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confined to the nations usually styled barbarian-nations outside of Greece and Rome. Even Rome followed the same practice. Octavian carried three hundred men to be slain on the altar of Cæsar, and Sextus Pompeius ordered that persons should be thrown into the sea, as a sacrifice to Neptune. These sacrifices ceased, generally, at least in the Roman empire, about the time of Hadrian; but for nearly three hundred years after Christ a human victim was yearly offered in Rome to Jupiter Latialis.

Still, all these nations had more or less thought of moral obligation. They also thought of a future existence, and had speculations concerning it. They believed strongly in rewards and punishments, generally of interminable duration, beyond the grave. But with all this, they were wretchedly depraved, and, at the advent of the Messiah, were sinking deeper and still deeper in darkness and corruption.

Of course, if we look, under such circumstances, at the condition of learning among these nations, though it was in many regards great, yet we find it was a means rather of helping on the general gloom than of raising out of it. This may be partially accounted for from the fact, that all learning and all philosophy took a religious basis, and with such religions as affected them, or were developed by them, they could not be high, or noble, or beneficial. In Persia there was a philosophy of the magi, which taught that the universe was governed by two principles, the one good, and the other evil. This philosophy spread through a large part of Asia and Africa, and found especial favor among the Syrians, the Assyrians, the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, and even-though with some modifications-among the Jews. The East Indians had been from time immemorial, as indeed they are now, largely celebrated for wisdom and knowledge; though we may add, their knowledge and wisdom have been overrated, at any rate found development only in the awful rites and worship now known as Brahminical and Hindoo. The Germans, the Celts, and the ancient Britons, were not altogether destitute of some pretension to learning. Among the Gauls, the people of Marseilles had a reputation for progress in the sciences, especially in the science of mechanics; and among the Celts, the Druids, who were at once priests, philosophers, and legislators, were somewhat remark

able for wisdom. Still, all these were sunk in idolatry and gross superstition; and always, with their idolatry and superstition, went immorality of the most debasing kind. Even the wisest were not without stain. Often they were the most tainted. And very frequently, notwithstanding they would affect to deride the vulgar prejudices of the populace, and to ignore their superstitions, yet to those very superstitions would they bend on the least approach of danger; and to those prejudices they daily pandered.

With Rome and Greece, therefore, the nations generally present a most appalling spectacle, as obtaining at the Advent. At least, this is the spectacle it must present to those trained in the light of better things, and who thus can look back through the light into the darkness that has been passed, and which they have escaped, if not in themselves, in the persons of their ancestors.

There yet remains for our notice, the Hebrew nation. The history of the Jews, in some regards, wears a totally different aspect to that of any other people. As the chosen children of God they had, and long had possessed, more light than other nations; and with that greater light, greater privileges. But in the times of which we write, their condition was little better, if any, than that of the world around them. They had nearly always been a rebellious people, notwithstanding their advantages, and that to them were committed the "oracles of God;" and they had suffered the just judgments of the Almighty in consequence thereof. After the Babylonish captivity, they were successively subject to the Persians, the Egyptians, and the Syrians; they then formed an independent state under the Maccabees, dating from about one hundred and sixty-seven to about sixty-three years before Christ. With the last of that race, Hyrcanus, they were compelled to submit to the Roman government. From the time of the death of Hyrcanus, Herod the Idumean ruled over the land, in dependence, however, upon th authority of Rome. Afterwards Herod divided the country among his three sons, giving to Archelaus, with the title of Ethnarch, that portion embracing Judea, Idumea, and Samaria; to Philip, with the title of Tetrarch, the part including Batania, Iturea, and Trachonitis; and to Herod Antipas, also with the title of Tetrarch, the portion

comprising Galilee and Perea. When in the sixth year of the Christian era, Archelaus was banished on account of his cruel and infamous reign, the territories he had ruled became a Roman province, under the pro-consul of Syria, who governed by a pro-curator,-Pontius Pilate occupying the position from A. D. 28 to A. D. 37. The Tetrarchy of Philip eventually passed into the hands of Herod Agrippa, who was elevated by Claudius to the kingship over all Palestine. After him the country again became a Roman province, governed by pro-curators, among whom, in those times, may be mentioned, Tiberius, Felix and Festus.

