Imatges de pÓgina
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to comprehend how they could at the same time admit the authority of the law of Moses. They carried their ideas of human freedom so far as to assert, that men were absolutely masters of their own actions, and at full liberty to do either good or evil. Josephus even says, that they denied the essential difference between good and evil ; and though they believed that God created and preserved the world, they seem to have denied his particular providence. These tenets, which resemble the Epicurean philosophy, led, as might be expected, to great profligacy of life; and we find the licentious wickedness of the Sadducees frequently condemned in the New Testament; yet they professed themselves obliged to observe the Mosaic law, because of the temporal rewards and punishments annexed to such observance; and hence they were always severe in their punishment of any crimes, which tended to disturb the public tranquility. The Sadducees rejected all tradition, and some authors have contended, that they admitted only the books of Moses; but there seems no ground for that opinion, either in the Scriptures or in any antient writer. Even Josephus, who was himself a Pharisee, and took every opportunity of reproaching the Sadducees, does not mention that they rejected any part of the Scriptures; he only

says

says that “the Pharisees have delivered to the people many institutions as received from the fathers, which are not written in the law of Moses. For this reason the Sadducees reject these things, asserting that those things are binding which are written, but that the things received by tradition from the fathers are not to be observed.” Besides, it is generally believed that the Sadducees expected the Messiah with great impatience, which seems to imply their belief in the prophecies, though they misinterpreted their meaning. Confining all their hopes to this present world, enjoying its riches, and devoting themselves to its pleasures, they might well be particularly anxious that their lot of life should be cast in the splendid reign of this expected temporal king, with the hope of sharing in his conquests and glory: but this expectation was sa contrary to the lowly appearance of our Saviour, that they joined their inveterate enemies, the Pharisees, in persecuting him and his religion. Josephus says, that " the Sadducees were able to draw over to them the rich only, the people not following them;" and he elsewhere mentions, that “ this sect spread chiefly among the young.' The Sadducees were far less pumerous than the Pharisees, but they were in general persons of greater opulence and dignity. The council, VOL. I.

S

before

before whom both our Saviour and St. Paul were carried, consisted partly of Pharisees and partly of Sadducees.

IV. The Nazarites (b), of whom we read both in the Old and New Testament, were of two sorts; such as were by their parents devoted to God in their infancy, or sometimes even before their birth, and such as devoted themselves, either for life or for a limited time : the former were called Nazaræi nativi, and the latter, Nazaræi votivi. The only three instances of the Nazaræi nativi, mentioned in Scripture, are Samson (c), Samuel (d), and John the Baptist (e). Nazaritism was a divine institution ; and it was very common for Jew's, both men and women, to vow a vow of a Nazarite,” in order to give themselves up to reading, meditation, and prayer, for the purposes of moral purification, and “ all the days of their separation they were holy unto the Lord.” The laws concerning the Nazarites are contained in the sixth chapter of the book of Numbers; and they consist principally in directing them to

abstain

(b) They were so called from the Hebrew word Nazar, separavit.

(6) Judges, C. 13. v. 5. (d) 1 Sam. c. I. v. II, (e) Luke, c. 1. V. 15.

abstain from wine and all other intoxicating liquors; to suffer their hair to grow without cutting; not to come near any dead body; and at the end of the tiine, to offer certain sacrifices, to shave the head at the door of the tabernacle or temple, and to burn the hair “ in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace-offerings (f)." The Rabbis say, that the Nazaræi votivi could not bind themselves by a vow to observe the laws of the Nazarites for a less time than a month, but that they might bind themselves for any longer time.

V. The Herodians may perhaps be considered as a political rather than as a religious sect; but we are to remember, that among the Jews, religious and civil opinions were almost necessarily blended. Tertullian, and some other antient authors, thought that the Herodians were so called, because they believed Herod to be the Messiah; but Jerome treats this opinion with a sort of contempt; and there seems to be no foundation for it in Scripture, unless we suppose that it is alluded to in our Lord's caution to his disciples against “the leaven of Herod.” It seems more probable that the Herodians were

only (f) Vide Spencer de Legibus Hebræorum, lib. 3. cap. 6. and Lardner, v. 1. p. 208.

only a set of men strongly attached to the family of Herod, and of particularly profligate principles. St. Mark tells us, that Christ charged his disciples to “ beware of the leaven of Herod (g);” and in the parallel passage of St. Matthew's Gospel, Christ says, Beware of the leaven of the Sadducees (h);" and hence some commentators have supposed that the Herodians belonged to the sect of the Sadducees. “ These men,” says Dr. Doddridge, “ from their high regard to lIerod, would naturally be zealous for the authority of the Romans, by whose means Herod was made, and continued, king;" and it is probable, as Dean Prideaux conjectures, that “ they might incline to conform to Roman customs in some particulars, which the law would not allow, and especially in the admission of images, though not in the religious, or rather idolatrous, use of them. Herod's attempt to set up a golden eagle over the east gate of the temple, is well known. These complaisant courtiers would no doubt defend it, and the same temper might discover itself in other instances.”

VI. The Galileans are mentioned in Scripture, in strong terms of censure, as a turbulent and seditious sect: and Josephus, who does not

name

(8) c. 8. v.15;

(h) c. 16. v, 6.

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