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were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away ; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field ; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill ; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
The Lord illustrates what He had been saying by what they might see in the case of the fig tree which was so common in that country, and indeed all the trees. The budding of these is not a surer sign of the approach of summer than is the occurrence of the things He had spoken of a sign, first, of the fall of Jerusalem, and afterwards of the final judgment. Doubtless the Disciples never saw the trees putting forth their leaves without being reminded of His words. “The kingdom of God,” ? that manifestation of the Divine power, is nigh at hand.” The Lord speaks first concerning the former part of His twofold prophecy. “All these things” refers to all the things coming upon Jerusalem. He declares that the then generation of men should not pass till all He had spoken concerning Jerusalem was fulfilled. Within forty years from that time, so an historian of their own records, Jerusalem was destroyed. And still there are, as all the world knows, representatives everywhere of that “homeless race,” reserved in a standing miracle ; 5 and that nation shall not pass away till all that may yet remain to be accomplished shall be finally fulfilled. It seemed unlikely enough. There were as yet no tokens of it to the outward eye; nothing which to an ordinary observer could indicate the convulsion about to happen. This volcano slumbered and slept, but it was a volcano still. The Lord knew what was preparing, and would soon burst forth.
So He bids His servants be prepared, and watch that they be not taken by surprise. They were not to suppose that this state of things would last for ever because it had lasted
1 St. Luke xxi. 29.
distinct questions : v. 34 nefers to tho
5 See The Christian Year, Fifth Sunday in Lent.
long. Though their state seemed stable as God's ordinances of Heaven and earth, it should pass away. Yea sooner, as in His former proverb, should Heaven and earth pass, than
, Iis words fail of their accomplishment. Heaven and earth indeed, as now we see them, are destined to pass away,” to give place to a new Heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness; but not so with the stable and eternal words of Christ, which shall all be fulfilled in their season. Then the Lord turns to the latter part of His double prophecy. Neither the day nor the hour of His second coming and of the end of the world is known to any, though some, notwithstanding these words, and unabashed by former failures, have presumptuously taken upon themselves to fix the time of this. But God has not thought fit to reveal it even to the Angels in Heaven who are our superiors, and who, one might think, would not need the same discipline as we who are on the earth. It was not made known even to the Son when on earth, when He took upon Him our nature, and increased in wisdom as well as in stature. It was not in His commission to impart this 1 St. Luke xvi. 17.
between. To some moreover in every ? Seo 2 St. Pet. iii. 7, 10. The age it is most literally true; and tbat whole chapter is a commentary on our not merely in the uncertainty of life, Lord's words, which seem the echo of but in the shortness of time, constill earlier prophecies. See Ps. cii. sidering the great work we have to 25-27; Is. li. 6; Heb. xii. 26, 27; 1 do. Compare St. Matt. iv. 17. It St. Pet. i. 24, 25.
was true when the Lord said it. It 3 It is a remarkable fact that the is true still whenever His servants Temple then standing in its majesty, repeat it. It will be true till there which seemed almost to mock the shall be no longer need of the prayer, effects of time, was overthrown in " Thy Kingdom come.” The quesspite of the efforts of the enemy to tion we are concerned with is, not prevent its overthrow.
so much what St. Paul meant at the * The prevailing impression in the time by the saying referred to above early Church of the Lord's speedy (which became a sort of Christian return is referred to and corrected by watchword, a Church proverb), but St. Paul (2 Thess. ii. 2) who had him- what meant the superintending Spirit self said (Phil, iv. 5) “The Lord is by whose inspiration he wrote it, not at hand,” and by St. Peter (2 St. Pet. for that Church of the Philippians iii. 3, 4, 8, 9, 15). Such a passage as only, but for the universal Church to that in Joel ii. 1, is the prophetic the end of time. warning of Him who seeth the end 5 Though the union of the Divine from the beginning. And it is ever and of the human nature in the pertrue ; iu its primary, or in its second. son of our Lord is an unfathomable ary meaning, or in some of the shales mystery, yet we may venture to say
information. And He proceeds to remind them of that warning which they had heard from His lips before, and which He here repeats. The days of Noe repeat themselves in the latter days. They knew not, though they might have known. Those who are immersed in the business and pleasures of the world take no more note of Christ's Church, and its witness to the world, than those old-world unbelievers did of Noah's ark.
