Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE SECOND BOOK, CONTAINING THE COMMONWEALTHS OF THE HEBREWS; NAMELY, ELOHIM, or the Commonwealth of Israel; AND CABALA, or the Commonwealth of the Jews. - The Oceana and Other Works
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THE SECOND BOOK, CONTAINING THE COMMONWEALTHS OF THE HEBREWS; NAMELY, ELOHIM, or the Commonwealth of Israel; AND CABALA, or the Commonwealth of the Jews. - James Harrington, The Oceana and Other Works 
The Oceana and Other Works of James Harrington, with an Account of His Life by John Toland (London: Becket and Cadell, 1771).
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THE SECOND BOOK, CONTAINING THE COMMONWEALTHS OF THE HEBREWS; NAMELY, ELOHIM, or the Commonwealth of Israel; AND CABALA, or the Commonwealth of the Jews.
Book II.HUMAN prudence is originally a creature of God, and, with respect to its existence, as antient as human nature; nor is it so much younger in any of those effects or ends for which it was ordain’d by God, that we should think Israel to have bin the first commonwealth, or the first popular government that ever was, or that was planted at least in Canaan: for the like governments, in the countrys thereabout, there were both before and at the same time. It was in Canaan, that Melchizedec, king and priest of Salem,Tithes originally belonging to kings. bad reign’d during the time of Abraham, who paid him tithes of all that he had. Now tithes before Israel and the institution of the Levits, belong’d not to any sort of clergy, but to the prince or state.1 Sam. 8. 15, 17. Whence Samuel, in the description of a king, tells the people that he will take the tenth of their goods. Thus Abraham, in paying tithes to Melchizedec, acknowleg’d him for his prince.Chap. I. Yet had Abraham the right of the sword, and made war with kings, as those of Sodom, at his own discretion;The commonwealth of Salem. whence Canaan may seem to have bin a commonwealth in those days, much after the manner of Germany in ours. The five lords (perhaps five tribuns) of the Philistins must needs have bin som aristocracy at least of princes joining in one body or commonwealth. So Venice in her first age was under lords or tribuns.The commonwealth of the Philistins. It is little to be doubted, but the government of Jethro, king and priest of Midian, was of a like nature with that of Melchizedec, or of the Lacedemonian kings, who were also priests;The commonwealth of Midian. or that the counsil he gave to Moses (being for the institution of such judicatorys as are not proper in a monarchy) was any other than according to the orders of his own commonwealth.The commonwealth of the Gibeonits. And lest these governments should seem less popular, the embassadors of the Gibeonits coming to Joshua, say thus; Our elders (or our senat) and all the inhabitants of our country (or the popular assembly of the same) spoke to us, saying, Go meet them,Joshua 9. 11.and say to them, We are your servants: therfore now make a league with us. To make a league with a foren nation evinces soverain power; and that this league was made by the senat and the people, evinces Gibeon to have bin a popular government. Such a thing then as popular government most undeniably there was before Israel. Now whether Israel were a popular government or no, I shall refer to trial by the ensuing chapter.
Shewing that Israel was a Commonwealth.
Sect. 1.IT is said of the Israelits that went first into Egypt, All the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls.Exod. 1. 5. These becoming so many fathers of familys, and governing their own familys by paternal right, it follows that at first they so govern’d the whole people;The rise of the Israelits government. yet not with any soverain power (as may be easily thought in a country that had a prince of its own) but by way only of direction and advice. The people being thus accustom’d to this way,Of the princes of the tribes, and princes of families. as any of these seventy came to dy, supply’d his place with another of their election; at least for the probability of this opinion, we find mention of Moses, Nadab, Abihu,and seventy of the elders, before the institution of the Israelitish senat or sanhedrim.Exod. 24. 9. To these and to the people Moses propos’d his laws. So I am sure in the*Latin it is expresly said, where by our English translation it is thus render’d, This is the law (and by the law here is meant no less than the whole book of Deuteronomy) whichMosesset before the children of Israel, whose assemblys were not always without faction.Antiq. I. 4. c. 2. For Korah, Dathan,andAbiram,with two hundred princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown, bandy’d themselves against Moses, and his intended election of his brother Aaron to the hereditary priesthood, reproaching him (says Josephus) that he went about to dispose of this honor without the suffrage of the congregation, therby affecting tyranny, and a sly usurpation of the liberty of the people: which sense also is imply’d by their upbraiding him in Scripture;Num. 16. 13.Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of the land that flows with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness? except thou makest thyself altogether a prince over us.That Moses was no king. But wheras the Scripture in all this presumes these incendiarys to have bely’d Moses, som will have all they thus laid to his charge, to be no more, but less than truth; in as much as they will needs have Moses not only to have bin a king, but to have bin a king exercising arbitrary power, and such arbitrary power as, being without any bounds, fully amounts to tyranny.
Sect. 2. That Moses propos’d his laws to the people and their suffrage.The word king is not a sufficient definition of the magistrat so stil’d: between a Lacedemonian king and a Persian king, or between either of these and a king of England, there was a vast difference. Both the kings of Lacedemon were but as one duke in Venice. The Venetians therfore, if it had so pleas’d them, might as well have call’d their duke a king. Certain it is, that he is not so much in the commonwealth, as are a few of his counsillors; and yet all acts of the government run in his name, as if there were no commonwealth.
Deut. 34. 4. In what sense Moses may be call’d a king.It is said (according to our translation) Mosescommanded us a law, &c. according to the original, Moses (propos’d, or) gave us a law, which is an inheritance to the congregation ofJacob. The duke of Venice has a right to propose or give law in the congregation or great council of Venice; where he, who sees him sitting, would believe he were a king.Ver. 5. And if Moses were king in Jesurun (or Israel) it was when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gather’d together.Acts 13.Paul, epitomizing the story of the people of Israel, in his sermon to the Antiochian Jews, shews how God chose their fathers, exalted the people, destroy’d (for their sake) seven nations in the land of Canaan, and divided their lands to them by lots: but speaks not a word of any king given to them, till expresly after their judges. But if Moses were a king, yet that he did not propose, but command by his power the laws which he gave to Israel, dos not follow. For David was a king, who nevertheless did no otherways make any law than by proposition to the people, and their free suffrage upon it.1 Chron. 13.Davidconsulted with the captains of thousands, and hundreds, and with every leader (of which military disciplin of the congregation of Israel more in due place will be shewn) andDavidsaid to all the congregation, If it seems good to you, and that if it be of the Lord our God (tho he was a king, and a man after God’s own heart, he makes the people judges what was of God) let us send abroad to our brethren every where that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levits that are in their citys and suburbs, that they (to the end this thing may be perform’d with the greatest solemnity) may gather themselves to us, and let us bring the ark of God to us: for we inquir’d not at it in the days ofSaul.1 Sam. 4. In the days of Eli the ark was taken by the Philistins, who being smitten till there was a deadly destruction throout all the city, and their divines attributing the cause therof to the detention of the ark, after seven months sent it to Bethshemesh; whence it was brought to Kirjath-jearim, and there lodg’d in the house of Aminadab, before Saul was king, where it remain’d till such time as David propos’d (in the manner shewn) to the people the reduction of the same.1 Chron. 13. 4. Upon this proposition, the people giving suffrage are unanimous in their result; All the congregation said, that they would do so (not that they could do no otherwise by a king, for they did not the like by Rehoboam, but that) the thing was right in the eys of all the people.Chap. 25.Moreover,Davidand the captains of the host separated to the service som of the sons ofAsaph,and ofHeman,and ofJeduthun,who should prophesy with harps, with psalterys and with cymbals; that is, propos’d these laws for church disciplin, or offices of the priests and Levits, to the same representative of the people: of which more in other places. Thus much in this, to shew, that if Moses were a king, it dos not follow that he propos’d not his laws to a congregation of the people having the power of result. To say that the laws propos’d by Moses were the dictat of God, is not to evade, but to confirm the necessity of proposing them to the people, seeing the laws or dictats of God or of Christ can no otherwise be effectually receiv’d or imbrac’d by a people, or by a privat man, than by the free suffrage of the soul or conscience; and not by force or rewards, which may as well establish the laws of the devil.
Sect. 3. That there lay no appeal from the seventy elders to Moses. Numb. 11. 16.But for another way, such a one as it is, of crowning Moses, som are positive that there lay an appeal from the seventy elders to him. Now the command of God to Moses for the institution of the seventy, is this: Gather to me seventy men of the elders of Israel—that they may stand with thee. Upon which words let me ask, whether had Moses thenceforth a distinct or a joint political capacity? If the seventy stood with Moses, or it were a joint capacity, then Moses was no king in their sense; and if it were distinct, then lay there to Moses no appeal, even by his own law: for thus in the case of appeals it is by him directed, If there arises a controversy too hard for thee in judgment—thou shalt com to the priests and Levits (that is, to the seventy elders)—According to the sentence of the law which they—shall tell thee, thou shalt do—And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken—even that man shall dy.Deut. 17. 8. In which words all color of appeal from the seventy elders is excluded.
Sect. 4.But whether Moses were a king or no king, either his power was more than that of king David; or without proposition to, and result of the people, it is plain that he could pass no law. Now the senat, sanhedrim, or seventy elders, came in the place of Moses, or stood with him; therfore their power could be no more than was that of Moses. So that if the power of Moses were never more in the point of lawgiving, than to propose to the people; then the power of the sanhedrim could be no more in the point of lawgiving, than to propose to the people. Nor will it be found in Scripture that the sanhedrim ever made any law without the people; yet it is found in Scripture that the people made a law without the sanhedrim, or levy’d war without them, which is all one: for where there is a power to levy war, there will be the power of making law.Judg. 20. And the occasion upon which this is found, is the war levy’d against Benjamin by the congregation, consisting of four hundred thousand. Again, if the sanhedrim inherited the whole power of Moses, and yet had no larger power in lawmaking than to propose to the people, then had Moses never any larger power in lawmaking than to propose to the people. Now where there is no king, or no king in a distinct capacity from the senat; and where the senat has no farther power in lawmaking than to propose to the free suffrage of the people; the government there is a commonwealth. Thus having shewn that Israel was a commonwealth, I come next to shew what commonwealth Israel was.
Shewing what Commonwealth Israel was.
Sect. 1. Division of the children of Israel; first genealogical.ALL political methods that are collective of the people, must necessarily begin with a distribution or division of the people.
