« PreviousContinue »
tells them of the manner of the King desired by them, i Sam. viii. n. in order to the dissuading them from persisting in that desire, he does not do it (as is commonly conceived) with a design of exposing the Kingly Government in regard of its arbitrariness. That was not peculiar to Kingship, but common to it with all the Eastern Monarchies. Our Brethren would think as strangely of Mofes\ ordering the Levites to execute their nearest Relations, who were concerned in the Piaculum of Baal Peor, without any Judicial Trial; the more absolute any Government is, the more beneficial ir would be if we could be secure, that it' Ihould be always lodged in good Hands: And this God did secure them of, whilst he reserved the nomination of Succestors to himself. But the same Arbitrary Power, which had been so beneficial in good Hands, would prove as eminently mischievous if it mould devolve to Hands unfit to be intrusted with it, as it must in course do oftentimes if it were left to the hazards of an Hereditary Succession. This God chuses to make them sensible of in a case relating to their oxen Interests, on the manifest prospeu of the consequences of ill Management. This he knew they would better understand, and be more affetled with, than if he had insisted on the ill consequences that would follow to them from the violations of his own Laxv, and the Punishments to which they must in common be exposed, by such violations of it by ill Successors. So clear it is, that in this whole Affair, God did not content himself with the Security of the separate Individuals, without that greater Security which might be given him by the (Saver/tours with whom he had to deal.
But of all Governours, none were so much §. VII. regarded in the Words of the Covenant, as they T** oId Pecu" with whom the Covenant was first and origi- ^"j** Tza/Zy made. These were they ro whose Under- scended fnm derftandings the Covenant was particularly a- the Patriarchs dapted, Which how clear soever in its originalwnh vbom the Simplicity, yet,'in process of Time, and change ^Jf*TM^" of Circumstances, might grow; inevitably ob- H0iy,' a, dewscure to more distant Ages. . Arid these took in ted to the Suthe whole Body with which the Covenant was Preme EeinSmade, which no Govemours of later Ages could possibly pretend to. Those later Governours could not undertake for the precedent, but only the following Generations. Now the first Covenant for a Peculium after the Flood, was made with Abraham, and therefore is to be judged of by the Circumstances of the Age of Abraham. Nations then were in their Infancy, as yet in private Families, which were afterwards to grow into Nations by the BleJJing of the Deity with whom the Covenant was made, in cafe it were performed by the Patriarch admitted by the Deity to the Covenant, but not otherwise. It being therefore then a private family, which was afterwards to encreale into a Nation as a Blessing on the first Master of that family, no Name could be so proper ro express the whole Body by, as that of a Seed. Indeed, the Body was to descend from that one common Ancestor, and therefore might be properly called his Seed. This was the original Title to the Body, to which others might, by legal Acts,be Incorporated, though not descended from that same Ancestor. Slaves, when emancipated, were reckoned to the family of their Patron; and Strangers, when Incorporated, were in Law accounted as if they had been originally of the Body and. Adoptm admitted not on
ly to the Privileges, but the style of Sons. All these Legal ways of admitting into the Body of a Ration, gave the Persons so admitted, the same Rights by Law which the first Members of the same Body were possessed of, on account of their natural Original. If therefore the prime Title to a Ration, was derived from their descent from the fame Ancestor, why might not they who were by Law admitted to the Rights of the Seed, be admitted by the fame Law to the Title also, as well as they who are confessedly admitted to the fame Title by a legal Adoption? These things were certainly acknowledged by Reasonings of that, and and the concessions of later Ages, that Prose/ytism ofJustice ( at least after a certain number of descents) did as properly intitle to the Privileges and Style of the Seed of Abraham, as an original lineal Extraction from him. Thus thaefore the whole Ration being accounted his Seed, and being by him devoted to the Worship of the Supreme Being, they were also, on account of their being so devoted to him, to be accounted Holy in a sense far exceeding that which other Nations could pretend to, on account of their being also devoted unto Beings, though at first not ///, yet, incomparably short of the Dignity of the Jewish Patron. Indeed, unfit to be reckoned in the same rank with him, or capable of giving any Holiness to things devoted to them, if compared with the Holiness of so infinitely more excellent a Being, for Holiness is one of his appropriated Attributes, wherein he admits of no competitor, though otherwise many other things be acknowledged to be holy, and styled so in the Scriptures. As he alone, is said to be good, and wife, and imperial. Designing thereby, that the Hume Attributes
tributes When ascribed to other things, fall so short of the Signification wherein they are ascribed to him, as to be unworthy of the AWf, being so very different in the Signification, Accordingly no orher God, of those worlhipped by the other Nations, distinct from the FeatHum, were to be esteemed Holy when compared with the Holiness of their infinitely perfect" Creator. The heavens were not pure in his fight^znft. the very Angels were chargeable with folly, Jobiv. 18. xv. 15. Yet theje were the Deities of the other Nations. If therefore themselves were not holy,- they could confer no Holiness on Persons or Things devoted to them. Thus the peculiar People are stiled a //u/y S<w/ and a i/o/y People, as supposing no c/fer S^ed or People holy, on account of their being devoted to the commonly-received National Deities^ And. thus the Israelites are called a Kingdom of Priests, Exod.xix.6. and a Royal Priesthood, 1 Pet* ii. 9. from that fame expression concerning the old Peculium. Not to Authorise any to invade the Office of their own Priesthood, which was so frequently forbidden^ and so severely punish* ed in all who at any time presumed to do 16; but to imply that (in regard of the Dignity of their National Patron) the Holiness of the meanest Israelite was equal to that of the highest and sacredest of the Gentile Priests. For they were the highest of their Priests who had the Titles of Kings, as appears by the Singularity of the Cafe among the Romans, who subjected their Sacred King to the Pontisex Maximus, only out of jealousie lest the Name of a King might give him any pretence for challenging the abrogated Lay Rights of his Predeceffors. The Singularity of this Exception seems plainly to imply, That the very Title
Ca pf of King would have given him a superiority overall others of his own Or<&r, and therefore that it was atlually so in all other cases, where the universality of the Claim was not retrained by such a provisional Clause. So the case was in the Athenian B^o-ma. He was a supreme Judge in sacred Causes. And so it mult have been in those most antient Times, wherein the Kingship of both fort of Causes was lodged in the fame Persons; which seems to have been no late Invention, but to have descended rather from these first Originals. So Virgil thought, whenhe makes Anius both King and Prieji in the time of Æneas. So was Melcbizedek both King of Salem, and Priest of the most High Gbd. And so it was most likely to have been in the cafe of the Patriarchal Kingdoms, whilst Nations were confined to single families, and the concernment of the publics Religion was of no larger Extent than those Families. Accordingly we find, that the Patriarchs were all allowed the right of offering Satrifices, which was not allowed the Kings themselves when God himself had separated the two Offices. From that time forward, it was a piacular Crime for any King to invade the Sacerdotal Office in that very particular of Sacrifice, as appeared in the instances ot' Saul and Vzziah.- Yet its having been otherwise formerly, seems to have been the most likely occasion why those Princes might think themselves intitled to it, at least in a cafe of necessity. The Priests of those Times wore Crowns like Kings, and those so like the Regal Crowns, as to make them likely to be mistaken for Kings. So it was in the cafe of Callias, as Plutarch shews in the Life of Aristides. Thus.it appears, that these Titles of being a