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This is the event in the history of God's dealings with the earth, which catcheth the eye of the seer, and standeth before him as the glad and glorious consummation. Now the most momentary glance at Daniel's prophecy will suffice to shew that this event is not at the destruction of mankind, nor for their destruction with whatever judgments attended, but contrariwise for the deliverance of all nations from oppression of brutal, bestial force, into the blessed government of Him who cometh with the clouds of heaven. Which should be enough to teach any reasonable person, not only that the coming of the Son of Man is before the termination of mankind, but also that the great event of God's providence toward the world, and of his grace by Christ, is not the final judgment of mankind, but the bringing in of the Son of Man anew into this visible world. If the great event of Christ's glory, and this world's weal, had been the termination of the human race, and their final judgment, why should not the seer have looked at this with transport, instead of looking at Christ's coming with the clouds? To this saine event of his coming with the clouds Christ himself referreth, in that discourse which he delivered to his disciples, for the express object of teaching what should be the sign of his coming, and of the end of the age (Matt. xxiv. 3). Surely, when his disciples besought him for information concerning his coming, and he, the Lord, did set himself to give them the information which they sought; we may well believe that he would keep to the question, and explain to them the signs of that event which they understood by his coming. And what then doth he say thereof? He tells them (ver. 27), that his coming should be to them observable as the lightning (ver. 28), that they should find their way to where he was, as surely as the eagles do unto the carcase. In verse 29, he deseribes the shaking of the heavens and the earth, which should precede his coming; and in verse 30 he thus describeth, the coming itself: “ And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn ; and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory." And the reason why the tribes of the earth mourn, or as it is in our text, “ all nations wail because of him," is given in the following verses of the same discourse, descriptive of the wickedness, carelessness,and unbelief, under which he should surprise the world ver. 37): “As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days which were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” And then, to shew us that there shall be the salva. tion of a part, as in the case of Noe, and Lot, and Jerusalem, and every other judgment of God, it is immediately added, “ Then shall two be in the field, the one shall be taken and the other left ; two women shall be grinding at the mill, the one shall be taken and the other left." And the Divine moral of the whole is, “ Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour, your Lord doth come.” To this coming in the clouds, he maketh reference again, in his examination before the high priest; and again in the first chapter of the Acts, the angels make reference to it when in a cloud he was carried out of their sight. And again, the Apostle maketh reference to it to comfort the Thessalonians over their departed brethren (1 Thess. iv. 17): in all which instances, the same event is referred to; to wit, the second coming of Christ, with all his saints, to establish his kingdom over all the nations under the whole heaven*.
Besides the two particulars given in the discourse of Matthew, that every eye should see him, as every eye seeth the lightning, and that all kindreds of the earth should wail because of the judgments which he would bring upon their wicked persecutions of his saints, and confederacies against God; there is a third, mentioned in our text, that they also which pierced him should see him with their eyes, for that is the proper meaning of the word o" petai, This carries a direct reference to the xiith chapter of the Prophet Zechariah, wherein is described the fearful confusion, confounding, and judgment of the nations assembled against Jerusalem, which is called a cup of trembling to
For the complete refutation of the notion which hath originated within these few years concerning a spiritual coming, we may refer to our work, entitled, “ The Church and State responsible to Christ, and one another.", pp. 479-490.
all the people round about, and a burdensome stone for all people; being doubtless the same with the judgment of all nations in the valley of Jehoshaphat, described by the prophet Joel. In the midst of that universal wail of the nations, great grace is promised to the people of Israel in these words : “In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalein; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David, and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication: and they shall look on me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.” (Zech. xii. 8–10.) After which cometh the description of a most deep contrition and terrible agony, like the mourning at Hadadrimmon, where the good king Josiah and the host of Judah fell. Now, as we have said above, with respect to the passage in Daniel, so say we in this, that the most cursory review of the passage doth teach us, that it describes the godly sorrow which worketh repentance not to be repented of; that it is in truth the conversion of the Jewish nation in their own land, their conversion by the sight of God's judgments upon the nations, gathered with open mouth to destroy them. when they discover that this God who hath gathered them, and who hath delivered them in the agony of their despair, is no other than that Jesus of Nazareth whom they pierced, whom for thousands of years they have spurned and blasphemed; when he standeth before them upon Mount Olivet which is before Jerusalem, and they see that this mighty Saviour of their nation is even He whom their nation hanged on a tree; what an agony of shame, of remorse, of fear, of gratitude, of faith, of love, will overwhelm that people. Then shall that come to pass which is spoken of in the prophets, that "a nation shall be born in a day;"
Now to this straitforward interpretation of the things contained in the verse before us—for I lay claim to no ingenuity, but believe that God hath blessed me with ingenų..
