« PreviousContinue »
destroyed by Adrian, brought about the desolation of Judea, and total expulsion of the Jews, A.D. 135.
2. The second sign was, wars and rumours of wars, and unsettlements. Accordingly, a war broke out about A.D. 36, between Herod, tetrarch of Galilee, and Aretas, king of Arabia Petrea, in which Herod's army was destroyed, Ant. xviii. 6, 1. This was in their neighbourhood. The great Roman and Parthian empires and their dependencies, were engaged in constant wars with each other during this turbulent period. See Usher's Annals, A. D. 51. In Nero's reign there was a rumour that the Parthians intended to invade Syria and Palestine, and the presidents and tetrarchs of both were ordered to obey the Roman general Corbulo, Sueton. Nero, 39. And most remarkable were the unsettlements of those two great empires; no less than four Roman emperors, Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius being slain in the course of eighteen months.
3. The third sign was no less exactly fulfilled. A remarkable famine, foretold by the prophet Agabus, prevailed throughout Judea, in the reign of Claudius Cæsar, A.D. 44, Acts xi. 28; and it lasted till the administration of Tiberius Alexander, the successor of Fadus, about A.D. 50, Joseph. Ant. xx. 4, 2.
A remarkable pestilence was noticed by Tacitus at Rome, in the autumn of A.D. 65, after the martyrdom of Paul and Peter, which swept away 30,000 persons, according to Suetonius, Nero, 39.
There were also great earthquakes in divers places. Tacitus speaks of an earthquake at Rome, and another at Apamea in Syria, A.D. 51; another, which threw down Laodicea, and shook Colosse and Hierapolis, in Asia Minor, A.D. 60; another, which overthrew Pompeii and Herculaneum, in Campania, accompanied with a tremendous eruption of lava and ashes from Mount Vesuvius, A.D. 62, Annal. xii. 43, 58, xiv. 27, xv. 22.
Some extraordinary signs in the heavens, and other portents are noticed by Josephus and Tacitus*, as immediately preceding the war: 1. A star resembling a sword, or a comet, ap
Evenerant prodigia, quæ neque hostiis neque votis piare fas habet gens superstitioni obnoxia, religionibus adversa. Visæ per cœlum concurrere acies, rutilantia arma, et subito nubium igne collucere templum. Expassa repente delubri fores, et audita major humanâ vox, excedere Deos:" simul ingens motus excedentium. Quæ pauci in metum trahebant,
&c. Hist. v. 13.
peared over the city for a year together. 2. At the feast of the passover, April 8, A.D. 65, at the ninth hour of the night, or three hours after midnight, so great a light shone round the altar and the temple, that it seemed to be clear day; and this continued for half an hour. 3. A few days after that festival, on May 21, before sunset, chariots and troops in armour were seen carried upon the clouds, and surrounding cities; which, says he, almost exceeds belief, and might seem fabulous, had it not been related by the eye-witnesses. This could not have been an aurora borealis, as some have imagined, because it was seen in the day time. 4. At the ensuing feast of Pentecost, as the priests, during their watch, were going by night into the inner court of the temple, they first felt, as they said, a shaking, accompanied with a noise, and after that, a voice of a multitude, saying, Let us pass over from hence, (uɛraßaivwμev evтevÕev.) "Some of these prodigies," says Josephus, "the people interpreted as they liked, others they set at nought, until they were convicted of infatuation, both by the capture of their country, and by the destruction of themselves," Bell. Jud. VI. 5, 3, 4. What a critical commentary does Josephus furnish upon OUR LORD'S prophecies, though he does not name them! iv. 5, vi. 8. These several signs were also fulfilled with equal exactness, as shewn in the foregoing history.
9. The ninth sign, the preaching of the Gospel throughout the known world, before the catastrophe of Jerusalem, is noticed by Paul, Col. i. 23, Romans x. 18, and shewn in the foregoing history.
II. SIGNS OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE AT THE
These naturally follow the false signs proposed by the false prophets, saying, that CHRIST was actually come, and hiding in the desert, or in the secret chambers.
