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“A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds; a voice against Jerusalem, and the temple, a voice against bridegrooms and brides, a voice against all the people.” This was his cry, in the streets of the city, by day and by night; and when chastised for uttering such words of omen, he never once varied the subject of his lamentations. To those who buffeted him, and to those who relieved him, he gave the same mournful answer, Woe to Jerusalem. This was his practice, especially at the feasts, unwearied and unintimidated, for seyen years
and five months ; when, as he was going round the walls, with his usual tone of Woe to the city, to the people, and the temple, and adding last of all, Woe to myself, a stone from an engine ended at one'stroke his sorrows and his life.
These are the presages, recorded by Josephus ?.; which I fee no reason to disbelieve or dispute. Those, who are persuaded of the inspiration of holy writ, may affent at least to the general account, from our blessed Saviour's prediction of fearful sights, and great signs from heaven. If there are any, who are inclined to give more credit to the witness of men, than to the testimony of scripture ; they may learn, from the completion of what was foretold, to think with due reverence of the oracles of truth.
z He mentions also another prodigy ( reques. B. J. L. V. c. ix. 5. 4.) that Siloa and the fountains without the city, bea fore the coming of Titus, failed, so that water was sold by measure ; but that they flowed fo copiously on the approach of the enemy, as not only to serve their army and their cattle, but likewise to water the gardens. The fame, he says, hapo pened before the king of Babylon took the city. Dion on the contrary says (L. LXVI. e Theodos,) the Romans were
Josephus informs us, that the people, as if destitute both of sight and understanding, disregarded or misconstrued the warnings of heaven; but that they doubted the facts, he gives no intimation. On the contrary, of the certainty of these prodigies, which, he says, plainly foreshewed the future desolation, he
appears to be most fully satisfied ; and he probably related nothing of this kind which he had not either himself beheld, or received on the authority of eye-witnesses. He observes also, with great truth, that the calamities which ensued were worthy of the signs. Of this doubtless we may be assured, that in committing to writing these marvelous appearances, it was as much his design to illustrate the prophecies of the New Testament, as it was the intention of Caiaphas to foretel that Jesus should die for the nation'. They both were, in this respect, involuntary instruments in the hands of providence; and as the high priest uttered, but without being conscious of it, a truth on which depends the salvation of the world ; so the historian recorded the fulfilling of predictions, which he was not acquainted with, or did not believe. It may be added, that Tacitus 6, who never was accused of being over-credulous in affairs of this naturę, has likewise mentioned most of the prodigies recited above.
much distressed for want of water, but that the besieged were plentifully supplied by means of fubterraneogs canals brought into the city from a great distance. Poffibly this might be spoken of some later period of the fiege ; if not, where the two accounts vary, the testimony of Jofephus, who was on the spot at the time, should doubtless be preferred.
Such then were the previous indications of vengeance; let us next view the rise of the tribulations themselves.
“ Ye shall hear,” says our Lord, “ of wars and rumours of wars : see that ye be not troubled ; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet *: John xi. 49. &c.
b Hift. L. V. c. 13. c Matt. xxiv. 6.
If it were necessary to apply these words to events totally different from those alluded to in the following verse, we might understand them of wars and commotions in parts of the empire remote from Judea ; which engaged the attention of the Romans, and were one of the causes that incited the Jews to make a revolta. But it is better perhaps, with Grotius, to refer the passage to the Jewish affairs in various countries at this period.
In the reign of Caligula, the Greeks and Syrians who inhabited Seleucia, and lived in perpetual feuds and animosities, conspiring together for the purposes of slaughter, killed of the Jews above fifty thousand About the same time they were likewise miserably harassed in Egypt; the Roman governors, and the emperor himself, conniving at, and even encouraging, every outrage done to this despised and insulted people'. A positive command was also issued by the emperor, to erect his statue in the temple at Jerusalem • ;
d Vide Proæm. B. J. $. 2.
Other calamities, which befell them in Babylonia, are related in the same chapter.
Ibid. c. ix. $. 1. Philo de Leg. ad Caium, Vol. II. p. 562. &c. ed. Mangey. A. J. L. XVIII. c. ix. $. 2. &c.
and though the execution of the order, at the earnest intreaty of the Jewish nation, was for a while delayed, and finally prevented by the emperor's death ; yet the circumstances of the attempt were such as might well alarm them. If they did not voluntarily comply with the idolatrous injunction, which it was their duty to oppose ; the president of Syria, to whom the business was entrusted, was advancing towards Judea, and had reached the confines, with power sufficient to enforce obedience: and, in the eye of the Jews, every thing wore the appearance of immediate war.
The Christians, in the mean time, while the heavens grew black, and the tempest was coming on, posseffing in patience their own souls, and fervently praying for, and labouring to effect, the conversion of their brethren; were taught, by that sure word of prophecy which they saw gradually unfolding, to expect other events, before the storm burst, and poured forth its fury on the devoted land. They themselves had had their share, an early and a large share, in afflictions and persecutions; for so it was foretold them : “ Before all these;" before the troubles, whereof we have been speaking, were to come upon the Jews, “ they shall lay their hands on you,