ousness to interpret his word—it may be objected thus: But if, as you say, this same Jesus Christ is to gather the Jews, and do such things for them, how should they not know until that moment that it is he who doeth them? To this objection I am nothing loth to give an answer, the rather because it will enable me to explain a point necessary to the understanding of this text, and indeed of all the prophecies. The coming with the clouds spoken of in the passage before us, and in the kindred passages, is uniformly described as being manifest to all : « Every eye shall see him, and all nations shall wail at the sight;" and to this same end of declaring how manifest, as well as glorious it shall be, are the clouds given him for attendance. What is in the clouds, all behold. They are beyond the region of concealments. Seeing, then, by these similitudes of clouds and lightning as well as by express declarations, the manifestness of his appearance is declared, how should it be said in other places, that he cometh as a thief in the night ? and how should it not be known by the Jewish people, from the instant of his first interference on their behalf, to deliver them from amongst the nations, and to gather them into their own land ? The answer, I think, lies in this; There is a sign of the Son of Man, as well as a coining of the Son of Man; a sign which, according to his own language, appears in the heaven : “ Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven.” This was a thing well known amongst the Jews, who were ever asking him for that sign, which was every where promised in the Prophets. (Isaiah xi. 1012.) And the disciples being Jews, and having exactly the common opinions of their nation, asked him on that occasion what should be the sign of his coming. Well, and what is that sign? I answer, It is something in the heaven, which
appears before he himself appears. It is not himself apparent, but the sign that he is about to appear. What it shall be, I know not; but can well conceive that it may be something similar to the pillar of cloud and fire which appeared before the children of Israel, to guide them out of Egypt, and to defend them from Pharaoh and his host, and to guide them through the wilderness, and to bring them into the promised land. Nay, I think there is more than conjecture for this; because it is distinctly prophesied
(Ezek. xliii. 2), that that very glory which abode with the Jews until the Jewish temple was destroyed, and departed then (Ezek. x. 1), shall return again, and rest within the rebuilt temple of Jerusalem. (See Lecture I. pp. 72–74.) But be this as it may, there is to be a sign. Now of this sign it is nowhere asserted that it shall be visible to all the na. tions, from the beginning of its appearance; or being visible, that it shall be known by them to be the Son of Man, or yet the sign of the Son of Man. By this sign now apparent unto the Jewish people, they shall be gathered and redeemed by a strong hand out of all nations, and brought up into their own land, when it is the pleasure of the Lord so to do.—And under this banner of the glory of God every thing needful to the gathering, the sorting, and settling of the tribes, according to the last chapters of Eze. kiel, will, I believe, take place. And if the nations will oppose themselves to the emancipation of the people, I believe, that as heretofore, out of this sign shall come their discomfiture. It shall be a wall of fire around the host, and a glory in the midst of them. Nor do I doubt that the nations according as they congregate against Israel, shall come within the vision and the experience of its direful power. Yet all the while I do believe that the children of Israel shall not know that Jesus of Nazareth is the person who out of that glory spreadeth the curtain of his sanctuary round about them. Nor shall the nations know that it is he; but the wise shall understand. Those that believe shall understand. And thus, under the ensign or sign of the Son of Man, shall these great and momentous acts of war and of destruction come about, as heretofore they did at the Red Sea, and in the Wilderness; and still the person of Jesus of Nazareth shall not be known, nor his power, to be present therein. And I believe, moreover, that against the Ten Tribes defended by this supernatural power, Antichrist, that is, the beast and the false prophet, shall be bold enough to conceive and carry on war; and that this is the meaning of his ten kings making war with the Lamb and those with him (Rev. xvii. 15): but he shall be broken upon the holy Mount of God (Daniel xi. 45); and the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin being delivered from this last king of Babylon, the whole nation of the Jews shall quietly settle themselves according to the order of Ezekiel, chapter xlviii. And against them thus