Page images

ation, they consider'd of the Jews that were to be admitted Lembers of this Council ; and they were only allow'd to be lembers, which could by Record prove themselves to be naive Jews, and for defect herein, I obferv'd above Five hunred refus'd; tho doubtless they were True-born Jews, yet they ould not by Record prove themselves so to be ; and for this hey were not admitted to be Members of the Council, but hey did abide without the Rail with the Strangers that were here: and the number of them that were accepted to be Members, was about Three hundred Jews. And this was alr hat was done the first day.

On the second day, the Assembly being full, the Propounder tood up, and made his Speech concerning the end of their neeting: And, This, said he, is to examine the Scriptures concernng Christ, whether he be already come, or whether we are yet to expelt iis coming. In examining this Question, they search'd the Old Testament with great Care and Labour, to be resolv'd of the Truth thereof, having many Bibles with them there for this und. And about this point there were great Disputes amongft

chem. The major part were of Opinion, That he was not
come: and some inclin'd to think that he was come ; being
mov'd thereunto by their great Judgment, that hath continud
now this Sixteen hundred years upon them.
: I remember very well one of the Council in his Conference
with me, seem'd to be very apprehensive of the great and
long Desolation of their Nation, ever fince their Destruction
by the Roman Emperors; and hé imputed this their Affiction
to their Impenitency. And comparing their present Judg.
ment, with their other Judgments they had suffer'd before,
he ingenuously confess'd, that he did conceive it was for
some great Wickedness; and that their Nation was guilty of
the Blood of the Prophets sent from God to their Nation, and
the many Massacres that had been committed by the several
Sects and Factions amongAt them. For (said he) we are no Ido-
laters, neither do I think we were guilty of Idolatry since our Caprivity
in Babylon; and therefore (faid he i do impute this our Calamity
and present judgment to the fore-nam'd Causes. And this was the
sum of that which was disputed amongst then the second day
of their meeting; and so they adjourn'd till the next Morn
ing, which was the third day of their meeting.

When being assembld together again, the point that was chiefly agitated was concerning the Männer of Christ's coming. And this, some faid, shall be like a mighty Prince, in the full Power and Authority of a King, yea, in greater Power than ever any King had; and that he will deliver their Nation out of the Power of cheir Enemies, and th:ir Temple fall Nn 3


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

be rebuilt again; and, that the Nations shall be of their Re. ligion, and worship God after their manner. For they hold, That the Messiah will not alter their Religion, whenfo ver he cometh. And further, concerning his Parentage, they did agree in this, That he should be borntof a Virgin, according to the Prediction of the Prophets; and they agreed also, that he may be born of such a Virgin, which might be of mean Note amongst their Nation, as was the Virgin Mary. And here some of them seem'd to me, to incline to think that Chrift was come. Therefore when they came together again the next day, the Propounder demanded of them, if Christ were already come, and who they thought he was ? and to this De mand they gave this Answer, That they thought Eli.ab was he, if he were come, because he came with great Power, which he declar'd by saying the Priests of Baal; and, for the fulfilling of the Scripture, he was oppress'd by Abab and fee bel: yet they esteem'd him to be more than a mortal Man, because he so ftrangely afcended up into Heaven. And be cause this Opinion was contradicted by others, the day follow: ing they took into Exanıination the same Question, to answer them that said Eliah was not the Messiah. They of the con. trary Opinion did urge the Care and Love of 'Eliah for the good of their Nation, in that he left them Elisha his Disciple to teach and instruct the People ; which they expect to be the Care of their Meffiah. These were the chief Arguments they had to defend their Opinion: and the same day, towards night, it came into question amongft them, What he then was that said he was the Son of God, and was crucified by their Ance. ftors? And because this was the great Question amongst them, they defer'd the further Confideration thereof until the next day. · When meeting again, the Pharisees (for some of this Sea were amongst them, that were always the Enemies of Chrif they firft began to answer this last Night's question; and there by no means would yield that he was the Christ; and these Reasons they gave for their opinion.

First, Because (faid they) he came into the World like a ordinary and inferior Man, not with his Scepter, nor Rogal Power wherewith they affirin'd the Coming of Chrift should be Glorious. Secondly, They pleaded against him the Mear. ness of his Birth, in that his father was a Carpenter; and this they said, was a Dishonour that Chrift should not be ca. pable of. Thirdly, They accus’d him to be an Enemy to Moses's Law, in suffering his Disciples, and in doing Works himself that were prohibited on the Sabbath-day; for they believe that the messiab will punctually and exactly keep the


Law of Moses : and where the Gospel doth testify of Chrift, that he did fulfil the Law, they reject the Teftimony thereof, because they do not own the Gospel. But I observ'd these Reasons of the Pharisees did not satisfy all that heard them, but there ftill remain’d some Doubt in some of them concerning Chrift; for there ftood up one Rabbie call’d Abraham, and objected against the Pharisees, the Miracles that Chrift wrought whilft he was upon Earth, as his raising of the Dead to life again, his making the Lame to walk, the Blind to see, and the Dumb to speak. And the same Abraham demanded of the Pharisees, by what Power he did these Miracles? The Answer the Pharisees return'd to him, was to this purpose: They said he was an Impoftor and a Magician; and blasphemously traduc'd him of doing all his Miracles by Magick: Thus, said they, he first caus'd them to be blind, to be dumb, to be lame; and then by taking away his Magical Charm, they were reftor'd to their former condition. Nevertheless, this Answer gave little Satisfaction to the said Abraham : but thus he re.. ply'd, That he could not charm those that were born in that condition, as blind, doc. and born also before Chrift himself was born; as it appeareth some of them were. This seemd to him an absurd Paradox; and truly the presting of this Argument did almost put them to a nonplus, till at last they had this Evasion (tho weak and vile ) They were said they) by other Magicians convinc'd to be so in their Mother's Wombs; and that altho himself were not then born when they were born with these Evils, yet he being a great Diffembler, and more cunning than any Magician before hin, Power was given him by the Devil, to remove those Charms which others had plac'd. And there was one Pharisee nain'd Zebedee, who of the Pharisees there did moft opprobriously revile him, and vehemently urge these things against him; but I conceive he did it not to thie well-liking of many there that heard him, even Members of the Council. And as the Pharisees that day play'd their -Parts againft him; so did the Sadduces also endea, vour ( for some of that Sect were also of the Council) to render Chrift vile and odious to the rest of the Jews that were affembl’d there. I observ'd it was with thein, as it was once with Herod and Pilate; tho they two could not agree betwixt themselves at other times, yet they could agree together to crucify Chrift: for the Pbarijees and Sadduces, tho they be much divided in Opinion among themselves, yet did they at this time too much agree to disgrace and to dishonour Chrift with their Lies, Caluinnies and Blasphemies: for the Sadduces, as well as the Pharisees, did in other things accuse him for a grand Impostor, and for a Broacher of corrupt Doctrine; in



