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were next to Judea, the one had Egypt and the neighboring countries on the south of Judea, and the other had Syria and the neighboring countries north of Judea ; and these two are those that are called the kings of the north and of the south in the 11th chapter of Daniel.
Now, this setting up of the Grecian empire did greatly prepare the way for Christ's coming, and setting up his king- . dom in the world. Besides those ways common to the other. overturnings of the world in this period, that have been already mentioned, there is one peculiar to this revolution which I would take notice of, which did remarkably promote the work of redemption ; and that was, that it made the Greek language common in the world. To have one common language understood and used through the greater part of the world, was a thing that did greatly prepare the way for the setting up of Christ's kingdom. This gave advantage for spreading the gospel from one nation to another, and so through all nations, with vastly greater ease, than if every nation had a distinct language, and did not understand each oth
For though some of the first preachers of the gospel had the gift of languages, so that they could preach in any language ; yet all had not this particular gift; and they that had, could not exercise it when they would, but only at special seasons, when the Spirit of God was pleased to inspire them in this way. And the church in different parts of the world, as the churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Galatia, Corinth, and others, which were in countries distant one from another, could not have had that communication one with another, which we have an account of in the book of Acts, if they had had no common language. So it was before the Grecian em. pire was set up. But after this, many in all these countries well understood the same language, viz. the Greek language ; which wonderfully opened the door for mutual communica. tion between those churches, so far separated one from anoth: er. And again, the making the Greek language common through so great a part of the world, did wonderfully make way for the setting up of the kingdom of Christ, because it was the language in which the New Testament was to be
originally written. The apostles propagated the gospel through many scores of nations, and if they could not have understood the Bible any otherwise than as it was translated into so many languages, it would have rendered the spreading of the gospel vastly more difficult. But by the Greek language being made common to all, they all understood the New Testament of Jesus Christ in the language in which the apostles and evangelists originally wrote it : So that as soon as ever it was written by its original penmen, it immediately lay open to the world in a language that was commonly understood every where, as there was no language that was so commonly understood in the world in Christ's and the apostles' times as the Greek ; the cause of which was the setting up of the Grecian empire in the world.
XV. The next thing I shall take notice of is, the translating of the scriptures of the Old Testament into a language that was commonly understood by the Gentiles. The translation that I here speak of is that into the Greek language, that is commonly called the Septuagint, or the translation of the Seventy. This is supposed to have been made about fifty or sixty years after Alexander's conquering the world. This is the first translation that ever was made of the scriptures that we have any credible account of. The canon of the Old Testament had been completed by the prophet Malachi but about an hundred and twenty years before, in its original ; and hitherto the scriptures had remained locked up from all other nations but the Jews, in the Hebrew tongue, which was understood by, no other nation. But now it was translated into the Greek language, which, as we observed before, was a language that was commonly understood by the nations of the world:
This translation of the Old Testament is still extant, and is commonly in the hands of learned men in these days, and is made great use of by them. The Jets have many' fábles about the occasion and manner of this translation ; but the truth of the case is supposed to be this, that'multitudes of the Jews living in other parts of the world besides Judea, and be, ing born and bred among the Greeks, the Greek became their
common language, and they did not understand the original Hebrew; and therefore they procured the scriptures to be translated for their use into the Greek language, and so henceforward the Jews, in all countries, except Judea, were wont in their synagogues to make use of this translation instead of the Hebrew:
This translation of the scriptures into a language, commonly understood through the world, prepared the way for Christ's coming, and setting up his kingdom in the world, and after wards did greatly promote it. - For as the apostles went preaching through the world, they made great use of the scriptures of the Old Testament, and especially of the prophecies concerning Christ that were contained in them. And by means of this translation, and by the Jews being scattered every where, they bad the scriptures at hand in a language that was understood by the Gentiles : And they did principally make use of this translation in their preaching and writings wherever they went ; as is evident by this, that in all the innumérable quotations that are made out of the Old Testament in their writings in the New Testament, they are almost évèry where in the very words of the Septuagint. The sense is the same as it is in the original Hebrew; but very often the words are different, as all that are acquainted with their Bibles know. When the apostles in their epistles, and the evangelists in their histories, cite passages out of the Old Testament, it is very often in different words from what we have in the Old Testament, as all know. But yet these citations are almost universally in the very words of the Septuagint version; for that may be seen by comparing them together, they being both written in the same language. This makes it evident, that the apostles, in their preaching and writings, commonly made use of this translation. So this very translation was that which was principally used in Christian churches through most nations of the world for several hundred years after Christ.
XVI. The next thing is the wonderful preservation of the church when it was imminently threatened and persecuted under the Grecian empire. VOL. II.
WORK OF REDEMPTION. [PERIOD L The first time they were threatened was by Alexander himself. When he was besieging the city of Tyre, sending to the Jews for assistance and supplies for his army, and they refusing, out of a conscientious regard to their oath to the king of Persia, he being a man of a very furious spirit, agreeable to the scripture representation of the rough he goat, marched against them, with a design to cut them off. But the priests going out to meet him in their priestly garments, when he met them, God wonderfully turned his heart to spare them, and favor them, much as he did the heart of Esau when he met Jacob.
After this, one of the kings of Egypt, a successor of one of Alexander's four captains, entertained a design of destroying the nation of the Jews ; but was remarkably and wonderfully prevented by a stronger interposition of Heaven for their preservation.
But the most wonderful preservation of them all, in this period, was under the cruel persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria, and successor of another of Alexander's four captains. The Jews were at that time, subject to the power of Antiochus ; and he, being enraged against them, long strove to his utmost utterly to destroy them, and root them out; at least all of them that would not forsake their religion and worship his idols : And he did indeed in a great measure waste the country, and depopulate the city of Jerusalem ; and profaned the temple, by setting up his idols in some parts of it ; and persecuted the people with insatiable cruelty; so that we have no account of any persecution like his. before. Many of the particular circumstances of this persecution would be very affecting, if I had time to insist on them. This cruel persecution begani about an hundred and seventy years before Christ. It is much spoken of in the prophecy of Daniel, as you may see, Dan. viii. 9.....25 ; xi. 31.....38. These persecutions are also spoken of in the New Testament, as, Heb. xi. 36, 37, 38.
Antiochus intended not only to extirpate the Jewish religion, but, as far as in him lay, the very nation ; and particularly labored to the utmost to destroy all copies of the law,
And considering how weak they were, in comparison with a king of such vast dominion, the providence of God appears very wonderful in defeating his design. Many times the Jews seemed to be on the very brink of ruin, and just ready to be wholly swallowed up : Their enemies often thought themselves sure of obtaining their purpose. They once came against the people with a mighty army, and with a design of killing all, except the women and children, and of selling these for slaves ; and they were so confident of obtaining their purpose, and others of purchasing, that aboye a thousand merchants came with the army, with money in their hands, to buy the slaves that should be sold. But God wonderfully stírred up and assisted one Judas, and others his successors, that were called the Maccabees, who, with a small handful in comparison, vanquished their enemies time after time, and delivered their nation ; which was foretold by Daniel, xi. 3%. Speaking of Antiochus's persecution, he says, “ And such as do wickedly against the covenant, shall he corrupt by flatteries : But the people that do know their God, shall be strong, and do exploits."
God afterwards brought this Antiochus to a fearful, miserable end, by a loathsome disease, under dreadful torments of body, and horrors of mind; which was foretold, Dan. xi. 45, in these words, “ Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him."
After his death, there were attempts still to destroy the church of God; but God baffled them all.
XVII. The next thing to be taken notice of is the destrụction of the Grecian empire, and setting up of the Roman em. pire. This was the fourth overturning of the world that was in this period.. And though it was brought to pass more grad. ually than the setting up of the Grecian empire, yet it far ex. ceeded that, and was much the greatest and largest temporal monarchy that ever was in the world ; so that the Roman empire was commonly called all the world ; as it is in Luke ü. 1. 6 And there went out a decree from Cesar Augustųs, that all the world should be taxed ;" i. e. all the Roman empire.