For the division of the people of Israel, it was first genealogical, and then local.Exod. 1.Now these are the names (of the ancestors of the tribes, or) of the children of Israel which came into Egypt, every man and his houshold came withJacob:Gen. 41. 50, 51, 52.Reuben, Simeon, Levi,andJudah, Issachar, Zebulun,andBenjamin, Dan,andNaphtali, Gad,andAsher. These being eleven in number, were the sons of Jacob, who had also one more, namely Joseph.And toJosephwere born two sons before the years of famin came, whichAsenah,the daughter ofPotipherahpriest of On, bore to him. AndJosephcall’d the name of the first-bornManasseh—and the name of the second call’d heEphraim. Which two (tho but grandchildren) were adopted by Jacob for his sons, in these words:Gen. 48. 16.Let my name be nam’d on them; and the name of my fathersAbrahamandIsaac;and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. From which addition to the former came the tribes of Israel, genealogically reckon’d, to be in number thirteen. In the genealogical distribution of the tribes there were also observ’d certain ranks, qualitys, or degrees, as appears by the poll made of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai, and in the tabernacle of the congregation by Moses.Num. 1. These degrees were of two sorts: first, phylarchs, or princes of tribes; and secondly, patriarchs, or princes of familys: all hereditary honors, and pertaining to the firstborn of the tribe or of the family respectively. That this poll be more perfectly understood, will be useful: for which cause I shall be somwhat more particular. First, for the phylarchs, or princes of the tribes; and then for the patriarchs, or princes of familys. To begin with the princes of the tribes.
Sect. 2. Num. 1. 17, 18.MOSES andAaron—assembl’d the congregation (or political convention of the people) together on the first day of the second month,after their familys, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upwards, by the poll.Of the princes of tribes; or the musterroll in Sinai. Where every phylarch or prince of a tribe, with the number of men at the age mention’d and upward, throout his tribe, are listed much after this manner:
Sect. 3. The Levits call, order, or tribe.ALL the firstborn, says God, are mine. In which words is imply’d that the priesthood, or right of preaching, instructing, or administring divine things, belong’d, as it were, of natural right, to fathers of familys, or the firstborn; till the Lord took the Levits from among the children of Israel, instead of the firstborn.Num. 3. 12, 13. These being thus taken, were set apart, and so listed by themselves to omit their several familys, functions, and orders in the service of the tabernacle, and afterwards of the temple, which would require a volum) much after this manner:
Of the tribe of Levi, Aaron high priest. The number of all the males of this tribe, from a month old and upwards, twenty and two thousand.v. 39. The manner how God took the Levits, is thus express’d: Thou shalt bring the Levits before the tabernacle of the congregation,Num. 8. 9, 10, 11, 12.and thou shalt gather the whole assembly together — and the children of Israel (after the manner that the Levits lay their hands upon the bullocks, or sacrifice) shall put their hands upon the Levits, in token that they are sacrific’d or separated by the free suffrage of the people to the Lord.1 Chr. 25. For lest the suffrage of the people be thought hereby to have bin excluded, so Davidand the captains of the host or army (which army was the representative of the people) separated to the service som of the sons ofAsaph,ofHeman,and ofJeduthun — who shall prophesy with harps. But of the congregations of the people more in due place.
Sect. 4. The military orders.The hereditary right more specially belonging to the phylarchs, or princes of the tribes, consisted (as that of the kings of Lacedemon, of Athens, and of Rome) in the leading of the armys of the commonwealth; which was distributed to them in this manner.Grot. ad Num. 10. The twelve tribes were divided into four brigades, every brigade consisting of three tribes. The leading of the first brigade pertain’d to Judah, who in his standard bore a lion. The leading of the second brigade belong’d to Reuben, who in his standard bore a man. The leading of the third brigade belong’d to Ephraim, who in his standard bore an ox. The leading of the fourth brigade belong’d to Dan, who in his standard bore an eagle. These four by the text are term’d standards of the camp, which were as the Roman eagles.Num. 10. 14, 18, 22, 23. Furthermore, as the subdivisions of the Roman legions had their proper insigns, so had the tribes here, which had not the leading of a brigade of the camp. The insigns of these tribes were call’d staves: as the staff of the children of Issachar, the staff of the tribe of Zebulun, which follow’d the standard of Judah: the staff of the tribe of Simeon, the staff of the tribe of Gad, which follow’d the standard of Reuben: the staff of the tribe of Manasseh, the staff of the tribe of Benjamin, which follow’d the standard of Ephraim: the staff of the tribe of Asher, the staff of the tribe of Naphtali, which follow’d the standard of Dan. All which insigns or staves in our English translation are render’d hosts, or armys.
Num. 3.In the midst of these four squadrons or brigades stood the tabernacle, with the Levits divided, and distributed by their distinct familys to the several uses and carriages of the same, and lodg’d upon the four quarters.
When the ark set forward, or the camp remov’d, these words were with solemnity pronounc’d by the general, or by the high priest; Rise up Lord, and let thy enemys be scatter’d, and let them that hate thee fly before thee.Num. 10. 35
Of the martial disciplin in which the youth in Israel were educated to these ends, there was certainly more than is remaining in story. But that their popular assemblys were all held in military order and disciplin, and that the deserters of the militia were anathematiz’d, confiscated, or put to the sword, will in due time be made sufficiently apparent. For the present, you have the Israelitish musterroll, being of a like nature with that of Athens call’d lexiarcha, and that in Rome call’d census. Nor has any commonwealth bin well order’d in its militia, which has not bin diligent in the institution and preservation of the like military rolls or registers. Hitherto of the phylarchs, or princes of the tribes; the next rank or quality in this government was that of the patriarchs or princes of familys.
Sect. 5. The patriarchs, chief of the fathers, or princes of families; with a catalog of the same.The word family in many places of Scripture, is not to be taken for a single houshold; but as we take the word in heraldry, that is, for a lineage or kindred. The patriarchs in Israel, taken in this sense, were such as, till of late years in Scotland, were they that could lead the whole name or kindred, and be follow’d by them The familys in Israel of this kind, that were greatest about the plantation of the commonwealth, were of Reuben, the Henochits, the Phalluits, the Hesronits, and the Charmits.
Num. 26.Of Simeon, the Namuelits, the Jamnits, the Jachenits, the Zanits, and the Shaulits.
Of Gad, the Zephronits, the Haggits, the Shunits, the Oznits, the Erits, the Arodits, and the Arelits.
Of Judah, the Shelanits, the Pharzits, the Zarhits, the Hesronits, and the Hamulits.
Of Issachar, the Tholaits, the Punits, the Shuhits, and the Shimranits.
Of Zabulun, the Sardits, the Elonits, and the Jahleelits.
Of Manasseh, the Machirits, the Galeadits, the Jeezrits, the Helekits, the Asrielits, the Sechemits, the Shemidaits, and the Hepherits.
Of Ephraim, the Shuthalaits, the Bachtits, the Tahanits, and the Eranits.
Of Benjamin, the Belaits, the Ashbelits, the Ahiramits, the Shuphamits, the Huphamits, the Ardits, the Heredits, and the Naamits.
Of Dan, the Suhamits.
Of Asher, the Jimnits, the Jessuits, the Briits, the Heberits, and the Melchielits.
Of Naphtali, the Jazrielits, the Gunits, the Jeserits, and the Shillemits.
Of Levi, the Gersonits, the Caharits, and the Merarits. The heads of these were such as are call’d patriarchs, princes, heads of familys, or chief of the fathers.
Familys, tho far less subject than in other governments to decay or increase, might at divers times be different in Israel; as after Benjamin was destroy’d, or after David had rais’d his own and many other: but thus were the familys at this time sixty; the tribes being, as was shewn before, thirteen.
In the first institution of the tribes of Rome, that is, Ramnenses, Titienses, and the Luceri, they were also genealogical, but long it held not so; genealogical divisions in a commonwealth being for the most part of greater danger than use; but whether genealogys be observ’d or not, the local way of division is of absolute necessity.
Sect. 6. Of the lot or ballot of Israel.To insert the geography of the Israelitish tribes, would be as burdensom both to the reader and my self, as needless to either. But the manner how the tribes became local, was thro the distribution of the land of Canaan by lot, and intailing the lands so distributed upon the proprietors and their heads for ever, without power of alienation, in any such manner as to deprive their posterity. The lot or ballot in Israel was specially of three uses; one for election of magistrats, another for the discovery of som secret malefactor, and a third for the division of lands. To which three heads I hope to reduce the whole history of their government: and this work once perform’d, it will be easy to represent the commonwealth in its political method.
To begin with the election of magistrats, it was perform’d somtimes by the lot, without suffrage; and somtimes by the ballot, that is, by a mixture of lot and suffrage. For the clearer discovery of the order in elections, I must invert the order of the magistrats elected, and begin with the king; then procede to the judg, and com last of all to the sanhedrim, and the inferior courts.
The instruments us’d upon these occasions, were first lots, som blanks and som prizes; then urns (that is, pots) into which these lots were cast, and out of which they were afterwards drawn, or given forth; by what officers, or with what farther solemnity, dos not appear.
Sect. 7. Manner of electing the king.When the people would needs have a king, Samuel, being their judg, did that, tho against his will, which nevertheless was no more than his duty: that is, first, hearken’d to the voice of the people; or obey’d their vote. Secondly, call’d the people together to the Lord to Mizpeh.1 Sam. 8. 7, 22. The political assembly, or congregation of the people of Israel was call’d ecclesia dei, the congregation of the Lord,1 Sam. 10. 17. as it ought to have bin exprest in the trial of Benjamin, and is in som places by our translation:Judg. 20. as where an eunuch (or one unfit for marriage with a daughter of Israel,Deut. 23. which capacity was necessary to the being inrol’d of a tribe) a bastard (as dishonorable) an Ammonite or Moabite (as descended of perfidious nations) shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord: that is, shall not have right of suffrage with the people of Israel.For the assembly of the congregation at Mizpeh, see Judg. 10. 17. & 11. 11. & 20. 1. & 21. 1. So Samuel, by calling the congregation of the Lord, or the people together to the Lord in Mizpeh (the place, before the taking of Jerusalem, where they always held their parlaments or political assemblys) did the office of the like magistrats in commonwealths. The people being thus assembl’d (for to be brief, I must procede with conjectures,1 Sam. 7. 6, 16. which at first sight will seem bolder than really they are) Samuel causing the urns to be set forth, pronounc’d the solemn form of words in use upon the like occasion, which were these:1 Sam. 10. 19.Present your selves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands. The political assemblys of the children of Israel were held, or gather’d (as we say) with drums beating, and colors flying; and if it were an extraordinary congregation, that is, a congregation consisting of the whole people, as this, and that for the trial of Benjamin, the princes of the tribes with their staves, and the standards of the camp (in the order shewn) led up the people to the urns, or ballots.The military order of political congregations in Israel see Chap. 3. Wherfore upon these words of Samuel, the princes march’d in their known disciplin to the urns. The urns were two: in the one were twelve lots inscrib’d with the names of the twelve tribes; in the other were also twelve other lots, wherof eleven were blanks, and the twelfth inscrib’d with som word. What the Israelitish word was, dos not appear; the Roman word upon the like occasion was prerogative: wherfore seeing that which is lost must have bin of a like nature, we may, for discourse sake, presume it to have bin the same in Israel as in Rome.Ver. 20. The prerogative tribe. And whenSamuelhad caus’d all the tribes of Israel to com near, the tribe ofBenjaminwas taken: that is, the name of this tribe being drawn out of the one urn, to it was drawn the word prerogative out of the other urn; which being don, the urns were chang’d, or at least the lots. And wheras in the enumeration of the patriarchs, I shew’d by a catalog of their names, that the whole tribe of Benjamin consisted of seven familys; seven names by that account should have bin cast into the one urn, and as many lots into the other; one of them being inscrib’d with the word prerogative, and the other six being blanks.Judg. 20. 2. But both the names, and the number of familys at this ballot, are most likely to have bin quite otherwise than in the catalog; because since that time the tribe of Benjamin had in the far greater part bin destroy’d, and piec’d up again out of a remnant: so for the number of the familys, or the names of them, I can say nothing. But the urns being thus prepar’d, came Benjamin, as now the prerogative tribe, to the urns by familys. And whenSamuelhad caus’d the tribe ofBenjaminto com near by their familys, the family ofMatri (which is a new one) was taken: that is, lighting, in the manner shewn, upon the prize, became the prerogative family. This don, the lots were again chang’d, and so many others as there were housholds in the family of Matri (for so you will find it in the trial of Achan) were cast into the urns.Josh. 7. 14, I[Editor: illegible character] 17, 18. Thus the houshold of Kish coming to be the prerogative houshold, and so many lots as there were men of that houshold, being cast into the urns, wherof the prize was inscrib’d king, came the houshold of Kish, man by man, and Saul the son of Kish was taken.
