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To those who have been accustomed to conduct the exercises of a Sabbath School, and therein to trace, and retrace, the wanderings of the children of Israel,-from the call of Abraham to the descent into Egypt, from the Exodus to the entrance into Canaan, thence through the eras of Judges and Kings to the captivity,—and onward to the building of the second temple,-and again through the acts of the apostles,-it has no doubt often been a matter of regret, that the sphere of duty, in such a place, precluded them from following the history farther, and pointing out to their children not only the apostasy of the Jews, but the final destruction of their city and temple.
While this desire has been strongly felt on the part of the Teacher, it has often been as vividly met by evidences of expanding intellect, and quick perception on the part of the Scholar. And the delight with which young minds have been observed to enter into the details of the domestic history of the patriarchs and their descen
dants, as well as into the collateral circumstances connecting them with the surrounding nations; has discovered a susceptibility to the pleasures derived from historic truth, as well as a degree of intelligence-regarding events, differing so materially from those with which they are conversant in their humble sphere of life, no less gratifying than astonishing.
The difficulty however of imparting distinct views of the history of any nation, to young people possessed of no other advantages than ability to read the Scriptures, is no doubt very considerable; and as it does not appear very clearly to be a point of duty to attempt it, the task is perhaps unnecessary: And it becomes the Teacher to curb the desire he feels to be more explicit.
The children are accustomed to hear the words Jerusalem-Egypt-the wilderness-Canaanbut where this local Jerusalem existed, is perhaps as indistinctly defined upon their minds, as is the idea of that which cometh down from heaven.
They hear of the Jews-the Romans-Tiberias Cæsar-Felix and Festus-Greeks and barbarians; -but except the Israelites, with whose history they are made familiar by tracing them through all their descent from the birth of Isaac, they know nothing of the state of the neighbouring
nations. And their ignorance of geography, as well as of secular history and chronology, almost unfits them from ever forming any thing like a perspicuous perception of a great part of the historic subjects of holy writ.
But happily such knowledge is not necessary to salvation: And all that is requisite for them to know of the path that leads to heaven, is so plain, that "the wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein."
This little volume therefore is not designed to obviate any of the above difficulties: but it is intended to meet the eager inquiries of young minds after truth, in exhibiting to them the accomplishment of the prophetic passages of the New Testament, in the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the Old in the dispersion of the Jews. And however painfully affecting the melancholy story, yet it is so fraught with warning and admonition to all, and so strongly corroborative of the truth of the divine testimony, that while we tremble at the awful details, we must also be led to give glory to God, for this additional evidence of the prescience and sympathy of our divine Redeemer, who wept over the devoted city, even at the moment when he denounced its ruin.
While from these circumstances the following
work may prove interesting even to uneducated readers, notwithstanding the obscurity which may involve their view of it,—to the young in the higher ranks of society, who come to its perusal with all the advantages of previous information, it is hoped it will be no unacceptable present. From their acquired knowledge of various other subjects, they will at once perceive the local situation of the scene of contest,-the power of the Romans, the era in which the transaction took place; and while they witness the Jews in a state of political subordination to the Roman empire, they will observe that hitherto their religious privileges were preserved to them inviolate, though their civil ordinances were annulled many years before.
It may be necessary here to premise, that while the narrative of Josephus is taken up at that part of the Scriptures where St Luke concludes in the Acts of the Apostles, yet the object of the writer is to abridge the account of the siege of Jerusalem alone. The intermediate events are therefore merely alluded to in passing, and all that is necessary to lead the reader to the commencement of the terrific scene, is condensed within a few pages.
With regard to Josephus, the author of the