The First Century of Christianity
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One more glimpse is given by the same writer of the
history of the infant church before the final overthrow of the city. He
The whole body, however, of the Church at Jerusalem,
having been commanded by a divine revelation, given to men of approved piety
before the war, removed from the city and dwelt at a certain town beyond
Jordan called Pella.1
This removal of the Christian Jews to a neighbouring town
has been sometimes represented as a base and traitorous desertion of their
countrymen in their sorest need. But the same thing was done by many of
those who adhered to the Jewish faith. A large party among them, altogether
opposed to the war, saw plainly that resistance to the overwhelming Roman
power- was futile, and considered that the best interests of their country
would be served by submission. In large numbers they escaped from the fated
city as from a sinking vessel. Why, then, should the Christians be
reproached for taking the same course ? They simply obeyed the command—
And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies,
then know that the desolation thereof draweth nigh. Then let them which are
in Judsa flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it
depart out, and let not them which are in the countries enter thereinto.
THE FALL OF JERUSALEM.
THE histories of all ancient nations are full of calamities; but beyond
comparison that of the Jews is the most calamitous. If we look down the long
vista of ages, from the time of Pharaoh, when the children of Israel sighed
by reason of their bondage, to the final overthrow of Jerusalem by Titus,
the fate of the nation was a continual tragedy.
In reading the hooks of the Old Testament one cannot fail
to notice the frequency with which the sufferings of the Jews are described.
The Hebrew poets, in language of solemn beauty and pathos, refer to the
repeated desolations of their country. Take, for instance, the wonderful
description of Jeremiah1 :—
The Lord hath cast off His altar, He hath abhorred His
sanctuary, He hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her
palaces; they have made a noise in the house of the Lord, as in the day of a
The Lord hath purposed to destroy the wall of the
daughter of Zion ; He hath stretched out a line, He hath not withdrawn His
hand from destroying : therefore He made the rampart and the wall to lament;
they languished together.
Her gates are sunk into the ground ; He hath destroyed
and broken her bars : her kings and her princes are among the Gentiles : the
law is no more.
Josephus2 enumerates six sieges of Jerusalem before the
final overthrow by Titus. Woe upon woe, sorrow upon sorrow, desolation after
desolation befell this hapless people. But at last came a final overthrow, a
destruction supreme and irre-
1 Lamentations ii. 7-9. 2 Wars, b. vi. c. 10