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Gospels, by way of parable, or in answer to questions, OF on account of some circumstance of time and place bringing on the discourse :
Because the books of the New Testament were received by Christians; and copied, and widely dispersed, and per-haps translated from their first appearance :
Because these predictions in the Gospels are alluded to, or the same thing is taught in other parts of the New Testament :
Because no Jews or Pagans ever reproached the Christians with inserting them : not Trypho, not Celsus", not Porphyry, not Julian. The objections of Trypho are to be found in Justin Martyr, those of Celsus in Origen, those of Porphyry in Holstenius Vit. Porph. ch. xi. and Julian's in his own works and in Cyril :
Because there is in them a mixture of obscurity and needless difficulty ; needless if they were forged. Christ foretold the destruction of the city and temple, and the calamities of the Jews, fully and clearly: but being asked when this should be, he gave an answer in a sublime and prophetic style, saying that the sun should be darkened, and the moon should not give her light, and the stars should fall from heaven, &c. which would not be easily understood, if learned and judicious commentators had not cleared it up; and this he might possibly do to perplex the
Luke xxiii. 28. • Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me,' &c.
John v. 21. “The hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father.'
xxi. 22. 'If I will that he tarry till I come,' &c.
To these must be added the parallel places from the other gospels, and the prophecy of John the Baptist, Matt. iii. 10. ' And now also the axe is laid to the root of the tree; therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire,' &c.
s Whom some people call a Jew: they might as well call him a Quaker, or a Muggletonian. The man was not even a proselyte of the gate, but a mere Epicurean philosopher, who, if proper pains had been taken with him, might possibly have become a Sadducee:
+ Trypho had perused the Gospels, and says to Justin, uuwvà xala εν τω λεγομένη Ευαγγελία παραγγέλματα θαυμαστά έτως και μεγάλα επίσταμαι είναι, ως υπολαμβάνειν μηδένα δύνασθαι φυλάξαι αυτα évoiyàs guéancev ŠvTuXemy aurois. Sed et vestra illa in eo, quod vocatis, Evangelio præcepta ita mirabilia et magna esse scio, ut suspicio sit neminem ea posse servare; mihi enim curæ fuit, ut ea legerem.' Dial. cum Tryph.
unbelieving persecuting Jews, if his discourses should ever fall into their hands, that they might not learn to avoid the impending evil. The believing Jews themselves, notwithstanding this prediction, stood in need of a second admonition, and were divinely warned to flee from Jerusalem, say Eusebius and Epiphanius V. See Euseb. iii. 5. and the notes. So loth are people to leave their own house and home, even when they see destruction at the door:
Because Christ not only foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, but the continuance of that desolation. "Jerusalem (says he) shall be trodden down of the Gentiles till the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled.' Take what interpretation you will, so it be not absurd, and add to it a matter of fact, namely, the state of the Jews ever since, and it must be owned that a considerable length of time is implied :
Because Christ declared that these evils should befal them for not knowing the time of their visitation, and for rejecting him ; whence it followed, that, as long as their rebellion and disobedience continued, the sentence against them would not be reversed.
If it should be said that Christ, as a wise and sagacious man, might foresee the storm,
*Έσσεται ήμαρ, ότ' άν ποτ’ όλώλη "Ίλιος Γρή ",
this would be a disingenuous shift to evade a plain truth. Christ would not have acted suitably to his character and usual conduct, and to common prudence, if he had staked his reputation on conjectures; and in the reign of Tiberius there was no appearance of such an event, and much less of the various circumstances attending it, which he foretold. The Romans had no interest to destroy and depopulate a country which was subject to them, and whence they
* Οι γέν απόστολοι και μαθηται τα Σωτήρος ημών, και πάντες οι εξ Ιουδαίων εις αυτόν πεπιστευκότες, μακράν της Ιουδαίας γης γενόμενοι, και τους λοιπούς έθεσιν επισπαρέντες, τον κατα των οικέντων την πόλιν όλεθρον διαδράναι τότε εδυνήθησαν. Ipsi apostoli ac discipuli Salvatoris nostri, et omnes qui ex Judæis ad ipsum credentes accesserant, cum procul ab Judæa terra abessent, et reliquis essent immixti gentibus, omnem eorum, qui civitatem incolebant, perditionem atque interitum effua gere per illud tempus facile potuerunt.' Euseb. Dem. Evang. vi. 287.
wi The day will come when sacred Troy shall fall.' VOL. I.
reaped many advantages; and the Jews had not strength to hope for success in a war against them.
If it should be said that Christ took his prophecies from Daniel, his just interpretation of Daniel sħows him to be the Messias mentioned by Daniel, since none besides himself at that time had even a tolerable claim to that character. Daniel foretold, that in seventy weeks of years, or four hundred and ninety years, a most holy person should be anointed; that this Messias should be cut off, that a prince should come with an army, and cause the sacrifices to cease, and plant abominable idols in the holy place, and destroy the city and temple, and make the land utterly desolate, and put an end to the Jewish polity. ch. ix. But Christ is more explicit and circumstantial than Daniel, and in many respects his prediction was new and altogether his own.
