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will shew wonders in the heavens; and and in the earth, blood, and sire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord shall come*."
It is evident then that the phrases here made use of, of "the sun being darkened, and the moon not giving her light, and the stars salling from heaven, and the powers of heaven being shaken," are sigures meant to express the sall of cities, kingdoms, and nations; and the origin of this fort of language it well illustratedby alate very learned prelatef, who tells us, that in ancient hieroglyphic writing, the sun, moon, and stars, were used to represent states and empires, kings, queens, and nobility; their eclipse or extinction denoted temporary disasters, or entire overthrow, &c. So the prophets in like manner call kings and empires by the names of the heavenly luminaries. Stars salling from the sirmament are employed to denote the destruction of the nobility, and other great men; insomuch, that in reality the prophetic style seems to be a speaking hieroglyphic\."
In the same manner, in the next verse, those awful words, "then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory," seem applicable solely to the last advent of Christ to judge the world; and yet it is certain; that in their primary signisication they reser to the manisestation of Christ's power and glory, in coming to execute judgment on the guilty Jews, by the total overthrow of their temple, their city, and their government; for so our Lord himself explains what is meant by the coming of the Son of man, in the 27th, 28th, and 37th verses of this chapter. And when the prophet Daniel is predicting this very appearance of Christ to punish the Jews, he describes him as " coming in the clouds of heaven, and there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdoms." •
* Ch- ii. 30, 31. j- Bishop Warburton.
i Div. Leg. v. *. b. iv. s. 4. § Daniel, vii 14.
. The same remark will hold with regard to the 31st Verse: "he shall send his angels with a great found of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the earth even to the other." These words also, though they seem as if they could belong to no other subject than the last day, yet most assuredly relate principally to the great object of this prophecy, the destruction of Jerusalem; after which dreadsul event we are here told, that Christ will send forth his angels; that is, his messengers or ministers (for so that word strictly signissies*) to preach his gofpel to all the world, which preaching is called by the prophets, "lifting up the voice like a trumpets; and they shall gather together his elect (that is, shall collect disciples and converts to the saith) from the four winds, from the four quarters of the earth;" ar, as St. Luke expresses it, " from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the souths."
Our Lord then goes on to point out the time when all these things shall take place, and thus answers the other question put to him by the disciples, "Tell us, when shall these things be?" "Now learn, says he, a parable of the sig-tree; when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be sulsilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pals away."
The only observation necessary to be made here is, that the time when all these predictions were to be sulsilled is here limited to a certain period. They were to be accomplished before the generation of men then existing should pass away. And accordingly all these events did actually take place within forty years after our Saviour delivered this prophecy; and this by the w-ay is an unanswerable proof, that every thing our Lord had been saying in tlie preceding part of the chapter related principally, not to
* Vid. Haggai, i. 13, Malach, ii. 7.—iii. 1. Matth. xi. io. Mark!. a. Luke, vii. 47. v
f Isaiah, lviii. z. f Luke xiii. 49
the day of judgment, or to any other very remote events but to the destruction of Jerusalem, which did m reality happen before that generation had passed away.
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only;" that is, although the time when Jerusalem is to be destroyed, is, as I have told you, sixed generally to this generation, yet the precfe day and hour of that event is not known either to men or angels, but to God only. This he /peats in his human nature, and in his prophetic capacity. Tin's point was not made known to him by the spirit, nor was he commissioned to reveal it.
It is suppofed by several learned commentators, that the words, that day and that hour, reser to the day of judgment, which is immediately alluded to in the preceding verse, heaven and earth Jhallpass away. This conjecture is an ingenious one, and may be true; but if it be, this verse should be inclofed in a parenthesis, because what follows most certainly relates to the destruction of Jerusalem, (to which St. Luke in the seventeenth chapter expressly consines it*) and cannot, without great violence to the words, be applied to the sinal advent of Christ. "As the days of Noe 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 giving in marriage, until the day that Noe 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 sield; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other lest." That is, when the day of desolation shall come upon the city and temple of Jerusalem, the inhabitants will be as thoughtless and unconcerned, and as unprepared for it, as the antediluvians were for the flood in the days of Noah. But as some (more particularly the Christians) will be more watchful, and in a better state of mind than others, the providence of God will make a distinction between his saithsul and his
difobedient servants, and will protect and preserve the former, but leave the latter to be taken or destroyed by their -enemies; although they may both be in the same situation of lise, may be engaged in the same occupations, and may appear to the world to be in every respect in similar circumstances.
Here ends the prophetical part of our Lord's discourse; what follows is altogether exhortatory. It may be called the moral of the prophecy, and the practical application of it not only to his immediate hearers, but to his disciples in all suture ages; for this concluding admonition most certainly alludes no less to the sinal judgment than to the destruction of Jerusalem, and applies with at least equal force to both. Indeed the prophecy itself, although in its primary and strictest sense it relates throughout to the destruction of the temple, city, and government of Jerusalem, yet, as I have before observed may be considered, and was probably intended by Jesus, as a type and an emblem of the dissolution of the world itself, to which the total subversion of a great city and a whole nation bears some resemblance. But with respect to the conclusion, there can be no doubt of its being intended to call our attention to the last solemn day of account; and with a view of its producing this effect, I shall now press it upon your minds in the very words of our Lord, without any comment, for it is too clear to require any explanation, and too impressive to require any additional ensorcement. "Watch ye therefore, for ye know not at 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 sufsered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cbmeth. Who then is a saithsul and a wife servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall sind so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, my
Lord delayeth his coming; and begin to sinite his sellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hoar that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnasking of teeth."