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expectation of receiving from him an inheritance, incorruptible, and that fadeth not away,—a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
MATTHEW Xxiv. 42.
Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
TOWARDS the conclusion of my last discourse, I called your attention to this solemn injunction of our blessed Lord, with which he terminated his prophetic description of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem. There are some parts of it of so sublime and awful a character, that they seem (as I had before occasion to observe) equally, if not more applicable, to his own final advent to judge the world, than to that great and calamitous event. And it And it is probable that he intended to represent the one as a type or emblem of the other. Considered with reference to the predicted punishment inflicted upon the Jews, it has two points which particularly deserve
our attention: First, the proof which it furnishes of our Saviour's preternatural power of foretelling future events, of which this is one of the most unequivocal instances to be found in Holy Writ. It does not, indeed, establish that he was himself divine, because the same power had been confided to other prophets, for whom no such character can be claimed. But it proves incontestably, that he was divinely commissioned and instructed, and consequently that we may, and must rely implicitly, upon the truth of all his declarations; even those which go to establish his proper divinity and identity with his Father.Secondly, we cannot but regard it as a solemn warning, both to individuals and nations, of the dreadful temporal judgments which they may draw down upon themselves, by obstinate infidelity or unrepented guilt. But the catastrophe of the Jewish nation having long since been accomplished, our most profitable way of considering the text, and other similar passages of Scripture, will be by interpreting it with reference to the day of judgment, and to all that is revealed to us upon that tremendous subject.
And, first, it is an explicit declaration to our
Lord's disciples of their ignorance, and consequently, to us, of our own, of the period when that dreadful event will take place. Of this, not only were they, and are we, totally uninformed, but our Lord had expressly asserted before, that even he himself (speaking of course in his human capacity,) knew it not: but of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. But, notwithstanding this uncertainty as to the precise period of its arrival, there prevailed (as we have already seen) a very general opinion, in the apostolic age, amongst the Christians, that it was not even then far distant; nor has this opinion been without its adherents, more or less numerous, in every subsequent age of the Church; nor can it be denied that several passages of Scripture may be produced, which appear to give it countenance. It is not my intention to go over any of these again, for the purpose of shewing that they will admit of another interpretation; particularly that they may be referred to the destruction of Jerusalem because, were that doubtful, I should agree with a very able modern com
mentator', that it is the better course to take the Scriptures in their plain and obvious sense, even though we should sometimes be obliged to confess that we do not perfectly comprehend them, than to endeavour by any forced construction, to make them bend to our own notions, of what is reasonable or probable. Not but that what is most rational and intelligible in religion, and most agreeable to the facts and phenomena of human life, is not the most valuable and important part of it—because it is that of the truth, of which we must necessarily have the firmest conviction; and that which must most materially affect our conduct in this life, and our salvation in the next; but that it is certain, that there is much in the Scriptures, the meaning of which at present lies beyond our reach, and which probably future and distant events only will be able clearly to develope. Nor is this at all wonderful, or any obstacle to our reliance upon that which is clear, and easily applicable to the circumstances in which we find ourselves placed. If our Saviour could prove to