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SECT. VII. The law of Moses was observed by Jesus when on earth; neither was any part of it abolished afterwards, but only those precepts which had no intrinsic goodness in them.
We may here observe by the way, to shew the wicked. ness of those Jews who lived in our Saviour’s time, that Jesus was very basely treated by them, and delivered up to punishment, when they could not prove that he had done any thing contrary to the law. He was circumcised,570570 Luke ii. 21. made use of the Jewish meats,571571 Gal. iv. 5. was clothed like them;572572 Matt. ix. 20. those who were cleansed from their leprosy he sent to the priests;573573 Matt. viii. 4. Mark i. 44. Luke v. 14. he religiously observed the Passover, and other festival days.574574 Luke ii. 41. John ii. 13, 23. xi. 50. xii. 1. John vii. 2. If he healed any on the Sabbath day, be made it appear, not only from the law,575575 Matt. xii. 5. but from their received opinions, that such works were not forbidden on the Sabbath576576 Matt. xii. 11. He then first began to discover the abrogating some laws,577577 Acts x. Colos. ii. 14. when be had overcome death, was ascended into heaven, had endued his disciples with remarkable gifts of the Holy Spirit, and had shewn by those things, that he had obtained a kingly power,578578 Acts ii. 36. Rev. i. 5. in which is included an authority to make laws,579579 James i. 25. according to that prophecy of Daniel, chap. iii. and vii. the viii. and xith being compared together; who foretold that after the overthrow of the kingdoms of Syria and Egypt, (the latter of which came to pass under Augustus), God would give to a man, 189who should appear to be an ordinary person,580580 Dan. ii. 45. vii. 13. For “the son of man” expresses in Hebrew a certain meanness; and so the prophets are called, compared with angels, as is observed by Iacchiades, on Dan. x. 16. a kingdom, extending to the people of all nations and languages, and which should never have an end. Now that part of the law, the necessity of which was taken away by Christ, did not contain in it any thing in its own nature virtuous; but consisted of things indifferent in themselves, and therefore not unalterable: for if there had been any thing in the nature of those things to enforce their practice, God would have prescribed them to all the world, and not to one people only;581581 So far from that, that some laws, such as those of first-fruits, tithes, assembling upon festivals, relate expressly to the place of Judæa only, whither it is certain all nations could not come. See Exodus xxxiii. 19. and xxxiv. 26. Deut. xxvi. 2. and what follows. Also Deut. xii. 5. and following; xiv. 23. and following. Also Exodus xxiii. 17. xxxiv. 22, 23, 24. Deut. xvi. 16. The most ancient custom interpreted the law of sacrifices in the same manner. The Talmud, entitled, concerning the councils, and that entitled Chagiga, tell us, that the law of Moses was given to the Hebrews only, and not to strangers. See Maimonides on Deut. xxxiii. and Bechai. and that from the very beginning, and two thousand years, and more, after mankind had been created. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Melehisedech, Job, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the eminently pious men, who were so beloved of God, were ignorant of all, or almost all, this part of the law: and nevertheless they received testimony of their faith towards God, and of his divine love towards them. Neither did Moses advise his father-in-law Jethro to perform these rites, nor Jonas the Ninevites, nor did the other prophets reprove the Chaldæans, Egyptians, Sidonians, Tyrians, Idumæans, and Moabites, to whom they wrote, for not embracing them, though they particularly enumerate their crimes. These precepts, therefore, were particular, and introduced either to hinder some evil, to which the Jews were especially inclined, or for a trial of their obedience, 190or to signify some future things.582582 Being very much addicted to rites, and, on that account, prone to idolatry. This the prophets every where shew, especially Ezekiel xvi. Wherefore, there is no more reason to wonder at their being abolished, than at a king’s abrogating some municipal laws, in order to establish the same ordinances all over a nation: neither can there be any thing alleged to prove that God had obliged himself to make no alteration herein. For if it be said, that these precepts are styled perpetual; men very often make use of this word,583583 L. Hac edictali. Cod. de Secundis nuptiis. L. Hac in perpetuum. Cod. de Diversis Prædiis Libro xi. and in many other places. when they would signify only, that what they command in this manner, is not limited for a year’s continuance, or to a certain time:584584 L. Valerius in Livy, xxxiv. “The laws which particular times require are liable to be abolished, and I find are changed with the times; those that are made in the time of peace are abrogated in war; and those made in war, abrogated in peace.” suppose of war or peace, accommodated to the scarceness of provision; now this does not hinder but that they may appoint new laws concerning these matters, whenever the public good requires it. Thus the precepts which God gave to the Hebrews, were some of them temporary, only during the continuance of that people in the wilderness;585585 As Exodus xxvii. Deut. xxiii. 12. others confined to their dwelling in the laud of Canaan.586586 Deut. xii. 1. 20. Numb. xxxiii. 52. That these might. be distinguished from the other, they are called perpetual; by which may be meant, that they ought not to be neglected any where, nor at any time, unless God should signify his will to the contrary. Which manner of speaking, as it is common to all people, the Hebrews ought the less to wonder at, because they know that, in their law, that is called a perpetual right, and a perpetual servitude, which continued only from jubilee to jubilee.587587 Exodus xxi. 6. 1 Sam. i. 22. And thus Josephus Albo, in his third book of Foundations, chap. 16. thinks the word לעולם Le-olam, in the ritual law, may be understood. And Phineas’s priesthood is called, Psalm cvi. 30, 31. עד עולם Ad-olam, everlasting. And by the Son of Sirach, xlv. 21. an everlasting priesthood; and 1 Mac. ii. 54. And the coming 191of the Messiah is by themselves called the fulfilling of the jubilee, or the great jubilee.588588 In Pereck Cheleck, and elsewhere, and in Isaiah lxi. 2.—(Pereck Cheleck, is the xith chapter of the Talmud concerning Councils; but what Grotius mentions is not to be found there, at least in the Mischna text; these citations ought to have been more exact. Le Clerc.). And, moreover, the promise of entering into a new covenant is to be found amongst the old prophets, as Jeremiah xxxi.589589 Ver. 31. and following. where God promises that he will make a new covenant, which shall be writ upon their hearts, and men will have no need to learn religion of each other, for it shall be evident to them all: and moreover, that he would pardon all their past transgressions: which is much the same, as if a prince, after his subjects had been at great enmity with each other, in order to establish a peace, should take away their different laws, and impose upon them all one common law, and that a perfect one; and for the future, promise them pardon for all their past transgressions, upon their amendment. Though what has been said might suffice, yet we will go through every part of the law that is abolished; and shew that the things are not such as are in their own nature well-pleasing to God, or such as ought to continue always.
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