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upon the comparison *." Is not this almost precisely what our Saviour says, “ there shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the be. ginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” It is impossible one would think, even for the most stubborn infidel, not to be struck with the great similarity of these two passages ; and not to see that the predics tion of our Lord, and the accomplishment of it, as described by the historian, are exact counterparts of each other, and seem almost as if they had been written by the very same person. Yet Josephus was not born till after our Saviour was crucified; and he was not a Chrisa tian, but a Jew; and certainly never meant to give any testimony to the truth of our religion.
The calamities above-mentioned were so severe, that had they been of long continuance the whole Jewish nation must have been de stroyed : “except those days should be shortened, there should no fesh be saved, says: Christ, in the 23d verse; but (he adds) for the elect's sake, those days shall be shortened.”. They were shortened for the sake of the elect, that is, of those Jews who had been converted
;. * De Bell. Jud. Proæmium, p. 955. Ed. Huds.
to Christianity; and they were shortened by the besieged themselves, by their seditious and mutual slaughters, and their madness in burning their own provisions.
“ Then,” continues Jesus, “if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not: for there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that (if it were possible) they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore, if they shall say unto you he is in the desert; go not forth: behold he is in the secret chambers; believe it not..For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresnever the carcass is, there shall the eagles be gathered together.” Our Lord had already cautioned his disciples against believing the false Christs and false prophets who would appear before the siege, and he now warns them against those that would rise up during the siege. This, Josephus tells us, they did in great abundance; and flattered the Jews with the hope of seeing their Messiah coming, with great power, to rescue them from the hands of
the Romans*. And they also pretended to shew signs and wonders ; the very words made use of by the same historian, as well as by our Lordt. And it is remarkable, that Christ here foretels, not only the appearance of these false prophets, but the very places to which they would lead their deluded followers; and these were, the 6 desert, and the secret chamber." And accordingly, if you look into the history of Josephus, you will find both these places distinctly specified as the theatres on which these impostors exhibited their delusions. For the historian relates a variety of instances in which these false Christs and false prophets betrayed their followers into the desert, where they were constantly destroyed; and he also mentions one of these pretenders, who declared to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that God commanded them to go up into a particular part of the temple (into the secret chamber, as our Lord expresses it) and there they should receive the signs of deliverance. A multitude of men, women, and children, went up accord
* Jos, de Bell, Jud. I. vi. c. 5. 8. 2. p. 1281, and Euseb Hist. Eccles. I. iv. c. 6. it Jos, Antiq.l. xx.¢, 27, s. 6.p.983. Ed. Huds.
ingly; but, instead of deliverance, the place was set on fire by the Romans, and six thousand perished miserably in the flames, or by endeavouring to escape them *
But the appearance of the true Christ was not to be in that way; it was to be as visible and as rapid as a flash of lightning: “ for 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.” It shall not be in a remote desert or in a secret chamber of the temple, but shall be rendered conspicuous by the sudden and entire oyerthrow of Jerusalem, and its inhabitants.
“ For wheresoever the carcass is, therc will the eagles be gathered together.”:,,* .
By the carcass is meant the Jewish nation, which was morally and judicially dead; and the instruments of divine vengeance, that is the Roman armies, whose standards were eagles, would be collected together against this wicked people, as eagles are gathered together to devour their prey. ... op reis
* Jos. Antiq. 1. xx.c.7. s. 6. and c. 7. $. 10. De Bell. Jud. 1 ii. c. 13. s. 4. and 1. vii.c. 11. s. i. Ed. Huds.
In the three following verses, the language of our divine Master becomes highly figurative and sublime. “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. And 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. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather his elect from the four wiuds, from the one end of heaven to the other."
Few people, I believe, read these verses, without supposing that they refer entirely to the day of judgment, many of these expressions being actually applied to that great event in the very next chapter, and in other parts of Scripture: and indeed several eminent men and learned commentators are of that opinion, and imagine that our Lord 'here makes a transition from the destruction of Jerusalem to the end of the world, conceiving that such very bold figures of speech could not