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Tacitus confirms the truth of these predictions of our Lord: He has given a particular account of the suffering of many Christians at Rome, before the desolations of Judea. In the tenth year of Nero, the sixty-fourth of our Lord, there happened a great fire at Rome. Nero was suspected to have set it on fire himself. • For * suppressing that common rumour, Nero
procured others to be accused, and inflicted exquisite punishments upon those people, who • were in abhorrence for their crimes, and were commonly known by the name of Christians.' And he says, that they were condemned, not so much for the crime of burning the city, as for • their enmity to mankind.' Thus Tacitus bears witness, not only to their undeserved sufferings, but also to the reproaches they underwent, agreeably to what our blessed Lord had said, that " they would be hated of all men for his name sake.” However, these innocent sufferers had their supports: for their unerring Master, all whose words were true, has said; “ Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”
3. Further, our Lord intimates, that, before the full accomplishment of his predictions concerning the miseries coming upon the Jewish nation, there would be declensions of zeal among his own professed disciples and followers.
“ And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another and because iniquity will abound, the love of many will wax cold;" Matt. xxiv. 10. 12, and see Mark xiii. 12, 13, and Luke xxi. 16.
What is said of this matter in the gospels may be verified from the epistles' of the New Testament. The whole epistle to the Hebrews, is an argument to stedfastness, implying the great danger of apostasy from the faith, or of abatements of zeal for it: “Let us,” says he, “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering—And let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; Heb. X. 23—25; and onwards to ver. 39. "And ch. xii. 12. “ Wherefore lift up
the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees." In ch. vi. 4–9, he shews the great guilt, and the deplorable condition, of such as apostatize. In his second epistle to Timothy, ch. i. 15; “ This thou knowest,” says he, “ that all they which are of Asia (probably meaning such as were then at Rome) are turned away from me; of whom are Phygelīus and Hermogenes.”. And afterwards, ch. iv. 16, he complains of other Christians at Rome, who deserted him when he made his appearance there before Nero. “ At my first answer (or apology] no man stood with me; but all men forsook me.” And again, in the same epistle, ch. ii. 17, he speaks of Hymeneus and Philetus : “ who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some :" and see 1 Tim. i. 19, 20. I allege nothing more from the books of the New Testament.
Tacitus, in his account of Nero's persecution of the Christians, already quoted more than once, does also confirm the truth of this prediction of our Lord: who says that at first they • only were apprehended, who confessed themselves to be of that sect: afterwards, many more • were taken up, whom they discovered to be of their number.'
Nor ought this to be thought exceeding strange, notwithstanding the perfection of the Christian doctrine, and the evidences of its truth. For, in a great number of men, it is very likely that some should be overcome by the difficulties and dangers attending the profession of it. So says the chief sower of his heavenly doctrine: “some seed fell in stony places. The same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it: yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”
4. Our blessed Lord said that before the great calamity, predicted by him, there would be “ famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.”
We know, from the history in the Acts of the apostles, that there was a famine in Judea in the time of the emperor Claudius; ch. xi. 25–30. " It was not an accidental scarcity at Jeru. salem only, but it was a famine all over that country. It began in the fourth year of that emperor, and lasted several years. We have a particular account of it in “ Josephus. He also
Ergo abolendo rumori Nero subdidit reos, et exquisitis- incendii, quam odio humani generis convicti sunt, &c. Ann. simis pænis affecit, quos, per flagitia invisos, vulgus Christianos appellabat-Igitur primo correpti qui fatebantur; • Igitur primo correpti, qui fatebantur; deinde indicio deinde indicio eorum multitudo ingens, haud perinde crimine eorum multirudo ingens, &c. Ann. 15. C. 44.
Ant. 1. 20. ii. 6.
15. C. 44.
says, it was a very severe famine. And in another place he mentions the high price of corn at that season; and says that this famine happened in the reign of Claudius, not long before
That famine is also taken notice of by Eusebius in his Chronicle, and " in his History, and by • Orosius.
