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predicts His coming to the earthly Zion, the other assures us of His return from the heavenly Zion, under the pledge of God's covenant with them.*
The fong desolate state of Israel, without a prince among them, is predicted by the prophet Ezekiel, while he also points to its termination : " And thou profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end ; Thus saith the Lord God, Remove the diadem, and take off the crown ; this shall not be the same; exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is ; and I will give it Him.” Ezek. xxi. 25–27. Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously.” Is xxiv. 23.
* Mr. Mason supposes that because the apostle says, (using the language of the Greek translation by the Seventy,) the Deliverer shall come out of Zion, it cannot mean a literal advent: (Gentiles' Ful. ness, p. 187.) But heaven is, by way of figure, sometimes called Zion in Scripture, as in the following passage, referring to the same advent: • The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the Rod of thy Strength out of Zion; rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning.” Ps. cx. 1-3. But the passage would not accord with Mr. Mason's opinion, even if his idea of “ gospel Zion” were admitted. For while he would thus make the Spirit come to the church, the apostle says the Deliverer shall come out of Zion. And as the prophet was no less inspired than the apostle, the view taken of the language as quoted by Paul, must be in consistency with Isaiah's prediction. Were this the only passage in which Christ's return at the commencement of the Millennium was declared--and if it was either of difficult interpretation, or when so understood appeared in opposition to other scriptures—some liberty might then be allowed in putting upon it such a construction as the necessities of the case might demand. But surely where there is such a harmony of Scriptural Evidence centering in the same point, such an explanation is not more unnecessary than it would be un. satisfactory
NEW TESTAMENT PREDICTIONS OF CHRIST'S RETURN
AT THE DESTRUCTION OF ANTICHRIST.
Before the Millennium, the Papal Apostasy, we are assured, will he destroyed ; and we have the express declaration of Paul that this is to be completely effected by the coming of Christ. In his first epistle to the Church ai Thessalonica, the apostle had expressed joy in their having “ turned from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven." i Thess. i. 9. He had exhorted them to " walk worthy of God," who had called them “ unto His kingdom and glory." (ii. 12.) He had regarded them as his hope, and joy, and crown of rejoicing, “ in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, at his coming.” (ii. 19.) He had prayed that the Lord would establish their hearts “ unblameable in holiness, before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." (iii. 13.) He had farther comforted them concerning the death of their believing friends, by the assurance that those who “ sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.” (iv. 14.) He had reminded them, that, to those who expect Him not,“ the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night,” although of “the times and seasons” he needed not to write unto thcm, for they were not in darkness, that that day should overtake them as a thief; for which reason he exhorted them to “watch and be sober.” (v. 1–6.) And, finally, he had prayed that they should be preserved blameless, unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 23.)
By thus glancing at these several allusions, in his first short epistle, we are better prepared to understand the apostle's design in the second. For, by the earnestness and the frequency with which he has thus argued the coming of Christ upon the attention of the Thessalonian church, and probably from the statements of others,
they had been thrown into some degree of perturbation, supposing that glorious event just about to be realized. Paul seems to have written his second epistle solely with a view to correct the mistake into which they had fallen." He first vindicates God for rewarding his servants and punishing his enemies “ with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, when he comes to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired of all them that believe." He then proceeds in the beginning of the second chapter to address them, with earnestness and affection, on the time of the Saviour's advent: Now, we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind or troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand,” or instantly, as “ enesteken" ought to be rendered. With this view of the apostle's design, we can never suppose that he now refers to any other than that " coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints,” to which he alluded in his former epistle. Whatever anxiety some may evince to escape from the force of the passage by supposing a "spiritual advent,” the real nature of this coming is already too evident to admit of its being so explained away.
