« PreviousContinue »
Luke expreffeth the reafon thus, (XXI. 22.) For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. These be the days of vengeance, wherein the calamities foretold by Mofes, Joel, Daniel, and other prophets, as well as thofe predicted by our Saviour, fhall all meet as in one common center, and be fulfilled with aggravation on this generation. These be the days of vengeance too in another fenfe, as if God's vengeance had certain periods and revolutions, and the fame days were fatal to the Jews, and deftinated to their deftruction. For it is very memorable, and matter of just admiration according to (2) Jofephus, that the temple was burnt by the Romans in the fame month, and on the fame day of the month, as it was before by the Babylonians.
Nothing fo violent can be of long continuance. Thefe calamities were fo fevere, that like fire, they must in time have confumed all, and have left nothing for themselves to prey upon. And except thofe days fhould be shortened, there should no flesh be faved. (ver. 22.) If thefe wars and defolations were to continue, none of the Jews would efcape deftruction, they would all be cut off root and branch. I think (3) Jofephus computes the number of those who perished in the fiege at eleven hundred thoufand, befides thofe who were flain in other places: and if the Romans had gone on destroying in this manner, the whole nation of the Jews would certainly in a little time have been extirpated. But for the elect's fake, but for the fake of the Christian Jews, those days fhall be shortened. But for the elect's fake, whom he hath chofen, the Lord hath fhortened the days, as it is ex-preffed in St. Mark. (XIII. 20.) The elect is a well known appellation in feripture and antiquity for the Chriftians; and the Chriftian Jews, partly through the fury of the Zelots on one hand, and the hatred of the Romans on
(2) Lib. 6. Cap. 4. Sect. 5. JarMajas de av TIS EN CUTH THE WERiode την ακρίβειαν. και μηνα γεν, ὡς ἔφην, και ήμεραν επετηρησε την αυλην, εν η πρότερον ὑπὸ Βαβυλωνίων ὁ ναΘ' ενή gnoon. eft autem ut mirari quis poffit
in eo accuratam circumaci temporis rationem, nam eundem, ut dictum eft, menfem et diem fervavit, quo prius templum a Babyloniis exuftum fuerat. Sect. 8. p. 1279. Edit. Hudson.
(3) Lib. 6. Cap. 9. Sect. 3.
the other, and partly through the difficulty of fubfifting in the mountains without houfes or provifions, would in all probability have been almost all deftroyed either by the fword or by famin, if the days had not been fhortened. But providentially the days were fhortened. Titus himself (4) was defirous of putting a fpeedy end to the fiege, having Rome and the riches and the pleafures there before his eyes. Some of his officers (5) propofed to him to turn the fiege into a blockade, and fince they could not take the city by ftorm, to starve it into a furrender: but he thought it not becoming to fit ftill with fo great an army; and he feared left the length of the time fhould diminish the glory of his fuccefs; every thing indeed may be effected in time, but celerity contributes much to the fame and fplendor of actions, The befieged too helped to fhorten the days by (6) their divifions and mutual flaughters; by (7) burning their provifions, which would have fufficed for many years; and by (8) fatally deferting their strongest holds, where they could never have been taken by force, but by famin alone. By thefe means the days were Shortened; and indeed otherwife Jerufalem could never have been taken in fo fhort a time, fo well fortified as it was, and fo well fitted to fuftain a longer fiege. The enemy without could hardly ever have prevailed but for the factions and feditions within. Titus himfelf could not but afcribe his fuccefs to God, as he was viewing the fortifications, after the city was taken. His words to his friends were very remarkable. 66 We have
fought, (9) faid he, with God on our fide; and it is God who hath pulled the Jews out of these strong holds; for what could the hands of men or machines against these towers?" God therefore, in the opinion of Titus as well as of St. Mark, Jhortened the days. After the destruction of Jerufalem too, God inclined the heart of Titus to take fome pity upon the remnant of the Jews, and to restrain the nations from exercifing the cruelty that they would have exercifed towards them. At Antioch particularly (where the difciples were first called Chriftians) (1) the fenate and the people earneftly importuned him to expel the Jews out of the city; but he prudently anfwered, that their country whither they fhould return being laid wafte, there was no place that could receive them. Then they requested him to deprive the Jews of their former privileges, but thofe he permitted them to enjoy as before. Thus for the elect's fake thofe days of perfecution were shortened.
