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bulation : and he would likewise contradict his own position, that the times of the Gentiles must have ex. pired because the predicted revolutions have commenced ; inasmuch as the Jewish tribulation and the times of the Gentiles are declared by St. Luke to end
Thus untenable in every point of view is the hypothesis now before us, however plausible it may be at the first sight and however marked by ingenuity.
4. Dissatisfied as yet in our pursuit, we must now inquire whether some fourth less objectionable mode of solving the difficulty may not be devised.
(1.) It is obvious, however they may differ in other points, that the three commentators, who have passed in review before us, all understood the word yerncar in the sense of absolute accomplishment : for, agreeably to the turn of our common translation, they suppose our Lord to have said, until all these things shall be FULFILLED. Hence upon this idea of absolute accomplishment their expositions are invariably founded.
But the question is, whether any such idea be necessarily involved in the original expression. Now this I apprehend to be by no means the case. The Greek aorists, particularly in the subjunctive mood, bear, as it is well known to grammarians, a present sense; which however they bear, with an ascription of the event spoken of to a time not yet arrived. Hence the original Greek may indeed be translated, until all these things shall be FULFILLED : but then it may just as properly be translated, until all these
things shall be A FULFILLING, or until all these things shall be PUT INTO A COURSE OF FULFILMENT *. Let the passage be thus rendered, and the grand difficulty will immediately vanish. For, in that case, our Lord will not say, This generation shall not pass away unttl all these things shall be FULFILLED: but he will say, This generation shall not pass away until all these things shall be A FULFILLING; in other words, This generation shall not pass away until all these things shall be PUT INTO A COURSE OF FULFILMENT or shall BEGIN TO BE
Christ therefore does nothing more than declare, that the series of events which he had been foretelling, a series which extends from the first appearance of the false Messiahs down to his own judicial coming, should comMENCE before the then existing generation should bave passed away. Accordingly, as we have already seen, 'impostors, who claimed to be the promised Saviour, began to spring up within a very short time after the crucifixion : and thus the earliest predicted event in the chronological series took place almost immediately after the delivering of the prophecy.
(..) Here however an objection may be made, on account of the force which the word All may be supposed to bear. For it may be argued, that, if ALL the predicted matters were to be pat into a
* Exactly in the same manner, as Mr. Mede has justly remarked, the original Greek of Rev. xi. 7. may be translated, either When they shall have FINISHED their testimony, or When they shall be A FINISHING their testimony.
course of fulfilment ere the then current generation had passed away; those revolutionary convulsions ascribed to the last ages, which occur in and immediately after the days of the Jewish tribulation, and which are foretold under the imagery of a great agitation in the whole allegorical mundane system, must likewise have commenced during the lapse of the then current generation. The present translation therefore will leave us in no better plight than it found us: because it matters little, so far as the difficulty is concerned, whether ALL the predicted events were to be absolutely accomplished or were only to begin to be accomplished; ere the then current generation had passed away.
To such an objection I reply, that the expression ALL these things must be taken collectively; as must ever be the case, when a summary mode of describing a series of successive events is adopted. Hence, when it is said that this generation shall not pass away until all these things shall be put into a course of fulfilment, the meaning must plainly be; that the collective series, which comprehends all these things, shall
, be put into a course of fulfilment, ere the present generation shall have passed away.
Such a mode of speaking is so familiar to us, that I have noticed this possible objection, rather because it' was possible than because it was of any weight. When we say, ALL the great events, which hade changed the face of modern Europe, were put into a course of accomplishment at the breaking out of the
French revolution: who does not at once understand our meaning ? No person would imagine for a single moment, that, because we use the word ALL when speaking collectively of the whole series, we would intimate, that every event, which has occurred within the last twenty seven years, began to occur in the year 1789. So far from it, he would inimediately perceive, that, by the expression all the great events, we would describe the collective series which comprehends them all: and that, by the general assertion respecting them, we would intimate this collective series to have commenced with the French revolution.
Now it in this identical sense of collectiveness, a sense most abundantly plain and obvious, that I would understand our Lord's phraseology: this generation shall not pass away, until all these things shall be pur INTO A COURSE OF FULFILMENT.
(3.) But the meaning of Scripture is perhaps best ascertained by comparing it with itself.
Now it is worthy of observation, that an exactly parallel mode of using an aorist of the very same verb occurs at the beginning of the Apocalypse ; which is, in fact, an elaborate prophetic evolution of that identical series of events spoken of by our Lord as being about to be put into a course of fulfilment ere the then existing generation should have passed away.
“ The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which
must a course
must shortly" (not COME TO PASS or BE FULFILLED, as our translators in the manner explain the original Greek, but) BE A FULFILLING" or
BE PUT INTO A COURSE OF
Now the things here alluded to, as appears from the whole tenor of the book, reach to the very end of the world. Hence, in the first place, they could not be fulfilled or be finished or come to pass shortly; therefore the aorist infinitive, which is here used as the aorist subjunctive of the very same verb is used in our Lord's declaration, must be understood in the sense of commencement ertending into prolonged action: and, in the second place, all the matters foretold in the Revelation could not be fulfilled shortly or even begin to be fulfilled shortly, because they were to be successive through a long period of many ages; therefore the things must clearly be spoken of collectively, and the commencement intended must be the commencement of the series.
It is precisely in this same manner and no other, that I conceive our Lord's parallel expression ought to be understood. Just as the long series of the apocalyptic prophecies was shortly to be put into a course of fulfilment; so, the long series of all those things foretold by Christ was similarly to be put into
* Αποκαλυψις Ιησε Χριστο, ήν εδωκεν αυτω ο Θεος, δειξαι τοις δελοις αυλα α δει ΓΕΝΕΣΘΑΙ εν ταχει. .
Rev. i. 1. Ου μη παρελθη η γενεα αυτη, έως αν παντα ΓΕΝΗΤΑΙ. Luke xxi. 32.