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vealed, yet was alike accessible to the one as to the other.
Upon a review of the whole, it will appear, that the condition of mankind was bettered, step by step, as the reason and nature of things directed, and as they would permit. The scope and intendment of the whole scheme of Divine Providence, in all its various dispensations, was to bring human nature, by proper degrees, and in a way consistent with moral agency, to all the beauty, holiness, and perfection, which it can, in this present state attain to. And though we are not indeed able absolutely to trace all the reasons of the Divine conduct, and to demonstrate the wisdom of it in every particular; yet we may in general discover, that all the parts of this scheme were wisely formed and arranged, depending regularly on each other, leading to the same great and good end, and adapted to the respective circumstances and conditions of mankind'."
It is universally allowed, that, while the spirit of prophecy continued, there were not any religious sects among the Jews; the authority of the prophets being sufficient to prevent any difference of opinion. The sects which afterwards prevailed among them, spràng up gradually; and it is difficult to ascertain the time of their origin
with precision; but almost all of them seem to have arisen from the doctrines taught by the scribes, after the return from the Babylonian captivity.
Though the scribes were not considered a religious sect themselves, yet as they undertook to teach the people, it may be useful to give some account of them. They are mentioned very early in the Sacred History; many authors suppose they were of two descriptions, the one ecclesiastic, the other civil. It is said: "Out of Zebulon, came they that handle the pen of the writer." And the Rabbies state, that the scribes were chiefly of the tribe of Simeon. Those who were remarkable for writing well, were held in great esteem in the early ages, when all records were dependant entirely upon the pen.
Those scribes who copied the law, became instructors of the people in it. Baruch was amanuensis or scribe to Jeremiah; and Ezra is called, "a ready scribe in the law of Moses, having prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel, statutes and judgments;" but there is not any mention of the scribes being formed into a distinct body, till after the cessation of prophecy.
When there were no inspired teachers in Israel, the scribes presumed to interpret and expound
the law and the prophets, and to comment upon them, in the schools and in the synagogues. Hence arose those numberless glosses, interpretations, and opinions, which so much perplexed and perverted, instead of explaining the text ; and hence arose that unauthorized maxim, which was the principal source of all the Jewish seets; that the oral and traditionary law, was of Divine origin, as well as the written law; and that this oral law, was to be considered explanatory of the written, which was represented to be in many places, obscure, scanty, and defective.
In some cases they were led to expound the law by the traditions, in direct opposition to the true intent and meaning. And it may be supposed, that the intercourse of the Jews with the Greeks, after the death of Alexander, contributed much to increase those vain subtleties with which they had perplexed and burdened the doctrines of religion.
They had scholars under their care whom they taught the knowledge of the law, and who, in their schools, sat on low stools, which accounts for Saul being brought up at the feet of Gamaliel.
By the time of our Saviour, the scribes had indeed almost laid aside the written law, having rther regard to that, than as it agreed with
their traditionary expositions of it; and thus by their additions, corruptions, and misinterpretations, "had made the commandment of God of no effect." It may be observed that this, in a great measure, accounts for the extreme blindness of the Jews, with respect to their Messiah, whom they had been taught by these commentators to expect as a temporal prince.
The description we have here given, is sufficient to show, that the Mosaic code, like an old law, was become obsolete; it might figuratively be said to be worn out, which indicated the necessity of a new and better dispensation.
Of the scribes in the time of our Lord, he uniformly speaks with censure and indignation; and usually joins them with the Pharisees, to which sect they in general belonged.
Of the Pharisees, Josephus informs us, they were a sect of considerable weight, when John Hyrcanus was high priest, one hundred and eighty years before Christ. Their name was derived from Pharas, a Hebrew word, which signifies separated, or set apart; because they affected an uncommon degree of sanctity and piety. Their distinguishing dogma was a scrupu`lous and zealous attention to the tradition of the elders, which they placed upon an equal footing with the written law.
They were strict observers of external rites and ceremonies, beyond what the law required; and were superstitiously exact in paying tithe of the most trifling articles, while they neglected the essential duties of religion. Trusting in themselves, that they were righteous, they not only despised the rest of mankind, but were entirely destitute of humility towards God, which is inseparable from true piety; yet the specious sanc250. tity of their manners, and their hypocritical display of zeal for religion, gave them vast influence over the common people, and consequently great power and authority over the Jewish
The principles of the Sadducees, it is said, were derived from Antigonus Soehaus, president of the Sanhedrim, who, rejecting the traditionary doctrine of the scribes, taught that men ought to serve God more out of pure love, than from hope of reward, or fear of punishment; and that they derived their name from Sadoc, one of his followers, who, mistaking or perverting this doctrine, maintained that there was no future state of rewards or punishments. It is certain that in the time of our Saviour, the Sadducees denied the resurrection of the dead; they rejected all traditions, asserting that those things are binding which are written; but that the things