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And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, his disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"* For Christ's answer to his disciples, and his representation of the miseries that would fall upon his nation, I must refer the reader to the remainder of the chapter; nor shall I make any remark upon it, excepting to observe, that the sufferings of its inhabitants during the siege of Jerusalem surpassed all description, and were, indeed, "such as were not from the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."+
After having cast out them that sold sheep and oxen, and the money changers, from the temple, saying, "Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise," the Jews said unto Jesus, "What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple
in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days ?"*
This saying was at the time obscure not only to the Jews, but, probably, also to the disciples. The Evangelist John, therefore, explains it by saying that "He (our Lord) spake of the temple of his body." The Evangelist adds, "When, therefore, he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them, and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said."+
It was this speaking of the destruction of the temple of his body by Jesus to the Jews publicly which probably gave rise to a general prejudice against him, for his prediction of the utter destruction of the Jews' temple was given privately to his disciples; and it was also, probably, the ground of the evidence which the two witnesses gave at his trial, who deposed, "this fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days;" as, also, of the taunt of those who passed
* John ii. 18-20.
+ John ii. 21, 22.
by during his crucifixion, "who reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise, also, the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others, himself he cannot save; if he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God, let him deliver him now, if he will have him, for he said, I am the Son of God."*
It is obvious, therefore, that the whole nation had no expectation, in the appearance of their Messiah, of anything less than a triumphant conqueror, who would deliver them from their subjection to the Romans, and that when they saw him assuming a different character-meek and lowly of heart, and teaching them humility; paying tribute himself, and exhorting them to pay tribute to Cæsar; condemning their vain pretences to religion, and instructing them in the true principles of religion and
* Matt. xxvii. 39-43.
morality-their hopes were blasted, their expectations were disappointed, and they could cry out, with one voice, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him ;"* and under this savage cry was transacted the doleful tragedy that secured the salvation of the world.
* John xix. 15.
OF RELIGION, ITS PROGRESS AND EFFECT.
NOTWITHSTANDING the old world became so degenerate as to induce divine wisdom to destroy it, yet there were descendants of Adam, during many years, who worshipped God, and who endeavoured to preserve his name and a sense of religion among men. And it cannot be reasonably supposed that soon after the flood God was entirely forgotten. Noah himself lived 150 years after the deluge, and left a large posterity, who peopled the earth; and it is not probable that the immediate descendants of Noah, at least, were ignorant of the worship of God by sacrifices, or that they altogether neglected to pay him that honor which was due unto him. We may presume, however, from the