« AnteriorContinuar »
admit of a Providence, but imputed every thing to human choice and free will; saying that God neither did evil nor knew it, so that they seem to have differed in this respect very little from the Epicureans.
Though neither a sect, nor a party, the scribes are so often mentioned in the gospels as to render some account of them necessary in this place.
Scribe denotes an able and skilful man, a doctor of the law, and one who is entrusted with the management of business. The scribes of the people were public writers, and professed doctors or expounders of the law. In the time of our Saviour they were mostly Pharisees, which is accounted for from the necessity there was of a body of instructors to explain to the people the numerous traditions and modifications which had been introduced by that powerful sect. All the scribes valued themselves on their profound acquaintance with the law, and on their skill in expounding it, whence they are said to 'have "sate in the chair of Moses, and to have usurped the key of knowledge." (Matt, xxiii, 2. Luke xi, 52),
These rather constituted a political party than a religious sect, and were so called from being the flatterers and followers of Herod the Great. They not only held that the dominion of the Romans over the Jews was just, but that it was lawful under such circumstances as the people then were to adopt many of the heathen customs as well religious as civil. They principally attached themselves to the Pharisees, with whom they at different times consulted how to destroy Jesus, who cautioned his disciples against the leaven of their principles. (Mark viii, 15).
This party or faction arose on the occasion of Augustus's appointing the people to be enrolled, which command was executed by Quirinus, and is not to be confounded with the numbering of the people at the birth of our Saviour which happened ten years before. Judas of Gaulan, in upper Galilee, opposed the enrollment and tax by Quirinus, as a mark of bondage which every Israelite ought to resist. He obtained many followers, who obtained the name of Galileans, from the place where they originated. They were distinguished by a violent love of liberty, and a fixed hatred to the Romans. Hence they were particularly obnoxious to Pilate, who caused several of them to be slain while they were assembled to celebrate a solemn sacrifice; and the Jews, when they endeavoured to prevail upon Pilate to condemn Jesus, artfully called the object of their malice "a Galilean." (Luke xxlii, 2).
PROPHETIC HISTORY OF CHRIST.
The sentence passed upon our first parents for their violation of the condition upon which they held possession of paradise, was softened by a promise that " the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head." (Gen. iii, 15). That this gracious declaration was then considered as indicating a deliverer who should repair the misery brought upon the world by the fall, appears from the name given by Eve to her first born, Cain denoting a.possession, "because "said she" I have gained the Man the Lord." But when she found that her expectation of being restored to paradise was not realized, she called her second child Abel or vanity. The divine promise was renewed and more explicitly defined to the patriarch Abraham, in whom or in whose line God said that " all the families of the earth should be blessed" (Gen. xii, 3). This declaration was afterwards confirmed by a covenant, the sign of which was the institution of circumcision, and the assurance of it was the birth of Isaac in the old age of Abraham and Sarah. In the life of this great patriarch prophecy assumed also a typical form: this was the extraordinary command given to Abraham, to offer up his son, the heir of promise, as a sacrifice upon Mount Moriah, the very place where Christ about thirteen centuries afterwards suffered crucifixion, in reference to which event the patriarch called the name of that place JehovahJireh, which means " the Lord will be seen." (Gen. xxii, 14). When Jacob was upon his death-bed, he delivered his blessing to each of his sons, or in the spirit of prophecy, he foretold fche future condition and allotment of the tribes in the promised land. Thus inspired, the holy patriarch predicted in which particular family and under what exact circumstances the Messiah should arise. ** The sceptre shall not depart from Judea, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." (Gen. xlix, 10).
In the history of Balaam who, like Caiaphas the high priest, prophesied truly without intending it, there is a plain reference to the promised Redeemer; "There shall come a "star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise "out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of "Moab and destroy all the children of Seth." (Num. xxiv, 17).
That this prediction points to an extraordinary person is evident from the introductory assertion, "I shall see him but not uow, I