Grotius, his arguments for the truth of Christian religion rendred into plain English verse.
Grotius, Hugo, 1583-1645., Virgil. Bucolica. 4. English.
*THat glim'ring Light saluting by degrees,
As from a dismal Cave himself one frees,
Points out their State, who quitting th' Ethnick way,
After the Jewish Rites their Worship pay.
That part of Truth, that noble entrance made,
Makes me in friendly manner Jews perswade,
What's offer'd to receive with equal Ears;
We cannot but confess that it appears;
That they from those Religious Men descend,
To whom th' Almighty Embassies did send,
By Prophets and his Min'istring Spir'its above;
From out of them did the Messias move,
And they who first preach'd up the Christian Law;
Theirs is the Stock whence Nourishment we draw,
Being ingrafted there; that they preserve
Those Oracles of God which we observe,
With the like Veneration as do they:
And with St. Paul most zealously we pray,
That God would suffer soon that day to dawn;
When from before their Eyes the Clouds with∣drawn,
They may discern with us the Law fulfill'd:
And, as into their Prophets was instill'd,
That we who long no sacred Cov'enant knew,
May lovingly embrace th'enlightned Jew,
And hand in hand that only God adore,
Whom Abr'am, Isaac, Jacob, serv'd before.
What pleading for themselves they urge as fit.
If to them any Pagan Questi'on move,
How Miracles by Moses wrought, they prove?
They say no more, but that so constant Fame
Of their own People, did his Works proclaim;
As needs must come from those who saw the same.
So, that Elisha multiply'd the Oil,
And purg'd th' Assy'rian from his leprous Soil;
That with new Life a Young Man did arise,
After his weeping Mother clos'd his Eyes:
And several, other things of the like kind,
Among the Jews firmly believ'd we find,
As From good Witnesses to them consign'd.
But that Elijah sprang up to the Skies,
They trust Elisha, thought t've seen him rise.
Twelve Witnesses, whose Lives none could re∣prove,
Attest t'have seen our Sav'our hence remove,
As he ascended to his Throne above.
A greater Cloud of Witnesses maintain,
That after Death, they saw him live again.
Which, if considered, manifestly shew,
That what he taught on Earth, must needs be true.
Nor can one Argument be urg'd by Jews,
But what we equally at least may use:
But to omit Authorities to press,
The Jews, and their learn'd Talmudists, confess,
That our Messias things prodigious wrought;
And this might against them enough be thought;
Nor can God authorize a Doctrine more,
Than shewing Miracles upon that score.
Which Calumny we did before refute:
Shewing that where Christ's Doctrine did prevail,
The Pow'r of Daemons totally did fail:
That Christ in Aegypt Magick-Arts did learn,
To have less shew of Truth we may discern,
Than the like Accusation Pagans raise,
To blemish Moses his less setled Praise,
As is in Pliny and Apuleius, seen:
But that in Aegypt Christ had ever been,
Does only from his Follow'rs Books appear,
Who that he went an Infant thence, declare.
Moses, and other Jews, expresly own,
That he resided there to Manhood grown;
But then the Laws Moses and Christ promulg'd,
Should stop the progress of this Charge divulg'd;
Since both of them against such Arts inveigh,
As hateful to that Pow'r all should obey.
But that in Aegypt such had ever Birth,
While Christ, or his Disciples blest the Earth;
Or any other place, who can believe,
To do what we, as done by Christ, receive?
The Dumb to speak, the Lame to walk, the Blind,
All of a sudden long-wisht Light to find.
The Emperors, Tyberius, Nero, more,
Who spar'd ho Costs th'utmost of this t'explore,
Had th' Art: thus far arriv'd, had known't before:
And if the Talmud we admit as true,
The Jewish Such'drim th'Art of Magick knew;
The better to convict the Guilty here:
And since to Christ they th'highest hate did bear,
Envy'ing that Pow'r his Miracles declare;
They would the like by the like Art have done,
Or shew'd them thence, by Proofs which none can shun.
Some Jews ascribe the Miracles Christ did,*
Unto a Secret by King Sol'mon hid,
Which for above a thousand Years had slept,
By two fierce Lions in the Temple kept:
That this was read by Christ; a Fiction bold;
Since of those wondrous Lions nothing's told
In any Book of the Old Testament,
Or by Josephus, or the Romans sent
Along with Pompey to the Temple's spoil.
But if the Jews confess the Fact, the while,*
It follows from their own Mosaick Law,
That none should from blest Jesus Faith with∣draw.
Moses in (a)Deuto'my expresly says,
God after him would other Prophets raise;
And, that the People should obey them, shews,
Denouncing Penalties if they refuse:
Of these are Miracles the certain sign;
Nor can we more illustrious ones divine:
If one a (b) Prophet shall himself declare,
And make by Miracles his Title fair;
He bids them not to listen to his Speech,
If he to worship other Gods should teach;
For God will (c) such among his People bear,
To try if to his Worship they'l adhere.
Hence their Interpreters rightly collect,
That as true Prophets they should all respect,
Who don't the Worship of that God divide,
Who does unequall'd over all preside:
It being enjoyn'd, that in this case alone,
They should not trust the greatest Wonders shown.
No Worship to false Gods Christ taught to pay;
Nay shew'd it penal unto such to pray:
Moses, and foll'wing Prophets, he requir'd
To be receiv'd as Men of God inspir'd:
Page 92Against his Miracles then nothing lies:
That he and Moses differ, can't suffice.
*For this their Rabbies as a Rule maintain,
That he who does a Pow'r for Wonders gain,
And proves himself a real Prophet thence,
With any sacred Precept may dispence,
Except the worshipping the Pow'r Supream.
'Tis clear as if 'twere wrote with a Sun-beam,
What Legislative Pow'r with God did rest,
When unto Moses he his Will exprest;
In times succeeding he the same must have.
