« PreviousContinue »
14 Q. What were the Opinions of the Sadducees? A. The Sadducees at firft are fuppofed by Dr Prideaux, to be no more than the Zadikim, who only ftuck to the written Word of God, renouncing all other Traditions; and that probably they went no further than this in the Days of Hyrcanus; though the Talmudical Writers derive theirName, and their dangerous Doctrines, more early, from one Zadock, as is before related. But it is certain that afterward the Sadducees denied the Refurrection of the Dead, and the very Being of Angels or Spirits, or Souls of Men departed, and any Exiftence in a future State: They fuppofed God to be the only Spirit, and that he rewarded and punished Mankind in this World only, and there was nothing to be hoped or feared after Death; which Principles render this Sect an impious Party of Men.
15 Q. What did they profefs as the Rule of their Religion?
A. They not only rejected all unwritten Traditions, but all the written Word of God, except the five Books of Mofes ; for the Doctrine of a future State is not fo evidently taught therein: And therefore Chrift argues not with them out of the Pfalms and Prophets, but only out of the Law of Mofes; when he proves a future State or Refurrection from God's being the God of Abraham, Ifaac, and Jacob, Luke xx. 37.
16 Q. How long did this Sect of the Sadducees continue?
A. Though all the common People had the chief Veneration for the Pharifees, yet most of the richest and the greatest among them fell into the Opinions of the Sadducees for several Generations, but they were all cut off in the Destruction of Jerufalem; nor do we find any Mention of
of them as a Sect for many Ages after, till their Name was revived and applied to the Karaites, by Way of Reproach.
17 Q. Who were thefe Karaites?
A. A much better Sect among the Jews, who, in the fixth Century after Chrift, began to be fo much offended with the incredible Stories and Fooleries of the Talmud, which was then publifhed, and with the ftrange myftical Senfes which fome of the Jews put on the Scriptures, that they confined themselves only to the written Word of the Scripture, which in the Babylonifh Language is called Kara; and, for the moft Part, they content themselves with the literal Sense of it. They are fometimes, but very unjustly, called Sadducees, by the Rabbinical or Talmudical Jews.
18 Q. Where are thefe Karaites to be found? A. Very few of them dwell in these western Parts of the World. They are found chiefly in Poland, and among the Crim Tartars; a few alfo in Egypt and Perfia. But they are counted Men of the best Learning, and greatest Probity and Virtue among the Jews; and it is remarkable among them, that they perform their public Worship in the Language of the Country where they dwell. 19 Q. What were the Effenes?
A. They feem to have been originally of the fame Sect as the Pharifees; but they fet up for a more mortified Way of Living, and perhaps more unblameable. They fo far agreed with the Sadducees, as to acknowledge or expect no Refurrection of the Body; but they believed a future State of eternal Happiness or Mifery, according to their Behaviour in this Life. They feem to have been diftributed into Societies or Fraternities, and to have had no private Poffeffions, but a common
Stock for the Supply of all. They were in a fpecial Manner religious toward God, both on the Sabbath, and in their daily Devotions; and exceeding friendly and benevolent toward Men. They did not difclaim Marriage; but they entered into that State more rarely, and with great Caution: And instead of Children of their own, they bred up poor Children in their own Sect. They were very abftemious as to their Food, and their Habit was a plain white Garment. Their Rules of Life are reported to us more at large by Jofephus, and by Philo, two Jews; they are alfo defcribed by Pliny, a Heathen, and by fome of the Chriftian Fathers.
20 QIf they were a confiderable Sect in the Days of our Saviour, how came it to pafs that they' are not mentioned in the New Teftament ?
A. Some have fuppofed that they feldom came into Cities, but living fo very plain and abstemicus a Life, they refided for the most part in the Country; and thus they fell not under our Saviour's Obfervation, And befides, they being a very honeft and fincere Sort of People, they gave no fuch Reafon for Reproof and Cenfure, as others very juftly deferved. Though it must be confeffed also, that their Disbelief of the Refurrection of the Body, their Non-attendance on the Temple Worfhip, their traditional Washings, and self-invented Purifications, their rigorous and needlefs Abftinencies from fome Sorts of Meats, and other like fuperftitious Customs and Will worship, might have given our Saviour juft Occafion for Reproof, had they come in his Way; and perhaps they are cenfured under the general Name of Pharifees, in those fuperftitious Traditions wherein they both agreed.
21 Q. Now we are speaking of the feveralSects of the Jews, let us know also what were the Herodians?
A. This Sect.arose not till the Time of Herod the Great, King of Judea: And it is plain they had peculiar evil Tenets as well as the other Sects, fince our Saviour warned his Difciples against the Leaven of the Pharifees, and of Herod. Indeed they oppofed the Pharifees, and very juftly, in one Point; for the Pharifees fcarce thought it lawful to pay Taxes directly to Heathens, though they acquired the Sovereign Power, and particularly to Cæfar, in that Day: But their special E-ror, which Chrift calls their Leaven, feems to be this; that it was lawful, when conftrained by Superiors, to comply with Idolatry, and with a falfe Religion. Herod feems to have framed this Sect on Purpofe to justify himself in this Practice; who being an Idumean by Nation, was indeed half a Jew, and half a Heathen; and affected a Conformity to the Gentiles in fome Things, to pleafe the Romans, who made him King, while at the fame Time he profeffed Judaifm.
Note, The Sadducees generally came into this complaifant Opinion; and the fame Persons which are called Herodians in Mark viii. 15. are called Sadducees in Matt xvi. 6 But this Sect died in a little Time; for we hear no more of them after the Days of our Saviour.
22 Q. Having done with the feveral Sects of the Jews, let us return now and inquire who fucceeded Hyrcanus at his Death?
A. Ariftobulus, his eldeft Son, took the Office of the High Prieft, and Governor of the Country; and he was the firft, fince the Captivity of Baby. lon, who put a Diadem upon his Head, and affumed the Title of King.
23 Q. What is recorded of him?
A. He put his own Mother to Death, because
fhe made fome Pretence to the Government; he fent all his Brothers, fave one, to Prifon; then he attacked and fubdued the Itureans, who live on the North Eaft of the Land of Galilee, and forced them to be circumcifed and receive the Jewish Religion. At laft he was perfuaded to put his favourite Brother to Death, upon an unjuft Sufpicion; and then he died him felf, vomiting Blood,. and in great Horror for his Crimes. 24 Q. Who fucceeded him?
A. His next Brother, Alexander, furnamed Fannaus, took the Kingdom, who alfo put another of the Brothers to Death, becaufe of fome Attempt to fupplant him.
25 Q. What Succefs had Alexander in his Government?
A. He having fettled his Affairs at Home, attacked fome of his Neighbours, and dealt very deceitfully with Ptolemy Lathyrus, the Heir to the Crown of Egypt, who came to their Affiftance: Whereupon there enfued a bloody Battle between them, near the River Jordan in Galilee, wherei:r Alexander's Army was utterly defeated, and he loft thirty thousand Men.
Note, There is a very cruel and barbarous Action at. tributed to Lathyrus on this Occafion, namely, that coming with his Army, in the Evening after the Victory, to take up his Quarters in the adjoining Villages, and finding them full of Women and Children, he caused them to be all flaughtered, and their Bodies to be cut in Pieces, and put into Cauldrons over the Fire to be boiled, as if it were for Supper; that fo he might leave an Opinion in that Country, that his Men fed upon human Flesh, and thereby might create the greater Dread and Terror of his Army through all thofe Parts. After this, Lathyrus ranged at Liberty all over the Country, ravaging, plundering, and destroying it in