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government, or the inultitude. And as he One of the most famous tenets of the said these things unto them, the Scribes Pharisees was that of an oral tradition handand the Pharisees began to urge him ve ed down from Moses, and to which they hemently, and to provoke him to speak of attributed the same divine authority as to many things ; laying wait for him, and the sacred books. This being strenuously seeking to catch something out of his mouth, opposed by the Sadducees and Samaritans, that they might accuse him." "Luke xi. rendered these equally detested by them. 53, 54.
But none more incurred their hatred tha'n the blessed Jesus, who embraced every occasion of reproving them, for the unjustifiable
preference they gave this pretended tradiCHAP. XXI.
tion to the written word of God, and for con
demning those as a postates worthy of death Explanation of the Origin and Opinions who did not pay the same, or even a greater
of the different Sects amongst the Jews. regard to the former than to the latter. Our Lord teaches the Multitude by plain Discourse, and also by Parables. Another tenet they embrace, in opposi
tion to the Sadducees, was, that of the exHAVING undertaken to write the life istence of angels, the immortality of the Il of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus soul, the resurrection of the dead, and fuChrist, we cannot omit a distinct aecount ture rewards. But with regard to the last, of the different sects of the Jews, a people, they excluded all who were notoriously with whom he was most intimately con wicked from having any share in the pleacerned, both as an elucidation of many sures of eternity; supposing, that as soon circumstances, as well as verification of
as death had put a period to their existence, many things, foretold, concerning the their souls were conveyed into everlasting Messiah.
Josephus reckons four principal sects
A third tenet was, that all things were among the Jews, namely, the Pharisees, the subject to fate, or, as some expressed it, Sadducees, called also the Herodians, the
to the heavens, except the fear of God. It Essenians and the Galileans. The Evan
is not easy to conceive what they meant by gelists mention only two, the Pharisees and
this ; Josephus, indeed, will have it, That Sadducees.
they designed to reconcile the fatality or
predestination of the Essenians, with the The rise of the Pharisees is unknown. free-will of the Sadducees. They claim, indeed, the celebrated Hillel for their founder, as he is by some supposed If so, this is not the only absurdity, or to have lived during the pontificate of Jona even contradiction, which they held ; but a than, about a hundred and fifty years be certain learned prelate seems to have proved, fore the birth of Christ : but others, with that they attributed all to fate, or to that more reason, suppose that he was contenipo-chain of causes to which the Creator had rary with the famous Someas, who lived subjected all things from the beginning; about the time of Herod, long before whom among which the intiuence of the heavenly the sect of the Pharisees was in high repute. bodies
bodies was considered as the principal. It is therefore probable, that they claim This seems to be hinted at by St. James, in Hillel rather as an ornament, than as the the beginning of his epistle to the new conauthor of their sect.
verts,where he explodes that pliarisaical leas No. 9,
ven by the most beautiful opposition of the | sanctity. Well, therefore, might the great immutability of God, the giver of all good, Redeemer of mankind compare them to to the mutability of the planets, which, ac- whited sepulchres, beautiful indeed withcording to that notion, must necessarily out, but within full of rottenness and corvary their aspects from a malign to a benevo ruption. lent one, and the contrary, even by their natural motions and change of position.
The last erroneous opinion we shall menThis tenet of the Pharisees was, therefore, tion of the Pharisees, common indeed to all a new source of dislike to the doctrines deli the other sects, but more exactly conformvered by the blessed Jesus, as these affirm able to their haughty, rapacious and cruel that men are the authors of their own unbe
temper, was their expeotation of a glorious, lief, disobedience, and obstinacy; and a conquering Messiah, who was to bring consequently; apswerable for that, and all the whole world under the Jewish yoke ; the train of evils these vices draw after
so that there was scarce an inhabitant of them,
Jerusalem, however mean, that did not
expect to be made a governor of some opuBut the most distinguished character of
lent province under that wonderful prince. the Pharisees, and that which rendered
How unlikely was it, then, that the preachthem most obnoxious to the just censures of
ing of the meek, the humble Jesus, whose our blessed Saviour, was, their supereroga
doctrine breathed nothing but humility, tory attachment to the ceremonial law, their
peace, sincerity, contempt of the world, frequent washings, fastings, and prayings,
and universal love and beneficence, should their giving alms publicly, seeking for pro
ever be relished by that proud, that covetous, selytes, scrupulous tythings, affected gra
that hypocritical sect, or even by the rest vity of dress, gesture, and mortified looks:
of the people, while these, their teachers, their building the tombs of the prophets, to so strenuously opposed it ? tell the world that they were more righteous than their ancestors, who murdered them,
The sect of the Sadducees is said to have though they were themselves plotting the been founded by one Saddoc, a disciple of death of one greater than all the prophets ; Antigonus of Socho. Their chief tenet was, their over scrupulous observance of the sab that our serving God ought to be free either bath, to the exclusion of the works of the
from slavish fear of punishment, or from greatest charity, and many others of the like selfish hope of reward ; that it should be nature ; while they were wholly negligent disinterested, and flow only from the pure of the moral and eternal law of mercy and love and fear of the Supreme Being. They justice; of charity, humility, and the like added, that God was the only immaterial indispensible virtues.
Being ; in consequence of which they denied
the existence of the angels, or any spiritual The very best of them contented them substances, except the Almighty himself. selves with abstaining from the actual com
It is therefore no womder, that the Saddumitting any enormous act, while they indulg
cees should take every opportunity of oppoed themselves in the most wicked thoughts
sing and ridiculing the doctrine of the resurand desires. Nay, some, more hardened in
rection. their vices, made no scruple not only of covering but destroying poor widows' Another of their tenets, equally opposite houses ; of committing the vilest oppres- to the Pharisees, and to the doctrine of Christ, rions, injustices, and cruelties, and of encon was, that man was constituted absolute raging these enormities in their followers, master of all his actions, and stood in no under the specious cloke of religion and I need of any assistance, to choose or act:
for this reason they were always very drew after him became in a short time so severe in their sentences, when they sat as considerable that they threw every thing judges. They rejected all the pretended into confusion, laid the foundation for those oral traditions of the Pharisees, admitting frightful consequences that ensued, and only the texts of the sacred books, and pre which did not end but with the destruction ferred those of Moses to all the rest of the of Jerusalem. inspired writings.
The Essenians, though not mentioned They are charged with some other errone
by the Evangelists, made a very considerous tenets, by Josephus and the Talmudists ;
able sect among the Jews ; and are highly but those already mentioned are abundantly celebrated by Josephus, Philo, Pliny, and sufficient for the purpose. The potion of a several Christian writers, both ancient and future life, universal judgment, eternal re modern. wards and punishments to men, to whom a contrary doctrine, had long soothed into It is impossible to trace their origin, or luxury, and an overgrown fondness for tem even the etymology of their name. This, poral happiness, which they considered as however, is certain, that they were settled the only reward for their obedience, must, in Judea in the time of Jonathan, the broof necessity, appear strange and frightful ; ther and successor of Judas Maccabeus, and as such could not fail of meeting with about an hundred and fifty years before the strongest opposition from them; espe Christ. cially if we add what Josephus observes, that they were in general men of the great The Essenians distinguished themselves est quality and opulence, and consequently by their rules and manner of life in two too apt to prefer the pleasure and grandeur classes ; the laborious, and the contemplaof this life to those of another.
tive. The former divided their time be
tween prayer and labour: such as the exThis sect ofthe Galileans, or Gaulonites, so ercise of some handicraft, or the cultivation called from Judas the Gaulonites, or Gaulo of some particular spot of ground, where nite, appeared soon after the banishment of they planted and sowed such roots, corn, Archelaus, when bis territories were made &c. as served for their food ; and the latter, a Roman province, and the government between prayer, contemplation, and study. given to Coponius. For the Jews, consi. In this last they confined themselves to the dering this as an open attempt to reduce sacred books, and morality, without troubthem to slavery, Judas took advantage of ling themselves with any other branch of their discontent; and to ripen them for an philosophy. insurrection, Augustus furnished them with a plausible pretence, by issuing about this Both the contemplative and laborious had time, an ediet for surveying the whole pro their synagogues, their stated hours' for vince of Syria, and laying on it a proportion- prayer, for reading and expounding the saable tax. — Judas, therefore, who was a cred books. The latter was always performman of uncommon ambition, took occasion ed by their elders, who were seated at the from this incident to display all his eloquence, upper end of the synagogue, according to in order to convince the Jews that such a their seniority; while the younger, who submission was nothing less than base idola were permitted to read the lessons, were try, and placing men on a level with the
a level with the placed at the lower. Their ex positions were God of Jacob, who was the only Lord and generally of the allegorical kind, in which Sovereign that could challenge their obedi- they seem to have excelled all their Jewish fepice and subjection. The party which he brethren. But they paid the greatest regard
to the five books of Moses, and considered among their friends and relations, their prothat law-giver as the head of all the inspired perties and estates. They never eat till after pen-men: they even condemned to immedi sun set, and the best of their food was coarse ate death whoever spoke disrespectfully ei bread, a little salt, and a few stomachic ther of him or his writings. Upon this herbs. Their cloathing was made of coarse account they studied, read, and expound wool, plain but white: they condemned all ed him more than all the rest, and seem to sorts of unctions and perfumes as luxurious have drawn their religion chiefly from the and effeminate. Their beds were hard, Pentateuch. The doctrines and expositions and their sleep short. Their heads or supeof the elders were received with implicit | riors were generally chosen according to faith, and in their practice they conformed seniority, unless there started up among the with an
entire submission to all their brotherhood some more conspicuous for sect.
learning, piety, or prophetic spirit. Some
of them, indecd, were so contemplative, With respect to their faith they believed that they never stirred out of their cell, or the existence of angels, the immortality of even looked out of their window during the the soul, and a future state of rewards and who week, spending their time in reading punishments, like the Pharisees ; but seem the sacred books, and writing comments to have had no notion of the resurrection. upon them. On the sabbath-day they reThey considered the souls of men as compo paired to their synagogues early in the sed of the most subtle æther, which imme morning, and continued there the whole diately after the separation from the body, day in prayer, singing of psalms, or exor from the cage or prison, as they affected pounding the sacred books. to call it, were adjudged to a place of endless happiness or misery : that the good took their flight over the ocean, into some
Having endeavoured to explain the oriwarm or delightful regions prepared for
gin and tenets of the several sects among them, wbile the wicked were conveyed to
the Jews, we now return to the history of
our blessed Saviour, whom we left some cold and intemperate climates, where
preachthey were left to groan under an icexpressi-ing in the country beyond Jordan, where ble weight of misery. They were likewise
he was surrounded by an innumerable mulentirely averse to the Sadduce doctrine of
titude of people. free-will, attributing all to an eterr:al fatality or chain of causes, little different from that In the audience of this vast assembly, he of Spinosa. They were a verse to all kinds gave his disciples, in general, a charge to of oaths; affirming, that a man's life ought beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, nameto be such, that he may be credited without ly, hypocrisy ; because all their actions them. The contemplative sort placed the ex whould be brought to light, either in this cellency of their meditative life in raising world, or in that which is to come ; and minds so far above the earth, as to be able to therefore exhorted them to be careful never see from thence what was done in heaven : to do any thing which could not bear the when they had attained this degree of excel light, but to let the whole of their behavilency, they acquired thecharacter of prophets. our be honest, just, and good. “ Beware ye
of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hyIn their practice they excelled all other pocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that sects in austerity. If we may credit Philo, shall not be revealed, neither bid, that shall it was a fundamental maxim with them, not be known. Therefore, whatsoeverye have upon their entrance into the contemplative spoken in darkness shall be heard in the life, to renounce the world, and to divide | light; and that which ye have spoken in the
ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the , ed of him, and his doctrine, before the sons. house-tops. Luke xii. 1, 2, 3.
of men, he would disown them before the
celestial host. And that those who reviled This argument against hypocrisy, he the Spirit by whom they performed their improved as a reason for their acquiring ano miracles, should be punished by the Almighther quality, which would much better serve ty, in proportion to the malignity of their all the ends they could propose; namely, an crime, which is greater than that of reviling undaunted resolution in the performance of | the Son of God himself; because it will be their duty, founded on a firm confideuce in impossible for them to repent, “ Also, I say God, who would bring to light the most | unto you, Whosoever shall confess me besecret word and thought, publicly condemn fore men, him shall the Son of man also conthe wicked, and justify his faithful servants
fess before the angels of God. But he and children.
that denieth ine before men, shall be denied
before the angels of God. And whosoever Fear not, said he, the malice of the hul
shall speak a word against the Son of man, it man race : it can extend no farther than the
shall be forgiven him: but unto him that destruction of the body; your soul may bid
blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, it shall defiance to their impotent race. But dread
not be forgiven.” Luke xii. 8, &c. the displeasure of that Almighty Being,
He also cautioned his disciples not to be who after he has destroyed the body, is able to confine the soul in eternal torments. Re.
perplexed with regard to an answer, when member all things are in bis power, and that
they should be brought before the rulers
of the people, because they should be nothing happens without his permission ; he provides for the meanest of his creatures,
inspired by the spirit of God. “And when
they bring you unto the synagogues, and and surely you may think yourselves under his protection, who numbers the very hairs
unto magistrates and powers, take ye no
thought how or what thing ye shall answer, of your head, nor can your enemies touch
or what ye shall say. For the Holy Ghost one of them without his permission. “And
shall teach you in the same hour what ye I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have
ought to say. Luke xii. 11, 12. no more than they can do: But I will fore While our blessed Saviour was delivering warn you, whom ye shall fear : Fear him, these exhortations to his disciples, a certain which after he hath killed, hath power to
person among the multitude begged him, cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear that he would interpose his authority with him. Are not five sparrows sold for two bis brother, in order to oblige him to divide farthings, and not one of them is forgotten
their paternal inheritance between them : before God? But even the very hairs of your but as this decision properly belonged to the head are all numbered. Fear voi, therefore; magistrates, our Saviour, who came into ye are of more value than many sparrows." the world to redeem the souls of mankind, Luke xii. 4, &c.
and to purchase for them an eternal, not a
temporal, inheritance, declined the office. OurLord, to animate bis followers to a per He however embraced the opportunity of severance, admonishes them to look forward giving his hearers the most solemn caution unto the general judgment, when he would against covetousness : declaring, that neiacknowledge them as his servants, provided ther the length nor happiness of human life they acknowledged him iv this world as their had any dependance on the largeness of posmaster, and chearfully and constantly obey sessions. " Take heed, and be ware of ed his commands. But if they were asham- covetousness ; for a man's life consisteih not No. 9.