|« Prev||Matthew||Next »|
 Matt. i. 3. “And Judas begat Pharez and Zara of Thamar.” So it is remarked, in the 5th verse, that Salmon begat Booz of Rachab, and that Booz begat Obed of Ruth, and in the 6th verse, that David begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Uriah. All the mothers are not noted, but only those which were either harlots or Gentiles, except the wife of Uriah the Hittite, who was a wife of a Gentile. These are taken notice of, because Christ’s descending from several harlots and Gentiles intimates unto us that all that are saved by Christ were sinners. That the church of Christ is made up wholly of such as were once sinners, that is, spiritual harlots, or adulterers and idolaters, thereby also typifying the calling of the Gentiles.
 Matt. i. 16. “And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” This genealogy proves that the kingdom of Israel was Christ’s by right of inheritance. Christ, though he was not the real son of Joseph, yet was the legal son; with greater reason than, when a man took a wife, and died, and left no seed, his brother’s seed by her were to be looked upon as his, and had the right of inheritance.
 Matt. iii. 2. “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The following are the places of the Old Testament from whence probably the Jews principally took their notion of the kingdom of heaven.
Dan. ii. 44,45. vii. 9-15. xxvi. 27.: Ps. xcvi. especially the four last verses; Ps. i. 1-7. compared with Dan. vii. 9 to 15.; Ps. xcvii. and xcviii. especially the last verse; Isa. ii. 1 to 6. and 15 to the end., ix. 6, 7. xi. xii. xxiv. 23. and especially verses 9, 10, 11. xxv. xxvi. xxvii. xxxii. 1 to 9. xxxv. xl. 3, 4, 5, 10, 11. xli. xlii. 1 to 22. xlix. lx. lxi. lxii. lxiii. 1 to 7. lxiv. 1, 2. lxv. 17 to the end,. lxvi.; Jer. xxiii. 5 to 9. xxx. 9. xxxi. xxxiii. especially ver. 15, 16.; Ezek. xxi. 27. xxxiv. 20 to the end,. xxxvii. 20 to the end.; Hosea ii 16 to the end.; Joel ii. 28 to the end,. iii. 9 to the end.; Amos ix. 11 to the end.; Micah iv. 1 to 9. v. vii. 8 to the end.; Obadiah. ver. 17 to the end., especially ver. 15, 16; Nahum i. 15.; Zeph. iii. 8 to the end.; Haggai ii. 1 to 10., and 21 to the end.; Zech. ii. 11, 12, 13. iii. 8, 9, 10. vi. 9 to the end., viii. 20 to the end., ix. 9 to the end., x. xii. xiii. xiv.; Mal. iii. 1 to 7., and 16 to the end., and chap. iv.
 Matt. iii. 7. “Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Having respect principally to that wrath that should come upon those of the Jews who should reject the Messiah and continue in impenitence, both in their rejection from being the people of God, and judicial hardening, and those many great calamities that nation suffered after Christ’s ascension, especially their dreadful overthrow by the Romans.
 Matt. vi. 13. “And lead us not into temptation.” This includes trials brought upon us by God’s providential hand, as well as the temptation of lust. God often leads his children into these, and always for their good; but yet we are to pray against it, with submission to God’s will, because, simply considered, it is an evil.
 Matt. viii. 25. “And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us, we perish.” This ship shadows to us the Christian church, which indeed it contained in it, with its head. God commonly suffers his people to be just upon the very brink of destruction before he delivers them; as here the tempest arose so much, that the ship was covered with waves. God seems to be asleep, and so lets them alone, as Christ was, and must be awaked by the earnest prayers and cries of his people, before he will deliver them; and says, as in Ps. xliv. 23. “Awake! why sleepest thou, O Lord? Arise; cast us not off for ever!” Ps. vii. 6. xxiii. lxxviii. 65. “Then will the Lord awake as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.”
 Matt. ix. 10. “And it came to pass as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.” Jesus ordering or preferring it to be thus, intimating the nature of the gospel and the design of his kingdom; the gospel grace, the feast of fat things, being offered freely to all nations and kinds of men, having respect to the calling of the Gentiles.
 Matt. ix. 24. When Christ said, She is not dead, but sleepeth, thereby is meant that her soul was not finally separated from her body, so as to enter into the spiritual and eternal world; nor had there that transformation passed upon her soul from a middle state to perfect holiness, or misery, and her soul was kept in a state of insensibility, as in a sound sleep, that her resurrection might not be inconvenient; therefore Christ also said, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.” His state was not changed, his soul not purified from sin, nor any way altered so as to prepare it for glory, but his state was only intermitted.
 Matt. xi. 25, 26. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Christ does not merely praise God, as God might be praised or glorified for his majesty and greatness, sovereignty, or justice, or any perfection or glorious work of his, but he thanks him as one interested, as though it were a work of God, whereby he had received a benefit. And so it was, these persons to whom his Father had revealed these things were his before God had revealed them to them, for they were given him from eternity, and he had set his love upon them before the foundation of the world, and for their sakes he came into the world, and he knew them all by name, their names were written on his heart, and he looked upon them as himself; and therefore he thanks the Father for revealing those things to those who were his, whom he so loved, and for whom he was so greatly concerned, though they were but poor, weak, helpless, and despicable creatures, when he had passed by others more noble, more wise, and prudent; as a loving father, if he had a number of poor children, in themselves very mean and contemptible, might well be the more affected with the goodness of God, and justly have his heart more enlarged with thankfulness, if God should look on his poor children, bestowing infinite blessings upon them, when he saw that the rich and noble, potent and learned, were generally passed by. Persons themselves, that see themselves very weak, and distinguishingly contemptible, have the most cause to thank God for saving mercy to them, when they consider how they are distinguished from many far greater and more considerable than they; and so Christ looked upon it that he had like cause of thankfulness on this account, because they being from eternity given to him, he looked on them as himself, and on himself as they. Christ, the head of the elect church, here thanks the Father, with rejoicing in spirit, as Luke tells us, for that which will be the matter of the most exalted thanksgivings of the church itself to all eternity.
Christ thankfully acknowledges God’s kindness herein, because he did it of his own will: “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight;” that is, without regard to their meanness, or others’ greatness. Compare this text with Rom. vi. 17.
 Matt. xii. 32. “It shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come.” Some sins may not be forgiven in this world, that yet are forgiven in the world that is to come. God does not manifest his forgiveness in this world, but is provoked sometimes by the grievous fall of the godly, in a great measure to hide his face as long as they live. So that ever after they shall go hanging down their heads, even to their graves. God sometimes inflicts judgments that last as long as life, and their former joy and comfort is no more restored to its wonted degree until they die.
 Matt. xiii. 38. Luke xiii. 21. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened.” By three measures is meant the whole world: the progeny of the three sons of Noah, who settled the three parts of the world, Shem Asia, and Ham Africa, and Japhet Europe.
