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tine, although somewhat dissatisfied at first, were content in the end to wink at the irregularity, and keep up still a friendly correspondence with this important branch of their church. Such Jews as spoke the Greek language were called Hellenists, or Grecians. These were found not only in Greece, through Asia Minor, and in Egypt, but in various other countries of the Roman empire, (so extensive was the use of that language become,) and even to some extent, as we learn from Acts vi. 1, in Palestine itself. (Acts ix. 29. xi. 20.) The whole church, though joined together in general harmony as a single body, when its relation to the rest of the world was in question, was, nevertheless, not free from sectarian divisions and disputes. Three regular sects arose under the second temple, and continued to flourish till the destruction of the state, which differed widely in their religious sentiments, and charged one another with the most serious errors-which, in each several case, no doubt was done not without reason. The precise time when they took their rise is not known; but we are assured that they were all flourishing in the age of the Maccabees, 150 years before Christ, and must refer their origin, therefore, to a more remote period. We will now proceed to give some account of the principles and character of each of them, in order, after which it will be proper to notice, also, the Samaritans, whose religious faith and worship, being derived altogether from the Jewish church, give them a natural claim to our attention in connexion with the Jewish sects.
THE PHARISEES borrowed their name from a word which means to separate, because they affected to be more strictly religious than other people, and to be distinguished from the common multitude, not only for their superior acquaintance with the divine will, but also by reason of their peculiar interest in the friendship and favour of God.
They believed, we are told, in the existence of angels, VOL. II. T
and in the resurrection of the dead. (Acts xxiii. 8, 9.) At the same time, we learn, that they held the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, so important in certain systems of heathen philosophy, which pretends that they pass after death into other bodies, and so, completely forgetful of all their former condition, continue to act a part upon the theatre of life, while the frames in which they once resided lie mouldering in the dust. They held it not, however, in the same broad extent with which it has been received in these systems: they did not admit that a human soul might ever pass into the body of a dumb animal, so as to put any person in danger of destroying his grandfather, when he might venture to kill a calf or a chicken; and they did not allow that all souls were appointed to re-appear in successive lives after this fashion. It was considered a privilege, it seems, which only the comparatively righteous were allowed to enjoy, after being rewarded for a time in their separate state, while the spirits of the wicked were doomed to go away into everlasting torments. It has been sup
posed, that there is a reference to this sentiment in that question which was put to our Saviour by his disciples, concerning the blind man, of whom we have an account in the ninth chapter of the gospel of John-Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? for it is not easy to understand how the birth of any one could be imagined to be thus unfortunate on account of his own sinfulness, unless under the idea of a previous life enjoyed by the soul in some other body. How this doctrine of transmigration was made to accommodate itself to the doctrine of the resurrection, which it has just been intimated was entertained by the same sect, is not by any means clear. Some have thought, that they were not really dif ferent doctrines at all, but that the resurrection which the Pharisees taught, was nothing more than this transmigration itself, which brought such as were not notoriously wicked once more back among the inhabitants of the earth. Perhaps there was some diversity of sentiment among themselves in relation to the future fate of souls; in which case it might be that opinions which were never held actually at the same time in all their length and breadth by the same persons, but were only different notions of dif
ferent classes belonging to the general body, have been improperly joined together as entering alike into the common faith of the whole sect.
