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stedfast, and EVERY TRANSGRESSION, AND DISOBEDIENCE RECEIVED A 'JUST RECOMPENCE OF REWARD, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation * ?
St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, speaking of the advantages which Christianity had over Judaism, says : Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access by Faith into his Grace, wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God: And not only so, but WE GLORY IN TRIBULATION Also, knowing that Tribulation worketh patience to &c. Here St. Paul, opposing the advantages which the Gentile Converts had by Faith, to those which the Jews, in contempt to the Gentiles, gloried to have by the Law, adds, in order to shew those advantages in their highest superiority, that the Christian Gentiles could glory even in that which was the very opprobrium of the Jews, namely, tribulation. For the sanction of the Jewish Law. being temporal rewards and punishments, administered by an equal providence; Tribulation was a punishment for crimes, and consequently, an high opprobriumBut the followers of Christ, who were taught, thut we must through much 'TRIBULATION enter into the kingdom of Gods, had the same reason to glory in the roughness of the road, as the ancient Agonistæ had in the toils which procured them the victory. This is urged with great address. But the Critics, not taking the Apostle's meaning, have supposed, in their usual way, that he here broke in upon his argument, with an idea foreign to the point in hand.
This will help us to explain an odd remark of the excellent Maimonides : That their wise men talked of u thing which was NOT TO BE FOUND in the LAW, namely, thut which some of them call the CIASTISEMENTS or Love, by which they meant that TRIBUJATIONS might befill a man without any precedent sin, and only in order to multiply his reward. ind that this wus the very opinion of the Sect' called Muatzal, of which, or in furour of which opinion, there is not one single word to be found in the Law f. This seems to have perplexed our Rabbi; and with cause. He lived when his countrymen were under a common providence, and had the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments, which, he took for granted, was always in the Jewish Economy. These things disabled him from seeing that--NO CILASTISEMENTS OF LOVE was a necessary consequence of temporal rewards and punishments administered by an equal providence: And likewise that when this sanction ceased, and a future state was known, then chasTISEBI ENTS OF LOVE became a necessary consequence:
But if by the Law, Maimonides did (as the Jews frequently do) include the writings of the Prophets, then he was very much mistaken in saying there is not one word in it concerning the chastisements of
* This explanation was necessary; for, another kind of chastisements of Love there was in the Law, namely, paternal chastisements. Thus Moses : Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that. as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee. Deut. viii. 5.
# Umum tamen 'occurrit in verbis sapientum nostrorum, quod NON INVENTTOR IN LEGE; id nempe, quod quidam eorum dicunt
Juxta hanc enim sententiam possuint TRIBULATIONES alicui evenire sine præcedente, peccato, sed ut multiplicetur ejus Remuneratio. Atque hac ipsissima est sententia Sectæ Muatzoli, de qua, aut pro qua, ne verbulum quidem in Leze reperitur. More Neroch. Buxtorfii, p. 381.
love. For Zechariah, prophesying of a New Dispensation, describes this sort of chastisements in very express terms : “ And I will bring the third part
through the fire, and will refine theni as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: and they
shall call on my name, and I will hear them.”. So admirably do all the parts of God's grand Economy support one another.
We have seen what testimonies their coeval writers afford of an extraordinary Providence. But we must not suppose the Jews always held the same language. The difference is great between the early and later Jews, even during the existence of the Republic. Take an iastance from the Psalmist, and the writer of Ecclesiasticus. The former says, I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the Righteous forsaken, nor his Seed begging their bread*. The latter-- Look at the GENERATIONS OF OLD), and see : Did ever any trust in the Lord and was confounded ? Or did any abide in his Fear and was forsaken? Or whom did he ever despise that called upon himt? The Psalmist, living under an extraordinary Providence, appeals to his own times; the Author of Ecclesiasticus living when it was long ceased, appeals to former times. But as we have been told, that this talk of a particular Providence is only an Eastern Hyperbole, in which every thing is ascribed to God, I think it not improper to take notice here of one singular circumstance in favour of the Reporters.
We may 'observe, then, that the spirit of Gentilisni. was always uniform; and, throughout its whole duration, had ever the same unvaried pretensions to divine Intercourse, supported by the same sort of Oracles and Divinations. But amongst the Jews matters were * Psal. xxxyii. 25.
+ Chap. ii, ver. 10, ốc.
on another footing. After their perfect settlement, ont their return from Captivity (when we know, from the course and progress of God's Economy, that the extraordinary Providence was to cease), we hear no more of their pretences to it, though they now adhered more strictly than ever to the Religion of their forefathers. They made no claim, as we see by the excellent Writer of the first Book of Maccabees, either to Prophets, Orucles, or extraordinary Dispenwtions. When they write unto the Lacedemonians, for the renewal of their Alliance, they tell thein, at the sanie time, that they need it not, FOR THAT THEY MAVE THE HOLY BOOKS OF SCRIPTURE IN THEIR HANDS TO COMFORT THEM*. Language very different from their forefathers', when God was wont to send immediate help froin the Sanctuary. How ingemuously does the same Historian relate the misforture of Bethsura, caused by the observance of the Sabbatic Yeart? A misfortune of which we have no instance before the Captivity; and therefore a plain evidence that the extraordinary Providence was indeed withdrawn. Besides, if we consider the nature of the Religion, the genius of the People, and the circumstiunces of the Time, we shall find, they all concurred to favour the continuance of a pretension to an extraordinary Providence, had it been only a pretension,
1. The Mosaic Religion, like the Pagan, had å public part, and therefore the Jews miglit, with the greatest case, have still carried on the Superstition of Orucles, kad their Oracles been indeed a superstition; especially as they were now become so closely attached to their Religion. For when did-ever Greece or Italy confess that their Oracles were become dumb, till the Consulters had generally forsaken them, and the * Chap. xii. ver. 9.
t i Mace. vi. 49.
whole frame of their Religion was falling to pieces ? Besides, the practice of this superstition had been as easy as it was commodious; for the Oracular Voice was wont to come from the Mercy-Scat behind the Fal.
2. The genius of the People too would have contributed to the continuance of this claim. For, some how or other, it was become their character to require a Sign*; and though, now, really superstitious, yet the humour spent itself rather in telling lies of former tiines t, than in inventing any of their own. This, on a supposition of the human invention of their Law, is altogetier unaccountable. But take the matter as wie find it in their sacred Books, and nothing is more easy. For if they had indeed been long accustomed to a miraculous Dispensation, they would, ever after, be strongly disposed to require a Sign; but it would be only such a sign as bore the evident inarks of a Divinity; which not being to be had in human inventions, they would be keput safe from delusions, and made sensible of the ditterence of times; And such as, in fact, their case.
3. Add to all this, that the time of the Maccabees was the season of Enthusiasm, when that airy Spirit is at its height; after the national Genius, long sunk by oppression, begins to rise and recover itself to a vindication of public Liberty. And of this we have a signal instance in the person of Judas Maccabæus himselt; who, in imitation of Gideon, would set upon a: army of twenty thousand foot and two thousand horse, with only eight hundred stragyling desperadoes;. which rash and fanatis attempt was followed with the fortune that right, at this time, have been expected I. i Cor. i. 22.
See note [ at the end of this Book. i Möçc, ix, On