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sion of that Millennial kingdom which the circumstances show believers at that time expected.
Nor did the crucifixion of our blessed Lord destroy the hopes of his disciples, founded, as they were, on that "sure word of Prophecy" to which the Church now gives so little heed. While he lay in the sealed tomb, indeed, these hopes might seem almost annihilated; and, uncertain whether He were not still within Death's dark domain, the two who journeyed towards Emmaus, in the sorrow of their hearts, could only say, "we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.” (Luke xxiv. 21.) But no sooner were their agitated bosoms calmed by the assurance of their Lord's resurrection, than the divine promises concerning the erection of his Kingdom recurred to their recollection. The tidings that He lived again at once testified the acceptance of His sacrifice, and proved beyond a doubt, that, in Him, Heaven's most glorious prophecies might yet be accomplished. Their faith in the truth of God's word now remained unshaken; and again they confidently trusted that the Messiah should fulfil all that the prophets had foretold concerning Him. They questioned not the certainty of the divine predictions, although they were ignorant of the period of their accomplishment. Thus immediately before Christ's ascension to heaven, and after he had been with them forty days-"speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God”-their last question to him was, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ?” Acts i. 3, 6. Nor did the Saviour reprove them for cherishing expectations of a nature inconsistent with his design, as he did on occasions when this was really the case, and as might certainly have been expected had their views been as erroneous as many suppose. On the contrary, he gave them every reason to believe, (had the slightest doubt rested on their minds,) that their hopes were indeed well-founded, but that it was not for them" to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power." The passage clearly proves, that, at the period of the Saviour's ascension, his apostles did expect that he should personally restore the kingdom to Israel,—and it also proves, (which is to us of more consequence,) that our Lord fully sanctioned These expectations, although he gave them no information the time of their accomplishment.
NEW TESTAMENT PREDICTIONS OF CHRIST'S RETURN AT THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL.
ALTHOUGH in Scripture no express date is given at which the Saviour shall return, and although of that day or hour knoweth no man, yet both He and his apostles have furnished us with certain intimations of a general nature, and of its connection with certain events which prove it to be at the commencement of the Millennium. This is evident from His own declarations, as recorded, Mat. xxiii. xxiv. XXV. and corresponding passages of other gospels, which, being the most direct intimations the Saviour himself has left of the time of his coming, merit our especial notice. Any consistent explanation of these chapters seems altogether incompatible with those systems which place the personal return of Christ subsequent to the Millennium. Much ingenuity has been exercised, and the most incongruous theories of explication have been formed, to bring them into subjection to the current theology on the subject of the glorious advent. With a most culpable negligence of, or recklessness to, the Saviour's statements, these predic tions have been tortured into many a meaning, and moulded into many a shape, by those professing reverence for his character and obedience to his laws. One has not scrupled to assert, that our blessed Lord used a pious fraud in deceiving his disciples; while others have sinfully imposed upon his language meanings it can never bear. Some have represented the Coming of which he here speaks, as having taken place in the destruction of Jerusalem: others have, with no less inconsistency, supposed His coming to have been in the after extension of the Roman arms; and although it is to be "with the clouds of heaven," it has even been interpreted to mean "the successful preaching of the gospel!" Some again have represented the whole as referring to the consummation of all things; while others jumble together what is said of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple with a supposed reference to the consummation of all things, as spoken of indiscriminately! All this inconsistency and confusion appears to
arise from a determination to bring the predictions into accordance with preconceived ideas of the time of the Saviour's coming.* Attention to them will at once demonstrate the fallacy of all these opinions, and prove that our Lord's return is at the period of the restoration of his ancient people, before the Millennium, as recorded of the Messiah by the Prophets.
For the last time, Jesus was now in the Temple, and exposed with unsparing severity the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees. He reproves them for their hardness of heart, in persecuting the prophets and rejecting Himself, and denounces upon them coming judgments. He then utters the tender expostulation and lamentation, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. [Observe what follows.] Behold your House is left unto you desolate, FOR say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord." Matt. xxiii. 37-39. He shall not be seen of them
* When Dr. Hamilton occupied so large a portion of his book with the real and supposed discrepancies of Millenarian writers, respecting unrevealed or little known details, he could not be ignorant, that, with half the zeal and industry he has displayed in this, he might easily have formed a volume of such comments upon ⚫ the palpable inconsistencies of approved Antimillenarian authors, with respect to the Scripture declarations concerning the Coming itself. But if, instead of referring directly to the divine standard as the test of our opinions, such a mode of reasoning were adopted in other cases, every truth revealed might be easily overthrown by simply arraying against it the conflicting opinions of men. Conclusions unfavourable to the doctrine of our Lord's Millennial reign, drawn from such premises, are not more admissible than would be the attempt to disprove the reality of His resurrection or ascension, by adducing the fact that his disciples afterwards disputed about the necessity of circumcision. But tt may be proper still to remind the Reverend Doctor, that, if the inconsistencies of its friends can be received as evidence against the truth of any doctrine, they must bear with much greater force against that system which has long been openly espoused, and concerning which full opportunity has been thus afforded to its advocates, of maturing, comparing, and correcting their opinions; than against that which has only recently been rescued from the oblivion to which for ages it had been consigned, and with the details of which Christians are yet but imperfectly acquainted.
"benceforth" till a certain time. As they then saw Him personally, so their not seeing Him "henceforth," for a specific period, must be in the same sense, and therefore implies His personal absence in the interim. But the duration of this absence is coeval with that of the Temple's desolation: "Behold your House is left unto you desolate, FOR, [the reason why it will be so, "for"] I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth.' Still, however, both are only for a limited time, "TILL" they shall call Him Blessed. This clearly refers not to the individuals immediately addressed. These were the Scribes and Pharisees, on whom He had just denounced a "woe" of condemnation, as men who could not "escape the damnation of hell." ver. 33. Never, therefore, will such call Him "blessed." They would not do so at the overthrow of their city; they will not do so when raised to punishment. But they were the rulers, and therefore the representatives of the Jewish nation, who, at their conversion, will, indeed, bless that Saviour they have so long execrated: “ ye shall not see me, henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord." This exclamation, taken from the 118th Psalm, had shortly before been shouted by the multitude as He entered Jerusalem; (Matt. xxi. 9.) and was, on this occasion, repeated by the children in the Temple. (xxi. 15.) Jesus now declares that He shall thus be welcomed by them at his Return-for they shall say "Blessed is He that cometh." Their conversion will not, therefore, take place till the time of His Coming,-till willing cordially to hail Him as their long-expected Messiah. He would not " henceforth" be seen by them till then; but at the commencement of the Millennium, when this moral change is effected on their hearts, and when the desolation of the Temple, (which was to be coeval with His absence,) shall cease-being rebuilt as we have already shown after their restoration-then He shall Return,-personally return, and shall be again seen by His ancient people, who acknowledging him as the "sent" of the Lord, will now joyfully exclaim, "Blessed is He that COMETH in the name of the Lord."
Having delivered this important prediction, the Saviour now departed from the Temple; and, followed by his disciples, (ruminating on the import of the denunciation just
uttered,) He retired to the mount of Olives, the place of his frequent resort: "And Jesus went out, and departed from the Temple; and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the Temple." (xxiv. 1.) It was indeed a magnificent structure; and as they contemplated its threatened desolation, they were ready to exclaim, in the pathetic language perhaps, as also in the spirit of prophetic lamentation, "Our holy and beautiful House, where our fathers praised thee!" They point to its superlative grandeur, as if imploring its preservation from the impending destruction, saying, "Master, see what manner of stones, and what buildings are here." (Mark xiii. 1.) This, however, only calls forth a repetition of the afflicting prediction: "And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto There shall not be left here you, one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down." 2. This solemn asseveration of their Master at once negatived their hopes, and prevented farther importunity for the preservation of the Temple. Assured with certainty of its fate, and remembering the prediction He had so recently delivered within its walls, they now inquire concerning both the commencement and termination of the predicted, desolation : "And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy Coming, and of the end of the world?" By recalling to our remembrance what Jesus had foretold before leaving the Temple-a prediction which would make no transient impression on the minds of His Jewish disciples-we shall be better prepared to understand the important questions now addressed to Him, and the grounds which suggested their combination. Unconnected as these questions must at first sight appear, they are, we humbly apprehend, both naturally and intimately connected. The Saviour, had just assured them of the destruction of the Temple: and, as we have already shown, had shortly before predicted its continued desolation till the time of His coming. The disciples, therefore, here first ask, "when its destruction will take place: "when shall these things be?"-the temple's being utterly "thrown down;" and they next inquire concerning the termination of this desolation, by