1And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
1 CHAPTER XXIV.
NOTES ON CHAP. XXIV.
This chapter contains a prediction of the utter destruction of
the city and temple of Jerusalem, and the subversion of the whole
political constitution of the Jews; and is one of the most
valuable portions of the new covenant Scriptures, with respect to
the evidence which it furnishes of the truth of Christianity.
Every thing which our Lord foretold should come on the temple,
city, and people of the Jews, has been fulfilled in the most
correct and astonishing manner; and witnessed by a writer who was
present during the whole, who was himself a Jew, and is
acknowledged to be an historian of indisputable veracity in all
those transactions which concern the destruction of Jerusalem.
Without having designed it, he has written a commentary on our
Lord's words, and shown how every tittle was punctually fulfilled,
though he knew nothing of the Scripture which contained this
remarkable prophecy. His account will be frequently referred to
in the course of these notes; as also the admirable work of Bishop
Newton on the prophecies.
Verse 1. And Jesus went out, and departed from, the temple]
Or, And Jesus, going out of the temple, was going away. This is
the arrangement of the words in several eminent manuscripts,
versions, and fathers; and is much clearer than that in the common
translation. The Jews say the temple was built of white and
green-spotted marble. See Lightfoot. Josephus says the stones
were white and strong; fifty feet long, twenty-four broad, and
sixteen thick. Antiq. b. 15. c. xi. See .
2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
2 Verse 2. See ye not all these things?] The common text, and
many manuscripts, have ουβλεπετε, Do ye not see, or consider?
But the negative particle is omitted by several excellent
manuscripts, by the Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Slavonic,
Vulgate, and Itala versions, and by some of the primitive fathers,
who all read it thus, see, or consider all these things.
There shall not be left here one stone] These seem to have been
the last words he spoke as he left the temple, into which he never
afterwards entered; and, when he got to the mount of Olives, he
renewed the discourse. From this mount, on which our Lord and his
disciples now sat, the whole of the city, and particularly the
temple, were clearly seen. This part of our Lord's prediction was
fulfilled in the most literal manner. Josephus says, War, book
vii. c. 1: "Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the
whole city and temple, τεπολιναπασανκαιτοννεωνκατασκεπτειν,
except the three towers, Phaselus, Hippicus, and Mariamne, and a
part of the western wall, and these were spared; but, for all the
rest of the wall, it was laid so completely even with the ground,
by those who dug it up to the foundation, that there was left
nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been
inhabited." Maimonides, a Jewish rabbin, in Tract. Taanith, c. 4,
says, "That the very foundations of the temple were digged up,
according to the Roman custom." His words are these: "On that
ninth day of the month Ab, fatal for vengeance, the wicked Turnus
Rufus, of the children of Edom, ploughed up the temple, and the
places round about it, that the saying might be fulfilled, Zion
shall be ploughed as a field." This Turnus, or rather Terentius
Rufus, was left general of the army by Titus, with commission, as
the Jews suppose, to destroy the city and the temple, as Josephus
The temple was destroyed 1st. Justly; because of the sins of
the Jews. 2dly. Mercifully; to take away from them the occasion
of continuing in Judaism: and 3dly. Mysteriously; to show that the
ancient sacrifices were abolished, and that the whole Jewish
economy was brought to an end, and the Christian dispensation
3 ¶ And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the 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?
3 Verse 3. Tell us, when shall these things be?] There appear to
be three questions asked here by the disciples. 1st. When shall
these things be? viz. the destruction of the city, temple, and
Jewish state. 2dly. What shall be the sign of thy coming? viz. to
execute these judgments upon them, and to establish thy own
Church: and 3dly. When shall this world end? When wilt thou come
to judge the quick and the dead? But there are some who maintain
that these are but three parts of the same question, and that our
Lord's answers only refer to the destruction of the Jewish state,
and that nothing is spoken here concerning the LAST or judgment
End of the world] τουαιωνος; or, of the age, viz. the Jewish
economy, which is a frequent accommodated meaning of the word
αιων, the proper meaning of which is, as Aristotle (De Caelo)
observes, ETERNAL. αιων, quasi αειων continual being: and
no words can more forcibly point out eternity than these.
4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
4 Verse 4. Take heed that no man deceive you.] The world is full
of deceivers, and it is only by taking heed to the counsel of
Christ that even his followers can escape being ruined by them.
From this to , our Lord mentions the signs which should
precede his coming.
5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
5 The FIRST sign is false Christs.
Verse 5. For many shall come in my name] 1. Josephus says,
(War, b. ii. c. 13,) that there were many who, pretending to
Divine inspiration, deceived the people, leading out numbers of
them to the desert, pretending that God would there show them the
signs of liberty, meaning redemption from the Roman power: and
that an Egyptian false prophet led 30,000 men into the desert, who
were almost all cut off by Felix. See . It was a just
judgment for God to deliver up that people into the hands of false
Christs who had rejected the true one. Soon after our Lord's
crucifixion, Simon Magus appeared, and persuaded the people of
Samaria that he was the great power of God, ; and
boasted among the Jews that he was the son of God.
2. Of the same stamp and character was also Dositheus, the
Samaritan, who pretended that he was the Christ foretold by Moses.
3. About twelve years after the death of our Lord, when Cuspius
Fadus was procurator of Judea, arose an impostor of the name of
Theudas, who said he was a prophet, and persuaded a great
multitude to follow him with their best effects to the river
Jordan, which he promised to divide for their passage; and saying
these things, says Josephus, he deceived many: almost the very
words of our Lord.
4. A few years afterwards, under the reign of Nero, while Felix
was procurator of Judea, impostors of this stamp were so frequent
that some were taken and killed almost every day. Jos. Ant. b.
xx. c. 4. and 7.
6And ye shall hear 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.
6 The SECOND sign, wars and commotions.
Verse 6. The next signs given by our Lord are wars and rumours
of wars, &c.] These may be seen in Josephus, Ant. b. xviii. c. 9;
War, b. ii. c. 10; especially as to the rumours of wars, when
Caligula ordered his statue to be set up in the temple of God,
which the Jews having refused, had every reason to expect a war
with the Romans, and were in such consternation on the occasion
that they even neglected to till their land.
7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
7 Verse 7. Nation shall rise against nation] This portended the
dissensions, insurrections and mutual slaughter of the Jews, and
those of other nations, who dwelt in the same cities together; as
particularly at Caesarea, where the Jews and Syrians contended
about the right of the city, which ended there in the total
expulsion of the Jews, above 20,000 of whom were slain. The whole
Jewish nation being exasperated at this, flew to arms, and burnt
and plundered the neighbouring cities and villages of the Syrians,
making an immense slaughter of the people. The Syrians, in
return, destroyed not a less number of the Jews. At Scythopolis
they murdered upwards of 13,000. At Ascalon they killed 2,500.
At Ptolemais they slew 2000, and made many prisoners. The Tyrians
also put many Jews to death, and imprisoned more: the people of
Gadara did likewise; and all the other cities of Syria in
proportion, as they hated or feared the Jews. As Alexandria the
Jews and heathens fought, and 50,000 of the former were slain.
The people of Damascus conspired against the Jews of that city,
and, assaulting them unarmed, killed 10,000 of them. See Bishop
Newton, and Dr. Lardner.
Kingdom against kingdom] This portended the open wars of
different tetrarchies and provinces against each other. 1st. That
of the Jews and Galileans against the Samaritans, for the murder
of some Galileans going up to the feast of Jerusalem, while
Cumanus was procurator. 2dly. That of the whole nation of the
Jews against the Romans and Agrippa, and other allies of the
Roman empire; which began when Gessius Florus was procurator.
3dly. That of the civil war in Italy, while Otho and Vitellius
were contending for the empire. It is worthy of remark, that the
Jews themselves say, "In the time of the Messiah, wars shall be
stirred up in the world; nation shall rise against nation, and
city against city." Sohar Kadash. "Again, Rab. Eleasar, the son
of Abina, said, When ye see kingdom rising against kingdom, then
expect the immediate appearance of the Messiah." Bereshith Rabba,
The THIRD sign, pestilence and famine.
It is farther added, that There shall be famines, and
pestilences] There was a famine foretold by Agabus, (,)
which is mentioned by Suetonius, Tacitus, and Eusebius; which came
to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar, and was so severe at
Jerusalem that Josephus says (Ant. b. xx. c. 2.) many died for
lack of food. Pestilences are the usual attendants of famines: as
the scarcity and badness of provisions generally produce epidemic
The FOURTH sign, earthquakes or popular commotions.
Earthquakes, in divers places.] If we take the word σεισμοι
from σειω to shake, in the first sense, then it means particularly
those popular commotions and insurrections which have already been
noted; and this I think to be the true meaning of the word: but if
we confine it to earthquakes, there were several in those times to
which our Lord refers; particularly one at Crete in the reign of
Claudius, one at Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos. See Grotius. One
at Rome, mentioned by Tacitus; and one at Laodicea in the reign
of Nero, in which the city was overthrown, as were likewise
Hierapolis and Colosse. See Tacit. Annal. lib. xii. and lib.
xiv. One at Campania, mentioned by Seneca; and one at Rome, in
the reign of Galba, mentioned by Suetonius in the life of that
emperor. Add to all these, a dreadful one in Judea, mentioned by
Josephus (War, b. iv. c. 4.) accompanied by a dreadful tempest,
violent winds, vehement showers, and continual lightnings and
thunders; which led many to believe that these things portended
some uncommon calamity.
The FIFTH sign, fearful portents.
To these St. Luke adds that there shall be fearful sights and
great signs from heaven (.) Josephus, in his preface to
the Jewish war, enumerates these. 1st. A star hung over the city
like a sword; and a comet continued a whole year. 2d. The people
being assembled at the feast of unleavened bread, at the ninth
hour of the night, a great light shone about the altar and the
temple, and this continued for half an hour. 3d. At the same
feast, a cow led to sacrifice brought forth a lamb in the midst of
the temple! 4th. The eastern gate of the temple, which was of
solid brass, and very heavy, and could hardly be shut by twenty
men, and was fastened by strong bars and bolts, was seen at the
sixth hour of the night to open of its own accord! 5th. Before
sun-setting there were seen, over all the country, chariots and
armies fighting in the clouds, and besieging cities. 6th. At the
feast of pentecost, when the priests were going into the inner
temple by night, to attend their service, they heard first a
motion and noise, and then a voice, as of a multitude, saying, LET
US DEPART HENCE! 7th. What Josephus reckons one of the most
terrible signs of all was, that one Jesus, a country fellow, four
years before the war began, and when the city was in peace and
plenty, came to the feast of tabernacles, and ran crying up and
down the streets, day and night: "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 the bridegrooms and the
brides! and a voice against all the people!" Though the
magistrates endeavoured by stripes and tortures to restrain him,
yet he still cried, with a mournful voice, "Wo, wo to Jerusalem!"
And this he continued to do for several years together, going
about the walls and crying with a loud voice: "Wo, wo to the city,
and to the people, and to the temple!" and as he added, "Wo, wo to
myself!" a stone from some sling or engine struck him dead on the
spot! It is worthy of remark that Josephus appeals to the
testimony of others, who saw and heard these fearful things.
Tacitus, a Roman historian, gives very nearly the same account
with that of Josephus. Hist. lib. v.
8All these are the beginning of sorrows.
8 Verse 8. All these are the beginning of sorrows.] ωδινων,
travailing pains. The whole land of Judea is represented under
the notion of a woman in grievous travail; but our Lord intimates,
that all that had already been mentioned were only the first pangs
and throes, and nothing in comparison of that hard and
death-bringing labour, which should afterwards take place.
From the calamities of the nation in general, our Lord passes to
those of the Christians; and, indeed, the sufferings of his
followers were often occasioned by the judgments sent upon the
land, as the poor Christians were charged with being the cause of
these national calamities, and were cruelly persecuted on that
9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
9 Verse 9. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted]
Rather, Then they will deliver you up to affliction, ειςθλιψιν.
