« ForrigeFortsæt »
his sincerity, his having been circumcised; which circumstance will be true, as circumcision has always been in use among the Mahometans.
Thus he will put on the mask of dissimulation: “ An"tichrist will be," says St. Gregory the Great, "the "chief of all hypocrites. That seducer will pretend to 66 sanctity, that he may draw others into iniquity." In Job. lib. 25. c. 14. St. Ambrose in Luc. 12. is of opinion, that he will allege the sacred Scriptures to prove to the Jews that he is their Messiah, and the Christ. "Before the end of the world," says St. Cyril of Jerusalem, "Satan will raise up a man who will falsely assume the name of Christ, and by that means will se"duce the Jews." Catech. 15. Masked under the title of their glorious Messiah, he will flatter them with promises of restoring them to their ancient inheritance, the possession of the whole country of Judæa, and in particular to their beloved city of Jerusalem. He will promise to rebuild their temple, and reinstate the Mosaic religion in its primitive splendour. He will pretend to make them the most glorious people upon earth, and that the great expectations they have so long waited for shall now be fulfilled. To give greater weight to all his fictitious pretences, the arch-impostor will place himself at Jerusalem, where the Jews expect their Messiah will hold his residence. Thither he will invite them to resort, that they may receive the effect of his promises. Thus allured, they will repair thither in great number, and will acknowledge him for their king and Messiah. That such will be the illusion of the Jews, is the general opinion of the ancient fathers of the Church, and of the subsequent interpreters of Holy Writ. They ground their sentiment on those words of our Saviour to the Jews: I am come in the name of my Father, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive, John v. 43. By this other who will come in his own name and be received by the Jews, the above writers understand Antichrist.
But while the Antichristian impostor is carrying on this farce at Jerusalem, and the Jews moving from all parts of the globe to resort thither, it seems that some
sudden accident will happen that will alarm him, and oblige him to set out for the East to assemble an army. For, at the sounding of the sixth trumpet, we shall see an immense body of troops cross the Euphrates from the East. This may come to pass, if we suppose that the European nations combine all together at this time to revolt, and to rescue themselves from his tyrannical government. In which view they may join their forces, and make up a most formidable army. Upon this news reaching him at Jerusalem, he will drop all his projects concerning the Jews, and without executing any of the promises made to them, he will set out in great wrath for the East, to raise a large body of forces, to chastise in the severest manner his rebellious subjects of Europe. In his absence the Jews will continue to flock in great crowds to Jerusalem. But instead of meeting with the Messiah they expected, they will soon find that their assembling together was designed to serve other purposes of divine Providence.
For now the term was expiring which the Almighty had fixed for the duration of the Jewish captivity; now the time was come, which in the decrees of his mercy, he had settled for recalling to himself that people who had been so long estranged from him. By a particular mark of bounty they had been chosen in former ages by him as his peculiar people, and adopted preferably to any other nation. They shared his favours in great abundance and in the most conspicuous manner; and though in their infidelities and gross deviations from their duty he used the rod of correction, yet he always retained the disposition of a merciful father for them. Many a time did he turn away his anger, and did not kindle all his wrath. And he remembered that they are flesh, Psalm lxxvii. 38, 39. He had forewarned them and told them: If you despise my laws, and contemn my judgments, so as not to do those things which are appointed by me, and to make void my covenant; I also will quickly do these things to you: I will quickly visit you with poverty, &c.—I will set my face against you, and you shall fall down before your enemies. And I will scatter you among the Gentiles. But then the Almighty pre
sently after adds: And yet for all that, when they were in the land of their enemies, I did not cast them off altogether, neither did I so despise them, that they should be quite consumed, and I should make void my covenant with them. For I am the Lord their God, Levit. xxvi. 15, &c.
He spoke again by his prophet Amos: Behold the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth: but yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord, Amos ix 8 Unfaithful to their God, they frequently offended, he frequently punished them; and as often as they returned and implored his forgiveness, as often he forgave and again cherished them. When their in
gratitude had grown to such a height, as totally to abandon their indulgent Father and their God, and by a base prostitution to transfer to stocks and stones the worship due to him, and even obstinately to persist in their idolatry, notwithstanding the constant reproaches he made them; he in his just anger banished them from their native land, and delivered them over to their enemies. The ten tribes, which formed the kingdom of Israel, were carried away slaves into Assyria; whence they afterwards dispersed themselves into other countries.
