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... Our Lord then goes on to point out the time when all these things shall take place, and thus answers the other question put to him by the disciples, “Tell us, when shall these things be f* “Now learn, says he, a parable of the fig-tree: When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh; so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” The only observation necessary to be made here is, that the time when all these predictions were to be fulfilled is here limited to a certain period. They were to be accomplished before the generation of men then existing should pass away. And accordingly all these events did actually take place within forty years after our Saviour delivered this prophecy; and this :by the way is an unanswerable proof, that every thing our Lord had been saying in -: the the preceding part of the chapter related principally, not to the day of judgment, or to any other very remote event, but to the destruction of Jerusalem, which did in reality happen before that generation had passed away. “But of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” That is, although the time when Jerusalem is to be destroyed, is, as I have told you, fixed generally to this generation, yet the precise day and hour of that event is not known either to men or angels, but to God only. This he speaks in his human nature, and in his prophetic capacity. This point was not made known to him by the spirit, nor was he commissioned to reveal it. It is supposed by several learned commentators, that the words that day and that hour, refer to the day of judgment, which is immediately alluded to in the preceding verse, heaven and earth shall pass away. This conjecture is an ingenious one, and may be true; but if it be, this verse should be inclosed in a parenthesis, becaue what follows most certainly relates to the destruction of Jerusalem, (to which St. Luke in the seventeenth chapter expressly confines it *) and cannot, without great violence to the words, be applied to the final advent of Christ. “As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away : so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field ; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” That is, when the day of desolation shall come upon the city and temple of Jerusalem, the inhabitants will be as thoughtless and unconcerned, and as unprepared for it, as the antediluvians were for the
flood in the days of Noah. . But as some (more particularly the Christians) will be more, watchful and in a better state of mind than others, the providence of God will make a distinction between his faithful and his disobedient servants, and will protect and preserve the former, but leave the latter to be taken or destroyed by their enemies; although they may both be in the same situation of life, may be engaged in the same occupations, and may appear to the world to be in every respect in similar circumstances. Here ends the prophetical part of our Lord's discourse ; what follows is altogether exhortatory. It may be called the moral of the prophecy, and the practical application of it not only to his immediate hearers, but to his disciples in all future ages; for this concluding admonition most certainly alludes no less to the final judgment than to the destruction of Jerusalem, and applies with at least equal force to both. Indeed the prophecy itself although in its primary and strictest sense it *
it relates throughout to the destruction of the temple, city, and government of Jerusalem, yet, as I have before observed, may be considered, and was probably intended by Jesus, as a type and an emblem of the dissolution of the world itself, to which the total subversion of a great city and a whole nation bears some resemblance. But with respect to the conclusion, there can be no doubt of its being intended to call our attention to the last solemn day of account; and with a view of its producing this effect, I shall now press it upon your minds in the very words of our Lord, without any comment, for it is too clear to require any explanation, and too impressive to require any additional enforcement. “Watch ye, therefore, for ye know not at what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an
hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh.