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who had only the ordinary means of information, (and no other were granted where they were not necessary() could not soon be certified of this universal promulgation; or if they were, yet, from the words of this prophecy, they were not authorifed to conclude, that the destruction of the temple should immediately ensue. A certain event was declared, before which, the final excision, whatever there might be of rumours abroad, or commotions at home, should not take place ; but it was not said, that when one was fulfilled, the other might not still, for a short while, be delayed.
For these reasons therefore, our bleffed Lord, besides the swift propagation of his gospel, was pleased to foreshew other signs of the times, peculiarly observable to the inhabitants of Judea, and some of them pointing out the critical moment, when flight would be the only means of security.
Ου γαρ επι μικροις το Θειων την εαυτ8 συμμαχιαν οις αν ειναν διδωσιν' αλλ' εφ' οις ανθρώπινης ελπιδα μη βλεπου προς το κραττον παprodev. Jos. Ant. Jud. L. II. c. xv. §. 5. Vide et Chryfoft. in Act. xvi. 10. T. IV. p. 804. 1.4. et confer p. 812. 1. 1. 817. 1. 25. T. V. p. 277. 1. 33. et seqq. See also an admirable remark on St. Peter's deliverance from prison, in Dr. Townfon's Disc. on the Gospels, p.62. Laitly comp. 2 Cor. i. 5.
Of these local marks one was that, which is contained in the text : « Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in
my name, saying, I am Christ,” or rather, the Chrift“, “and Thall deceive many." St. Luke, in the parallel passage, adds, “ and the time draweth near : go ye not therefore after them.” And the three evangelists, after mentioning another token, that of wars and tumults, have carefully recorded the caution to the disciples, not to be terrified; forafmuch as these things must, indeed, come to pass, but the end should not be yet.
• 'o Xeiros. It is scarcely ever used absolutely in the Gof. pels. The contemptuous speech, agodetevoo Xgisi, Matt. xxvi. 68. cannot be thought an exception. In Mar. ix. 41, the other words are so express, that the article seemed not neceffary : ν τω ονοματι με, ότι Xρισε ισε,
In Luke xxiii. 2, if it is not an epithet of king, it is in apposition with it; and the one not admitting the article, the other could not have it. The only remaining text, where it stands alone, is John ix. 22. and here poffibly it may have its common, not its appropriate, fignification : " If any one should acknowledge him to be anointed, to have any divine commission, though not that of the Meffiah.” This seems to be confirmed by what follows; for the man was excommunicated for confessing Jesus to be a prophet. Compare verse 33. with 17. He afterwards (38) believed him to be the Son of God. In the Epistles the word Xgosos very frequently occurs, without any addition whatsoever. See Rom, v. 6.8. vi. 4. 8, 9. viii. 9, 10. 1 Cor. i. 17. 23. ii. 16. iii. 1. ix. 21. xii, 27. i Pet. i. 11. ii, 21, üi. 16. &c.
After this, St. Matthew, at the twenty third verse, again takes up the subject of the false christs, in the following words, most of which are transcribed by St. Mark: “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there ; believe it not. For there shall rise false chrifts and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that (if it were poffible) they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.'
This passage is, by fome, applied to a different race of impostors, from those, who are characterised in the beginning of the chapter ; to the deceivers, who, as they suppose, shall precede the second coming of our Lord. It is not necessary here to enter upon the
great question, whether the whole of this important chapter does, or does not, relate to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the concomitant circumstances of that event. On either supposition, I see no good reason, why the passage before us should not be understood of those days.
St. Luke has entirely omitted it; which he would probably not have done, had it been
f He has however, in another place, a passage altogether fimilar, which evidently relates to the Jewish calamities. See 6. xvii. 23,
totally distinct from the foregoing predictions. His Gospel being designed for the use of the Gentiles remote from Judea, he is less minute and circumstantial, than the former evangelists, in describing those signs, of which few or none of his readers were likely to be eye-witnesses. But against the lying prophets, if such there shall be, in the last days, it was expedient for the whole church, for the Gentile as well as the Jewish converts, to be forewarned; and the book more adapted for general instruction would probably have contained the more generally necessary caution.
Moreover, some parts of the description, cfpecially in St. Matthew, are evidently local, and feem particularly to point out pretenders' to the Messiahship; and whatever false teachers may have been in the church, or shall hereafter arife, we can hardly fuppose, any of them will be bold enough, to assume a character more exalted, than that of a prophet.
The discourses of our Lord, as recorded by the evangelists, if they have not a critical arrangement of parts, are not however void of order and method. Being less artificial,
they have perhaps, for that reason, more of dignity and weight; but there is certainly a connection, which is wife and good, and commonly apparent. In the chapter before us, our blessed Saviour does not give a direct and immediate answer to the inquiries of his apostles 3 ; which they made, it is probable, from curiosity and concern for their native country, but with little apprehension of danger to themselves. The warning that was most requisite is therefore given first. They are cautioned, and their converts through them, not to be led away by impostors, who should appear, and, with too much success, study to deceive. The beginning of sorrows, insurrections and tumults, famine and pestilence, are next mentioned; and the Christians, under their
peculiar afflictions, which are then foretold, might derive perhaps some degree of patient firmness, from the confideration, that they suffered, when sufferings were common; but they would undoubtedly feel inexpreslible joy, in the enlivening reflection, that what they underwent was for the name, and for the sake, of Christ. They are likewise affured, in express words, that whoso endured
See verse 4. &c. and S. Chrysostom on the place.