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Julian Pe-' The institutions of Christianity had succeeded to the institu- Asia Xu
country alone, was taken down, and the whole world was in-
It may be useful, iu the conclusion of this work, to cast a
We will compare the state of tbe world at the beginning of the century before the birth of Christ was announced to the shepherds, with its condition at the death of the last of the apostles,
At the commencement of the century in which the Redeemer
The teachers of tbe Jews bad secularized the religion of their
Julian Pe. the doctrine of a future state, and the consequent sanctions of Asia Minor,
destroyed internal religion, by denying its necessity altogether;
Tbe close of the century presented a strong contrast with this
Before we proceed to the history of the Christian Church, it may be advisable to inquire into the condition of the once fa· vou red people of God, after their rejection of the Messiah had brought upon them the accomplishment of bis predictions, in the destruction of tbe city, and the utter ruin of their poli. tical existence.
The visible true Church, in any nation, is under tbe protection of the peculiar Providence of God, and entitled to the veneration of the people, whom it is intended to guide to future bappiness, so long only as it retains its spiritual fitness, and zeal, and purity, to accomplish the objects of its institution. This seems to be the lesson which the fall of Jerusalem was de. signed to impress upon the infant Church, which had now succeeded to the miraculous gifts and privileges of the Church of Jerusalem. Not only did the fallen daugbter of Sion render service to her favoured sister, by impressing this solemo lesson, she was still permitted, before the final dispersion of her sons, so to deliver the ancient Scriptures to the Gentile Churches, that their integrity and genuineness should be unimpeachable, eitber by the Jews or Heathens.
Though the city and temple of Jerusalem were destroyed, the Sanhedrim remained, and were acknowledged by the surviving Hebrews as the legitimate directors and teachers of the people: Some years before the destruction of the temple they had removed to Jabneh : and, after that event; Räbban Jochanap bea. Zacchai, the president, who had predicted the destruction of the temple forty years before, when the doors of the temple had opened without visible causo, requested permission of Titus, with whom he was in favour, to re-establish the Sanhedrim at Jabpeh. Fully convinced of the truth of his own propheey, bo bad entreated the people to submit to the Romans.' It was por sibly on this account that Titus complied witb his request. He sat as president of the Saphedrim five years after the destruction of the city. Sume few of the more emipent and learned Jows, who escaped from the common slanghter, from the sale, and vassalage of their countrymon, continued with him at Jabpeh,
Julian Pe- Among these were R. Gamaliel, the son of the R. Simeon who Asia Miser. riod, 4799. was educated with St. Paul, and was killed when president of the Vulgar Æra, Sanbedrim, at the siege of Jerusalem : this Simeon is consi. 96, dered by the Jews as the last of the ten eminent men who were
slain by the kingdom, that is, who were put to death by the Ro.
With R. Gamaliel were R. Zadok, who bad emaciated his body with extreme fasting, when the doors of the temple moved on their hinges by invisible bands, R. Eliezer ben Hyr. canus, the author of Pirke Eliezer, and others whose names are still beld in honour among the Jews. These men were employed to the last in making decrees respecting the ritual of the temple service, and settling questions of ceremonies, though the glory had departed, and religion bad become an empty form. There were tbirteen worshippings, or bowings, in the temple, but the house of Rabban Gamaliel and the house of Ananias Sagan made fourteen, says a Jewish tradition. Lightfoot erroneously conjectures that the Ananias, who was thus united with the house of R. Gamaliel in ordering the additional bowings in the temple, when it was about to be destroyed, was the same Ananias wbo insulted St. Paul.
R. Jochanan was succeeded in his presidency over the Sanhedrim at Jabneh by R. Gamaliel. The traditions relate, that he gave offence to the people by his pride and passion, and at one period was deprived of his presidency; he was restored to his dignity in part only, R. Eliezer being elevated to the joint administration.
The presidency of these two, continued twelve years, from the second year of Vespasian, to the second of Domitian. The hatred of the Romans towards the Jews had not at this time increased to its height. In the second year of Domitian, R. Akibah, was their head. His presidency lasted forty years, when the Romans sacked with so much cruelty the town Bitter, or more properly Beth-Tar (a). The Jews now began to be more severely threatened, as enemies to the public peace of the empire, and to all mankind. This was the period of the dreadful insurrection at Cyrene (6), when they murdered two bundred and twenty thousand Greeks and Romans, under circumstances of the most revolting and shameful cruelty. A similar insurrection was made in Egypt and Cyprus, where they slaughtered two bundred and forty thousand. The principal author of this revolt is said to have been the false Messiah, Ben Cozba, who proclaimed himself king, and coined money. This took place in the reign of Adrian, and R. Akibah, the president of the Sanhedrim, was killed at Beth-Tar, as armour bearer to this pretended Messiah.
