Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

and which has outward show and pomp to make it observable1'.' It is not of such a nature, says Whitby, 'that a man may be able to say from the lustre of its first appearance, Lo, it is here, or it is there.'

After again predicting in the 26th v. of ch. vii. the downfal of the papacy and antichristian monarchies of Europe, Daniel says in the following verse, and the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting king' dom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. That Christians are denominated, in numerous places of the New Testament, holy, and a holy nation, and saints. Mr. Taylor of Norwich, in his Key to the Romans, has satisfactorily shewn1*1.

In St. John's account of the seventh trumpet, wherein he announces the destruction of them xvhich destroy the earth, he says, The Kingdoms Of This World Are BeCome THE KINGDOMS OF OUR LORD AND OF HIS CHRIST, AND HE SHALL REIGN FOR EVER AND EVER: Words, says

Mr. Lowman, which signify, that '/the true Christian religion should triumph over all opposition, and nourish with great success and prosperity throughout all the future ages of time.' To the kingdom of Christ ' the prophets,' says Jortin,'with one voice, have promised an eternal duration. Yet St. Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, says that Christ's kingdom shall have an end. To reconcile which with the prophecies, we must observe that the expressions, everlasting, for ever, and without end30, are used by sacred, as well as profane authors, in different senses, according to the subject to which they are applied. When therefore it is said, that Christ shall reign for ever, the meaning seems to be, that he shall reign as long as the world lasts; when it is said, that of his kingdom there shall be no end, the meaning is, that it shall not pass away like

28 In loc. 29 Sect. 101.

30 ' The comparative degree aAmaTuTifm is used by Plato in his Fhicda and Sympos.' Jortinajlfc

other kingdoms, and that there shall be no end of it, till the consummation of all things. Then cometh the end, says St. Paul31 when Christ shall have delivered up the kingdom to God even the Father, when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power ; for he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet'11.' 'To make for ever signify any known, limited, determinate period of time is' says Mr. Hallett, • contrary to nature, and to the genius of all languages.—It always does, and always must signify a duration that is unknown and uncertain among men, such as the duration of the world, of a man's life, of a particular relation between two persons, &c. Thus, when the psalmist says, Christ's throne shall be established for ever as the moon, he means to the end of the world, psalm lxxxix. 3733.'

After foretelling the destruction of the antichristian monarchies of Europe in ch. xvii and xix, in the next and two following chapters St. John paints, in highly figurative language, the state of the millenniary happiness.

The same course, (and it is a very natural one, and has, we see, been generally followed) Christ himself also pursues. The destruction of the oppressive governments of the world he first announces, and, having done this, directly subjoins a promise of the glorious prevalence of his religion, which was then to take place. 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. And Then shalt appear the sign of the Son of man34in heaven:

31 1 Cor. xv. 24, 25.

32 Disc, on the Tr. of the dir. Rel. 2d. ed. p. 149.

33 Nates on Several Texts of Scripture and Discourses, vol. III. p. 420. In the book of Numbers it is said (x. 8), the sons of Aaron shall blow with the trumpets, and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever. The following explication of the verse is Dr. Clarke's. 'For ever, that is; as long as your government and establishment shall last.' Serm. vol. 1. serm. IV.

34 ' A late author (John Buxtorf) hath eased us of all our disputes about this sign, by shewing that as the sign of Jonas the prophet, Matt. xii. and Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn?1, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory26. 'We have no reason to think,' says Dr. Campbell, 'that a particular phenomenon in the sky is here suggested. The striking evidences, which would be given of the divine presence, and avenging justice, are a sufficient justification of the terms.' Let it not here escape the recollection of the reader, th;it the expressions, the earth, and the tribes of the earth, are sometimes symbolic, and signify those, who having inclinations altogether sordid and earthly act in direct opposition to the true interests of Christianity. Such appears to be the meaning in this place. 'Who,' asks Daubuz, ' at the second coming of Christ, shall lament, but the obstinate idolaters and opposers of Christ? These, which shall remain at that coming, and persist in their enmity to Christ, shall be the subject of his judgment and vengeance; and shall therefore have occasion to lament; but others shall have no such reason. So that the tribes of the earth include none but Christ's enemies^.'

39, is the sign which is Jonas the prophet; so the sign of the Son of man inquired after, Mat. xxiv. 3, is the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven. And this interpretation is confirmed from the parallel places, Mark xiii. 26. Luke sxi. 27* By Gerard Vossius (Theses Theol. 1658, p. 228.), by Wolfius, and a crowd of other writers that might be alleged, this explication of the phrase has been noted and adopted.

