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unto all nations." God's controversy with his ancient people must cease before the Millennium, for then he shall have returned to them “ with mercies ;' and, as we shall afterwards see, this is to be preceded by the infliction of dreadful judgments upon their enemies. The Saviour's return being “immediately after the tribulation of those days” must therefore be before the Millennium.*
In the 21st verse, we have the second source of evident in the extent of the tribulation by which the coming o. Christ shall be preceded : " For then shall be great tribu
Mr. Faber treats as a “vulgar error" the notion that Christ's coming in the clouds of heaven was at the destruction of Jeru. salem ; (Sacred Calender, vol. i. p. 207) and correctly enough places it at the future “ close of the Times of the Gentiles, and at the end of the long dispersion of Judah among all nations." But contrary to all the principles of homogeneity, so often and so ably advocated by himself, he maintains—and that on no higher authors ity than his own affirmation—that it will be a “figurative advent.” And having thus denied that our Lord here predicts His personal Return, he subsequently states that “the sole apparent evidence, which after long thought on the subject” he has been able to discover in favour of the views of Millenarians, is one single text. From this exception we are, however, allowed very little advantage. He might indeed as well have included it at once with the others, as it is only doomed to share a similar fate in a more adyanced part of his argument. But is there a single circumstance in the above prediction of our Lord, or in the circumstances which gave rise to it, which would lead to the supposition of its being any thing else than a personal coming of which the Saviour speaks? The inconsistency of putting upon it a figurative interpretation is accurately stated in an observation, (perfectly applicable in the present case,) by the Rev. Dr. Wardlaw, in his last published volume of Sermons-to which alone, it may be observed, we subsequently refer, although for brevity's sake we shall in future merely cite the page from which we quote: “ Did the words occur," says the Doctor, (p. 498) speaking of a passage to which we shall yet have occasion to refer ; " did the words occur in an historical or epistolary composition, it would justly be pronounced unnatural (unless we were specially warned of the writer's purposed deviation from his ordinary style,) to explain them symbolically." And what else do those who, without any such 6 warning,' and in opposition to the “ ordinary style” of both the Saviour and His evangelist, and at variance with the nature of the questions to which the prediction is professedly the answer, would put upon such language a figurative interpretation ? But we cannot here conceal our surprise that Dr. Wardlaw, in discussing the subject of Christ's premillennial coming, and professing to examine (p. 491) such passages as may seem most directly relevant and important," should not have at all adverted to this most direct and important prediction.
lation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be ; and except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.” Now as there cannot be two tribulations, each the greatest that ever was, this period cannot yet have arrived, for we learn from Daniel (xii
. 1.) that this greatest tribulation is to be at the period of the restoration of Israel: “And at that time, "-at the destruction of the Ottoman empire, predicted in the last verse of the preceding chapter, at that time shall Michael stand up, the
great prince which standeth for the children of thy people, and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” Here then we find that the time of the greatest trouble is to be at the period of the restoration of Israel, the children of Daniel's people, when Michael the prince stands up in their behalf. This is again declared (Jer. xxx. 7, 8:) " Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob's trouble ; but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him." And as our Lord himself says, immediately after the tribulation of those days shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, so the prophet here adds, “ They shall serve the Lord their God, and The BELOVED their King, whom I will raise up unto them:"-" then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved. But [blessed be God for His promise,] for the elect's sake, those days shall be shortened.” This prediction by our Lord, of a period when there should no flesh be saved but for the elect's sake, corresponds also with another in Isaiah, which also refers to the period immediately preceding the time “when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously.” Between the part of the prediction of our Lord concerning His return under consideration,
and that of the prophet, there is an exact parallel, while the prophet also foretells the awful tribulation by which it is preceded : “Behold the Lord maketh the earth empty ,
Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” Is. xxiv. 1-6, 23. It seems therefore a misapplication of our Lord's prediction of this great! est tribulation to refer it to the destruction of Jerusalem, although it may have some appearance of being connected with the prophecy relative to that event. We apprehend, however, that our Lord, having foretold the near destruc tion of Jerusalem and the troubles connected with it, carries forward the views of believers to the day of the Lord, -the long-desired Sabbath, and to the more dreadful tribulation at its commencement, which be contrasts with that at the destruction of Jerusalem. This, we think, is that Sabbath,” and that “winter” or “ tempesty as the word signifies, (see Acts xxvii. 