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governed by Laws and Rulers of their own; not only, during the Time of their Fudges and Kings, which was their more flourishing Estate, but even after their Captivity, for a Time, by the Afmonean Race; who were of the ancient Levitical Blood; and afterwards by the Herodian Family, who, though they were only Fews by Religion, yet they maintained their Laws and Dyscipline as well
; as if they had been originally so. But about the Coming of Christ, that is, a few years after his Af cension, the Scepter of the Jews was perfectly taken away, and they have had no National Government ever since : Jerusalem, the Metropolis of their Nation, was about that Time utterly destroyed, and rased to the Ground; and such a Disperfion of that people made all about the World, as no History can parallel. For, though the Romans conquered Spain, and Gaul, and Britain, &c. yet they never fo chased these Nations out of their Country, as they did the Jews ; but suffered them to incorporate with their own Colonies ; so that those Countries seemed to be the fame People ftill
, though their Government was something altered by the Introduction of Roman Laws. But; ever since Titus's Devastation of that City and Country, there has beeni no Face of a Common-wealth among the Jews, either in Fadal, or in any other place; and therefore; I say, this total Dissolution of the Jewifi Common-wealth, is the departing of the Scepter; which is mentioned in this Prophesy. Now when we consider; that all the ancient Jews took this Paslage as a Prophely,
of the Meffias, and that a Scepter should be among the 1 Fews till the Time of the Messias, when there should be
an End of it ; we may reasonably conclude that our Saviour was that Meffias. Because at that Time no Body, besides our Saviour, had any Colour or Pretence to be the Meffias; and because that great and fatal Period of the Jewish Scepter or Goernment happened just after his Appearance Therefore, I say, it must be conclua ded, that the departing of the Scepter was the wonderful Diffolution of that Government or Polity : And that our Saviour (about the Time of whose Appearanice up
on Earth this came to pass) is the Shilo, or the Meffias that is here predicted.
Phil. But by the Way, Sir, this is a little too much forced, to go down with us. How comes the Tribe of Judah, or the Seed of that one Patriarch, to signify the whole Nation of the Jews, of which this was but a
Twelfth Part? The whole Cred. Why, during all the Time of the Jovis EltzNation of blishment, the Tribe of Judah was the moft eminent; the Jews and had a Precedency of the rest, not only by Reason undersiood of their Wealth and Number, but upon Account of their by Judah. Primogeniture. After they had Kings
, the Monarchy was entailed upon that Tribe : And after the Captivity, that was the only Tribe in a Manner remaining, and all the Israelites that are now known to be in the World, and that have been ever since the Captivity of Babylon, are denominated Fews from that Tribe. For if there are any of the other Tribes among them, as to be sure there are many of the Tribe of Benjamin, and perhaps of fome of the rest, they are all engrafted upon the Stock of the Tribe of Judah, and therefore do very properly bear its Name. As at first the primitive Inhabitants of the City of Rome, only bore the Name of Romans from their first Founder Romulus ; yet afterwards the Sabines, and other People that were incorporated with them, had the fame Name likewise. And why may not all the Israelites, which were built upon the Stock of Judah, be called as properly by his Name, as all the mixed Citizens of Rome, by that of Romulus ? Now, unless we should expect, that Fasob, in this propherick Blelling of Judah, should be so nice, as to descend to all the particular Variations of the Jewish Government, he could hardly express the whole national Felicity of all the Tribes, (among whom that of Just fhould make the greatest Figure, and at last be all in all) more properly, than by the Scepter's not departing from Judith.
Phil. Well! but if this be such a manifest Prophefy of Christ, how came it never to be mentioned by the Writers of the New Testament, who are wont to amafs
together Prophesics, which are not more to the Purpose?
Cred. As to the former Part of your Question, why why this
his Coming, this would have been apt to have raised too many Jealousies in the Heads of the Fewifts Government; which might have prejudiced them against his Doctrine too much, and have hindred his Preaching. Neither was it a convincing Argument in the beginning of Christianity, before Jerusalemi was destroyed, and the People were so dispersed, as they were never like to return again. Now Men could not be absolutely sure, that the Scepter and Legislator were perfectly depárted from the Fews, till a considerable Time after the Gospels were wrote; and therefore I take this to be a very probable Reason of this Prophesy being omitted by them
Per in Gen. xlix.
+ Demonf. Evang A a 2
As to your second Question, Why we interpret this ancient FA- Place contrary to the ancient Fathers, who understood it thers inter of Herod? Í Answer: It is true that most of the anciFrophesy. ent Fathers did interpret this Place of Herod, it may be,
from the mistaken Opinions of some of the Jews who lived in Herod's Time, who from this
Prophesy ill-applied, did Aatter him that he was the Messias; which was that Sect of the Herodians, mentioned in the Gospel, Ma. xxii. 16. Mark xii. 13. as Tertullian, Epiphanius, and other of the Ancients inform us.
This gave Occasion to many of the primitive Chriftians to think, that there were some Marks of Herod's Government in this Text; and though it could not be referred to Herod as the Messiás, yet they thought it referred to Christ, as born in the Days of Herod; who being an Idrimean, and not of the twelve Tribes, they supposed, that then the Scepter was departed from fuo duh. But, upon the most impartial Consideration, we must needs allow, that the Scepter's departing from Judah must have a higher Sense than to lignify a bare Idumean Feav's coming to the Crown; for he was a Fow however, and zealous for their Law, and that Nation lived in a great deal of Splendor under him, nay made a greater Figure than they had done in fome Ages before ; fo that this must be a very jejune Sense, to put upon that Expression of the Scepter's departing from Judáh, or the Jews; because, I say, the Jews enjoy'd the Benefit of a Scepter of their own, more eminently, than they had done a great while before.
But the Devastation of the City; and Dispersion of the People, in Titus's Expedition, was a departing of the Scepter in good Earnest; and therefore this does much better suit with the Words of the Prophesy, than the Succession of Herod. And this was the Opinion of fome of the most considerable of the Ancients too, as particuJarly of Justin Martyr, who in his Colloquy with Trypoo the Few, has these Words : There is none of you who can be so confident to assert, or are able to show, that there d'as ever wanting a Prophet, or a Frince, in your Nations
from the very beginning of it, till afier the Time when this feJus Christ was born, and had suffered. For though you sig that Herod, under whose Reign he was born, was an Askalonite ; yet you must needs allow, that you had an High-Priest of your own Race, who •offered sep Sacrifices, and perform’d other Things according to your Law, and there was a Space cession of the Prophets down to John. And when, after the Subdučtion of your Country, your People were carried avay 10 Babylon, and all your Holy Vessels iaken away, the Prophet among you did not cease, who was your Lord, and Leader, and Gevernour. For the Spirit, which was in your Prophets, did anoint and appoint your Kings. But after the Appearing, and the Death of our Christ, who was of your Blood, you pever had, nor have now, any more a Prophet; nay, ever since you have ceased to be governed by a King' of your own. So that, you see, this holy Martyr refers the
Complet tion of this Prophesy to the Time after the Death of Christ, when the Jewisla Government ceased ; and fets aside the other opinion, whịch referred it to Herod's being an Askalonite.
Nay, that the Mahometans themselves took this Text in the Sense as I have now explained it, I will give you a remarkable Instance out of an Arabick Writer, Ahmed Ibn. Idris, quoted by Hottinger, Thefaur. Phil
. lib. 1. cap. 2. The Text of the Law confirms the Prophesy of Jesus, upon whom be peace, when he says, The Scepter sball not deparı from Judah, nor a Lav-giver from his Feet ; ill the Mellias come. Which has came to pass, for there were not wanting Kings to the Jews, nor an Empire, till Messias's Time, upon whom be peace. But then they becam: a vile Opprobry and a captive People, which is fo true they cannot deny. And this is an evident Argument for the Truth of the Prophesy concernJesus, upon whom be peace. For Moses
, of pionis Memory, did foreiell, That they fould be addicted to Vanily or Lying, and that the Messias should bring Truth, which should drive away Vanity or Lying. This is a very surprio Ting Testimony from an Infidel, in behalf of our Religion; and since you Deifts, and the Mahometans, have been so gracious of late, I desire you would learn of them,