Who in his proper Right Laws ever gave,
Is not thereby hindred from making those,
Which do directly former Laws oppose.
To urge that God's immutable, is weak,
Not of his Nature, but his Works, we speak.
The Light for Darkness, Youth for Age does change,
Summer for Winter, works with God not strange.
Adam(d) had leave, only one Tree deny'd,
To feast himself with ev'ry Fruit beside:
The killing Men in general God forbad;
Abram(e) to slay his Son his Precept had:
Off'ring elsewhere than at th'appointed place,
Now he refus'd, now (f) blest of his free Grace.
Moses his Law, besides, tho good we own;
Dos't follow that a better can't be known?
With Children childish Talk the Parents use,
Nor to connive at faults of th'Age refuse;
But when adult they will correct the Speech,
And Precepts of the strictest Vertue teach.
How great the beauty of an honest Mind!
And what Rewards it shall hereafter find!
But that the Law did of (g) Perfection miss,
This to be thought a Proof suffici'ent is;
Page 93That in those times some holy Men out-do
Whatever by the Law they're prompted to;
Moses Revenge does partly lawful make,
Partly the strictest Justice bids them take;
Yet, (h) being wrong'd in the most high degree,
Him praying for those Murmurers we see.
So his (i) Rebelli'ous Son David would spare,
And (k) bitterest Curses did with Patience bear.
We read not that good Men their Wives did quit,
Altho their Law did plainly this permit.
Laws are adapted for the major part:
Some things were to be past by, there, with Art,
To a more perfect Rule then to be squar'd,
When Men God's Spir'it in larger measure shar'd,
By which out of all Nati'ons God would draw
A People subject to a purer Law.
Moses propounded, plainly, no Reward,
Beyond what does this mortal State regard.
Who then can question but there might have been
A Law more perfect, than what that is seen,
Which might eternal Bliss clearly propound,
And this is in Christ's Instituti'on found.
Here by the way we this Remark may chuse,*
With what Injustice the coaeval Jews
Christ, tho obedient to their Law, did use:
He had been (l) circumcis'd, like them did eat,
His (m) Habit too was Jewish, as his Meat;
He to their Priest sent (n) Lepers which he cleans'd,
Nor with one of their (o) Festivals dispens'd;
The Paschal, and the rest observ'd with Zeal;
When he did any on the (p) Sabbath heal,
Page 94Shew'd that their Law, and Commentators too,
Allow'd Men on that day such works to do.
Some of their Laws, then (q) first declar'd repeal'd,
After his Triumph over Death raveal'd:
He being into th' inmost Heavens receiv'd,
The (r) Holy Sp'rit adorn'd those that believ'd.
And thus he his full Regal Pow'r maintain'd,
In which the Legislative is contain'd.
This (s)Daniel saw in his Prophetick view,
Who, after Syria 'and Egypts Fate did shew,
(The last of which was while Augustus sway'd)
That unto one all Pow'r should be convey'd,
To whom, tho in his outward habit (t) low,
All Nations of the Earth should ever bow.
That part, besides, of the Mosaick Law,
Th' obedience unto which Christ did withdraw;
Had nothing honest in it self alone,
But things indiff'rent, mutable, thence known.
If of themselves they necessary were,
Would God but to one People them declare,
And that not till two thousand years and more?
While Abel, Enoc, Noe, who liv'd before;
Melchis'dech, Abram, Isa'c, Jacob too,
And Job, all dear to God, hone of this knew,
Or what from nothing hardly was remov'd;
Yet was their Faith never the less approv'd;
Large were the marks that them th' Almighty lov'd.
Moses on Jethro did not urge those Rites:
Nor Jonah on repenting Ninivites;
Nor others, writing to the Moabites,
To those of Caldee, Egypt, Zidon, Tyre,
Any account concerning these require,
When to a reck'ning all their Sins they call:
These Precepts therefore were not general:
Page 95But either to keep off some Sin, design'd,
To which the Jews were known the most inclin'd:
Or else that People, so stiff-neck'd, to try,
How far they'd with the Will of God comply;
If not to typify some future things.
And this no greater cause of wonder brings;
Than if a King all Borough-Laws repeal,
That one may flourish thro' the Commonweal.
Nor any thing the face of Proof has gain'd,
That God from changing has himself restrain'd:
What tho he sometimes these perpetual call?
The like does often human Laws befal,
As different from temporary Laws,
Made for a certain time, and transient cause.
Yet what does hinder but new may be made,
When publick benefit does so perswade?
Thus God the Jews did variously command,
By Laws perpetual, those God therefore meant,
Which were to stand till his reveal'd Intent.
Which way of speaking all the Nations use,
And should the less move wonder in the Jews,
With whom, as such, that (x) right and service past,
Which but from Jubilee to Jubilee did last;
Then the Messiah's Coming they agree
To be the finishing great (y) Jubilee.
The Jewish Prophets too plainly foretold
Of a new Cov'nant, promis'd long of old:
And full of this does (z)Jeremy delight,
Where God does promise to (a) infuse the Light,
That none need farther groap in baleful Night;
While Truth inscrib'd on ev'ry Breast appears:
Besides a gen'ral Amnesty declares,
Not much in this unlike a mortal King,
If we such low Similitudes may bring:
Page 96Who after a defection from his Pow'r,
While Subjects one another would devour,
The better to establish lasting Peace,
Them from some loads of Impositi'ons frees;
And on a perfect Law lets them depend,
Who for the future promise to amend.
What is already offer'd may suffice;
Yet take their Law as in its parts it lies;
And 'twill appear that nothing there displac't,
Could please God in it self, or always ought to last.
*Their Sacrifices first themselves present,
Which ev'n some Jews thought Men did first in∣vent:
Them fond of various rites we plainly find,
Whence against many Gods they are enjoin'd;
Perhaps but requisit, their minds to wean
From what they had living in Egypt seen.
