« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
building of the most stately and beautiful architec
E. But as beautiful as Solomon's?
M. I should almost think that all the beauties of the old temple were to be found in the third. We read of its glittering masses of white marble, and pinnacles of gold, and are told that Herod spared no pains in endeavouring to restore it to all its former glory. But yet a little while and no traces should be found of what was once so grand, so glorious :-No; "not one stone upon another that should not be thrown down." E. I wonder what the disciples felt when they heard these awful words?
M. Their curiosity was excited to the most painful pitch; and, as soon as they reached the Mount of Olives, apart from the people, some of them asked Him privately, saying, "Master, tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world?"
E. Then they wanted to know, not only when Jerusalem was to be destroyed, but when the end of the world was to be?
M. They mixed up, as you observe, together two things, which were to be in the event very distinct, and very distant from one another As yet, however,
both these events were future. But when we recollect, that the disciples were Jews, and like other Jews, devoted to their religion and their country, we cannot be surprised, that they should think that, when their temple should be destroyed, the world itself would come to a close, and the reign of Messiah begin. Our Lord's answer to their enquiry is one of the most difficult passages of Scripture.
E. But, almost all prophecy is difficult, is it not? I know when I open sometimes some of the books of the prophets, though the words sound very beautiful, I cannot understand them at all.
M. All prophecies are, indeed, in their nature dark and obscure, until the time of their fulfilment has come; and since much of what our Lord said to His disciples on this occasion seems to be still unfulfilled, it is still in consequence mysterious to our minds. Most plainly, however, did Jesus forewarn His disciples against the idea that they would soon behold His second Advent in glory. He told them clearly that many impostors would arise during the approaching troubles at Jerusalem, each declaring himself to be the Christ. When the Apostles spoke of the coming of Christ, they probably thought of what the Jews generally expected, "the restoration of the kingdom to Israel,”—the commencement of a worldly millennium, a glorious temporal monarchy under Jesus as their king.
E. But we, Mamma, by the coming of Christ, mean something very different from that?
M. Indeed we do; and Christ soon undeceived His disciples on this subject. He told them plainly, that in the destruction of Jerusalem, He would come in power to punish His enemies, and not in person to rule among His friends. He told them too, that that awful event would be far from restoring prosperity to Israel: on the contrary, it would be preceded and accompanied by unexampled sorrows. In these His own disciples should have, in some respects, a peculiar share; but then their deliverance should be peculiar also. The destruction of Jerusalem was in fact to be a season
first of general alarm; there would be "wars and rumours of wars," and dreadful persecutions of the followers of Christ. It would be a dreadful time; the brother betraying his brother to death, and the father the son: yea, and even children rising up against their parents on account of their religion. Yet these melancholy events should be overruled by God for good: for the very persecutions, which should drive Christians to take refuge in other countries, would be the means of spreading the Gospel through the world. The Christians would be persecuted, but the Jews would be destroyed; and the precise evil, which they thought to avoid by putting Jesus to death, would in consequence of that very crime overwhelm them. "The Romans," they feared, would "come and take away their place and nation;" their holy and beautiful place, their sacred and magnificent temple, and with that their highly favoured nation too. And this is precisely what Jesus had foretold on Mount Olivet. "The abomination of desolation" which the prophet Daniel had spoken of, the feet of heathen soldiers ready to destroy, should stand in the holy place, the sacred ground on which the city was built. Jerusalem should be compassed about with armies, and then there would be no safety but in instant flight from the devoted city; for such should be the affliction, as had not been from the beginning of the creation which God created, nor should be ever after whilst of the miserable people, some should "fall by the edge of the sword," whilst others should be "led away captive into all nations."
E. I have heard, Mamma, of the destruction of Jerusalem, and I know that there are Jews in almost
all countries; but I never thought before why this was so. I did not know that it was because they had put our Lord to death, and that He had so plainly told them these things beforehand.
M. Yes, Edward: the Jews are a standing monument to all the world of the truth of our Lord's words, and it is remarkable with what exactness the whole of this awful prediction has been fulfilled. But we cannot enter upon this subject to night: we must leave it to another evening.
See John xii. 37-50.
Mark xiii. 1, 2.
Matt. xxiii. xxiv. 1, 2.
Luke xxi. 5, 6.
FORTY-NINTH SUNDAY EVENING.
JUDGMENT OF JERUSALEM.
M. Perhaps you would like to night, Edward, to dwell a little more upon the subject of our conversation last Sunday, and observe with me how the different parts of our Lord's prophecy were fulfilled?
E. I should indeed, Mamma: though I am almost afraid to hear of the sufferings of the Jews; they must have been so dreadful! But where is it we learn how these things were fulfilled, for I do not think it is in the Bible?
No Scripture gives the prophecy; but the history of its fulfilment was written not even by a Christian, but by a Jewish historian of the name of Josephus. He was first of all the Jewish governor of Galilee, and then a prisoner of the Romans, during the very war in which Jerusalem was destroyed, and of which [Second Series.]
he has left us a particular account. His history is very valuable; for in it we have a Jew bearing witness to the truth of our Lord's predictions against his own capital and temple. I cannot give you the whole of his testimony; for that would be only to repeat his history of the Jewish war, which must be left till you can read it for yourself. We will, however, notice a few of the more striking points.
E. Thank you, dear Mamma; and first will you tell me whether the temple was really so thoroughly destroyed, that not one of those goodly stones was left one upon another?
M. It is remarkable that this prediction was fulfilled to the very letter, and even against the wishes of Titus, the commander of the Roman army, who accomplished this work of Divine vengeance. But I will read to you what a learned bishop of our Church has collected together on this point. "The temple," he says, "being a building of such vast strength and grandeur, was likely to be preserved, as it was worthy to be preserved, for a monument of the victory and glory of the Roman empire. Titus was accordingly very anxious to preserve it, and protested to the Jews who fortified themselves in it, that he would preserve it even against their will. He had wished to save the city too, and sent Josephus and other Jews, again and again, to their countrymen to persuade them to give it up to him quietly. But an overruling Providence directed things otherwise. The Jews themselves, rather than give up their temple to their heathen conquerors, first set fire to its porticos themselves; then the Romans did the same. One of the soldiers, neither waiting for any command nor