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An Ecclesiastical History To The 20th Year Of The Reign Of Constantine by Eusebius

TAKING, then, the work of this author, read for yourself the account given by him in the sixth book of his history. “The wretched people,” says he, “at this time were readily persuaded to give credit to the impostors and liars against God, but they neither believed nor paid regard to the significant and wonderful events that prognosticated the approaching desolation. On the contrary, as if struck with stupidity, and as if they had neither eyes nor understanding, they slighted the declarations of God. At one time, when a star very like a sword stood above the city, as also a comet that continued to be seen a whole year; at another, when before the rebellion and the commotions that preceded the war, whilst the people were collected at the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth of the month of April, about the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone around the altar and the temple, as to seem a bright day. And this continued for half an hour. To the ignorant this appeared a good omen, but by the scribes it was immediately judged to refer to the events that took place at the issue. At the same festival also, a cow struck by the priest for sacrifice, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple. The eastern gate also of the inner temple, which was of brass and immense weight, and which at evening was scarcely shut by twenty men, and resting on iron-bound hinges, and secured with bolts very deeply sunk in the ground, was seen in the sixth hour of the night to open of itself. But not many days alter the feast, on the twenty-first of the month of Artimisinm (May), a wonderful spectre was seen, which surpasses all belief. And indeed, that which I am about to tell would appear a prodigy, were it not related by those who had seen it, and unless the subsequent miseries had corresponded to the signs. For before the setting of the sun there were seen chariots and armed troops on high, wheeling through the clouds around the whole region, and surrounding the cities. And at the festival called Pentecost, the priests entering the temple at night, according to their custom, to perform the service, said they first perceived a motion and noise, and after this a confused voice, saying, ‘let us go hence.’ But what follows is still more awful.

“One Jesus, the son of Ananias, a common and ignorant rustic, four years before the war, when the city was most at peace and well regulated, coming to the festival, at which it was customary for all to make tabernacles at the temple, to the honour of God, suddenly began to cry out, ‘A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the temple, a voice against bridegrooms and brides, a voice against all people.’ This man went about crying through all the lanes, night and day. But some of the more distinguished citizens, being offended at the ominous cry, and enraged at the man, seized him, and scourged him with many and severe lashes. But without uttering a word for himself or privately to those present, he still persisted in the cries he had before uttered. The magistrates therefore, judging what it really was, a more than ordinary divine movement in the man, conducted him to the Roman governor. Then, though he was scourged to the bone, he neither entreated nor shed a tear. But, lowering his voice in as mournful a tone as was possible, he answered to every blow, ‘Alas, alas, for Jerusalem.’ ” The same historian relates a fact still more remarkable. He says, “that an oracular passage was found in the sacred writings, declaring that about this time a certain one proceeding from that region would obtain the sovereignty of the world.” This prediction, he supposed, was fulfilled in Vespasian. He, however, did not obtain the sovereignty over the whole world, but only over the Romans. More justly, therefore, would it be referred to Christ, to whom it was said by the Father, “Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” Of whom, indeed, at this very time, “the sound of the holy apostles went throughout all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”








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