The destruction of the remaining cities of Judea, and the number of Jews who were slaughtered, make the Jews consider this period as the completion of their ruin, and the most serere blow they ever received, except the destruction of their city. Adrian had sent against them the relentless Sererus, who was afterwards emperor.
At this time lived Trypho, the Jew who had the controversy with Justin Martyr. It is not improbable that this was the same as Tarphon, an intimate associate of R. Akibah; he is frequently mentioned in the Talmuds.
The fourth president of the Sanhedrim, after the destruction of Jerusalem, was Rabbao Simeon. He governed ahout thirty years from the sixth or eighth of Adrian, to the fifteenth or sixteenth of Antoninus Pius. The honour and power of the learned Jews began now to lessen daily, though there were still found among them some eminent names, which are yet honoured both among the Jews and Christians. The principal of these were R. Simeon ben Jochai, and Eliezer, his son, the first authors of the book Zohar-and 'Aquila, the celebrated proselyte, whose
Julian Pe- translation of the Scriptures is quoted even by the Jerusalem Asia Minor." riod, 4799. Gemarists. The Sanhedrim bad now removed from Jabneb to Vulgar Æra, Usha and Shepharaim. 96.
R. Simeon was succeeded by his son, R. Judab the Holy. He was held in very high estination among his countrymen, and is said to have been much valued by one of the Antonines. It was R. Judah who caused the traditional law to be collected into one mass. This is called the Mishnah, and is the great code by which the Jews still profess to be regulated. The number of pupils who might be the preservers of this code of traditionary law was daily diminishing, and he resolved therefore to commit it to writing, that it might be preserved. He appointed teachers. of these traditions also in all the cities remaining to the Jewish name. The Sanhedrim, in bis reign, removed to Bethshaarain, Tsipporis, and Tiberias. R. Judah compiled the Mishnah, as some traditions relate, in the year 190, in the latter end of the reign of Commodus; but, as others affirm, in the year 220, one hundred and fifty years after the destruction of the city.
*R. Judah was succeeded by his son R. Chaninah, in whose presidency we first read of the commentaries on the Mishna, which are called the Gemara. The Mishna, which is the text of the traditional law, and tbe Gemara, wbich is the comment, make up together the Talmud. The Targums are commentaries on Scripture.
R. Chaninah was succeeded by R. Jochanan, wbo was president of the Sanhedrim at Tiberias eighty years. Though the country abounded with schools, and the surviving Jews made every effort in their power to perpetuate their now corrupt religion, no school or college obtained so much celebrity as that at Tiberias. Jerome was instructed by a learned man of Tiberias ; and it was most probably about this time, that that edition of the Hebrew Bible was prepared, which has erer been of bigh authority among both Jews and Christians; the edition of the Masorets, or, as they are more generally called, the Masorites.
This term is derived from a Hebrew word, signifying tradition. The Masorites were the learned Jews of Tiberias, who, being anxious before their nation was finally separated, to secure the sacred text from corruption, prepared an edition of the Old Testament, in which they marked, by certain arbitrary vowel points, accents, and pauses, the traditionary pronunciation of every word, The Bibles which the Jews read in their synagogues are now, and it is believed bave always been, written without the vowel points; but the minister is required to read each chapter according to the traditionary sounds of the words, which are preserved in the poioted Bibles ; and an inspector or superintendant stands by him when he reads, to correct any
This pronunciation is not borrowed from the Masoretic Bible, as I have been informed by some learned Jews, whom I consulted on this matter; but it is the traditionary mode of reading which has been handed down from remote antiquity. Should this statement be correct, it appears to afford one very satisfactory argument, that the Masoretic punctuation is entitled to more respect than many modern Hebraists entertain for it. This, however, is not the place to enter upon this discussion. The Masorets, by their great care and diligence, have left us an edition of the Old Testament, which secures the text from all interpolations, while it checks also the licentiousness of conjectural criticism, and gives a definite meaning to many obscure passages; at the same time it by no means precludes the labours of the learned from aiming at greater accuracy in their attempts to understand Scripture, as the sense which the Masorets may have put upon any passage, can only be said to
Jalian Po- be bighly probable: the meaning of Scripture in all cases being Asia Mino.
if so, it is still more valuable. The Masorets, as is well known,
The precise time when the Masorets of Tiberias completed
They shall be gathered out of all people, and by an Exodus from all countries more wonderful than that of their fathers from Egypt, they shall go up to their own country; and plant. ing the vine and the olive on the hills and in the vallies of their fathers, they shall, after much tribulation, rejoice in the domi. nion of their Messiah, the manifested God of their fathers, the crucified Jesus of the Christians.”
We will now return to the history of the Christian Church.
I. The first stage is the state of the Christian Church from