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TITUS 11. 13. Looking for that blessed hope, and glorious appearing of the
great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ.
WHEN we take a view of the trials, pains, afflictions, persecutions, poverty, and distress, which the people of God suffer in this world, we are almost led to exclaim with the apostle, “ If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable.” But no; we will not complain; for to suffer the short period of threescore years and ten, at most, will only give a greater zest to the glory which shall follow at the appearing of our Lord and Savior the great God and Jesus Christ. I know the world are taunting us with the inquiry, 6 Where is the promise of his coming? for, since the fathers fell asleep, all things remain as they were, even from the creation of the world;" for they will pretend to be ignorant (as the apostle Peter expresses himself of the deluge) that the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished; and still more do they pretend to be ignorant, that the same earth is in like manner to be destroyed by fire, “ reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” 2 Peter iii. 7. Also, my brethren, there are some even among us, who ware spots in your feasts of charity, feeding themselves without fear; clouds without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth; twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering
stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all; and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which they have spoken against him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaking great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration, because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy (or glorious appearing) of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Jude 12-21. Or, as Peter says, 2 Pet. iii. 12, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God." And again, Paul says, in Heb. ix. 28, “And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." And Paul further saith, to his Philippian brethren, “ For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body."
Having thus proved that the apostles directed our hope to the coming of Christ for the fulfilment of all our trials and persecutions, and the completion of our faith, I shall now take up our subject in the following order:-1. I shall endeavor to prove that it is yet future; viz., the coming of Christ, spoken of in the text. II. The certainty of his coming. III. The object of his coming. : I. We are, according to our design, to show that the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, spoken of in the text, is yet future.
Some teach us that he came at the destruction of Jerusalem, and quote to the 24th chapter of Matthew as proof. Let us examine their evidence. As Jesus went out of the temple, his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple, where Christ delivered his memorable prophecy, which was exactly fulfilled in little more than thirty-six years afterwards, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down."
And it appears that, afterwards, as Jesus sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, having, as may reasonably be supposed, been ruminating in their minds, or conversing among themselves, on the prophecy, and had, perhaps, supposed that no power on earth could destroy those strong buildings, and concluded that, when this was accomplished, it would be the judgment-day. They therefore inquire of him, “saying, Tell us, when shall these things be ? » that is, what he had prophesied of; and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” They might not have intended to ask more than one question; yet they did ask three, and Christ answered them accordingly. He had before told them of the destruction of Jerusalem, 4th, 5th, and 6th verses; he cautions them against being deceived with false Christs, and not to be troubled at wars and rumors of wars, – and yet Jerusalem was destroyed in the first war of any note after this prophecy, and then says plainly, “The end is not yet." Now, if this end was the destruction of Jerusalem, then where are those wars, spoken of by Christ? This cannot mean any thing less than the end of the world. From the 7th to the 14th verse, inclusive, he gives a prophetic history of the trials, afflictions, and persecutions of his people, and also of the success of the gospel immediately previous to the end, and says, “Then shall the end come.”
Now, it must be evident that this cannot mean the end of Jerusalem, because, if so, he that cndured unto the end was to be saved from all the troubles which Clirist had been speaking of; and it was not true that
the disciples of Christ did not suffer afterwards the same things which Christ said they would. From the 15th to the 28th verse, Christ instructs his disciples into their duty during the siege of Jerusalem, and also down to the coming of the Son of Man. This, you will see, must mean Christ in person; because neither the Holy Spirit nor Father is any where called Son of Man. He likewise speaks of the signs which should follow the destruction of Jerusalem. From the 29th to the 35th verse, inclusive, Christ explains the signs in the heavens and on the earth immediately after the tribulation of the people of God, which had been spoken of as the common lot of all his followers, and which he had promised to shorten for the elect's sake, and of his coming in the clouds with power and great glory; the gathering of his elect from the four winds of heaven; gives his disciples the parable of the fig tree, as an illustration of the end ; and then says to his disciples, “ 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.”
Here is the great stumbling-block to many. Christ is talking about his elect, his children, and his generation; and not, as some will have it, about the generations that then lived on the earth; for they did undoubtedly pass off, a large share of them; for it was about thirty-six years before the destruction of Jerusalem. But his kingdom has never been taken from the earth. Although they have been hunted from one part of the earth to another; although they have been driven into caves and dens of mountains; have been slain, burnt, sawn asunder; have wandered as pilgrims and strangers on the earth ;- yet the blood of the martyrs has been the seed of the church ;” and Christ has had, and will have, a people on the earth, until his second coming. 1 Peter ii. 9: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people,” &c. The Psalmist says, “A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.” Psalm xxii. 30. I humbly believe that Christ has quoted the sentiment contained in the 102d Psalm,
25th to last verse: “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure, yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee."
Here we see the Psalmist has expressed the same sentiment that I understand Christ' to have given in these two verses, which I conclude is the proper explanation. And then the parables which follow in the remainder of the 24th and 25th chapters, are easily understood as having reference to the end of the world ; and in that way will exactly compare. See the 31st verse of the 25th chapter: “When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations,” &c. This verse was not fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem, for the “Son of Man” was not seen in the clouds with power and great glory ; and yet the words are, “every eye shall see him ;” and as sudden and as visible “ as the lightning, that shineth from the east even unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” Can this have passed, and the history of the world have been silent? No. Could all nations be gathered before him, and there be divided, the righteous from the wicked, and the one part sent to everlasting punishment, while the other is received to life eternal, and none know it? No. Were the elect gathered from the four winds of heaven at the destruction of Jerusalem ? No; they were commanded to flee to the mountains; and history says they did leave that devoted city when the Romans encompassed it with their armies. Then, could the prophecies contained in these chapters have been fulfilled, and the world remain ignorant of some of the most important events ? I answer, No. Then the “ Son of Man" did not come to the destruction of Jerusalem. If he did, where is the evidence? None, none, not a particle. But if he did