Page images

plication;" that they pray « in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavereth is as a wave of the sea driven of the wind and tossed—let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord;" that they pray with intense desire, being “ instant in prayer;” that they pray in humble submission, saying, “ Not my will, but thine be done.” 1

Finally, they should watch in reference to the results of prayer. Like Habakkuk, they would “stand on their watch, and set them upon the tower to see what he will say to them.” “I will direct my prayer to thee,” says David, “and

..”? Christians should look after their prayers, and hear what the Lord will speak, observe what the Lord will do; that if he grant what they ask, they may be thankful ; that if he deny, they may be patient and humbly inquire the cause; that if he defer, they may continue to pray and wait, and not faint. They should look up, or look out, as they who have shot an arrow, looking to see how near it has come to the mark. We lose much of the comfort of our prayers for want of observing the returns of them.”3 So much, then, for the illustration of the two duties which the Apostle here enjoins: Sobriety, and watching unto prayer.

look up.



Let us now, secondly, attend to the motive by which he enforces his exhortation to these duties. “The end of all things is at hand;" therefore “be sober, and watch unto prayer."

“ The end of all things" is a phrase, which, taken by itself, most naturally calls up the idea of the final termination of the present order of things, which is so often mentioned in the sacred writings; when He who has established it shall proclaim, “It is done,” and the dead shall live, and the living shall be changed, and all shall be judged; when death shall be swallowed up in life, and time be no more, having been lost in eternity; when “ the heavens and the earth that now are shall be dissolved, the heavens passing away with a great noise, the earth also, and the works that are therein being burnt up, the very element melting with fervent heat; and the new heavens and the new earth, wherein righteousness is, and shall dwell, shall take their place.” These solemn truths are well fitted to operate as powerful motives on all who believe them, to be sober, and to watch unto prayer.

1 John is. 24. Rom. xii. 1. Agizonu da teular. Jude 20. James i. 6,7. Col. iv, 1. 2 Habak, ii. 1. Psal. v. 3.

3 Matthew Henry.

6 What manner of

persons ought we to be,” says the Apostle ; “ in all holy conversation and godliness,” “ looking for, and hastening to, the coming of this day of God.” “ Wherefore, beloved, seeing that we look for such things, be diligent, that ye

be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless.” “He who,” to use the language of a great writer, “has seen, as through a telescope, the glorious appearance of the Supreme Judge, the solemn state of his majestic person, the splendid pomp of his magnificent and vastly numerous retinue, the obsequious throng of glorious celestial creatures, doing homage to their eternal king; the swift flight of his royal guards sent forth into the four winds to gather the elect, and covering the face of the heavens with their spreading wings; the universal attention of all to that loud-sounding trumpet that shakes the pillars of the world, pierces the inward caverns of the earth, and resounds through every part of the encircling heavens; the many myriads of joyful expectants arising, changing, putting on glory, taking wing, and contending upwards to join themselves to the triumphant heavenly host; the judgment set; the books opened; the frightful, amazed looks of surprised wretches; the equal administration of the final judgment; the adjudication of all to their eternal states; the heavens rolled up as a scroll; the earth and all things therein consumed and burnt up:"!

Howe. Vanity of man as mortal.

may be

Surely that man must be sober, deeply, calmly considerate, knowing how present character and conduct is to affect future events; and maintaining a steady restraint and moderation of all his vicious passions in reference to a world, the fashion of which is thus to pass away: Surely he must watch unto prayer, watch and pray always, that he accounted worthy to escape “ the perdition of ungodly men,” and “stand before the Son of man," in the judgment. This is a powerful motive, fitted to influence the minds and hearts and conduct of all believers in all countries and ages till the end come.

But there are obvious difficulties in this mode of interpretation. “ The end of all things is said to be at hand;" that is, very near. Now, eighteen centuries have wellnigh run their course since these words were uttered, and the end of the world has not come—nay, when we think of the number and magnitude of the events that must take place before it arrives, we cannot concur with those who are of opinion that it is very soon to take place. “ The end is not yet."

