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In the reign of Constantine the Great their effort was repeated, and terminated as before in perfect defeat, with increased massacre and oppression. But in the person of the nephew of Constantine, their zeal for the rebuilding of their temple was associated with the determination of the emperor Julian to overthrow Christianity; and between the power of a Roman sovereign with a victorious army at his feet and the exulting enthusiasm of the whole remnant of the Jewish people, a union was formed for the single object of rearing up the temple with its ancient ritual and of planting around it a numerous colony of Jews, which, to all human judgment, bore the assurance of complete success. The grand object of Julian was to convert "the success of his undertaking into a specious argument against the faith of prophecy, and the truth of revelation."* A decree was issued to his friend Alypius, that the temple of Jerusalem should be restored in its pristine beauty. To the energies of Alypius was joined the support of the governor of Palestine. At the call of the emperor, the Jews from all the provinces of the empire assembled in triumphant exultation on the hills of Zion. Their wealth, strength, time, even their most delicate females, were devoted with the utmost enthusiasm to the preparation of the ground, covered then with rubbish and ruins. But was the temple rebuilt? The foundations were not entirely laid. Why? Was force deficient; or zeal, or wealth, or perseverance, when Roman power and Jewish desperation were
associated? Nothing was lacking. "Yet," says Gibbon, "the joint efforts of power and enthusiasm were unsuccessful, and the ground of the Jewish temple still continued to exhibit the same edifying spectacle of ruin and desolation." There was an unseen hand, which neither Jews nor emperors could overcome. The simple account of the defeat of this threatening enterprise of infidelity is thus given by a heathen historian of the day, a soldier in the service, and a philosopher in the principles of Julian. "While Alypius, assisted by the governor of the province, urged with vigor and diligence the execution of the work, horrible balls of fire breaking out near the foundation, with frequent and reiterated attacks, rendered the place from time to time inaccessible to the scorched and blasted workmen; and the victorious element continuing in this manner obstinately and resolutely bent, as it were, to drive them to a distance, the undertaking was abandoned."*"Such authority should satisfy a believing, and must astonish an incredulous mind," acknowledges even the sceptical Gibbon. He cannot but own that "an earthquake, a whirlwind, and a fiery eruption, which overturned and scattered the new foundations of the temple, are attested with some variations, by contemporary and respectable evidence." One writer, who published an account of this wonderful catastrophe in the very year of its occurrence, boldly declared, says Gibbon, that its preternatural character was not dis ed, even by the infidels of the day. Another speaks of ↑ Gibbon, vol. 3. ch. 23.
* Ammianus Marcellinus.
it thus: "We are witnesses of it, for it happened in our time, not long ago. And now, if you should go to Jerusalem, you may see the foundations open; and if you inquire the reason you will hear no other than that just mentioned."*
Whether this attempt of Julian was defeated by miraculous interposition, is a question which our present object does not require us to argue. Two things are certain: first, that the power and wealth of the Gentiles were united with the devoted enthusiasm of the Jews, to defeat the prophecy of Christ, by rebuilding the temple, and by reëstablishing its ritual, and by reorganizing a Jewish population as possessors of Jerusalem; secondly, that contrary to all expectation, when nothing was lacking for the work, and none in the world lifted a finger against it, it was suddenly abandoned on account of sundry alarming and singular phenomena bursting from the original site of the temple, by which even the fanaticism of the Jews was deterred, and the enmity of Julian to the gospel defeated. These undeniable facts are sufficient to show, with impressive evidence, the hand of God protecting the prophetic character of our Lord. When, in connection with these, you consider the great anxiety so universally felt among the Jews of all centuries, to enjoy the privilege of living and dying in Jerusalem; that no risk of life, or sacrifice of property, would be thought
Chrysostom. See Lardner, ch. 4, p. 324.
↑ See the miraculous character of this event very ably advocated in Bishop Warburton's Julian.
too great for the purpose of once more setting up the gates and altars of the holy city; that the nation is now as numerous as at any period of its ancient glory; and yet, that during almost the whole period since the destruction of Jerusalem, so entirely have Jews been prevented from living on her foundations, that they have had to purchase dearly the permission to come within sight of her hills, and to this day are taxed and oppressed to the dust, as the cost of being allowed to walk her streets, and look at a distance upon her mount Moriah, you will acknowledge that the prediction of our Saviour in reference to their exclusion from Jerusalem, has been not only most strikingly fulfilled, but fulfilled in spite of the most powerful causes and efforts for its defeat.
But it was predicted that Jerusalem should not only be possessed by the Gentiles, but "trodden down" by them till their times should be fulfilled. What the soldiers of Titus did has already been stated. From that time, during sixty-four years, a Roman garrison alone inhabited the ruins. At the end of these years the city was rebuilt by the emperor Adrian, under the name of Elia; a Roman colony was planted there; all Jews were banished. on pain of death; every measure was used to destroy sacred recollections, and desecrate what were esteemed as holy places. The city was consecrated to Jupiter Capitolinus; a temple was erected to the pagan god over the sepulchre of Jesus; a statue of Venus was set up on mount Calvary, and the figure of a swine placed in marble on the gate that looked
Jerusalem continued in pos
session of the Roman emperors till subdued in the year 637 A. D. by the Saracens. The king of Persia had in the mean while besieged and plundered it, but his dominion was too short-lived to claim an exception from this statement.* In the hands of Mohammedans, sometimes of Arabian, sometimes of Turkish, and sometimes of Egyptian origin, it continued to be literally trampled down and desecrated, during a period of more than four hundred years; when having been taken by the crusaders, its government was assumed by one of their leaders, and Christians alone were allowed to dwell therein. Only about eighty-eight years elapsed, however, before the crescent of Mohammed was again planted upon the hill of Zion, where to this day it has remained, with a single trifling exception, undisturbed either by Jew or Christian. During the seven centuries of this uninterrupted dominion of Mohammedanism, Jerusalem has been captured and recaptured, again and again, by the various contending families and factions of the followers of the Arabian prophet. The desolations of war, the marches of contending hosts, have indeed "trodden down" her melancholy hills. In the sixteenth century, when Selim the ninth emperor of the Turks visited the city, it lay just as it had been seen by the famous Tamerlane more than one hundred years before, "miserably deformed and ruined," inhabited only by a few Christians, who paid a large tribute to the sultan of Egypt for the * Gibbon's Decline and Fall, vol. 6, ch. 46, p. 206. 14