By a bold figure of speech, affliction is here personified. They
are to be delivered into affliction's own hand, to be harassed by
all the modes of inventive torture.
Ye shall be hated of all nations] Both Jew and Gentile will
unite in persecuting and tormenting you. Perhaps παντωντωνεθνων
means all the Gentiles, as in the parallel places in ,
and in ,
the Jewish persecution is mentioned distinctly. Ye shall be
delivered up to COUNCILS and be beaten in SYNAGOGUES, and ye shall
stand before governors and kings for my name's sake-be not
anxiously careful beforehand what ye shall speak-for ye are not
the speakers, but the Holy Spirit will speak by you-I will give
you utterance and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be
able to contradict or resist. We need go no farther than the Acts
of the Apostles for the completion of these particulars. Some
were delivered to councils, as Peter and John, . Some were
brought before rulers and kings, as Paul before Gallio, ,
before Felix, Acts 24, before Festus and Agrippa, Acts 25. Some
had utterance and wisdom which their adversaries were not able to
resist: so Stephen, , and Paul, who made even Felix
himself tremble, .
Some were imprisoned, as Peter and John, .
Some were beaten, as Paul and Silas, .
Some were put to death, as Stephen, ,
and James the brother of John, .
But if we look beyond the book of the Acts of the Apostles, to the
bloody persecutions under Nero, we shall find these predictions
still more amply fulfilled: in these, numberless Christians fell,
besides those two champions of the faith Peter and Paul. And it
was, as says Tertullian, nominis praelium, a war against the very
name of Christ; for he who was called Christian had committed
crime enough, in bearing the name, to be put to death. So true
were our Saviour's words, that they should be hated of all men for
his NAME'S sake.
But they were not only to be hated by the Gentiles, but they
were to be betrayed by apostates.
10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
10 Verse 10. Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one
another] To illustrate this point, one sentence out of Tacitus
(Annal. l. xv.) will be sufficient, who, speaking of the
persecution under Nero, says, At first several were seized, who
confessed, and then by THEIR DISCOVERY a great multitude of others
were convicted and executed.
11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
11 Verse 11. False prophets] Also were to be raised up; such as
Simon Magus and his followers; and the false apostles complained
of by St. Paul, ,
who were deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the
apostles of Christ. Such also were Hymeneus and Philetus,
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
12 Verse 12. The love of many shall wax cold.] By reason of these
trials and persecutions from without, and those apostasies and
false prophets from within, the love of many to Christ and his
doctrine, and to one another, shall grow cold. Some openly
deserting the faith, as ; others corrupting it, as
; and others growing indifferent about it, .
Even at this early period there seems to have been a very
considerable defection in several Christian Churches; see
; , &c.; .
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
13 Verse 13. But he that shall endure] The persecutions that
shall come-unto the end; to the destruction of the Jewish polity,
without growing cold or apostatizing-shall be saved, shall be
delivered in all imminent dangers, and have his soul at last
brought to an eternal glory. It is very remarkable that not a
single Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem, though
there were many there when Cestius Gallus invested the city; and,
had he persevered in the siege, he would soon have rendered
himself master of it; but, when he unexpectedly and unaccountably
raised the siege, the Christians took that opportunity to escape.
See Eusebius, Hist. Eccles lib. iii. c. 5, and Mr. Reading's note
there; and see the note here on .
14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
14 Verse 14. And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in
all the world] But, notwithstanding these persecutions, there
should be a universal publication of the glad tidings of the
kingdom, for a testimony to all nations. God would have the
iniquity of the Jews published every where, before the heavy
stroke of his judgments should fall upon them; that all mankind,
as it were, might be brought as witnesses against their cruelty
and obstinacy in crucifying and rejecting the Lord Jesus.
In all the world, ενολητηοικουμενη. Perhaps no more is meant
here than the Roman empire; for it is beyond controversy that
means no more than the whole Roman empire: as a decree for
taxation or enrolment from Augustus Caesar could have no influence
but in the Roman dominions; but see on .
Tacitus informs us, Annal. l. xv., that, as early as the reign of
Nero, the Christians were grown so numerous at Rome as to excite
the jealousy of the government; and in other parts they were in
proportion. However, we are under no necessity to restrain the
phrase to the Roman empire, as, previously to the destruction of
Jerusalem, the Gospel was not only preached in the lesser Asia,
and Greece, and Italy, the greatest theatres of action then in the
world; but was likewise propagated as far north as SCYTHIA; as far
south as ETHIOPIA; as far east as PARTHIA and INDIA; and as far
west as SPAIN and BRITAIN. On this point, Bishop Newton goes on
to say, That there is some probability that the Gospel was
preached in the British nations by St. Simon the apostle; that
there is much greater probability that it was preached here by St.
Paul; and that there is an absolute certainty that it was planted
here in the times of the apostles, before the destruction of
Jerusalem. See his proofs. Dissert. vol. ii. p. 235, 236. edit.
1758. St. Paul himself speaks, , of the Gospel's
being come into ALL THE WORLD, and preached TO EVERY CREATURE
under heaven. And in his Epistle to the Romans, ,
he very elegantly applies to the lights of the Church, what the
psalmist said of the lights of heaven. Their sound went into ALL
THE EARTH, and their words unto the END of the WORLD. What but
the wisdom of God could foretell this? and what but the power of
God could accomplish it?
Then shall the end come.] When this general publication of the
Gospel shall have taken place, then a period shall be put to the
whole Jewish economy, by the utter destruction of their city and
15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
15 Verse 15. The abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel]
This abomination of desolation, St. Luke, (,) refers
to the Roman army; and this abomination standing in the holy place
is the Roman army besieging Jerusalem; this, our Lord says, is
what was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, in the ninth and
eleventh chapters of his prophecy; and so let every one who reads
these prophecies understand them; and in reference to this very
event they are understood by the rabbins. The Roman army is
called an abomination, for its ensigns and images, which were so
to the Jews. Josephus says, (War, b. vi. chap. 6,) the Romans
brought their ensigns into the temple, and placed them over
against the eastern gate, and sacrificed to them there. The Roman
army is therefore fitly called the abomination, and the
abomination which maketh desolate, as it was to desolate and lay
waste Jerusalem; and this army besieging Jerusalem is called by
St. Mark, ,
standing where it ought not, that is, as in the text here, the
holy place; as not only the city, but a considerable compass of
ground about it, was deemed holy, and consequently no profane
persons should stand on it.
16Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
16 Verse 16. Then let them which be in Judea flee into the
mountains] This counsel was remembered and wisely followed by the
Christians afterwards. Eusebius and Epiphanius say, that at this
juncture, after Cestius Gallus had raised the siege, and Vespasian
was approaching with his army, all who believed in Christ left
Jerusalem and fled to Pella, and other places beyond the river
Jordan; and so they all marvellously escaped the general shipwreck
of their country: not one of them perished. See on .
17Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
17 Verse 17. Let him which is on the house top] The houses of the
Jews, as well as those of the ancient Greeks and Romans, were
flat-roofed, and had stairs on the outside, by which persons might
ascend and descend without coming into the house. In the eastern
walled cities, these flat-roofed houses usually formed continued
terraces from one end of the city to the other; which terraces
terminated at the gates. He, therefore, who is walking on the
house top, let him not come down to take any thing out of his
house; but let him instantly pursue his course along the tops of
the houses, and escape out at the city gate as fast as he can.
Any thing] Instead of τι, any thing, we should read τα,
the things; which reading is supported by all the best MSS.,
versions, and fathers.
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
18 Verse 18. Neither let him which is in the field return back]
Because when once the army of the Romans sits down before the
city, there shall be no more any possibility of escape, as they
shall never remove till Jerusalem be destroyed.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
19 Verse 19. And wo unto them (alas! for them) that are with
child, &c.] For such persons are not in a condition to make their
escape; neither can they bear the miseries of the siege. Josephus
says the houses were full of women and children that perished by
the famine; and that the mothers snatched the food even out of
their own children's mouths. See WAR, b. v. c. 10. But he
relates a more horrid story than this, of one Mary, the daughter
of Eliezar, illustrious for her family and riches, who, being
stripped and plundered of all her goods and provisions by the
soldiers, in hunger, rage, and despair, killed and boiled her own
sucking child, and had eaten one half of him before it was
discovered. This shocking story is told, WAR, b. vi. c. 3, with
several circumstances of aggravation.
20But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
20 Verse 20. But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter]
For the hardness of the season, the badness of the roads, the
shortness of the days, and the length of the nights, will all be
great impediments to your flight. Rabbi Tanchum observes, "that
the favour of God was particularly manifested in the destruction
of the first temple, in not obliging the Jews to go out in the
winter, but in the summer." See the place in Lightfoot.
Neither on the Sabbath-day] That you may not raise the
indignation of the Jews by travelling on that day, and so suffer
that death out of the city which you had endeavoured to escape
from within. Besides, on the Sabbath-days the Jews not only kept
within doors, but the gates of all the cities and towns in every
place were kept shut and barred; so that their flight should be on
a Sabbath, they could not expect admission into any place of
security in the land.
Our Lord had ordered his followers to make their escape from
Jerusalem when they should see it encompassed with armies; but how
could this be done? God took care to provide amply for this. In
the twelfth year of Nero, Cestius Gallus, the president of Syria,
came against Jerusalem with a powerful army. He might, says
Josephus, WAR, b. ii. c. 19, have assaulted and taken the city,
and thereby put an end to the war; but without any just reason,
and contrary to the expectation of all, he raised the siege and
departed. Josephus remarks, that after Cestius Gallus had raised
the siege, "many of the principal Jewish people, πολλοιτων
επιφανωνιουδαιων, forsook the city, as men do a sinking ship."
Vespasian was deputed in the room of Cestius Gallus, who, having
subdued all the country, prepared to besiege Jerusalem, and
invested it on every side. But the news of Nero's death, and soon
after that of Galba, and the disturbances that followed, and the
civil wars between Otho and Vitellius, held Vespasian and his son
Titus in suspense. Thus the city was not actually besieged in
form till after Vespasian was confirmed in the empire, and Titus
was appointed to command the forces in Judea. It was in those
incidental delays that the Christians, and indeed several others,
provided for their own safety, by flight. In , our Lord
says of Jerusalem, Thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee,
and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side.
Accordingly, Titus, having made several assaults without success,
resolved to surround the city with a wall, which was, with
incredible speed, completed in three days! The wall was
thirty-nine furlongs in length, and was strengthened with thirteen
forts at proper distances, so that all hope of safety was cut off;
none could make his escape from the city, and no provisions could
be brought into it. See Josephus, WAR, book v. c. 12.
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
21 Verse 21. For then shall be great tribulation] No history can
furnish us with a parallel to the calamities and miseries of the
Jews:-rapine, murder, famine, and pestilence within: fire and
sword, and all the horrors of war, without. Our Lord wept at the
foresight of these calamities; and it is almost impossible for any
humane person to read the relation of them in Josephus without
weeping also. St. Luke, ,
calls these the days of vengeance, that all things which were
written might be fulfilled. 1. These were the days in which all
the calamities predicted by Moses, Joel, Daniel, and other
prophets, as well as those predicted by our Saviour, met in one
common centre, and were fulfilled in the most terrible manner on
that generation. 2. These were the days of vengeance in another
sense, as if God's judgments had certain periods and revolutions;
for it is remarkable that the temple was burned by the Romans in
the same month, and on the same day of the month, on which it had
been burned by the Babylonians. See Josephus, WAR, b. vi. c. 4.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
22 Verse 22. Except those days should be shortened] Josephus
computes the number of those who perished in the siege at eleven
hundred thousand, besides those who were slain in other places,
WAR, b. vi. c. 9; and if the Romans had gone on destroying in this
manner, the whole nation of the Jews would, in a short time, have
been entirely extirpated; but, for the sake of the elect, the
Jews, that they might not be utterly destroyed, and for the
Christians particularly, the days were shortened. These, partly
through the fury of the zealots on one hand, and the hatred of the
Romans on the other; and partly through the difficulty of
subsisting in the mountains without houses or provisions, would in
all probability have been all destroyed, either by the sword or
famine, if the days had not been shortened. The besieged
themselves helped to shorten those days by their divisions and
mutual slaughters; and by fatally deserting their strong holds,
where they never could have been subdued, but by famine alone.
