V. Origen insists, likewise, with great strength, on that wonderful prediction of our Saviour, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, pronounced at a time, as he observes, when there was no likelihood or appearance of it. This has been taken notice of and inculcated by so many others, that I shall refer you to what this father has said on the subject in the first book against Celsus. And as to the accomplishment of this remarkable prophecy, shall only observe, that whoever reads the account given us by Josephus, without knowing his character, and compares it with what our Saviour foretold, would think the historian had been a Christian, and that he had nothing else in view but to adjust the event to the prediction.
VI. I cannot quit this head without taking notice, that Origen would still have triumphed more in the foregoing arguments, had he lived an age longer, to have seen the Roman emperors, and all their governors and provinces, submitting themselves to the Christian religion, and glorying in its profession, as so many kings and sovereigns still place their relation to Christ at the head of their titles.
How much greater confirmation of his faith would he have received, had he seen our Saviour's prophecy stand good in the destruction of the temple, and the dissolution of the Jewish economy, when Jews and Pagans united all their endeavours, under Julian the apostate, to baffle and falsify the prediction? The great preparations that were made for re-building the temple, with the hurricane, earthquake, and eruptions of fire, that destroyed the work, and terrified those employed in the attempt from proceeding in it, are related by many historians of the same age, and the substance of the story testified both by Pagan and Jewish writers, as Ammianus Marcellinus and Zemath-David.
The learned Chrysostome, in a sermon against the Jews, tells them this fact was then fresh in the memories even of their young men, that it happened but twenty years ago, and that it was attested by all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, where they might still see the marks of it in the rubbish of that work, from which the Jews desisted in so great a fright, and which even Julian had not the courage to carry on. This fact, which is in itself so miraculous, and so indisputable, brought over many of the, Jews to Christianity; and shows us, that after our Saviour's prophecy against it, the temple could not be preserved from the plough passing over it, by all the care of Titus, who would fain have prevented its destruction, and that instead of being re-edified by Julian, all his endeavours towards it did but still more literally accomplish our Saviour's prediction, that not one stone should be left upon another.
The ancient Christians were so entirely persuaded of the force of our Saviour's prophecies, and of the punishment which the Jews had drawn upon themselves, and upon their children, for the treatment which the Messiah had received at their hands, that they did not doubt but they would always remain an abandoned and dispersed people, an hissing and an astonishment among the nations, as they are to this day. In short, that they had lost their peculiarity of being God's people, which was now transferred to the body of Christians, and which preserved the Church of Christ among all the conflicts, difficulties, and persecutions; in which it was engaged, as it had preserved the Jewish government and economy for so many ages, whilst it had the same truth and vital principle in it, notwithstanding it was so frequently in danger of being utterly abolished and destroyed. Origen, in his fourth book against Celsus, mentioning their being cast out of Jerusalem, the place to which their worship was annexed, deprived of their temple and sacrifice, their religious rites and solemnities, and scattered over the face of the earth, ventures to assure them with a face of confidence, that they would never be re-established, since they had committed that horrid crime against the Saviour of the world. This was a bold assertion in the good man, who knew how this people had been so wonderfully re-established in former times, when they were almost swallowed up, and in the most desperate state of desolation, as in their deliverance out of the Babylonish captivity, and the oppressions of Antiochus Epiphanes. Nay, he knew that within less than a hundred years before his own time, the Jews had made such a powerful effort for their re-establishment under Barchocab, in the reign of Adrian, as shook the whole Roman empire. But he founded his opinion on a sure word of prophecy, and on the punishment they had so justly incurred; and we find, by a long experience of 1500 years, that he was not mistaken, nay, that his opinion gathers strength daily, since the Jews are now at a greater distance from any probability of such a reestablishment, than they were when Origen wrote.