 Matt. xiv. 13, 14, 15. “But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed, for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. And when one of them that sat at meat heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” Christ had told his host that he should not invite his rich friends and neighbours, expecting to be invited to a feast again by them, but should invite those that could not invite him again; and he tells him he shall be blessed, and should be recompensed at the resurrection of the just, intimating that he should be rewarded by feasting them. Now the Jews thought that the resurrection would be when the Messiah came. By the kingdom of God, they understood the kingdom of the Messiah; and that is the reason that when Christ told the Pharisee he should be blessed, for he should feast at the resurrection, that he makes this reply consenting to it, “They shall be blessed indeed, that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”
 Matt. xv. 21, 22. “Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out,” &c. The casting out of the devil out of the daughter of this woman, in my opinion, figures forth the casting the devil out of the Gentile and antiChristian world; Tyre frequently representing in the Scripture Sodom’s idolatrous kingdom.
 Matt. xvi. 28. ”Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” The disciples saw sufficient to answer this promise. Some of them immediately after, as we have an account in the beginning of the following chapter, saw Christ in his glory, in his transfiguration, in the like glory with that in which he will come to judgment, as far as it could well be seen by them in their frail state, and by their feeble eyes.
Again: They saw him coming in a glorious manner in the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, for that was a coming of Christ, wherein they saw him, agreeably to John xiv. 18, 19. “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come unto you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me.” And this was a coming in his kingdom, for he came then to set up the 778Christian church, to introduce the gospel-dispensation, which seems to be called the kingdom of heaven. And respect is doubtless had to this by John the Baptist, and by Christ after him, when they preached, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Again: Some of them saw him coming in his kingdom at the destruction of Jerusalem, and an eye seems chiefly to be had to this event; for then was there a total end put to the Jewish church, and the Jewish dispensation, which is compared to the end of the world. The world that then was, the old state of things in the world with respect to religion that had subsisted so long a time, was then utterly and finally done away, and the kingdom of heaven succeeded the gospel-dispensation, or the kingdom was then fully established, the state of things thenceforward in the church was really evangelical. Christ did then in a very awful manner, and with a signal manifestation of his hand, destroy the enemies of his kingdom, and remarkably deliver his people; he then came to judgment; he judged his adversaries, and delivered his chosen people; there was a remarkable rewarding of men according to their works then. It is most apparent that Christ did call his appearing in that great event of the destruction of Jerusalem, and other events that attended it, his coming, Matt. xxiv. 2, 3. There Christ tells his disciples, when showing him the building of the temple, that not one stone shall be left on another; whereupon the disciples ask him, When these things shall be, and what should be the sign of his coming, and of the end of the world? And in his answer, he has respect still to the destruction of Jerusalem, as is evident by the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th verses. It is expressly said to be the desolation of Jerusalem. Compare these texts in Matt. with Luke xxi. 20. “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” And ver. 23. “There shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon that people;” and, in the 27th and 28th verses, he particularly gives his disciples a sign, whereby they might know the time and place of his coming; for Christ is there expressly speaking of his coming: he says, “So shall the coming of the Son of man be, for wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together;” denoting it to be at Jerusalem, and at the time of its destruction by the Romans. See my Notes on these verses. There is no need of supposing that Christ here meant his coming in any other than a spiritual sense; for so Christ was wont to speak of things to come, when it is plain that he intended a spiritual fulfilment. So he speaks of the resurrection. “The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” Here he speaks of the resurrection of bodies at the end of the world, and the spiritual resurrection of souls together, including both in one and the same words, viz. “the dead shall hear the voice,” &c. He speaks as if it were but one event that he had respect to; but yet when he says, “it is coming,” he means one thing, even the resurrection of bodies, especially at the end of the world. When he says, “It now is,” he means another thing, viz. the resurrection of souls, by the preaching of the gospel; and the manner of speaking there, is very parallel to that in this and the foregoing verse. In the foregoing verse Christ says, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then shall he reward every man according to his works.” There he has a respect principally to his coming at the end of the world; but then in this verse, says he, “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, that shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom;” and now he has chiefly a respect to another event, viz. his appearing in the work that he will do at the destruction of Jerusalem, and therefore it can be no just objection against this explication, that Christ evidently meant the same coming in this as he did in the foregoing verse, for we ought not to dispute against plain facts. I cannot see that, if we explain the words as I have done, the case is any more than exactly parallel to that in those other words, John v. 25. and it is plain and evident that it is a common thing in Scripture that things are said to be fulfilled that have been spoken of in the same context, when they are only fulfilled in their type, and not in that which is ultimately intended. So Christ, speaking of his coming and the end of the world, says, “This generation shall not pass till all those things shall be fulfilled.” So the apostle John, speaking of the predictions there had been of the coming of antichrist, mentions the prophecies as being fulfilled in the false teachers there were then, “Even now,” says he, “there are many antichrists.” 1 John ii. 18.
But perhaps we are not sufficiently accurate, when we distinguish several events, as so many distinct accomplishments of the prediction so often given of Christ’s coming in his kingdom, to be understood in different senses; and so to look upon Christ’s coming at the effusion of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, as one coming of Christ in his kingdom; and his appearing in the events that were at the destruction of Jerusalem, as another coming of Christ in his kingdom; and his appearing in Constantine’s time as another, and at the destruction of antichrist as another, and at the end of the world as another. They seem rather to be spoken of in Scripture as several parts, or rather as several degrees, of the fulfilment of one event. That great event spoken of in Dan. vii. 13, 14. “And I saw in the night vision, and beheld one like the Son of man come with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him: and there was given to him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away; and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed:” which was what the Jews expected, and called the kingdom of heaven; and which John the Baptist and Christ had reference to, when they said, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and which Christ has respect to in this place; also in the 24th Matt. I say, this great event is gradually accomplished; it is accomplished by several steps and degrees, and the great events that were al the descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, and at the destruction of Jerusalem, and in Constantine’s time, and the destruction of antichrist, and the end of the world, are all so many steps of the fulfilment of the same great event. When the Holy Ghost descended at Pentecost, it was fulfilled in a degree: then the Son of man came, and then was his kingdom set up in the world in a glorious manner. When Jerusalem was destroyed, it was fulfilled in another greater step: then did he remarkably exercise his royal authority in judging his enemies, and putting an end to the old stale of things in the church, and beginning. a new world, establishing the Gentile church. When Constantine was destroyed it was fulfilled in a yet higher degree; and in a still far more glorious manner at the destruction of antichrist; but it is fulfilled in its most complete and perfect degree at the end of the world.
So that Christ has indeed respect to the same great events here as he spake of in the foregoing verse, and promises that some there should see the accomplishment of that event before they tasted of death; i. e. they should see that, which indeed should be an accomplishment of it in the beginning of it, in a glorious degree, though not in its most glorious degree.
Hence, also, it cannot be said, that Christ referred to the destruction of Jerusalem only, when he speaks of his coming in his kingdom, or merely to that and what went before it; or to the pouring out of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost: but it was this great event in general which was to be accomplished in several degrees; though when he said they should see it before they tasted of death, he did not mean that they should see it in all its degrees.
The forementioned prophecy of Daniel, without doubt, had a respect not only to Christ’s coming at the end of the world, but also an important respect to his coming, as he did, in those events that occurred before some of them tasted of death: vid. No. 279. This prophecy of Daniel Christ doubtless had in his eye when he spake this; and doubtless the disciples understood him as meaning that; for the event foretold in this was what they and the Jews were big with expectation of, and had their eye upon, and always understood one another as referring to, when they spake of the coming of Christ in his kingdom; and therefore all that they would understand Christ as referring to, was, that some of them should see that prophecy accomplished before they died.
