Page images
PDF
EPUB

men of fame for piety and learning, both ancient and modern, that do not only assert, but argue, expressly or indirectly, for the coming of Elijah, yet to be fulfilled. Tertullian in his Book concerning the Resurrection asserts, that Elijah was still to come, by reason that his coming is as positively set down in Scripture to be a sign of Christ's second coming, as any other signs. Some of his words are these : "There is no tribe with

tribe to this day smiting their breasts, acknowledging him " whom they have pierced ; no man hath yet received Elijah ;

no man yet hath fled from Antichrist ; (he means from the

persecutions of Antichrist ; for he was not in his time risen " to such power as to persecute ;) and no man hath wept over “the ruin of Babylon." He goes on in another place thus : " And behold I will send you Elijah the Tishbite.—But indeed “ their Metempsychosis* is the revocation of a soul that having " long since finished the death [of that body to which it was "united] is re-instated in another body. But Elijah is to come, “not from a departing out of this life [by death] but from his

translation ; neither is he to be restored to the body from which "he was never exempted, but to the world from whence he was

translated; not by a returning from death to life, but by supple"ment of the prophecy, the very same man, and he himself, of “his own name and human nature.”p Augustin also affirmed the coming of Elijah upon the words of Christ in Matt. xvii, 11. Some of his words are these: “Our Lord hath said, Elijah shall come and shall restore all things; that is, those whom the persecution of Antichrist shall make desolate.”q Theodoret likewise argues for the future coming of Elijah (calling him

Elijah the Great") from our text in Malachi, upon these grounds; " That he must teach the Jews Christ's coming, and persuade them to be integrated into one Church with believing Gentiles.”r

Thus we see according to the judgement and reason of learned pious men, Elijah must come, a little before the second or next coming of Christ, when shall begin the great restitution of all things.* But we never heard of any Elijah, or of any great prophet of the Jews converting, or endeavouring the conversion of the Jews to the true Messiah, since the deceasing of the Apostles. But they continue still blinded, according to Rom. xi, 25; and therefore this Elijah is yet to come, and consequently, this prophecy of Malachi is yet unfulfilled.

o De Resurrect. cap.

xxii. p Lib. De Amina, Cap. xxxv. 9 Quest.

Evang. cap. xxi. r Theodoret in Mal. iv, 5, 6. * When Tertullian saith, their Metempsychosis, he means the philosophers, to whom he wrote that book, and in particular the Pythagorean philosophers, whom in the context of the fore-cited place he mentions.

* The reader may find this point handled more fully in Mr. Mede's Diatribæ (pars iv. p. 1) who goes over much the same ground to prove that there must be a second coming of Elijah. He does not however expect Elijah personally, but personated, and thinks perhaps it may be John Baptist himself; so that there will be two advents of Christ's harbinger, as well as of himself.

CHAPTER III.

NEW TESTAMENT EVIDENCE.

MATTHEW XXIV, 13, 14.

Of our New Testament proofs we have occasionally opened so many, in order to explain the prophets, that we have greatly anticipated ourselves, and happily made our work so short, that there is no fear of tediousness to the Reader.

The first place we touch upon is Matt. xxiv, 13, 14.-" But • he that shall endure to the end shall be saved. And this

Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a ' witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.” That antithetical " BUT" points at a time immediately following the universal transcendent impieties of the wicked world, mentioned verses 10-12; which, by the apostles in their Epistles, is often prognosticated to be as the night, preceding the sun-rising of that glory of which we speak. The "end" here mentioned must needs be the end of the world, (not of Jerusalem,) as we shall presently show. And this end must be of the world of the wicked ; not of the world as a world, or material substance : else, why doth our Saviour mention enduring, and “preaching the Gospel for a witness to all nations ?” For when the time of the aforesaid glorious state of the Church throughout the whole earth is come (called the restitution of all things,s) there will be no putting men upon enduring, or suffering : they now are saved, and glory hath dispelled suffering. And consequently there will be no need to make the Gospel a testimony against all nations ; for at this time all that survive shall wholly submit—at least to all appearance. The sign, therefore, immediately antecedent to this end is, the preaching of the Gospel in all the world to all nations; which is a glorious prelude to the glorious kingdom then to begin. This radiant sun will soften all good plants to a

s Acts iii, 21.

flowing of sap into the flowers and fruit trees of God's garden ; and it will harden the dead earth into stones, to be trampled and broken by the prancings of victorious judgements upon them.

