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PROPHETIC HISTORY OF THE CHURCH.
I. Golden, or Babylonian.
First Jewish captivity, for 70 years
II. Silver, or Medo-Persian. Captivity ended
IV. Iron, or Roman
Egyptian persecutions began
SUCCESSION OF KINGDOMS.
I. Seven seals began...
First Jewish persecution
CHURCH established in the Roman Empire
V. STONE, or CHRISTIAN CHURCH, founded in the midst of the one week
II. Six trumpets began...
End of the Western Empire....
Papal and Mahometan persecutions, to continue for 1260 years..
1. By Wickliffe, after 1290 days.
End of the Eastern Empire
III. Seventh trumpet, including seven vials, or last plugues.
Infidel persecutions ........
End of the 2300 and 1260 years
IV. FIRST RESURRECTION at THE REGENERATION.
THE MOUNTAIN, or KINGDOM OF CHRIST and his saints upon earth, to continue for 1000 years, and until the end of the world, or GENERAL RESURRECTION 1000 Generations. V. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN ...Eternity.
This concise chronological scheme is designed to furnish a general outline of the fortunes of the JEWISH and CHRISTIAN CHURCHES, from the first Jewish captivity to the end of the world, collected from the historical prophecies of Daniel, CHRIST, and John, all linked together in one connected series, and mutually illustrative of each other, as parts of one grand mysterious plan of DIVINE GOVERNMENT, harmonizing throughout, though delivered at sundry times, and in divers manners, beginning with time and ending with eternity.
The dates of the establishment of the four great temporal empires that composed Daniel's compound image, destined to precede the foundation of the CHRISTIAN CHURCH, may be seen in the foregoing scheme of his visions, Vol. II. p. 492-496; and the dates of the intermediate occurrences may be found, Vol. II. pp. 440, 486, 518, 537, 548; the remaining dates are to be explained in the sequel.
In this scheme the vision of the seven seals, in the Apocalypse, is supposed to take up the prophetic history from the foundation of the Church, exactly where the dream of the golden image, which formed the basis of Daniel's ensuing visions, ended; and to be succeeded by the visions of the seren trumpets and seven vials, to the end of Daniel's grand prophetic period of 2300 days, ending along with his and John's persecuting period of 1260 days, A.D. 1880.
Next follows the auspicious period of the REGENERATION, beginning with THE FIRST RESURRECTION, foretold by our LORD; during which, the kingdom of THE SON OF MAN, and of his saints, foretold by Daniel, is to prevail throughout the earth for 1000 prophetic years, which are here supposed to denote generations, of three to a century; pursuing the analogy of Prophecy, in which days symbolically denote years, as we have seen; and consequently, years, the next higher measure of time, and the most ancient, generations.
Hence it appears, that CHRIST's prophecies in the Gospels,
form an intermediate explanatory link to connect together the mysterious revelations vouchsafed to his favourite Prophets, Daniel and John. They require, therefore, next to be considered, after the former.
"JESUS OF NAZARETH," himself, THE PROPHET OF GOD, of the highest order, most " mighty in deed and in word before GOD and all the people" of the Jews, Luke xxiv. 19, in his public discourses to them, briefly and enigmatically stated the awful and mysterious doctrines of his second appearance in glory, (as at first, in humiliation,) to raise the righteous dead, at the resurrection of the just, or first resurrection, in the regeneration, or restitution of all things; and afterwards, to raise and judge all mankind, at the general resurrection and judgment, to take place at the conclusion of the world, John v. 20–29, Luke xiv. 14, xx. 35, 36, Matt. xix. 28, xiii. 37–43, xvi. 27. He also denounced woes to that wicked and adulterous generation, and threatened to come in judgment thereon, and on their rebellious city, in the life time of some of the bystanders, verifying “the sign of the Prophet Jonah," which he repeatedly gave the unbelieving Scribes and Pharisees; and weeping over the ungrateful city, most pathetically did he lament the utter destruction that was coming upon it; and the long continued desolation of their temple, until their final conversion, fulfilling ancient prophecy, Matt. xii. 39–41, xvi. 4—28, xxiii. 33-39, Luke xix. 41-44, &c.
