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Church-State Relations and the Book of Revelation
An Introduction to The Parousia: A Careful Look at the New Testament Doctrine of the Lord's Second Coming
by James Stuart Russell (1878) // Written by
Todd Dennis, Curator
 



 

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CHRIST'S COMING TO JUDGMENT.

From A course of critical lectures: or, systematical theology, in four parts
Edition: 3 - 1825 - 240 pages

 

John Samuel Thompson
"
This prophecy fixes the time of Christ's coming before the destruction of the second temple, which by the Romans under Vespasian, was levelled with the ground. "

CHRIST'S COMING TO JUDGMENT.

A Disquisition on 2 Thess, i. 6—10i

Since I have begun to labor in the vineyard of my Lord, as a minister of the Everlasting Gospel, the subject of this Lecture has frequently been alleged by my opponents, as an unequivocal demonstration of human woe in a future mode of existence; and an insurmountable obstacle to the progress of the doctrine of universal salvation. A variety of circumstances has called the attention of the public to this passage of scripture, as a dernier resort of the opposers of Universalism; an it has been selected seven times by different clergymen, in the vicinity of this populous and growing village, in their attempts to overthrow or establish the Abrahamic Faith.— I have therefore undertaken to show, that this portion of sacred scripture relates to the severe chastisements of God, inflicted on the Jews for rejecting our Lord and persecuting his followers; and that it has no allusion whatever to the destiny of men in another and unseen world. The discussion of this contested and alarming passage shall, be conducted according to the following arrangement.

1. I shall endeavor to render the translation more correct and agreeable to the original Greek.

2. I shall speak of the time, manner, signs, and end of Christ's coming.

1. The Greek preposition meta signifies in company; co-operation in the same design; adherence to the same party. The original meaning of the word, appears to have been a conducto whom others accompany. Hence the phrase, thlibomenois meth hemon, may be rendered, our fellow sufferers; and meth angelon, co-operating with, his messengers, or conducting his messengers as a leader or a captain. Accordingly the seventh verse will read, "rest to you our fellow-sufferers at the revelation of our Lord Jesus, co-operating with, bis mighty messengers," i. e. conducting the Roman army to inflict the long predicted woes on the Jewish people and nation. The phrase diktn tiein, in the ninth verse answers to the penas dare, of Virgil, and signifies to pay justice, atone-, expiate or suffer. This is the constant, and I may add the almost invariable meaning of the above phrases, in the best Latin and Greek classics. The ninth verse 9ught therefore to read, "who shall suffer

loss from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his majesty." Is. ii. 19. 21. The term, olfthnm, translated destruction, has induced many to adopt the unmerciful and unscriptural notion of the annihilation of the wicked. But this fanciful opinion must have originated from inattention to the scriptural and classical use of the term as well as the doctrine of the everlasting gospel. Otiumi, in Greek, « reo, in Latin, i<erdre, in French, and perish, in English, are terms frequently used to express apprehension of some impending danger. Olethron derived from olluini, may therefore be correctly translated loss. Moreover what Paul calls tribulation in the sixth verse is denominated destruction in the ninth- Where Luke uses the word apulesaito destroy, Matthew employs the term basanisai, to torment. Though both the evangelists intended to communicate the same idea. Luke iv. 34, Mat viii. 29, "When Matthew speaks of destroying both soul and body in Gehennah, Luke expresses the same ideas by the phrase, cast into Gehennah. Mat. x, 28, Luke xii. 5. If the wicked be annihilated on account of their iniquity, how can the reward be according to works? But the uniform language of scripture declares. both the righteous and the wicked shall be recompensed for their deeds; and men shall be beaten with many or few stripes in proportion as they have been move or less vicious in their mo.ral conduct. If the phrase, to be no more, Ps, civ. 35, Lam. v 7, which, in several languages, implies to die, mean utter and perpetual extinction of being, then Enoch, Joseph, and David must have been annihilated. Gen. v. 24; xlii. 13, and Ps. xxxix. 13. If the second death, which \Vhitby on my text shows from the targums of Onkelos, Uziel, and Jerusalem to be a proverbial expression denoting the correction of the impious, mean annihilation, then those who are cast into the lake of fire cannot be tormented day and n:ght; nor can the wrath of God abide on unbelievers. Rev. xiv. 11, John iii. 36. But Israel, who destroyed himself, Hos. xiii. 9; the son of predition, 2 Thes. ii. 3, the wicked whom the Lord will destroy, 2 Thes. ii. 8, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, 2. Thes, i. 9, and will utterly perish, Deut. iv. 26; Josh, xxiii. 16, and Deut. xxx. 18, was no other, in the opinion of Lightfoot, Le Clerc,. Hatrrnond, and other able commentators, than the Jewish nation, \vhich, as a body politic and ecclesiastical, was destroyed or dispersed forever. Notwithstanding if ever the design of God in creating intel'igent beings, the objects of Christ's mediatorial kingdom, or the covenant and promises of God, be accomplished, the soul-chilling doctrines of annihilation and endless misery will then be demonstrated equally false and delusive. Let the believers of destruction reflect on the character of that God who, though he bring to destruction the sons of men, yet saith to them return again, Ps. xc. 3; and -who declares that not one grain of that Israel whom he destroyed, should perish, Amos ix. 9; and then let them say whether God shall deliver from destruction, agreeably to Ps. cvii. 20? If the above criticism be correct, my te it will read thus, "seeing it is righteous with God to recompense tribulation to them who trouble you, but rest to you, our fellow-sufferers, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven, as a flame of fire, co-operating with his powerful messengers (the Roman army) administering justice to those who neither honor God nor obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall suffer aionion loss (being excluded until the fulness of the Gentiles come) from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his majesty.

As 1 have adopted the term aionian instead of everlasting, some explanation may be necessary. It is derived from the noun Won, which, Phuvormus says, signifies the measure or length of human life. The word 'age' is the most appropriate in the English language to express the signification of the Greek aion, Thus we speak of the age of a child, the age of a man, the antidiluvian age, the Patriarchal age, the Christian age, and the age of the world- In all these examples, we find the term 'age' varied, and the extent of its duration known only by the qualifying words or pharses with which it:is connected; for by the above examples the word 'age' may indefinitely denote a period of one year, fifty years, two thousand years, or five thousand years, as the sense ;nay require. The Hebrew olam translated aion in the Septuagint, and correctly rendered into English by our translators only once, Ephes. ii. 7. by the word age, signifies & concealed or unknown period of time, whose duration like the terms aion and age, can only be measured by the subject to which it is applied. The Hebrew slave who stipulated to serve his master, Oft olam; Sept. eis. uiona, English forewr, Ex. xxi. 6, Deut. xv. 17, did not thereby agree to serve for any definite period of time; for the duration of his servitude depended on the following circumstances