Sect. 8. That miraculous designation of magistrats in a commonwealth, was never understood to exclude the free suffrage of the people in their election.We find it recorded by Livy, of Tarquinius Priscus, and of Servius Tullius, that before either of them was king, the one had his hat taken off, and carry’d up by an eagle; the other had a flame resting upon his forehead, by which it was firmly believ’d, that each of them was design’d of the Gods to be king: yet was this never so understood by themselves, or any other, as to exclude the right of popular suffrage in their election, by which Priscus reign’d; or to create an opinion that any man ought to be king of Rome, whom the people had not first commanded to reign over them, to whose election therfore Servius, tho in possession of the throne, thought it his best way to refer himself. Far be it from me to compare prodigys among Heathens, to miracles in the church: but each people had of each a like opinion. Both Israel and the Heathens began their popular assemblys with sacrifice.1 Chron. 29. 21, 22. In order to the election of Solomon, the representative of Israel sacrific’d sacrifices to the Lord—even a thousand bullocks, a thousand rams, and a thousand lambs, with their drink-offerings, and sacrifices in abundance, for all Israel. And when they had thus don, what magistrats soever the Israelits, or the Heathens elected, they always understood to be elected by God. The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing therof is of the Lord.Prov. 10. 33. And indeed, wheras in this manner they made Solomon king, and Zadoc to be priest, if we will hold otherwise, we must think that neither the king nor the priest was elected by God. A man that is elected to som great office, by a king rightly qualify’d, must have little religion, or hold himself to be rais’d up by God. Why then should it be otherwise, when a magistrat is elected by a people rightly qualify’d? or what consequence is there in saying, that Saul was anointed by Samuel before he was elected by the people, or that God rais’d them up judges; therfore neither Saul nor the judges were elected by the people? that God elected the kings in Israel, is certain; and that the people no less for that did also elect the kings, is as certain.Deut. 17. 15.One from among thy brethren shalt thou (that is, thou the people of Israel) set king over thee. That God rais’d up judges in Israel, is certain; and that the people no less for that, did also elect the judges, is as certain.Judg. 10. 17. When the children of Ammon made war against Israel, Israel assembl d themselves together,Judg. 11. 5. 11.and incamp’d in Mizpeh, whence the elders of Gilead went to fetchJephtaout of the land of Tob.—ThenJephtawent with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: andJephtautter’d all his words before the Lord in Mizpeh. But that Solomon was elected by the lot, I do not affirm; it being most probable, that it was by suffrage only, David proposing, and the people resolving. Nor whether Jephta was elected by suffrage, or by the ballot, is it material; however, that the ordinary magistrats were elected by the ballot, I little doubt.
Sect. 9. Election of senators, and judges of inferior courts.The ordinary magistrats of this commonwealth (as shall hereafter be more fully open’d) were the sanhedrim, or the seventy elders; and the inferior courts or judges, in the gates of the citys. For the institution and election of these, Moses propos’d to the people, or the congregation of the Lord, in this manner:Deut. 1. 13.Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes (ϗ ϰαταϛήσω) and I will make (or constitute) them rulers over you. Where, by the way, lest Moses in these words be thought to assume power, Solon, says Aristotle (δημοϰρατίαν ϰαταϛησαι) made, or constituted the popular government of Athens. In which he implys, not that Solon was a king, or had soverain power, but that he was a lawgiver, and had authority to propose to the people. Nor is there more in the words of Moses; upon whose proposition, say Jewish writers, each of the twelve tribes, by free suffrages, elected six competitors, and wrote their names in scrols, which they deliver’d to Moses. Moses having thus presented to him by the twelve tribes seventy and two competitors for seventy magistracys, had by consequence two more competitors, than were capable of the preferment to which they were elected by the people: wherfore Moses took two urns, into the one he cast the seventy-two names presented by the people; into the other, seventy-two lots, wherof two were blanks, the rest inscrib’d with the word elder. This don, he call’d the competitors to the urn, where the seventy, to whose names came forth the prizes, went up to the tabernacle, the session-house being there provided:See Num. 11. 26. and the two that drew the blanks, namely Eldad and Medad, tho of them that were elected and written by the tribes, went not up to the tabernacle, but remain’d in the camp, as not having attain’d to magistracy. Thus, if this place in Scripture can admit of no other interpretation, so much as I have cited out of the Talmud (tho otherwise, for the most part, but a fabulous and indigested heap) must needs be good and valid. In this manner, one or more senators happening to dy, it was easy for each tribe, chusing one or more competitors accordingly out of themselves, to decide at the urn which competitors so chosen, should be the magistrat, without partiality, or cause of feud; which, if a man considers this constitution, was not perhaps so readily to be don otherwise. The like, no doubt, was done for the inferior courts, except that such elections (the commonwealth being once settl’d) were more particular, and perform’d by that tribe only in whose gates that court was sitting.
Sect. 10. The story of the sanhedrim, and of the inferior courts, as to their first institution.The 1st institution of these courts came to pass in the manner following: before the people were under orders, the whole judicature lay upon the shoulders of Moses, who being overburden’d, was advised by Jethro.AndMoseshearken’d to the voice of his father in-law—and chose (after the manner shewn) able men out of all Israel,Exod. 18. 24, 25.and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fiftys, and rulers of tens. The number of which rulers, compar’d with the number of the people, as in the muster roll at Sinai, must in all have amounted to about six thousand. These thus instituted, while Israel was an army, came to be the same when the army was a commonwealth:Deut. 16. 18. wherof it is said, Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates which the Lord thy God gives thee, throout thy tribes; and they shall judg the people with just judgment. Each of these courts, by the practice of the Jewish commonwealth, consisted of twenty-three elders. But Jethro, in his advice to Moses, adds concerning these judicatorys, this caution:Exod. 18. 22.Let them judg the people at all seasons; and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring to thee, but every small matter they shall judg: so shall it be easier for thy self, and they shall bear the burden with thee. Which nevertheless follow’d not according to Jethro’s promise, the appeals being such to Moses that he gos with this complaint to God:Num. 11, 14, 16.I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. Wherupon the Lord said toMoses,Gather to me seventy men, of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them to the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand with thee—(but crowns will have no rivals) and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not alone.Ver. 24. But a monarch is one that must be alone. AndMoseswent out, and told the people the words of the Lord (which a monarch needed not to have don) and gather’d the seventy men of the elders of the people; the manner wherof is already shewn. Jethro, being a Heathen, informs Moses of the orders of his own commonwealth, which also was Heathenish. Yet in Scripture is both Jethro join’d with Moses, and the commonwealth of Midian with the commonwealth of Israel. How then coms it to be irreverned, or atheistical, as som say, in politicians (and while political discourses cannot otherwise be manag’d) to compare, tho but by way of illustration, other legislators, or politicians, as Lycurgus, Solon, with Moses; or other commonwealths, as Rome, and Venice, with that of Israel? but the authors of such objections had better have minded, that the burden wherof Moses here complain’d, could in no manner be that of ordinary judicature, of which he was eas’d before by the advice of Jethro; and therfore must have bin that of appeals only: so either the sanhedrim bore no burden at all with Moses, or they bore that of appeals with him. And if so, how say they that there lay an appeal from the seventy elders to Moses?
Sect. 11. Lot, order, or inquisition by lot.But I said the lot was of use also toward the discovery of conceal’d malefactors. Of this we have an example in the detection of Achan. The words of the law, wherby the fact of Achan was criminal, are these: If thou shalt bear say in one of thy citys,Deut. 13, 12, &c.which the Lord thy God has given thee to dwell therin, saying, Certain men,the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other Gods, which you have not known: then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you, thou shalt surely smile the inhabitants of that city with the edg of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therin, and the cattel therof with the edg of the sword. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street therof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil therof, every whit, for the Lord thy God: and it shall be a heap for ever, it shall not be built again, and there shall cleave nought of the accurs’d thing to thy hand. Among the citys that were given by God to Israel, was Jericho. Now tho against this city, before it was taken, Joshua had solemnly and publicly denounc’d the anathema, or curses contain’d in the foregoing law; and after the taking of it, had, in all appearance, executed upon it the whole of the anathema so pronounc’d:Josh. 6. 17. yet thro subsequent losses before the city of Ai, being sore afflicted, he enter’d into suspicion, that there might have bin some failure in the performance of the law.Josh. 7. 6. Wherupon he rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord, till the eventide, he and the elders (or sanhedrim of Israel) and put dust on their heads. The sanhedrim, in difficult cases of the law, inquir’d of God by Urim; and the sanhedrim, or the people, in cases of high concernment to the state, as in the war against Benjamin, inquir’d of the ark. When God was inquir’d of by Urim, he gave his oracle by the shining of certain stones or jewels in the breastplate of the high priest. When he was inquir’d of by the ark, he gave his oracle vocally from the mercy seat, which was plac’d upon the ark of the covenant. Whence he who sat between the cherubims thus answer’d Joshua:Josh. 7. 10.Get thee up; wherfore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel has finn’d—they have even taken of the accurs’d thing.Josh. 7. 17.Joshua thus inform’d of the crime, but not so particularly of the malefactor as to know where to charge it, calls the whole people to the urns; in one of which it may be thought that there were eleven white stones, or lots, with one black one; and in the other the twelve names of tho tribes. So Israel coming first by tribes to the urns, the tribe ofJudahwas taken; that is, this tribe lighting upon the black lot, was denoted for the guilty tribe: which consisting (as appear’d by the catalog) of five familys, wherof the Zarhits were one, came next by familys to the urn; wherin there might be four white lots, and one black one, by which the Zarhits were taken. In like manner came the family of the Zarhits by housholds, and the household of Zabdi was taken: last of all came the houshold of Zabdi man by man, and Achan was taken. This kind of inquisition was perform’d with such religion and solemnity, that a man thus taken, if he had any guilt, could have no face to conceal it; or, if there were any witnesses of his crime, they could not any longer dissemble it: and whether he were convicted by testimony, or by his own confession (as now Achan) he was put to death.1 Sam. 14. The like proceding, in part, is imply’d to have bin in the case of Jonathan; tho in this, by agreement therupon between Saul and the people, it should seem as if but two lots were put into the urn, wherof Saul and Jonathan, on the one part, drew the black: or the prince of the tribe of Judah drawing for the whole people, on the other part, drew the white one; and that the same being put into the urn again, to decide it between Saul and Jonathan, Jonathan drew the black: wherupon, he being question’d, confess’d the fact; and, but that the people rescu’d him from Saul, had bin put to death.
