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Jerusalem: and that nothing can more completely demonstrate the truth of our blessed Lord's predictions, than the nncomipt, impartial, and undesigned testimony given to their completion by this justly celebrated historian.
Here then we have a proof, which it is impossible to controvert, of our Saviour's persect knowledge of suture events, which belongs solely to God, and to thofe inspired and sent by him ; which of course establishes, in the clearest manner, the divine mission of Christ, and the divine origin of our religion.
The only pretence that can possibly be set up against this prophecy is, that it was not delivered by our Saviour previous to the destruction of Jerusalem, but inserted asterwards by St. Matthew and the other evangelists, subsequent to that event. This may undoubtedly be said, and any thing may be said by thofe whofe trade is objection and cavil: but can it be said with the smallest appearance of truth? Is there the slightest ground to support it? Most certainly not. It is a mere gratuitous assertion without the least shadow of proof; and an opposite assertion is a msEcient answer to it. We deny the sact > and call upon our adversaries to prove it, if they can: they have never so much as attempted it. Not even the earliest enemies of our saith, those who were much nearer the primitive ages, and much more likely to detect a fraud in the evangelical writers (if there were any) than modern insidels, even these never intimate the slightest suspicion that this prophecy was inserted after the event.
But besides this, there are good grounds to believe, not only that the three Gofpels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, where this prophecy is related, were written and published before the destruction of Jerusalem, but that the writers of them were all dead before that event. It is also well known, that both St. Peter, and St. Paul, who allude in their Epistles to the approaching ruin of Jerusalem* (which they learnt from our Lord's predictions,) and who had seen and approved the Gofpels of St. Mark and St.
* Acts ii. 19. 1 Pet iv- 7. Phil. iv- 5. 1 Thefs. ii. I#. Nekton on Proph. v. *. p. %%$. Jortin's Remarks, vol. i< p, 49.
Luke, were put to death under Nero, and Jerusalem wat not taken till the succeeding reign of Vespasian, i
It should be observed surther, that although this prophecy is by sar the sullest, and clearest, and most distinct, that our Lord delivered respecting the destruction of Jerusalem/ he plainly, though briefly alludes to it in several other parts of the Gofpels*. And these occasional predictions of that event are so frequent, and so persectly agree with this larger prophecy, they are introduced so incidentally in the way of parables, or in answer to some question; they arise, in short, so naturally from the occasion, and are so inartisicially interwoven into the very essence and substance of the narrative, that they have every imaginable appearance of having formed an original part of it, and cannot possibly be considered by any good judge of compofition as subsequent or fraudulent insertions.
Indeed such a sabrication as this would have been the silliest and most useless fraud that can be imagined; For it is very remarkable that the sacred writers make no use of this prophecy as a proof of our Saviour's. divine powers, or of the truth of his religion. They appeal frequently to the ancient prophecies concerning him, to hismiracles, and above all to his resurrection, as evidences that he was the Messiah, and the Son of God; but they never appeal to the accomplishment of this prophecy in support of thofe great truths, though certainly a very natural and important proof to be adduced in savor of them.
But that which ought, with every reasonable man, to be decisive of the question, is this, that three of the evangelists out of four concur in giving us this prophecy as a part of their history of our Lord, and as actually delivered by him at the period assigned to it, which we know was nearly forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem. Now we have no more reason to doubt •their veracity in this point than in any other; and if, on the strength of their character, on the evident marks of integrity, simplicity, and truth, which appear in every
* Matth. xxii. 1—7; niil 33—39. Luke xix, /|l-**4; 1—5; &c &c
page of their 'writings; and above all, if in consequence of*' their undergoing the bitterest sufferings as an evidence o£ their sincerity, we give implicit credit to what they tell us respecting the lise, the death, the doctrines, the miracles, and the resurrection of Christ, there is the very lame reason for admitting the genuineness of this prophecy. It stands on the same solid grounds of their veracity and probity, as the rest of the Gofpel does; and when men lay down their lives, as they did, in consirmation of what they assert they have surely some right to be believed.
We may then sasely consider this prophecy as an unquestionable proof of the divine foreknowledge of oui Lord, and the divine authority of the Gofpel; and on this.ground only (were it necessary) we might sec ureJy rest the whole sabric of our religion. Indeed this remarkable prediction has always been considered, by every impartial person, as one of the most powersul arguments in savor of Christianity; and in our own times, more particularly, a man of distinguished talents and acknowledged eminence in his prosession, and in the constant habit of weighing, sisiing, and scrutinizing evidence with the minutest accuracy in courts of justice, has publicly declared, that he considered this prophecy, if there were nothing else to support Christianity, as abfolutely irrejistible*.