I. His own death. 2. The death of his master. 3. The return of the jubilee. Whichever of these occurred first, disolved the agreement, and effected the termination of that indefinite period indicated by the phrase od olam, eis aiona, forever. Accordingly the same phrase is translated forever, all the clays of his life, as long as life liveth, 1 Sam. i. 11, 22, 28. Hance we see the Hebrew od olam, the Greek eis aiona, and the English forever, or everlasting expressive of the duration of the Hebrew's servitude, or Samuel's life might have indicated a period of a week, three days, as in Jonah ii. 7, or one year, but could not exceed the time of 48 years; for every 49th year brought again the return of the jubilee How despicable then must those doughty champions of orthodoxy and advocates of endless misery, appear to intelligent readers or hearers,, when thtey urge the argument for eternal misery from the term aion, as implying eternal duration; whilst the verv highest classical authority limits the term, to the length of human life. Isocrates and Zenophen say, ton aiona diag«in, to pass the term of life. Tflentssai. t-in ttiona, in Herodotus and Sophocles signifies, to- ;nd life, or die- Homer uses aion frequently'as the synonyme of zot>, life, II. iv. 478, il. v. 681, and

II. xvi. 458. And sometimes for the peri'xl of a short life lost in battle. Hn nun aion, in the scriptures, always signifies the present life. See Whitby on Ephes. ii. 2; 2 Tim. iv. 10; Mark x. SOi Surely if the word 'aion' imply eternal duration, Christ and his apostles must have been very ignorant of its meaning; for he tells them, the harvest, 01 founding of the christian church, is the end of the aion. Mat. xiii. 39. Lo I am with you till the end of the aion. Mat. xxviii. 20. And they ask him, what shall be the sign of the end of th« world, aion. Mat. xxiv. 3. Moreover the writers of the New Testament speak of a time before the aions, Ephes. iii. 9; Col. i. 26; of the end of the aions, Heb. ix. 26; of aions past and aions to come, Col. i. 26; Ephes. ii, 7; of a period which shall last through the a on of aions, Ephes. iii. 21; of a time after the aions «hall be ended, and of a period hyperbolically exceeding aionian, 2 Cor. iv. 17; and lastly of the formation, or constitution of the aions, Heb. i. 2. Do our doctors know,these things? If not, are they not shamefully ignorant? If they do, ought not their efforts to impose on the credulous, induce us to beware of them in time to come? Felix quern aliena periculo cautum.

Having ascertained the import of the word aion, nothing more is needful than only to mention that aionios is derived from aion exactly as the word yearly from year, or daily from day; and as aion can never imply infinite duration, the aionian loss or destruction must be temporary. This view of the subject entirely excludes the doctrine of annihilation as well as that of endless misery; and at cnce pronounces the reign of evil or loss to be limited, and followed by a blissful succession of ages, producing streams of pure perennial, felicity, lasting and perpetual as the existence of Deity, and universal as the whole number of intellectual beings throughout his vast empire. Here, I conclude this part of my discourse by observing, that the aionian loss mentioned in my text, is the aionian correction, (as the word implies, Mat. 25. 46, 1 John iv. 18, see Petit Pierre, on the Divine goodness,) whose duration and termination is distinctly fixed by the apostles to the time of the fulness of the Gentiles, Rom. xi. 25. Then will the aions terminate, Eph. i. 10. And all Israel will be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation!

2. I shall now proceed to consider the time, manner, signs, and end of Christ's coming.

1. As in the Old Testament, remarkable events are described as signal interpositions of the Deity, Deut. xxxiii. 2; Is. xxxv. 4; Hab. iii. 3; so I readily concede to the opinion of Dr. John Taylor, that in some places in the New Testament the time of our Lord's coming coincides with the time of our death. For as our Christian course ends when we die, our Lord is represented in several parts of the New Testament as coming at the end of our life. John xiv. 3; 1 Cor.xi. 27; Phil. i. 6, 10; 1 Thes. iii. 13; and v. 23; 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.— Moreover this opinion is strengthened by the consideration that, we are never in the New Testament, exhorted to prepare for death, but for the coming of Christ. This is an important truth, of great -weight in the christian religion, and worthy of our most serious consideration.

2. The coming of Christ, called by Paul, Parousia tou Kuriou, 2 Thess. ii. 1, is by the learned Dr. Hammond, referred to his coming to destroy the Jewish nation and worship. To this period, says Dr. Whitby, the apostle James most certainly alludes where he exhorts the brethren to be patient till the coming of the Lord; adding this parousia, or coming of the Lord, is at hand, and the judge standeth before the door. James v. 7, 9. This is the coming of the Son, so often mentioned in the prophecies, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jewish, nation. Mat. xxiv. 27, 37, 39. This appearance of the Son of man, was immediately to follow the tribulation of the Jews, occasioned by the invasion of the Roman army. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days, shall appear the sign of the Son in heaven—and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory-" Mat. xxiv. 29. 30. "For there shall be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people —and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and be lead away captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles; then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and glory. Luke xxi. 23, 27. The time of Christ's coming was so distinctly fixed, that none could possibly mistake. "There be some of you standing here," said our Lord to his disciples, "who shall not taste death till ye see the Son of Man come in his kingdom." Mat xvi. 28; Mark ix. 1; Luke ix. 27. "When they persecute you in one city, flee- ye into another, for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come." Mat. x. 23. "This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled-" Mat. xxiv- 34; Mark- xii. 30; Luke xxi. 32-— This prediction was verified in John, and explains our Lord's meaning. John xxi. 22. "If he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" Indeed the language of Christ could not be more definite and determinate than it was in repiy to the high priest's adjuration, Mat. xxvi. 64- Haparti, "presently, or after a short time, ye shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven. "Accordingly both Christ and his apostles warn their auditors to watch, and be prepared for that event, seeing that it might be both sudden and unexpected- "Be ye also ready for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cotneth." Mat. xxiv. 44. Paul exhorts the Philippians to moderation, and adds as a reason, "the Lord is at hand-" Phil. iv. 5. He adviseth the Thessalonians "not ta sleep as others, but watch and be sober;" and appeals to their own knowledge of the uncertainty of Christ's coming, as an argument of vigilance. "Yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night. But ye are not in darknes that that day should overtake you as a thief in the night." 1 Thes. v- 2- 4. 6. In like manner Peter admonishe0 all to whom his epistle might come, to be sober and watch unto prayer, because the end of all things was at hand, and Christ was ready ti judge both the quick and the dead. 1 Pet. iv. 5, 7. Behold I come quickly, says Jesus, he that is unjust, let him be •unjust still. Seal not the prophecies of this book, for the tim'e is at hand. Tlev. xxii. 10, 12. What shall we say of those preachers who 1750 years after these predictions have been fulfilled, still per-, suade their hearers to expect Christ's coming to judgment? Let us pity them!! For either the scriptures are a forgery, or these teachers of the law, know not what they say nor whereof they affirm!!! " "