But palpable as the apostle's meaning now is, the ar
* When Dr. Hamilton wishes to repel Mr. Cunninghame's argument from Matt. xxiv. he affirms (p: 261,) that the coming of our Lord was at the destruction of Jerusalem: but when he would deride the premature expectations of the church at Thessalonica, he does not forget (p. 12,) that His coming was to be preceded by the treading down of Jerusalern, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled ; although he elsewhere maintains (p. 250,) that His coming was to be followed by that calamity. Truly it is not surprising that the laborious minuteness of a certain Millenarian author, in occupying a number of pages with arguments to determine the proper punctuation of a Scripture text, should appear ridiculous to one, who thus, with so much ease-neither assigning a reason, nor offering an apology-can place and replace the same event at two different periods distant from each other 1800 years, as he finds the necessities of his argument may require. The Doctor's mode, it will be acknowledged, is the easier and more summary of the two, but to those who sincerely desire to know the mind of the Spirit, (to which it is desirable that he had more frequently attended,) it will not always prove the most satisfactory.
gument to be derived from his after statement acquires additional strength, by the consideration that “ hyper,” here translated by” the coming of the Lord, ought to be rendered “of” or “concerning" His coming. Parkhurst, thus correcting the translation of this passage, refers to Whitby and Macknight among others, as authority-commentators who will not readily be suspected of Millenarian tendencies. This correction gives an entirely different view of the verse, as, without the slightest reference to the context, it clearly demonstrates that the subject of which the apostle now expressly wrote was “concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him," which admits of no spiritual interpretation. Independently, indeed, of this correction, the meaning may be easily ascertained and established. It is evident it could not be the day of their death which the apostle contemplated, else he could have given them no assurance that any previous time should certainly elapse, still less that it would not take place till the destruction of Antichrist. It could not be merely the more general diffusion of the influences of the Spirit in the church or in the world, for this would have occasioned them no 6 trouble.” And it was no other than the personal coming of the Lord, respecting the time of which the believing Thessalonians had fallen into mistake, and concerning which the Apostle designed to correct them.
What we now have to attend to is, the period assigned by the apostle for this glorious advent of the Redeemer. Guarding them against deceivers, he assures them that that day should not come except there came a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed the Son of Perdition. He proceeds to state the character of the Papacy, (as recognized by Protestant commentators,) and having adverted to the barrier which the dominant power of Rome Pagan opposed to his manifestation till taken out of the way, he adds, (ver. 8,) “ And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of his mouth, and DESTROY WITH THE BRIGHTNESS OF HIS COMING." This .coming must therefore be before the Millennium ; and
if it be of a personal nature in the second verse, it must be the same in the eighth. The same word is used in both cases; and to imagine that the apostle, while professedly correcting a mistake into which his readers had fallen about the personal coming of the Lord, should, instead, inform them of the period of a spiritual advent, without giving them any intimation of the substitution, is to suppose him guilty of a sophism which would not be practised by any honest man. Besides, it deserves to be remarked, that the word here translated “ brightness," which Parkhurst observes the Greek writers particularly apply to the appearance of some deity, is in scripture never used but to denote a personal manifestation, as in the following passages relative to Christ's glorious appearance at His return : “I charge thee, therefore, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom ;" 2 Tim. iv. 1. “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ;" 1 Tim. vi. 14. “ Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;"*
* Dr. Wardlaw (p. 519, et seq.) not only admits the accuracy of the above substitution “ concerning the coming of our Lord,” instead of “ by the coming,” as given in our translation, (making the correction in quoting the passage,) but states it to have been the apostle's object here to correct the misapprehension which had arisen from the expressions in his first epistle concerning the personal com, ing of the Lord. Considering that misapprehension to have been occasioned by the apostle's “use of the pronoun we in his first epistle, Are we not necessitated,” he asks,“ to consider the correction of it as amounting to an intimation that the day of the Lord was not to be expected within so short a time” as a life-time? Again he says, (p. 522,) the apostle gave them “ the plainest intimation that the day in question, (the day of the Lord,) was not to come till events had happened which did not admit of its being at hand in the sense in which they had by mistake supposed it; that is within their own life-time.” But those “ events” to which the Doctor alludes, are the rise, and manifestation, and destruction of the Man of sin, events which will all have happened before the Millennium; and we do think it remarkable, that while the Doctor takes so correct a view of the connection which there is, in the epistle, between the mistake of the Thessalonians, “ concerning the coming of the Lord,” and the correction of that mistake by the apostle, that he should have quoted the entire passage without taking the slightest notice of the time at which the apostle does say the coming of Christ will take place; for it is not more true that Paul informs them that, before the coming of Christ, the man of sin had to come into being and acquire an ascende