WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
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"We stand with uncovered heads before the astonishing fulfilment of his words in the Past, we bow with reverent spirit before the rising grandeur of those words which still await fulfilment in the Future. We walk the weary ways of earth hearing the mocking cry, " Where is the promise of His coming 9'.'—but our pathway is ever lighted by the glory which shines from His words, fulfilled and fulfilling, under our very eyes. So long as we see His words fulfilled regarding the fate of Jerusalem and her people, the wonderful spread of the Gospel, the hatred of all nations for his followers, and the peculiar combination of perils and signs which portend his coming—so long may we rest assured that all he has predicted will come true. The history of the Christian Era is a running commentary- on His words, and we await with eager expectation their complete fulfilment!" (p. 120)
The following pages were written during months filled with work, and in snatches of time when other duties would permit. Finished chapter by chapter, a view of the completed work was not obtainable until it was all ready for the press. And then, many things were found which could have been improved in statement, and some points which might have been made clearer. After beginning the work it soon became apparent that there was necessity for much abridgement, or the book would exceed all bounds. And after having accidentally finished several chapters in such a way that they could be reprinted in tract form if desired, the plan was adopted of finishing them all in that way—so that every chapter can now be circulated as a tract or leaflet if thought best—and this plan also made further condensation necessary. Perhaps in some cases this has been carried too far, though on general principles it ought to be more readable because of this.
A vast number of facts might have been cited in some directions, but as the purpose of this book is not to rehash material already published, in many cases general reference to these facts and the authorities giving them, has been made to suffice. And, as many of the facts already collected by other writers have no particular reference to the predictions in this Prophecy, it has been the purpose to cite nothing which does not have a distinct bearing on the subject.
It is useless to anticipate the judgment of those who read the book, but it may not be amiss to ask a suspension of that judgment until the arguments and facts are positively understood, and their connection with the subject clearly seen. Difficulties there may be with some of the positions advanced, but it should be remembered that on some of these points there have been difficulties with every theory. It is sometimes necessary to choose the theory which has the fewest objections.
This book is written specially for those who have been repelled from the doctrine of the Lord's immediate, personal advent, through some crude notion or fancy connected therewith; and also for the assistance of that large number of honest doubters, who want facts on which to lay the foundation of all their beliefs.
It is written from the standpoint of one who has himself been a doubter, who understands how both classes feel, and who firmly believes it is only necessary that this great Truth should be presented in a matter-of-fact, common sense way, to secure the assent of thousands who now are either indifferent or hostile.
Among those who are identified with this Truth, some may dissent from certain positions taken here, for one reason or another. But they will all find something here to think about, and possibly some things which will change preconceived opinions.
And from all, whether agreeing or dissenting, the author only asks a candid hearing, and this simply because the subject is of such vital, present interest to the whole world. Without the shadow of a doubt our Lord is at hand— in the most absolute sense; and if the perusal of these hastily written pages shall be the means of stirring up many or few to instant and complete preparation for that Day of days, the labor and expense of this work are repaid a thousand fold.
Dear friends, the Lord is coming soon
"Be ready when He comes."
Portland, Maine, July 6, 1898. THE AUTHOR
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY
THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM,
AND HIS OWN SECOND ADVENT.
MATTHEW24 & 25, MARK 13, AND LUKE 21.
BY REV. E. P. WOODWARD, PORTLAND, MAINE.
A series of discourses delivered at various tunes, and now revised and
HISTORICAL AND PROPHETICAL.
INTRODUCTION AND ANALYSIS.
Without exception this is the most remarkable of Bible Prophecies. It spans the whole time -from the Ascension to the Judgment Day, beginning with events Which were witnessed by "this generation "—the generation then living, and closing with the great Event in which "all the nations" will take a solemn part. As a large part of it has already been fulfilled with terrible exactness, and in a manner which no man could-possibly have foreseen, we have positive assurance that it will all be fulfilled at last. Though the book of Revelation may also be considered as a prophecy of Jesus much longer and more minute than this, the entire absence here ofsymbolism places this on another plane, and much nearer to the Christian's mind and heart. But that which, above all other things, makes this prophecy notable and significant, is the fact that it was spoken by Him who is the Central Figure of the whole discourse, the chief actor of the whole great Drama. It was because of their rejection of Him that the Jews
Copyright, 1898, by E. P. WOODWARD.
2 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
were compelled to see their beloved city destroyed, and their nation scattered through the world: it is He to whom all eyes will be directed in the last great Assize, and who will speak the dread words which decide the eternal destiny of all mankind. And the fact that these are His words, invests the whole Prophecy with a deep and thrilling interest.
This prophecy was given just before our Lord's crucifixion, and may be counted among his "last words." And though afterwards he uttered single predictions, and after his ascension gave John, the beloved disciple, through "His angel," a,, "Revelation" which is also a "prophecy," yet, in view of the length, breadth and minuteness of this prophecy, and the fact that it was given by him personally, it may properly be denominated "Christ's Last Prophecy," and as such I shall consider it.
Jesus had been teaching in the temple for several -days, spending his nights outside the city; and on this occasion, just as he was to go away for the night, his disciples in their deep veneration for the temple, that wonderful structure which was the center of all their ideas of worship, called his attention to the fact that it was 11 adorned with goodly stones and offerings," -saying in their exuberance of national pride, "Behold, what manner of stones, and what manner of buildings are here." To them this was the most sacred spot on earth, and around it clustered all their earthly hopes. And we have reason, outside of sacred history, to believe that before this time no building had been erected which approached the Temple of Jehovah in magnificence and splendor. ( See Josephus, Book viii, chapter iii, and B. xv, ch. xi, sections 3-5).
With this understanding of their feelings, we can imagine what a shock came with his prompt reply,— " See ye not all these things ? Verily I say unto you,
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 3
there shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down." These words came to them as the knell of all their hopes. Without the Temple, what to them would be "Jerusalem, the city of the great King?" With the glory of Israel departed, of what value would be life itself to the Jew, whose every hope, personal and national, was bound up with the religion which had made his nation what it was—the " chosen nation" of Almighty God.
Very naturally they desired to know more regarding a matter which concerned them so vitally, and the opportunity soon came when they could ask him for particulars. And the "Last Prophecy" which we are about to consider, was given them in response to their question:—" Tell us, when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the consumation of the Age?"
In order to understand the reply he makes, we need to analyze this question. Doing so, we discover :‑
The matter which most interested them, concerned the temple. "These things" of which he had just spoken lay heavily on their hearts, and they sought light here first. " When shall these things be ?"
They evidently connected his words regarding - the destruction of the temple with the consummation of the Jewish Age, as they certainly had been taught to believe that the coming of their long-expected Messiah was to be the beginning of a new Age. 3. They seem also to have had an idea, more or less distinct, that he would be absent from them for a time previous to this consummation, and that there would be in some sense a "coming" again, a new manifestation of his glory and power. Therefore, their question was really three questions in one, the last two of which were in a measure identical.
But the fact that they believed the "coming" of
4 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
Christ to be in a measure identical with the end of the Jewish Age, does not prove that such was his teaching. This prophecy itself proves that he did not thus teach. We therefore may regard the prophecy as an answer to two questions,—one regarding the Destruction of the Temple, one respecting the Second Coming of Christ. Hence, in studying this prophecy, we must carefully discriminate between that which is designed to answer the first query and that which has sole reference to the second. And we shall find that there is generally a very plain line of demarcation between the two.
We shall also discover another thing, that the line of thought here is not strictly chronological. That is, some of Christ's predictions reach much farther than the beginning of those which immediately follow,—he, as it were, running one thought clear through to the end, and then going back to take up something else on a different line.
We must also remember that the prophecy is recorded by three Evangelists, and not in identical language, And according to the custom of these writers, some things may be stated in one record, which are omitted from the others. Therefore an apparent "parallelism" is not necessarily a real one. Whether it is real or apparent, must be settled by a careful examination of the record.
Another notable feature of the prophecy is the prominence given to the practical side of the matter, showing that it was not given to satisfy mere curiosity, but for the enlightenment and guidance of men. Remembering these things, we may avoid some erroneous conclusions.
All Scripture quotations will be made from the Revised Version, and will be taken from the different records indiscriminately, usually without referring to book, chapter or verse.- If space permits, a Harmony of the records will appear at the end of the work.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 5
TWO DISCOURSES, OR ONE?
Closely connected with a proper analysis of this prophecy is the question stated above, since some things recorded by Luke seem at first sight to be parts of another discourse. This matter has been variously decided, and perhaps it can never be absolutely settled. The two principal reasons for believing that Luke records a discourse different from the one recorded by Matthew, are first, the fact that the words which begin with a reference in Matthew to "the Abomination of Desolation," and in Luke to "Jerusalem compassed with armies," while similar in general outline, seem irreconcilable with each other, and with the predictions' which respectively follow. By many they have been considered as only different ways of stating the same thing, thus making "the abomination" identical with the Roman "armies." But there are, such serious objections to this theory that the idea of two different discourses has been adopted as an alternative, thus making the "abomination" refer to something entirely apart from the "armies."
The second reason is that the words at the beginning of the record regarding the questions asked of Christ, seem to favor the idea of two discourses; it looking as though the discourse in Luke was given while near the temple, while the one in Matthew is expressly said to have been delivered on the Mount of Olives, and to only four of the disciples, as Mark informs us. And there is no question that Matthew and Mark record the same discourse.
Which of these theories is correct? 'In answering
6 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
this question I shall assume that for Aich I will give reasons further on—that the "abomination" does not mean the Roman "armies." And for the following reasons I am obliged to believe there was only one discourse. 1. The minuteness of detail regarding the manner of and circumstances connected with the request preferred by the disciples, makes it very improbable that there had been a discourse in the temple previously. 2. The great number of parallel passages in the records of Matthew and Luke are marks of one discourse and not of two. 3. The appearance of variation between the two records, so far as the opening words are concerned, may fairly be accounted for by the fact that Luke was not an eyewitness, and very likely Matthew was. This reason will not apply to the predictions of the "armies" around Jerusalem, and of the "Abomination of desolation." Here the whole phraseology points to different events rather than to one.
And so my best judgment is (1), that we have in these three records only one discourse, and (2), in Luke an important reference to the destruction of the temple and city which is wanting in Matthew, and in Matthew a prediction of an entirely different event not mentioned by Luke,—which event, however, has its parallels with the downfall of the Holy City, though with very important differences: one event happening only a few years afterwards, the other yet in the future. This will be made plain in succeeding chapters. My answer, therefore, to our question is 11 One discourse, and not two."
Rev. D. T. Taylor says in "'The Great Consummation," p. 10:—"Evidently there is one main discourse, uttered in two places, and along different lines of thought. The inquiries began in the temple [See Matt. 24: 1, and Mark 13: 1], but just how much of the answer was here given it is difficult to say. . . . Luke runs down on the Jewish line, while Matthew and Mark run down on the Ecclesiastical line." See Chapter XV.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
Although they were intensely anxious to learn every particular regarding the fate of their loved city, the Master at once turned their attention to matters which more closely concerned themselves. He said to them, 11 Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. . . . For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." "There shall be great earthquakes, and in divers places famines and pestilences: and there shall be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all these things they shall lay their hands on you, and shall persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governor§ for my name's sake." They were to be delivered up to councils, and beaten in the synagogues, and some of them were to be killed.
Not only this, but the ties of nature would be disregarded, for "brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father his child; and children shall rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death." Or, as Luke gives it, "Ye shall be delivered up even by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death."
But they were exhorted not to be anxious in regard to the predicted troubles. "When they lead you to judgment, and deliver you up, be not anxious beforehand what ye shall speak: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye; for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Spirit." Or, as Luke says, " Settle it therefore in your hearts not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom
8 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
which all your adversaries shall not be able to withstand or to gainsay." It was to be the great opportunity of their lives to testify for their Lord. " It shall turn unto you for a testimony "-11for a testimony unto them" (their persecutors). By this testimony they were to win men to Christ. And though they were to lose freedom and life itself, from the Divine standpoint" not a hair of your head shall perish." This is the truth given by Jesus elsewhere:— " Be not afraid of them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul." Their life was perfectly secure, 11 hid with Christ in God," and the resurrection morning will demonstrate that fact to the world.
They were also to remember that these afflictions were not tokensof the end. "These things must needs come to pass, but the end, is not yet." Or, as in Luke, «When ye shall hear of wars and tumults, be not terrified, for these things must needs come to pass first, but THE END IS NOT IMMEDIATELY." We are not encouraged to regard the ordinary events of time, "wars and rumors of wars," "earthquakes, famines and pestilences-11 as necessary tokens of immediate redemption. All along the pathway of time these troubles have been oommon to men: they are but "the beginning of travail," — the premonitory birth-pangs of the Great Tribulation which will complete the story of human sin and disaster. Definite and unmistakable signs are given of the nearing "end," which will be mentioned later, but these things are not among them. And so far as their personal afflictions were concerned, while each one must needs bear his portion of the hate, which all the nations were to give them in return for their devotion to Christ, that was only the "beginning" of the long, weary road through which the martyr church has pressed forward toward the eternal prize, —the un-fading garland of victory.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 9
How literally has all this been fulfilled! The storm of persecution broke on their heads when Stephen sealed his testimony with his life, and Saul, the zealous young Pharisee, strove to crush the new religion in its infancy. They were hunted from city to city, were stoned, scourged, imprisoned, tortured and killed in many cruel ways. Family ties were no protection, the bonds of friendship were not strong enough to keep them from prison and from death. First at Jerusalem, then in Judea and in the cities of the Gentiles, they were cruelly persecuted, and were counted as the off-scouring of the earth. If we had listened to this prediction, knowing how these men were commanded to love and do good to all men, very likely we should have considered it absurd to believe that mankind would thus reward those who sought to conserve the universal welfare. But however absurd it might have appeared then, the picture was not overdrawn, as we may easily prove from the record given in the book of Acts, and from the letters of the apostles themselves, especially the letters of Paul.
The prediction regarding "wars and rumors of war" received most exact fulfilment. After the brief respite which came when Christ was on earth, war-clouds again darkened the horizon, and the gathering forces of discontent and sedition in the Jewish world swiftly brought about the conditions which compelled Rome to lay her heavy hand on the race which she despised and feared as well. From the death of Tiberius Caesar in A. D. 37, less than ten years after the mad cry "We have no king but Caesar," the troubles and distresses of the Jews increased apace,—partly through their own fault, partly because of the oppressions of the Roman governors; in seditious among themselves aid in tumults with the Greeks and Romans who dwelt in the cities of Palestine,—until under. Nero, within the
10 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
lifetime of the "generation" living when Christ gave this prophecy, war came with all its horrors, terminating with the downfall of the nation.
Along with these troubles came those physical phenomena which have so often accompanied outbursts of human folly and madness, and those inseparable companions of war, "famines and pestilences.11 These were not only experienced in Judea (See Jos., Wars, B. vi, ch. v, and Antiquities, B. xx, ch. ii), but are mentioned by writers of that day as happening throughout the world. "The annals of Tacitus tell us how the Roman world was convulsed, before the destruction of Jerusalem, by rival claimants of the imperial purple." (Comprehensive Commentary).
And still, theend was "not yet." These things were not to be confined to this period, but the whole Christian Age was to be an era of new conditions and. startling phenomena. 11 Other features of the Age were that it was to be covered from first to last with strange physical phenomena, styled by our Lord birth-pangs (00'61'ycov). . . . Famines were to desolate the nations, pestilence to sweep the race into the tomb, and earthquakes were to rock the globe. Ever and anon the heavens were to exhibit fearful sights and great signs, that would alarm the hating, persecuting, evil nations. All these variable moods of nature infer the withholding of the rains, the poisoning of the air by unknown agencies, the fierce activity of the internal fires, and the mystic operation of unknown solar, cosmic or aerial forces. All these were intended to impress mankind with the thought of an overruling God, and the coming days of the wrath for sin" (Great Consummation, P. 18).
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 11
THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM:
As recorded by an eye-witness.
This historical Tragedy, as the event which closed the Jewish Age, toward which the eyes of the disciples looked with an interest even deeper than that with which they regarded their own happiness, and which in certain directions is without a parallel in history, must not be passed by without particular and specific mention. And as we fortunately possess a description of the event given by. Josephus, the historian, who was an eye-witness, very full particulars will be furnished. And as Jerusalem's terrible overthrow is in an, important sense a type of the final overthrow of the godless nations which shall be on the earth when our, Lord returns, which will without doubt have its beginiiing and end at or near the same spot,—since the cup of His fury which is at last to cause all the nations of the earth to fall and rise no more, was first to be tasted by the inhabitants of Jerusalem (Jer. 25),—Gentiles as well as Jews may well be deeply interested in the event which has caused the children of Abraham, by the free woman, to mourn and lament with exceeding bitterness for nearly two thousand years.
During Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, surrounded by admiring thousands who expected the immediate establishment of the Kingdom of their father David, he paused for a moment as the city came into view, and wept over it, saying, 110, that thou hadst known, in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! but now' they are hid from thine eyes! For the days shall come upon thee when thine enemies shall cast up a bank (Greek,palisade) about thee, and
12 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall dash thee to the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another: because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation" (Luke 19: 41-44). A few days later came the words already quoted, which called out the disciples' question, and led to this Last Prophecy.
In this Prophecy the destruction of Jerusalem is specifically mentionedin only one place (Luke 21: 20-24), and in terms which leave no room for doubt or uncertainty. First we see the city "compassed with armies," a presage that "her desolation is at hand." In some way there will be opportunity even then for escape, and they are told to "depart out" if already within the city walls, and not to enter in if absent at that time, implying a special reason why the opposite course would be pursued by some. The reason for this advice is that" these are days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." Woman, in her relations of wife and mother, is mentioned as being subject to peculiarly grievous burdens on this occasion, "for there shall be great distress upon the land, and wrath unto this yeople.11 And the grand c'dmax of horrors shall be that " they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led captive into all the nations. And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." In these few words are wrapped up untold agony and horror, the record of which men will never be able to read without sinking of heart and anguish of soul.•
Of Jerusalem's downfall there was no lack of warning, for it finally came as the culmination of national distress prolonged through many years. The first token of the coming storm was seen when a tumult arose at Alexandria between the Jewish inhabitants and the Greeks. In order to settle this difficulty, three per‑
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 13
sons were chosen by each party, who went to Rome and laid the matter before the emperor in person. Apion, who represented the Greeks, very shrewdly stated to Caligula that whereas "all who were subject to the Roman empire built altars and temples to Caligula [who had improved on the methods of his predecessors, in demanding Divine honors during Ibis lifetime], and in other regards universally received him as they received the gods, these Jews alone thought it a dishonorable thing for them to erect statues in honor of him; as well as to swear by his name." Caligula's vanity was deeply wounded by this statement, and he not only refused to hear the Jews' defense, but immediately appointed Petronius President of Syria, and commanded him to march to Jerusalem with an army, and erect his, statue in the temple, whether they consented or not. They had publicly proclaimed "We have no king but Caesar," and their chosen king was already laying upon them new and grievous burdens, almost before the echoes of their sacrilegious words had died away.
Petronius began to execute this order, but the whole nation rose up as one man, and made such earnest protests, and showed such a willingness to die rather than permit the order to be executed, that he delayed the matter, and wrote to Caligula that he must either countermand his order, or be prepared "to lose the country and the men in it." This strained condition of public affairs was suddenly terminated by the assassination of the Emperor; and under Claudius, his successor, there came a brief respite from their troubles.
In A. D. 41 Claudius restored to Herod Agrippa (the same one who imprisoned Peter, Acts 12) the kingdom of his grandfather, Herod the Great, and during the three years of his reign he began the third and outside wall of Jerusalem, which however was never finished as originally planned. After his death Judea again
14 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
became a Roman province merely, Cuspius Fadus being appointed Procurator. In A. D. 48 Fadus was succeeded by Cumanus, under whose rule the nation's troubles again broke out with renewed force.
The first event in this line was a gross insult offered to the Jews in the temple by a Roman soldier on the tower of Antonia, producing a tumult which caused the death of more than 10,000 people, the soldier himself being afterwards executed for his rash act. Then a difficulty arose between the Galileans and the Samaritans, on hearing of which many Jews marched armed to Samaria, killing many and destroying their villages. Cumanus suppressed this outbreak, but with the result that "a great number betook themselves to robbing," and "rapines and insurrections of the bolder sort happened over the whole country." Complaint against Cumanus was made to Quadrates, President of Syria, and through him to Claudius, and Felix was appointed Procurator in his stead.
About this time arose a set of religious fanatics called Sicarii (assassins), "whose creed it was to rob and murder all whom they judged hostile to Jewish interests," and Felix found it convenient to employ some of these men to further his own designs; and there soon came a time when "the whole country, far and wide, was in the most frightful confusion and uncertainty." In the meantime the populace everywhere were being inflamed by robbers, fanatics and impostors, who exhorted them to assert their liberty, thus feeding the fire which at last broke forth in the flames of war. Any one familiar with the complicity of Felix in these disorders, will. readily accept the truth of the Bible statement that lie trembled when Paul reasoned with him of "judgment to come." To such a pitch had matters come that the high priests actually "led parties of rioters to open tumult and fighting in the streets," and "the whole
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 15
country, far and wide, was in the most frightful confusion and uncertainty."
In A. D. 60 Felix was recalled because of a most serious riot in Caesarea, and Porcius Festus took his place. Matters improved somewhat under his rule, but he died after two years, and Albinus was appointed his successor.
Albinus began with a pretense of reform, but being "in secret greedy and rapacious," he at last threw off the cloak of concealment, and "priests, people and Governor alike seem to have been bent on rapine and bloodshed," and "all things grew worse and worse." Before his recall he released all the lesser criminals for a money consideration, "by which means the prisons were emptied, and the country was filled with robbers." The completion of the temple repairs, throwing out of work 15,000 laborers, made the situation still worse. "At this time were the seeds sown which brought the city to destruction."
Bad as Albinus was, his successor Florus was so much worse, that Albinus appeared by comparison to be "a most excellent person;" for Florus made no secret of his villainies, and "omitted no sort of rapine and vexation." "He spoiled whole cities, and ruined entire bodies of men at once; and did almost publicly proclaim it all the country over, that they had liberty given them to turn robbers, upon the condition that he might go shares with them." So widespread was this disgraceful condition of things, that "whole toparchies were brought to desolation, and a great many of the people left their own country, and fled into foreign provinces."
About A. D. 66 Cestius Gallus, President of Syria, came
to Jerusalem, and the people
besought him for relief from the tyranny of Florus, but to no avail. Shortly
after, a terrible tumult broke out in
16 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
Caesarea between the Jews and the Greeks, in which Florus, after he had accepted eight talents ($4,000) from the Jews, not only took sides with the Greeks, who were undoubtedly responsible for the trouble, but seized the occasion to march an army to Jerusalem, and demand seventeen talents of the temple treasure, ostensibly for the use of Caesar; and when this caused many to revile and reproach him in a public manner, he called together the chief men of the city, and demanded the surrender of all these offenders against his dignity. This not being done, he commanded his soldiers to plunder the city, and his order was carefully executed, nearly 4,000 men, women and children being slain in one day. "And what made this calamity the heavier, was this new method of Roman barbarity;—for Florus ventured then to do what no one had done before, that is, to have men of the equestrian order [Jews who had become Roman citizens, see Acts 24: 25] whipped and nailed to the cross before his tribunal; who, although they were by birth Jews, yet were they of Roman dignity notwithstanding." Afterwards, by a hypocritical artifice, he induced the people to go forth and meet in a friendly manner two cohorts of soldiers then coming from Caesarea, which soldiers under his directions fell -upon the people, and many more were killed and barbarously mutilated. But failing in the thing he came for, the possession of the temple, which was itself an almost impregnable fortress, he finally withdrew his troops to Caesarea.
