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their own nature excellent and reasonable, in the highest degree; and that it was not proper, accordingly, to employ mercenary considerations, as he represented them, the fear of future punishment, or the hope of future reward, as motives to persuade men to a life of piety. He did not say, however, or mean, at all, that rewards and punishments were not to be expected in a future state: but Sadoc, and another of his scholars, carried out his doctrine to the full point of this pernicious consequence, and publicly maintained, in their subsequent career, that the idea of a world to come was a dream, and that the soul was destined to sink into an eternal sleep, with the ruin of the body—if soul it might be called, which was not allowed to have any independent existence, or to be capable of separation from the material organization to which it belonged. Contrary as the infidel sentiment was to the word of God, it did not fail to find some considerable reception, and to perpetuate itself as a principal article in the creed of a distinct and important sect, even while the Scriptures were as universally as ever acknowledged to be of divine original and authority: for what inconsistency and extravagance will not the human mind, in its depravity, consent to, for the purpose of covering from its sight the awfulness of truth, and shielding its impenitent slumbers from interruption, within the dark and thickly embowered refuges of error? The wealthy, the honourable, and the fashionable of the world, who, in every age, are tempted to seek for themselves an easy and genteel religion, that will agree to tolerate with widest liberality the manners and spirit of the earth, and to administer withal encouragement and quiet to the unregenerate conscience, gazing forward upon the future-were not displeased, of course, with the doctrine of Sadoc; and still as the number of his followers multiplied, and acquired to themselves some name and reputation among men, it assumed, in their eyes, a more reasonable and engaging aspect, and was found to bring upon their hearts arguments irresistible in its favour, till at length the wealthy, the great, and the fashionable of the land, were, in a large measure, gathered into the sect of the Sadducees.
Because of the worldly importance, therefore, of most of its members, though in point of numbers it bore no com
parison with that of the Pharisees, it was a sect of considerable importance in the state. It does not appear, however, that they took, generally, much part in the public affairs of the nation: the Pharisees had an influence among the people, which always secured to their sect the chief authority in the government, and against which it was vain to contend; and, at the same time, the Sadducees seem to have been, to a considerable extent, of the opinion, that life might be enjoyed, on the whole, full as well, if not better, in the easy luxury of a private condition, crowded with all manner of worldly pleasures, as amid the cares of office and the drudgery of public service. Still, they were not excluded by any means, nor did they withdraw themselves, altogether, from places of trust and power: some of their number occupied, at times, the highest offices in the state; yea, more than once, the mitre of the High Priest itself was allowed to encircle the brow of an infidel Sadducee! In such cases, however, they were under the necessity of complying, in a great measure, with the views and wishes of the Pharisees, since they would not otherwise have been tolerated by the people.
We find the great error of the sect noticed in the New Testament: they maintained, we are told, that there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit. (Matt. xxii. 23. Acts xxiii. 8.) From other authority we learn, that they erred also on the subject of the overruling providence of God: they thought that the doctrine of the Pharisees, which represented all events to be certain, as much before they come to pass as they are afterwards, according to the wise and eternal determination of him who contrived, constructed, and continually sustains, the vast machinery of the universe, was not compatible with that freedom of will and. action, of which every moral being is conscious; and they professed to believe, accordingly, that no such certainty exists; but that the affairs of the world, at least as far as they are connected, directly or indirectly, with the actions of men, proceed in a way of liberty so absolute, as to be entirely uninfluenced by divine will, and utterly independent of divine direction. Thus, in their zeal to escape the bug. bear of fatal necessity, and while they attempted to commit the reins of every man's destiny, as much as possible, into
his own hands, they thrust God, in their doctrine, from the throne of the universe, divested him in part of his glorious perfections, and delivered the whole order of the world to the government of chance-if order, that might be called, which reason or rule could have none, but must, according to the idea of its highest perfection, unfold its series of events from day to day, altogether without determinate principle, and unconstrained by a single fixed or systematic influence.
