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in Grand Cairo, as they certified me; and, a day or two after, not one person died of the infection. This I observed, that the land is full of unhealthy fogs, mists, and vapours, which cause the disease; and it seems the waters of the Nile do purify it again.
In the kingdom of Grand Cairo, alias, Pharaoh's town, is the city, and it is greater than any elsewhere I did behold; but Memphis is the nearer city; and being there, I went to see the land of Goshen, where the Israelites did inhabit: this is a very pleasant and fruitful land for pasture, such as I have no where seen the like. At this time also, I had an opportunity to see the Red-Sea, and the place where (as they informed me) the Israelites did enter their journey through the same; there also they shewed me the great mountains that inclosed them, when Pharaoh pursued them with his great army; and the hills where the two armies lay in sight of one another; and there I found the true reason why it is called the Red-Sea; not because the water is red naturally, but because the sand is red; and this was clear to me, by plain demonstration; for I put some of the water into a clean vessel, and there I did see it had the same colour of other water; but the sand is reddish, and giveth the same colour to the water.
I shall omit many other things concerning Egypt; only this, it is under the Turk's dominion, and the natives are his miserable slaves.
Thirdly, you may expect some news from Rome, where also I was, and did behold their great solemnity, it being then the Anno Sancto, as they there call it, that is, the Year of Jubilee.
There I beheld the Pope in his glory, and how in great state he was carried about the city; the streets were thronged with the people; and, as he passed by, they made them even to ring with acclamations and rejoicings; he was carried by some eminent men, having a rich canopy over him. He made his crosses in the air with his fingers, and threw his blessings amongst them. And truly these delusions were so prevailing with the people, that (poor souls) they seemed to me to rejoice, as if Christ himself had been come to Rome, and brought them down the felicities of heaven.
At one time I beheld, in Naples (perhaps it will seem strange, but it is truc) about eight-thousand pilgrims going to Rome, for their absolution; all which the Vice-Roy of Naples maintained three days at his own charge; and, on the fourth day, they did present themselves before him at his palace in pilgrim weeds, viz. with leaden pictures of saints in their hats, and leather collars about their necks, which fell down half way over their arms, and their staves in their hands; and thus they marched away from Naples, in the posture of an army towards Rome, and so farewel Rome: Vidi, satis est vidisse; i. e. I have scen it, and that is enough.
I omit to recite many other occurrences, which by conference I shall willingly communicate to my friends; they being too many to commit to writing: only now
The fourth remarkable thing remaineth to present you withal; and that is,
The proceedings of a great council of Jews assembled in the plain of
Ageda in Hungary, about thirty leagues distant from Buda, to examine the Scriptures concerning Christ, on the twelfth of October, 1650.
It hath been much desired by many honest Christians, that this narrative of the Jews council should be published, which I did intend only to communicate to private friends. The chief argument, by which they have persuaded me to do it, is, because they do conceive it to be a preparative, and hopeful sign of the Jews conversion; and, that it will be glad tidings to the church of Christ; and therefore I have yielded to satisfy their desires therein. And thus it was:
At the place above-named, there assembled about three-hundred rabbies, called together from several parts of the world, to examine the Scriptures concerning Christ; and, it seems, this place was thought more convenient for this council, in regard that part of the country was not much inhabited, because of the continual wars between the Turk and the King of Hungary; where (as I was informed) they had fought two bloody battles; yet both princes, notwithstanding their own differences, did give leave to the Jews to hold their council there. And, for their accommodation there, the Jews did make divers tents for their repose, and had plenty of provisions brought them from other parts of the country, during the time of their sitting there. There was also one large tent, built only for the council to sit in, made almost four-square; the north and the south parts of it being not altogether so large as the east and west parts thereof. It had but one door, and that opened to the east; and, in the middle thereof, stood a little table and a stool for the propounder to sit on, with his face towards the door of the tent. The said propounder was of the tribe of Levi, and was named Zacharias; and within this tent round about were placed divers forms for the consulters to sit on. It was also inclosed with a rail, that stood a distance from it, to prevent entrance to all strangers, and to all such Jews as could not prove themselves to be Jews by record, or could not dispute in the Hebrew tongue, which many had forgotten, who lived in such countries, where they are not allowed their synagogues, as in France, Spain, and those parts of Italy that do belong to the King of Spain, viz. the kingdom of Naples, with the province of Calabria, and Apuleia; the kingdom of Sicily, and Sardinia; in which places, if a Jew be found, and he deny the popish religion, he is in danger to be condemned, and executed for it; and yet profit and benefit allureth them to dwell in those countries, notwithstanding their fears and dangers; and themselves are willing to forget and so neglect to teach their children their native language, rather than they will lose their oppor tunity of profit; and some have burnt the ancient records of their tribe and family, that they might not be discovered by searching, or otherwise. And for this defect, that they could not prove their tribe or family, they were not permitted to come within the rail, but were commanded to remain without, with the strangers that remained there, to see the issue of their proceeding, which were above three thousand persons; and they were for the most part of them Germans, Almains, Dal
matians, and Hungarians, with some Greeks, but few Italians, and not one Englishman that I could hear of besides myself.
