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here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down." This is a proverbial expression, used, on other occasions, to denote entire destruction; and therefore, had the temple been reduced to ruins in the usual way,
prophecy would have been fully accomplished. But it so happened that this prediction was almost literally fulfilled, and that in reality scarce one stone was left upon another. For when the Romans had taken Jerusalem, Titus ordered his soldiers to dig up the foundations both of the city and the temple*. The Jewish writers also themselves acknowledge, thịt Terentius Rufus, who was left to command. the army, did with a ploughshare tear up the foundations of the templet; and thereby fulfilled that prophecy of Micah.. “ Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field.” And in confirmation of this remarkable circumstance, Eusebius also assures us, that the temple was ploughed up by the Romans; and that he himself saw it lying in ruins. The evangelist next informs us, that
+ Joseph. de Bello Juil. 1. vii. c.i. p. 170. B.
Euseb. Den:. Esang... vi. 33.
as Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, which was exactly opposite to the hill on which the temple was built, and commanded a very fine view of it from the east, his disciples came unto him privately, saying, “ Tell us when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” The expressions here made use of, the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world, at the first view naturally lead our thoughts to the coming of Christ at the day of judgment, and the final dissolution of this earthly globe. But a due attention to the parallel passages in St. Mark and St. Luke, and a critical examination into the real import of those two phrases in various parts of Scripture, will soon convince a careful inquirer, that by the coming of Christ is here meant, not his coming to judge the world at the last day, but his coming to execute judgment upon Jerusalem *; and that by the end of the worlu is to be understood, not the final consummation of all things here below, but the end of that age, the end of the Jewish state
* See Mark xiii. 4. Luke xxi. 7. Matth. xxiv. 4, 5; xyi, 28. John'xxi. 28.
and polity, the subversion of their city, temple, and government*,
The real questions therefore here put to our Lord by the disciples were these two:
1st. At what time the destruction of Jerusalem was to take place; “ Tell us, when shall these things be?"
2dly. What the signs were that were to precede it: “ What shall be the sign of thy coming?"
Our Lord in his answer begins first with the signs, of which he treats from the 4th to the 31st verse, inclusive.
The first of these signs is specified in the 5th verse, “ Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."
This part of the prophecy began soon to be fulfilled; for we learn from the ancient writers, and particularly from Josephus, that not long after our Lord's ascension several impostors appeared, some pretending to be the Messiah, and others to foretel future events. The first
* The word asar (here translated the world) frequently means nothing more than an age, a certain definite period of time. See Matth. xxiv. 6. 14. Mark xiii. 7. Luke xxi.9.coinpared with ver. 20. Hebrews ix, 26. 5
were those whom our Lord here says should come in his name, and were therefore false Christs. The others are alluded to in the eleventh verse, under the name of false prophets : “ Many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many.” Of the first sort were, as Origen informs us one Dositheus, who said that he was the Christ foretold by Moses; and Simon Magus, who said he appeared among the Jews as the Son of God; besides several others alluded to by Josephus t.
The same historian tells us, that there were many false prophets, particularly an Egyptian, who collected together above thirty thousand Jews, whom he had deceived; and Theudas a magician, who said he was a prophet, and deceived many; and a multitude of others; who deluded the people, even to the last, with a promise of help from God. And in the reign of Nero, when Felix was procurator of Judæa, such a number of these impostors made their appearance, that many
of them were seized and put to death every day g. * Origen : Adv. Cels. I. 1 and 6. + De Bell: Jud. I. i. p. 705. # Jos. Antiq. 1. 20. c. 6, and c. 4. s. 1. Ed. Huds. Ib. c. 7. S. 5. p. 892,
The next signs pointed out by our Lord are these that follow : “ Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars :
ye troubled ; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet: for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places : all these are the beginning of sorrows."
That there were in reality great disturbances and commotions in those times, that there were not only rumours of wars, but wars actually existing, and continued dissentions, insurrections, and massacres among the Jews, and other nations who dwelt in the same cities with them, is so fully attested by all the historians of that period, but more particularly by Josephus, that to produce all the dreadful events of that kind which he enumerates, would be to transcribe a great part of his history. . It is equally certain, from the testimony of the same author, as well as from Eusebius, and several profane historians, that there were famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. It is added in the