So well fortified was Jerusalem, and so well provided to stand a
siege, that the enemy without could not have prevailed, had it not
been for the factions and seditions within. When Titus was
viewing the fortifications after the taking of the city, he could
not help ascribing his success to God. "We have fought," said he,
"with God on our side; and it is God who pulled the Jews out of
these strong holds: for what could machines or the hands of men
avail against such towers as these?" WAR, b. vi. c. 9.
23Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
23 Verse 23. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo here is
Christ] Our Lord had cautioned his disciples against false
Christs and prophets before, ; but he seems here to
intimate that there would be especial need to attend to this
caution about the time of the siege. And in fact many such
impostors did arise about that time, promising deliverance from
God; and the lower the Jews were reduced, the more disposed they
were to listen to such deceivers. Like a man drowning, they were
willing to catch even at a straw, while there was any prospect of
being saved. But as it was to little purpose for a man to take
upon him the character of the Christ, without miracles to avouch
his Divine mission, so it was the common artifice of these
impostors to show signs and wonders, σημειακαιτερατα; the very
words used by Christ in this prophecy, and by Josephus in his
history: ANT. b. xx. c. 7. Among these Simon Magus, and
Dositheus, mentioned before; and Barcocab, who, St. Jerome says,
pretended to vomit flames. And it is certain these and some
others were so dexterous in imitating miraculous works that they
deceived many; and such were their works, that if the elect, the
chosen persons, the Christians, had not had the fullest evidence
of the truth of Christ's mission and miracles, they must have been
deceived too: but, having had these proofs, they could not
possibly be deceived by these impostors. This is simply the
meaning of this place; and it is truly astonishing that it should
be brought as a proof for the doctrine (whether true or false is
at present out of the question) of the necessary and eternal
perseverance of the saints! How abundant the Jews were in magic,
divination, sorcery, incantation, &c., see proved by Dr. Lightfoot
on this place.
24 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.
25Behold, I have told you before.
25 Verse 25. Behold, I have told you before.] That is, I have
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
26 Verse 26. If they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the
desert] Is it not worthy of remark that our Lord not only
foretold the appearance of these impostors, but also the manner
and circumstances of their conduct? Some he mentions as appearing
in the desert. Josephus says, ANT. b. xx. c. 7, and WAR, book ii.
c. 13: That many impostors and cheats persuaded the people to
follow them to the desert, promising to show them signs and
wonders done by the providence of God, is well attested. An
Egyptian false prophet, mentioned by Josephus, ANT. b. xx. c. 7,
and in the Acts, ,
led out into the DESERT four thousand men, who were murderers, but
these were all taken or destroyed by Felix. Another promised
salvation to the people, if they would follow him to the DESERT,
and he was destroyed by Festus, ANT. b. xx. c. 7. Also, one
Jonathan, a weaver, persuaded a number to follow him to the
DESERT, but he was taken and burnt alive by Vespasian. See WAR,
b. vii. c. 11.
As some conducted their deluded followers to the DESERT, so did
others to the secret chambers. Josephus mentions a false prophet,
WAR, b. vi. c. 5, who declared to the people in the city, that God
commanded them to go up into the temple, and there they should
receive the signs of deliverance. A multitude of men, women, and
children, went up accordingly; but, instead of deliverance, the
place was set on fire by the Romans, and 6,000 perished miserably
in the flames, or in attempting to escape them.
27For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
27 Verse 27. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and
shineth even unto the west] It is worthy of remark that our Lord,
in the most particular manner, points out the very march of the
Roman army: they entered into Judea on the EAST, and carried on
their conquest WESTWARD, as if not only the extensiveness of the
ruin, but the very route which the army would take, were intended
in the comparison of the lightning issuing from the east, and
shining to the west.
28For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
28 Verse 28. For wheresoever the carcass is] πτωμα, the dead
carcass. The Jewish nation, which was morally and judicially
There will the eagles] The Roman armies, called so partly from
their strength and fierceness, and partly from the figure of these
animals which was always wrought on their ensigns, or even in
brass, placed on the tops of their ensign-staves. It is
remarkable that the Roman fury pursued these wretched men
wheresoever they were found. They were a dead carcass doomed to
be devoured; and the Roman eagles were the commissioned devourers.
See the pitiful account in Josephus, WAR, b. vii. c. 2, 3, 6, 9,
10, and 11.
29 ¶ Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
29 Verse 29. Immediately after the tribulation, &c.] Commentators
generally understand this, and what follows, of the end of the
world and Christ's coming to judgment: but the word immediately
shows that our Lord is not speaking of any distant event, but of
something immediately consequent on calamities already predicted:
and that must be the destruction of Jerusalem. "The Jewish heaven
shall perish, and the sun and moon of its glory and happiness
shall be darkened-brought to nothing. The sun is the religion of
the Church; the moon is the government of the state; and the
stars are the judges and doctors of both.
Compare ; , &c."
In the prophetic language, great commotions upon earth are often
represented under the notion of commotions and changes in the
The fall of Babylon is represented by the stars and
constellations of heaven withdrawing their light, and the sun and
moon being darkened. See .
The destruction of Egypt, by the heaven being covered, the sun
enveloped with a cloud, and the moon withholding her light.
The destruction of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes is
represented by casting down some of the host of heaven, and the
stars to the ground. See .
And this very destruction of Jerusalem is represented by the
Prophet Joel, , by showing wonders in heaven and in
earth-darkening the sun, and turning the moon into blood. This
general mode of describing these judgments leaves no room to doubt
the propriety of its application in the present case.