Our bleffed Lord had cautioned his difciples against falfe Chrifts and falfe prophets before, but he giveth a more particular caution againft them about the time of the fiege and destruction of Jerufalem. (ver. 23 and 24.) Then if any man fhall fay unto you, Lo here is Chrift or there, believe it not; For there shall arife falfe Chrifts and falfe prophets, and fhall fhow great figns and wonders, infomuch that (if it were poffible) they shall deceive the very elect And in fact many fuch impoftors did arife about that time, as we learn from (2) Jofephus, and promised deliverance from God, being fuborned by the tyrants or governors to prevent the people and foldiers from deferting to the Romans; and the lower the Jews
(9) Ibid. Cap. 9. Sect. 1. συν Θεῷ γ ̓ ἐπολεμήσαμεν, εφη, και Θεός την ὁ τῶνδε των ερυμαίων Ιεδαίος καθελών, επει χειρες τε άνθρωπων η μηχαναι τι προς τέτες της σύργες δύνανται; Deo, inquit, favente bellavimus, Deus eft, qui Judæos ex iftis munimentis detraxit; nam humanæ manus et machinæ quid contra tales turres valeant? p. 1290. (1) Jofeph. ibid. Lib. 7. Cap. 5. Sect. 2.
(2) πολλοι δ' ησαν εγκάθετοι παρα TWY TUPAVIANI TOTE wρos tov dnμor ago
φηται, προσμένειν την απο το Θεό βοη θειαν καταγγελλονίες, ὡς ἧττον αυλομερά λοιεν, και τις επανω δεδς και φυλάκης γινόμενες ελπις παρακραίων. πείθεται δὲ ταχέως ανθρωπος εν συμφοραις. Multi autem tunc a tyrannis fubornati erant ad populum prophetæ, denunciantes effe auxilium a Deo exfpectandum, ut populus minus transfugeret, et eos, qui fupra metum erant et cuftodes, fpes retineret. Cito autem in adverfis homini perfuadetur, Lib. 6. Cap. 5• Sect. 2. p. 1281. Edit. Hudfon.
were reduced, the more difpofed would they be to liften to thefe deceptions, and the more ready to follow the deceivers. Hegefippus too in (3) Eufebius mentions the coming of falfe Chrifts and falfe prophets about the fame time. But as it was to little purpose for a man to take upon him the character of the Chrift, or even of a prophet, without miracles to vouch his divine miffion; fo it was the common artifice and pretence of these impoftors to how figns and wonders, onuna xaι Tepalα, the very words ufed by Chrift in his prophecy, and by (4) Jofephus in his hiftory. Simon Magus performed great wonders according to the account that is given of him in the Acts of the Apoftles. (VIII. 9, 10, 11.) There was a certain man called Simon, which before time in the fame city used forcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was fome great one: To whom they all gave heed from the leaft to the greatest, faying, This man is the great power of God: And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with forceries. Dofitheus likewife was reputed to work wonders according to (5) Origen: Barchochebas too, who (6) Jerome faith pretended to vomit flames. Such alfo were the Jews, of whom St. Paul fpeaketh, (2 Tim. III. 8, 13.) comparing them to Jannes and Jambres, famous magicians of Egypt, who withstood Mofes, as thefe alfo refifted the truth, men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith, πονηροι άνθρωποι και γονίες, wicked men and impoftors. There is a strange propenfity in mankind to believe things marvelous and aftonithing: and no wonder, that weak and wicked men, Jews and Samaritans, were deceived by fuch impoftors; when if it had been poffible they would have deceived the very elect, the Chriftians themfelves.
But behold, faith our Saviour, I have told you before. (ver. 25.) Behold I have given you fufficient warning. Wherefore if they shall fay unto you, Behold, he is in the
(5) Contra Celfum, Lib. 6. Cap. 11. p. 638. Vol. 1. Edit. Benedi&t.