But our Lord's predictions respecting this devoted city do not end even here. He not only foretels the entire destruction of Jerusalem, but the continuance of its deso-,
* See Mr. Erskine'i eloquent speech at the trial os Williams, for publishing Paine's Age os Reason; to which I must beg leave to add the weighty and important testimony os that most able and upright judge, Lord Kenyon, who, in his charge to the jury on the lame occasion made this noble Confession Of Faith:
"I am sully^mprefled with the great truths of religion, which, thank God, I was taught in my early years to believe; and which the hour of reflection and inquiry, instead os creating any doubt, has sully consirmed me in." How vain are all the idle cavils of the whole tribe of insidels put together, when contrasted with such a declaration as this from such a man!
Since this note was written, the public has to lament the lose os this truly great man. But he is now at rest from his virtuous labors; and he will long be remembered and revered, not only by Viisown proscslior, but by all descriptions of men, as the lirm friend and intrepid protector of the laws; the constitution, the morals, and the religion of this country.
lation and subjection to heathens, and the dispersion and captivity of the Jews for a long period of time. For if we turn to the parallel place in St. Luke, we shall sind him expressing himself in these words, respecting the Jews and their city; "they shall sall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be sulsilled*." That-is, not only vast numbers ot the Jews shall perish at the siege of Jerusalem, partly by their own seditions, and partly by tha Iword of the enemy, but multitudes shall also be made captives, and be dispersed into all countries; and Jerusalem stiall remain in a state of desolation and oppression, trampled upon and trodden down by heathen conquerors and rulers, till all the Gentiles shall be converted to the saith of Christ, and the Jews themselves shall acknowledge him to be the Messiah, and shall be restored to their an-^ cient city. • •
The former part of this prophesy has been already most exactly sulsilled, ;md is an earnest that all the reft will in due time be accomplished. The number of Jews slain during the siege was upwards of one million one hun-.' dred thousand, and near three hundred thousand more were destroyed in other places in the course of the warf; Besides these as Josephus insorms us, no less than ninetyseven thousand were made captives and dispersed into different countries, some into Egypt, some to Cæsarea, some carried to grace the triumph of Titus at Rome, and the rest distributed over the Roman provinces^; and tha whole Jewish people continue to this hour scattered over all the nations of the earth. * « ,;••,}..
With respect to their city, it has remained for the most part in a state of ruin and desolation, from its destruction by the Romans to the present time; and has n«ver been under the government of the Jews themselves, but oppressed and broken down by a succession of foreign masters, the Romans, the Saracens, the Franks, the Mamalukes, and last by the Turks, to whom it is still subject.
It is not therefore only in the history of Josephus, and in ether ancient 'writers, that we are to look for the accomplishment of our Lord's predictions; we see them verisied at this moment before our eyes, in the desolated state of the once celebrated city and temple of Jerusalem, and in the present condition of the Jewish people, not collected together into any one country, into one political society, .and under one form of government, but dispersed over every region of the globe, and every where treated with contumely and scorn. . •
There was indeed one attempt made to rebuild thentemple and their city, and restore them to their ancient profperity and splendor. It was made too for the express and avowed purpofe of deseating that very prophecy we have been considering; and the event was such as might be expected from the folly and presumption of the man who dared to oppofe the designs of Providence, and to sight against God. This man was the emperor Julian, who, as you all know, was sirst a Christian, then apostatized from that religion, prosessed himself a pagan, and became a bitter and avowed enemy to the Gofpel. This prince assured the Jews, that if he was successsul in the Persian war, he would rebuild their city, restore them to their habitations, re-establish their government and their religion, and join with them in worshipping the great God of the universe. He actually begun this singular enterprize, by attempting to rebuild their temple with the greatest magnisicence. He assigned immense sums for the structure; and gave it in charge to Alypius of Antioch, who had formerly been lieutenant in Britain, to superintend the work. Alypius exerted himself with great vigour, and was assisted in it by the governor of the province. But soon after they had begun the work, dreadsul balls of sire bursting out from the foundations in several parts, rendered the place inaccessible to the workmen, who were frequently burnt with the flames; and in this manner, the siery elements obstinately repelling them, forced them at length to abandon the design. The account of this extraordinary miracle we have not only from ancient Christian writers of credit, who lived at the very time when it happened, but from an heathen author of great veracity, Ammianus,