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SECT. II. v.
By Councils we are to understand, any of those authoriz'd Meetings, in which Things appertaining to the Good and Wesfare of the State are propos'd, debated, and finally enacted into Laws. Such as Matters relating to Peace and War; encouraging and regulating Trade j appointing Magistrates, as often as Occasion requires; and levying such Supplies as shall be judg'd necessary for the general Support, Defense, and Honour of the Nation.
But as thele Councils, in most well-regulated Governments, are of two Kinds; one public and general,consisting of a Convention of the whole collective Body of the People; the other private and separate, made up of a certain number of select Persons, whom either their Age, or extraordinary natural Parts have qualified for Business; so it was among the Jews. Their Councils were, either The Congregation; a promiscuous Meeting of all their Tribes come together in one Place; or, the Senatt
ompos'd of a segregate Body of grave xperienc'd Elders.
The Psalmist makes mention of both hese Councils-, when, exciting his Counrymen to a high Pitch of Devotion to the L o R D for his great Goodness, he fays;
L,et them exalt Him also in the congregation Psalm
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/Æ^ people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders. Again; / will praise the Psalm Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly CX1, l% of the upright, and in the congregation. These two sorts of Councils, under the fame Distinction, he speaks of in several Places: whence we may conclude there were no other: For, if there had, it is not likely that he would have fail'd taking some notice of them also. Of these two therefore we shall proceed to the Consideration. And first, of the Congregation.
The Nature of their Government, as was obscrv'd before, being threefold; as ic consisted, first, of that which subsisted among the whole twelve Tribes in General; secondly, of that which related to each A a Tribe,
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Tribe, in particular; and thirdly, -^hac was us'd in the several Cities belonging to the several Tribes: so there were likewise three kinds of Congregations among them. One, made up of the whole People of the twelve Tribes; another, of the Families in each Tribe, separately; and another, of the Inhabitants of every City, within themselves.
The Great Congregation, which was made up of the whole People of the twelve Tribes, was constituted by God himself; Exod. xii. where he bids Moses, speak unto dtt 'tbe 3. xiv. 2. congregation of Israel > and speak untb the children of Israel. All the Statute's, Judgments, and Ordinances, which God delivers to Moses, were, by him, to. be communicated to the People thus assembled. Exoa. And accordingly, we find Moses gathered xxxv. 1. all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, These are the words which the Lo Rd hath commanded.
These Congregations were frequently held, during the Time of Moses. And when God appoints Jojhua to be his SitcNumb. lessor, He orders him, to set him before xxvii. 19. Eleazar the Pries, and before alstbe congregation,
gregation, and give him a charge in their Jight. Again, he says, The LOr D deli- ^ut•vered unto me two tables of Jlone, in the day of the assembly.
"These Congregations no one took upo$ him to convene, but that Person who presided over their Affairs, as Conductor, Judge, or King, Jojlma, who was in the first Capacity, when he was waxen old, and Josh. stricken in age, called for all Israel; and *■ Jbr their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers. Samuel, one of their judges, said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh. We read that'..Sam' David, when he was King, gathered, Sam. ^// the people together. And, again; that, he gathered all Israel together, to Jerusalem. Xv. 3. We read likewise, that all Israel came to 1 .^ing? Shechem to make Rehoboam King, after the Death of Solomon. Again j after the Revolt of the Ten Tribes, when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled ^ ^ all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin. And so Asa King of Judah, is iaid to have gathered all Judah and Benja- 2 Chron. min, in order to make a Jolemn covenant xv" 9'IO' •with God. They gathered themselves together A a 2 at
K at Jerusalem, accordingly, in the third, month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa......A vv. -..^u blarf br.f
The manner of summoning thefe Geae~> Numb, ral Congregations, as prcfcrib'd by the 'Lam, x. i> &c. wasYjy a particular Sound of Trumpet. 'The Lord spake unto Moses, faying, Make thee two trumpets of silver j that thou mayjl use themt for the calling of the ajsembfy, and for the journeying of the camps. And when they jhall blew with them, all the assembly stall assemble themselves together, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And, if they blow but with one trumpet'■> then the Princes, which are the beads of the thousands of Israel, Jhall gather themselves unto thee. When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts Jhall go forward. When ye blow an alarm, the second time, then the camps that lie on the south fide shall take their journey. But, when the congregation is to be gathered together, you Jhall blow -, but you Jhall not found an alarm. Thesons of Aaron, the Priest, Jhall blow with the trumpets; and they Jhall be to you fir an, ordinance, for ever, throughout your generations. , :k^li