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danger, persecute and put them to death, there will be one day, sooner or later, great confusion and disorder. Men thus bring upon themselves tremendous sufferings; ; as if the great judge of the earth were punishing them for all the righteous blood shed in their country, from the foundation of the world.
3. We have here a striking example of the benevolence and humanity of Christ. When speaking of the vices and hypocrisy of the Scribes, there appears an asperity in his language, which approaches to harshness; not arising from any malevolence of temper, but from an honest
indignation; yet, when he comes to speak of the sufferings of this unhappy people, his heart melts into compassion; he forgets the injuries they were now intending, and would afterwards commit, against himself, and nothing has place in his breast but pity for the sufferers. And is it for Jerusalem that he thus weeps; the city where his most inveterate enemies resided, and which was to be the scene of his cruel crucifixion and death? How great is the magnanimity of the Saviour! One might suppose from his language that it was for a friend or a brother. Thus let us learn to weep over the follies of those who may hate and persecute us for our attachment to the cause of truth and righteousness: it is they, and not we, who are the objects of pity. The calamities to which they expose themselves are much greater than those which they inflict upon us,
Matthew xxiv. 1-..-14.
1. And Jesus went out, and departed, or, “having gone out was departing,” from the temple; and his disciples came to him, for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
Christ, having told the Jews, at the close of the last chapter, that their temple was left desolate, his disciples wished to show him how noble a building that was, the destruction of which he had pronounced.
2. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? or, rather, Do ye gaze on all these things?* Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
To show the fulfilment of this prophecy, it would be sufficient to prove that the temple was utterly destroyed; but it seems also to have been literally accomplished: for Josephus tells us (Bell. Jud. vii. 1. 1.) that Titus, the Roman general, ordered his soldiers to dig up and demolish the whole city and the temple, except three towers, which he left standing, that posterity might from them judge of what extent and strength the city had been. Another Jewish writer farther informs us (Taanith of Maimonides, c. iv. 7.) that the very foundations of the temple were digged up, and that Terentius, a Roman commander, carried a plough over them, according to the Roman custom. Such an event as this was extremely improbable at this time, when Jerusalem and the country of Judæa were in profound peace; when the temple existed in full strength and magnificence; and could be foreseen only by divine prescience.
3. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the 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, rather, “ the end of the age ?"
• Omitting the negative upon the authority of many versions.
When Jesus foretold the destruction of the temple, his disciples probably imagined that he would come again, to accomplish it as a punishment upon his enemies, and to establish that glorious temporal kingdom which they expected under the Messiah. It was to this they referred, when they asked what would be the sign of his coming; supposing that that event would be preceded by some extraordinary appearances, which might foretel his approach, and, if they were acquainted with them, fill their minds with joy, whenever they
The end of the world, or, as it is better rendered, the end of the age, was an expression synonymous to the coming of Christ: for the disciples supposed that whenever the Messiah assumed his temporal authority, he would destroy the political æconomy which then subsisted, under which they were governed by Roman procurators, and establish a form of government of a very different nature. This would appear a desirable change to the Jews: the disciples were therefore desirous of knowing when it would take place. The phrase which is here translated“ the end of the world,” is applied, in other parts of Scripture, to the end of particular dispensations of religion. Thus it is said of Christ, Heb. ix. 26. “ But now once, in the end of the world, hath he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" i. e. not at the destruction of the world; for that was not then arrived; but at the end of the ages or dispensations of religion; such as the Antidiluvian, the Patriarchal, the Mosaic; the same phrase may, therefore, without any violence be applied to the end of a political period, or to the termination of the government of the Romans over the Jews, which had now lasted a long time, and to which Christ was expected to put an end. That Christ did not understand the question of his disciples to refer to the time of the end of the world, is evident from his answer, which he concludes with saying, verse 54.“ Verily ! say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled:” whence it appears that the end of the age must be something which was to take place during the life-time of
4. And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man de
The disciples had asked Jesus what were the signs of his coming to destroy the temple, and to put an end to their political government, and he is now going to mention some that were immediate, and others more remote: but before he does this, he thinks proper to caution them against being deceived: for as they entertained mistaken notions of the nature of that kingdom which he was coming to establish, he knew that they were liable to be misled, by considering those things as signs of his approach which were not really so, and especially by admitting the claims of certain deceivers, who pretended to be the Christ, appearing again in the world.
5. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, “ I am the Christ," and shall deceive many.
What the Jews expected the Messiah to do for them was to deliver them from the Roman yoke, and render them an independent people: whoever, therefore, promised to perform these services, was considered as assuming the character of the Christ, and as coming in his name. That there were many impostors, who asserted that they were Christ, in that sense of the word, is evident from the book of Acts *, where we read of Theudas, who boasted himself to be some body, but was slain, and all those who joined themselves to him, to the number of four hundred men; and of Judas of Galilee, and of an Egyptian, who made similar pretensions, and perished with their followers in the same miserable manner. The same thing is also mentioned by Josephust, as done by deceivers, under a pretence of divine inspiration.
6. And ye shall hear of wars and ru
* Acts v. 36, 37. xxi. 38. + Bell. Jud. ii. 13, 14, &c.
mours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass: but the end is not yet.
These are the next things which Christ mentions as preceding the destruction of the Jewish republic---wars and the rumours of wars. The wars may refer to the great convulsions which took place in the Roman empire before the destruction of Jerusalem; but more probably, to the commotions which prevailed in Palestine itself, or at least, in the neighbouring regions, which were very numerous during that period. When the emperor Caligula ordered his statues to be placed in the temple at Jerusalem, six years after the death of Christ, the Jews refused to suffer it, and their obstinacy was ordered to be overcome by force of arms. On this occasion so strong was the rumour of war, and so general the expectation of hostilities, that the inhabitants left their lands uncultivated. The seasonable death of the emperor, however, prevented matters from coming to this issue. During these wars, or rumours of wars, Christ exhorts his disciples not to be alarmed, as if the final destruction of the Jewish state was near: for that many things were to take place before that event.
7. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in divers places.
The rising of nation against nation may refer to the disturbance which took place between the Jews and the heathens, in the different cities in which they resided, throughout the Roman empire, which happened first at Cæsarea, then at Scythopolis, Ptolemais, Tyre, Gadara; at Alexandria and Damascus. The rising of kingdom against kingdom may refer to the contests which took place between the different governments into which Palestine was divided. That there were famines during this period we learn from heathen writers, and even