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    Disciples—“What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”EMTF 7.1

    Jesus—“When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.”EMTF 7.2

    Probably there is no chapter in the Bible which speaks more fully and more definitely on the second coming of Christ, than Matthew 24; and there is no chapter in the entire Bible which has been the subject of greater controversy. But the nature of the controversy has almost entirely changed within the last forty years. Forty years ago the controversy was between the Universalist and orthodox Christians. The Universalists denied that there is to be, any future judgment and punishment. Of course they referred the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew altogether to the destruction of Jerusalem—to the past. Evangelical Christians then denied that it referred solely to the destruction of Jerusalem; they affirmed that it taught a personal coming of Christ, to reward his saints and to justly punish his foes. Those commentators who referred it in general to the destruction of Jerusalem in their expositions, still admitted that it had a further reference to the second advent and the end of the world. They uniformly applied a part of the Saviour’s discourse in chapters 24 and 25 to the latter event.EMTF 7.3

    The Universalists now take a different position; they have mostly become restorationists, admitting that there will be some punishment, even in the future. But they contend that it will be disciplinary or reformatory. They still maintain their former position that Matthew 24 has no relation to that future punishment, but refers to the destruction of Jerusalem.EMTF 8.1

    The opponents of Universalism, in the churches, have also changed their base, in part. While they yet contend that there will be a future judgment and eternal punishment, they now deny that Matthew 24 proves anything in regard to that day; or event, and affirm that it was all fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem. They are also extensively changing their position in regard to the nature of the second advent, many of them agreeing with the Universalists, saying that the advent is figurative or spiritual and has already taken place. From present indications we think that this will very soon be the prevailing opinion in all the popular churches. Many of their ablest and most influential men now advocate this view. A little more change in the same direction will unite them fully with the Universalists in a denial of the future coming of Christ, of a personal, literal advent, and of any real tangible punishment of the wicked. They find it no more difficult to spiritualize the judgment and punishment, than the coming of the Lord. Very many of them now assert that the Bible expressions concerning the perdition of the wicked, such as those in 2 Thes- salonians 1, and 2 Peter 3, and Revelation 20, are to be taken figuratively—not at all literally.EMTF 8.2

    we are very confident that Matthew 24 reaches to matters beyond the destruction of Jerusalem, and into time yet future; and that it refers to a literal, personal, visible coming again of our glorified Saviour. But the instruction which it contains was not given to prove this truth—that his coming will be personal or literal. This, now, has become the chief point of controversy on the chapter, whereas if it is not made a point at all in the chapter. To this we shall call further attention hereafter.EMTF 9.1

    VERSE 1: “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple; and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple.”EMTF 9.2

    Jesus had been addressing the multitude, in the presence of his disciples. He had reproved the scribes and Pharisees for their sins, and had declared the doom of the Jews, their city, and their temple.Chapter 23. The disciples supposed that the temple would stand forever. And they called the attention of Christ to its magnificence and strength, as if to convince him that he was mistaken.EMTF 9.3

    VERSE 2: “And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.”EMTF 9.4

    This statement from the Master could but deeply interest the disciples. And whether they supposed that the destruction of the temple, the coming of Christ, and the end of the age, would all occur at the same time, or at different periods, it matters not, since Christ, in his answer in this chapter, has dis- tinctly spoken of each separately, and has given each its place in the prophetic history of events.EMTF 9.5

    VERSE 3: “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”EMTF 10.1

    These questions relate, first, to the destruction of Jerusalem; and second, to Christ’s second coming at the end of the Christian age. Both were distinctly answered by our Lord. Jesus did not censure the disciples for desiring to look into the future, but answered their questions fully. As Christ was here speaking to his disciples, and not to the promiscuous multitude, his words in this prophetic discourse are addressed to the church.EMTF 10.2

    Two questions were asked by the disciples:—EMTF 10.3

    I. “When shall these things be?” On this no controversy has ever been raised. It is universally conceded that it refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, or the overthrow of the temple, of which he had but recently spoken.EMTF 10.4

    2. “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” This is but one question. The coming of Christ and the end of the world are so closely related that they may properly be embraced in one statement. See a parallel case in the first letter to the Thessalonians. The writer speaks of the coming of the Lord (the Lord himself), and adds: “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” The “times and seasons” of the advent, and the resurrection of which he had just spoken, are identical with those of the day of the Lord. This phrase, “the day of the Lord,” covets a period immediately subsequent to “the day of salvation,” this latter being applied to this present dispensation.EMTF 10.5

