« السابقةمتابعة »
the place, which was attended with the sound of a great motion, as of persons going away."
I am ready, where it can be done, to construe liberally, and to understand figure and metaphor as such, if the language be not such as fairly to require a different interpretation. But surely, no nation ever suffered as the Jews did. All the miseries that mankind have in general experienced from the beginning of the world, have scarcely been to compare with those which the Jewish nation at that time suffered. The number of captives was ninety-seven thousand. Titus sent many of them into Egypt, and many he dispersed into the Roman provinces. * Suetonius says, that during the siege, there perished by famine, disease, and the sword, six hundred thousand. Josephus, and Jornandes after him, make them eleven hundred thousand. And not long subsequent to the siege, a general persecution of the Jews, we know, took place, throughout the whole of the Roman empire; and all these things, within the space of forty years after the death of our Saviour; so that the generation which was on earth, when he uttered this memorable prophecy, had not
passed away, when it was, in all its parts, accomplished.
This extraordinary revolution has had consequences no less extraordinary. Ever since the period when Jerusalem was destroyed, the Jews have been dispersed through all nations, without obtaining a regular establishment in any; have been persecuted wherever they have gone; have been without a king, without a prince, and without a sacrifice; and yet have not lost their religion, nor been incorporated with the Gentiles, among whom they have sojourned, but still remain a distinct people. Has such been the fate of any other nation? Could this, then, have been foreseen, or foretold, by any but supernatural means? Now, of the Jews, this was foretold by Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Moses. Indeed, the whole history of this people, before their dispersion by Titus, and since, bears irrefragable testimony to the truth of the essential parts of the Scriptures.
This is more especially the case in regard to what immediately concerns our Saviour himself; how strongly, how pathetically! how much more like a history than a prophecy, doth Isaiah B 4
pour forth his predictions! *« The Son of God shall be put to death by the very people who expect him, but who shall know him not. He shall expiate the sins of men by his sufferings. He shall be despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He shall be wounded for their transgressions, and bruised for their iniquities; but with his stripes they shall be healed: he shall bear the sins of the many, and be made intercessor for the transgressors. The Lord it shall please to bruise him, and to put him to grief; but his seed he shall sea; and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper. in his hands. So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for. that which had not been told them, they shall see; and that which they had not heard, they shall consider."
That the history of the life of Christ, con-; tained in the New Testament, is a true relation of matters of fact (not to insist on the testimony of his disciples and followers) will, to a rational. inquirer, appear undeniable; for this reason, that. many particulars of that history are confirmed by the concurrent testimonies of profane, and un-> questionably unprejudiced authors. I have al
Chapter lii. liii.
ready mentioned some passages from Suetonius and Tacitus. That there lived in Judea, at the time referred to in the Gospels, such a person as Jesus of Nazareth, is acknowleged by all writers, both Jewish and Pagan, who have written since that time. That Augustus Cæsar had ordered the whole empire to be cessed or taxed, which brought our Saviour's reputed parents to Bethlehem, is mentioned by several Roman historians, as Tacitus, Suetonius, and Dion. That a great light, or a new star, appeared in the east, which directed the wise men to our Saviour, is recorded by Chalcidius. That He-. rod, the king of Palestine, made a great slaughter of innocent children, (being so jealous of his successor, that he put to death even his own: sons) is related by Macrobius, who likewise gives us the reflexion cast upon him on that occasion, by the emperor Augustus. "Cum audiisset (Augustus) inter pueros quos in Syria Herodes rex Judæorum intra bimatum jussit interfici, filium quoque ejus occisum, ait melius est Herodis porcum esse quam filium."* That our Saviour had been in Egypt, Celsus is so far from denying, that he tells us, Christ learned the arts of magic in that country. That Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea; that our Saviour was
brought in judgment before him, and by him condemned, and crucified, is recorded by Tacitus: "Tiberio imperante, per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus erat.* But shortly after his death, upon Pilate's writing to Tiberius an account of his passion, resurrection, and miracles, that the emperor made a report of the whole to the senate, desiring that Christ might be considered as a God by the Romans. That many miraculous cures, and works out of the ordinary course of nature, were wrought by him, is confessed by Julian the apostate, Porphyry, and Hierocles; all of them, not only Pagans, but professed enemies, and persecutors of Christianity. That our Saviour foretold several things, which came to pass according to his predictions, is attested by Phlegon. That at the time when our Saviour died, there was a miraculous darkness, and a great earthquake, is recorded also by the same Phlegon, a Trallian, who was likewise a Pagan, and freedman of Adrian the emperór.
All this, it is said, however, may be true, according to the received system of Christianity; but it is not to be doubted but that Jesus, from his infancy, might have been so trained by his fa
+ Clarke. Addison's Evid, of Chris.
• Lib. xv.