779It need be no difficulty that Christ’s manner of expressing himself would lead them to expect that it should be accomplished in another manner; for the disciples knew that Christ was wont to speak to them in mystical language; and besides Christ, in expressing himself thus, does it but as referring to the prophecy or vision of Daniel. The expressions are taken out of that prophecy, and no wonder that events in visions and prophecies are represented mystically. And the disciples were not cheated in it; for there was as much accomplished as answered their expectation, while some of them lived, though not in the same manner; for they had poor mistaken notions what the kingdom of Christ was, yet they saw it accomplished in a move glorious sense than they expected.
 There is this that argues that Christ did not suppose that the end of the world would be in that generation, that when he is discoursing of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the end of the world, Matt. xxiv. and Luke xxi. and says to his disciples, Luke xxi. 32. “Verily, I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled;” yet he says in the same discourse, ver. 24. speaking of the terrible destruction of that land, “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled;” from whence it seems evident, that Christ did not expect that the end of the world would be before many ages, for first all these things must be accomplished that had been spoken of by Christ as forerunners of the destruction of Jerusalem; wars, and rumours of wars, and earthquakes, and famines; and yet the destruction of Jerusalem not very near, and the gospel must be preached to all nations, which must be a work of time. And many other things are mentioned, as the rising of false Christs, and false prophets, and persecutions, &c.; all which denote that considerable time was to pass before the destruction of Jerusalem; and then the whole land was to be destroyed by war and great distress, and the people were to be dispersed into all nations, which also must be a work of time; and then Jerusalem should be trodden down of the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled, which at least intimates that Jerusalem was to lie a long time in ruins. Christ refers to the “time, times, and half a time,” in the 12th of Daniel, which is there exceeding plainly spoken of as a long time; and then it is supposed, in the words, that Jerusalem is to be again rebuilt after this, and rebuilt to some purpose, (not just rebuilt, and then immediately and eternally destroyed again,) before the end of so great a work as the rebuilding could be answered, so as to answer the designs of the restoration of the state, the peace and prosperity of the people in their own land. For the words imply a restoration of the people from their miserable state, as trodden down; and the times of the Gentiles in Daniel, to which Christ refers, are spoken of by that prophet, very plainly and abundantly, as ending in a comfortable restoration of God’s people from a miserable ruined state. But to be rebuilt in a few years, in order to be eternally destroyed, is not worth the name of a restoration or end to their long-continued ruin. Besides, the mere rebuilding Jerusalem and restoring the state of the land, after such a total and long-continued destruction, must be the work of a great deal of time: it was a work of considerable time when the people returned from their Babylonish captivity.
 Christ’s kingdom comes by various steps and degrees, and so the end of the world is brought to pass in like manner by various steps; one step was the abolishing the Jewish state and their ecclesiastical economy, the peculiarities of which the apostle calls the rudiments of the world. Again, Christ’s kingdom was set up, and the world came to an end, in another step or degree, by the conversion of the Roman empire; and so again at the destruction of antichrist. In each of these is a degree of the accomplishment of Christ’s kingdom, the resurrection, the judgment of the righteous and the wicked, and the end of the world. (See Note on Rev. xxi. 22. No. 73.)
 Matt. xvii. 21. “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting:” this kind as to the manner of possession and influence. There were dumb devils, and unclean devils, and a spirit of infirmity. Some only took the advantage of bodily distemper and disorder of the brain; others possessed them in a more extraordinary manner, so as to have their bodies more absolutely under their influence, using of them as they pleased, sometimes casting them into the fire, and sometimes into the water, as that spoken of in this place, and sometimes using their tongues as if they were their own, as did the man possessed with the legion.
 Matt. xvii. 27. “Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.” Which signifies that ministers of the gospel should receive of the temporal things of those that they preach the gospel to, whose souls they catch for Christ, for they are the fish of which gospel ministers are the fishers. Peter was a fisherman by trade, and Christ had commanded him to leave his net, and to follow him, and he would make him a fisher of men.
 Matt. xviii. 16. “And if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more; that, in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established.” It is evident from the next verse, that the end of bringing these others, is that he may hear them and be convinced of the evil of what he has done, and not to entrap him in his words. They are come indeed as witnesses, that is, as witnesses of the evil of what he has done (for witnesses in scripture phrase are not only of facts). It is this only that is wanted; they are come because he will not hear the first, that he may hear when the voice of two or three concur in the matter; it is this that wants to be established, it is the main and the joint voice of several, has the same tendency to establish such wishing, when they jointly bear testimony of the evil of a thing, as in bearing testimony to a fact; the end of their joining together therefore is, that every word of their admonition may be heard; this is evidently the meaning of the place.
 Matt. xxi. “And when he drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and was come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, go into the village over-against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.”
Christ’s solemn entry into Jerusalem, that we have an account of in this place, seems to represent his ascension into heaven; that which had before been very remarkably represented by the carrying of the ark into Jerusalem, and its ascending into mount Zion, into the sanctuary. This is here again represented by the entering of Christ himself, the antitype of the ark, into the same city Jerusalem, and his ascending up into the mountain of the temple, into the sanctuary there. As in the Roman triumph, the triumphing general entered Rome, and went first to the capitol, the chief temple in all the city. So that there was a literal ascension of Christ at this time into the mountain of the temple, the greatest type of heaven upon earth. And Jerusalem itself, the city he then entered into, was the next greatest type of heaven to the temple, for heaven is called “the Jerusalem which is above.”
In this his solemn entry into Jerusalem, he passed from the mount of Olives, the same mount from which he ascended into the heavenly Jerusalem. He ascended from the mount of Olives, the mount of peace; olive-branches were used as a symbol of peace among the Gentiles, and so was the olive-branch brought by Noah’s dove. Christ ascended after he had made peace, or finished the work of reconciliation; without his reconciliation he could not have ascended. He entered into the holiest of all by his own blood. God was as it were reconciled to him by his blood, who was before as it were the object and mark of God’s wrath for our sins, which he had taken upon him. It was the mountain where he had his agony, and sweat that blood by which he obtained peace, and where he was betrayed to endure the cross. The ascension and glory of Christ, and the glory of the saints, is consequent on, and procured by, Christ’s sufferings, by which he wrought out reconciliation. The place on mount Olivet that he ascended 780from, was Bethany, (Luke xxiv. 50.) the house of affliction, signifying that his exaltation was consequent on his sufferings. So he ascended into Jerusalem from Bethany and Bethphage; (Mark xi. 1. Matt. xxi. 1. Luke xix. 29.) which latter signifies the house of first-ripe figs, signifying that Christ entered into heaven as the first-fruits: Christ the first-fruits, and afterwards they that are Christ’s at his coming.