THE SAME SUBJECT —continued.
St. Matthew xxiv. 42-44. St. Luke xxi. 31–36. St. Mark xiii. 31-37.
St. Matthew xxiv. 45–51.
St. Matt. xxiv.-Watch therefore : for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready : for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
St. Luke xxi.—And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
St. Mark xiii.—For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter
that there were things He did not 2 St. Luke xvii. 26, 27, 35, 36. know as man, which yet as God He 3 The Greek form of the Hebrew could not but know.
Noah. Acts i. 6, 7; St. Matt. xxviii. 18. * " Let us not wait for the last With reference to which Grutius says, trumpet ere we prepare ourselves for “ As then after His resurrection He judgment. The sound of it in the received all power, so also all know- Gospel is even now heard by all those ledge." It is to be understood of the who have the ears of the heart."-perfected humanity of our Saviour. Quesnel.
to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning : lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
St. Matt. xxiv.-Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming ; and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken ; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Lord illustrates and enforces the necessity for watchfulness by repeating certain brief parables, which once before when speaking on the same subject He had uttered.' They whose office it was to admonish others must likewise take heed to themselves; take heed lest natural and lawful appetites degenerate into excess, like a vessel that is over full; and the necessary cares of this life be allowed to exclude all care for the life to come. They must keep under their bodies and bring them into subjection. They must not set their heart upon these things. Otherwise the Day of judgment, or (what is in effect to each the same thing) the day of death, shall surprise them. This is likened to a net drawn over the surface of the country, which takes the unwary bird. To watchfulness must be added prayer; prayer at every season, that they may be accounted worthy 5
1 St. Luke xii. 39, 40, 42-46. Lectt. Alford. OCI., CCII. “Many of these His last 2 1 Thess. v. 1-4. Grotius notes sayings .. are solemn repetitions that St. Paul often uses the same of, and references to, things already words as St. Luke. said by Him. That this was the case 3 Prov. i. 17. in the present instance, is almost de- * See the original. Ps. lv. 17. monstrable, from the implicit allusion 5 St. Luke xx. 35. A great part in St. Luke xii. 36, to the return from of our worthiness consists, as Grotius the wedding, which is here expanded here remarks, in freely confessing into the parable of ch xxv. 1.0”— our own unworthiness.
to escape the coming danger, and to stand with acceptance before their Lord on His return. He likens Himself to an Householder who should during his temporary absence give orders to his servants, setting each a task to do against his return; and to the porter or doorkeeper in particular, who
; answers to the ministers? of Christ's Word and Sacraments, he assigns the duty of watchfulness, that he may be always on the look-out for his Lord's return, and wake up the rest, that they be not caught napping. To this end the Ministers of Christ must be ever on the watch. The night (the time when men are mostly asleep, and least of all upon the watch 3) was divided among the Jews into four periods or watches,-nine in the evening, midnight, three of the morning, and again six of the clock, called by those names in the brief parable. They may intimate to us the four seasons in the life of man, youth, middle age, full age, old age. In
' allusion perhaps to St. Peter's question on a former occasion, the Lord announces that this charge to watch is not for them only, and those who should succeed them in the office of the ministry, but for all. Yet He repeats the parable which speaks of the special responsibility of His overseers ; the special blessing upon the faithful and wise; the special judgment upon the evil. With the hypocrites shall be his portion, in unavailing sorrow and vexation.
THE WISE AND THE FOOLISH VIRGINS.
St. Matthew xxv. 1-5.
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them : but 11 St. John ii, 28. 2 Eze. iii. 17. 3 1 Thess. v.5-9; Rom. xiii. 11-14.
4 “ Four seasons fill the measure of the year, There are four seasons in the mind of man."
Keate, Sonnet on The Human Seasons. i St. Luke xii. 41.