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with propriety be applied to the subversion and extinction of any city or state, however great and powerful. But the fact is, that these very same metaphors do frequently in Scripture denote the destruction of nations, cities, and kingdoms. Thus Isaiah *, speaking of the destruction of Babylon, says, “ Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate ; and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven, and the constellations thereof, shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.” And in almost the same terms he describes the punishment of the Idumeanst, and of Sennacherib and his
people... Ezekiel speaks in the same manner of Egyptg; and Daniel, of the slaughter of the Jews|l; and what is still more to the point, the prophet Joel describes this very destruction of Jerusalem in terms very similar to those of Christ. “I will shew wonders in the heavens; and in the earth, blood and fire, and 'pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord shall come*."
* Ch. xiii. 9.
$ Ch. xxxii: 7, 8.
Ch. xxiv. 6. | C. li, 6.
heavens; * Bishop Warburton. # Div. Leg. v. 2. b. iv. $. 4.
It is evident then that the phrases here made use of, of “ the sun being darkened, and the moon not giving her light, and the stars falling from heaven, and the powers of heaven being shaken,” are figures meant to express the fall of cities, kingdoms, and nations; and the origin of this sort of language is well illustrated by a late very learned prelate-f, who tells us, that “ in ancient hieroglyphic writing, the sun, moon, and stars, were used to represent states and empires, kings, queens, and nobility; their eclipse or extinction denoted temporary disasters, or entire overthrow, &c. So the prophets in like manner call kings and empires, by the names of the heavenly luminaries. Stars falling from the firmament are employed to denote the destruction of the nobility and other great men; insomuch, that in reality the prophetic style seems to be a speaking hieroglyphic."
* Ch.ii. 30, 31.
In the same manner, in the next verse; those awful words, “ then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory," seem applicable solely to the last advent of Christ to judge the world; and yet it is certain, that in their primary signification they refer to the manifestation of Christ's power and glory, in coming to execute judgment on the guilty Jews, by the total overthrow of their temple, their city, and their government; for so our Lord himself explains what.is meant by the coming of the Son of man, in the 27th, 28th, and 37th verses of this chapter. And when the prophet Daniel is predicting this very appearance of Christ to punish the Jews, he describes him as “ coming in the clouds of heaven, and there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom *.
The same remark will hold with regard to the 31st verse:
“ he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four
* Daniel, vii, 14.
winds, from one end of the earth even to the other." These words, also, though they seem as if they could belong to no other subject than the last day, yet most assuredly relate principally to the great object of this
prophecy, the destruction of Jerusalem; after which dreadful event, we are here told that Christ will send forth his angels; that is, his niéssengers or ministers, (for so that word strictly signifies*) to preach his gospel to all the world, which preaching is called by the prophets, “ lifting up the voice like a trumpett; and they shall gather together his elect (that is, shall collect disciples and converts to the faith) from the four winds, from the four quarters of the earth;” or, as St. Luke expresses it, “ from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south 1.."
Our Lord then goes on to point out the time when all these things shall take place, and thus answers the other question put to him by the disciples, “ Tell us, when shall these things be?" “ Now learn, says he, a parable of the fig-tree : When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh; so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but
* Vid. Haggai, i. 13. Malach. ii. 7. iii. 1. Matth, xi, 10. Mark, 1, 2. Luke, viii, 27. + Isaiah, lviii. 1. # Luke, xiii. 29. VOL. II.
words shall not pass away.”
my The only observation necessary to be made here is, that the time when all these predictions were to be fulfilled is here limited to a certain period. They were to be accomplished before the generation of men then existing should pass away.
And accordingly all these events did actually take place within forty years after our Saviour delivered this prophecy; and this by the
is an unanswerable proof, that every thing our Lord had been saying in the preceding part of the chapter related principally, not to the day of judgment, or to any other very remote event, but to the destruction of Jerusalem, which did in reality happen before that generation had passed away
“ But of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels of heaven, but my