that in his Gospel he teacheth the Resurrection from the Dead, which they there deny'd to be true Doctrine : but it is no new thing to see Factions diffenting, to agree in some evil delign against others, as I found it by experience, Be: ing at Rome in the Year 1650, which was the Year of their Jubilee, there was a great Strife between the Jesuits and the Fryars of the Order of St. Dominick, both which were againft the Proteftants; and altho their Differences have been by the care and vigilance of the Pope so smother'd, that the World hath not taken much notice thereof; yet this Fire broke out into a Flame greater than ever it was before, (as they certified me there) both by publick Disputings, and by bitter Writings one against another, opening the Vices and Errors of one another's Faction, thus seeking to disgrace one the other; which caus’d the Pope to threaten to excommunicate the Authors of all such black and libellous Books, that did tend to the dishonour of his Clergy and Religion, to make them infamous to the World. But this by the way.

We are come now to the seventh and la ft Day of their Council; and on this day, this was the main Query amongst them: If Christ be come, then what Rules and Orders hath he left his Church to walk by? This was a great Queftion amongft them: and because they did not believe the New Teftament, nor would be guided by it,they demanded some other Inftruction to direct and guide thein in this point: Thereupon fix of the Roman Clergy (who of purpose were sent from Rome by the Prpe, to aisilt in this Council) were call'd in, viz. two Jefuits, two Friars of the Order of St. Augustine, and two of the Order of St. Francis. And these being admitted into the Council, began to open unto them the Rules and Doctrine of the Holy Church of Rome, as they call it) which Church they magnified to them for the Holy Catholick Church of Chrift,and their Doctrine to be the infallible Doctrine of Christ, and their Rules to be the Rules which the Apostles left to the Church for ever to be observ'd, and that the Pope is the Holy Vicar of Chrift, and the Succeffor of St. Peter : And for inftance in some particulars they affirm’d the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament, the religious Observation of their Holy Days, the Invocation of Saints praying to the Virgin Mary, and her commanding Power in Heaven over her Son, the Holy use of the Cross and Images, with the reft of their Idolatrous and Superftitious Worship ; ali which they commended to the Assembly of the Jews, for the Doctrine and Rules of the 'A poftles. But so soon as the Affembly had heard these things from them, they were generally and exceedingly troubled thereat, and fell into high Clamors again them and their Religion, crying out, Na Christ, to'Woman-God,


Intercession of Saints, no Worshipping of Images, no praying to the Virgin · Mary, doc. Truly their Trouble hercat was so great, that it

troubled me to see their impatience : they rent their Clothes, and caft duft upon their Heads, and cryed out aloud, Blasphemy, Blasphemy; and upon this the Council broke up. Yet they arsembled again the eighth Day; and all that was done then, was to agree upon another meeting of their Nation three Years after ; which was concluded upon before their final Diffolution.

I do believe there were many Jews there that would have been persuaded to own the Lord Jesus; and this I assure you for a Truth, and it is for the Honor of our Religion, and the enCouragement of our Divines: One eminent Rabbi there did deliver me his Opinion in conference with me, that he at first feared that those which were sent from Rome, would cause an unhappy Period to their Council; and professed to me, that he much desired the presence of some Protestant Divines, and er pecially of our English Diyines, of whom he had a better Opinion, than of any other Divines in the World : For he did believe tbat we have a great Love to their Nation; and this ReaSon he gave me for their good Opinion of our Divines, because he understood that they did ordinarily pray for the Conversion of their Nation; which he did acknowledg to be a great Token of our Love towards them : And especially he commended the Ministers of London for excellent Preachers, and for their Charity towards their Nation ; of whom he had heard a great Fame. As for the Church of Rome, they account it an Idolatrous Church, and therefore will not own their Religion : and by conversing with the Jews, I found that they generally think, that there is no other Christian Religion in the world, but that of the Church of Rome; and for Rome's Idolatry, they take offence at all Christian Religion. By which it appeareth that Rome is the greatest Enemy of the Jews Conversion.

For the place of the Jews next Meeting, it is probable it will be in Syria, in which Country I also was, and did there converse with the Sect of the Rechabites, living in Syria. They ftill observe their old Customs and Rules ; they neither sow nor plant, nor build Houses ; but live in Tents, and often remove from one place to another, with their whole Family, Bag and Baggage. And seeing I find, that by the Italian Tongue I can converse with the Jews, or any other Nation, in all the parts of the world where I have been ; if God give me an opportunity, I shall willingly attend their next Council. The good Lord prosper it. Amen.

[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »