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“ Siloam fell and slew them, they should all “ likewise perish;”, and by this similitude between the denunciation of Jonah'and his own, he plainly declares, that the destruća tion of Jerusalem would be 'accomplished within forty years after his death'; for that they would not hearken to his preaching, and repent, as the men of Nineveh did at the preaching of Jonas, and that, therefore, the destruction of their city would not be postponed beyond the then existing generation, like that of Nineveh, and that, in the judgment which was so soon coming upon them, they would stand condemned by the striking contrast between the behaviour of the people of Nineveh and their own. Agreeably to this prophetic denunciation of our Saviour, from his crucifixion, that is, from the seventeenth of the emperor Tiberius, to the final destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem, by Titus, in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, is a period of exactly forty years.*
* Luke informs us, that the ministry of John the Baptist began in . the fifteenth year of Tiberius; and as the Jewish year commenced only fourteen days before the Passover, at which time it was the duty, both of John himself, and the nation of the Jews, in general, to be engaged at Jerusalem in the celebration of that feast, it is next to certain, that he did not begin to preach and baptise, till after the feast of the Passover of that year. If any time at all, therefore, be allowed for the ministry of John, before Jesus began to preach the new covenant
The thirteenth chapter of the Gospel according to Luke, verse 18-21, contains two prophetic similitudes of the kingdom of God, that is of the state of true Christianity in the world, which are plain predictions, that the religion of the Gospel, of however small extent and influence at the beginning, will in time become sufficiently extensive to afford refuge and consolation, to the various nations of the earth; and that though its influence may be slow, and for some time scarcely per
of the kingdom of God, the harvest, previous to which our Lord's dis. ciples rubbed the ears of corn for food, must have been the harvest of the sixteenth year of that emperor; and his public ministry, which preceded that circumstance but a short time, must have begun soon after the Passover of that year, and after Herod had imprisoned John, through a jealous fear of his popularity. Consequently, the succeed. Sing Passover, at which, Luke tells, our Saviour was crucified, was in the seventeenth year of the reign of Tiberius. Now Tiberius reigned twenty-two years and almost seven months, and died March 16th; so that from the Crucifixion to the Passover, which followed the death of
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Tiberius, was just
боо 3 10 8 13 8 20 13 8 0 0 7 13 0 3 4
So that from our Lord's death to the first Passover after Vespasian was made Emperor, was thirty-nine years ; and consequently to the same festival, in the second year of his reign, when his son Titus laid the fatal siege to that devoted city, was exactly forty years.
ceived, yet it will assuredly at length, spread itself over the whole globe. These prophecies still remain to be completed, and therefore, at present afford no satisfactory evidence of the truth and divine authority of the Gospel. They naturally suggest, however, some very important reflections to the observing mind, which is desirous to distinguish truth from error, and to avoid embracing the latter for the former.
It is natural for many sorts of seeds, which, at length, rise to the size of extensive trees, to lie long in the ground, before their vegetation is perceptible, and to increase very slowly for a considerable length of time; a very small quantity of leaven also, inclosed within a great bulk of meal, must necessarily operate very slowly, and require a long time before much effect from it can be discerned, and a cold, unfavourable season would naturally restrain the vegetation in the one case, and check the fermentation in the other; yet in process of time both might be completely perfected: but when a seed is once grown to the dimensions of a large tree, it is contrary to the whole course of nature for it to decrease ; and dough once leavened cannot become unleavened. We may, therefore, pro
nounce with certainty, upon the credit of these prophetic similitudes, that, notwithstanding its being called, and professing to be, Christian, the religion which spread so rapidly in the second and third centuries, which, in the fourth century was established, by the authority of the Roman emperors, under the title of the orthodox and holy catholic church, and which, for some ages, prevailed exclusively in every country in Europe, and in à very large part of Asia and Africa, was not the church of Christ, nor the religion of his Gospel. For, besides that it did not make its progress in the slow, gradual manner here described, in the seventh century, upon the rise of the Mahomedan superstition, it soon decreased, and became diminished in its extent, and continued gradually losing ground, till at length, it was supplanted by it out of all Asia, Africa, and a considerable part of Europe, that is, particularly out of all those regions of the world, where it originated, and was first established ; and the fabulous religion of the pretended Arabian prophet, at this day, occupies a much larger extent of the earth, than ever was occupied by the religion of the orthodox church, in its most . flourishing condition. As the members of
that church make a merit of foregoing the use of their reason, in questions concerning their religion, it is no wonder that difficulties like these, affect them not with the slightest impression, though they acknowledge that the constant over-ruling providence of God restrains or promotes every important change in the affairs of men : but a disinterested, unprejudiced observer will easily discern sufficient reason for God's so conspicuously declaring his preference of the Maliomedan to the orthodox superstition. If we compare them only in two striking features, the one respecting the Deity himself, the other as influencing the morals of mankind, we shall find that Mahomedänism, by teaching the undivided uncompounded unity of almighty God, gives its professors' a just and rational idea of the purely spiritual, incorporeal nature of the author of their existence, and the only proper object of their adoration; and, as it prohibits and prevents idolatry of every kind, it so far coincides with the first great purpose and design of all revealed religion, and must so far, therefore, meet with the approbation of the immutable God of truth; whilst the orthodox church, on the contrary, represents God as of a compounded nature,