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years, and were declared by our Saviour about thirtyseven years before their fulfilment. Several years elapsed also between the publication of the same prophecies by Mark and Luke, and the events to which they relate. John, the only one of the four evangelists that lived and wrote subsequently to the ruin of the holy city, is the only one that omits an account of the predictions concerning it. But we have the most satisfactory evidence that no suspicion of an ex post facto origin can justly attach to these prophecies, in the important fact, that although familiarly quoted by the early Christian writers as striking evidence of the prophetic character of Jesus, we read of no writer, against Christianity in the primitive centuries having attempted to paralyze the argument by maintaining that they were not published till Jerusalem was destroyed. If enemies so near the events predicted had nothing to say, will any deny us the privilege of proceeding in our present investigation unembarrassed by any question on this head?*
There is a history of the destruction of Jerusalem, which, if it had been composed for the express purpose of attesting the complete accomplishment of our Lord's predictions, could have hardly been made more appropriate to our present object. It was written by an eye-witness of the tragedy, a learned witness-a witness who, having been first an eminent leader among the troops of Judea, and then a prisoner to the Roman commander, and continually kept about his
On this subject, see some excellent remarks in Paley's Evidences, part 2, ch. 1.
person for the sake of his services, cannot be accused of having written without accurate information. His book was composed at Rome; and having been presented by the author to the emperor Vespasian, and to his son Titus, who had commanded at the siege of Jerusalem, the latter not only desired its publication, but subscribed his own hand in confirmation of its correctness. It was also presented to and approved by several Jews who had been present at the scenes described. We could not desire a more complete attestation of the fulfilment of our Saviour's prophecies than this book affords. And yet the writer was a Jew to the day of his death, and consequently an enemy of Christianity, and could have had no design in favor of the prophetic spirit of its founder. I speak of Josephus. It is remarkable that one of the most minute prophecies in the Bible should have from an enemy the most minute of histories to show its fulfilment. No great event in profane history is related with so much attention to all the particulars connected with it, as is the destruction of Jerusalem by this Jewish writer. When we consider these things, and remember the extraordinary manner in which Josephus was several times protected from almost inevitable death, we may clearly discern the hand of a wise Providence preparing the way of the gospel. A witness was preserved and chosen of God, to write an account of the divine judgments upon Jerusalem, whose testimony neither Jews nor heathens could
Josephus' Life, sec. 65, p. 23. Contr. Apion. book 1,
deny or suspect. We proceed to compare his statements with the prophecies in question.
1. Let us begin with those events which the Saviour foretold as signs of approaching desolation. Thus it is written, "Take heed that no man deceive you; for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many. 99* Here are two distinct predictions-many pretenders to the character of the Messiah, and their success in deceiving many. As the prophecy draws nearer to the chief event, it enlarges on this particular sign: "There shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders." Here it is intimated, that as the great catastrophe should approach, these deceivers would multiply; and that they would pretend to signs and miracles. The very places where they would appear, and whither they would lead their followers, are also pointed out. "If they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not."t
Now, it is worthy of note, that until the day when these words were uttered, there had been no events in Jewish history in any manner corresponding with those which they describe. Two years,
however, had not elapsed before their fulfilment began. Simon Magus, very soon after the crucifixion, was heard boasting himself as the Son of God, deceiving the people of Samaria with sorceries; to whom they all gave heed, saying, This man is the great * Matt. 24:4, 5.
↑ Matt. 24:26.
power of God.
Another, named Dositheus, a Samaritan, pretended that he was the Christ foretold by Moses. In about the tenth year after the death of Christ, appeared one Theudas, who assured the people that he was a prophet, promising to show a miracle in dividing the waters of Jordan.* "By such speeches," says Josephus, in the very words of the prophecy, "he deceived many." As we approach nearer the final event, A. D. 55, these deceivers multiply. "The country was filled with impostors who deceived the people," and "persuaded them to follow them into the wilderness; where, as they said, they should see manifest wonders and signs." Not only were the people thus seduced into the deserts,
* Acts 8:9, 10.
The impostor mentioned above must not be confounded with him of the same name, spoken of by Gamaliel, Acts 5:36. There were two noted characters of the name of Theudas. The one referred to by Gamaliel appeared about thirty years prior to the time of the council which that learned Pharisee addressed. But he was a mere insurrectionist, making no pretension to any of the honors of that great prophet whom the Jews were expecting. The person referred to in the text appeared in Judea in the time of Cuspius Fadus the governor, and professed to be inspired, to be a prophet, and to have the gift of miracles. Judas of Galilee, or the Gaulonite, mentioned also by Gamaliel, was a political partisan, in opposition to the enrolment made by Cyrenius in Judea, whose doctrine was, that the Jews were free and should acknowledge no dominion but that of God. Neither he nor the elder Theudas can, with any propriety, be numbered among "false Christs" or "false prophets," such as the Saviour spoke of in the prophecy under consideration. See Lardner, vol. 1, pp. 221–225.
# Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, b. 20, ch. 5, sec. 1. Ibid. ch. 8, sec. 5.
but also into "the secret chambers." The inner apartments of the temple were the secret chambers referred to in the prophecy. Josephus relates that a great multitude whom the Roman soldiers destroyed in the "cloisters" of the temple, had been led there by a false prophet, who had made a public proclamation that very day, that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they would receive miraculous signs for their deliverance. At that crisis, there was a great number of false prophets."* Thus have we all the particulars of the prophecy, so far as it has been quoted: many false Christs and prophets, deceiving many, pretending to signs and wonders, leading their followers into the deserts and secret chambers, and multiplying as the destruction drew
2. "Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not 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."t At this time, the Jews were at peace among themselves and with all nations. To human view, there was so little reason to expect a war, that even some years after, when the emperor Caligula ordered his statue to be set up in the temple, and there was danger of slaughter on account of the resistance of the Jews, Josephus remarks, that "some of them could not believe the stories that spoke of a war." Nevertheless, such became in a short time the rumor of
* Josephus' Wars of the Jews, b. 6, ch. 5, sec. 2, 3. † Matt. 24:6, 7.
+ Wars, etc., b. 2, c. 10, sec. 1.