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and then, by their discovery, a multitude of others, were convicted, and cruelly put to death, with derision and insult.*

It is a natural consequence of all this, that the ardour of many in embracing and professing Christianity should be considerably abated, or, as it is expressed in the twelfth verse, that the love of many should wax cold; and of this we find several instances mentioned by the sacred writers.†

"But he that shall endure unto the end (adds our Lord in the thirteenth verse) the same shall be saved." He that shall not be dismayed by these persecutions, but shall continue firm in his faith and unshaken in his duty to the last, shall be saved, both in this world and the next. It is, we know, the uniform doctrine of scripture, that they who persevere in the belief and the practice of Christianity to the end of their lives, shall, through the merits of their Redeemer, be rewarded with everlasting life. And with respect to the present life, and the times to which our Saviour here alludes, it is remarkable, that none of his disciples were known to perish in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem.

Another sign which was to precede the demolition of the temple and the city of Jerusalem was, that the Christian religion was first to be propagated over the greater part of the Roman empire, which in scripture, as well as by the Roman writers, was called the world. "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Then shall come what is called in the third verse the end of the world; that is, the Jewish world, the Jewish state and government.


And accordingly St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Colossians, speaks of the Gospel being come unto all the world and preached to every creature under heaven." And we learn from the most authentic writers, and the most ancient records, that the Gospel was preached within thirty years after the death of Christ, † 2 Tim. iv. 16. Heb. x. 25.

*Tac, Ann. 1. 15.

Col. i. 6. 23.

in Idumæ, Syria, and Mesopotamia; in Media and Parthia, and many parts of Asia Minor; in Egypt, Mauretania, Ethiopia, and other regions of Africa; in Greece and Italy; as far north as Scythia, and as far westward as Spain, and in this very island which we inhabit; where there is great reason to believe Christianity was planted in the days of the apostles, and before the destruction of Jerusalem. And this, it is said, was to be" for a testimony against them;" that is, against the Jews; for a testimony that the offer of salvation was made to them in every part of the world where they were dispersed ; and that, by their obstinate rejection of it, they had merited the signal punishment which soon after overtook them,

Our Lord then goes on to still more alarming and more evident indications of the near approach of danger to the Jewish nation, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet,* stand in the holy place (let him that readeth understand); then let them that be in Judæa flee into the mountain." The meaning of this passage is clearly and fully explained by the parallel place in St. Luke: "when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh." The abomination of desolation therefore denotes the Roman army which besieged Jerusalem, and which Daniel also, in the place alluded to, calls the abomination which makes desolate.

The Roman army is here called an abomination, because upon their standards were depicted the images of their emperor and their tutelary gods, whom they worshiped and it is well known that idols were held by the Jews in the utmost abhorrence; and the very name they gave them was the expression here made use of, an abomination. The word desolation is added for an obvious reason, because this mighty army bro't ruin and desolation upon Jerusalem.

This city and the mountain on which it stood, and a circuit of several furlongs around it, were accounted * Chap. ix. 27.


holy ground; and as the Roman standards were planted in the most conspicuous places near the fortifications of the city, they are here said to stand in the holy place, or, as St. Mark expresses it, "to stand where they ought not. And Josephus tells us, that after the city was taken," the Romans brought their ensigns into the temple, and placed one of them against the eastern gate, and sacrificed to them there; which was the greatest insult and outrage that could possibly be offered to that wretched people."*

When therefore this desolating abomination, this idolatrous and destructive army appeared before the holy city," then, says our Lord, let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains; let him which is on the house top not come down to take any thing out of his house, neither let him that is in the fields return back to take his clothes." These are allusions to Jewish customs, and are designed to impress upon the disciples the necessity of immediate flight, not suffering themselves to be delayed by turning back for any accommodations they might wish for. "And woe unto them that are with child, and to those that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath-day :" that is, unfortunate will be it for those who, in such a time of terror and distress, shall have any natural impediments to obstruct their flight, and who are obliged to travel in the winter season, when the weather is severe, the roads rough, and the days short; or on the sabbath-day, when the Jews fancied it unlawful to travel more than a mile or two. These kind admonitions were not lost upon the disciples. For we learn from the best ecclesiastical historians, that when the Roman armies approached to Jerusalem, all the Christians left that devoted city, and fled to Pella, a mountainous country, and to other places beyond the river Jordan. And Josephus also informs us, that when Vespasian was drawing his forces towards Jerusalem, a great multitude fled from Jericho into the mountainous country for their security.†

* De Bell. Jud. 1. vi. c. 6. s. 1. p. 1283.

† De Bell. Jud. 1. iv. c. 8. s. 2. p. 1193. Ed. Huds.

And happy was it for them that they did so, for the miseries experienced by the Jews in that siege were almost without a parallel in the history of the world."Then," says our Saviour, "shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." This expression is a proverbial one, frequently made use of by the sacred writers to express some very uncommon calamity,* and therefore it is not necessary to take the words in their strictest sense. But yet in fact they were in the present instance almost literally fulfilled; and whoever will turn to the history of this war by Josephus, and there read the detail of the horrible and almost incredible calamities endured by the inhabitants of Jerusalem, during the siege, not only from the fire and sword of the enemies without, but from famine and pestilence, and continual massacres and murders from the fiend-likė fury of the seditious zealots within, will be convinced, that the very strong terms made use of by our Lord, even when literally interpreted, do not go beyond the truth. Indeed Josephus himself, in his preface to his history, expresses himself almost in the very same words: "our city, says he, of all those subjected to the Romans, was raised to the highest felicity, and was thrust down again to the lowest gulf of misery; for if the misfortunes of all from the beginning of the world were compared with those of the Jews, they would appear much inferior upon the comparison." Is not this almost precisely what our Saviour says, "there shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." It is impossible one would think, even for the most stubborn infidel, not to be struck with the great similarity of these two passages; and not to see that the prediction of our Lord, and the accomplishment of it, as described by the historian, are exact counterparts of each other, and seem almost as if they had been written by the very same person. Yet Josephus was not

* Ex. x. 14. Joel ii. 2. Dan. xii. 1. Maccab. ix. 27.

† De Bell. Jud. Proemium, p. 955. Ed. Huds.

born till after our Saviour was crucified; and he was not a Christian, but a Jew; and certainly never meant to give any testimony to the truth of our religion.

The calamities above mentioned were so severe, that had they been of long continuance the whole Jewish nation must have been destroyed; "except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved, says Christ, in the twenty-third verse; but (he adds) for the elect's sake, those days shall be shortened.". They were shortened for the sake of the elect, that is, of those Jews who had been converted to Christianity; and they were shortened by the besieged themselves, by their seditious and mutual slaughters, and their madness in burning their own provisions.

"Then continues Jesus, if any man shall say unto you, Lo; here is Christ, or there, believe it not for there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that (if it were possible) they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore, if they shall say unto you he is in the desert; go not forth: behold he is in the secret chambers: believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there shall the eagles be gathered together," Our Lord had already cautioned his disciples against believing the false Christs and false prophets who would appear before the siege, and he now warns them against those that would rise up during the siege. This, Josephus, tells us, they did in great abundance; and flattered the Jews with the hope of seeing their Messiah coming, with great power, to rescue them from the hands of the Romans.* And they also pretended to shew signs and wonders; the very words made use of by the same historian, as well as by our Lord.† And it is remarkable that Christ here foretels, not only the appearance of


Jos. de Bell. Jud. 1. vi. c. 5. s. 2. p. 1281. and Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 1. iv.

c. 6.

† Jos. Antiq. 1. xx. c. 27. s. 6. p. 983. Ed. 1 Huds.

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