The falling of stars, i.e. those meteors which are called
falling stars by the common people, was deemed an omen of evil
times. The heathens have marked this:-
30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
30 Verse 30. Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man] The
plain meaning of this is, that the destruction of Jerusalem will
be such a remarkable instance of Divine vengeance, such a signal
manifestation of Christ's power and glory, that all the Jewish
tribes shall mourn, and many will, in consequence of this
manifestation of God, be led to acknowledge Christ and his
religion. By τηςγης, of the land, in the text, is evidently
meant here, as in several other places, the land of Judea and its
tribes, either its then inhabitants, or the Jewish people wherever
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
31 Verse 31. He shall send his angels] τουςαγγελους, his
messengers, the apostles, and their successors in the Christian
With a great sound of a trumpet] Or, a loud-sounding
trumpet-the earnest affectionate call of the Gospel of peace,
life, and salvation.
Shall gather together his elect] The Gentiles, who were now
chosen or elected, in place of the rebellious, obstinate Jews,
according to Our Lord's prediction, , and .
For the children of the kingdom, (the Jews who were born with a
legal right to it, but had now finally forfeited that right by
their iniquities) should be thrust out. It is worth serious
observation, that the Christian religion spread and prevailed
mightily after this period: and nothing contributed more to the
success of the Gospel than the destruction of Jerusalem happening
in the very time and manner, and with the very circumstances, so
particularly foretold by our Lord. It was after this period that
the kingdom of Christ began, and his reign was established in
almost every part of the world.
To St. Matthew's account, St. Luke adds, ,
They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shalt be led away
captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by
the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. The
number of those who fell by the sword was very great. ELEVEN
HUNDRED THOUSAND perished during the siege. Many were slain at
other places, and at other times. By the commandment of Florus,
the first author of the war, there were slain at Jerusalem 3,600,
Jos. WAR, b. ii. c. 14. By the inhabitants of Caesarea, above
20,000. At Scythopolis, above 13,000. At Ascalon, 2,500. At
Ptolemais, 2,000. At Alexandria, 50,000. At Joppa, when taken
by Cestius Gallus, 8,400. In a mountain called Asamon, near
Sepporis, above 2,000. At Damascus, 10,000. In a battle with
the Romans at Ascalon, 10,000. In an ambuscade near the same
place, 8,000. At Japha, 15,000. Of the Samaritans, on Mount
Gerizim, 11,600. At Jotapa, 40,000. At Joppa, when taken by
Vespasian, 4,200. At Tarichea, 6,500. And after the city
was taken, 1,200. At Gamala, 4,000, besides 5,000 who threw
themselves down a precipice. Of those who fled with John, of
Gischala, 6,000. Of the Gadarenes, 15,000 slain, besides countless
multitudes drowned. In the village of Idumea, above 10,000 slain.
At Gerasa, 1,000. At Machaerus, 1,700. In the wood of Jardes,
3,000. In the castle of Masada, 960. In Cyrene, by Catullus
the governor, 3,000. Besides these, many of every age, sex, and
condition, were slain in the war, who are not reckoned; but, of
those who are reckoned, the number amounts to upwards of 1,357,660,
which would have appeared incredible, if their own historian had
not so particularly enumerated them. See Josephus, WAR, book ii.
c. 18, 20; book iii. c. 2, 7, 8, 9; book iv. c. 1, 2, 7, 8, 9;
book vii. c. 6, 9, 11; and Bp. Newton, vol. ii. p. 288-290.
Many also were led away captives into all nations. There were
taken at Japha, 2,130. At Jotapa, 1,200. At Tarichea, 6,000
chosen young men, who were sent to Nero; others sold to the number
of 30,400, besides those who were given to Agrippa. Of the
Gadarenes were taken 2,200. In Idumea above 1,000. Many besides
these were taken in Jerusalem; so that, as Josephus says, the
number of the captives taken in the whole war amounted to 97,000.
Those above seventeen years of age were sent to the works in
Egypt; but most were distributed through the Roman provinces, to
be destroyed in their theatres by the sword, and by the wild
beasts; and those under seventeen years of age were sold for
slaves. Eleven thousand in one place perished for want. At
Caesarea, Titus, like a thorough-paced infernal savage, murdered
2,500 Jews, in honour of his brother's birthday; and a greater
number at Berytus in honour of his father's. See Josephus, WAR,
b. vii. c. 3. s. 1. Some he caused to kill each other; some were
thrown to the wild beasts; and others burnt alive. And all this
was done by a man who was styled, The darling of mankind! Thus
were the Jews miserably tormented, and distributed over the Roman
provinces; and continue to be distressed and dispersed over all
the nations of the world to the present day. Jerusalem also was,
according to the prediction of our Lord, to be trodden down by the
Gentiles. Accordingly it has never since been in the possession
of the Jews. It was first in subjection to the Romans, afterwards
to the Saracens, then to the Franks, after to the Mamalukes, and
now to the Turks. Thus has the prophecy of Christ been most
literally and terribly fulfilled, on a people who are still
preserved as continued monuments of the truth of our Lord's
prediction, and of the truth of the Christian religion. See more
in Bp. Newton's Dissert. vol. ii. p. 291, &c.
32Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
32 Verse 32. Learn a parable of the fig-tree] That is, These
signs which I have given you will be as infallible a proof of the
approaching ruin of the Jewish state as the budding of the trees
is a proof of the coming summer.
33So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
34 Verse 34. This generation shall not pass] ηγενεααυτη, this
race; i.e. the Jews shall not cease from being a distinct people,
till all the counsels of God relative to them and the Gentiles be
fulfilled. Some translate ηγενεααυτη, this generation, meaning
the persons who were then living, that they should not die before
these signs, &c., took place: but though this was true, as to the
calamities that fell upon the Jews, and the destruction of their
government, temple, &c., yet as our Lord mentions Jerusalem's
continuing to be under the power of the Gentiles till the fulness
of the Gentiles should come in, i.e. till all the nations of the
world should receive the Gospel of Christ, after which the Jews
themselves should be converted unto God, , &c., I think
it more proper not to restrain its meaning to the few years which
preceded the destruction of Jerusalem; but to understand it of the
care taken by Divine providence to preserve them as a distinct
people, and yet to keep them out of their own land, and from their
temple service. See on . But still it is literally true
in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem. John probably lived
to see these things come to pass; compare , with
; and there were some rabbins alive at the time when
Christ spoke these words who lived till the city was destroyed,
viz. Rabban Simeon, who perished with the city; R. Jochanan ben
Zaccai, who outlived it; R. Zadoch, R. Ismael, and others. See
The war began, as Josephus says, Ant. b. xx. c. 11. s. 1, in the
second year of the government of Gessius Florus, who succeeded
Albinus, successor of Porcius Festus, mentioned , in the
month of May, in the twelfth year of Nero, and the seventeenth
of Agrippa, mentioned Acts 25 and 26, that is, in May, A. D. 66.
