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limited to that people or land, from those things that Christ says are the beginning of this tribulation, 7th and 8th verses, “ For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places; all these are the beginning of sorrows." Now it cannot be supposed that wars between other nations, and earthquakes and pestilences in other countries, can be signs and forerunners merely of a calamity upon the nation of the Jews, and troubles in their land.
§ 12. What has been said, is further confirmed by the 29th verse of the xxiv. of Matth. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days, shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the pow.ers of heaven shall be shaken;" i. e. immediately after the tribulation of those days, shall those great events be accomplished which are signified by those places in the prophets, that speak of the sun's being darkened, &c.; which you have often read and heard discourses of. It is observable that, almost throughout this whole discourse of Christ with his disciples, he refers to things that had been said by ancient prophets; and what Christ says, does not imply that what the prophets have said in those things, is to be understood literally; but he seems to intimate the contrary, viz. that their meaning is mysterious, in that expression, verse 15, “ Whoso readeth, let him understand.” The places in the prophets that speak of those things, have reference to the great events, and the wonderful changes in the face of things, that shall be brought to pass at the beginning of the glorious times of the church; and particularly the utter overthrow of the kingdom of Satan, and casting down all powers and authorities by which false religion has been maintained, and the putting out all their glory, as in Joel jii. 15. “The sun and moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining ;" and then the prophet goes on to speak of the glorious times of the church in the following verses, “ Jerusalem shall be holy, and the mountains shall drop down new wine,” &c.; and chap. ii. 30, 31, speaking of the time when God shall pour out his Spirit on all flesh, it is said, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come;" and Isai. xiii. 10, 11, “For the stars of heaven, and the constellations thereof shall not give their light, the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity, and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible; and verse 13,“ Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place;" agreeably lo what Christ says, “ The powers of the
heavens shall be shaken.” This had its first fulfilment in the destruction of Babylon, but has a further and more full accomplishment in the destruction of the spiritual Babylon, of which that was a type. Again, in Ezek. xxxii, 7, 8, it is said of Pharaoh and Egypt, “ And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heavens, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light; all the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord.” This will have a further accomplishment in the destruction of the city, of which it is said, in Rev. that it is spiritually called Egypt; and again, Isai. xxiv. 23, “ Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, before his ancients gloriously.” Possibly there may also appear some strange phenomena in the heavens, just before that time; by which there may be something of a literal accomplishment, as in the events signified by the pouring out of the fourth vial on the sun, there was both a figurative and literal accomplishment of it. See Lowman on the Revelations.
13. Now if we understand these days of tribulation, in the sense in which I have explained them, these great events do immediately follow them. If we understand them in a more limited and restrained sense, for the days of the church's suffering under Rome heathen, which was much the greatest under the last of the ten persecutions; then immediately after the tribulation of those days, there was a remarkable accomplishment of this, then was the sun and moon darkened, and the stars fell from heaven, and the powers of heaven were shaken in the sense of scripture prophecy, as appears by Rev. vi. 12, 13, 14, which speaks of these times, “ And I beheld, when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood, and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig-tree casteth ber untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island were moved out of their place.” But if we understand it in its greatest and full extent, it is to be understood for the whole time of Jerusalem's lying waste, and the church's suffering under the idolatrous persecuting Roman power. Then also those great events shall immediately follow, which are a yet much greater accomplishment of these things. These events seem plainly to be here spoken of.
§ 14. Thus the sun is darkened, and the moon turned into blood, and the stars fall, and the heavens are shaken, immediately after the captivity of God's people in the spiritual Babylon, just as these things came to pass with respect to the Babylonish em
pire, that the prophet Isaiah signifies by the very same expressions, Isai. xiii. 11, 12, 13, as soon as ever the seventy years of the Jewish captivity were ended.
§ 15. But if we understand Christ, by this time of tribulation, to mean only the time of the besieging and taking of the city of Jerusalem by the Romans, those things did not come to pass in any sense, so far as we have any account, immediately after those days. The overthrow of the heathen empire, the nearest event after this, signified by those expressions, was about two hundred and fifty years after this.
