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Before we leave this Head, it must be obferv'd that frequent Mention is made of Prophets, both true and falfe, in the New Teftament; by which, are not al1312 ways meant fuch as foretold, or pretended งา to foretell, future Events; but, many times, fuch only, as in preaching the Word of God, had an extraordinary Gift of expounding and interpreting the Writings of the old Prophets. This Difference may be difcern'd with a very little Attention. For though we often read of Prophets and Prophecy in the Epiftles of St. Paul, yet there is no Reafon for us to think, that the Prophetic Spirit of which we have been difcourfing, was ever found, in any Perfons, where Chriftianity had taken Place, except in the Apostles themfelves; who, for the more effectual Eftablishment and Propagation of the Gospel, were furnish'd with Abilities, in feveral Refpects, beyond what any other Mortals have enjoy'd fince their Time.
759 5 eode SE C T. XIX.
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Next to the Prophets, we fhall speak of the Scribes; who were fuch as, from Mofes, through all Generations, made it their Business to teach and expound the Law. We don't find the Name till the Time of David, when, we read of the Chron. families of the Scribes, which dwelt at Jabez: Which fhews that fuch Perfons were then well establish'd, and had been fo a LAYBOOK confiderable Time before.
They were, of the Tribe of Levi; and, at the Time that David is faid to have made the Regulation of that Tribe, we read that fix Thousand of them were conftituted Officers and Judges; among ib. xxiii. whom it is reasonable to believe, the 4. Scribes were included. For, in another Place read of Shemaiah the Scribe, 1 Chron. Place wer one of the Levites: and again we find it xxiv. 6. written; Of the Levites, there were Scribes 2 Chron. and Officers. When the Principal Officers of David's Houfhold and State are enumerated,
The Scribe is not omitted. At one Time we find Seraiah was the Scribe; at anoib.xx. 25. ther, Sheva is faid to have fill'd that Poft. Whether they were in the Nature of Secretaries of State, or Auditors of the Royal Accounts is uncertain, But probably they fill'd all thofe Places, where a ready Pen, and fome Knowledge of the Arts and Sciences were requir'd. For, at the Time of the Captivity, it is faid, The Captain of the Guard, among other confi2 Kings derable Perfons, took the Principal Scribe of the Hoft (or Secretary at War) which mufter'd the People of the Land.
It is not unlikely that they might have had their Education among the Colleges of the Prophets; fince we do not read of any other Schools of Learning among them. Their very Name implies fome Degree of Scholarship; and that no inconfiderable one; fince we find our LORD joyning Prophets, and wife Men, and Scribes together; and the Prophet Isaiah, and afxxxiii. ter him St. Paul, inftancing in them as
Matt. xxiii. 34. Ifaiah
1 Cor. i. fuch. Where is the Wife? where is the Scribe? Where is the Difputer of this World?
Some of these were they who, by Je hoshaphat's Order, taught in Judah, and bad the book of the law of the LORD with them; and went about through all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.
Thus, Ezra, call'd the Priest, the Scribe, Ezra vii. even a Scribe of the words of the command- 10, &c. ments of the LORD, and of his ftatutes to Ifrack; and a Scribe of the law of the God of heaven; is faid to have prepared his heart to feek the law of the LORD, and to teach in Ifrael ftatutes and judgments. From him, the expounding and teaching of the Law, continued to be deriv'd, fucceffively, to the Chief Priests, and Elders and Scribes, at our LORD's Coming into the World. Therefore he fays, Every Scribe that is inftructed unto the kingdom Mat. xiii. of heaven, is like unto a man that is an boufholder, which bringeth forth, out of his treafure, things new and old.
They feem to have had the fole expounding of the Scriptures; and therefore the Disciples ask our LORD, faying, Why then say the Scribes that Elias must ib. xvii, first come? Again, How fay the Scribes Mark xii that CHRIST is the fon of David? So 35.
2 Chron. xvii. 9.
Herod, when he wanted to know where CHRIST should be born, applies shimfelf to the Chief Priefts and Scribes. And while our LORD is preaching the Luke xx. Gofpel, The Chief Priefs and the Scribes came upon him, with the Elders, faying, Tell us, by what authority doft thou thefe things? or who is he that gave thee this authority? which they thought no one had a Right to but themselves. And therefore, it is faid in another Gospel, He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the Scribes. The manifest Truth and Efficacy of his Doctrine, fo different from the unnatural, unfcriptural Stuff which the Scribes usually entertain'd them with, convinc'd them that he was, at leaft, a Prophet fent from God. En
For tho' they were employ'd to be the Judges, Interpreters and Preachers of the Law to the People, we find that they camé, in Length of Time, greatly to abuse their Truft; by delivering Traditions, instead of Scripture, and thereby fetting afide even the Law it felf. Thus we find them very pertly demanding of Matt. xv. CHRIST; Why do thy difciples tranfgrefs
2, 3, &c.