After these awful denunciations, delivered in public, on several occasions, when he left the Temple, for the last time, on Wednesday evening, in Passion week, and was ascending Mount Olivet, in the way to Bethany, his disciples pointed out to him the stately and magnificent buildings of the Temple, full in their view: whereupon he remarked, before them all," See ye not all these? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down!" as recorded by the three first Evangelists; with the additional observation by Luke, that "the days of its destruction were coming;" Matt. xxiv. 1, 2, Mark xiii. 1, 2, Luke xxi. 5, 6, evidently referring to his former observation, two days before, when he wept over the city from the same spot, Luke xix. 41. This solemn declaration naturally excited the anxious curio
sity of his confidential disciples, Peter, James, John, and Andrew; and when he sat down on the mount opposite to the temple, they enquired of him, apart, the time, and the signs, or prognostics of all these mysterious events, 1. the destruction of Jerusalem; 2. his second appearance in glory at the regeneration; and 3. the general judgment at the conclusion of the world*.
• Great has been the embarrassment and perplexity of commentators and sacred critics, respecting the meaning of this enquiry, as stated by the three Evangelists; and four hypotheses are still afloat, on the mysterious, but most important subject.
The first hypothesis confines the whole enquiry to the approaching destruction of Jerusalem. This has been adopted by Hammond, Le Clerc, Whitby, Dodd, &c. Bishops, Newton, Pearce, Newcome, &c. Wakefield, Campbell, Gerard, Elsley, Nesbit, &c.
The second hypothesis extends the enquiry to two questions, and includes the second advent of CHRIST in the regeneration, according to the Jewish expectation. This is supported by Tertullian, Beza, Lightfoot, &c.
The third hypothesis, instead of the second advent, substitutes the last advent of CHRIST, at the end of the world and the general judgment. This has been adopted by the framers of our Liturgy, (See the Collects of the first and third Sundays of Advent, &c.) Heinsius, Clarke, Gilpin, Bishops Porteus, Horsley, &c.
The fourth hypothesis unites all the preceding into three questions, and is supported by Grotius, in his excellent commentary thereon; the sagacious Mede, Henry Taylor, in his Thoughts on the grand Apostasy, Mr. King, in his Morsels of Criticism; and in this work, as appearing to be the least objectionable, and the most consonant to the context, and to the whole tenor of prophecy.
The original terms of the enquiry, may be thus harmonized.
MATTHEW Xxiv. 3.
1. Ποτε ταυτα εσται ;
2. Και, τι, το σημείον της σης παρουσίας ;
3. Και,της συντέλειας
LUKE XXI. 7.
Ποτε ταυτα εσται ; και, τι
MARK xiii. 4.
Και, τι, το σημειον όταν μελλη παντα ταῦτα συντελεῖσθαι ;
του αιώνος ;
In every hypothesis the first question in Matthew, repeated by the rest also, is, without hesitation, allowed to relate to the destruction of Jerusalem. or prognostic, omitted by Matthew.
Luke adds the sign,
The second question, proposed fully by Matthew, is omitted by the rest. question, proposed elliptically by Matthew, is filled up and explained by Mark.
In the first hypothesis the term rapovσia is incorrectly rendered "coming," or "advent," and supposed to denote CHRIST's coming in judgment on Jerusalem, in the course of that generation, and ovvredela tov aiwvog is incorrectly rendered "the end of the age," or conclusion of the Mosaical dispensation; confounding ovvreλeta, conclusion," with rɛλog, “end,” Matt. xxiv. 6—14, which unquestionably relates to the destruction of Jerusalem.
