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In the Apocrypha, it is faid, I fafted fe- 2 Eldras "ven days, mourning and weeping; where we alfo read, that Judith, after she was a Widow, put on Jackcloth upon her loyns, and Judith fafted all the days of her widowhood, fave the eves of the fabbaths, and the fabbaths,
and the eves of the new moons, and the new
moons, and the feafts, and folemn days of the boufe of Ifrael.
that 16, &c.
L Thefe being their Practices in their private Faftings, no wonder we find those Hypocrites, the Pharifees, in the Gospel, endeavouring to raise Merit among the People, that Way, They wore a fad coun- Mat. vi. tenance, and disfigured their faces, they might appear unto men to fast. of them is introduc'd, enumerating his own Virtues to the allfeeing God; and among the reft, reckoning this for one, I fast twice in the week. And they and Luke their Difciples wonder'd at Chrift and his xviii. 12. Difciples for not fafting, (in a diftinguish'd remarkable manner.)
But, our LORD condemns fuch a Behaviour, and recommends that which is quite contrary; to anoint the head, and wash the face; fo as not to appear unto men to faft, but unto the father, which feeth in fecret. Which Direction, as well as his Practice in the Wilderness, fhews that he did not disapprove of Fafting, though he did not like the Oftentation of it. For, as Juftice and Charity were always more acceptable to the LORD than Sacrifice, fo was the inward Sorrow and Contrition of the Heart what he truly refpected, and not the outward Affliction and maltreating the Body, The Precept in the Lev. xvi. Law is, Ye shall afflict your fouls.
And the Prophet Ifaiah introduces these Hypocrites pleading for themselves to the LORD; Wherefore have we fafted, fay they Iviii. 3, and thou feeft not? Wherefore have we afflicted our foul, and thou takeft no knowledge? To which the Anfwer is; Behold, in the day of your faft, you find pleasure, and exact all your labours: Behold, ye faft for frife and debate, and to fmite with the fift of wickedness; ye shall not faft, as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
Is it fuch a fast that I have chofen? a day for a man to afflict his foul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush; and to spread Jackcloth and afbes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I have chofen; to loose the bands of wickedness; to undo the heavy burdens; and to let thei oppreffed go free; and that we break every yoke? Is it not, to deal thy bread to the hungry; and that thou bring the C poor, that are caft out, to thy houfe? When thou Jeeft the naked, that thou cover him; 1 and that thou kide not thy felf from thine own flesh? Then fhall thy light break forth as the morning, &c. This, as much as to fay, is the true substantial Fafting; of which, the other is only the Shadow, and falfe Repre- Joel. ii. fentative. In which fenfe, likewife, the 13. Prophet Joel fays, Rent your heart, and not your garments.
So much for the facred Rites of the
HOLY PERSON S:
HE Fourth and laft Particular, in their Religion, which we have to treat of, is, the Perfons who were ordained to officiate and adminifter about holy Things, in the Places, at the Times, and with the facred Rites above mention'd.› Of these there were feveral Orders; The High-Prieft; The Priests; The Levites; The Singers; The Door-Keepers, or Porters; and the Nethinims. These were all, except the laft, of the Tribe of Levi; and had no other Inheritance or Income than what arofe from the Fees of their Office, the Sacrifices and facred Donations which accrued to them, in Proportion to the Dignity of the Station in which they ferv'd.
Defignation of the Tribe of LE V I,
The Defignation of this Tribe to the Priesthood, was in lieu of the First-born in Exod. every Family, throughout all the Tribes; whom God had appointed to be confecra ted to Himself,at the Time that he brought them out of the Land of Egypt. But, as that, upon many Occafions, would have been inconvenient for them; God was pleas'd to difpenfe with them as to that Obligation, and to accept of the whole Tribe of Levi, in the ftead thereof. The Numb. LORD spake unto Mofes faying; Behold, iii. 11. I have taken the Levites from among the children of Ifrael, instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Ifrael: therefore the Levites hall be mine.
Now, as no Profeffion whatever can be conceived to be fo honourable, as that which is peculiarly instrumental, in teaching and affifting Mankind how to keep themselves at Peace with God; and to reconcile themselves to Him, after they