Some may object to the time I have fixed for the coming of Christ, from the language of the apostle in the next chapter, where he cautions the Thessalonians not to be troubled by his word or letter concerning the coming of Christ, which might have excited alarm; for previously to that event, there would come, upostasia, a falling away; and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition- This grand apostacy has been generally applied by protestant commentators, to the corruptions of the Romish churcli, and consequently those, who have been educated under the influence of tradition, may be inclined to object to any sentiment inconsistent with the prejudices of their education. But how is it possible on the common theory to account for the general alarm occasioned by the first epistle? It is evident from 2 Thes- ii. 1, that the Thessalonians understood the apostle as speaking of an event altogether at hand, in the first epistle, chap- ii. 19, chap- iii. 13, chap- iv. 15, , and chap, v. 23. The apostle begins the second chapter of his second epistle thus, "I beseech you brethren, that ye be not troubled concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ- Our translators have unwarrantably and ignorahtly rendered, huper tes parousias, by the coming, without one single instance of classical authority.— On the contrary 1 have rendered it, concerning or on account of, -which is the true and proper meaning of the term huper. The latin Super, is evidently derived from the Greek huper, and retains its signification in the following phrase, super Hectore multa, asking many things concerning Hector. One principal cause of the second epistle was undoubtedly to remove the apprehensions excited by the first. Notwithstanding the apostle says nothing in the second to induce them to believe that any considerable time should elapse before the coming of Christ. On the contrary he tells them, chap. ii. 6, 7. "The mystery of iniquity doth already work;" and appeals to their own knowledge of the cau^e of delay in Christ's coming: and informs them that as soon as he who now letteth (in all probability Claudius the Emperor) shall be taken away, by death, then shall the wicked be revealed, then shall the Jews make defection from the Roman government, which shall occasion their destruction by the Roman army.

This is the grand civil apostacy which produced their overthrow and dispersion. That this apostacy was a civil rebellion, Mr. Le Clerc on Hammond, has abundantly shown; the term apostacy is frequently used in scripture in a political sense. Jerusalem is.called three times in one chapter Polis apostasis, the apostate city. Ezra. iv. 12, If, 19. Whitby agrees with Le Clerc, but believes "the apostacy al& implaJ a i-eligious defection. There can be no doubt but

the great apostacy of the Jews from christianity before Christ'* coming hastened their destruction. This much appears from the words of Christ, Mat xxvv. 22. "Except these days should be shortened no flesh can be saved; but for the,elect's sake those days shall be shortened." Their religious apostacy arose from their attachment to the law of Moses; secondly from their expectations of a temporal Messiah; and thirdly, from their severe sufferings by persecution. To this apostacy the apostles refer in awful language,, Matt, xviii. 7, 8, 9, Heb. vi. 6, 8. It became exceedingly great, not only in Judea and Palestine, but also in Asia and all places where the Jews had received the gospel, 2 Tim. i. 15. This falling away was distinctly foretold by our Lord, Matt. xxiv. 11, 12, as an event which should precede, the destruction of Jerusalem. No inference therefore can be drawn from this epistle to desolve the connexion between this apostacy and Christ's coming. Therefore the cowing of Christ, mentioned by Paul must be the appearance of the Son of man to destroy, the Jewish polity and nation.

There being many who think that the prohibition to marry, w-is peculiarly to the catholic defection, a few remarks, relative to that subject, may therefore be necessary in this place. Dr. Whitby in his commentary, 1 Tim. jv. i, 1 Cor. vii. 1, has sufficiently demonstrated, that it was a philosophical question much agitated in the days of Paol, whether it were good to marry? Bion, Antisthenes, Menander, Appollonins, Porphyry, and the Pythagoreans, in general, held the negative. As the Pythagorean philosophy was very popular at Corinth and other parts of Greece, the apostle might, therefore, notion it with disapprobation. But from what he says, 1 Cor. vii, 8, 27, 20, 40, it is manifest, that Paul could not have considered the prohibition to marry as any considerable part of the apostacy. The Judaizers vvere beyond all others the most remarkably peculiar in their restrictions concerning meat. Dr. Lightfoot on Acts xv. 20, shows that when the second temple was destroyed,the Pharisees,who taught that it was unlawful to eat flesh or drink wine, said "we should ordain among ourselves not to marry." The Essens were disinclined to marry, and the Gnostics, who probably sprang from Menauder, held that to eat flesh or marry was of the Devil. Hence we see there is no sufficient reason for the peculiar application of this prohibition to the Roman catholic church.

Objection sec&nd. The coming of Church is said to take place in the last day. The Jewish Rabbies arlmit as a general rule thai '.vhereever we meet the phrase, the last days, or the latter days, we should understand it, of the days or age of the Messiah. The Targums thus, interpret the phrase, Gen. xlix. 1, Num. xxiv. 14, Isa. ii. 2, Jer. xxiii. 20, Dan ii. 44, Hosea iii. 5. Peter applies the last days of Joel's Prophecy to the time of Christ. Acts ii. 17, 2 Pet, iii. 3. The other apostles use the same pharaseolosy, to denote the same epoch. 2 Tim. iii. 1,2, 1 John ii. 18, Judo 17. 18. Dr. Pocock justly observes, that by the latter days most Jewish and Christian commentators understood the days of »he Messiah, who is called in the Sept. Vers. Isa. ix. 6, Piter aianis Mellonlis, Father of the age to come. See Whitby on Heb. vi. 5, et alibi. Moreover, the Hebrews always use the plural number, to express honor, dignity, and emphasis : therefore according to the idiom of the sacred writprs , last days, when used to denote the time of the Messiah, mean only last day in the singular. Hence John c;ills the same period of time, last d-iy, last hour, John xi. 24, 1 John ii. 18. Consequently last day, in scriptnal language, moans the whole or any part of the christian era. This objection therefore arises from ignorance of the language of Scripture, and cannot militate against the time I have fixed for the coming of Christ. Consult Simpson's Essays on the language of scripture.

Objection third. In Mat. xxiv. 30^ and Rev. i. 17, it is said all the tribes of the eirth shall mourn, when they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven. To this we reply : in Jewish and prophetic language, the.earth is eften limited to the land of Judea. Is. vi. 4, Mai. iv. 6, Ps. xvi. 3, xxv. 13, xxij. 29,34, xxxvii. 3, 9, 11. See Whitby's appendix to Mat. xxiv. and Or. Campbell's Notes on Mat. ii, 6, and Luke ii. 1. Supposing John to have wrote the Revelation so late as 96, which is by no means probable, he might notwithstanding; use the words of Christ, seeing the great destruction of the Jews by Adrian, was still future. But the evidence is in favor of that hypothesis which fixes the date of the Apocalypse to the reign of Claudius or Nero. The style of this book is much fuller of Hebraisms, than that of the Gospel, consequently written soon after John left Judea, where he had been accustomed to speak Syriac. He calls the governors of the churches angels, but Paul in his first epistle to Timothy about the year 63 calls them bishops, which title was ever after retained in the churches, consequently the revelation was written before the epistle to Timothy. Epiphanius affirms John prophesied in the reign of Claudius Caesar, and his opinion appears to be confirmed by allusions in the Revelation, to the temple and altar as then standing. The title of the Syriac version of this book, which at least shows the opinion of the churches of Syria, is, "The Reyelation made to John the Evangelist, by God, in the isle of Patmos, where he was banished uy Nero the Cassar." Hence we have sufficient reason to conclude, that John wrote the Revelation before the destruction of Jerusalem ; and that the references to the day of judgment, coming of Christ, and passing away of the heavens, were allusions to the abolition of the Jewish dispensation.

