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\vs These popular Conventions were called and held upon three Accounts; either, t& : hear some solemn Charge; to implore the Mercy of God upon some important Emergency; or, to transact Matters of great Moment and Weight. The original Intention of calling them, at the first, was to hezt the Law, when it was difpens'd by God: When the Lord said unto Moses, Deut.iv» Gather me the people together, and I will1 wake them hear my words. And when Da~ vid had summon'd one .of these General Assemblies, by thck Representatives, at yerufalem, he makes a Speech to them, in relation to the Building of the Temple; He stood up upon his feet, andsaid, Hear me, i Chron. my brethren, and my people. Again; Fur- &*vm"' l" thermore David the king said unto all the con- xxix. %. gregation.
As to their assembling together to supplicate God's Favour and Protection; we read that Jephthah, after he had agreed With the Elders of Gilead to fight the Battles of the People of Israel against the Ammonites, and the People had made Him Head, and Captain over them, that Jeph- judges thah uttered all his words before Alordx'A a 3 in
in Mizpeh. This was a Place held in great Veneration, in those Days. Here it,awas, probably, that he made his famous Vow; and hither these General Congregations were most commonly assembled, to ask Counsel of the Lord, before they attempted any Enterprize os Consequence. When the impious and rebellious Obstinacy of the Benjamites came to be known, All the children Judges of Israel went out, and the congregation was xx" ' gathered together, as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the Lokd in Mizpeh. And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God. So Samuel says, Ga\ Sam. ther all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray VK' 5' fir y°* t0 the Lou D. For, though bis house was in Ramah, it is said, he judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh, likewise. He took it in circuit year by year; and there held the Great National Congregations.
The Matters of Weight and Importance which they sometimes assembled together to tranfacl, were, either to choose, their Chief Judge, or King; or to determine whether they should begin a War, with
any other People. Thus, The men of J^g" Israel (in a general congregation) said unto Gideon, Rule over us-, both thou and thy son, and thy son's son also. And thus Samuel, called the people together unto the Lord in 1 Sam* IVTizpeh, in order to choose a King. And 7 when »£(Zfl/ was declar'd to be the Person,^// people '[shouted and said, God save the King. And in the three foregoing Instances that we have seen of their assembling -together to make Supplication to the Lord, their Business was likewise, partly, to consult about going to War; first, with the '■^Ammonites; secondly, with the BenjamiteS} ■ and thirdly, with the Philistines.
As to the second Sort of these Congregations, which were held by each Tribe, separately; though we have no direct Institution of them, nor find them exprefly mention'dj yet, by Inference, it plainly appears there were such; Because the People of every Tribe, had Chiefs belonging to them> who could convene them, upon 1 'Occasion: And, it is very plain, that they did assemble in Council, hold Judiciary Courts, and determine upon War !' and Peace. Thus, we read, that, upon A a 4 dividing
dividing the Land of Canaan, btfrJkot,*r Jofh.xix. mong the Twelve Tribes, the coajg.APfrrtl* 47. children of Dan went out too little for them, therefore the children of Dzn went up?i&figbt againft Leshem,slW took it,andsmote At, with the edge of the fword,andpossessedit\ and'dive k therein, and called Lesliem, Dan; after fix name of Dan their father. And, that the Ephraimites, resenting their not being invited by Jephthah into the War against the AmJudges monites, gathered themselves together, in orxii. i. jg,. t0 can him tQ an Account for ic.;£ ,-i The fame Inference may be made as to their Cities; which were, unquestionably govern'd by a Body Corporate, or Common Council, acting under one Chief or Head. We have express Mention of that of Jerusalem; where we are told, that King t Chron. Hezekiah had taken counsel, and his princes, xxx. 2. a/1(j all fb$ congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the pajfover in the second month. Qf this, notice was sent out into the Country round Ib. 12. about, and, it is said, iVzJudah, the band of God was to give them one hearts tojdothe commandment of the king and of the princes. Which shews, that the Men of that Tribe were strangers to the Business, till it was
:htisJ<te&mmunicated to them; those of rl^rri^hat' were not Inhabitants of fetu
vtfas Otherwise, at the Dedication of the Temple by Solomon: He assembled, the '..Kings eldef$*y#fk' Israel, and all the heads of the l* tribesstfc chief of the fathers of the children of Israel j and all the men of Israel, assembled themselves unto king Solomon. Again Solomon flood before the altar of the —Ib. 22. Lord, in the presence of all the congregation of Israel? By which; it^is0 plain, the Congregation of Jerusalem,' arid the Congregation of all Israel, were1 distinct.
Besides, we are not ignorant, what a Figure these Popular Councils made in our Saviour's Time: And how instrumental they were,' in procuring Him, at the Instigation of the Chief-Priests and Elders, to be crucified. The Governor, being wont Mat. to release unto the people at that feast, a &c.' * prisoner, whom they would', Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, &c, So, in another Gospel; Pilate, Lukc when he had called together, the Chief- xxiii. 13* Priests, and the rulers, and the people, said unto themK §cc. They were tp consider of