Page images

sion, Death, and Resurrection. And every thing that concern'd Morality, the eternal Law of Nature and Reason in either, he not only fulfill'd, in doing all manner of Good to those that stood in need of it; but, as the * original Word implies, improv'd, and added new Force and Vigour to it j by requiring a more exact Observance of it than had before been thought necessary.

Of this there are several Instances immediately following the Passage last cited. Te have heard (fays he) that it was said by them of old time, Thou Jhalt not kill; and whosoevershall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I Jay unto you that whosoever is angry with his Brother, &c. shall be in danger of the Judgment, &c. And therefore he prescribes speedy Reconciliation and Forgiveness, to those, among whom any Misunderstanding has happen'd.

Again; Te have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I fay unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her,

[ocr errors][merged small]

hath committed adultery with her already^ in his Heart.

And so, he forbids all manner of idle Swearing, even tho' God's Name be not us'd in the cafe. He declares against Retaliation of Injuries, and requires us to return Good for Evil: and to love, not only such of our Neighbours, as never hurt us, but even those who are our Enemies and hate us; after the Example of our Father which is in Heaven.

And then, as to the judicial Part of the Law, well might he be said to fulfill that, by bringing Life and Immortality to Light, thro' the Gospel; and, to enhance the Obligation arising from earthly and temporal Rewards and Punishments, by adding to the one, the eternal Joys of Heaven, and to the other the everlasting Torments of Hell.

[graphic][merged small]


SECT. I. The Form of their Government.

SO far concerning the Law. Let us proceed to inquire next into the Nature and Form of their Government; both as it was establish'd by those LawS which God gave them, and such as he permitted it to be afterwards, when the Law came to be neglected by them.

Now, by inquiring into the Form and Kind of their Government, we mean nothing more than to know in what Hands the sovereign Power was lodg'd. And this, at the Beginning, we find to have been exercis'd by a certain Number of the principal or leading Men among them; afterward by their Kings: The first of which was what is call'd an Aristocracy, the Second a Monarchy. For, as to its having been a Theocracy, as some affect to term it, (which Word implies that their Government and the executive Power of

it flow'd immediately from *God) that
Character, I conceive, would not be suf-
ficient to ascertain its proper Form; be-
ing such, as may be occasionally ap-
plied to either a Monarchy, an Aristo-
cracy, or a Democracy, at such Times as
they conform themselves, in any tolera-
ble Degree, to the Rules of God's natu-
ral and revealed Law. By me kings reign, Prov. viii.
and princes decreejustice; by me princes rule,
and nobles, even all the judges of the earth: V
fays the Voice of Wisdom.

First, an Aristocracy.

The Jewish Government therefore, as it was left settled by Moses, and that by God's special Direction, was an Aristocracy. The Lord said unto Moses, Gather Deut. xi. unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, l6" •whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear

the burden of the people with thee; that thou bear it not thy self alone. Accordingly to them, together with the Priests and Levites, the Charge of seeing to the Execution of the Law was intrusted. The Law under their Administration was the supream Power; and so continued, both during the Life of Moses, before they passed over Jordan into the Land of Canaan, and after they were settled there, under Jo/hua, and the Elders.

For, after the Death of Moses, Joshua acted as Conductor of their Affairs, according to the Law, by a special Commission from God; Part of which runs • 7- thus; Be thou strong and very courageous, that thou may'st observe to do according to all the Law which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou may'st prosper whithersoever thou goejl.

How he observ'd it therefore, we may conclude by the Proportion in which he prospered. He conquer'd divers Nations and flew mighty Kings; all Opposition fell before him, till he had put the Israelites in Possession of the promis'd Land.


« PreviousContinue »