There was also a famine at Rome, and in Italy, mentioned' by Dion Cassius; which began in the first year of Claudius, and continued in the next year.
There was another famine in the same reign, mentioned by Tacitus and Eusebius; which seems to have been chiefly in the tenth or eleventh year of that emperor.
To all these i Suetonius seems to refer, though he does not mention the years in which they happened.
Concerning the famines in the reign of the emperor Claudius, some k modern historians and chronologers might be consulted.
Our Lord speaks also of “ pestilences.” By Josephus we are informed that, about the year of Christ 10, there was ' a pestilence at Babylon, in which the Jews suffered.
In the sixty-fifth year of the Christian æra there was a great mortality at Rome. At the same time there were other calamities in divers parts of the Roman empire, as we learn from * Tacitus and · Suetonius, as well as from P Оrosius, who might transcribe from them.
--and “ earthquakes.”
Tacitus ? speaks of an earthquake at Rome in the time of Claudius, and of another ' at Apamea in the same reign.
In the reign of Nero there was an earthquake at Laodicea, mentioned by · Tacitus; and likewise by · Eusebius in his Chronicle; who says that in Asia three cities, namely Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse, were overturned by an earthquake. And in like manner · Orosius. Possibly the earthquake, which was most violent at Laodicea, was felt in the other cities likewise.
In the same reign there was an earthquake in Campania, mentioned by * Tacitus and Seneca. By the former it seems to be placed in the year of Christ, 62, by the latter in the year 63. And there may have been other earthquakes in the time of the just mentioned emperors.
• Επι τετοις δη και μεγαν λιμον κατα την Ιεδαιαν συνεβη duo praecipua oppida, magna civium sociorumque cede geveria. Ib. cap. v. 2.
direpta sunt: ignominia ad Orientem, legionibus in Armenia 8 pego anaa xal T8 de To Wolle uix por sua pooley, subjugum missis
, ægreque Syriâ retentà. Sueton. Nero. Κλαυδια Ρωμαιων αρχοντος, και λιμε την χωραν ήμων καταλα
p Oros. 1. 7, c. 7. ζοντος, ως τεσσαρων δραχμων πολεισθαι τον ασσαρίωνα. Αnt. 9 Multa eo anno prodigia evenere. Insessum diris avibus 1. 3. XV. 3. c Chr. p. 160.
Capitolium ; crebris terræ motibus prorutæ domus. Ann. H. E. 1. 2. cap. xii. e Or. 1. 7. cap. 6.
12. cap. 43. f Dio. 1. 60, p. 671. al. 949.
Tributumque Apamiensibus, terræ motu convulsis, in & Frugum quoque egestas, et orta ex eo fames, in prodi quinquennium remissum. Id. 1. 12. c. 58. gium accipiebatur. Tac. Ann. I. 12. c. 43.
• Eodem anno ex illustribus Asiæ urbibus Laodicea, treFames facta in Græciâ. Modius sex drachmis venum- more prolapsa, nullo a nobis remedio, propriis viribus revaluit. datus est. - Magna fames Romæ. Chr. p. 160, infr. m. Ib. 1. 14, c. 27.
Arctiore autem annonâ propter assiduas sterilitates, &c. ' In Asiâ tres urbes terræ motu conciderunt. Laodicea, Suet. Claud. c. 18. Vid. et cap. 19, et 20.
Hierapolis, Colossæ. Eus, Chr. p. 161. « Vid. Pagi. A. D. 72. n. vii. Reimari annot. ad Dion. u Oros. l. 7. cap. vii. Cass. p. 948. See also Credib. P. i. B. i. ch. x.