But his evident purpose to bring on a war with Rome to cover his own villainies, had been so far successful that, despite the efforts of "king Agrippa" (Acts 25:13), the peace party was powerless to check the clamor for a war of independence. Certain ones of the war party treacherously captured Masada, a Roman fortress, and also prevented the offering of the usual sacrifice for
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 17
Caesar in the temple,—a practical declaration of independence. The peace party appealed to Florus and Agrippa for assistance in suppressing this rapidly rising sedition, and also took possession of the 11 Lipper city," while the seditious seized the" lower city" and the temple, and by force and treachery captured Antonia and Herod's palace, which places had hitherto been garrisoned by Roman troops. The upper city then fell into the hands of the seditious, the high priest—who was one of the peace party—was murdered, and the city passed under the control of those who clamored for national independence. The same spirit, however, which had brought on this condition of things, produced among the seditious themselves a dissension which continued until the city was finally destroyed.
Outside of Jerusalem the Jews everywhere were in great straits. In Caesarea 20,000 were slain in one hour, which so exasperated the Jews elsewhere that they attacked and destroyed many cities of the Syrians, and "many of the villages that were about every one of those cities were plundered, and an immense -slaughter was made of the men who were caught in them." This destruction was resented and revenged, so that through the whole land "every city was divided into two armies encamped one against the other, and the preservation of one party was in the destruction of the other: so the daytime was spent in shedding blood, and the night in fear, which was of the two the more terrible." "It was then common to see cities filled with dead bodies still lying unburied, and those of old men mingled with infants, all dead and scattered about together: women also lay amongst them without any covering for their nakedness. You might see the whole province full of inexpressible calamities, while the dread of still more barbarous practices which were threatened, was everywhere greater than what had been already perpetrated."
The Jews of Scythopolis refused to take part in these massacres, and were on that very account suspected of treacherous purposes by the Gentile inhabitants, who prevailed on them to remain outside the city for a time; and while there a night attack was made, and 13,000 were butchered, and their property confiscated. Besides this, in Askelon 2,500 Jews were killed, in ]Ptolemais 2,000, and in Tyre "a great number" were put to death, while "a greater number" were imprisoned. And the same thing happened in Hippos and Gadara and in" the rest of the cities of Syria." The spirit of race hatred spread to Alexandria,. Egypt, where much friction had previously existed between the Jews and the people of the city, and on a very slight provocation there arose a tumult which resulted in the slaughter by Roman soldiers of men and women, old men and infants, "till all the place was overflowed with blood, andfifty thousand of them lay dead upon heaps," while their houses were first plundered and then set on fire.
By this time Cestius decided to suppress the disorders, and marched from Antioch through Galilee and Samaria with a strong army, plundering and burning all cities which did not submit unhesitatingly, and slaughtering the inhabitants; and he suddenly appeared before the walls of Jerusalem at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, when tens of thousands of Jews had come in from the whole country around. When they saw that the war was upon them, they forgot the feast, rushed out upon the Romans, and came very near putting the whole army to flight. Agrippa, who was with Cestius, fearing that result, endeavored to persuade the Jews to consent to peace; but one of his ambassadors (after the fashion of the insurgents in the present Cuban War) was at once killed by the seditious for fear the people would be persuaded to yield to the
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 19
Romans, and the other fled away. This incensed the peace party, and fighting began among the Jews themselves.
Cestius perceiving this, seized the occasion to make an attack, drove the multitude back into Jerusalem, and encamped under the walls. After waiting three days hoping the besieged would surrender, he came inside the outer wall, and the Jews retreated to the inner city and the temple. He might easily have captured the entire city had he pressed forward, but Florus, not desiring a speedy termination of the war, corrupted some of his subordinates, and Cestius was dissuaded from making the attempt then. At this juncture some of the leaders in the peace party offered to open the gates to him, but he feared treachery, and declined the offer, while the seditious perceiving the designs of the others, set upon them and drove them away from the wall.
Cestius then began a regular siege, and in five days had carried it so far and so successfully, that the seditious themselves became thoroughly alarmed, many of them escaped from the city, and for a short time the peace party was in the ascendant. And here happened the strangest event of the war, judged from a human standpoint. Just as the soldiers had undermined the wall, and were ready to set fire to the temple gate, while within the city the seditious were fleeing away panic-stricken, and the people were actually coming forward to open the gates and "admit Cestius as their benefactor," which would have resulted in "putting an end to the war that very day," from some reason then and forever since then unknown, Cestius seemed to lose his courage, to despair of ever being able to effect an entrance, and "without having received any disgrace, he retired from the city without any reason in the world !
This strange and unaccountable retreat inflamed the
20 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
Jews beyond measure, and they poured out of the city and fell upon the retreating legions, " so that it was not without difficulty that they got to Gabao, their former camp, and that not without the loss of a great part of their baggage." Here Cestius staid two days, but seeing that the whole country around him swarmed with hostile Jews, he broke camp, commanding the mules to be killed, and every possible thing to be thrown away, that they might make a more rapid retreat. And then began a retreat which degenerated into a rout, with lamentations and cries of despair from the Romans, and shouts of joy and rage from the Jews, who pressed upon the army on every side, till "the Jews had almost taken Cestius' entire army prisoners, had not night come on," and given them a chance to flee under cover of darkness to Beth-horon.
The Jews seized all the passes around, and waited for the day. Cestius, thoroughly frightened, left four hundred soldiers to guard the camp and keep up the appearance of the whole army being there, managed to elude the Jews who were watching for him, and actually fled from this unorganized mob of despised Jews; and when the day came he marched still faster, "insomuch that the soldiers, through the astonishment and fear they were in, left behind them their engines for sieges, and for throwing stones, and a great part of the instruments of war." The Jews soon discovered the ruse, fell upon the four hundred who remained behind, overpowered and killed them, and then chased Cestius as far as Antipatris, thirty-five miles away, when, finding it impossible to run as fast as the Ron,.ttns did, they returned to Jerusalem with songs of triumph, gathering the war material on the way, and spoiling the dead bodies lying along the road. In this disaster Cestius suffered "one of the most complete defeats that a Roman army had ever undergone," losing nearly 6,000
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
men, while the Jews lost hardly any at all. And so this expedition, which was designed to stop the incipient war, and which apparently ought to have been a success, actually resulted in giving the Jews such an accession of courage and self-confidence, that ever thereafter the peace party was utterly powerless to check the progress of the national sentiment for complete independence.
Right here is the place to mention one of the specific predictions—and commands as well—of this Last Prophecy. In Luke 21: 21, after telling the disciples that the appearance of armies around Jerusalem was a sufficient reason why they might 11 know that her desolation is at hand," he gives them this clear, unmistakable direction, "Then let them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains, and let them that are in the midst of her depart out, and let not them that are in the country enter therein." The direction is very simple, but at first sight seems impossible of being followed. After once the armies had compassed the devoted city, what hope then remained of flight? And what chance would there be if any one in the country so desired, to enter therein? When Titus besieged the city they began to escape in this fashion, but he quickly put a stop to their flight, as we shall see later. What should we have thought had we listened to this prediction and command ?
The answer to this is very simple. Jesus foresaw this strange retreat, and knew this would be one more chance for safety w7bicA would not be, repeated. And the only way we can satisfactorily account for the action of Cestius, is not on the theory of Josepbus,— "the aversion God had already at the city and the sanctuary," but rather the love He had for those among the followers of His Son, who He knew would be there at the time, and in the country around, and whose
22 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
acceptance of the Messiah furnished sufficient reason why they should be saved from the terrible curse which the Jews called down on their own heads when they cried out before Pilate, "His blood be on us and on our children." And Christ also knew that circumstances would arise after this retreat which would, even more than at this time, cause Jerusalem to be filled with people when the final blow fell; and therefore his caution not to enter the city.
That this warning was heeded, we have good evidence. Eusebius (Ecel. Hist., ch. v.) says, "The whole body, however, of the Church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a divine revelation given to men of approved piety there before the war, removed from the city, and dwelt in a certain town beyond the Jordan, called Pella. Here [dwelt] those that believed in Christ, having removed from Jerusalem, as if holy men had entirely abandoned the royal city itself, and the whole land of Judea." Josephus also tells us that "after this calamity had befallen Cestius, many of the most eminent of the Jews swam away from the city, as from a ship when it *as going to sink," though as yet there was no necessary reason to believe that it would be completely destroyed. And though men would naturally flee after such a fright, it is difficult to resist the conviction that Christ's prophecy was not only remembered by the Christiana, but had been repeated in the ears of the Jews, and that some of them also followed his directions, and thus were saved from the horrors of the siege that followed. Of this strange retreat of Cestius, Whiston, the translator of Josephus, after referring to Christ's prediction recorded by Luke, says : "Nor was there, perhaps, any one instance of a more unpolitic, but more providential conduct, than this retreat of Cestius, during this whole siege of Jerusalem." Here, as in other instances, "Behind the dim Unknown,
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 23
Standeth God within the shadow,
"Keeping watch above His own!" Immediately following Cestius' defeat, and as a result of it, 10,000 Jews of Damascus were massacred by the inhabitants, and many thousands more were slain in a vain attempt to wrest Askelon from the Romans.
But the victory at Jerusalem, like the battle of Lexington in the American revolution, made peace impossible; and it was only a question of time when the Roman legions would invade the country. The leaders, foreseeing this certainty, in a measure dropped their personal quarrels, and for the time made all possible preparation for the coming struggle. Josephus, our historian, was given command of Galilee, and others were appointed elsewhere. In Josephus' department considerable dissension sprang up, which was finally suppressed, while in Jerusalem "the very state of the city, even before the Romans came against it, was that of a place doomed to destruction;" and throughout the country generally a condition of anarchy was increasing.
Rome took active steps to crush this rebellion, as being a precursor of other revolts, and Vespasian was sent by Nero to do the work. He went from Antioch to Ptolemais (Acre) with a large army, was met by his son Titus with another large body of soldiers from Alexandria, and they immediately began the subjugation of Galilee, Samaria, and the country around Jerusalem, capturing in detail all the fortified cities, putting to death great numbers of men, women and children, razing the city walls, burning the dwellings, and devastating the country around, only excepting those places which immediately surrendered and acknowledged Rome's sovereignty,—a work which occupied several years.
Just before the fall of Giscala, a stronghold of Galilee, a certain leader, named John escaped and fled
24 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
to Jerusalem, and immediately became prominent in the counsels of the war party there. The city was filled with adventurers of every kind who had escaped from the "disorders and civil wars in every city," and those who "of every place Ibetook themselves to rapine," and others who "being satiated with rapine in the country, got together from all parts, and became a band of wickedness, and together crept into Jerusalem, which was now become a city without a governor ; " these as well as very many who had fled from burning homes, and sought in the Holy City that asylum they fondly believed God would furnish them, along with "other robbers that came out of the country, and omitted no kind of barbarity"—all the worst of these outsiders by mutual instinct banded themselves together, and were known as the "Zealots," because of their pretended zeal for the country's welfare.
They obtained possession of the temple, and when the people of the city who still desired and labored for peace, had made all arrangements to break into the temple, stop their sacrilegious acts, and destroy them altogether, this John not only revealed the plan to the zealots, but sent secretly for 20,000 Idumeans—then considered Jews in law—who were secretly admitted by the zealots, and in the struggle which followed, 8,500 people were slain in the temple itself, "and the outer temple was all of it overflowed with blood." Then they betook themselves to the city, "plundered every house, and slew every one they met," imprisoning the nobility and the priesthood on slight pretences, condemning by mock trials, scourging and torturing their victims, and casting their corpses down the cliffs back of the city, until "12,000 of the better sort perished." And so great was the terror they inspired, that the people dared not openly weep, groan or mourn for their own relatives who were thus slain.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 25
The Idumeans learned finally that they had been brought there through a misrepresentation, and protested against the continuance of this wanton slaughter, whereupon the zealots very shrewdly managed to induce them to return to their homes, fearing that their own, designs would be hindered by these allies. They having gone, the zealots renewed their barbarities, slew many more people, and strengthened their own position in the city.
John of Giscala, who had been secretly working with the zealots, at last incurred their hatred, and though many followed him, there now became two factions of zealots instead of one,—not at first contending so much with each other, as making common cause against all others. Outside the city the Sicarii again became prominent, with their headquarters at Masada, and laid waste the villages and counfry around.
In still another quarter appeared one Simon of Gerasa, who by flattery and stratagem obtained control of Idumea, and with 40,000 men laid the country waste, so that there was" nothing left behind Simon's army but a desert." He finally appeared before Jerusalem, slaying every one who attempted to flee, while within the city the zealots, both those under John and those opposed to him, committed all manner of abominable and nameless excesses; so that "this Simon, who was without the wall, was a greater terror to the people than the Romans themselves, as were the zealots who were within it more heavy upon it than both of the others."
In order to overthrow John and his followers who had been driven into the temple, but who made constant incursions into the city, the inhabitants, knowing that Simon was at enmity with John, sent the high priest out and besought him to enter the city and deliver them from John's insufferable tyranny. He haughtily
26 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
consented to this, and took possession of the city, thus adding to the distresses of the people, while the zealots were shut up in the temple. Another sedition appeared among the zealots themselves, headed by one Eleazar, who seized the inner temple, while John held the outer court; and from day to day these three factions slew each other as opportunity was presented, and made common cause in the plunder of the inhabitants and those who came in from the country around.
For, strange though it may seem, so great was their superstitious reverence for the temple, that men were continually entering the city to offer sacrifices, and those inside the temple thus far admitted them quite freely. But the triangular warfare was fatal to many who entered, fl insomuch that many persons who came thither with great zeal from the ends of the earth, to offer sacrifices at this celebrated place, which was esteemed holy of all mankind, fell down before their own sacrifices themselves, and sprinkled that altar,' which was venerable among all men, botli,.Greeks and barbarians, with their own blood; till the dead bodies of strangers were mingled*ltogether with those of their own country, and those of profane persons with those of the priests, and the blood of all sorts of carcasses stood in the holy courts themselves!"
And so this suicidal warfare between the factions went on, and" the people of the city, between them, were like a great body torn in pieces," while the seditious "agreed in nothing but this, to kill those that were innocent. The noise also of those that were fighting was incessant, both by day and by night; but the lamentations of those that mourned exceeded the other," until all ordinary feelings of humanity seemed to have forsaken the city.
To make the matter still worse, during these conflicts both John and Simon "set on fire those houses that
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 27
Were full of corn," "as if they had done it on purpose to serve the Romans, by destroying what the city had laid up for the siege," so that in the end "almost all that corn was burnt, which would have been sufficient for a siege of many years." And so Famine came in to add to the horrors of fratricidal strife and approaching, siege, which would have been" impossible unless they had prepared the way for it."
Meantime, while these madmen were thus wasting the precious time so sorely needed to prepare for the reception of the Roman army, Vespasian was slowly but surely reducing to subjection all. the country outside the city, feeling that he must "first overthrow what remained elsewhere, and leave nothing out of Jerusalem behind him, that might interrupt him in that siege.", Though his soldiers were eager to be led to the metropolis, and thousands of Jews escaped from the city and begged him to come and rescue their nation from complete ruin, he preferred to wait and let them. continue their work of self-destruction, as making his task easier at last.
The death of Nero was the signal for new troubles through the Roman world, and after several emperors had succeeded each other in quick succession, Vespasian himself was proclaimed Emperor by his soldiers. He. soon went to Rome, leaving Titus to finish the work in Judea. And he, as boon as his father was firmly seated on the throne, reduced the few places not yet taken, and assembled a large army before the Holy City.
Several years had now passed since Cestius' disastrous failure, years filled with trouble and distress to the whole Jewish people. Those who surrendered without resistance, had been treated generously; those who did not, had been slain without mercy, for the Roman soldiers were exasperated by their- fearless resistance, and took terrible revenge when opportunity
28 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
came. And so there was wide-spread slaughter,—one instance being recorded when, at the time of the overflow of the Jordan, the river was choked with dead bodies, and the Dead Sea was filled with corpses which were carried down by the river 1 And still the people did not seem to fear a final defeat, but on the contrary flocked to Jerusalem, as city after city fell,-fondly believing that God would in some manner interpose for their rescue. And so, when Titus first appeared, there were tens of thousands within the walls, caught as in a trap, with no hope of deliverance.
Leaving his army at a distance, Titus made a reconnoissance on the north of the city with a detachment of cavalry, and was suddenly attacked by men who swarmed over the walls and came very near killing him before he could escape. This apparent success still fur-- they inflamed the minds of the Jews, and made them eager for a conflict; and also, for the time, sedition ceased, and all prepared to fight the common foe.
When the entire Roman army—about 30,000 in all—had arrived, Titus ordered three camps to be built, one on the plain called Scopus about a mile north, another about half a mile back of this, and a third on the mount of Olives, opposite the temple. No sooner had the camp on Scopus been fairly started, than the Jews again swarmed out of the city, and fell upon the soldiers, and but for the personal efforts of Titus would probably have started another panic. Though repulsed, the same thing was repeated that day, with a similar result. The ground was then levelled between the army and the city, and after four days the siege began in earnest.
During this short respite from actual hostilities, the spirit of sedition within was revived, and new outrages were committed. This was at the time of the Feast of the Passover, the anniversary of Christ's crucifixion,
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 29
"when such prodigious multitudes of Jews were come from all parts of Judea, and from other countries, in order to celebrate that great festival"—which accounts largely for the vast numbers who were shut up in the city. John used this occasion to get large numbers of his soldiers into the inner temple along with those 'who came there for religious purposes, and by making a sudden assault on Eleazar and his men, he became master of the whole temple area, and the three factions were reduced to two—many persons being killed during the conflict.
In order to a better understanding of the siege, the reader is referred to the "Plan of Jerusalem," in connection with this description of the city and its defenses. Jerusalem stood originally on two hills, one on, which the "upper city" was built, the other called Acra,. on which was the temple. A smaller elevation lay somewhat between the two. At the time of the siege: the city had grown northward, and covered another hill, where formerly the Assyrians were encamped. The upper city and a part of Acra were originally enclosed with the "old wall," flanked on the west, south and east by such precipitous cliffs that access to the city from those directions was absolutely impossible. The "second wall" north of the old wall was first built to protect the suburbs of the growing city, and still later Agrippa began the" third wall," which was completed after the affair with Cestius, but not as first designed. All these walls were very strongly built, and on them were nearly two hundred towers—marked on the ,Plan" by projections in the line—rising much above the wall, the most noted of which were Psephinus, 100 feet, Hippicus, 120 feet, Phasaelus, 125 feet, and Miriamne, 75 feet in height, and all from 35 to 70 feet'square. The wall itself varied in height from 35 to 45 feet, according to the necessities of the place. Some of the stones.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 31
placing in position the engines of war, battering-rams and machines for throwing huge stones, and an assault
awas made in three places. The noise of this assault caused internal dissensions to cease temporarily, and the people rushed, out with such fury that it was only after prolonged effort that Titus saved the engines from destruction by fire. He had ordered three towers to be built, each 75 feet high, from which to assault the city, and on that night one of them- fell down, , much to the joy of the Jews, and the consternation of the Romans. But in spite of these discouragements, after a determined resistance, the Romans breached the third wall on the fifteenth day of the siege, entered and burned that portion of the city, and the Jews retired within the second wall.
Five days later the Romans breached the second wall, and entered with a thousand men. But Titus, being "desirous to save the city for his own sake, and the temple for the sake of the city," and hoping also to make the Jews "ashamed of their obstinacy," forbade the slaughter of the people and the destruction of the buildings. The Jewish soldiers on the contrary "cut the throats of such as talked of peace," and then succeeded in driving the Romans outside the breach. This transient success so encouraged them, that they stood in the breach and kept the Romans back for three days, when they were overpowered, the Romans reentered, and the second wall was entirely destroyed.
Still hoping to avoid further hostilities, Titus delayed the siege four days, manceuvering the troops before the walls, which greatly discouraged the people. On the fifth day the siege was renewed, and banks were raised before the wall. But Titus continued to appeal to the Jews, to surrender and save their beloved city. Besides this, Josephus—now a Roman prisoner—tried to persuade them to accept terms of peace. Many were
30 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
in these walls were 30 by 15 by 8 feet in dimensions, of white limestone, and laid with great care.
The temple was a fortress as well as a place of religious worship. It occupied an area about 600 feet square, and on three sides it had been necessary to build up from 400 to 600 feet above the base of the hill. Immense stones—some of them 70 feet long, 9 feet wide, and 7 feet thick—formed its walls. And its position, and the height of the building itself above the city wall, made its possession an advantage not easily overcome.
The tower of Antonia, also surrounded by a strong wall, stood on the northwest corner of the temple, foursquare, rising 60 feet,'with towers on the corners from 75 to 100 feet high. This tower had been injured by the zealots, but was still a stronghold of great value.
There were inside the city, under Simon and John, some 24,000 trained soldiers, recklessly brave, as opposed to the 30,000 Roman soldiers outside. And there is not the slightest doubt that, had the blessing of God rested on the besieged, and had their energies been directed against the common enemy instead of against each other, the city would have been impregnable against any known method of warfare. • From a human standpoint, it was sedition, rather than the Roman legions, which destroyed Jerusalem; or, as Josephus expressed it, "the seditious destroyed the city, and Titus destroyed the sedition." And when the city was finally taken, and Titus went in and beheld the fortifications which. these men had used so poorly, he said, "We certainly had God for our assistant in this war, . . . for what could the hands of men, or any machines, do towards overthrowing these towers ?" It was the stern mandate of Justice which made Jerusalem a desolation!
After the ground had been entirely cleared and leveled north of the city, Titus began active operations,
32 cRpus,rS LAST PROPHECY.
moved by this appeal, and some left the city, but the leaders inside watched so closely that this chance of escape was finally cut off.
While the banks were being raised against the city, and much fighting was being done from the walls, famine was rapidly weakening the power of the besieged. And the violence of those robbers who entered and searched private houses for food, made the misery greater. In order to discover where food was concealed, they invented terrible and nameless methods of torture, and respected neither age nor sex, robbing all alike, and taking by force food from the very mouths of old men and infants! Under cover of night many crept out of the city to seek food; and this being discovered by the seditious, they also went out and fell upon them, and in ew,,aping from these foes within, the fugitives fell into the hands of the Romans.