Under the wild luxury and despotic government of these rulers, it is no wonder that the Jews suffered, and were degraded to almost the lowest depths. Though governed by Roman powers, they were permitted in the main to be ruled by their own laws, and to enjoy their own religion. The administration of their religion was in the hands of their high priest and the Sanhedrim, to the former of which the Levites were in subjection. Save in some few particulars, the forms of their worship had undergone but little alteration; but the worship was formal in the extreme, even in Palestine. Nor was it any better with the Jews out of Palestine. Of these many had remained in Babylonia, spreading themselves afterwards still farther east. Some were found in Arabia, where the kings of the Homerites had embraced Judaism some hundred years before Christ. Some, also, were found in Egypt, in Syria, and in Greece, as also in Rome and many other places. They all, however, looked to Jerusalem as their common capital, and to the Sanhedrim of that place as their highest ecclesiastical authority. Thither, when at all possible, they sent annual contributions and offerings, and repaired there frequently to the great festivals of the temple. In foreign countries the Jews were protected by special laws and statutes, which protection was necessary because their different religion and customs exposed them to the hatred and often the violence of the heathen.

Among the Jews were several parties, viz., the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the Therapeutae. There were also two great bodies of the people, the Jews proper, and the Samaritans. The Samaritans mingled the corruptions of Paganism with Judaism to a large extent, and

celebrated their worship in a temple built on Mount Gerizim, some four hundred years before Christ, but which however, was destroyed by Hyrcanus more than a hundred years before the advent. The Samaritans were those (originally) who had peopled the tract called Samaria; and who had been gathered into it, by the King of Assyria, after the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel, from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim.1 They be came converts to Judaism, through the influence of the king, who sent priests among them to teach the doctrines and rites of the Hebrews. They held fast their Judaism, as it was delivered to them, notwithstanding they mingled with it much of paganism, and refused to accept the later developments of the system as made by the regular Jews. Hence the hatred that grew up between the two bodies. They had a regular Levitical priesthood, which, after the destruction of the temple on Gerizim, was transferred to the Jewish and Samaritan colonies of Egypt, there remaining, in some form, probably even to this day.

The chief point of controversy between the sects of the Jews was concerning the authority of the written lawwhether that alone was binding, or whether oral tradition might be received. The Pharisees adopted traditions; but these were rejected by the Sadducees and Essenes, who clung only to the written law. But the true sense of the law, also, caused division and dissension. The Pharisees gave a double sense to the sacred text, rejecting the words, and seeking something celestial through them. The Sadducees, however, insisted that only what was on the face of the words was signified by them. The Essenes differed from both parties, leading an ascetic life. The Pharisees believed in endless punishment beyond the grave. The Sadducees confined all punishment to this life, and the Essenes contended for the punishment of the soul only, after death, differing in this from the Pharisees, who held that both soul and body suffered. We may observe in passing, that there is no valid evidence that the Essenes believed in endless punishment; the burden of evidence is rather to the effect that they did not. The Therapeutae were a branch of the Essenes, the Essenes themselves dwelling only in contem

12 Kings, xviii, 24.

plative studies, while the Therapeutae devoted some of their time to labors of charity and the active duties of life.

But religion and morals among them all were deplorably low. Errors of the most pernicious kind had crept into the general system; and though the Jews generally looked, according to the teachings of their Scriptures, for a deliverer or Messiah, they looked for him in the person of a powerful and warlike prince, who would break off their political chains, and free them from their bondage to the Roman empire. They had already more or less corrupted their religious philosophy by superstitions concerning the Divine nature and power, invisible objects, and the like, which they had brought partly from Babylon, and partly derived from the Egyptians, the Syrians, and the Arabians. It is true, Judaism had been introduced in many ways. among the heathen. Many became proselytes to its worship, though generally mingling their own superstitions therewith. But at the same time it is unquestionable, especially about the date of the advent of the Saviour, that the intercourse of the Jews with the Pagans exerted on the Jews a most powerful influence for evil. They gained thereby, undoubtedly, much cultivation; and a more rigidly philosophical mode of treating their religion, developed especially at Alexandria through the study of the Greek philosophy; but with all this, they also gained the customs and sins of the heathen, in the exercise of which they wandered wider and wider from their own God and law-giver. They had even gone so far, about the time of Christ, as to borrow many of the forms and ceremonies of the Greek and Roman worship, and incorporate them in some instances with their own, notwithstanding their own had been specially and minutely established by divine authority.

If we look at the manner in which the Jews and Judaism were looked upon and treated by the heathen, these facts appear. At first Judaism seems to have been respected by the pagans as an old and popular religion. Very often the God of the Hebrews received from the various pagan rulers the honors due their own national deities. And this might have continued, and grown more and more the case, but that the Jews (so far to their credit, let us add) never lost an opportunity of declaring their God better than all other gods. Had their lives and customs been in accord



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