2. The manner ot Christ's coming. The text declares, he shillbe revealed, a flame in fire—i. e. in great splendor, like a flame of fire. The word Phlugos, is in apposition with Kuriou, and words put in apposition mean the same person or thing. Hence the Lord Jesus is here called a flame by fire. But as the word is derived from Phlego, which signifies to shine, as well as to burn, the phrase may mean no more than that as the brightness of lire, or in tiery brightness, the Lord Jesus should be revealed from heaven. As Paul was a Jew, he adopted the language of the prophets, Joel and Malachi, who had called the time of Christ's coining to destroy the Jewish nation, the gnal and bright day of the Lord. Joel ii. 31, Mai. iv. 5. Isaiah predicted that the breath of his lips shonld slay the wicked, and Paul citing his words, declares, the Lord shall consume the wicked with the breath of his mouth. Isa. xi. 4; 2 Thess, ii. 8. Malachi says, Behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble, and the day shall burn them. Maiiv. 1. Alluding to the same event, the Psalmist says—A devouring fire shall go before Jehovah. Ps. 1. 3. John tbe Baptist foretold, that Christ would burn up the chaff with fire unquenchable. Mat. iii. 12. And Paul warns the Corinthians, that the day should be revealed by fire, which should try every man's work. 1. Cor. jii. 12 These passages of scripture seem to mark the severity of that condemnation which befell the ancient people of God, on account of their unbelief and apostacy. Under the notion of unquenchable fire, the prophets described the most terrible judgments of God; Isa. i. SI, and 66, 24, Jer. xvii. 4, 27. Water, air, and fire, were considered as purifiers by the Jews and Eastern nations; and of the three, fire was believed to possess the highest purifying quality. Hammond, Le Clerc, and Beausobre agree that under the phrase "unquenchable fire," John foretells the ruin of the Jewish nation. This is not therefore a fire of extermination, but of purification and beneficial correction.

N jtwithstahding the appearance of Christ as a fiery brightness, was not designed to indicate a wrathful or avenging disposition, but merely the dignity and glory of his person and oflice. This will readily be admitted by all who attentively consider the language of the Jewish scriptures. When Jehovah appeared on Sinai, the mountain burned with fire. Ex. xix. 18, Deut. iv. 11, and ix. 15. There he showed Israel his great fire—i. e. the glory of his majesty. Deut. ix. 36. The Shechinah or glory of the Lord, which abode between the cherubim in the temple, was the appearance of a flame of fire. The person who appeared to Ezekiel in vision, "was surrounded with brightness which was the glory of the Lord; and the brightness was the appearance of fire." Chap. i. 27, 28. The appearance also of the creatures which drew the triumphal car of Jehovah, was as a flash of lightning, and as burning coals of fire, like the appearance of lamps; and out of the fire went forth lightning; and the whole appearance of Jehovah's train was a fire enfolding itself, and a brightness round about it. Ex. i. 4, 13. 14. At the translation, of Elijah, there appeared horses and chariots of fire. 2 Kings ii. 11. Elisha was surrounded with horses and chariots of fire, as an emblem of the Divine presence and protection. 2 Kings vi. 17.— The throne of the Ancient of Days was like a fieiy flame, and the wheels like a flame of fire. Dan. vii. 9. The seven spirits before the throne appeared like lamps burning with fire. Rev. iv. 5, Malachi prophesied that Christ should be as a refiner's fire; and our Lord foretold, that as lightning shineth from the east towards the west, so should the coming of the Son oLMan be. Mai. iii. 2, Mat* Jtxiv. 27, Luke xvii. 24.

We may therefore safely conclude, the apostle had these predictions full in view, when he wrote my text, and described the coming of Christ, as the appearance of fire. Indeed our Lord foretold he -would come in the glory of his Father; but the glory of the Father -was always manifested to the Jews by a brightness or appearance of fire. Hence the fiery brightness denotes the majesty of Christ, and not his judgments; much less can it denote a material fire designed to devour his enemies! Though the severe judgments of the Deity be sometimes represented in the scriptures, under the notion of fire, streams of fire, or a furnace of fire; yet this is not the design of the metaphor in my text; 'for the glory of Christ, and not his judgments, are indicated by the flame. Innumerable passages of sacred writ show the fiery brightness, attending the manifestation of Jehovah, or his messengers, to be an emblem of majesty, and not ot vengeance.

3. The signs of Christ's coming, were the shaking of the heavens; the heavens passing away with a great noise; the elements melting with fervent heat; the earth and its works burnt up; the sun darkened; the moon not giving her light; an* I the stars falling from heaven; great earthquakes; fearful sights, and signs, in the heavens; famine and pestilence; the sea and the waves thereof roaring. Mat. xxiv. 29, Lukexxi. 11, 25, 26, and 2 Peter iii. 10. These are highly metaphorical expressions which frequently occur in the sacred scriptures. Of them the truly learned Jewish Rabbi, Maimonedes thus observes, "these expressions are proverbial, importing the destruction or utter ruin of a people or nation," Artemidorus says, "the sun darkened or turned into blood, the stars falling, imply, in prophetic language, the destruction of many people." Whitby's Com. vol. 1, gen. pref*

Bishop Warburton, Julian, B. 1, C. 1, observes, the kingdom of Christ succeeded the Jewish theociacy; and till the Jewish law was abolished in which the Father presided as king, the reign of the Son could not take place; because the sovereignty of Christ over men, was the sovereignty of the Father over the Jews, transferred and extended. This being the most important era, in the oeconomy of grace, and the most awful revolution in all God's religious dispensations, we see the elegance and propriety of the terms to denote so great an event, together with the destruction of Jerusalem, by which it was effected. For in the old prophetic language, the change or fall of princip dities and powers, whether spiritual or civil, is signified by the shaking of the heavens and earth; darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars. The rise ami establishment of new kingdoms or empires, by processions in the clouds of heaven, by the sounding of trumpets, and the assembling together of hosts and nations." This perfectly accounts for the gathering of the elect; the awakening of the dead; the meeting of the Lord in the air; and the sounding of the trumpet; ;'ll implying the establishment of christianity or the kingdom of Jesus on tl.e ruins of the Jewish dispensation.

The same venerable writer, Div. Leg. vol. 2, b, 4, says, "This language was borrowed from the ancient hieroglyphics, in which the sun, moon, and stars, were used to represent states and empires, kings, queens, and nobility: their eclipse or extinction, denote temporary disasters, or their entire overthrow. In like manner the holy prophets, called kings and empires by the names of the heavenly luminaries. Their misfortunes and overthrow were represented by eclipses and extinction; stars falling from their firmanent, are employed to denote the destruction of nobility. In one word, the prophetic style seems to be a kind of speaking hieroglyphic."

