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The authenticity and early date of the prophecy is, then, on these grounds, assumed.
I will, further, suppose (because the history of Josephus invincibly proves it) that all the particulars, mentioned in this prophecy, concurred in the event.
56 But this, you will say, might well be: for what more uniform, than the characters of distress in a great city, forced and desolated by a superior enemy? And what more proba ble, than that, some time or other, such should be the fate of every great city?”
further be insinuated, “ That, if ever Jerusalem was to be destroyed, the obstinate humour of its inhabitants, and the nature of the place, would probably draw this destruc tion upon it, in the way it actually happened, in the way of siegef: that, then, all the miseries, endured by the Jews, would naturally fall on a desperate people from an irritated and successful conqueror ; above all, in ancient
f An event, it must be owned, the more likely to hap: pen, as the Jews had always been disposed to trust to their high and fenced walls, which yet could never defend then from their enemies, as their history shews, and, as Moses had distinctly foretold, Deut. xxviii. 52.
SERMON times, when conquest and clemency were little
acquainted with each other: that, as for the preceding wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes (which are mentioned, in the prophecy, as signs of the approaching desolation) these, are such tisual things in the course of the world, as may be safely made the prognostics of any predicted event whatsoever : that Jesus, therefore, as any other wise man, might form his prediction on these principles; and trust to time, and the passions of mankind, for the completion of it."
Now, let all this be allowed (and scepticism itself will hardly make other or greater demands upon us) still, the honour of Jesus, stands secure; and this fine fabric of suspicion is overturned at once, if we reflect on two or three cireunstances, unluckily, and, if the prophet be not divine, unnecessarily wrought into the texture of this famous prophecy.
First, I observe, that this destruction was to come from the hands of the Romans 6; and,
5 Matth. xxiv. 28. and compare Luke xvii. 37. "078 ομάρ εάν και το τυλώμα, εκεί συναχθήσονται οι αετοί. - Meaning by
Some writers of name have, indeed, observed, that this is only a proverbial expreşsien. True : but proverbial prophecies are
without doubt, if it were to happen in any rea-
But, then, was it likely that Judæa, at that time a Roman province, should be thus desolated by its own masters? Was it to be presumed, that so small a province should dare to engage in a formal contest with Rome, the mistress of the world, as well as of Judæa? with Rome, then in the zenith of her power, and irresistible to all nations? Was it conceivable, if any
future distraction of that mighty empire should tempt the Jews to oppose their feeble efforts to its high fortune, that a vengeance so signal, so complete, should be taken upon them? that nothing less than a total extermination should be proposed, and effected? The ruin of the
often fulfilled in the strict literal sense of the expression ; aş Grotius well observes on Matth. xxvi. 23. hîc quoque accidit, quod in multis aliis vaticiniis, ut verba---non tantùm secundùm proverbialem loquendi modum, sed etiam secundum exactissimam verborum significationem implerentur.- If the reader calls to mind the prediction of our Lord, as it is elsewhere expressed, without a figure when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies (Luke' xxi. 20)- and compares it with the event, he will harlly make a doubt whether eagles, in those figurative predictions, which respect the same subject, namely, the destruction of Jerusalem, were not intended by our Lord to denote, the Roman armies.
SERMON temple at Jerusalem was to be so entire; that
one stone should not be left upon another. Allow for the exaggerated terms of a prophetic description ; still, was it imaginable, that the Romans should, in any proper sense of the words, execute this denunciation ? Was it their way, as it was afterwards that of the Goths, to wage war with stones Was it a principle with them, to beat down the pride of buildings, as well as of men h? Would even their policy, or their pride, have suffered them to blot out an ancient, a renowned, an illustrious temple, the chief ornament of their pros vince, the glory of the East, and the trophy of their own conquests?
Such an event was very improbable, in contemplation : and history shews, that it did not come to pass in any ordinary-way. For the instrument; in the hands of Heaven; of this exterminating vengeance, was a man, the most unlikely of all others to inflict it; a man; who by nature abhorred such extremities"; "who, in fact; did his utmost to prevent this dreadful cata
- debellare superbos. Virg.
strophe, and could not prevent it :-Still, a more upmanageable circumstance, than this; occurs in the prophecy. For,
Secondly, it is implied that one of our Lord's disciples should survive this desolation k: and it is expressly asserted, that the then subsisting generation should not pass away, before all these things were accomplished). They WERE accomplished, within forty years from the date of the prophecy, and before the death of, that disciple. The fact is certain and undeniable: I leave the rest to your own reflexions.
Thirdly, warning is given in this prophecy to the disciples of Jesus, to Ay, from this impending ruin; and a signal is held out to them, for that purposeIt is further predicted, that they should avail themselves of this signal ; : and so entirely escape the snare, in which the rest of their countrymen should be taken, thát. not a hair of their heads should perish" And ::
arrive parcequ'il a été predit. Rousseau, Nouv. Hel. t.ir. p. 314. A. Neuf. 1764.
Matth. xvi. 28. 1 Matth. xxiv, 34. m Luke xxi. 20. * Luke xxi, 18.. Acts ü. 21. Mark xiii. 20.