Page images

Men, whether there were any such Synagogues at all in the Land of Israel till after the Babylonish Captivity.

ir Q. What eminent and remarkable Service was done by these publick Places of Worship? A. It is supposed that frequent publick Readings of the · Law in the Synagogues, after that time, were a special means to excite and preserve in the People of the Jews that universal and perpetual Hatred of Idolatry, to which they were so fhamefully prone before ; and it did allo diffuse and maintain the Knowledge of true Religion and Virtue in the Land.

12 Q. Were these. Synagogues built any where befides in Judea ? A. When the Jetus were afterward scattered abroad into various Nations, they built Places of Worship for themselves wheresoever the Rulers of the Country would permit them.

13 Q. Of what Advantage were these Synagogues to the Heathens, or afterward to Christianity? A, It was, by means of these Synagogues that the Heathens, where the Jews were dispersed, came to know the true God, and some general Principles of Virtue and Piety, and became Profelytes of the Gate; and by these publick Places and Seasons of Worship, there was afterward an Opportunity given to publish the Gospel of Christ by the As poftles, both among the Jews and Gentiles, Afts xvii, 1, 2. and xix. 8...silo

r g 14 Q. What is meant by Profelytes of the Gate? A. Those Gentiles who renounced Idolatry, and received the Knowledge and the Worship of the one true God, the God of Israel; and (as some affirm) they received also the Rules of abstaining from Blood, and Things strangled, and Things of


fered to Idols, which were forbidden, Aets xv. to the Gentiles Converts to Christianity.

Note, These Rules, with a few other have been usu: ally called the seven Precepts of Noah, which the Jews make as necessary for all the World .to obey, as the Law of Mofes was for them : And doubtless, the Laws given to Noah, were given to all the World, because all sprang from him.

15 Q. Why were they called Profelytes of the Gate? 1. The Word Profelyte signifiés one that embraces a new Religion ; and they were called Profelytes of the Gate, becaufe they were suffered to live within the Gates of the Jews, according to the Expression in the Fourth Commandment, The Stranger which is within thy Gates. They were also permitted by the Jews to enter the outer Court of the Temple, called the Court of the Gersiles, when that was built, and to worship God there; but they were excluded from the Gate of the inner Court.

Note, These are they who in the Book of the Aets of the Apoflles are supposed by some to be called the devout Perfons, and those who feared God, &c. Ads x. 22. and xiii. 5o. and xvii. 4. and xiii. 16. Among these was the chief Harvest of the first Christian Converts ; though there might be many Persons too, who worshipped the one true God, who were under no Profely tism to the Yewift Church.

. 16 Q. What were the other Sort of Profelytes ? Ai They were such Gentiles as consented to be circumcised, and obliged themselves to practise all the Law of Mofes, Gal. v. 3. therefore they were called Profelytes of Righteoufnefs: They were taken into the Jewijs Nation, and united with them; and were also called Profelytes of the Temple, because they were admitted by the Jews into the inner Courts. .

Note, Note, This distinction of Profelytes has been supported by the common Opinion for near two hundred Years ; but since 'cis said to have no better Fou ndation than the Babylonijh Talmud, 'tis doubted by some learned Men whether there were any Profelytes, either under the Old Testament or New Testament, besides those who were circumcised and complete.

17 Q. Having heard this particular Account of Synagogues and Profelytes, proceed now to say what was the last Aet of Nehemiah's Reformation which we read in Scripture. A. That" he turned out Manasseh, the Son or Grandson of the High-Prieft, for marrying the Daughter of Sanballat the Horonite, Nehem. xiii. 28.

18Q. What did Sanballat do with his son-in-Law, Manasleh, on this Occasion? A. He procured a Grant from Darius Nothus, who was now King of Perhia, to build on Mount Gerizim, near Samaria, a Temple like that at Jerusalem, and to make Manajeh, his Son-in-Law, the High-Priest of it.

19 Q. What was the Consequence of this Practice? A. Samaria thenceforth became the Refuge of the rebellious Yews, who were called to account for breaking the Sabbath, eating unclean Meats, or were found guilty in Ginning against the Law in any remarkable Instances.

20 Q. What Change was wrought hereby among the Samaritans? A. Their first Original was from some Eastern Heathens who were planted there by the King of Assyria, after the Captivity of Israel; but when, on several Occasions, the Fews Hocked to them, it made a considerable Change in their Religion: For though, before, they worshipped the God of Israel, in Conjunction with other Gods, 2 Kings xvii, 2441. they now cast oft their Idolatry: And since a Temple was built amongst

I 2


-them, in which the Jewish Service was performed and the Law of Moses read publickly, they came much nearer to the Worship of the true God, prescribed in Scripture. .

21 Q. Did not the Jews love them the better on this account? A. No, by no means; but they hated them grievoully:: The Enmity which began from the Opposition which the Samaritans made to the Fews in their rebuilding Jerusalem, and the Temple, was so exceedingly increased by their fieltering all the rebellious Jews, that the Jews at Jerufalem published the bitterest Curse against them that ever was denounced against any People.

22 Q.Wbat Miseries were contained in this Curse? A. The Jews forbid all Communication with the Samaritans, declared all the Fruits of their Land, and their Cattle unclean; excluded them from being ever received as Profelytes, and barred them, as far as possible, from having any Portion in the Resurrection of the Dead to eternal Life.

23:Q. What Appearance of this great Enmity do we find in the New Testament? A. This seems to be confirmed by the Words of Scripture, John iv. 9. The Jews have no dealing with the Samaritans? And the Woman of Samaria asked our Saviour, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askeft Drink of me who am a Woman of Samaria ? And when the Jews would give the worst Name they could to our Saviour, they faid, Thou art a Samaritan, and has a Devil, John viii. 48. SECT. II. Of the JEWISH Affairs under

the Persian and Grecian Monarchies. iQ. HOW were the Jews governed after the

1. Death of Nehemiah? A. We find not any more particular Governors of Judea, made


[ocr errors]

by the Kings or Emperors of Persia'; but Judea
seems to be made subject to those whom the Per-
fian Kings made Governors of Syria; and that,
under them, the Regulation of Affairs was com-
mitted to the High-Priest: so that he had all the
Sacred Authority, and the Civil Power allo, in a
good measure, under the Syrian Governor.

2 Q. Did the High-Priests continue their regular
Succession as the eldest of Aaron's Family? A. This
Succession was sometimes interrupted by the Em-
perors of the World, or their deputed Governors
of the Provinces, appointing another Person to
take that Office.

3 Q. What is the first remarkable Instance of that kind? A. When yobanan, or Jonathan, the Son of Joiada, Neh. xii. 11. had possessed the HighPriesthood several Years, Bagojes, the Governor, of Syria appointed his younger Brother Jeshua to depose him, and take the Priesthood ; upon which there was a Tumult in the inner Court of the Temple, and Johanan slew Yeshua there.

4 Q. How did Bagoses, the Governor, refent this ? A. He entered into the inner Court of the Temple, though the Jews forbid him, as being unclean; but he told them, he was purer than the" dead Carcase of him whom they had flain there; and imposed on the Priests a Fine of about thirty one Shillings, for every Lamb that was offered throughout the Year.

5 ē. What was the next more famous Diffie culty and Deliverance which the Jews met with? *A. They were most remarkably saved from the Oppression and Resentment of Alexander the Great, who was King of Macedonia in Greece, .. when they had refused to aslist him in the Siege . of Tyrus.

6 l.

I 3

« PreviousContinue »