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Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs (i) and wonders; insomuch (k) that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect (/). 25. Behold, I have told you before. 26. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, "Behold, he is in the desert;" go not forth: "Behold, he is in "the secret chambers," believe it not. 27. For as the lightning (m) cometh out of the east, and shineth

even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the (n) Son of man be. 28. For (o) wheresoever the carcase is, there will the (o) eagles be gathered together. 29. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the (p) 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: 30. and then shall appear the

(i) " Great signs." A miracle is not necessarily a proof that the doer has God's approbation. God may sanction a miracle from an impostor, to try men's faith. Thus, Deut. xiii. 1, 2, 3. Moses •ays, " if there arise among you a prophet, "and be giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and "the sign or the wonder cometh to pass, "whereof he spake unto thee, saying, "let "us go after other gods," thou shalt not "hearken unto the words of that prophet, "for the Lord your God proveth you, to "know whether you love the Lord your "God with all your heart." Something may depend upon the character of the miracle, and the doctrine or purpose it is brought forward to sanction.

(4) "Insomuch that, &c." or, in "order to deceive," and then it only implies what was the object of the signs, without importing that they were to be so extraordinary as to be likely to accomplish it.

(/) v. 24. " The very elect," i. e. "the "matt faithful Christians, those who had '• most manfully withstood all temptation, "opposition, and persecution."

(m) "As the lightning, &c." i. e. "at the lightning is not confined to place, "not stationary, not waiting that any one "may come to look at it, but extends in "a moment from one end of heaven to the "other, so the Son of man's coming shall "not be confined to place, he shall not "be the object of sight, he shall be seen '• only by his effects, and those effects '■ shall occur wherever his adversaries "are."

(») " The Son, &c." with the article in the original, to distinguish him from every other individual. "Our Sa"viour," says Dr. Middleton (Midd. on Gr. Article, 354.) "assumes this appellation at

"least seventy times, and he never does "so, but in allusion to his present humilia"tion, or his future glory. It is therefore "a strong and repeated, though indirect, "declaration, that the human nature did '• not originally belong to him, and was not "properly his own."

(o) v. 28. "Wheresoever, &c." A proverb !" as certainly as the eagle or vulture "will find out a dead carcase, so certainly "will the instruments of the Messiah's "vengeance find out his enemies." Job gives this character of the eagle, "where "the slain are, there is she. Job xxxix. "30." It is observable too, that at the destruction of Jerusalem the Roman armies were the instruments of God's vengeance, and their ensign was an eagle.

(p) v. 29. "The sun shall be darkened." In prophetic language great commotions on earth are represented by commotions in heaven, and the overthrow of earthly potentates by defects in the lights of heaven. In antient hieroglyphics the sun, moon, and stars stood for states, potentates, and kings. When God was foretelling by Isaiah the destruction of Babylon, (Isaiah xiii. 9.) he says, "Behold the day "of the Lord cometh, cruel both with "wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land "desolate, and he shall destroy the sin"ners thereof out of it. For the start of "" heaven and the constellations thereof shall "not give their light, the sun shall be dark"ened in his going forth, and the moon "shall not cause her light to shine." And Joel ii. 31. (speaking prophetically of the destruction of Jerusalem,) says, "the sun "shall be turned into darkness, and the "moon into blood, before the great and "the terrible day of the Lord come." See also Ezek. xxxii. 7, 8.—Dan. viii. 10.

sign (q) of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes (r) of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming (*) in the clouds of heaven "with power and great glory. 81. And he shall send (t~) his («) angels with a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall gather together his (u) elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Septuagesima Sunday, or the Third Sunday before Lent.

The Collect. O Lord, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name, through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

(q) v. 30. "The sign," or, " standard," To o-ij^urov, "then shall commence his "kingdom; he shall set up his standard, "that all people may come under his ban"ners." Zij^trov, signifies a standard, or banner, as ar^ti^t,^ signifies a standardbearer.

(r) "The tribes of the earth," i. e. "the adversaries of Christ's religion; the "unbelievers, the men of this world.''

(*) "Coming in the clouds of hea"ven," i. e. (perhaps) "with as strong "marks of his power as if he came visibly "riding in the clouds." Daniel, (speaking prophetically of the Messiah, Dan.vii. 13.) says, "one like the Son of Man came "with the clouds of heaven .•" and, with reference to this prophecy, one of the names by which the Messiah was spoken of before the time of our Saviour was Anani, which signifies the clouds; and when our Saviour told the high priest that he was the Christ the Son of God: he added, that they should "see the Son of man "sitting at the right hand of Power, and "coming in the clouds of heaven. Matt. "xxvi.63—66.—Mark xiv.62." Coming in the clouds was probably considered a divine characteristic, not applied to any one but God. In Ps. xviii. 10. it is said that* God "rode upon the cherubims, and did "fly; he came flying upon the wings of "the wind;" and Ps. civ. 3. "he maketh "the clouds his chariot, and walketh upon "the wings of the wind."