The tribes of Juda and Benjamin, of which consisted the kingdom of Juda, were removed to Babylon by Nabuchodonosor, where they were subjected to a severe captivity for seventy years. These bounds of time God set to his justice, and then the affection of the Father returned. They repented of their iniquities; he replaced them in their country, and renewed his blessings to them. Some of the Israelites returned also from Assyria, and uniting themselves to the Jews, formed one body with them.
After a period of years the term arrived, in which their fidelity was to be put to the strictest test. The principal of all the divine dispensations to man, the redemption of the world, was now to be performed. The great personage, the Son of God, who was to execute the work, had been announced to the Jews by their prophets, and was to be born of their race. A com
mand from Heaven had been given them through the channel of the same prophets, to receive him as their promised Messiah, to acknowledge him for their new Legislator, and to accept his doctrine and laws in lieu of those they had hitherto followed: and that they might not mistake his person, their prophets had given them a full description of his character, of the time of his coming, of the tenour of his life, and his extraordinary miraculous works. But when he appeared, his character and garb not answering to the carnal notions they had formed to themselves of his supposed power and grandeur, they refused to receive him. They expected in their Messiah, a mighty conqueror, a potent monarch, who would raise them above all other nations. They would not understand that the blessings designed by the Divine wisdom to adorn and signalize the Messiah, were of a far nobler, sublimer, and more lasting nature, than all that worldly pomp and imaginary dominion their hearts were set upon. As therefore these temporal views and expectations they did not find in the humble and low condition in which Christ appeared, they rejected their God and Saviour, they despised his doctrine, they contemned and blasphemed his miracles, they treated his sacred person with the utmost indignity, and even proceeded to such an unparalleled instance of impiety, as to put him to death. This enormous crime, the greatest they had been or could be guilty of, drew the whole torrent of Divine wrath upon them. They had said: His blood be upon us, and up m our children, Matth. xxvii. 25. And effectually their horrible imprecation fell upon their own heads, and upon their children also. Within less than the space of forty years after, the Almighty sent upon them his scourge, the Romans, who ravaged their country, destroyed their city and temple; and after that an innumerable multitude of them had perished by famine, plague, and the sword, the remainder were expelled Judæa, and scattered over the whole face of the earth, conformably to the prediction of our Saviour: There shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people, the Jews. And they shall fall by the edge of
the sword; and shall be led away captives into all nations, Luke xxi. 23, 24. In this desolate condition, without any fixed abode or government, the contempt of mankind, they have remained for 1700 years; and thus they still continue a dreadful and lasting monument of the Divine indignation.
But it must be observed that, notwithstanding this most terrible, most severe, and most lasting of all the punishments the Almighty has inflicted upon the Jews, nevertheless he has not utterly exterminated them. Their race subsists, and is very numerous. The calamities and oppression they have undergone, would probably have extinguished any other people, but they are still preserved by a special protection for a future great purpose. The manifold benefits the Saviour of mankind came to confer on the world, were first offered to the Jews, but being rejected, they were transferred to the Gentiles, who took the place of that people in the favour of God. Therefore I say to you, the Messiah told them, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof. Matth. xxi. 43. In consequence of this Divine determination, the light of faith and the happy tidings of salvation were carried to other nations, that lay buried in gross ignorance and in the darkness of idolatry; they were taught the true knowledge of God and of Christ their Saviour, which they embraced, and became the people of God by becoming Christians. But when the merciful dispensations of heaven to the Gentiles shall be completed, that is, when the gospel of Christ shall have been fully preached to mankind, and the number of converts to Christianity, designed by the Almighty, shall be filled up, and the end of the world approaching, then the last posterity of the Jewish people shall experience that bounty which the Almighty has hitherto suspended for many ages, but in his mercy has kept in reserve for them.
He will then take from them their heart of stone, and give them a heart of flesh; he will make them sensible of their past blindness and obstinacy, will open their eyes to acknowledge Christ their Messiah and Saviour,