תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

tries, some into Egypt, some to Cæsarea, some carried to grace the triumph of Titus at Rome, and the rest distributed over the Roman

pro: vinces*; and the whole Jewish people continue to this hour scattered over all the nations of the earth.

With respect to their city, it has remained for the most part in a state of ruin and desolation, from its destruction by the Romans to the present time; and has never been under the government of the Jews themselves, but oppressed and broken down by a succession of foreign masters, the Romans, the Saracens, the Franks, the Mamalukes, and last by the Turks, to whom it is still subject. It is no therefore only in the history of Josephus, and in other ancient writers, that we are to look for the accomplishment of our Lord's predictions; we see them verified at this moment before our eyes, in the desolated state of the once celebrated city and temple of Jerusalem, and in the present condition of the Jewish people, not collected together into any one country, into one political society, and under one form of government, but

* Josephus Bell. Jud. I. vi. c. 9.
P4

dispersed

scorn.,

dispersed over every region of the globe, and every where treated with contumely and

in 31 There was indeed one attempta made to rebuild their temple and their city, and restore them to their ancient prosperity and splendour, It was made too for the express and avowed purpose of defeating that very prophecy we have been considering ; and the event was such as might be expected from the folly and presumption of the man who dared to oppose the designs of Providence, and to fight against God. This man was the emperor Julian, who, as you all know, was first a Christian, then apostatized from that religion, professed himself a Pagan, and became a bitter and avowed enemy to the Gospel. This prince assured the Jews, that if he was successful in the Persian war, he would rebuild their city, restore them to their habitations, re-establish their government and their religion, and join with them in worshipping the great God of the universe. He actually began this singular enterprize, by attempting to rebuild their temple with the greatest magnificence. He assigned immense sums for the structure;it in charge to Alypius of Antioch,

who

and gave

who had formerly been lieutenant in Britain, to superintend the work, Alypius' exerted himself with great vigour, and was assisted in it by the governor of the province. But soon after they had begun the worl., dreadful balls of fire, bursting out from the foundations in several parts, rendered the place inaccessible to the workmen, who were frequently burnt with the flames; and in this manner, the fiery elements obstinately repelļing them, forced them at length to abandon the design. The account of this extraordinary miracle we have not only from ancient Christian writers of credit, who lived at the very

time when it happened, but from an heathen author of great veracity, Ammianus Marcellinus, who wrote the history of Roman affairs from Nerva to the death of Valens, in the year 378. Though he wrote in Latin, he was a Greek by birth. He had several honourable military commands under different emperors; was with Julian in his Persian expedition, in the year 363, and was a great admirer of that emperor, whom he makes his hero'; yet acknowledges that his attempt to rebuild the temple of Jerusalem was defeated in the manner I have mentioned *. Ammianus Marcellinus, l. xxiii.c. 1. p. 350. Ed. Valesii,

The

The fact is frequently appealed to by the Christians of those days, who affirm that it was in the mouths of all men, and was not denied even by the atheists themselves; and “ if it seem yet incredible to any one, ,

he

may repair (say they) both to witnesses of it yet living, and to them who have heard it from their mouths; yea, they may view the foundations, lying yet bare and naked *.” And of this, says Chrysostom, all we Christians are witnesses ; these things being done not long since in our own time t.

Such are the testimonies for this miracle, which are collected and stated with great force by the learned Bishop Warburton, in his work called Julian; and most of them are also admitted by Mr. Gibbon, who, in his recital of this miracle, acknowledges that it is attested by contemporary and respectable evidence ; that Gregory Nazianzen, who published his account of it before the expiration of the same year, declares it was not disputed by the infidels of those days, and that his testimony is confirmed by the unexceptionable testimony of Ammianus Marcellinus...

* Sozomen. Hist. Eccles. I. v. e. 22. p. 632. D. 633. B. + Chrys. adv. Judæos. Orat. iii. p. 436.

History of the Roman Empire, v. ii. p. 388.

I now

I now proceed to the explanation of the next chapter, the 25th of St. Matthew, which begins with presenting to us two parables, that of the ten virgins, and that of the servants of a great lord entrusted with different talents, of which they are called upon to render an account. As these parables contain nothing that requires a very particular explanation, I shall content myself with observing, that they are designed to carry on the subject with which the preceding chapter concludes; namely, that of the last solemn day of retribution; and the object of both is to call our attention to that great event, and to warn us of the necessity of being always prepared for it. Thus in the parable of the ten virgins, the five that were wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps, and when the bridegroom appeared they were ready to receive him, and went in with him to the marriage. But the five that were foolish took no oil-with them; and while they went to procure it, the bridegroom unexpectedly came, and the door was shut against them. The application is obvious, and is given by our Lord himself in these words, . “ watch ye therefore, for

ye

know neither

« הקודםהמשך »