Maimonides assigns the following reason for such phraseology.— "As Isaiah, ch. xxx. 26, speaking of such as had been conquered, says, their sun and moon have lost their light; so he says also of conquerors; their sun and moon increase their light. For experience proves that the eyes of men, in great misery, grow dim, and do not see the light in its full splendor; the nerves being weakened, by want of spirits. On the other had, when by joy the soul is enlarged, and the animal spirits are conveyed in abundance to the organs of vision, the sun and light appear greater than before-"

Let us now look into our Bibles and we shall see these opinions both confirmed and illustrated. Isaiah predicting the destruction of Babylon ch. xiii. 10, says, "The stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his foing forth; and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. Again, escribing the destruction of Idumea, he says, ch. xxxiv. 5; "all the hosts of heaven, shall be dissolved; and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll; and all their hosts shall fall as a leaf falleth from the vine, and as the falling fig from the fig tree." Ezokiel foretells the destruction of Egypt, in the foil-owing language, ch. xxxii. 7, 8. "I will cover the heaven and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land saith the Lord God." Joel describing the der struction of Jerusalem, adopts similar terms, ch. ii 10, 30. 31.— "The earth shall quake before them, (i. e. the Romans;) the heavens shall tremble, the sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. I will show wonders in the heavens, and and on the earth blood and fire, and pillars of smoke- The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood before the great and terrible day of ihe Lord come." Now as Peter applies part of Joel's prophecy to the events of the day of Pentecost, and Joel declares that in those same days and that time the other signs should be manifested, we have no reason to protract the remaining part of the prophecy longer than the destruction of Jerusalem, which followed soon afterwards.

In allusion to the above prophecies, especially that of Joel, our

Lord predicted fearful signs, and shakings of the earth and heavens.

But as several of the signs foretold by our Lord, were designed to

w'arn the disciples, many of them literally happened. So Josephus,

L. 4, ch. 17, informs us of a dreadful tempest, frequent 1 terrible thunderings; roarings of the sea, and,quakings of the earth. That armies were seen in the clouds, in battle array, and compassing the city; and that a comet pointed its fiery tail down upon the city, for a whole year, portending its ruin; L. 7, ch. 31. Tacitus, the Roman historian, says, the temple seemed to be in flames, by fire issuing from the clouds. L. 5, p. 6S1.

Though some of the signs of our Lord's coming were literally fulfilled, because without a figure they were described in the prediction; yet the description in general is highly symbolical. That the stars falling from heaven, emblematically represented the overthrow of the Jewish rulers and teachers, evidently appears from the following passages of scripture. Daniel says the little horn waxed great, even to the host of heaven, and cast down some of the host, and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them; Ch. viii. 10. Isaiah describes the king of Babylon as saying, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; Ch. 14, 13. The tail of the great red dragon drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth; Rev. xii. 4. I need not multiply citations to prove that stars were symbols of religious teachers. The single reference to Rev. i. 20, is abundantly sufficient.

Drs.Lightfoot and Hamond, having referred the language of Peter, concerning the coming of Christ, in the third chapter of his second epistle, to the destruction of Jerusalem; and Mr. Le Clerc having exposed the fanciful application of this chapter and some other parts of scrinture to an imaginary future general judgment yet to come; Dr. Whitby seemed somewhat offended, yet promised to be more friendly with his learned opponents, in his commentary on the gospels. He admits the application of Peters' predictions to the destruction of Anti-Christ. Rev. xvii. After which, in his opinion, follow the new heavens, and new earth. But had the Dr. sufficiently considered the subject, and maintained consistency in his own theories, he would have been forced to abmit that the new heaven and new earth denoted that new order of tiiings which succeeded the abolition of the Jewish heavens and earth, or ecclesiastico-civil polities. Then all the elements of that dispensation melted with fervent heat,and the heavens, or Mosaic dispensation, passed away with a great noise. This great event was undoubtedly the object of Haggai's prophecy, ch. 2, 7, cited by Paul, Heb. xii. 26, where, and on. Thess. ii. 1, Whitby entirely concedes the disputed ground to his opponents by remarking that "this shaking of the heavens and earth, cannot mean the subversion of the material world; but is a metaphor, usually adopted by the prophets, to denote the entire overthrow of a state or kingdom."

No man c;<n be surprised by the third chapter of Peter's second epistle, who reads the following scriptures. Isa. xiii. 13 I will shake the heavens, and the earth will remove out of her p,.ace, in the day of his fierce anger. Ps. Ixxvii. 18, The voice of thy thunder was in the heavens; \he lightnings lightened the world, the earth trembled and shook. Isa. xxiv. 19, 20. The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved and moved like a cottage. Jer. iv. 23, 24. I beheld the eiirth and lo! it was without form and void; the heavens and they h.id no light. Now the context most manifestly shows that this language was descriptive of the destruction of nations; and if ever such language apply to the subversion of any people, certainly to the Jewish. About 2,000,000 perished in the city of Jerusalem, by Titus, and in the eighteenth year of Trajan, the Jews having made sedition in Lybia, Egypt, and Mesopotamia, that war, says Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. L-' 1, c. 15, extinguished pnllas muriadas loudaion, many myriads of the Jews. From the ,6th to the 18th of Adrian, they ngiiin rebelled, and then were almost utterly exterminated, and prohibited ever to return to Judea. On attempting to recover their favored country, he ordered their ears to be cut off, their bodies to be marked as rebels, and dispersed, them as slaves through all the provinces of the empire. According to the best authorities, more perished in the war against Adrian, than in the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. Thus was awfully accomplished, the prediction of our Lord. "Wherever the carcass, the Jewish people, is, there will the eagles, the Roman army, be gathered together." Luke xvii. 37.

Another sign of the coming of the Son of Man was, great earthquakes in divers places. Luke xxi. 11. Of these significant emblems of political commotions, there occurred several within the scene of this prophecy, and according to the prediction, in divers places. la the reian of Claudius there was one <tt Rome, and another in Apamea, in Syria, both recorded by Tacitus; and Phillostratus, in his life of Appollonius, mentions one in Crete, others at Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, and Samos; in all of which places, Jews had settled. Duiing the reign of Nero, there was one in Campania, and another at Laodicea, both noticed by Tacitus;—the latter is mentioned by Eusebius and Orosius, who add that Hierapolis and Colosse, as well us Laodicea, were overthrown by an earthquake. There was also another in the reign of Galba, recorded by Suetenius. Josephus sAto informs us, tint "in the awful night when the Idumeans were excluded from Jerusalem, a heavy storm burst on them, violent winds, incessant torrents of rain, constant lightnings, and most tremendous thunrierings, and roarings of earthquakes, as if the system of the world had been confounded to effect the distraction of mankind; so that one might have easily conjectured that these were signs of no cermnmon events."

