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shall mourn," inclines me to this conjecture, but I acknowledge it is a very uncertain one, and as such I leave it to your mercy.

I would further observe, that though these verses are a figurative representation of an event which is now past, yet there are other scriptures in which every clause is literally applicable to the appearance of Christ at the final judgment. That conflagration in the atmosphere which is foretold, 2 Peter, iii. 10, must occasion such a collapse and confusion of the heavenly luminaries as is foretold in Matt. xxiv. 29; and the appearance of the Son of Man in the clouds, with the attendance of angels and the sound of trumpets, to assemble the elect, is foretold with express relation to that day, Matt. xxiv. 30, 31; 1 Thess. iv. 16, 17; so that I think those verses and these parallel to them may fairly be quoted to illustrate what is then to pass. And I am ready to imagine that where our Lord, in that very discourse, uses some of these phrases in the description of his last appearance, which he before used in a figurative sense, he intends to intimate the propriety of such an accommodation as this.

When I read your answer to the second query, and compared the scriptures you referred to, it seemed to illustrate the apostle's questions, and to confirm your interpretation of the other verse in dispute, far beyond any thing which I had ever read or thought of before. But, on further reflection, I have some doubts about it, and I hope you will not be offended that I propose them to you. You must pardon my being more

methodical than your genius would require, for my mind has been so entangled with a variety of thoughts, that if I had not used a formality in some little hints that are now before me, I could not have understood myself. I a little question whether the apostle intended Matt. xxiv. 3, as three distinct questions, and whether that part of the discourse which relates to the day of judgment begins at the 36th verse of the chapter.

I. I question whether the apostle intended Matt. xxiv. 3, as three distinct questions, or whether the third clause be not parallel to the second.

1. Because that I find St. Mark, xiii. 4, and Luke, xxi. 7, mention but two questions; when the destruction of the city and temple should be, and what sign should precede it. 2. Because the first period is not συντελεις το κοσμς, Οι των αιώνων, but τ8 αιώνος, which may refer as well to the conclusion of the present age or state of time. But I own neither of these arguments are conclusive, for the omission of a clause by one of the evangelists, when it is recorded by another, is no proof that it was not distinct, and there are some places where the very words there used cannot signify less than the consummation of all things (Matt. xiii. 39); and though some copies read it auvos TSTS, they are not of so much importance as to determine the present question. However this may be, I cannot retain the notion that I was once so fond of, and which many others embrace; that the apostle took it for granted that these two events were to coincide, and that the temple and the world were to

be destroyed together, and that our Lord favoured that mistake because it might be useful to quicken them in the discharge of their duty; for an artifice of this nature seems not agreeable to the openness and integrity of his conduct; besides, the mistake, though useful in some respects, would have been mischievous in others. It might have been a hinderance to a necessary care in the prosecution of their worldly calling, and their concern for the rising generation, especially when, by the prognostication which Christ had given them, they saw the ruin of Jerusalem approaching alone; it would not only have added surprise to those sufferings they afterwards endured, but it would very much have shocked their faith, and furnished infidels with matter of triumph. St. Paul therefore expressly sets himself to oppose such a conceit, and does it with a happiness of argument hardly to be equalled in any of his other writings, 2 Thess. ii. 1, 2, 3. And as the character of Christ, and the nature of the error would not suffer us to believe that he intended before to indulge it, so there are some passages in his reply to this question which seem directly opposite, particularly Matt. xxiv. 14, where he speaks of the propagation of the gospel by those ayyɛλous which might well be translated ministers, as consequent on the dissolution of the Jewish state; but more expressly to that purpose are those words in the same discourse, Luke, xxi. 24, “ And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the

Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled;" plainly declaring that the race of mankind should continue long after Jerusalem was destroyed. But this is a digression for which I beg your pardon, and which was far from my thoughts when I began the paragraph.

II. I am still uncertain where Christ begins his discourse on the day of judgment. You, with great probability refer it to the 36th verse. There I used to fix it, for the following reasons: 1. Because, as you fully prove, "that day" often signifies the day of judgment. 2. Because that day is said to be unknown to all. 3. Because the day there spoken of is represented as very sudden, whereas many prodigies were to precede the destruction of Jerusalem. But, whatever probability these reasons may seem to carry with them, it is certain they are very far from being a demonstration. Though "that day" sometimes signifies the day of judgment, there are many places in which it has a different signification, and particularly in Luke, xvii. 31, as it is there used to express the time when Jerusalem should be destroyed; and it is no wonder Christ should say that that day and that season were unknown to the angels and even to himself, as they depended on many contingent events. Innumerable accidents might then prevent the invasion of the Romans, which, for a few months at least, might have delayed the siege; and even at the very beginning of it, none who had known the strength of the fortifications, or the plenty stored up in the magazines of the city, could have

imagined that it would have been taken so soon; and, at last, its destruction was brought on by such wild starts of fury in the inhabitants as could not fall under any regular computation; so that we may easily believe that nothing but Omniscience could fix with exact certainty on the hour when the crisis would arrive. I own the third argument is the most plausible of all; but it may be replied, that though the Christians, according to the prediction of Christ, might apprehend the approaching destruction of the city, from an observation of the omens which he had described, yet the Jews might see the same events without drawing the same conclusions, and so the ruin might be as surprising to them as if no such prognostication had happened; and accordingly, you know, Josephus tells us that they were exceedingly confident of deliverance, not only after Judea was invaded, but even when Jerusalem was surrounded with an army; and that while the provisions lasted, luxury, as well as cruelty, reigned amongst the distracted inhabitants; nay, they interpreted the omens in their own favour; and, as an affirmation of this, I must further observe, that when our Lord is foretelling this destruction on another occasion, Luke, xvii. 20 to 27, he particularly mentions the surprise that should attend it in words exactly parallel to those under consideration, vide Matt. xxiv. 26 to 30, and verse 30 plainly determines the words to allude to this event, as I observed above.

On the other hand, I think it may be objected against this opinion, 1. That though the phrase

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