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the gospel; and, to a careless observer, their faults
stance which could give weight and efficacy to that im-
THE FIRST CAUSE. Zeal of the Jews.
the water, a Jew ought not to save him from instant death. See Basnage, Histoire des Juifs, l. vi. c. 28.
tutions of Moses the elegant mythology of the Greeks." CHAP.
According to the maxims of universal toleration, the Romans protected a superstition which they despised.” The polite Augustus condescended to give orders, that sacrifices should be offered for his prosperity in the temple of Jerusalem; while the meanest of the posterity of Abraham, who should have paid the same homage to the Jupiter of the Capitol, would have been an object of abhorrence to himself and to his brethren. But the moderation of the conquerors was insufficient to appease the jealous prejudices of their subjects, who were alarmed and scandalized at the ensigns of paganism, which necessarily introduced themselves into a Roman province." The mad attempt of Caligula to place his own statue in the temple of Jerusalem was defeated by the unanimous resolution of a people who dreaded death much less than such an idolatrous profanation." Their attachment to the law of Moses was equal to their detestation of foreign religions. The current of zeal and devotion, as it was contracted into a narrow channel, ran with the strength, and sometimes with the fury, of a torrent.
This inflexible perseverance, which appeared so Its gradual cor. a more awful character, since Providence has deigned
odious or so ridiculous to the ancient world, assumes
* A Jewish sect, which indulged themselves in a sort of occasional conformity, derived from Herod, by whose example and authority they had been seduced, the name of Herodians. But their numbers were so inconsiderable, and their duration so short, that Josephus has not thought them worthy of his notice. See Prideaux's Connection, vol. ii. p. 285.
• Cicero pro Flacco, c. 28.
f Philo de Legatione. Augustus left a foundation for a perpetual sacrifice. Yet he approved of the neglect which his grandson Caius expressed towards the temple of Jerusalem. See Sueton. in August. c. 93, and Casaubon's notes on that passage.
g See, in particular, Joseph. Antiquitat. xvii. 6. xviii. 3. and De Bel. Judaic. i. 33. and ii. 9. Edit. Havercamp.
h Jussia Caio Caesare, effigiem ejus in templo locare, arma potius sumpsere. Tacit. Hist. v. 9. Philo and Josephus gave a very circumstantial, but a very rhetorical, account of this transaction, which exceedingly perplexed the governor of Syria. At the first mention of this idolatrous proposal, king Agrippa fainted away; and did not recover his senses till the third day.
to reveal to us the mysterious history of the chosen
xiv. 11). It would be easy, but it would be unbecoming, to justify the complaint of the Deity from the whole tenor of the Mosaic history.
fence, but it was never designed for conquest; and chAP. it seems probable that the number of proselytes was * never much superior to that of apostates. The divine Their reli- - - - - - - gion better promises were originally made, and the distinguish-ji. ing rite of circumcision was enjoined, to a single . family. When the posterity of Abraham had mul- conquest. tiplied like the sands of the sea, the Deity, from whose mouth they received a system of laws and ceremonies, declared himself the proper and as it were the national God of Israel ; and with the most jealous care separated his favourite people from the rest of mankind. The conquest of the land of Canaan was accompanied with so many wonderful and with so many bloody circumstances, that the victorious Jews were left in a state of irreconcilable hostility with all their neighbours. They had been commanded to extirpate some of the most idolatrous tribes, and the execution of the divine will had seldom been retarded by the weakness of humanity. With the other nations they were forbidden to contract any marriages or alliances, and the prohibition of receiving them into the congregation, which in some cases was perpetual, almost always extended to the third, to the seventh, or even to the tenth generation. The obligation of preaching to the Gentiles the faith of Moses had never been inculcated as a precept of the law, nor were the Jews inclined to impose it on themselves as a voluntary duty. In the admission of new citizens, that unsocial people was actuated by the selfish vanity of the Greeks, rather than by the generous policy of Rome. The descendants of Abraham were flattered by the opinion, that they alone were the heirs of the covenant, and they were apprehensive of diminishing the value of their inheritance, by sharing it too easily with the strangers of the earth. A larger acquaintance with mankind extended their knowledge without cor