1. The true presence of CHRIST in glory, as Daniel's SON OF MAN, in his day of revelation, is to be sudden, and universally conspicuous; like lightning shining from the east to the west, from one end of heaven to the other, Matt. xxiv. 27, Luke xvii. 24.
2. Before he is to be revealed, there is to be an immense and
general slaughter of all apostate and wicked nations, by the ministers of divine vengeance; resembling "the eagles in swiftness and voracity, gathered together wheresoever the carcase is," or the mass of the people become corrupt, to devour, to destroy, and to make an end, Matt. xxiv. 28, Luke xvii. 37.
3. This is foretold to take place immediately, or suddenly, “after the tribulation of those days," or near the close of the second Jewish captivity, among all the nations, during the desolation of Jerusalem: and is to be accompanied with signs in the sun, moon, and stars; and upon earth distress of nations in perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring, men shuddering with fear, and expectation of the woes coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken;" all intimating dreadful natural and political convulsions throughout the world, Matt. xxiv. 29, Luke xxi. 24-26.
4. And then shall appear the sign of THE SON OF MAN; for they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and great glory. And then shall all the tribes of the land, [when they look on him whom they pierced,] mourn, (Zech. xii. 10,) Matt. xxiv. 30, Luke xxi. 27.
5. And He shall send forth his angels with a trumpet of great sound, and gather his elect from one end of the heaven to the other, from the four winds, or four quarters of the earth, [at the first resurrection.]
6. Our BLESSED LORD graciously proposed these signs, destined to precede his second appearance at the regeneration, for the comfort and support of his faithful disciples in those latter times. "When these signs begin to happen, then look up, and lift up your heads with joyful assurance, for your redemption draweth nigh," Luke xxi. 28. And he happily illustrated this by a similitude, "When the fig-trees and all the trees put forth leaves, it is a sign that the summer is nigh; so when all these are seen to happen, it shall be a sign that the kingdom of GOD is now nigh," Matt. xxiv. 32, 33; Mark xiii. 28-30; Luke xxi. 29-31.
7. He next critically distinguishes the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, from the time of his second appearance: 1. The former; "This generation shall not pass away till all these happen: (heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words
shall not pass away.") 2. The latter, "But of that day* and hour knoweth no one, neither the angels of heaven, nor THE SON, but THE FATHER; no one, but MY FATHER only," Matt. xxiv. 34—36; Mark xiii. 30—32; Luke xxi. 32, 33. Compare Acts i. 7.
8. From the uncertainty of the time, and the suddenness of his coming to execute vengeance upon all the ungodly of the earth, resembling the universal deluge in Noah's days, and the destruction of Sodom, in Lot's days, OUR LORD warns the faithful to take heed to themselves, lest their hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and worldly cares, and so that day + [of vengeance] come upon them unawares. For as a net or snare shall it come upon all the dwellers upon the face of the earth ; of whom some, the good, shall be taken,
There is a chasm in Luke's account of an entire verse, though hitherto unnoticed by commentators and critics, which has chiefly contributed to embarrass the harmony of the Evangelists. It may be thus supplied from Matthew and Mark :
Matt. xxiv. 34. Αμην λεγω ὑμῖν, ου μη παρέλθη ἡ γενεα αύτη, έως αν παντα ταυ τα γενηται.
35. (Ο ουρανος και ἡ γη παρελεύσονται· οἱ δε λογοι μου ου μη παρελθωσι.)
36. Περι δε της ήμερας εκείνης και της ώρας, ουδείς οίδεν, ουδε οἱ αγ γελοι των ουρανων, ει μη ὁ πατηρ μου μονος.
2 Peter xi. 9. Οι δε κυριος ευσεβεις εκ πειρασμού ρυεσθαι, αδικους δε εις ήμεραν κρισε ως κολαζομενους τηρεῖν.
32. Αμην λεγω ύμιν,
33. (Ο ουρανος και ἡ
[Περι δε της ημερας εκείνης και της ώρας ουδείς οίδεν, ουδε οἱ αγγελοι των ουρανων, ει μη ὁ πατηρ μου μονος.]
