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scribing. Hence he justly intimates that the name in Greek did not strictly correspond to the sense of the original in Hebrew. For Hasid denotes merciful, benign, good, and by consequence only it came to signify holy. Hence we may infer, that Assideans, Hosii, Esseans, are names of the same import, which had long been applied by the Jews to such among them, as were distinguished by their skill in interpreting, and zeal in adhering to the law of Moses.
This circumstance might lead one to conclude, that the Hosii or Esseans formed the same class of men, continued through successive ages, with the sons of the prophets, mentioned in the book of Kings, of whom Elijah was one. This accounts for the extraordinary reverence which the Esseans paid to the prophets, and for the striking resemblance which subsisted between them in purity of character and mode of living*. John the Baptist, it appears probable, rose in this line,
"These had their habitation chiefly in the country: they lived in a kind of society among themselves, and had generally one or more of the prophets to be the head over them, and to whom they gave the title of father. Their houses were but mean, and of their own building. Their food was chiefly pottage made of herbs; unless when the people sent some better fare to them, such as bread, parched corn, honey, dried fruits, and the like. Their dress was plain and coarse, and tied about with a leathern girdle:
and he was so like Elias in virtue and office, that he often went by that name. Hence the justness of the conclusion already made, that John was one of the Esseans, and preached at the head of that sect when our Lord made his appearance. The Jews sojourned in the wilderness forty years, receiving the law from God, and supported by his special providence. Being thus, as it were, religiously educated, they received in every place, and in every age, an early bias for such a mode of living, and such places of abode. In retired situations, the more studious could meditate on the divine law, and the more virtuous maintain the simplicity of nature uncorrupted by the luxury and vices of cities and large communities. In this class were the sons of the prophets, who, as. they arose in succession from Noah to John the Baptist*, formed an order of men distinguished
their wants being so few, were easily supplied by their own hands; and as their views reached no farther, so they limited their labour to that, that they might bestow the more time in prayer, study, and retirement. Riches were no temptation to them in such a state; and therefore Elisha not only refused Naaman's presents, but punished Géhazi in a severe manner, for having clandestinely obtained a small portion of them." Ancient Hist. Vol. III. 234..
*This view of the Esseans will account for what the Second Pliny in his Natural History (Lib. V. 15.) has thought fit to say of them, his object being to say something that might excite wonder and ridicule. "Ab occidente litora
not as a distinct religious sect, but by their supérior knowledge of the scriptures, by greater pu rity of manners, and a more ardent zeal in the service of God. Jesus and his disciples, by submitting to the baptism of John, became Esseans; and the Esseans, comprehending the school of the prophets, became in their turn the leading members in the church of Christ. Thus it came to pass, that the Esseans are no where mentioned in the New Testament. The writers of the Christian Scriptures were themselves of the number, and could not therefore speak of them, but under those names, by which they spoke of themselves.
Thus, the very objections which learned men have urged to shew that the Esseans were not Christians, prove them to be the followers of Christ. I now proceed to offer a few remarks on the account given by Philo, which will render the fact never again liable to be called in question.
1. The historian says, that the Esseans wor
Esseni fugiunt, usquequa nocent: gens sola, et in toto orbe præter cæteras mira, sine ulla femina, omni venere abdicata, sine pecunia, socia palmarum. In diem ex æquo convenarum turba renascitur, large frequéntantibus, quos, vitæ fessos ad mores eorum fortunæ fluctus agitat. Ita per seculorum millia (incredibile dictu) gens æterna, in qua nemo nascitur. Tam fæcunda illis aliorum vitæ pænitentia est."
shipped God, as their name imports, with peculiar holiness; and that not by sacrificing animals, but by cultivating purity of heart *. Now, this is the very feature which distinguished the gos
Λέγονται τινες παρ αυτοις ονομα Εσσαίοι, πληθος ὑπερ τετρακιςχιλίους παρωνυμοι ὁσιότητος, επειδη και τοις μαλιςα θεραπευται θεου γεγονασι, ου ζωα, καταθυοντες, αλλ ̓ ἱεροπρεπεις τας ἑαυτων διανοιας κατασκευαζειν αξιούντες. Ρ. 876. Vol. II. 457. This is precisely the import of the language used by St. Paul, Rom. xii. 1. "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to offer yourselves a living sacrifice, holy well pleasing to God, the service which you deem rational." Here the epithet living has a tacit reference to the victims or dead sacrifice, which the rest of the Jews offered to God, and with this the writer farther contrasts the sacrifice of themselves, which the Esseans or Christians offered as a service more rational in itself, and more acceptable to God. Josephus uses similar words, though misrepresented in the Latin version. Εις ίερον αναθήματα σελλοντες, θυσίας ουκ επιτελούσι διαφορότητι άγνειων—εφ άυτων τας θυσίας επιτελουντες. Though they send gifts to the temple, they do not sacrifice victims, having adopted a different mode of purification, being themselves the victims which they offer up. A.J. ' lib. 18. c. 1. 5. It is worthy of remarking in this place, that Philo and Josephus limit the Esseans to about four thousand and upwards. But it appears from the whole of their narratives, that these people were far more numerous, and therefore our authors could mean by this number, only such as distinguished themselves by their rank, zeal, and learning, in
pel from judaism, as understood in those days. The ideas entertained by the vulgar, and even by the learned, were diametrically opposite to those of our Lord, in regard to the most acceptable mode of worshipping God. The former not only laid great stress upon sacrifices and rites, as indispensable and immutable parts of the religion of Moses; but they went farther, and made the religion of Moses altogether to consist in them. On the contrary the Christians aimed at repealing the Levitical code, and at substituting in its room well regulated affections, inward purity, and moral rectitude of disposition, as the true ground, on the part of the worshipper, of acceptance with God. When therefore Jesus, in opposition to ritual pretenders, represented the law and the prophets as comprehended in the maxim of doing to others, what
supporting and promoting the sect. The words of Philo, make it farther manifest, that all the people, whom he was going to describe, did not go by the name of Esseans: for, he says, some of them are called Esseans. Both these writers were desirous to extend to all the christian Jews the credit and fair name, which had long been conceded to the Esseans, and which they particularly merited under John the Baptist. And they thought it more prudent, and less likely to create alarm, to give the number of the Esseans at the commencement, than in their subsequent expanded state, after the prevalence of the gospel.