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'circulation of the blood, or the universal stoppage thereof; and then the frame of nature is broken, and man returns to the dust *.
In the New Testament there are several metaphors used; some of which are taken from the Isthmian and Olympic games, practised by the Greeks and Romans. Thus the apostle Paul compares the Christian life to a race in which many run; but they do not all receive the prize, 1 Cor. ix. 24. And, in ver. 25. he alludes to another exercise, to wit, wrestling; and recommends temperance as what was practised by them, as a means for their obtaining the crown. And, ver. 26. he uses a metaphor, taken from another of the games, to wit, fighting, in hope of victory; by which he illustrates his zeal in the discharge of his ministry. And in Heb. xii. 1. he speaks of the Christian race, and the necessity of laying aside every weight, to wit, allowed sins, which would retard our course, or hinder us in the way to heaven. And in Phil. iii. 13, 14. he speaks of himself both as a minister and a Christian, as forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,' and, pressing towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of 'God in Christ Jesus;' where he plainly alludes to the purpose, industry, and earnestness of those who run in a race. And, in Eph. vi. 11,-16. he speaks of the difficulties, temptations, and opposition that believers are exposed to, in the Christian life; and advises them, to put on the whole armour of God; and so carries on the metaphor or allegory, by alluding to the various pieces of armour, which soldiers make use of when engaged in battle, to illustrate the methods we ought to take, that we may come off conquerors at last.
(6.) It will be very useful, in order to our understanding scripture, for us to know some things, relating to the diffe rent forms of civil government, and the various changes made therein, among the Jews, and other nations, with whom they were conversant. At first we find, that distinct families had the administration of civil affairs committed unto them, and the heads thereof were, as it were, the chief magistrates, who had the exercise of civil power, in some instances; especially if it did not interfere with that of the country wherein they lived. Some think, indeed, that it extended to the punishing capital crimes with death; and that Judah, who was the head of a branch of Jacob's family, when he passes this sentence concerning Tamar, in Gen. xxxviii. 24, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt, does it as a civil magistrate But, if it be not deemed a rash and unjustifiable
* See more of this in an ingenious discourse on this subject by Smith in Soloman" portraiture of old age.
expression in him, when he says, Let her be brought forth, and burnt, we must suppose the meaning to be, let her first be confined till she is delivered of her child, and then tried by the civil magistrate, the consequence whereof will be, her being burnt, when found guilty of the adultery that was charged upon her. So that it does not appear that the heads of families, when sojourning in other countries, had a power distinct from that of the government under which they lived, to punish offenders with death; though, I think, it is beyond dispute, that they had a government in their own families, that extended, in many respects, to civil affairs, as well as obliged them to observe those religious duties which God required of them.
It may be farther observed, that this government extended so far, as that the Patriarchs, or heads of families, had, sometimes, a power of making war, or entering into confederacies with neighbouring princes, for their own safety, or recovering their rights when invaded. Thus when Lot and the Sodomites, were taken prisoners by the four kings that came up against them, we read, in Gen. xiv. 13, 14. that Abraham called in the assistance of some of his neighbours, with whom he was in confederacy, and armed his trained servants, three hundred and eighteen, born in his house, and rescued him, and the men of Sodom from the hands of those that had taken them prisoners.
We have little more light as to this matter, so long as the government continued domestic, and the church in the condition of sojourners: But, when they were increased to a great nation, their civil, as well as religious government, was settled, by divine direction, under the hand of Moses, in the wilderness. The first form thereof, was a theocracy, in which God gave them laws in an immediate way; condescended to satisfy them, as to some things, which they enquired of him about; gave them particular intimations how they should manage their affairs of war and peace; and appeared for them in giving them victory over their enemies, in a very extraordinary, and sometimes, miraculous way. But, besides this great honour that God put on them, he established a form of government among them, in which they were divided into thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, Exod. xviii. 31. Deut. i. 15. each of which divisions had their respective captain or governor; who are, sometimes, styled the nobles of the children of Israel, Exod. xxiv. 11. And these governors were generally heads of considerable families among them; which were also divided in the same way, into thousands, fifties, and tens, in proportion to the largeness thereof; thus Gideon, speaking of his family, in Judges vi. 25. calls
it, as the Hebrew word signifies, his thousand. And, in the same manner, their armies were divided, when engaged in war; thus when Jesse sent David with a present, into the army, to his brethren, he bade him deliver it to the captain over their thousand, 1 Sam. xvii. 18. and chap. xviii. 13. And we read, that Saul made David his captain over a thousand; which is the same with what we, in our modern way of speaking, call a commanding officer over a regiment of soldiers. Again, when David's soldiers went out to war against Absalom, it is said, They came out by hundreds and by thousands, 2 Sam. xviii. 4. each distinct company, or regiment, having their commanding officer.
Thus the government was settled as to civil and military affairs, in such a way, that the head of the respective division, had a power of judging in lesser matters. But since there were some affairs of the greatest importance to be transacted in the form of their government, by divine direction, God appointed seventy men of the children of Israel, to assist Moses in those matters, in which they had more immediately to do with him; and accordingly he gave them the Spirit, Numb. xi, 16, 17. that is, the extraordinary inspiration of the Spirit; whereby he communicated his mind and will to them. This was the first rise of the Sanhedrim; and these had a power of judging in civil matters, throughout all the ages of the church till the Jews were made tributary to the Romans; and after that, this body of men were as vile and contemptible as they had before been honourable in the eyes of just and good men, as appears by their tumultuous and unprecedented behaviour in the trial of our Saviour, and the malicious prosecutions, set on foot by them, against the apostles, without any pretence or form of law.
