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Having now introduced the subject of his personal coming for the double purpose of telling his disciples that it would not take place at the destruction of Jerusalem, and to answer their questions touching this subject, he now proceeds to give the moral and physical phenomena attending his glorious appearing ; he intimates that his saints will be gathered to him as the eagles gather to their prey ; Deut.32:11,--that after the tribulation of those days, (probably the battle of Armageddon,) the sun shall be darkened, the stars shall fall from heaven, the moon shall not give her light—and 'then,' amid these scenes, there shall appear the signs of the Son of man in the heavens, 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.' See verses 28,30.
But as an answer to all this, you refer me to the 34th verse. . Verily, I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away until all these things be fulfilled. This verse I fear will rise up in judgment against many a Universalist preacher, for with it, thousands have been deluded with a hope that the judgment and its attendant resurrection are past. Let any passage be brought forward to sustain the commonsense doctrine of a judgment to come, and the summary answer is, Verily I say unto you, this generation,' &c.Well, now let us examine this verse. You put a certain construction upon the word generation, as used here, and then employ the text thus construed, to explain away the alarming threatenings of the Word of God. What then, is the import of the word generation here? The Greek word here rendered generation, is genea. Grove, in his Greek Lexicon defines it thus : ' A generation, descent; succession; birth ; parentage; a race; breed; kind; sort ; species ; age; the time from the birth of a man till he has a son, about thirty years.'
Now your definition would be here,' generation-thirty years, or the time from the birth of a man till he has a son. -But this is neither the only, nor the most obvious definition. In order that we understand our Savior consistently
with hirmself and with matters of fact, we must put another construction upon the word genea here. It is evidently used in this text and in many other places by our Savior, in the sense of race, breed, kind, sort, or species.
It is so used in Ps. 22: 30. “A seed shall serve him, it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation” - a family-a kind, a sort. See also Ps. 24: 6. So our Savior calls the Jews, as a nation, as a class, a family, a sort, a generation. “ All these things shall come on this generation.” This obviously does not mean upou those only who were then living, but upon that nation, or race, and the curse is upon them to this day. The blood of the prophets from the blood of Abel down, is as much upon the Jewish nation now as a family, as it was in the days of Josephus. “Whereunto shall I liken this generation,” that is, this nation or family, the children of Abraham. So Peter says of believers, “ Ye are a choşen generation,” that is, a chosen race, breed, kind or sort. This is applicable to all believers to the end of time. So I understand Christ to use the word genea in Matt. 24: 34. “ Verily I say unto you this generation (race, breed, kind, or sort of people—the Jews,) shall not pass till all these things be fulálled.” And by a miracle of divine Providence, that generation, or family of Abraham still live, scattered among all nations, pealed, persecuted, and yet everywhere maintaining their national prejudices, predictions and forms of worship. I understand our Savior to use the word genea in the sense of race, and to apply it to the Jews as a people or race. (1) Because this is the proper use of the word. ' (2) He had just been describing the destruction of the Holy City, and the wars in which the Jews would be involved, and it would be natural for his hearers to conclude that the nation or race as such, would be wholly destroyed. Christ says no—they will not pass, they will have an existence till his second coming. (3) If we put the other construction upon it, and understand our Savior to say that his coming would take place within
thirty years, we make him contradict himself, and say that which is not true. Jerusalem was not destroyed during that generation, or within a period of thirty years. It was at least thirty seven years, and according to the chronology of some, forty years after the crucifixion. Besides, a multitude of circumstances are to take place at the coming of Christ, none of which took place at the destruction of Jerusalem, as,
(1) His coming is to be visible and personal. Matt. 24: 30. John 14:1–4. Acts 1:9-11. Rev. 1:7. Dan. 7: 13. 1 John 3: 2. Col. 3:3. But Christ did not come visibly nor personally, ai the destruction of Jerusalem. (2) Christ is to raise the righteous dead at his coming. 1 Thes. 4: 14–17. 1 Cor. 15: 52.-Phil. 3: 20, 21. Rev. 20 : 4-6. But the dead did not rise at the destruction of Jerusalem. (3) Christ is to gather his saints together from one end of the heavens to the other, and to be glorified in
