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the question shows that these were to be simultaneous events.
3. Without any intimation that he was about to speak of another coming, Jesus proceeds with his discourse. He mentions his coming in verses 37, 39, 42, and 44, of chapter xxiv, and in verses 13 and 31 of chapter xxv, which is a continuation of the discourse commenced Matt. xxiv. 4. Your exposition of the instructions in question must therefore be considered out of place, until you prove that two different comings are spoken of in the cited chapters. You will not pretend that more than one coming is mentioned in the question, “ What shall be the sign of thy coming ?" and you are aware that the coming of the Son of man is distinctly stated in the part of Matt. xxiv, which you apply to the destruction of Jerusalem.
4th. In my last letter I stated, what you will not deny, that Matt. xxiv. 36-41, and Luke xvii: 26–37, are parallel passages—that they have reference to the same period and the same events-that the latter refers unquestionably to the circumstances attending the destruction of Je. rusalem, and that such of course must be the reference of the former. These statements and arguments you have allowed to pass unnoticed-and thus they have shared the fate of much that I have written. I must therefore bring this matter more fully into view-although by so doing I incur the risk of being charged with prolixity.
In Matt. xxiv. 36-41, we read as follows the same being by you applied to a yet future judgment: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.... 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.” [Where shall they be left?]
In Luke xvii. 26–36, it is thus written : “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. ... Even thus shall it be in the day
when the Son of man is revealed. In that day [what day?| he which shall be upon the house top and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away; and he that is in the field let him likewise not return back. ... Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left. 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.”
You will at once perceive that the cited passages are perfectly parallel. They refer to the same period of time and to the same events. And you will not allege that the quotation from Luke refers to something yet future. The directions concerning those who might be on the house-top or in the field, are found, nearly verbatim, in Matt. xxiv. 17, 18, which verses, together with the connexion in which they stand, refer alone to the period of the destruction of Jerusalem, according to your own ac. knowledgment. So also of the language concerning the eagles. See Matt. xxiv. 28. With what appearance of propriety, then, can you apply two confessedly parallel passages, the one to the destruction of Jerusalem, and The other to a period of time yet future ?
5th. The Saviour, having declared that all the things of which he had spoken in the previous part of Matt. xxiv, should come to pass before the close of the generation in which he lived, proceeded to certify his disciples that of the precise day and hour he himself was ignorant--but of this they might be certain, it would be unexpected and sudden as was the coming of the deluge. Then properly followed an exhortation to watchfulness and faithfulness, with a statement of the consequences that would attend a contrary course of conduct. This closes chapter xxiv, though the discourse is continued, being broken only by the modern divisions of the Bible into chapters and verses.
Chapter XXV commences with the adverb " Then,” which calls for the question, When? And the answer must be sought in the previous declarations concerning the coming of the Son of man. The parable of the vir. gins closes with another exhortation to watchfulness. The parable of the talents was designed to encourage fidelity. And these two parables were obviously intended to illustrate what is recorded in the closing part of Matt. xxiv. The parable of the sheep and goats, being a summary of all the previous instructions, commences at verse 31. “ When the Son of man shall come.” The time is not stated, for that had previously been plainly and unequivocally confined to the then existing generation, though of the precise day and hour even Jesus himself could not inform the disciples.
Your only remarks which bear in the least against the foregoing view of the subject, are four in number.
1st. You say that Christ did not come in his glory, either in his incarnation, as the babe of Bethlehem, or as the man of sorrows—and hence you argue that the coming mentioned in Matt. xxv. 31, must be yet future, inasmuch as the coming there mentioned is a coming in glory. Have you forgotten your own acknowledgment that Mait. xxiv. 30, referred to the coming of Christ to destroy Jerusalem ? and have you overlooked the fact, that the coming there mentioned was to be “ with power and great
2d. You say, in effect, that the angels did not accompany our Lord to destroy Jerusalem. In Matt. xxiv. 30, 31, which, I again repeat, you apply to the coming above mentioned and to no other, it is written, “they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels. .... and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds," etc. The elect who were thus to be gathered, are mentioned in Matt. xxv, under the figure of the sheep.
3d. You say that at no time has the Saviour “ gathered all nations before him.” Once more I shall quote testimony which refers, according to your own concession, to events connected with the destruction of Jerusalem.“ And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven;
and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn. . . . . And he shall send his angels. ... and they shall gather his elect from the four winds, for as in Mark xiii. 27, ‘from the uttermost part of the earth,' from one end of heaven to the other," Matt. xxiv. 30, 31. If you can determine in what sense this language was used, and in what sense it was fulfilled more than seventeen centuries ago, you will be at no loss to determine how all nations were gathered before the Son of man when he came to destroy Jerusalem.
4th. You depend somewhat on the future tense of the verb, in the declaration, “Before him shall be gathered all nations.” I have repeatedly certified you, that a passage which was future in its reference when spoken or written, is not necessarily future now. But of this fact you take not the slightest notice. In Matt. xxiv. 31, it is written, " he shall send his angels," but notwithstanding the future tense of the verb, you apply the passage to the destruction of Jerusalem.
It is not necessary at present, nor am I required, to enter into a detailed explanation of the parable of the sheep and goats. It is sufficient that I have shown the reference thereof to events which long since transpired.
I am desirous that we should enter into a full examination of the period denoted by the coming of the Son of man, as mentioned in the passages before us. You are sensible that much depends on the decision of this mata ter-inasmuch as the events in review were to transpire when the Son of man should come in his glory. If you feel yourself competent to sustain the positions you have assumed, you will accede to this proposal.
And while on this point, allow me to observe, that for either of us to cite a Scripture passage, offer a word of comment thereon, and then proceed to cite other testimony, without even noticing the views and arguments presented by the other on the passages previously adduced, is not, in my judgment, either a candid, equitable, or profitable mode of procedure. In reviewing your criticism on the Greek noun alwv (aion) and its derivative adjective, I wish our readers distinctly to remember two particulars. 1st. Your argument rests on the supposi tion that aiwy signifies eternity, or endless duration of being. If you yield this supposition, your entire argument is lost. You say, “if there is any word in the Greek language which denotes endless continuance, it is this," aiwv. 2d. No adjective can express any more than is expressed by the noun to which it is relative. The adjective gloomy cannot express more than is expressed by gloom-lovely than love--proud than pride. A thousand similar illustrations might be adduced. From hence it will follow, that if the noun aiwy does not strictly signify eternity, the adjective cannot, in itself, express an endless duration.
The following considerations justify me in assuming that the noun alwy does not, and cannot signify eternity, or an endless duration.
1st. We read of the beginning of alwy--but eternity can have no beginning—therefore aiwy does not signify eternity. John ix. 32, “Since the world began,” ek tov atūvos. In Rom. xvi. 25, Paul speaks of the mystery of the gospel“ which was kept secret since the world alwvious began.”
2. The noun in question is used in the plural number, and there are several forms of expression which denote the existence of more than one aíwy--but eternity is an individual; there cannot be two eternities—therefore alwy cannot signify eternity. 1 Cor. ii. 7, “The hidden wisdom which God ordained before the worlds mpw twy alwvwv began.” Eph. iii. 9, “ The mystery which from the beginning of the worlds atw twv aíūrwy hath been hid in God.” Col. i. 26, “ The mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations,” απω των αιώνων και απω των YEVEDV. We read also of the cares, the wisdom, the men, the things of this alwv (aion,) implying another; and of the alwves(aions) to come, implying more than one future alwy (aion.) But two or more eternities is a contradiction.
3d. We read of the end of alwv (aion)—but eternity can have no end--therefore alwv (aion) cannot signify eternity.