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the roads, and the shortness of the days, would be great impediments to a speedy flight. Travelling on the sabbath-day would also have exposed the Christians to the resentment of the Jews.
THE FULFILMENT OF OUR BLESSED LORD'S
As our SAVIOUR cautioned his disciples to fly when they should see Jerusalem encompassed with armies, it was providentially ordered, that though Jerusalem would be encompassed with armies, yet they should have opportunities afforded them of making their escape.
There had for considerable time been dreadful dis. tractions in Judea, which occasioned great slaughter. In each province multitudes had lost their lives, and many of the principal cities had been destroyed. The Romans, under pretence of chastising the Jews for sedition, committed hostilities against them, took possession of their fortresses, wasted and plundered the country, and put numbers of them to the sword.
Vespasian having been made governor of Judea by the emperor Nero, and employed to carry on the wars against the Jews, made great ravages in Judea; and having subdued all the country, prepared to besiege Jerusalem, and invested the city on every side: but Nero's death, and the disturbances which ensued in the Roman empire, diverted the attention of Vespasian from his purpose, and he did not proceed to besiege Jerusalem in form. These incidental delays were very Christians; and it is supposed that
favourable to the
many retired from the city, in obedience to their LORD'S admonitions. The Jews were at this time divided inte parties and factions among themselves, and destroyed each other, so that a lake of blood ran in the sacred courts of the Temple; and so great was the rage of party, that in order to distress their opponents they burnt houses full of provisions, as if they studiously cooperated with the Romans to cut off their own strength. Many wished for the impending foreign war to free them from their domestic evils. The Jews were filled with fear and astonishment; there was no time for counsel, no hope of pacification, no means of flight. A ceaseless cry of combatants was heard night and day, and the lamentation of mourners was still more dreadful. Relations shewed no reverence for the living, nor solicitude to bury them when dead. The seditious parties fought treading on heaps of slain, and were continually inventing cruel methods of destruction.
Great revolutions happened in the Roman state during this period; at length Vespasian was made emperor, who sent his son Titus with a select army against Jerusálem. When he arrived, the Jews were in the situation above described. Titus surrounded the city with encampments; the sight of his army reconciled the Jews to each other, and united them against so formidable an enemy. Our LORD predicted that the enemies of Jerusalem should cast a trench about her, and compass her round, and keep her in on every side. This was literally fulfilled; for Titus, discouraged and exasperated by the repeated destruction of his engines and towers, undertook the arduous task of enclosing the city with a wall; which, though it included a circuit of five miles, was completed by the vigilance of his soldiers in three days. By this means all hope of succours was cut off from the Jews, no provision could
be carried into the city, no person could come out unknown to the enemy.
Our LORD foretold, that the destruction of Jerusalem should be attended with greater distress than had ever been known before, from the beginning of the world. And history informs us, that the calamities and miseries of the Jews during the siege were beyond parallel. Rapine and murder, famine and pestilence within; fire and sword, and all the terrors of war without. These calamities were so severe, that had they continued, they must have consumed the whole Jewish nation; but GoD so ordered the course of his providence, that these dreadful days were shortened.. Titus, desirous to put a speedy end to the siege, that he might return to Rome, resolved to proceed with the utmost vigour; and the Jews, by burning their provisions and deserting their strong holds, had so weakened themselves, that they were not able to resist such measures, which were, as our LORD foretold, sudden and unexpected.
So great was the number of dead bodies thrown over the walls, that Titus raised up his hands to heaven, and called GOD to witness, that this extreme misery arose from themselves, and not him; yet the Jewish soldiers marched against the Romans over heaps of their own dead, without horror or commiseration.
And now the Romans advanced their last engines against the walls. The besieged made a vigorous defence, though the famine was so severe, that the soldiers were compelled to eat their belts, their shoes, the skins of their shields, and dried grass.
Titus and his army, however, entered the city, and assaulted the Temple itself. As his battering rams made no impression on it, he ordered that the gates should be burnt; and the fire soon spread to the adjoining porti
coes. He had resolved in council to preserve the Temple entire, as a monument of honour to himself, and therefore commanded his soldiers to extinguish the fire; but God had condemned it to the flames: and one of the soldiers unmindful of the command of his general, as if urged by Divine impulse, seized some of the burning materials, and with the assistance of another soldier, who raised him from the ground, threw it into the golden window of the Temple towards the north. And notwithstanding Titus ordered his soldiers to stop the progress of the flames they pretended not to hear him, and exhorted the foremost ranks to spread the conflagration. A dreadful scene ensued. The Roman soldiers to gratify their hatred of the Jews, dealt death and slaughter on all who came in their way. Thousands of men, women, and children, were burnt. Multitudes, half dead before with famine, perished by the sword, and the ground could not be seen for carcases. then held a conference with the Jewish rulers, who required to be dismissed into the desert with their wives and children, having sworn not to resign up their persons to him. Titus, enraged that they should prescribe conditions to their conqueror, delivered them up to the fury of the soldiers, who burnt a great part of the city, of which they were in possession. The Jews still refused to submit, and retired to the higher city, where they behaved like savages. Here the Romans attacked them, and made a breach in their walls. They were then seized with sudden fear, and quitting towers impregnable to any force, betook themselves to subterraneous passages. By thus going into the holes of rocks and into the caves of the earth, they expressed the greatest consternation, and in effect said to the mountains, "Fall on us, and to the hills, Cover us." The
Komans stood amazed at their victory: So many Jews were slain, that the whole city was drenched with blood. In the evening the slaughter ended, and the flames increased. When Titus viewed the strength of their fortifications, he made use of these words, "We have fought with the assistance of Gon. It was God who drove the Jews out of their forts: for what could the hands of men or the force of machines effect against these towers ?" And when he had utterly destroyed the city, he left those towers as a monument of that for tune which confederated with him.
After this, Titus gave orders that the seditious should be put to death; but the tallest and most beautiful youths were reserved for Cæsar's triumph. The rest of the multitude, above 17 years of age, were sent to the works in Egypt, or as presents through the provinces, to perish by the sword, and by wild beasts in the theatres. Those under the age of seventeen were sold-11,000perished by famine: The number of all the captives taken throughout the war was 97,000; and of those who were destroyed through the whole siege, were 1,100,000, and the greatest part of these were from different countries; for they came from every quarter to the passover, and were suddenly shut up by the war.
Our LORD predicted, that so the lightning cometh from the east, and shineth also unto the west, so should the coming of the Son of man be; and it is said, that the destruction of Jerusalem began in the east, and went on westward.
The Romans having completed their conquest, burnt the extremities of the city, and dug up the walls, leaving nothing standing but some of the highest towers and a part of the wall; for the pioneers so effectually levelled the remainder of the city to the ground, as not to leave those who approached it any proof that it had ever been inhabited.