Another sign was, that the gospel snould be preached to all the world, and then should the end come. Mat. xxiv. 14, Of the fulfilment of this prediction, the epistles of Paul, addressed to the christians of Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, and Thessulonica; and those of Peter to those in Pontus, Cappadocia, and Bithynia, are standing monuments. Paul tells the Romans, their f;iitii was spoken of throughout the world; and the Colossians, that the gospel had been preached to every creature under heaven. The Acts of the Apostles, written seven years before the destruction of Jerusalem, attests the fact, that the gospel had been preached to all the then known world. Bishop Newton observes, that the history of the church shows, that before the destruction of Jerusalem, the gospel had been propagated northward to Scythia, southward to Ethiopia, eastward to India, and westward to Spain and Britain. Moreover, both Eusebius and Theodoret attest,that the apostles preached the gospel in the Britannic isles. Doddridge, in his notes on the passage, says, it appears from the most credible records that the gospel was preached in Mesopotamia, Idumea, and Syria, by Jude; in Egypt, Mauritania, and other parts of Africa, by Mark, Simon, and Jiule; in Ethiopia, by Matthias and Candace's Eunoch; in Pontus, Galatia, and other'parts of Asia, by Peter; in the territory of the seven Asiatic churches, by John; in Parthia, by Matthew; in Scythia, by Phillip and Andrew; in the northern and western parts of Asia, by Bartholomew; in Persia, by Simon and Jude; in Media, Carmania, and other parts of the east, by Thomas; from Jerusalem, round the vast tract, to lllyricum, by Paul; in Spain. Gaul, and Britain, in all probability by the Apostles; and in all which places churches had been planted within thirty years after the death of Christ, and ten before the destruction of Jerusalem. See Athan. Epist. ad Jov. p. 781, and Socrat. Hist. Eccles. L. 4, c. 12.

The last sign of Christ's coming, which I shall notice, was that false Christ's should arise and seduce many, and thereby occasion a great apostacy. Mat. xxiv. S, 11, Lute xxi. 8; 2 Thess. ii. 3, 7, 8. , Before the destruction of Jerusalem, false Christs did arise as Simon Magnus, who pretended to be the Son of God, who had in appearance been.crucified in Judea. Others are mentioned by Luke, Acts v. 36, 37, and xxi. 38. This Egyptian noticed by Luke, was probably the same described by Josephus, who led away 30,000 Jews whom he had deceived; Ant. L. 20, c. 6. But the most distinguished was Barchocheba whom the Jews crowned king in the city of Bitter.— This imposter occasioned a greater slaughter of tne Jews, than had happened at the capture of their city by Titus. See Buxtorf on the words Choziba and Bitter. John says, "Little children, ye have heard that Anti-Christ should come, even now there are many AntiChrists in the world whereby we know that it is the last time; AntiChrist of whom ye h;'ve heard even now already is in the world." 1 John ii. 18, 2d Epis. 7. Here we find Anti-Christ was in the world before the destruction of Jerusalem, and consequently the apostacy existed then also, and we need not labor to find another date. Accordingly, Grotius, Wetstein, Hammond, Le Cierc, and Whitby, all agree to fix the time of the apostacv before the dispersion of the Jewish nation. Consequently the Jewish people was that man of sin, or as many good MSS. read anomias of disobedience, who made defection from I he Rom.m state and religion of Jesus, and were therefore consumed by the brightness of his coming., Hence we conclude from the testimony of history, scripture, and the best commentators, that the signs of Christ's coining, as well 'S that gre.it event itself, took place at t'-e overthrow of the Jewish n.ition, and temple services.

4. The design of Christ's coining, according to the English version

of tny text, was to take vengeance on them who knew nof God, nor obeyed the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here Paul refers to the language of Christ, Luke xxi. 22, where describing the awful catastrophe which should befall the Jewish nation, Jesus said, ''these be the days of vengeance that all things'which are written may be fulfilled. Hence the language of our Lord and his apostle must relate to the same event; for P.iul referring to the same transaction, uses the same word to express the same idea. By comparing these passages with Luke xvii. 30, we are induced to limit the whole history to the destruction of Jerusalem ; and no other interpretation of the text should be admitted. The phrase taking vengeance I have rendered administering justice, of the propriety of the alteration, let those who are qualified to judge determine; but let all who are ignorant, have decency enough to keep silence. The English phrase is most unequivocally a perversion and abuse of theGreek didontis ekdikesin, which signifies to give or administer justice, and consequenly cannot mean the reverse or taking. Paul had said in the sixth verse, it was just in God to recompense tribulation to the persecuting Jews, but rest to the persecuted Christians. Here he repeats the same ideas by declaring Christ would administer justice, i. e. tribulation to the persecutor, irreverent, and disobedient. The disobedience of the Jews was strongly marked by Paul, who calls them the '-man of sin," or as the iVIiSS. of Stephanus and Lincoln, read anomias of disobedience. In those days the jews were proverbially disobedient, both in the political and religious sense of that term. Hence the apostle says, 2d Thess. ii. 8, then, at the revel ition of the Lord Jesus, will the wicked be revealed ; the Jewish nation or man of disobedience, by their rebellion against the Roman government and apostacy from the christian, religion, "whom the Lord will consume with the breath of his mouth, and destroy by the brightness of his corcing.'' Jesus predicted that "except these days of vengeance should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved ; but for the elect's or Christian's sake the days shall be shortened; Mat. xxiv. 22. The banditti who made continual excursions from the mountain, and zealots who murdered all that were averse to the war, greatly contributed to depopulate the country and harrass the christians : but the days were shortened. 1. By the determination of Titus vigourously to push the siege by assault. 2. By the dissentions of the Jews, who accellerated the capture of their cify, by intestine divisions and mutual slaughters. 3. By the madness of the factions in burning their store houses, and thereby wasting the strength necessary for the defence of the place. 4. By the extraordinary panic which seized the Jews, when the Romans attacked the upper city, in consequence of which they fled from their strong holds, which Titus afterwards pronounced invulnerable. 5. By the crowded state of the city during the seige, which occasioned pestilential disorders, and hastened the approach of famine; the number of its inhabitants on account of the great festival being swelled fo 3,000.000. The dispersion of the Jewish nation, according to the prediction of Amos, o,h. ix. 9, is called in my text destruction, which word derived from destruo, signifies to unbuild, to decompose, or pulldown. John ii. 19, Luke xxi. 6. It may be admitted—Hosea xiii. 9, Mat. xxi. 41, Mark xii. 9, Romans ix. 22, -2 Thess. i. 9, and ii. 3, Philip, i. 29,Heb. x. 39, and 2 Peter iii. 7. For in all these places, the Jewish nation as a collective body, appears to be the subject of destruction or dispersion. But hence we cannot infer the annihilation of their persons for that God who threatened to sift them among all nations, promised that n it a grain shall be lost, but all Israel shall be glorified. Amos ix. 9, Isa. xlv. 25. The God of eternal mercy promised to Israel, that though he make a full end of all nations, whether he had scattered them, yet he will not make a full end of them, but correct them in measure, and not leave them wholly unpunished. Jer. xxx. ] 1, and xlvi. 28. How awfully this prophecy has been fulfilled, and hear its accomplishment in the words of the Jews themselves. "Romans, Persians, Saracens,Christians, Mahometans, every nation and sect,have successively raised their arm against us; and from the Nile to the Vistula, from the Tagus to the Euphrates, every country has seen our blood flowing."

