« AnteriorContinuar »
396 § 314. condition of MAN AFTER DEATH.
Phenicians into Greece, Joel 3: 6, or from the Phenicians themselves, who traded in Ionia and Greece, and whether these philosophers did not thus acquire that knowledge, which was thought to have originated with themselves. Perhaps, they derived their notions of an ETERNAL ARCHITEct from the doctrine of the Persians respecting Hazaruam or the endless succession of time, and Ormuz. However this may be, we observe on this topic,
I. That the Hebrews remained firm to their religion before their acquaintance with Grecian philosophy, although many receded from it, after forming such an acquaintance.
II. The philosophic doctrine respecting the architect of the world, rested on arguments of so subtile a kind, that they could not have been estimated by the Jewish populace, and could not have been applied by them, to confirm their minds in religious truth. For, according to Cicero, de NAT. DeoruM, Lib. I. 6, such was the contention, even among the learned, in respect to the doctrine of the gods, that those, who had the most strength and confidence on their side were compelled to doubt.
The books of Cicero De NATURA DeoruM are by all means to be read.
§ 314. ON THE Condition of MAN AFTER Death.
That the ancient Hebrews, that the Patriarchs themselves had some idea of a future life, although we must acknowledge their information on the subject to have been limited and obscure, is evident, I. From the distinction, which is made between the subterranean residence denominated Sheol, **Ng; and -ir, and the grave or place of interment for the body, denominated ->p Gen. 25. S. 37; 35. 49: 33. 50.2––10. Num. 20:24–26. Deut. 34: 7. 31: 16. I K. 11:43. II. That they believed in the existence of the spirit after the death of the body, is evident likewise from the credit, which they were disposed to give to the art of NecroMANcy, by means of which the Jews believed, that the spirits of the dead, no-ox, six, *:: * , were summoned back to the present scene of existence, Lev. ig: 31. 20: 6, 7, 26, 27. Deut... 18; 11. 1 Sam. 28: 3––10. 2 K. 23: 24. 1 Chron. 10: 13. Is. 19. 3. 29:4. 57: 9. comp. Zech. 13: 2–6. § 314. condition of MAN AFTER death. 307
The objection, which is sometimes made, viz. that persons, whose minds are under the influence of superstition, are very inconsistent with themselves and in their opinions, does not avail any thing in the present case, for it would in truth be a miracle of inconsistency, if those persons, who believed, that departed spirits were no longer existing, should, nevertheless, give full credit to the ability of such non-existent spirits, to reveal the mysteries of the future. The belief of the ancient Hebrews, therefore, on this subject, was, that the spirits of the dead were received into Sheol, which is represented, as a large subterranean abode, Gen. 37: 35 comp. Num. 16:30–33. Deut. 32: 22. Into this abode, we are told, that the wicked are driven suddenly, their days being cut short, but the good descend into it in tranquillity, and in the fulness of their years. This very spacious dwelling-place for those, who have gone hence, is often described as dark, as sorrowful, and inactive, Job 10: 21. Ps. 6: 5. SS: 11, 12. 1 15: 17. Is. 38: 18; but in Is. 14:9, et seq. it is represented, as full of activity; and in other places, as we may learn from Job 26: 5, 6, and 1 Sam. 28:7, more than human knowledge is ascribed to its inhabitants, which is indeed implied in the credit, which was given to necromancers. In this abode, moreover, the DEPARTED spirits rejoice in that rest, so much desired by the orientals, Job 3: 13; and there the living hope to see once more their beloved ancestors and children, Gen. 37:35. comp. Gen. 25: 10. 35:28. 49: 29. Num. 20:24–26. 1 K. 2: 10, 11. etc.; and there also the servant is at length freed from his master, and enjoys a cessation from his labours, Job 3: 13–19. That the ancient Hebrews believed, that there was a difference, in their situation in Sheol, between the good and the bad, although it might indeed be inferred from their ideas of the justice and benignity of God, (Matt. 22:32.) cannot be proved by direct testimony. The probability, however, that this was the case, seems to be increased, when it is remembered, that the author of the book of Ecclesiastes, who, in chapter 3: 18. speaks somewhat sceptically of the immortality of the soul, says in chapter 12; 7, that the “spirit shall return to God, who gave it,” [and, although he no where in express terms holds up the doctrine of future rewards and punishments, informs us in chap. 12:14. of some398 $315. Respecting the propagation of Judaism.
thing very much like it, viz. “That God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”] We have not authority, therefore, decidedly to say, that any other motives were held out to the ancient Hebrews to pursue the good and to avoid the evil, than those, which were derived from the rewards and punishments of this life. That these were the motives, which were presented to their minds in order to influence them to pursue a right course of conduct, is expressly asserted in Is. 26: 9, 10. and may be learnt also from the imprecations, which are met with, in many parts of the Old Testament. The Mehest ANI, who were disciples of Zoroaster, believed in the immortality of the soul, in rewards and punishments after death, and in the resurrection of the body ; at the time of which resurrection, all the bad would be purged by fire, and associated with the good, Zend Avesta, P.I. p. 107, 108. P. II. p. 211. 227. 229. 124, 125. 173. 245, 246. comp. Ezek. 37:1–14. There is some uncertainty respecting the passages in Daniel 12:2, 3, 13; but it is possible at any rate, that they may be a confirmation of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and it is very clear, that Haggai (2:23.) speaks of some state of glory after the termination of this present life. Compare Zech. 3: 7. These sentiments of the later prophets, which are perfectly in unison with what is said of the justice and clemency of God, in other parts of the Old Testament, were at length adopted by the Jews generally, with the exception of the Sadducees, against whom they are defended in the following passages of the Apocryphal Books, viz. 2 Macc. 7: 9, 11, 14, 23, 29, 36. 12:40–45. and Wisdom 3: 1–11. 4: 7–16. Thus the Jews were gradually prepared to receive that broader and fuller light, which Jesus shed upon them, 2 Tim. 1: 10.
