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parallel place by St. Luke *, “ that fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven." And accordingly Josephus, in the preface to his history of the Jewish war, and in the history itself, enumerates a great variety of astonishing signs and prodigies, which he says preceded the calamities that impended over the Jews, and which he expressly affirms, in perfect conformity to our Saviour's prediction, were signs manifestly intended to forebode their approaching destruction t. And these accounts are confirmed by the Roman historian Tacitus, who says
many prodigies happened at that time; armies appeared to be engaging in the sky, arms were seen glittering in the air, the temple was illuminated with flames issuing from the clouds, the doors of the temple suddenly burst open,
and a voice more than human was heard, “ that the gods were departing;" and soon after a great motion, as if they were departing.
The sign next specified by our Saviour in the ninth and the four following verses, re* Luke xxi. II.
+ Jos. Procem. sect. 11. p. 957. De Bell. Jud. I. vi. , C. 5. s. 3. p. 1281-82. & 1. 7. c. 30. # Tacitus, l. v. p. 25. Ed. Lips.
lates to the disciples themselves.
Then 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.” The parallel passages in St. Luke and St. Mark are still stronger and more particular. St.
says, “ They shall deliver you up to the councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten; and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them *." St. Luke's words are, “They shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up
synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's saket," That
cir. eumstance here mentioned was minutely and exactly verified in the sufferings of the apostles and disciples after our Lord's decease, must be perfectly well known to every one that has read the Acts of the Apostles. You will there see that the lives of the apostles were one continued scene of persecution, affliction, and distress of every kind ; that they were im prisoned, were beaten, were brought before councils, and sanhedrims, and kings; were many of them put to death, and were hated of all nations, by the heathens as well as by the Jews, for the sake of Christ, that is, for being called by his name: The very name of a Christian was a crime; and it exposed them to every species of insult, indignity, and cruelty.....
* Mark xiii. 9.
+ Luke xxi. 12.
To all these calamities was to be added another, which we find in the tenth verses " Then shall many be offended, and shall be tray one another, and shall hate one another.” The meaning is, that many Christians, terri: fied with these persecutions, shall become apostates from their religion; and renounce their faith; for that is the meaning generally of the word offend in the New Testament. That this would sometimes happen under such trials and calamities as the first Christians were exposed to, we may easily believe, and St. Paul particularly mentions a few who turned away from him, and forsook him; namely, Phygellus, Hermogenes, and Demas *. The other.circumstance here predicted, “ that the disciples, should betray one another," is remarkably ve rified by the testimony of the Roman historian,
# . Tim. i. 15. iv. 10. Voi. İT.
Tacitus, who, in describing the persecution under Nero, tells us, “ that several Christians were at first apprehended, 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 ardor 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 +.
66 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 unshakeh 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 * Tac. Ann. l. 15. + 2 Tim. iv. 16. Heb. x. 25.
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, in Idumæa, Syria, and Mesopotamia ; in Media and Partha, and many parts of Asia
3. * Col. i. 6, 23.