(t) v. 31. " Shall send, &c." " not, (per"haps,) literally, but shall as effectually "provide for their preservation, as if he

"did." It is supposed that not a single Christian perished at the destruction of Jerusalem. Our Saviour had cautioned them, (Matt. xxiv. 15.) to flee as soon as they should see the abomination of desolation (i. e. the Roman ensigns) standing in (or about) the holy place; or, as St. Luke expresses it, (Luke xxvi. 20.) " when they "should see Jerusalem compassed with "armies." Jerusalem was first besieged by Gallus, but he raised the siege; the Christians took the opportunity, and fled; so that when it was afterwards besieged by Titus, there was not one Christian in it. 1,100,000 Jews perished in Jerusalem, 97,000 were taken prisoners, and 247,490 perished elsewhere. The preservation of the Christians had been foretold, (Joel ii. 32.) "And it shall come to pass, that "whosoever shall call on the name of the "Lord shall be delivered ; for in Mount "Zion, and in Jerusalem, shall be delivcr"ance, as the Lord hath said, and in the "remnant whom the Lord shall call." See a very able reading on this prophecy, 2 Porteus's Lectures, 166, 199, Lectures 19. and 20.

(a) "his angels," "his elect." So that he was to have angels of his own, and those who were worthy were to he deemed his elect, as well as the Father's. See Graves's Trinity, 96. So Matt. xiii. 41. ante, 73. our Saviour says of himself, " at "the end of this world the Son of man "shall send forth his angels, and they shall "gather out of kis kingdom all that of"fend, &c." So that he was to have angels and a kingdom at the end of this world.

The Epistle. 1 Cor. ix. 24. (y)

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25. And every man that striveth for the mastery is (s) temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 28.1 therefore so run, not as uncertainly (a) j so fight I, not as one

that (b) beateth the air: 27. but I keep under my (c) body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.

The Gospel. Matt. xx. 1.

The (d) kingdom of heaven is like (e) unto a man that is an householder, which went out early

y) St. Paul presses upon the Corinthian converts exertion and self-denial, by reminding them how much they underwent to endeavour to succeed in their games, »here however oneonlycouldbe successful, ad where the crown or prize, when obtained, was nothing to what would ultimately be conferred upon those who strove in the cause of Christ. The Isthmian games were celebrated near Corinth; so that the Corinthians would peculiarly feel the force of this species of argument.

(r) v. 25. " Temperate, &c." " to bring "himself into proper order for the con"test."

(a) r. 26. " Uncertainly." To a Christian, who strives to the utmost, success u crrtain: in a race, as one only can succeed, many who strive to the utmost must

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(4) - One that beateth the air," "whoseblow fails, is evaded by the oppo"nent." In the Christian warfare, no exertion can be thrown away.

{c) v. 27. - My body," i. e. "my car"nal, evil appetites."

(&) v. 1. " The kingdom of heaven," i.e. u God's dispensation under the gospel."

(e) v. 2. "Like, &c." The objects of this parable seem to have been, to check Peter for having asked (Matt. xix. 27.) 'hat they should have for having for«len all and followed our Saviour, to pte?ent extraordinary expectations in the fint converts, and to let them know that God alone was to apportion to each man hii reward, that the lowest he would give *oold be as much as any one could claim, •nd that he was not to be questioned if one •ppeared to have a greater proportion of reward than another. Our Saviour had indeed told the apostles, that when he

"should sit in the throne of his glory, they "should sit upon twelve thrones, judging "the twelve tribes of Israel," (See ante, 66. Matt. xix. 28.) but he added, that "many "that were first should be last, and the "last should be first;" and then he spake this parable, which he concludes, " so the "last shall be first, &c." as if that were the position he was meaning to establish. He might mean, that in after times, the exertions and sufferings of others, in the cause of Christianity, might be such as to entitle them to as great rewards as the Jirst apostles, or that persons who had not had the opportunity of becoming converts till an advanced period of their lives, if they then exerted themselves to the utmost, might be entitled to the same rewards as persons converted younger; but the chief point seems to have been to convince them, that God was to apportion the reward, not man, and that it was each man's duty to be thankful for what was given to himself, without looking jealously upon what was given to others. This is one proof of our Saviour's sincerity. An impostor would rather raise the expectations of his followers than depress them. Another object of the parable might be, to let the Gentiles know, that if they embraced Christianity, and endured with firmness the dangers and difficulties it might bring upon them, they, (who had been so long in a state of spiritual idleness, because they had not received the benefits of revelation, and were therefore in an unhired state,) might receive the same advantages from it as the Jews, who had been so long God's people and servants, and that the Jews would have no right to complain, if God should allow the Gentiles those advantages. According to Rom. ix. 15. God is entitled to

in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 2. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a-day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market-place, 4. and said unto them, "Go ye also into the vine"yard; and whatsoever is right, I "will give you." And they went their way. 5. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, "Why stand "ye here all the day idle?" 7. They say unto him, "Be"cause (g) no man hath hired us." He saith unto them, "Go ye also "into the vineyard; and whatso"ever is right, that shall ye re"ceive." 8, So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard Baith unto his steward, "Call the "labourers, and give them their "hire, beginning from the last "unto the first." 9. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise

have "mercy on whom he will have mercy, "and to have compassion on whom he will "have compassion." If God gives to every man to the full as much as he has a right to, (and he gives much more,) is any one entitled to call him to account, because he gives to some more than may be thought their due? According to Luke xvii. 10. the doctrine of our Saviour is, that " when «' we have done all things which are com"mandedus," (andwhonas?) "we are still "unprofitable servants; we have only done

received every man a penny. 11. And when they had received it, they murmured against the good man of the house, 12. saying, "These last have wrought "but one hour, andthou hast made "them equal unto us, which have "borne the burden and heat of the "day." 13. But he answered one of them, and said, "Friend, "I do thee no wrong: didst not "thou agree with me for a penny? 14. Take that thine is, and go "thy way: I will give unto thin "Hast even as unto thee. 15. Is "it not lawful for me to do what I "will with mine own? Is thine eye "(A) evil because I am (A) good?" 16. So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Sexagesima Sunday, or the Second Sunday before Lent.

The Collect.

O Lord God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant, that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

"what it was our duty to do." Whatever reward, therefore, God gives us, is matter vj favour, and devout thankfulness is the only feeling it should raise. The parable could not mean that a short service, at the close of life, should be rewarded in all cases as liberally as a long one. See Benson's Introduction, xvi.

(g) v. 7. "Because, &c." not from want of inclination, but want of opportunity.

(A) v. 15. "Evil," i. e. "envious;" "good," i. e. "liberal."

The Epistle. 2 Cor.xi. 19. (i) Ye suffer (£) fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. 20. For ye (/) suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. 21. I speak as (m) concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit (n)

whereinsoever any is bold (o), (1 speak foolishly,) I am bold also. 22. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as (p) a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in (q) stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths

(i) From the conduct of some false teachers, St. Paul thought himself constrained to state his own pretensions: his apologies shew how much it was against his inclination.

(i) v. 19. " Fools, &c." It was perhaps a proverb, "that the wise can bear what "fools do:" they are above being annoyed by it: and the meaning here may be, "men, so wise as you, will disregard my "folly in speaking in my own behalf."

(/) r. 20. "Ye suffer, &c." i. e. «' ye "have indeed borne with much from these "false teachers; ye have suffered them to "treat you as bondmen, to prey upon you, "to use you contumaciously, &c.'

(m) p. 21. " Reproach, as though, &c." i*.' "upon the imputation of my being "weak, not having such pretensions to "power, and other gifts, as they."

(») "Whereinsoever, &c." i. e. "if "others boast on account of their lineage, "their exertions and sufferings in the "cause, their accommodating themselves u to the feelings of others to make them "converts, 1 have, at least, on each ground, "at strong claims as they."

(o) "Bold," i. e. "vaunting, confident, presumptuous." See Philip, lii. 4. where be again states that his pretensions in what he there calls " the flesh," i. e. " the Old "Testament prerogatives," are more than equal to those of any other person.

(p) p. 23. "As a fool," in mentioning niY own merits.

(«) "In stripes, &c." St. Paul appeals particularly to his exertions and sufferings: they proved not only his zeal and lincerity in bearing up against them, but God's grace to him in giving him courage, and afford strong ground for considering his doctrine true, because it gained so much ground, in defiance of so nuch opposition. Dr. Paley makes it the great ground upon which he infers the truth of Christianity, that" persons professing to

"be witnesses of the Christian miracles, "passed their lives in labours, dangers, "and sufferings, which they voluntarily "underwent in attestation of the accounts "they delivered, and solely in consequence "of those accounts. Paley's Evid; i. 17." St. Paul was not witness to the miracles of our Saviour's time, but he was to that of his own conversion, to whatever he himself wrought, and probably to many which the other apostles worked. Our Saviour had foretold to his disciples, (Luke xxi. 12, 16,17.) that " men should lay hands on "them, should persecute them, deliver"ing them up to the synagogues, &c." "that some of them they should cause to "be put to death, and that they should be "hated of all men for his name's sake," that is, "for embracing Christianity." The sufferings St. Paul here enumerates were, a* to him, a completion of the prophecy; and the Acts furnish instances of the persecutions of other disciples. Stephen was stoned to death. (Acts vii. 59, 60.) Herod "killed James, the brother of John, with "the sword; and because it pleased the "Jews, he took Peter also, and put him "into prison. (Acts xii. 1, 2, 3.") St. Paul, "before his conversion, made havock of the •* Church, entering into every house, and "haling men, women, and children, com"mitted them to prison. Actsviii.3.—xxvi. "10." The earnest manner, too, in which. St. Paul, St. James, and St. Peter, exhort the converts to bear up against persecution, implies pretty strongly that their sufferings were such as to require strong encouragement. See 2 Thess. i. 3—6.—James ii. 5—7.—1 Pet. iv. 12—19. See also Heb. x. 32, 33. Tacitus also mentions the persecutions of the Christians. Ann. Lib. 15. c. 45. No impostor would hold out such a prospect to his followers as that our Saviour held out; and nothing but conviction would induce them to bear the trials.

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