When Sacrifice was, with their Offspring, come
To take up in Religion too much room,
As if 'twould in it's self th' Almighty please,
And him, provok'd unto the heighth, appease,
Without a Reformation in their Lives,
Then it of Reputation God deprives:
*Of this, he tells them, 'He makes no account,
'How high soe're their Holocausts may mount,
'While Flocks and Herds they on each other 'heap,
'Bullocks, & Goats mingled with harmless Sheep;
'With these they would propitiate him in vain,
'Since they but render back his own again,
''Tis his what feeds on Mountain or on Plain:
'No Beasts or Birds, says he, my notice flee,
'And should I hunger, need I tell it thee?
'Mine is the Ʋniverse with all things there:
'Dost think the Blood of Bulls or Goats my fare?
Page 97'Offer to God the Sacrifice of Praise,
'And pay those Vows which thy distresses raise.
Some Jews, still to this ancient Rite enclin'd,
Think the Reproof not against that design'd;
But th'off'rer's pravity of Life and Mind:
Yet who what here is cited well has weigh'd,
Will find, that Victims on the Altars laid,
As of themselves cannot th'Almighty please;
This in the Series of the Psalm one sees:
For to the pious he directs the Speech;
Whom there he does after that manner teach;
That such are call'd together, there we find,
Immed'iately hear, yea my People's joyn'd,
After the Passage we above did quote;
We may a (b) diff'rent form to th'impious note.
In other places the like Sense is found;
'What tho with Holocausts the Altar's crown'd,
''Tis not the Sacrifice that pleases thee,
'But th'Heart that's humpled its offence to see;
'For tho, O Lord! dost not that Heart despise,
'Which broke and contrite at thy Footstool lies.
Elsewhere, 'The Sacrifice does not delight,*
'And the Burnt-off'ring's nothing in thy sight:
'Me thou hast mark'd for thine, nor dost require
'A warm Oblati'on with piac'lar Fire.
'Then said I, I am here to do thy Will,
'In which my own chief pleasure I fulfil:
'Not meerly as an hireling this I do,
'But to th'Impression on my Heart am true.
'My inward pleasure streams forth in my words;
'The transports of my Soul my Tongue records,
'The Contemplation of thy Mercy this affords:
'Thy Nature so veracious, and benigne;
'I ev'ry where proclaim, as 'tis, divine,
Page 98'Thy Faithfulness and large Compassion shown,
'I loudly in the Congregati'on on own.
Thus does our God, Esaiah represent,
* 'Why are so many Sacrifices spent?
'Your Holocausts of Rams have tyr'd me quite,
'Nor do I in the richest Fats delight:
'The Blood of Bullocks Goats, or tender Lambs
'Pleases no more, than di the toughest Rams:
'Who bids you thus my sacred Courts profane?
And Jer'my has a passage no less plain;
Nor does th'Interpreter the meaning strain.
*Thus says the God of Angels, Israel's Lord,
'What tho ye heaps of Holocaust afford?
'Eat them your selves for all the good they bring.
'Freeing your Fathers from th' Egyptian King,
'Nothing of any Sacrifice I said;
'This for the necessary Rule I laid,
'That I should absolutely be obey'd;
'So I their God, my People they should prove,
'And they to take the Paths I shew, should love:
'Thence all things should to their desires succeed.
Thus in the Prophet Hose we may read;
* 'Beneficence does Sacrifice exceed;
'Right thoughts of God before Burnt-Off'rings 'pleasd.
Thus where in Micah one the Question sees,
*What God, displeas'd with us, may reconcile,
Numbers of Rams, or measures of rich Oil?
God thus is represented there, 'I'le tell
'What's truly good, and pleases me full well;
'That you to ev'ry one render his due,
'And unto all Bowels of Mercy shew;
'While humbly before me your self you bear:
Which places, if consider'd right, declare,
Page 99That these things of themselves, or i'th'first place,
As pleasing God we ought not to embrace.
But if the People by degrees were known,
As Superstition had upon them grown,
In them to place great part of Piety,
As if they slake the Wrath of the most High;
What wonder is't if God did them remove,
Indiff'rent in themselves, tho ill they prove:
Thus when the Brazen Serpent Moses rais'd,
Men, as of Pow'r divine, devoutly prais'd;
Good Hezekiah cast it to the ground.
And among them some Prophecies are found,
Fore-telling that these Rites should one day cease:
This from their Law we may collect with ease,
Where only Aaron's Race a Pow'r receive
For off'ring these, and while at home they live.
But then a (c) King is promiss'd far to reign,
'Who should from Sion lead his humble Train;
'And both a Priest and King always remain,
'Resembling what Melchisedec was known.
And in Esaiah's Prophecy 'tis shown;
'That Men in (d)Egypt should an Altar view,
'Where the Egyptians, and Assyri'ans too,
'Should joyn in Worship with the happy Jew.
Again, '(e)They whem vast distances divide,
'Who have no common Language for their Guide,
'Shall with the Isra'elites their Off'rings bring,
'As Priests and Levites to th' eternal King.
This could not be till their Law were repeal'd.
Besides, in (f)Malachi it is reveal'd,
'That God the Off'rings of the Jews did hate;
'That East and West his Name should celebrate,
'And Clouds of Incense should perfume the Skies,
'As from pure hands it to his Throne did rise:
This Oracle concerning Christ, records:
The Sacrifice and Off'ring he removes.
And God by Instances most real proves,
That all th'Oblations Moses had enjoyn'd,
Cannot with him any acceptance find;
When more than sixteen hundred Years are gone,
Since Jews have had no Temple of their own;
No Altar, or distinction of their Tribes,
That they may know to offer, as their Law prescribes.
