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BEFORE I enter into any detail respecting the fulfilment of those Prophecies which are recorded in the Scriptures to have been delivered by Jesus Christ, as referring to the destruction of the Jewish Nation; it is necessary to establish the certainty of their having been actually foretold by him at the time, and under the circumstances mentioned by the Evangelists.
That many of the predictions in the writings of the Prophets bore the strongest and surest marks of reference to the Destruction of Jerusalem and its sacred Temple, though not generally admitted by the Jews, was too clear not to be immediately recognised by those with whom interest and prejudice had raised no clouds of obscurity to darken the light and evidence of their understanding: it was reserved, however, for Jesus Christ to predict the particular manner and the precise
(') The People of the Prince that shall come (the army of Titus) shall destroy the City and the Sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood: (the destruction made by the army) and unto the end of the War deso, lations are determined (utter ruin of the city and nation.)—Dan. ix. 26.
The ivth and vth chapters of Ezekiel in particular convey such strong evidence and certainty of the overthrow of Jerusalem, that to misunderstand or misapply the meaning of them, could arise only from obstinacy and wilful ignorance.
precise time of their accomplishment. He it was, if the records of his Gospel be true, who gave to this blind and obstinate nation the certain assurances of its downfal and ruin: he it was who so accurately and minutely described the overthrow of their City and Temple; and depicted the excessive sorrows to which they were so soon to be reduced. And that such were indeed the predictions of Christ himself, no doubt can be reasonably entertained; for upon a slight examination of the authenticity of the Gospels, we immediately arrive at proofs sufficient to assure us that the prophecies ascribed to Jesus Christ were both delivered by him, and recorded by the Evangelists, previous to the time to which they refer.
The Gospel of Saint Matthew is generally acknowledged, and commonly ranked as first, in time and order, among the writings of the Evangelists; and although the exact date of it is much disputed, yet most, if not all authorities agree in maintaining, that it was published at Jerusalem for the instruction of the Jews, before the disciples had left Judea to convert the Gentile world.1
St. Mark is placed by Irenæus, Augustin, Origen, Jerome, and Comas of Alexandria, next in order to St. Matthew; whose Gospel they state to have been written at Rome for the Jews and Gentiles there, under the immediate superintendence and direction of St. Peter, who
() First of all Matthew the Publican, surnamed Levi, published a Gospel in Judea in the Hebrew (Chaldee) Language, principally for the use of the Jewish Converts to Christianity.
St. Jerome in Præf. Comment. in Matt.
Vide also Euseb. Ecc. Hist. L. 6, c. 25.
Of the various dates assigned to it, the earliest is A.D. 38, and the latest A.D. 63.
who delivered it to the Jewish Church confirmed by his own authority.'
"The Third Gospel," says Origen, "is that according to Luke commended by St. Paul;" it was written (according to Michaelis, in Palestine) "to correct the "inaccuracies of the accounts, which were then in cir"culation; and to deliver to Theophilus a true and genuine document, in order to silence several idle "stories, which might have prejudiced him against the "Christian Religion."
(1) St. Mark accompanied St. Peter (1 Pet, v. 13) and was so highly esteemed by him as to be called his son, in the same manner as Timothy is. thus called by St. Paul.
Marsh's Michaelis vol. iv. ch. v. sec. 1. p. 203. Clemens Alexandrinus mentions in the 6th book of his Hypotypos, that "St. Mark wrote his Gospel at the request of some Christians at Rome: and "that when Peter heard this, he expressed his satisfaction at the desire of
knowledge among the Roman Christians, and ordered the Gospel of St. "Mark to be thenceforward read in the Churches."
"Marcus discipulus et interpres Petri, juxta quod Petrum referentem "audierat, rogatus Romæ a fratribus, breve scripsit Evangelium; quod quum Petrus audisset, probavit et Ecclesiis legendum sua auctoritate "edidit, sicut Clemens scribit."
Jerome's Treatise on Illustrious Men, c. viii.
Eusebius asserts the same Ecc. Hist. L. 2. c. 15.
See Marsh's Michaelis ch. v. sec. 1, vol. iv. ch. v. sec. 2, p. 208, "The Gospel of St. Mark was ratified by St. Peter."
Papius apud Euseb. Ecc. Hist. I. 2. c. 15. Michaelis asserts that the following verse from 2 Pet. 1, 15, refers to this Gospel.-" Moreover I (Peter) will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance."
Marsh's Michaelis vol. 1, chap. iii. sec. 3, page 91.
(*) See Marsh's Michaelis vol. iv. ch. vi. sec. 7 and 8, p. 266, 267. "The ancient Church from the earliest ages has received the Gospels of St. Mark and St. Luke as canonical. If this Church had not heard from the Apostles, that the writings of their assistants were divine, those writings would not have been received in the sacred Canon; and if they had not been in the Canon at the end of the first century, they would not have been received in the second and following centuries so generally and without contradiction." Ibid vol. i. ch. iii. sec. 8, p. 92 and 93,
St. Luke's Gospel was written before the Acts of the Apostles, as is evident from the beginning of the latter. "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of "all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the
day in which he was taken up," and this book concludes with St. Paul's having resided two years at Rome (xxviii. 30), from which circumstance it seems evident that it was written shortly after that event.
"All that we can affirm with certainty is, that St. "Luke wrote his Gospel before the Acts of the Apostles, "and that the Acts of the Apostles were not written "before the end of the second year of St. Paul's impri"sonment." As it appears then, that these three Gospels were written in the time of Peter and Paul, who according to the testimony of the Fathers sanctioned the latter two; it consequently follows, that they must have been published previously to the destruction of Jerusalem, as both these Apostles died before the accomplishment of that awful event: but independent of these considerations, it must also be allowed, that their
(') Marsh's Michaelis vol. iv. ch. vi. sec. 5, page 242.
(*) It was in the first general persecution of the Christians at Rome under Nero A. D. 67, that the ancients with one voice agree that St. Paul was put to death. That St. Peter was also a sufferer under the same persecution, is certain, both from written authority and in compliance with the prediction of Christ. (John xxi. 18.-Acts ix. 16.) Sulpicius speaking of this persecution adds, "At that time Paul and Peter were condemned to death, the former was beheaded, Peter was crucified.-" Tum Paulus ac "Petrus capitis damnati; quorum uni cervix gladio desecta, Petrus in "crucem sublatus est." (Sulp. Sever. Hist. 2. xli. 29.) But as a further proof that Peter's death happened before the destruction of Jerusalem, we have only to refer to his second Epistle, which we shall find to have been written with an express view to prepare them to whom it is addressed, to "expect and earnestly to desire the coming of the day of the Lord," lest scoffers "come in the last days saying, where is the promise of his coming?” 2 Pet. iii. S, 4.