Page images

the apoftles, before the deftruction of Jerufalem. Agreeably to this (8) Eufebius informs us, that the apostles preached the gospel in all the world; and fome of them paffed beyond the ocean to the Britannic iles. Theodoret likewife (9) affirms, that the apoftles had induced every nation and kind of men to embrace the gospel, and among the converted nations he reckons particularly the Britons. St. Paul himself in his Epiftle to the Coloffions (I. 6, 23.) fpeaketh of the golpel's being come into all the world, and preached to every creature under heaven: and in his Epiftle to the Romans (X. 18.) very elegantly applies to the lights of the church what the Pfalmift faid of the lights of heaven, their found went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But how improbable, and in all human appearance impoffible was it, that a few poor fishermen and fuch inferior illiterate perfons fhould propagate and establish a new religion, in fo fhort a space of time, throughout the world? Doubtlefs it was not man's but God's work, and from the fame divine fpirit proceeded both the prophecy and the completion!

[ocr errors]

We have deduced the prophecies as low as to the fiege of Jerufalem; and now let us stop to make a few dhort reflections upon what hath been faid.

The firft reflection that naturally occurs is the strange and furprifing manner in which thefe prophecies have been fulfilled, and the great argument that may thence be drawn from the truth of our Saviour's divine miffion: but we shall have a fitter opportunity for inlarging upon this hereafter.

[ocr errors]

Another reflection we may make on the fincerity and ingenuity of Chrift, and the courage and conftancy of his difciples. Had Jefus been an impoftor, he would, like all other impoftors, "have fed his followers with fair hopes and promifes: but on the contrary we fee, that

(8) ὑπερ τον ωκεανον παρελθειν επί τας καλυμενας Βρετανικας νησες. trans oceanum evafifit, ad eas inlulas quæ Britanicæ vocantur. Demonf. Evangel. Lib. 3. Cap. 5. p. 112. Edit. Paris. 1628.

(9) Theod. Serm. 9. Tom. 4.

p.61o. Edit. Paris. 1642. Και 8 μόνον
Ρωμαίος - αλλά και Βρεττανιές
και απαξαπλως παν εθνών και γεν
avlpww-x. 7. λ.. neque folum Ro-
manos-fed et-Britannos-atque, ut
femel dicam, omne hominum genus
nationefque omnes, &c.


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

he denounced perfecution to be the lot of his difciples, he pointeth out to them the difficulties they must encounter, the fiery trials they muft undergo; and yet they did not therefore ftagger in their faith, they did not therefore, like faint-hearted foldiers, forfake their colors and defert his fervice. One hardly knoweth whom to admire moft, him for dealing fo plainly with them, or them for adhering fo fteadily to him. Such inftances are rarely found of opennefs on one fide, and of fidelity on the other.

A third reflection we may make on the fudden and amazing progrefs of the Gospel, that it fhould fpread fo far and fo wide before the deftruction of Jerufalem. The greatnefs of the work that was wrought, the meanness of the inftruments which wrought it, and the short time that it was wrought in, muft force all confidering men to fay (Pfal. CXVIII. 23.) This is the Lord's doing, it is marvellous in our eyes. The Mohammedan religion indeed in lefs than a century overran a great part of the world; but then it was propagated by the fword, and owed its fuccefs to arms and violence. But the Chrif tian religion was diffufed over the face of the earth in the space of forty years, and prevailed not only without the fword but against the fword, not only without the powers civil and military to fupport it, but against them all united to opprefs it. And what but the Spirit of God could bid it thus go forth (Rev. VI. 2) conquering and to conquer? Had this counfel or this work been of men, as Gamaliel argued, (Acts V. 28.) it would have come to nought; but being of God, nothing could overthrow it.

A fourth reflection we may make (and it is the last that I fhall make) that feldom any state is ruined, but there are evident fignals and prefages of it. Few people have their fate particularly foretold by prophets, like the Jews; nor indeed can the fate of any people be fo particularly foretold, the time, the manner, and all the circumftances preceding and fucceeding, without divine infpiration. So many paffages and circunftances cannot be particularly foretold unlefs particularly revealed: but in the general, without the fpirit of prophecy, it is no difficult matter to perceive when cities and kingdoms


are tending towards their final period and diffolution. There are as certain tokens and fymptoms of a confumption and decay in the body politic, as in the body natural. I would not prefage ill to my country; but when we confider the marry hainous and prefumptuous fins of this nation, the licentioufnefs and violation of all order and difciplin, the daring infolence of robbers and fmugglers in open defiance of all law and juftice, the factions and divifions, the venality and corruption, the avarice and profufion of all ranks and degrees among us, the total want of public fpirit and ardent paffion for private ends and interefts, the luxury and gaming and diffolutenefs in high life, and the laziness and drunkennefs and debauchery in low life, and above all that barefaced ridicule of all virtue and decency, and that scandalous neglect, and I wish I could not fay contempt of all public worship and religion; when we confider thefe things, thefe figns of the times, the ftouteft and most fanguin of us all must tremble at the natural and pro`bable confequences of them. God give us grace, that we may know (Luke XIX. 42.) at least in this our day, the things which belong unto our peace, before they are hid from our eyes. Never may fuch blindness happen to us, as befel the Jews; but may we (If. LV. 6, 7.) seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he ́is near; and return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon us, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.




