Page images

that were then present should taste of death-might be fulfilled in that sense.

13. That there was no such notion prevailing among the disciples, that Christ should come while most of them lived, is manifest from this, that when the disciples mistook the design of Christ's word, John xxi. 22, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" and from thence, for a while, entertained a notion that that disciple was not to die till Christ came; it seems they, even while under this mistake, looked upon it as the distinguishing privilege of that disciple, which none of the rest were to expect. And it is evident, that John himself concluded no such thing, as that Christ should come in his life-time, because he speaks of that notion of the other disciples about him as ill-founded.

§14. It is a further argument, that when the apostles used such kind of language as that," the Lord is at hand," &c. they did not use it in any such sense, as that it should be in that age or the next; that the apostle John, who was accus tomed to their language, uses it still, even after he had prophesied of many great events, which plainly were to have their accomplishment in many successive ages; as Rev. iii. 11. “ Behold, I come quickly." And he uses it repeatedly at the end of the book, after he had given an account of those future events, in the last chapter, ver. 7. "Behold, I come quickly;" ver. 12. "Behold, I come quickly;" and ver. 20. He that testifieth these things, saith, Surely I come quickly.' The 17th chapter of this book alone, is sufficient to convince any one, that John could not suppose that his prophecies could be fulfilled, but in several successive ages.


[ocr errors]

§ 15. It is an argument, that such a nearness of Christ's last coming as the objection supposes was not the doctrine that the apostles so much insisted upon; that the church prevailed still, when they saw that Christ did not come. Such a disappointment would have been a dreadful blow to Christianity, if this had been the universal expectation of Christians, and it had been raised by the abundant promises of Christ and his apostles. They probably, upon it, would have exceedingly lost ground, and shrunk away. But the fact was very much the contrary.

§ 16. Christ often speaks of his last coming, as that which would be long delayed; Matth. xxv. 5. "While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept." Luke xx. 9. "A certain man planted a vineyard;" ver. 19. "After a long time, the Lord of those servants cometh and reckoneth

with them." Matth. xxiv. 48. "My Lord delayeth his coming." So Luke xvii. 22.

17. It is evident, that when Christ speaks of his coming; of his being revealed; of his coming in his kingdom, or his kingdom coming; he has respect to his appearing in those great works of his power, justice, and grace, which should be in the destruction of Jerusalem, and other extraordinary providences which should attend it. So in Luke xvii. 22, to the end, with chap. xvii. 1-8, Christ speaks of the kingdom of God coming; of the coming of the days of the Son of man; of the Son of man being revealed; and of the Son of man coming. But yet, it is evident he has respect to the destruction of Jerusalem, by chap. xvii. 37. "And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? and he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." See also chap. xix. 13-15. So, when the disciples had been observing the magnificence of the temple, and Christ had said to them, "Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down,"-having respect to the destruction of Jerusalem-the disciples asked him when these things should be? and what should be the signs of his coming, and of the end of the world? By Christ's coming, they have plainly a respect to that time of the destruction of the temple, which Christ had spoken of; and therefore, their question is thus expressed by St. Mark, chap. xiii. 4. "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?" And in like manner by St. Luke, chap. xxi. 7; and Christ has many things in his answer agrecable to this sense of this question. He warns them to beware of others that should come in his stead, Matth. xxiv. 4, 5. Then he proceeds to tell them what will precede the end, i. e. the end of the world, which the disciples inquired after, and tells them what shall be signs of its approach; Matth. xxiv. 6-16. And then speaks of the desolation of Jerusalem, and of the land, as that end and that coming of his which they inquired after; Matth. xxiv. 15-21. 28: and more plainly, Luke xxi. 20-24.

From these things, it follows,

§ 18. That when Christ speaks of his coming, his coming in his kingdom, &c. as being in that generation, and before some who were then alive should taste of death, there is no need of understanding him of his coming to the last judgment; but it may well be understood of his coming at the destruction of Jerusalem, which, as has been shewn, he calls

by these names, and which he also distinguishes from his coming to the last judgment, and the consummation of all things. Yea,

$ 19. It is evident, that he did not suppose his coming to the last judgment, and the consummation of all things, would be till a long time after the destruction of Jerusalem. The calling of the Gentiles, instead of the Jews, is spoken of as what should be principally after the destruction of Jerusalem; Matth. xxi. 41, 43; Luke xx. 15, 16; Matth. xxii. 7-10. But this, Christ himself speaks of as a gradual work in the parables of the grain and mustard seed, and of the leaven hid in three measures of meal; Matth. xiii. 31–33; Luke xiii. 19-21; Mark iv. 26-32. And it is very manifest, that Christ did not suppose the consummation of all things to take place, till long after the destruction of Jerusalem, Luke xxi. 24; where it is said of the Jews, that they should be led away captive into all nations, and Jerusalem should be trodden down of the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled.


Jesus's prophecies, a proof that he was the Christ, and a divine person.

1. As Christ wrought miracles in a very different manner from the prophets, acting therein in his own name, and as doing what he did of his own power and will; so, also, he uttered prophecies in a way very diverse from that of the ancient prophets. The ancient prophets, when they uttered their predictions, were wont to introduce them after this manner, Hear ye the word of the Lord; or, Thus saith the Lord; shewing, that they did not speak of their own knowledge, but by special revelation and direction from God. Christ foretold things to come in a remarkably different manner and style, introducing his predictions, not with a Thus saith the Lord, but, Verily, verily, I say unto you, as Matth. xxiii. 36; xxiv. 34, 45; xxvi. 13, and 21; Mark xiv. 30; Luke xxi. 31, 32; John xiii. 38; xiv. 12; xvi. 20, 21, 22. The following place is very remarkable, shewing what great authority Christ attributed to his own word in his predictions, Matth. xxiv. 34, 35. "Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. These words are annexed to the chief prophecies that Christ ever uttered, which are contained in the 24th chapter of Matthew. See the same, Luke xxi. 31, 32.

[blocks in formation]

§ 2. Christ foretold future events, and those to be accomplished after his death, not only as what he knew by his own knowledge, but what he himself would bring to pass, both future blessings to his church and people, and future calamity and destruction to those persons and people that were his enemies.


§3. First, He foretold great events for the benefit of his church, that he would bring to pass; John xiv. 12, 13, 14. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, 1 works that I do, he shall do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go to my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." John xvi. 7-11. "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you, that I go away. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you. But if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judg ment, because the prince of this world is judged." And ver. 20, 21, 22. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament; but the world shall rejoice, and ye shall be sorrowful. But your sorrow shall be turned into joy.-And ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man taketh from you." See the whole of the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th chapters of John: and Luke xxi. 15-18. "For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents and brethren, and kinsfolks and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death and ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish." Luke xxiv. 49. "And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you. But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." So he foretold his own resurrection from the dead, as what he himself would bring to pass by his own power: John ii. 19. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up :" John x. 17, 18. "I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it from me. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." Mark xvi. 17, 18. "And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."

§ 4. Secondly, He foretold many great events, implying awful calamity and destruction to his enemies, as what he himself would bring to pass. Thus he speaks of that mighty destruction of the Jewish nation by the Romans, as that from which he would have protected them, if they had believed on him; Matth. xxiii. 36, 37, 38. "Verily, I say unto you, all these things shall come on this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate." This destruction is spoken of as what he would bring upon them, as a punishment for their rejection and contempt of him. Luke xix. 12, 13, 14. "He said, therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us." With verse 27. "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay before me."

5. Christ not only foretold things future, as having ability in himself to accomplish them, but he promised to give others ability to foretel future events by his Spirit, and hereby should honour him, as having, in his foreknowledge of future things, the same honour with the Father. John xvi. 7. "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come. But if I depart, I will send him unto you." Verse 13, 14, 15. "When the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth. For he shall not speak of himself, but whatsover he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine. Therefore, said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you."

§ 6. It is observable, that never any prophet gave such great and manifold opportunity for proof and trial, whether he was a true prophet or not, in the multitude of predictions of events to be fulfilled in his life-time, and during that generation after his death; and also in the plainness of his predictions; most of them being delivered, not in visionary, mystical representations, but in a manner intelligible to all.

§ 7. Therefore, the supposition, that if Christ were an impostor, God would so order it, that all these predictions—

« PreviousContinue »