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this signal defeat, aspired soon afterwards to the conquest of the Temple, and made the most vigorous exertions, both by the force of arms and secret insinuations, to obtain the station and undermine its defender. For this purpose, he disguised some of the most inconsiderable of his own party, that they might mingle with those who came up at this season to worship in the Temple; and for whom Eleazar, from religious motives, had thrown open the sacred portals of the sanctuary. The horrid artifice succeeded, when the assassins, throwing off their garments, exhibited their sanguinary purpose. The Temple became a
scene of dreadful confusion. In vain the multitude flocked to the altar for protection; its sanctity was unheeded, and its purity defiled. Eleazar, with many of the worshippers and some of his own men, were, according to the testimony of Tacitus,1 numbered with the dead; but from the better authority of Josephus,2 it appears that he not only survived, but acted after
established himself in the city, he summoned Matthias, a High Priest, before him; who, from his influence with the people, had persuaded them to invite over Simon, and his party, to rid them of the worse tyranny of John; in consequence of which John was supplanted. Simon, as the first proof of his security, charged Matthias, from his conduct on this occasion, with being an enemy to his country; and condemned him, and his three sons to instant death. The unhappy parent begged only that he might be permitted to die before his sons; but his request was denied, and he was compelled to view the heart-rending spectacle of his children's slaughter, before he submitted his own life to the hand of the executioner.
See Bell. Jud. 5. xiii. 1.
1 Under colour of performing a sacrifice, John contrived to send a band of assassins to cut off Eleazar and his whole party in one general massacre. By this atrocious deed he gained possession of the Temple. Mox Johannes, missis per speciem sacrificandi qui Eleazarum manumque obtruncarent templo potitur.-Hist. v. 12.
2 Bell. Jud. 5. vi. 2.
wards under the command of John; who from this time connecting the Zealots with his own party, reduced the three former factions to two.1
Titus was now approaching with his army to the walls of Jerusalem, and presented so formidable an appearance, as would have struck consternation into the hearts of any, but this infatuated people. It was at this critical juncture that those Christians among them, who called the warning admonition of Christ to their remembrance, effected their escape, by flying to the mountains to avoid that destruction which so evidently hung over this obdurate nation.? Such was the disunited prospect within the walls of Jeru
1 From that time the two contending factions threw every thing into confusion, till the enemy at their gates obliged them to unite in their common defence. Ita in duas factiones civitus discessit, donec propinquantibus Romanis bellum externam concordiam parareret.-Tacit. Hist. v. 12.
2 WHEN YOU SHALL SEE JERUSALEM ENCOMPASSED WITH ARMIES, THEN KNOW THAT THE DESOLATION THEREOF IS NIGH: THEN LET THEM WHICH ARE IN JUDEA FLEE TO THE MOUNTAINS; AND LET THEM WHICH ARE IN THE MIDST OF IT DEPART OUT, AND LET NOT THEM THAT ARE IN THE COUNTRIES ENTER THEREIN.-Luke xxi. 20.-Let your expedition to escape be so great, that if ye be on the house top, do not descend into it, but fly down by the outside staircase: neither let him that is in the field think first of returning home, lest his flight be cut off: pray also that ye may have no impediment, arising from the inconveniences of winter, or of any religious scruple of travelling on the sabbath day. PRAY YE THAT YOUR FLIGHT BE NOT IN THE WINTER, NEITHER ON THE SABBATH DAY.-Matt. xxiv. 20.
THEN SHALL TWO BE IN THE FIELD; THE ONE SHALL BE TAKEN, THE OTHER LEFT.- -Matt.xxiv. 40, 41.-I TELL YOU IN THAT NIGHT THERE SHALL BE TWO MEN IN ONE BED; THE ONE SHALL BE TAKEN AND THE OTHER LEFT.-Luke xvii. 34. When the enemy shall come upon Jerusalem those of my disciples who shall call my forewarning to their remembrance shall be saved, and though their occupations and employments may be the same with others who are not my disciples; yet, however nearly they may seem connected by external circumstances, my disciples only shall be preserved, and the others perish.
salem at this season of public assembly.1 The scene without the city presented Titus encamped with that army before described, whose courage and discipline were as unrivalled, as their purposes determined; yet their leader, before the onset, offered terms of capitulation, which were, however, disdainfully refused on the part of the faction. All hope of pacific measures having thus vanished, the command was instantly given; when the legions, at the same moment, prepared for the engagement: the suburbs of the city were by the order of Titus set on fire, and the trees cut down for the purposes of war.2 Elated by hopes of glory, and
1 This was at the time of the Passover, when Josephus computes the number of those qualified by the Mosaic Law to celebrate the feast, at two millions seven hundred thousand: this, therefore, excludes all foreigners, and those, who, from sickness and other causes, were looked upon as polluted and unholy.