them, at his coming. Matt. 13:41-43; 24:31. 1 Thes. .4: 17. 2 Thes. 1 : 10. But this was not the case when
Jerusalem was destroyed. So far were the angels of God from gathering together the elect from one end of the heavens to the other on that occasion, that they were ac- " tually forewarned by Christ to "flee to the mountains.” (4) The coming of Christ is to be sudden, and to many, wholly unexpected. He is to come with the suddenness and vividness of lightning, like a thief in the night; men are to be about their business and pleasures as they were in the days of Noah,--two to be in the field, one to be taken and the other left, wo women grinding at the mill, one to be taken the other left. Matt. 24 : 27, 38, 40, 41. 1 Thes. 5: 2, 3. 2 Pet. 3:10. But it was not so when Jerusalem was destroyed. There was nothing sudden in that event. The war existed more than three years before the city and temple were destroyed. The Roman army was slow and deliberate in its movements. Having conquered the most of Galilee, they repaired to Cesarea in the autumn of A. D. 69, for winter quarters. In the
spring, they moved slowly towards Jerusalem, driving the Jews before them, as sheep to the slaughter; they arrived under the walls of the city in April, and continued the siege till Sept. before they destroyed the city. This was very far from being sudden like the coming of lightning. (5) Besides, when the Lord comes, he is to introduce a general and particular judgment.
"All nations are to be gathered before him.” “We must all appear at the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body.” “The righteous” are to be received to the kingdoin prepared for them from the foundation of the world,” and have “eternal (aionion) life," while the wicked are to “ go away into everlasting (aionion) punishment.” Matt. 25: 31, 22, 46. 2 Cor. 5: 10. " But all nations” were not gathered at the destruction of Jerusalem ; “every one did not there, receive according to his works," nor did the righteous there find “eternal life ;” nor the wicked “eternal punishment.” What then can be plainer than that the destruction of Jerusalem and the coming of our Lord are two distinct events?
4. But you say that Christ and his apostles frequently spoke of the coming of Christ, and the end of all things' as near in their day. I answer, (1) The apostles were not permitted to know definitely, the times and seasons when their Lord would come, as appears from Matt. 24: 36, 50. (2) Our Savior and his apostles evidently spoke comparatively when they spoke of the end of all things being near at hand.” Comparing the time to come with the time that had been, and the whole length of time with eternity, the end of “all things was then, as it is now, àt hand.” Time is but a shadow, and the Lord will make comparatively, “a short work on the earth."'.
5. There is one mode of supporting Universalism, which some of your preachers have adopted, which I regret I have not time more fully to examine. It is the notion, that the animal part of man is the sinful part. You say that man is a kind of three-fold being, having a body, soul, and spirit, and that the spirit, which alone survives death, is immaculate, not guilty ; that the soul, by which you mean mere anirnal life, which man possesses in common with beasts, is the sinful part, and that this is wholly destroyed by death. To this I briefly reply,
(1.) This theory is at war with the philosophy of mind. Every body knows who will reflect a moment, ibat sin is an act, not of the body, not of the mere animal, but of the mind, of the intellectual part of man. A brute cannot sin, because it has not intellect. The mind first invents the deed, and wills to do it, and then uses the body as an instrument. This every one knows, who will consult his own experience. (2) If the animal part of man is the sinner, how does it happen that the mind or spirit suffers the pangs of guilt ? If your doctrine in this respect is true, we might expect that the sin of blasphemy, for example, would produce a pain in the head, or the gout in
you know, is used in the scriptures to represent the affections of the mind. Well, now, Christ says, “ Out of the heart proceedeth fornications, thefts,” &c. Matt. 15: 19. (4) According to this doctrine, there is no salvation. If the spirit never sinned-never was lost-never was guilty, it is manisest it needs no pardon-no repentance-no salvation. It only needs to be helped out of bad company; a deliverance easily effected by the aid of a halter, razor or arsenic. (5) If the spiritual part of man is not the sinful part, I cannot understand Paul, when he says, “ For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness, literally, wickedness of spirits. Eph. 6: 12.
In fine, I have now examined your system. I have compared it with human experience, sound philosophy, and common sense, and have found it mocking common sense, outraging human experience, and denying the most obvious principles of sound mental philosophy. We have