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The Obfervance of the Law revived.
However, upon their Return from the Captivity after Seventy Years, Ezra, who was one of the Number, a ready fcribe in ready fcribe in Ezra vii. the law of Mofes which the LORD God of Ifrael had given, having prepar'd his heart to feek the law of the LORD, and to do it; and to teach in Ifrael ftatutes and judgments, is thought to have reftor'd the Law in fuch manner as we now have it. From him, this Part of the Office of the Scribes (of whom hereafter) in the Jewish Government, seems to have taken rife; for we find it was their Employment to interpret, expound, and comment upon the Law.
From this Time, to that of their Troubles under Antiochus Epiphanes King of Syria, about 350 Years, the Jews liv'd under the Government of their own Law, administer'd by their High-Priests; without any great Interruptions. During which Interval the Greek Translation of the Bible, commonly call'd the Septuagint, was probably made: Not by Seventy-two InD 4 terpreters
terpreters of the Elders of that Nation at the Command of Ptolemy Philadelphus King of Egypt, (which Account the best Critics reject as fpurious;) but by thofe Jews who fojourn'd altogether in fome Parts of Greece and Egypt; for whom, especially in regard to their making Profelytes, that Tongue must have been much more commodious than their own: which, whether it were the old Hebrew of their Fathers; or the Chaldee, which they might have learn'd in their Captivity; or the fame which the Samaritans their Neighbours us'd; or the Syriac, which we find obtain'd among them in our Saviour's time; is, I doubt, as impoffible, as it is needlefs, for us to know. It being reasonable to conclude, that, after the Grecian Arms, under Alexander, had fubdued the World; that Language likewife would prevail over all others, and spread itself wherever his Conquefts made way for it.
Their Sufferings under the Tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes were very great: fince he us'd his utmost Endeavours to abolish their whole Law, Religion, and Customs; and they were as obftinately bent not to change them.
i, ii, iii.
them. Unspeakable were the Hardships Mac. I and Tortures they endur'd under this Perfecution; which lafted upwards of two Years; when Judas furnam'd Maccabeus, of the Tribe of Levi, refolutely and fuccessfully standing up in the Defence of his Country, at the fame time rescued it from Mifery and Slavery, and restor❜d the free Exercise of its Religion and Laws.
And thus they went on, but pefter'd and corrupted, partly by inteftine Factions in the State, and partly by growing Herefies in the Church; govern'd by a Race of, fometimes Princes, fometimes Kings, the Descendents of Judas Maccabeus, for above a hundred Years; 'till they fell under the Dominion of the Romans; foon after which our LORD and Saviour J ESUS CHRIST came into the World.
The LAW in a languishing State, at
What Regard was had to the Law at
John vii. with this Interrogation; Did not Mofes
give you the Law? and yet none of you keepeth the Law. They were indeed Hypocrites enough to pretend a mighty Veneration for it, though in Practice they generally ran counter to it; for which Reafon our LORD denounces a fevere
Matt. Sentence against them: Wo unto you Scribes xxiii. 23. and Pharifees, Hypocrites; for ye pay
Tythe of Mint and Anife and Cummin, and have omitted the weightier Matters of the Law, Judgment, Mercy, and Faith.
They were also call'd Doctors of the 46. v. 17. Law; and us'd, at certain Times, to afsemble themselves together, at Jerusalem, from all the Cities of Judea, in order to expound it, and to inftruct others in it; who fat on low Seats, juft under theirs, for that Purpose. In which Sense it is, that St. Paul tells us, he was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, who was one of them: But how they edified their Hearers our bleffed LORD fufficiently intiMatt. xv. mates, when he charges them with making the commandment of God of no effect by their tradition; and teaching, for the true Doctrine of God, the Commandments of men.
The Law fulfill'd by CHRIST.
As to himself, that he paid the higheft Regard to it, appears from that folemn Declaration in his Difcourfe on the Mount. Think not that I am come to destroy the Matt. v. Law and the Prophets: I am not come to 17. deftroy but to fulfill. For verily I fay unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle fhall in no wife pass from the Law, till all be fulfill'd. Whofoever therefore fball break one of thefe leaft commandments, and fhall teach men fo, he shall be call'd the leaft in the kingdom of Heaven: But whofoever shall do and teach them, the fame fhall be call'd great in the kingdom of heaven. For I fay unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharifees, ye shall in no cafe enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And, indeed, he amply made his Words good. For, every thing that was merely ceremonial, typical, and predictive of the Meffiah, either in the Law or the Prophets, he clearly fulfill'd by the correfponding Circumstances of his Birth, Life, Paf