He entered Jerusalem, as a king sitting on an ass, for kings formerly were wont to ride on asses. So he ascended into heaven as the King of glory. His riding an ass betokened two things, viz. kingly glory, and great humility and meekness, agreeably to the passage in Zechariah. chap. ix. 9. cited on this occasion. Christ ascended in great glory, so he also ascended in unparalleled humility and meekness; a most admirable conjunction of diverse qualifications appearing in him, which may perhaps be signified by the colt’s being found at a place where two ways meet, denoting that two things that seem very diverse, and seem to have a very diverse relation and tendency, meet here: as two men that go diverse ways, meet together at the meeting of two paths. The path of humility seems to lead him that walks in it a diverse way from the path of honour; one seems to tend downward, and the other upwards; yet indeed they both meet and become the same, both carry a man to the same place: as the ass was a token both of kingly honour and great humility. The ass, the symbol of humility, carries a king on his back, and on an ass does the King of glory ascend into the city and temple of the great King, as by humiliation Christ ascended into heaven.
The ass on which Christ rode, was a colt, on which never man sat. So Christ’s humiliation was now such as there never had been a parallel of, nor any thing like it, and it carried him into glory as unparalleled.
Zion is called upon to rejoice on this occasion: so heaven rejoiced on occasion of Christ’s ascension. They cut down branches of palm-trees, the symbol of victory, and spread them in the way; so Christ’s ascension to heaven was a triumphant ascension, he having obtained the victory in his sore conflict with his enemies. A great multitude attended Christ; so a vast multitude attended him in his ascension into heaven a multitude of saints and angels. They spread their garments under his feet; which is like the angels and elders casting down their crowns at his feet: they consecrate all their honours to Christ’s honour. He sat on their garments, and went on them. He is attended with great and joyful acclamations and praises, all the way as he went up into the mountain of the temple, the children crying hosanna there in the temple. As the multitude attended the ark in all its ascent into Jerusalem and mount Zion, (which was then the mount of the house of the Lord,) all the way with most joyful acclamations and songs; so the saints and angels attended Christ all the way as he went from the uppermost regions of our air, with most joyful praises and acclamations, to heaven.
As he came into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” so on occasion of Christ’s ascension, the inhabitants of heaven say once and again, Who is this King of Glory?” Psal. xxiv. See Notes on the place.
It is very remarkable that one thing that the multitude cry in their acclamations, is, Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest!” (Luke xix. 38.) being wonderfully directed thus to express the joy and glory there would be in heaven, the highest heaven, at the ascension of Christ.
God was pleased thus to give Christ such a representation and earnest of the ascension and glory that should be the reward of his sufferings, a little before those sufferings, to encourage him to go through them, as he had before done another way in his transfiguration.
 Matt. xxi. 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. Concerning making Christ’s house a den of thieves, &c. The apostate Jewish church that was in Christ’s time, was in many things an image of the apostate Christian church, or rather the antichristian church; and among other things the Jews making Christ’s Father’s house a house of merchandise, and a den of thieves, was typical of what the clergy of the church of Rome do. And Christ’s overthrowing them, and driving them out of the temple, is typical of what Christ hath done, and will further do, with respect to that church. It shows how displeasing and provoking to Christ their so doing is, how Christ abominates such practices. They sold doves in the temple, so the merchants of the church of Rome pretend to sell those things that are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the heavenly dove. These gifts are called spirits in Paul’s epistles, and so in the Revelations. The Spirit of God, with respect to his various gifts and operations, is called, ”Seven spirits.“ They do as Simon the sorcerer, who desired to buy a power to confer the gifts of the Holy Ghost on whomsoever he would, to that end that he might make merchandise of them. So the clergy of the church of Rome sell baptism, regeneration, and salvation; they sell forgiveness of sins, the eucharist and ordination, consecration and extreme unction, &c. The Holy Spirit is the great commodity that their merchandise consists in.
Christ cast the Jewish merchants out of his temple; so Christ cast such merchants out of his church. When Christ came into his temple at Jerusalem, this was the effect; so when Christ returns into his church, after its great apostacy, this is the consequence. At the same time, the blind and the lame come to Christ, and he heals them; so when Christ comes to drive out the antiChristian merchants out of his house, there will be a great flocking of poor miserable souls to Christ to be healed. At the same time also the children cry hosanna in the temple, and the priests and scribes are sore displeased, which are all typical of what will be when Christ comes to revive religion, and execute judgment on the Romish church. Then will the mouths of God’s people be filled with praises to Christ, and there will be a remarkable fulfilment of that saying, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise; 549549 Matt. xxi. 16. ” which will greatly displease and provoke the chief priests and scribes of the church of Rome.
Because this was typical of something very remarkable that should surely come to pass in the church, therefore it was repeated, as Pharaoh’s dream was, concerning the years of famine and plenty, for Christ drave out the merchants out of his temple once before. John ii. 13.
 Matt. xxi. 40, 41. “When the lord, therefore, of the vineyard cometh.” It is manifest here that the destruction of Jerusalem is called the coming of the Lord. This is called the end of the world: it is the end of the old world, and from this time began the new heavens and new earth, spoken of in Isaiah; and the time when the heavens and the earth are shaken: this was the end put to the Jewish church, and polity, and nation, and law, country, city, sanctuary, and all the Jewish world; and from this time began the Gentile church to be the chosen people of God; for as soon as these husbandmen were destroyed, then the vineyard was let out to others, according to this place, and this coming of Christ. It was that which was spoken of as being very near by the apostles; and said by Christ to be within the life-time of some there present. This city was begun anew and finished in Constantine’s time, when the heathen world was overthrown, as now the Jewish. The calling of the Gentiles is what is called, (Matt. xxiv. 3.) “The gathering together the elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
 Matt. xxii. 31, 32. “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” The argument is very strong for the immortality of the soul, considering how often God manifested his great favours to those patriarchs in their life-time, time after time entering into covenant with them, and professing himself to be their God, declaring to them that he was God, all-sufficient, and that he was their shield and their exceeding great reward, promising that he would be with them and would bless them, and considering what great and manifold afflictions they met with while they lived, especially Abraham and Jacob, and how little good they ever saw of those promises that God had made in this life. God promised them the land of Canaan, but they were pilgrims 781and strangers in it; they had no settled habitation in it, but dwelt in tents, removing to and fro. Other people had the possession of the land, and oftentimes molested them, as Abimelech did in particular. They were driven out of the land by famines: all three of them were so. Abraham came from a far country; left his own kindred and his father’s house, and went out, not knowing whither he went, for the sake of this land; but yet 550550 Acts vii. 5. “God gave him none inheritance in it; no, not so much as to set his foot on.” Jacob had the promise of this land; but yet he was still driven out of the land by Esau, that had no promise of it, and lived an exile from it twenty years, for fear of him, in a state of servitude, and in abundance of trouble; and in the latter part of his life he was forced to leave it to go down into Egypt with all his family, and posterity, and flocks and herds, and there he died. Though Canaan was the promised land, yet the principal quietness Jacob had in this world, was in Egypt, that seventeen years he lived there with Joseph his son, and not in Canaan. Another thing that was chiefly insisted on in God’s covenant with them, was their being blessed in their posterity, that should be numerous and happy; but how little did they see of this while they lived! How long did Abraham wait before he had any child! and after he had one, he was obliged to cast out his first child, greatly to his grief; and he was a hundred years old before he saw one child in whom his seed should be called; and then God gave him but one, so that he saw nothing like a numerous posterity while he lived. And Isaac never had but two sons; and concerning his eldest and best beloved, it was revealed that his seed was not to be called in him, and he was obliged to disinherit him; and he had a great deal of grief in him and his wives: and his other son, that was to be his heir, he was obliged to part with into a strange land, and saw not for twenty years together. And Jacob, though he had a numerous family, yet he had abundance of sorrow and trouble in them. His eldest son committed incest with his own concubine; his two next sons were guilty of barbarous murders. Judah, in whose posterity chiefly it was that Jacob’s posterity were to be blessed, behaved himself very sinfully, and so as, doubtless, was greatly to his father’s grief. Joseph, his best beloved son, he went long mourning for as lost, and having come to an untimely and sorrowful end. The sons of the handmaid seem to be none of the best beloved.
