Page images
PDF
EPUB

So it must have been, if the Headship of the Tribe of Levi was confined to the Head of the Sacerdotal Family of Aaron. For that very Phineat was the Heir of Eleazar the eldest Son of Aaron who left any Posterity and

titled to that Honour, on account of his Seniority: And considering that the rest of the Levitical Tribe were by God's appointment, given to the Priests the Sons of Aaron, as Servants under them in the sacred Ministeriesj it can by no means seem credible, that any of them could have taken place of the eldest Priest as Senior to him in their common Levitical Tribe. This also was really the time when the Tribes acted separately, not as a common Body. Thus, the Tribes of Judah and Simeon help one another by agreement, Judg. i. 3. not by any common Authority obliging them both to do so. The like account is given there, why the other Tribes did not drive out the Canaanites out of their respective Territories. Plainly supposing them now to act separately, not in a Body as before. The lame is the state of the Government in these Chapters also, which are now preposterously read in the latter end of the Book of Judges. There also the Danites undertake a separate Expedition for enlarging the Jurisdiction of their own Tribe: Exactly as the other Tribes do in the beginning of the fame Book. There also the Levite divides his Concubine, into twelve Parts, to be sent to all the Tribes separately, not to any one common Council nor Person, who might undertake for them all the War designed against the Men of Gibeah. This therefore shews, that the beginning and end of that Book relate to the fame

therefore must have been in course the Tribe of Levi, if the eldelt f

[graphic]

Priest wasintimes, considering that the other circumstances are so exactly parallel in both places. The Elders , therefore of the Tribes, the Phylarcbi, are the Persons that kept the People fttdfaji to their Cove mint with the Supreme Being, in the time which immediately succeeded the time of Jq/hua. Thence it appears, what influence the Elders of the Tribes had, as GOvernours of their respective Tribes, for securing performance of the Covenants with God in their Tribes, whilst the twelve Tribes had no common Governours that could undertake for them all. This was so universal that footsteps of it appear, even in the Heathen Religions that were National. Among the Romans and Greeks^ who have the most antient well-attested Heathen Monuments, their Kings had so great an interest in their National Religions, that several of their National religious Rites and Sacrifices could be performed by no other but their Kings in Person. This obliged them both, after their extirpation of Royal Authority, however to preserve the Name of a King, even in their Commonwealth, in one who was thereby qualified to officiate in those Rights which had been so appropriated to their Kings in Person. Such was the Rex Sacrificulus among the Romans, who was therefore subjeSed to their Fontifex Maximus, that he might be thereby disabled for challenging any other Regal Rights than these which were thought so necessary to the Commonwealths themselves, relating to Religion. Such also was the Interrex or Ui<rc6a.<riK<&(5 as the Greek writers call him, who was to renew the Auspicia, when the annual Magistrates had suffered the time allotted for the Comitia to lapse, without creating Successors. This was also thought to be an Office

of of Religion os great consequence, for the good of the Commonwealth. Of the like nature was the Archon, who only had the name of 3*»a<£« appropriated to him, to distinguish him from the rest of his Colleague Arcbontes. And, to return to the cafe of Patriarchal Right, Men have been commonly sensible or this, as the cause why Esau is called propbane tor making so light a matter of the loss of his Primogeniture. They account for this Reproach thus, That the Priesthood it self was then taken for one of the Rights of it.

This interest of the Supreme Magistrate for §• VI. securing Covenantj of National Religion, I take Q^^Secuto be the true Reason why God was so displea- rity he'hadfir fed at the Israelites for chusing a KSwjg; and performance why he looks on it as a rejeSion of himself of the Covefrom being their King, to which he had be-"anc on the fore obliged them by the Covenant, for secu- ^zmlag the ring Religion, and by the nature of the Thco- Governours, cracy, with which he had favoured them par- teas the thing ticularly above any other Nation. But this has thf G°&J*b been so commonly misunderstood, that it will fc^Tte not be amiss on this occasion, to explain it. 0wn Kingsliip, It is very strange that Jojephm, or our late In- in their bovine; novators, should take this for a Reflexion on Hereditary Monarchy in general: For they can never give Kings" any instance before this time, that the Israelites were ever governed otherwise than Monarchically, Moses was a Monarch, and so was Joshua, and all the Judges. And so must all those Governments have been of the Phylarchi in their several Tribes, when there wasnoaramon Governour over their whole Body, and indeed all that other Government that was regularly derived from a Patriarchal Original, which is most agreeable to the Accounts, not pnlv 9s the Old Testament, but of all others

mine Antiquity. Nor was it the name of a King that was thought so inconsistent with the Divine Sovereignty. Moses himself is called a King, Deut. xxxiii. $. And so is Jojhua, and all the Judges, and the common Governours of all the Tribes, when the Government of the Tribes separately is described by there being no King in Israel, as I have now shewn. What is it therefore that is taken in the Kingly Government as inconsistent with the King/y Government of God? Nothing that I can find, but the Hereditary Succession which was then generally received in Kingly Government among the Nations that were about them, Deut. xvii.14. Such an Hereditary Succession is taken for derogatory to the Divine Sovereignty, and inconsistent with it in the cafe of Gideon, though he had not so much as the style of 3 King in the appropriate fense. The words of: the Text are very plain to this purpose, though not so commonly observed: Then the Men oj Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy sons son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: The LORD shall rule over you, Judg. viii. 22, 23. It appears by this very Text, that the Right of the Judges was not hereditary: For Gideon was a Judge before } yet was not supposed to have a Right to convey the Office to his Posterity till this new Establishment of the People, if he had accepted of it. The same appears from the numerous Issue of fair the Gileadite, who had thirty Sons, yet none of them succeeded him in his Office. But when Saul was made King in the sense With which God was so displeased, from that

time

time forward, the Office was supposed hereditary. This is very plain from Sauss words to his Heir apparent Jonathan: As long ax the Son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thoie Jhalt not be established, nor THI KINGDOM, i Sam. xx. 31. The reason why God looks on this hereditary Constitution as so derogatory to his own Kingdom, seems to have been plainly this. Whilst the Office was not hereditary, God always reserved in his own Hands the right of nominating the next Successor, upon the death of the Judge tor the time being: And he took care to nominate none but such as were well affected to his Law, and to the National Covenant for securing it. Accordingly in the whole Succession of the Judges, we find not one single instance of any who did not answer ExpeSation and the Trust reposed in him. But in the King's time, when the Office was made hereditary, we then find as great uncertainty and inconstancy among the Israelis ijh Kings as among the Kings of other Nations, some Patrons of the Law it self!, and of the National Covenant which had been made in favour of it, and some as vigorous and active in destroying the Law and God's Securityfor keeping it. This God foresaw, though Man did not, and was therefore so concerned to prevent it as was consistent with the freedom ofsecond Causes: And this in kindness to the People, whose Patronage had been undertaken by him. He knew very well how uncertain the People must be of his favours in so great a A'ariety and mutability of Successors, when no Security could be had of Persons well affeUed to the Law,zni consequently to the Peoples Interests, which were so inseparable from the observation of j.?. Accordingly, when God by Samuel,

« PreviousContinue »