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He reigned twenty-seven years, and died through intemperance, B. C. 79.
The Roman alliance was found to be prejudicial to the interests of the Jews, who suffered much through the civil discords of Rome. The royal and pontifical dignity became a subject of violent contention, and the assistance of the Romans being called in by Aristobulus, against his elder brother Hyrcanus, Pompey seated Hyrcanus on the throne, but made Judea a tributary province of the Roman empire, B. c. 63. Pompey, with some of his officers, impiously entered the holy of holies; and Crassus, governor of Syria, pillaged the temple of ten thousand talents of silver, B. C. 54.
Soon after, Antipater, a crafty nobleman of Idumea, by favour of Julius Caesar, was made procurator of Judea, B. C. 47. while Hyrcanus retained the priesthood. Antipater was succeeded by his son Herod the great; who, being assisted by Antony, the Roman triumvir, through much bloodshed, obtained the royal dignity, B. C. 40. His authority was confirmed by Augustus Cæsar, B. C. 30, and he maintained his dignity with distinguished ability, but also with most atrocious cruelty. During his long reign he built many cities; and to ingratiate himself with the Jews, he almost rebuilt their temple, Mark xiii. 1. John ii. 20. His inhuman barbarity towards the children of Bethlehem, in attempting to murder the infant Jesus, is recorded by the evangelist Matthew. Herod died soon afterwards, suffering the most dreadful torments. Under the government of his sons, Judea became more fully recognised as a Roman province; Shiloh came, and the sceptre departed from Judah, Gen. xlix. 10. the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile was broken down, Eph. ii. 14. the dispensation of sovereign mercy to all nations was introduced; and after being under the government of Roman procurators for some years, the whole Jewish state, with its ceremonial and temple, was altogether subverted, A. D. 70, by Titus, the son of the emperor Vespasian, and the people scattered throughout the world, as living monuments of the truth of christianity.
COMPANION TO THE BIBLE.
THE NEW TESTAMENT.
CHAPTER I.-TITLE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
THE title Testament, which is given more especializ to this latter part of the holy scriptures, is taken from a Greek word, which properly signifies covenant. It is translated testament in Matt. xxvi. 28. Heb. ix. 15-17. but covenant, Heb. viii. 7—9. and in most other places. The christians, in the primitive ages, adopted the present title for this volume of the scriptures, because it records the free promises of God's covenant mercy and grace to penitent and believing sinners: these promises being ratified by the death of Christ, as a sacrifice for the sin of the world. It is not improperly called the New Tes tament, because it comprises those sacred writings in which the heavenly inheritance of christians is sealed to them, as the adopted sons and daughters of God Almighty, through Jesus Christ, Heb. ix. 15-17.
The books of the New Testament are twenty-seven in number; and they are commonly classed in three divisions, historical, doctrinal, and prophetical. Of the first class are the gospels according to the records of tho evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Acts of the Apostles. The second includes twenty-one epistles, or letters, which were addressed by the apostles to several of the first churches, and to individual christians. The book of the Revelation constitutes the third division.
The term gospel is more generally applied to the writings of the four evangelists, containing the histories of
the life and ministry, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Saviour: but it is sometimes applied to the whole New Testament. The word gospel is formed from two old Saxon words; the first god, signifying good, and spel signifying a speech or tidings; it is intended to denote the glad tidings of divine forgiveness and eternal salvation by Jesus Christ, which God has commanded to be preached and sent to all nations and people upon the earth.
CH. II. BIOGRAPHY of the Writers of THE NEW TESTAMENT.
To the reader of the New Testament, it will be of no small importance to have present to his mind, a short sketch of the life and character of those holy men, who were the inspired writers of the sacred books, which are the only rule of our faith and practice, as they were the founders of the christian church.
Matthew, or Levi, the apostle and evangelist, was the son of Alpheus. Before his call to the apostleship, he was a publican, or tax-collector in the employ of the Roman government. This was an office of very bad repute among the Jews, partly because of the covetous exactions of those who were appointed to it, and partly because it was a proof of their being subject to a foreign power. Matthew was a custom-house officer, and his business consisted in collecting the duties on all the merchandize that came by the sea of Galilee to Capernaum, and the tribute payable by passengers who travelled by water. This lucrative post he cheerfully relinquished for the sake of Christ, on whom he became a faithful attendant, and was an eye-witness of his miracles.
Matthew continued with the rest of the apostles till after the ascension of Christ; but little is known of him subsequently to that event. It is related that for eight