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of the rich. Their offerings, though great in respect of her's, were but a small part of their estates, whereas, her offering was her whole stock. And from this passage of the gospel, we should learn, that the poor, who in appearance are denied the means of doing charitable offices, are encouraged to do all they can; for how small soever the gift may be, the Almighty who beholds the heart, values it, not according to what it is in itself, but according to the disposition with which it is given. On the other hand, we should learn from hence, that it is not enough for the rich, that they exceed the poor in their gifts of charity, they should bestow in proportion to their fortune; and they would do well to remember, that a little given, where a little only is possessed, appears a much nobler offering in the sight of the Almighty, and discovers a more benevolent and humane temper of mind, than a greater sum out of the abundance of the rich.
Our Lord having declared, at the conclusion of his pathetic lamentation over Jerusalem, that the temple should not any more be favoured with his presence, till they should say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: which declaration greatly surprised his disciples; and therefore, as he was departing from that sacred structure, they desired him to observe the beauty of the building, insinuating, that they thought it strange he should intimate an intention of leaving it desolate; that so glorious a fabric, celebrated in every corner of the earth, was not to be deserted rashly; and that they should think themselves supremely happy, when he, as the Messiah, and the descendent of David, should take possession of it, and erect his throne in the midst of jerusalem : And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones, and what buildings are here! The eastern wall of the temple, which fronted the Mount of Olives, whither the disciples with their master, were then retiring, was built from the bottom of the valley to a prodigious height,
with stones of an incredible bulk, firmly compacted together, and, therefore, made a very grand appearance at a distance. This eastern wall is supposed to have been the only remains of Solomon's temple, and had escaped when the Chaldeans burnt it: but this building, however costly or strange it appeared, our Saviour told them should be totally destroyed: Seest thou,' said he, 'these great buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.' Mark xiii, 2.
This venerable structure, which you behold with wonder, adorned with huge stones of amazing beauty, shall be razed to the very foundation. The disciples therefore, when they heard their Master affirm, that not so much as one of these enormous stones, which had mocked the fury of Nebuchadnezzar's army, and survived the destructive hand of time, was to be left one upon another, they perceived that the whole temple was to be demolished, but did not suspect that the sacrifices were to be taken away, and a new religion introduced, which rendered the temple unnecessary. They therefore, flattered themselves, that the fabric then standing, however glorious it might appear, was too small for the numerous worshippers who would frequent it, when all the nations of the world were subject to the Messiah's kingdom, and was, therefore, to be pulled down, in order to be erected on a more magnificent plan, suitable to the idea they had conceived of his future empire. Filled with these pleasing imaginations, they received the news with pleasure, meditating as they walked to the mountain, on the glorious things which were shortly to come to pass.
As soon as they arrived at the Mount of Olives, and their master had taken his seat on some eminence, from whence they had a prospect of the temple and part of the city, his disciples drew near, to know when the demolition of the old structure was to hap
pen, and what were to be the signs of his coming, and of the end of the world : And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the 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? Matt. xxiv. 3.
It is probable the disciples meant what signs should precede the erection of that extensive empire, over which they supposed the Messiah was to reign; for they still expected he would govern a secular kingdom. They therefore, connected the demolition of the temple with their Master's coming, though they had not the least notion that he was to destroy the nation; and change from the religious worship. They, therefore, meant by the end of the world, or, as the words should have been translated, the end of the age, the period of the political government then executed by Heathen procurators, and considered their Master's coming to destroy the constitution then subsisting, as a very desirable event: they also thought the demolition of the temple proper, as they expected a larger ånd more superb building would be erected in its stead, in proportion to the number of the Messiah's subjects.
It will sufficiently appear, that this is the real sense of the disciples question, if we consider, that they were delighted with the prospect: whereas, if they had meant by the end of the world, the final period of all things, the destruction of the temple would have exhibited to them a melancholy prospect, which they could not have beheld, without a deep concern in their present temper of mind.
Therefore, our blessed Lord was careful to convince them of their mistalte, by telling them, that he was not come to rule a secular empire, as they supposed, but to punish the Jews for their perfidy and rebellion, by destroying both their temple and nation: Take
keed, said he, that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many. This caution was far from being unnecessary, because, though the disciples were to see their Master ascend into heaven, they might take occasion from the prophecy, to think that he would appear again on earth, and, therefore, be in danger of seduction by the false Christs that should arise: And when
shall hear of wars, and rumours of wars, see that
ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass; but the end is not yet. Before this nation and temple are destroyed, terrible wars will happen in the land: For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.'
These things are but the beginning of a long series of calamities, which shall fall upon this nation: at the same time you shall meet with hot persecutions; walk, therefore, circumspectly, and arm yourselves both with patience and fortitude, that ye may be able to perform your duty through the whole course of these persecutions: for you shall be brought before the great men of the earth for my sake: · But when they shall lead
you and deliver you up, take no thought before hand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye; for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Mark xiii. 11.
Our Lord told them, during this time of trouble and eonfusion, the perfidy of mankind shall be so great towards one another, that brother shall betray ihe brother to death, and the father the son ; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. The unbelieving Jews and a postate Christians, shall commit such crimes, that the very idea of them, shall excite horror in the most barbarous nations. It is, therefore, no wonder that the perfidy and wickedness of such pretended Chris
tians, shall discourage many disciples and greatly hinder the propagation of the gospel : but he who supports his faith during these persecutions, and is not led astray by the seduction of false Christians, shall escape that terrible destruction which will overflow the land like a deluge.
My disciples shall be scattered by these persecutions and tribulations, and shall preach the gospel in all parts of the Roman empire; and then shall the period you now inquire after arrive: then shall the Almighty arise to vengeance, and consume, in his anger, this stiff-necked generation.
At the time when Jerusalem shall be surrounded with armies, Pagan armies bearing in their standards the images of their gods, the abomination of desolation, mentioned by the prophet Daniel; then let him who readeth the predictions of that prophet understand, that the end of the city and sanctuary, together with the ceasing of the sacrifice and oblation there predicted, is come, and, of course, the final period of the Jewish government.
Then let their which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; Luke xxi. 21. Let him rehich is on the house-top, not come down to take any thing out of his house : neither let him which is in the field, reiurn back to take his clothes, Matt. xxiv, 17, 18. For the Almighty will now punish this nation for its sin: these are the days of his vengeance, when all the threatenings of the prophets, especially those of Daniel, shall be inflicted on this obstinate and rebellious people.
The women who are with child, and they who have infants hanging at their breasts, shall be particularly unhappy in those days of vengeance, because they cannot flee from the impending destruction : But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, when the bad