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But should we suppose that the orator could prevail with himself to make such an assertion, can we think that the high priest and elders of the Jewish nation could be so imprudent as to approve of what he said ? For it is expressly added, that they also assented, saying that these things were so e. And if we can imagine that the judge was so favourable to the counsel as to pass by his impertinence without a check, yet sure we cannot possibly believe that he would suffer the high priest and rulers of the nation to confirm such a thing without a rebuke. What! would a Roman governor, sitting in the judgment-seat, hear the Jewish magistrates declare that they would have judged a prisoner in a capital cause, and not sharply reprehend them for it, if at the same time the Romans had absolutely prohibited their proceeding in such causes ? What possible construction could be put upon such a declaration, but an open profession of rebellion against the Roman state ? Could any governor sit still and hear it with patience ? Certainly he could not. Besides, this was not a governor that had his business to learn, but one who had presided many years over that nation f.
case, when they came before the Roman governor, the crime laid to his charge is sedition : We have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, Acts xxiv. 5. That it was esteemed a capital cause by the Jews, is evident from the outcry they made against him when he had spoken to them from the stairs of the castle; Away with such a fellow from the earth : for it is not fit that he should live. Acts xxii. 22, 23 : and from what Festus says to king Agrippa, Ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer. Acts xxv. 24.
e Acts xxiv. 9.
To this it is objected, that it is not easy to say what we ought to understand by these words of Tertullus ; that there is little regard to be had to what he says, and that he endeavours to impose upon the governor 8.
But does not the apostle Paul himself assert the same thing, when, standing before the Jewish council, he says to Ananias the high priest, Sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be h
en contrary to the law 11 ? If St. Paul had any notion of the end for which he was brought before that court, it was to be tried by the Jewish law. And what is it that Tertullus says more? whom we took, and would have judged according to our law. It is true, he adds immediately after, But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our handsi. And does not St. Luke tell us much the same, when he says that while St. Paul stood before the council, there arising a great dissension, and the chief captain fearing lest he should be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among themk. It is very certain this was an imperfect representation of the case; but to what purpose would it have been to have given a more ample detail of the particulars ? The Jews took St. Paul. Tertullus passes over in silence all that followed, till he was brought by Lysias before the council. Then the Jews would have
i Acts xxiv. 10. h Acts xxiii. 3.
& Lard. Cred. vol. 1. p. 129, fin. et 131. i Acts xxiv. 7.
k Acts xxiii. 10.
judged him according to their law. He suppresses the dissension that appeared in court, and only mentions Lysias's taking him away by force. Were the circumstances omitted of any importance to the trying of the cause ? Had they been so, the prisoner would no doubt have taken notice of them in his defence, and set them in a clear light. But forasmuch as he has not, and as all these things were plainly subsequent to the facts of which he was accused, and therefore could noways tend to make out either his innocence or guilt, I think we may firmly conclude that Tertullus had no intention to impose on the governor in this part of his oration ?
The learned Grotius confines the meaning of Tertullus to one particular crime, and descants upon his words thus: Whom we would have judged according to our law, as having brought strangers into the temple, in which crime the execution of capital punishments was permitted by the Romans m. For the proof of this last assertion he refers to the words of Titus related in Josephus, which I have already quoted. But those words reach the strangers
" It is true, the words upon the first view of them seem as though they related to Lysias's rescuing St. Paul when he was taken in the temple, and like to have been beaten to death by the multitude. It must be acknowledged, the words came upon us, might lead us so to think, (though nothing is more usual than to ascribe that to a person which is done by his order.) But as he studied conciseness and brevity in this oration, possibly he did not stand upon the greatest accuracy, any more than Lysias in his letter to Felix; This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them ; then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. Vid. Lard. Cred. vol. 1.
m In loc. n Grot, in Act. xxi. 28. and to Moses de Cotzi, præc. jubent. 21.
themselves only', not the person who should persuade or encourage them to go beyond the bounds prescribed; which, I suppose, is all that can be understood by bringing them into the temple ; for it is not to be imagined that force could be used by a single person to make them enter against their wills. The accusation of Tertullus does not say that he so much as prevailed with them to enter; says only that he endeavoured it, ēneipage; we translate it, hath gone about, i. e. hath attempted to defile this holy place. That such an attempt, if proved, was death by the Jewish law, I make no doubt : but what ground is there to believe that the Romans indulged them in the execution of this particular law, unless what I am contending for be granted, that they allowed them the use of all their laws in general ? Nothing is more certain than that our Saviour was not accused of the crime of bringing strangers into the temple ; and yet Pilate the Roman governor says to the Jewish magistrates concerning him, Take ye him and judge him according to your law. In this place, therefore, Grotius is forced to give another turn to the words, and interpret them as if he had said, “ Take ye him and “ punish him with those lesser punishments which “ it is permitted you to exercise P;” as though Pilate had been wholly ignorant of what passed in the high priest's house, or in the council the night before 9, or did not know that blasphemy was punished with death by the Jewish law, notwithstanding that he had been now governor of this nation some years. Grotius supposes that before Pilate said these words the Jews had accused our Saviour to him of sabbathbreaking, and such-like crimes?. But could he be now to learn that sabbath-breaking also was made death by the Jewish law ? and does not the answer that they immediately subjoin to Pilate's saying fully evince that if they had accused him of any thing in particular it was of a capital crime? for they reply, It is not lawful
• Mr. Lardner also seems to be of this mind. Cred, vol. 1.
p. 130, fin.
p In Joan. xviii. 31.
9 We cannot reasonably suppose that either the fame of Jesus, or the attempts of the Jewish rulers against him, much less their proceedings the night before, and early that morning in the high priest's house, and in the council, could be unknown to Pilate. He was watchful enough of all the motions of the Jewish rulers. Remissness and want of vigilance is not among the number of crimes laid to his charge. We cannot therefore, I think, much err in taking it for granted that he was well informed what they accused our Saviour of: and it is fully evident from his own words, that he rather chose they should have put him to death in their own way.
for us to put any man to death, meaning, this holy season. But whatever be the meaning of those words, they fully shew that they had accused him as a malefactor worthy of death.
Arguments to the same purpose taken from the Gospels.
I SHALL lay before the reader some things which relate hereto in the four Gospels, and conclude this part of the chapter. Our Lord says to his disciples, Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the councilss. Take heed to yourselves; for they
r In Joan. xviii. 30. Si non esset hic malefactor, non tibi tradidissemus eum ; simul, ut credibile est, aliqua attulerunt de sabbatho, et similia.
s Matt. x. 17.