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“his coming." Hence, the coming of Christ is applied to different events; however, not rendering nugatory his personal coming at the end of the world. It is sometimes applied to death when closing human existence on earth ; (Matth. xxiv. 44;) to the destruction of Jerusalem in breaking it with the rod of authority and displeasure ; (xxiv. 27;) to the introduction and preaching of the gospel by himself and his ministers; (John xv. 22. Ep. ij. 17;) when his church or kingdom is powerfully developed, rapidly extended and gloriously established on the earth ; (Matth. xvi. 28. 1 Thess. i. 5;) when he bestows the influences of the Spirit and the comfort of the gospel upon his people ; (John xiv. 18—23;) and when he pours scathing ruin upon the wicked inhabitants of the earth. (2 Thess. ii. 8.) Wherever divine agencies are at work, there the presence of God is manifested, and rightly represent his coming.
All these are metaphorical representations of Christ's coming ; and do not preclude his coming at the end of the world any more than the sacrifices and temple-service of the Jews, neutralized and obviated the necessity of the Savior's first personal appearance. These were prefigurative of the coming and the sacrificial death of Christ, so the figurative coming of Christ under the gospel in rewards and judgments, symbolizes his appearance at the end of the mediatorial reign, to reward and crown his saints, and punish unbelievers.
Christ shall visibly and personally return from heaven and appear to the world, (Acts i. 11,—he shall descend from heaven with angels, with a shout and the trump of God, (1 Thess. iv. 16,)—not as a sacrifice, but as a rewarder of his saints, (Heb. ix. 28,)--and every eye shall see him. (Rev. i. 7.) But now he has ascended to the right hand of God, to intercede, to reign, and to subdue his foes; and he cannot return tintil the gospel kingdom shall come to a
close. Acts iii. 20, 21. “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heavens must receive (retain] until (achri, while, during] the times of restitution of all things, &c.” While the seasons of refreshing, (verse 19,) or the times of restitution, (verse 21,) or the times of reformation, (Heb. ix. 10,) shall last or endure, being the gospel dispensation, the Lord Jesus who came into the world, died, was preached and ascended to heaven visibly and personally, must remain there until the close of his mediatorial reign, and then he shall return visibly upon the clouds of heaven, surrounded with myriads of myriads of angels, in great power and glory, to judge the world and destroy the disobedient from among his people. (verse 23.). This will be the coming of the Son of man as referred to in Matth. xvi. 27. xxv. 31–46. 2 Thess. i. 7--10, ete.
3. What event is alluded to in Matth. xvi. 27? Was it the destruction of Jerusalem; or is it the end of the world when Christ shall judge and reward every man according to his works?
Though there was a providential appearing of Christ at the destruction of Jerusalem, a shadowing forth of his power and vengeance, yet he did not then come with his “ holy angels,” (Mark viii. 38,) and in the “glory of the Father,” in his “own glory," and the “ glory of his holy angels.” (Luke ix. 26.) The Romans were not holy, for they were heathens and worshiped abominations; therefore they could not be represented by “holy angels,” should human messengers be meant by angels, as sometimes they are by way of accommodation. It could not be the glory of the Father to crush and scatter a nation to the four winds of heaven in groans, in wailing, in blood and carnage. It could not be the glory of Christ, who tenderly preserved the broken reed, and who "came not to destroy men's lives,
but to save them,” (Luke ix. 56,) and who wept tears of condolence over the doomed city, to send an infuriated soldiery to pillage, and slay, and make as mouldering heap of ruins of the renowned metropolis of the land, with its doomed inhabitants. Nor was it the glory of his holy angels, who are ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation. In consequence of these qualifying adjuncts to the coming of Christ as taught in the text, it cannot predict the development and execution of wrath of the kingdom of Christ, in the overthrow of the city of the Jews, and the abrogation of their civil and ecclesiastical government.