I was informed, that the King of Hungary, not favouring the reformed religion, did give no encouragement to any protestant churches, to send any divines thither; but he did allow, that some assistants should be sent from Rome; and their coming thither did prove a great unhap. piness to this hopeful council.
When the assembly did first meet, they spent some time in their mutual salutations; and, as their manner is, they kissed one the other's cheek, expressing much joy for their happy meeting; and all things being provided for their accommodation, they considered of the Jews that were to be admitted members of this council; and they were only allowed to be members, which could by record prove themselves to be native Jews; and, for defect herein, I observed above three-hundred refused; though, doubtless, they were true-born Jews, yet they could not by record prove themselves so to be; and for this they were not admitted to be members of the council; but they did abide without the rail with the strangers that were there; and the number of them, that were accepted to be members, was about three-hundred Jews. And this was all that was done the first day.
On the second day, the assembly being full, the propounder stood up, and made his speech concerning the end of their meeting: and, this, said he, is to examine the Scriptures, concerning Christ †, whether he be already come, or whether we are yet to expect his coming.' In examining this question, they searched the Old Testament with great care and labour, to be resolved of the truth thereof, having many Bibles with them there for this end. And about this point there were great disputes amongst them. The major part were of opinion, that he was not come; and some inclined to think, that he was come; being moved thereunto by their great judgment, that hath continued now this 1600 years upon them.
I remember very well, one of the council, in his conference with me, seemed to be very apprehensive of the great and long desolation of their nation, ever since their destruction by the Roman emperors; and he imputed this their affliction to their impenitency, and compar ing their present judgment with their other judgments they had suffered before. The same he ingenuously confessed, that he did conceive it was for some great wickedness; and that their nation was guilty of the blood of the prophets sent from God to their nation, and the many massacres that have been committed by the several sects and factions amongst them. 'For, said he, we are no idolaters, neither do I think we were guilty of idolatry since our captivity in Babylon; and therefore, said he, I do impute this our calamity and present judgment to the forenamed causes.' And this is the sum of that which was disputed amongst them, the second day of their meeting; and so they adjourned till the next morning, which was the third day of their meeting.
• Jews by original record or genealogy.
+ The Messiah.
Of having neither church nor nation, and their being a vagabond-people ever since the destruction of their city and temple.
When, being assembled together again, the point that was chiefly agitated was concerning the manner of Christ's coming. And, this, some said, shall be like a mighty prince, in the full power and authority of a King, yea, in greater power than ever any King had; and that he will deliver their nation out of the power of their enemies, and their temple shall be rebuilt again; and that the nations shall be of their religion, and worship God after their manner. For they hold, that the Messiah will not alter their religion, whensoever he cometh. And further, concerning his parentage, they did agree in this, that he should be born of a virgin, according to the prediction of the prophets; and they agreed also, that he may be born of such a virgin, which might be of mean note amongst their nation, as was the Virgin Mary. And here some of them seemed to me to incline to think, that Christ was come. Therefore when they came together again the next day, the propounder demanded of them, if Christ was already come? And who they thought he was? And to this demand they gave this answer, that they thought Elijah was he, if he was come, because he came with great power, which he declared by slaying the priests of Baal; and, for the fulfilling of the scripture, he was oppressed by Ahab and Jezabel; yet they esteemed him to be more than a mortal man, because he so strangely ascended up into heaven. And, because this opinion was contradicted by others, the day following, they took into examination the same question, to answer them that said Elijah was not the Messiah. They of the contrary opinion did urge the care and love of Elijah, for the good of their nation, in that he left them Elisha, his disciple to teach and instruct the people; which they expect to be the care of their Messiah. These were the chief arguments they had to defend their opinion; and, the same day towards night, it came into question amongst them, 'What he then was that said he was the son of God, and was crucified by their ancestors. And because this was the great question amongst them, they deferred the further consideration thereof, until the next day.
