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§ 311. Religion TILL AFTER THE captivity. 391
of the TRANslator of Ernesti's Elements of Interpretation. The remarks, to which I refer, may be found in a note to the twentyfifth section of that publication, and are, as follows. “If it be asked, How far are we to consider the Old Test AMENT as typical ? I should answer without any hesitation; Just so much of it is to be regarded as typical, as the New Testament affirms to be so; and No More. The fact, that any thing or event under the Old Testament dispensation was designed to prefigure something under the New, can be known to us only by revelation; and, of course, all that is not designated by divine authority as typical, can never be made so by any authority less than that, which guided the writers of the Scriptures.”]
§ 311. Sketch of Religion from Moses till AFTER THE BAbyLoNish CAPTIvity.
The institutions of Moses retained their influence through subsequent ages. Whenever religion was endangered, by neglect or by idolatry, the invariable consequence was, that there were calamities and evils, which admonished the people of the necessity of choosing rulers, who should restore to them both the full operation of their religion, and their prosperity, as a nation. In case God did not send upon them, in the first instance, public calamities, he commissioned his prophets, who severely reproved kings and princes, threw great obstacles in the way of their wicked attempts to introduce idolatry, and when it was introduced, had the happiness of seeing, in some cases, pious kings raised up, as the successors of the impious, who rescinded what their predecessors had done, removed idolatry, and restored again the true worship of God.
When at length admonitions ceased to be of any great avail, and every thing was growing worse and worse, the Israelitish commonwealth was overthrown, 253 years after their separation from Judah, and 722 before Christ. The people were carried away by the Assyrians into Gozan, Chalacene, the cities of Media, and into Assyria.
The kingdom of Judah was overthrown 387 years after the separation, 588 before Christ, by the Chaldeans, and the people were carried captive to the banks of the river Chebar in Babylonia.
392 § 311. Religion Till. After the captivity.
In these events, were fulfilled the predictions both of Moses and the Prophets.
The difference in the condition of the Hebrews under the Judges, who ruled four hundred and fifty years, and under the Kings, consisted in this, that under the former, idolatry was not commanded, but the people rushed into it of their own accord. Wherefore the contamination never extended so far, as to reach the Tabernacle. On the contrary, those kings, who were impious, either expressly commanded the worship of idols, or promoted it in some way by their authority; so that its pernicious influence penetrated even to the Temple itself.
The most impious, in the kingdom of Judah, were Ahaz and Manasseh, who immolated their sons to Moloch ; and the former of whom shut up the Temple. In the kingdom of Israel, Ahab with his Zidonian wife, Jezebel, surpassed all others in wickedness.
During the period immediately preceding their overthrow, every kind of superstition, and every moral pollution prevailed in both kingdoms, especially in that of Judah. No other means, therefore, remained, to correct their vices, but that of extreme severity, by which the whole nation, dispersed from their country into distant regions, and humbled and afflicted, might learn, that they could do nothing without God, and that idols could lend them no assistance.
When at length the Return, predicted by Moses and the prophets, was unexpectedly secured by the instrumentality of Cyrus, and the Temple and city rebuilt, the people being convinced by the fulfilment of so many, and such distinguished prophecies, that GoD Is THE oMNipotent AND OMNIscIENT Gover Nour of THE UNIyerse, and that all idols are a vanity, continued firm to Jehovah ever after. So much so, that they opposed the commands, and set at defiance the punishments of Antiochus Epiphanes, endured every suffering, seized their arms, in vindication of their liberty and religion, and brought over other nations also to the worship of their fathers. The rest of the Jews, who were widely dispersed both in the East and the West, made proselytes every where, and it became known to the other nations, that there was a people, who worshipped one invisible God, the creator and governour of the world.
The Jews supposed at this time, that the age was approach§ 312. PERSEveRANce of HEBREws IN THEIR RELIGION. 393
ing, when the true religion, should be propagated to all nations, as had been promised to the patriarchs and predicted by the prophets.
Their condition as a nation, it is true, through the discord of the rulers, grew worse, than it had been previously, and every thing threatened ruin. That which was promised, notwithstanding, was performed by Jesus and the apostles, and their religion, in subsequent ages, has been propagated even to us ; a grand fulfilment of what was predicted to the patriarchs four thousand years ago.
$ 312. PERs everANCE of the Hebrews IN THEIR Religion AFTER The CAPtivity.