Esau’s posterity seems to have come to greater prosperity than Jacob’s, as Esau himself seems to have been vastly richer and more potent than his brother. Considering these things, how can it be that God’s so often speaking of it as so great, inestimable, and distinguishing a happiness that he had admitted them to, that he was their God, and insisting on these covenant promises that he made to them, as so exceeding great and precious? I say, how can it be imagined but that God, in thus saying and promising, had respect to something that they should see and enjoy further than they ever enjoyed in this life?
 The same may be argued, and in some respects were strongly, from God’s still revealing himself as “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, after they were dead.” It was respect to the promises that had been made to them while living, of which it was known that they never saw the fulfilment, and never had received the promises, but had received a great deal of the contrary affliction; and therefore if their being was now finally extinct, and they no more capable of seeing and enjoying the fulfilment of any promise, why should God mention and insist on his friendship and love, and promises to them, as what still moved him to do great things for their sakes? and why should God still delight to characterize himself by his being their covenant God and friend, when there appeared so little foundation for it in any benefit that ever they had received by it, or were ever like to receive? It was because they were still capable of receiving the benefits of his favours and friendship, that he was not ashamed to be called their God. Heb. xi. 16. “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city.” If it had not been for this, God’s being their God, spoken of so much, and as so great a thing, would come to a very small matter, hardly worth the mentioning.
From these things we may not only argue that the patriarchs continued to be, and did enjoy something after they were dead, but also that they lived to see and enjoy the fulfilment of those promises that were made to them, with respect to which it is that God calls himself their God, both before and after their death; and that their happiness in great part consisted in seeing the fulfilment of these promises in the course of his providence to their seed, and in the dispensation of providence towards the church. And so I would argue that the happiness of departed souls in heaven, in a most important degree, consists in beholding and contemplating God’s glorious dispensations towards the church in this world, and in seeing his wonderful wisdom, and infinite grace, and other perfections, therein manifested. The principal employment of one great part of the heavenly world, viz. the holy angels, is about these things; that in which the angels do chiefly behold the manifold wisdom and other perfections of God, is in these things, and the same is that wherein chiefly the souls of departed saints do chiefly behold God’s glory.
The fulfilment of the promises God made to him concerning what should be accomplished in and for his seed, and for the church of God after his death, he said was “all his salvation and all his desire;” and therefore doubtless great part of the happiness he enjoyed after his death, consisted in fulfilling that desire of his.
 Matt. xxiii. 34, 35. “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them ye shall scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.” The learned Bedford, in his Scripture Chronology, speaking of Zechariah son of Jehoiada, whose murder in the court of the temple we have account of, 2 Chron. xxiv. 20, 21, 22. says, there are some of good authority who look upon this Zechariah to be the person of whom our Saviour spake in this place; but says, as our Saviour begins with Abel, the first instance, so we may suppose that he concluded with the last; and as he here speaks of future things, so this may be one instance among the rest, and the naming the name of both father and son is such an instance of his knowledge, the like whereof was never given by any other; we may therefore conclude, that the Zachariah, whom our Saviour speaks of, was one whom Josephus mentions in the time of the Jewish wars, and of whom he gives us this account, that he was the son of Baruch, a man of the first rank, a friend to all good men, and an enemy to the wicked. This Zachariah the zealots looked upon as a man so very popular, that they themselves could not be safe without taking away his life. For this purpose they bring him before a court of their own setting up, and falsely accuse him of a conspiracy to betray Jerusalem to the Romans, and treating with Vespasian about it. When the court, contrary to their own expectation, had declared him innocent, two of the greatest ruffians of the company fell outrageously upon Zachariah, and murdered him in the middle of the temple, with this insolent raillery in their mouths, “Now we have given you your discharge too, and you are much surer of this than you were of the other;” and so they cast his body down the precipice of the mountain.
 Matt. xxiv. 21, 22, 23, 24,. &c. “For there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect,” &c. By these days of great tribulation that Christ here speaks of, is not to be understood only the tribulation that accompanied the taking and destroying the city of Jerusalem by Titus, but it is a 782day of tribulation to the spiritual Jerusalem, as well as the literal. It is a day of tribulation wherein the elect or true Christians should be concerned, as seems to appear from verses 22 and 23. For it seems to be partly for this reason that Christ warns his church to beware, that under such a day of extraordinary temptation they should not be over-forward to believe any that appeared in his name, pretending to be Christ, appearing in his second coming to deliver them from their suffering; for that was all the primitive Christians expected, that when Christ came the second time he would deliver his church from its sufferings and tribulations. And Christ speaks of his second coming at this time as the day of their redemption out of their tribulation. Luke xxi. 28. “Then lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh;” therefore knowing that through their great tribulation they would be earnestly waiting for his coming, and so under temptation to listen to any that pretend in his name to set up for their deliverers, and appear to lead them to war against their enemies, Christ warns them not to listen or follow such impostors. The Christian church was especially under this temptation, under the persecutions of heathen Rome, for in those days especially there prevailed an opinion in the church that Christ would soon appear for their deliverance.
§ 2. When Christ says, “Except those days should he shortened, no flesh should be saved; but for the elect’s sake these days shall be shortened; 551551 Matt. xxiv. 22 ” Christ seems to have respect to those days of tribulation that he had been speaking of in the former part of the chapter, not only in the.21st verse, but in the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th verses. That those earthquakes, famines, &c. Mark xiii. 8. are said to be the beginning of what were not only sorrows to the Jews, but Christians, as is evident by what immediately follows: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake; and then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 552552 Matt. xxiv. 9. ”
§ 3. Therefore, the time of tribulation here spoken of is, as the prophet Jeremy expresses it, the time of Jacob’s tribulation. Jer. xxx. 7. “Alas, for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.” It is the time of the trouble both of the literal and spiritual Jacob; the literal Jacob shall be saved out of it, when the time comes that the apostle speaks of in the 11th of Romans., when all Israel shall be saved. And the spiritual Jacob shall be saved out of it, as appears by the words of Daniel. chap. xii. where there seems to be reference to these words of Jeremiah; “And at that time shall Michael stand up, that great prince which standeth for the children of thy people, and there shall he a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time. And at that time thy people shall be delivered every one that are found written in the book. 553553 Dan. xii. 1. ” And that the spiritual Jacob, or the elect, shall be delivered out of it, appears by the words of Christ in this place, where Christ seems to have reference to what had been before said by both these other prophets.