§ 315. Respecting the Propagation of Judaism.
The Jews, during the four centuries preceding the destruction of Jerusalem, were very extensively dispersed, and they did not fail to make proselytes to Judaism, in all the places, where it was their fortune to reside. The persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes promoted the cause of proselytism; for those persecutions,
§ 315. Respecting the propagation of Judaism. 399
under the good providence of God, were the occasion of many victories to the Jews, and excited, at the same time, the interest and notice of the surrounding nations. In consequence of the stand, which the Jews then took, and the victories, which they won, whole nations, as the Idumeans, the Itureans, and Moabites, professed the Jewish faith, and underwent the initiatory rite of circumcision. The king of Yaman or Yemen, a district of country in Arabia Felix, became a Jew, more than an hundred years before Christ, and his successors both defended and propagated the Jewish religion. The Jews in Asia Minor, in Greece, and, in the progress of time, at Rome also, were the means of drawing numbers within the pale of their country's religion. In Rome, in particular, they eventually became so numerous, as to have a majority at elections; and because they were restless and turbulent, they were ordered by Tiberius, to depart from Italy, and by Claudius, from Rome. These orders, however, in respect to them, were not fully put in execution, Tacitus, Annal. II. 85. Suetonius in Tiberio, $36. et in Claudio $25. Dio Cassius 4.60. p. 669. Ample privileges were in general given to the Jews by the Romans, and the obstacles were mostly removed, which might have had a tendency to prevent the increase of their numbers by the accession of proselytes. In this state of things, proselytes, especially from the female sex, who were not subjected to the inconveniences of circumcision, were perpetually multiplied, and are often mentioned in the New Testament. See Acts 2: 11. 6: 5. 13:43. 16: 14. 17:4. 18; 7, 13. 19:29. 13:50. Josephus, Jewish War, II. 20, and Antiquities XVIII. 3, 5. About the time of Christ, Izates the king of Adiabene, having been instructed by some females, was circumcised, and introduced the Jewish religion into his kingdom. See the Antiquities of Josephus, XX. 2, 1–5. Providence thus prepared the way for the propagation of the Christian religion into all parts of the world: for the Apostles, wherever they travelled, found those, who had embraced the Jewish religion, and they not only had the liberty to preach in their synagogues, but, as we may learn from various passages, were very essentially aided by the Jewish proselytes, in announcing Jesus Christ to the heathen, Acts 2: 5–11. 11: 19. 18; 4–6, 18–52, 14: 1–28. 16:1–40. 17: 1–17, etc.
400 § 316. GENERAL STATE of Jewish AFFAIRs.
§ 316. GENERAL STATE of Jewish Affairs.
The Jews, wherever they dwelt, lived in a measure separate from the rest of the community, but they were extremely harmonious among themselves. Indeed those, who lived in countries, that were separate and distant, still maintained a connexion, with each other, by means of the Temple at Jerusalem. For every individual was in the habit of sending to it yearly a half shekel in money : those, who were able to, visited it in person, in order to attend the great festivals, and those, who were not in a condition to do this, transmitted gifts, either for the Temple, or to be employed in the sacrifices, by the hands of others. The Jews of Egypt, who inhabited Leontopolis in the district of Heliopolis, from the year 149 before Christ to ANNo Do MINI 73, had a temple of their own, though they still kept up a connexion with the Jews at Jerusalem. Nor was this general harmony in the least interrupted by the existence of the three prominent sects, which, influenced by their philosophical systems, differed so much in their interpretation of the Scriptures. When we speak of their interpretation, and, consequently, belief being influenced by their philosophy, the meaning is obvious ; for Josephus, (Antiq. XV 10, 4.) informs us, that the Pharisees approximated very near to the Stoics, the Sadducees to the Epicureans, and the Essenes to the Pythagoreans. The Pharisees cultivated a very friendly intercourse with each other, and, as they were the favourites of the people, and generally secured to their party the influence of females of high rank, they were very powerful. As is too apt to be the case, where there is power, they became audacious, were inclined to make disturbances, and were in truth formidable to the high priests, and to the kings themselves, Josephus, Antiquities, XIII. 10, 5– 6. XVII. 2, 4, XVIII. 1, 3. The minor divisions, which eventually introduced themselves into this sect, and ranked its members, as the followers, some of Shammai, some of Hillel, and others at length of Judas of Galilee, did not interrupt the exercise of general harmony and good feeling. The sect of the Sadducees in general consisted of those only, who were wealthy, and honourable. When, however, it was