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sacrifice taken away, and the ABOMINATION of DesolaTioN placed in the SANCTUARY, as the prophet had foretold. It was truly the abomination of desolation, for it was abominable to God, and to all his faithful people: and it was the occasion of such desolation as strikes one with horror to read of. The Jews were also compelled to go in procession once a month, and carry branches of ivy in honour of Bacchus, the god of drunkenness; idol altars were erected in every city of Judah, and incense burnt on them. Wherever any books of the law of Moses were found they were torn to pieces and burnt; and on the day on which they first sacrificed to Jupiter on the Altar of the Lord, they caused the most horrid cruelties to be exercised on those who adhered to the Jewish religion. Two women in particular, who had circumcised their children, were led about the streets with their strangled babes hanging at their necks, and then thrown headlong from a high wall ; others, who had hid themselves in a cave to keep the sabbath-clay, were all burnt together. .
SECTION V. . . THE HISTORY OF MATTATHIAS.
When the prophet Daniel foretold the dreadful persecution by Antiochus Epiphanes, he also predicted, thai the people who know their God should be strong to do exploits, and that they should be holpen with little help. And it pleased the LORD to send them deliverance by, means of Mattathias, a priest, who dwelt in Modin.
This pious person had five sons; Joannar, surnamed Caddis ; Simon, called Thassi ; Judas, called Maccabeus ; Eleazer, called Avaran ; and Jonathan, whose surname was Apphus. • When Mattathias* saw the blasphemies that were : *1 Macc. xi. 6.
committed in Judah and Jerusalem, he said, Wo is me, wherefore was I born to see this misery of my people, and of the holy city, and to dwell there, when it was delivered into the hand of the enemy, and the sanctuary into the hand of strangers ? Her Temple is become as a man without glory. Her glorious vessels are carried away into captivity, her infants are slain in the streets, her young men with the sword of the enemy. What nation hath not had a part in her kingdom, and gotten of her spoils; and behold, our sanctuary, even our beauty and our glory, is laid waste, and the Gentiles have profaned it. To what end therefore shall we live any longer? Then Mattathias and his sons rent their clothes, and put on sackcloth, and mourned very sore.”
How beautiful and pathetic was this lamentation of Mattathias for the miseries of Israel, and the desolation of the Holy City! Life was no longer valuable to him, now that the heathen were come into the Lord's inhe ritance, and had defiled the holy Temple ; and he resolved to die rather than to fall away from the religion of his fathers.
" When the king's officers arrived at Modin, they endeavoured to prevail on Mattathias, by gentle persuasions, and promises of honours and rewards, to com ply with the king's commands. But Mattathias answered, and spake with a loud voice, Though all the nations that are under the king's dominion obey him, and fall away every one from the religion of their fathers, and give consent to his commandments; yet will I, and my sons, and my brethren, walk in the covenant of our fathers. God forbid that we should forsake the law, and the ordinanccs : we will not hearken to the king's words, to go from our religion, either on the right hand or on the left.” Just * as he had declared this pious resolution, one of * 1 Macc, ij. 15–23.
the Jewish priests advanced to sacrifice on the idol altar, which was erected in that city; on which Mattathias, fired with holy indignation for the honour of the LORD, slew him in the impious act. - He killed also the king's commissioner who compelled men to sacrifice, and caused the altar to be pulled down. . " Then * Mattathias cried throughout the city with a loud voice, saying, - Whosoever is zealous of the law, and maintaineth the covenant, let him follow me. So he and his sons left all that they had in the city, and fled into the moun. tains ; and they were followed by a great number of the Jews, who took their families, and their cattle, and hid themselves in the wilderness.”
When the king's army were informed of their fight, they resolved to pursue them, and attacked them on the sabbath-day. The Jews made no resistance, upon which a thousand of them were slain. Mattathias and his friends were greatly afflicted for the loss of them, and at first approved their zeal; but when Mattathias reflected, that they had no right to expect the particular interposition of Providence on the sabbath-day any more than on any other day, without an express promise of assistance from the Lord, he concluded, that the law did not require them to be inactive in their own defence; for this reason he decreed, that if the enemy assaulted them on the sabbath, they should in future endeavour to repel them. And this decree was afterwards ratified and confirmed, by the consent of all the priests and leaders, to be a rule in their following wars.
While Mattathias † continued in the mountains, many of the Jews were encouraged to resort to him; amongst the rest came some of the Assideans. These were a sect amongst the Jews who were called Chasidim, or the Pious : they were not only zealous for the law, but of many other constitutions, traditions, and forms of mortification, beyond what the law required. Those who contented themselves with what was written in the law were called Zadichin, or the righteous.
* i Macc. ij. 27.
1 Macc. ii. 49.
Mattathias and his friends went round about the towns and villages, pulled down the altars, circumcised the children, put their enemies to flight, and recovered several copies of the Jewish law.
Antiochus being informed that his decrees were not so implicitly obeyed in Judea as in other nations, went thither in person to see them put in execution. He then exercised the most horrid cruelties over all such Jews as refused to abjure their religion, in order to force the rest, by the dread of the like inhuman treatment, to comply with what was required of them.
There is a very affecting account of some of these martyrdoms in the book of Maccabees*.:
Shortly after died the good Mattathias. f“And when the time drew near that he should die, he said unto his sons, Now hath pride and rebuke gotten strength, and the time of destruction, and the wrath of indignation. Now therefore, my sons, be ye zealous for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of our fathers. Call to rememberance what acts our fathers did in their time, so shall ye receive great honour, and an everlasting name. Was not Abraham found faithful in temptation, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness ? Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and was made lord of Egypt. Phineas, our father, being zealous and servant, obtained the covenant of an everlasting priesthood. Joshua for fulfilling the word was made a judge in Israel. Caleb, for bearing witness before the congregation, received the heritage * 2 Macc. vi. vii.
| 1 Macc. ii. 49, VOL. IV.
of the land. David, for being merciful, possessed the throne of an everlasting kingdom. Elias, for being zealdus and' servant for the law, was taken up into heaven. Ananias, Azarias, and Mishael, by believing, were saved out of the fame." Daniel, for his innocency, was delivered from the mouth of the lions. And thus consider ye throughout all ages, that none that put their trust in him shall be overcome. Fear not then the words of a sinful man’; for his glory shall be dung and worms, To-day he shall be lifted up, and to-morrow he shall not be found, because he is returned into his dust, and his thought is come to nothing. Wherefore ye my sons, bé valiant, and shew yourselves men in the behalf of the law, for by it you shall obtain glory. And behold, I know that your brother Simon is a man of counsel ; give ear'unto him alway: he shall be a father unto you. As for Júdas Maccabeus, he hath been mighty, and strong, even from his youth úp': let him be your captain, and fight the battle of the people. Take also untoʻyou all those that observe the law, and avenge ye the wrong of your people. Recompence fully the heathen, and take heed to the commandments of the law, So he blessed them, and was gathered to his fathers, And he died in the hundred forty' and 'sixth year, and his sons buried him in the sepulchre of his fathers, at Modin, and all Israel made great lamentation for him.” - From this pious exhortation we may learn the true use of SCRIPTURE History. We find, that Mattathịas formed his own character by'studying the examples of holy men which are recorded in the sacred volume. Let us imitate him in this particular, and our life will, like his, be honourable, and our death happy.",
Well might Israel Tament for the loss of such a protector! but Judas, whom he appointed general, inherited his father's magnanimous spirit, and performed