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The reason of their joining these two questions together, seems to be this, (as is very probable from many texts of the New Testament) viz. that the Apostles did think (and our Saviour permitted them for a long time to remain under this mistake) that the end of the world, and the general judgment, would be presently after the destruction of Jerusalem.
Now, to this fecond question of theirs, concerning the end of the world, and our Saviour's coming to judgment, he gives an answer in the latter part of that chapter, verse 29. But immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light; and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, Not that the general judgment of the world was immediately to follow the destruction of Jerusalem; for there were many other things to intervene, as is manifest From St Luke, chap. xxi. 24. That the Jews should be led captive into all nations, and Jerufalem should be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled. And though these things be expressed in a few words, yet they comprehend a long tract of cime; for the captivity of the Jews hath continued for above 1.600 years, and is not yet at an end. And then, after the ace complishment of these things, it follows, that there shall be signs in the fun and the moon, and then they fall fee the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And then he tells them, in conclusion, that these things should begin to come to pass, that is, some of them fhould happen before the end of that generation; and-fo they did, for the destruction of Jerusalem was about forty
But when the end of all should be, that is, when the day of judgment would happen, he could not tell them the precise time, verse 36. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, but the Father only; and it is added in St Mark; Neither the Son.
Now, by that day and hour, is meant that famous and terrible time of the general judgment of the world, which St Peter calls, by way of eminency, the day of the Lord, 2 Peter iii. 10. The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; that is, it will surprize men suddenly
and unexpectedly, because no man can tell when it will be ; it will steal upon the world, as a thief does into a house by night. But of that day and bour knoweth no man, no not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is.
Having thus cleared all difficulties, concerning the gea neral meaning of the text, that it is to be understood of the day of judgment, and not, as some learned men have thought, of the destruction of Jerusalem; I shall now consider the words more particularly, and they contain in them these two things :
First, The uncertainty of the day of judgment, as to us, and all other creatnres. But of that day and hour knoweth no män, no not the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Secondly, That the consideration of the uncertainty of the time, should make us very careful to be always pre. pared for it. Take je heed, watch and prays for ye know not when the time is. I shall speak as briefly as I can to both these.
First, Our Saviour here declares the uncertainty of the time, as to us, and all creatures, when the general judg. ment shall be. And, to express this the more emphatically,
he tells us,
1. That God only knows it. Of that day and hour, s'fais oidet, ei veš o 11@thie, none knows, but the Father. Fors though we translate it no man, yet, in the Greek, it is more general, none knows but the Father, that is, God only. For the word, Father, is several times, in the New Testament, not used personally, in way of distinction from the Son, and the Holy Ghost; but signifies, the Deity, the Father being Fors principium deitatis, " the founs tain and principle of the Deity.”
Of that day and hour; the word wex is not here to be taken ftriatly for the measure of time, commonly called an hour; this were to make our Saviour's expression very flat, after he had denied that the day is known, to deny that they know the hour; for, if they do not know the day, much less the hour. Now, in these kind of speeches, the expresion ought to rise, and that which is most em
phatical, ought to be said in the laft place; fo that it should rather have been, they know not the hour, no, nor the day ; but ves here does undoubtedly signify the appointed season or time; and so the four seasons of the year are, by the Greeks, called were ; and, in this sense, the word is most certainly used by the Evangelift St John, chap. vii. 30. But no man laid hands on him, speaking of Christ, because his hour was not yet come, that is, the time appointed for his suffering; and that which, in the text, is called hour, is, in the next verse, called και est, which signifies a particular season, or appointed time. Ye know not when the time is, that is, the time which God hath particularly designed and appointed for this great work of judging the world.
2. He excludes from the knowledge of it, those who were most likely to know it, if God had not absolutely reserved it to himself. Of that day and hour knows none, no, not the angels, neither the Son.