The Roman soldiers, enraged at the fierce resistance of the city, with the consent of Titus—who dared not allow them to escape, and could not spare men to place them under guard, hoping also this might frighten the Jews within to surrender— whipped, tormented and even crucified these fugitives, who were now being caught at the rate of 500 or more each day. I'Sothe soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and-another after another way, to the crosses by way of jest, when the multitude was so great that room was wanting for. the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies!" Thus was fulfilled the imprecation of their fathers, "His blood be on us and on our children!" But so far from the result Titus desired to secure, the seditious used this circumstance to crush the last thought of flight or surrender 0
Meantime the whole neighborhood had been stripped of timber with which to erect the banks before the wall,
I CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 33
four of which were raised to a height sufficient to give the Romans an enormous advantage over the Jews. The Jews were not idle, for John had quietly mined the limestone rock under the largest bank near Antonia, supporting the roof by timbers saturated with iuflammable materials which, once set on fire, burned away the timber supports, and the whole bank fell into the earth, and was destroyed by fire. Two 'days later, Simon's party attacked the engines before the remaining three banks, set them on fire, and with terrible desperation fought the Romans, who attempted to drag them away before they were completely ruined. And so desperately did the Jews resist this attempt, that they "caught hold of the battering-rams through the flame itself, and held them fast, although the iron upon them was become red hot ! " The flames spread from the engines to the banks themselves, which were totally destroyed, the Romans were driven back to the very fortifications of their camps, and again only the personal valor of Titus turned the tide of battle, and forced the Jews back into the city.
The Romans, very naturally, were much depressed at this unexpected turn in affairs, when 11 in one hour's time" so much labor and material had been lost, and Titus called a council of war to consider what should be done next. It was decided, because of the great difficulty in getting new materials, and because of the desperate valor of the Jews, to abandon the plan of direct assault for the present, invest the city more closely, and let famine further weaken the besieged preparatory to a final assault. To make the investment complete, a trench was dug and a wall was built around the entire city, nearly five miles in length, with thirteen places to keep garrisons in," and all the spaces between these garrisons were patrolled night and day.
34 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
"So all hope of escaping was now cut off from the Jews. . .. Then did the famine widen its progress, and devoured the people by whole houses and families; the upper rooms were full of women and children that were dying of famine, and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged. The children also and the young men wandered about the market places like shadows, . . . and fell down dead wheresoever their misery seized them." For a while the dead were buried, though "many died as they were burying others, and many went to their coffins before that fatal hour was come. Nor were there any lamentations made under these calamities, nor were heard any mournful complaints, but the famine confounded all natural passions; for those that were just going to die looked upon those that were gone to their rest before them, with dry eyes and open mouths."
"A deep silence also, and a kind of deadly night, had seized upon the city, while yet the robbers were still more terrible than these miseries themselves; for they broke open those houses which were no other than graves of dead bodies, and plundered them of what they had, and carrying off the coverings of their bodies, went out laughing, and tried the points of their swords in their dead bodies. And in order to prove what metal they were made of, they thrust some of those through that still lay alive upon the ground; but for those that entreated them to lend them their right hand, and their sword to dispatch them, they were too proud to grant them their requests, and left them to be consumed by the famine." Orders were at first issued to bury the poor at the public expense, "but afterward, when they, could not do that, they had them cast down from the walls into the valley beneath! 11
The sight of this horrible spectacle moved Titus himself to groans, and he called on God to witness that this
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 35
was not his doing. And yet, amid all these horrors, the religious sentiment of this famine-stricken multitude was so strong that all who could do so, died with their eyes turned toward the temple of Jehovah, as it were mutely appealing to Him to come to their rescue!
This was in the very midst -of the siege, but later on the distress was vastly increased, so that friends and relatives fought for the possession of a mouthful of food, and "some persons were driven to that terrible distress as to search the common sewers and old dunghills of cattle," and "gather such things- as the most sordid animals would not touch, and eat them," even "girdles and shoes, and the very leather which belonged to their shields," to satisfy their hunger. What little grain was for sale found purchasers at not less. than $500 to $1,000 per bushel, and this when the city was so full of gold that after the siege closed, "in 'Syria a pound of gold was sold for half its former value!"
But the most terrible thing of all in this famine is recorded of a certain woman," eminent for her family and wealth," who had fled into the city with others before the siege began. Her property, her food, and everything she possessed was taken away by the rapa• cious robbers, till at last crazed by hunger and despair, she took her nursing son, killed him, and cooked and ate his flesh; and when the robbers detected the odor of food, she calmly uncovered the remains of her terrible feast, and invited them to share it with her! And even this horror was but an exact fulfilment of Moses' prophecy, recorded in Deut. 28: 56. It is not strange that this cast a gloom over even the camp of the besiegers.
This wall being completed, fresh materials were brought eleven miles—because of the previous destruction of the timber supply—for new banks, and this time the banks were raised entirely against Antonia. Meanwhile many were deserting to the Romans, some of
3C CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
whom were killed by the very abundance of food given them, while thousands of others, because of a report circulated among the besiegers that the fleeing Jews had swallowed gold to keep it from the robbers, were cut open to get the•gold from their stomachs.
Josephus says regarding this: "Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible than this, since in one night's time about two thousand of these deserters were thus dissected!" And though Titus was terribly enraged against the soldiers who had done it, and would at first. have slain them all, he soon found that their number was so great that "those who were liable to this punishment would have been manifold more than those whom they had slain," and he simply forbade the practise—which was however carried on secretly, until through fear of this thing, deserters were restrained from leaving the city.
The banks were finally finished, though at great expense and to the extreme discouragement of the Romans, whose strength "had begun to fail with such hard labors, as did their souls faint with so many instances of ill success." But the resistance was more feeble this time, famine having reached the seditious also, and in a short time the outer wall of Antonia was thrown down, only to discover another wall built inside since the siege began. The first attack on this. inside wall was unsuccessful, but it was carried in a night attack later, and the Romans were only kept from getting possession of the temple after a ten hours' struggle.
Titus then decided to "dig up the foundations of the tower of Antonia," that his army might have freer access to the temple; and at the same time he renewed his efforts to induce the besieged to surrender, having learned from Josephus that "on that very day .. . the sacrifice called 'the daily sacrifice' had failed, and had not been offered to God for want of men to offer
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 37
it." And he proposed through Josephus to give them consecrated men from those who had escaped, that the sacrifice might be resumed. The leaders scouted his appeals for the safety of their temple, asserting that God Himself would defend it; and so preparations were made for a final assault.
The space before the temple being cleared, new banks, made of materials brought more than twelve miles, were begun near the northwestern cloisters of the temple. The Jews now burned the cloisters which joined to Antonia, leaving an open space between themselves and their enemies. About the same time they made a desperate sally across the brook Kedron'against those who guarded the newly built wall, but they were driven back. Then, by filling another of the temple cloisters with inflammable material, and pretending to retreat, many of the Romans were enticed within, and were consumed by fire. Another cloister was also burned by the Romans, still leaving the temple unhurt:
The banks built before the temple being now completed, "Titus gave orders that the battering-rams should be brought, and set over against the western edifice of the inner temple, for, before - these were brought, the firmest of all the other engines had battered the wall for six days together without ceasing, without making any impression upon it; but the vast largeness and strong connection of the stones was superior to that engine, and to the other battering-rants also." They also undermined the foundations of the northern gate, and removed the outermost stones, but the gate was upheld by the innermost stones, and remained standing. They then brought ladders and tried to climb over, but the desperate valor of the Jews defeated thin attempt.
All this time, Titus could have burned the temple gate, thereby gaining an entrance, but he postponed that
38 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
measure for fear it would cause the destruction of the entire building, which result he earnestly desired to avoid. But finding there was no other way, he gave the necessary orders, and the fire spread from the gate to the adjoining cloisters, and burned during that and the following day, the Jews doing nothing towards quenching the conflagration. Titus then held a council of war, and against the positive advice of most of his generals, he decided to put out the fire then raging, and save the sacred edifice at all hazards. Soldiers were detailed for this purpose, and after the work was well begun, the Jews made a sally, attacked those who were thus endeavoring to save their temple, and, were with great difficulty driven off. Seeing their madness, Titus resolved to take the temple by storm on the following morning, and retired to his tent for a little rest.
And now, in spite of the desire and care of their commander, the Roman soldiery, probably maddened by the senseless resistance of the Jews to their work of putting out the fire, took the matter into their own hands. A soldier caught up a firebrand, rushed up to the Holy Place, mounted on the shoulders of another soldier, and thrust it through a window high up, from which point the flames spread with great rapidity through the edifice. Titus was speedily informed that his orders had been disregarded, and he rushed out, and by entreaties, commands and threats sought to compel his soldiers to stop the fire thus started, even causing them to be beaten with the officers' staves; yet they pretended not to hear his words, rushed into the building slaying all whom they met, seeking for plunder everywhere, and setting fire in other places, until at last Titus gave up in despair, and left the temple to its divinely appointed doom.
While the temple was burning, "everything was plundered that came to hand, and ten thousand of those
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 39
that were caught were slain: nor was there a commiseration of any age, or any reverence of gravity, but children and old men, profane persons and priests, were all slain in the same manner." And the slaughter was so great that "the blood-was larger in quantity than the fire, and those that were slain more in number. than those that slew,them, for -the ground did nowhere appear visible for the dead bodies that lay on it, but the soldiers went over heaps of those bodies as they ran upon such as went before them." Very many of the robbers who infested the city and were here when the fire broke out, escaped into the upper city, but the people generally were slain at once, or were driven further back, to be burned before the fire had exhausted itself,
in one instance 6,000 persons in one of the cloisters being burnt alive by the enraged soldiery.. Amid the roar of the flames wild outcries came from the thousands who had sought asylum here, and also from the upper city which was not yet taken. They had never expected that this "holy habitation" of Jehovah would fall, and the disaster came to all as a terrible surprise. Thus the work of destruction went on till the beautiful temple was completely blotted out, and by a, remarkable coincidence, on the very month and day that Solomon's temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.
After some parleying with John and Simon, who were now in
the upper city, Titus gave orders to plun- der and burn the lower city. This
order was carried out,—the seditious (another name for the-zealots)
meanwhile continuing their nefarious work in the upper city, slaying more
than 8,000 persons who had crowded into the royal palace, killing those who
tried to desert to the Romans, entering houses and robbing their inmates of
food still in their possession, and thus indirectly aiding the Romans. "Nor
was there any place
40 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
was full of the dead bodies of such as had perisked either by that sedition or by that famine."
Because the upper city was built on so steep a hill, and was practically cut off from the temple by an impassable ravine spanned only by a bridge, it was necessary to capture the old wall before going further; but when the engines began to smite the wall, the leaders, now weakened by famine, suddenly lost courage, abandoned those impregnable towers, and sought refuge' in underground caverns, while the Romans easily took the wall, and thus the whole city.
And then began the final horrors of the siege. The Romans went through the whole territory "with their swords drawn, slew those whom they overtook without mercy, and set fire to the houses whither the Jews were fled, and burnt every soul in them, and laid waste a great many of the rest." "They ran every one through whom they met with, and obstructed the lanes with their dead bodies, and made the whole city run down with blood, to such a degree even that the fire of many of the houses was quenched with these men's blood!` And this went on till the soldiers were actually weary with killing. And then the work of destruction was completed, the walls being demolished, excepting three of the largest towers and a portion of the western wall. "For all the rest of the wall, it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited!" And so with terrible exactness were fulfilled the words of the rejected Christ, "There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down."
The number of those concerned in this siege, as stated by Josephus, is something startling; and only after careful study do I decide that his figures are correct, and that the objections of his critics are not valid.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 41
There is a minuteness in his details which means either knowledge of the facts, or a deliberate some - purpose to exag- gerate and deceive. There are somof his figures which must have been familiar to many who lived when he wrote, and which are therefore probably correct; and if true, those figures make his other statements credible.
Besides the many thousands who were slain, as mentioned thus far, he gives further figures regarding those who died of famine during the siege. Within sixty days after the siege began, a Jew who had charge of one city gate where bodies of the poor were taken to be thrown down the precipice, deserted to Titus, and gave him the exact number thus far brought to that one gate, which was 115,880! After this "there ran away to Titus many of the eminent citizens, and told him the entire number of the poor that were dead, and that no fewer than 600,000 were thrown out at the gates, though still the number of the rest could not be discovered." And when men grew too weak to do • this, empty houses were filled with dead bodies and then closed up. Besides the actual destruction of life by the seditious and the Romans during the siege, orders were given after the city was taken to slay "those that- were in arms," and all "the aged and infirm." The rest were put under guard, and because of the scarcity of food, 11,000 of these died on the spot. Some were reserved for the "triumph" held in honor of the victory, many were reserved for destruction in the Roman theaters by wild beasts and in gladiatorial combats, and such vast numbers were sent to the Egyptian mines, and were openly sold into slavery, that the market for slaves was glutted. Besides these, 40,000 were permitted to go free into the country around. Taking all ' these figures together., I am fully prepared to accept Josephus' statement that 1,100,000 perished in tke, siege, and 97,000 were carried away captive! '
42 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
Josephus seems to have feared some would doubt this statement, and so he has supplemented it by giving official figures regarding the number of persons present at a feast of the Passover during the presidency of Cestius,who was desirous of informing Nero regarding the number of the Jews. The priests kept account of the paschal lambs slain at that time, and reported that there were 256,500: and as Josephus asserts that the regulations of the feast made it obligatory to have at least ten persons to each lamb slain, he infers that there were then in the city at least 2,565,500 persons who had no ceremonial impurity, thus making the whole number present at that time nearly 3,000,0001
Right here we may appropriately recall the words of Moses in Deut. 28: 68,—" And Jehovah shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereofI spake unto thee, 'thou shalt see it no more again,' and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondman and bondwoman, and no man shall buy you ! "—thus warning them of the dire consequences of national unfaithfulness, and suggesting a glutted slave-market, as just mentioned.
It is worthy of further notice that, in all the history of the nation, this is the first recorded instance of serious trouble coming at the time of a national religious gathering, when of all times the nation was most open to foreign invasion! Thus is shown the safety of trusting God while keeping His commands, the consequences of disobedience, and the marvelous accuracy of the prophetic Word.
And thus, after a siege of more than five months, Jerusalem fell, ending one of the most awful tragedies the world has ever seen, which in some respects has never had a parallel, and probably will not have until the "Time of Trouble" shall involve the whole world in the same destruction.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.43
JERUSALEM TRODDEN DOWN BY THE GENTILES.
There were good reasons why, in the conflicts of the nations, Jerusalem should suffer, through the entire period of Gentile rule, as no other city has ever suffered. Its geographical position at" the pivot of the world," its strategic value to any nation desiring supremacy in the East,—these considerations alone would have indicated probable trouble for the Holy City. Add to this the fact that it has always been considered a sacred city not only by the Jews, but also by the adherents of Christianity as well as by the tribes and nations of Islam; and that, because of this sentiment, if for no other reason, it has been a bone of contention, and an open occasion of jealousy and strife. For these and other reasons we might have expected Jerusalem to be a peculiar sufferer from the iron hand of military power. But only One divinely illuminated could have foretold the result with such marvelous exactness. For, the stern words "trodden down," denoting a persistent and humiliating degradation, describe only too well the history of Jerusalem in the ages past,—as will be seen by the statements which follow, taken from Dr. Wm. Smith's great 'fDictionary of the Bible."
For fifty years after Jerusalem's downfall, it almost disappears from history. In A. D. 132 a wide-spread revolt broke out in Palestine, with Jerusalem as the center, led by a pretended Messiah; and when Jerusalem was again taken, "the Romans waded to their horses bridles in blood, which flowed with the fury of a mountain torrent: . . . 580,000 are said to have fallen by the sword, while the number of victims to the attendant
44CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
calamities of war was countless." The emperor Hadrian then endeavored to '1 obliterate the existence of Jerusalem as a city," the towers and wall preserved by Titus were razed, and "the plow passed over the ruins of the temple." A Roman colony was planted here, Pagan temples were erected, and "a statue of the emperor was raised on the siteof the Holy of holies!"
In A. D. 136 the name was changed to Mia Capitolina, the Jews were forbidden to enter under pain of death, and not till after A. D. 335 was the ancient name revived.
5— In A. D. M the Jews, by permission of Julian the Apostate, undertook to rebuild the temple, with "materials of every kind provided at the emperor's expense." But the sure word of Prophecy was not thus to be proven false, for a sudden whirlwind, earthquake and subterranean fires drove the workmen away and destroyed their work, and the enterprise was abandoned. Thus was brought to naught Julian's avowed purpose ,Df disproving the Bible prophecies regarding Jerusalem !
On the rise of the Eastern and Papal superstitions, a church was built to the Virgin, and monasteries were erected. But though free from the ravages of war, the city was wholly under Gentile control.
In A. D. 614 Chosroes II, king of Persia, wrested the city from Rome, and "thousands of the monks and clergy were slain, the suburbs were burnt, churches demolished, and that of the Holy Sepulchre injured, if not consumed by fire." Fourteen years later the emperor Heraclius regained possession, and retained it till the Saracens, after an obstinate defense of four months, were admitted by the patriarch SophrQnius in A. D. 637.
Under the Saracens both Christians and Jews suffered many indignities, and all were made to feel keenly that under the heel of these new conquerors, the city
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 45
which both Jew and Christian so deeply reverenced, was still being "trodden down." And in the dissensions which soon broke out in the Moslem world, Jerusalem had its full share of trouble.
During the reign of Charlemagne (A. D. 771-814) the reigning Caliph made friendly concessions to the Christians, but upon his death "the churches and convents suffered in the general anarchy." Under the Fatimite dynasty, about A. D. 996, these troubles were at their height, as shown by the fact that inside of seventy years the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was three times "dismantled and burnt," and was not rebuilt till A. D. 1048.
In A. D. 1077 the city was pillaged by the army of Melek Shah, in 1096 it was unsuccessfully attacked by Rudhman, but was later captured by the Caliph of Egypt, who held it till the Crusaders appeared before the walls.
On July 15, 1099, it was taken by the Crusaders, and 10,000 Moslems were slain. The churches were rebuilt, and "for eighty-eight years Jerusalem remained in the hands of the Christians"—who were nevertheless Gentiles. It was retaken by Saladin in 1187, and its defenses greatly strengthened.
In 1219 the walls and fortresses were demolished by order of the Sultan of Damascus, possibly because he feared its ultimate capture by the Christians, and in this condition it was ceded to the Christians by a treaty with the emperor Frederick II.
In 1239 the rebuilding of the walls was attempted, but the attempt was frustrated by an assault from David of Kerak, who dismantled it again.
In 1243 the Christians again possessed the city, but the following year it was captured by the wild Karisman tribes, who slaughtered the priests and monks, plundered the city, and then withdrew. After theira
46 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 47
departure the Moslems again took possession, and have kept their feet on that sacred soil ever since, though it has passed from one to another of the ruling dynasties of that religion.
All this time Jerusalem has been literally "trodden down" by these different Gentile nations. At.its best, it has known no glory like that which existed when Titus encamped before its walls. And amid it all, with the single exception of the brief and abortive attempt under Julian to rebuild the temple, there has not been anything which could bring real satisfaction to the devout Jew. The Capital of his scattered nation has been a fruitful and constant source of strife among the great Powers of earth, and his own part in the sad drama has been principally to weep and wail for the desolations of Zion. And outside the walls of Jerusalem to-day, one may see groups of mourning Jews, who stand with bowed heads, or lie prone on the earth, crying out to Jehovah for help, and repeating the prophet's words, " 0 Lord, how long!" And so far as mere human foresight goes, there is no prospect that these prayers for Jerusalem's restoration will be answered.
Jerusalem was to be trodden down by the Gentiles "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled"—complete ly finished, and it is useless to look for the end of Jerusalem's humiliation before then. Those 11 times" undoubtedly began before the First Advent of Christ, and they span the period during which Gentile nations are being given an opportunity to do what Israel failed to do. And we are positively informed that the failure of the Gentiles will be just as complete as was that of Israel, and more colossal in extent. And then Christ himself will come and establish the kingdom that shall never be moved. Till that time Jerusalem's awful burden of humiliation must be borne, and no plans of men or nations will lift that burden "till He come."
LED AWAY CAPTIVE INTO ALL NATIONS.
This prediction had primary reference 'to the events which followed the capture of the city, but in the history of the Jewish people from that time to this, there is much that is also a fulfilment of the prophecy. The circumstances of Christ's crucifixion, and the persecutions which afterwards came upon the Christians from their Jewish brethren, furnished the germ of that bitterness which, ever since the destruction of Jerusalem, has existed between the Jews and all nominal Christians everywhere. The Jews have instinctively felt that their miseries were somehow connected with the rise of Christianity—as they indeed were, and their ill-concealed hatred of the followers of the Nazarene has worked continually to bring a like hatred on themselves. And this, along with envy and jealousy on the part of nominal Christians at the wonderful thrift and push of the Jew, wherever he has been placed, has combined to make his sojourn among the nations not so much the sojourn of a stranger, asking the common hospitality due to•all men everywhere, as a condition of captivity, where every word or action has been noted with h suspicion, and every mistake or fault has 'been an occasion for extortion, oppression, ostracism, or open and bloody persecution. And from this standpoint the period of time when the Jew should be a "captive" among "all nations," has extended even to our own day. A brief summary of the exactions and persecutions the Jews have suffered since their dispersion by Titus, from Dean Milman's "History of the Jews," will confirm this statement beyond question.
Up to this point Jewish history has been inseparably connected with Judea, and Jerusalem has been the national" centre of unity." Now, however," the political existence of the Jewish people was annihilated : it was never again recognized as one of the States or Kingdoms of the world." And so we must henceforth study not the story of a nation in its own country, but of "a despised and obscure race in almost every region of the world." In many cases we shall find that story to be "written, as it were, in their blood: they show no signs of life but in their cries of agony; they only appear in the annals of the world to be oppressed, robbed, persecuted and massacred" — "perpetually plundered," "massacred by thousands." And quite generally where this extreme of suffering has not been reached, "they have been barely tolerated, they have been considered in public estimation the very basest of the base, the very outcasts and refuse of mankind."
After the fall of Jerusalem "the markets of the Roman empire were glutted, with Jewish slaves; the amphitheaters were crowded with these miserable people, who were forced to slay each other, not singly, but in troops, or fell in rapid succession, glad to escape the tyranny of their masters by the more expeditious cruelty of the wild beast; and in the unwholesome mines hundreds were doomed to toil for that wealth which was not to be their own:" while, in Judea Vespasian confiscated their whole country, and "offered the whole landed property of the province for sale."
Later, with the purpose of destroying "all hopes of the restoration of the royal house, or of the Messiah," Vespasian "commanded strict search to be made for all who claimed descent from David," (a search which was continued under Domitian, and from which the whole nation suffered), a capitation tax was imposed for the support of the temple of Jupiter, and unusual and
10 4w, CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 49
revolting methods were employed to ascertain the nationality of suspected persons. Under the reign of Trajan and his successors, Roman exactions drove the Jews to rebellion in Babylonia, Egypt, Cyrene and Judea, which were only subdued "after an obstinate struggle, and enormous loss of life."
The disastrous failure of the Jews in Hadrian's reign to restore their capital city and temple, like all their other efforts to secure freedom, "tended to increase rather than diminish the number of those who were dragged away as captives." Again, when the early Christians were persecuted by the Romans, although the Jews took pains to show their hatred of that Jewish "heresy," the Romans failed to discriminate between the Jews and Christians who worshipped a Crucified Jew; and so the universal hatred and contempt poured upon the Jew made the lot of the Christians harder, while the persecution of Christians reacted on the Jews. And though the Jews sought to curry favor with Rome at the expense of the Christians, Tertullian (A. D. 200) writes of them, 11 Dispersed and vagabond, they wander over the face of the earth, without a king either human or divine: and even as strangers they are not allowed to salute with their footsteps their native land."
