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thick darknefs, we must create in them a new heart, and difperfe all the obftacles, 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 gofpel were of that nature, that they could not be received but by perfons well difpofed, because they were contrary to all the paffions and prejudices of men, and efpecially to the pride and fenfuality of the Jews. This made JESUS CHRIST say to them (»), Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. And in another place, How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another (o)? It was then fuitable to the dignity of the Son of God, and expedient for the intereft of the Jews, that JESUS CHRIST fhould have a forerunner, that might go before him in the fpirit and power of Elias, to prepare the way of the Lord. For, if notwithftanding all this, our bleffed Saviour met with fo much obftinacy among the greatest part of the Jewish nation, is it not very probable that it would have been univerfal, had it not been for the preaching of John, the Baptift? This method was, in fhort, abfolutely neceffary either to bring about the converfion of the Jews, or that they might be entirely with out excufe, if they perfifted in impenitence and unbelief.
The extreme corruption of that people, and the great care God was pleafed to take, of removing all the obftacles that might any way prevent their converfion, help us moreover to discover the reafon why JESUS CHRIST made ufe fometimes of very harfh expreffions, when he addreffed himself to them, and particularly to the Pharifees. It is fomewhat fhocking to find, at the entrance of a difpenfation full of grace and mercy, the bleffed Author of it, who was certainly the meekeft perfon upon earth, ufing very hard, and feemingly injurious words; as when he calls the Jews, an evil and adulterous nation (p), and ftiles the Pharifees, hypocrites, a generation of vipers, that prefumed to fet their traditions and maxims above the law of God. But our wonder ceafes, when we confider that the last stroke was now to be given, and no more measures were to be taken with a people, that had fo fhamefully flighted and abused all the means which God had ufed for their converfion. For, 1. They had the predictions of the prophets, wherein were fet down the characters of the Meffiah; and that the greatest part of them. agreed to Jefus of Nazareth, is what they did not deny. 2. John the Baptift was come with the fame fpirit and power, as had been foretold by the fame prophets; he had exhorted them to repentance, and warned them that the Meffiah was at hand. 3. JESUS CHRIST came at the very time the Jews profeffed to be in expectation of their Meffiah, and appeared with all the external and internal marks, wherewith he had been defcribed. But they rejected him, as they had done before John the Baptift, and made them both alike the objects of their derifion and çalumnies. So far certainly ought we to be from wondering at the heavy cenfures which JESUS CHRIST paffes upon a people fo wickedly inclined; that, on the contrary, we fhall, upon a due examination, find his language to them had an equal mixture of kindness and severity.
(z) John iii. 19. VOL. III.
(0) Ibid. v. 44.
() Matt. xii. 34. 39.
Thefe few reflections may ferve to clear up feveral paffages in the gol pel; but we must defcend to a more particular account of the Jewish nation, and go on from their manners to the confideration of their outward ftate and polity."
III. We may confider the Jews with regard Of the political and reliboth to their civil and ecclefiaftical state. The gious fate of the Jews. Jewish nation in general was the pofterity of Abraham, Ifaac, and Jacob. This the fcripture often takes notice of, to diftinguish the people of God from the poflerity of Ishmael, who was alfo the fon of Abraham by Hagar. The Jews were also named Ifraelites or the children of Ifrael, which was the firname of Jacob; that they might not be confounded with the defcendants of Efau the brother of Facob, and fon of Ifaac. They were moreover called Hebrews, either from Heber one of Abraham's ancestors, or from a Hebrew word of the fame found, that fignifies paffing or crossing over (q); because Abraham paffed over the river Euphrates, when in obedience to God's command, he came from Ur of the Chaldees into the land of Canaan. After the carrying away of the ten tribes into captivity, the two remaining tribes were most commonly known by the name of Jews, [Judæi] fo called from the tribe of Judah, which remained in poffeffion of the regal authority, and out of which the Meffiah was to be born: Perhaps this name was not given them till after their return from the Babylonifh 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 fooner brought them out of Egypt, with a Arong hand, and a ftretched out arm, but their ingratitude appeared by their idolatry and continual murmurings in the defert. When the defcendants of thefe rebels were put in poffeffion of the land of promife, they followed the fteps of their forefathers, turned idolaters, and proceeded to that unbridled licentioufnefs, as to prefer anarchy before the government of God's own eftablifhing. God delivered them up frequently to the fury of their enemies, as a punishment for their crimes, and to make them fee the error of their ways. He raifed up from time to time deliverers, which were fo many forerunners of the great Redeemer of mankind. Uneafy at having God for their King, and weary at being governed by his judges, they demanded a king to judge them like other nations; fulfilling thereby, though undefignedly, the purposes of the Almighty, who had ordained that the Meffab fhould be born of a Royal 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 Meffiah, and to whofe family God had annexed the regal authority, because out of it was the Chrift 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 Solomon's idolatry.
The captivity of the ten tribes.
This fchifm, which lafted above two hundred years, ended at last in the captivity of the ten tribes (r) which were carried away by Shalmanefer into Affyria and Me dia; whereby were executed the judgments of God against that nation. It
(9) y Tranfitus, trajectus.
(") 2 Kings xvii. 6, ya”
doth not appear from hiftory that they ever returned into their own country, at least all of them, though we find it afferted by fome modern Jews, and ancient fathers of the church (s). It is true that mention is often made in the Nerv Teftament of the twelve tribes (t), and that St. James directs his Epifle to them: but it cannot be concluded from thefe paffages, that they were then gathered together: all that can be inferred from them, is, that they were ftill in being. Perhaps the whole body of the Jewish nation retained the name of the twelve tribes, according to the ancient divifion, as we find the difciples called the twelve, after the death of Judas, and before the election of St. Matthias (u), as we have observed on the Epifle of St. James. There were moreover Jews enough of the ten tribes mixed with that of Judah, or difperfed into several parts of the world, to give the facred writers an occafion of fpeaking of the twelve tribes, as making but one body with the Jewish nation. What Jofephus fays concerning the Samaritans (x), that they tiled the Jews their brethren, as long as they were profperous, and called themselves the pofterity of Jofeph, gives us reafon to believe that there was abundance of Ifraelites among them, fince the Cutheans could have had no manner of pretence for faying any fuch thing; and accordingly he exprefly fays elfewhere (y), that in the time of Alexander the Great, Samaria was peopled by Jewish deferters. The fame Hiftorian relates upon the authority of Arifteas (z), that the high-priest Eleazar fent Ptolemy Philadelphus king of Egypt, fix men out of each tribe, to make that Greek tranflation of the holy fcriptures which goes by the name of the LXX: from which it is evident that there was a confider
able number of Jerus of the ten tribes mixed with thofe of Judah and Benjamin. We own that this account of the Verfion of the LXX, is justly looked upon as a forgery, as we fhall have occafion to fhew hereafter. But then, unless it had been true that there were at that time a great many Ifraelites of the ten tribes, among thofe of Judah and Benjamin, the falfhood would have been fo very palpable, that every one could have difcovered it. Jofephus tells us in the fame place, that Ptolemy informed the high-prieft Eleazar by letter, "That there were great numbers of Jews in Egypt, that were brought captives thither "by the Perfians." A heathen author (a) quoted by Jofephus, affirms that the Perfians had carried feveral thoufands of Jews into Babylon, from whence it is natural to conclude, that a confiderable number returned home with the others, when they were fet at liberty by Cyrus. But, without having recourfe to the authority of Jofephus, we are affured from fcripture that the ten tribes were not confined to Perfia or Media. For it appears from the IId book of Chronicles (b), that in the reign of Jofiah, there were great numbers of Ifraelites in Palestine, and particularly of the tribes of Simeon, Manaffeh, and Ephraim, fince the Levites
(*) John xx. 24.
(s) See Dr. Hody de verf. 70 Interpr. p. 79. () Matt. xix. 28. Luke xxii. 30. Acts xxvi. 7. James i. 1. (*) Jofeph. Antiq. 1. ix. e.. 14. and 1, xi, c, 8, (y) Jofeph. Antiq. 1. xi. c. 8. (z) Id. 1, xii, c. 2, (4) Hecatæus ap. Jofeph. contra Appion. p. 1049. 2 Chron. xxxiv. 9.
collected money from them for repairing the temple. It may also be inferred from the IXth chapter of the Ift book of Chronicles (c), where we find the Ifraelites diftinguished from the Jews, and mention made of the tribes of Ephraim and Manaffeh, that feveral perfons belonging to the ten tribes fled into Judea, when the reft 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 Ifrael fhould come, they and the children of Judah together, and feek the Lord their God. The fame thing is further evident from the gofpel. Anne the daughter of Phanuel, mentioned by St. Luke (e) was of the tribe of Afer. St. Matthew fays (f) that JESUS CHRIST went and preached in the borders of Zabulon and Nepthalim, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Efaias the prophet, faying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nepthalim hath feen great light. It may indeed be said that the tribe of fudab and the remains of that of Benjamin took poffeffion of thefe 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 averfion of the leaft mixture with the Gentiles. It is manifeft from the whole tenour of the gospel, and the teftimony of Jofephus (g), that though the Galileans profeffed the Jewish religion, and had fome dealings with the Jews, yet that they were looked upon by the latter as perfons of a quite different character from themselves. It is moreover evident from the fame authors, that Galilee was a very populous country, which could not posfibly 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 fuch of the ten tribes, as remained in the land, or had returned thither from feveral parts, upon different occafions.
The tribe of Judah did not continue more faithful The Captivity of the tribe of Judah. to God, than Samaria, the metropolis of the kingdom of Ifrael had done. Accordingly they were alike feverely punished for their difobedience, by being (b) often delivered into the hands of their enemies, and at laft carried all captive away by Nebuchadnezzar in the 19th year of his reign. Nebuzaradan, the captain of his guard, having taken and deftroyed the city and temple of Jeru falem, carried away Zedekiah, the laft king of Judah, captive to Babylon, with fuch as furvived their unhappy country, excepting fome of the pooreft, whom he left to drefs and till the ground. Their number muft notwithstanding have been pretty confiderable. For they are ftiled a people; they inhabited feveral towns; and Nebuchadnezzar appointed a very famous man for their governor, fince all the Jews, who had fled for refuge among the Moabites, Ammonites, Idumæans, and other neighbouring nations, came and implored his protection. As foon indeed as this prefident had been barbaroufly murdered by the treachery
(d) Jer. 1. 4.
(e) Luke ij. 36.
(c) 1 Chron. ix. 3.
(g) Jofeph. de Bell. Jud. 1. iii. c. z.
of Ifhmael, the greateft part of them being afraid of falling into the hands of the Chaldæans, went down into Egypt; though God had given them an exprefs prohibition to the contrary by his Prophet Jeremiah (i), because he was defirous of keeping together thefe remains of Judah.
However this be, after the captivity of Babylon had lafted feventy years, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah (k), it ended with the empire of the Chaldeans, which was deftroyed by Cyrus the founder of the Perfian monarchy. This prince, being moved thereto by God, in a fpecial manner, fignalized the first year of his reign over the Babyloians, by his edict in favour of the Jews; fulfilling thereby the prophecy of Ifaiah (1), which, as Jofephus pretends (m), Cyrus himfelf had read. Thus much is plain from feripture (n), that he acknowledges, it was by God's order he fet the Jews at liberty, and caufed the city and temple of Jerufalem to be rebuilt. However, this work was but juft begun during the life-time of Cyrus, wholly taken up with his war against the Meffageta, wherein he fell. It was afterwards interrupted and stopped (0) for several years, under the reigns of fome of Cyrus's fucceffors, by the treachery and calumnies of the Samaritans or Cuthaans, the profeffed and perpetual enemies of the Jews. So that the temple could not be finished till the reign of Darius the fon of Hyftafpes (p), nor Jerufalem rebuilt till the time of Artaxerxes his fucceffor, according to the opinion: of the most famous Chronologers. About thefe times prophefied Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi the last of the prophets, with whofe writings the Jewish canon ends. This is neceflary to obferve in relation to the New Teftament, because neither the facred authors, nor Jefus Chrift, have quoted any other books but what were in that
The Jews after their return from the Babylonifb captivity, remained in fubjection to the kings of Perfia, 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. Jofephus relates (q) that Alexander the Great being highly incensed against the Jerus, because they had refufed him affiftance, had refolved 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 fight of Jaddus the high-prieft, 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 hiftory. But thus much is certain, that from that time the Jews began to hellenize (r); that the Greek tongue, fpoken by the Macedonians, became more common among them; and that they alfo embraced fome of the opinions of the Greek philofophers,
(i) Jer. xli. xlii. xliii.
(2) Ifa. xliv. 28. xlv. 13.
(k) Jer. xxix. 10.
(2) 2 Chron. xxxvi. 22, 23. Ezra i. 1, 2.
(p) Ezra vi. vii. Eufeb. Chron.
(9) Jofephus Antiq. Jud. 1. xi. c. 8.
(r) See Eufeb. Chron, & Præpar. Evang. vii. 14. & viii. 10.