After the death of Joshua, and the elders that survived him, there was an alteration in the form of government, occasioned by the oppression which they were liable to from their enemies, who insulted, vexed, and sometimes plundered them of their substance. Then God raised up judges, who first procured peace for them, by success in war; and afterwards governed them; though without the character or ensigns of royal dignity. And, this government not being successive, they were, on the death of their respective judges, brought into great confusion, every one doing that which was right in his own eyes, till another judge was raised up, as some future emergency required it. Thus the posture of their affairs continued, as the apostle observes, about the space of four hundred and fifty years, Acts xiii. 20. and then it was altered, when, through their unsettled temper, they desired a king, in conformity to the custom of the nations round about them VOL. IV.
which thing was displeasing to God: nevertheless, he granted them their request, 1 Sam. viii. 5,-7. and so the government became regal. And then followed a succession of kings, set over the whole nation, till the division between Judah and Israel; when they became two distinct kingdoms, and so continued, till their respective captivity. These things being duly considered, will give great light to several things contained in scripture; especially as to what relates to the civil affairs of the church of God.
And, for our farther understanding thereof, it will be necessary that we take a view of the government of other nations, with whom they were often conversant. We read al
most of as many kings in scripture, as there were cities in several of those countries which lay round about them; thus, in Gen. xxxvi. we read of many dukes and kings, (whose power was much the same) who descended from Esau. These had very small dominions, each of them being, as it is probable, the chief governor of one city, or, at most, of a little tract of land round about it; and, indeed, besides the Assyrian, and other monarchies, that were of a very large extent, and had none who stood in competition with them, under that character, while they subsisted; all other kingdoms were very small; therefore four kings were obliged to enter into a confederacy, to make war with Sodom, and the four neighbouring cities, which a very inconsiderable army might, without much difficulty, have subdued, Gen. xiv. 1, &c. One of them, indeed, is called king of nations; not as though he had large dominions, but because he was the chief governor of a mixed people, from divers nations, who were settled together in one distinct colony; and the king of Shinar, there spoken of, is not the king of Babylon, who was too potent a prince to have stood in need of others to join with him in this expedition; but it was a petty king, who reigned in some city near Babylon, and was tributary to the Assyrian empire. These four kings, with all their forces, were so few in number, that Abraham was not afraid to attack them; which he did with success.
Again, we read, that in Joshua's time, the kings in the land of Canaan, whom he subdued, had, each of them, very small dominions, consisting of but one capital city, with a few villages round about it. Thus we read of thirty one kings that reigned in that country, which was not so big as a fourth part of the kingdom of England, Josh. xii. And afterwards most of these kingdoms were swallowed up by the Assyrian empire. Thus the king of Assyria, as Rabshakeh boasts, had entirely conquered the kings of Hamath, Arphad, Gozan, and Haran, with several others, 2 Kings xix. 12, 13. these had
very small dominions, and therefore were easily subdued by forces so much superior to any that they could raise. Egypt, indeed, was more formidable; and therefore we often read in scripture of Israel's having recourse to them for help, and are blamed for trusting in them more than God: And, in Arabia, there were some kings who had large dominions, as appears by the vast armies that they raised: Thus Zerah the Ethiopian came forth against Asa, with a thousand thousand men, 2 Chron. xvi. 19. Nevertheless, the church of God was able to stand its ground; for, whether the neighbouring kings were many of them, confederate against them, or the armies they raised, exceeding numerous, like the sand on the sea shore; they had safety and protection, as well as success in war, from the care and blessing of providence; of which we have an account in the history of scripture relating thereunto.
(7.) It will be of some advantage, in order to our understanding the sense of scripture, for us to enquire into the meaning of those civil and religious offices and characters, by which several persons are described, both in the Old and New Testament. Concerning the Priests and Levites, we have had occasion frequently to insist on their call and office: Among the former of these, one is styled high-priest; who was not only the chief minister in holy things under the Jewish dispensation; but presided over the other priests in all those things that respected the temple-service. There was also another priest, who had pre-eminence over his brethren, that was next to the high-priest in office, who seems to be referred to, in 2 Kings xxv, 18. where we read of Seriah, the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest. This office is not often mentioned in scripture, but is frequently spoken of by Jewish writers: They call him, who was employed therein, as the author of the Chaldee paraphrase does on that text, the Sagan: And, some think, that this office was first instituted in Numb. iii. 32. in which Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest was to be chief over the chief of the Levites, and to have the oversight of them, that kept the charge of the sanctuary: And elsewhere, we read of Źadok and Abiathar, being, by way of eminency, priests at the same time, 2 Sam. xv. 35. by which, it is probable, we are to understand, as many expositors do, that one was the high priest, the other the Sagan; who was to perform the office that belonged to the high priest in all the branches thereof, if he should happen to be incapacitated for it.
Besides these, there were others who were styled chiefpriests, as being the heads of their respective classes, and presided over them when they came to Jerusalem, to minister in their courses. There was also the president of the Sanhedrim, who is generally reckoned one of the chief priests. Moreover,