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prophecy in the three Evangelists be well considered, there was no more to come but the compassing Jerusalem with armies. Well, therefore, might St. John, when he saw so many anti-prophets spring up, say, “Hereby we know that it is the last time.”
Again, because the desolation of the Jewish state and temple would be a great confirmation of the Christian faith ; therefore the believing Jews, whom nothing could so much stagger as the standing glory of that temple and religion, are encouraged by the nearness of that time of expectation when so great a confirmation of their faith of the Messias already come should appear. Heb. 8., 23, 25, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching ;" namely, that day in which you shall be sufficiently confirmed. So I take the 35th and 37th verses of the same chapter, “ Cast not away your confdence, which hath great recompense of reward : for ye have need of patience-For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” What He is this. but even He whom Daniel says, “ The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” (Dan. ix., 26.) For even as the destruction of Papal Rome would be a great confirmation of the Reformed Christian who hath forsaken the communion of that religion, the continuation and supposed stability of the glory thereof being that wherewith their proctors endeavour most to shake and stagger us; so was the destruction of the Jewish state and temple to be unto those Jews who had withdrawn themselves from that body and religion whereof they once had been, to embrace the new faith of the Messiah preached by the Apostles. For if at the end of the seventy weeks approaching, the legal sanctuary were rased, and the Jewish state dissolved, then it would be apparent indeed that Messiah was already come and slain for sin, because this was infallibly to come to pass within the compass, and before the expiration of those seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years,
allotted for the last continuance of that city and sanctuary, when it should be restored after the captivity of Babylon. Not without cause, therefore, doth St. Peter, in his second Epistle, say to the Christian Jews,
“ We have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto
take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts." Yea, and besides, because Jesus, as well as Daniel, had prophesied of the approaching desolation of that city and temple, mentioning all the signs that were to usher it. If the event, when time came, should fall out accordingly, then must Jesus of Nazareth, who foretold the foregoing signs thereof, be approved as a true prophet, by whom of a truth the Lord hath spoken.
Now for the last place that I mean to allege; because the fall and shock of that state might shake the whole nation, wheresoever dispersed, unless God spared the Christians, and made them alone happy in that woful day; or rather, because Christ had foretold that one of the next fore-runners thereof should be a general persecution of Christians, as it happened under Nero; therefore the remembrance of the end of these seventy weeks, so near the expiring, was a good caution to all the Christian Jews to watch and pray. To this sense, therefore, I take that of Peter, 1 Peter, iv., 7, “ The end of all approacheth : be ye
therefore sober, and watch unto prayer : the end of all your commonwealth, legal worship, temple, and service, is now within a few
therefore sober, and watch unto prayer, that ye may be the more happy in that day of vengeance and wrath upon our nation. Neither need we wonder that this “ desolation" should be called “the end,” for our Saviour himself taught them so to speak, in his prophecy concerning it, as may appear if we consider the antithesis in St. Luke, chap. xxi., v. 9, “ Ye shall hear of wars and commotions, but the end is not by and by.” Verse 29, “ But when ye
"* that is,
years : be
* Παντων δε το τελω ηγγικε, κ. τ. λ.
rusalem encompassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh."
And thus much I thought to add to my former Discourse of Latter Times, lest, through ignorance thereof, we might incline to that little better than blasphemous conceit, which Baronius by name,
and some other of Rome's followers, have taken up, viz., That the Apostles, in such like passages as we have noted, were mistaken, as believing that the end of the world should have been in their own time, God of purpose so ordering it, to cause in them a greater measure of zeal and contempt of worldly things. An opinion, I think, not well beseeming a Christian :
For, first, whatsoever we imagine the Apostles might here conceive in their private opinions as men, yet we must know that the Holy Ghost, by whose instinct they wrote the Scriptures, is the Spirit of truth; and therefore what is there affirmed must be true, though the penman himself understood it not.
Second, it was not possible the Apostles should expect the end of the world to be in their own time, when they knew so many things were to come to pass before it as could not be fulfilled in so short a time. As, 1st, the desolation of Jerusalem, and that not till the seventy weeks were expired. 2d, The Jews to be carried captives over all nations, and Jerusalem to be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled. 3d, That in the meantime the Roman empire must be ruined, and that which hindered taken out of the way. 4th, That, after that was done, the Man of sin should be revealed, and domineer his time in the temple and Church of God. 5th, After all this, viz., when the fulness of the Gentiles should come in, that Israel should be received again to mercy. 6th, That Christ should reign in his Church on earth so long till he had put
down all rule, all authority, and power, and subjected all his enemies under his feet, before he should subdue the last enemy, which is Death, and surrender his kingdom into
the hands of his Father. 7th, That the time should be so long, that in the last days should come scoffers, saying, “Where is the promise of his coming ?” How is it possible they should imagine the day of doom to be so near, when all these things must first come to pass, and not one of them was yet fulfilled ? And how could the expectation of this day be made a ground of exhortation, and a motive to watchfulness and prayer, as though it could suddenly and unawares surprise them, which had so many wonderful alterations to forego it, and none of them yet come to pass ?
I have spoken hitherto of what was revealed to all the Apostles in general. But if we take St. John apart from the rest, and consider what was afterward revealed to him in Patmos, we shall find in his apocalyptical visions, besides other times more obscurely intimated, an express prophecy of no less than a thousand years, which, whatever it mean, cannot be a small time, and must be fulfilled in this world, and not in the world to come. Notwithstanding all this, I make no question but, even in the Apostles' times, many of the believing Gentiles, mistaking the Apostles' admonitions to the Jews of the end of their state approaching, thought the end of the whole world and the day of the Lord had been also near; whom, therefore, St. Paul, 2 Thess., ii., beseeches to be better informed, because that day should not come until the APOSTASY came first, and the Man of sin were revealed.
THE FOURTH PARTICULAR, VIZ., THE WARRANT OR PROOF OF THIS
PROPHECY. WHEN THE SPIRIT SPEAKS EXPRESSLY, AND
Now I come to the fourth particular of this prophecy, the warrant or proof thereof. The Spirit hath foretold it øntws, or in express words, in some place or other of Divine writ. The Spirit told Peter, Acts x., 19, “ Behold, three men seek thee.” The Spirit said, Acts xiii., 2, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul.” The Spirit forbade St. Paul to preach in Asia. The Spirit said that the Jews should bind St. Paul at Jerusalem, Acts xxi., 11. But in all these the Spirit spake not ontws, for these things were nowhere written; and, therefore, what it spake it spake apintws, only by secret instinct or inspiration. But that which the Spirit speaks in the written Word, that it speaks ontws, verbatim, expressly. If, therefore, concerning this APOSTASY of Christian believers, to be in the Latter Times, the Spirit speaketh Ønows, then is it to be found somewhere in the Old Testament, for there alone the Spirit could be said to speak gnows, or verbatim, in the Apostles' time. Having therefore so good a hint given us, let us see if we can find where the Spirit speak, eth of this matter so expressly.