But there is another important circumstance which interdicts the idea of its reference to that event. The Son of man, at his coming as taught in the text, “shall reward every man according to his works." It was not possible for this administration of justice to all men to take place, for all men were not there. The good were not all rewarded, unless the Roman army included all the good, and the wicked were not all punished, unless the Jews in the city comprised all the bad. Millions of the human race and hundreds of generations were still reposing in death, and millions more had as yet no existence. The reasoning
advanced stultifies common sense, matter of fact, and every · logical deduction.
The fact, too stubborn and decisive to be rejected, will ever stand forth in attestation of the truth, that all the administrations of Christ's kingdom were never designed in this world to adequately reward the good, and justly punish the bad. In the kingdom and providence of God, we can not discern between the righteous and wicked, the desert of piety and the demerit of crime—the pious suffer pain, affliction and persecution, and the ungodly flaunt in silks, roll in affluence, ride in splendor, rule with despotism, blaspheme with apparent impunity, and are applauded as gods, and die with the sympathy of thousands. Eternity alone can right these things.
The context forbids the application of the text to the destruction of Jerusalem. In verses 24–26, the Saviour holds up in contrast the losing of life and the saving of life, this world and the future world, the blessedness of professing Christ, and · the misery of rejecting the gospel. He who will save his natural life by disowning Christ, shall lose a blessed existence in the future world, and he who will sacrifice his life here for the sake of religion, shall save his soul in heaven. There is no exchange for the final loss of the soul. This was the Saviour's argument and discourse. It was a great sacrifice and self-denial to be a christian, yet to pour comfort into the disconsolate heart of his people, he promises to vindicate the right, reward the worthy, and crown his people with the glory of his kingdom. He, the Saviour, will come in clouds and glory, with power and myriads of angels, to elevate on high his followers, and revenge their blood and life shed by the hands of persecutors, on the altars of gory gibbets, and in groaning prisons.
The discourse of Christ can have no allusion to the catastrophe of Jerusalem, but alone to his second coming to judge the world in righteousness. This interpretation is the most natural, obvious and the only reconcilable one.
As the natural and obvious meaning of verse 27, can only be answered in the coming of Christ in the Judgmentday; so the natural interpretation of v. 28, must apply it to an event preceding the Judgment. “Verily, there be some standing here who shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.". It is declared in the text, that the time of his coming in his kingdom will be prior to the death of some whom he then addressed; therefore, this passage cannot refer to his coming in the Judgment. At what particular preceding time or event is not specified, only it should be in the life-time of some standing there. This passage speaks of his coming in his kingdom, while the former says nothing of his kingdom, but with his angels and in his Father's glory. There is as obvious a difference in phraseology as there is in their import.Christ's kingdom has three distinct ideas. It is a government over all things over the rational world, (Ep. i. 21,)
-and over the church (v. 22;) and in this latter sense the kingdom of God was entered by those who had zeal and were in earnest in the days of John Baptist; and in this kingdom of God, no vile or idolatrous person shall ever enter. (Ep. v. 5. Col. i. 13.)
Whether the Saviour had particular reference to the manifestation and powerful extension of his kingdom over the world in evangelizing it, or to his kingdom as exercised s over all flesh,” (John xvii. 2,) the rational world, which afforded room for dispensing temporal and spiritual blessings, and public calamities and judgments, is not easily decided. It may include the overthrow of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews as the foes of his kingdom ; but it seems more natural to apply it to some preceding events, for this reason. If the Saviour addressed his disciplies, for aught we know, John was the only apostle living at the catastrophe of Jerusalem, yet the Saviour says some shall not taste of death, implying more than one. In reading the passage and what follows as recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke, the candid reader would naturally infer, that the Saviour spoke relative to his transfiguration on the mount. This was a splendid and overwhelming manifestation of the glory of Christ's kingdom. It doubtless includes the day of Pentecost, and the subsequent development and spread of the gospel.
This is natural. As the Great Teacher had been speak.