Page images

fion, Death, and Refurrection. And every thing that concern'd Morality, the eternal Law of Nature and Reason in either, he not only fulfill'd, in doing all manner of Good to those that stood in need of it; but, as the original Word implies, improv'd, and added new Force and Vigour to it; by requiring a more exact Obfervance of it than had before been thought neceffary.

Of this there are feveral Inftances immediately following the Paffage laft cited. Ye have heard (fays he) that it was faid by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whofoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I fay unto you that whofoever is with his Brother, &c. fhall angry be in danger of the Judgment, &c. And therefore he prefcribes fpeedy Reconciliation and Forgiveness, to thofe, among whom any Misunderstanding has happen'd.

Again; Ye have heard that it was faid by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I fay unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to luft after her,



[ocr errors][merged small]

bath committed adultery with her already, in bis Heart.

And fo, he forbids all manner of idle Swearing, even tho' God's Name be not us'd in the cafe. He declares against Retaliation of Injuries, and requires us to return Good for Evil: and to love, not only fuch of our Neighbours, as never hurt us, but even those who are our Enemies and hate us; after the Example of our Father which is in Heaven.

And then, as to the judicial Part of the Law, well might he be said to fulfill that, by bringing Life and Immortality to Light, thro' the Gospel; and, to enhance the Obligation arifing from earthly and temporal Rewards and Punishments, by adding to the one, the eternal Joys of Heaven, and to the other the everlasting Torments of Hell.


[ocr errors]


SECT. I. The Form of their Government.


far concerning the Law. Let us proceed to inquire next into the Nature and Form of their Government; both as it was establish'd by thofe Laws which God gave them, and fuch as he permitted it to be afterwards, when the Law came to be neglected by them.

Now, by inquiring into the Form and Kind of their Government, we mean nothing more than to know in what Hards the fovereign Power was lodg'd. And this, at the Beginning, we find to have been exercis'd by a certain Number of the principal or leading Men among them; afterward by their Kings: The first of which was what is call'd an Aristocracy, the Second a Monarchy. For, as to its having been a Theocracy, as fome affect to term it, (which Word implies that their Government and the executive Power of

[ocr errors]

it flow'd immediately from God) that Character, I conceive, would not be fufficient to ascertain its proper Form; being fuch, as may be occafionally applied to either a Monarchy, an Ariftocracy, or a Democracy, at fuch Times as they conform themselves, in any tolerable Degree, to the Rules of God's natural and revealed Law. By me kings reign, Prov. viii. and princes decree justice; by me princes rule, 15. and nobles, even all the judges of the earth: fays the Voice of Wisdom.




The Jewish Government therefore, as it was left settled by Mofes, and that by God's fpecial Direction, was an Aristocracy. The LORD faid unto Mofes, Gather Deut. xi. unto me feventy men of the elders of Ifrael, whom thou knoweft to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may ftand there with thee: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear


[ocr errors]

xxxi. 9.

the burden of the people with thee; that thou bear it not thy felf alone. Accordingly to Deut. them, together with the Priests and Levites, the Charge of feeing to the Execution of the Law was intrufted. The Law under their Adminiftration was the fupream Power; and fo continued, both during the Life of Mofes, before they passed over Jordan into the Land of Canaan, and after they were fettled there, under Joshua, and the Elders.

For, after the Death of Mofes, Joshua acted as Conductor of their Affairs, according to the Law, by a fpecial Commiffion from God; Part of which runs Josh. i. 7. thus; Be thou ftrong and very courageous, that thou may'ft obferve to do according to all the Law which Mofes my fervant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou may'ft profper whither foever thou goeft.

How he obferv'd it therefore, we may conclude by the Proportion in which he profpered. He conquer'd divers Nations and flew mighty Kings; all Oppofition fell before him, till he had put the Ifraelites in Poffeffion of the promis'd Land.


« PreviousContinue »