Sect. 12. Distribution of lands, and Agrarian laws in Israel.To conclude with the use of the lot, in the division of the land of Canaan. This (as implying the foundation or balance of the government) ought to have bin the first in order, but happens here to com last; because these orders were instituted in the wilderness, and so before the people had any lands to divide. Nevertheless, this also was propos’d by Moses, and resolv’d by the people:Josh. 14. 2.by lot was their inheritance, as the Lord commandedMoses; and now coms (as it was, or should have bin put in execution by Joshua) to be consider’d.
It may be true, that the Roman people were the wisest that have bin; and it is true, that they only of a people, did labor to introduce Agrarian laws, tho without effect; otherwise, levelling was never introduc’d, but by the wisdom and providence of som great man, as a Moses, a Joshua, or a Lycurgus; or by som accident, or accidents, bringing a nobility to ruin, as the laws of Henry VII. and the ways of Henry VIII. in England.
Num. 1. 46.Between the muster roll in Sinai, wherby the men of military age, as was shewn, amounted to six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty,Num. 26. 51. in the twelve tribes, and the law for the division of the land of Canaan, there happen’d a plague, by which the number of the people, upon a new poll, came but to six hundred and one thousand seven hundred and thirty. Upon this poll was the law made which runs thus:V. 53, 54, 55, 56.To these the land shall be divided for an inheritance, according to the number of names. To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to fewer thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given, according to those that were number’d of him. Notwithstanding, the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers, they shall inherit; according to the lot shall the possession therof be divided to many and few. This law, in another place, is repeated thus:Num. 33. 54.You shall divide the land by lot, for an inheritance among your familys; and to many ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man’s inheritance shall be in the place where his lot falls, according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit.
In the making of these lots consideration was as well had of the goodness of the land, as of the measure. Now supposing this law to have bin in the whole and methodically executed, the Canaanits must first have bin totally rooted out of the land of Canaan; which land, in that case (as som affirm) would have afforded to this commonwealth a root or balance, consisting of three millions of acres.Hecateus apud Joseph. cont. Ap. These, reckoning the whole people in the twelve tribes, at six hundred and two thousand (which is more than upon the latter poll they came to) would have afforded to every man four acres; to every one of the patriarehs (upon the poll of the foregoing catalog, where they are sixty) four thousand acres; to every one of the princes of the tribes fourteen thousand acres; to the Levitical citys (being forty-eight, each with its suburbs, of four thousand cubits diameter) one hundred thousand acres; and yet for extraordinary donations, as to Joshua and Caleb (of which kind there were but few) som eighty thousand acres might remain. Now it is true, four acres to a man may seem but a small lot; yet the Roman people, under Romulus, and long after, had but two. And it may very well be, that one acre in Canaan was worth two in Italy, especially about Rome; and four in England, tho of the best sort: and if so it were that four acres in Palestin were worth sixteen of our best, such a lot, at our account, might be worth about thirty or forty pounds a year; which, for a popular share, holding that rate thro the whole body of a people, was a large proportion. By this estimat, or what possibly could be allow’d to the princes of the tribes and of the familys, their share came not to a sixth of the whole: so the rest remaining to the people, the balance of this government must have bin purely popular. It is true, that in the whole this law of Moses for the division of the land was never executed: but that in the parts som such course was taken, is plain; for example, in the division to seven tribes, where Joshua proposes to the people in this manner:Josh. 18. 4.Give out from among you three men for each tribe—and they shall go thro the land and describe it. The people having resolv’d accordingly, these went, and pass’d thro the land, and describ’d it by citys into seven parts in a book, and came again toJoshuato the host at Shiloh. And Joshuacast lots for them in Shiloh, before the Lord: and thereJoshuadivided the land to the children of Israel according to their divisions. It were absurd to think that this lot determin’d of proportions; for so a mean man might have com to be richer than the prince of his tribe: but the proportions allotted to tribes being stated, tho at first but by guess, and entred into the lot book of the surveyors (who, says Josephus, were most expert in geometry) the princes came first to the urns, wherof the one contain’d the names of the tribes that were to draw, the other the names of those parcels of land that were to be drawn, first to a whole tribe. Thus the name of a tribe, for example Benjamin, being drawn out of one urn, to that name a parcel was drawn out of the other urn; for example, the country lying between Jericho and Bethaven. This being don, and the prince of the tribe having chosen in what one place he would take his stated and agreed proportion, whether of fourteen thousand acres, or the like, the rest of the country was subdivided in the lot book, according to the number of familys in the tribe of this prince; and the parcels subdivided being cast into the one urn, the names of the patriarchs into the other, the same tribe came again by familys. Thus every patriarch making choice in what one part of this lot he would take his agreed proportion, whether of four thousand acres, or the like, the remainder was again subdivided in the lot book, according to the number of names in his family: if they were more than the parcel would furnish at four acres a man, then was that defect amended by addition out of the next parcel; and if they were fewer, then the overplus was cast into the next parcel. By such means the people came, or might have com in the whole, and in every part, to the lot of their inheritance; while every tribe that was thus planted, became local without removal.Numb. 36. 3.Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance.
Sect. 13. The portion of Levi.The tribes thus planted, or to have bin planted, were twelve. The thirteenth, or that of Levi, came in the like manner to the lot, for their forty-eight citys with their suburbs, and receiv’d them accordingly; as the lot came forth for the familys of the Kohathits, and the rest.Josh. 21. 4, 5, 6. These Israel gave to the Levits out of their inheritance: that is, these were such as the twelve tribes,Numb. 18. 20. before the division, set apart for the Levits, with the tithes, and the offerings;Deut. 10. 9. which, tho this tribe had no other lands, made their portion by far the best. The tribes being henceforth reckon’d by their locality,Deut. 18. 1. and these forty-eight citys being scatter’d throout the twelve tribes, that of Levi was no more computed as a distinct tribe, but lost as it were the name, yet with advantage:Ezek. 44. 22. for to their promiscuous abode they had the right of promiscuous marriage; no more in this point being injoin’d any of them, than to take maidens of the seed of Israel, or at least the widows of priests. And as in the tribes where they dwelt they had promiscuous marriage, so had they right of promiscuous election; that is, of electing, and being elected, into all the magistracys and offices of the commonwealth: which they so frequently injoy’d, that the sanhedrim is somtimes understood by their names.Deut. 17. 8.If there arises a matter too hard for thee in judgment, thou shalt com to the priests the Levits. Between the law, and the religion of this government, there was no difference; whence all ecclesiastical persons were also political persons, of which the Levits were an intire tribe, set more peculiarly apart to God (the king of this commonwealth) from all other cares, except that only of his government. Thus Moses did that with the safety of liberty in Israel, which Lycurgus could not do in Lacedemon, but by condemning the Helots to perpetual slavery: for wheras without these to be tillers of the ground, the citizens of Lacedemon could not be at leisure for the commonwealth; the children of Israel might imploy themselves in their domestic affairs, as they requir’d, with safety: while the Levits bore the burden of the government; or, in case either their privat affairs permitted, or their ambition promted, were equally capable of magistracy.
Sect. 14. Citys of refuge.Of the Levitical citys, three beyond, and three on this side Jordan, were citys of refuge. If a man was slain, the next of kindred, by the laws of Israel, was the avenger of blood; and to the avenger of blood it was lawful to slay him that slew his kinsman,Numb. 35. wherever he could find him, except only in a city of refuge. For this cause, if a man had slain another, he fled immediately to one of these sanctuarys; whence nevertheless, the judges in the gates, within whose proper verge the crime was committed, caus’d the malefactor to be brought before them by a guard, and judg’d between the slayer and the avenger of blood. If that which we call murder, or manslaughter, was prov’d against him by two witnesses, he was put to death: but if it was found, as we say, chancemedly, he was remanded with a guard to the city of refuge; whence if, before the death of the high priest, he was found wandring, it was lawful, not only for the avenger of blood, but for any man else to slay him. The high priest being dead, he return’d, not home only, but to his inheritance also, with liberty and safety. If a priest had slain a man, his refuge was the sanctuary: whence nevertheless he was taken by the sanhedrim; and, if upon trial he was found guilty of wilful murder, put to death.Exod. 21. 14.If a man coms presumptuously upon his neighbour to slay him with guile, thou shalt take him from my altar, that he may dy.
Sect. 15. The jubile.Inheritances, being thus introduc’d by the lot, were immovably intail’d on the proprietors and their heirs for ever, by the institution of the jubile, or the return of lands, however sold or ingag’d, once in fifty years to the antient proprietor, or his lawful heir. Yet remain’d there two ways wherby lots might be accumulated; the one by casual inheritance, the other by marriage with an heiress; as in the case of Zelophedad, or of his daughters.Numb. 36.
Sect. 16.Now to bring the whole result of these historical parts, thus prov’d, to the true political method or form, the commonwealth instituted by Moses was according to this model.
The model of the commonwealth of Israel.THE whole people of Israel (thro a popular distribution of the land of Canaan among themselves by lot, and the fixation of such a popular balance by their agrarian law, or jubile, intailing the inheritance of each proprietor upon his heirs for ever) was locally divided into twelve tribes.
EVERY tribe had a double capacity, the one military, the other civil.
A TRIBE, in its military capacity, consisted of one staff or standard of the camp, under the leading of its distinct and hereditary prince, as commander in chief; and of its princes of familys or chief fathers, as captains of thousands and captains of hundreds.
A TRIBE, in its political capacity, was next and immediately under the government of certain judicatorys, sitting in the gates of its citys; each of which consisted of twenty-three elders, elected for life, by free suffrage.
THE soverain power, and common ligament of the twelve tribes, was the sanhedrim of Israel, and the ecclesia dei, or congregation of the Lord.