The prophecies of the Old Testament that speak of Israel, Jacob, Jerusalem, Zion, commonly have respect both to the Christian church and also the nation of the Jews, in things that are to be fulfilled to both in the latter days; and so it is here in the 24th of Matt. See Note on Num. xxiv. 23, 24.
§ 4. More particularly by the time of tribulation here spoken of, is meant the whole time of the tribulation and suffering both of the literal and spiritual Israel from the Roman empire, or the whole time wherein both the literal and spiritual Jerusalem shall be trodden down under-foot by Rome, or the spiritual Babylon. Beginning with the troubles that both Jews and Christians suffered under Nero, about which time was that beginning of sorrows spoken of in the 7th, 8th, and 9th verses, and ending with the time, and times, and half a time of the reign of antichrist. That this tribulation should be suffered from Rome, or in the spiritual Babylon, is signified by Christ, in ver. 28. “Wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together:” the tribulation is by the eagles, i. e. the Roman powers preying on the carcasses of Israel.
§ 5. The tribulation of the literal and spiritual Jews from Rome both began about the same time, and therefore both the sufferings of the Jews, and the persecution of Christians from the Romans, are mentioned together in the preceding part of this chapter, and called the beginning of sorrows, about the same time that the troubles of the Jews from the Romans began under Nero, who persecuted both Jews and Christians together; and both will end together; viz. when the power of Rome, the city that has brought this tribulation upon them, ends; much as of old the captivity of the Jews ceased, when Babylon, that carried them captive, was destroyed. So when the spiritual Babylon falls, the Christian church shall be delivered, and the Jews shall be called.
§ 6. The tribulation of the literal Jerusalem and the Jewish nation spoken of by Christ, at the time that we have an account of in this chapter, was not any short tribulation, or something that should soon be over, but is expressly spoken of by Christ as that which shall be continued for many ages, and even till the commencement of the glorious times of the Christian church, in the latter ages of the world. Luke xxi. 23, 24. “There shall he great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people, and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” The calamity or judgment upon the Jews here spoken of, is manifestly the same with the tribulation spoken of in Matthew, so far as that nation were the subjects of it; but this calamity or judgment here spoken of is the great and sore judgment of God on the Jewish nation, that has now continued for many ages, begun in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans: their state of captivity and dispersion into all nations, and being trodden down of all nations. But this calamity yet continues, and is spoken of in these words as what shall be continued till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. This tribulation was but begun when Jerusalem was destroyed, the calamity was not ended when the destruction was finished; it is not ended till they are delivered from that destruction, or till the state of destruction they were then brought into ceases. The calamity of being killed, or brought into a state of death, is not ended as soon as a man is killed; it is then but brought to perfection; it is not ended till the resurrection comes. The tribulation on the Jews cannot be said to be ended as long as the ruin of the city and dispersion of the nation brought by it remains; these are the great judgments spoken of as included in this tribulation, and as long as the judgments remain the tribulation is not ended.
§ 7. And as the calamity brought on the Jewish nation by Rome continues all this time, so is the Christian church throughout this time kept in a state of tribulation and oppression. There was indeed a short intermission of their trouble after Constantine came to the throne, but this was no proper end to their day of tribulation, but only a short breathing spell; it is represented by John, as silence for half an hour; but soon after this the church of Christ began again to be persecuted by the power of the Roman empire, first by the emperors, and afterwards by the power of Rome antiChristian, and is to be persecuted to the end of antichrist’s reign, or that time, times, and a half, that the holy city is to be trodden under-foot, and that forty and two months, or one thousand two hundred and sixty days, wherein the woman is to remain in the wilderness, and the witnesses are to prophesy in sackcloth. This whole space of time may be called the time of Jacob’s trouble, or the time of the tribulation of the church of God; a time of far greater outward affliction than ever the church of God saw from the beginning of the world till that time, and greater than ever it should see again. This long period of suffering of his church Christ had respect to, when he said he did not come to send peace on the earth, but a sword. This whole time is what is called the time of the mystery of God, as it is called, Rev. x. 7. and the time of these wonders, as it is called, Dan. xii. 6. i.e. the time of God’s mysterious and wonderful dealings with his own people in their great sufferings. See Note on Rev. x. 7. This is properly 783the time of the church’s travail; for from Nero’s time till now, the church has been in travail to bring forth the glory of the approaching millennium, or the establishment of Christ’s kingdom through the earth. When the millennium begins, then will the church, which God has redeemed from being an accursed Jericho by the blood of his first-born, have gates set up; but from the time of the laying of the foundation in the blood of the first-born till this time, even all the while this Jericho is in building, it has been by the shedding the blood of God’s younger children. This long space of time is the time of the slaying of those children, being the time of the building of the city, until it is finished in setting up the gates of it. And all this tribulation has been from one enemy, viz. the spiritual Babylon, or the idolatrous empire of Rome.
The church in all ages in this world, may be said to be in a degree in a militant state, and the triumphant state to be reserved for heaven. But of the different states of the church in this world, compared one with another, one may be called the militant, and another the triumphant, state of the church; and the state of the church from Christ’s time, till the downfall of the spiritual Babylon, may be called its militant state, and after that, during the millennium, it is in its triumphant state. This is properly the time of Jacob’s trouble, beyond all that went before it, or shall follow it. The church’s sufferings properly follow Christ’s sufferings, as the church’s glory follows his; the church bears the cross after Christ, and so follows him to the crown; it is made conformable to his death that it may be conformable to his resurrection. The travails of the church come after Christ’s, to fill up, as the apostle expresses it, what is behind of the sufferings of Christ, The sufferings of the Head are in some respects a forerunner of the sufferings of the members, as the glory of the Head is of the glory of the members.
This whole time is the time of the captivity of God’s people in the spiritual Babylon.
§ 8. Christ, in these words, probably has an eye to what is said by the prophet Jeremiah, in the place forementioned, chap. xxx. of his prophecy, 6th and 7th verses., where he speaks of the church’s travail, and says, “Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it. It is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be delivered out of it.” Here the prophet seems indeed to have some respect to Jacob’s trouble from the literal Babylon, and the deliverance of the Jews out of their captivity, into that Babylon: but it is manifest that it is something else he has a main respect to under that time, viz. the time of Jacob’s trouble under Rome, the spiritual Babylon, and that deliverance out of this trouble that he speaks of, is not what the Jews had on their return from the Babylonish captivity, nor at any time before the calling of that nation at the beginning of the glorious times of the church; for it is said, verse 8. that at that day strangers shall no more serve themselves of them, and that Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest and in quiet, and none shall make him afraid; and their nobles shall be of themselves, and their government shall proceed from the midst of them, as ver. 8, 10, 21. But these things have never yet been accomplished to that nation; and there it is mentioned as the peculiar glory that shall attend their deliverance, that they should serve David, their King, whom the Lord would raise up unto them, which was not accomplished on the Jews’ return out of Babylon; for this King did not appear until many hundred years after, and when he did appear, they did not serve him, but crucified him, and his rising again was followed with the destruction of that land, and of Jerusalem, instead of building it on her own heap, as ver. 18.; so that this has never yet been accomplished.
