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Chapter 15

 

That Daniel’s seventy weeks are a lesser calendar of times. —That in reference to these weeks must those phrases in the Epistles to the converted Jews, viz., “The last hour or time,” “The end of all things,” “The day approaching,” &c., be expounded of the end of the Jewish state and service at the expiry of the seventy weeks. —That the apostles were not so mistaken as to believe the end of the world should be in their days, proved against Baronius and other Romanists.

 

          I should now presently come to speak of the fourth particular which I observed in this verse. But, because in this discourse of times, beside the Great Calendar of Times I spake of so much, there was some mention of a Lesser Calendar, viz., of Daniel’s seventy weeks, give me leave to note some places of Scripture which I suppose to have reference thereto; for the better clearing, not only of our former Discourse, but of some scruples that might trouble our minds, when mention is made of an end then supposed near, though the world hath so many hundred years since continued, and no end thereof is yet come.

 

          Know, therefore, that these seventy weeks of Daniel are a little provincial calendar, containing the time that the legal worship and Jewish state was to continue, from the rebuilding of the Sanctuary under Darius Nothus, until the final destruction thereof, when the calendar should

 

 

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expire; within the space whereof their commonwealth and city should be restored, and sixty-two weeks after that, the Messiah be slain for sin; and, at the end of the whole seventy, their city and temple again destroyed, and their commonwealth utterly dissolved. To these weeks, therefore, whose computation so especially concerns the Jews, is reference made in those epistles which are written to the Christian Churches of that nation, whether living in Jewry, or dispersed abroad. Such is St. Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews; both of St. Peter’s to those of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bythinia; the Epistle of St. James to the twelve tribes; and likewise the first Epistle of St. John; which though the salutation expresseth not, yet it may appear, both because Peter, James, and John were all three apostles of the circumcision, and from that passage, 2: 2, “Christ Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world;” that is, not for the sins of us only who are Jews, but for the sins of the Gentiles also. And doth not the name of General or Catholic Epistle, given to this, as well as to those of St. James and St. Peter, imply thus much? For it cannot be thus called because written to all Christians indefinitely and generally, since the contrary expressly appears in that of St. James; but because this, as well as the rest, was written to those of the circumcision, who were not a people confined to any one certain city or region, but dispersed through every nation; as we read

 

 

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in Acts 2: 5, &c., that at the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost came down upon the apostles, “there were sojourning at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven; Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, and strangers of Rome, Jews, and proselytes,” that is Jews by race, and Jews by religion, &c. For we must not mistake those numbered here to be Gentiles, but Israelites, both of the ten tribes captivated by Shalmaneser, and the other two; some of whom never returned from Babylon, but lived still in Mesopotamia: but of those who returned great multitudes were dispersed afterwards in Egypt, Libya, and many other provinces, before the time of our Savior’s appearing in the flesh. So that the apostles of the circumcision had their province, for largeness, not much inferior to those of the Gentiles.

 

          But I come to note the places I spake of. And, first, out of the forenamed Epistle of St. John, where, from that prediction of our Savior’s in the Gospel, that the arising of false prophets should be one of the near signs of the nigh-approaching end of the Jewish state, the Apostle thus refers to it, “Little children, this is the last hour:* and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now there are many Antichrists, whereby we know that is the time.” Here, by “the last time,” I suppose no other thing to be meant but the near expiring of Daniel’s seventy

 

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weeks, and with it the approaching end of the Jewish commonwealth: and why might not this Epistle be written in the last week, at the beginning whereof Jesus Ananias began that woeful cry, Woe unto Jerusalem and the Temple? (Josephus’ Wars, b. 7.) By many Antichrists,* are meant no other but false prophets, or counter-prophets to the Great Prophet, pretending an unction and commission from Heaven, as he had, to teach the world some new revelation and doctrine. For the name, Christ, implies the unction of prophecy as well as the unction of a kingdom, and accordingly the name Antichrist: and therefore the Syriac here turns it “False Christs,” that is, such as should falsely pretend some extraordinary unction of prophecy like unto him. And the coming of such as these our Savior, in St. Matthew’s Gospel (a Gospel for the Hebrews) makes one of the last signs ushering in the destruction of Jerusalem: and if the harmony of this prophecy in the three Evangelists be well considered, there was no more to come but the compassing Jerusalem with armies. Well, therefore, might St. John, when he saw so many anti-prophets springing up, say, Hereby we know that it is the last time. (m)

 

          Again, because the desolation of the Jewish state and temple would be a great confirmation of the Christian faith; therefore the believing Jews, whom nothing could so much stagger as the standing glory of that temple and religion, are encouraged by the nearness of that time of

 

