« EdellinenJatka »
had a right to hate and to despise the rest of mankind, with whom they agreed in no one point, but in an extreme corruption of manners. The truth of this may be learnt from their own candid and authentic historian :—“There never was such • an age, (says he) since the creation, for “ all manner of impiety, blood, and vio“ lence, as this juncture among the Jews : 6 they left no new wickedness to be either 6 done or thought of, or for invention itself “ to work upon; never such agreement, “ public and private, in all sorts of cor66 ruptions; never such an emulation, in « all things that were ill, who should out“ do the other. And who could expect 6 better from men who made no conscience 56 of affronting God himself; as in the use of « forbidden meats, renouncing the purity of “ their profession, and departing from the. * laws and customs of their forefathers.
6 What wonder to see a man inhuman to “ his neighbour, that has no more reverence “ for his Maker. Such is the strong language of Josephus. · I shall not fatigue your attention with a particular description of the three prevailing sects at that time among the Jews, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes, all of whom had widely departed from the Mosaic law; some of whom believed in the transmigration of the soul, whilst others seemed to deny its very existence, and had imbibed a number of Pagan superstitions: I shall only remark, in the words of a learned commentator, “ That the condition mankind was in, 6 at the time of our Saviour's appearance in 66. the world, may very fitly be represented 66 under the idea of a person afflicted with “ a deadly distemper, and the coming of our a blessed Lord be considered as the critical " time which was to decide either the death
“ or cure of that diseased person.”* No one can deny, that a teacher of righteousness was indispensable at this juncture, to enforce the worship of the one true God, in spirit and in truth, and to reform the morals of mankind.
Let us now, secondly, examine the predictions of the prophets, and see how clearly both sacred and profane history point out their accomplishment in Christ: and, first of all, let us pay due consideration to that remarkable prophecy, contained in the 49th chapter of the book of Genesis; “And Ja“ cob called his sons, and said, Gather your“ selves together, that I may tell you that « which shall befal you in the last days.” Now the last days, and the days of the Mes. siah, were allowed by the Jews themselves to be synonymous. “ The sceptre (continues he) “ shall not depart from Judah, nor a law* Beausobre.
“ giver from between his feet, till Shiloh “ come; and unto him shall the gathering “ of the people be.”—Verse 10. The best translators agree in rendering the latter verse thus ; “ The power of government shall not “ depart from Judah, nor a judge of Israel “ from among his descendants, till the “ prosperous Saviour (the prosperous au“ thor of salvation and rest) come, and “ to him shall the gathering of the Gen“ tiles be.” The accomplishment of this prediction is evident. Nothing is more plain than that the offspring of Judah, the son of Jacob, did preserve their distinct existence as a tribe, together with a power of government, and judging of causes, till Jesus came in the flesh. The tribe of Judah were the most numerous when they came out of Egypt; they led the van in the Wilderness, they were divinely ordered to make the first attack on the remaining
Canaanites, and against the Benjamites at Gibeah. Othniel, the first of the judges, was of this tribc. Long the family of David, who belonged to this tribe, had the royal power; even under the Chaldeans and Persians, Jehoiakin, Zerubbabel, and Nehemiah, all of this tribe held a superiority; for about 160 years before Christ, the Maccabean priests and the family of Herod ruled over the Jews, both of which were in a manner incorporated into the tribe of Judah; and besides, the Sanhedrim of the Jewish elders had much power in their hands. At the birth of Jesus, according to Josephus, the sceptre departed from Judah; Judea became a Román province; Herod received his sceptre as a gift from the Roman Triumvir.* Not long had the
* The Jews themselves confessed this truth at the crucifixion of our Lord; Pilate said, “Shall I crucify your " King ?” the Jews answered, “We have no King but Cesar.”