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6. Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be ful66 filled.”
The period when these events were to take place, is also clearly pointed out, and described as immediately approaching. “ 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.”—Finally, this prediction is accompanied with a warning to his disciples, to fly from these impending calamities.—“ "When ye shall see Jerusalem “ compassed with armies, then know that the desolation " thereof is nigh ; then let them which are in Judea
flee unto the mountains, and let them which are in " the midst of it depart out, and let not those who are “ in the countries enter therein.”
Now that this prediction should proceed from an enthusiastic mind, cannot furely be reasonably supposed. The Jews had now been long in the habit of fubmitting peaceably to the Roman yoke ; the polity of Rome at this period was remarkably disposed to allow to its various subject nations, the undisturbed enjoyment of their religion and their laws, and to preserve, even in war, every distinguished city, and every magnificent structure, as ornaments of its dominion, and proofs of the greatness of its power ; such an event therefore as the total destruction of the city, and the temple of Jerusalem, by the Romans, was most highly improbable within any period of time; but that it should happen at a precise and short distance, even “ before that generation passed away, surely no human ingenuity could foresee; yet it certainly took place with circumstances of strange and unexampled misery.
P Matt. xxiv. 34. Luke xxi. 22. Matt. xxiv. 159
9 Luke xxi. 30. ? Archdeacon Paley in his excellent view of the evidences, part 2d. ch. i. 23 has adduced many strong arguments to confirm the existence of this prophecy before the event. ist. From all antiquity concurring to atsign the three first gospels a date prior to the deltruction of Jerusalem. 2d. The apostles must have been very far advanced in life at that time, and no reason can be given for their delaying so long the publication of the gospels. 3d. From there being no hint in either, that the prophecy was fulfilled. 4th. From the admonitions to the Chriftions. sth. If the prophecies had been composed after the event, there would have been more specification. That these prophecies could not have been interpolated, is strongly confirmed by Jortin, in his remarks on ecclefiaftical history, vol. 1. p. 72. edit. 1751, amongst his reasons are-ist. Because they are incidentally placed up and down the gospels by way of parable, or in answer to questions, or on account of some cir. cumstances of time or place bringing on the discourselve
If it be said, that this prediction was falsely ascribed to our Lord by the evangelists, this supposes them to have been, not wild enthusiasts, but artful and deliberate impostors; a supposition utterly irreconcileable with the whole tenor of their writings and their lives, and which in this instance seems extremely improbable, from the 'internal structure of
the prediction itself, for it included a warning to the Christians to flee from the ruin of Jerusalem, the approach of which it taught them to discover by certain figns. Suppose then this predi&tion and this warning never to have been published till after the event, how plainly would it have carried with it its own falsification? how naturally would the whole body of Jewish Cþristians have demanded of the apostles,
why was this prophecy and this warning concealed “ till after the calamity against which it was designed “ to guard us, had taken place? and why is it
now first brought forward, when the time of its “ utility has passed, and its divine origin can no lon
ger be ascertained? And this when it did not “ exist in any written record, which might be fup
posed to have lain till now undiscovered, but was « delivered (according to your own account) to you, " thea postles, surely for the purpose of preserving, " by forewarning, your brethren."
Again—with this prophecy our Lord unites a clear description of the perfecutions which his immediate followers should sustain :-" Before all these things
quotes the following texts :-Matt. x. 23.—XV. 13.-xvi. 28.xxi. 29.-XX. 41.-xxii. 7.-xxiii. 36. Luke xi. 50.--xiii. 5. xiii. 9.–xvii. 24.—xix. 27.-xix. 42.-xxiii. 28. John v, 21.
2d. Because no Jews or Pagans ever reproached the Christians with inserting these prophecies. Other reasons of his I have adopted in the text, and endeavoured to confirm and, improve.
$ Luke xxi, 12-16-17..
« they fhall lay their hands on you, and persecute
you, delivering you up to the fynagogues and .“ unto prisons, being brought before kings and « rulers for my name's fake ; and ye shall be be
trayed both by parents, and brethren, and kins“ folks, and friends, and some of you shall they “ cause to be put to death, and ye shall be hated by "all men for my name's fake.” Now, if these persecutions did not exist, would impostors be mad enough to ascribe such prediệtions to their master, and without any conceivable motive make him a prophet of falsehoods, though the success of their own supposed schemes depended on the reception of his divine authority ?-If these persecutions existed, what could induce impostors to sustain them? and impostors they must have been if they falsely ascribed these predictions to their Lord; or, what could enable them to maintain their cause against such perfecution ? And was it not totally inconsistent with the nature of fraud and imposture, to accompany the fupposed prediction of these perfecutions with such advice, and such a promise as the following ?—“u When " they shall lead you and deliver you up, take no “ thought before hand what ye shall speak, neither “ do ye premeditate, but what shall be given you in " that hour, that speak ye; for it is not ye that
speak, but the Holy Ghost. And I will give you
Vid. Paley's Evidence, part ift. ch. iii. $
a mouth, a mouth, and wisdom, which all
your adversaries “ shall not be able to gainsay, or resist.”
The very obscurity, of some parts of this prophecy seems as inconsistent with fraud, as the plainness and exact accomplishment of others is unaccountable, on the supposition of fanaticism. An impostor writing after the event, would take care not to diminish the credit of his supposed prediction, by leaving its application doubtful or obscure ; yet it is certain many Christians did very early so far mistake this prophecy, as to apply it not only to the destruction of Jerusalem, but also to the end of the world, and to expect the immediate approach of the final judgment, an error which St. Peter and St. Paul in different passages expressly and earnestly correct, and in a manner totally remote from every appearance of enthusiasm or imposture.
Enthusiasts would more probably cherish than detect such a delusion, calculated as it was to make a deep religious impression on the minds of men ; and impostors, if they found it necessary to correct an erroneous interpretation of any supposed prediction uttered by themselves, would naturally point out its exact accommodation to the event, which alone they had intended to mark out by it, and would be doubly cautious of exposing themselves to new difficulties, by uttering new predi&tions ; --whereas St. Paul, addressing the * Thessalonians, and warning them, “ not to be troubled by word or by
* 2 Theff. the entire ad chap