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expectation when so great a confirmation of their faith of the Messiah already come should appear, Hebrews 10: 23, 25, Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching; namely, that day in which you shall be sufficiently confirmed. So I take the 35th and 37th verses of the same chapter, “Cast not away your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward: for ye have need of patience —For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” What He is this, but even He whom Daniel says, “The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” (Daniel 9: 26.) For even as the destruction of Papal Rome would be a great confirmation of the Reformed Christian who hath forsaken the communion of that religion, the continuation and supposed stability of the glory thereof being that wherewith their proctors endeavor most to shake and stagger us; so was the destruction of the Jewish state and temple to be unto those Jews who had withdrawn themselves from that body and religion whereof they once had been, to embrace the new faith of the Messiah preached by the apostles. (n) For if, at the end of the seventy weeks approaching, the legal sanctuary were razed, and the Jewish State dissolved, then it would be apparent indeed that Messiah was already come and slain for sin; because this was infallibly to come to pass within the compass, and before the expiration of those seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years, allotted for the last continuance of that city and

 

 

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sanctuary, when it should be restored after the captivity of Babylon. Not without cause, therefore, doth St. Peter, in his Second Epistle, say to the Christian Jews, —We have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts. Yea and besides, because Jesus, as well as Daniel, had prophesied of the approaching desolation of that city and temple, mentioning all the signs that were to usher it: —if the event, when time came, should fall out accordingly, then must Jesus of Nazareth, who foretold the foregoing signs thereof, be approved as a true prophet, by whom of a truth the Lord had spoken.

 

          Now for the last place that I mean to allege. Because the fall and shock of that state might shake the whole nation, wheresoever dispersed, unless God spared the Christians, and made them alone happy in that woeful day; or rather, because Christ had foretold that one of the next fore-runners thereof should be a general persecution of Christians, as it happened under Nero: therefore the remembrance of the end of these seventy weeks, so near the expiring, was a good caution to all Christian Jews to watch and pray. To this sense, therefore, I take that of Peter, I Peter 4: 7, “The end of all approacheth: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer:” * that is, the end of all your commonwealth, legal worship, temple, and service, is now within a few years: be ye therefore sober,

 

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and watch unto prayer, that ye may be the more happy in that day of vengeance and wrath upon our nation. Neither need we wonder that this “desolation” should be called “the end,” for our Savior himself taught them so to speak, in his prophecy concerning it, as may appear if we consider the antithesis in St. Luke, chapter 21, verse 9, “Ye shall hear of wars and commotions, but the end is not by and by.” Verse 29, “but when ye shall see Jerusalem encompassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.”

 

          And thus much I thought to add to my former Discourse of Latter Times, lest, through ignorance thereof, we might incline to that little better than blasphemous conceit, which Baronius by name, and some other of Rome’s followers, have taken up, viz., That the apostles, in such-like passages as we have noted, were mistaken, as believing that the end of the world should have been in their own time, God of purpose so ordering it, to cause in them a greater measure of zeal and contempt of worldly things. An opinion, I think, not well beseeming a Christian:

 

          For, first, whatsoever we imagine the apostles might here conceive in their private opinions as men, yet we must know that the Holy Ghost, by whose instinct they wrote the Scriptures, is the Spirit of truth; and therefore what is there affirmed must be true, though the penman himself understood it not.

 

          Second, it was not possible the apostles should expect the end of the world to be in their own time, when they knew so many things were to

 

 

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come to pass before it as could not be fulfilled in so short a time. As 1st, the desolation of Jerusalem, and that not till the seventy weeks were expired. 2nd, The Jews to be carried captives over all nations, and Jerusalem to be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled. 3rd, That in the meantime the Roman empire must be ruined, and that which hindered taken out of the way. 4th That, after that was done, the Man of Sin should be revealed, and domineer his time in the temple and Church of God. 5th, After all this, viz., when the fulness of the Gentiles should come in, that Israel should be received again to mercy. 6th, That Christ should reign in his Church on earth so long till he had put down all rule, all authority, and power, and subjected all his enemies under his feet, before he should subdue the last enemy, which is Death, and surrender his kingdom into the hands of his Father. 7th, That the time should be so long, that in the last days should come scoffers, saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?” How is it possible they should imagine the day of doom to be so near, when all these things must first come to pass, and not one of them was yet fulfilled? And how could the expectation of this day be made a ground of exhortation, and a motive to watchfulness and prayer, as though it could suddenly and unawares surprise them, which had so many wonderful alterations to forego it, and none of them yet come to pass? (o)

 

          I have spoken hitherto of what was revealed

 

 

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to all the apostles in general. But if we take St. John apart from the rest, and consider what was afterward revealed to him in Patmos, we shall find in his apocalyptical visions, besides other times more obscurely intimated, an express prophecy of no less than a thousand years, which, whatever it mean, cannot be a small time, and must be fulfilled in this world, and not in the world to come. Notwithstanding all this, I make no question but, even in the apostles’ times, many of the believing Gentiles, mistaking the apostles’ admonitions to the Jews of the end of their state approaching, thought the end of the whole world and the day of the Lord had been also near; whom, therefore, St. Paul, II Thessalonians 2, beseeches to be better informed, because that day should not come until the apostasy came first, and the Man of sin were revealed.

 

 

 

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