Wright - BT300 W8 1788

LORD and SAVIOUR, yESUS CHRIST. 7 worfhip was the fame as eflablifhed by Solomon ; and the law and the prophets wereweekly read in their fynagogues ; but they had in a great meafure made the moral law void by their traditions, and their temple-worfhip was much declined from the primitive glory of it's inftitution. The fecond temple had now flood upwards of four hundred years. It was vaftly infe- rior, in magnificence and grandeur, to that which was built by Solomon. It wanted the ark of the covenant, the Divine Pre- fence, the Urim and Thummim, the holy fire upon the altar, and the fpirit of pro- phecy. It was firft prophaned and plun- dered by Antiochus Epiphanus. It had lately been difhonoured by the impious boldnefs of Pompey ; and foon after by Craffus, another Roman general, who ra- pacioufly feized thofe vaft treafures which Pompey's piety and modefly had fpared. In a few years after came Herod, who hav- ing obtained the grant of the kingdom at Rome, befieged and took the city and temple. And though, in order to infinuate himfelfinto the affeaions of the people, he did all in his power to preferve the temple from being plundered, and a few years after expended vafl fums in repairing and beautifying it; yet, as he obtained the regal dignityby the favour of the Romans, he was always careful to pleafe and oblige them ; and accordinglyprophaned the tem- ple with a golden eagle, which was fixed upon the great porch at the entrance of that fabric, in order to court the favour of the emperor Auguflus. This gave great offence to the Jews, who were fcrupuloufly exafl in the obfervance of the minutefl rituals, but fcandaloufly carelefs in the weightier matters of the law : and while, on every trifling occafion, theywere ready o cry out, The templeof the Lord! The temple of the Lord ! They had fo little regard to the divinity which dwelt within, that they made this holyplacea market for trade and merchandife; and filled the fa- cred apartments with dealers, merchants, money-changers, and ufurers. And fuch were the injuftice and extortion they prac- tifed in the holy place, it was juftly ob- ferved, that the houfe which God had ap= pointed for an houfe of prayer, they had converted into a denof thieves. However little religion there was amongft the Jews, they were very forward and open in their profeffion, and there were feveral parties amongft them who violently oppofed each other. Thofe who are men- tioned in the gofpels are the Pharifees, the Sadducees, the Herodians, and the Sama- ritans ; of each of thefe it may be proper to give fome account. The Phartftes were the greateft of all the Jewifh feels ; and by their pretences to extraordinary purity, and the {hew theymade in things external, they drew the bulk of the common people after them. They maintained a kind of prieftly pride, and folemn ftiffnefs in their deportment, doing every thing in their power to attraa the notice, and gain the veneration, of the multitude. A trumpet was founded before them when they gave alms to the poor ; theymade long prayers at thecornersof flreets, and in the markets, taking every occafion to exhibit the utmoft oflentation ofpiety and devotion. But the diflinguifhing chara&er of the Pharifees was their zeal for the traditions of the elders, which they conflantly main- tained were of equal authority with the written law, as they were received from God himfelf by Mofes when he was forty days on the mount. Thefe traditions were multiplied to fuch an enormous number, that they were fufficient to fill twelve folio volumes : and thefe-men, pretending to an exaa and rigorous obfervance of the law according to thefe traditions, would fain have themfelves looked upon more holy than others, and therefore feparated them- felves from thofe whom they efteemed great finners and profane perfons, and refufed to eat or drink with them. They looked with contempt on the common people, and the gonflant language of their looks and behaviour