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SECT. XX. And as though they were good men who delivered him to death.

MANY are withheld from embracing the doctrine of Jesus, out of a prejudiced notion they have entertained of the virtue and goodness of their forefathers, and especially of the chief priests; who condemned Jesus, and rejected his doctrine, without any just reason. But what sort of persons their forefathers often were, that they may not think I falsely slander them, let them hear in the very words of their law, and of the prophets, by whom they are often called uncircumcised in ears and heart;699699   Jer. iv. 4. vi. 10. a people who honoured God with their lips,700700   Deut. xxxii. 5, 6, 15, 28. Isaiah xxix. 13. Amos v. 21. Ezekiel xvi. 3. and with costly rites, but their mind was far removed from him. It was their forefathers, who were very near killing their brother Joseph, 219and who actually sold him into bondage;701701   Gen. xxxvii. it was their forefathers also, who made Moses, their captain and deliverer,702702   The places are observed before in the second book. whom the earth, sea, and air obeyed, weary of his life, by their continual rebellions; who despised the bread sent from heaven;703703   Numb. xi. 6. who complained as if they were in extreme want,704704   In the fore-cited xi. chapter, towards the end. when they could scarce contain within them the birds they had eaten. It was their forefathers who forsook the great and good king David, to follow his rebellious son:705705   2 Sam. xv. it was their forefathers who slew Zacharias, the son of Jehoiada,706706   2 Chron. xxiv. 21. in the most holy place, making the very priest himself a sacrifice of their cruelty. And as to the high-priests,707707   Jer. xxvi. they were such as treacherously designed the death of Jeremiah, and had effected it, if they had not been hindered by the authority of some of the rulers; however, they extorted thus much, that he should be held a captive till the very moment the city was taken.708708   Jer. xxxviii. If any one think that they who lived in the times of Jesus were better, Josephus can free them from this mistake, who describes their most horrid crimes, and their punishments, which were heavier than any that were ever heard of; and yet, as he himself thinks, beneath what they deserved.709709   He says no other city ever endured such calamities, nor was there ever any age so fruitful of all kinds of wickedness. The Jews brought greater mischiefs upon themselves than the Romans did, who came to expiate their crimes. Neither are we to think better of the council, especially when at that time the members of it were not admitted, according to the ancient custom, by the imposition of bands, but were wont to be chosen at the will of great 220men;710710   Josephus xiv. 17. as the chief priests also were, whose dignity was not now perpetual, but yearly, and oftentimes purchased.711711   Josephus xviii. 3. and 6. So that we ought not to wonder that men swelled with pride, whose avarice and ambition were insatiable, should be enraged at the sight of a man, who urged the most holy precepts, and reproved their lives by their difference from his. Nor was he accused of any thing, but what the best men of old were: thus Micaiah,712712   1 Kings xxii. who lived in the time of Jehosaphat, was delivered to prison, for resolutely asserting the truth against four hundred false prophets. Ahab charged Elijah, just as the chief priests did Jesus, with being a disturber of the peace of Israel.713713   1 Kings xviii. 17. Ahab said to Elijah, Art not thou he that troubles Israel? And thus the high-priests said of Jesus, Luke xxiii. 2. We found this man a troubler of Israel. And Jeremiah was accused, as Jesus was, of prophesying against the temple.714714   Jer. vii. 4. and following; xxvi. 6, 11. To which may be added, what the ancient Hebrew teachers have left us in writing,715715   See the Talmud, concerning the council; Ketuboth and Sota. R. Solomon on the fore-mentioned title, concerning the council, c. Helec, and the Talmud, entitled concerning weights. And also the tradition of rabbi Judah, in the Gemara, ou the same title, concerning the council, c. Helec; “At that time, when the son of David shall come, the house that was appointed of God, shall be made a brothel-house.” See Jeremiah x. 21. xxiii. 14.—(Here was a great mistake, for the Masoreth was put instead of the Gemara, for these words are to be found in the Gemara, chap. xi. entitled concerning the council. “At that time, when the son of David shall come, the house of assembling together, בית המיעד, shall be made a brothel-house.” Ed. Cocceius, Sect. 27. Le Clerc.) that in the times of the Messiah, men would have the impudence of dogs, the stubbornness of an ass, and the cruelty of a wild beast. And God himself, who saw long before what sort of men many of the Jews would be in the times of the Messiah, foretold 221that they who were not his people, should be admitted to be his people;716716   Hosea ii. 23. and that out of every city and village of the Jews, not above one or two should go up to the holy mountain;717717   Jerem. iii. 19, 17. and Isaiah liii. but that what was wanting in their number should be tilled up by strangers. And also that the Messiah should be the destruction of the Hebrews;718718   Isaiah viii. 14. Psalm cxviii. 22. but that this stone, which was rejected by the master-builders, should be put in the chief place, to hold the whole fabric together.


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