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thick darkness, we must create in them a new beart, and disperse all the obstacles, which prevent them from admitting the light of the truth. Before our lands are fown, they must be grubbed, cleared and plowed. Above all, the doctrines of the gospel were of that nature, that they could not be received but by persons well disposed; because they were contrary to all the passions and prejudices of men, and especially to the pride and sensuality of the Jews. This made Jesus CHRIST say to them (1), Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. And in another place, How can ye believe, which receive how nour one of another (0)? It was then suitable to the dignity of the Son of God, and expedient for the interelt of the Jews, that Jesus CHRIST should have a forerunner, that might go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to prepare the way of the Lord. For, if notwithstand. ing all this, our blessed Saviour met with so much obstinacy among the greatest part of the Jewish nation, is it not very probable that it would have been universal, had it not been for the preaching of John the Baptist? This method was, in short, absolutely necessary either to bring about the conversion of the Jews, or that they might be entirely with out excuse, if they persisted in impenitence and unbelief.
The extreme corruption of that people, and the great care God was pleased to take, of removing all the obstacles that might any way prevent their conversion, help us moreover to discover the reason why JESUS CHRist made use sometimes of very harsh expreflions, when he addressed himself to them, and particularly to the Pharisees. It is somewhat shocking to find, at the entrance of a dispensation full of grace and mercy, the blessed Author of it, who was certainly the meekeit perfon upon earth, using very hard, and seemingly injurious words; as when he calls the Jews, an evil and adulterous nation (), and Itiles the Pharisees, hypocrites, a generation of vipers, that presumed to set their traditions and maxims above the law of God. But our wonder ceases, when we consider that she last stroke was now to be given, and no more measures were to be taken with a people, that had so shamefully flighted and abused all the means which God had used for their conversion. For, 1. They had the predictions of the prophets, wherein were set down the characters of the Messiah; and that the greatest part of them agreed to Jefus of Nazareth, is what they did not deny. 2. John the Baptist was come with the fame fpirit and power, as had been foretold by the same prophets; he had exhorted them to repentance, and warned them that the Mefiah was at hand. 3. Jesus CHRIST came at the very time the Jews professed to be in expectation of their Mesah, and appeared with all the external and internal marks, wherewith he had been described. But they rejected him, as they had done before John the Baptist, and made them both alike the objects of their derision and calumnies. So far certainly ought we to be from wondering at the heavy censures which Jesus Christ pafles upon a people so wickedly inclined; that, on the contrary, we shall, upon a due examination, find his language to them had an equal mixture of kindness and severity.
- riri! These (?) John jäi 19. () Ibid. v. 44. ( Matt. xii. 34. 39. VOL. IU. .
. . .
These few reflections may serve to clear up several passages in the gof pel; but we must descend to a more particular account of the Jewish nation, and go on from their manners to the consideration of their outward state and polity.
III. We may consider the Jews with regard Of the political and reli- both to their civil and ecclehaftical state. The gious state of the Jews.
de Jewish nation in general was the posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This the scripture often takes notice of, to distinguish the people of God from the posterity of Ishmael, who was also the son of Abraham by Hagar. The Jews were also named Ifraelites or the children of Israel, which was the firname of facob; that they might not be confounded with the descendants of Esou the brother of
Jacob, and son of Ifaac. They were moreover called Hebrews, either from Heber one of Abraham's ancestors, or from a Hebrew word of the same sound, that signifies passing or crossing over (9); because Abrohan passed over the river Euphrates, when in obedience to God's command, he came from Ur of the Chaldees into the land of Conaan. After the carrying away of the ten tribes into captivity, the two remaining tribes were most commonly known by the name of fews, (Judæi] so called from the tribe of Judah, which remained in possession of the regal authority, and out of which the Messiah was to be born: Perhaps this name was not given them till after their return from the Babylonish captivity.
Never did any nation receive more extraordinary favours from the hand of God, and never did any one render itself more unworthy of them. God had no sooner brought them out of Egypt, with a Arong hand, and a stretched out arm, but their ingratitude appeared by their idolatry and continual murmurings in the defert. When the descendants of these rebels were put in poflellion of the land of promise, they followed the steps of their forefathers, turned idolaters, and proceeded to that unbridled licentiousness, as to prefer anarchy before the government of God's own establishing. God delivered iher up frequently to the fury of their enemies, as a punishment for their crimes, and to make them see the error of their ways. He raised up from time to time deliverers, which were so many forerunners of the great Redeemer of mankind, Uneasy at having God for their King, and weary ar being go. verned by his judges, they demanded a king to judge them like other nations ; fulfilling thereby, thoughi undelignedly, the purposes of the Almighty, who had ordained that the M12/7uh should be born of a Roya! Family. They obtained their request, and yet made an ill use of that favour. After the death of David, who was a type of the Mediah, and to whose family God had annexed the regal authority, because out of it was the Christ to be born, ten tribes revolted against Rehoboam, and chose for their king Jeroboam, of the tribe of Ephraim; a revolt permitted by God as a punishment for Solonton's idolatry. '
e This schism, which lasted above two hundred years, The captivity of
os ended at last in the captivity of the ten tribes (-) which SACHI" Us: were carried away by Shaimeneler into Alyria and Me dia; whereby were executed the judgments of God against that nation. It
doth not appear from history that they ever returned into their own country, at least all of them, though we find it asserted by some modern
Jews, and ancient fathers of the church (s). It is true that mention is often made in the Nequ Testament of the twelve tribes (t), and that St. James directs his Epiffle to them: but it cannot be concluded from these passages, that they were then gathered together: all that can be inferred from them, is, that they were still in being. Perhaps the whole body of the Jewish nation retained the name of the twelve tribes, according to the ancient division, as we find the disciples called the twelve, after the death of Judas, and before the election of St. Matthias (u), as we have observed on the Epijtle of St. James. There were moreover Jews enough of the ten tribes mixed with that of Judah, or disa perfed into several parts of the world, to give the sacred writers an oCcasion of speaking of the twelve tribes, as making but one body with the Fewiß nation. What Josephus says concerning the Samaritans (x), that they stiled the Jews their brethren, as long as they were prosperous, and called themselves the posterity of Joseph, gives us reason to believe that there was abundance of Ifraelites among them, since the Cutheans could have had no manner of pretence for saying any such thing; and accordingly he exprelly says elsewhere (y), that in the time of Alexander the Great, Samaria was peopled by Jewish deserters. The same Historian relates upon the authority of Aristeas (Z), that the high-priest Eleazar sent Ptolemy Philadelphus king of Egypt, fix men out of each tribe, to make that Greek translation of the holy scriptures which goes by the name of the LXX: from which it is evident that there was a considerable number of Jews of the ten tribes mixed with those of Judah and Benjamin. We own that this account of the Version of the LXX, is justly looked upon as a forgery, as we shall have occasion to shew hereafter. But then, unless it had been true that there were at that time a great many Ifraelites of the ten tribes, among those of Judah and Benjamin, the falfhood would have been so very palpable, that every one could have discovered it. 7ofephus tells us in the same place, that Ptolemy informed the high-prielt Eleazar by letter, " That there were “ great numbers of Jews in Egypt, that were brought captives thither “ by the Persians." A heathen author (a) quoted by Jofephus, affirms that the Persians had carried several thousands of fews into Babylon, from whence it is natural to conclude, that a considerable number returned home with the others, when they were set at liberty by Cyrus. But, without having recourse to the authority of Josephus, we are assured from scripture that the ten tribes were not confined to Persia or Media. For it appears from the IId book of Chronicles (b), that in the reign of Fofiah, there were great numbers of Israelites in Palestine, and particularly of the tribes of Simeon, Manasseh, and Ephraim, since the Levites
(s) See Dr. Hody de verf. 70 Interpr. p. 79.
(z) Id. 1. xii, C. a,
collected money from them for repairing the temple. It may also bs inferred from the IXth chapter of the Ift book of Chronicles (c), where we find the Israelites distinguished from the Jews, and mention made of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, that several persons belonging to the ten tribes fled into Judea, when the rest of their countrymen were carried away captive. The prophet Jeremiah (d) when he foretold the return from the Babylonish captivity, declared likewise, that at that time, the children of Israel should come, they and the children of Judah together, and feek the Lord their God. The same thing is further evident from the gospel. Anne the daughter of Phanuel, mentioned by St. Luke (e) was of the tribe of Afer. St. Matthew says (f) that Jesus CHRisT went and preached in the borders of Zabulon and Nepthalim, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nepthalim hath feen great light. It may indeed be said that the tribe of Judah and the remains of that of Benjamin took poffefsion of these countries after their return from the captivity. But this opinion cannot well be reconciled with the contemptuous manner with which the Jews treated the Galileans and their extreme aversion of the least mixture with the Gentiles. It is manifest from the whole tenour of the gospel, and the testimony of Jofephus (8), that though the Galileans professed the Jewish religion, and liad some dealings with the Jews, yet that they were looked upon by the latter as persons of a quite differens character from themselves. It is moreover evident from the same authors, that Galilee was a very populous country, which could not pos. libly have been if it had been peopled only by colonies fent thither from the tribe of Judah, whofe country was large enough to hold them all. It is then very probable, that the cities of Galilee were peopled with such of the ten tribes, as remained in the land, or had returned thither from several parts, upon different occafions.