THE sanhedrim was a senat, consisting of seventy elders for life, so instituted by the free election of six competitors, in and by each tribe; every elder or senator of the sanhedrim being taken out of this number of competitors by the lot.
THE congregation of the Lord was a representative of the people of Israel, consisting of twenty-four thousand, for the term of one month; and perpetuated by the monthly election of two thousand deputys of the people in each tribe.
THE sanhedrim, upon a law made, was a standing judicatory of appeal from the courts in the gates, throout the tribes; and upon a law to be made, whatever was propos’d by the sanhedrim, and resolv’d in the affirmative by the congregation of the Lord, was an act of the parlament of Israel.
Deut. 4. 5. 6.Of this frame, says Moses to the people (as well he might) Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither you go to possess it. Keep therfore, and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the fight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. In another place, upon the people’s observing this form, he pronounces all the choicest blessings; and in case of violation of the same, a long enumeration of most dreadful curses, among which he has this:Deut. 28. 36.The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, to a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other Gods, wood and stone. In which words, first he charges the king upon the people as a creature of their own, and next opposes his form pointblank to monarchy; as is farther apparent in the whole antithesis running throout that chapter. To the neglect of these orders may be apply’d those words of David:I have said that ye are gods—but ye shall dy like men, and fall like one of the princes. But this government can with no countenance of reason, or testimony of story, give any man ground to argue from the frame thus instituted by Moses, that a commonwealth rightly order’d and establish’d may by any internal cause arising from such orders, be broken or dissolv’d; it being most apparent, that this was never establish’d in any such part as could possibly be holding. Moses dy’d in the wilderness: and tho Joshua, bringing the people into the promis’d land, did what he could, during his life, towards the establishment of the form design’d by Moses; yet the hands of the people, especially after the death of Joshua, grew slack, and they rooted not out the Canaanits, which they were so often commanded to do; and without which it was impossible their commonwealth should take any root. Nevertheless, settled as it could be, it was in som parts longer liv’d than any other government has yet bin; as having continu’d in som sort from Moses, to the dispersion of the Jews in the reign of the emperor Adrian; being about one thousand seven hundred years. But that it was never establish’d according to the necessity of the form, or the true intent of Moses, is that which must be made farther apparent throout the sequel of the present book; and first, in the state of the Israelits under their judges.
Shewing the Anarchy, or State of the Israelits under their Judges.
Sect. 1. A full description of the representative of the people of Israel.THE frame of that which I take to have bin the ordinary congregation or representative of the people of Israel, is not perfectly shewn in Scripture, till the time of David; when, tho it has nothing in it of a monarchical institution, it is found intirely remaining, and perfectly describ’d in these words: Now the children of Israel after their number, to wit, the chief fathers, and captains of thousands and hundreds, and their officers that serv’d the king in any matter of the courses, which came in, and went out month by month, throout all the months in the year;1 Chr. 27.of every course were twenty and four thousand men. The polls of the people, as they have bin hitherto shewn, were taken before their plantation in Canaan, where before they had kings, they had grown (according to the account of Paul) four hundred and fifty years;Acts 13. 20. during which time, that they were excedingly increas’d, appears by the poll of military age taken by David, and amounting to one million three hundred thousand:2 Sam. 24. 9. yet could this assembly of the children of Israel after their number, in one year, by monthly rotation, take in the whole body of them. How these, being a representative of the people, and thus changeable, could be otherwise collected than by the monthly election of two thousand in each tribe, is not imaginable. And that both a representative of the people they were, and thus changeable, is by the clear words of Scripture, and the nature of the business upon which occasion they are describ’d, undeniably evinc’d: for David proposing, and the people resolving, they make Solomon king, and Zadoc priest.1 Chr. 29. 22. This assembly (besides the military disciplin thereof, in which it differ’d little from the customs of such other commonwealths as have bin great and martial) had not only a civil, but a military office or function, as the standing guard or army of this country; which, tho small, and lying in the very teeth of its enemys, could thus, by taking in every man but for one month in a whole year, so equally distribute a burden, to have bin otherwise intolerable to all, that it might be born by a few, and scarce felt by any. This epitome of that body (already describ’d under the leading of the several princes of the tribes, with their staves, and standards of the camp) seems to have bin commanded by lieutenants of the princes, or tribuns of the respective tribes:Ver. 2, 3. for, over the first course for the first month, wasJashobeamthe son ofZabdiel (of the children of Perez, or of the family of the Pharzits, in the catalog of Judah) and of his course were four and twenty thousand.
In this case the princes did not lead in person, but resided in their tribes for the government of the same; whence, upon extraordinary occasions, they sent extraordinary recruits: or in case of solemn war, or som weighty affair, as the trial of a tribe or the like, led up in person, with their staves and standards; an ordinance, whether we regard the military or civil use of it, never enough to be admir’d.
Chap. III.It is true, while, the whole people being an army, Moses could propose to them in body, or under their staves and standards of the camp; as he needed not, so he us’d not any representative.Sect. 2. That this representative was us’d in the time of the judges. But when Joshuahad let the people go, and the children of Israel went every man to his inheritance, to possess the land; how was it possible they should possess any thing (while the five lords of the Philistins, and all the Canaanits and the Sidonians, and the Hivits, remain’d yet among them unconquer’d) without the wing of som such guard or army as this,Judg. 2. 6. under which to shelter themselves?Judg. 3. 3. How was it equal, or possible, that a few of the people upon the guard of the whole should be without relief, or sustain all the burden? Or how could every man be said to go to his inheritance to possess it, unless they persorm’d this or the like duty, by turns or courses? These things consider’d, there is little doubt but this congregation was, according to the institution of Moses, put in practice by Joshua.
Sect. 3. The dissolution of the Mosaical commonwealth.Thus stood both the sanhedrim and the congregation, with the inferior courts, and all the superstructures of the Mosaical commonwealth, during the life of Joshua, and the elders of the sanhedrim that outliv’d him; but without any sufficient root for the possible support of it (the Canaanits not being destroy’d) or with such roots only as were full of worms.Judg. 2. 7, 11. Wherfore, tho the people serv’d the Lord all the days ofJoshua,and all the days of the elders that outliv’dJoshua; yet after the death of these, they did evil in the sight of the Lord.Judg. 2. 1, 2.And an angel (a messenger or prophet) of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim,Deut. 7. 2. ch. 12. 2.and said, I made you go up out of the land of Egypt, and have brought you into the land which I swore to your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you: and ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land, ye shall throw down their altars:Josh. 23. 3.but ye have not obey’d my voice: Why have you don this? Wherfore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you:Exod. 23. 33. ch. 34. 12.but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you. Upon the several contents of which places, says Josephus,The Israelits (after the death of Joshua, and the elders that outliv’d him) neglecting their arms, betook themselves to tillage;Antiq. l. 5. c. 2.and effeminated with peace, gave their minds rather to what was easy and pleasing, than what was secure or honourable: forgetful of the laws of God, and of their disciplin. Wherupon God being mov’d to anger, admonish’d them by a prophet, that in sparing the Canaanits, they had disobey’d him; and that in case they persisted, for his mercys neglected they should tast of his justice. But they, tho terrify’d with the oracle, were altogether averse to the war; both because they were brib’d by the Canaanits, and thro luxury were becom unapt for labor: the form of their commonwealth being now deprav’d, and the aristocratical part therof invalid; while neither the senat was elected, nor the solemn magistrats created as formerly. In which words, the not electing of the senat as formerly, being laid as a crime by Josephus to the people; he is first clear enough, for his part, that the senat was formerly elected by the people, and ought to have bin so still: and secondly, that henceforth the election of the senat, or sanhedrim, was neglected by the people. So this commonwealth, which, thro the not rooting out of the Canaanits, had never any foundation, came now to fail also in her superstructures; for proof wherof, the testimony of Scripture is no less pregnant in divers places.Judg. 1. 3. 27, 29, &c. As where Judahsaid toSimeonhis brother, Com up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanits, and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot: soSimeonwent with him. In which words you have a league made by two tribes, and a war manag’d by them, while other tribes, that is, Ephraim, Manasseh, with the rest, sat still: wheras, if there had bin now any common ligament, as while the sanhedrim was in being, such leaguing, and such warring by particular tribes at their own discretion, could not have bin.Judg. 20. Again, wheras to judg a tribe pertain’d to the sanhedrim; in the judgment given against Benjamin, by the congregation of four hundred thousand, there is no mention of the sanhedrim at all.
Sect. 4. No king, som senat; no senat, som king.Now government is of such a nature, that where there is no senat, there must be som king, or somwhat like a king, and such was the judg of Israel; yet is not their reckoning valid, who from hence compute the monarchy of the Hebrews. First, because Paul distinguishes between the kings and the judges.Calav. ap. Secondly, because Gideon, when he was a judg, in refusing to be a king, dos the like.Liv. Acts 13. Thirdly, because the judges in Israel (as dictators in other commonwealths) were not of constant election, but upon emergencys only.Judg. 7. 23. Fourthly, because complaint being made to the men of Judah of their judg Samson, they deliver’d him to the Philistins bound;Judg. 15. 13. no less than did the Romans their consuls to the Samnits. And lastly, because Samuel, distinguishing to perfection between dictatorian and royal power, or between the magistracy of the judg and of the king, shews plainly (in that he hearken’d to the voice of the people) that the one being without any balance at all, was at the discretion of the people; and that the other (not to be founded but upon property in himself, to which end he must take the best of their fields, and give them to his servants) could no otherwise subsist than by having the people at the discretion of the king. This difference (being no small one) excepted, the office of the king and of the judg was much the same; each consisting in judging the people, and going forth with their armys.
Sect. 5. Besognia vezzaro spegnere.But whatever be the difference between these magistracys, the state of the Israelitish commonwealth under the judges was both void of natural superstructures, and of the necessary foundation; so the Israelits, when they were weak, serv’d the Philistins, as is imply’d in the speech of the men of Judah to their judg: Knowest thou not that the Philistins are rulers over us?—And it came to pass when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanits to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.Judg. 15. 11. Which, as it was contrary to the command of God, so was it pointblank against all prudence; for thus neither made they to themselves friends, nor did they ruin their enemys:Livy. which proceding, as it far’d with this commonwealth, and was observ’d by Herennius in that of the Samnits, is the certain perdition of a people.
Sect. 6. The anarchy of Israel.Of the disorder of this people upon the dissolution of the Mosaical commonwealth, it is often said that there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eys. That is, at the times related to by these expressions, there was neither sanhedrim, nor judg, in Israel:Judg. 17. 6. 18. 1. 19. 1. 21. 25. so every man, or at least every tribe, govern’d it self as it pleas’d. Which, nevertheless, is not so generally to be understood, but that the tribes (without either judg or sanhedrim) marching up with their standards and staves of the camp,Judg. 20. not only assembl’d the congregation in the usual place at Mizpeh, but there condemn’d Benjamin for the rape of the Levit’s concubine; and marching thence to put their decree in execution, reduc’d that obstinat tribe, or rather destroy’d it by a civil war.