* Iisdemque Consulibus gymnasium ictu fulminis conflaφθορα εν Βαβυλωνι εγενετο αυτων. Αnt. 1. 18, ix. 8. gravit, effigiesque in eo Neronis ad informe æs liquefacta. Et m Vid. Pagi. A. D. 67. n. iii.
motu terra celebre Campaniæ oppidum Pompeii magnâ ex n Tot facinoribus fædum annum etiam Dii tempestatibus parte proruit. Ann. I. 15, c. 22. et morbis insignivere. Vastata Campania turbine ventorum, y Pompeios, celebrem Campaniæ urbem—desedisse qui villas, arbusta, fruges passim disjecit, pertulitque violen- terræ motu, vexatis quâcumque adjacentibus regionibus, tiam ad vicina urbi; in quâ omne mortalium genus vis pesti- Lucili virorum optime, audivimus: et quidem diebus hibernis, lentiæ depopulabatur, nullâ cæli intemperie, quæ occurreret quos vacare a tali periculo majores nostri solebant promittere. oculis. Sed domus corporibus exanimis, itinera funeribus Nonis Febr. fuit motus hic, Regulo et Virginio Consulibus, complebantur. Non sexus, non ætas periculo vacua. Servitia qui Campaniam nunquam securam hujus mali, indemnem perinde ac ingenua plebes raptim exstingui, inter conjugum tamen, et toties defunctam metu, magnå strage vastavit. Nam et liberorum lamenta ; qui dum assident, dum deflent, sæpe et Herculanensis oppidi pars ruit, dubieque stant etiam quæ codem rogo cremabantur. Equitum, senatorumque interitus, relicta sunt. Et Nucerinorum colonia, ut sine clade, ita non quamvis promiscui, minus flebiles erant, tainquam communi sine querela est. Neapolis quoque privatim multa, publice mortalitate sævitiam principis prævenirent. Tacit. Ann. 16, nihil amisit, leviter ingenti malo perstricta. Villæ vero præ
ruptæ passim sine injuriâ tremuere. Adjiciunt his sexcentarum • Accesserunt tantis ex principe malis, probrisque, quædam ovium gregem exanimatum, et divisas statuas, &c. Sen, Nt. et fortuita: pestilentia unius autumni, quo triginta funerum Qu. 1. 6, c. 1. millia in rationem Libitinæ venerunt: clades Britannica, quà
5. Our Lord foretels “ wars and commotions” preceding the final ruin: Matt. xxiv. 6; Mark xii. 7; Luke xxi. 9.
Josephus · has a long story of a disturbance in Mesopotamia, occasioned by the ambition and indiscretion of two Jews, who were brothers. It seems to have happened about the year of Christ 40. Josephus says it was not inferior to any calamity which the Jews had suffered hitherto; and that it occasioned the death of more than fifty thousand people.
When Cuspius Fadus came procurator into Judea, in the reign of Claudius, in the year of Christ 44 or 45, as · Josephus says, “ he found the Jews in Peréa in a riot, fighting with the · Philadelphians about the limits of the village Mia. And indeed the people of Peréa had taken up arms without the consent of their chief men, and had killed a good number of the Philadel. phians. When Fadus heard of it, he was much displeased that they had taken up arms, and
had not left the decision of the dispute to him, if they thought the Philadelphians had done * them any injury. Three of the principal men, who were the causes of the sedition, were apprehended and put in prison, one of whom was afterwards put to death, and the two others banished.'
Afterwards, in the year of our Lord 49, whilst Cumanus was procurator of Judea, there' happened a tumult at Jerusalem at the time of the Passover. The number of Jews that perished in it was not less than twenty thousand, as it is in his Antiquities: but in the Jewish War the number is no more than ten thousand.
Whilst Cumanus was yet in Judea there : happened a disturbance between the Jews and the Samaritans, in which many were killed on both sides.
Josephus also says that under Cumanus the troubles of the Jewish people began, and that in his time they suffered very much.
These disturbances went on increasing. At Cæsarea there had long been contentions between the Jewish people and the other inhabitants. And, as Josephus says, in one • hour's time more than twenty thousand Jews were destroyed, and all Cæsarea was at once emptied of its Jewish inhabitants. Some fled, whóm Florus caught, and sent them bound to
the gallies: at which the whole nation was enraged. They therefore divided themselves into • several parties, and laid waste the villages of the Syrians, and their neighbouring cities, Philadelphia, Sebonitis, Gerasa, Pella, and Scythopolis: and after them Gadara and Hippos : and falling upon Gaulanitis, some cities they demolished there, others they set on fire. Then they
went to Kedasa, belonging to the Syrians, and to Ptolemais, and Gaba, and Cæsarea. Nor (was Sebaste or Ascalon able to withstand the violence with which they were attacked. When - they had burnt these to the groạnd, they demolished Anthedon and Gaza. Many also of the • villages round about these cities were plundered; and an immense slaughter was made of • the men found in them.'
• The * Syrians destroyed not a less number of the Jews: so that the disorders all over Syria ' were terrible. For every city was divided into parties armed against each other; and the * safety of the one depended upon the destruction of the other. The days were spent in • slaughter, and the nights in terrors, which were the worst of the two. It was common to see cities filled with dead bodies, lying unburied, those of old men mixed with infants, all dead, and scattered about promiscuously, and women without covering for their nakedness.'
• At 'Scythopolis the contention was carried so far, that above thirteen thousand Jews were killed.'
• After that other cities also rose up against the Jews that were among them. They of Ascalon slew two thousand and five hundred; they of Ptolemais two thousand, and put many • others into prison. The Tyrians acted in the like manner: as did also Hippos and Gadara, and • divers other cities of Syria.
Antiq.1. 18, cap. ix.
& Antiq. I. 20. vi. 1. De B. J. I. 2. xii. 3. 1 Vid. Usser. A.P.J. 4753. p. 864. Basnag. ann. 40. 2.
- εφ' θορυβοι τε ηρξαντο, και φθορα παλιν Ιεδαιων xiii. Tillem. Rujne des Juifs. art. xxviii.
EYEYETO. De B. J. 1. 2. c. xii. i. • Γινεται δε και σερι τ8ς εν τη Μεσοποταμια και μαλισα Της δε αυτης ημερας και ωρας, ώσσερ εκ δαιμονια προνοιας, την Βαβυλωνα οικοντας Ιεδαιες συμφορα δεινη, και εδεμιας ης ανηραν οι Καισαρεις της παρ' αυτες Ιεδαιες ως υπο μιαν ώραν τινος ελασσων, φονος τε αυτων πολυς, και όπoσος εχ ίσοχημενος αποσφαγηναι μεν υπερ δισμυριες, κενωθηναι δε πασαν των d Ib. sect 9.
lodalwy Kaioapsiay. De B. J. 1. 2. cap. xviii, 1. • Ant. 1. 20. cap. i. 1.
k Ibid. sect 2.
Ib. sect. 3. ' Antiq. 1. 20. C. y. 3. De B. J. 1, 2. c. xii. 1.
m Ib. sect. 5.
apotepov. Ib. sect. 1.
• At · Alexandria' fifty thousand lay dead in heaps : nor would the remainder have been spared if they had not petitioned for mercy.'
Not long after that, the men of Damascus having got the Jewish inhabitants into the place • of exercise, yu TW yudvarim, they came upon them unarmed, and slew ten thousand in an hour's time.
These are what our Lord calls “ the beginning of sorrows,” when there were “ wars and rumours of wars, one people and nation rising up against another. The end was not yet.” Jerusalem was not yet besieged, nor the people in it shut up for universal destruction. But that period was nigh. See Matt. xxiv. 6–8; Mark xiii. 7, 8; Luke xxi. 9, 10.
VII. And now I think it may not be improper for us to take notice of Josephus's accounts of the occasion of the war.
Giving an account of the contentions of the Jews and Greeks, or Syrians, at Cæsarea, where the latter
obtained a decree from Nero that the government of the city belonged to them, he says: “And this occasioned the war which began in the twelfth year of Nero. Soon after which the Jews at Cæsarea were treated very contemptuously and injuriously, till they were all destroyed, as he there proceeds to relate; and we have already in part transcribed from him.
In the last chapter of the Jewish Antiquities he complains much of Albinus, and still more of Florus, who succeeded him, and exceeded him in avarice and cruelty: insomuch, that the Jews were ready to consider Albinus as a benefactor. • Finally,' says he, without adding any
thing more, it was Florus who compelled us to take up arms against the Romans, thinking it : better to be destroyed all at once than by little and little.'
In his own life he says: I have mentioned all these things to shew that the Jews' war • with the Romans was not their own choice, but rather that they were compelled by necessity.'
In another place he says: • And ' at the temple Eleazar, son of Ananias the high-priest, a young man of a daring temper, and then governor, persuaded those who officiated in the divine service not to accept of the gift or sacrifice of a foreigner. That was the origin of the war
with the Romans: for thus they rejected the sacrifice of Cæsar for them.' [That is, as I apprehend, they refused to offer prayers and sacrifices, as subjects ought to do, for the emperor, and for the prosperity of the Roman empire.] · And though many of the high-priests, and of • the principal men of the nation, earnestly entreated them not to omit the customary respect • for their governors, they could not prevail.'
Afterwards, near the conclusion of his History of the Jewish War, when the city was actually taken, he says: . But s that which principally encouraged them to the war, was an ambiguous 'oracle, found also in their sacred writings, that about this time some one from their country • should obtain the empire of the world. This they understood to belong to themselves; and * many of the wise men were mistaken in their judgment about it: for the oracle intended the · government of Vespasian, who was proclaimed emperor in Judea.'
That is a very remarkable passage: some farther notice shall be taken of it by and by.
That the Jewish people were uneasy under subjection to the Romans, even in our Saviour's time, long before the war broke out, appears from many things recorded in the gospels: as their great aversion to the publicans, though Jews, who were employed in collecting the Roman tribute; from the question brought to our Saviour “ whether it was lawful to give tribute to Cæsar or not:" Matt. xxii. 15–22; Mark xiii. 13–17; Luke xx. 19–26; from the attempt of some who followed our Lord for a time to make him a king : John vi. 15: from their frequent and importunate demands that he would “ shew them a sign from heaven," meaning some token that he intended to work out for them a temporal deliverance, “ that they might believe in bim,” and have full assurance of his being the Christ: Matt. xii. 38; xvi. 1-4; and elsewhere: and from divers other things, which must be obvious to all who have read the gospels with attention.
• Ibid. sect. 7, 8.
b De B. J. 1. 2. c. XX. sect. 2. •– ότι και προαιρεσις εγενετο τα πολεμά προς Ρωμαιος • Εν δε τοτω και οι Καισαρεων Ελληνες νικησαντες παρα Ιεδαιοις, αλλα το πλεον αναγκη. Vit. sect. 6. Νερωνι της πόλεως αρχην, τα της κρισεως εκομισαν γραμ
f-αναπειθει μηδενος αλλοφυλο δωρον η θυσιαν προσδεματα. Και προσελαμβανε την αρχήν ο πολεμος δωδεκατω χεσθαι. Τετο δε ην τε προς Ρεμαιες πολεμε καταβολη. Την μεν ετει της Νερωνος ηγεμονιας. De B. J. 1. 2. c. xiv. 4. γαρ υπερ τετων θυσιαν Καισαρος απερριψαν. De B. 1. 2. xvii. 2. « Και τι δει πλείω λεγειν; Τον γαρ προς Ρωμαιος πόλεμον
Š De B.J. 1. 6. cap. v. 4. ο καταναγκασας ημας αρασθαι, Φλωρος ην, κρειττον ηγεμενες αθροές, η κατ' ολιγον απολεσθαι. Αntig. 1. 20, xi. 1,
This uneasiness under the Roman yoke continued and increased. Observable here is the answer which was made by Titus, after the temple was burnt, to the petition of Simon and John, the two great leaders of the factions in Jerusalem: "You · have never ceased rebelling • since Pompey first made a conquest of your country: and at length you have declared open • war against the Romans.--Our kindness to you has encouraged your enmity against us; who • have let
your country in peace and quietness. In the first place we gave you your own country to live in, and set over you kings of your own nation; and farther, we preserved to you your own laws: and withal we have permitted you to live either by yourselves, or • among others, as you liked best. And, which is the greatest favour of all, we have given you
leave to gather up that tribute which you pay to God, together with all such other gifts as are • dedicated to him. Nor have we called those to account who carried such donations, nor given " them any obstruction: till at length you became richer than ourselves, even when you were ' our enemies, and you have made preparations for the war against us with our own money."
There are other things likewise in Josephus, which deserve to be taken notice of in this place. Giving an account of the assessment made in Judea after the removal of Archelaus, he - says: “At the persuasion of Joazar the high-priest, the Jews did generally acquiesce. • However, Judas the Gaulanite, of the town called Gamala, associating to himself Sadduc a
pharisee, excited the people to rebellion, telling them that an assessment would bring in down* right slavery, and exhorting the whole nation to assert their liberty, The whole nation heard • their discourses with incredible pleasure. And it is impossible to represent the evils the • nation has suffered, which were owing to these men : for Judas and Sadduc brought in among • us this fourth sect: and there being many who embraced their sentiments, they not only • caused disturbances in the government at that time, but laid the foundation of those evils • which followed: which indeed are owing to this principle, till then unknown among us.'
He then delivers the character and principles of the three chief and more ancient sects of the Jews, as he calls them: and after that returns again to the men of whom he had been speak. ing before.
• Judas the Galilean was the leader of the fourth sect. In all other points they • hold the same sentiments with the pharisees: but they have an invincible affection for liberty, • and acknowledge God alone their Lord and governor. From that time the nation became in• fected with this principle: and Florus, by abusing his power when he was governor, threw them • into despair, and provoked them to rebel against the Romans.'
Those two passages were cited by d me formerly; and divers observations were made upon them, which still appear to me not impertinent. But I am unwilling to repeat them here : and I think that, in the connection in which they are now cited by me, it must be apparent from them, without farther remarks, that the nation in general was infected with the doctrine of Judas, of Galilee. They had an invincible zeal for liberty, scorned subjection to the Romans, their masters, and took up arms against them. As Capellus says, · Florus, by his exactions, • forced them against their consent, or rather drove them who were already disposed to it, and * wanted no incitement to rebel against the Romans.'
I would now take farther notice of the passage above cited, wherein our Jewish historian says, 'what principally encouraged them to the war was an ambiguous oracle found in their sacred writings, that about that time some one from their own country should obtain the empire of the world,
The truth and importance of that observation, as I apprehend, may be confirmed and illustrated by the accounts which Josephus has given of numerous impostors or false prophets, which arose among them about this time, agreeably to our Lord's predictions, as I shall now shew.
• Whilst ' Fadus was procurator of Judea, a certain impostor, called Theudas, persuaded a very great multitude, taking their effects with them, to follow him to the river Jordan: • assuring them that he was a prophet, and that, causing the river to divide at his .command, he • would give them an easy passage over: by such speeches he deceived many. But Fadus was • far from suffering them to go on in their madness; for he sent out a troop of horse, who,
· De B. 1. 6. cap. vi. 2.
ruentes impulit, adversus Romanos rebellare, L. Capp. Hist. 6 Antiq. I. 18, c. i. sect. 1. c Ibid. sect. 6.
Jud. « Vol. i. p. 119, &c.
Ant. 1. 20. cap. v. 1. . Florus, pessimus homo, qui modis omnibus Judæos cum & That Theudas is different from him mentioned by Gamavexaret et opprimeret, cogit vel invitos, aut potius ultro liel, Acts v. 36, as was shewn formerly, Vol. i. p.:221, &c.