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Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders: insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
If our Lord urges his disciples, with such speedy and soli. citous haste, to flee from the sword of God's temporal judgments, how much greater diligence should we give to flee from the wrath to come! What are any of the little interests of life, that out of regard to them we should be willing to continue one moment longer exposed to a danger which may sink us into everlasting perdition and despair!
We have here a lively description of that aggravated ruin which was brought upon the Jews for neglecting Christ; even great tribulation, such as had never, from the very beginning of the world, fallen upon any other nation, nor shall ever be equalled. Thus was his blood upon them, and their children. (Matt. xxvii. 25.) May we never know what it is to have this blood crying against us for trampling it under foot as an unholy thing! (Heb. x. 29.) For surely to the Jews, who thus rejected the counsel of God against themselves, all these things which they suffered were but the beginning of sorrows; and the famine and sedition, pestilence and slaughter, by which so many thousands perished, served only to consign them over to infinitely more terrible indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, which will at last fall on every soul of man that doeth evil, whether Jew or Gentile. (Rom. ii. 8, 9.)
These unhappy creatures eagerly listened to the very name of a Messiah, by whomsoever it was assumed; while they rejected him whom God had sent them, and who had so long, and with so much importunity, been renewing to them the offers of life and salvation. May none of us ever know the sad impatience with which condemned sinners will wish, and wish in vain, for those overtures and messages of grace which they now despise ! In that sense, wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together: wherever there is the like unbelief and impenitence, there will be in its degree
the like ruin. Christ has graciously told us these things before: may we humbly attend to the warning, that none of this terror and destruction may ever come upon us.
MATTHEW XXIV. 29-36. MARK XIII. 24-32.
BUT immediately after the tribulation of those days there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars. The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven; and upon the earth shall be distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And then shall he send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the one end of heaven to the other, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
And he spake unto them a parable, saying, Now learn a parable of the fig-tree; Behold, the fig-tree and all the trees. When their branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but
my words shall not pass away: But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but my Father only.
Let us now raise our contemplations to that awful day when all that was figuratively spoken of the destruction of Jerusalem shall be literally accomplished; and let us consider our own intimate concern in it. Where will our hope and comfort, our light, and our safety be, when the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, when the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken? where, indeed, unless the almighty God, the everlasting Jehovah, by whose voice they were created, and by whose hand they shall be dashed in pieces again, shall condescend to be our light, and our salvation. (Psalm xxviii. 1.) And if he indeed be so, then we may lift up our heads with joy; as knowing that our complete redemption draweth nigh, even that long expected day which, with all its solemn horrors, has still been the brightest object of our faith and our hopes.
Then shall the Son of man indeed come in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, and send his angels to summon his elect, and to assemble them from one end of heaven to the other for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God. (1 Thess. iv. 16.) May we hear the summons with joy, and stand in our lot among his chosen ones! What though the day and season be unknown? It is enough for us that we know that all these interposing days and years, be they ever so numerous, will at length be past; for the promise of the great Redeemer is our security, and he will hasten it in his time. (Isaiah lx. 22.)
These visible heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll, and the earth shall be removed out of its place; but the sure word of his promise shall never pass away; even that promise which is engaged for the salvation of his people. Let us often review it; let us firmly realize it to our souls, and, seeing we look for such things, let us seriously consider what manner of persons we ought to be in all holy conversation and godliness. (2 Peter iii. 11, 14.)
MATTHEW XXIV. 37-51. MARK XIII. 33-37.
AND take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left: two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Take ye heed; watch therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. For ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man cometh.
Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler
over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of; and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
What slothful hearts must we have if these repeated admonitions do not awaken us; even line upon line, and precept upon precept? The patience of God is waiting upon us, as it did on the old world, while the ark was preparing. (1 Peter iii. 20.) May we take the warning, and seek shelter before the door be shut against us! Let us therefore take heed, lest sensuality and secular cares overcharge and depress our hearts, and amuse us with vain delusions, till sudden and unavoidable destruction come upon us. (1 Thess. v. 3.)
We are by profession the domestics of Christ. Let us attend to the offices he has assigned us, though he seem at a distance. Let us diligently wait his coming, at whatever season. Let his ministers especially wait it; and be solicitous, that they may be found so doing, conducting themselves like wise stewards of the mysteries of God, dispensing to every one his portion of food in due season. Then will our account be honourable, and our reward glorious.
May God deliver us from the guilt and condemnation of the cruel, and imperious, and the luxurious servant, who began to beat his fellows, and to eat and drink with the drunken; since we are expressly told his dreadful doom! Justly does our Lord declare that to such a one he will appoint a portion with hypocrites, terrible as their portion must be; for no hypocrisy can be baser than to call ourselves the servants and ministers of Christ, while we are the slaves of ambition, avarice, and intemperance. Wherever such are found, under whatever mask and form, may he reform them by his grace, or disarm them of that power and influence which they continually abuse to his dishonour, and to their own aggravated damnation! Let us in the mean time be exhorting each other daily, while it is called to-day, lest any by insensible degrees be hardened through