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REMARKS ON THE JUBILEAN PERIOD, IN A LETTER TO A
FRIEND; BY WILLIAM CUNINGHAME, ESQ. It has lately struck me, that if we could ascertain exactly when the next Year of Jubilee is, it would throw much light upon the probable course of events. I shall now tell you the result of my inquiries. Before consulting any writer on the subject, I arrived at the conclusion in my own mind that our Lord's personal ministry must have begun in a year of jubilee. Mark'i. 15 helped me to this conclusion. I then consulted Hales, whose work on chronology I have: I found that he had arrived at the very same conclusion-from another text-namely, Luke iv. 18, which he thinks our Lord chose from its being the very year of jubilee. Now Hales places the first year of our Lord's ministry, not in the year 31, as in the marginal chronology of our authorized Bibles, but three years sooner, in A.D. 28: from which year, computing downwards, I found, to my great surprise and delight, that the year 1792 is a jubilee year, in which you know I place the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and the expiration of the 1260 years. The next year of jubilee will be 1841; and, if I am right in these calculations, I conjecture that before that year Israel will be in possession of their own land, and the advent will have taken place. In the next place, I find that Hales places the first sabbatical year, after the entrance of Israel under Joshua into the promised land, in the year a.c. 1589. I ought to add, that he adopts the chronology of the LXX. and Josephus, rejecting that of our Hebrew Bibles, which there is reason to believe was falsified by the Jews after our Lord's appearance, for the purpose of throwing back the whole chronology of the world, and this in order to prove that Messiah was not come. I next found that from A.c. 1589 to A.D. 1841 are exactly seventy jubilees, or 3430 years.-Now if you refer to my Jewish Essays, p. 180, printed in 1822, you will find a conjecture that the seventy years mentioned in Zech. i. 12 is a mystical number, representing the whole period of the captivities and dispersions of Judah, until the final redemption of the nation. I am inclined to believe that I have now found this mystical number in the seventy jubilees above mentioned. In arriving at this conclusion, we must derive assistance from the manner in which the 400 years mentioned in Gen. xv. 13 is calculated; which comprehends much more than the time of the actual captivity in Egypt, and begins, as is generally admitted, from the birth of Isaac. So, in calculating the seventy jubilees, we must advert to the principle laid down in Levit. xxv, 23, that the children of Israel, in their former possession of the land, had it only as pilgrims and strangers. It is only when they receive it after their final return that it shall be theirs “ for an everlasting possession."
ON THE PARABLE OF THE MARRIAGE SUPPER,
Luke xiv. 16. Ir is a fact well known, and should be laid seriously to heart by those who are immediately concerned, that the conscientious followers of Christ are at this day divided into two classes, so opposed to each other in opinion as to occasion surprise that such differences should exist among individuals who profess to be seeking for the same object, with the same Guide to direct them in their progress to its attainment. This extraordinary circumstance is not generally inquired into, with that attention its importance demands : it is rather acknowledged by most, in connection with the ready conclusion that those who think differently from themselves are in error; without duly considering the startling truth, that all who are thus widely varying in opinions are conscientious followers of Christ; ail desirous of obtaining the glorious promises revealed in that one volume, to which all equally appeal for the truth of their own opinions. These opposing sentiments are certainly much to be lamented, and we should earnestly pray that God may direct the hearts of his people into the right understanding of those things which are written for the edification and comfort of his church.
It must immediately occur, upon looking at this question, that, the Guide being acknowledged infallible, the different opinions alluded to arise from a total mistake, on the one part or the other, respecting the promises of God to the faithful; and, therefore, from an entire misconception both of their nature and of the directions given for their attainment. Hence the error necessarily attaches solely to the individual, either from an ignorance or a wrong understanding of the word of God; from which proceeds the rejection of the true promises it contains, or a carelessness respecting them, equally culpable. Now it will be shewn, as we proceed, that error here is FATAL; and not, as many imagine, of no importance, and no obstacle to their finally possessing the full enjoyment of all the promises given to the church. For, God having revealed his purpose, man has no excuse for his ignorance; and this subject deserves the serious attention of all, that each may examine for himself, whether he be truly walking with those who have rightly comprehended God's word, and who through faith may confidently expect those blessings which God has reserved, to be in due time given to his people; or whether he be amongst those who, having altogether overlooked the bidding to the marriage supper, deem any excuse sufficient for not attending to the summons, when all things are ready.
In order to form some conclusion on this head, we will refer to the parable of our Lord in Luke xiv. 16; which is pressed upon the consideration of every Christian from closing with one of those awful denunciations against unbelievers, which He never pronounced without ample reason, and which will not be passed over with unconcern by those who value Him who spake them. And may He, who is the only Giver of every good gift, grant to us that faith which is not only the precursor to his blessings, sealing the promises to us by the full assurance that we shall possess them; but without which they are neither ours in expectancy here, nor can be ours in reality hereafter.