35 II»<r«o ai <pv>*u Tjss yij4, i- e. all the different classes of antichrislian persons.

36 Mat. xxiv. 29, 30.

37 Verse 7 of ch. i. of the Apocalypse is the parallel passage, upon which this learned writer comments. It is there said, that they who pierced him shall see him coming with clouds, i. e. the nation who crucified him, the Jews who shall happen to be living at the commencement of the millennium, shall no longer be blind to the truth and evidences of the gospel, but shall be converted, and shall see it pioducing the most powerful effects. Of them also it may, in one sense, be said, that they shall mourn .for on their former infidelity they will look back with sorrow; and shame; and will lament, that it was by their ancestors and by their nation, that the holy Jesus was despised, and persecuted, and at length stretched upon the cross. Accordingly our Lord's words, that the trices of the earth shall mourn, if regarded not as symbolic, but as literal, must in this manner be exclusively applied, as they formerly have been, to the Jews.

- Our Lord immediately added in the words that follow, as recorded by Mark, and then shall he send his angels3*, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of hea~ ven39.' Bp. Newton, when commenting on the corresponding verse in Matthew, says, ' this is all in the style and phraseology of the prophets, and stript of it3 figures meaneth only, that—Christ by his angels or ministers will gather to himself a glorious church out of all the nations under heaven40.' That the belief of Christianity will at length penetrate to every corner of the globe, does, indeed, appear to be the signification of the passage; and, in conformity with this interpretation, the prelate from whom I have just quoted remarks, that 'the elect is a well known appellation in scripture and antiquity for the Christians41.'

Should the writer of the present work be charged with having quoted some parts of the prophecy of Jesus with a tiresome frequency; besides observing, that in no instance has he needlessly recurred to it, he replies, that this repetition has been admitted, because our Lord's words merit more than ordinary regard, because he was solicitous that their genuine meaning might be closely scrutinised, and because no one writer has hitherto, in an explicit maimer,

38 The original would have been better translated by the word messengers, as it is in the versions of Wakefield and Doddridge. ,

39 Mark xiii. 27.

40 Vol- II. p. 284. 'By the angels in this clause are to be understood the ministers of the gospel Agreeably to this interpretation we find the name oyysAo?, angel, given to common messengers, James ii. 25, and to the ministers of the Asian churches, Rev. ii. and to prophets, II. Chron, xxxvi. 16, and to priests, Mai. ii. 7.' Macknight in loc.

41 Vol. II. p. 254. See the same observation made by archbishop Tillotson, ser. 239. At first the title was peculiar to the Jews. After a copious allegation of instances, Dr. Whitby says, ' thus have I traced this phrase throughout the whole Old Testament, and shewed, that it belongs not to particular persons, but to the whole Jewish church and people in general; to the bad as well as to the good.' And, 'in the New Testa* ment, all Christians, called to the knowlege and belief of the faith, are styled the elect.' vol.- i. p. 328, and vol. ii. p. 709. He proves, that it had also, in the Fathers, a similar acceptation.

drawn from them all those important conclusions, which are deducible from a minute and careful investigation of them. As the doctrine of Christ's actual advent upon earth, at the commencement of the millennium, has recently received the sanction of a celebrated name, this point also he has been prompted to consider at greater length, than might otherwise perhaps have been necessary.

Dr. Priestley, in one of the most recent of his sermons, declared himself decidedly an advocate for it, as well as for the opinion, that the martyrs will at that period be literally raised from the dead. The following are two of the reasons he has alleged to prove Christ's personal appearance. 'That the great antichristian power is to be destroyed at this second coming of Christ, and not properly before, and therefore thafits final destruction will be sudden, is evident from what St. Paul says, 2 Thess. ii. 8, Then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming*1. So far from regarding this as evident, I should, I confess, apprehend, that the apostle's expressions lead to an almost opposite conclusion; and should conceiye them probably to denote, that the dawn of light and knowledge would grow brighter and brighter, and that the millennium, or proper kingdom of the Messiah, would be gradual in its advances. 'That this will be a proper kingdom, though a kingdom of righteousness, the object of which will be the happiness of the subjects of it, is,' says Dr. Priestley, 'farther evident from the other kingdoms which are to be overthrown in order to make way for it. For had it been that purely spiritual kingdom, which some suppose, what occasion was there for the destruction of the other kingdoms; since they would not have interfered with it, but might have subsisted at the same time«?' To my mind there does not appear here a shadow of difficulty ; and

42 Fast-Serm. for Feb. 28, 1794, p. 9.

43 Ut supra, p. 4.

« AnteriorContinuar »