« PreviousContinue »
* In th*e Apocrypha, it is said, I fasted se- 2 Esdr*s **6ei?. <&ry.s, mourning and weeping; where we alJfo read, that Judiths after (he was a Widow, put on Jackclotb upon her loyns, and Judith fasted all the days of her widowhood, save x 6
eves of the sabbaths; and the /aMaths, and the eves of the new moons, and the new! moons, and the feasts, andsolemn days of the house os Israel.
These being their Practices in their private Fastings, no wonder we find those Hypocrites, the Pharisees, in the Gospel, endeavouring to raise Merit among the People, that Way, They wore a sad coun- Mat. vi. ienance, and disfigured their faces, thatl6' °" they might appear unto men to fast. One of them is introdue'd, enumerating his own Virtues to the allseeing God j and among the rest, reckoning this for one, / fast twice in the week. And they and Luke their Disciples wonder'd at Christ and his xviii' 12 Disciples for not fasting, (in a distinguished remarkable manner.)
23O R E L I G IO ViS: AF I AIR S.
Btft, our L o R D condemn^ >B©haviour, and recommends that which * h quire contrary; io anoint the head\ xAn4 •wast the face; so as not to appear\ tense men to fast, but unto the father, which feetb in secret. Which Direction, as well as hi? Practice in the Wilderness, shews that he did not disapprove of Fasting, though he did not like the Ostentation of 4t~v.For, as Justice and Charity were always more acceptable to the Lord than Sacrifice* so was the inward Sorrow and Contrition of the Heart what he truly respected, and not the outward Affliction and maltreating the Body. The Precept in the
Lev. xvi. Law jS> Ye shall affliSt your fouls.
~> 4nd the Prophet (saiah introduces these
Hypocrites pleading for themselves to the
Isaiah Lokdj Wherefore have we fa/led, fay tbey%
&"' 3' and thou feest not? Wherefore have we assisted our foul, and thou takes no knowledges To which the Answer is; Behold, in the day of your fajl, you find pleasure, and ejeaft all your labours: Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the stft of wickedness; ye shall not fast, as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
Jjr // Jitch a fast that I have chosen? a day J~or a 'n\dn to qffliSl his foul? Is it to bow do*wn his head as a bulrust; and to spread sackcloth and apes under him? wilt thou call this a soft, and an acceptable day to the L Otcv'?j'Is not this the fast that I have e ho/en; to loose the bands*os wickedness; to undo the heavy burdens', and to let the oppressed go free; and that ye break every yoke? Is it not, to deal thy bread to the hungry; and that thou bring the poor, that.are'cast cut, to thy house? When thou J'eest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thy self from thine won Jlesh? Then stall thy light breakforth as the mornings &c. This, as much as to fay, is the true substantial Fasting; of which, the other is only the Shadow, and false Repre- Joel. if. sentatiVe. In which fense, likewise, the13. Prophet Joel says, Rent your heart, and not your garments.
So much for .the sacred Rites of the
V »t -V- "HI.''
■ a. . *
THE Fourth and last Particular, in their Religion, which we have to treat of, is, the Persons who were ordainecf to officiate and administer about, holy Things, in the i Places* at the Times:, and with the sacred Rites aboye mention'<£» Of these there were several Orders ; > The High-Priest; The Priests; The L;evites;; The Singers; The Door-Keepers, or Porters; and the Nethinims. These were all, except the last, of the Tribe of Levi; and had no other Inheritance or Income than what arose from the Fees of their Office, the Sacrifices and sacred Donations which accrued to them, in Proportion to the Dignity of the Station in which they scrv'd.
The Designation os this Tribe to the Priesthood, was in lieu of the First-born in ExoA every Family, throughout all the Tribes j whom God had appointed to be consecrated to Himself,at the Time that he brought them, out of the Land of Egypt. But, as that, upon many Occasions, would have been inconvenient for them; God was pleas'd to dispense with them as to that Obligation, and to accept of the whole Tribe of Levi, in the stead thereof. The Numb. Lordunto Moses saying-, Behold,lxu 11 • I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel, instead of all the firstborn^ that openeth the matrix among the chiU dr en of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine.
Now, as no Profession whatever can be conceived to be so honourable, as that which is peculiarly instrumental, in teaching and assisting Mankind how to keep themselves at Peace with God; and to reconcile themselves to Him, after they