If, in the points that have been mentioned, the creed of the Sadducees was sadly erroneous, when compared with that of the Pharisees, it was greatly to be preferred to it in the respect which it showed for the written word of God. It rejected altogether the authority of that oral, law, of which the Pharisees made so wicked a use, and rightly insisted that the Scriptures, of themselves, were abundantly sufficient to direct the faith and practice of men; that they ought to be received as the only infallible revelation of God's will; and that to allow any tradition whatever an equal sacredness, was presumptuous and profane. It has been suspected by some, that while it thus laudably trampled under foot the traditions of the elders, it covered the merit of that zeal with shame as great, by proceeding yet farther to disclaim a large part of the bible itself; refusing to acknowledge as the word of God, any thing more than the pentateuch, or five books of Moses, after the manner of the Samaritans, with whom Sadoc, it is said, took refuge for a time, to escape the displeasure of his own countrymen, when he first began to publish his doctrine. This idea, it must be acknowledged, seems to have no small weight of probability in its favour, from the consideration that there is such clear contradiction to the leading sentiment of the Sadducee sect, in other parts of Scripture, as it is hard to see how they could get along with it at all, unless by rejecting the whole; and it appears, moreover, to derive indirect confirmation from the fact, that our Saviour, when he urged the authority of God's word against their doctrine, on a certain occasion, drew his argument only from the pentateuch, when he might have brought more direct and explicit testimony, as it would seem, from other portions of revelation, if all the Jewish bible had been received by those whom he undertook to convince of error. (Mati. xxii. 31, VOL. II.
32.) Still, it is an idea unsupported by any positive evidence whatever; and, more than this, it is pretty clearly discovered to be erroneous, from the use that is found, out of the Jewish writings, to have been made, in controversy with the Sadducees, of other books of the Old Testament, besides those of Moses, and even by the sect itself, in support of its own opinions, while no charge of rejecting any part of revelation is ever urged against them.
The Sadducees are represented to have been characterised in general, by a selfish and unsociable spirit. Without much sectarian interest to knit them in friendly union among themselves, they felt still less regard for other members of the community; and as, according to their system, the man who secured for himself the greatest amount of personal enjoyment in this present world, was supposed to make the best use of life, they appear to have contracted the sympathies of their nature within a narrow compass, and to have made it their great concern to fill their own houses with comfort and pleasure, and to shut out from them the sound of sorrow, deliberately closing their hearts against all the gentle powers of charity, and leaving all the rest of the world to their fortune, evil or happy, with cold and careless indifference. The poor, and especially the unfortunate, were excluded from their favourable regard: they overlooked them with unfeeling neglect. It may be, however, that calumny has flung a darker colouring over the picture of the Sadducee character, in this respect, than the original ever gave reason for.
The sect of the Sadducees, it seems, did not retain much of its importance long after the destruction of the temple and the state. It shrunk at last into insignificance, and expired; while that of the Pharisees continually diffused and strengthened the authority of its creed, till in the end, though its name has passed out of use, its sentiments have become the most unanimous faith of the whole Jewish people. There is still, however, a little sect-a very little one-that dares to dissent from the general body, and reject, like the Sadducees of old, the whole system of traditions, acknowledging only the written word to be of supreme and divine authority, in every question of religious faith or practice. It has been imagined by some, that it ought to be regarded
as the feeble remnant of the ancient sect of Sadoc itself, still struggling to sustain itself after so many centuries, amid the triumphs of its rival; but since it disclaims altogether the Sadducee infidelity, admitting the existence of angels, and allowing the reality of a future state, there seems to be no good reason to derive it from so foul an original. The sect of the Caraites (for so they are called) has been in existence more than a thousand years, all along bearing witness for the true word of God, against the overwhelming influence of the Rabbinists as the party that embraces the Pharisee doctrine of traditions, has come to be denominated, and endeavouring to retain, in their little body, some image of the ancient faith of Israel, amid the melancholy rubbish of superstition and corruption that is gathered upon the ruins of their national religion..
THE Essenes are not noticed in the New Testament: for although their sect was in as flourishing a state in the days of our Saviour, as it ever was at any time, yet their manner of life separated them in a great measure from the scenes of his ministry, and cut them off from all connexion with the interesting events of his history. All our knowledge of this remarkable class of Jews, accordingly, is derived from other sources; not, however, through the streams of uncertain tradition, as in some other cases we are compelled to derive information from the distant region of antiquity, but by the testimony of authentic history, conveyed in sure and regular channels over all the intervening waste of time.
The Essenes lived together in separate societies of their own, withdrawing themselves altogether from public cares, refusing to participate in the general employments and interests of the world, and adopting for their habitual use, a system of principles and manners so utterly diverse from all the common plan of life around them, that it became