Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

as a common Dictate of natural Reaion, to express their Reverence for the Deity, and their Affcctions to Religion by conferring extraordinary Privileges of Honour upon such as administer in holy Things, and by providing liberally for their Maintenance.

And that the Honour due to the holy Function flows from the Law of Nature, appears from hence ; that in the eldest Times the Civil and the Sacred Authority were united in the same Person. For as the Original of civil Government was from private Families, so before those Families came to associate for more publick Worship the Mafier of the Family was the Priest of it.

0. How were Priests respected among the Heathens ?

A. In all Countries they enjoyed great Marks

of Pre-eminence and Power, and managed the Plut. de most weighty Affairs of Peace and War. AIfid. & mong the Ægyptians their Kings were always

declared either out of their Priesthood or SoldieTom. 2.

ry; but he that was chosen out of the Soldiery, P. 354. Strabo was obliged immediately to turn Priest. The . Geogr.l.1. Magi in Persia were Privy-Counselors to the P:23, 24 great Emperors of those Dominions. The de Abt. Brachmans in India were exempted from legal lib.4.917. Penalties and common Tribute, and in all DifCæf. de ficulties were applied to by Prince and People Bell. Gal. for their Advice and Prayers. The Druids, the lib. 6.

Priess formerly of this our Island, as well as of France and Germany, were in such great Efleem, that they judged all publick and private Causes, and distributed the main Springs of Qbedience, Rewards and Punishments; they never attended the Wars, nor were required to con

tribute

Ofir.

tribute towards the Charge of them, but enjoyed an universal Immunicy. The Romans, a wise and valiant People, set so great a Value upon the Priestly Order, that if their principal Magiftrates by Chance met any of Vesta's Priests, Liv.Lib.i. they gave them Place. Numa Pompilius, who civilized that warlike Nation, is reported sometimes to have performed the Priest's Office himfelf. Their Consuls fought the high Dignity of Pontifex Maximus, and several Emperors after Augustus's Time were solemnly admitted to be High-Priests.

Q. How were Priests respected before the giving of the Law ?

A. The Character of the Persons who officiated as Priests before the Law, very much tended to support the Honour and Dignity of the Priesthood, For tho' in the first Ages of the World, leg. Heb.

Spenc. de in what related to a Man's self, it is very pro-Lib.1.c.6, bable, from the Instances of Cain and Abel, that p. 135. every Man was his own Priest, yet it is plain, Gen.4.10. that' the Family Sacrifices were performed by 35: 3,7. the Master of it, who, as he exceeded the rest job 1. 5. in Power and Authority, so he was thought fit-42. 8. test for that honourable Function. When Families increased and associated together for the more publick Worship of God, the sacred and the civil Power were united in the same Person. Thus Melchisedek was King and Priest in,

8. Salem; and among the Ægyptians, as was ob- Plutarch. served before, the Priesthood was joined with Quæft. the Crown. The Greeks accounted the Priesthood of equal Dignity with Kingship; which is lib. 3. c. taken Notice of by Aristotle in several Places of io, i. bis Politicks. And among the Latins we have a Testimony from Virgil, that at the same Time Æn. 3.

Anius

Gen. 14.

De Rep.

Nn4

Anius was both Priest and King. Nay, Moses Exod. 24. himself, who was Prince of Israel before Aaron 6. &c.

was consecrated, officiated as Priest in that solemn Sacrifice, by which the Covenant with Israel was confirmed.