*Their Law forbidding Meats of sev'ral kinds,
No better grounds for its continuance finds:
For it is evident after the Flood,
No sort of Meat under Injuncti'on stood:
Noah, and his, had the free use of all,
Which as a Right unlimited did fall
To Abram, Isa'ac, Jacob, sprang from Sem,
As well as unto Japhet, and bold Cham:
But when th' Egyptian Superstition spread
O're Isr'ael's Seed, thither to Bondage led,
Th'eating some Animals was then deny'd,
As thence were the Egypti'an Rites supply'd,
And thence they thought things future were descry'd:
Or else their Law, with Types and Shadows dark,
Did by some Ani'mals certain Vices mark:
That this was not a gen'ral Rule design'd,
We in the instance of those Beasts may find,
*Which free from outward force their Breath resign'd:
Of these unlawful 'twas for Jews to eat,
Which for Inhabitants was licenc'd Meat;
Such too, who met with this Indulgence, were,
As God himself commended to their care:
Page 101Nay, the old Jewish Rabbies did maintain,
That when Messiah should begin his Reign,
He should this Prohibition quite remove;
And Swines Flesh should as clean as Bullocks prove.
And surely since it pleas'd the Pow'r Divine,
People of ev'ry Land in one to joyn;
A liberty in these, beyond dispute;
More than restraint, must such Communion suit.
Let us consider next their Holy Days:*
They first were kept in the Almighty's praise,
For their deliverance from th' Egypti'an hand,
And leading to the promiss'd Sacred Land:
But Jeremy a time to come did shew,*
When new, and greater benefits t'ensue,
Should so the memory of this surpass,
That Men should hardly menti'on that it was:
Besides, as 'twas with Off'rings, so with these;
'Twas thought they God so in themselves did please,
That keeping them they might indulge their Ease:
Thence representing God, Esaiah says,
I hate all your New Moons and Holy Days, *
They're such a burden as I cannot bear.
Most confident they of the Sabbath are:
They urge that Precept always ought to bind;
That 'twas in Paradise Adam enjoyn'd:
To which I say, with Rabbies on my side,
The Precepts teaching this we thus divide;
One is, that we the Memory preserve;
Th'other, the day religiously observe:
The first of these is to this day obey'd,
In grateful owning how the World was made:
Page 102Th'other requires from all those Works t'abstain,
Which on the common days full licence gain:
The first the Pious kept before the Law,
Obeying this, Men, Enoch, Noah, saw,
This Abram, Isa'ac, Jacob, kept in Mind,
Whose Travels we at large recorded find;
With them this is not found a day of Rest,
As after leaving Egypt 'tis exprest;
From that and the strange progress thro the Sea,
We th'Institution of the Sabbath see;
On (a) the first day their Thanks to God they sung,
And from that time the sacred Rest begun.
The first observance which is enter'd found,
Was, (b) when they heavenly Food took from the Ground;
And (c) their deliv'rance from th'Egypti'an Land,
Is mention'd as the cause of this Command:
Care of those Servants too this Law exprest,
Whose cruel Masters would allow no rest,
Who sojourn'd there were to it likewise bound,
That the same face of Quiet might go round,
That this does not take other Nations in,
May be from hence most evidently seen,
That we in many places find it nam'd,
A (d)Sign, a Covenant, God with Isra'el fram'd:
But that those Laws which did their Sanction gain,
In mem'ry of be'ing freed from Egypt's Chain,
Were not intended ever to remain;
Appears i'th'Promise we observ'd before,
Of greater benefits preserv'd in store.
Add to this farther, If Sabbatick Rest,
As indispensable, at first were prest;
All interfering Laws could not but fail;
When against this some Jewish Laws prevail.
Page 103Thus Circumcision on the Sabbath's good:
Beasts then were offer'd while their Temple stood;
It's mutability their Doctors preach,
Who working on the Sabbath lawful teach,
If authoriz'd any Prophet's Speech.
Joshu'ah's Command for taking Jerico,
They urge as what does such Commission show:
But that in the Messiah's promiss'd Reign,
There should no differences of days remain;
Some, from that passage in Isaiah, hold,*
Where 'tis concerning that blest time foretold,
'That God's true Worship should be constant known,
'From Sabbath unto Sabbath, and from Moon to Moon.
Let's come to Circumcision long in use,*
Before that Law which Moses gave the Jews;
To Abram and his Seed this was enjoyn'd;
Yet this th'incepti'on of that Law we find:
Thus God to Abraham; 'You and your Seed,
'Ʋnto the Land of Cana'an shall succeed;
'That Land where now a Pilgrim's Life you lead:
'See that my Cov'nant you observe with care:
'This is the Cov'nant I with you declare,
'You and the Males which from your Loins descend,
'Shall all be circumcis'd unto the end.
Before we shew'd that i'th'old Cov'nants room
A new one, common unto all, should come,
And this distinctive mark then needs must cease:
Besides some Myst'ry in this Rite one sees;
And this their Prophets shew when they impart,
Precepts for Circumcisi'on of the Heart;
Which is in all our Saviour's Rules desc∣ry'd:
Besides the Promises to that apply'd,
Page 104Must needs be thought intended to relate
Unto the prospect of a better State,
Eternal Life, which Jesus shews us clear,
Till when it did only in Types appear.
That Promise top which did to Abram fall,
That many Nations him should Father call,
Seems to describe that happy time, design'd,
When all the World should in one Faith be joyn'd,
Which, to express the Gospel-state we find.
No wonder that the Shadows flee away,
At the desir'd approach of perfect Day;
That to this sign God did not stint his Grace,
Appears, in that his Favour did imbrace
Abram, and many who before him liv'd,
Before this Mark was in their Flesh receiv'd.
And while the Jews through the parch'd Desart came,
It was omitted without any blame.
*Much they to Christ and his Apostles owe,
Who their discharge from this encumbrance show.
And this evinc'd by Gifts and Deeds so high,
As nothing short of Moses we descry.
Yet they who taught the Rule which we admire,
Did not their owning this great Boon require:
But in such things indulg'd them their own way,
So they on others did not th'Imposition lay:
This shews they without cause from Christ with∣draw,
Upon pretence of their old Ritu'al Law.
The almost sole Objection they have brought,
Against the Miracles our Saviour wrought,
Being thus remov'd, let's other Mediums chuse,
Proper for the Conviction of the Jews.
That Men endu'd with the Prophetick Light,
Did the clear notice of One promis'd bring,
From whom much greater good to them should spring,
Then e're before from Heav'n did Men befal;
HIM, the Messias all agree to call.
We, that he has been here already, say;
They, yet expect him in a future day.
Let's search those Books, fairly this Doubt to end,
Which for Divine both sides alike commend.
He would not cheat, nor could hav' bin deceiv'd
In what from Gabr'el he affirms receiv'd.
He (b) from the Angel's dictating declares,
That there should not elapse five hundred years,
After the Edict publish'd to restore
That City, where the Jews all met t' adore;
But the Messias should on Earth be seen;
When now above two thousand there have been;
And yet the Jews expect him still to come;
Nor can they name another in his room,
To whom this circumstance of Time agrees,
And this their Rabby Nehumias sees,
Who fifty years e're the Messias's Reign,
Say's, more than fifty years can't now to that remain.
Another Note we touch'd upon before,
Of having Pow'r from God all Nations o're;
When the Seleucan with the Lagian Line*
Should all Authority, of Force, resign:
The last in Cleopatra did expire,
Little before the World did Christ admire.
*In Daniel a third Note deserves regard,
Where, from Prophetick Spirit, 'tis declar'd,
That after the Messias here injoy'd,
Jerusalem should wholly be destroy'd;
And this Josephus to his Age applies,
*A Passage of like sense in Haggai lies;
*Their Governour, with the High-Priest, we find,
After a great dejection shew'n of mind,
Seeing the Temple then but lately rais'd,
If with the first compar'd, not to be prais'd,
Had hence their drooping hearts with spir'ts sup∣ply'd,
Such honour this shall crown, as was the first de∣ny'd.
Of Size, Materials, Art, or Ornament,
'Tis plain by Story the could not be meant.
Besides, the greatest Hebrew Rabbies hold,
The later was infer'our to the old,
Both for the Majesty, and Light Divine,
Effusion too, which with the first did shine.
Wherein the last should yet the first exceed,
We may of Sacred Revelation read;
Where God declares his Peace with That should rest,
By which his Grace and Favour is exprest.
*This we in Malachy at large may find;
'Who comes to seal my Cov'nant with Mankind
'I send before: The way he shall prepare,
'And in the Temple suddenly appear,
'Whom you expect to come, your Hearts delight.
Under the second Temple he did write.
'Tis clear then, while the second Temple stood,
The Jews were to expect this promis'd Good,
Which from Zerubb'bel to Vespasian's under∣stood;
Page 107For 'twas not wholly from its Ruine rais'd,
While Herod, they who valu'd Grandeur, prais'd,
By sev'ral parts they did compleat the pile,
Which the same Temple we may justly stile.
'Tis plain they then did for Messiah look,
From whence, some blindly Herod for him took.
Some, others; some, Judas the Gaulonite,
When Jesus liv'd who needs must be the right.
Some Jews perceiving how these Motives press,*
That the appointed time is past, confess.
But think their Sins of it th'occasi'on were:
To wave how positive their Prophets are,
Without Condition tacitely imply'd;
How could the Advent be for these deny'd?
When Dani'el from a sacred impulse spake,
That Ruine should for these Jerusalem o're-take,
Soon after the Messiah's peaceful Reign:
Besides another cause of's Advent's plain,
To be the Healing a corrupted Age,
And Men t'a better Rule of Life t'engage;
While for the past he did God's Wrath asswage.
In Zach'ry see a sacred Promise lie,*
That God with Grace would David's House supply;
From thence an open Fountain should appear,
Which from their Sins Jerusalem should clear.
The Jews besides a strong Traditi'on own,
That Ischopher Messiah should be known;
That is design'd th'Almighty to appease;
But could he be with-held for that Disease,
Which 'tis most evident he was to ease?
That the Messiah's come, we may evince*
From a by-no-means disputable Sense:
Page 108God's Cov'nant with them in their Law exprest,
Declares they shall in Palestine be blest,
While they obed'ient to those Precepts rest:
But when from these they a Defection make,
Exile and other Woes should them o're-take:
But when a lively Sense of their Misdeeds,
Sincere Compunction and Contrition breeds;
How much soever distant they remain,
They all should see the Holy Land again.
More now are past than fifteen hundred Years,
And no Completion yet of this appears:
Still they in Exile without Temple live:
Often they to rebuild it vainly strive.
Wond'rous Erupti'ons of resistless Fire,
Have forc'd the baffled Work-men to retire.
This Ammianus Marcellinus shows,
Tho he did Christianity oppose.
When formerly that Peoples Sins encreast;
When with their Children they did Saturn feast;
When for no Crime Adultery did pass,
To rob Widows and Orphans usu'al was,
And to fill up the measure of their Guilt,
Innocent Blood was without Mercy spilt;
For these against them Prophets oft complain'd,
And Exile they, for Punishment, sustain'd;
Yet seventy Years, of this was th'utmost date,
And God compass'onating their low Estate,
Did by his Prophets keep their Spirits up,
And tell when he'd remove that bitter Cup.
But since they last were driven from their Land,
They seem kept out by an Almighty Hand,
Banish'd, contemn'd, their Prophecies all ceast,
And no fixt time for their return exprest;
Their Rabbies with Delusion seem possest,
Page 109To Fables alid ridic'ulous Doctrines fall,
Which they their Oral Law sottishly call;
These like blind Insects in their Talmud crawl.
Sometimes they're equall'd, and sometimes prefer'd,
To what their Lawgiver from God declar'd.
There they the Godhead represent t'have wept,
To see Jerusalem's mighty Ruins heap'd;
Of Beh'moth and Leviathan maintain
Things so absurd, as to repeat were pain:
Yet all this while they the true God have serv'd,
And to the Worship of no false one swerv'd:
None do their Slaughters or Adulteries blame,
And a warm Zeal does their griev'd Hearts inflame.
They fast and pray, an angry God t'appease,
And yet without Remorse he hears and sees:
None of their Propiti'ati'ons can prevail:
Which shews that the Mosaick Law does fail:
Or else some Sin their Nation has involv'd,
Through such a Tract of Ages unabsolv'd.
It lies on them, either the Sin to name,
Or own 'twas slighting the Messiah, when he came.
That the Messiah's come already's plain:*
That Jesus was the true, we here maintain.
Of all that e're with that Pretence arose;
Or else, with whom, for such, People did close;
Not one of them has left a Sect behind,
By which what they deliver'd we may find.
Nor Herod, Judas, or Barchochebas,
Who for the Christ with learned Men did pass,
When Adrian did the Roman Empire sway:
But down from Jesus, to this very day
Page 110There have been, and thoughout the World re∣main,
Those who this Jesus for the Christ maintain.
And many other signs I here might give,
Which were fortold, or People did receive,
Which as fulfill'd in Jesus we believe.
As that he was from (g)David's Seed to spring:
That Him a (h) Virgin to the World should bring;
He who betroth'd her this (i) from Heav'n was taught,
Or else the Nuptial Tie would not have sought:
Did the first spreading of his Doctrine see.
To every Mala'dy he did Cure afford,
(m) Sight to the Blind, Feet to the Lame restor'd:
But on one Sign alone I might rely,
Th'effect of which we at this day descry,
Do in plain Prophecies expresly shew,
That Christ should not instruct the Jews alone,
But that all Nations should his Precepts own;
The Worship of false Gods, though him should fail,
And over far-spread Multitudes, the True prevail.
Uuntil he came false Worships did abound;
Thence forward by degrees they all lost ground,
And in the Worship of One God were drown'd.
To Jesus and his Follow'rs this we owe:
No such effect from Jewish Doctors know.
The People thence who were not (r) God's, became
Such, as for his, he with delight does name.
This, the fulfilling Jacob's (s) Blessing shows;
That Civil Pow'r (t) fierce Judah should not lose,
That this is the Messiah Jewish Doctors say.
The hard'ned Jews here an Objection feign,*
That many things still unfulfill'd remain,
Belonging to the true Messiah's Reign.
But those things at the best are but obscure,
And may as well another Sense endure:
For these, we ought not Evidence to leave,
Such as shines forth in that which we believe;
The Holiness of what this Jesus taught;
The excellent Reward to Light he brought;
All things exhibited in Speech most clear;
By Miracles his Mission made appear.
To prove his Doctrine true these should suffice:
But then for understanding Prophecies,
Which to seal'd Books we often find compar'd;*
Men with some helps from God should be prepar'd,
Of which who slight things plain, are justly bar'd.
They know besides, that what makes their de∣fence,
Is often render'd in a diff'rent Sense:
If they make search with an imparti'al Mind,
They ev'n their own Interpreters will find,
Who during their Captiv'ity had wrote,
Or much about the time that Jesus taught,
In these agreeing with what Christians thought:
If one observe how later these oppose,
Writing since Hatred against Jesus rose;
This a plain Biass to their party shows.
Ev'n they themselves will without scruple own,
That Figures oft in Holy Writ are known,
The proper Sense being diff'rent from the True,
Which we in num'rous Instances may view:
Page 112Thus God is mention'd coming from the Skies,
And oft describ'd with Mouth, Ears, Nose, and Eyes.
Why should we not in the like way explain,
Some things foretold of the Messiah's Reign?
As that the Wolf and Lamb, Leopard and Kid,
Lion and Fatling in one Covert hid,
Should lie together in a peaceful way?
That suckling Instants should with Serpents play?
God's Mountain should above all others rise,
Thither should Strangers come to sacrifice?
Either the follow'ing or preceding words,
Where holy Penman, what's foretold, records,
Oft prove Conditi'on in the Sense imply'd:
Some Promises are thence the Jews deny'd,
Because they have not with the Christ comply'd.
Our Faith on this account they should not blame;
Since for the failure they must take the shame.
Some Promises we find without reserve;
If such they unaccomplish'd still observe,
What prejudice that yet their time's not past?
They hold Messiah's Reign till all things end shall last.
*Jesus his low Estate gives some Offence;
But the Objection is a vain pretence:
Almost throughout the Holy Writ 'tis seen,
God will debase the Proud, exalt the Mean.
Jacob past Jordan with his Staff alone,
But to return with Flocks and Herds was known.
Moses, a banish'd Shepherd, hardly far'd,
When in the burning Bush our God appear'd,
And him the Leader of his Flock declar'd.
David from Sheep, was to a Kingdom chose,
Many such Instances the Scripture shows.
Page 113We find it read of this long-promis'd King,
That he glad-Tidings to the Poor should bring:
That he should not in publick make a Noise,
Nor use Reproaches, but a gentle Voice:
Would cherish the bruis'd Reed, and that small heat,
Which in a snuff maintains a doubtful seat.
His Death, and other Ills which he did bear,
Should not his Credit in the least impair.
God often in his wise Dispose thinks fit
The Imp'ious in their Ravage to permit,
And force the Pious poorly to submit.