34. Προσέχετε δε ἑαυτοις μηποτε βαρυνθωσι ὑμων αἱ καρδιαι εν κραιπαλη και μεθη, και με ριμναις βιωτικαις, αιφνίδιος εφ' ύμας επεστη ἡ ἡμερα εκείνη *.
30. Αμην λεγω ὑμῖν, ότι ου μη παρελθη ἡ γενεα αύτη, μέχρις ού παντα ταυτα γενηται.
31. (Ο ουρανος και ἡ γη παρελεύσονται, οἱ δε λογοι μου ου μη παρελθωσι.)
32. Περι δε της ήμερας εκείνης και της ώρας, ουδεις οιδεν, ουδε οἱ αγγελοι οἱ εν ουρανῳ, ουδε ὁ υἱος, εἰ μὴ ὁ πατήρ.
1 Thessal. v. 2, 3. Αυτοι γαρ ακριβως οιδατε, ὅτι ἡ ἡμερα κυριου, ὡς κλεπτης εν νυκτί, ούτως ερχεται αιφνίδιος αυτοις εφισταται όλεθρος.
In the 32d verse of Luke, the omission of ταυτα, is supplied by the Syriac, Arab. Persic, Armen. and Slavon, versions, and by several MSS. it is absolutely required by the context, on account of the limitation of παντα, to the passing generation.
+ The 36th verse of Matthew is absolutely required by the context to be inserted between the 33d and the 34th of Luke, in order to furnish an antecedent to ἡ ἡμερα εκεινη,
" that day,” in the latter verse, which, in the present text, has none; and is to be “a day of judgment on the wicked," according to Peter; in which "sudden destruction shall come upon them," according to Paul.
or wonderfully saved from destruction; but others, the bad, left to perish. Therefore, observe, [the signs of the times,] watch and pray, for ye know not when the season is to be, nor in what hour the SON OF MAN is to come [in judgment upon the world,] Matt. xxiv. 37–42; Mark xiii. 33; Luke xxi. 35; xvii. 26— 36; 1 Thess. v. 1-3; 2 Pet. ii. 9.
And He illustrates this also by a series of
9. In the first, CHRIST coming suddenly and unexpectedly upon the world, is compared to a thief, ready to break into the house of any householder who is not constantly on his guard. Be ye, therefore, ready, or prepared, for in an hour that ye expect not, the SON OF MAN is to come in judgment, Matt. xxiv. 43, 44. This comparison is frequent, Luke xii. 39; 2 Pet. iii. 10; Rev. iii. 3; xvi. 15.
10. In the second, the good and bad steward are described, and the reward and punishment of each; the former, for feeding the household in due season, is to be promoted over all his master's substance in the regeneration, (compare Matt. xix. 28, Luke xxii. 28-30, &c.;) the latter, for beating his fellow servants, and eating and drinking with the drunken, to be cut asunder with the sword* unexpectedly, and to have his portion with the hypocrites in the next world, Matt. xxiv. 45—51, Luke xii. 42-46.
11. In the third the provident and improvident stewards are compared to the wise and foolish virgins, attendant as bridemaids on a marriage. During the bridegroom's delay all slumbered and slept, more or less; but on the bridegroom's sudden coming at midnight, the wise, who had provided a supply of oil, repaired their fault, "trimmed their lamps," and attended the bridal procession, and were admitted to the marriage feast; but the foolish, who "went to buy oil," trusting to a late repentance, found the door shut against them, and were left in darkness and despair. "Watch, therefore, with your loins girded, and your lamps burning, for ye know neither the day, nor the hour in which THE SON OF MAN is to come," Matt. xxv. 1-13; Luke xii. 35-37.
This parable, by anticipation, admirably refutes the Romish
* Multos honesti ordinis medios serrá dissecuit Caligula. Sueton.