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from being distinctly apprised of their meaning, need, therefore excite no surprise. . This, however, is a matter not only of antecedent likelihood, but of certainty. The Gospel-narratives amply attest, that there was, in fact, no subject respecting which they were more curious, no point respecting which they were more frequent in their enquiries, than the period, when the proper kingdom of the Messiah should be established, as foretold by the Hebrew prophet. Besides, says Dr. Sykes on this verse, that they meant his coming, as Daniel had prophesied of the Messiah, is plain from hence; that when our Lord answers the question, he uses the very words of the prophet, v. 308.? And since this judicious divine has elsewhere shewn', that wherever Christ employs either of those expressions the Kingdom of God, or the Son of Man, he had an immediate view to Daniel's prophecy of his universal kingdom, and borrowed the expressions from him; and since our Lord, in his prophecy", has adopted both these expressions: it cannot, I think, reasonably be doubted, that he spoke of the very same events with the ancient Hebrew prophet. Now from the observations already made upon his predictions, and from those reserved for ch. xxx, it will, I trust, clearly appear, that the coming of Christ, which Daniel assures us shall take place quickly after the overthrow of the anti christian monarchies, is the commencement of that happy æra, commonly denominated the millennium.
That the latter part of Christ's prophecy does foretell the commencement of that auspicious period, appeared probable on various accounts to Wolzogenius, who was among the first of those who framed a judicious exposition of the Evangelists: but, fearful of departing from the general current of interpreters, he appears to have been embarrassed with doubts, and ventured not to decide in the affirmative".
8 Upon the Truth of Chr. p. 86. 9 P. 72, 79, 85, 115. 10 Mat. xxiv. 30, 39; Luke, xxi. 27, 31. 11 See his notes on Mat. xxiv. 3, 29, 30, 31, 35. Ludovicus Wolzo. genius was a nobleman of Austria, very unlike the generality of his own
On the mind of Brenius, however, the disciple of the celebrated Episcopius, who lived about the same time, and whose works frequently accompany those of Wolzogenius, no doubts remained, that the words of our Lord are thus to be interpreted. But the ideas of this eminent commentator will be best explained by a quotation from him. It is,' says Brenius, not difficult to gain information of what the disciples understood by the coming of Christ, provided we shall have considered the hope entertained by the Jews respecting the Messiah, which was then generally prevalent, namely, that it was incumbent on him to restore upon earth the fallen kingdom of Israel, to establish the throne of David, so as never to be shaken, and to bring deliverance to them without exception from all their enemies. Hence that speech of the disciples travelling to Emmaus, but we trusted that it had been ke which should have redeemed Israel. Luke xxiv. 21. Wherefore it is true, that by the coming of Christ also in this place the apostles understood nothing else than the glorious kingdom of the Messiah to be erected upon earth, as others also have remarked before us. But this in scripture is elsewhere entitled the kingdom of God, concerning which all the prophets have predicted, and concerning the establishment of which his disciples asked their master, after he was risen from the dead, whether he would at that time restore again the kingdom to Israel.-By the end of the age then the disciples do not understand the dis, solution of heaven and earth, but the destruction of the monarchies of the world, which had been first exhibited in a dream to Nebuchadnezzar, and afterwards to Daniel ; for likewise in Isaiah, ch. Ixv. 17. lxvi. 22. God is introduced speaking thus of these times, Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth : and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But they expected that this revolution in the monarchies, according to the prophecies which are extant Dan. ii. and vii, would happen at the same time with the coming of the Messiah, upon whose entrance into his kingdom he would restore rule to Israel.' They thought also, that the subversion of the temple, and the proper establishment of Christ's kingdom, would be contemporary. Which two things it is incumbent on us to separate: for although the disciples, as was before said, thought that all these things would occur at one and the same time, yet the event itself has taught us the contrary ; since the demolition of the temple and city has now long ago happened, whilst the coming of Christ is not yet accomplished. And in consequence of this, our Lord gives a distinct answer to each question.'
rank, now belonging to that country, as he wielded not the sword but the pen, acquired not military but theological glory, and was perpetually recommending the practice and cultivation of the mild and pacific virtues of Christianity.
