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Lukexxi. 5. how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, Jerusalem,
and what buildings are here !
The coming of Christ, and the end of the world, being there,
or the same stamp and character was also Dositheus, the Samaritan, who pretended that he was the Christ foretold by Moses.
About twelve years after the death of our Lord, when Cus. pius Fadus was procurator of Judea, arose ap impostor of the name of Theudas, who said he was a prophet, and persuaded a great multitude to follow him with their best effects to the river Jordan, which he promised to divide for their passage ; and saying these things, says Josephus, he deceived many: almost the very words of our Lord.
A few years afterwards, under the reign of Nero, while Felix was procurator of Judea, impostors of this stamp were so frequent, that some were taken and killed almost every day. Jos. Ant. b. xx. C. 4, and 7. It was a just judgment for God to deliver up that people into the hands of false Christs, who had so wil. fully rejected the true one.
The next signs given by our Lord, are, Wars and rumours
Mark xiii. 2. And Jesus answering, said unto them, Seest thou these Jerasalem.
“ Nation shall rise against nation." This portended greater
« Kingdom against kingdom." This portended the open wars
“ There shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes
Mat. xxiv.2. See ye not all these things?
Jerusalem. Luke xxi. 6. As for these things which ye behold,
life of tbat emperor. Add to all these a dreadful one in Judea,
“ That there shall be fearful sights and great signs from
Tbese were indeed fearful signs and wonders ; and there is
Mat. xxiv.2. Verily I say unto you,
Jerusalem. Church, that before the destruction of Jerusalem the Gospel was not only preached in the Lesser Asia, and Greece, and Italy, but as far northward as Scythia, as far southward as Ethiopia, as far eastward as Parthia and India, and as far westward as Spain and Britain. Agreeably to this, Eusebius (d) informs us, that the Apostles preached the Gospel in all the world, and some of them (probably either St. Simon or St. Paul,) passed beyond the ocean to the Britannic Isles. Theodoret likewise affirms, that the Apostles had induced every nation and kind of men to embrace the Gospel, among whom he reckons particularly the Britons; and St. Paul himself de clares, the Gospel " is come into all the world, and preached to every creature under beaven;" and (in Rom. x. 18.) he elegantly applies to the lights of the Church these words of the Psalmist, “Their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.” And all this was fulfilled to convince every nation of the crying sin of the Jews, in crucifying the Lord of glory, and of the justice of God's judge ment upon them. And then came the end, the time of the de. struction of Jerusalem, and of tho Jewish polity, when the abomination of desolation stood in the holy place. The verses (15 and 16 of Matt. xxiv.) are explained by the parallel passage in Luke xxi. 20, 21. The Roman army, is the desolation of abomination spoken of by Daniel the prophet, chap. ix. and xi. and it'is so called, from its ensigns and images, which were abomi. dations to the Jews; and Josephus informs (e) us, that after the city was taken the Romans brought these ensigns into the temple, placed them over against the eastern gate, and there sacrificed to them.
" Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains." This counsel was remembered, and wisely followed by the Christians afterwards. And we find it accordingly most providentially ordered, that Jerusalem should be encompassed with armies, and yet that the Christians should have favourable opportunities of making their escape. Josephus (sect. iv. p. 1102. edit. Hudson) tells us that Cestius Gallus, in the 12th year of Nero, if " he had been inclined to break through the walls of the city by force, he instantly would have taken it, and put an end to the war;" but, contrary to the expectation of all, and without any just cause, he departed. Vespasian was deputed in his place, as governor of Syria, and to carry on the wars against the Jews; apd when he had subdued all the country, and was preparing to besiege Jerusalem, the death of Nero, and soon afterwards that of Galba, compelled him, from the disturbances and civil wars that ensned in his own country, to defer for some time bis plan of operations against Jerusalem. These apparently incidental delays enabled the Christians to provide for their safety; and Eusebius and Epiphanius inform us, that all who believed in Christ left Jerusalem, and fled to Perea, and other places beyond the river Jordan. Josephus also remarks, after the retreat of Cestius Gallus, “ Many of the illustrious Jews departed from the city, as from a sinking ship.” After this period, when Vespasian was confirmed in the empire, Titus surrounded the city with a wall, thirty-nine furlongs in dimensions, strengthened with thirteen forts, so that, Josephus says, “ with all means of escaping, all hope of safety was cut off from the Jews.” So marvellously did our blessed Saviour ensure, by his prophecy, deliverance to those who believed on him, and had faith in his promises: and so always “ The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of tempta
Lake xxi.6. the days will come, in the which
Jerusalem tions," 2 Pet. ii. 9. The houses of the Jews, as well as those of the Greeks and Romans, were flat upon the top, forming continued terraces from one end of the city to the other, which generally terminated at the gates. Our Saviour makes use of the expressions in Mark xiii. 15. and Matt. xxiv. 18. to signify that the departure of the Christians must be as sudden and hasty as Lot's from the destruction of Sodom.
“ For then shall be great tribulation.” No history can furnish us with a parallel to the calamities and miseries of the Jews : Rapine, Murder, Famine, and Pestilence within; Fire and sword, and all the horrors of war without. Our Lord wept at the foresight of these calamities; and it is almost impossible for any humane person to read the relation of them in Josephus, with. out weeping also. St. Luke, chap. xxi. 22. calls these the days of vengeance, that all things which were written might be fulfilled. These were the days in which all the calamities predicted by Moses, Joel, Daniel, and other prophets, as well as those foretold by our Saviour, met in one common centre, and were fulfilled in the most terrible manner on that generation. These were the days of vengeance in another sense, as if God's judgments bad certain periods and revolutions; for it is remarkable, that the temple was burnt by the Romans on the same month, and on the same day of the month, on which it had been burned by the Babylonians. See Josephus, War, b. vi. c. 4. Josephus computes the number of those who perished in the siege at eleven hundred thousand, besides those who were slain in other places, War, b. vi. c. 9.; and if the Romans had gone on destroying in this manner, the whole nation of the Jews would in a short time have been entirely extirpated: but, for the sake of the elect, (the Jews,) that they might not be entirely destroyed, and, for the Christians particularly, the days were shortened.
Josephus relates, that the Jews themselves first set fire to the porticos of the temple, and then the Romans ; when one of the soldiers, neither waiting for the word of command, nor fearing to perpetuate such an action, but hurried on by a divine impulse, threw a burning brand in at the golden window, and thereby set tire to the buildings of the temple itself. But Titus was still for preserving the holy place, but the anger and hatred of his soldiers against the Jews overcame their reverence for their general ; a soldier in the dark set fire to the doors, and thus, as Josephus says, “ the temple was burnt, contrary to the will of Cesar.” The Romans burnt the extremest parts of the city, and dug up the foundations of the walls, reserving only three towers, and a part of the wall, as a memorial of their own valour, and for the
better encampment of the soldiers. Afterwards, we read in the Jewish Talmud, and in Maimonides, that Terentius Rufus, who was left to command the army, did with a ploughshare toar up the foundation of the temple, thereby signally fulfilling the prophecy of Micah iii. 12. Eusebius too, affirms, that it was ploughed up by the Romans, and that he saw it lying in ruins. So literally were our Saviour's words accomplished in the ruin, and desolation of the city and of the temple. Josephus further asserts, that there was no part of Judea which did not partake of the calamities of the capital city. The Romans pursued, and took, and slow the Jews every where, fulfilling again that prediction, Wherosoever the carcase is (the Jewish nation, morally and judicially dead,) there will the eagles (the Romans, whose ensign was an eagle) be gathered together.
Jerusalem also, according to the prediction of our Lord, was 'lo bo trodden down by the Gentiles. Accordingly it has never