This destruction, olethron in my text, is the Kolasis punishment Mat. xxv. 46, into which the unbelieving Jews went away. The aionian judgment or as some MSS. have it, Rolasis, of which they \vho blasphemed the holy spirit were in danger.—Mark iii. 29.— The blindness which has happened to them till the fulness of the Gentiles come. Rom. xi. 25. This IColasis is produced by fear and apprehension, John iv. 18, and is the effect of unbelief. The severity of God's judgments upon this unhappy people is set forth under the metaphor of a furnace of tire, Ex. xxii. 17 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, Isa. xxxi. 9, Mat. xiii. 42, into which G«»d predicted "he would gather them as men gather lead and tin, and melt them in the midst of his furnace, which was in Jerusalem." This prophecy was verified at the distruction of Jerusalem by Titus, the Roman general. Christ foretold, that dreadful period should he "a time of trouble such as never was, or ever should be hereafter." Matt. xxiv. 21. Here permit me to remark, this text alone is sufficient to overthrow the Pagan doctrines of hell and endless misery. If there were not another in the bible opposed to these horrid dogmas, it would be imperative on all men, to deny its authenticity or abandon the terriffic doctrine of eternal torture. "If, says Josephus, all the misfortunes of all nations from the beginning ef the world were compared with those which befell the Jews, they would appear mach less. The destruction of this people, exceeded all the destructions ever God or man brought on the world." He calculates 1,1000, 0.1 were destroyed in the seige, 237,000 who perished in other places, besides innumerable multitudes swept away by famine and pestilence, of which no calculation could be made. Above 2,000 laid violent hands upon themselves. 97,000 were sold slaves. 11,000 were starved to death under one leader, and a lady of rank was seen to murder and eat her own child. Manneus, a Jew, who fled to Titus, affirmed that from the beginning of the siege

on the 14th of April, to the first of July, 115,880 dead bodies had been carried through one gate, of which the keeping had been committed to him, M,my respect ible deserters assured 1 itus that not less than 600,000 poor, had been cast out at the different gates; and whilst he beheld the dead piled under the walls, he raised his hands to heaven, and protested he had not been the cause of this deplorable calamity. Moreover, the Jews who had been vanquished by the army of Vespasian, having fled to the ships, were persued by a horrible tempest, which dashed their vessels against each other, and against the rocks, so that the raging billows were literally stained with blood, and 4,200 dead bodies were strewed along the shore.

On the 10th of August, A. D. 70, 1030 years from the foundation of the first temple by Solomon, and 639 after it had been rebuilt by Haggai; that falal day on which it had formerly been destroyed by the king of Babylon, a Roman soldier, contrary to the command of Titus, urged as he declared by a divine impulse, threw a flaming brand into the golden window of the temple, which instantly set the buildings in flames. The Romans ranged the streets murdering all without distinction, till the dead bodies cheked up the alleys, and the blood literally flowed in streams down the channels of the city.— On the 8th of September, A. D. 70, the siege terminated, leaving Jerusalem, the subject of a thousand prophecies, and once the praise of the earth, destroyed by the flame, and bleeding on every side, and sunk in ruin and desolation. Sixty-four years after the destruction of that capital, the Jews rebelled against the Roman goverment under the administration of Adrian. He demolished 986 of their best towns, and slew 585,000 by the edge of the sword, besides countless numbers which perished by famine, sickness and fire. Judea was depopulated, and an incredible number of its inhabitants sold like horses, and dispersed over the face of the earth. Surely these were the days of vengeance in -vhich all things that were written were accomplished. Luke xxi. 22.

Some have wildly imagined that the fire in which Christ appeared was a sign of divine vengeance, and will be the very instrument of destruction. But surely if our bodies be changed, or raised incorruptible and immortal, such bodies shall be as able to abide the fire as Christ. If then Christ endure no pain by appearing in fire, neither will we, nor can it torment us more than our Judge! Let such gross ideas be banished from all rational minds.

2. Another design, or transaction of Christ's coming was to father his elect, or his saints, i. e. the christians from the four winds of heaven, and cause them to come from the east and from the west; from the north and from the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. Matt. viii. 11, and xxiv. 31. Our Lord encouraged the christians, on seeing the signs that proceeded the destruction of Jerusalem, to lift up their heads, for then the day of their redemption draws nigh, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Luke, xxi. 28, 31—Joel (ii. 30,) had foretold that whosoever should call on the nanu of the Lord should be saved from the calamities which should cbme on the unbelieving Jews. Accordingly, Eusebius Hist. Eccl. L. 3, c. 5, and Epiphanius, Her. Naz. s. 7, inform us that at the beginning of the war the christians were warned to escape to Pella beyond Jordan, in the country of Perea where they were preserved. Josephus nemarks that when Cestius Gallus, President of Syria, had besieged Jerusalem and taken the lower city, and might have taken the upper and immediately put an end to the war, he suddenly quit the siege without any visible cause, and then many fled out of the city, as from a sinking ship* Bell. L. 2. e, 40. Christ forewarned his followers to flee to the mountains as soon as they would see Jerusalem encompassed with arms. They obeyed, and were, as Joel predicted, saved from destruction with a great deliverance. Matthew, Mark, and Paul, are peculiarly careful to connect the time of the gathering of the saints, with that of the coming of the Son of Man. .Matt* xxiv. 31, and xxv. 31. Mark xiii. 27; 2 Thess. ii. 1. These passages of scripture may be referred to Ps. 1. 5. Gather my saints unto me. Zech. xiv. 5. The Lord shall come and all his saints. Bishop Newton justly observes, Dess. 20, on the prophecies, "This is all in the style and phraseology of the prophets; but stripped of figure only means that after the destruction of Jerusalem, Christ by his angles, or ministers of the gospel, would collect a glorious church and people, having thrust out the Jews from the kingdom of God. Nothing ever tended so powerfully and directly to the establishment of christianity as the dispersion of the Jewish nation, and Abolition of the temple service."