12 Acts, i. 3, 6, 7,
We may, says Dr. Lardner, readily admit the truth of what Josephus says,—“that what principally excited the Jewish people, the wise men,” as he calls them,“ as well as others, to the war with the Romans, was the expectation of a great deliverer to arise among them, who should obtain the empire of the world.” Indeed, the expectation of the coming of the Messiah, about the time of the appearance of Jesus was universal, and had been so for some while. But with the idea of a prophet, or extraordinary teacher of religion, they had joined also that of a worldly king and conqueror, who should deliver the Jewish people from the burdens under which they labored, raise them to a state of independence, and bring the nations of the earth into subjection to them, to be ruled and tyrannised over by them. If our Lord would but have assumed the state and character of an earthly prince, scribes and pharisees, priests and people, would all have joined themselves to him, and have put themselves under his banner.
Of this we see many proofs in the gospels"}.'
13 Lardner's works, vol. vii. 59. Similar is the statement of Dr. Sykes. • It is evident,' says he, that the opinion was fixed and settled, and generally received among the Jews, that somebody of their nation was to
The reader who has attended to Daniel's prophecy of the destruction of the fourth beast, or the Roman empire in the concluding period of its existence, and who recollects, that the prophet has not specified the time when that event was to take place, will experience little difficulty in accounting for the erroneous opinion, which the disciples had formed respecting the period, when that empire should irrecoverably fall, and be succeeded by the proper kingdom of Messiah. That they understood the fourth beast to be the Roman empire, there is no reason to doubt. That it was thus in. terpreted by the ancients in general, Dr. Cressener has
ed and proved. A very small portion of what he has urged on this subject I shall now cite. Rabbi Abarbinel's testimony is sufficient for the consent of the Jewish writers, being known to be one of the most learned of their nation. “Our masters (says he,) are right in their tradition, that the fourth beast does signify the Roman emperors ;" whereby it appears to have been the common tradition of the learned Jews"}.' That this was the opinion of the Jewish church both BEFORE and after the time of Christ, is particularly noted by the learned Calovius'.
It may, however, be remarked, that the answer of Jesus to the enquiry of his disciples was well adapted to rectify their mistakes. For he informed them, that the capital of their country, instead of being speedily emancipated from a foreign yoke, would be besieged and desolated, and continue to be trodden down by the Gentiles; and that the proper kingdom of the Messiah, which is so magnificently described by the prophet Daniel, so far from being immediately erected, as they apprehended, would not be established,
get an universal dominion: it is testified on all sides by Heathens and Jews, as well as Christians, and consequently cannot be denied.' On the Tr. of the Chr. Rel. p. 11.
14 On this point the reader may look back to vol. II. p. 9, 10, of the present work.
15 Dem. of the Prot. Appl. of the Apoc. Append. p. 5. 16 In Dan. cap. 7.
and a long series of calamitous events, had antecedently occurred.
It is proper to observe, that Dr. Sykes has satisfactorily shewn (the matter, indeed, admits not of dispute), that what our Lord addresses to his auditors, in the second person, is not on that account exclusively to be referred to them, or to the men of that generation. Thus, after his resurrection, Christ said, 'Go Ye, therefore, and teach all nations,-teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you: and, 1o, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world'?. Here it is evident, that a promise is made which was to extend to the end of the world's ; and since the apostles have been long since dead, it is evident, that, under the terms YE and you, must be contained all, at all times, in like circumstances".' In the xiiith ch. of Mark (v. 37) our Lord has, indeed, himself in some degree given us intimation of this. And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch. This Doddridge thus paraphrases: what I say to you in public characters, I say to all my disciples, in every station of life, and in every age, watch.'
Parallel to the xxivth chapter of Matthew, and the xiiith of Mark, is the xxist chapter of Luke. In that chapter from v. 8, to v. 24, is a prediction”, eminently minute and circumstantial, of the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the sufferings of Christ's followers. To his disciples it accordingly appears to have been addressed by him, as sustaining
17. Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. 18 It may, however, be proper to remark, that the word employed is
19 Sykes on the Tr. of the Chr. Rel. p. 88. To the same purpose speaks hp. Newcome ( Obs. on our Lord's Conduct as a Div. Instr. p. 263). • What our Lord said to his immediate followers may be well considered as addressed to all mankind.'
20 On this propheey and the evidences of its fulfilment, Whitby and Jortin, Lardner, Macknight, and bp. Newton, have all treated at great Tength. See also the briefer but valuable observations of bishop Hurd vol. I. p. 163--172), and archdeacon Paley (Evid. of Chr. 24. ed. vol. II. p. 16-23.)