Q. How were Priests respeEted under the Law ?

A. Though the whole Nation of the Jews were, in respect of other Nations, God's peculiar People; yet Levi was his peculiar Tribe, his

Lot, and his Inheritance, fet apart that they Deut. 33. might execute the Service of the Lord; and upon , the Account of their being devoted to mini

fier in holy Things, called his koly Ones. That God intended great Honour and Authority

should be conferred upon the Priesis, may apDeut. ;7. pear plainly from the Power he gave them to in8,4;,&c. terpret the Law, and to decide doubtful Cases;

and from those severe Puniihments he threatens

to bring on such as did not comply with their Exod. 28. Determinations. And as for the High Priest,

his Garments, his Palace, his Place in the Sanbedrim, and upon other Occasions, sufficiently shew the Dignity of his Omice; and the Authority he was invested with. The Laws, that God was pleased yet farther to give in relation to

the Priesthood, tended to preserve the CharaLev. 21. Eter from being contemptible; for any corporal

Blemish made a Man unfit for it; and the particular Direcions concerning their Marriages, and their not mourning for their nearest Kindred, made their Persons still more eminent. But what chiefly contributed to their Honour, was the Law about firsi Fruits and Tentbs, which were solemnly dedicated to God, and yet were to be brought to the Temple for the Maintenance of the Priests,

Q. Why

21.

Q. bvby was the Priesthood confined to one
Tribe?

d. It is thought that the chief Reason why
Gou confined the Priesthood under the Law to
One Tribe, was the better to train up the Jews
in the Knowledge and Worship of the true God,
and to pr. ferve them from the Idolatrous Rites
of their Neighbours, to which they were but
too much addicted. For this was a certain Sign,
that Sacrifices, offered him by any other Hands,
were neither agreeable nor acceptable to him ;
because this teftificd that the Church of God
was restrained to one People. So long therefore
as none could admicister in holy Things but those
of the Tribe of Levi, so long there could be
no Church but of that People whereof Levi was
a Tribe.

Q. Why was Levi preferred to this great Honour before any of the other Tribes ?

A. Not only because this Tribe was distinguished by its Relation to Mofes, who was Prince of the Congregation, and whom God thought fit farther to honour, by advancing his Father's House to the highest Pitch of Dignity inortal Men could attain to; but also because this Tribe had given the most famous Instances of their Zeal against Idolatry. When the Israelites worTiped the Golden Calf, the greatest Part of the Levites preserved themselves free from that Infection. When Mofes took Vengeance on thole that were guilty of that Idolatry, the Le-Exod. 32. vites being kindled with Zeal, were obedient 26, 29. to bis Voice, and affifted in expiating the Guilt Spen.de of so great a Sin with the Blood of their ownleg. Heb.

lib.1.c.6. Kindred. And if we may believe the Jewish Rabbins, when the other Tribes were tainted

[ocr errors]

p. 138.

[ocr errors]

with the Superstitions of Egypt, the Tribe of
Levi kept constant to the Worship of God;
whereupon God was pleased thus to reward
that Fidelity and Zeal for which they were so
renowned.

Q. Wbat Instances are there in the Old Testa-
ment of honourable Persons exercising the Priest-
hood?

A. Melchifedeck, who exercised that holy FunGen. 14. ction, was King as well as Priest, and the PaHeb. 7. 4. criarch vibraham acknowledged his Superiority

by receiving his Benediction, and by paying him

Tribute, even the Tenth of all bis Spoils. PotiGen.41.

pherah Priest of On was so considerable as to
45.
Exod.3.1. marry his Daughter to Joseph, the great Favou-

rise of the King of Egypt. Jethro Priest of Mi-
dian was Father-in-Law to Mofes, eminent for his
Wisdom and Authority. And the High-Priest

Aaron was Brother to the same Moses, who was
AAs 7.22. fo mighty in Words and Deeds.

Q. How was the Priesthood esteemed among ibe
Primitive Chriftians ?

A. The Primitive Christians always expressed
a mighty Value and Esteem for their Clergy;
becaule they were fenfible there could be no
Church without Priests, and that it was by
their Means that God conveyed to them all those
mighty Blessings which were purchased by
Christ's Death. Ecclesiastical History is full of
Instances of the Respect they then paid to their
Bishops and Presbyters, by killing their Hands,
bowing to beg their Blessing, and all this even
in the Times of Persecution. They gave all
imaginable Proof of a sincere and hearty Love
to their Perfons, by maintaining them liberally
out of their shipwrecked Fortunes, and chear-

fully

[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »