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TAe Observance of the Law revived.
However, upon their Return from the Captivity after Seventy Years, Ezra, who was one of the Number, a ready scribe in the law of Moses which the Lord God of Israel had given, having prepard his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it; and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments, is thought to have restor'd the Law in such manner as we now have it. From him, this Part of the Office of the Scribes (of whom hereafter) in the fewijh Government, seems to have taken rife; for we find it was their Employment to interpret, expound, and comment upon the Law.
From this Time, to that of their Trou-* bles under Antiochus Epiphanes King of Syria, about 3 50 Years, the Jews liv'd under the Government of their own Law, adminifter'd by their High-Priests j without any great Interruptions. During which Interval the Greek Translation of the Bible, commonly call'd the Septuagint, was probably made: Not by Seventy-two InD 4 terpreterk terpreters of the Elders of that Nation at the Command of Ptolemy Philadelphia King of Egypt, (which Account the best: Critics reject as spurious;) but by those yews who sojourn'd altogether in some Parts of Greece and Egypt-, for whom, especially in regard to their making Proselytes, that Tongue must: have been much more commodious than their own: which, whether it were the old Hebrew of their Fathers j or the Chaldee, which they might have learn'd in their Captivity; or the fame which the Samaritans their Neighbours us'd; or the Syriac, which we find obtain'd among them in our Saviour's time; is, I doubt, as impossible, as it is needless, for us to know. It being reasonable to conclude, that, after the Grecian Arms, under Alexander, had subdued the World; that Language likewise would prevail over all others, and spread itself wherever his Conquests made way for it.
Their Sufferings under the Tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes were very great: since he us'd his utmost Endeavours to abolish their whole Law, Religion, and Customs; and they were as obstinately bent not to change
them. them. Unspeakable were the HardshipsMac. and Tortures they endur'd under Jthis Per- &c"' secution; which lasted upwards of two Years; when Judas surnam'd Maccabeus, of the Tribe of Levi, resolutely and successfully standing up in the Defence of his Country, at the fame time rescued it from Misery and Slavery, and restor'd the free Exercise of its Religion and Laws.
And thus they went on, but pester'd and corrupted, partly by intestine Factions in. the State, and partly by growing Heresies in the Church; govern'd by a Race of, sometimes Princes, sometimes Kings, the Descendents of Judas Maccabeus, for above a hundred Years; 'till they fell under the Dominion of the Romans; soon after which our Lord and Saviour JeSus Christ came into the World.
The Law in a languishing State, at
What Regard was had to the Law at that Time, our Lord himself makes plainly appear, when he upbraids them John vii. with this Interrogation; Did not Moses &*ve you Law? and yet none of you, keepetb the Law. They were indeed Hypocrites enough to pretend a mighty Veneration for it, though in Practice they generally ran counter to it j for which Reason our Lord denounces a severe ^att- Sentence against them: Wo unto you Scribes ana Fhanjees, Hypocrites; jor ye pay Tythe of Mint and Anise and Cummin, and have omitted the weightier Matters of the Law, Judgment, Mercy, and Faith. Lukeii. They were also call'd DoSiors of the Acts v7 Law, and us'd, at certain Times, to afj4. semble themselves together, at Jerusalem, from all the Cities of Judea, in order to expound it, and to instruct others in it; who fat on low Seats, just under theirs, for that Purpose. In which Sense it is, that St. Paul tells us, he wai brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, who was one of them: But how they edified their Hearers our blessed Lord sufficiently intiMatt.xv. mates, when he charges them with ma6' king the commandment of God of no effett by their tradition; and teaching, for the true Doctrine of God, the Commandments of men. SECT.
The Law fulfill'd by Christ. As to himself, that he paid the highest Regard to it, appears from that solemn Declaration in his Discourse on the Mount. Think not that I am come to destroy the Matt. v. Law and the Prophets: I am not come to '?• destroy but to fulfill. For verily I fay unto yoUy till heaven and earth past, one jot or one tittle shall in no wife pass from the Laiv, till all be fulfilld. Whosoever therefore so all break one of these least commandments, and, shall teach men so, he jhall be call'd the least in the kingdom of Heaven: But whosoever Jhall do and teach them, the fame Jhall be calfd great in the kingdom of heaven. For I fay unto you, that except your righteousness Jhall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye Jhall in no cafe enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And, indeed, he amply made his Words good. For, every thing that was merely ceremonial, typical, and predictive of the Meffiah, either in the Law or the "Prophets, he clearly fulfill'd by the corresponding Circumstances of his Birth, Life, Pas