Sect. 7. The rise of the Hebrew monarchy.When in this, and divers other ways, they had pamper’d their enemys, and exhausted themselves, they grew (as well they might) out of love with their policy; especially when after impious expostulation (Wherfore has the Lord smitten us this day before the Philistins?) they had,1 Sam. 4. 3. as it were, stak’d their God (let us fetch the ark—that it may save us) and the ark being taken by the enemy,1 Sam. 7. 3. they fell to idolatry. To this it happen’d, that tho upon repentance success was better,Chap. IV. God having miraculously discomfited the Philistins before them; yet Samuel their judg was old, and had made his two sons (being takers of bribes, and perverters of justice) judges over Israel. Wherupon, there was no gainsaying, but a king they must and would have.
Shewing the State of the Israelits under their Kings, to the Captivity.
Sect. 1. The method of this part.FOR method in this part, I shall first observe the balance or foundation, then the superstructures of the Hebrew monarchys; and last of all, the story of the Hebrew kings.
Sect. 2. The balance of this monarchy.The balance necessary to kingly government, even where it is regulated or not absolute, is thus describ’d by Samuel:This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: he will take your fields, your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.1 Sam. 8. 11, 14. That is, there being no provision of this kind for a king, and it being of natural necessity that a king must have such an aristocracy or nobility as may be able to support the monarchy (which otherwise, to a people having equal shares in property, is altogether incompatible) it follows that he must take your fields, and give them to his servants or creatures.
This notwithstanding could not Saul do, in whose time the monarchy attain’d not to any balance, but was soon torn from him like the lap of a garment. The prince who gave that balance to this monarchy, which it had, was David:2 Sam. 8. 1[Editor: illegible character] for besides his other conquests, by which he brought the Moabits, the Syrians of Damascus, the Ammonits, the Amalekits, the Edomits, to his obedience, and extended his border to the river Euphrates;1 Chron. 11he smote the Philistins, and subdu’d them, and took Gath and her towns, out of the hand of the Philistins. Now this country which David thus took, was part of the land given to the people of God, and which was by the law of Moses to have bin divided by lot to them. Wherfore if this division follow’d not, but David having taken this country, did hold it in his particular dominion or property; then tho he took not from the people any thing wherof they were in actual possession, yet, as to their legal right, took he from them (as Samuel had forewarn’d) their fields, their vineyards, and their oliveyards, even the best of them, and gave them to his servants, or to a nobility, which by this means he introduc’d.
2 Sam. 23.The first order of the nobility thus instituted, were, as they are term’d by our translators, David’s worthys: to these may be added, the great officers of his realm and court, with such as sprang out of both.1 Chron. 11. But however, these things by advantage of foren conquest might be order’d by David, or continu’d for the time of his next successor: certain it is, that the balance of monarchy in so small a country must be altogether insufficient to it self, or destructive to the people.
Sect. 3. A parallel of the monarchical balances in Israel and in Lacedemon.The commonwealth of Lacedemon, being founded by Lycurgus upon the like lots with these design’d by Moses, came, after the spoil of Athens, to be destroy’d by purchasers, and brought into one hundred hands; wherupon, the people being rooted out, there remain’d no more to the two kings, who were wont to go out with great armys, than one hundred lords: nor any way, if they were invaded, to defend themselves, but by mercenarys, or making war upon the penny; which, at the farthest it would go (not computing the difference in disciplin) reach’d not, in one third, those forces which the popular balance could at any time have afforded without mony.Plutarch in Agis and Cleomenes. This som of those kings perceiving, were of all others the most earnest to return to the popular balance. What disorders, in a country no bigger than was theirs, or this of the Israelits, must, in case the like course be not taken, of necessity follow, may be at large persu’d in the story of Lacedemon; and shall be fully shewn, when I com to the story of the present kings.
Sect. 4. The superstructures of the Hebrew monarchy.For the superstructures of David’s government, it has bin shewn at large what the congregation of Israel was; and that without the congregation of Israel, and their result, there was not any law made by David. The like in the whole, or for the most part, was observ’d till Rehoboam, who, refusing to redress the grievances of the people, was depos’d by one part of this congregation or parlament, and set up by another; and to the confusion both of parlament and people. And David (as after him Jehoshaphat) did restore the sanhedrim; I will not affirm, by popular election, after the antient manner.1 Sam. 8. 15. He might do it perhaps, as he made Joab over the host, Jehoshaphat recorder, and Seraiah scribe. Certain it is, the Jewish writers hold unanimously, that the seventy elders were in David’s time, and by a good token; for they say, to him only of all the kings it was lawful, or permitted, to enter into the sanhedrim:Psal. 111. 1. which I the rather credit, for the words of David, where he says, I will praise the Lord with my whole heart in the council, and in the congregation of the upright; which words relate to the senat, and the congregation of Israel. The final cause of the popular congregation, in a commonwealth, is to give such a balance by their result, as may, and must keep the senat from that faction and corruption, wherof it is not otherwise curable, or to set it upright. Yet our translation gives the words cited, in this manner: I will praise the Lord with my whole heart in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation. There are other allusions in the English psalms, of the like nature, shaded in like manner:Psal. 82. 1. as, God is present in the congregation of God (that is, in the representative of the people of Israel) he judges among the gods, that is, among the seventy elders, or in the sanhedrim. What the orders of the Israelitish monarchy in the time of David were, tho our translators throout the Bible have don what they could against popular government, is clear enough in many such places.
Sect. 5. The story of the Hebrew kings.To conclude this chapter with the story of the Hebrew kings: Till Rehoboam, and the division (thro the cause mention’d) of the congregation in his time, the monarchy of the Hebrews was one, but came thenceforth to be torn in two: that of Judah, consisting of two tribes, Judah and Benjamin; and that of Israel, consisting of the other ten. From which time this people, thus divided, had little or no rest from the flame of that civil war, which, once kindl’d between the two realms or factions, could never be extinguish’d but in the destruction of both. Nor was civil war of so new a date among them; Saul, whose whole reign was impotent and perverse, being conquer’d by David; and David invaded by his son Absalom so strongly, that he fled before him. Solomon, the next successor, happen’d to have a quiet reign, by settling himself upon his throne in the death of Adonijah his elder brother, and in the deposing of the high priest Abiathar; yet made he the yoke of the people grievous. After him, we have the war between Jeroboam and Rehoboam. Then, the conspiracy of Baasha against Nadab king of Israel, which ends in the destruction of Jeroboam’s house, and the usurpation of his throne by Baasha, which Baasha happens to leave to his son Asa. Against Asa rises Zimri, captain of the chariots; kills him with all his kindred, reigns seven days; at the end wherof he burns himself for fear of Omri, who upon this occasion is made captain by one part of the people, as is also Tibni by another. The next prize is plaid between Omri and Tibni, and their factions; in which Tibni is slain. Upon this success, Omri outdoing all his predecessors in tyranny, leaves his throne and virtues to his son Ahab. Against Ahab drives Jehu furiously, destroys him and his family, gives the flesh of his queen Jezebel to the dogs, and receives a present from those of Samaria, even seventy heads of his master’s sons in baskets. To Asa and Jehoshaphat, kings of Judah, belongs much reverence. But upon this throne sat Athaliah; who, to reign, murder’d all her grandchildren except one, which was Joash. Joash being hid by the high priest, at whose command Athaliah was som time after slain, ends his reign in being murder’d by his servants. To him succedes his son Amaziah, slain also by his servants. About the same time Zachariah king of Israel was smitten by Shallum, who reign’d in his stead: Shallum by Manahim, who reign’d in his stead: Pekaha the son of Manthim by Pekah one of his captains, who reign’d in his stead: Pekah by Hoshea. Hoshea having reign’d nine years, is carry’d by Salmanazzer king of Assyriah with the ten tribes into captivity. Now might it be expected that the kingdom of Judah should injoy peace: a good king they had, which was Hezekiah; but to him succeded his son Manasseh, a shedder of innocent blood. To Manasseh succeded his son Ammon, slain by his servants. Josiah the next, being a good prince, is succeded by Jehoahaz, who being carry’d into Egypt, there dys a prisoner, while Jehoiakim his brother becoms Pharaoh’s tributary. The last of these princes was Zedekiah, in whose reign was Judah led away captive by Nebuchadnezzar.Deut. 28. Thus came the whole enumeration of those dreadful curses denounc’d by Moses in this case, to be fulfill’d in this people;Hos. 13. 11. of whom it is also said, I gave them a king in my anger, and took him away in my wrath.
To conclude this story with the resemblances or differences that are between monarchical and popular government: what parallel can there be beyond the storys wherby each of them are so largely describ’d in Scripture? true it is, that Ahimelec usurp’d the magistracy of judg in Israel, or made himself king by the men of Sichem; that the men of Ephraim fought against Jeptha, and that there was a civil war caus’d by Benjamin: yet, in a popular government, the very womb (as they will have it) of tumult, tho never so well founded that it could be steddy, or take any sufficient root, can I find no more of this kind.
Sect. 6. A parallel of the tribunitian forms with those in the Hebrew monarchys.But the tribuns of the people in Rome, or the Romans under the magistracy of their tribuns, throout the whole administration of that government, were never quiet; but at perpetual strife and enmity with the senat. It is very true; but first, this happen’d not from a cause natural to a popular government, but from a cause unnatural to popular government; yea, so unnatural to popular government, that the like has not bin found in any other commonwealth. Secondly, the cause is undeniably discover’d to have consisted in a faction introduc’d by the kings, and foster’d by the nobility, excluding the suffrage of the main body of the people thro an optimacy, or certain rank or number admitted not by the people or their election, but by the value of their estates, to the legislative power, as the commons of that nation. So the state of this people was as if they had two houses of lords, and no house of commons. Thirdly, this danger must have bin in any other nation, at least in ours, much harder to be incur’d, than authors hitherto have made it to be seen in this. And last of all, this enmity, or these factions, were without blood, which in monarchys they are not, as you saw well in those mention’d; and this nation in the barons wars, and in those of York and Lancaster, besides others, has felt. Or, if at length they came indeed to blood, this was not till the foundations were destroy’d, that is, till the balance of popular government in Rome was totally ruin’d; which is equally in cases of the like nature inavoidable, be the government of what kind soever, as of late years we have bin sufficiently inform’d by our own sad experience.
Shewing the State of the Jews in the Captivity; and after their Return out of it; with the Frame of the Jewish Commonwealth.
Sect. 1. The state of the Israelits in captivity.WE left the children of Israel upon a sad march, even into captivity. What orders had bin antiently observ’d by them during the time they were in Egypt (one of which, as has bin already shewn, was their seventy elders) the same, so far as would be permitted by the princes whose servants they were, continu’d in practice with them during the time of their captivity, out of which the ten tribes never more return’d.Jer. 25. 12. The two tribes, when seventy years were accomplish’d from the time that they were carry’d away by Nebuchadnezzar,2 Chr. 36. 22. and in the first year ofCyrusking of Persia, return’d the best part of them, not only with the king’s leave and liking,Ezra 1. but with restitution of the plate and vessels belonging to the temple.
