« PreviousContinue »
inhabited. Thus were our LORD's prophecies fulfilled, Thine enemies shall lay thee even with the ground, and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; and what is remarkable, the destruction of the temple hap. pened on the same day of the year in which Nebuchad nezzar burnt the Temple.
Our LORD assured his disciples, that not a hair of their head should perish; and history informs us, that not one Christian was involved in the destruction of Jerusalem: therefore, his promise certainly alluded to that time, and not to the persecutions they were both before and after. wards to endure for the sake of the Gospel.
Our LORD foretold, that the Jews should not only fall by the edge of the sword, but that many should be led away captive into all nations. They have been successively in subjection to the Romans, the Saracens, &c. and have never possessed their city since its overthrow by Titus, but still remain dispersed among all nations, and yet a distinct people.
Our LORD predicted, that Jerusalem should be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. The first who attempted to rebuild Jerusalem was the Roman emperor Ælius Adrian, 47 years after its destruction by Titus. He called the city he built Ælia and placed a Roman colony in it. The Jews upon this occasion rebelled, and through the neglect of the Romans gained possession of it: but it was again besieged by the Romans, and burnt to the ground. There was a dreadful slaughter of the Jews at this time; and of those who survived, an incredible number of every age and sex, were sold like horses, and dispersed over the face of the earth. The emperor rebuilt the city, peopled it as before, and caused a statute of a hog in marble to be placed over the gate that opened towards Bethlehem: and pubfished an edict, forbidding any Jew upon pain of death to
enter into it, or so much as to look upon it at a dis
In this state Jerusalem continued till the reign of the first Christian emperor, Constantine the Great. Its ancient name was almost totally forgotten amongst the heathens; but in Constantine's time it was once more called Jerusalem, and the emperor adorned it with many stately edifices. The Jews again assembled to recover their city, and rebuild their temple; but Constantine, who was very severe against them, repressed them, and caused their ears to be cut off, and their bodies marked for rebels, and dispersed them over all the provinces of his empire as slaves. But Julian, the succeeding emperor, called the Apostate, was more favourably inclined to them from his prejudice against the Christians; and in order to defeat our LORD's prophecy, he resolved to re-establish the Jewish religion, and join with them in worship. He assured the Jews of his protection. and assistance, and even assigned great sums for the building of the Temple; and gave it in charge to Aly-plus one of his lieutenants, who set about it vigorously; the governor of the province also assisted. But horrible balls of fire frequently bursting forth near the foundation, rendered the place inaccessible to the workmen, who were repeatedly burnt, and the enterprize was laid aside. This account is attested both by Christian and heathen writers.
The succeeding emperors were in general enemies to the Jews, and after various revolutions Jerusalém fell into the hands of the Turks, who still possess it under the title of Protectors, though they are more properly tyrants and oppressors. Turks, Arabians, and Christians of various sects, dwell there out of reverence to the place, but very few Jews, and of those the greatest partare beggars, and live upon alms.
For nearly 1800 years the Jewish nation has been a standing monument of the truth of our SAVIOUR's predictions; and there is no doubt but they will continue in the same state, nor ever recover their native country, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. The times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled, when all Gentile nations are either converted to Christianity, or condemned to destruction for rejecting it. Then will the Jews acknowledge their MESSIAH, and again be restored to their land; and so all Israel shall be saved, and become with the Gentiles the people of God. There are a number of predictions scattered through the prophetic writings, which seem clearly to point out a future restoration of the Jews; but as these do not immediately concern us as Christians, we will at present pass them by.
The predictions in the latter part of this Section related first to the destruction of Jerusalem, and as far as they alluded to that they were figurative; but the destruction of Jerusalem was a type of the end of the world, therefore these prophecies may be understood in their literal sense as referring to the great and terrible day of the LORD, the day of Judgment. Our LORD's predictions agreed with those of the ancient prophets, but were more par. ticular and circumstantial.
Our LORD foretold, that these things should happen immediately after the tribulations which he predicted would fall on the Jews; from which it is supposed that he meant to include all the tribulations they should endure till the time of their restoration; and by his saying they should be fulfilled before that generation passed away, is understood, not only that some of the race of men who were then alive would see the destruction of Jerusalem, but that the end of the world should happen before the generation or nation of the Jews was extinct.
The Elect is a common term in scripture for Chris
tians; therefore we may understand, that the days of extraordinary tribulation were through GoD's providence, shortened, for the sake of the Christian Jews of those times; and also for the sake of such as God by his omniscience knew would embrace Christianity. Had that generation of Jews, who were involved in the destruction of Jerusalem, been totally cut off, many who have since been sincere followers of their MESSIAH, and thus entitled to everlasting happiness in his kingdom, would never have been born *.
In the destruction of Jerusalem we have a memorable and awful instance of God's vengeance against a wicked nation. The SUPREME BEING, by inflicting these heavy punishments on his chosen people, has shewn that he is not partial in his dealings. This consideration ought to be a warning to Christians, especially at a time when GoD's judgments are evidently abroad in the world. If we compare the present state of our own nation with that of the Jews, we may perceive resemblance enough to fill us with apprehension. The Gospel, in which all the goodness and mercy of GOD through CHRIST are displayed-in which the aid and comfort of the HOLY SPIRIT are offered to all who will diligently seek them-in which all the hopes and fears of eternity are exhibited, to guard us against the temptations of sin, is not only rejected by many, but treated with a malicious scorn, and all our hopes and fears in CHRIST represented as delusions and impositions upon the weakness of men. The vices and immoralities for which our
* For a more circumstantial account of the events by which these prophecies of our LORD were fulfilled, I must refer my readers to the works from which I have extracted, viz. Bishop Newcome's Observations on our LORD's Conduct, chap. ii. Bishop Newton's Dissertations on the Prophecies, Vol, ii. Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews LORD
LORD so severely reproved the Jews, are likewise notoriously practised among us. The beginning of sorrows, wars, rumours of wars, famines, earthquakes, and pestilences, sent to punish some and call others to repentance, are abroad in the world, but by too many regarded with a careless eye,or imputed to mere natural causes. But let us from these terrors of the LORD learn righteousLet us do our part towards completing the national reformation, which is so happily begun among us. Let us glory in our Christian profession, and implore our merciful GOD, for the sake of his faithful people, to save this guilty land; and grant those who slight their blessed Redeemer, a farther time for repentance and amendment!
Let us now see what has been revealed to us concerning the fate of good and bad people in the world to come.
VISIONS WHICH ARE UNDERSTOOD TO BE PREDICTIVE OF THE END OF THE WORLD, AND THE FUTURE STATE OF GOOD AND BAD PEOPLE.
From the Revelation of St. John.
1. I saw a mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud, and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire.
And he had in his hand a little book open, and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot upon the earth; and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and he lifted up his hand to heaven,
And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who