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Apostle's language, appears to receive considerable confirmation from the Apostle's subsequent language, in the same chapter ; for he again speaks of the fiery trial which was to try them, and of the time being NEAR * wher-jadgement must begin at the House of God, and what is particularly worthy of notice, he says, verse 13. That Christ's GLORY SHALL BE REVEALED, that they might be glad also with exceeding joy. '!" - With respect to the Second Epistle, Bishop Sherlock has observed that, “In the first chapter the Apostle endeavours 6 to re-establish and confirm the hopes of Believers; but he “ does it with the air of one, who had been reproached for his u doctrine ; We have not, say he, followed cunningly devised « fables, when we made known to you the power and COMING 6 of the Lord Jesus, chap. 1. 16. You see here the true 6 point upon which St. Peter placed the hopes and expec6 tations of true believers. In the second chapter he takes ll notice of the false teachers who brought in damnable heresies 6. denying the Lord that bought then ; these he threatens “ with swift destrućtion, ver. 1. and tells them that, howft ever they might conceive of the promise of Christ's speedy * coming, yet they would assuredly find that their own
judgment did not linger, nor their own damnation slumber, « ver. 3.-that it would have been better for them, not to 66' have known the way of righteousness, than after they have 66 known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered to 66 them. ver. 21. In the third and last chapter, he considers 56 the scoffers, and their irreligious insult, JVhere is the pro96 mise of his coming ? ver. 4. He enters into their argument, 66 and shews them, from what had already happened in the 56 world, how perversely they reasoned about future things, 66 He concludes the whole with proper cautions to Christians, 66 when they consider and endeavour to understand the times 5 and seasons of God's judgments; and guards, not only his 66 own, but St. Paul's doctrine, it upon this article, the
* Our Translators have used the expression--the time is come---but the Greek is literally that “ the time is that judgment must begin, &c. Hardy's Note ise--Tempus. sub, instat sc. prædictum â Christo, Matt. xxiv. 21. Luke xxi. 21.
+ The judicious and attentive Reader, who has considered what has been said upon St Paul's doctrine of the coming of Christ, in the preceding part of this work, cannot fail to be strongly impressed with this remark of the learned Prelạte.
« coming of Christ, (so much was his mind bent to clear so this one point), against the perverse use of the unlearned " and unstable. ver. 15, 16.
" You see now what is the main, the only great point, in " this Second Epistle; it is the coming of Christ in power and
glory, to deliver the faithful, and to take vengeance of the 66 ungodly and unbelievers, as foretold by the Prophets under
both Testaments." And to shew still more fully and distinctly what the nature of the coming of Christ, of which the Apostle treats, in this Epistle is, he says that “ if by the • salvation ready to be revealed, and the day of visitation, 66 and the appearing of Jesụs Christ, in the First Epistle, we " are to understand the Apostle, as referring to the destruc5 tion of Jerusalem, then near at hand; we must necessarily " in the Second Epistle, understand the same thing, by the 56 POWER and coming of our Lord Jesus. Which POWER 66 and COMING, was at the time of writing the Second Epistle, " so far from being over, that it is treated as a thing to - come,”.. See pages 27, 28.
The present Bishop of London, in his Lectures on St. Mat: thew, on the contrary, in order to support his, opinion, " that when our Lord said, Matt. xvi. 28. Verily I say unto 56. you that there be some standing here, who'shall not taste of “ death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom, he 66. meant only to intimate that a few of them should, before “their death, be favoured with a representation of the gloria 64 ous appearance of Christ and his Saints on that awful day: “ And this illastrious scene," says the Bishop, 6 was actually “ displayed to three of them, about six days after, in the 56 transfiguration on the Mountain." In proof of this, he farther says, “ Indeed, St. Peter himself, who was present is at the 'transfiguration, plainly alludes to it, in a manner 66 which powerfully confirms this opinion. We have not, " says he, followed cunningly devised fables when we made 66 known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus 66. Christ. That is, our Lord's coming in his kingdom " with power, and glory, and majesty, to judge the world. 66 And how does St. Peter here prove that he will so come ? " Why, by declaring that he and the two other Disciples, " James and John, were eye witnesses of his Majesty ; that « is, they actually saw him on the mount, invested with “ majesty and glóry, similar to that which he would assume
s in his kingdom at the last day. For, continues the
Apostle, He received from God the Father, HONOUR and 66 GLORY, when there came such a voice to him from the ex$6 cellent glory, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well " pleased; and this voice, which came from heaven, we heard 66 WHEN WE WERE WITH HIM IN THE HOLY MOUNT. : “ This is St. Peter's own comment on the transfiguration, 166 in which he expressly compares Christ's glory and majesty " on the mount, to that which he will display in his final 166 advent, and considers the former as an emblem and an " earnest, and a proof of the latter." *
Such are the different and opposite representations of two men, who have, in their day, occupied the same exalted station, who have been distinguished for their learning and ability, and who, by their Writings, have shewn themselves, the zealous advocates of the Christian cause. But of two such opposite and discordant opinions, one of them, it is obvious, must be wrong, and as the perspicuity, both of the Evangelist and of the Apostle, is deeply involved in the question, whether the present, or the late Bishop of London has been mistaken ; it will be necessary critically to investigate this matter ; premising only that no offence is intended against the learned Prelate, who now so worthily occupies that exalted station.