$ 16. When Christ had said that "immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened,” &c., he then adds in the next verse, (v. 30,) “ And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” “ Then shall appear," i. e. after these things are accomplished, not signifying that it should be immediately after, but that it should not be till all those things are first accomplished, as the apostle says, 2 Thes. ii. 2, “Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first,” &c. So Christ is here telling his disciples what great events are to be accomplished before his last coming, how that there should be a time of great tribulation, and then after that, there should be great signs in the heavens, in the sun, and in the moon and stars, and in the earth distress of nations: that is, there should be very great, extraordinary and wonderful things brought to pass, such as never were before, causing great and universal changes in the state of things in the world, such as never were seen before, and this; and then the next sign or wonder that shall be seen to this, shall be the sign of the Son of man, i. e. this shall be the last great revolution, or change of the state of things in the world before the last judgment. This darkening of the sun and moon, &c. shall be the last great step of providence towards finishing the state of things in this world, and setting up Christ's heavenly kingdom, excepting the personal appearing of the Son of God to judgment. The manner of expression, then shall such, or such, an event be, does not, in the manner in which the prophets use it, sigoify that it shall be immediately upon it. The prophets often express themselves after that manner, when the event is to be many ages after. Thus, when the prophets are foretelling the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, they often speak of the coming of Christ, as what shall be, (as they express themselves,) at that time, or in that day. So here, when Christ is speaking of the return of his people, from their captivity in the spiritual Babylon, he speaks of the second coming of the Mes
siah as what shall be at that time. For it shall be at the conclusion of the state of things that he introduced by that dispensation of providence, though much degenerated by an apostacy at the latter end of the period; as the first coming of Christ was at the conclusion of that state of the Jewish church into which it was brought after the return from the literal Babylon.
Corol. 1. Hence, when Christ, ver. 24, speaks of false prophets and false christs, that shall arise in this time of tribulation, that should show great signs and wonders, insomuch that if it were possible they should deceive the very elect, it is probable that Christ has respect not only to those false christs, and false prophets, that arose at, or near, the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, but that he has especial respect to the Great Antichrist; to the Pope and his clergy, that are from time to time stigmatized in the Revelations, by the name of the false prophet; and by the character of the false prophet, that works miracles; Rev. xvi. 13, 14; “ And I saw three unclean spirils, like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the niouth of the false prophet ; for they are the spirits of devils, working miracles ;” and by that of the false prophet, that works miracles, by which he deceives the world, as in chap. xix. 20, “ And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet, that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them, which had received the mark of the beast,” &c.; and in chap. xiii. 13, 14, “ And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven, on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles, which he had power to do in the sight of the beast;" and so, 2 Thes. ii. 9, 10, 11. “Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of uprighteousness for this cause God shall send them strong delusions." And again this great false prophet is a false christ ; for the false christs here spoken of, are those that personate Jesus, the true Christ, that was crucified. This false prophet pretends to be Christ's Vicar; and therein is Antichrist. He claiins that he is vested with all the power, and authority of Christ, as if he were Christ, or God on earth, and challenges the glory and worship due to Christ alone. Thus he has borns like a lamb, Rev. xiii. 11, “ And he sitteth in the tem. ple of God, showing biinself that he is God.” In that, be showell bimself that he is Christ, and therein exalteth himself above Christ. 2 Thes. ji. 4. Christ no where foretels the coming of Antichrist, if not here. It is not probable that Christ would omit so great an event as the coming of Antichrist, which is the principal subject of the New Testament prophecy, next to those events signified by the coming of Christ bimself. I say it is not proba
ble that Christ would omit so great an event in those predictions, which he is giving his disciples, of the great events that should come to pass in his church till his second coming, when he was about to leave the world after his first coming. Indeed all that Christ has respect to, in this prediction, of false prophets, and false christs is, either the great Antichrist and false prophet, or those lesser false prophets and antichrists that were his types and forerunners; compare 1 John iv. 1. Many false prophets are gone out into the world;" with chap. ij. 18, "As ye have heard that Antichrist should come, even so now are there many antichrists."
Corol. 2. This leads us to interpret those things in the Old Testament that speak of the glory of the Christian church, of the state of the church in the Millennium ; for that is the time of her glory on earth. The time preceding, excepting some intermissions by which God has graciously shortened those days, is the time, not of her prosperity, but of her great tribulation.
(55) Matth. xxiv. 22. “ But for the elect's sake, those days shall be shortened.” Enquiry- What is meant here by being shortened? We in the scriptures read of God's hastening the deliverance of his people; avenging them speedily; helping his church right early, and the like; though God suffers ihem for many ages to be persecuted. By it is intended that he will manifest his wisdom in swisily turning the wheel of his provideuce, and with wondrous expedition, bringing things about that were necessary to be done before they could be delivered.
 Matth. xxvii. 14. “And he answered bim to never a word.” The reason why he did not speak, or answer his accusers and those that sought his life from falsehood, malice, unreasonableness and cruelty, was his wonderful meekness in the midst of all the affronts and injuries, afflictions and vexations that he was surrounded with. He chose that there should not be the least appearance of a disquieted rusled temper; and he did not speak as vindicating himself, because he knew it would signify nothing, and that there might be no appearance as if he flinched and gave back, and was not willing to suller, or endeavoured to avoid that which was his errand into the world, or repented when it came to that, that he had undertaken so great a task for his people.
 Matth. xxvi. These things seem to be intended to be shadowed by what is related in this chapter: 1. That Christ is betrayed by pretended disciples. These are those that deliver him up to his open enemies. So it has been all along; Antichrist is avother Judas, who pretending to be the follower of Christ, is