« IndietroContinua »
21. Then let them which are in
Judaea flee to the mountains; and let
them which are in the midst of it, that
is, Jerusalem^ depart out; and let not
them that are in the countries enter
These expressions were all intended to point out how speedily the destruction of Jerusalem would follow its being surrounded with armies; and perhaps td induce Christians to take the first opportunity of escaping not only out of the city but likewise out of the country. Accordingly we are told that when Cestius, a Roman general, encamped around the cityy before the grand siege by Titus, all the Christians, influenced probably by our Lord's cautions, forsook it, and hereby avoided the fate of their countrymen.
22. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled*
There is here a reference probably to what Moses and the prophets had foretold respecting the Jews, in case they rejected the commandments of God; and particularly to the prophecy of Daniel.
23. But woe unto them, "alas for them" (an expression of pity, and not a denunciation of vengeance :) who are with child, and for them that give suck in those days: for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
The difficulty of fleeing from the country would be greatly increased to women in the situation here de* scribed, and therefore they are objects of pity to Jesus: but their condition, however distressing, would not be so bad as that of those that remained, for whom the severity of divine judgments was reserved.
24. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captives into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
The number of the Jews who perished at Jerusalem, during the siege, is calculated by Josephus *, at one million, one hundred thousand. Jerusalem was not naturally so populous; but the people had come up from all parts of the country, to observe the festival of the passover; so that the whole nation as it were was shut up in one place. Ninety-seven thousand of them were taken captives, great part of whom were sold for slaves. How exactly the prophecy has been fulfilled, in regard to the dispersion of the Jews, we need not the authority of Josephus to inform us: for it is a notorious fact, that people of this nation are to be found in almost every country under heaven.
The country of Judaea was sold to Gentiles, soon after the destruction of the city, and has continued in the hands of Gentiles to this day. By the phrase, "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled," we are to understand till they are all converted to Christianity: after that time the Jews, it is intimated, shall possess their own land again. Thus this passage corresponds with what the apostle Paul says, that " blindness has happened in part to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be brought in."
• Bell. Jud. vi. 8.
1. In that portion of scripture which we have been reading, we behold an illustrious example of the humane disposition of our master. To weep at the distresses of our fellow men, when they are present with us, and their afflictions exhibited before our eyes; when the persons who suffer are our acquaintance and intimate friends, is justly esteemed a proof of a tender and benevolent heart: yet Jesus weeps at sufferings which he only sees in prophetic vision, at the distance of forty years; and these the sufferings not of friends, but of inveterate enemies, who were at this time plotting his death, and were soon to stain their hands with his blood. Had these distresses been before his eyes, and the persons who suffered them his nearest relatives and most intimate friends, he could hardly have felt more violent emotions than he appears to do upon the present occasion. So strongly was his mind actuated by the love of mankind, and so superior was his benevolence to that of ordinary persons! Let us endeavour to cultivate a like spirit of philanthropy, and learn not only to sympathise with the present objects of distress, but to feel for those likewise whom we see to be destined to suffer: let us learn to be affected at the calamities of our country, whenever we behold them approaching; especially let us learn to shed tears over those who madly expose themselves to the miseries of hell, by an obstinate perseverance in their sins. Such refined compassion will be the brightest ornament of our characters, and the most satisfactory proof of our proficiency in the spirit of Christ.
2. What we are here told of the liberality of the widow ought to encourage the poor to perform acts of beneficence; since it appears that the smallest gifts are acceptable, when they come from a rightly disposed mind; yea, that they are more valuable in the judgment of reason and in the sight of God, than the splendid endowments of their rich neighbours, who are able to do more. Let them, therefore, not be ashamed of small donations for useful purposes, if they are the largest which they can afford. It is the disposition of the mind and the circumstances of the giver which God regards, and not the sum bestowed. When this is inconsiderable, but proceeds from a benevolent mind, it will procure for the bestower a larger reward than the offerings of many who have given more. The rich may also learn hence that their beneficence ought to bear a suitable proportion to their affluence; and that without this great gifts will be of little value. Let every man remember to give, whatever be his condition in life, according to his ability, and especially keep in mind that God loveth a cheerful giver.
3. In the exact accomplishment of these prophecies, we have a striking proof of the divine mission of Christ. They were delivered no less than forty years before the events which they predicted took place, and at a time when there was no appearance of such an extraordinary change. For although the Jews were uneasy under the Roman yoke in the time of Christ, yet had they not proceeded to open rebellion, and they were at this time in a very flourishing condition: nor was there any thing in their former sufferings, as recorded in the - preceding periods of their history, which bore any resemblance to what now took place, so as to enable a person to conjecture the one from the other. Such an exact foresight of a distant event could proceed only from God, to whom the future is as well known as the present or past; and by being communicated to Jesus Christ was intended to increase our respect for him, and to establish our faith in those more distant events foretold by him, which have not yet taken place; such as the universal prevalence of his religion, a resurrection from the dead, a day of judgment and a state of retribution both for the just and the unjust. To this purpose then let us apply it. Let wicked men, in particular, remember that the evils which he has denounced against them will as certainly take place, as those which he delivered against the Jews. There may be no appearance of such an event at present, any more than there was of the destruction
of Jerusalem and the punishment of the Jews at the time when Christ foretold them; but he is as much authorized by God in one case as in the other. Let them now, therefore, while it is the accepted time, repent of their sins and reform their conduct, as the only way of escaping the judgments with which they are threatened.
Luke xxiii. 4—16. 27—34.
4. Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.
The charge brought against Jesus before Pilate was, that he assumed the authority of a king, in opposition to the claims of Caesar. To this charge he nad answered, by acknowledging that he was a king, but adding an explanation which removed every thing that was offensive in the claim, saying, that his kingdom was not of this world, being of a spiritual and not of a civil nature. With this explanation Pilate was satisfied, as he saw no evidence of any design to assume temporal power.
5. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee, to this place.