The temple was burnt August 10, A. D. 70, the same day and month
on which it had been burnt by the king of Babylon: Josephus, Ant.
b. xx. c. 11. s. 8.
The city was taken September 8, in the second year of the reign
of Vespasian, or the year of Christ 70. Ant. b. vi. c. 10.
That was the end of the siege of Jerusalem, which began, as
Josephus several times observes, about the fourteenth day of the
month Nisan, or our April. See War, b. v. c. 3. s. 1, c. 13.
s. 7; b. vi. c. 9. s. 3.
Dr. Lardner farther remarks, There is also an ancient
inscription to the honour of Titus, "who, by his father's
directions and counsels, had subdued the Jewish nation and
destroyed Jerusalem, which had never been destroyed by any
generals, kings, or people, before." The inscription may be
seen in GRUTER, vol. i. p. 244. It is as follows:-
For this complete conquest of Jerusalem, Titus had a triumphal
arch erected to his honour, which still exists. It stands on the
Via Sacra, leading from the forum to the amphitheatre. On it are
represented the spoils of the temple of God, such as the golden
table of the show-bread, the golden candlestick with its seven
branches, the ark of the covenant, the two golden trumpets, &c.,
&c.; for a particular account see the note on . On this
arch, a correct model of which, taken on the spot, now stands
before me, is the following inscription:-
"The Senate and People of Rome, to the Divine Titus, son of the
Divine Vespasian; and to Vespasian the Emperor."
On this occasion, a medal was struck with the following
inscription round a laureated head of the emperor:-IMP.erator
J.ulius CAES.ar VESP.asianus AUG.ustus. P.ontifex M.aximus,
TR.ibunitia, P.otestate P.ater P.atrice CO.nS.ul VIII.-On the
obverse are represented a palm tree, the emblem of the land of
Judaea; the emperor with a trophy standing on the left; Judea,
under the figure of a distressed woman, sitting at the foot of the
tree weeping, with her head bowed down, supported by her left
hand, with the legend JUDAEA CAPTA. S.enatus C.onsultus. at the
bottom. This is not only an extraordinary fulfilment of our
Lord's prediction, but a literal accomplishment of a prophecy
delivered about 800 years before, ,
And she, desolate, shall sit upon the ground.
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
36 ¶ But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
36 Verse 36. But of that day and hour] ωρα, here, is translated
season by many eminent critics, and is used in this sense by both
sacred and profane authors. As the day was not known, in which
Jerusalem should be invested by the Romans, therefore our Lord
advised his disciples to pray that it might not be on a Sabbath;
and as the season was not known, therefore they were to pray that
it might not be in the winter; .
37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
37 Verse 37. - 38. As the days of Noah-they were eating and
drinking] That is, they spent their time in rapine, luxury, and
riot. The design of these verses seems to be, that the desolation
should be as general as it should be unexpected.
38For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
38 Verse 38. .
39And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
39 Verse 39. And knew not] They considered not-did not lay Noah's
warning to heart, till it was too late to profit by it: so shall
it be-and so it was in this coming of the Son of man.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
40 Verse 40. - 41. Then shall two men-two women-one shall be taken,
and the other left.] The meaning seems to be, that so general
should these calamities be, that no two persons, wheresoever
found, or about whatsoever employed, should be both able to effect
their escape; and that captivity and the sword should have a
complete triumph over this unhappy people.
Two women shall be grinding] Women alone are still employed in
grinding the corn in the east; and it is only when despatch is
required, or the uppermost millstone is heavy, that a second woman
is added. See Wakefield, and Harmer, Obs. vol. i. 253. That they
were formerly thus employed, see , and the note there.
See also .
41Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41 Verse 41. .
42 ¶ Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
42 Verse 42. Watch therefore] Be always on your guard, that you
may not be taken unawares, and that you may be properly prepared
to meet God in the way either of judgment or mercy, whensoever he
may come. This advice the followers of Christ took, and therefore
they escaped; the miserable Jews rejected it, and were destroyed.
Let us learn wisdom by the things which they suffered.
43But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
43 Verse 43. If the good man of the house had known] "As a master
of a family who expected a thief at any time of the night,
would take care to be awake, and ready to protect his house; so
do ye, who know that the Son of man will come. Though the day and
hour be uncertain, continue always in a state of watchfulness,
that he may not come upon you unawares." WAKEFIELD.
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
45 Verse 45. Who then is a faithful and wise servant] All should
live in the same expectation of the coming of Christ, which a
servant has with respect to the return of his master, who, in
departing for a season, left the management of his affairs to him;
and of which management he is to give an exact account on his
Here is an abstract of the duties of a minister of Christ.
1. He is appointed, not by himself, but by the vocation and
mission of his Master.
2. He must look on himself, not as the master of the family, but
as the servant.
3. He must be scrupulously faithful and exact in fulfilling the
commands of his Master.
4. His fidelity must be ever accompanied by wisdom and prudence.
5. He must give the domestics-the sacred family, their food; and
this food must be such as to afford them true nourishment. And
6. This must be done in its season. There are certain portions of
the bread of life which lose their effect by being administered
out of proper season, or to improper persons.
46Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
46 Verse 46. Blessed is that servant] His blessedness consists in
his master's approbation.
47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
47 Verse 47. He shall make him ruler over all his goods.] O
heavenly privilege of a faithful minister of Christ! He shall
receive from God a power to dispense all the blessings of the new
covenant; and his word shall ever be accompanied with the
demonstration of the Holy Ghost to the hearts of all that hear it.
Much of a preacher's usefulness may be lost by his unfaithfulness.
48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
48 Verse 48. But, and if that evil servant] Here are three
characters of a bad minister. 1. He has little or no faith in the
speedy coming of Christ, either to punish for wickedness, or to
pardon and sanctify those who believe. It may be, he does not
outwardly profess this, but he says it in his heart, and God
searches his heart, and knows that he professes to teach what he
does not believe. 2. He governs with an absolute dominion,
oppressing his colleagues and doing violence to the followers of
Christ. And shall begin to smite, &c. 3. He leads an irregular
life does not love the company of the children of God, but eats
and drinks with the drunkards, preferring the tables of the great
and the rich, whose god is their belly, and thus feeds himself
without fear. Great God! save thine inheritance from being
ravaged by such wolves!
49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
50The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
50 Verse 50. The lord of that servant] Here are three punishments
which answer to the three characteristics of the bad minister. 1.
A sudden death, and the weight of God's judgments falling upon
him, without a moment to avert it: this answers to his infidelity
and forgetfulness. He shall come in a day in which he looked not
for him. 2. A separation from the communion of saints, and from
all the gifts which he has abused: this answers to the abuse of
his authority in the Church of Christ. 3. He shall have tears and
eternal pains, in company with all such hypocrites as himself: and
this answers to his voluptuous life, pampering the flesh at the
expense of his soul.
51And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 Verse 51. Cut him asunder] This refers to an ancient mode of
punishment used in several countries. Isaiah is reported to have
been sawed ASUNDER. That it was an ancient mode of punishment is
evident from what Herodotus says: that Sabacus, king of Ethiopia,
had a vision, in which he was commanded μεσουςδιαταμειν, to cut
in two, all the Egyptian priests, lib. ii. And in lib. vii. where
Xerxes ordered one of the sons of Pythius μεσονδιαταμειν, to be
cut in two, and one half placed on each side of the way, that his
army might pass through between them. See Raphelius also, in his
notes from Herodotus and Polybius. This kind of punishment was
used among the Persians: see . Story of Susannah,
ver. 55, 59. See also , and . It may also
have reference to that mode of punishment in which the different
members were chopped off seriatim, first the feet, then the hands,
next the legs, then the arms, and lastly the head. This mode of
punishment is still in use among the Chinese. But we find an
exact parallel among the Turks, in the following passage from W.
Lithgow's Travels, p. 153. London 4to. edit. "If a Turk should
happen to kill another Turk, his punishment is thus: After he is
adjudged to death, he is brought forth to the market place; and a
blocke being brought hither of four foot high, the malifactor is
stript naked, and then laid thereon with his belly downward; they
draw in his middle together so small with running cords that they
strike his body a-two with one blow: his hinder parts they cast to
be eaten by hungry dogs kept for the same purpose; and the
forequarters and head they throw into a grievous fire, made there
for the same end. And this is the punishment for manslaughter."
This is the very same punishment, and for the same offence, as
that mentioned by our Lord, the killing of a fellow servant-one of
the same nation, and of the same religion.
THE reader has no doubt observed, in the preceding chapter, a
series of the most striking and solemn predictions, fulfilled in
the most literal, awful, and dreadful manner. Christ has foretold
the ruin of the Jewish people, and the destruction of their
polity; and in such a circumstantial manner as none else could do,
but He, under whose eye are all events, and in whose hands are the
government and direction of all things. Indeed he rather declared
what he would do, than predicted what should come to pass. And
the fulfilment has been as circumstantial as the prediction.
Does it not appear that the predicted point was so literally
referred to by the occurring fact, by which it was to have its
accomplishment, as to leave no room to doubt the truth of the
prediction, or the certainty of the event by which it was
fulfilled? Thus the wisdom of God, as also his justice and
providence, have had a plenary manifestation.
But this wisdom appears, farther, in preserving such a record of
the prediction, and such evidence of its accomplishment, as
cannot possibly be doubted. The New Testament, given by the
inspiration of God, and handed down uncorrupted from father to
son, by both friends and enemies, perfect in its credibility and
truth, inexpungable in its evidences, and astonishingly
circumstantial in details of future occurrences, which the wisdom
of God alone could foreknow-that New Testament is the record of
these predictions. The history of the Romans, written by so many
hands; the history of the Jews, written by one of themselves;
triumphal arches, coins, medals, and public monuments of different
kinds, are the evidence by which the fulfilment of the record is
demonstrated. Add to this the preservation of the Jewish people;
a people scattered through all nations, yet subsisting as a
distinct body, without temple, sacrifices, or political
government; and who, while they attempt to suppress the truth, yet
reluctantly stand forth as an unimpeachable collateral evidence,
that the solemn record, already alluded to, is strictly and
literally true! Who that has ever consulted the Roman historians
of the reigns of Vespasian and Titus, the history of Josephus, and
the 24th chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, and who knows any thing
of the present state of the Jews over the face of the earth, or
even of those who sojourn in England, can doubt for a moment the
truth of this Gospel, or the infinite and all-comprehensive
knowledge of Him who is its author! Here then is one portion of
Divine Revelation that is incontrovertibly and absolutely proved
to be the truth of God. Reader! if he, who, while he predicted
the ruin of this disobedient and refractory people, wept over
their city and its inhabitants, has so, minutely fulfilled the
threatenings of his justice on the unbelieving and disobedient,
will he not as circumstantially fulfil the promises of his grace
to all them that believe? The existence of his revelation, the
continuance of a Christian Church upon earth, the certainty that
there is one individual saved from his sins by the grace of the
Gospel, and walking worthy of his vocation are continued proofs
and evidences that he is still the same; that he will fulfil every
jot and tittle of that word on which he has caused thee to trust;
and save to the uttermost all that come unto the Father by him.
The word of the Lord endureth for ever; and they who trust in him
shall never be confounded.