§ 9. But that this great tribulation that Christ speaks of, is no short tribulation, finished when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, but that which is not ended till the reign of antichrist is ended, and respects not only the sufferings of the outward, but also the spiritual, Jerusalem, is more fully manifest from what the prophet Daniel says of it, Dan. xii. 1. “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince that standeth for the children of thy people, and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that is found written in the book.” Concerning these words in Daniel, several things are manifest.
1. It is manifest that that is a time of trouble and great trial to the church and people of God, and that it is the same people that is first in this trouble, that, through Michael’s standing up for and appearing for them in their distress, shall be delivered out of trouble; as it is often spoken of in Scripture as God’s manner of dealing with his people, first to bring them into great distress, and then to appear or stand up for them in their extremity, and deliver them. Probably here is an eye to the forementioned prophecy of Jeremiah, where this time of trouble is said to be the time of Jacob’s trouble, and the same Jacob shall be delivered out of it. Daniel made use of these prophecies of Jeremiah, at the time that he had those revelations, as appears by chap. ix. 2., And it is further manifest by the Seventy, where speaking of the time when this time of trouble should be ended, it is said to be “when he should have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people. 554554 Dan. xii. 7. ”
2. It is manifest that this is a time of trouble that was to be in the Christian church, after the Messiah had appeared in the world; for after the prophet in the foregoing chapter had been giving an account of many successive events that lie between the time that then was, and the coming of the Messiah, he now in the beginning of this chapter proceeds to give an account of the Messiah’s coming, and what should befall God’s church after that. And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince that standeth for the children of thy people,” &c.
3. It is manifest that this time of trouble here spoken of is not to be ended until the time, arid times, and half a time of antichrist is ended; for when the angels, being tenderly and greatly concerned for the church under such great trouble, say to Jesus Christ, “How long shall it be to the end of those wonders?” Christ for the comfort of them and his church, lest his people should faint under such tribulation, holds up his right hand and his left to heaven, and swears by him that liveth for ever and ever, that it shall continue no longer than for a time, and times, and a half, ver. 6, 7.
4. It is manifest that the time of great tribulation, spoken of by Christ in the 24th of Matthew, is the same with that spoken of by Daniel in this place. It can scarcely be doubted whether Christ has reference to these words of Daniel, in what he says here, his words being so much like them, and he having just before expressly cited Daniel’s prophecy, ver. 15. and refers to it from time to time in the chapters, and particularly has reference to Daniel’s words in this chapter, in what he says of the continuance of those days of tribulation. But this may be more particularly considered under the next head.
§ 10. All this he more abundantly manifests, and it will be put beyond dispute, by comparing three scriptures together, viz. what Christ says of the continuance of those days of tribulation in that forementioned place, Luke xxi. 24. “And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled,” with what Daniel says in this 12th chapter. of his prophecy, of the continuance of this time of great trouble, till a time, times, and a half, and what is said in Revelation xi. 2. “But the court which is without the temple, leave out, and measure it not, for it is given unto the Gentiles; and the holy city shall they tread under-foot forty and two months.” Concerning these three scriptures, I would observe,
1. That nobody doubts whether these forty-two months of which John speaks, in which the holy city should be trodden under-foot of the Gentiles, be the same with the time, times, and a half, that Daniel speaks of, till the end of which the time of great tribulation was to last.
2. Both Christ in the 21st of Luke, and John in the Revelations, speak of treading down Jerusalem; for by the holy city is meant Jerusalem, that was commonly called the holy city; and both speak of treading down Jerusalem by the Gentiles; and probably in that place in Revelation, reference is had to those words of Christ.
3. Hence we may infer, that when Christ says, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, till the 784times of the Gentiles be fulfilled,” by the times of the Gentiles, he means the same with that forty-two months of the prevailing of the Gentiles against Jerusalem, or the Jews, of which John speaks; and the same with the time, times, and half, that Daniel speaks of; and probably in the phrase he uses, viz. ”times of the Gentiles,” he has reference to the ”time, times,” &c. of Daniel, whose prophecy he had reference to. The times of the Gentiles Christ here speaks of, are the same with that time that the angel swears shall be no longer, Rev. x. 6. compared with Dan. xii. 7.
4. That the Jerusalem that Christ speaks of, is especially the literal Jerusalem, and that by the Jerusalem or holy city that John speaks of, is that spiritual Jerusalem; from all which it is greatly confirmed that the time of tribulation that Christ speaks of is the same that Daniel speaks of, and that it respects the continuance of the tribulation, or treading down both of the literal and spiritual Jerusalem, and that it shall last till the fall of antichrist.
§ 11. It seems to be intimated that the time in itself was very long, by the 22nd verse,. “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” The days are shortened by taking out many days out of the long period of time, for times of respite and rest. Then the proper time appointed for Jacob’s trouble, is from Nero’s time till the fall of antichrist, which is a great many ages, but for the elect’s sake the tribulation is not constantly continued through this whole time, for if it should be so it would wear out the saints, and would wholly root out and destroy the church; therefore for the elect’s sake God will take out many of those days for respite; so that the days of actual tribulation shall be much fewer than this whole period. Thus there was respite between the ten heathen persecutions; and there was a remarkable time of rest after the tenth and hottest of them upon Constantine’s coming to the throne. And towards the end of the antiChristian persecutions, many of the days should be taken out, and many parts of the church should have rest, after the reformation, being out of the reach of the persecuting power of Rome; which is possibly what is signified by the witnesses rising and standing on their feet, and being caught up to heaven, out of the reach of their enemies.
It is further evident that the tribulation Christ speaks of is not merely a calamity that was brought on Judea and Jerusalem, or 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 divers 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 24th of Matt. “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 powers 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 iii. 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, 555555 Joel iii. 18. ” &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; 556556 Joel ii. 31. ” and Isa. 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 to what Christ says, “The powers of the heavens shall be shaken. 557557 Matt. xxiv. 29. ” 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 Revelation that it is spiritually called Egypt; and again, Isa. 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 her 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 empire, that the prophet Isaiah signifies by the very same expressions, Isa. 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 785by 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, 558558 Matt. xxiv. 29. ” &c. he then adds in the next verse, (ver. 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 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, of 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 stale 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, signify 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 Messiah 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.
Carol. 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 spirits, like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth 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 Thess. 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 unrighteousness 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 claims 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 horns like a lamb, Rev. xiii. 11. “And he sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” In that, he showeth himself that he is Christ, and therein exalteth himself above Christ. 2 Thess. ii. 4. Christ no where foretells 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 himself. I say, it is not probable 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. ii. 18. “As ye have heard that antichrist should come, even so now are there many antichrists.”
Carol. 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.
 Matt. xxiv. 22. “But for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” Inquiry 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 them for many ages to be persecuted. By it is intended that he will manifest his wisdom in swiftly turning the wheel of his providence, and with wondrous expedition bringing things about that were necessary to be done before they could be delivered.
 Matt. xxvii. 14. “And he answered him 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, ruffled 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 suffer, 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.
