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be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
In terms nearly similar, this discourse is related in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, and the thirteenth of Mark. The prospect of the same evils drew from our Saviour on another occasion, the following affecting expression of concern, which are preserved by Saint Luke : (xix. 41–44.) “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”—These passages are direct and explicit predictions. References to the same event, some plain, some parabolical, or otherwise figurative, are found in divers other discourses of our Lord.*
The general agreement of the description with the event, viz. with the ruin of the Jewish nation, and the capture of Jerusalem under Vespasian, thir ty-six years after Christ's death, is most evident ; and the accordancy in various articles of detail and circumstances has been shown by many learned writers. It is also an advantage to the inquiry, and to the argument built upon it, that we have received a copious account of the transactions from Josephus, a Jewish and contemporary historian. This part of the case is perfectly free from doubt. The only question which, in my opinion, can be raised upon the subject, is whether the prophecy was really delivered before the event ; I shall apply, therefore, my observations to this point solely.
1. The judgment of antiquity, though varying in the precise year of the publication of the three Gospels, concurs in assigning them a date prior to the destruction of Jerusalem.t
* Matt. xxi. 33.-46. xxii, l-7. Mark xii. 1---12. Luke xlii, !--S. **. 9---20. xxi. 5---13.
| Lardner, vol. xlii,
2. This judgment is confirmed by a strong probability arising from the course of human life. The destruction of Jerusalem took place in the seventieth year after the birth of Christ. The three evangelists, one of whom was the immediate companion, and the other two associated with his companions, were, it is probable, not much younger than he was.
They must, consequently, have been far advanced in life when Jerusalem was taken ; and no reason has been given why they should defer writing their histories so long.
3. * If the evangelists, at the time of writing the Gospels, had known of the destruction of Jerusalem, by which catastrophe the prophecies were plainly fulfilled, it is most probable, that, in recording the predictions, they would have dropped some word or other about the completion ; in like manner as Luke, after relating the denunciation of a dearth by Agabus, adds, which came to pass in the days of Claudius Cæsar;"+ whereas the prophecies are given distinctly in one chapter of each of the first three Gospels, and referred to in several different passages of each, and, in none of all these places, does there appear the smallest intimation that the things spoken of had come to pass. I do admit, that it would have been the part of an impostor, who wished his readers to believe that his book was written before the event, when in truth it was written after it, to have suppressed any such intimation carefully. But this was not the character of the authors of the Gospel. Cunning was no quality of theirs. Of all writers in the world, they thought the least of providing against objections. Moreover, there is no clause in any one of them, that makes a profession of their having written prior to the Jewish wars, which a fraudulent purpose would have led them to pretend. They have done neither one thing nor the other : they have neither inserted any words which might signify to the reader that their accounts were written before the destruction of Jerusalem, which a sophist would have done ; nor have they dropped a hint of the completion of the prophesies recorded * Le Clerc, Diss. III. de Quat. Evang. num. vii. p. 541.
Acts xi. 28.
by them, which an undesigning writer, writing after the event, could hardly, on some or other of the many occasions that presented themselves, have missed of doing.
4. The admonitions* which Christ is represented to have given to his followers to save themselves by flight, are not easily accounted for, on the supposition of the prophecy being fabricated after the event. Either the Christians, when the siege approached, did make their escape from Jerusalem, or they did not : if they did, they must have had the prophecy amongst them: if they did not know of any such prediction at the time of the siege, if they did not take notice of any such warning, it was an improbable fiction, in a writer publishing his work near to that time, (which, on any even the lowest and most disadvantageous supposition, was the case with the Gospels now in our hands,) and addressing his work to the Jews and to Jewish converts, (which Matthew certainly did,) to state that the followers of Christ had received admonition, of which they made no use when the occasion arrived, and of which experience then recent proved, that those, who were most concerned to know and regard them, were ignorant or negligent. Even if the prophecies came to the hands of the evangelists through no better vehicle than tradition, it must have been by a tradition which subsisted prior to the event. And to suppose that, without any authority whatever, without so much as even any tra. dition to guide them, they had forged these passages, is to impute to them a degree of fraud and imposture, from every appearance of which their come positions are as far removed as possible.
