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Sect of the Pharisees; Acts xv. 5. When the profession began, no history recordeth. Some would fain fetch them from Isaiah lxv. 5. Touch me not, for I am holier than thou. But these strain too far: for, in the verse before, the same men eat swine's-flesh; which to the Pharisees is more than piacular.
Hear briefly their Name, their Original, their Office.
Their Name, though it might admit of other probable derivations, yet, by consent of all Hebrew Doctors (I have a great Author* for it) is fetched from Separation; though, upon what grounds, all agree not: doubtless, for the perfection of their doctrine, and austerity of life.
Their Original is more intricate; which, after some scanning, I have thus learned of some great Masters † of Jewish Antiquities. Before there was any open breach in the old Jewish Church, there were two general and divers conceits about God's service:-One, that took up only with the Law of God, and, if they could keep that, thought they needed no more; neither would they sapere supra scriptum, be wiser than their Maker: these were called KARRAIM; of which sort there are divers at this day in Constantinople and other where, at deadly feud with the other Jews, which they now call RABBINISTS :—The other, that thought it small thanks to do only what they were bidden: God's Law was too strait for their holiness: it was nothing, unless they did more than content God, earn him (for these were Popish Jews) and supererogate of him. These were therefore called CHASIDIM, Holy; above the Law: they plied God with unbidden oblations, gave more than needed, did more than was commanded; yet so, as both parts pleased themselves, resisted not the other: the more frank sort upbraided not the other, with too much niggardliness; neither did the straiter-handed envy the other, for too much lavishness. Would God we could do thus! They agreed, though they differed. But now, when these voluntary services began to be drawn into Canons, as Scaliger speaketh; and that, which was before but arbitrary, was imposed as necessary, (necessary for belief, necessary for action); questions arose, and the rent began in the Jews. Those dogmatical Doctors, which stood for supererogation and traditions above Law, were called PERUSCHIM, Pharisees; separate from the other in strict judgment, in superfluous holiness. These, as they were the brood of those Chasidim, whom we find first mentioned in the book of Maccabees by the corrupt name of Asideans, (1 Maccabees ii. 47); so from them again, in a second succession, proceeded, as their more refined issue, the ESSENS, both Collegiate and Eremitical: these Pharisees, then, were a fraternity or college of extraordinary devotion; whose rule was tradition, whose practice voluntary austereness. To them the Scribes joined themselves, as the purer Jews; for Paul calls them expoßeçáinu cipeciv, The most exquisite sect; Acts xxvi. 5: yea,
* In eam consentiunt omnes Hebræi, teste Bahal Haruch, Pagnin. in wra. + Ar, Montanus. Jos. Scal. I. Drusius, &c.
and, as Josephus, "The best expositors"; willingly expounding the Law according to their Traditions, and countenancing their Traditions by the forced senses of the Law. Both which professions were greatly enlarged and graced, by two famous Doctors, Sammai and Hillel, (whom some though falsely would have the founders of them), not long before Christ's time; for old Hillel of one hundred and twenty years, protracted his days, by likely computation, to ten years after Christ's birth. How Jerome fetcheth their names, with more wittiness than probability, from Dissipating and Profaning the Law †; and what bickerings and deadly quarrels were even amongst themselves, in those two famous houses; and what were the four § expositions of the Law, which they followed; I list not now to discourse.
Their Employment was expounding the Law, and urging Traditions: therefore their auditors had wont to say, when they called one another to Church, as St. Jerome || tells us, di cooi Seúlepwσr, "The wise", that is, the Pharisees, "expound to day." Whence, perhaps, that may be interpreted of St. Paul to the Corinths, Where is the wise? where is the scribe? 1 Corinthians i. 20. 78 cos, 78 reapparεús. So did the Scribes too: but the difference was, that the Scribes were more textual; the Pharisees more traditional ¶ : therefore observe, that the Scribe finds fault with the suspicion of blasphemy; the Pharisee, with unwashen hands, Matthew ix: the Scribes, their Doctors, excelled for learning; the Pharisees, for piety. Their attire was the same, and their fashions **; but the Pharisees had oλITEías μɛil8s, more sway; and were more strict and Capuchine-like; professed more years' continency; and, in a word, took more pains to go to hell. These did so carry away the hearts of the Jews, that there was no holy man, which was not termed a Pharisee: and, therefore, among the seven kinds of Pharisees in their Talmud, they make Abraham a Pharisee of Love tt; Job, a Pharisee of Fear.
II. And, if, from the Men, you cast your eyes upon their RIGHTEOUSNESS, you cannot but wonder at the curiosity of their zeal. Wherein look, I beseech you, first at their Devotion, then their Holy Carriage, lastly their Strict Observation of the Law.
Such was their DEVOTION, that they prayed ouvexas, as a Father (Epiphanius) saith; oft and long: thrice a day was ordinary; at nine, twelve, and three a clock. Yea, their progenitors, CHASIDIM, whom they would scorn not to match, divided the day into three parts; whereof one was bestowed on Prayer, the next on the Law, the third on their Work. See here: God had two parts of
* Eruditius cæteris legem exponunt Phar. Jos. 1. i. de bello Jud. c. 4. † An old saying εδως τὸ σεβιζόμενον ὑβρίζω. Discipuli Sammai occidebant discipulos Hillel. § Epiphan. derepos 4. In nomen Mosis, Acibæ, Annæ, Filiorum Assamonæi. Hier. Algasiæ de 11. quæstionib. ¶ Scribæ lectionarii quasi Scripturarii vel Textuarii; Pharisæi devregwral. Drus.
** Eodem habitu cum Scribis muliebri pallio, latis crepidis, et calceumentorum ligulis procedentes. Epiphan. ++ Meahavah.
three; themselves, but one. Besides, at their meals what strictness? Their very disciples were taught, to shame us Christians, if they had forgotten to give thanks, to return from the field to the board to say grace *. For Divine Service; the Decalogue must be read once a day of every man † the Scribes say, the first watch; the Pharisees, any hour of the night: others, twice; without moving eye, hand, foot; in a clean place; free from any excrement, and four cubits distant from any sepulchre. For Fasting, they did it twice a week; not Popishly, which Wickliffe justly calls Foolfasting, but in earnest; on Monday and Thursday 1. Besides, to omit their Alms, which were every way proportionable to the rest, what miserable Penance did they wilfully? They beat their heads against the walls, as they went, till blood came: whence one of their seven Pharisees is called KIZAI, a Pharisee drawblood. They put thorns in their skirts, to sting themselves §: they lay on planks, on stones, on thorns: and Banus ||, that Eremitical Pharisee, drenched himself oft, night and day, in cold water, pos ayvεlav, for chastity; or, if you read it without an aspiration, it signifies for folly rather. What could that apish and stigmatical Friar have done, either more or worse? This was their Devotion.
The HOLINESS OF THEIR CARRIAGE was such, that they avoided every thing that might carry any doubt of pollution: they would not, therefore, converse with any different religion; and this law went current amongst them, He, that eats a Samaritan's bread, be as he, that eats swine's-flesh ¶." A Hebrew midwife might not help a Gentile: not books, not wax, not incense might be sold to thein. Yea, no familiarity might be suffered with their own vulgar. For, whereas, there were three ranks among the Jews; the Wise (those were the Pharisees), their Disciples, and the populus terra** as they called them; this was one of the six reproaches to a novice of the Pharisees, "To eat with the vulgar sort ++:" and lest, when they had been abroad, they should have been touched by any, contrary to the warning of their phylacteries, they scour themselves at their return; and eat not unless they have washed Tuyu, that is, accurately, as the Syriac; oft, as Erasmus; or with the griped fist, as Beza following Jerome: and not with every water §, mark the niceness! but with that only, which they had drawn up with their own labour. And, to make up the measure of their pretended sanctimony, they vowed continency; not perpetual, as our Romanists urge, but for eight or ten years Thus they did unbidden: how strictly did they PERFORM WHAT
*Præc. Mosaica cum Expos. Rabbinorum à Munster. ed. + Ibid. † Δευτέραν καὶ πεμπτην. Epiphan. § Hier. in Mat. xxiii. Acutissimas in eis spinas ligabant, ut ambulantes et sedentes pungerentur et aamonerentur officii. || Josephus. Ψυχρῷ ὕδατι. Qui comedit panem Samariticum acsi comederet suillam. Præcept. Mos. cum Expos. Rab. ** ὁ ὀχλῶ: in the New Testament The common people. ++ Unum ex sex opprobriis vitandis à discipulis sapientum, Comessatio cum populo terra. Ar. Mont. in Evang. Epiphan. 'Ear μn πvyμn ví↓ wrta.. Mar. vii. 3. §§ Præc. Mos, cum Expos.
Epiphan. I. i.