In the second hypothesis the term Tapovσia is correctly rendered " presence," or personal appearance, as opposed to arovoia, “absence," Phil. ii. 11, denoting uρоνσια του σωματος, "bodily presence," 2 Cor. x. 10. It was first technically used, on this occasion, by Matthew; and was thence adopted to denote our Lord's second ap 00
I. When shall these be?
And what, the sign, when these shall happen?
pearance in glory, as Daniel's SON OF MAN, Dan. vii. 13, by the succeeding writers of the New Testament; Paul, 1 Cor. xv. 23, &c. compare Heb. ix. 28; Peter, 2 Pet. iii. 4; James, v. 7, 8; 1 John, ii. 28; synonymous with Tipavela, appearance," 1 Tim. vi. 14, &c. ажокaλviç, "revelation," 1 Cor. i. 7; 2 Pet. i. 7, iv. 13.
But in this hypothesis, συντέλεια του αιώνος, is incorrectly confounded with the foregoing technical term, mapovota; for the phrase is unequivocally used by Matthew, on two other occasions, to denote "the conclusion of the world," or consummation of all things," as here explained by Mark, first in the parable of the tares, where "the harvest," or general judgment is to take place at the conclusion of the world," Matt. xiii. 39, 40; and again, where our Lord promised to support his Church until the conclusion of the world, Matt. xxviii. And the term ovvreλɛa, in the Septuagint version, which is the usual rendering of the Hebrew, (Chalah,) is translated in our English Bible, "a full end," Jer. iv, 27, v. 10—18, xxx. 31, xlvi. 28, Ezek. xi. 13, “an utter end,” Nehem. i. 8; "the consummation," Dan. ix. 27; and "utter consumption," Neh. ix. 31. And in the Jewish apocryphal book of Enoch, the general judgment is expressed by a similar phrase, ἕως συντελεσθῃ κριμα του αιωνος των αιώνων, "until the judgment of the world for evermore shall be concluded."
In the third hypothesis this phrase is rightly understood; but the term πapovota, is incorrectly used, as in the first hypothesis, chiefly upon the following grounds. 1. It is supposed to denote the sign of THE SON OF MAN, coming in the clouds of Heaven, to punish the Jews, in the course of that generation; coming in the execution of judgment, as meant Dan. ix. 26.
But" the sign of THE SON OF MAN," Dan. vii. 13, Matt. xxiv. 30, is a distinct prophecy, intimating a visible appearance in the clouds, to found the kingdom of CHRIST, and of the saints, as proved before.
2. OUR LORD declared, that "some of the bystanders should by no means taste of death, until they see the SON OF MAN coming in his kingdom," Matt. xvi. 28, according to Dan. ix. 26.
But the verb onTE," see," here does not denote personal appearance, but only the event, or effect of his coming, in the punishment of the Jews; it is therefore equivalent to "observe;" in which sense it is evidently understood by the other Evangelists, in the parallel passages: Luke says simply, "until they see the kingdom of God," ix. 27; and Mark, "until they see the kingdom of God, actually come in power," (eλŋλv@viav ev dvvapɛɩ,) ix. 1; and Paul uses the phrase," the kingdom of GOD in power," to denote the miraculous power, or rod of chastisement for offenders, 1 Cor. iv. 20, 21. Whereas, the verbs expressive of our Lord's personal appearance, are oɛσ0ɛ, oчovrai, or openσɛTaι, signifying to "view" or " be viewed," Matt. xxiv. 30, xxvi. 64, Rev. i. 7, Heb. ix. 28, ажокаλvæтɛται “to be revealed," Luke xvii. 30, 1 Pet. i. 5, v. 1.
3. And this is confirmed by the omission of the verb "see," in the other texts, intimating the approach of the kingdom of heaven, Matt. iv. 17; or the coming of THE SON OF MAN, Matt. x. 23, in the course of that generation, Matt. xxiii. 36, xxiv. 34.
4. The omission of the second question entirely by Luke and Mark, and of the third question by Luke, is perfectly consistent with their confined plans, for the reasons stated in the text.
There remains, therefore, only the fourth hypothesis, which combines all that is good, and rejects all that is objectionable in the preceding; and sufficiently accords with the revelations to Daniel and to John.