When Christianity became the State religion, theret came a deeper spirit of hostility between Jew and. Christian, which continues to this day. Constantine, the first Christian emperor—and before him "Spain, the fruitful mother and nurse of religious persecution"— passed laws abridging Jewish liberties. His son Constantius was still more severe: "the Jews were heavily burthened and taxed; forbidden under pain of death from possessing Christian slaves, or marrying Christian women; and the interdict of Hadrian, which prohibited their approach to the Holy City, was renewed."
50 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
The rise of the Papal Apostacy increased the disabilities of the Jews. Laws and edicts were promulgated placing them at a disadvantage, in numerous instances the popular hatred of 11 the murderers of Christ" I resulted in outrage, death and wholesale plunder, and too often the authorities seemed to connive with the populace in these unlawful acts.
In the East, under the Byzantine emperors, the same spirit was manifested, and in the tumults and insurrections caused by this race-hatred, tens of thousands of Jews lost their 'lives. When Chosroes II. invaded Palestine, the Jews found an opportunity to be avenged on their Christian persecutors ; but when Heraclius turned that invasion back, the Jew was again at the mercy of his foes, with renewed reasons for hatred.
On the rise of Mohammedanism, "the Jews were among the first whom Mohammed tried to make proselytes—the first opponents, and the first victims" of Moslem intolerance. Although "Jerusalem was appointed the first kebla" [a place toward which the Moslem turns in prayer], and the favor of the Jews was at first sought by the False Prophet, he finally slaughtered them by thousands, pillaged their homes, placed them under perpetual tribute, and gave orders which, carried out by Omar, emptied Arabia of his refractory kinsmen. Outside of Arabia, however, the Jews generally kept on the right side of the Saracens.
During the height of Saracenic power, in both Christian and Moslem lands the Jew enjoyed comparative peace and safety. But when the fear of Moslem supremacy passed away, the old spirit of hostility again appeared. And rather strangely, the same spirit was manifested at about the same time by the Moslems themselves. Under the sultan Motavekel, A. D. 847, "an edict was issued prohibiting their riding on lordly horses, they were to aspire no higher than humble asses
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 51
and mules : they were forbidden to have an iron stirrup, and were commanded to wear a leather girdle. They were to be distinguished from the faithful [Moslem] by a brand-mark."
During the tenth century the Jewish religious community long centered at Babylon was broken up, "the schools were closed, many of the learned fled to Egypt or Spain, all were dispersed,—among the rest two sons of the unfortunate Prince of the Captivity effected their escape to Spain, while the last of the House of David (for of that lineage they still fondly boasted) who reigned over the Jews of the Dispersion in Babylonia, perished on an ignominious scaffold."
Notwithstanding the apparent toleration of their Moslem rulers, the blasting breath of the great Abomination of Desolation withered Jewish as well as Christian. life. 11 The communities in Palestine suffered a slower but more complete dissolution." According to Benjamin of Tudela who travelled there from X. D. 1160 to 1173, there were "only a few brethren who still clung, in poverty and meanness, to their native land." In Jerusalem there were only two hundred, only fifty in Tiberias, the old seat of the Western Patriarchate, and other places in proportion.
"In the Byzantine empire, . . . the numbers of the Jews had greatly diminished." Farther west "we find all orders gradually arrayed against the race of -Israel. Every passion was in arms against them. The monarchs were instigated by avarice, the nobility by the warlike spirit generated by chivalry, the clergy by bigotry, the people by all these concurrent motives." "The Jew was only tolerated as a source of revenue." "The only refuge of the Jew from the hatred of the knight was in his contempt : he was not suffered to profane his sword with such vile blood—it was loftier revenge to trample him under foot! 11 This chivalrous (?)
52 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
protection was wholly wanting among the common people, while "the power of the clergy tended greatly to increase this general detestation of the Jew."
With the first Crusade this ground-swell of hate broke forth in a tidal wave of fanaticism, causing "the relentless pillage, violation and massacre of every Jew they could find." Men killed their own wives and children to prevent outrages worse than death, and many were baptized as the only means of escape. These scenes were repeated in Metz, Cologne, Worms, Mentz and Spire, and in the cities of the Maine and Danube, even as far as Hungary. "Everywhere the tracks of the Crusaders were marked with Jewish blood."
Fifty years of comparative peace followed, giving the Jews a chance to I' multiply their devoted race, and to heap up new treasures to undergo their inalienable doom of pillage and massacre." The Monk Rudolph roused Germany by preaching "the duty of wreaking vengeance on all the enemies of God," and though many fled for safety, "frightful havoc took place in Cologne, Mentz, Worms, Spire and Strasburg."
These outrages were wrought by fanatical mobs, later on we see men in high places deliberately executing the same vengeance on these captive people. Philip Augustus of France, about A. D. 1181, confiscated all debts due the Jews, and in the following April confiscated all their real property, "and commanded them instantly to sell their moveables, and to depart from the kingdom." In spite of their appeals to King and Bishops, "the decree was rigidly executed in the royal domains."
Twenty years later he permitted them to return, but Louis VIII. issued a new decree "annulling all future interest on debts due to the Jews, and they were declared "attached to the soil, and assigned as property to the feudatories"—became serfs, in fact. In 1234 Louis IX. "annulled one-third of all debts due to Jews,"
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 53
and in 1239 the populace took the matter into their own hands, and 11 committed frightful ravages " in Paris, Orleans and many other considerable cities.
The assize of Brittany "banished them from the country, annulled all their debts, gave permission to those who possessed their property to retain it, and prohibited any molestation or information against a Christian who might kill a Jew—in other words, it licensed general pillage and murder." Their Talmud was condemned by Louis, and twenty-four cart-loads of these books were burned in Paris. To make their degradation greater and their detection easier, by advice of the clergy the Jews of both sexes were compelled to wear "a conspicuous outward brand" on their dress. This was decreed at three Church Councils as " a general usage throughout Christendom." Again at the Council Of Vienna, A. D. 1267, "they were commanded to wear a distinctive dress," and in other ways put under ban.
In A. D. 1306 "the Jews of Languedoc were seized, their goods sold, and their debts confiscated to the crown." The same thing was done in Paris, where "their synagogues were converted into churches, their cemeteries desecrated, and their grave-stones torn up and used for building." Five years later "a second total expulsion took place."
Again for State reasons the Jews were readmitted, after which the peasantry 11 under the guidance of a priest and a monk," gathered in masses, and committed "the most relentless barbarities against the Jews. Everywhere the unhappy race, which the government could not have protected if they would, were pillaged, massacred and put to the torture." Among the horrors of this occasion is the notable case of 500 Jews who defended themselves from a tower, and when the gates were set on fire, 11 in hopes of mercy, threw their children down to the besiegers, and slew each other to a man."
54 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 55
The next year there was an epidemic pestilence, undoubtedly caused by the excesses of the year previous, and the Jews were charged with being the authors, some were tortured till they confessed their guilt, and then "on their confession condemned." Pope John XXII. condemned their "sorceries," and ordered their Talmud to be burned. "In many provinces the Jews were burned without distinction. In Chinon a deep ditch was dug, an enormous pile raised, and 160 of both* sexes burned together.. . . At Paris those alone were burned who confessed their crimes," but their property was confiscated, and "the king received from their spoils 150,000 livres [$30,000]."
Charles IV. coming to the throne, pardoned the survivors "on condition of a large payment. 57,000 livres were assessed on the Jews of Languedoc, they were permitted to leave their prisons to collect the sum requred, and then, as the height of mercy, allowed to gather the rest of their effects, and depart from the kingdom "—for the third time. In 1348 there was a second pestilence, from which the few remaining Jews themselves suffered; but the old charge of "poisoning wells" was renewed, "and the sword of vengeance let loose to waste what the plague had spared."
Again a treaty was made with the Jews for twenty years, allowing their return at a fixed price per head, though the people were still bitterly hostile, and the clergy "published an excommunication against all who should furnish the Jews with fire, water, bread or wine." Under the Duke of Anjou another popular tumult took place, when the Jews" were pillaged and slain, their children torn from their mother's arms, and carried to the churches to be baptized." And finally in the reign of Charles VI., they were commanded to "evacuate the kingdom," being allowed only a month to wind up their affairs, when "the whole Jewish
community crossed for the last time [and the fourth time] the borders of France, for a long and indefinite period of banishment."
In Germany the Jews were looked upon as the property of the sovereign, and were designated as his "Kammerknechte (chamber-servants). They had to pay all manner of iniquitous taxes—body-tax, capita-, tion-tax, trade-tax, coronation-tax; and to present a multitude of gifts to mollify the avarice, or supply the necessities of emperors, princes and barons. A raid, against the Jews was a favorite pastime of a bankrupt noble in those days" (Chain. Ency.). They were expelled from all the principal cities from A. D. 1196 to 1476, "after being plundered and maltreated." In 1348 the "Black Death" was the occasion of a widespread persecution, when they were murdered and burned by thousands, many seeking death "amidst the conflagrations of their synagogues."
"No fanatic monk set the populace in commotion, no public calamity took place, no atrocious or extravagant report was propagated, but it fell upon the heads of this unfortunate caste." The fanatical "Flagellants." stirred up the people against them, resulting in plundering and murdering the Jews in Frankfort and other places. The government failed to protect them, and throughout the whole of Germany, Silesia, Brandenburgh, Bohemia, Lithunia and Poland, they were" oppressed by the nobles, anathematized by the clergy, hated as rivals in trade by the burghers in the commercial cities, despised and abhorred by the populace." As a result "the race almost disappeared from Germany."
In other European States the same intolerant spirit prevailed. In Belgium the Jews were accused of grossly insulting the 11 Host"—the wafer-god of Rome, and "all the Jews were arrested, put to the torture, condemned to be torn by red-hot pincers, and then burned
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 57
travelled far, and the Jews are everywhere princes in comparison with those in the land of Persia." And today throughout the Moslem dominions, though not openly persecuted, "they are broken in mind and body by the heavy exactions of the pashas, and by long ages of sluggish ignorance."
In England not only the people, but the kings, "with rare exceptions," were arrayed against the Jews. When the royal exchequer was depleted, too often the Jews found some trouble brewing which only a liberal bribe could turn aside. At the coronation of Richard the First, a popular tumult arose on slight provocation, and the houses of the Jews were broken open, and the people "pillaged and set fire on all sides." In spite of apparent opposition by the government, "during the whole night the scene of plunder and havoc went on." The news of this outrage started up the fires of fanaticism in other places, and at Norwich, Edmonsbury and Stamford "the Jews were plundered, maltreated and slain." At York the Jews fled to the castle, and while the rabble swarmed outside, urged on by the clergy, the Jews within, fearing the worst, with a few exceptions deliberately "set fire to the castle in many places, cut the throats of their wives and children, and then their own." The few who remained surrendered the burning building on a promise of their lives, but every one was slain after the gates were opened. "It does not appear that any persons paid the penalty for this atrocious massacre, by which 500 to 1,500 men were put to death!"
Under John "every Israelite, without distinction of age or sex, was imprisoned, their wealth confiscated to the exchequer, and the most cruel torments extorted from the reluctant the confession of their secret treasures." Under Henry III. they were treated more considerately, but were compelled to wear "a distinctive mark on their dress—two stripes of white cloth."
56 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. ~y11
alive." This horrible incident was publicly commemorated in Brussels, as late as 1830, "by a procession of the clergy, and the exposition of the Host!" Persecution began in Switzerland about 1350, during the next century they were expelled from many cities, and now only "a few cantons" grant them justice. In Hungary they were first persecuted, and afterwards expelled, though of late years they are allowed "important privileges." In Holland, though tolerated as in few other places, they did not acquire the rights of citizenship till 1796. In Denmark they have only been on the footing of citizens since 1814. They were only admitted into four cities of Sweden as late as 1776, and citizenship is now "conferred as a favor." Norway forbade their entrance until 1860. In Portugal "they enjoy no civic rights," and in Spain "the edict of Ferdinand and Liabella is still in force." Austria passed an Act of Toleration in 1782, but did not permit them to hold land till 1860; while Prussia granted them common rights only in 1812.
They were admitted into Russia by Peter the Great, were all expelled in 1743, and were readmitted by Catharine II.; but of late years there has been constant persecution and outrage, many have been killed, and thousands have sought refuge in flight. The story of Russian exactions has hardly become history, but is familiar to all who have read the newspapers for the last fifty years. There seems to be little hope of betterment there. In Italy the fortunes of the Jews have greatly varied, but they have always held a subordinate position, and have suffered many exactions.
In Persia the Jews were bitterly persecuted before the Saracen invasion, but their condition was much im- proved under the Arabian Caliphs. Since that day, however, they have been" subject to the heaviest exactions;" and a Jew said to Mr. Wolff, "I have
58 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
But the Crown even could not shield them from "the hatred of the people and the bigotry of the clergy," the Archbishop of Canterbury having on one occasion "prohibited all Christians from selling them the necessaries of life."
During all this time the Crown was making demands on them for money: for instance, "one third of their movables" in A. D. 1230, "18,000 marks" ($ 54,000) in 1232, «10,000 marks" in 1236, then 1120,000 marks," and "30,000 marks of silver and 200 of gold" from one man during a series of years; in default of which "the collectors were seized, with their wives and children, their goods and chattels, and imprisoned." The barons seemed to resent this oppression of the king, but themselves demanded 8,000 marks, "under pain of being transported to Ireland." "During the next three years 60,000 marks more were levied." Then the king "sold to his brother Richard all the Jews in the realm for 5,000 marks, giving him full power over their property and persons," and English records 11 still preserve the terms of this extraordinary bargain and sale." "No Jew could reside in the kingdom but as the king's serf."
"The Jews probably passed back to the crown on the election of Richard as king of the Romans." Then Henry sold them to Prince Edward, and he "made them over to certain merchants of Dauphiny. Yet, after the battle of Lewes, the Jews of London, Lincoln and Northampton were plundered as having conspired with the king against the barons." Then the king broke his bargain with the prince, "resuming the Jews into his own power," treating them with more leniency, but thereby causing them more trouble with the barons. His last act was to take away their lands or manors, disqualify them from holding real estate, and cancel all real estate mortgages held by them.
The first act of Edward's reign was in the same spirit.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 59
A new assessment was made, and men, women and children were compelled to wear their badge, and pay an annual tax—and the penalty of non-payment was exile. But all this did not prevent a final decree of expulsion in 1290, "when their whole property was seized at once, and just money enough left to discharge their expenses to foreign lands." 16,000 were thus driven out, and "all their property, debts, obligations, and mortgages escheated to the king."
For a century before the Moorish conquest, Spain had been foremost in persecuting the Jews. Lack of space forbids the recital of the gross indignities and cruelties to which they were subjected, culminating in "a decree to confiscate all the property of the Jews to the royal treasury, to disperse the whole race as slaves through the country, to seize all their children under seventeen years of age, to bring them up as Christians and marry them to Christian wives, and to abolish forever the Jewish faith." These persecutions ceased when the Moors came.
About A. D. 1390 Spain again took up the terrible work of Jewish persecution, and in every case the Church—and the word "church" or "clergy" in this chapter always refers to the church of Rome—was apparently hand and glove with the persecutors. "At the voice of Martin, Bishop of Niebla, the population of Seville rose, plundered the Jewish houses, and at length the whole quarter was in flames. Cordova, Toledo, Valencia and other cities, with the island of Majorca, followed the example. Plunder and massacre raged throughout the realm in defiance of the civil authority, and even that of the king : the only way of escape was to submit to baptism. The number of these enforced converts is stated at 200,000." The Pope "issued an edict, commanding the Talmud to be burned, and all blasphemers against Christianity to be punished."I
60 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 61
Under Ferdinand and Isabella the clergy, rightly suspecting that these enforced converts, called "New Christians," were still Jews at heart and celebrated their Jewish rites secretly, summoned the Inquisition to their assistance, and Pope Sextus the Fourth issued a bull "empowering the monarch to nominate certain of the clergy to make strict inquisition into all persons suspected of heretical gravity," thus throwing on the Civil Power the responsibility for what followed, after the fashion of the Roman "Harlot." "In one year 280 were burned in Seville alone, 79 were condemned to perpetual imprisonment in their loathesome cells, and 17,000 suffered lighter punishments." The very place devoted to the brutal national pastime of bull-fighting was set apart for the more brutal pastime of "burning heretics!" Informers were encouraged to ferret out the hypocritical New Christians, and the result as chronicled by Mariana, the Spanish historian, was the "general terror and amazement of the whole people."
As a reaction from this work a conspiracy was formed against the Inquisition, composed of both Old and New Christians, which was afterwards disavowed by those Catholics who took part in it; and this also brought. additional trouble on the New Christians, 200 of whom perished in the retribution which followed, many from the first families of Spain. Public burnings of these New Christians happened as late as 1655.
Many thousands of Jews who had remained true to their own religion were at first left 0111 comparative peace, but "in 1492 appeared the fatal edict commanding all unbaptized Jews to quit the realm in four months." After unavailing efforts to turn this decree aside by entreaty or bribery, some 600,000 Jews were compelled to sell their property for a mere pittance, as the market was glutted; they were forbidden to carry away gold or silver, yet in one way or another, they
sought refuge in other lands. "Many were cast away, or sunk like lead, in the ocean." One captain finding that the plague had broken out among these starving refugees, set them ashore on the African coast, "without provisions." Another captain did the same thing without the excuse of the former, and the naked, desolate refugees were driven by wild beasts into the cold sea for safety, until a portion were rescued, after five days exposure, by the humane captain of another vessel.
Many crossed the frontier into Portugal, being admitted at the price of "eight crusadoes [$ 4,00] a head: The frontier was lined with toll-gatherers, and they were permitted to enter only at particular places. They were merely to pass through the country, and embark for Africa, with the exception of artificers in iron and brass, who were to enter at half price, and if they chose, might remain." After eight months, many unable to, obtain a passage, or terrified at the cruelty of the Moors in Africa to their brethren, "were made slaves." The new king, Emmanuel, freed these slaves ; but marrying a daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, to please his bride's parents, he "named a day for all Jews to quit. the kingdom." Before the time arrived, he arranged to seize all the children under fourteen, baptize and bring them up as Christians apart from their parents. To prevent this, "frantic mothers threw their children into the wells and the rivers," while many humane Catholics "assisted the Jews to conceal their children."
Then Emmanuel revoked the order granting them two ports from which to embark, thus making them liable to the law by tarrying beyond the time mentioned in the original decree; and because of this delay "the more steadfast were shipped off as slaves," and many submitted to the baptism of Rome. Some of the latter being detected ten years afterwards in celebrating the Passover, "the houses of the converts were
62 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
assailed, men, women and children were involved in a promiscuous massacre—even those who fled into the churches, embraced the sacred relics, or clung to the crucifixes, were dragged forth and burned." "A Jewish dragge asserts that they offered to every one who should murder a Jew, that his sufferings in Purgatory should be limited to a hundred days!"
Taken all together, the expulsion from Spain and the subsequent outrages in Portugal, "the Jews consider this calamity almost as dreadful as the taking and ruin of Jerusalem," and the historian justly says that "it may be reckoned among the most effective causes of the decline of Spanish greatness." Surely, among all her acts of infamy, Spain may wear the crown for her treatment of the Jews !
Of late years much improvement has been visible in the condition of this scattered race: but when we remember how few countries accord them absolute political equality; when we look at their sufferings in Russia during the last fifty years; when we see the manifestation of "Anti-Semitism "— another name for hatred of the Jew—in Central Europe, as shown in many popular outbreaks; when we recall the outrageous proceedings in the late affair of Dreyfus in France, confessedly inspired by anti-Jewish hatred; when we recall the fact that in spite of the Civil Rights Law in this country, very many hotels are closed against every Hebrew; when we hear slurring words uttered against the Jew by men from every station in life, even Ministers of Him whose greatest earthly distinction was that He was a crucified Jew; when we remember that, except in rare cases, the Jew is held aloof by those with whom he associates in business:—we may easily see that the Jew, though nominally f-Fee, is still, in a very real sense, a "captive" " among "all nations!"
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 63
WILL THE JEWISH NATION BE RESTORED?
This question has created much discussion, and very many Bible students and expositors have answered it in the affirmative. Some expect "the Restoration of the Jews" in this Age, but the large majority postpone the event till the Second Advent, at the beginning of the so-called "Millenium,"—during which period the nations will remain somewhat as at present, and births, deaths, and sin itself to some extent, will continue. The restored Jewish people, then repentant of their long rejection of Christ, will accept Him, and under his direction be the means of the world's conversion—the "chief of the nations," and only subordinate to the glorified Church. The above summary of doctrine I believe to be perfectly fair, and strictly correct.
Incidentally, only, does the matter come before us at this time, since there is no direct prophecy here regarding the matter. Only because it is so commonly and persistently linked with the doctrine of Christ's personal Return, do I mention it at all. I may speak of the matter again in another publication, and I hope later to refer you to a work dealing exhaustively with the subject; but I will now make a few general statements of fact, letting you draw your own conclusions. ‑
A great influx of Jews into Palestine, or even the establishment of a Jewish government there, is not properly "the Restoration of the Jews." That, as usually advocated, includes their acceptance of Christ as the Messiah, with a special work for the restored nation after His return.
It is admitted by advocates of this theory that
64 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
there is to be, before the Advent of Christ, a general slaughter of the Jews in Palestine, and great devastation of the country, and that the Advent is followed—not preceded—by the "Restoration." Upon careful examination I am satisfied there has been much exaggeration in regard to the number of Jews returning to Palestine, their present condition there, and their immediate prospects. Moreover, present immigration and settlement have nothing to do with the question of national restoration after the Second Advent.
The prophecies quoted in favor of this "Restoration"
tion" are taken almost wholly from the Old Testament. There is not a single positive and unmistakable prediction of such an event in the New Testament, though a very few phrases are supposed to imply that. This fact is significant.
These Old Testament prophecies were nearly all of them given previous to or during the Babylouish captivity. Prima facie the most of them would inevitably have been understood by the Jews of that day to foreshadow events' immediately following the Exile, and such an understanding would have been warranted.
Many of these prophecies are connected with the word "if," or its equivalent. That is, the prophecies were in large measure conditional. See Deut. 28 and 30. Others seem to imply such a condition, though not stated in terms. The whole history of Israel shows that their prosperity depended on the fulfilment of these "conditions." When they obeyed the voice of Jehovah, they prospered abundantly, and dwelt securely : when they forgot Him, He delivered them to their foes, and their land to desolation.
Some of the prophecies quoted to prove this national restoration refer so self-evidently to events now past, that I am astonished beyond measure that all who read them do not see their proper application.
Anything which sounds like a restoration seems to be used, without the slightest reference to its chronological connections.
At first sight, a few passages seem to teach, unconditionally, the final restoration of the Jewish nation. But they are only a few. Some of the strongest of these passages, however, are not taken literally, in all their parts, even by those who use them to prove this doctrine. In Ezekiel 37, for instance, which we are told "has never been fulfilled, and. therefore must be fulfilled hereafter," when speaking of the restored, united nation of Israel, Jehovah says,—"My servant David shall be king over them, . . . and David my servant shall be their Prince forever." All expositors agree that this means Christ, and not David—thus introducing figurative language into a prophecy which it is claimed will all be literally fulfilled. The inference ought to be very plain.
