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It is true indeed that their wants have hitherto been relieved with a liberality and kindness, which reflect thehighest honor on thofe who exercised them. But the evil in question still subsists in its sull force, and is, I sear, more likely to increase than to abate for months to come*. and will of course require unceasing exertions of benevolence and repeated acts of charity on our part, to alleviate and mitigate its banesul esiectsv
Every one ought therefore to provide as ample a sundas possible for this purpofe; and how can this be better provided than by a retrenchment of our expensive diverlions, our splended assemblies, and luxurious entertainments i We are not now required, as the young ruler in the Gofpel was, to sell all we have and give to the poor; but we are required, especially in times such as these, to cut off all idle and needless articles of prosusion, that we "may have to give to him that needeth."
And when we consider that the expence of a single evening's amusement, or a single convivial meeting, would give support and comfort perhaps to twenty wretched samilies, pining in hunger, in sickness, and in sorrow, can we so sar divest ourselves of all the tender seelings of our nature (not to mention any higher principle), can we be so intolerably selsish, so weded to pleasure, so devoted to our own gratisication, as to let the lowest of our brethren perish, while we are solacing ourselves with every earthly delight I No one that gives himself leaf to reflect for a moment can think this to be right, can maintain it to be consistent with his duty either to God or man. And, even in respect to the very object we so eagerly pursue, and are so anxious to obtain, in point even of pleasure, I mean, and self-gratisication, I doubt much whether the giddiest votary of amusement can receive half the real satissaction from the gayest scenes of dissipation he is immersed in, that he would experience (if he would but - try) from rescuing a sellow-creature from destruction, and lighting up an afflicted and sallen countenance with joy.
Let us then abridge ourselves of a sew indulgences, and give the price of what they would cost us to thofe who have none. By this laudable species of oeconcmv, we shall at once improve ourselves in a habit of self-denia\ and self-government; we shall demonstrate the sincerity of our love to our sellow-creatures by giving up fomething that is dear to us for their sake, by sacrisicing our pleasures to their necessities; and above all we shall approve ourselves as saithsul servants in the sight of our Almighty Sovereign; we shall give some proof of our gratitude to our Heavenly Benesactor and Friend, who has given us richly all things to enjoy; and who, in return for that bounty, expects and commands us to be rich in good works, to seed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to comfort the sick, to visit the satherless and widow in their asHiotion, and to keep ourselves unipotted from the world, unpolluted by its vices, and unsubdued by its predominant vanities and follies.
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t . . JL HIS course of Lectures for the present year .will begin with the twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew; which contains one of the clearest and most important prophecies that is to be found in the sacred writings.
The prophecy is that which our blessed Lord delivered respecting the destruction of Jerusalem, to which, I apprehend, the whole of the chapter, in its primary acceptation, relates. At the same time it must be admitted, that the forms of expression, and the images made use of, are for the most part applicable also to the day of judgment; and that an allusion to that great event, as a kind of secondary object, runs through almost every part of the prophecy. This is a very common practice in the prophetic writings, where two subjects are frequently carried on together, a principal and a subordinate one. In Isaiah there are no less than three subjects, the restoration of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, the call of the Gentiles to the Christian covenant, and the redemption of mankind by the Messiah, which are frequendy adumbrated under the same sigures and images, and are so blended and interwoven together, that it is extremely dissicult to separate them from each other*. In the same manner our Saviour, in the chapter before us, seems to hold out the destruction of Jerusalem, which is his principal subject, as a type of the dissolution of the world, which is the underpart of the representation. By thus judiciously mingling together these two important catastrophes, he gives at die same time (as he does in many other instances) a most interesting admonition to his immediate hearers the Jews, and a most awsul lesson to all his suture disciples; and the
* Bishop Lowth on Isaiah. Tux. 13.
benesit of his predictions, instead of being consined to one occasion, or to one people, is by this admirable management extended to every subsequent period of time, and to the whole Christian -world.
Aster this general remark, which is a sort of key to the whole prophecy, and will asford an easy solution to several dissiculties that occur in it, 1 shall proceed to consider distinctly the most material parts of it.
We are told in the sirst verse of this chapter, that "on our Saviour's departing from the temple his disciples came to him, to shew him the buildings of it that is, to draw his attention to the magnitude, the splendourj the apparent solidity and stability of that magnisicent .structure. It is observable that they advert particularry to the Jlonts of which it was composted. In St. Mark their erpression is, "See what manner of Jlones, and what buildings are here;" and in St. Luke they speak'dr the goodly Jlones andgifts with which it was adorned. TOu's leems at the sirst view a circumstance of little importance; but it shows in a very strong light with what persect sidelity and minute accuracy every thing is described in the sacred writings. For it appears from the historian Josephus, that there was scarce any thing more remarkable M this celebrated temple than the stupendous size of the' stones with which it was constructed. Thofe employed in" 'the foundations were forty cubits, that is above sixty seet, in length; and the superstructure, as the same historian observes, was worthy of such foundations, for mere stones in it of the whitest marble, upwards of! seet long, more than seven seet high, and nines I
It was therefore not without reason that the disciples particularly noticed the uncommon magnitude of the stones of this superb temple, from which, and from the general solidity and strength of the building, they probably flattered themselves, and meant to insinuate to their divine Master, that this unrivalled edisice was built for eternity, was formed to stand the shock of ages, and to resist the utmost esforts of human power to destroy it. How astonished
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* Josephus ie BelL Jud. V x. c, 5.
then and dismayed must they have heen at our Saviour's
answer to these triumphant observations of theirs! Jesus Isaid unto them, "See ye not all thofe things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be lest here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down." This is a proverbial expression, used on other occasions to denote entire destruction; and therefore had the temple been reduced to ruins in the usual way, the prophecy would have been sully accomplished. But it so happened that this prediction was almost literally sulsilled, and that in reality scarce one stone was left upon another. For when the Romans had taken Jerusalem, Titus ordered his soldiers to dig up the foundations both of the city and the temple*. The Jewish writers also themselves acknowledge, that Terentius Rusus, who was left to command the army, did with a plough-share tear up the foundations of the templef;
and thereby sulsilled that prophecy of Micah%. "Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a sield." And in consirmation of this remarkable circumstance, Eusebius also assures us, that the temple was ploughed up by the Romans; and that he himself saw it lying in ruinsj. The evangelist next insorms us, that as Jesus sat on the mount of Olives, which was exactly oppofite to the hill on which the temple was built, and commanded a very sine view of it from the east, his disciples came unto him privately, saying, "Tell us when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world." The expressions here made use of, the stgn of thy coming, and the end of the world, at the sirst view naturally lead our thoughts to the coming of Christ at the day of judgment, and the sinal desolution of this earthly globe. But a dew attention to the parallel passages in St. Mark and St. Luke, and a critical examination into the real import of thofe two phrases in various parts of Scrip(. ture, will soon convince a caresul inquirer, that by the coming of Christ is here meant, not his coming to judge the world at the last day, but his coming to execute judgment upon Jeiusalem^T; and that by the end of the ivcrld is to
* Jos. de Bcllo Jud. 1. vii. c- i.p. 170. B. i «J f See Whitby in Loc. i Chap. iii i»
§ Euseb. Dem. Evacg. L vi. 13.
1 See Mark xiii. 4. Luke xxi. 7. Matth, xxiv. 4, 5; xvi. »8. Jehu xxi »».