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and shall lay thee even with the ground, and shall not leave thee one stone upon another. And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences, and fearful sights; and great signs shall there be from heaven. There shall be great tribulation, such as never happened from the beginning of the world, to this time. They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles. This generation shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled. Tremendous predictions! But the event was not less tremendous than the paediction.
Here was a complication of miseries, that never has been, and, probably, never will be equalled, in the history of mankind. Could human wisdom foresee these extraordinary calamitous occurrences? Was there now any external appearance, or human probability, of such an uncommon event? Not the smallest. Universal peace prevailed over the world.
Numerous were the preternatural and alarming signs, which preceded this tremendous catrosphe. In the days of Claudius Cæsar, a few years before the destruction of Jerusalem happened, there was in Judea, a prodigious tempest,
accompanied with most vehement winds and rain, terrible lightnings and thunder, and fearful shakings and roarings of the earth. Before the invasion of Judea, a star, in the form of a sword, hung over the city a whole year. In the dead of the night, at the time of the feast of the tabernacles, light, similar to that of the meridian sun, shone for a whole half hour, on the temple, and places adjacent to it. The great eastern gate of the temple, which was of solid brass, and of such bulk and weight, that twenty men were scarcely sufficient to shut it, though it was fastened with strong bolts, suddenly opened of its own accord.
The priests watching in the Temple, at the feast of Pentecost, heard a voice, as of a great multitude, crying, Let us go hence. Even before the sun went down, there appeared armies in battle array, and encountering in the air, with weapons glittering, and chariots which seemed to compass the whole country, and invest the great cities, especially Jerusalem. For no less than seven years and an half, a countryman, named Jesus, ran up and down the streets of Jerusalem, especially at the solemn festivals, crying, in the most doleful accents; Woe to Jerusalem! Woe to the city! Woe to the temple! Woe to
the people! And, though cruelly punished, nothing could restrain him from crying; till at last, as he was uttering these words, Wo to myself also, he was instantaneously struck dead by a stone from a sling. Were these extraordinary appearances, these awful prodigies insignificant or unmeaning? Far from it. They proved eventually to be, as our Lord had foretold, only the beginning of sorrows; omens and fore-runners of calamities and miseries unexampled in the annals of the world.
The Roman army, under Vespasian, having entered Judea from the north-east, desolated city and country. In the seventeenth year of the Christian æra, on the first day of the week, distinguished by the honourable name of the Lord's Day, this great army first encamped before Jerusalem. On the arrival of it, the Christians, crediting the predictions, and following the directions of their divine master, fled from Jerusalem, and hid themselves in the mountainous part of the country. But the Jews, judicially and wofully infatuated, instead of submitting to Vespasian, who is said to have been a very merciful general, madly resisted; nay, bent on their own destruction, they, in frequent instances, encountered and massacred one another. At
Jerusalem, especially, the scene was tragically and bloody beyond description. Its inhabitants, as an additional proof of their infatuation, were divided into factions and parties. Those, though they occasionally united to make furious, but unsuccessful attacks on the Romans, often murdered one another. Nay, shocking to relate! they even murdered one another in sport; pretending to try the sharpness of their swords. The multitude of unburied bodies, corrupting the air, produced a most fatal pestilence. Along with sword and pestilence, famine, prevailed to such an awful degree, that they fed on one another. Ladies, otherwise delicate, broiled their sucking infants, and ate them. The first breach was made by the besieging army, in the lower city, on the first day of the week. On the first day of the week the Temple was burned; and on the first day of the week, the upper city, otherwise called the citadel, was taken and burnt.
"After an obstinate defence, for long six months, the city was taken, and immense numbers of its inhabitants put to the sword. A Roman commander, as a literal fulfilment of our Lord's prediction, ordered the foundations of the Temple to be ploughed up. To such a degree was Titus, notwithstanding his usual clemency, provoked by
the obstinacy of the Jews, that he is said to have crucified them before the walls of the city, as long as he had wood for erecting crosses. The destruction of this great city, happened at the time of one of the three annual festivals, at which all the Jewish males were required to attend ; and, therefore, it is computed, there might then be almost three millions of souls in it. Not less than eleven hundred thousand are supposed to have perished in it, by sword, famine, and pestilence. Between two and three hundred thousand were cut off in other places. Almost. one hundred thousand were taken prisoners, and sent into Egypt and Syria, to be sold for slaves, exposed for shows, or devoured by wild beasts.
Almost incredible are the cruelties and massacres which that devoted people suffered in succeeding times. In a dreadful war, about sixty years after the destruction of Jerusalem, occasioned by an impostor, pretending to be the Messiah, six hundred thousand Jews are said to have been slain, besides what perished by famine and pestilence. The very rivers, it is said, overflowed with human blood; and the sea, into which they ran, was, for some miles marked with it.