    Several points of query, must be noticed:—EMTF 11.1

    .I. “The end of the world.” It is asserted that this is a wrong translation; that it should be, “the end of the age,” and that it refers to “the Jewish age.” But, allowing that it should be rendered “end of the age,” it does not follow, by any means, that it refers to the Jewish age, or past dispensation. It certainly does not in Matthew 28:20. The promise that he will be with his ministers “until the end of the age,” certainly refers to that age in which they are to preach the gospel, for these words are in the gospel commission. It is the end of this same age to which Matthew 24:14 refers. The question was in regard to the end of the world (or age, if preferred). He said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end came.” This is decisive on the point for (I) they were to tarry at Jerusalem, after receiving their commission, until the day of Pentecost, and then they were to be his witnesses to the nations; (2) the Jewish age ended before the preaching to the nations commenced; therefore it is impossible that Matthew 24 and 28 should refer to that age.EMTF 11.2

    An effort has been made to put forward the ending of the Jewish age to the destruction of Jerusalem. But it is exceedingly lame. To prove that, it will be necessary to show that the Christian dispensation was not fully opened until the destruction of Jerusalem! This is disproved by the whole body of the teachings of the New Testament. Paul settles the question in affirming that the peculiarities of that age were taken out of the way,—nailed to the cross.” Colossians 2:14. If the gospel dispensation was not opened by the preaching of the apostles on the day of Pentecost, and afterward by turning to the Gentiles to preach the gospel to them, then it has not yet been opened.EMTF 11.3

    That is a settled question. The end of the age, or end of the world, in Matthew 24, is the utmost limit of the gospel dispensation. And we shall offer proof most positive that the second coming of Christ is at the end of this dispensation:—EMTF 12.1

    In connection with the claim set forth in regard to “the end of the world,” another is presented, as follows:—EMTF 12.2

    2. The disciples associated together all that the question contained, and placed “these things,” that is, the overthrow of the city, with the coming of Christ and the end of the world, or age.EMTF 12.3

    But that is only conjecture. No one has a reason for affirming that such was the idea of the apostles. Here we might safely leave the affirmation, for no one is bound to disprove a conjecture. But we will further notice it.EMTF 12.4

    If it, were something more than conjecture,—if it were possible even to prove that such was their idea the order of events then future,—that fact would not be evidence that they were or are to be fulfilled at the same time. For we know that at that time the disciples were laboring under mistakes in regard to the time and order of the fulfillment of future events. Take as proof of this the parable which the Lord spake when he was going into Jerusalem. Luke 19. They thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. To correct this impression, the parable of the nobleman was spoken. If they understood the parable at the time when it was spoken, it did not fully do away with the impression in their minds, as is proved by what they did when they entered Jerusalem. We cannot believe that they would have hailed him as the Son of David, and rejoiced before him as a King in his triumph, if they had realized that he was going into the city to be condemned and crucified, and malefactor. Palm branches and shouts of trim did not attend the steps of the lowly and the condemned.EMTF 12.5

    Again, after his resurrection, he reproved two of his disciples, who, though they had trusted that he would redeem Israel, were then sad and disheartened. They did not then understand that Christ ought “to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory.” The suffering part was still a mystery to them. And some of the apostles were so slow to realize that which he had spoken to them, that they could hardly be persuaded that he was indeed risen from the dead. And after he had been with them full forty days, speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom, they did not yet understand “the times and the seasons,” and therefore asked him, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”EMTF 13.1

    Would it, then, be surprising if they had been mistaken in the order of the events of which the Saviour spoke, at the time of his speaking, as recorded in Matthew 24? It would be quite natural for them to suppose that the holy city and the temple of the Most High would stand until the judgment and the final consummation. As we now see, had such been their opinion, it would not be proof that such was the chronological relation of these events. But, we repeat, that cannot be proved; it is only conjecture.EMTF 13.2

    .3. It is necessary to notice that prophecy is not always fulfilled in the order in which it is given. This is often seen in the Old Testament, where the two advents are sometimes spoken of in such close connection that the reader might suppose they would occur nearly together. It is seen in the book of Revelation, which contains several lines of prophecy, each reaching down to the close of the present dispensation. So in Matthew 24, and parallel chapters; we can only learn the correct application of some of the statements contained therein by comparing them with other scriptures. There is no dispute that they refer to the destruction of the temple and the overthrow of the city as well as to the second coming of the Lord.EMTF 14.1

    VERSES 4, 5: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”EMTF 14.2

    Mark the caution given by our Lord as he commences to answer these questions. Jesus knew the hearts of men, and that many impostors would arise, and deceive multitudes. He here warns his disciples, and guards them against the deceptions of corrupt and ambitious men.EMTF 14.3

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