The .greater part of the converts to christianity during the apostolic age, were Jews or proselytes to their religion. Acts xvii. 4.— These being all zealous of the law. Acts xxi. 20, persevered in synagogue worship, in which also many of the Gentiles joined, especially those of Corinth, Galatia, Phillippi, and Thessalonica. Thousands of these Judaising christians attended the festival at Jerusalem, beheld the signs of our Lord's coming and the confirmation of all their hopes, by the manifestations of our Saviour's faithfulness and exalted majesty. Perceiving the design of God to abolish the temple and synagogue services, and set up a more pure, simple, and spiritual form of worship, they betook themselves to the more sacred services of the new and better covenant. Thus faith being established in the truth of Christ's Mission, they immediately formed churches and laid the foundation of that kingdom of God and heaven so frequently noticed by the sacred writers. Hence in that day of Christ's triumph over'the rebellious Jews, who would not have him to reign over them; in that day of the establishment of christianity, and gathering of the elect', Christ was glorified by his saints, and iadmired by all that believed. 2 Thess. i. 10. " '

This gathering together of the elect at the establishment of christianity is the first resurrection and the second death or destruction of -the apostate Jews had no power over the christians who fell not away in the general apostacy. Rev. ii. 11. This was the time when the dead small and great stood before God, and were judged everj one out of the books according to his works. Rev. xx. 11, 12.— The coming of the Son of Man when every one was rewarded according to his works, Matt xvi. 27. The time when the wicked as goats were sent away into aionian, correction; and the righteous shone forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. Matt- xxv. 46, and xiii. 43. This was the hour in which all that were in their graves heard the voice of the Son of God; and came forth, some to the resurrection of aionian or christian life; others to the resurrection of condemnation, or exclusion from gospel privileges, because of unbelief. John v. 29. Heb. iv. 6, see also Dan. xii. 2, especially the end of the 7th verse. This was the day God had appointed to judge the world by the man whom he had ordained. Acts xvii. 3K I know of no other coming to judgment, no other general judgment according to works, no other general resurrection! 1

How absurdly do predestinarians, who believe God predetermined the fate of all men before the foundation of the world, and almost the whole christian world, who believe man's destiny to be fixed at death, talk of a future general judgment. What! Does Jehovah not know the hearts of men, or does he need to summon evidence! Will He compel his holy ones to leave their blissful abodes, and recall from tartarian cells the souls of the «lamned, to obtain a verdict in favor of the prisoners, or against the Judge who prematurely passed sentence upon them? O rash mortals, accuse not your God of human folly by supposing that he needs to reconsider his past conduct.

Christ plainly declares the Father judgeth no man. John v. 22, He as plainly asserts that He judges no man. John viii. 15, and xii. 47. Who then will hold this fanciful tribunal, before which the whole world must-be convoked? Where shall they assemble, or what -plain shall be large enough to afford a general view of the convocatory? Hear ye deaf the words of Christ John xii. 48.— "The word or doctrine that 1 have spoken, the same shall judge him."

But, cries one, will not the judgment be after death as Paul says, Heb. ix. 27. - I answer no. Paul says no such thing- His reasoning determines that Christ died only once as other men. But after this, the death of Christ, the judgment. Hark!—This judgment was an eternal and universal acquittal; for this judgment came upon all men to justification of life! Rom. v. 18. By one offering h» perfected forever all that were sanctified and obtained eternal redemption. Heb. ix. 12, and x- 14.

The whole fable of a judgment after death, arose from the Egyptian funeral ceremonies. The corpse was conducted in a boat, over the lake Acherusia, and Charon, the ferryman, having produced the body on the opposite shore, the magistrate passed judgment upon it, whether it should "be buried or not. This ceremony administered sufficient data to the fertile genius of Orpheus, for the whole story about hell and judgment after death—see Rollin's Hist, vol. 1, and Chateaubriand's travels. The bible says nothing of judgment after death, nor of Christ's coming to such a judgment—• All is fancy, all tradition, all paganism! The Evangelical judgment is during life. Every day we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and receive in body according to that which we have done; 3 Cor. v. 10.

We have seen by this discourse, that God recompensed tribulation to the persecuting jews in this life, and to the troubled followers of Jesus, tranquility. What countless Myriads of the former, became the sport of war, horror and destruction? To the latter, the sun of righteousness arises with healing in his wings! Not one Christian perished in the deluge of blood and devastation; for he who knows to deliver the godly out of temptation, and reserve the unjust to the day of judgment, 2 Peter, ii. 9, said not a hair of their heads should perish. Luke, xxi- 13. Who can seriously reflect on these equitable arrangements of Providence, and not exclaim, Verily there is a reward for the righteous; there is a God who judgeth on earth! Ps. Iviii. 11. The righteous shall be recompensed on earth, much more the wicked and the sinner! Prov. xi. 31. Let men hence learn, that the just God is impartial in hi;-, administration. He will by no means clear the guilty. Impartial justice requires him to correct men for their offences; and no penitence, however acute, can obviate its claims or protract its execution. Blinded vengeance and heathen superstition, look forward to another scene of existence for adjustment of man's accountability; but Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Almighty justice, takes immediate, and adequate cognizance of even the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Let go then your dreams of a Pluto's kingdom and a Minus' tribunal; of an Xxion's wheel and a Tantalus cup: Yield also the sensual pleasures of a Pharasaical or Mahometant Paradise; and in the refinement and purification of your souls, seek, and seek now, that peace which passeth understanding; and that fellowship with the Father and the Son, which constitutes at once, the reward and felicity of the pure in spirit. Thus you shall have a heaven in time, and a pure and impartial heaven in common with the whole family of Adam, through an endless eternity. Amen.

 


EXTRA

The Christian Guide to a Right Understanding of the Scriptures

 

 These prophecies cannot be mistaken. At the birth of Christ, Judea was become a province of the Roman Empire, and almost immediately after the sceptre was totally, and I may say finally, wrested out of the hands of the Jews, But the perspicuity of the above prophecies, to the calling of the Gentile world, and the union of Jews and Gentiles, under the Christian Kingdom, is powerfully striking. It was utterly repugnant to Jewish pre- judice, and assumed prerogative to admit the Gentile world to equality of privilege it was beyond the power of humari saga- city to forebode such an event. None but eternal wisdom could predict what infinite goodness had determined in relation to the destinies of mankind under the peaceful, universal empire of Je- hovah's anointed. Moreover Is. si. 10. taken in connexion with Jer. xxiii. 5 and xxxiii. 14 distinctly fixes the lineage of Christ to the house and family of David from which our Lord sprang. " Isaiah so minutely describes the humiliation and character of Christ, li throughout, that it is impossible to misapply the description, for there has been no other person to whose history these predictions correspond. In the tenth verse of the fifty-third chapter, it is foretold that after the death of Christ, he should be raised to life again behold a numerous and continually increasing offspring, rise as the reward of his sufferings and fidelity, and - an ample source of satisfaction and joy for all his labors. Now as there never was a person to whom this description could apply best to Jesus of Nazareth, the accomplishment of the prophecy in him is, in connexion with his innocent life, and miraculous deeds decisive testimony that he was the sent of God and the Saviour of the world. After the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, the old men, who had seen Solomon's temple in all its glory, wept at the completion of the second temple, because it was so vastly inferior to the former but Haggai consoled them with the promise that the Messiah should come to that temple and render it more glorious than that of Solomon. This prophecy fixes the time of Christ's coming before the destruction of the second temple, which by the Romans under Vespasian, was levelled with the ground.

These are only a small selection of the Old Testament prophecies, which have been clearly fulfilled in the person of Christ. They therefore afford satisfactory proof of the divinity of his mission, and consequently of the authority of our scriptures; and seeing they have been so mauifestly fulfilled, they must have originated from God, and hence, they also prove the authority of the Jewish revelation.

 

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