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tiful temple of Theseus is scarcely injured as a model of architecture, and the Parthenon, though defaced and robbed, remains a noble example still of the grandeur and purity of Athenian taste in the age of Phidias and Pericles. How improbable then must it have seemed to one beholding the temple in the days of our Lord, that Romans should lay it even with the ground. Much more improbable, had the cultivated taste, and the mild, amiable, and humane disposition of Titus, their commander, been anticipated. Still more improbable, when it is remembered how strongly he was bent upon saving the city and temple from destruction; how he employed all the means in his power to induce the Jews to surrender before such extremities were necessary." When he had reached the temple, and saw the danger it was in of being sacrificed to the obstinacy of its defenders and the rage of his own soldiers, he was "deeply affected," and appealed to the gods, to his army, and to the Jews, that he did not force them to defile the holy house. "If," said he, "you will change the place whereon you will fight, no Roman shall either come near your sanctuary, or offer any affront to it; nay, I will endeavor to preserve your holy house, whether you will or not." But the Lord of that temple had said, "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." God would not suffer the prophetic words of his Son to return unto him void. Now, therefore, even the authority of Titus was of no avail with his troops.
Wars, etc., b. 5, ch.8, sec. 1; b. 6, ch. 2, sec. 1.
ch. 9, sec. 2; ch. 11, sec. 2; + Ibid., b. 6, ch. 2, sec. 4.
Now the discipline of the Roman legion was broken up, that all that was written might be fulfilled. When the fire first reached the temple, their commander dispatched a force to extinguish it. As it broke out again, he again used his authority to save the edifice. A soldier, disobeying the will of his general, threw fire into the golden window of the inner sanctuary. At this, Titus, followed by all his chief officers, rushed to the place, and by voice and gesture and force exerted himself most earnestly to prevail with his troops to spare the building. He ordered a centurion to punish the disobedient. But neither his threatenings nor persuasions could arrest their
fury. At last a soldier, taking advantage of his absence, when he had gone out of the sanctuary to restrain the others, "threw fire upon the holy gate in the dark, whereby the flame burst out from within the holy house immediately."* And thus was it devoured by the fire. And now orders were given to demolish to the foundation the whole city and temple. Nothing was spared of the former but three towers, and so much of the wall as was required for a shelter to the garrison to be stationed there. "As for all the rest of the whole circumference of the city, it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground, by those who dug it up to the foundation, that there was nothing left to make those who came thither believe it had ever been inhabited." In quest of plunder, the soldiers literally turned up the ground on which the city and temple had stood, searching the sewers
'Wars, b. 6, ch. 4, sec. 2-5, etc.
+ Ibid. b. 7, ch. 1, sec. 1.
and aqueducts. Last of all, it is related by the Jewish Talmud and Maimonides, that a captain of the army of Titus, Terentius Rufus, "did with a ploughshare tear up the foundations of the temple." "A ploughshare," says Gibbon, "was drawn over the consecrated ground, as a sign of perpetual interdiction." Thus literally fulfilling that prophecy of Micah, "Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest."t How forcibly is the perfect fulfilment of the Saviour's prediction illustrated in the speech of Eleazer to a remnant of Jews in the city of Masada: "Where is now that great city, fortified by so many walls and fortresses and towers, which could hardly contain the instruments prepared for the war, and had so many ten thousands of men to defend it? Demolished to the very foundations, and hath nothing left but the camp of the destroyers among its ruins; some unfortunate old men also lie upon the ashes of the temple, and a few women are there preserved alive by the enemy for our bitter shame and reproach."
12. But the prophecy of our Lord did not end with the destruction of the city and of the civil and ecclesiastical polity of the Jews. His omniscient eye followed the unhappy race in their subsequent dispersions and afflictions. "They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations." How many fell by the edge of the sword,
Whitby on Matt. 24 : 2.
‡ Wars, b. 7, ch. 8, sec. 7.
† Micah 3:12.
in fulfilment of these words, I need not state. flowed through the streets of Jerusalem like a river. ' But many who escaped the sword were led away captive into various parts of the earth. Before the city was taken, it is related that an immense number" of deserters, having fallen into the hands of the besiegers, were sold, "with their wives and children."* Besides ninety-seven thousand, who went into slavery from Jerusalem alone, there were sent from Tarichea to Nero six thousand choice young men, while thirty thousand, from the same place, were sold. Similar convoys of slaves were marched from many other desolated towns. Of the captives from Jerusalem, the tall and handsome were carried to Rome to grace the triumphal entry of Titus. Of the remainder, many were sent as slaves to the public works in Egypt; but the greater number were distributed through the Roman provinces, literally "into all nations," to be slain by gladiators, or exposed to wild beasts in the shows of the amphitheatre. From that time to the present, the history of all the nations of Europe, Asia, and Africa is filled with testimonies to the prophetic spirit of Him who, when Jerusalem was in peace and strength, predicted the approaching and yet existing calamities of her sons. In what country of the world, as then known, have they not been persecuted and enslaved?
But in addition to the captivity of the people, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." It is Wars, b. 6, ch. 8, sec. 2.
well ascertained, by corresponding passages of the Bible, that by this expression, the times of the Gentiles being fulfilled, was intended the universal ingathering of the nations to the faith of Christ. This has not yet arrived. Jerusalem is therefore still trodden down of the Gentiles, just as she has ever been since the ploughshare of the Roman desolation was first driven over the ruins of her temple. The hand of Providence, in the uninterrupted fulfilment of this prediction down to the present time, is wonderfully manifest. Two things are specially to be noted in the prophecy: first, that the Jews were never to be reëstablished in Jerusalem; and secondly, that it was not only to be in possession of, but to be "trodden down of the Gentiles," until the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled. That the Jews have never been reëstablished in Jerusalem since its destruction, has not been owing to any want of desperate effort on their part, nor because the power of the Gentiles has not been vigorously employed in their behalf. In about sixty-four years after their almost total expulsion from Judea, under the conquest of Titus, Jerusalem was partially rebuilt by the emperor Adrian. A Roman colony was settled there, and all Jews were forbidden, on pain of death, to enter therein, or even to look at the city from a distance. Soon after this the Jews revolted with great fury, and made a powerful effort to recover their city from the heathen. They were not subdued again without great loss to the Romans, and immense slaughter among themselves.