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general expectation of the Messiah raised their attention to John: but their particular idea of the Messiah disgusted them against Jesus. “He” (says our Lord to them) a burning and shining light, and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light,” John v. 35. They had no doubt but that a very great person was coming among them; and they were pleased to hear John say that he was his forerunner : but when Jesus came, he was not such a person as they wished for,

2. We see here the reason of the different reception given to Jesus by the pharisees and the people. The same notious seem to have been common to all, and the passion of the people for liberty was as warm as that of the pharisees for

power and grandeur. But the people could not see very

and they hoped, even contrary to present appearances, that Jesus might some time undertake the deliverance they wanted. But the pharisees, who had more penetration, saw from the beginning that he was a man void of all worldly ambition, and that no such principle would be gratified under him. His peculiar blessings were all bestowed on the

poor in spirit, the meek, and those that were persecuted for righteousness sake;" he exhorted“ men to pray, fast, give alms in secret,” to entertain “ the poor, the maimed, the halt, the blind,” in hopes of being “ recompensed at the resurrection of the just :" and he openly neglected

« tlie traditions of the elders.” They could be sure from hence, that Jesus did not intend to enrich his followers by worldly conquests; that this doctrine was no prelude to an universal temporal empire; and that according to these measures their darling principles, instead of prevailing, would be for ever disgraced. Therefore these men pursued bim, almost universally, from first to last, with an uninterrupted course of secret or open

malice. 4. This notion of theirs gives us the reason why many owned Jesus “ for a time," and then forsook him. They came in to him upon the supposition of his being a temporal deliverer of the Jewish nation : but by his conduct, or some things they heard from him, they were convinced they had gone upon a wrong foundation.

5. It does also account for that sudden change in the people at the conclusion of our Saviour's ministry. They attend bim with great state into Jerusalem; and a few days after they cry out, “ not this man, but Barabbas.” The reason seems to be this: his not assuming then the character of a temporal prince, or at least not giving them some sign of liberty, had been a vast disappointment, and left a deep, resentment, which rendered them susceptible afterwards of the worst impressions from the chief priests and pharisees.

6. The particulars above mentioned may help us to conceive the truth of what is related, Acts v. 26. - Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence; for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.” Strange! that they should now have such a zeal and affection for the disciples of Jesus, whom they had so lately desired with loud voices to be crucified, as to be ready to do violence to the officers of the council for their security. But however strange this may seem, there is no manner of reason to doubt the truth of it. What has been alleged from Josephus and Tacitus assures us, that though often disappointed, they were not disheartened. Though Jesus had been crucified, a surprising power appeared in his disciples, and wonderful works were wrought by them in the name of Jesus, wbich were infallible proofs of his resurrection and ascension. Hereupon undoubtedly the hopes of the salvation they wished for revived in these

7. The Jews' expectation of a temporal deliverance for their nation, nourished and strengthened by sensual passions, together with their prodigious wickedness, which they in their fond imaginations had reconciled with the peculiar friendship and favour of God, does fully account for this people's so generally rejecting and despising Jesus, though there was the fullest proof given that he was he who was to come. John v. 43. “ I am come," says our Lord, “ in my Father's name, and

ye receive me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” They were ready to join any one who made them promises of a temporal salvation ; but they would not receive, or at least not hold to any one that did not. If they would have received any one without this condition, they would have received Jesus.

men,

CHAP. VI.

OF THE GREAT CORRUPTION OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE.

THE evangelists have represented the Jewish nation as very corrupt and wicked about the time our Saviour conversed and taught in this world. When John the Baptist " saw

VOL. I.

many of the pharisees and sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come ?” Matt. iii. 7. Our Lord himself calls them “ an evil and adulterous generation," ch. xii. 39. When they boasted of their relation to Abraham, and yet sought to kill him, who had told them the truth, our Saviour tells them : “ Ye are of your father the devil, and the works of your father ye will do,” John viii. 40–44. Our Lord often intimates, that the true reason why his doctrine was so little regarded by them, was this, that their affections were entirely engaged by worldly advantages, and they had no sincere love of truth or virtue. “ This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world; and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil," John iii. 19. “How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not that honour which cometh from God only ?" cl. v. 44. And from many other parts of the Gospels it is evident, their righteousness consisted in a regard to some ritual parts of Moses's law, and in observing the traditional rules of the elders ;

“ making broad their phylacteries, and enlarging the border of their garments; in paying tythes of mint and anise and cummin; while they omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith,” Matt. xxiii. 5-23.

That the corruption of the Jews is not at all aggravated here, is evident from the character given of these times, or of those very near them, by Josephus himself, who was zealous for the honour of his country. Eleazar,' says he, • the chief man among the Sicarii, was a descendant of Judas, who had persuaded not a few of the Jews not to 'enrol themselves, when Cyrenius the censor was sent into • Judea. For then the Sicarii conspired against all that • were willing to submit to the Romans. They treated all • such as public enemies :--Affirming they were no better • than strangers, since they surrendered to the Romans those

privileges of their nation, which ought to be precious to • all Jews.-But all this was mere pretence, and given out • with no other view than to cover their cruelty and avarice. • That was indeed a time fruitful of all sorts of wickedness

among the Jews, so that no evil whatever was left un* practised. It is impossible for man to contrive any new • wickedness, which was not then committed.

All were corrupt in their private and public character. They strove to exceed each other in impiety toward God, and

a Villains that went with short swords concealed under their clothes.

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• injustice toward their neighbour. The great men oppressed • the people, and the people strove to ruin them. The • former were ambitious of dominion and

power,

the latter • had an insatiable thirst of violence and plunder.'

It appears from hence, that the corruption of this people was general. If Josephus had not made this acknowledgment, it might have been proved by an enumeration of the many acts of injustice and villany he has related, that all sorts of people were abandoned to wickedness. I think this is not needful; I shall, however, add two or three more passages.

In his account of their affairs, whilst Felix was procurator of Judea, he has these words : Such was the impu• dence of the high priests, that they would send their * servants to the storehouses, to seize and bring away the • tythes that belonged to the priests; by which means some • of the priests, whose circumstances were but strait, perish• ed for want : so far did the violence of factious men pre• vail over justice and equity,'« Did not our Saviour say very truly, “ It is written, My house shall be called the bouse of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves ?” Matt. xxi. 13.

Not far off from this passage there is another, which may give us an idea of their hypocrisy, (a crime they are often charged with in the gospels,) and of their artful and impudent pretensions to religion, when they intended the greatest villanies. Felix by a large sum of money persuaded Dora, a native of Jerusalem, and an intimate friend of the high priest Jonathan, to undertake that the said high priest should be murdered. Dora accordingly hired some of thed robbers (so Josephus calls a set of men the country was then filled with) for this purpose.

• Some of these men * coming up into the city, as if with a design to worship * God, and having short swords under their coats, mixing

themselves with the multitude, kill Jonathan. This mur* der passing unpunished, after this the robbers came in at • the feasts without any manner of concern; and carrying,

Εγενετο γαρ πως ο χρονος εκεινος παντοδαπης εν τοις Ιεδαιοις πονηριας πολυφορος, ώς μηδεν κακιας εργον απρακτον καταλιπειν, μηδ' ει τις επινοια διαπλαττειν εθελησειεν, εχειν αν τι καινοτερον εξευρειν' ούτως ιδια τε και κοινη παντες ενοσησαν, και προς υπερβαλεις αλληλες εν τε ταις προς τον θεον ασεβειαις, και ταις εις τον πλησιον αδικιαις, εφιλονεικησαν οι μεν δυνατοι τα πληθη κακοντες, οι πολλοι δε τας δυνατές απολλυναι σπεύδοντες" ην γαρ εκεινοις μεν επιθυμια το τυραννειν, τοις δε το βιαζεσθαι και τα ευπορων διαρπαζειν. De B. J. lib. vii. cap. 8. sect. l.

Antiq. lib. xx. cap. 7. sect. 5. Κακεινος υπακασας εμηχανησατο δια των λησων πραχθηναι τοιιτφ τροπη Tov povov. Ibid. sect. 5.

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as before, swords under their clothes, and mixing with the * multitudes, they killed divers people; some whom they • reckoned their enemies, some whom they were hired by • others to destroy. This they did, not only in other parts • of the city, but within the bounds of the temple itself. • For even there would they kill men, and yet not seem to commit any crime. For this reason, it seems to me, that

God, detesting their impiety, forsook our city; and not • esteeming the temple any longer a pure habitation for him,

brought the Romans against us, threw on the city a fire to * purify it, and delivered up us with our wives and children

to servitude, that by these calamities we might learn 6 wisdom.'

There is another noted passage of the same historian, which may not be omitted. I cannot say it without regret,

yet I must declare it is my opinion, that if the Romans • had delayed to come against these wretches, the city [Je

rusalem would have been swallowed up by an earthquake, or overwhelmed by a deluge, or else been consumed by • fire from heaven, as Sodom was: for it bore a generation • of men more wicked than those which had suffered such

calamities.'f I conclude with the following short passage. • To reckon up all their villanies,' says he, is impossible; • but in a word, never did any city suffer so great calami

ties; nor was there ever from the beginning of the world, ' a time more fruitful of wickedness than that was.'s

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Ου μονον κατα την αλλην πολιν, αλλα και κατα το ιερον ενιας και γαρ εκει σφαττειν ετολμων, εδε εν τετω δοκBντες ασεβειν. Ιbid.

Ουκ αν υποτειλαιμεν, ειπειν, ά μοι κελευει το παθος οιμαι, Ρωμαιων βραθυνοντων επι τες αλιτηριες, η καταποθηναι αν υπο χασματος, η κατακλυσθηναι την πολιν, η τες της Σοδομης μεταλαβειν κεραυνες πολυ γαρ των ταυτα Tabovtwv nveyke yeveav abewTepav. De B. J. lib. v. cap. 13. sect. 6. 8 Καθ' εκατον μεν εν επεξιεναι την παρανομιαν αυτων,

αδυνατον συνελοντα δ' ειπείν, μητε πολιν αλλην τοιαυτα πεπονθηναι, μητε γενεαν εξ αιωνος yeyovevat kakias yovyuwtepav. Ibid. cap. 10. sect. 5.

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