When, meeting again, the pharisees (for some of this sect were amongst them, that were always the enemies of Christ) they first began to answer this last night's question; and these by no means would yield that he' was the Christ; and these reasons they gave for their opinion.
First, because (said they) he came into the world like an ordinary and inferior man, not with his scepter, nor royal power; wherewith they affirmed the coming of Christ should be glorious. 2. They pleaded against him the meanness of his birth, in that his father was a carpenter; and this they said was a dishonour, that Christ should not be capable of. 3. They accused him to be an enemy to Moses's law, in suffering his disciples, and in doing works himself, that were prohibited on the sabbath-day; for they believe that the Messiah will punctually and exactly keep the law of Moses; and where the gospel doth testify of Christ, that he did fulfil the law, they reject the testimony thereof, because they do not own the gospel. But I observed, these reasons of the Pharisees did not satisfy all that heard them, but there still remained some doubt in some of them concerning Christ; for there stood up one rabbi called Abraham, and objected against the Pharisees the miracles that Christ wrought, whilst he was upon earth, as his raising of the dead
to life again, his making the lame to walk, the blind to see, and the dumb to speak. And the same Abraham demanded of the Pharisees, by what power he did those miracles? The answer, the Pharisees returned to him was to this purpose: They said he was an impostor, and a magician; and blasphemously traduced him of doing all his miracles by magick: Thus, said they, he first caused them to be blind, to be dumb, to be lame; and then, by taking away his magical charm, they were restored to their former condition. Nevertheless, this answer gave little satisfaction to the said Abraham; but thus he replied, that he could not charm those that were born in that condition, as blind, &c. and born also before Christ himself was born; as it appeareth some of them were: This seemed to him an absurd paradox; and truly the pressing of this argument did almost put them to a nonplus, till at last they had this evasion (though weak and vile) they were, said they, by other magicians convinced to be so in their mothers wombs; and that, although himself was not then born when they were born with these evils, yet he being a great dissembler, and more cunning than any magician before him, power was given him, by the devil, to remove those charms, which others had placed; and there was one Pharisee named Zebedee, that of the Pharisees there did most opprobriously revile him, and vehemently urge these things against him; but I conceive he did it not to the well-liking of many there that heard him, even members of the council. And as the Pharisees that day played their parts against him; so did the Sadducees also endeavour (for some of that sect were also of the council) to render Christ vile and odious to the rest of the Jews that were assembled there. I observed it was with them as it was once with Herod and Pilate; though they two could not agree betwixt themselves at other times, yet they could agree together to crucify Christ; for the Pharisees and Sadducees, though they be much divided in opinion among themselves, yet did they at this time too much agree to disgrace and dishonour Christ with their lyes, calumnies, and blasphemies; for the Sadducees, as well as Pharisees, did in other things accuse him for a grand impostor, and for a broacher of corrupt doctrine; in that in his gospel he teacheth the resurrection from the dead, which they there denied to be true doctrine; but it is no new thing to see factions dissenting, to agree in some evil design against others, as I found it by experience; being at Rome in the year 1650, which was the year of their jubilee, there was a great strife between the Jesuits and the Friars of the order of St. Dominick, both which were against the protestants; and although their differences have been, by the care and vigilance of the Pope, so smothered, that the world hath not taken much notice thereof, yet this fire broke out into a flame greater than ever it was before (as they certified me there) both by publick disputings, and by bitter writings one against another, opening the vices and errors of one another's faction, thus seeking to disgrace one the other; which caused the Pope to threaten to excommunicate the authors of all such black and libellous books, that did tend to the dishonour of his clergy and religion, to make them infamous to the world. But this by the way.
We are now come to the seventh and last day of their council; and, on this day, this was the main quere amongst them: 'If Christ be come,