 Matt. 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 another Judas, who pretending to be the follower of Christ, is his worst enemy in the world, as Judas more incensed God’s anger than his murderers. So hypocrites in all ages are the betrayers of Christ; who, by a seeming embracing of religion, expose Christ to shame and mockery, as Judas with a kiss. And, 2. What should afterwards come to pass, that the clergy would be the chief persecutors of Christ, as the priests of the Jews were.
 Matt. xxvii. 45. “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.” This darkness seems to be a presage of the approaching destruction of that land, for that sin of crucifying Christ. This darkness begins at noon, whereby the sun, as it were, went down at noon. The prophet Amos, in the 8th chapter of his prophecy, foretelling the destruction of the land, when the end shall come upon the people of Israel, and God will not pass by them any more, and the songs of the temple shall be turned into howlings, and there shall be 786many dead bodies in every place, says in the 9th verse,. “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day.
This also seems to be a fulfilment of Jer. ii. 12, 13. “Be ye astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be ye horribly afraid; be ye very desolate, saith the Lord, for my people have committed two evils, they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters.”
 Matt. xxvii. 51. “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” This was the veil that hindered our access to the throne of grace, or the mercy-seat in the holy of holies.
That hiding of the mercy-seat, and hindering of our access to the mercy-seat, figured a twofold hinderance of access to God.
1. The hinderance by which all men are kept off while they remain under the first covenant of works; they are hindered by their guilt, God’s law and justice.
2. That hinderance of free access that was under the first testament while the church was in a legal state, and in its minority, and under carnal, ordinances, so that access was rare and difficult, only allowed to the high priest, and that but once a year: so that the veil signifies two things, viz. 1. The sin of man, both guilt and corruption of heart; which both in diverse respects are a veil to hide the mercy-seat, and hinder our access. Both these were typified by the flesh of Christ. The sin of God’s people, or elect church, was typified by Christ’s flesh; for sin is called flesh in Scripture, and the elect church is Christ mystical; so that Christ, in taking flesh upon him, took their sin upon him: he became sin for us, and when his flesh was crucified, when his human nature died, then this veil was removed, for that abolished the sin of the elect church. So likewise Christ in the flesh, in his infirm, weak state, signified the church, or Christ mystical, in its Old-Testament minority, when it was in its weak, infirm, and carnal state, under carnal ordinances, under the elements of the world; and those carnal ordinances, and carnal dispensations, that Christ mystical was under, was as it were the flesh of Christ. When Christ died, then there was an end to those types and shadows, because they were then all fulfilled.
Christ’s human nature was a temple; it was the antitype of the temple; and his flesh, or the infirmity of his human nature, was the veil that hid the glory of God, or the divinity that dwells in him, and was in his person. So that the veil of the temple, in the 3d place, typified the literal flesh of Christ, that had veiled his glory; which it ceased to do when his state of humiliation was at an end. Christ himself, our great High Priest, entered into the holy of holies through the veil of his own flesh. That day that Christ died, was the great day of atonement, typified by the day of atonement of old, when the high priest entered into the holy of holies. Christ, as God man, could enter into heaven no other way than by rending this veil. Christ offered his sacrifice in the outward court, in this world, and then in the conclusion of it rent the veil, that his blood might be sprinkled within the veil.
 Matt. xxvii. 60. “And laid it in his own new tomb.” Christ was laid in a disciple’s grave; he suffered that death which belonged to us, and he was laid in our grave. He entered into the shade of death in our stead; he went down into that deep pit where we were to have gone. He had no sin of his own, so he had no death of his own: it was our sin, and our grave: it was a tomb hewed out of a rock. Our state of death and misery was such, that it would have been impossible for us to escape; for our prison that we are going to is strong as a solid rock.
 Matt. xxviii. The accounts of the four evangelists, concerning the resurrection of Christ, reconciled.
In the first place, there was a great earthquake; an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow, and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. Matt. xxviii. 2, 3, 4. And presently, as soon as their extraordinary surprise would allow them, they ran away into the city; and then, soon after they were gone, Mary Magdalene, from her extraordinary affection, comes to the sepulchre before the other woman, while it was yet dark, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre, and finds not the body there, and then runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, 559559 John xx 2. “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him;” then Peter and John came running to the sepulchre; and Mary returns with them or comes after them as fast as she could. Peter and John went into the sepulchre, and saw the linen clothes lying, but found not the body of Christ, and not knowing what to make of things, went away again. Mr. Prince supposed that Luke speaks of this coming of Peter to the sepulchre in the 24th chapter of his Gospel, 12th verse., and supposes the word should have been rendered thus, “Now Peter also had risen, and ran to the sepulchre, and stooping down, saw the linen clothes lying by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at what was done;” but when they were gone, Mary staid behind, and would not go away. She probably staid waiting for the company of women that she expected would presently come with spices to anoint the body; but as she stood there weeping, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and saw two angels in white, sitting one at the head, and the other at the foot, where the body of Jesus had lain; they speak to her, and ask her why she wept; she answers, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him; and when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 560560 John xx. 13. ” (Probably because the twilight was yet dim.) Jesus asked her why she wept. She, supposing him to be the gardener, says to him, “Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith to her, Mary; 561561 John xx. 15. ” and she then knew him, and worships him. Christ bids her go and inform his disciples, &c. On which Mary went away in haste to tell his disciples, and did not wait till the women came with the spices as she intended; Mark xvi.9, 10, 11. John xx. 1-19.
The other women, that were concerned in the design of anointing the body of Jesus, went together in order to go to the sepulchre about break of day, and came to the sepulchre about sun-rise, after Mary Magdalene was gone, whom they had not seen, nor she them; and they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? and when they came, they found that the stone was rolled away. Mark xvi. 2, 3, 4. and Luke xxiv. 1, 2. “And they entered in, (the angel now not appearing on the stone,) and found not the body of Jesus there; and while they were much perplexed thereabout, behold two men stood by them in shining garments,” and one of them of a distinguished brightness and glorious appearance, being the same, the glory and majesty of whose appearance had so terrified the keepers. He sat on the right side, clothed in a long white garment. Matt. xxviii. 4, 5. Luke xxiv. 3, 4. Mark xvi. 5. This angel on the right side is he that speaks to them, saying, “Fear ye not; I know that ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. Why seek ye the living among the dead? he is not here, for he is risen, as he said; come, see the place where the Lord lay; and remember how he spake unto you while he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. But go your way quickly; tell his disciples, and Peter, that he goeth before you into Galilee, there shall ye see him as he said unto you. Lo, I have told you. 562562 Luke xxiv. 5. ” Matt. xxviii. 5, 6, 7. Mark xvi. 6, 7. Luke xxiv. 5, 6, 7. “And they remembered his words, and they came out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre, for they trembled and were amazed, nor said they any thing to any one, for they were affrighted, they came out with fear and great joy, as they ran to bring his disciples word. Matt. xxviii. 8. Mark xvi. 8. Luke xxiv. 8. Matt. xxviii. 9. “And as they went to bring his disciples word, lo, Jesus met them, saying, All hail; and they came to him, and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid; go tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Matt. xxviii. 9, 10. And they returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.”
|« Prev||Matthew||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version