Sect. 2. The balance of the commonwealth restor’d by Zorobabel.The first colony (as I may say) of the two tribes, or those that return’d under the conduct of Zorobabel prince of Judah, amounted to forty-two thousand three hundred and threescore, among which there were about one hundred patriarchs or princes of familys. To these, in the reign of Artaxerxes, came sixteen or twenty princes more with their familys; among whom the prophets Haggai, Zacharias, and Malachi were eminent.Ezra 2. Som of them could not shew their fathers house and their seed, whether they were of Israel. But these were few;Ezra 8. for it is said of them in general, That they went every one to his own city, or to the inheritance of his fathers:Ezra 2. 59. in which you may note the restitution of the balance of the Mosaical commonwealth; tho to what this might com without fixation, the jubile being not after the captivity in use, I cannot say. However, for the present, plain it is that the antient superstructures did also insue: as in order to the putting away of the strange wives, which the people in captivity had taken, is apparent.
Sect. 3. The superstructures of this commonwealth in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.Their whole progress hitherto is according to the law of Moses; they return every man to his inheritance by direction of his pedegree, or according to the house of his fathers; they are led by princes of their familys, and are about to put away strange wives: for what reason then should a man believe that what follows should not be according to the orders of the same lawgiver? now that which follows,Ezra 10. 8. in order to the putting away of these foren wives, is, proclamation was made throout Judah and Jerusalem to all the children of the captivity, that they shouldgather themselves to Jerusalem; and that whosoever will not com within three days, according to the counsil of the princes and elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had bin carry’d away.Chap. V. This plainly, by the penalty annex’d, is a law for banishment; of which kind there was none made by Moses; and a law made by the princes and the elders. What doubt then can remain, but these elders were the sanhedrim, or seventy elders? but wheras neither the sanhedrim, nor any other senat of it self has bin found to make laws, what others can these princes be that are join’d with the elders, than those spoken of before; that is, the princes of familys, or the chief fathers in the congregation of them that had bin carry’d away? so the princes and the elders in this place may be understood of the sanhedrim and the people:1 Chr. 27. 1. for thus David proposes to the congregation of the people of Israel, or the chief fathers, and must be understood of them; because there is no such thing throout the Scripture to be found, as a law made by the sanhedrim without the people: and if so, then that the sanhedrim with the people had power to make a law, is by this place of Scripture undeniably evinc’d.Ezra 10. 14. But besides the chief fathers, which here are call’d rulers of the congregation, and in the time of David were call’d captains of thousands and captains of hundreds, mention is also made of the elders of every city, and the judges therof; in which words you have the judges in the gates throout the tribes of Israel, as they were instituted by Moses. All which particulars being rightly sum’d up, com to this total; that the commonwealth restor’d by Ezra, was the very same that originally was instituted by Moses.
Sect. 4. A transition to the cabalistical or Jewish commonwealth.Such was the government restor’d by Zorobabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Now whether the Jewish or cabalistical commonwealth, father’d by the Presbyterian Jews of latter ages upon Moses or Ezra, be the same, shall be shewn by reducing the invention of these men to three heads: as first, their cabala; secondly, their ordination; and last of all, their great synagog.
Sect. 5. The cabala.Thecabala, call’d also by the Jews the oral law, consists of certain traditions by them pretended at the institution of the sanhedrim to have bin verbally deliver’d to the seventy elders by Moses for the government of the commonwealth. These were never written till after the dispersion of the Jews by the emperor Adrian; when, to save them from being lost, they were digested into those volums call’d the Talmud: which they hold to be, and indeed are, as to matter of fact, the authentic records of their government.Rabbi corbulenus. Of the traditions thus recorded says one of the rabbins or Jewish doctors: Think not that the written law (or the law of Moses) is fundamental,Exod 34. 27.but that the oral or traditional law is fundamental, it being upon this that God enter’d into a league with the Israelits, as it is written after the tenor of these words,In codice juris chagiga.I have made a covenant with thee, and with Israel. A man (says another) who returns from the study of the Talmud to the study of the Bible, can have no quiet conscience, neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in.Zach. 8. 10. The like wherof is the Talmudical way of applying Scripture throout.Mat. 15. 6. And it was the common blessing the Pharises gave their children: My son, hearken to the words of a scribe or doctor, rather than to the law ofMoses. To whom says Christ hereupon, You have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.
Sect. 6. Ordination by imposition of hands.Now as true as the Talmud, or as this word of a scribe, or that Moses deliver’d the oral law to the seventy elders and to Joshua, so true it is that Moses ordain’d both the seventy elders and Joshua by the imposition of hands; and that this ordination by the imposition of hands, together with the oral law, came successively, and hand in hand from the seventy elders, and from Joshua downright to these doctors. This indeed is so generally affirm’d by their Talmudists, that there is no denying of it; but, that as to the seventy elders it is quite contrary to Scripture, has already bin made sufficiently apparent; for Joshua is acknowleg’d to have bin ordain’d by Moses with imposition of hands. But this argument (besides that the act of Moses was accompany’d with a miracle, and that it is absurd to think that a thing plainly miraculous should or can be receiv’d as an order in a commonwealth) will go no farther than that Joshua, upon this authority, might have elected his successor by imposition of hands. Let them shew us then that he did so, or indeed that he left any successor at all: for certainly if Joshua left no successor so ordain’d, or no successor at all (which is the truth of the case) then descended there upon them no such ordination from Joshua; and so by consequence none from Moses. Whence it follows, that the authority and vogue of ordination, by the imposition of hands among the Jews, procedes not from the law of Moses, but from the oral law; which how bad an authority soever it be to us of right, is of fact, or of what the exercise of ordination was among the Jews, a good and sufficient testimony. Now therby the condition of this ordination (tho in som times of the commonwealth it was less restrain’d) was such, that no man not having receiv’d the same from the great sanhedrim, or som one of the inferior courts by laying on of hands, by word of mouth, or by writing, could be a presbyter, or capable of any judicature or magistracy in the commonwealth, or to give council in the law, or any part of the law, or to be of the assembly of the great synagog.
Sect. 7. The great synagog.What the assembly of the princes and fathers was in the time of Ezra, has bin shewn, and is left to the judgment of others. But this is that which the Talmudists and their ancestors the cabalistical Jews (among which the Pharises were of the highest rank) unanimously affirm to have consisted of the seventy elders, and of a juncta of fifty presbyters not elected by the people; but by the laying on of hands by the sanhedrim, or by som other judicatory. This, they say, was the institution of their great synagog, where I leave them: but that, according to the sense wherin they cite their authoritys, the like with them was a constant practice, appears not only by their own testimony and records, but is plain in Scripture; as where Christ speaks of the Jews to his apostles in this manner:Grot. a[Editor: illegible character]They will scourge you in their synagogs: that is, the Jews having as yet no law made wherby they can invade the liberty of conscience, or bring you for the practice therof to punishment,Mat. 10. 17. will call their great synagog, wherin the priests and the Pharises, or the sanhedrim, have at least seven to five the overbalancing vote over the rest. Which also are their creatures, and by these will easily carry, or make such laws wherby they may inflict upon you corporal punishment:Acts 4. 6. which interpretation of Christ’s words, was fulfil’d even to a tittle, or rather with over measure. For upon this occasion the high priest, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gather’d together at Jerusalem. That this same juncta, to be in this case added to the sanhedrim, was to consist but of fifty, those fifty not elected by the people, but chosen by the elders of the sanhedrim; and not out of the body of the people, but out of such only as had receiv’d ordination by the sanhedrim, or by som other court, or indeed were actually judges in som other court, was not enough, unless they might consist also of as many as were of the kindred of the high priest.Acts 5. 21. Which rights and privileges being all observ’d, The high priest came, and they that were with him, and call’d the sanbedrim, and all the presbytery of the children of Israel: that is, so many of them, as being assembl’d in the great synagog, represented all the presbytery of the children of Israel, or all the children of Israel themselves. In this assembly you have the full description of the great synagog:Acts 5. 40. and when (in this synagog) they had beaten the apostles Peter and John,they commanded them that they should not speak in the name ofJesus,and let them go. Upon these procedings there are considerations of great importance; as first, that the cabalistical doctors themselves did never so much as imagin that Moses had indu’d the sanhedrim alone, or separatly consider’d from the people, with any legislative power; nevertheless, that the sanhedrim came into the place, and succeded to the whole power of Moses, they unanimously held: whence, even upon their principles, it must follow that in Moses, distinctly and separatly taken from the people, there could be no power of making any law. The second ching remarkable in this proceding, is, that the most corrupt commonwealth, and in her most corrupt age, had not yet the face, without som blind, of pretending to legislative power in a single counsil. The last I shall observe, is, that no possible security is to be given to liberty of conscience, but in the security of civil liberty, and in that only not by laws which are otherwise as perishing as flowers or fruits, but in the roots or fundamental orders of the government. What even in these times must have follow’d, as to the liberty of conscience, had there bin an equal representative of the people, is apparent, in that the captain and the officers, imploy’d by this synagog to apprehend the apostles, brought them without violence; for they fear’d the people, lest they should have bin ston’d.Acts 5. 26. It is true, there is nothing with us more customary, even in the solemnest places, and upon the solemnest occasions, than to upbraid the people with giddiness from the Hosanna and the crucifige of the Jews. What may be charg’d upon a multitude not under orders, the fouler crime it be, is the fairer argument for such orders, as where they have bin once establish’d, the people have not bin guilty of such crimes; at least, it should seem, that in this case there is great scarcity of witnesses against them, seeing the death of Socrates is more laid to one people, than that of all the martyrs to kings: yet were the false witnesses by whom Socrates suffer’d (and by the like wherto a man in the best government may chance to suffer) no sooner discover’d, than they were destroy’d by the people, who also erected a statue to Socrates.Mark 15. 11. And the people who, at the arraignment of Christ, cry’d, Crucify him, crucify him, were such as the chief priests mov’d or prompted, and such also as fear’d the multitude.Mat. 21. Now that the people which could be prompted by the chief priests, or the people which could fear the people, could be no other than this pretended representative of the people, but indeed a juncta of cousins and retainers, is that which, for ought I know, may be possible; and the rather, for what happen’d before upon the law call’d among the Jews, The law of the zealot, which was instituted by Moses in these words:Deut. 13. 6.If thy brother, the son of thy mother—intice thee, saying, Let us go and serve other Gods—thy hand shall be first upon him to put him to death—and afterwards the hand of all the people. By this law it is plain that, as to the true intent thereof, it relates to no other case than that only of idolatry. The execution of the same, according to the Talmud, might be perform’d by any number of the people, being not under ten, either apprehending the party in the fact, or upon the testimony of such witnesses as had so apprehended him: yet will it not be found to have bin executed by the people, but upon instigation of the priest, as where (they interpreting the law as they list) Stephen is ston’d. Now if the priests could have made the people do as much against Christ, what needed they have gon to Pilat for help? and if they could not, why should we think that the multitude which cry’d out Crucify him, crucify him, should be any other than the great synagog?
