« PreviousContinue »
One Thing more is to be obferv'd in relation to these sacred Gifts, whether appointed by the Law, or becoming due from Vows, or given out of mere Free-Will; that they did not take their Rise from the Mofaical Inftitution originally, nor fhould be fuppos'd to be abolish'd with the ceremonial Rites thereof. The Ufe of them was allow'd, and confirm'd by that temporal Covenant; and they were taken in to make a Part of it: and when that, and the Obligation thence arifing ceas'd, they stood just as they did before.
Making Donations, either by Vow or Free-Will, of that which was to provide for and adorn the Worship of God, to raise an Awe and Admiration of it, in the Minds of Men, and thereby promote the Growth of Piety and Virtue, was either apparent by the Light of Nature or a very old and early Revelation. We find Gen. xiv. Tythes were paid, in the Days of Abrabam. And Jacob fays; This stone, which I
that it has
have fet for a pillar fhall be God's house; and of all that thou shall give me, I will furely give the tenth unto thee. And have read much inform us, been a Custom, time out of Mind, for Kings and Generals of Armies, among Heathen Nations, when they had fubdued their Enemies, and taken the Spoil, to confecrate the tenth Part thereof to the Service of their Gods.
FASTING and HUMILIATION.
The last holy Rite we have to inquire into, is their manner of Fafting and Humiliation. Upon fuch Occafions, they afflicted and mortified themselves various Ways; by abstaining from all the Pleafures and Comforts of fenfual Enjoyment: They put on Sackcloth, ftrew'd themfelves over with + Afhes, threw their Bodies upon the Ground, and wept and mourn'd feverely. The Days of their
*Grotius, De jure Belli & Pacis.
keeping them, were either public and stated, or private and arbitrary. The public, were either fuch as the Law had appointed, or the common Exigence of the Nation occafionally requir'd; which were fometimes, feven Days; fometimes, three; fometimes, only till the Evening of the fame Day. If they were private, they continued, according to the Will of thofe that undertook them.
There was but one ordinary legal Faft; and that was, The Day of general Atone ment; kept, every Year, upon the Tenth of September. Of extraordinary Fafts, appointed by Authority of the civil Magiftrate, we have feveral Inftances. When the Children of Moab, and the Children of Ammon were coming against Jeboshaphat King of Judah, to Battle; we are told, 2 Chron. He feared, and fet himself to feek the LORD, XX. 3. and proclaimed a faft throughout all Judah. Jer. Again; It came to pass in the fifth year of xxxvi. 9. Jehoiakin the son of Jofiah king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a faft before the LORD, to all the people in Jerufalem; and to all the people that came from the Cities of Judah to Jerufalem. Also,
"Alfo, upon their Return from the Captivity, Ezra fays; Then I proclaimed a faft Ezra. viii. there, at the river Ahava, that we might afflict our felves before our God; to feek of him, a right way, for us, and for our little ones, and for all our fubftance.
As to the Manner of their keeping thefe Fafts, we have likewife feveral Inftances. When the rest of the Tribes were incens'd against that of Benjamin for their inhuman and inhofpitable Behaviour, and had met with ill Succefs in their Endeavours to correct them for it; Then all the children Judg.xx. of Ifrael, and all the people, went up, 26. and came unto the boufe of God, and wept, and fate there before the LORD, and fafted that day until even.
Samuel fays, Gather all Ifrael to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the Lord. And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the LORD, and fafted on that day, and faid there, We have finned against the LORD." • Again, after the Captivity, when they were under Perfecution from Antiochus, we read, that they fafted, and put on Sackcloth, and caft afbes upon their heads, and rent
Sam. vii. 6,5.
2 Mac. their cloaths. Again; They befought the merciful LORD, with weeping, and fafting, and lying flat upon the ground, three days long.
As to private Fafting, we have fome mention of it, in the fame Place where the Vows of Daughters and married Women are qualified; of the Wife, it is faid; Numb. Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict xxx. 13. the foul, her husband may establish it, and her husband may make it void. make it void. The valiant Men, which burnt the Bodies of Saul and of his Sons, fafted feven days. And after, 2 Sam. i. they (David and the men of Ifrael) mourn'd and wept and fafted until even, for Saul and for Jonathan bis fon.
1 Sam. xxxi. 13.
So, when the LORD ftruck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very fick; David befought God for the child, and fafted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. And, a little after, he fays, while the child was yet alive I fafted and wept. And when Ahab King of Ifrael heard the Judgment of God denounc'd a1 Kings gainst him by the Prophet Elijah, he rent xxi. 27. his cloaths, and put fackcloth upon his flesh, and fafted, and lay in fackcloth, and went Softly.