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which are written may be fulfilled. But wo to them more especially that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days. And pray that your flight may not be in winter, nor on a sabbath-day ;
There will be need of every advantage for escaping to a distance] for in those days there shall be a scene of great tribulation and distress in the land of Judea, and of wrath from heaven upon this people, such as the like has not been known from the beginning of the creation which God has made, unto this time, nor ever shall be ; as no people ever have been, nor ever shall be guilty of such aggravated crimes. And therefore they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and those that escape the general carnage shall be carried away captives into all nations*. And Jerusalem itself shall be trampled down by the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled, and they shall be visited and punished. And during the wars which are to bring on this sad catastrophe, except the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh could be saved: the whole nation would be exterminated. But for the elect's sake, those whom he has chosen to partake the blessings of his gospel, those days shall be shortened. ( Rom. xi. 26.) And if any one shall then say unto you, Behold the Messiah is here, cr behold he is there, do not believe it. For false Messiahs and false prophets shall ariset, and shall pretend to shew great signs and prodigies, so as if it were possible, to deceive the very elect. But be upon your guard, for behold I have foretold you all these things. Therefore if they shall say unto you, respecting the Messiah, He is in the wilderness, gathering his forces, do not go forth to join them; or, Behold he is in the secret apartments of some friend, do not believe it. For as the lightning breaks forth from the east, and shines in q moment even to the west, so sudden and conspicuous also shall the coming of the Son of man be. And very extensive also will be the desolation ; for wherсsoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
REFLECTIONS. If our Lord urges his disciples, with such speedy and solicitous haste, to flee from the sword of God's temporal judgments, 'how inuch greater diligence should we give to flee from the wrath to come! What are any of the little interests of life, that out of regard to them we should be willing to continue one moment longer exposed to a danger which may sink us into everlasting perdition and despair! We have here a lively description of that aggravated ruin which was brought upon the Jews for neglecting Christ; even great tribulation, such as had never, from the very beginning of the world, fallen upon any other nation, nor shall ever be equalled. Thus was his blood upon them, and their children. May we never know what it is to have this blood crying against us for trampling it under foot as an unholy thing!
* It appears from Josephus, that eleven hundred thousand were destroyed in this war; and near an hundred thousand taken prisoners, and sold for slava at the vilest prices.
† This was fulfilled in the appearance of those impostors during the siege of Jerusalem, of whom Josephus has given an account. 1. vi. c. 7. $ 2.
† See on Luke xvii. 37. $ 128. VOL. I.
For surely to the Jews, who thus rejected the counsel of God against themselves, all these things which they suffered were but the beginning of sorrows ; and the famine and sedition, pestilence and slaughter, by which so many thousands perished, served only to consign them over to infinitely more terrible indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, which will at last fall on every soul of man that doth evil, whether Jew or Gentile.
These unhappy creatures eagerly listened to the very name of a Messiah, by whomsoever it was assumed; while they rejected him whom God had sent them, and who had so long, and with so much importunity, been renewing to them the offers of life and salvation. May none of us ever know the sad impatience with which condemned sinners will wish, and wish in vain, for those overtures and messages of grace which they now despise! In that sense, wheresoever the car6:18e is, there will the eagles be gathered together: wherever there is the like unbelief and impenitence, there will be in its degree the like ruin. Christ has graciously told us these things before : may we humbly attend to the warning, that none of this terror and destruction may ever come upon us!
Christ describes the destruction of the Jewish state by strong figures,
literally suiting the day of judgment ; to the mention of which he proceeds. Matt. xxiv. 29–36. MARK xiii. 24–32. LUKE xxi. 25-33.
comets, and surprising meteors ; and on the earth there shall be anguish and distress of nations, the sea and the waves thereof roaring, while men shall be almost expiring with fear, and expectation of those things which are coming upon the land.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken*. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven at the last day. And all the tribes of the land shall then mourn; and they shall see the Son of man coming as it were in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he shall then send forth his messengers † with the great sound of his gospel, as of a trumpet, and
* That is, according to the sublimity of prophetic language, the whole civil and ecclesiastical constitution of the nation shall be dissolved. Compare Is. xiii. 10. xxxiv. 4, 10. oel ii. 30, 31. Amos viii. 9, &c. These events are spoken of as signs of Christ's second coming; that is, the circumstances of the one were similar to those of the other, and were calculated to remind men of them.
† This passage has been much obscured by rendering the word ayleass angels. It often signifies messengers, and sometimes preachers of the gospel; who were to unite God's chosen people in one society, under Christ. Eph. i. 10.
they shall assemble his elect from the four winds, even from one end. of the heavens to the other*, and multitudes of all nations shall obey the summons. And when these things begin to come to pass, look upwards, and lift up your heads with joy, for your redemption draws nigh; for many of you will be safely brought home to the haven of eternal peace, before these storms are ended, and the rest will not long sur. vive them.
And, to illustrate what he said, he spake to them a parable : Behold now, and learn a parable from the fig-tree, and all the other trees that drop their leaves in the winter : When their] branch is now become tender, and they shoot forth their young leaves, you see and know of your own-selves that summer is now near at hand. So likewise you, when you shall see all these things come to pass, may assuredly know the kingdom of God is just at hand, even at the doors : that the desolation which I have spoken of is coming upon Jerusalem, and that the gospel is about to be propagated in the world. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass away until all these things be fulfilled, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away, But though (I have foretold when Jerusalem shall be destroyed, yet of THAT DAY and hour, that season which is appointed for the dissolution and judgment of the world, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, Bor the Son of man himself, but my Father only.