However, that it was an oligarchy, consisting of a senat and a presbytery, which not only scourg’d the apostles, but caus’d Christ to be crucify’d, is certain. And so much for the great synagog.
Sect. 8. The model of the Jewish commonwealth.These parts being historically laid down and prov’d, it follows that the cabalistical or Jewish commonwealth was much after this model:
BE the capacity of bearing magistracy, or giving council upon the law, or any part of the law of this commonwealth, in no other than such only as are presbyters.
BE presbyters of two sorts: the one general, the other particular.
BE presbyters general ordain’d by the laying on of hands of the prince of the sanhedrim with the rest of the elders, or presbytery of the same, and by no other court without a licence from the prince of the sanhedrim; and be those ordain’d in this manner eligible by the major vote of the seventy elders into the sanhedrim, or into any other court by the major vote of the elders or presbytery of that court.
BE presbyters particular ordain’d by any court of justice; and be these capable of giving council in the law, or in som particular part of the law, according to the gift that is in them by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
BE all presbyters capable of nomination to the great synagog.
BE the sanhedrim in law made the supreme magistracy or judicatory; and with a juncta of fifty presbyters of their nomination, the great synagog.
BE the great synagog the legislative power in this commonwealth.
Such was the government, where the word of a scribe or doctor was avowedly held to be of more validity than the Scripture; and where the usual appellation of the people, by the doctors and Pharises, was (populus terræ) the rascally rabble.
Regis ad exemplum totus componitur orbis.
Sect. 9. Ordination in the lesser synagog.There were other synagogs for other uses, as those wherin the law was read every Sabbath-day; each of which also had her ruler and her presbytery, with power to ordain others to this capacity.
Shewing how Ordination was brought into the Christian Church, and the divers Ways of the same that were at divers times in Use with the Apostles.
Sect. 1. The form introduc’d by Christ into his Church.WE do not find that Christ (who gave little countenance to the Jewish traditions) ordain’d his apostles or disciples by the imposition of hands: his apostles were twelve, whom he compares to the twelve princes of the tribes of Israel, and his disciples were seventy, in which number it is receiv’d by divines, that he alluded to the seventy elders or sanhedrim of Israel.Matth. 19. 28. So thus far the government of the church, instituted by Christ, was according to the form instituted by Moses.Chap. VI. But Christ in this form was king and priest, not after the institution of Moses, who separated the Levits to the priesthood: but as before Moses; when the royal and priestly function were not separated, and after the order and manner of Melchisedec, who came not to the priesthood by proving his pedegree, as the high priest in Israel by father, or as the king priest in Athens by mother, but without father and mother.Vid. Grotium, & videat Grotius, in epist. ad Hebræos. Or be what has bin said of Melchisedec approv’d or rejected, such for the rest, as has bin shewn, was the form introduc’d by Christ into his church.
Sect. 2. The first way of ordination.Christ being taken up into heaven, his disciples or followers in Jerusalem increas’d to about one hundred and twenty names; and the apostles decreas’d by one, or by Judas, who was gon to his place.Peter, whether upon the counsil or determination of the eleven apostles (as is most probable) beforehand or otherwise,Acts 1. stood up and spoke both to the apostles and disciples assembl’d upon this occasion, that one out of the present assembly might be ordain’d an apostle: and they (that is, the congregation, or why was this propos’d to them?) appointed two by suffrage; for how otherwise can an assembly appoint? these were Barnabas and Matthias, which names, being written in scrols, were cast into one urn; two lots, wherof one was a blank, and the other inscrib’d with the word apostle, being at the same time cast into another urn. Which don, they pray’d that God would shew which of the competitors by them so made, he had chosen: when they had thus pray’d, they gave forth their lots, that is, a scrol out of the one urn, and then a name to that scrol out of the other urn; and the lot fell uponMatthias, or Matthias was taken; wherupon Matthias was number’d, or rather decreed with the eleven apostles. For*psephisma, being a word which properly derives from such stones or pebbles as popular assemblys of old were wont to ballot with or give suffrage by, not only signifys a decree, but especially such a decree as is made by a popular assembly. Now if this was ordination in the Christian church, and of apostolical right, then may there be a way of ordination in the Christian church, and of apostolical right, exactly conformable to the ballot, or way us’d by Moses in the institution of the seventy elders or sanhedrim of Israel.
Sect. 3. The second way of ordination.After the conversion of som thousands more, most, if not all, of which were Jews, a people tho converted, yet so tenacious of their laws and customs, that even circumcision (hitherto not forbidden by the apostles) was continu’d among them; the twelve apostles call’d the multitude of disciples to them.Acts. 4. 4. So Moses, when he had any thing to propose, assembl’d the people of Israel.Acts 6. And when the twelve had thus call’d the disciples, they said, Look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. So Moses said to the congregation of Israel, Take ye wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. And the saying of the apostles pleas’d the whole multitude. So the people of Israel were wont to answer to Moses,The thing which thou sayst is good for us to do. This saying of the apostles being thought good by the whole multitude, the whole multitude elected seven men whom they set before the apostles: and when they had pray’d, they laid their hands on them. To say in this place (as they do) that the act of the people was but a presentation, and that the apostles had power to admit or refuse the persons so presented, is as if one should say, that the act of electing parlament men by the people of England, was but a presentation, and that the king had power to admit or refuse the persons so presented. And seeing the deacons henceforth had charge of the word, to say, that by this choice the deacons receiv’d not the charge of the word, but the care to serve tables, is as if one should say, that parlament men by their election receiv’d only the care to levy mony or provision for the king’s table; but if upon such election they debated also concerning laws, that power they receiv’d from the king only.
But if this was a way of ordination in the Christian church, and of apostolical right, then there may be a way of ordination in the Christian church, and of apostolical right, consisting in part of the orders of the Israelitish commonwealth, and in part of the orders of the Jewish commonwealth.
Sect. 4. The third way of ordination.Lastly, Paul writing to Timothy concerning his ordination, has in one place this expression, Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophesy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. So the presbytery of a Jewish synagog laid their hands on the party ordain’d.1 Tim. 4. 14. And in another place he has this expression: Stir up the gift of God which is in thee by the laying on of my hands.2 Tim. 1. 6. So the ruler of a Jewish synagog did lay his hands also on the party ordain’d. Moreover, the apostle in these words, The gift that is in thee by laying on of hands, tho in relation to gifts beyond comparison more excellent, uses the phrase known upon the like occasion to have bin common with the Jews. Wherfore if this were a way of ordination in the Christian church, and of apostolical right, then may there be a way of ordination in the Christian church exactly conformable to the Jewish commonwealth, and be of apostolical right. Nor is it so strange that the apostles in matters of this nature should comply with the Jews, of which so many were converted, seeing it is certain that not only the apostles, but all such as in these times were converted, did observe the Jewish Sabbath; nay, and that Paul himself took Timothy and circumcis’d him, because of the Jews; that is, to comply with them, or to give them no offence. Nor do our divines any where pretend imposition of hands to be deriv’d from Christ, but unanimously confess, that it was taken up by the apostles from the Jewish sanhedrim.
Sect. 5. The providence of God in the different ways of apostolical ordination.Now in these several ways of ordination, there is a most remarkable providence of God. For wheras states and princes in receiving of religion are not at any point so jealous as of an incroachment upon their power; the first way of apostolical ordination destroys monarchical power: the last wholly excludes the power of the people; and the second has a mixture which may be receiv’d by a commonwealth, or by a monarchy. But where it is receiv’d by a commonwealth, the imposition of hands coms to little; and where it is receiv’d by a monarchy, the election of the people coms to nothing, as may be farther consider’d in the original and progress of the Conge d’ Elire
The ways of ordination or of church government lying thus in Scripture, the not receiving of the Christian religion is not that wherof any state or prince thro the whole world can be any ways excusable.
Sect. 1. Uses of this Book.TO sum up this second book in the uses that may be made of it: certain it is of the Greec and Roman storys, that he who has not som good idea or notion of the government to which they relate, cannot rightly understand them. If the like holds as to the Scripture story, som light may be contributed to it by this book. Again, if som gifted men happening to read it, should chance to be of the same judgment, it is an argument for acquir’d learning, in that for the means of acquir’d learning, and in the means of acquir’d learning for universitys. For how little soever this performance be, had it not bin the fashion with the English gentry, in the breeding of their sons, to give them a smack of the university, I should not have don so much.
Sect. 2. The present use of this book.But letting these pass. If there were commonwealths, or governments exercising soverain power by the senat and the people, before that of Israel, as namely, Gibeon: if the inferior orders and courts in Israel, as those instituted by Moses after the advice of Jethro a Heathen, were transcrib’d out of another government tho Heathen, as namely, that of Midian: if the order of the church introduc’d by Christ in his twelve apostles and his seventy disciples, were after the pattern of Israel, namely, in the twelve princes of the tribes, and the seventy elders: if there were three distinct ways of ordination introduc’d by the apostles; one exactly according to the ballot of Israel, as namely, in the ordination of Matthias; another exactly according to the way of the Jewish sanhedrim or synagog, as namely, that of Timothy; and a third, compos’d of these two, as namely, that of the deacons: then it is a clear and undeniable result of the whole, that neitherGod,norChrist,or theApostles,ever instituted any government ecclesiastical or civil upon any other principles than those only of human prudence.
Sect. 3. The consequence of this use.An observation of such consequence, as, where it has bin rightly consider’d, there the truth of religion and of government once planted, have taken root and flourish’d; and where it has not bin rightly heeded, there has religion or the pretence of it bin the hook and the line, and the state the prey of impostors and false prophets, as was shewn in the hypocritical Pharisees, for ever stigmatiz’d by the word of truth.
And for might, let her be never so much exalted in her self, let her sword be never so dreadfully brandish’d; the government not founded upon reason, a creature of God, and the creature of God whose undoubted right in this part is by himself undeniably avow’d and asserted, is a weapon fram’d against God; and no weapon fram’d against God shall prosper.
Sect. 4. A transition to be next book.The principles of human prudence, and in them the art of lawgiving, being shewn in the first book, and vindicated throout the whole course of Scripture by this second, I com in the third to shew a model of government, fram’d according to the art thus shewn, and the principles thus vindicated.
[* ]Hac est lex quam Moses proposuit, Deut. 4. 44. And whereas betwixt a precept and a command there is a large difference; in places more than I can stand to number, where the Latin has it, præcepit Moses, the English has it, Moses commanded.
[* ]Συγϰατ[Editor: illegible character]ψηφίσϑη.