Page images

this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes

. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and keep thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side; and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave thee one stone upon another: be- . cause thou knowest not the day of thy visitation.” Luke xix. 42–44.

All this was literally fulfilled by the Roman army under Titus, the Roman general, about 38 years after, or in A. D. 70.

Two days before he was crucified he denounced against Jerusalem the judgments that would come upon it, for all the sins of the Jews, which had been increasing for ages past, and that they would now soon fill up the measure of their iniquity, and that upon them should come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, which should be poured out upon the then existing generation. Adding this tender exclamation, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” &c. see Matt. xxiii. 37.

Behold your house is left unto you desolate!" That is, forsaken of God, and sentenced to utter destruction. He spake this as he was going out of the temple for the last time, and added, "For 1

say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” He did not say, that they should never see him, or never more be favoured; this would have been contrary to numerous predictions.

As he was leaving the temple, his disciples spake to him concerning the buildings of the

temple, intimating what a pitiable calamity they thought it that so magnificent a structure should be destroyed!“Verily,” said Jesus, “ I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." And as he said, so it has been, this astonishing prediction was literally fulfilled; and as Christ had foretold, even before that generation to which he was speaking, passed away. After this, Jesus retired to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him, from which place they had a full view of Jerusalem and the temple. Now comes the question that his disciples asked him, (in the 3d verse of the 24th chapter of Matthew,) “When shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world ?" That is, at the end of the Age, as the learned agree it should have been translated. Christ then answers their question, and continues informing them to the end of the 25th chapter, concluding with these words on which so much stress has been laid in support of everlasting punishment. But I think it will clearly appear that the whole of these two chapters relate to the dreadful destruction of Jerusalem, and the awful calamities that were coming upon the Jewish nation. He told them that before the de. struction of Jerusalem, many false prophets would arise, and deceive many—that they should hear of wars and rumours of wars—nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom-that they should hear of earthquakes, pestilence and famine, in divers places. He told them that there should be fearful sights, and great signs from heaven,&c. &c.--all which literally came to pass.

He says, “Wo to them that have children, and to them that give suck in those days." Truly, it was hard enough for those women that had no children to take care of, much more so for those who had. “For then their shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, nor never shall be.” If, says Josephus, all the misfortunes of all nations, from the beginning of the world, were compared with those that befel the Jews, they would appear much less in comparison. The destruction of this people exceeded, for the time, all the destruction ever God or man brought on the world. No sooner was the time come for the fulfilment of the predictions of Christ, and, indeed, of Moses and several of the other prophets, than a most strange infatuation seized upon the whole Jewish nation. They appear to have been bent on their own ruin, and they rushed headlong into the midst of those calamities which at length totally overwhelmed them. To add to their calamity, when Titus surrounded their city with his army,

there was almost double the number of people in the city than there was before ; for the Jews in the city had written to their brethren every where, to come to keep the passoever, expecting that the presence of so great a concourse would contribute to quell the factions within, as well as oppose the Romans without; so that they came flocking from all parts. In short, the city was in a horrible situation when Titus, with his army, encamped, and surrounded it. How kind was the prophetic admonition of Jesus: " Let not them that are in the country enter into Jerusalem.” A famine soon ensued, and many things, the sight of which would have sickened the stomach before, were now sought for and eaten, A lady of rank, from a state of hunger and desperation, killed and eat her own child. Manneus, a Jew, who fled to Titus, affirmed, that from the beginning of the siege, which was on the 14th of April, A. D. 70, to the 1st of July, 115,880 dead bodies had been carried out through one gate, of which the keeping had been committed to him. And many respectable deserters assured Titus, that not less than 600,000 dead bodies had been carried out through the different gates. Titus had determined to preserve the temple, as an ornament to the empire, and as a monument of his success; but it appears that the predictions of Christ must all be completely fulfilled.

A Roman soldier, contrary to orders, urged, as he declared, by something invisible, or supernatural impulse, threw a flaming firebrand into one of the golden windows of the temple, which instantly set the building on fire. The Jews now began to think that God had forsaken them sure enough. The temple continued burning until, vast as was its size, the flames completely enveloped the whole building, so that the hill on which it stood appeared as one large fire. It was burnt on the 10th of August, (70,) 1,030 years from the foundation of the first temple by Solomon, and 639 after it had been rebuilt by Haggai, and on the same fatal day that it had formerly been destroyed by the king of Babylon. Thus terminated the glory and existence of this sacred and venerable edifice, which from its stupendous size, its massy solidity, and astonishing strength, would have stood till this time, yea,

hundreds of years longer, if it had not been for sin or wickedness, which sooner or later is the downfall and ruin of every thing in this world : no human art or power can withstand its infernal force.

The siege terminated on the 8th of September, (A. D. 70:) its duration was nearly 5 months. The Jews being entirely subdued, the soldiers raged through the streets with drawn swords. murdering every Jew whom they could find. without distinction of age, character, or sect, till at length the dead bodies were scattered over every street and the floors of every house, and the blood literally flowed down the streets in streams. In the evening they set fire to the city. Thus Jerusalem, once a praise in all the earth, and the subject of a thousand prophecies, deprived of the staff of life, wrapt in flames, sunk into ruin and desolation.

It was calculated that 1,100,000 were destroyed in the siege, besides multitudes that were destroyed in various ways, of which no calculation could be made; 97,000 prisoners were doomed to a captivity worse than death; 11,000 prisoners were starved to death. But I must shorten this dismal story, as this is not intended for a history, only. so far as it helps to illustrate my subject; particularly for those in whose hands this work may fall who have not read these things.

Thus were the poor Jews miserably afflicted, and dispersed, as had been predicted, over all the Roman provinces and among all nations.And all the celebrated cities, besides Jerusalem, the capital, such as Capernaum, Bethsaida, and

« EelmineJätka »