Bell. Jud. 6. ix. 3.
There being so large a concourse of Jews at the public assembly, is a convincing proof how little they then suspected the interruption caused by the Romans; so true was it, as our Saviour declared; that this destruction should come upon them as suddenly as that, which came upon the world in the days of Noah.
AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF NOE, SO SHALL IT BE ALSO IN THE DAYS OF THE SON OF MAN. THEY DID EAT, THEY DRANK, THEY MARRIED WIVES, THEY WERE GIVEN IN MARRIAGE, UNTIL THE DAY THAT NOE ENTERED INTO THE ARK, AND THE FLOOD CAME AND DESTROYED THEM ALL. LIKEWISE ALSO AS IT WAS
IN THE DAYS OF LOT; THEY DID EAT, THEY DRANK, THEY BOUGHT, THEY SOLD, THEY PLANTED, THEY BUILDED; BUT THE SAME DAY THAT LOT WENT OUT OF SODOM IT RAINED FIRE AND BRIMSTONE FROM HEAVEN, AND DESTROYED THEM ALL. EVEN THUS SHALL IT BE IN THE DAY WHEN THE SON OF MAN IS
REVEALED.-Luke xvii. 26-30.
That the city was capable of containing so large an assemblage, Josephus proves from the circumstance of its presenting at the Passover A. D. 63, THREE MILLIONS of Jewish petitioners to Cestius Gallus, the President of Syria, against the wicked administration of the procurator Florus.
Compare Bel. Jud. 2. xiv. 3. with 6. ix. 3.
2 Bel. Jud. 5. vi. 2.
allured by prospects of golden spoils, each seemed ambitious to excel the other in activity; and all to exceed the expectation of their Prince. Every engine of war was employed, and every mode of fortification raised, that either skill or experience could suggest; but here their operations met with an unexpected interruption. One of the city gates, suddenly thrown open, exhibited to their view a band of pitiable mourners, who wringing their hands and with saddened countenances, intreated and raised commisseration, even in the bosoms of their gentile enemies. Hastening to their relief and flying as in one person, the Romans gave every token and assurance of protection. What then was their surprise, and how were the contrary feelings excited, when instead of suppliants imploring that mercy they seemed to demand, they dropped the mask and presented themselves a body of lurking assassins! This deception too fatally showed itself by the number of those who fell a prey to this instance of Jewish perfidy; nor was the inhumanity of the contrivers of the fraud less conspicuous, when from the stations above the walls they displayed themselves gazing on the scene with insult and delight.'
This circumstance could not fail to raise a spirit of revenge throughout the Roman army, which in all probability would have manifested itself in a more immediate and open manner, had it not been restrained by the more temperate conduct of Titus; who, under any other circumstances, would have severely reproved his soldiers for so easily becoming dupes to this artifice of the Jews. In every stage of the siege, a peculiarly firm and judicious intrepidity marked the deportment
1 Bell. Jud. 5. iii. 3.
2 Bell. Jud. 5. iii. 4,
of Titus; and on no occasion does it appear, that any consideration tempted him to forget the character it was necessary for him to support, both as the commander of so proud an army, and the expected conqueror of a bold and numerous people. His clemency towards the Jews during the greater part of the siege is reported to have been remarkable, and that he withheld no argument by which they might be assured, that his object was not so much to wage war, as to bring them to peace among themselves, and submission to the Emperour: not so much to pour out the life-blood of their people, as to preserve them in the quiet possession of their city, and in the enjoyment of their religious liberty. But if the Lord of Life failed in opening the eyes of this blinded and ill-fated nation; it was not likely that the persuasions of a Gentile could have any effect on such hardened obstinacy: if Christ could not reclaim them either by his commanding eloquence, by his surprising miracles, or by the threats he denounced against them; it was less probable, that the overtures of a heathen, or the scourge of destruction he held above their heads, should awaken them to a sense of their danger. Titus, therefore, looked upon them as a people doomed to slaughter, and though with a view to gain over those who were compelled to support the standard of their tyrants, and others who could not be induced to defend their cause, he made an offer of a general pardon; yet from its being a second time rejected with disdain, he determined to pursue those means, best calculated to subdue a nation, so ripe for destruction.
The Roman soldiers, eager for the attack, carried on their operations with indefatigable vigour. Fortifica