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therefore, before I proceed to the next chapter, make such further remarks upon it, as may tend to throw new light upon the subject, to show more distinctly the exact correspondence of the prediction with the event, and to point out the very interesting conclusions that may be drawn from it.
And first I would observe, that, in some instances, the providence of God seems evidently to have interposed in order to bring about several of the events, which Jesus here alludes to or predicts. Thus, in the twelfth year of Nero, 'Cestius Gallus, the president of Syria, came against Jerusalem with a powerful army; and, as Josephus assures us, he night, had he assaulted the city, easily have taken it, and thereby have put an end to the war*, But without any apparent reason, and contrary to all expectation, he suddenly raised the siege, and departed. This, and some other very incidental delays, which took place before Vespasian besieged the city, and Titus surrounded it with a wall, gave the Christians within an opportunity of following our Lord's advice, and of escaping to the mountains, + De Bell. Jud. 1. 2. c. 19.
which afterwards it would have been impossible for them to do.
In the same manner the besieged inhabitants themselves helped to fulfil another of our Saviour's predictions, that those days should be shortened ; for they burnt their own provisions, which would have been sufficient for many years, and fatally deserted their strongest holds, where they never could have been taken by force, the fortifications of the city being considered as impregnable. Titus was so sensible of this, that he himself ascribed his success to God.“ We have fought, said he to his friends, with God on our side; and it is God who hath dragged the Jews out of their strong holds; for what could the hands of men and machines do against such towers as these * ?"
In the next place it is worthy of remark, that at the time when our Lord delivered this prophecy, there was not the slightest probability of the Romans invading Judæa, much less of their besieging the city of Jerusalem, of their surrounding it with a wall, of their taking it by storm, and of their destroying * Newton's Dissert, on Prophecy, v. 2. p. 276.
the Temple so entirely, as not to leave ono stone upon another. The Jews were then at perfect peace with the Romans. The latter could have no motives of interest or of policy to invade, destroy, and depopulate a country, which was already subject to them, and from which they reaped many advantages. The fortifications too of the city were (as I have before observed) so strong, that they were deemed invincible by any human force, and it was not the custom of the Romans to de molish and raze the very foundations of the towns they took, and exterminate the inhabitants, but rather to preserve them as monuments of their victories and their triumphs.
It could not therefore be from mere human sagacity and foresight that our Saviour foretold these events; or, had he even hazarded a conjecture respecting a war with the Romans, and the siege of Jerusalem, yet he could only have done this in general terms; he could never have imagined or invented such a variety of minute particulars as he did predict, and as actually came to pass.
It is, indeed, of great importance to observe the surprizing assemblage of striking cir
cumstances which Christ pointed out in this prophecy. They are much more numerous than is commonly supposed, and well deserve to be distinctly specified.
They may be arranged under three general heads.
The first consists of those signs that were to precede the destruction of Jerusalem,
And these signs were, false Christs, false prophets, rumours of wars, actual wars, nation, rising against nation, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, fearful sights, the persecution of the apostles, the apostacy of some Christians, and the treachery of others, the preservation of Christ's faithful disciples, and the propagation of the Gospel through the whole Roman world.
The second head is the commencement of
Under this head are specified the distinguishing standard of the Roman arıny, the eagle, with the images of the gods and their emperor
affixed to it. The idolatrous worship paid to this standard, called the abomination, for so it was to the Jews.
The planting of this standard near the holy city, and afterward in the very Temple.
The desolation which the Roman armies spread around them.
The escape of the Christians to the mountainous country round Jerusalem.
The inconceivable and unparalleled calamities of every kind which.the wretched inhabitants endured during the siege; and the shortening of those days of vengeance on account of the Christians.
The third head is the actual capture of Jerusalem by the besieging army.
And here it is foretold, “ that not one stone of its magnificent buildings should be left upon another;" that the Temple, the government, the state, the polity of the Jews, should be utterly subverted; and, lastly, that all these things should happen before the then present race of men should be extinguished.
If, now, we collect together the several particulars here specified, they amount to no less than twenty-two in number. A larger detail of minute circumstances than is to be found in