance, that, in fact, the erection of the kingdom of grace, whether we date its commencement at the epocha of the resurrection or at the day of Pentecost, did not follow the desolation of Jerusalem, and the overthrow of the Jewish state, but preceded it several years. But the wars and tumults here spoken of are to be signs and prognostications of the approaching kingdom, and not its consequences or concomitants.
Indeed, these predictions would never have been understood of the siege of Jerusalem, and fall of the Jewish state, but for a misunderstanding of the meaning of a term in the following verse:
Matt. xxiv. 34. “ Verily, I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
The word rendered “ generation” does not necessarily refer to the coexistence of the same race of men; it also
immediately. It appears, too, that the artful adversary was as forward in helping this delusion as he will be, in a future day, in keeping the world in secure forgetfulness of the day of the Lord. Pretended revelations, it seems, as well as feigned messages and epistles from the apostles, were produced to promote this untimely and hurtful expectation : but no, the day was not yet arrived when the kingdom of God could be likened to “ ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” Many ancient prophecies remained to be fulfilled before the coming of the Messiah in his kingdom
3. “ Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first,”rather, “ unless THE APOSTASY come first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
Dr. Macknight well observes, that the word apostasy here is emphatical, denoting both that this was to be a great apostasy, the apostasy by way of eminence, and that the Thessalonians had been already apprized of its coming. “ Reinember ye not," continues the apostle in
” the next verse,
“ that when I was yet with you, I told you these things." So that the event of such an apostasy,
take place hereafter, was a fact well known in the church; and not only the apostasy in general, but the future development of an extraordinary character, whom St. Paul here denominates “ the man of sin." This, from the circumstances of the case, can be no other than the great actor in the scenes of the latter days, denounced
content to be found weak, and he is content to grow in knowledge, and to wait, as other prophets, the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Hence he says, ,
- The Son can do nothing but what he seeth the Father do.” So can he make known nothing, but as the Father maketh it known: and hence a subsequent revelation is entitled “ The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass."
That this unrevealed secret, for power to manifest which the Son himself was waiting, did not relate to the destruction of Jerusalem, or to any thing else but to the day when the Son of Man shall be revealed in his glory, is plain from the conversation which took place between our Lord and his disciples after his resurrection. * “ When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.” Observe, it is not the destruction of Jerusalem; it is not the preaching of the Gospel among the heathen ; it is the restoring again the kingdom to Israel, that is the object uppermost in the thoughts of the disciples! This is ever represented in prophecy as a consequence of Messiah's coming. This, therefore, the greatest of all events, is that, “ the times and seasons of which the Father hath put in his own power."
Our Lord proceeds, on the occasion before us, in his reply to the four disciples on the Mount of Olives, to hold the same language which he had previously held, when
• Acts, i. 6.
he was demanded of the Pharisees when the kingdom of God should come, Matt. xxiv. 37:
“ But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and knew not until the flood came and took them all away: so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. Then shall two be in the field, the one shall be taken and the other left : two women shall be grinding at the mill, the one taken and the other left.”
An exhortation also to watchfulness, very similar to what had been given before, immediately follows, and none can doubt that it refers not to the sudden affliction that should overwhelm Jerusalem, but to the great day of the Lord :
Matt. xxiv. 42. “ Watch, therefore, for you know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore, be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh.”— Mark, xüi. 33. “ Take ye heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of Man is as a man taking a long journey, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye, therefore, for ye know not when the Master of the house cometi, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning; lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping: and what I say unto you I say unto all, watch.”
The words in St. Luke are equally emphatic:
Chap. xxi. 34. “ And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunken