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and had usually stairs on the outfide, by which they might afcend and defcend without coming into the houfe. In the eastern walled cities thefe flat-roofed houses usually formed continued terraces from one end of the city to the other, which terraces terminated at the gates. He therefore who is walking and regaling himfelf upon the house-top, let him not come down to take any thing out of his houfe; but let him inftantly pursue his courfe along the tops of the houfes, and efcape out at the city-gate as faft as he poffibly can. Neither let him which is in the field, return back to take his clothes. (ver. 18.) Our Saviour maketh use of these expreffions to intimate, that their flight must be as fudden and hafty as Lot's was out of Sodom. And the Chriftians escaping just as they did was the more providential, becaufe afterwards (9) all egrefs out of the city was prevented.
And woe unto them that are with child, and unto them that give fuck in thofe days. (ver. 19.) For neither will fuch perfons be in a condition to fly, neither will they be well able to endure the diftrefs and hardships of a fiege. This woe was fufficiently fulfilled in the cruel flaughters which were made both of the women and children, and particularly in that grievous famin, which so miferably afflicted Jerufalem during the fiege. For as Jofephus reports, (1) mothers fnatched the food from their infants out of their very mouths and again in another place, (2) the houfes were full of women and children, who perifhed by famin. But Jofephus ftill relates a more horrid ftory; and I make no question, that our Saviour with his fpirit of prophecy had this particular incident in view. There (3) was one Mary, the daughter of Eleazer, illuftrious for her family and riches. She having been ftript and plundered of all her fubftance and provifions by the foldiers, out of neceffity
(9) Jofeph. de Bell. Jud. Lib. 4. Cap. 9. Sect. 1. et 10. Edit. Hudfon.
(1) μητερες νηπιων εξήρπαζον εξ αυτων των τομάτων τας τροφας. matres infantibus cibum ex ipfo ore rapiebant. Ib. Lib. 5. Cap. 10. Sect. 3. p. 1245.
(2) και τα μεν τεγη πεπλήρωτο γυναι κων και βρεφων λελυμένων. ac tefta quidem plena erant mulieribus et infantibus fame eneftis. Ib. Cap. 12. Se&t. 3. p. 1252.
(3) Ibid. Lib. 6. Cap. 3. Sect. 4.
and fury killed her own fucking child, and having boiled him devoured half of him, and covering up the reft preferved it for another time. The foldiers foon came allured by the smell of victuals, and threatened to kill her immediately, if she would not produce what the had dreffed. But the replied that he had referved a good part for them, and uncovered the relics of her fon. Dread and aftonishment feized them, and they stood ftupified at the fight. "But this, faid the, is my own fon, and this my work. Eat, for even I have eaten. Be not you more tender than a woman, nor more compaffionate than a mother. But if you have a religious abhorrence of my victim, I truly have eaten half, and let the reft remain for me." They went away trembling, fearful to do this one thing; and hardly left this food for the mother. The whole city was ftruck with horror, fays the hiftorian, at this wickedness; and they were pronounced beffed, who died before they had heard or feen fuch great evils. So true alfo was what our Saviour declared on another occafion, when the women were bewailing and lamenting him, as he was led to execution; (Luke XXIII. 28, 29, 30.) Daughters of Jerufalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For behold, the days are coming, in the which they Shall fay, Bleffed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave fuck. Then fhall they begin to fay to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. Proverbial expreffions to fignify their defire of any fhelter or refuge; and fo very defirous were they of hiding themselves, that (4) fome thousands of them crept even into the common-fewers, and there miferably perished, or were dragged out to flaughter.
But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the fabbath-day. (ver. 20.) Pray that thefe evils be not farther aggravated by the concurrence of other natural and moral evils, fuch as the inclemencies of the feafons and your own fuperftitions. Pray that your flight be not in the winter; for the hardness of the feafon, the
(4) Ibid. Lib. 6. Cap. 9. Sect. 4.
fs of the roads, the shortness of the days, will all at impediments to your flight: neither on the fabay: that you may not raise the indignation of the by travelling on that day, nor be hindered from it by your own fuperftition. It seemeth to be a good deal in condefcenfion to the Jewish , a fabbath-day's journey among the Jews being out a mile. In the parallel place of St. Mark 18.) it is obfervable, that the evangelist faith And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, at any mention of the fabbath-day.
our Saviour cautioned his difciples to fly, when hould fee Jerufalem encompaffed with armies; was very providentially ordered, that Jerufalem be compaffed with armies, and yet that they have fuch favourable opportunities of making cape. In the twelfth year of Nero, Ceftius Gale prefident of Syria, came againft Jerufalem with rful army. He might, as Jofephus (5) affirms, ould have affaulted the city, have presently taken thereby have put an end to the war. But withjuft reafon, and contrary to the expectation of raifed the fiege, and departed. Vefpafian was 1 in his room to govern Syria, and to carry on against the Jews. This great general, (6) havdued all the country, prepared to befiege Jeru-. and invefted the city on every fide. But the 'Nero's death, and foon afterwards of Galba's, difturbances which there upon enfued in the Ropire; and the civil wars between Otho and Viheld Vefpafian and Titus in fufpenfe; and they - it unfeafonable to engage in a foreign war, hey were anxious for the fafety of their own . By these means the expedition against Jeruas deferred for fome time; and the city was not
phus de Bell. Jud. Lib. 2. αν ειπερ ηθέλησε κατ' αυτην wpar EVT TWY TEXW Biααρ' αυλικα την πολιν εσχε, λεμον συνέβη καταλελύθαι.
perrumpere, e veftigio urbem cepiffet, bellumque ab ipfo confeftum fuiffe contigiffet. Sect. 4. p. 1102. Edit. Hudfon.
(6) Joseph. ibid. Lib. 4. Cap. 9.
actually befieged in form, till after Vefpafian was confirmed in the empire, and Titus was fent to command the forces in Judea. Thefe incidental delays were very opportune for the Chriftians, and for thofe who had any thoughts of retreating and providing for their own fafety. Afterwards there was hardly any poffibility of efcaping; for as our Saviour faid in St. Luke's Gofpel, (XIX. 43.) The days fhall come upon thee, that thine enemies fhall caft a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every fide. Accordingly the Romans having begirt Jerufalem with their forces, and having made feveral affaults without the defired fuccefs, (7) Titus refolved to furround the city with a wall; and by the diligence and emulation of the foldiers, animated by the prefence, and acting under the continual infpection of the general, this work, which was worthy of months, was with incredible fpeed completed in three days. The wall was of the dimenfions of thirty-nine furlongs, and was ftrengthened with thirteen forts at proper diftances: fo that, as the (8) hiftorian faith, all hope of fafety was cut off from the Jews, together with all the means of efcaping out of the city. No provifions could be carried in, and no perfon could come out unknown to the enemy. But to return to St. Matthew.
In the preceding verfes our Saviour had warned his difciples to fly, as foon as ever they faw Jerufalem befieged by the Romans; and now he affigns the reafon of his giving them this caution. (ver. 21.) For then fhall be great tribulation, fuch as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be. St. Mark expreffeth it much in the fame manner, (XIII. 19.) For in thofe days fhall be affliction, fuch as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created, unto this time, neither Jhall be. This feemeth to be a proverbial form of expreffion, as in Exodus, (X. 14.) And the locufts were very grievous, before them there were no fuch locufts
(7) Jofeph. ibid. Lib. 5. Cap. 12. Sect. 1 et 2.
(8) Ιεδαίοις δε μέλα των εξόδων απεκοπη πασα σωτηρίας ελπες. Judais
autem cum egrediendi facultate fpes quoque omnis falutis præcifa erat. Sect. 3. p. 1252. Edit. Hudion.
as they, neither after them shall be fuch: and again in Joel (II. 2.) A great people and a strong, there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. Of the fame kind is that in Daniel (XII. 1.) There shall be a time of trouble, fuch as never was fince there was a nation, even to that fame time: and that in the firft book of Maccabees. (IX. 27.) There was great affliction in Ifrael, the like whereof was not fince the time that a prophet was not seen amongst them. Our Saviour therefore might fitly apply the fame manner of fpeaking upon the prefent occafion: but he doth not make ufe of proverbial expreffions without a proper meaning, and this may be understood even litterally. For indeed all hiftory cannot furnish us with a parallel to the calamities and miferies of the Jews; rapin and murder, famin and peftilence within; fire and fword, and all the terrors of war without. Our Saviour wept at the forefight of these calamities, and it is almost impoffible for perfons of any humanity to read the relation of them in Jofephus without weeping too. That hiftorian might therefore well fay, as he doth in (9) the preface to his hiftory, Our city of all thofe which have been fubjected to the Romans, was advanced to the higheft felicity, and was thruft down again to the extremeft mifery for if the misfortunes of all from the beginning of the world were compared with those of 'the Jews, they would appear much inferior upon the comparison and again in another (1) place he faith, To speak in brief, no other city ever fuffered fuch things, as no other generation from the beginning of 'the world was ever more fruitful of wickedness.'
(9) πολιν γαρ δη των ύπο Ρωμαίος
πασων την ημετέραν επί πλείσον τε
ευδαιμονίας συνεβη προελθείν, και προ. ἔσχατον συμφορών αυθις καταπεσειν. τα γεν παντων απ' αινος ατυχηματα, προς τα Ιεδαίων, ήτλασθαι μοι δοκεί κατα συγκρισιν. nam ex omnibus civitatibus, quæ Romanorum jugum fubierunt, noftræ fane contigit ad fummum felicitatis perveniffe, ac deinde in extremam calamitatem incidiffe, namque omnium ab omnis ævi memoria res