THE HE preceding difcourfe was concerning the figns of the deftruction of Jerufalem, that is the circumstances and accidents, which were to be the forerunners and attendents of this great event. Thofe are already specified which paffed before the fiege, and now we proceed to treat of those which happened during the

fiege and after it. Never was prophecy more punctually fulfilled, and it will be very well worth our time and attention to trace the particulars.

(1) ἅπαν ειδωλον, καὶ παντυπωμα άνθρωπε παρα τοις Ιυδαιοις βδέλυγμα εκαλείτο. omne fimulacrum et hominis effigies apud Judæos appellabatur abominatio. Adverf. Judæos V. Orat. p. 645. Vol. i. Edit. Benedict.

When ye therefore fhall fee the abomination of defolation fpoken of by Daniel the prophet, ftand in the holy place, (whofo readeth, let him understand) Then let them which be in Judea, flee into the mountains. (ver. 15 and 16.) Whatever difficulty there is in these words, it may be cleared up by the parallel place in St. Luke, (XXI. 20, 21.) And when ye shall fee Jerufalem compaffed with armies, then know that the defolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea, flee to the mountains. So that the abomination of defolation is the Roman army, and the abomination of defolation ftanding in the holy place is the Roman army befieging Jerufalem. This, faith our Saviour, is the abomination of defolation, Spoken of by Daniel the prophet, in the ninth and eleventh chapters; and fo let every one who readeth thofe prophecies, understand them. The Roman army is called the abomination for its enfigns and images which were fo to the Jews. As Chryfoftom affirms (1) every idol and every image of a man was called an abomination among the Jews. For this reafon, as (2) Jofephus informs us, the principal Jews earnestly intreated Vitellius, governor of Syria, when he was conducting his army through Judea against Aretas king of the Arabians, to lead it another way; and he greatly obliged them by complying with their requeft. We farther learn from (3) Jofephus, that after the city was taken, the Romans brought their enfigns into the temple, and placed them over against the eastern gate, and facrificed to them there. The Roman army is therefore fitly called the abomination, and the abomination of defolation, as it was to defolate and lay wafte Jerufalem: and this army's befieging Jerufalem is called

(2) Jofeph. Antiq. Lib. 18. Cap. 6. Sect. 3. Edit. Hudson.

(3) κομισαντες τας σημαίας ως το τερον, και θέμενοι της ανατολικής πύλης αντικρυς, έθυσαν τε αυταις αυλοθι. fignis in templum illatis pofitifque contra portam orientalem, et illis ibi facrificarunt. Jofeph. de Bell. Jud. Lib. 6. Cap. 6. Sect. 1. p. 1283. Edit. Hudfon.


[ocr errors]

Standing where it ought not, as it is in St. Mark; (XIII. 14.) or ftanding in the holy place, as it is in St. Matthew; the city and fuch a compafs of ground about it being accounted holy. When therefore the Roman army fhall advance to befiege Jerufalem, then let them who are in Judæa confult their own fafety, and fly into the mountains. This counfel was wifely remembered, and put in practice by the Chriftians afterwards. Jofephus informs us, that when Ceftius Gallus came with his army against Jerufalem, (4) many fled from the city as if it would be taken prefently: and after his retreat, (5) many of the noble Jews departed out of the city, as out of a finking fhip: and a few years afterwards, when Vefpafian was drawing his forces towards Jerufalem, (6) a great multitude fled from Jericho s any opevny into the mountainous country for their fecurity. It is probable that there were fome Chriftians among thefe, but we learn more certainly from (7) ecclefiaftical hiftorians, that at this juncture all who believed in Chrift left Jerufalem, and removed to Pella and other places beyond the river Jordan, fo that they all marvelously efcaped the general shipwrack of their country, and we do not read any where that fo much as one of them perished in the deftruction of Jerufalem. Of fuch fignal fervice was this caution of our Saviour to the believers!

[ocr errors]

He profecutes the fame fubject in the following verfes Let him which is on the houfe-top, not come down to take any thing out of his houfe. (ver. 17.) The (8) houfes of the Jews, as well as thofe of the ancient Greeks and Romans, were flat on the top for them to walk upon,


(4) ηδε δὲ πολλοι διέδρασκον απο της wonews is aλwooμerns auтixx. jamque multi ex civitate diffugiebant, ac fi continuo effet expugnanda. Jofeph. de Bell. Jud. Lib. 2. Cap. 19. Sect. 6. p. 1103.



(5) πολλοί των επιφανων Ιεδαίων ὥσπερ βαπλιζόμενης νεως, απηνηχοντα ans wows. nobilium Judæorum multi, quafi in eo effet navis ut mergeretur, e civitate veluti natando egreffi funt. Ibid. Cap. 20. Sect. 1. p. 1105,

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »