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And, to balance the Matter fairly, it. must be consess'd that St. Paul had, upon occasion, temporiz'd in this Point, as well as the rest of the Apostles: When, ac Act* xvi. Lyjlra, he took 'Timothy,whosefather noas 3" a Greek, and circumcised him, because of the Jews which were in those quarters.
This Digression cannot be thought unseasonable, since it suggests to us a very convenient Doctrine; That Ceremonies, merely indifferent, however they may be unnecessary, or even burdensom, ought ta be complied with, to humour a Majority: And, at the fame Time, That, where People can use their own Liberty without hurting themselves, the less they are troubled with them,. the better.
The PROPHET S.
The Prophets were Persons whom God was pleas'd to honour with a divine Spirit of foreseeing some extraordinary Occurrences, and foretelling them to the World, long before they came to pass, or were even thought of. And from hence,
originally originally they obtain'd the Name of Seers. In the Days of Samuel, it is said; Beforetime, in Israel, when a man went to j1 Sam* inquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the Seer: for he that is now called a prophet was beforetime called a Seer.
By their Mouths, God was so gracious, from time to time, as to warn his People of the Evils they wou'd bring upon themselves by their sinful Disobedience: And to encourage them to walk in the Ways of Righteousness, by a Promise of the many Blessings He wou'd, upon that Condition, confer upon them. And through all, a future Mefjiah is frequently predicted; to augment their Happiness, when they were virtuous and good; and to prevent them from falling into Despair, when they were punish'd and humbled for their Transgressions. Thus the Lord is introdue'd speaking to them; Since the day that your jer vii fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt, 25unto this day, I have sent unto you all my servants the prophets.
And even before the Law took Place, and probably, from the first Beginning of
$14 R E L IG I O US A* F A I R S.
Mankind, there were Persons bless'd with the Spirit of Prophecy, and charg'd wksi Commissions of this Kind. Abraham, was Gen. xx. a Prophet j as God tells Abimelech. And 7' Isaac and Jacob both prophesied concerning the future State of their Children: As did Joseph to his Brethren concerning their Deliverance out of the Land of Egypt. And we find some, not long after, who, although they were not of the Hebrew Line, were endow'd with a prophetic Spirit: Such were Job and Balaam; and some others.
But, of all those to whom this divine Faculty was imparted, none was so great a Prophet, as Moses. This we are given to understand upon the Occasion of Miriam and Aaron's opposing him; whom the xii"1^. Lord reproves, thus; Hear now, my •words; if there be a prophet among you, J the Lord will make my self known unto him, in a vision; and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so who is faithful in all mine house'j with him will I speak mouth to moutb, even apparently, and Deut not in dark speeches. Again, it is said; xxxiv. There arose not a prophet since in Israel,
like unto Moses* whom the Lord knew face to face.
But, to tighten the Charge and Burden that lay upon Moses, by this means, God was pleas'd to take a Portion of the Spirit that mas upon hint, and put it upon seventy other Men, who were Elders of the People, and Officers over them, that they might share the Weight of Government with him. "The Lord came down Deut. xi, in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took 0s25' the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto theseventy elders: And it came to pass that when the spirit rested upon them, they •prophesied and did not cease.
Some Prophets there were, after Moses% during the Time of the fudges. We read; that, in those Days, The Lord sent rfJudg.vL prophet unto the children of Israel. And, ^"sam- ^ there came a man of God' unto Eli, andsaid 27unto him, Thus faith the L Or. D, &c. Soon after which Samuel grew up, and became * a very extraordinary Prophet. And the more so, because, the word of the Lord 1 Sum was precious, in those days; there was no111' j open vision. To him, while he was yet a Ch|ld, the Word of the Lord was re
I Sam. iii. veal'd in Shiloh. 'the Lo&d was iviti '9' 2°' him, and did let none of his words fa// to tk ground. And all Israel, from Dan even ti Beersheba, knew that Samuel was eftablijhed, to be a prophet, of the L o Bl J>. After the Death of Eli, we arc toli i Sam. l^at Samuel judged the children of Israel: vii. 6. Who was, not only, a very great Prophet himself, but presided, over the College or Seminary of Prophets, with great Success: Insomuch that, from his Time to that of the Captivity, there appears to have been a constant and plentiful Supply of them.
That there was a School of the Prophets, where they were instructed in expounding the Law, and in whatever Studies might best qualify them for the Lord's bestowing a prophetic Spirit upon them, is plain from the folio wing Passage; which relates to David, when he fled from the Persecution of Saul. It is said; David fed, and escaped, and came to SaX1X> Jg} muel to Ramahj and told him all that Saul &c« had done to him: And he and Samuel went and dwelt at Naioth. This Naioth, which was in the Suburbs of Ramahj was the Academy of the Prophets. There,