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object, runs through almost every part of the prophecy. This is a very common practice in the prophetic writings, where two subjects are frequently carried on together, a principal and a subordinate one. In Isaiah there are no less than three subjects, the restoration of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, the call of the Gentiles to the Christian covenant, and the redemption of mankind by the Messiah, which are frequently adumbrated under the same figures and images, and are so blended and interwoven together, that it is extremely difficult to separate them from each other *. In the same manner our Saviour, in the chapter before us, seems to hold out the destruction of Jerusalem, which is his principal subject, as a type of the dissolution of the world, which is the under-part of the representation. By thus judiciously mingling together these two important catastrophes, he gives at the same time (as he does in many other instances) a most interesting admonition

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admonition to his immediate hearers the Jews, and a most awful lesson to all his future disciples; and the benefit of his predictions instead of being confined to one occasion, or to one people, is by this admirable management extended to every subsequent period of time, and to the whole Christian world.

After this general remark, which is a sort of key to the whole prophecy, and will afford an easy solution to several difficulties that occur in it, I shall proceed to consider distinctly the most material parts of it.

We are told in the first verse of this chapter, that "on our Saviour's departing from the temple, his disciples came to him to shew him the buildings of it;" that is, to draw his attention to the magnitude, the splendour, the apparent solidity and stability of that magnificent structure. It is observable that they advert particularly to the stones of which it was composed. In St. Mark their expression is, "See what manner of stones, and what buildings

buildings are here;" and in St. Luke they speak of the goodly stones and gifts with which it was adorned. This seems at the first view a circumstance of little importance; but it shews in a very strong light with what perfect fidelity and minute accuracy every thing is described in the sacred writings. For it appears from the historian Josephus, that there was scarce any thing more remarkable in this celebrated temple then the stupendous size of the stones with which it was constructed. Those employed in the foundations were forty cubits, that is, above sixty feet in length; and the superstructure, as the same historian observes, was worthy of such foundations, for there were stones in it of the whitest marble, upwards of sixty-seven feet long, more than seven feet high, and nine broad *.

It was therefore not without reason that the disciples particularly noticed the uncommon magnitude of the stones of this superb

Josephus de Bell. Jud. l. x. c. 5.

superb temple, from which, and from the general solidity and strength of the building, they probably flattered themselves, and meant to insinuate to their divine Master, that this unrivalled edifice was built for eternity, was formed to stand the shock of ages, and to resist the utmost efforts of human power to destroy it. How astonished then and dismayed must they have been at our Saviour's answer to these triumphant observations of theirs! Jesus said unto them, "See ye not all those things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down." This is a proverbial expression, used on other occasions to denote entire destruction; and therefore had the temple been reduced to ruins in the usual way, the prophecy would have been fully accomplished. But it so happened that this prediction was almost literally fulfilled, and that in reality scarce one stone was left upon another. For when the Romans had taken Jerusalem, Titus ordered his soldiers to dig up

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the foundations both of the city and the temple*. The Jewish writers also themselves acknowledge, that Terentius Rufus, who was left to command the army, did with a ploughshare tear up the foundations of the temple; and thereby fulfilled that prophecy of Micah ‡, "Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field." And in confirmation of this remarkable circumstance, Eusebius also assures us, that the temple was ploughed up by the Romans; and that he himself saw it lying in ruins §. The evangelist next informs us, that as Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, which was exactly opposite to the hill on which the temple was built, and commanded a very fine view of it from the east, his 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?" The expressions here made use of, the sign of

* Joseph de Bello Jud. 1. vii. c. i. p. 170. B.

+ See Whitby, in loc.

Euseb. Dem. Evang. . vi. 13.

VOL. II.

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Chap. iii. 12.

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