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understood. A mere prying into, or meddling with the concerns of private families or particular persons, would not have been ranked with crimes that exposed to the severest censures of the civil magistrate. The word, I think, intends one that affects the inspection and direction of the affairs of other men; and in this place relates to the public affairs of other people. Of this temper of the Jewish people at that time, we have a remarkable specimen in the long passage I have transcribed above, concerning the business at Alexandria : where divers Jews intruded themselves into the public councils of the people of that place; and the rest of the Jews would have rescued the offenders, or destroyed the whole people of Alexandria, if the president had not been furnished with a good body of regular forces. We have seen above, that in the time of Felix, the Jews at Cæsarea were not contented with equal rights of citizenship, but would have the preference. They became, after that, still more and more troublesome and tumultuous. Their behaviour at Alexandria, just now mentioned, is a proof of it. The Jews' disdain of other men, and their ihirst of dominion, ran so bigh at last, that they put the people of the several countries in which they lived, and the whole Roman empire, into a fright. They had been bated before, but now they were feared.! Josephus says expressly, that the expectation they had of some one from their country, who would obtain the empire of the world, was the great thing that induced them to the war with the
· The phrase we have here is not that used in other places for an impertinent inquisitiveness. See 2 Thess. iii. 11; 1 Tim. v. 13. Allorpioc signifies Sometimes a man of another nation. Αλλ' ης αλλοτριος ων, πολιτης γεγονα, Dionys. H. p. 468. 10. And if it should be still supposed, that Peter iniends only a meddling with private affairs; yet he must refer to a busy, governing temper, that led them into a very offensive conduct: since these busy bodies are reckoned up with criminals, who, in those places, could have their proper punishment from none but the chief Roman officers; or as Philostratus expresses it, judges who had the sword: δικασα γαρ δεισθαι αυτας [δικας επι μοιχες, &c.] ξιφος εχοντος. Vit. Sophist. I. i. n. 25. sect. 2. * P. 193, &c.
'Ου μην oι Συροι των Ιεδαιων ελαττον πληθος ανηραν, αλλα και αυτοι τες εν ταις πόλεσι λαμβανομενος ανεσφαττον, 8 μονον κατα μισος, ως προτερον, αλλ' ήδη και τον εφ' εαυτοις κινδυνον φθανονTES. Joseph. de B. J. I. ii. cap. 18. sect. 2. Josephus says, the revoli of the Jews, A. D. 66, gave Nero a great deal of concern, though he endeavoured to conceal it. Antiq. l. xx. c. 1. His appointing Vespasian, the most experienced and successful commander at that time, general in the war, is a proof of it, especially considering the aversion he had for his person. Peregrinatione Achaïcà inter comites Neronis, cum, cantante eo, aut discederet sæpius, aut præsens obdormisceret, gravissimam contraxit offensam: prohibitusque non contubernio modo, sed etiam publicâ salutatione, secessit in parvam ac deviam civitatem, &c. Sueton. in Vespas. cap. 4. vid. et Tacit. Ann. lib. xvi. cap. 5.
Romans, m If the Romans were not able to preserve the heathen people from all injuries from the Jews, (as it is certain they were not,) much less could they secure the christians, who were above all others the object of their envy. And if the Jews thought themselves able to contend with, and overturn the Roman empire, it cannot be supposed unlikely, that they should attempt to destroy a christian, without asking the Romans leave, when they would not do it for them.
St. Jeromo in divers places of his Commentaries, describes the sufferings of the apostles, and the causes and occasions of them, in a way very agreeable to the account bere given by me.
These discouragements and sufferings then, the first christians met with and underwent, whipping's in synagogues, excommunications from the ordinary places of God's worship, beatings in public market-places : tumults, some that endangered, others that cost them their lives, Acts xiv. 19. cb. vii. 54—60; during the reign of Herod Agrippa, imprisonment and death ; in the rest of this period, from the beginning to the end of it, troublesome prosecutions before heathen governors in Judea, and out of it; the severest reproaches, and dangerous conspiracies, and lyings in wait of the Jews in all parts; among the heathen, the scorn and ridicule of the great and the witty, insults of the common people, and abuses of inferior magistrates; lastly, perils from false brethren, who might find it no bard matter to augment the prejudices, both of Jews and Gentiles, against a singular set of men
It may be, I think, reasonably supposed, that the sufferings of the followers of Jesus, in the period we are now concerned with, were not equal to those, which they were afterwards exposed to, when the Roman emperors treated them as public enemies, authorized their officers every where to punish them, and countenanced the common people in those abuses and outrages they were disposed to of themselves. Much less did they equal the torments which good men have undergone, since men of the most exquisite malice and subtilty, in several ages, have improved persecution into a science, and devoted themselves to this work as their solemn business and profession; till at length they have completed this worst of all inventions, and with a dexterity truly diabolical, have at once increased the fatigue of the sufferer, and abated the horror and compassion of all heedless and inconsiderate spectators. These things perhaps may (but these only could) make us think the difficulties, dangers, and sufferings of the first christians small.
m See above, p. 138.
* Vid. Joseph. de Bell. lib. ii. c. 18. sect. 1, 5. et alibi.
• Quod autem crebro Paulus in carcere fuerit, et de vinculis liberatus sit, ipse in alio loco dicit: in carceribus frequenter, de quibus nonnunquam Domini auxilio, crebro ipsis persecutoribus nihil dignum in eo morte invenientibus, dimittebatur. Nec dum enim super nomine christiano senatûsconsulta præcesserant : nec dum christianum sanguinem Neronius gladius dedicârat. Sed pro novitate prædicationis, sive a Judæis invidentibus, sive ab his qui sua videbant idola destrui, ad furorem populis concitatis, missi in carcerem, rursum, impetu et furore deposito, laxabantur, &c. Hieron. Comm. in Ep. ad Philem. p. 453. Conf. eund. in Ep. ad Gal. c. vi. p. 315.
But yet, after all, if we duly consider the vast sensibility of human nature to pain and disgrace; I believe it will be allowed, that the subsistence and growth of christianity, under the discouragements it met with in its very infancy, at a time when there had been but few examples of patience and constancy under suffering's, in any case that bears any near resemblance with this, are a strong argument in favour of its divine original; and a proof, that they who then embraced it, and were steady in the profession of it, were, upon the best evidences, fully persuaded of the facts on which it depends; and were animated by the hopes of that great reward, which is one distinguished article of the christian doctrine.
CONCERNING DIVERS OPINIONS AND PRACTICES
OF THE JEWS.
1. The Jeros, at the time of their great feasts, came up to
Jerusalem in great numbers, from all parts. II. The Jews of Jerusalem frequented the temple at other times. III. Their hours of prayer. IV. Their zeal for the temple. V. For the law. VI. Of their synagogue worship. VII. They practised at this time the vow of the Nazarite, and shaved their heads. VIII. Of their inflicting forty stripes save one. ix. Of private zeal. X. The paying tribute to the Romans, a great grievance to the Jews. XI. Nevertheless there were publicans of the Jewish nation.
THE Jews appear to have been, in the time of our Saviour and his apostles, very zealous for the temple, and devout and exact in the observation of the rituals of the Mosaic law. The New Testament abounds with proofs of this zeal. I shall take notice of some instances.
I. They came up to Jerusalem at the feasts, in great numbers, not only from those parts of Judea that lay near the city, but also from Galilee, and likewise from foreign countries, where they resided. John iv. 3, “ He [Jesus] Jeft Judea, and departed into Galilee. Ver. 45, Then when he was
come into Galilee, the Galileans received him, baving seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast, for they also went unto the feast.-Ch. vii. 1-4. After these things Jesus walked in Galilee.-Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at band. His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest: For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly: if thou do these things, show thyself to the world.” This reasoning of theirs is built upon the supposition, that there would be a general resort at Jerusalem, " at the feast of tabernacles, which was then at hand." Ch. xi, 55, 56, “ And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand, and many went out of the country, up to Jerusalem, before the passover, to purify themselves. Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they
stood in the temple, what think ye, that he will not come unto the feast?- Ch. xii. 12, 13, And on the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm-trees and went forth to meet him.-Ver. 23, And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast." See Acts. ii. 5.
I shall set down from Josephus evidences of all these particulars.
• At that time the feast was approaching, in which the • Jews are wont to eat unleavened bread. The feast is * called the passover, and is kept in remembrance of their
departure out of Egypt: they observe it with great joy, • and at this feast offer up more sacrifices than at any other, • and an innumerable multitude of persons come up to worship God, not only out of Judea, but also from other parts.'
Again, . When the feast which is called the passover was • nigh, in which it is our custom to eat unleavened bread, • and a great multitude was gathered together from all * parts, Cumanus fearing some disturbance might happen • among them, ordered a cobort of the soldiers to take • their arıns, and post themselves in the porticoes of the • temple.''
Again, · From Artipatris Cestius marched to Lydda, but • found no men in it, for all the people were gone up to Je* rusalem, to the feast of tabernacles. However, meeting • with fifty men, be slew them all, burnt the city, and went
forwards, and pitched his camp at a place called Gabao, • at the distance of fifty stadia from Jerusalem. The Jews • perceiving the enemy to approach to their metropolis, * neglecting the feast, betook themselves to their arms; and • placing great confidence in their numbers, marched out • to the fight with loud shouts, but very little order, not so • much as minding the rest of the seventh day. For it . happened to be the sabbath, which is respected and ob• served by them above all others.'s This sabbath is the day spoken of, John vii. 37, where it is called, “ the last day, that great day of the feast;" of which Moses says, “ It is a solemn assembly, and ye shall do no servile work therein," Lev. xxiii. 36.
• Year before Christ 3, or 4. It was the passover next after Herod's death.
6 Kατεισι δε πληθυς αναριθμητος εκ της χωρας, ηδη δε και εκ της υποριας ETTI Ipnoketa 78 Ose. Jos. Ant. lib. xvii. c. 9. sect. 3. CA. D. 48.
e Ant. lib. XX. C. 4. sect. 3 I A. D. 66.
8 De B. J. lib. ii. cap. 19. init.