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temple opened at the death of Chrift, by the rending of the vail, which fignified that the ceremonial law was then to lofe its force and au thority.
But the obfervations already made are fufficient to make out what I intend, without having recourse to thefe myfteries; and I believe no man can make fuch reflexions, without being perfwaded that fo great a conformity of idea's, muft neceffarily imply a perfect unity of defign; now it is impoffible to fuppofe, that this unity of defign fhould be fo conftantly obferved by different authors, who lived at fuch a diftance of times, places, and interefts, without being convinced of a perpetual Divine guidance.
I acknowledge that in the New Teftament there may be found fome decifions which feem wholly oppofite to thofe of the Old: for inftance, we find there a total abrogation of the ceremonial law; but forafmuch as all those observations had no other ufe, but to distinguish the Jews from all other nations of the earth, and by this means to make the Meffiah known to the Jews amongst whom he was to be born; fo it is obvious to conceive that all thofe ceremonies were of courfe to be abolifhed, after that the Meffiah was come into the world, and that if we confider things in this view, we shall find no contradiction at all between Mofes, who eftablished these ceremonies, and the Apostles who abolished
But before we come to confirm thefe grounds, we must make it appear, that the idea's of the Meffiah continued very fresh in the minds of the Jews, and this fhall be the fubject of the following chapter.
That the Idea's of the Meffiah continued very fresh in the Minds of the JEWS at the Time of the Coming of our Saviour JESUS CHRIST.
XT would be an easie matter for me here to fhew that the idea's I of the Meffiah were lively in the minds of the Jews before the xx coming of Jefus Chrift. This appears from the fable which the Rabbies told Origen, concerning Zedechiah, and Ahiab, whom the king of Babylon burnt, for perfwading the Jewish women, that they were the perfons that were to conceive the Meffiah. But I intend to make ufe of proofs of a different nature.
Now to prove that the notion of the Meffiah was very fresh in the minds of the Jews, we need only take notice, that the promise of God concerning him, was the firft, the most important, and repeated with greatest affiduity in the books of the Prophets, and confequently it employed them the most: God having for this reafon obliged them to read the books of Mofes every fabbath, to fing the Pfalms of David, and
to examine the writings of the Prophets, where the promise of the Meffiah was a thousand times repeated.
We may add a great deal of light to this obfervation, if we confider that the circumstances of the Jews at that time, engaged them to give more diligent heed to what the Prophets had declared; and by weighing feyeral matters of fact fet down in the Gofpel, to fhew the univerfal effect of the lively impreffion of this notion of the Meffiah on the minds of the Jews.
Without doubt the eftate of the Jews at that time, being equally oppreft by the power of the Romans, and that of Herod, could not but put them upon a careful examining of the promifes, which God had fo often vouchfafed them concerning the Meffiah; and the rather becaufe God had often reprefented to them the kingdom of the Meffiah as a temporal kingdom, which was to deliver them from the power of their enemies.
This appears very evident in the Gofpel on feveral occafions. We find that the people of Jerufalem and Herod were troubled at the news of the birth of Jefus, as that which would probably cause great troubles and defolations before the kingdom of the Meffiah could fubdue the Ro-", mans as well as Herod: one fee's that the multitudes would have taken Chrift and proclaimed him their king, and fubmitted themselves to him as the true Meffiah; one fee's that Chrift's own Difciples, both before. and after his death, talked agreeably to these popular idea's. What elfe can we make of that paffage of the mother of James and John, when The begs for them the chief places in his kingdom? When the Apostles difpute which of them thould be the greateft, was it not an effect of the fame caufe? Did not the Apoftles, when they went to Emaus, difcourfe at the fame rate? Did not they exprefs themselves with much grief and trouble, before they were inftructed in the moft fublime truths of the Gospel? - But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Ifrael.
It is alfo very obfervable, That John the Baptift appears and adminifters the facrament of baptifm at this time; this his practice gave the Jews occafion to take him for the Meffiah; but what ground had they to think fo? furely from what they had read in Ezechiel, Chap. XXXVI, verfe 25. And indeed, when the great councel of the Jews deputed fome perfons to him, they charged them to know of him whether he were the Meffiah, or no, and if not, why he exercifed a function, which that prophecy feem'd to appropriate to the Meffiah himself, in calling him the Angel of the Covenant.
The fame truth may also be collected from what is related to us concerning the opinions of the Jews about the person of Chrift; whom, faith our Saviour, do people Jay I am? And the Apostles anfwer, That fome faid he was John the Baptift, others Jeremiah, others Elias, and others again that Prophet, that is to fay the Meffiah, who is fo called by way of excellence in the XVIII. of Deuteronomy. And we find that when Jefus Chrift ftil'd himself the Son of Man, the multitudes eafily conceived that he alluded to the feventh of Daniel, where the Meffiah is fo called,
We perceive alfo from many other places in the Gofpel, That the multitudes were very well acquainted with thofe paffages in the Old Tes
tament, which were commonly applyed to the Meffiah: the Meffiah, when he appears, fay they, will he do greater figns than this man doth? Others are offended because Jefus Chrift was of Nazareth, arguing from thence that he could not be the Meffiah: others maintain that when the Meffiah fhould come, it would not be known whence he was; and others again afferted, that the Meffiah was to continue for ever. All which is an evident fign that the idea's of the Messiah were very familiar among the fews.
This must have been fo of neceffity, because the Samaritans themfelves were poffeft with the fame idea's, tho' they had not fo great an extent of light as the Jews had. They did not indeed altogether reject the writings of the Prophets, but rather ftudied them with care, their animofity against the Jews, and their jealoufie upon account of the promife, of the place of the temple, and other things in question, do manifeftly fhew that the characters of the Meffiah were known to them, and that they were exactly informed in that whole matter.
One ought alfo to take notice, That as the Apostles call that the ful nefs of time, because the times fet down by the Prophets were almoft expired, and the fcepter was already departed from Judah, the weeks of Daniel were ended, and the kingdoms of Syria and Egypt were overturn'd; fo there were feveral good men, who were filled with an expectation of the Meffiah. Anna and Simeon are represented to us, as those who by their ftudy of the Holy Scriptures, had difcover'd that the time of the coming of the Meffiah was near at hand, much in the fame manner as Daniel is reprefented to us to have learnt from the prophecy of Jeremiah, that the captivity was almost expired.
I fhall add one argument more which feems beyond exception, That many persons were found about the time of Jefus Chrift, who were either drawn by others into an opinion of their being the Meffiah, or who of themselves defired to be accounted fo. Thus we are told that the flatterers of Herod the Great gave him the title of Meffiah. Of this number were Theudas and Judas Gaulonites, with fome others; thus alfo foon after fome applyed the prophecies concerning the Meffiah to Vefpa fian the emperour, because he had been chosen in the east. This is attefted by Jofephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius, who affure us, that the notion of the promised Meffiah, as of a great king, was very common in the cast, and not unknown in the west.
We know that under the emperour Adrian Barchochab was the cause of a terrible sedition, by making the Jews believe that he was the Meffiah and we cannot be ignorant how many fuch like impoftors have been fince, who have abufed the credulity of the Jews, even until Sabatai Sevi (a), who deluded them about one and twenty years fince.
Laftly, we cannot but think that this idea of the Meffiah was always fresh among the Jews, because we find that from that time they have continually difputed with the Chriftians about this matter; because they tell us of two Meffiah's, one the son of Judah, and the other the fon of Jofeph; and because in all places of the world whither they are scatter ed, they speak of the Meffiah in their Commentaries on the Scriptures,
(a) Rycaut. Turk. Hift. vol. 2. p. 174, &c.
'n their fermons, in their publick prayers, and their common conver fation.
Surely if any time can be fuppofed, wherein they might have loft their knowledge and diftinct hope of the Meffiah, it must be fince the time appointed for his coming is expired, when by the Chriftians infulting over their vain expectations, they have been oblig'd (finding themselves difappointed by prophetical calculations) to fet up that rafh maxim, Curfed is he that computes the times. And therefore it is evident, that thefe notions were much more lively in them, when their hopes were well grounded, and when they might pretend to fee them accom plished,
It is no lefs certain, that the model appointed by God, by means of which the Meffiah might be certainly known, did ftill fubfift in the fame manner as God at first had formed it; but that I may give a full light to this capital truth; I fhall tye my felf to confider the feveral arguments for it diftinctly; and fhall begin with those which fhew that the common-wealth of the Jews did fubfift according to the Divine model; and then proceed to others which demonftrate, that God had therein preserved all the distinctions necessary to his design.
CHA P. III.
That the Common-Wealth of the Jews did still subsist, and follow the Model which GOD had formed, in Order to the certain Knowing of the MES
XXHERE are two things which feem to contradict this propofiT tion; the one is the overturning of the Jewish State, the other xx is the corruption of their religion, but it is eafie to remove both thefe difficulties.
For the overturning of the state of the Jews, did not draw along with it that of the Scripture, and the laws on which it was founded, and afterwards governed, Wherefore the cafe of this republick is not the fame with that of Athens or Lacedemon, which at prefent fubfift no where, but in books, because there are no people now that follow the laws of the ancient legislators of Sparta or Athens,
But on the contrary, we find the Jews in all parts of the world, keeping these laws with great carefulness, ftudying them with the greateft application, and flattering themselves that God will one day re-establish them in Judea, which they expect by means of the Meffiah, whom God at first promised to them.
'Tis now above 1600 years that they have been scattered throughout the world, and yet we find not that their condition has made them change their measures or hopes; and tho' they have already been deceived by a
great number of falfe Meffiahs, yet do not they for all that look upon the condition of their common-wealth as irrecoverable.
Now, if during fo long a feries of ages, they have kept their laws with fo much carefulnefs, if they ftill religioufly obferve all thofe laws which could be kept without the bounds of the holy land; who sees not but that in all probability they must have kept them more exactly at the time of Jefus Chrift, and before his coming, when they could keep them with much more ease than fince that time, and that for many confiderable reafons.
For firft, Their difperfion then was in one only nation, whereas now they are scattered amongst Heathens, Chriftians, and Maho
2. They had then Prophets who exhorted them to the observance of thefe laws, which now they have wanted for fo many ages.
3. They had often princes that were very favourable to them, fuch as Cyrus and Darius, who ordered that facrifices fhould be offered for themselves, in the temple at Jerufalem; and Pompey afterwards had the fame inclinations for them; whereas fince the time of their difperfion, they have scarcely met with any one prince that has been favourable to them, if we except Julian the apoftate, who from an effect of his hatred against the Chriftians, did vainly strive to re-establish them.
4. They had a temple to which the whole state of their republick was fixed. Herod about the time of our Saviour had moft magnificently repaired it, whereas now for fo many ages they have neither temple nor altar.
5. They had high-priefts amongst them, that were entrusted with the fovereign power, and were kings of their nation, whereas now they have neither king nor prince of their faith.
6. Their laws being tranflated into Greek fince the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, it gave occafion to an extraordinary jealoufie between the Jews of Egypt, who had the text of the Scripture in Greek, and between thofe of Jerufalem, who had it in Hebrew, whereas now all this is altogether ceafed, all the Jews now for many ages making ufe only of the Hebrew text.
Since therefore we find that they without Prophets, without king, out of their own country, &c. have obferved thefe laws for fo many ages, notwithstanding their difperfion throughout all places, and amongst all forts of people; how much rather may we conceive they did fo fince the time of Ezra, who placed the books of the Old Testament in the order in which we have them at this day? There are only 542 years, from the time of the return of their captivity, which happened in the year 3468, to the birth of Chrift; and but 259 years from their return, to the tran flation of the 70, and we know that above 1600 years are past fince their general difperfion.
Moreover, it appears that the Romans had fo well preserved the form of the Jewish government from Pompey's time, as well as that of their religion, that a Roman general fent to demand a kind of permiffion of the Jews, to let him pafs with the Roman eagles through Syria. We know that those eagles were never fet up at Jerufalem, but it was at a time when a Roman commander intended to ftir up the Jews to fedition,