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fidently affirm any thing that comes into their heads, be it never so little probable, so they may thereby give any plausible solutions of the difficulties by which they find themselves entangled and perplexed: and they are much given to brag of their unanswerable arguments, so they call them, which are many times but weak objections, such as men of learning and wit should be ashamed of.

For this reason I thought it necessary to prevent, as far as it was possible, all that they can object against my position of the opinions the ancient Jews held concerning those doctrines, which were exactly followed and fully declared by the Apostles and first Christians. And because I foresee some objections may arise, I will shew that nothing can be more absurd than to imagine, that the Jews, or the first Christians, borrowed their notions about the Trinity, or the Divinity of Christ, from Plato's disciples; whereas Plato hath in truth followed the Jewish notions of those things.

After this I shall make it appear, that however some of the modern Jews have changed their opinions in these articles, yet the Socinians can make no advantage thereof, because the Jews have really much altered their belief since Christ's time, and are guilty of great disingenuity, as is common to all those who are obstinately set upon the maintaining of erroneous doctrines.

In fine, I shall plainly shew, that the Socinians, to defend themselves against the orthodox, have been forced to imitate those modern Jews, and have much outdone them in changing and shifting their opinions when they dispute with Christians.

I hope to manage this controversy with the Socinians so plainly and fully, as to satisfy the reader, that as on the one side they most falsely accuse the Church of having corrupted the New Testament to favour the doctrines of the Trinity, and of Christ's Godhead; so they cannot on the other side get any

ground upon the Jews in their disputes with them, though they fancy they got a great way towards their conversion by rejecting those doctrines.

In a word, both the ancient and modern Jews do so far agree in those things which make on the Church's side against the Socinians, that if they appeal to the Jews, they are sure to lose their cause; and when they have better considered this, they will find it their best way for the maintaining of their opinions to abandon the Jews altogether, as men that understood not their own Scriptures, viz. the Old Testament, and to reject both, as they have gone a great way towards it, in rejecting that traditional sense of the Old Testament, for which it was quoted in the New, and without which it would have signified little or nothing to those purposes for which it was alleged. And so it will appear that for all their brags of the aptness and even necessity of their way for the conversion of the Jews, they have taken the direct way to harden them, by giving up that sense of the Old Testament Scriptures, which Christ and his Apostles made use of for the converting of their forefathers.

But we have the less reason to complain of them for this, when we see how apt they are to question the authority of the books of the New Testament, as oft as they find them so clearly opposite to their doctrines, that they cannot obscure the light of them by any tolerable exposition. To shew that I do not say this without cause, I shall make it good in some instances in the last chapter of this book.


That in the times of Jesus Christ our blessed Saviour, the Jews had among them a common explication of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, grounded on the tradition of their fathers, which was in many things approved by Christ and his Apostles.

THE Jews have to this day a certain kind of tra

dition received from their forefathers, which contains many precepts of things to be done or avoided on the account of their religion. This they call their oral Law; by which name they distinguish it from the written Law, which God gave them by Moses. They make five orders of such a tradition, which are explained by Moses de Trano in his Kiriat Sepher, printed at Venice, anno 1551. The first is, of the things which they infer from Moses and the Prophets by a clear consequence, and they are certainly of the same authority as the rest of the revelation, though they call it a tradition. We are not such enemies to names as not to like such a sort of tradition, and we receive it with all imaginable reverence; we like very well the judgment of Maimonides, who leaves as uncertain whatsoever the Jewish doctors speak upon many things, as being without ground when their tradition is not gathered from texts of Scripture, de Regib. c. 12. The second order is of the ceremonies and rites which they keep, as having been delivered once upon mount Sinai, but of which there is not a word in the Law. The third order is of the judiciary laws upon which the two schools of Hillel and Shammai were divided. The fourth is of some constitutions of the ancients, which they look upon as an hedge to the Law. The last is of their customs, which are various in the several places of their dispersion. Though in many things they cannot but see that

those last four orders of tradition do not agree with the Law of Moses, or are quite unknown in it, yet they seem to like it never the worse. Nay, their rabbins professedly ascribe a much greater authority to this Oral Law than to the Law of Moses. They say in the Talmud Avoda zara, c. i. fol. 17. col. 2. that a man who studies in the Law alone without these traditions, is a man which is without God; according to the prophecy of Azariah, 2 Chr. xv. 3. Of this sort were all the traditions which were condemned by our Lord Jesus Christ: he plainly calls them the commandments of men, Matt. xv. 9. and has purposely directed several of his discourses against them; because even where their observing these traditions would not consist with their obedience to God, as particularly in the case of Corban, Matt. xv. 3. yet they gave their tradition the preference, and so as our Saviour there tells them, ver. 9. they made the commandments of God of no effect by their tradition.

The authors of these traditions, or new laws, as one may term them, did almost all of them live since the time that the Jews were under the power of the Seleucidæ, and they were the leaders of those several sects that corrupted their religion, by adding to it a great number of observations which were perfectly new. We have therefore no reason to look upon this sort of tradition as the source from whence the Jews in Christ's time drew their measures of the sense and meaning of the writings of the Old Testament.

But for the interpreting of their Scriptures, the Jews in Christ's time had some other kinds of traditions, much different from those which Christ so severely condemned: and these I shall explain more particularly, giving some examples of their use, and also of their authority.

1. They had by tradition the knowledge of some matters of fact, which are not recorded in their

Scriptures; and of other things they had more perfect and minute accounts, than are recorded in the writings of Moses and the Prophets.


Particularly Philo the Jew, writing of the life of De Vita Moses, declares that what he had to say of him was 468. edit. taken partly out of Scripture, and partly received Genev. Ib. by tradition from their forefathers. Of this latter P. 470. F. sort was the long account he there gives of Moses being brought up in all the learning of the Egyptians; for there is nothing of this in the Old Testament. Therefore when St. Stephen says the same thing, Acts vii. 22. we know that he also had it not from Scripture, but from tradition.

Hence also it is, that St. Paul has gathered the names of Jannes and Jambres, two of the magicians that resisted Moses and the truth, 2 Tim. iii. 8. for their names are no where in Scripture, but they are in Jonathan's Targum on Exod. i. 15. and vii. 11. from whence also they are taken into Talmud San

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Hence also St. Paul knew that the pot wherein Moses laid up the manna was made of gold, Heb. ix. 4. which also the Seventy, and Philo the Jew (De Congr. quær. erudit. gratia, p. 375. edit. Gen.) Mechil. fol. do assure us of. And though the modern Jews deny 20. col. 1. this, and say the pot was of earth, yet it is acknow-mah, fol. ledged by the Samaritans that it was of gold. This 29. col. 4. must have been from tradition, because there is no such thing said in Scripture.

et Tanchu

It was from hence that the Apostle had that saying of Moses, when he saw the dreadful appearance of God upon mount Sinai, Heb. xii. 21. So terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake. And another, that writ soon after Paul's death, namely, Clemens Bishop of Rome, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, cap. 17. has other like words that Moses said, "I am the steam upon "the pot." Both these sayings being no where in Scripture, they could not have known them otherwise than from the Jewish tradition.

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