The words of our Lord are these : « A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: and sent his servants at suppertime to say to them that were bidden, Come, for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make
The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it : I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, that none of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper.”
To the right understanding of this parable, we must endeavour to attain a knowledge of the time particularly alluded to; which, if the context did not afford, may be readily done by a reference to other parts of Scripture: there will be, then, no difficulty in perceiving the circumstance to which it relates. In such passages as these, it is particularly desirable to avoid delusion and selfdeception, in giving them an application which, never having been intended,
is not warranted by the word of God : for we are thus thrown upon a sea of imagination and uncertainty, having neglected that only guide which could have kept us within the bounds of truth; and the whole tenor of the passage is lost, either as a voice of warning or a word of rich instruction. Now our Lord had just concluded an injunction to feed the poor with these gracious words, “ For thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” “ And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God." Any one will perceive, by looking at the chapter, that these last words could have no reference to any thing our Saviour had then spoken, excepting the concluding part of his address above quoted ; and our Lord does not mention any error, in the kingdom of God ” having been thus placed in conjunction with “ the resurrection of the just;” but immediately, laying hold of this great truth, he takes the opportunity of delivering the parable we are now studying, for the edification of those who have ears to hear and understanding to comprehend the wisdom therein contained. It is evident, therefore, that the person who thus addressed our Lord referred to a future state when he said “ Blessed is he that shall eat,” &c.; which future condition of the church he called the kingdom of God, with the confidence that those who should eat bread therein would then be in blessedness. And in order to prove that it was so understood, we need only look to our Saviour's words in this place, and to such other parts of Scripture as clearly illustrate the true intention of the parable; by which we find this generation to be nearly concerned in the denunciation against those who had such various excuses for not attending the summons to the supper. And if any one will assert, that the parable refers solely to the general preaching of the Gospel through the whole of this dispensation, and endeavour therein to trace a connection applicable to that period, they not only do violence to the passage and destroy its intention, but will be totally unable to produce a meaning for various portions of its valuable matter.
The“ great supper” here spoken of is an event elsewhere mentioned. In Matt. xxii., as a similitude to the “ kingdom of
. heaven,” it is styled “a marriage” made for the King's Son; who “sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding, and they would not come :” and that which in the one parable is termed the “ marriage," and in the other the “ great supper,” is in the Revelations named the “ marriage supper of the Lamb.” Now this marriage supper is, beyond all controversy, an event still future, being placed in synchronism with the millennial period of blessedness on earth : but by transcribing the passage we shall more clearly perceive the intimate connection it bears with the parable before us--or, rather, the direct reference which the parable has to this grand event, which in God's order of providence is drawing to its accomplishment. Rev. xix. 6: “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia : For the Lord God Omnipotent ReiGNETH. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white : for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he said unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said unto me, These are the TRUE sayings of God.” What a verity is attached to this important passage! It requires no demonstration to prove that the Lamb signifies the Son of God, and that the bride is his church; neither is argument necessary to shew that the kingdoms of this world are not yet become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ: and as it is shewn in Rev. xix. that the marriage supper takes place about the period when the enemies of God are slain and the reign of righteousness comes in—that is, at the close of this dispensation—we have an important clue, nay, a positive index, pointing to the time and the generation of men to which the parable alludes. The fact is, it has no reference to the general preaching during the last eighteen centuries, but is an especial admonitory lesson for the particular use of the church in this latter time; for, after the introductory part,“ A certain man made a great supper, and bade many,” the parable proceeds in language the most definite, “and sent his servants at supperTime to say to them that were bidden, Come, for all things are now ready : " whereby we clearly perceive that the notice (not an invitation) is sent to those who were previously bidden; and that it is sent at SUPPER-TIME, when all things are ready ; or, in other words, immediately preceding the union of Christ and his church at the resurrection of the just.
This elucidation of the parable having brought the message to our very doors, “ Come, for all things are now ready,” it is not difficult to find its direct and intended application to the condition of the church in these days; and thence to ascertain to whom it alludes, as those who, having been bidden, are, by avoiding the summons, bringing upon themselves that righteous sentence, that they should not taste of the supper. In the parable, this class, who had been called to the privilege of being guests, seem to have forgotten that they had been bidden to a supper ; and when the Lord in kindness sent“ at supper-time,” to remind them of the previous invitation, saying, “ Come, for all things are now ready,” they made light of it, paying no more regard to the summons than they had before shewn respect for the King, in remembering that they had been bidden : they treated it with contempt; and each one had his reason for despising both the messenger and the message. And if, on looking around us, we find, on the one hand, faithful servants of Christ delivering their Master's message, “ Come, for all things are now ready;" and if we see, on the other hand, a number who had been bidden of the King making light of the message, with one consent finding excuse, and a remnant entreating his servants spitefully for telling them that the Lord is about to sit down with his guests; can we not most surely apply the parable? Can we not perceive who