Josephus says that the Zealots trampled under foot all laws divine and human; and made a jest of their own sacred books, and derided the writings of the prophets. εγελάτο δε τα θεία, και τες των προφητών θεσμες ώσπερ αγυρτικας λογοποιίας έχλεύαζον--- divina autem quoque deridebantur, et prophetarum oracula ut præstigiatorum commenta subsannabant.' -ήν γαρ δή τις παλαιός λόγος ανδρων, ένθα τότε την πόλιν αλώσεσθαι, και καταφλεγήσεσθαι τα άγια νομου πολέμε, τάσις εαν κατασκήψη, και χείρες οικείαι σρομιάνωσι το του Θε& τέμενος" οίς σικ απισήσαντες οι ζηλωται διακόνες εαυτες επέδοσαν- vetus enim virorum sermo quidem erat, tum urbem captum iri, et loca sancta conflagratura jure belli, ubi seditio invaserit, et indigenarum manus polluerint sacratum Deo locum. Quibus licet fidem NON detraherent Zelotæ, tamen ipsi se earum rerum ministros præbuerunt.' B. J iv. 6. This seems to have been a traditionary interpretation of Daniel, a néyos, a report, and not a written prophecy. But here is a negative which seems to contradict what was said before. It should perhaps be cis cm 155artis, or something to the same effect; and the meaning may be, that the impions Zealots caused those prophecies to be fulfilled in the destruction of themselves and their nation, which they had ridiculed and disbelieved.
Many of the first Christians, who were Jews dwelling in Judæa, sold their lands and possessions. The Gentiles did
it not when the gospel came to them; and none of St. Paul's Epistles contain any such precept, or intimate any such practice. The Jews acted thus, though not by the command, yet doubtless with the approbation, of the apostles; and the most probable reason for it was this : they knew that Christ had foretold the destruction of their country, which should come upon it before that generation were passed away; and therefore they thought it proper, whilst there was opportunity, to improve to the best use their estates, which they should not long enjoy, by relieving their poorer brethren, and by enabling the first teachers to pursue their travels from place to place. Therefore also, when the gospel was spread amongst the Gentiles, the apostles were careful to make collections in their churches for the relief of the poor saints at Jerusalem, since it was just that a provision should be made for those who had given up all for the common good, and at whose charges the gospel was at first preached amongst some of the Gentiles. See Jos. Mede Disc. on Prov. xxxvii. 7.
We read in the Acts of the Apostles, that the Jews sub, orned and set up false witnesses against Stephen, who said, We have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this holy place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.' Now though these were calumniators, yet probably something had been said which gave occasion to the accusation; and St. Stephen had been heard to mention the approaching destruction of Jerusalem, and the inferiority of the ceremonial to the moral law. See Grotius.
This is one reason why the unbelieving Jews hated the disciples of Christ so implacably, because they did not prophesy good concerning the nation, but evil.'
Μάντι κακών, ου πώποτέ μοι το κρήγυον είπας. The author of the Recognitions of Clemens introduces St. Peter telling the Jews that the temple would be destroyed ? and adds, well enough, that upon this all the priests were highly enraged. i. 64.
The destruction of the Jewish nation is not mentioned by Jesus Christ as a threatened calainity which might be averted by repentance, but as a decree which was fixed and unala
terable. If thou hadst known, &c. but now they are hid from thine eyes.--Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away :' that is, sooner shall heaven and earth pass away than my predictions pass away unfulfilled. The best and the most probable method by which a Jew might secure himself from being involved in this national evil, was to embrace Christianity : for which, amongst other reasons, St. Paul says to the Jews; Beware therefore lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the prophets : Behold, ye despisers! and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it to you.' Acts xlii. 40.; which words of St. Paul, and of the prophets, as they are applied by him, seem plainly to intimate the approaching ruin of that people. Apud Lucam Paulus optime hæc verba aptat ad excidium simile eventurum per Romanos.' Grotius ad Habac. i. 5. Patet proprie de Chaldæis agi,' Habak. i. 5,6. • Paulus tamen hoc opus paradoxum considerans tanquam cohærens cum aliis gravissimis Dei judiciis, processu temporis vulgandis in eandem gentem,---id ad judicia et mala, quæ Judæos sui temporis manebant, transtulit.' Vitringa ad Jesai. x. 12. See him also on Isa. xxviii. 21. and Ham. mond on Acts xiii. 40.
These things amount to an evidence which cannot reasonably be resisted :
-ita res accendunt lumina rebus. The antient Christians saw it plainly, and insisted upon it strongly, as upon a satisfactory proof of the truth of Christianity; and the proof is as evident now as it was then. It highly deserves the serious consideration of those who doubt or disbelieve. Whosoever is of a studious and inquisitive disposition, and not of a sanguine complexion, has
Συγκρίνας δε τις τας τα Σωτήρος ημων λέξεις ταϊς λοιπαΐς τε συγγρα: φέως ιστορίαις ταϊς περί τα παντός πολέμου, πως ουκ αν αποθαυμάσειεν θείαν ως αληθώς και υπερφυώς παράδοξον την πρόγνωσίν τε και πρόρρησιν Tø Ewtroos jucē Oporovýoas : Quod si quis Servatoris nostri verba cum iis comparet, quæ ab eodem scriptore de universo bello commemorata sunt, fieri non potest quin admiretur præscientiam ac prædictionem Servatoris nostri, eamque vere divinam et supra modum stus pendam esse fateatur.' Euseb. Hist. Eccl. ii.7.