(1.) Not the angels, which are in heaven; though they be creatures of so perfect a knowledge, though they be the ministers of God, and do continually attend upon him, and behold his face, and understand much more of the works of God, and his providence in regard to the affairs of the world, than we that live here below in so much error and ignorance, that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust: Yet the particular time. when God will judge the world, he hath reserved as a secret to himself, and not communicated it so much as to the angels, who are designed to wait upon the great Judge of the world, and to make up his train in that solemnity. So our Saviour tells us, Matth. xxv. 31. That the Son of man Mall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him. And so likewise the Apostle, 2 Thess. i. 7. That the Lord Jesus Christ shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels.
But this is not only hid from the angels, but, which is yet more, from the Son himself. Of that day and hour knows none, no not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son. This seems strange indeed, that the Son of God, who came from the bosom of his Father, and, therefore, is more likely than any to know his secrets, that he,
whom God had ordained to be the Judge of the world, into whose hands he had committed that great trust and authority, should not be acquainted with the time of this judgment : Nay, that he, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and in whom the divinity does subftantially reside, should not know this time, this seems ins credible, but that he himself hath told us fo. It was indeed a common saying among the Jews, that the time of the end of the world was revealed to none : But yet, one would think the Son were always excepted. Nay, how can it well be otherwise, if we believe him to be God ? and indeed the fathers, in their difputes with the Arians, have mightily puzzled themselves about this text.
Some, and those of no small account, have understood these words, as if our Saviour only intended to put off his disciples from a more particular enquiry about this matter; not that he was ignorant of the day of judgment, but that he did not know it, so as to reveal it to them; which is by no means to be admitted, not only because it looks too like the equivocation of the Jesuits, but likewise, because the same may be said of the angels; since it is no other." wise denied of the angels, that they know this time, than it is of the Son. Others say, that his human nature was not ignorant of the day of judgment, but that it did not know this of itself, but by virtue of its union with the divine nature. But our Saviour absolutely fays, that the Son did not know it. And, therefore, others more reafonably have diftinguished between his human nature and divine, and though, as God, he could not be ignorant of any thing, yet his human understanding did not know it. And it is not unreasonable to suppose, that the divine wifdom which dwelt in our Saviour, did communicate itself to his human foul according to his pleasure; and so his human nature might, at some times, not know some things. And, if this be not admitted, how can we understand that passage concerning our Saviour, Luke ii. 52. That Jesus grew in wisdom and Aature; or, as the word inoxia may more fitly be translated, in age, and in favour with God and man? For, if the human nature of Christ, did neceffarily know all things, by virtue of its union with the'divinity, he could not then, as man, be said to grow in wisdom,
And this, I think, may be sufficient for the clearing of this difficulty, concerning the Son's not knowing the particular time which God had appointed for judging the world. And if he did not know it, it is surely no reflection upon his disciples, if they were ignorant of it, or mistaken about it. Their infallibility was ouly in things that were revealed to them, but cannot be imagined to extend to things not revealed. And thus I have done with the first thing, namely, the uncertainty of the time of the general judgment, as to all but God only. Of that day and hour knoweth none, no' not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. I proceed now
Second Thing, which I mainly intended, viz. that the consideration of the uncertainty of the time should make us very careful to be always prepared for it. Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is. In words we have,
First, A general caution; take ye heed. Look to it, that
ye be not surprized and overtaken by that time. The time being so uncertain, they were always in danger.
Secondly, More particular directions how they Thould demean themselves in this case. And our Saviour directs to two things, vigilancy and prayer; watch and pray.
Thirdly, There is a reason added to enforce this care and diligence, from the uncertainty of the time as to us : For
know not when the time is. From whence I shall observe, by the way, the great goodness of God to us, and his fingular care of us. That, as he is gracious and merciful to us, in giving us the knowledge of those things which are necessary and useful for us to know; so no less in keeping us ignorant of other things, which are not only not necessary for us to know, but which it would be very much to our harm and prejudice, to have the knowledge of them communicated
God hath acquainted us with whatever is neces. fary to direct and excite us to our duty; but he hath purposely concealed from us those things, which might tend to make us fothful and careless, negligent and remiss in it. He hath not acquainted us with the secrets of his de crees and providence; but hath reserved these in his