5. I think that, if the prophecies had been composed after the event, there would have been more
*" When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armles, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh; then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; then let them which are in the midst of it depart out, and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto." Luke xxi. 20, 21.
“Vihen ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then let them which be in Judea flee unto the mountains ; let him which is on the bouse-top not come down to take any thing out of his house neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. Matt, xiv. 18.
specification. The names or descriptions of the enemy: the general, the emperor, would have been found in them. The designation of the time would have been more determinate. And I am fortified in this opinion by observing, that the counterfeited prophecies of the Sibylline oracles, of the twelve patriarchs, and I am inclined to believe, most others of the kind, are mere transcripts of the history, moulded into a prophetic form.
It is objected, that the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem is mixed, or connected, with expressions which relate to the final judgment of the world; and so connected, as to lead an ordinary reader to expect, that these two events would not be far distant from each other. To which I answer,
that the objection does not concern our present ar#gument. If our Saviour actually foretold the de
struction of Jerusalem, it is sufficient; even als though we should allow, that the narration of the prophecy had combined what had been said by him on kindred subjects, without accurately preserving the order, or always noticing the transition of the discourse.
The morality of the Gospel. In stating the morality of the Gospel as an argument of its truth, I am willing to admit two points; first, that the teaching of morality was not The primary design of the mission; secondly, that morality, neither in the Gospel, nor in any other book, can be a subject, properly speaking, of discovery.
If I were to describe in a very few words the scope of Christianity, as a revelation,* I should say, that it was to influence the conduct of human life. by establishing the proof of a future state of reward and punishment to bring life and immortality to light.” The direct object, therefore, of the design is, to supply motives, and not rules; sanctions, and not precepts. And these were what mankind stood most in need of. The members of civilized society can, in all ordinary cases, judge tolerably well how they ought to act : but without a future state, or, which is the same thing, without credited evidence of that state, they want a motive to their duty; they want at least strength of motive, sufficient to bear up against the force of passion, and the temptation of present advantage. Their rules want authority. The most important service that can be rendered to human life, and that consequently, which, one might expect beforehand, would be the great end and office of a revelation from God, is to convey to the world authorized assurances of the reality of a future existence. And although in doing this, or by the ministry of the same person by whom this is done, moral precepts or examples, or illustrations of moral precepts, may be occasionally given, and be highly valuable, yet still they do not form the original purpose of the mission.
* Great and inestimably beneficial effects may accrue from the mission of Christ, and especially from his death, which do not belong to Christianity as a revelation ; that is, they might have ex. isted, and they might bave been accomplished, though we had never, in this life, been made acquainted with them.
These effects may be very extensive ; they may be interesting even to other orders of intelligent beings, I think it is a general opinion, and one
Secondly; morality, neither in the Gospel, nor in any other book, can be a subject of discovery, properly so called. By which proposition, I mean that there cannot, in morality, be any thing similar to what are called discoveries in natural philosophy, in the arts of life, and in some sciences; as the system of the universe, the circulation of the blood, the polarity of the magnet, the laws of gravi. tation, alphabetical writing, decimal arithmetic, and some other things of the same sort; facts, or proofs, or contrivances, being totally unknown and unthought of. Whoever, therefore, expects, in readwhich I have long come, that the beneficial effects of Christ's death extend to the whole human species. It was the redemption of the
"He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the whole world;" 1 Juhn ii. 2. Probably the future happiness, perhaps the future existence of the species, and more gracious terms of acceptance extended to all, might depend upon it, or be procured by it. Now these effects, whatever they be, do not belong to Christia nity as a revelation ; because they exist with respect to those to whom it is not revealed.