The Pharisees have been charged with holding the doctrine of fate. But the doctrine of fate is, that all things take place by such a continual and inflexible necessity as leaves no room for the action of free causes, and makes it certain that an event will come to pass, as it does in the end come to pass, whether preparatory means, which in fact bring about its result, be put into previous operation or not an absurd doctrine that carries its destruction in its own bosom; whereas, the great Jewish historian assures us that this sect, while they held the absolute and unalterable certainty of all things according to the eternal determination of God, yet insisted that the will of man was free, and that its influence in the great machinery of action which fills the world, mighty and constant as it is, proceeds with unrestrained and continual liberty. On this point, therefore, though these notions of theirs have seemed to some as incompatible as the two doctrines of transmi gration and the resurrection, the Pharisees appear to have entertained, in the main, the same sentiment that is taught in the New Testament, and the only one which sound reason can approve. Admitting the self-evident proposition, that nothing can occur except in accordance with the plan of Infinite Wisdom, which stretches design through all the system of creation, and explores at one glance from beginning to end, the whole order of its innumerable changes, they embraced at the same time, the clear dictate of uni. versal consciousness, that every man chooses or refuses in all he does according to his own pleasure, without any other constraint whatever, so as to be altogether accountable for every thing that is wrong; rightly concluding, that it is as easy for God to make events certain which depend on human will without interfering with its freedom, as it is for him to make certain those that depend on the operations of the material world without hindering their regular and natural order; since we must allow, unless we would represent man to be the empty plaything of chance, that there is as much order and law in the manner of all the changes that take place in his mind, as there is in the
endless succession of changes which follow each other as causes and effects in the system of mere matter, though the nature of these laws and the way of their action be different in either case, according to the different quality of the subjects, viz. mind and matter, to which they respectively belong.
A primary article in the creed of the Pharisees, and one that became a most frightful source of evil in their character and conduct, was, that in addition to the written law found in the bible, and for the purpose of explaining and completing its otherwise dark and defective system, God had given also an oral law, to be handed down, without be. ing committed to writing, by mere tradition, from generation to generation; and that this, accordingly, had full as much obligation upon men as the other, and was to be deemed in fact even more important, inasmuch as without it the whole law, it was maintained, would have been without light, without order, and comparatively without use. It is needless to say, that the traditions of which this law consisted, were altogether of human authority; and that they had not all taken their rise at once, but were introduced gradually from the usages and opinions of different ages, still gathering new accession to their mass as it rolled forward, till it acquired that monstrous size which it had in the end. It seems to have been only about a hundred years before the time of Christ, that they came to be regarded as of such high importance, that the written law itself was less in honour and regard; and the neglect of them was counted impious as the worst infidelity. The traditionary law, however, claimed for itself, of course, a far more honourable history, and since it aspired to equal authority with the true law of God given of old to Moses in the wilderness, referred its origin to the same antiquity, and to the same high and holy source. The Lord, it pretended, had uttered it all in the ear of his servant on Mount Sinai, that it might serve to interpret and explain the other law which was committed to writing. Then Moses, when he came down into his tent had repeated it all over, first to Aaron alone, next to his two sons in his presence, then to the seventy elders, and lastly, while all these still listened, to the whole assembled congregation of Israel; so that when
he went out, Aaron, having heard it four times recited, was able to say it over in his turn, then his sons, after he withdrew, could repeat it again; and on the departure of these, the seventy elders found no difficulty in rehearsing the whole still another time before the people-by which means every body gave it four hearings, and was le to go home and repeat it tolerably well to his family, while the priests and elders had it so fixed in their minds that it was not possible for a particle of it to be lost. Afterwards, Moses again carefully said it over, just before he died, to Joshua. Joshua delivered it to the care of the elders. The elders handed it down to the prophets. The prophets left it finally to the charge of the wise doctors who flourished under the second temple, and so it came down in all the perfection of its original revelation to the latest period of the Jewish state. Thus the oral law made out its goodly title to respect and veneration, and presumptuously challenged for itself a right to control at pleasure the meaning of God's written word. The Pharisees discovered great zeal in the support of its claims, and employed it in many cases to counteract the true spirit of the bible, actually making the word of God, as our Saviour said, of no effect by their traditions. (Mark vii. 1-13.) These traditions led them to observe a multitude of uncommanded ceremonies, as foolish oftentimes as they were useless, and loaded their religion with a weight of formality and superstition under which it was hardly possible for a single right principle of piety to avoid being crushed and destroyed altogether.
Thus the washing of hands before meals, which had a very good reason for its practice in the manner that they were anciently made use of in eating, was converted at length into a solemn religious duty, and the omission of it was looked upon as a crime of the most offensive sort, that merited no less a punishment than death itself. So other washings, as of cups, and pots, and tables, came to be established as sacred duties. In similar style, they added other precepts, without end, to the divine law; and clothed indif ferent or unmeaning practices with the highest solemnity of religion.
In all this zeal which they showed in favour of the traditions of the elders, the Pharisees affected a character of ex