That these things, thus briefly hinted, may duly be illustrated by the words under consideration, let us make three observations

upon them. 1. That such an end must be here meant as cannot be applied to the destruction of Jerusalem, but to the time immediately before the end of the world. For there was little or no salvation, temporal or spiritual, to them surviving at the destruction of Jerusalem; and therefore in the sixteenth verse, &c.) our Saviour advises the Jews to flee at this time,-and not to endure to the end of those troubles. Indeed the Gospel was fled from Jerusalem, and generally from the Jews, many years before.t Besides, the evils, here set as marks of the end, are the same which the Apostles make of the approach of the end of the world ; for which compare verses 9–12 with 2 Tim, iii, 1–4.

2. «The Gospel must be preached εν όλη τη οικουμενη εις μαρτυριον πασι τοις εθνεσι in all the inhabited world for a witness to all the Gentiles.A thing may be said to be proclaimed to a whole town, if declared but in the market-place; or to a whole province or county, when it is done in the chief city : but this preaching must be in the whole inhabited world, wherever men inhabit ; as Jonah preached in every street of Nineveh, labouring three days in that one city. And this preaching must be such, as will justly amount to a witness to them ; viz.—a witness to convince them beyond all excuse, that the Gospel was preached to them.

3. It is here said, “ This Gospel of the kingdom TOTOV TO Evayyellov rns Baollelas) shall be preached in all the world ; by which emphatical expression is given to us a clear distinction between “This Gospel" and the “THE Kingdom ;" insomuch that Christ's mere spiritual kingdom cannot be here understood. The Gospel is the law of the kingdom ; the saints are the subjects or matter of that kingdom. The Gospel comes from heaven; the people of the kingdom are, (ev Ty Olkovjevn,) in the inhabited world, and converted by that Gospel out of all nations. The preaching of the Gospel is the antecedent sign of the approach of that kingdom: and the antecedent cannot be the consequent, nor the sign the thing signified, nor can the cause be the effect. Besides, the words "he that endures to the end shall be saved,” are antithetically put in opposition to both sorts of evils recounted immediately before ; viz.-false doctrines, and cruel persecutions; and therefore a corporal as well as spiritual salvation must be here meant;-a salvation to be performed on earth, viz. in the inhabited world, just where the Gospel preached converted them, and where they endured to the end ;-and unto which, Christ doth gloriously appear from heaven, (verse 30, &c.) to make up the splendor of that state on earth.

t Acts viii, 1, &c; xiii, 46; Rom. xi, 25.

Now all these things cannot be fulfilled at the ultimate general judgement; nor are they hitherto fulfilled. The worship of God in the earth is as yet but insignificant; (compared with the extent of its inhabitants, not a sixth part of it;) though it is to extend and spread over the whole earth, and be universal Mr. Mede solidly proves this on Jer. x, 11; urging for his purpose such places as this—Psalm xx, 27; xlvii ; lxvi; lxvii; lxxxix; and a multitude of other texts.

LUKE I, 31, 32.

“ And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring “ forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. And he shall be

great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he “ shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his king

dom there shall be no end.”

1. On these words observe first, that this promise, of giving to Christ the throne of his father David, is taken out of Isa. ix, 7. (See page 95.)

2. Secondly, it is not fulfilled; for Christ's coming in his incarnation was, from his birth to his ascension, a state of the greatest humility that could be ;u excepting the few minutes of his transfiguration, and his appearing also to his disciples after his resurrection, and ascending up in their sight. And therefore

1 Phil, ii, 7, 8.

v Matt. xvii.

w Acts i.

« PreviousContinue »