Page images
PDF
EPUB

Appointment of Moses. Who, whenjje. was making a Rehearsal of the severs Statutes and Judgments of the Lord, fays of them, Which ye Jhall observe to do, Deut. in the land which the Lord God of thyTM'*' fathers giveth thee to possess it. Te shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes; for ye are net, as yet, come to the rest, and to the inheritance, which the Lord your God giveth you. -r h-yh

Now the Form of Government, here spoken of, being, as we have already ob? serv'd, threefold; One iPart relating to the whole People, in general; another, to every particular Tribe; and a third, to the several Cities in every Tribe: And those who presied in the First, being originally Judges j and afterward Kings; those, in the Second, Heads of Tribes, and Heads of Families; and those in the Third, Chiefs or Princes of the Cities and States to which they belong'dj it will be best, for Method's Sake, to enquire after the Nature of each of them, separately, and in their , several Orders. . -.■*

SECT.

• JO Ml J li: ■!•.■ ■> ■)■■

os. .1 SECT. XI.
T'iTife JUDGES of Israel.

Those who had the Administration of the Affairs of the People of Israel, after their Government, as appointed by God, came to take Place, though they were in the double Capacity, both of Judges, to fee that Justice was dealt among them impartially according to Law, and of Captains, to lead them forth to Battle against their Enemies, yet they were called and known, only by the first Name; as that which denoted the Province or Business of the greatest Importance and highest Dignity. And their principal Business being to judge-, that is, either to acquit or to condemn they had the Power of Life and Death in themselves-, and could make use of it, at such Times as they thought expedient, without the Concurrence of any of the inferior Judges. And this Power they exercis'd, not only in the Places where they liv'd, (Jerusalem, the Place which God intended to choose, not being, at that Time, the Seat

of

os their Government) but went in Circuit, ^throughout all the Tribes j and, in certain Cities, held Courts of Judicature, where they exercis'd their Power and Ju: risdiction.

At least, all the People repair'd to them

at their Dwelling, wherever it was, to

have Justice done them. Thus, it is said;

Deborah a Prophetess, the wife of Lapi

doth, Jhe judged Israel, at that time. And^>w'

jhe dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah;

betweenRzmah and Bethel in mount Ephra

im: And the children of Israel came up to her

for judgment. Of Samuel, it is said; And

Samuel judged Israel all the days of his

life. And he went, from year to year, in J..Sam

circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh,

and judged Israel in all those places. And

his Return was to Ramah; for there was

his house; and there he judged Israel, and

there he built an altar unto the Lor D.

It does not appear that these Judges had, or pretended to, any Share of arbitrary Power; but only to see that the Laws were faithfully executed. That they were at the Head of the Army, in Times of War, is plain, from this Instance, Judg. xii. stance, of Jephthah; who is said to have ib xi judged Israel y£v j<?tfrf. We read that, 6. ii. tchen the children of Ammon made 'war againji Israel, the Elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah, out of the land of Tob. And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon. Then Jephthah went with the Elders of Gilead; and the people made him head and captain over them. That they had likewise the Power of convening a Congregation of the whole People, and holding a Senate of the Elders, though the Instances of their doing so, are very rare, is, I think, unquestionable; because we find Moses and Joshua had that Power, before them, and the Kings us'd it, after them. In truth, che History and Account of the Judgest is very obscure and imperfect. And though tve need not doubt but God raised up proper Persons to record the memorable Transactions of his People, during the whole Time of the fudges; yet, such is the Imperfection of our human State, and so many the various Revolutions to which it is liable; that the Loss of some Monuments

numents of so great Antiquity, is nothing near so much to be wonder'd at, as that any at all have been preserv'd and transmitted to us. . ,-.

The merciful Providence of God has, however, taken care, at all Events, to secure enough to Men thro' all Ages, to build a firm and well-grounded Faith upon j to nourish their Hope of immortal Bliss, through the Merits of their glorious Redeemer; and, above all, to let them fee that Charity, mutual Love and Benevolence, is the indispensable Qualification of all those, who are ambitious of being the Children of God. .

But to return: The Promotion of the Judges was not hereditary j but purely elective. They whose Talents or Endowments mark'd them put as proper Persons to fill that Station, were desired .to accept of the Office by the concurrent Suffrages of the People. And this being the Manner of Government which God himself design'd for them, as long as they continued to be contented with it, his divine Providence so far concern 'd it self in these Elections, as to dispose them to F f pitch

« PreviousContinue »