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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 agreeable to this sense of this question. Ile 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 shown, he calls by these names, and which he also distinguishes from his coming to the last judgment, and 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. 9–10. 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 xii. 19-21; Mark iv. 26-32. And it is very manisest, 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
§ 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; showing, 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, showing 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.
§ 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.
93. First. He foretold great events for the benefit of his church, that he would bring to pass; Job xiv. 12, 13, 14, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the 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,
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 1 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 forcknowledge 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 the shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of m. ne, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine. Therefore, said I, that he shall
I take of mine, and shall show 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—many of them so strange and wonderful, and in themselves so exceedingly unlikely-should exactly come to pass; and that God's providence should so wonderfully confirm his words, beyond those of any other prophet that ever had been in the world is extremely unreasonable ; especially considering the following things :
$ 8. Ist. That God had of old given this as a sign, by which his people might know a true prophet: viz. the coming to pass of the things foretold by him. And this rule is annexed by Moses to that great promise, which God gave of the Messiah, Deut. xviii. 15, &c. " The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken. According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb, in the day of the assembly, say. ing, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God; neither let me see this great fire any more that I die not. And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken un. to my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. But the prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods ; even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, how shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet
speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass ; that is the thing which the Lord hath not spo
but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously. Thou shalt not be afraid of him."--Now, therefore, since Jesus professed to be the Messiah, and the great Prophet foretold and promised by God in this place, and uttered so many great and wonderful prophecies; it might be expected, if he was a mere pretender, and spake presumptuously, and uttered what the Lord had not spoken, that God should not have copfirmed his prophecies, in his providence; but, in that case, would have given his people opportunity to refute, by this rule, his pretences
§ 9. 2d. That foretelling future events, is spoken of by God, as one great thing wherein the Messiah should differ from the false gods and fals prophets, and vain pretenders of the Heathens. In that great prophecy of the kingdom of the Messiah, beginning with the fortieth chapter of Isaiah to the end of the book, the foretelling of future events, in such a manner as to show, that the person who foretels, does foresee, and has a view of futurity, is often mentioned as a divine prerogative, and therefore as a good evidence, that he that does so is a divine person, or speaks by divine authority. Therefore the prophets and gods of the Heathens, are often challenged on this head, and the proof of their authority often put upon this issue ; Isaiah xli. 21–28; xlii. 8,9 ; xlii. 9-12; xliv. 6-8; xlv. 3, and 21 ; xlvi. 10 ; xlviii. 14.- In this prophecy it is declared, that herein the Messiah should differ from all vain pretenders; (see chap. xli. 27; and xlii. at the beginning; compared with chap. xli. 21 -29.) Now, therefore, is it credible, that God would so order it, that one who falsely pretended to be the Messiah, should, in so high a degree, have this honour, which God had mentioned as the great and distinguishing honour which he would put on the true Messiah, as his Elect, in whom his soul delighted ?
§ 10. 3d. That the foretelling of future events, as by his own knowledge, and as events that are to be accomplished by his own power, is spoken of by God, as his great prerogative, and as a good and sure evidence of the divinity of the person who can do thus; and God speaks thus, in those very places in which he is foretelling the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah xli. 21--23. “ Produce your cause, saith the Lord ; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring forth, and show us what shall happen : Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye arc Gods." Verse 26. • Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know, and before time, that we may say, he is righteous ?" Yea, there is none that showeth ; yea, there is none that declareth ; yea, there is none that heareth your words." Then, in the next words, God promises the Messiah.