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Minor; in Egypt, Mauritania, Ethiopia, and other regions of Africa; in Greece and Italy; as far north as Scythia, and as far westward as Spain, and in this very island which we inhabit; where there is great reason to believe Christianity was planted in the days of the apostles, and before the destruction of Jerusalem. And this, it is said, was to be “ for å testimony against them;" that is, against the Jews ; for a testimony that the offer of salvation was made to them in every part of the world where they were dispersed ; and that, by their obstinate rejection of it, they had merited the signal punishment which soon after overtook them.
Our Lord then goes on to still more alarming and more evident indications of the near approach of danger to the Jewish nation: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of dosolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet *, stand in the holy place (let him that readeth understand); then let them that be in Judæa flee into the mountain. The meaning of this passage is clearly and fully explained by the Barallel place in St. Luke: “ When ye shall
* Chap. ix. 27.
see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” The abomination of desolation therefore denotes the Roman army which besieged Jerusalem, and which Daniel also, in the place alluded to, calls the abomination which makes desolate. · The Roman army is here called an abomination, because upon their standards were depicted the images of their emperor and their tutelary gods, whom they worshipped ; and it is well known that idols were held by the Jews in the utmost abhorrence; and the very name they gave them was the expression here made use of, an abomination. The word desolation is added for an obvious reason, because this mighty army brought ruin and desolation upon Jerusalem,
This city, and the mountain on which it stood, and a circuit of several furlongs around it, were accounted holy ground; and as the Roman standards were planted in the most conspicuous places near the fortifications of the city, they are here said to stand in the holy place, or, as St. Mark expresses it, “ to stand, where they ought not.” And Josephus tells us, that after the city was taken, “ the
Romans brought their ensigns into thie tem ple, and placed one of them against the eastern gate, and sacrificed to them there; which was the greatest insult and outrage that could possibly be offered to that wretched people *." : When therefore this desolating abomination, this idolatrous and destructive army appeared before the holy city, “ then," says our Lord, “ let them which be in Judæa flee into the mountains,; let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house, neither let him that is in the fields
return back to take his clothes.” These are - allusions to Jewish customs, and are designed
to impress upon the disciples the necessity of immediate flight, not suffering themselves to be delayed by turning back for any accommodations they might wish for. "And woe unto them that are with child, and to those that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day;" that is, unfortunate will it be for those who, in such a time of terror and distress, shall have any natural impedia ments to obstruct their flight, and who are De Bell, Jud, 1, vi, c. 6, s. 1. p. 128 3.
obliged to travel in the winter season, when the weather is severe, the roads rough, and the days short; or on the sabbath-day, when the Jews fancied it unlawful to travel more than a mile or two. These kind admonitions were not lost: upon the disciples. For we learn from the best ecclesiastical historians, that when the Roman armies approached to Jerusalem, all the Christians left that devoted city, and fed to Pella, a mountainous country, and to other places beyond the river Jordan. And Josephus also informs us, that when Vespasian was drawing his forces towards Jerusalem, a great multitude fled from Jericho into the mountainous country for their security*
And happy was it for them that they did 50, for the miseries experienced by the Jews in that siege were almost without a parallel in the history of the world. “ Then, says our Saviour, shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” This expression is a proverbial one, frequently made use of by the sacred writers to express some very uncommon calamity*, and therefore it is not necessary to take the words in their strictest senise. But yet in fact they were in the present instance almost literally fulfilled; and whoever will turn to the history of this war by Josephus, and there read the detail of the hors rible and almost incredible calamities endured by the inhabitants of Jerusalem, during the siege, not only from the fire and sword of the enemies without, but from famine and pestilence, and continual massacres and murders from the fiend-like fury of the seditious zealots within, will be convinced, that the very strong terms made use of by our Lord,
* De Bell. Jud, 1. iv.c. 8. s. 2. p. 1193. Ed. Huds."
even when literally interpreted, do not go , beyond the truth. Indeed Josephus himself,
in his preface to his history, expresses himself almost in the very same words: “Our city," says he,“ of all those subjected to the Romans, was raised to the highest felicity, and was thrust down again to the lowest gulph of misery; for if the misfortunes of all from the beginning of the world were compared with those of the Jews, they would appear much inferior.
* Ex. x. 14. Joel ii.2. Dan. xii. 1. Maccab, ix.27.