The tribe of Fudah did not continue more faithful The Captivity of the tribe of Judab.
mo. of Ifracl had done. Accordingly they were alike severely punished for their disobedience, by being (1) often delivered into the hands of their enemies, and at last carried all captive away by Nebuchadnezzar in the 19th year of his reign. Nebuzaradan, the captain of his guard, having taken and destroyed the city and temple of Jeru. salem, carried away Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, captive to Babylon, with such as survived their unhappy country, excepting some of the poorest, whom he left to dress and till the ground. Their number must notwithstanding have been pretty contiderable. For they are stiled a people; they inhabited several towns; and Nebuchadnezzar appointed a very famous man for their governor, since all the Jews, who had fled for refuge among the Moabites, Ainmanites, Idumeans, and other neighbouring nations, came and implored his protection. As soon indeed as this prelident had been barbarously murdered by the treachery
(c) Chron. ix. 3. (d) Jer, I. 4. (e) Luike ij. 36.
of Ihmael, the greatest part of them being afraid of falling into the hands of the Chaldæans, went down into Egypt; though God had given them an express prohibition to the contrary by his Prophet Jeremiah (i), because he was desirous of keeping together these remains of . Judah.
However this be, after the captivity of Babylon had lasted feventy years, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah (k), it ended with the empire of the Chaldeans, which was destroyed by Cyrus the founder of . the Persian monarchy. This prince, being moved thereto by God, in a special manner, signalized the firit year of his reign over the Babylonians, by his edict in favour of the Jews; fulfilling thereby the prophecy of Isaiah (1), which, as Yosephus pretends (in), Cyrus himself had read. Thus much is plain from firipture (11), that he acknowledges, it was by God's order he set the Jews at liberty, and caused the city and temple of Jerusalem to be rebuilt. However, this work was but just begun during the life-time of Cyrus, wholly taken up with his war against the Messagete, wherein he fell. It was afterwards interrupted and stopped (0) for several years, under the reigns of some of Cyrus's fucceffors, by the treachery and calumnies of the Samaritans or Guthaans, the professed and perpetual enemies of the Jews. So that the temple could not be finished till the reign of Darius the son of Hystufpes (), nor Jerusalem rebuilt till the time of Artaxerxes his successor, according to the opinion ; of the most famous Chronologers. About these times prophesied Haggai Zechariah, and Mclachi the last of the prophets, with whose writings the Jewish canon ends. This is necessary to observe in relation to the New Testament, because neither the facred authors, nor Jesus Christ, have quoted any other books but what were in that canon.
The Jews after their return from the Babylonish captivity, remained in subjection to the kings of Persia, till the time of Alexander the Great: Though they were tributary to them, yet they enjoyed the free exercise of their religion, and were governed by kings of their own nation. Jono fephus relates (q) that Alexander the Great being highly incensed against the Jews, because they had refused him alliitance, had resolved to go and lay fiege to Jerufalem ; but that as he was marching towards it, his anger was immediately turned into a reverend awe at the light of Jaddus the high-priest, who came out to meet him in his pontifical robes, and that he granted the Jews all the privileges they required of him. We are not indeed obliged to give credit to all the fine things Jofephus hath advanced in this part of his history. But thus much is certain, that from that time the Jews began to hellenize (r); that the Greek tongue, spoken by the Macedonians, became more common among them; and that they also embraced some of the opinions of the Greek philosophers,
(i) Jer. xli. xlii. xliii.
(k) Jer. xxix. 10. (1) Ifa. xliv. 28. xlv. 13.
(m) Jof. Ant. Jud. 1. xi. C. I. (n) 2 Chron. xxxvi. 22, 23. Ezra i. 1, 2.
Ezra 1. 1, 2.
(o) Ezra ive (2) Ezra vi, vii. Euseb. Chron. (9) Josephus Antiq. Jud. l. xi. c. 8. () See Euseb. Chron. & Præpar. Evang, vii, 14. & viii. 10.