Page images
PDF
EPUB

lished the point that the judgment is after death, and at a general resurrection, and if so, it as clearly follows that sinners will be punished after death.

XV. The judgment, and of course the punishment of the wicked, are connected with a second coming of Christ, in a manner which proves the judgment to be future and general, and the punishment to be in a future state. Matt. xxv. 31, 32. “When the Son of Man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations.

So far as we have been able to learn the opinions of others, it is generally agreed that this text relates to one of two events : universalists maintain that it was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem, while anti-universalists consider it descriptive of a future and general judgment. To refute the former of these opinions and to establish the latter, is the intended work of this argument; to effect which we shall, first, examine the text itself, and then compare it with other texts which are supposed to relate to the same event. But before we attempt to rear an argument, we will endeavor to remove some of the rubbish which universalists have thrown in our way, on this subject, by considering what they urge in support of their own exposition of this text. Universalists explain this paragraph by the preceding chapter which treats of the destruction of Jerusalem, and where Christ says, verse 34, “ This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Now, because Christ speaks of the sun's being darkened, and of the moon's not giving her light, and of the falling of the stars of heaven; of the coming of the Son of Man, &c. it is argued that the second coming of Christ took place at the destruction of Jerusalem, and hence, that the xxivth and xxvth chapters relate to the same event. To this we object on the following ground:

1. Though it is clear that Christ does speak of the destruction of Jerusalem in the xxivth chapter, yet it is not clear that his discourse is exclusively on that subject. He first said to his disciples, of the temple “there shall not be left here one stone

upon

another that shall not be thrown down." This led the disciples to enquire, verse 3, "When shall these things be ? and what shall be the sign of thy coming and of

- this gena

We

the end of the world? On this Dr. A. Clarke has the followlowing remarks: “ There appear to be three questions asked here by the disciples. 1st. When shall these things be ? viz. the destruction of the city, temple and Jewish state : 2dly, What shall be the sign of thy coming ? viz. to execute these judgments upon them, and to establish thy own church: and 3dly, When shall this world end? When wilt thou come to judge the quick and dead?” Now, as there are three questions blended together, it is reasonable to suppose that the answers should be found in like manner, in the same discourse; and hence, it may be supposed that some things are said here which relate to the destruction of the temple, and others to the final destruction of the world. Should it be insisted that the expression, “this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled," forbids such an idea, we answer that it is very far from being clear that by erationwe are to understand the natural life of the then existing inhabitants. The expression may be intended to designate the Jews as a distinct race or nation of men. do not mean to say that the word is never used to signify the people who live in the same age ; but we deny that it is always used in this sense, and maintain that it is sometimes employed to denote a peculiar class or race of people, extending through many ages. A few instances, in which it is used in this sense will satisfy the reader of this fact. Ps. xiv. 5. “God is in the generation of the righteous.” Here the righteous are called a generation, as a class or race of persons running through all ages of time. Ps. xxiv. 6. - This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O God of Jacob.” By adverting to the fourth verse, it will be seen that in this text such as have clean hands and pure hearts, &c. are declared to be a generation, which does not denote people living at the same time, but people of a certain character, in whatever age or place they live. Prov. xxx. 12. “ There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness." Here wicked

persons

of a certain description are called a generation, not because all of this particular stamp are cotemporary with each other, but because they are the same in character in every age; presenting the features of a distioct and peculiar race of the wicked. In

Isa. lüü. 8. it is said of the Messiah, “who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living.” Here generation must mean either pedigree or progeny, either of which implies a race, and not a period of time. i Pet. ii. 9. “ Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.” Here christians are termed a generation, and this is spoken of christians in general as a peculiar race or class of men, and not as having their being at the same time. It is clear then that the scriptures do sometimes employ the term generation to signify a peculiar people or distinct race; and if so, this