WAS ENJOINED! No men so exact in their tithes: I pay tithes of all, saith the boasting Pharisee: Of all, as a great Doctor noteth; it was more than he needed *. God would have a Sabbath kept: they over-kept it: they would not on that day stop a running vessel, not lay an apple to the fire, not quench a burning, not knock on a table to still a child; what should I note more? not rub or scratch in public t. God commands them to wear, Totaphoths, phylacteries: they do, which our Saviour reproves, thatúveiv, enlarge them: and these must be written with right lines, in a whole parchment of the hide of a clean beast. God commands to celebrate and roast the Passover: they will have it done, in an excessive care, not with an iron but a wooden spit; and curiously choose the wood of pomegranate g. God commanded to avoid Idolatry: they taught their Disciples II, if an image were in the way, to fetch about some other; if they must needs go that way, to run; and, if a thorn should light in their foot, near the place, not to kneel, but sit down to pull it out, lest they should seem to give it reverence.
I weary you with these Jewish niceties. Consider then how devout, how liberal, how continent, how true-dealing, how zealous, how scrupulous, how austere, these men were, and see if it be not a wonder, that our Saviour thus brandeth them; Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven : that is, If your doctrine be not more righteous, you shall not be entered of the Church: if your holiness be not more perfect, you shall not enter into heaven: behold, God's kingdom below and above is shut upon them.
The poor Jews were so besotted with the admiration of these two, that they would have thought, if but two men must go to heaven, the one should be a Scribe, the other a Pharisee. What strange news was this, from him that kept the keys of David, that neither of them should come there? It was not the person of these men, not their learning, not wit, not eloquence, not honour, they admired so much, but their righteousness; and, lo, nothing but their righteousness is censured ! Herein they seemed to exceed all men; herein all, that would be saved, must exceed them. Do but think how the amazed multitude stared upon our Saviour, when they heard this paradox. Exceed the Pharisees in righteousness! It were much for an angel from heaven. What shall the poor sons of the earth do, if these worthies be turned away with a repulse ? Yea, perhaps, yourselves all that hear me this day, receive this not without astonishment and fear; while your consciences, secretly comparing your holiness with theirs, find it to come as much short of theirs, as theirs of perfection. And would to 'God you could
* Tas &mapxas ididw. Epiph. Montan. in locum.
+ Præc. Mos. cum Expos. I Vox Egyptiaca. Versus quidam ex lege Mosis in pergameno scripti, scz. 14 priores xiii. Exod. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. vi. Deut. Pagn.
s Quòd ferrum vim assondi habet. l'ræc. Mos, cum Expos. 1 Ibid.
fear more, and be more amazed with this comparison! for, to set you forward, must we exceed them, or else not be saved? If we let them exceed us, what hope, what possibility is there, of our
Ere we, therefore, shew how far we must go before them, look back with me, I beseech you, a little, and see how far we are behind them.
They taught diligently, and kept Moses's chair warm; Matthew xxiii. 3: how many are there of us, whom the great Master of the Vineyard may find loitering in this public market-place; and shake us by the shoulder, with a Quid statis otiosi? Why stand you here idle!
They compassed sea and land (Satan's walk,) to make a proselyte we sit still and freeze in our zeal; and lose proselytes with our dull and wilful neglect.
They spent one quarter of the day in prayer: how many are there of us, that would not think this an unreasonable service of God? We are so far from this extreme devotion of the old Euchitæ, that we are rather worthy of a censure with those Spanish Priests for our negligence. How many of you, Citizens, can get leave of Mammon, to bestow one hour of the day in a set course upon God? How many of you, Lawyers, are first clients to God, ere you admit others clients to you? how many of you have your thoughts fixed in Heaven, ere they be in Westminster? Alas, what dulness is this! what injustice! all thy hours are his, and thou wilt not lend him one of his own for thine own good.
They read, they recited the Law; some, twice a day; never went without some parts of it about them: but to what effect? There is not one of our people," saith Josephus, "but answers to any question of the Law, as readily as his own name † :" how shall their diligence upbraid, yea condemn us! Alas, how do our Bibles gather dust for want of use, while our Chronicle, or our Statute-book, yea perhaps our idle and scurrilous Play-books are worn with turning! Oh, how happy were our forefathers, whose memory is blessed for ever; if they could, with much cost and more danger, get but one of Paul's Epistles in their bosoms! How did they hug it in their arms, hide it in their chest, yea in their heart! How did they eat, walk, sleep, with that sweet companion; and, in spite of all persecution, never thought themselves well, but when they conversed with it in secret! Lo, now these shops are all open; we buy them not: these books are open; we read them not: and we will be ignorant, because we will. The sun shines, and we shut our windows. It is enough for the miserable popish laity, to be thus dark, that live in the perpetual night of Inquisition: shall this be the only difference betwixt them and us; that they would read these holy leaves and may not, we may and will not? There is no ignorance to the wilful. I stand not upon a formal and verbal
* Correcti à Concilio Toletan. Bellar. † Quilibet nostrum de Lege interrogatus faciliùs quàm nomen suum respondet. Jos. contr. App. 1. ii.