The perseverance of the Hebrews after the captivity, in their religion, to which we have already alluded, was the result chiefly of the fulfilment of the prophecies, respecting the overthrow of the kingdoms of Israel, Judah, Assyria, and Chaldea, and respecting the return from captivity; as is clear from Zech. 1: 2–6. Ezra 9:7– 15. Neh. 9: 32–37. 13:17, 18. The punishment of a long exile, which the foreign gods, they worshipped, could not avert, and their return, which was effected by the providence of God alone, without any cooperation on the part of the people, excited their minds, already softened by the concurrence of so many afflictions, to renewed reflection on these, and on other events, equally striking and more ancient, especially on the mercies of God.
In order to keep the memory of the past fresh and living in their minds, they built synagogues, in which the Law of Moses was read every sabbath day. And not long after, other sacred books were read likewise, especially the prophets; prayers were also offered ; sacred hymns were sung ; and the people were exhorted to a moral and religious course.
Schools also were established, in which the rising generation were instructed more carefully in the truths of religion, than they could be by their parents.
The similitude, which existed between the system of Moses, and that of Zoroaster, which prevailed in Persia and Media, may be summed up in a single article, viz. that they both discountenanced the worship of idols. For,
394 § 312. PERseverance of Hebrews in their religion.
I. That original beginning of all things, called HAzARUAM, was neither the creator nor governour of the world, but the endless succession of time, which was represented by Zoroaster, as the supreme existence, ENs, or fountain of being. From Hazaruam, proceeded Ormuz and Ahrimanes. Ormuz acted the part of creator of the world; a circumstance, which caused no little envy in the mind of Ahrimanes, and induced him to mingle with the workmanship of Ormuz, the seeds or principles of evil, which exist. By the Mehestani, moreover, or followers of Zoroaster, not only Ormuz, but six AMsch Aspa Ndi, also innumerable spirits, dispersed every where, the sun, moon, stars, and other earthly existences, were worshipped without distinction. II. If the example of the Medes and Persians, who worshipped Ormuz, as the creator and governour of the world, confirmed the Hebrews in the worship of Jehovah, it was equally likely, on the other hand, to induce them to adore the stars, and spirits, which occupied so conspicuous a place in the system of those nations; also the horses and chariot of the sun, which the ancestors of king Josiah, influenced by the example of the Mehestani, had introduced at Jerusalem, and perhaps, to practise that species of Magian worship, witnessed by Ezekiel in the temple of Jerusalem. III. The Jews, if they had been excited, by the example alone of their conquerors, to perseverance in their religion, would not certainly have continued their adherence to it after the overthrow of the Persians, when they were under the dominion of the idolatrous Greeks; a period, in which, though exposed to the hostility of Antiochus Epiphanes, they gave ample proofs of their integrity. The assertion, that the Jews adhered to the religion of their ancestors, because they had learnt the knowledge of the true God from philosophical principles, is opposed, I. By the representations of the books, which remain of that period. For it is evident from Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi, also from the apocryphal books of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, that the prevalent belief was founded on ancient history, especially on ancient miracles, and the fulfilment of the prophecies. II. Moreover, the firm persuasion, which existed, would not have arisen from any philosophical speculations about the being § 313. Knowledge of God FROM philosophy. 395
of God, if it had not existed in a previous period, since, in the Psalms, and the writings of the Prophets, were many arguments, drawn from the nature of things, to show the doctrine of the true God, and the vanity of idols. III. To overturn at once this unfounded supposition, it is sufficient to say, that the men, who were best instructed in Grecian philosophy, endeavoured to bring back idolatry again. But on points connected with this subject, something further is to be said.
§ 313. Respecting the KNowledge of God before the time of Christ, As developed by Philosophy.
Not a single philosopher had any idea of a God of such an exalted character, as to be the agent in the construction of the Universe, till ANAxAgoras, the disciple of Hermotimus. This philosopher came to Athens in the year 456 before Christ, and first taught, that the world was organized or constructed by some MIND or mental being, out of mattter, which this philosopher supposed, had always existed. Socrates, Plato, and others adopted, illustrated, and adorned this opinion. Aristotle, on the contrary, supposed the world to have existed in its organized form eternally, and that the supreme BEING, who was coexistent, merely put it in motion. The Epicureans believed a fortuitious concurrence of atoms to have been the origin of all things. Many were atheists; many were sceptics, who doubted and assailed every system of opinions. Those, who maintained the existence of a framer or architect of the world, (for no one believed in a creator of it,) held also to an animating principle in matter, which originated from the supreme architect, and which animated, and regulated the material system. Things of minor consequence, especially those, which touched the destiny of man, were referred by all classes, to the government of the gods, who were accordingly the objects of worship, and not the supreme ARchitect. Paul gives a sufficiently favourable representation of this defective knowledge of God, Rom. 1: 19–24. After all, it may be made an inquiry, whether Anaxagoras or Hermotimus had not learnt somé things respecting the God of the Jews from those Jews, who were sold as slaves by the