may be the sense in which Christ uses it when he says “This generation shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled :” that is, this people, the Jews shall be preserved as a distinct race as a standing proof of the predictions I now utter. One prediction appears very much to favour this construction. In Luke xxi. 24, 32. where Christ is speaking on the same subject we read, " Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the gentiles until the times of the gentiles be fulfilled." Here then, it is plainly declared that Jerusalem shall be trodden down until the times of the gentiles be fulfilled, which implies that the times of the gentiles should be fulfilled, and that Jerusalem should cease to be trodden down; and all this before that generation should pass away. Now if we understand by the expression, "this generation,” the class of inhabitants then living, this prediction cannot be true, for that generation has passed away, and the times of the gentiles appear not to be fulfilled, and Jerusalem is still trodden down by them. But if we understand by this generation, the Jews as a distinct and peculiar race, the prediction appears to be literally true, and consistent with other prophecies which relate to the same event. Rom. xi. 25. “For I would not brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, that blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fullness of the gentiles be come in.” If this view be correct, then the supposed difficulty in this subject vanishes at once; for the generation or race of the Jews have not passed away to this day, they are still a distinct people, and there is nothing absurd in supposing that they will be preserved so until the end of time, "to the judgment of the great day.”

2. Were it admitted that the xxivth of Matt. the xxist of Luke, &c. relate exclusively to the destruction of Jerusalem, and that by “this generation” we are to understand the set of inhabitants then living, confining the whole within the lifetime of some of those to whom this solemn discourse was delivered, still it will not follow that the last paragraph of the xxvth of Matt. relates to the same event; or that there is no future coming of Christ predicted in the scriptures, as universalists must infer, to render it in the least subservient to their cause. Suppose Christ, in giving an account of the ruin which was soon to come upon the people, city and temple of the Jews, represented that special providence as his coming, that he represented the rapid march of the Roman army, his ministers of justice, who entered Judea on the east, by “the lightning that cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west ;" suppose he represented the entire abolition of the Jewish religion, by the sun's being darkened, and the overthrow of the Jewish state, by the moon's refusing to give her light, and the subversion of the judges and doctors, by the falling of the stars from heaven; we say admit all this, and what does it prove more than that these are figurative expressions borrowed from literal correspondent events? Is there a second figurative coming of Christ, a figurative judgment, a figurative passing away of the heavens, and no such literal events from which these figures are borrowed? If so we have yet to learn the origin, the nature, and import of figurative language. These expressions then, applied to the destruction of Jerusalem, are so far from disproving the second coming of Christ at the end of the world, that they beyond dispute establish the very point.

Admitting then that all this is figurative, it does not follow from thence that the xxvth of Matt. is also figurative. The one may be a representation of the destruction of Jerusalem in the use of figures borrowed from the events of the last day, and the other may be a literal narration of those events. This is now what we shall attempt to prove, viz. that the last paragrath of the xxvth of Matt. contains an account of a second coming of Christ, yet to take place.

1. Christ is here said to come in his glory: which cannot relate to the destruction of Jerusalem. We often read of the

appearances of the divine glory, as when the angel of God appeared to the shepherds on Judah’s hills, Luke ii. 9. Christ also speaks of the glory he had with the Father “before the world was,” John xvii. 5. But in no sense did Christ come in his glory when Jerusalem fell under the pressure of Roman arms. Let the Christian look upon the record of that event, and fancy that he hears the clangour of swords and shields, the shouts of the victors and the groans of the wounded and dying, and that he sees the flames and rising columns of smoke from the dissolving city-we say let the christian look upon these things, and then ask himself if this is the glory of the son of man. Is this the glory he hopes to enjoy with his divine Lord ? Christ prayed, “ Father glorify thou me with the glory I had with thee before the world was ;” and St. Paul, in speaking of the high calling of the christian, says, Rom. viii. 17. "İf children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, if so be we suffer with him that we may be glorified together." But if Christ came in his glory at the destruction of Jerusalem, we should pray, Lord, save us from thy glory.

2. In the text Christ is said to come with all the holy angels; which was not the case at the destruction of Jerusalem. In a controversy, which the writer once held with a universalist, this objection was raised to his application of this subject, to which he replied, that by the holy angels the Roman army was intended. It was then stated that the Roman army was composed of heathen, which were never in scripture termed holy, and the words of Daniel were quoted as applied by Christ, Matt. xxiv. 15, 16. “When

ye

shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, then let them that be in Judea flee into the mountains." On this text, we remarked that the Roman army are so far from being termed holy angels, that they are called the abomination of desolation. The abetter of universalism then changing his ground, as its advocates are apt to do, said that by the holy angels was meant the apose tles and christians. To this it was replied that no apostles or christians were at Jerusalem at that time; that instead of coming at that time they fled away, according to the word of the master above quoted, “Then flee ye to the mount

« PreviousContinue »