The Sodomites with lustful Fury hot,
Made a poor Fugitive of right'ous Lot.
Some have been slain, Abel by Parricide,
Isaiah is by piece-meals said t've di'd.
The Maccabees in Tortures did expire,
The Mother, with the Sons of her desire.
Many such Instances we here might bring;
'Tis written in those Psalms which th'Hebrews sing,
Thy Servants Carcases a Prey did yeild
Ʋnto the Birds o'th Air, Beasts of the Field: *
Their Blood like Water in the Streets does flow,
And none dare give the Burial which they owe.
That the Messias was his Pow'r to gain,
Thro' many Troubles, and Death full of Pain,
Is from Isaiah beyond questi'on plain.*
'Who has what we report duly receiv'd?
'Who has the Pow'r of the most High believ'd?
'And that the rather, since before his Eye
'He grows up like a Plant wanting supply;
'A starv'ling Root plac'd in a Sandy Ground,
'No Form or Comeliness in him is found;
'Nor if you see him, can you Beauty find,
'Which thro' the Eye should work upon the Mind.
Page 114'Of Men rejected, and expos'd to scorn;
'And many are the Sorrows by him born.
'Those who insult not, will their Faces hide;
'These exercise their Pity, others Pride:
'Yet he our Griefs does surely for us bear;
'Our's the Advantage, his the Sorrows are.
'In his wounds our Transgressions are descri'd,
'And our Iniquities have bruis'd his side.
'His Chastisement procures our setled Peace,
'And we are heal'd in what gives him Disease;
'We all, like silly Sheep, have gone astray,
'And each run bleating his own foolish way:
'For all our Aberrations he does pay.
'Silent he bears Afflicti'ons beyond thought,
'And like a Lamb is to the Slaughter brought;
'Or as a Sheep, before her Sheerers dumb,
'So does he to the bitter'st Suff'rings come.
'After a Pris'n and shameful Sentence past,
'With form of Law he's taken off at last.
'Yet after all, who's worthy to declare
'That life of Glory falling to his share?
'My Peoples Sins occasion'd his remove;
'Thence 'twas he went so soon to's place above.
'The wicked ins'olent with the Pow'r they have,
'Drive him to Death and the devouring Grave:
'Altho he never did commit a Wrong,
'Or e're impos'd with a deceitful Tongue.
'But tho God suffer'd all this to be done,
'Since he refus'd not for our Sins t'atone,
'But did himself a Victim for us pay;
'His Seed, his Life, shall never know decay;
'And thro' all Ages he our God shall please,
'After his Travel he shall sit at ease,
'With Joys the most sincere for ever crown'd,
'While numbers thro' him justifi'd are found.
Page 115'And he discharg'd the Debt which on them lay,
'Him with the price of Victory I'le pay;
'Because he did himself to Death resign,
'As a Transgressor suffer'd Wrath Divine.
'For others Sins he did endure the pain,
'For them an Intercessor does remain.
What other Prince or Prophet can they shew,
To whom his Character may be thought due?
What some of the late Jewish Writers feign,
As if 'twere of their Nation meant, is vain:
As if they, scatter'd over every Land,
Should many bring the Truth to understand,
By their Example, and diffusive Speech,
The contrary to which the Scriptures teach:
Shewing that they have suffer'd nothing ill,
But for their Sins they worse should suffer still.
The Ser'ies too of what's deliver'd here
Will not endure such a strain'd Sense to bear:
The Prophet, rather God, does there declare,
My Peoples Sins of this th'occasion are.
God's, or Isaiah's People, were the Jews:
This then, That 'twas another suffer'd, shews.
Their ancient Jewish Rabbies have confest
These things of the Messiah were exprest:
With which some of the later being prest,
Upon the Ficti'on of two Christs do fall;
One they indeed the Son of Joseph call,
Who was to suffer Ills and Death at last;
Another for the Son of David past;
All things with him should happily succeed:
This from parti'ality must needs proceed.
'Tis easier, and does better far agree
With what we in Prophetick Writings see;
Page 116T'acknowledge one who was to gain his Pow'r,
By Life of pain, and shame at the last hour;
Which we believe of Jesus to be true:
If we were silent, This, the thing it self should shew.
*Some Jesus and his Doctrine disbeliev'd,
On an Opinion they had preconceiv'd,
That they who did first Oppositi'on raise,
Were Men for Probity deserving Praise:
Chiefly the Priests who warmli'est did proceed,
Here I, for Satyr, no Invention need,
Let them but their own Law and Prophets read,
There does in lively Characters appear,
What sort of Men their Predecessors were;
As Men uncircumcis'd of Heart and Ear,
That with Lip-service they to God draw nigh,
With Hearts which in Earth's furthest Corners lie.
Their Predecessors would have Joseph slain,
Slav'ry was all the mitigation he could gain.
Of them they were whose Factions Moses tir'd,
So much that he to end his Life desir'd,
Whose Rod the Earth and Air were known t'obey,
At one dread shake the astonish'd Sea made way;
The Sea less deaf, and less disturb'd than they.
These were not satisfy'd with heav'nly Bread;
Belching up Quails still wanted to be fed.
Such leaving David their Anointed King,
To his Rebellious Son their Homage bring.
They Zacharias at the Altar slew,
The Victim of their Cruelty, the Priest did view,
Nor were their Priests less scandalously ill;
They by false Witness Jeremy would kill.
Page 117Lay-Piety indeed came in to's aid;
Yet him their Influence a Captive made,
Until themselves were forc'd to the like fate.
Is't said, while Jesus blest this Earthly State,
The Priests then living greater consci'ence made?
This fond Belief Josephus will dissawde:
Read there, how great their Crimes, how strange their Woes:
That these were short of their Demerits he avows.
Nor can the Sanhedrim be better thought,
Since, as by th'History of those times we're taught,
Not choice, but great Men's Pow'r to th'Office brought.