10.) concerning which the Saviour enjoins believing Jews to pray their Hight be note in it. In this as in other cases the prophecy, having red ference to the time of the Saviour's return, is addressed to the disciples for the instruction of their brethren in all ages. The flight to which he refers appears to be that already noticed, when "all nations" shall be gathered against Jerusalem to battle after the restoration of Israel, when, says the prophet Zechariah," Ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake, in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah; and (as in our Lord's own prophecy,] thel Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.”. Zech. xiv. 1-5. This being in a time of tribulation so much greater than was even that at the destruction of Jere! usalem, the Saviour probably directs His disciples of the Jewish nation—to whom the prophecy was given, and to whose circumstances much of it relates—to pray that they be not involved in it. There are various reasons which constrain us to think that it is at the 19th verse our Lord concludes his directions concerning the conduct of the disciples at the destruction of Jerusalem; and in the 20th directs attention forward to the greater tribulation imme-. diately preceding His coming. It is at the time of this “winter, or tempest," that “then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time; no, nor ever shall be." Matt. xxiv., 20, 21,
This time of greatest tribulation, as has been shown, is however to be at the restoration of Israel, (Dan. xii. 1,) and therefore could not be referred to by our Lord as at the destruction of Jerusalem formerly. It is spoken of by
our Lord, as just noticed, to be a time of such great tribu#lation, that but for the elect's sake, “no flesh should be
saved." This, while it accords fully with the predictions concerning the time of trouble at the commencement of the Millennium, does not appear at all to apply to the de
struction of Jerusalem, in which the Jews only were .. involved. Again, the period of trouble referred to by our Le Lord is to be shortened "for the elect's sake." Neither
does this, however, correspond with the circumstances con#nected with the destruction of Jerusalem, from which the
Christians had escaped before its calamities commenced,
and whose escape therefore did not depend on the shortenving of that trouble. The " tribulation" of which our Lord
speaks, as being “ immediately” preceding His coming,
must be still fature, and is only referable to the unparalileled troubles at the close of the present Gentile dispensation.
1 The return of Christ at the restoration of Israel is rendered farther evident on attending to the parallel passage of the evangelist Luke, who, instead of referring us to Daniel, simply embodies in few words the information we have al. ready obtained from that prophet: “There shall be great. distress in the land, and wrath upon this people; and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” And then follow the signs of Christ's return, and the account of the coming itself
as given by Matthew : “ And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring ; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory.” Luke xxi. 23 -27. Jerusalem still is trodden down of the Gentiles, and therefore the coming of the Son of Man is an event yet future. But we have the full assurance of the Saviour's verity that." immediately after the tribulation of those
days," and after certain signs, that then shall be seen the Son of Man coming in great glory. And that as it was the predictions of His personal absence during the period of the temple's desolation which induced the disciples to ask con cerning his "coming;” and as it was no“ figurativeadvent" about which they thus inquired, that so also must it be of His personal Return, of which he gave them the signs in reply.*
These remarks are designed not inerely to direct attention to the precise period of our Lord's return, but also to counteract an erroneous opinion too generally entertained, that Christ Himself, in some sense, applies to the destruction of Jerusalem, what he declares of his personal coming in the clouds of heaven, when he shall be seen of all the kindreds of the earth. Such an opinion can only be ac counted for on the supposition of the total oversight of those various statements by which it is completely refuted. But indeed the language itself in which the coming is announced, expressly excludes the possibility of any such construction. Even if the miseries attending the destruction of Jerusalem, rather than any subsequent to that event, had been the " tribulation” here spoken of, it is still to be observed that the coming of the Lord was not to be “in” that tribulation—not even contemporaneously, but"immediately AFTER” it, whatever the tribulation itself may be. But, as has been proved, this refers to future times,
It is much to be regretted that Dr. Hamilton should at all have lent himself to the maintenance of what we must regard as a doctrinal error, but still more so, that he has been so little scrupulous about the means by which this may be effected. There is often in his work a misquotation of Scripture, as well as of the sentiments of his opponents, which, to put upon it the most favourable construction, betrays a very culpable negligence. Referring to this passage, he says, (p. 250,)-the coming of our Lord, " was to be accompanied by the captivity of the Jews among all nations; and followed by the treading down of Jerusalem by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled," and actually proceeds to reason on this singular perversion of the passage. What renders this the more unaccountable is, that he has adduced this very passage to show that the primitive church might have known that the coming of Christ could not be so near at hand as they imagined, since He had “
" affirmed, that Jerusalem should be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled.” (p. 12.) Yet in the same 250th page, the Doctor asserts that the advent of which the Re. deemer here speaks, was to be succeeded immediately by the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars from heaven"!!