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the tradition of the Elders? which our LORD fully anfwers by another Question, to them; Why do you tranfgrefs the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, faying, Honour thy father, and thy mother. But ye fay, Whosoever fball fay to his father or his mother, It is a gift by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, and honour not his father or bis mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Ifaias propbefy of you, faying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, but their heart is far from me; but, in vain do they worship me, teaching, for doctrines, the commandments of men.
The Places where they usually taught thefe falfe Doctrines, were, the Temple, and the Synagogues. For, in both these we find the People affembled, to hear the Law expounded; every Sabbath Day at leaft. And thither we find these Doctors of the Law, as they are fometimes call'd, gerly came; to confer about their own Interpretations; and to hear thofe of other People; if any one, mov'd by a divine Z 2 Impulse,
Impulfe, had any thing of that Kind to offer.
Hence it is that we find JESUS, though Luke ii. but twelve years of age, in the temple, fitting in the midst of the doctors; both bearing them, and asking them questions. And when the High-Priest question'd him about his difciples and his doctrine: The John Answer he makes, is; I Spake openly to xviii. 20. the world; I ever taught, in the Syna
gogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always refort; and in fecret have I faid nothing.
And St. Paul in his Defence before FeAt lix, fays; They neither found me, in the temple, difputing with any man ; neither raifing up the people, neither in the fynagogues, nor in the city. By which, the Apostle means no more than that he was not in either of thefe Places with Intent to raise a Tumult; for we find, in feveral Inftances, that he us'd to go into the Jynagogues, and preach; if not, in Jerufalem, at least in other Cities, where there were Synagogues of the Jews. For, in the fame Chapter, where we read, that he ib. ix. a, defired of the High-Prieft, letters to Da
mafcus, to the fynagogues, that if he found any Believers in CHRIST, he might bring them bound unto Jerufalem; being converted by the immediate Call of God,
find he ftraitway preached CHRIST in the fynagogues, that he is the fon of God. Nay, we read, that he disputed in the fy- Acts nagogue, with the Jews at Athens. All which, with many more Inftances that might be brought, is only to fhew that the Law was taught and expounded generally by the Scribes, after their Fashion, in the Temple at Jerufalem; and in the Synagogues, both there and elfewhere.
But, as a Departure from the true Faith, in Doctrine, is generally accompanied with a Depravity of Morals, in Life; fo we find the Scribes, when our LORD came into the World, for all their outward Zeal and Profeffion, had little or no true Religion, at Bottom. Therefore he fays to his Audience upon the Matt. v. Mount, Except your righteousness shall ex- 20. ceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharifees, ye fhall, in no cafe, enter into ib. xxiii. the kingdom of heaven. Again; The Scribes 3.
and Pharifees fit in Mofes feat, (take upon them to dictate the Law.) But do де not after their works, for they fay, and do not. After which he proceeds to give various Inftances of their irregular and unjuft Doings.
Accordingly, because they, the least of all Men, could bear a Reformation, we find them taking all Occafions to oppose the Preaching and Spreading of the Gofpel: They murmur at our LORD, whenever they fee him do an Act of Charity or Publick Good. They upbraid him for eating with Publicans and Sinners. They charge him with holding a Correspondence with Beelzebub. They watch him; urge him; Jeek to lay Hands on him; vehemently accufe him before the Roman Governor; and finally fuborn falfe Witneffes to procure him to be crucified.
Since therefore thefe Teachers and 1Interpreters of the Law, under a Cloak of Hypocrify, perpetrated the vileft Immoralities, how great a Dearth must there have been of the true Knowledge of God, among the Pofterity of Abraham! And
how abundant, on the other hand, the Mercy of God, who, remembering his Promife, was pleas'd to raise up fo mighty a Salvation for them, and all Mankind, by fending his Son JESUS CHRIST our LORD, at that Time into the World.
The Pharifees, Sadducees, and Herodians.
This Hypocritical loofe Way of profeffing and practifing the Law, or true Religion, among other bad Effects which it produc'd, made ftrange Factions and Divisions, even among the vain Profeffors themselves. There are no less than three notable Parties of them mention'd in the Gofpel; thofe, of the Pharifees, Sadducees, and Herodians; other historical Writers speak of four more. They all agreed, in laying a greater Strefs upon Tradition than Scripture; and confequentially, in being generally very unrighteous in their Conversation in the World. But they differ'd in the following Particulars.
The Sadducees held that there was no Refurrection, nor Angels, nor Spirits; all xxiii. 8.