REFLECTIONS. Let us now raise our contemplations to that awful day when all that was figuratively spoken of the destruction of Jerusalem shall be literaliy accomplished ; and let us consider our own intimate concern in it. Where will our hope and comfort, our light, and our safety be, when the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, when the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken? Where, indeed, unless the almighty God, the everlasting Jehovah, by whose voice they were created, and by whose hand they shall be dashed in pieces again, shall condescend to be our light, and our salvation? And if he indeed be so, then we may lift up our heads with joy ; as knowing that our complete redemption draweth nigh, even that long-expected day which, with all its solemn horrors, has still been the brightest object of our faith and our hopes,
Then shall the Son of man indeed come in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, and send his angels to summon his elect, and to assemble them from one end of heaven to the other ; for the Lord him. self shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archan. gel, and with the trump of God. May we hear the summons with joy, and stand in our lot among his chosen ones! What though the day and season be unknown? It is enough for us that we know that all these interposing days and years, be they ever so numerous, will at length be past; for the promise of the great Redeemer is our security, and he will hasten it in its time. These visible heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll, and the earth shall be removed out of its place ; but
* MARK, “From the uttermost parts of the earth, to the uttermost part of “ heaven."
the sure word of his promise shall never pass away; even that promise which is engaged for the salvation of his people. Let us often review it ; let us firmly realize it to our souls, and, seeing we look for such: things, let us seriously consider, what manner of persons we ought to be in all holy conversation and godliness.
Our Lord, by the suddenness of his appearance, urges « constant watch: fulness, repeating what he had formerly said on that subject. MAT: xxiv. 37, &c. Mark xiii. 33, &c. LUKE xxi. 34-36. UT uncertain as the time of the final judgment may be, of this I will
in general inform you that, as in the days of Noah, the deluge was sudden and unexpected, so also shall the Son of man be. For as in the days which were before the universal deluge, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, thinking of nothing but present indulgence, until the very day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not nor suspected any approaching evil, till the deluge came and bare them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then (as was before observed with relation to the destruction of your country) two men shall be together in the field, the one shall be seized and the other dismissed. Two women shall be grinding at the same mill; the one shall be seized and the other dismissed; the like may be said with respect to the final judgment.* And therefore take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overloaded by gluttony and drunkenness, and secular cares, and by this means that day should come unexpectedly upon you. For it shall come on the greatest part of all them that dwell on the face of the whole çarth as a snare upon a thoughtless bird. Therefore watch ye, take heed, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things which shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man; for you know nott at what hour your Lord does come. But this you know, that if the master of the house that has been plundered had known in what watch of the night the thief would have come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broke open. Therefore be
ye also ready; for at an hour when you think not of it, the Son of man cometh.
For the Son of man is, in this respect, as a man travelling to a distant country, whg, as he was leaving his house, gave authority to his head servants to oversee the rest, and assigned to every man his proper work, and commanded the porter to watch.-Who now do you suppose is the faithful and prudent servant, whom his Lord has appointed ruler over
* See Luke xvii. 35, 36.—I humbly conceive that the grand transition (from the destruction of Jerusalem to the general judgment] about which commentators are so divided, and so generally mistaken, is made precisely after these two verses, not a word peculiar to the former being mentioned afterwards.com [Query, whether it be not more naturally understood to be made at the close of the foregoing section?)
Ť MARK, “When the time is.”
his household, to give them their food in due season? You, my apostles, may easily apply the character to yourselves. Happy indeed is that servant whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find thus employed. Verily I say unto you, that he will make him ruler of all his estate. But he that proves unfaithful shall be severely punished: and if that wicked servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delays his coming, and shall begin to beat his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken, the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he does not expect him, and in an hcur when he is not aware, and scourge him so as to cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Watch ye therefore continually, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh ; whether in the evening-watch, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning, lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all, Watch.
REFLECTIONS. What slothful hearts must we have if these repeated admonitions do not awaken us; even line upon line, and precept upon precept? The patience of God is waiting upon us, as it did on the old world, while the ark was preparing : May we take warning, and seek shelter before the door be shut against us! Let us therefore take heed, lest sensuality and secular cares overcharge and depress our hearts, and amuse us with vain delusions, till sudden and unavoidable destruction come upon us. We are by profession the domestics of Christ. Let us attend to the offices he has assigned us, though he seem at a distance. Let us diligently wait his coming, at whatever season. Let his ministers especially wait it; and be solicitous, that they may be found so doing, conducting themselves like wise stewards of the mysteries of God, dispensing to every one his portion of food in due season. Then will our account be honourable, and our reward glorious.
May God deliver us from the guilt and condemnation of the cruel, the imperious, and the luxurious servant, who began to beat his fellows, and to eat and drink with the drunken; since we are expressly told his dreadful doom! Justly does our Lord declare that to such a one he will appoint a portion with hypocrites, terrible as their portion must be ; for no hypocrisy can be baser than to call ourselves the servants and ministers of Christ, while we are the slaves of ambition, avarice, and intemperance. Wherever such are found, under whatever mask and form, may he reform them by his grace, or disarm them of that
pow. er and influence which they continually abuse to his dishonour, and to their own aggravated damnation! Let us in the mean time be exhort. ing each other daily, while it is called to-day, lest any by insensible degrees, be hardened through the deceitfulnces of sin ; and let us always remember that every exhortation which we give to others, returns with redoubled weight upon ourselves.