(6) Adverfus Rufinum. Col. 466. Vol. 4. Edit. Benedict.
(3) Eufeb. Ecclef. Hift. Lib. 4. Cap. 22.
(4) Jofeph. Antiq. Lib. 20. Cap. 7. Sect. 6. p. 893. Edit. Hudion. Vide etiam de Bell. Jud. Lib. 7. Cap. 11. Sect. 1.
defert, go not forth; behold, he is in the fecret chambers, believe it not, (ver. 26.) It is surprifing that our Saviour should not only foretel the appearance of these impoftors, but also the manner and circumftances of their conduct. For fome he mentions as appearing in the defert, and fome in the fecret chambers; and the event hath in all points anfwered to the prediction. Several of the falfe Chrifts and falfe prophets conducted their followers into the defert. Jofephus in his (7) Antiquities faith exprefly, that many impoftors and cheats perfuaded the people to follow them into the defert, where they promifed to fhow manifeft wonders and figns done by the providence of God; and many being perfuaded fuffered the punishment of their folly; for Felix brought them back, and chaftifed them. Again in his (8) hiftory of the Jewish war fpeaking of the fame perfons he faith, that these impoftors, under a pretence of divine infpiration, affected innovations and changes, perfuaded the, multitude to grow mad, and led them forth into the defert, as if God would there fhow them the figns of liberty. Against these Felix, for it feemed to be the foundation of a revolt, fent horfe and foot foldiers, and flew a great number of them. The Egyptian falfe prophet, mentioned by (9) Jofephus, and in the Acts of the
(7) οι δε γοήτες και απαλεώνες ανθρωποι τετοις ὁ φηλιξ, εδοκεν γας αποτασεως τον οχλον έπειθον αυτοις εις την ερήμιαν είναι καταβολη, πεμψας ίππεις και ἕπεσθαι. δείξειν γας εφασαν εναργη πεζες όπλίτας, πολύ πλήθος διεφθειρε. περαία και σημεια, κατά την τε Θε Nam homines fedu&tores et fallaciis προνοιαν. γενόμενα. Και πολλοί πεισ- . pleni, fpecie divini afflatus, novis rebus . θέλες, της αφροσύνης τιμωρίας ὑπεσχον. et mutationibus ftudentes, vulgo ut inαναχθενίας γαρ αυίες φήλιξ εκολάσεν. fanirent perfuadebant, et proficiebant Impoftores vero et fallaciis pleni homi- in folitudinem; ac fi illic Deus oftennes fuadebant multitudini, ut ipfos in furus effet eis figna libertatis. Contra folitudinem fequerentur. Se enim ipfis iftos (inde enim videtur oritura effe oftenfuros dicebant manifefta prodigia infurrectio) milites, tam pedites quam et figna, quæ Dei cura et providentia equites, mifit Felix, magnumque eorum evenirent. Multique, fidem habentes, numerum interfecit. De Bell. Jud. dementiæ fuæ poenas pertulerunt. Eos Lib. 2. Cap. 13. Sect. 4. p. 1075. quippe retractos Felix fupplicio affecit. Ant. Lib. 20. Cap. 7. Sect. 6. p. 893,
(9) Antiq. Lib. 20. Cap. 7. Sect. 6. De Bell. Jud. Lib. 2. Cap. 13. Sect. 5. ὡσε συμβολής γενομενες, τον μεν Αιγυπτο τιον φύγειν μετ' ολίγων, διαφθαρηναι δε
ζωγρηθῆναι πλείςες των συν αυτῷ Falto igitur congreffu, Ægyptius quidem ipfe cum paucis evafit; plurim que eorum qui cum eo erant partim truci
dati, partim vivi capti funt. p. 1076,
(8) πλανοι γας ανθρωποι και απα λεωνες, προσχηματι θείασμε, νεωτερισ μες και μεταβολας πραγματευομένοι, δαιμοναν το πληθω ανέπειθον, και προηγον εις την ερημίαν, ὡς εκει το Θεό δείξαντος αυτοις σημεια ελευθερίας, επι