To meet and remove this difficulty, it has been remarked by some, that the age of the Messiah is the last age; that no such great event as the flood, or the giving of the law, or the coming of the Word in flesh, stands between them who live under that age and the end of the world ; so that it may be said to be near all who live under the gospel economy; by others that it is near, if not in the calculations of time, in those of eternity, with him, with whom one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day; and by a third class, that as the state of every man is fixed at death, that as death leaves him judgment will find him, the end of all things to him is not far off. I must say that these modes of getting over the difficulty do not appear to me to be satisfactory; and that the Apostle's obvious design is to intimate that the events expressed in the phrase, “ the end of all things,” were just about to take place.

Their view of the matter is still less satisfactory, who tell

us that the Apostles really did expect the immediate dissolution of the world. We know there were persons who so misunderstood such statements as that before us; but we find the Apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Thessalonians, warning them against such a mistake, and telling them that the day of Christ, in the sense of the day of the last judgment, was not at hand. Besides, it is not with what the Apostles, exercising their own unassisted judgments, expected, but with what the inspiring Spirit spoke by them, that we have to do.

After some deliberation, I have been led to adopt the opinion of those, that “the end of all things” here is the entire and final end of the Jewish economy in the destruction of the Temple and City of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the holy people. That was at hand; for this epistle seems to have been written a very short while before these events took place, not improbably after the commencement of " the wars and rumours of war," of which our Lord spake. This view will not appear strange to any one who has carefully weighed the terms in which our Lord had

predicted these events, and the close connexion which the fulfilment of these predictions had with the interests and duties of Christians, whether in Judea or in Gentile countries.

It is quite plain, that, in our Lord's predictions, the expressions “the end,” and probably “the end of the world,” are used in reference to the entire dissolution of the Jewish economy. The events of that period were very minutely foretold; and our Lord distinctly stated that the existing generation should not pass away till all things, respecting “ this end,” should be fulfilled. This was to be season of suffering to all; of trial, severe trial, to the followers of Christ; of dreadful judgment on his Jewish opposers, and of glorious triumph to his religion. To this period there are repeated references in the apostolical epistles : “ Know


[ocr errors]

1 2 Thess. ii. 1-3. 2 Matt. xxiv. 3, 6, 14, 34. Mark xiii. 30. Luke xxi. 32.

ing the time,” says the Apostle Paul, “ that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” “Be patient,” says the Apostle James; "stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” “ The judge standeth before the door.”1 Our Lord's predictions must have been very familiar to the minds of Christians at the time this was written. They must have been looking forward with mingled awe and joy, fear and hope, to the accomplishment; “ looking for the things which were coming upon the earth ;” and it was peculiarly natural for Peter to refer to these events, and to refer to them in words similar to those used by our Lord, as he was one of the disciples, who, sitting with his Lord in full view of the city and temple, heard these predictions uttered.

The Christians inhabiting Judea had a peculiar interest in these predictions and their fulfilment. But all Christians had a deep interest in them. The Christians of the regions in which those to whom Peter wrote, were chiefly converted Jews. As Christians, they had cause to rejoice in the prospect of the accomplishment of these predictions, as greatly confirming the truth of Christianity, and removing some of the greatest obstructions in the way of its progress; the persecutions of the Jews, and the confounding, in the mind of the Gentiles, Christianity with Judaism, viewing it as merely a Jewish sect. But while they rejoiced, they had cause to rejoice with trembling, as their Lord had plainly intimated that it was to be a season of very great trial to his friends, as well as of vengeance against his enemies. “The end of all things” which was at hand, seems to be the same thing as the judgment of the quick and the dead, which the Lord was ready to enter on, the judgment time for which was come; which was to begin with the house of God, and then to be executed fully on those who obeyed not the gospel of God, the unbelieving Jews; in which the

i Rom. xiii, 11, 12. James v. 8, 9.

« PreviousContinue »