صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

the best improvement they could of those moral instructions with which he hath furnished thein.

When our Lord spoke that parable, he had passed through Jericho and was journeying towards Jerusalem; and when he came within view of the city, the historian informs us, he could not refrain from weeping over it, at the contemplation of those calamities, which, as a prophet, he foresaw, and so repeatedly denounced against it; saying, “ if thou hadst - known, even thou, at least in this thy day, " the things which belong to thy peace! but “ now they are hid from thine eyes. For the “ days shall come upon thee, that thine ene“ mies shall cast a trench about thee, and

compass thee round and keep thee in on erery side, and shall lay thee even with the

ground, and thy children within thee: and " they shall not leave in thee, one stone upon “ another: because thou knewest not the time “ of thy visitation.” In the 21st chapter, this last circumstance is again repeated: and both that and the entire circumvallation of Jerusalem, two things quite unusual with the Romans in their sieges, were literally accomplished by them, in the case of that unhappy city. Nay, the whole prediction of the de

[ocr errors]

struction of Jerusalem, expressly limited to the experience of that generation of the Jews, as it is recorded by Luke, contains so many singular, extraordinary circumstances, preceding and attending that siege, not mentioned by Moses, nor any of the old prophets, though some shocking circumstances predicted by them, are (no doubt, for that very reason) omitted by our Saviour, which, whoever has read the history of that fatal period, -knows to have exactly come to pass, that the Jews themselves have no way of eluding such an incontestable testimony of his divine mission, according to the criterion laid down for them by Moses, but by refusing to admit the authenticity of this evangelical history, saying, that no satisfactory proof is given them, that the history itself was not written, after the event had taken place: but that Luke's history was not so written, is evidenced by every circumstance, that can combine to prove the contrary. From the

age

of the Apostles to the present time, professed Christians have received, and transmitted down, this history and the Acts of the Apostles, as written by Luke, an early convert to. Christianity, and the friend and companion of Paul; and in the second of these histories, we, accordingly, find the author describing the travels of Paul, as being himself a partaker of them, and speaking, casually, in so circumstantial a manner, of times, places, and persons, as is scarcely possible for any writer to do, who was not living at the time of the transactions which he records. This second history, relates the situation of the primitive Christian Church, as low as about the fourth year of the emperor Nero, and no lower; and as the author wrote both his histories, avowedly for the use and perfect information of a friend, amongst the converts to the religion of Jesus, if he had written his latter history, after the reign of that emperor, he must have mentioned many later occurrences; particularly the unmerited, cruel treatment of the Christians, at Rome, on account of that conflagration, of which, every body was convinced, Nero himself was the real incendiary. So little ground is there, therefore, to imagine that even the Acts was written, after the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews, that there is not the least reason to believe, the au. thor was living after those events; and, to suppose that book to have been written later than the fourth or fifth year of Nero, is to con

clude directly contrary to every degree of ra. tional probability: yet in that work, he refers his friend Theophilus, to his history of the public ministry of Jesus, which contains this wonderful prediction, as to a work already in his possession. But there appears, one pårticular purpose of that prophecy, which it would not only have been useless, but absurd, to have penned after the event; especially since the accomplishment of that purpose, is no where expressly recorded, and is discoverable only, by fair inference, from the very silence of the historians of that siege. I mean, , that it was intended as a timely warning to our Lord's disciples, amongst the Jews, to preserve them from sharing in the dreadful evils, so soon to befall their country. To this end, the prediction, as far as it relates to circumstances, prévious to the siege, is not expressed in the usual, figurative language of prophecy; but, in the plainest and most literal terms, they are warned against the pretended Messiahs, whom artful imposture or visionary enthusiasm should produce; are bidden not to be too much alarmed at those wars and commotions, which would, for some years, precede the final destruction he was predicting; but that, as soon as they should see Jerusalem

itself invested with armed forces, they should hasten to quit both the metropolis, and country of Judea; for that then, they might be certain the time was come, when the predicted vengeance would be inevitably inflicted on that people; and since no historian mentions any of the Jewish Christians, as involved in the cruel fate of that dreadful calamity, though Josephus repeatedly enumerates all the other sects, and parties, amongst them, at that critical time, we must conclude, that the Christians, of whom Luke informs us, there had always been a considerable church, at Jerusalem from the resurrection of Jesus, to the reign of Nero, and which undoubtedly subsisted still later, profiting by these timely admonitions, and observing the prophetic tokens of their danger, by separating themselves from their nation, and native country in time, escaped the complicated distresses of the

general ruin. That this deliverance of his disciples, was one main purpose of the prophecy, is still more evident from the reflections which our Lord himself makes upon it, as a matter of consolation to them, under the previous persecutions they were to suffer, from their Jewislı brethren, described v. 11-19, assuring them, that when the tokens he has described, begar

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »