תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

all these we see actually fulfilled in the history of Josephus, and other ancient writers; and it is extremely remarkable that his description of the siege of Jerusalem, like this prophecy, is more minutely circumstantial and more spread out into detail, than the account of any other siege that we have in ancient history. It should seem therefore as if this historian was purposely raised up by Providence to record this memorable event, and to verify our Saviour's predictions. And indeed no one could possibly be better qualified for the task than he, from his situation and circumstances, from his iutegrity and veracity, and above all from the opportunities he had of being perfectly well acquainted with every thing he relates.

He was born at Jerusalem, under the reign of the emperor Caligula, and about seven years after our Lord's crucifixion. He was of a noble family; on his father's side descended from the most illustrious of the high priests ; and on his mother's side, from the blood royal. At the age of nineteen, after having made a. trial of all the different sects of the Jews, lie embraced that of the Pharisees; and at the age of twenty-six he made a journey to Rome,

- to

to obtain from Nero the release of some Jewish priests, who had been thrown into bonds by Felix the procurator of Judæa. He succeeded in this business; and on his return to Jerusaleni found his countrymen resolved on come mencing hostilities against the Romans, from which he endeavoured to dissuade them, but in vain. He was soon after appointed by the Jewish government to the command of an army in Galilee, where he signalized himself in many engagements; but at the siege of Jotapata was taken prisoner by Vespasian, and afterwards carried by Titus to the siege of Jerusalem, where he was an eye witness of every thing that passed, till the city was taken and destroyed by the Romans. He then composed his history of the Jewish war, and particularly of the siege and capture of Jerusalem, in seven books; which he first wrote in Hebrew, and afterwards in Greek, and presented it to Vespasian and Titus, by both of whom it was highly approved, and ordered to be made public. And it is in this history that we find the accomplishment of all the several facts and events relative to the siege and the destruction of Jerusalem, which our Saviour

foretold

foretold forty years before they happened, and which have been above recited. This history is spoken of in the highest terms by men of the greatest learning and the soundest judgment, from its first publication to the present time.

The fidelity, the veracity, and probity of the writer are universally allowed; and Scaliger in particular declares, that, not only in the affairs of the Jews, but even of foreign nations, he deserves more credit than all the Greek and Roman writers put together*. Certain at least it is, that he had that most essential qualification of an historian, a perfect and accurate knowledge of all the transactions which he relates ; that he had no prejudices to mislead him in the representation of them; and that, above all, he meant no favour to the Christian cause. For even allowing the so much controverted passage, in which he is supposed to bear testimony to Christ, to be genuine, it does not appear that he:ever became a convert to his religion, but continued probably a zealous Jew to the end of his life, 1* In Prolegom. ad opus de Emendatione Temporum.. blotetud

From

From this account it is evident, that we may most securely rely on every thing he tells us respecting the siege of Jerusalem ; and that: nothing can more completely demonstrate the truth of our blessed Lord's predictions, than the uncorrupt, impartial, and undesigned testimony given to their completion by this justly celebrated historian.

Here then we have a proof, which it is impossible to controvert, of our Saviour's perfect. knowledge of future events, which belongs solely to God, and to those inspired and sent by him ; and this of course establishes, in the clearest manner, the divine mission of Christ and the divine origin of our religion. ??.

The only pretence that can possibly be set i up against this prophecy is, that it was not : delivered by our Saviour previous to the destruction of Jerusalem, but inserted after- / wards by St. Matthew and the other evange- 3 lists, subsequent to that event. This may un :) doubtedly be said, and any thing may be said :: by those whose trade is objection and cavil : : but can it be said with the smallest appearance of truth? Is there the slightest ground to sup port it ? Most certainly not. It is a mere

gratuitous

gratuitous assertion without the least shadow of proof; and an opposite assertion is a sufficient answer to it. We deny the fact; and call upon our adversaries to prove it, if they can. They have never so much as attempted it. Not even the earliest enemies of our faith, tliose who were much nearer the primitive ages, and much more likely to detect a fraud in the evangelical writers (if there were any) than modern infidels, even these never intimate the slightest suspicion that this prophecy was inserted after the event. .

But besides this, there are good grounds to believė, not only that the three Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, where this prophecy is related, were written and published before the destruction of Jerusalem, but that the writers of them were all dead before that event. It is also well known, that both St. Peter and St. Paul, who allude in their Epistles to the approaching ruin of Jerusalem * (which they learnt from our Lord's predictions), and who had seen and approved the Gospels of St.

* Acts, ii. 19. 1 Pet.iv.7. Phil. iv. 5. i Thess. ii. 16. Newton on Propli. v. 2. p. 225. Jortin's Remarks, vol. i.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
« הקודםהמשך »