Often who gave the most, promoted were,
Before for Life, then but from Year to Year.
What wonder then if People swell'd with Pride,
With Av'arice or Ambiti'on for their guide,
Should be with an insatiate Fury mov'd,
At one whose holy Life theirs so reprov'd?
Against him they could no Objection raise,
But what they always met who merited most Praise.
The Prophet Micah thus to Prison was brought,
For standing to the Truth which God had taught,
Against four hundred of a diff'rent thought.
Ahab against Elias that did urge,
From which the Priests put Christ himself to purge,
That he was the disturber of that Rest,
Of which till then Israel had been possest.
Did Christ against the Jewish Temple preach?
For this they did condemn their Jeremy's Speech.
Add farther, as their ancient Rabbies say,
Men shall be known in the Messiah's day,
Page 118As bold as Dogs, as stubborn as the Ass,
The Cruelty of Beasts far to surpass.
And God himself who plainly did foresee,
What in Messiah's time the Jews would be,
Says a new People he for his will chuse:
While from the Streets and Cities of the Jews;
Scarce one or two ascend the holy Mount,
But he with Gentiles would fill up th'account.
*A Stone of stumbling, an offensive Rock,
Shall Christ become to Isra'l's scatter'd Flock.
*But yet that Stone which the first Builders leave,
Others shall into the chief place receive.
*Two Calumnies do yet untouch'd remain,
With which the Jews Christi'anity would stain,
First, That we worship many Gods they feign.
But here with malice obvi'ous to discern,
A Doctrine opposite to their's they turn.
Th'Objection equally affects the Jew,
As does their Philo evidently shew.
He three Hypostases in God does name,
Unto him adds his Word which made this frame;
Who otherwise than Men from's Father came;
On the belief he of a Third does fall,
Him does Embassador, or Angel call,
To whom he does assign the care of all.
Moses, Nehmanni's Son, with him agrees;
And in their Cabalists the like one sees.
They God distinguish as a threefold Light;
Some have the Names of which the Christi'ans write:
The Father, Son, or Word, and Spirit Divine.
Here what's confest by all the Jews to joyn;
Page 119That Spirit known the Prophets to inspire,
They do as something increate, admire,
Distinguish'd still from him by whom 'twas sent:
And so of what by Schechina is meant.
That Force Divine should in the Christ reside,
Which they call Wisdom, many Jews confide:
Whence the Chaldaean Par'aphrast does accord
With Christi'ans, calling him th'Almighty's Word.
David, Isaiah, with more, taught of Heav'n,
The Name of God and Lord, to him have giv'n.
Another Imputation here they lay,*
That we to a meer Creature Worship pay:
But this with mighty ease is wip'd away;
Since we to Christ no other Honour give,
Than what we in the Psalms his due perceive.
The second, David Kimchi thus applies;*
Finding King David not so high to rise,
In Christ the Character at large descries:
Yet none did more than he Christ'anity op∣pose.*
The hundred and tenth Psalm which this yet fuller shows;
Must needs be thought of the Messiah meant.
That which some Jews of later time invent
Of David, and of Hezekiah some,
Is but their Malice boyling up in scum.
the Psalm is David's, as th'Inscripti'on shews;
Where then King David calling, Lord, one views;
Can it be thought, this to himself he'd use?
Or Hezekiah coming from his Line,
When yet he did in nothing him out-shine?
Abr'am no Priestly Character possest,*
And him Melchisedec devoutly blest,
As one whom a more sacred Order did invest.
*That which we added by the Psalmist know,
'A Rod of Strength shall out of Sion go,
'And make his distant Foes his Prowess see,
Does evidently with the Christ agree.
Nor did the ancient Jews e're differ here,
And this in their old Paraphrasts is clear.
So great their Probity was fully known,
Who for the Christ, the Nazarite, did own,
That we for this might credit them alone;
As well as Moses is by Jews believ'd,
In what himself alone declares from God receiv'd.
But more, and stranger Arguments, maintain,
That Pow'r Supream this Jesus did obtain;
That many saw him come to Life again:
That he was seen when to the Hev'ns he past;
That out of Men he raging Daemons cast:
Diseases cur'd by his tremendous Name:
And that the Gift of Tongues t'his Follow'ers came,
Which he had promis'd for his Empire's sign;
His Scepter too, that is, his Word Divine,
From Sion went devoid of Humane Aid,
And did the Limits of the Earth invade,
People, and Kings, its sacred force obey'd:
Exactly answ'ering what the Psalmist told.
Their Cabalists a middle Nature hold,
Between the Highest, and the Humane Mind;
For whom the name of Enoch's Son they find;
With a much lower Pow'r to him assign'd.
To him how much more justly this we yeild,
Who has himself with so much Light reveal'd?
Against the Father's Pow'r, this does not make;
Since we confess he this from him did take:
*To him at th'end of all it must return;
And we his Honour brightned hence discern:
Were but the Readers time in waste to spend:
These things I think may be enough to prove,
That no Objection any Skill can move,
Argues the Doctrines which this Jesus taught,
Either absurd, or impious to be tought.
What hinders then, but all Men should imbrace
Those Doctrines, which such Miracles did grace,
Which Precepts of such Sanctity commend,
With a Reward so glorious in the end?
Whoever this for his Live's Rule does take,
But Questi'ons more particular would make;
Must search those sacred Books, which we maintain,
The whole of our Religi'on to contain.
That on Mens Minds these their due force may gain.
We ought with fervent Zeal that God t'im∣plore,
Whom Jews, and we, with holy Fear adore;
That he to them would open the clos'd Door;
That they may feel the beams of Light Divine,
In their most inward Parts serenely shine:
That that warm Pray'r may efficac'ious prove,
Utter'd for them by Christ when he did hence remove.