If these prophecies are to be fulfilled in a future restoration of the Jewish nation, then the old system of Jewish rites, ceremonies, and bloody sacrifices must also be restored. In the prophecies of Ezekiel the two ideas are blended indissolubly. By the same rule, sin and death will reign during the Millenium!
The, Jews, after many trials and failures, deliberately rejected their Messiah,—though the message was plain that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand,"—denying his claims, and swearing allegiance to Caesar. Because of this rejection Jesus said to them,—"Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation BRINGING FORTH THE FRUITS THEREOF " (Matt. 21:43). This "nation" is to be gathered out of the Gentiles,, one by one; and when they—"the people of the saints of the Most High "—shall take the kingdom, they will hold it forever..
66 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
Paul states specifically that the Jews were "broken off through unbelief," and will be grafted in again only "if they continue not in their unbelief." But, in the gospel plan, belief is never predicated of a nation, always of individuals. And in that sense they are being admitted to the rights of citizenship in the kingdom whenever they accept Christ—but individually, not nationally. And there is not the slightest hint in Scripture of a Kingdom of the Church, with the Jew as an outside factor in the work of that kingdom.
"Israel," in this Dispensation, includes all the saved. In Christ there is "neither Jew nor Greek." The "middle wall of partition" is broken down, and now Jew and Gentile stand on exactly the same footing, and under the same necessities. Apply this to the words," And so, all Israel shall be saved."
Finally, Tesus is utterly silent regarding such a restoration. His words here indicate the annihilation of the nation, and the preservation of the people. And if it were true that the nation was to be restored to even more than its former glory and power, it is incredible that he should be silent regarding the matter. Had there been a single ray of hope for the nation over whose tragic fate he had just wept on Mt. Olivet, he would have given the awed disciples some hint of it. But the fact remains that he maintained absolute silence. And in accord with this, the whole circle of New Testament writers follow his example.
Therefore, in view of these incontrovertible facts, I say most unhesitatingly that the Jewish nation will not be restored, either before or after Christ's return. The explanation of Scripture which seems to teach otherwise, must be deferred for the present.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 67
HATED OF ALL NATIONS.
The curtain drops upon the Jewish nation, their story of agony and blood is told, and now we behold another picture, in some respects fully as terrible, of His waiting and suffering Church. And the one distinguishing mark for all time is that they will be "hated of all nations for my name's sake." From a human point of view this is a prophecy most unlikely of fulfilment, and utterly impossible to understand. And yet it has been fulfilled with cruel exactness. Going forth with divine love in the heart, breathing only tenderness toward all men, this wealth of affection for the lost has been met with the most bitter hatred. And the greater the manifestation of love, the darker the hate. All other religions have been tolerated, Christianity alone has fallen under the universal ban.
This strange anomaly first appeared among the Jews. By their own kindred the Jewish Christians were persecuted and obliged to suffer "the loss of all things." When the Jewish power was broken, Pagan Rome took up the bloody work, and through ten periods of persecution, by cruel methods of torture, millions of inoffensive disciples were put to death. Later, Papal Rome resumed the work, and millions more sealed their .testimony with their life-blood. For more than a thousand years, wherever the Papacy has had a foothold, she has persecuted the saints of God in a manner which puts to blush the atrocities of her predecessor. It has been estimated that under Pagan Rome 10,000,000 persons, and under Papal Rome 50,000,000 persons suffered death "for His. name's sake."
68 CHRIST'SLAST PROPHECY. CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 69
With scarcely an exception, whenever Christianity has first been introduced into a country, the same hatred has been aroused in a short time, whether among the degraded aborigines of the islands of the sea, among the roving tribes of barbaric life, or among the more polished nations of the ancient world. The ruling powers have always seen something suspicious in the new religion, the priesthood have invariable foreseen the overthrow of their own despotism, and the people generally, from one motive or another, have blindly followed priest and king.
Judaism, the mother of Christianity, has never lost her first intensity of hate; Islam, that base antichristian counterfeit, has ever made hatred of Christ's religion a fundamental principle of action ; the Papacy, that great apostacy of a once pure church, has been Islam's worthy compeer in the hatred she has shown toward the simple, unadulterated religion of Him she claims to honor; and Infidelity, with its brood of blasphemers springing up wherever Christianity has gone, vies with all other forms of antichristian opposition, in its rage against the Crucified and his true followers. And though after a time, the advance of civilization seems to extinguish this hatred, I believe it needs only the return of the church to Apostolic methods of living and teaching, to arouse the sleeping demon of hate—and possibly persecution—in all places where Christianity is now supposed to have become popular. The true disciple is still "hated of all nations" for His name's sake.
Lack of space forbids more extended mention of the sufferings of Christ's Church, but a graphic description of her tribulations and persecutions may be found in Rev. D. T. Taylor's 11 Great Consummation," pp. 53132, for sale at this office.
There is good reason to believe that human sin has caused material changes in human surroundings. Because of sin came "thorns and thistles," and storms and tempests are mentioned as special. judgments for evil doing. And it is perfectly reasonable to expect, toward the close of human history, when sin and apostacy reach their height, a corresponding increase in those physical phenomena which accompany sin and rebellion. And we understand Christ to mean that this will be true.
But we should distinguish between predictions of general phenomena, and predictions of specific events to happen only at particular times. Especially is this true regarding the aerial phenomena which are to precede the Second Advent. That which is to follow the "great tribulation" (Matt. 24: 29), is not the same as that mentioned in more general terms by Luke (ch. 21: 11, 25). The first will be treated in Chapter XVII, the latter I will take up now, noticing the fact that Luke alone, seems to record These general predictions.
The predictions of signs in the heavens recorded in Luke, seem to refer to events all through the present Age. First, we are told of the "terrors and great signs from heaven" (ch. 21: 11) which come in close connection with the destruction of Jerusalem, and the persecution of the early church. These have been referred to in Chapter III, as mentioned by Josephus. But after the prophecy of Jerusalem's downfall and the dispersion of the Jews, we are again told (ch. 21:25) that "there shall be signs in sun, moon and stars,"
SIGNS IN, THE HEAVENS.
70 ' CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
evidently implying some phenomena much nearer the close of the Age.
There are two classes of these phenomena, those connected with the sun—and because of its dependence on the sun, affecting the moon also, and those which are peculiar to the stars.
I shall not refer to any recorded cases of "darkening" of either sun or moon,—not only from lack of space, but because I believe they are all explainable from terrestrial causes, and are therefore not strictly "signs in the sun," but on the earth, and similar to many other phenomena of past ages which have excited fear and apprehension—consequently valueless as "signs" of the Great Consummation. For, it is principally as we find that events are new or unusual in history, that they serve as "signs" 11 of predicted events. That which is frequent of occurrence, or the result of causes long known and continually operative, fails as a "sign" unless absolutely proven to have been predicted for a definite period of time. Yet, that there are even now 11 signs in sun, moon and stars" which meet these necessary conditions, may be easily proven. They are‑
1. The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. This wonderful appearance, visible at times over the whole Northern Hemisphere—the same thing as the Aurora Australis in the Southern Hemisphere—is notably a modern phenomenon. When Joel uttered his famous prophecy—repeated in part by Peter at Pentecost—of the appearance in heaven of "blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke," the auroral phenomena were probably entirely unknown; and we have no record of their appearance before A. D. 400. Yet it would be impossible for an actual observer to give in few words so comprehensive a description of the mysterious fires which play across the skies, and waken admiration, wonder and awe.
Since that date these displays have been observed
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 71
with increasing frequency. At first the intervals were long, sometimes running up into hundreds of years. Dr. Halley, Astronomer Royal of England, tells us that in 1574 he was rewarded with a sight of the Aurora, after forty years of patient observation. Old Icelandic annals are silent as to these phenomena, which previous to 1700 were "rare, and objects of terror." In the "Historic Account of Iceland" we read:—"Since the year 1700 Auroras have not only become very common, but they have assumed colors and hues which formerly were unknown," even every color and shade of the rainbow. The Edinburg Encyclopedia of 1800 says that "it appears to be certainly established that the Aurora was of rare occurrence in our latitude till about a century ago." And again, "No period has furnished more brilliant displays of the Aurora than the last 100 years."
In contrast with the above is the fact that probably no adult now living in the temperate zones has failed to observe these strange lights, while we are told that in 45 degrees north latitude there is now an average of forty appearances each year, that in latitude 50 to 60, they are seen eight-tenths of the nights, and that in Iceland in 1848 they were visible every night. In at least ten of the years of this century there have been peculiarly magnificent displays which were seen over half the globe,—in one case 11 from California to Siberia, and from Greenland to the West Indies." The Aurora is comparatively modern, and is increasing in frequency and brilliancy. But, what has the phenomenon to do with "signs in the sun?" Let Science answer.
Astronomers long ago decided that the sun is probably a mass of molten or gaseous matter, in a state of constant commotion, exhibiting frequent indications of fearful explosions and immense cyclones and whirlwinds, beside which the mightiest earthly disturbance is like a summer zephyr contrasted with a storm at sea.
72 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
These disturbances are on a scale of magnificence which utterly transcends all human conceptions. There are seen apparent depressions in the sun's crust which could easily swallow up many worlds like ours, and terrific explosions which cast molten or incandescent matter out into space from 100,000 to 200,000 miles in a few moments of time! These vast depressions in the sun's crust are popularly known as "sun spots," and may sometimes be seen through a smoked glass with the unaided eye. The explosions are the probable cause of those flame-like "protuberances" which appear on the sun's outer edge during a total eclipse, and which at times change shape with almost inconceivable velocity.
These "sun spots" are known to have periods of greater or less frequency and size, capable of being forecasted with some accuracy. It is only recently, however, that observers have established their connection with the Aurora Borealis. But it is now admitted that there is such a connection,—and the connection of cause and effect. That is, the Aurora is caused by solar forces. A few undisputed facts will make this clear.
Direct observations, and also experiments with electrical currents in sealed vacuum tubes, prove beyond reasonable question that the Aurora is produced by the passage of electrical or magnetic currents through the partial vacuum in the higher portion of our atmosphere.
The center or "crown" of the Aurora is generally the point called the 11 magnetic pole," toward which the "dipping needle" always points.
During Auroral displays the magnetic needle is constantly fluctuating, and that coincident with the flashing of the "streamers."
As the magnetic needle is undoubtedly controlled by magnetic or electrical currents in, on or over the earth, the Aurora's electrical or magnetic origin seems clear. But all doubt is removed by the fact that during these Auroral displays we know positively that "earth currents" of electricity are constantly playing. The telegraphic lines have served as detectives in this matter, and in some cases wires in the telegraph instruments have been burned out, brilliant flashes produced, operators have received sensible shocks, combustible materials have been ignited, and whole systems of land and sea telegraphy have been interrupted and rendered useless. Sometimes the "earth currents" seem to take possession of the lines, and send strange and mysterious 11cypher" messages. At other times the batteries may be disconnected, and Nature furnishes the power to work the instruments for days at a time. Having been a telegraph operator for years, I speak from experience.
But the most convincing proof of all, is the coincidence of solar disturbances with auroral displays. Prof. Proctor, in "The Sun," p. 206, says that _TNIr. Carrington, while watching a sun spot, saw flashes of light proceeding from it (probably a solar explosion), which were accompanied at the same instant by wide-spread magnetic disturbances and auroral displays. The Aurora was seen in both hemispheres, where seldom seen before, and within 18 degrees of the Equator. It was also observed in Australia and South America. The "magnetic storm" was universal. In Philadelphia and Washington telegraph operators received severe shocks, and work was suspended. In Boston fire followed the pen of the writing telegraph. Many other observations have confirmed the suspicion of a uniform coincidence between these solar, aerial and terrestrial phenomenasun-flashes, auroral displays, and magnetic "earth currents." As the Encyclopedia Brittanica puts it, there is a probability that "the same forces which cause hurricanes in the solar atmosphere, thrill sympathetically to the furthest planets in our system, in waves . . . . of magnetism and electricity."
74 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
2. Meteors, or Falling Stars. Though this phenomenon does not concern the planets or fixed stars, yet science shows the identity in substance of these small bodies with all stellar and planetary substance: they therefore may be spoken of as "stars." This phenomenon is also comparatively modern. There are hints in history of the fall of single meteorites, but of genuine star showers, we find no record before A. D. 902, since, which time, at varying periods, have been seen those displays of "celestial fireworks" which have excited the fear and apprehension of thousands. Especially was the display of 1833 noted for its brilliant effects. They fell in countless thousands, were visible throughout the whole Northern Hemisphere, alarming people on both continents, and they were variously described as 11 a rain of fire," a "celestial bombard ment," a" luminous network of fire,"" too wonderful and too surprising to describe," "a maze of radiance," and like expressions. A full description of both Aurora and Falling Stars is contained in "The Great Consummation."
Taking all these facts into consideration, the most earnest "literalist" could not demand a more exact fulfilment of Christ's prediction that there should be "signs in sun and moon and stars." And I might cite many appearances in the moon which would correspond with this prediction, but consider it unimportant at present. The fact that these phenomena are modern, and are increasing in frequency, stamps them as genuine "signs" predicted by Christ, and also as scientific indications of coming cosmical changes which shall culminate in that Day when "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat: " and also as a prophecy of the time when "the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light," as mentioned later in Chapter XVII.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 75
SIGNS ON THE EARTH.
The earth is not self-centred, but is controlled from heavenly regions. This is not figure, but cold scientifie, fact. The forces which carry the earth through space, which cause the movement of winds and waves, the phenomena of storms, cyclones and—to some extent surely —earthquakes, have their origin in the Sun, as the fountain-head of terrestrial forces. And therefore, with "signs in sun, moon and stars," we may expect to see earthly phenomena corresponding thereto. This condition of things Christ seems to predict in several places, when speaking of "earthquakes in divers places," and "the roaring of the sea and the billows," as reasons why men should be afraid.
Though these phenomena have been witnessed all through the ages, we are taught here that near the close of time they will be greatly increased, and cause special alarm and "distress." And though I might refer to the apparent increase of great cyclonic storms and electrical tornadoes, of poisonous winds and great tidal waves, so often occurring in strange coincidence with "signs in the sun;" I will here speak only of the wonderful increase in earthquakes—phenomena having terrestrial origin, but sensibly affected by solar influences.
Popular Science has taught that these phenomena are-the result of decaying forces; that once they were frequent, are now decreasing, and will finally cease entirely. Christ mentions the earthquake as one of the premonitory signs of his return, with a hint of increasing violence and frequency. Who is right, Christ, or Popular Science ?
Science—the orderly statement of farts—shows that
V; CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
volcanic products (which always go with earthquakes), as compared with other geological formations, are comparatively modern, apparently coining in as the result of new conditions in the earth. History—the record of human observation—asserts that earthquakes were once comparatively unknown, but lately have greatly increased.
During the last 1700 years B. C. there are records of only fifty-eight earthquakes, and only nine occurred in the Roman empire during the last sixty-five years of this period, and of these nine only four were disastrous. During the 18th century we have records of 2804 earthquakes, of which one hundred may be considered "great" and disastrous. From 1800 to 1850 there were recorded 3240 earthquakes, of which 53 were specially disastrous. The contrast between this half century and the sixty-five years before A. D. 1, is very striking. During the earlier period there were 9 in all, during the later, 65 each year! In 1700 years B. C., 4 great earthquakes; in the 1700 years after, 159!
In Scandanavia, from 1700 to 1800, there were 111 earthquakes; but from 1800 to 1850, there were 113. In the Rhine basin, in the 16th century, there were 52 earthquakes; in the 17th, 120; in the 18th, 141; and from 1800 to 1850, there occurred on the same soil, 173" (Gr. Consum., p. 165). "In the British Isles, from 1000 to 1800, there were only 234 earthquakes; but from 1800 to 1850, there were 110; while from 1868 to 1872, there were no less than 217" (Proctor in Harper's Magazine, 1885, p. 140). From 1800 to 1866 there were only 83 disastrous earthquakes; in 1867-8 there were 15. Mungo Ponton shows this increase to be "in fact, and not a matter of historical negligence."
All this proves conclusively that terrestrial forces—as well as those "in sun, moon and stars "—are preparing the way for the cataclysmic change which shall usher in the "Day of the Lord." Christ's words are verified.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
DISTRESS OF NATIONS.
The "distress of nations" predicted by Christ, and recorded by Luke (ch. 21:25 ), refers specially to the effect on men of the physical phenomena mentioned—"the roaring of the sea and the billows," etc.—just before the close of the Age. With such a startling array of phenomena, we could only expect that the nations would everywhere be in deep distress and perplexity. And those physical phenomena which have thus far appeared, and which I believe are only the vanguard .of those to follow, have in every instance produced widespread terror and alarm. In darkenings of sun and moon, under skies from which stars were showering down, beneath the weird flames of the mysterious Aurora, in the terrors of cyclones, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tidal waves, men have everywhere felt their own inherent weakness, and have shown it in various ways.
But, though these words refer primarily to the effect of physical phenomena, there is another -cause of 11 distress " and "perplexity " more effective thus far than all Vie signs in heaven or on earth. Along with warring elements and a trembling earth, human passions are becoming more and more unrestrained, resulting in social and national unrest and uncertainty. Never was there a time when the whole world was in such a condition of expectancy, the nations so distrustful of each other, peace—though apparently so earnestly desired by all—so problematical, and rulers and statesmen so utterly "distressed" and "perplexed" " as to the best methods of preserving the balance of power, and holding back.
78 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
"the dogs of war" which seem just ready to break away from all human control. Such conditions have heretofore prevailed over limited areas and for brief periods of time, but now they are universal, persistent, constantly growing worse, with no visible hope of improvement.
The causes of this general distrust are various. The imperial ambition of Russia, the revival of Moslem propagandism, the secret machinations of Rome, the spread of intelligence among the masses causing new aspirations and growing unrest, the baleful leaven of socialistic reformers, the prevalence of rationalism *nd atheism in Church and State,—these are among the causes of genuine 11 distress" and 11 perplexity" among rulers and peoples everywhere.
This is not seen alone by students of prophecy, but by statesmen and men of the world who know little of Scripture, and care less. Such expressions as the following, taken from the Safeguard and Armory, Jan. '98, show this to be true. "Europe is governed in the main. by these evil weaknesses [I jealousy- almost beyond reason, and timidity almost inconsistent with character']. The jealousy between the peoples, in particular, rises almost to a mania." "The very worst of the situation is that there is no cure." "A war that would exhaust mankind until it would consent to a sullen peace, is the only hope. 11 What I have_ seen does not indicate that the Afillenium is at hand." 11 On all hands peoples are preparing for war." In fact, we are dealing with new conditions in the world, unprecedented in history, rapidly increasing in intensity, hopeless of betterment, and a startling sign of the approaching end.
A long array of facts showing the present condition of the world to be as above described, may be found in "The Eastern Question, and the Coming Time of Trouble, among the Nations," advertised on another page.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 79
WANING LOVE AND ABOUNDING INIQUITY.
"Because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of many shall wax cold." Matt. 24:12. This was to be true from the first, and waning love was to be a consequence of abounding iniquity. It is also true that waning love—for Christ, his cause and his disciples—is a fruitful cause of increasing wickedness. When the Church forgets her high calling, when Christian love de-
cays, the powers of Evil will reap all abundant harvest.
While all this has been true in the past, it is specially true now. Though we may dislike to admit the fact, it is nevertheless true that, considering the enlightenment of the masses, and the ease with which all who desire may have access to the Word of God, the present condition of religious sentiment in both Church and World is peculiarly alarming. The Church is honeycombed with unbelief, and despite all the efforts of God's faith-fill servants to keep the fire of true piety from dying oat entirely, there is an intense worldliness, self-seeking, pleasure-loving, and carelessness regarding divine things, which has drawn out earnest protests and plaintive warnings from the most godly men and women of our day. The decay of faith—and therefore of true "love
—is the religious condition confronting us to-day.
Coincident with this condition in the Church, and very largely caused by it, is the moral condition of the world which confronts the statesmen of every nation, and in spite of all efforts is increasing. Official corruption, the travesties of justice in the courts, the widespread disregard of law, the steady increase of actual crime—not only among" the dangerous classes," but
80 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
V 'A CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 81
among trusted and tried servants of Church and Nation, the growing recklessness and audacity of criminals, and —last, but not least—the great number of young men and women who are swelling the ranks of the hosts of Sin,—these are facts to which no careful and earnest person can much longer be blind. Ten years ago few could be found to look at the matter in this light: now it is not uncommon to find leaders in religious and humanitarian work discussing the best methods of counteracting these tendencies. The danger is too appalling for further silence.
Times have indeed been worse than now. Christianity found the world in untold depths of degradation, and has improved it in many ways. But, the present condition prevails in the face of the best results of Christian work, in the noontide glory of Christian civilization, and is increasing in intensity, with no reason for hope of betterment. If the world is apostatizing under the blaze of gospel light, how can we expect Christianity will bring it back? Then men sinned largely through ignorance, now men are rejecting the light, and there is no prospect ahead but the terrors of impending judgment. This, again, is a significant sign of the end.
I might give pages of statistics proving an alarming increase of worldliness in the Church, and of crime and criminal tendencies in the World,—statistics which would far outweigh many statistics of Christian Progress put forth to show that "the world is growing better." But time and space forbid, and I leave the matter here, referring you to «A Faithless
Church,~l and "Tokens of Coming Redemption, No. 1,11 both of which are advertised elsewhere. You will there find facts to make good the above statements.
FALSE CHRISTS AND FALSE PROPHETS.
It is real gold which men try to counterfeit : the "paste diamond" proves the value of the true gem. So, since Christ displayed his "mighty works," the Devil has palmed off many counterfeits on unwary humanity. And the fact that this danger is referred to in the opening words of this Prophecy, and again just before He describes the "great tribulation," would seem to indicate that there were to be two periods of "false Christs and false prophets." The facts warrant this conclusion.
Christ said (John 5: 43), "1 am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." This is human nature, and was strictly fulfilled among the Jews.
"We have not thought it expedient to interrupt the course of our history with the account of every adventurer who assumed the name of the Messiah. . . 'The, Messiah was ever present to the thoughts and the visions of the Jews. . . . In vain the Rabbinical interdict repressed the dangerous curiosity which, baffled, would still penetrate the secrets of futurity. I Cursed is he who calculates the time of Messiah's coming' was constantly repeated in the synagogue, and as constantly disregarded. That chord in the national feeling was never struck but it seemed to vibrate through the whole community. A long list of false Messiahs might be produced—in France, in Fez, in Persia, in Moravia: but we have passed them by." (Milman's 11 Hist. of Jews").
These impostors began to appear before the destruction of Jerusalem. After its downfall, one Jonathan claimed divine guidance and led many to death, himself being burned alive by the Romans. About A. D. 130, when the affairs of the Jews were in great straits, there
82 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
appeared one Bar-cochab ("the Son of the Star" which was to" arise out of Jacob"), who claimed to be the Messiah. His cause was openly espoused by the aged leader of the Rabbis, and he Succeeded in gathering an army of 200,000 men, making himself master of the site of Jerusalem, and controlling 50 castles and 985 villages ; but he was finally slain, and probably a million Jews perished because of his imposture.
About A. D. 1650 one Sabbathai Sevi proclaimed himself the Messiah, created the most intense excite-among the eastern Jews causing them great hardship and loss, suddenly became a Moslem to avoid undergoing the Sultan's proposed test of being shot with poisoned arrows, and finally died in prison,
Outside of Judaism have these impostors appeared. Mohammed in the 7th century is the most prominent instance of a "false prophet," and only God knows the dark results of his imposture. In our own times—Swedenborg, the founder of a Christian 11 sect," Ann Lee, the Shaker "Christ!," Joseph Smith, the Mormon "prophet," Mary Baker Eddy, the I'mother" of Christian Science, Madam Blavatsky, the "Mahatma" of the Theosophists, Ellen White, the seeress of the Seventh-day Adventists, and many others,—each one claiming divine inspiration and supernatural enlightenment (though possibly honest in their claims), and at the same time introducing some doctrine or practice which is sure, sooner or later, to become "death in the pot,"—are not these modern 11 false prophets ? "
There are also many persons of late who claim to be "the Christ." Only last year a bill was introduced into the. Illinois legislature making it a penal offense to call one's self "the Christ "—showing that this form of imposture or delusion is still present. Christ's words have been exactly fulfilled.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 83
THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM AS A WITNESS.
The disciples asked for a definite "sign" of their Lord's return. He gave them many indications of that event, but only one " sign." Physical, moral and political indications there were to be, which would enable them to lift up their heads in joy that redemption was drawing nigh. But here is all sign "which has the ring of definiteness in it. , "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached 'in the whole world fora testimony
unto all the nations, AND THEN SHALL THE END COME."
Matt. 24:14. Here we have the positive announcement of an event which shall no sooner take place than the "end" so long desired will come. And there are two things which should never be forgotten. 1. There is a human element in this "sign." It is by human instrumentality that this work of evangelization is to be done; and if we earnestly desire Christ's immediate return, we can in a sense "hasten" that coming by carrying the gospel to "the regions beyond:" for, when once that is done to the extent implied here, then will the end come. 2. The indefiniteness which is necessarily present in the prediction, should discourage all unwise and premature judgment regarding the "times and seasons which the Father hath set within his own authority." Just how much "preached in the whole world" means, He only knows.
This work was begun at Pentecost, and every earnest Christian effort since then has been in the same dkeetion. But the actual spread of the gospel was greatly checked when the Papal and Moslem counterfeits arose. And though the Missionary spirit was not altogether
dead, yet it is only within our own times that the Church of Christ has seemed to comprehend the meaning of the Lord's command, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation."
During the present century there has been a forward movement in Mission work which has seen no parallel. And especially in the last half century has there been an increased interest in the work, and an avowed purpose to give the gospel to "the whole creation." And not many years, at the farthest, will elapse before every community on the earth will have known the story of the Cross.
The history of Missions in this century is almost like a fairy tale, when we consider the small beginnings, and the unprecedented success. For full particulars of this
great work I refer you to the and "Encyclopedia Encyclopedia New of YorkMis.- sions," published by Funk an
The general results may be seen in the following statistics taken from the " American Board Almanac."
There are now 249 Missionary Societies. The agents of these Societies work at 4,694 stations, and 15,200 outstations. Of the missionaries there are 6,042 men, and 5,617 women,-11,659 in all, and 64,299 native helpers, —making 75,958 men and women in this work. As a result of their work, there are now 1,121,699 church communicants, and 913,478 persons under special religious instruction. And in 1897 the amount contributed for this work was $12,988,687.
Though a vast field is yet unoccupied, the above figures show that this 11 sign" of Christ's return is specially significant just now. For the first time the gospel is going everywhere, not to convert "all the nations," but "for a witness"—an important difference. The result of gospel preaching is not to convert all the nations, but "to take out of them a people for His name." This ac
complished, "THEN SHALL THE END COME."
"THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION."
Whatever Christ meant by this phrase, he distinctly states that it was something already "spoken of by Daniel the prophet." And the only thing mentioned by Daniel which corresponds to this, is found in Daniel viii., where we find a vision of a Ram (Medo-Persia) destroyed by a rough Goat (Grecia), the subsequent division of the Grecian kingdom into four parts—symbolized by four horns on the head of the Goat taking the place of the "notable horn" first seen, and then the rise "out of one of them" of another power—represented by "a little horn," which afterwards becomes 11 great " and" mighty," and a persecuting power. Daniel refers to this politico-ecclesiastical Power as "the transgression of desolation "—" that maketh desolate," Rev. Per. ( Dan. 8: 13), and" the abomination that maketh desolate" (Dan. 12: 11). It is this Power to which Christ refers.
There has been much controversy in regard to Christ's meaning here, as we might have expected from his caution—"let him that readeth understand," resulting in great divergence of conclusions regarding many other things besides this. And as I believe this is a pivotal part of the Prophecy, having very much to do with a proper understanding of the proximity of our Lord's return, I shall try to settle the matter,so far as possible.
1. The scene of the prophecy in which this "little horn" is first mentioned, is in the East. Medo-Persia, and Greece in its final form, were both eastern kingdoms, and all their conquests left the great West untouched. Rome (which is quite generally believed to, be the Power here referred to), on the contrary, was
originally and finally a western power. The whole West Was under her control, only partially and inter. mittently did she dominate the East, and never so far as the eastern limit of the old Grecian kingdom. This is true of both Pagan and Papal Rome.
2. In some way this "little horn" was vitally con. nected with the Grecian kingdom, either springing out of the ruling power itself, or appearing on the territory included within its limits. It is true that Rome succeeded Greece in the universal sovereignty, but there is no sense in which Rome could have been said to arise "out of 11 either the original Grecian power, or one of the divisions into which it was separated when Alexan. der died. In Dan. 7 we have a vision of Rome following Greece in world-supremacy, but in that vision Rome comes up independently, and conquers her opponents by sheer force.
It has been suggested that the expression "out of one of them" refers not to the "four horns," but to the four 11 winds of heaven" toward which the 11 four horns" grew when the" notable horn" was broken. But the fact still remains that the "little horn" is on the head of the goat, showing its vital connection therewith. Read both chapters carefully, and imagine—if you can —the mighty "fourth beast" of chapter 7 as simply a "little horn" on the head of the "leopard!" A painful incongruity of figures is immediately apparent.
3. The Power prefigured in chapter 8 has a very small beginning, but rises into a condition of power which presents an amazing contrast with its original condition. Now this is the way all kingdoms arise—small and weak at first, and then more or less rapidly gaining strength and power. And so this feature alone would be no mark of identity whatever. If, however, we understand that this feeble condition refers only to the time when this Power first made its appearance int, 4 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 87
the Eastern World, we have an earmark which does not apply to Rome at all. When she first began to` ° intervene" in the affairs of the East, she was already the strongest kingdom on the globe, else she would not have secured the results which followed that intervention. From an eastern point of view, we may say that Rome came into the national arena, just as did Greece, full-grown and fully armed.
4. This Power was to extend its conquests "toward the South, and toward the East, and toward the glorious land"—Palestine. Arising in the East, its future course would only be such as would leave it at last essentially an eastern Power. This description cannot be referred to Rome, for Rome's place was essentially West rather than East, and she was always and only a" western Power. Only when "divided" do we have a distinctively Eastern Roman empire. Besides, it would be the plainest tautology to speak of Rome as waxing great "toward the east, and toward the glorious land."
5. This Power was not Antiochus Epiphanes, for he died B. C. 164, and we have here the plainest possible declaration of Christ that in His day this prophecy was still unfulfilled. And I marvel at the exegesis which restricts the tremendous imagery of Daniel 8 to the short, meteor-like career of Antiochus the Mad.
6. This Power was not the .Roman Army in its work of destruction at Jerusalem, for that army was only the instrument of Rome, which has already been excluded from any relationship to this "abomination." Besides, at that time there was no "great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until Dow, no, nor ever shall be." The siege of Jerusalem was a terrible affair, but it has had its parallel, and will have it again. And the "tribulation" of those days was not followed "immediately" nor remotely by darkened sun and moon, falling stars, "the sign of the Son
88 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
of man in heaven," and His appearance" with power and great glory."
7. This Power was not the Papacy, for that is only another form of Old Rome. Moreover, "the Abomination of desolation" was intimately related to "Judea," which was not true of the Papacy; for, when the Papacy arose, Judea passed into the hands of Islam, forever free from Papal control. The command to dwellers in Judea to "flee unto the mountains," is utterly meaningless if given as a method of escaping Papal persecution!
8. There is but one Power left which has ever been spoken of by expositors as "the Abomination of desolation," and that is the Moslem Power. That this is not mere conjecture, the following facts will show.
a. Islam arose in the East, and through all its changes has remained an eastern Power.
b. It made its first appearance to the world on the territory of the old Grecian kingdom.
c. It appeared at a time when the Persian kingdom had been revived, and the "Eastern Roman empire," though Roman in name, was Grecian in fact—being in a sense the Grecian kingdom revived.
d. It was notably weak and "little" in its beginnings,—so weak as not to excite the least apprehension among the eastern rulers. The demand of the "little" army which first essayed to overthrow the civilization of Eastern Rome, to become Moslem or pay tribute, under penalty of extermination, aroused only contempt and ridicule. And, as a matter of fact, that first army was driven back to its desert fastnesses in dire confusion.
e. Despite its weakness, real and apparent, it has "waxed exceeding great." There is no one Power on earth to-day, with all the losses and failures of centuries past, which really has the strength which would be possessed by united Islam. Apparently, only providential interference has held it back from world-dominion.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
f. Its greatest victories have been south, east, and toward Palestine. Though, like a great tidal wave, it has more than once threatened to overwhelm the West, it has been swept back into the East again, leaving only the marks of its western ravages. From the standpoint of the Holy Land—the point of view of Bible prophecies generally—Africa is south, and has always been spoken of as among the "southern" countries; and more than half that continent is under t1te shadow of the Crescent. And Islam has gone eastward till nearly half of Asia south of Siberia is Moslem. And" the glorious land" has with brief exceptions been continuously under the heel of its Moslem conquerors.
g. It has "magnified itself even to the Prince of the host," as no other Power has ever done. Its foundation doctrine strikes down the Son of God from his rightful throne, and makes him a mere man: and His religion has been opposed, and His followers put under ban, to an extent true of neither Pagan nor Papal Rome.
h. Lastly, it has been par excellence an 11 Abomination that maketh desolate." It has proscribed and crushed every other religion, and enforced its decrees of extermination by methods which have made its very name an abominable stench in the nostrils of ancient and modern civilization; while the pathway of its armies, and the abodes of its civilization, have been marked by desolations such as were never described or conceived in connection with any other System known to men. Where Islam has passed by, devastation and ruin have remained. In brief, no other Power fills the prophetic mold ; Islam fills it with astonishing exactness.
If Islam is the Power to Avhich Christ here refers, what part does Islam play in this prophecy ? Just this—at a certain period it is to "stand in the holy place," and this is to be the signal for flight "unto the mountains," to escape the "great tribulation" which
90 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
follows, and which is the precursor of other startling events immediately preceding the coining of Christ.
From its close connection with "Judea," "the holy place" must mean Jerusalem—no other holy place was ever there. This "standing" cannot refer to its first Moslem occupation in A. D. 637, for no "great tribulation" came then, nor does anything since then answer to it: we must therefore await a future fulfilment. That is, something must yet happen which indentifies the Moslem power still more closely with the Holy City, and nothing could occur to make that identification closer than at present, except some act which will make Jerusalem the Capital of the Moslem World.
This was the original intention of Mohammed, and for years every Moslem turned his face thitherward in prayer; and to-day there is a tradition and belief among Moslems that the Sultan will one day be compelled to leave Europe, and make Jerusalem his headquarters. In case of such a necessity, the moral effect of such a move on the vast hordes of fanatical Moslems, would be beyond all computation. We know that pressure in this direction has already been felt by Islam, so much so that during the last Russo-Turkish war Constantinople came near being abandoned by the Sultan. This prophecy, the universal expectation of the Moslems, and the trend of existing facts—all combine to make such a startling move exceedingly probable. See Dan. 11: 45.
We are also justified, from the connecting word "therefore," in believing that this "change of base" will be caused by the preaching of the gospel. As a proof of this possibility, I note that the Armenian massacres were confessedly .a secondary result of gospel preaching in Armenia, and that such massacres are now liable to make international trouble. When that removal occurs, then we may know that the gospel has been « preached in the whole world," and the "end" is comE.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 91
THE GREAT TRIBULATION.
The reason why those in Judea at this time were told to flee unto the mountains, is because "then—in close connection with the ' abomination' standing in the holy place—shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now—the time when He spoke the words—no, nor ever shall be." What is this "Great Tribulation?" Has it already come, or is it yet in the future ?
1. The Tribulation was not the trouble which came at the destruction of Jerusalem. Not only is the Roman army excluded from the possibility of having been the c4abomination" which inaugurates this "tribulation," but there were no phenomena "immediately" or remotely connected with that destruction which correspond to the words describing the appearance of the sun, moon and stars,—and absolutely nothing whatever corresponding to the 11 Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory." To place the 11tribula, tion " there, it becomes necessary to dwarf this grand climax of the whole Prophecy into a meaning both insignificant and contemptible—making the figure a thousandfold more striking than the reality!
2. This Tribulation cannot be the Papal persecution. The Papacy never had control of Judea, and has caused no persecution there ; and these words of Christ cannot be considered apart from that country. A tribulation arising more than a thousand miles westward of Judea, and almost wholly confined to the West, fails lamentably to fulfil this Prophecy. And even if the theory be admitted, I doubt if the words of Christ here will bear the
92 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
thought of waiting one hundred and twenty years after the tribulation before he returns!
3. These two points being admitted, the Great Tribulation is still in the future, and before Christ's return, for no other event corresponds to this prediction. And if so, then we must consider it identical with Daniel's "Time of Trouble," Dan. 12: 1. That "time of trouble" is certainly still in the future, and in both cases the descriptive words are superlative in their character, forbiddino, us to look for two periods of trouble.
I cannot admit that the 11 time of trouble" is to come on the world, and the "great tribulation" refers only to the sufferings of the church, for Christ is not speaking here of the church as such, but of a trouble which primarily involves the land of "Judea," making flight and concealment necessary to preserve life,—a national trouble beginning in "Judea" and spreading throughout the world,—and Islam will be the "firebrand" which kindles the flame. Besides, there is no reason to believe that the days of Papal persecution have been miraculously 11 shortened," or that if they had not been shortened "no flesh would have been saved"—i. e., the extermination of the race has never been seriously threatened by the Papacy. But the Tribulation threatens just that, and only because of the elect who are involved in the common danger—not taken away from it miraculously, "those days shall be shortened" by divine interposition, at the appearing of the King of kings. The people of God shall be delivered, even "every one that shall be found written in the book," but this will be when God intervenes, causing a shortening of those days. Read Jer. 25: 15-33, Ezek. 38 & 39, Zech. 14, Dan. 11: 4412: 4, Joel 3: 9-17, and Rev. 19: 11-21, for further prophecies of this coming tribulation. See also "The Eastern Question, and the Coming Time of Trouble among the Nations," advertised elsewhere.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 93
DARKENED SUN AND MOON, AND FALLING STARS.
The Bible more than once mentions darkened sun and moon in connection with special occasions of divine judgment. In the prophecy of Babylon's downfall, Isa. 13: 10, we read, "The stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine." In Ezekiel's prediction of Egypt's overthrow (ch. 32: 7), he says, 11 When I shall extinguish thee, I will cover the heaven, and make, the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land." Just before the last plague of Egypt when the firstborn were slain, there: came "thick darkness" in all Egypt, "even darkness which may be felt." And when the Divine Tragedy was enacted on Calvary, "from the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour."
In all these cases we are dealing with events now past, but we find the same imagery in several places where the prophecies refer to the Day of the Lord. We are told in Joel 2: 31, "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and 'terrible Day of the Lord come;" and in 3: 14, 15, "The Day of the Lord is near. . . . The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining."
In Zech. 14, which unquestionably refers to the coming of Christ, the language strongly suggests the veiling of the heavenly lights. The Authorized Version reads, "And it shall come to pass in that day that the light
94 CHRIST'S LAST -PROPHECY. CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 95
shall not be clear nor dark;" and the Revised Version, "the light shall not be with brightness and with gloom;" or, as given in "another reading" in the margin, "there shall not be light : the bright ones shall contract themselves" [i. e., the sources of light shall be darkened]. "It shall be one day which is known unto the Lord, ['a day altogether unique, differing from all others'—Rev. A. R. Fausset], not day and not night [' not day' because the light is withdrawn, and I not night' because it is in the daytime], but it shall come to pass that at evening time there shall be light" ['towards the close of this twilight time of calamity, "light" shall spring up. See Isa. 30: 26, & 60: 19, 20."—A. R. F.]. These passages in Joel and Zechariah show that a peculiarly dark day will come in immediate connection with the close of the Age.
We have here a similar prediction. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall [Mark, "shall be falling"] from heaven, and [Luke, "for"] the powers of the heavens shall be shaken."
Many expositors, believing that the"abomination" refers to Papal Rome, and the" great tribulation" to the 1260 years of Papal supremacy, and assuming that this supremacy ended in 1780, refer this darkening of sun and moon to the "Dark Day," May 19 of that year, and the falling of the stars to the great star shower in 1833. Regarding this theory I will sa
There ought to be no doubt at !.his point that the Papacy is not the "abomination of desolation," and that the "great tribulation" is still in the future,—in which case the Dark Day of 1780 is ruled out entirely.
2. There is no such exactness in prophetic dates as gives us the right to say that the supremacy of Papal Rome ceased in just that year. There are several years from which this supremacy has been reckoned, anduncertainty as to the beginning of that period, makes uncertainty regarding its close. This point is strongly emphasized by the whole history of 11 time-setting " during the last half century. As proof that this supremacy did not end in 1780, heretics were publicly executed by Papal authority as late as 1826! See Ency. Brit.
3. The darkening of the sun in 1780 is not sufficiently important to be a fulfilment of this prediction. "A tract of land and sea 800 miles in length, and 400 miles in breadth, embracing an area of 320,000 square miles," inhabited by 11 a population of 700,000 souls" (see 11 Great Consummation," p. 244), measures the known extent of the darkness in 1780. But, though the "abomination" and the "tribulation" " are closely connected with 11 Judea," this darkening occurred more than five thousand miles westward, on territory very sparsely populated—not more than one third of whose inhabitants saw the phenomenon, in a country not mentioned in prophecy, and entirely outside the ordinary prophetic arena!
To show the absurdity of the claim that this particular dark day was mentioned in Christ's Last Prophecy—the greatest prophecy ever spoken, as a token to the Church Universal that the "tribulation" was past, and the Day of the Lord was about to break on the world, just try an experiment. Procure a globe six inches in diameter — having 113 square inches of surface, and over the locality of New England and the Atlantic Ocean eastward, paste a piece of paper seven-sixteenths of an inch square, and then ask yourself if a darkness visible only in that small area, is not utterly insufficient as a token of impending judgment in a world like ours!
The claim that there were no probable earthly causes for this darkness, is not sustained. It is stated on authority that for weeks before the Dark Day, great forest fires had been burning in Canada; and one of my grandmothers told me that her mother found fine ashes on
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white clothes lying on the grass at that time—a good proof that the sky was obscured by smoke. This may not have been seen everywhere, as the conditions might have been different. And with a large forest fire, a low barometer—bringing the smoke near the earth, and then a dense cloud, you have all the conditions for a day as dark as this one. I have myself seen a day very similar to that, though not so dark, and smoke was known to be the principal cause. And many other similar dark days are on record, both before and after this, causing many to believe that the judgment was near.
A day like this, only noted in such a circumscribed area, and where the darkness was only "as great as bright moonlight" (see 11 Gr. Con.," p. 239), is hardly worthy of a place in a Prophecy in which the history of both the Jewish people and the Christian Church are outlined through more than 1800 years! And the "opinions" of those who gazed on that scene, should have no weight whatever regarding its true place in prophecy. I admit that this phenomenon—as also the 'star-showers"—may be placed with many similar ones among the 11 signs in sun and moon and stars," and that it has been effective in pointing men to a coming judgment; but I earnestly protest against allowing it to close our eyes to "the things that are coming on the world." Of course, with this view we can no longer cry, "All the signs are in the past," and that is well; for, after men have been saying that for fifty years, those who hear the cry will draw some conclusions not very favorable to the truths we preach. If all the signs are in the past, we are very much at sea in this matter!
What shall we look for? Simply this—at the close of the "great tribulation" there will be a supernatural darkening of the sun, very probably the ultimate outcome of the forces now at work in itself which have produced the sun-spots and the Auroral displays,—the
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 97
sun-spots themselves being but partial darkenings of that orb; as a consequence of this, the moon will cease to shine, the source of her light being obscured; and, probably at the same time, there will be a meteoric display eclipsing anything ever seen before :—and all this because the "powers" or forces which have thus far controlled the orderly course of events in the heavens, have been 11 shaken,"—thrown out of their ordinary methods of action.
This view of the Prophecy opens before us something grand and inspiring. When Christ was born, a single star announced his birth: when He returns, flashing meteors, rushing through the air and exploding with thunder sound, will herald his approach to men who now mock the message of the Star of Bethlehem. When He was crucified, deep darkness'fell on all the land of Judea, Nature thus showing her grief at the death of her Creator : when He is 11 manifested" to the world, not as a suffering Saviour but as the King of kings, with his own hand will he hide the sun, thus warning the whole world of his approach. Dien will be fulfilled the words of Isaiah, "The moon shall be confounded, and the sun shall be ashamed, for Jehovah of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously!" Isa. 24: 23.
To those who insist that the predictions of solar and lunar obscurations in connection with temporal judgments on Babylon and Egypt, were only figures of political catastrophies, and that therefore these words of Christ require no literal fulfilment, a word will suffice. 1. There is no evidence that the predictions regarding Babylon and Egypt were not literally fulfilled. 2. The predictions here regarding Jerusalem surrounded by armies, the destruction of that city and the sufferings of the people, the preaching of the gospel, the hatred of all nations, etc.,—these are all admitted to be literal.
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This being admitted, there is no possible rule of interpretation which can put this part of the prophecy into the realm of figurative language. If they are literal, this must be; or, we are entirely adrift, without chart or compass.
There is scientific probability that these results will come. The 11 star-showers" already witnessed show possibilities once unknown, and no Scientist dare deny the probability of still greater displays; and the commotions now known to be occurring in the sun, suggest still further developments in that direction. And the prophecies quoted from Joel and Zechariah, in connection with these words of Christ, should leave no doubt in the mind of the believer.
As proof that I am not alone in this view, I quote from a private letter, written in 1896, by a well known, prominent and "orthodox" Adventist, who has given much thought to this subject :—" For years I have doubted that the dark day of 1780 was the one meant in Matt. 24: 29. There is too much in immediate connection with the verses in Matt. 24, showing that that darkening of the sun is but the beginning of the very near end. The parable of the fig tree shows it: when the tree begins to put forth leaves, summer is I nigh,' not more than a hundred years off. And when we find it recorded in Joel 3: 15, and Zech. 14: 6, that a terribly dark day will happen in immediate connection with the coming of the Lord and the battle of the great Day, it seems to me that Matt. 24: 29 must apply to that time." These sentiments have been my own for twenty years, and every year strengthens my belief that they are correct.
[Note. Authorized Version, margin, says with reference to the words in Zech. 14: 6, 44 the light shall not be clear nor dark,"—" That is, it shall not be clear in some places, and dark in other places, of the world." If correct, this rules out all local darkenings of the sun.]
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THE GLORIOUS APPEARING. -
The grand climax of this Prophecy has come—the event for which all its other events have been preparatory. We have traced the history of Jerusalem's overthrow and down-treading, and the sufferings and wanderings of her people; we have seen the Church, hated of all nations, persecuted by avowed foes and betrayed by professed friends,. steadily advancing until the banner of the Cross floats over every land; we have seen the "Abomination of desolation" wasting the earth for more than a thousand years, and in its death struggles precipitating "The Great Tribulation;" we have seen the trembling earth, the troubled sea, the warring winds, the veiled sun and moon, and the very stars falling to the earth:—and now, amid this darkness—" in clouds"—is seen the awful form of Him who was-once "despised and rejected of men," coming in earth's last hour of agony, when all human help has failed, to take the scepter of power, and bring order out of confusion. When the last great trouble is at its height, when man's failure has become complete, 'Itken shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven," "then shall they see the Son of man coining in clouds with great power and glory."
1. It will be a literal Coming. After the long array of literal predictions here, we dare not call this a "figure." It was understood literally by the disciples, and was so preached in the early church. And in other Scriptures the thought of literal fulfilment cannot be laid aside. Christ used no "figure" when He said to the high priest, "Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man
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sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matt. 27: 64).
2. It will be a personal Coming. All through the ages Christ has been with his disciples in spirit. Cc Lo,
I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Then his "presence" (7rapov6za)—the tokens of which the disciples had just asked him to give—will be with his Church. "This Jesus . . . shall so come in like manner" (Acts 1: 11). "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven" (1 Thess. 4: 17 ).
3. It will be a visible Coming. "They shall see" Him coming, and the gloom of earth's last Day will make the vision still more startling, filling the whole world with deep alarm. "Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn."
4. It will be a glorious Coming. "In power and great glory" will He come down the bending skies. The glory which blinded Paul, which smote John the Revelator so that he became "as one dead," will then be visible to all. And blended with his own glory, will be the glory of his Father, and of his holy angels. Luke 9: 26. And as the outcome of that "glorious appearing," "all the earth shall be filled with the glory of Jehovah" (Num. 14: 21).
5. It will be a final Coming. Coming as King and reigning in righteousness, "his dominion is an everlasting dominion," "and of his kingdom there shall be no end " (Dan. 6: 14, and Luke 1:33).
It is this event around which the Prophecy revolves, as the heavens around the polar star, and this glorious appearing has justly been called " the pole-star of the Church." Here our hopes center, here our aspirations find rest. And he who hides the light of this predictive promise under the clouds of vain philosophy, extinguishes the only light which can guide the world from the darkness of mortality. into the glory of eternal life.
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THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS.
"Dies Irce ! Dies Illa !
Solvet smclum in favilla!
—ge That Day of wrath! That awful Day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away !
The last act in the world's great Drama! The hour when the wrongs of earth are righted, and its unsettled accounts are closed! "The Judge of all the earth" sits upon the throne of his glory, and before him are gathered "all the nations." First, "his elect" are snatched by angel hands from the terror and darkness of Time's closing hour: and then, the strong impelling power of Him who was "lifted up," fulfils the prediction "I will draw all men unto me." And as we read his words regarding that scene, we must be deeply impressed with certain phases of this wonderful event.
1. It is a real transaction. We hear this "judgment scene" spoken of as simply a "spectacular" description of spiritual things, and not to be taken literally. But, as the remainder of the Prophecy must be taken literally, this cannot be figurative. We know that the most of it is very real—this must be real also. There might be consistency in claiming a figurative application of the whole Prophecy, but not of a part.
2. It will be surpassingly grand. Not only from its own astounding circumstances, but also from its amazino, contrast with the conditions under which He passed through this world — in humiliation and suffering. There can be no conceivable increase of grandeur for this Judgment hour.
3. The whole world will be there. Though we have
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here no mention of a general resurrection of the dead, neither do we have of the resurrection of the saved. Yet, we know that will be the first thing of all in the programme of redemption. "The dead in Christ shall rise first." Christ does not mention here the resurrected dead, neither does John in Revelation 20 mention the living. But it is distinctly predicted that He "shall judge the living and the, dead" (2 Tim. 4: 1); and unless the dead are to be present on this occasion, there must be two Judgment Days—which is contrary to Scripture.
4. Personal relations to the Judge—this will be the questidn which decides the destiny of those before the bar. Our treatment of Him in the person of his "little ones" will turn the scale of Justice. All other questions will sink out of sight.
5. There will be but two classes. One "on his right hand," the other 11 on the left :"—" sheep " and "goats "
6. The results will be eternal. No appeals, no "stay of proceedings," no new trial, no arrested judgment. Whatever the punishment, it will be 'eternal:" whatever the full significance of "life," it will be "eternal." "Eternal Judgment!"
7. That Judgment impends. Grant the correctness of what has been said, and "the Judge is at the door." The world rushes swiftly on to Armageddon's conflict, the gospel message speeds : soon" shall the end come." . Friends, can we afford to meet that Day unprepared ? Many who read these lines I shall never see in Time. We are sure to meet at the last Assize; shall we then stand 11 on His right hand" or "on the left ? "
11 Some one will knock when the door is shut, Hear a voice saying, I I know you not :' Some one will call and will not be heard,
Vainly will strive when the door is barred. Some one will fail of the saint's reward
SHALL YOU ? SHALL I ? 72
PRACTICAL AND PERSONAL.
True to his mission—the salvation of the lost, Christ devoted the larger part of his discourse on this occasion to direct commands, warnings and appeals of a practical, personal nature. "Take heed that no man lead you astray"—these are his opening words. Ignoring for the instant their eager questioning, he seems to see only the perils which will beset their path, and he continually warns them against these perils. Negatively and positively they were to be in constant danger of being led astray, and mere intellectual acceptance of the facts he foretells, would of itself be utterly insufficient to keep them in safety. We may well imitate his example, and dwell carefully on his warning words. And we should be sure not to miss the point of ' each illustration, remembering that (a) illustrations, like parables, must not be made to go "on all fours,"—i. e., may contain incidents and features which have no direct bearing on the lesson designed to be taught; and (b) such incorrect application quite often leads to error in faith and practice. I might mention several cases where this has proved true in regard to this very Prophecy.
,,The days of Noah" are mentioned among the illustrations of danger and escape therefrom. What may we learn by this reference ? This is easily answered by reading what He says regarding those days. During the period immediately preceding the flood, the world
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was going on as usual, "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark." Whatever Noah said to them. as "a preacher of righteousness," it made no impression upon them, and "they knew not until the flood came and took them all away." Until Noah was shut into the ark, the scoffing throng of unbelievers had no fear of catastrophe. This security, however, was fatal. Outside the ark there was no safety, and when the door of that refuge was once closed, they were forever shut out to despair and death. The flood came as a terrible surprise, when all chance for escape had been cut off.
11 So shall be the coming of the Son of man." With all the repeated warnings of faithful watchmen, the world will finally be taken absolutely by surprise. Here and there will inen of the world be engaged in close relations with Christ's waiting ones: but even that close intimacy will not avail. "One is taken, and one is left." Angel hands will snatch "his elect" away from the scene of their humiliation and mourning, but their companions in the world will be left behind.
This cannot refer to Jerusalem's downfall, for in that disaster there was no such providential and miraculous deliverance for any. Those who were to escape from that trouble must use their own judgment, and when the right time came, "flee." And all expositions of this passage which find a hidden meaning in the " seven days" preceding the flood, etc., or anything apart from the thought that the Advent of Christ will be sudden and unexpected, are purely fanciful as well as pernicious.
"Watch therefore, for ye know not on what day your Lord corneth.11 This is the point of the illustration, and it should never be forgotten. God help us to "watch and pray," lest we enter into temptation. The perils increase as the days go by: only watchfulness and prayer will insure safety.
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THE UNFAITHFUL SERVANT.
"Who then is the faithful and wise servant?" These and the following words have undoubted reference, primarily, to the under-shepherds of the "little flock." and the attitude they maintain with reference to this matter of our Lord's return. All Christian workers, however, may well consider themselves as being personally addressed here. And the fate of the unfaithful servant should cause every one of us to give diligent attention to these words of the absent Lord.
Furnishing food is an important part of the work of every steward. Not an overabundance to-day, and a scarcity to-morrow, but "in due season"—at just the moment when needed. And in the realm of revealed truth the same principle applies. In every Age certain truths should be made specially prominent. There are truths, however, which must never be ignored, being always of vital importance, and at times increasingly so. To this class belongs the truth of Christ's return' to earth. Both himself and his disciples gave it great prominence: and, as time continues, and the hour of that Return draws near, its importance necessarily increases. And in our own day, when the "signs" are thickening on every hand, when the expectation of world-wide catastrophe exists among all nations, and Christians as never before are connecting the events of the times with the thought of the Second Advent, more and more should the truths taught in this Prophecy be pressed on Church and World by every ambassador of the absent King.
It was to enforce this thought that Christ speaks of
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the faithful and unfaithful servants. The faithful servant studies the needs of the 44 household," and brings forth the spiritual food which is needed. The unfaithful servant, knowing his duty, and the food which those under his care need, fails to furnish it. And this action arises from the fact that he says "My Lord tarrieth." Possibly he declares openly his expectation of meeting his Master very soon, but "in his heart" another sentiment prevails. And the token of this heart disloyalty is speedily seen in his life. He smites his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken: personal ambition, and love of personal enjoyment, take the place of loyalty to Christ.
Who is meant here? Those Ministers of Christ who, finding that the thought of Christ's imminent return is distasteful to the world and a worldly church, deliberately suppress the truth, tone down the gospel message, and while they see the world rushing on to its doom, are silent regarding the perils and duties of the hour.
Brethren in the ministry, with a deep love for you all, second only to my love for Christ, I beg of you to examine yourselves, and know positively how you stand in this matter ! If you suppress the truth regarding our Lord's return, the Master himself will sternly call you to account. If you are not clear on this point, study the subject till the truth breaks on your vision, and then be honest with yourselves and with God. 11 Among the hypocrites! 11 That will be his fate who wears the mask of silence on this all-important subject ! "Preach the word!"
"My reverend brethren, preach the coming of Jesus—I charge you in the name of our common Master, preach the coming of Jesus—solemnly and affectionately in the name of God, I charge you, PREACH THE COMING OF JESUS."—Rev. Dr. Hugh MoNeile.
There are two classes of parables used by our Lord: one, where he relates a story designed to represent some fact or truth, each detail standing for a part of that truth—the parable being a type, and the thing illustrated, the antitype; another, where a story is told, with the usual details and incidents, solely for the purpose of illustrating a single point, or moral. The parable of the tares of the field is of the first order, the parable! under consideration here, of the second. It is simply an Eastern scene, common enough then and now in that locality, given with considerable minuteness, but given solely to enforce a single thought which is brought out. at its close. A certain class of expositors have speculated much regarding the meaning of the "bridegroom,"' the "virgins," the "lamps," the "oil," the "slumber," the "midnight cry," etc.; and very fanciful expositions have been given, which have tended to obscure the-special truth Christ desired to illustrate.
Remember at the outset that this parable belongs to the second class, and then read the story:—how the damsels who were to take part in the marriage festivities, rested before the bridegroom's house while they waited for his return from the home of his bride: how they naturally slumbered, but with perfect propriety, as the only thing they had to do was to refill and relight their torches: how, when the usual cry came, 11 Behold, the bridegroom! " those who were ready easily relighted their lamps, and went out a little way to welcome him to his home: how those who were unprepared for a delay were compelled to go away and
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THE TEN VIRGINS.
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purchase the needed oil: how the bridegroom came and passed into the hall of feasting, and the door was shut: how the belated ones returned from their search for oil only to find themselves shut out, and hear the word which is invariably spoken to every person in the East who seeks admission to a marriage feast after it has begun, "Depart." Read this as a simple Eastern story, undoubtedly true to life in all its details, and then without any deep study as to the meaning of this or that feature of the narrative, listen to the words with which the Master sends home the truth he sought to convey to their minds and ours,—" Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour."
That is, the event of His return is so uncertain from a human point of view, that in only one way may we be sure of being ready to meet him with joy when he comes,—by keeping ready all the time. No thought that he will not come till a certain time, can be safely cherished. Not the least lack of preparation can safely be permitted. His coming, though long looked for and earnestly desired, will be sudden and unexpected to every Christian who is not thoroughly prepared to meet him. And unreadiness will mean a terrible surprise, for to those who are not ready, whether believers in his return or not, there is one common misfortune, the terrible words, 411 know you not." What hope for those whom He does not know ?
And this readiness means something infinitely deeper than intellectual assent to the truth. It means preparation of heart, holiness of life, fitness for eternal life.
Should the summons, quickly flying,
On the slumb'ring nations fall,
Lo ! the heavenly Bridegroom cometh! Would the sound your souls appal?
Are you ready, should you hear the midnight call ?CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 109
THE BURIED TALENT.
This parable fitly represents the departure and return of our Lord, and the fact that his servants have each received a "talent" to be used during His absence. There is no exception here: each has some opportunity or gift exclusively his own. And 11 ability " will be the
measure of obligation. "To whomsoever much isi given,
of him shall much be required." Faithful use of small opportunities will secure the Master's favor as truly as the use of the largest opportunities.
The real force of this parable lies in what is said regarding the buried talent. And there is a significance in the fact that it was the possessor of the one talent who so stupidly buried all his chances of success. Is not this a special message to those who have only few advantages, and who feel so keenly that they have no chance to do effective work in His vineyard? Though persons of large opportunities often misuse their privileges, it is also true that the temptation to leave them altogether unused, comes more often to the weak ones, to those who are shut in, to those who really seem to be without influence or power for good. It is easy to think that, because So-and-so has a wide field of labor, and his life is a grand success, it is therefore useless for less favored ones to do anything at all. "My work will only. be a raindrop, when the fields need a plentiful shower: it will make no difference whether I do anything or not." Envy and ambition, also, often stir the heart with this spirit of rebellion against one's surroundings, resulting in total failure as a worker for Christ.
Use the talents you have. God will not grant greater
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privileges to one who does not use those already given. It was probably more to test faithfulness that the single talent was given, than for the increase of the original possession. Faithfulness in that small trust would have earned the plaudit,—" Thou halt been faithful over a few things, I will set the over many things." And from him who thus failed in his trust was taken all that he had, while to him who was specially successful, were given still greater privileges. A principle of the Universe is illustrated by this, though it may seem to work harshly at times,—" Unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall. be taken away."
Beware how you bury God-given talents. I once heard of a woman who for years rebelled against her "surroundings" and "straitened circumstances," and who finally broke away from the place where Providence had placed her, only to find her way still hedged up, and her life more barren than ever before: and all through those years of repining and heart rebellion, there were children in her own family, and other children in the neighborhood, whom she could easily have gathered into a Sunday-school, giving them instruction which all sorely needed, and which some of them have never received! She buried her talent, and will stand at last before the Master with actually less ability and power to serve him effectively, than before the years. of her vain repining !
What will the Master say to such? Read his words,, and answer the question yourselves. Whether it means absolute loss of eternal life, or salvation "so as through fire" (1 Cor. 3: 15), that Day alone will reveal. God help us to be "faithful over a few things."
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. III
"AS A THIEF."
There are two theories regarding the manner of Christ's coming. 1. That he will come openly and visibly, seen by the whole world. 2. That he will come invisibly, the church will be taken away secretly, and the world will not be aware of the fact. This is the so-called "secret rapture" of the saints, who thus escape the last Time of Trouble; while to those who are left, there will be another opportunity for repentance: and, after the "great tribulation," headed by a personal "Antichrist" yet to be developed, the Lord will be openly "manifested" " to all men, and probation will end. The details of this theory are given with great minuteness and confidence, and it would almost seem from the positiveness with which they are enumerated, as if the Bible had a specific prophecy of this secret coming.
As one form of the "secret coming" theory, there is the belief that he has already come, and that his coming is not yet made known to the world. Some hold that he came about A. D: 70, while others claim that lie came at some period since 1840—I think 1868 is the exact date, that his kingdom is now established, and we are living in the time of his "presence" (7rapov6za).
The 'latter view has been spread through the country very widely in a series of books entitled 11 The Millennial Dawn," written in a taking style, with arguments very captivating to those who are not able to sift out error from truth. Thousands of these books are being sold among Christians of all denominations, those who buy being usually ignorant of the doctrines taught.
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I shall consider these beliefs as forms of the same error, and shall neither state nor answer the arguments for either form, for they are elusive, difficult to grasp, lacking in logical coherence, and consequently best answered by a positive argument that He will come openly and visibly—that there will be no dual coming, and no secret rapture. I shall let him speak for himself in this matter, assuming that he knew more about it then than we can know now. What does He say about it?
1. There is not in this Prophecy the faintest suggestion of an invisible coming of Christ. There is no hint that he will only be seen by those who are ready for his coming, and that backslidden and worldly disciples will wake up, to find the better element of the church missing, as stated in the tract,—" The Missing Ones." There is not the slightest intimation that after he returns, any one will have an opportunity to make up for lost time and wasted opportunities. There is nothing to show that his presence will be hidden from the world, or from any of his professed followers. There is not the slightest hint of a "secret rapture." This silence is a tremendous argument against this view.
2. On the contrary, the very first thing He says regarding his appearing is as follows:—"Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven—something visible to all, and a convincing proof that he is, close at hand;—and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall SEE the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven." And this mourning of "all the tribes of the earth" is positive proof that his coming will be visible to all. All three evangelists record the prediction that men shall "SEE" him when lie comes. And the fact that there is no mention made of a "secret" coming before this, and no suggestion that only a portion of mankind will "see" him, leaves no ground whatever for such a belief.
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The same thought of a visible coming appears in other Scriptures. Christ said to Caiaphas, "Hereafter ye shall SEE the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matt. 26: 64). The Revelator expresses the same thought:— 11 Behold He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall SEE him" (Rev. 1: 7). Paul had the same idea in 1 Thess. 4: 16;—" The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God." The suggestion that this " shout" will only be heard by the waiting saints, would be hardly worthy of a notice, were it not the serious belief of many. Pray, of what use is the "shout," the 4 voice of the archangel," and the "trump of God," if they are not to strike the ears of men ? Such a belief seems almost incredible!
3. Our Lord evidently foresaw the present confusion on this subject. There is a hint of it in his first caution to beware of "many who shall come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ."' A coming visible to all the world would not require a personal statement to individuals that the Christ had come! And further on, in immediate connection with the "tribulation" and his appearing, he says again, 11 Then if any man shall. say unto you, 'Lo, here is the Christ,' or, 'Here,l believe it not." When He comes it will not be necessary to send messengers around to announce his presence "here" or "there!"
And in one passage, particularly, He .strikes a, death-blow at the modern doctrine that Christ is now present:—"If therefore they shall say unto you, I Ile is in the wilderness,'—in the person of Mohammed, Bar Cochab, Swedenborg, Ann Lee, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Madame Blavatsky, or any one else who claims special relationship to "Christ" or "the Christ principle "—GO NOT FORTH; I Behold, he is in the inner
114 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
chambers,'—now present, but invisible to mortal eyes,— BELIEVE IT NOT." Have no argument with men on this subject, and pay not the slightest attention to their arguments. Everything of the kind, from the day of his departure to the hour of his return, however plausible, will be radically erroneous, and is simply to be let alone. And He gives as follows a convincing reason why all such arguments are to be utterly ignored:—"For, as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west, so shall be the coming (7rupovor'a—
z presence) of the Son of man."
As the lightning "—when men with good eyes dispute whether it lightens or not, then there may be reason to discuss the question of the "presence" of Christ. "As the lightning "—when men on our watch-towers say the lightning plays across the heavens, though gh all others fail to see it, then may those who stand on the watch-tower of Zion expect to be believed when they say "Behold, He is in the inner chambers, and we are the Heralds of His presence."
And He adds, "Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together," having no reference to the Roman eagles at Jerusalem, or to any national event since then, but solely to illustrate the absolute certainty with which all men will know when he does come, and the absurdity of believing that we shall need to be told when he gets here! Wherever the wounded animal falls on the desert plains, the telescopic eye of the vultures will discover the carcase. The eagles do not need telling where the carcase is, they see it when it falls. A striking figure, drawn from real life, illustrating the absolute impossibility of Christ's coming being "secret and invisible."
4 & CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 115
Some of those who believe in the Second Coming of Christ, seem to care more about knowing when he will come, than about getting themselves or others ready for his return. They spend much time seeking to discover the exact year, month and day, and very often show a decidedly unchristian spirit toward those who deny-their conclusions. They insist that "time is in the Bible," and therefore some one will finally be able to discover it. Repeated failures in "time-setting" do not seem to discourage them, but as soon as one "set time" has passed by, another is eagerly sought, and the former sad mistake is repeated. And some have gone so far as to actually unchristianize all who deny that the definite time of the Lord's return will ever be ascertained.
I admit unhesitatingly that there is "time" in the Bible—prophetic dates, periods and numbers, which were designed to enlighten the church as to its whereabouts on the coast of Time. But I positively deny that there are to be found any data which will enable us to fix the exact time of His return. For,
1. The beginning of prophetic periods is often very uncertain, and the exact relation of the period to the "end" is often a matter of doubt; therefore , there can be no certainty as to our conclusions.
2. Christ's words here prove that there can be no absolute certainty regarding his return. "Watch, therefore, for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh;" Be ye also ready, for in an hour that ye think not, the Son of man cometh ;" 11 Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour;" "Take ye heed, watch and pray,
11 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 11.7
for ye know not when the time is;" "Watch therefore, for ye know not when the Lord of the house cometh, whether at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning;" "And what I say unto you, I say unto all, WATCH." And more emphatic still,—" of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father."
It may be said that though men did not know then, they may know hereafter. Why then the necessity of watching ? Why should Christians be told to watch because they know neither the day nor the hour, if they were to know before the day came ? To the statement often made that "knoweth" should read I'maketh known," I reply, (1) Such a translation does not help the matter; if the Son does not "make known" the day, how are we to know it? (2) "Maketh known" is not a correct translation of the verb ozVot. The same word occurs in the phrase " Watch therefore, for ye know ( ol6a) not the day:" how would that sound if translated "make known?" That translation is a makeshift.
We lose the force of Christ's repeated commands to
watch," if we admit that men will ever know the exact time of the Advent, for he could hardly have used stronger language to show that they will not know. If he did not mean that, then his words are misleading.
3. We are told, however, that we may know approximately,—may know that"' He is nigh, even at the doors; may know when our "redemption draweth nigh; may be as sure that the time is near, as that "summer is nigh"—so sure that we may "look up" in constant expectation of seeing the King. And that is all we need to know. Certainty that he is coming soon, and uncertainty just when he will come, is all we may expect, and is just what is best for every one.
The claim that, though "that day and hour" may be hidden, the year wil 1 be known, is childish and indefensible!
THIS GENERATION—THAT HOUR.
"Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away till all these things be accomplished. . . . But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only." These are the pivotal words of this Prophecy, over which many serious -questions have been raised. The principal controversy has centred about the 'phrase "this generation." Rev. James Morrison, D. D., calls this passage "a statement which has caused almost infinite perplexity." Rev. Wm. Cunningham says of it, "This indeed is the difficulty which, more than any other, has puzzled and perplexed those who have endeavored to give a consistent interpretation to our Lord's prophecy."
The expression "all these things" must be carefully considered in connection with the phrase" this generation." It has heretofore been taken almost for granted that "all these things" include all the events predicted thus far in the prophecy, from the destruction of Jerusalem to the coming of Christ. That being assumed, a serious difficulty presents itself, namely, that while the Prophecy seems to include events running through all time, the phrase "this generation" seems to limit it to the lifetime of those who were listening. To remove this evident difficulty, has been the almost insoluble problem of expositors. I will give briefly some of the principal solutions of this problem, and then suggest a solution which I believe to be free from all the difficulties attending the others.
1. 11 1 This generation' refers to the men then living, all these things' include all the events predicted, and
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which were fulfilled during that generation. Consequently, while the prediction of Jerusalem's overthrow had a literal fulfilment, the prediction concerning Christ's coming must be taken figuratively." This is the usual interpretation given by Bible Universalists, and it is adopted by some others.
Answer. a. If Christ meant that all the things here predicted would be fulfilled in that generation, we know he was mistaken. That generation did not see the gospel "preached in all the world", nor Jerusalem "trodden down of the Gentiles till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled," nor the disciples "hated of all nations," nor a "great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be." Dr. Morrison says this view " seems pregnant with unbelievabilities."
b. There is no rule of language which can make the prediction concerning Christ's coming figurative, while in such indissoluble connection with the literal prediction of Jerusalem's downfall. If one is literal, both must be—especially when we remember Christ's words before the high priest (Matt. 26: 62).
% "Christ intended that his prophecy should be taken literally, and he also expected it would all be fulfilled in that generation : but he was mistaken." This is the explanation given by Spiritualists and Infidels quite generally, and is far more consistent than many others.
Answer. There are other wonderful *predictions here, about which we know he was not mistaken: for instance, the future of Jerusalem and the Jews, the spread of the gospel, the peculiar hatred of the world for his followers, etc., though these predictions must have seemed exceedingly improbable at the time. And when 11 God raised him from the dead,"—an event historically demonstrable (see "The Foundation of our Faith and Hope," advertised elsewhere), the highest possible proof was
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 119
given that he was infallible. Knowing the
fulfilment of a portion of this Prophecy, and granting
120 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
rendering is a device to get relief. Every such device is always open to suspicion. It leads to eisegesis in-instead of exegesis: i. e., tempts one not to educe the author's meaning, but to introduce one's own. The truth is, the relief he desires is not to be found in that direction. Yours fraternally, J. Henry Thayer."
"Cambridge, Mass., Jan. 23, 1892. My Dear Sir:—Yours is the second letter I have received within a week on the passage to which you refer. The question of the meaning of FMS ail y1lvilraz in Matt. 24: 34, and in Luke 21: 32, is one on which I could not have imagined there could be two sides. The common interpretation, 'until all be accomplished,' is the only one which the words can bear ; and to defend this, would be merely to restate some of the most familiar principles of Greek syntax. The meaning proposed, ,until all shall begin to be accomplished,' is absolutely impossible with the aorist yi-vilrai. Possibly the present subjunctive might be tortured into this, but even then apXi1raz ylveorOaz would express that sense far more clearly and unquestionably. . . .
Yours very truly, W. W. Goodwin." In the words 11 But when these things begin to come to pass," Luke 21: 28, we have a case of the beginning of a complete fulfilment, but, the words are translated from apXoy"'ycoy yiyeorOaz, instead of from yiyipraz —a radical difference.
b. After Christ had given them specific warnings concerning events which actually did happen in that generation, it would sound tame indeed to hear him say that all the events predicted would begin to transpire during their lifetime! And where then would be the force of the word "all?" Taken as a series, of course the whole series would begin to take place when the first event happened: viewed singly, then each event must begin in that generation, or "all" is superfluous!
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4. "'This generation' refers to the generation which was to see the signs predicted to occur just before Christ's return: and that generation will not pass away till all the Prophecy is fulfilled." This is the view generally held by American (and I think English) Adventists. Prof. Totten asserts very dogmatically that the word avr?l (this) should be translated "that," thus specifying a generation previously referred to.
Auswer. a. This explanation presents a constant and increasing difficulty. At first "this generation" was said to mean the generation which saw all the signs mentioned—beginning with the darkening of the sun in 1780. When that generation was nearly all dead, we were told that it referred to the generation which saw the last of the signs. Here was another difficulty—some calling the star-shower of 1833 the last sign, others including still later events. And if the Lord tarries, it will only be a question of time, and another change must be made. Besides, there is no force in the thought that the generation which saw the last sign will live till all these predictions are fulfilled! This exposition requires too much adjustment: we need some explanation which will be correct however long time may last. Dr. Morrison properly calls it 11 a torturing shift."
b. "That" is not a correct translation of av'777, rendered "this " in Matt. 24: 34, Mark 13: 30, and Luke 21: 32. This word, in some of its forms, dccurs in the New Testament 1331 times, and in the Authorized Version is translated 11 this 11 or 11 these "—with or without other supplied words, or by words for which "this" or "these" might properly be substituted, 1279 rimes, and "that" or "those" only 52 times ; and in 30 of these 52 cases, the Revised Version renders it "this" or "these." And after careful examination, I can say positvely that "this" or "these" would be strictly correct in the other 22 cases.
The Greek for "this generation "
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found in sixteen other cases; and in all, the only possible meaning is the generation then living. If we translate "that generation" in these three cases, we must first show that Christ had previously spoken of a future generation to which he here refers. THIS CANNOT BE DONE. And, if "that" had been the meaning intended—referring to a future generation, Matthew should have used the word iK,-Fyo.s—translated that in Matt. 24: 36.
5. "The word ye vea' ( generation) should be translated I race'—referring either to the race of men, or believers, or Jews." Most who advocate this theory, apply it to the Jews. This is an old.theory, and has this in its favor that, without reference to the lapse of time before our Lord's return, it would need no revision; for, he will find the "race"—in either sense—existing then.
Answer. "Race" is not what Christ meant here, for it is not a correct translation of the original, however true may be the sentiment expressed. In all its New Testament usage, outside the present instance, yE71ea' never means a "race" as such, and in most cases it refers necessarily to a particular generation. In every case the Revisers translate it "generation," and there is no good philological reason for an exception in this instance. Dr. Morrison says "race" is used here 11 most unwarrantably," and adds, "The great body of critics agree with us."
6. 11 1 This generation ' refers to the men then living, these things' has sole reference to the events immediately connected -with Jerusalem's downfall, while (that day arid hour' refers to the coming of Christ." This is Dr. Morrison's view, and it has been my own for twenty years. What are the proofs of its correctness.
a. "These things" is an expression that had been used before, and in exactly the sense just mentioned. "All these things shall come upon this generation" (Matt. 23: 36), means only the troubles then impending over the nation. This Prophecy was given primarily
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 123
as an answer to the question " Tell us, when shall these things be?"—referring to the same events. In this sentence Christ answers the question " When ? " And after their question, they must have understood "these things" as meaning just this, and nothing more.
b. 11 That day and hour" has been universally taken as referring to the time of Christ's coming. There certainly would have been little significance in saying that the time was known only to God, if he referred to "these things" already predicted for" this generation!" Furthermore, if referring to the time when "these things " were to occur, "the day" would have been far more expressive than "that day," neither would there have been need of the disjunctive "but." The universal belief regarding this phrase is certainly correct.
c. These two points conceded, we only need to read the verses with the emphasis given at the beginning of this Chapter, and it becomes strikingly apparent that Christ is speaking here of two events—one, the overthrow of the city, the other, his own return to earth. The first was to come in the "generation" then living, the time of the other was known only to God.
d. This theory fits the truth. We know positively that "these things," as just defined, .were all accomplished in the lifetime of the generation then living; and we have abundant testimony in Scripture aside from this passage, that of "that day and hour " when He shall return, knoweth no one. Whether Christ meant just this or not, it is true; and, however, long he may relay his coming, this exposition will need no readjustment.
e. This is the only explanation of this passage that is free from all the objections which, one or another, persistently stand in the way of every other theory. With this view, the words C'Wril (this), yc7-Eix (generation) and y& -raz (accomplished), do not require a forced translation; the predictions of Christ's return do
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 125
not need to be made figurative; Christ is not made to utter a manifest untruth, or make an evident mistake; nor are we compelled to readjust every fifty years !
f. This theory is not in danger of positive disproof. Every other theory has some fatal objection: this, none.
g. All this is cumulative evidence of great value. Its agreement with the legitimate definition of the words, its harmony with the obvious, surface meaning of the text, its accordance with all the facts, its applicability to all time, its freedom from all the usual difficulties, its lack of prohibitive objections, its self-evident fitness in this two-fold Prophecy as an answer to the disciples' two-fold question :—these form a seven-fold argument for this theory which cannot be easily answered !
h. One difficulty remains :—the phrase "these things" in. Matt. 24: 33, Mark 13: 29, and Luke 21:28, 31, can- not be restricted to the events of that generation; while Luke omits "these" from this passage, simply saying "till all things be accomplished," implying the fulfilment of every prediction. If "these things " in Matt. 24: 33 include events just before the Advent, why not in Matt. 24:34 ? I answer, 1, These passages are located nearer to the predictions of Christ's coming, than are the words discussed in this Chapter. 2, A wider use of the words here does not compel the same use everywhere, especially when in Matt. 23: 36, and 24: 3, they are restricted to that generation. 3, Not all the predicted events are included even in the cases just noted. 4, Luke simply omits a detail given by Matthew and Mark. 5, There is a missing factor in this Prophecy, unrecorded emphasis and gesture, which, considering eastern customs, must have been used. A wave of the hand would have solved this difficulty, which is not insuperable with these suggestions. In any event this theory moves on the lines of the "least resistance," it satisfies head and heart, and I am sure it will stand the test of time.
WATCH YE, THEREFORE.
This Prophecy is intensely utilitarian—filled with warnings of danger, and counsels for safety: a chart, giving the outlines of the coast of Time, marking the peculiar perils to be avoided, but with no statement of the exact time when those perils will be met. This of course throws upon us very largely the burden of insuring our own safety : and therefore the word which rings out through the whole Prophecy, like the clarion note of a trumpet, is " WATCH." Study of the Chart is necessary, prayer for divine guidance and help cannot be dispensed with; but through it all there is needed-a clear head, a steady eye and a ready hand, ever on the alert. For this there are many reasons : among these are
1. Uncertainty regarding the time.. Had the master of the house known in what watch the thief would come (Matt. 24: 43), he would have watched, and would have prevented his entrance: therefore, because we do not know the hour "when the Son of man cometh," and could not prevent it if we knew, our only safety lies in watching, "for in an hour that ye think not," He cometh.
2. False teachers. Insidious in approach, and specious in argument, we must ever watch against their seductions—especially just before His return. In spite of these warnings, they will "lead astray" many.
3. "Surfeiting." The danger, through abundance—whether of food, pleasure, or worldly possessions generally, of being blinded to existing perils. Christ's return will be in an age of wealth (see 2 Tim. 3: 2), and this will be a peculiar peril then.
4. "Drunkenness." Anything which drowns the.
on—OR I11 1 ~ I
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voice of conscience, and deadens the sensibilities to approaching danger — loss of self-poise from whatever narcotic or stimulant—will unfit us for watching, and will imperil our safety.
4. "The cares of this life. Vain ambition to excel, haste to acquire wealth or to obtain a competence, overwork and anxiety in worldly affairs—these will blind men to approaching judgment. And because of all these things, that Day will come upon the world "as a snare," —as a trap sprung on its victim without any warning!
This watching is not simply an intellectual comprehension and observance of "times and seasons." This conception of the matter, though quite common, is very far from the truth. Watching implies readiness, and that involves many different things. So, in this broad sense, we watch
1. By keeping our hearts right before Him. Only the pure in heart shall see God. Any hidden defilement will bar us out of the kingdom of heaven, for into it shall enter nothing that defileth.
2. By keeping busily employed in the Master's work. We are told to "Occupy till I come," and idleness in the vineyard will mean constant unreadiness for the hour of his return. We are not to decide that he will be here at just such a time, and shut .off steam before we reach that point; but we should work with a full head of steam, our eye on the track, 11 making time" up to the last moment.
3. By sounding the proclamation of His coming, ana thus getting others ready for "that day." No excuse will avail him who fails to sound the alarm when danger draws near.
Finally, "Watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to escape all these things, and to stand before the Son of Man." "And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch."
aCHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 127
PRACTICAL LESSONS OF THIS PROPHECY.
There are some lessons to be drawn from this wonderful Prophecy which do not appear on the surface. And these lessons are specially important in these days of swift change and hurried preparation for the closing events of Time : and they go up and down and out into the very depths of Infinity. For, granting that it is a prophecy of Him who dwells "in the bosom of the Father," and who had glory with Him" before the world was," we may look for finger-touches of omniscience and omnipotence. And treading here reverently, and listening for the things which the Spirit would have us learn, we shall be deeply impressed with these truths:
1. The divinity of Him who speaks. No candid, unprejudiced person can carefully examine thus far the detailed predictions of this Prophecy, without a profound and overpowering conviction that we are here dealingmediately or immediately—with Him who" knoweth the end from the beginning." Only One who could say, "As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father," and, "We speak that we do.know, and bear witness of that we have seen," could have pierced the gloom of two thousand years, and pictured so clearly the "things to come." One might doubt the story of His resurrection, but in Christ's Last Prophecy the evidence of his Messiahship and Divinity stands out with increasing strength from century to century. The Higher Critic may analyze and explain it away, but this brief fore-view of the Gospel Age will continue to carry conviction to doubting souls, enabling them to say, "Master, we know that thou teachest the way of God IN TRUTH."
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2. The certain fulfilment of the whole Prophecy. Standing on the central heights of this Prophecy where, touching with one hand the crumbling walls of Jeru~ Salem, He says, 11 Verily I say unto you, this generation .shall not pass away till all these things be accomplished," and with the other hand the flaming skies that proclaim his nearing advent, he says, 1113nt of that day and hour knoweth no one,"—he pauses between these two extremes of mighty significance, and utters those words the like of which were never before or since :spoken by one of woman born—"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words SHALL NOT PASS AWAY! "
Obscure of origin, and almost unknown outside the land of his birth, with no prospect of earthly power or advanceinent, going even now with awful deliberation down the swift descent to the Cross, there to suffer a felon's death—with a calmness and grandeur which Time has never paralleled, he fearlessly throws down the gauntlet for the Ages to come, and puts his words into the scale against the mighty Universe of the Almighty God ! And there they are to-day. Infidels have made light of these words, Rationalists and halfhearted Christians have tried to hide them away in the mists and shadows of human wisdom, but Ibis words remain. And every century which flits into the past, but reveals the truth and life-giving power of those words which are "spirit and life."
History is interwoven with this Prophecy, and the startling, unprecedented events of these times are swiftly taking the form outlined here. ' Though men have talked learnedly of the eternity of the visible universe, Science long ago spoke its "Amen" to this almost incredible statement that "heaven and earth shall pass away:" and from age to age, as with letters
of fire, his words have been burned into the very texture of human history. We stand with uncovered heads
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 129
before the astonishing fulfilment of his words in the Past, we bow with reverent spirit before the rising grandeur of those words which still await fulfilment in the Future. We walk the weary ways of earth hearing the mocking cry, " Where is the promise of His coming 9'.'—but our pathway is ever lighted by the glory which shines from His words, fulfilled and fulfilling, under our very eyes. So long as we see His words fulfilled regarding the fate of Jerusalem and her people, the wonderful spread of the Gospel, the hatred of all nations for his followers, and the peculiar combination of perils and signs which portend his coming—so
long may we rest assured that all he has predicted will come true. The history of the Christian Era is a running commentary- on His words, and we await with eager expectation their complete fulfilment!
3. The close proximity of the end. The great bulk of this Prophecy has been fulfilled, and we inevitably look for a speedy fulfilment of all the rest. We have passed the hour of Jerusalem's downfall, and for 1800 years the heel of the conqueror has been treading that city down; her people are still "captive in all nations," and their deep humiliation is not yet ended; the gospel is spreading among the nations as never.before, and we are beginning to count the years when 'all shall know of a crucified and risen Saviour;, in heaven above, the earth beneath, and the waters under the earth, the evidences of swiftly approaching change are on the increase ; while throughout our varied humanity there are tokens of unrest, trouble and distress of nations, not far distant and to an extent unparalleled in all Time. Admit the authority of His words in this Prophecy, and we are driven to believe that "the Judge standeth before the door," and that we, in the closing days of the nineteenth century, are living very near to the Consummation of the Age, and the Judgment of the nations !
130 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 131
4. The necessity of personal relations with Christ. "My words shall not pass away" refers not only to the words of this Prophecy, but to all his words. And when we have discovered how wonderfully these words are fulfilled, we may well seek to know what other words he has spoken which concern us. And thus seeking, we may easily discover that this strange Personage is himself the foundation of all our hopes. He it was who said:—" I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me;" 111 am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth oil me, shall never die;" "I am the living bread which came down out of heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever;" "He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, path eternal life;" "The words that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."
These are words which "shall not pass away:" words which no other man ever dared to speak, and which reach out into the lives and destinies of the race. They mean that all men are lost; and that Jesus the Christ is the Saviour of the world—your Saviour. They mean that He died for your sins, was raised for your justification, ascended to be your intercessor, and will come again for your redemption. They mean that He seeks to establish a personal relation with you, and that, because you are now his—"bought with a price."
This implies a personal responsibility on your part, which can never be safely ignored. And while you may bow with reverence before his peerless life, it is only by giving him your heart that you can receive the benefit of his wonderful Redemption. Yea, verily, this is He of whom it is written, "And it shall be, that every soul which shall not hearken to that Prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from among the people." Acts 3: 23.
Matthew 24 & 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21.
Note. Unless otherwise stated, the quotations below are from Matthew, —this being the most complete and systematic of the three records. Variations from this record, not affecting the sense, are not noted. Important variations are enclosed in brackets, and P11 and L (standing for Mark and Luke) before these variations, show in which record they occur. To save space, the longer quotations are given only in part—the opening and closing words—with the number of the verses designated at the close. The Revised Version, only, is used. Study this with the Bible before you.
And Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on his way [L–omits], and his disciples [INI–one of his disciples] came to him to spew him the buildings of the temple [M–saith unto him, plaster, behold what manner of stones, and what manner of buildings—L–as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and offerings]. But he answered and said * unto them, See ye not all these things [M–Seest thou these great buildings] ? verily I say unto you [L–omits, and adds the days will come in which], there shall 'not, be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.
And as he sat on the mount of Olives [M–adds over against the temple—L–omits] the disciples [M–Peter and James and John and Andrew—L–they] came unto him privately saying [L–asked hint], Tell us, when shall these things be ? and what shall be the sign of thy coming [M–the sign when these things are all about to be accomplished—L–about to come to pass], and of the end of the world [M & L–omit] ? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man lead you astray, for many shall come in my name, saying, I am the, Christ [M & L–I am he—L–adds and, The time is at hand: go ye not after them], and shall lead many astray. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of war [L–tumults]; see that ye be not troubled [L–terrified],
132 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
for these things must needs come to pass [L-adds first], but the end is not yet [L-immediately].
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines and earthquakes in divers places [M-there shall be earthquakes in divers places; there shall be famines—L-there shall be great earthquakes, and in divers places famines and pestilences; and there shall be terrors and great signs from heaven]. But all these things are the beginning of travail [L-omits this sentence].
Then shall they deliver you up unto tribulation, and shall kill you [M-But take ye heed to yourselves, for they shall deliver you up to councils, and in synagogues shall ye be beaten, and before governors and kings shall ye stand for my sake, for a testimony unto them—L-But before all these things they shall lay their hands on you, and shall persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for my name's sake. It shall turn to you for a testimony], and ye shall be hated of all the nations [M & L-of all men] for my name's sake.
Mark—And when they lead you to judgment, and deliver you up, be not anxious beforehand what ye shall speak, but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Spirit [L-Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to withstand or to gainsay—Matt.-omits this].
And then shall many stumble and shall deliver up one another, and shall hate one another [M-And brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father his child; and children shall rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death—L-But ye shall be delivered up, even by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death].
And many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray. And because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold [M & L-omit both sentences]. But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved [L-And not a hair of your head shall perish.
CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY. 133
In your patience ye shall win your souls—margin, lives]. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached [M -And the gospel must first be preached] in the whole world, for a testimony unto all the nations [L-omits the passage], and then shall the end come [M & L-omit this]. Luke—But when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, . . . until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled—vs. 20-24 [Matt & TAI-omit this passage.].
When therefore [M-omits therefore] ye see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet [M-omits reference to Daniel], standing in the holy place [M-where he ought not], (let him that readeth understand), . . . those days shall be shortened—vs. 15-22 [M-omits 'neither on a sabbath—L-omits -omits all this].
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ.... there will the eagles be gathered together—vs. 23-28 [M-omits all after "beforehand,"—L -omits the whole passage].
But immediately after the tribulation of those days [M -in those days, after that tribulation], the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall [M-be falling] from heaven, and the powers of [1\11-that are in] the heavens shall be shaken [L-And there shall be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the billows; men fainting for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world: for the powers of the heavens etc.]. ,
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn [-N & L-omit all this], and they shall see the Son of man coining on the clouds of heaven [M-in clouds—L-in a cloud], with power and great glory [M-great power and glory]. And he shall send forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet [M-omits with a great sound of a trumpet], and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other [M-from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven—L-omits this sentence].
Luke—But when these things begin to come to pass, look Up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption draweth nigh [Matt. & M-omit this passage].
134 CHRIST'S LAST PROPHECY.
Now from the fig tree learn her parable: when her branch is now become tender, and putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh; even so ye also, when ye see all these things [M-when ye see these things coming to pass], know ye that he is nigh, even at the doors [L-And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees, when they now shoot forth, ye see it, and know of your own selves, that the summer is now nigh. Even so ye also, when ye see these things coining to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh].
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these [L-omits these] things be accomplished. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour [M-or that hour] knoweth no one, not even the angels of [M-in] heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only [M-omits only—L-omits all after "my words shall not pass away"].
And as were the days of Noah, there shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth—vs. 37-51 [INI & L—omit this passage].
Mark—Take ye heed, watch and pray : . . . And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch—vs. 33-37 [Matt. & L-omit this passage].
Luke—But take heed to yourselves, and to stand before the Son of man—vs. 34-36 [Matt. & M-omit this passage].
Note. The parables of the Ten Virgins and the Buried Talent, and the Judgment scene, are found only in Matt. 25: 1-46.
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