This learned Prelate, in his xixth Lecture, in which he has considered the prediction of our Lord concerning the de. struction of Jerusalem, has expressly admitted that.“ the 66 expressions made use of, the sign of thy coming, and the 66 end of the world, at the first view, naturally lead our * thoughts to the coming of Christ at the day of judgment, s and the final dissolution of this earthly globe. But,” says he,“ a due attention to the parallel passages in St. Mark and 66 St. Luke, and a critical examination into the real import 6 of those two phrases in various parts of Scripture, will as soon convince a careful enquirer, that by the coming of Christ " 'is here meant, not his coming to judge the world at the last " day, but his coming to execute judgment upon Jerusalem ; +
* See the Bishop of London's Lectures on St. Matthew, Vol. II. p. 18, 19.
+ See Mark xiii. 4. Luke xxi. 7. Matt. xxiv. 4. 5. xvi. 28. John xxi, 92. By the learned Prelate's referring here to Matthew xyi. 28. to prove Christ's
16 and that by the end of the world is to be understood, not 6 the final consummation of all things here below, but THE 56 END of that age, the end of the Jewish state and polity, so the subversion of their City, Temple, and Govern. “ ment." *
Now, if it be granted that the two Epistles of St. Peter were written BEFORE the destruction of Jerusalem--the prediction of our Lord that there would be false Christs and False Prophets, who should precede the awful calamity, seems very naturally to account for St. Peter's assertion, that there would be some who, in the last days, i. e. in the last days of the Jewish state, should say, Where is the promise of his coming ? And it seems as naturally to account for his telling those to whom he wrote We have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our our Lord Jesus Christ, and particularly, as he appears to have said it, as Bishop Sherlock has observed, 6 With the 66 air of one who had been reproached for his doctrine;" or of one who was apprehensive of the mischief which might arise from the insinuation of the scoffers, that the predi&tion of his coming would not be realized. That the Apostle did refer to the approaching destruction of Jerusalem, when he speaks of the Salvation ready to be revealed, and the day of visitation, and the revelation of Jesus Christ, was the opinion of Bishop Sherlock, and can scarcely be disputed; and that he should speak of the coming of Christ, and mention the scoffers, as saying, Where is the promise of his coming, for since the Fathers fell asleep, &c. will be considered, by all good judges of the nature of evidence, as among the most authentic proofs that the destruction of Jerusalem had not yet taken place, and of St. Peter's regard to our Lord's predictions concerning that awful event, as well as of his earnest solicitude to guard those to whom he wrote, against the infidel insinuations of their adversaries.
" coming to execute judgment upon Jerusalem," he appears not to have been aware of the question which he had formerly put, in his xvth Lecture, p. 17. and in his Essay on the Transfiguration of Christ, p. 16, when speaking particularly of this very verse; for, having quoted it, at full length, he says, “ Is it not most natural, is it not almost necessary to understand these “' similar expressions as relating to the same great event ?”
For the true meaning of this versea--See the preceding part of this Work, pages 58 to 76. * Sce Lecture xix, pages 139, 140.
The The Bishop has indeed said, " That St. Peter expressly « compares Christ's glory and majesty on the mount to that 66 which he will display in his final advent, and considers the “ former as an emblem and an earnest, and a proof of the " latter." From thence he concludes, " That the scene upon 66 the mountain was a symbolical representation of Christ's 66 coming in glory to judge the world, and of the rewards ss which shall then be given to the righteous.". But where, it may be asked, with all due respect to the learned Prelate, has St. Peter compared Christ's glory and majesty on the mount to that which he will display in his final judgment ? Or where considered the former as an emblem and an earnest, and a proof of the latter ? He has indeed, asserted, that 56 When St. Peter says, We have not followed cunningly de"o vised fables when we made known to you the POWER and “Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he means, our Lord's "s coming in his kingdom with power and glory, and majesty, o to judge the world. And how," says the Bishop, ” does " St. Peter here prove that he will so come? Why, by de. " claring that he and the two other Disciples, James and John, 56 were eye witnesses of his majesty ; that is, they actually 56 saw him on the mount, inyested with majesty and glory, " similar to that which he would assume in his kingdom at 56 the last day.” But if the judicious and attentive Reader will refer to the history of the tranfiguration, he will not find any thing that has the most distant reference to any glory with which Christ was to be invested on the last day. His face, it is true, did shine as the Sun, and his raiment was white as the light. Moses and Elias appeared and conversed with him, and a voice came out of the cloud which said This is my beloved-Son in whom I am well pleased--but these were the only circumstances of majesty and glory alluded to in the history-or referred to, in the account given by St, Peter. But let the Reader form his own judgment from the two accounts, placed in opposite columns, and let him decide according to the evidence, what foundation the learned Bishop had to assert that Christ was “ invested with majesty " and glory, similar to that which he would assume in his “ kingdom at the last day''-or that St. Peter expressly compared Christ's glory and Majesty on the mount to that which he will display " in his final advent, and considers the «s former as an emblem and an earnest, and a proof of the 16 latter." Kk