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by men of the greatest learning and the soundest judgment, from its first publication to the present time. The fidelity, the veracity, and probity of the writer, are universally allowed; and Scaliger in particular declares, that not only in the affairs of the Jews, but even of foreign nations, he deserves more credit than all the Greek and Roman writers put together *. Certain at least it is, that he had that most essential qualification of an historian, a perfect and accurate knowledge of all the transactions which he relates; that he had no prejudices to mislead him in the representation of them; and that, above all, he meant no favour to the Christian cause. For even allowing the so much controverted passage, in which he is supposed to bear testimony to Christ, to be genuine, it does not appear that he ever became a convert to his religion, but continued probably a zealous Jew to the end of his life,
*In Prolegom, ad opus de Emendatione Temporum.
From this account it is evident, that we may most securely rely on every thing he tells us respecting the siege of Jerusalem; and that nothing can more completely demonstrate the truth of our blessed Lord's predictions, than the uncorrupt, impartial, and undesigned testimony given to their completion by this justly celebrated historian. Here then we have a proof, which it is impossible to controvert, of our Saviour's perfect knowledge of future events, which belongs solely to God, and to those inspired and sent by him; which of course establishes in the clearest manner, the divine mission of Christ, and the divine origin of our Religion. . . The only pretence that can possibly be set up against this prophecy is, that it was not delivered by our Saviour previous to the destruction of Jerusalem, but inserted afterwards by St. Matthew and the other evangelists, subsequent to that event. This may undoubtedly be said, and many things may be said by those whose whose trade is objection and cavil: . but can it be said with the smallest appearance of truth? Is there the slightest ground to support it? Most certainly not. It is a mere gratuitous assertion without the least shadow of proof; and an opposite assertion is a sufficient answer to it. We deny the fact; and call upon our adversaries to prove it, if they can ; they have never so much as attempted it. Not even the earliest enemies of our faith, those who were much nearer the primitive ages, and much more likely to detect a fraud in the evangelical writers (if there were any) than modern infidels, even these never intimate the slightest suspicion that this prophecy was inserted after the event. - But besides this, there are good grounds to believe, not only that the three Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, where this prophecy is related, were written and published before the destruction of Jerusalem, but that the writers of them were all dead before that event. It is also well known, that both St. Peter and St. Paul, who allude - - 111
in their Epistles to the approaching ruiu of Jerusalem * (which they learned from our Lord's predictions) and who had seen and approved the Gospels of St. Mark and St. Luke, were put to death under Nero, and Jerusalem was not taken till the succeeding reign of Vespasian. It should be observed further, that although this prophecy is by far the fullest, and clearest, and most distinct, that our Lord delivered respecting the destruction of Jerusalem, he plainly, though briefly, alludes to it in several other parts of the Gospel +. And these occasional predictions of that event are so frequent, and so perfectly agree with this larger prophecy, they are introduced so incidentally in the way of parables, or in answer to some question; they arise, in short, so naturally from the occasion, and are so inartificially interwoven into the very - eSSence - * Acts, ii. 19. 1 Pet. iv. 7. Phil. iv. 5.1 Thess. ii. 16. Newton on Proph. vol. ii. p. 225. Jortin's Remarks,
vol. i. p. 49. “t Matt. xxii. 1–7; xxiii.33–39. Luke, xix. 41–44; xiii. 1–5; &c. &c. -
essence and substance of the narrative, that they have every imaginable appearance of having formed an original part of it, and cannot possibly be considered by any good judge of composition as subsequent or fraudulent insertions. Indeed such a fabrication as this would have been the silliest and most useless fraud that can be imagined. For it is very remarkable, that the sacred writers make no use of this prophecy as a proof of our Saviour's divine powers, or of the truth of his religion. They appeal frequently to the ancient prophecies concerning him, to his miracles, and above all to his resurrection, as evidences that he was the Messiah, and the Son of God; but they never appeal to the accomplishment of this prophecy in support of those great truths, though certainly a very natural and important proof to be adduced in favour of them. But that which ought, with every reasonable man, to be decisive of the question, is this, that three of the evangelists