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Next to the several rites of worship injoined to the Jews by Moses' law, I might instance in the scrupulous precepts, which much perplexed their moral actions. For there were few moral duties, which were not nicely circumscribed, and punctually determined in point of circumstance. The several dues of the priests and Levites, their very charities to the poor, were so determined in point of time, so circumftantiated in point of place, so scrupulously limited and prescribed, as made it hard to avoid offence, in the greatest heed and observation; as will appear from several instances which I shall hereafter mention to you.
Nor were they thus perplexed and disciplined with abundance of nice and scrupulous laws, in the worship of God and morality only; but in all their other affairs also.
They could not so much as build an house, but after a certain form and manner with battlements added to the roof. They might not dwell in the house they had
built built (at least as they interpret Moses) without certain schedules of the law, affixed to the posts, and to parts of their doors.
Their houses were subject to disease, that is to say, to the plague of leprosy, as well as themselves. They were to be pulled down, where they could not be cured ; and in case they could be cured, they were to be purged and cleansed, by divers rites and expiations.
They were not without restraint of law, in the cloaths wherewith they covered themselves. They might not put on any garment of linen and woollen woven together. They were to edge their cloaths with fringes. They were (as themselves expound the law) to wear certain schedules of the law upon their foreheads, and their arms; which were stiled phylacteries.
Their meat, and the preparation of it, were bounded with far more numerous laws, than any thing which I have yet mentioned. It would be infinite to give an account of the several kinds of living creaG 2
tures, the flesh whereof was by the law judged unclean. And the blood and tallow of the clean, yea the flesh itself, in several cases, might not be eaten upon pain of death.
Nor was the preparation of their food: any freer from the scruple of the law, than their food itself. They might not join divers kinds of creatures, as an ox and an ass, in the same yoke, for tillage of the ground. They might not set their orchards or vineyards, with divers kinds of plants together; nor eat of the fruit of the three first years, nor of the fourth but at Jerufalem.
They were forbidden to fow their fields with several kinds or sorts of feed; nor might they either plow, or fow, either in the seventh, or fiftieth year. They could not reap where they had lowed, nor gather the fruits where they had planted, without the observation of such rules, as were troublesome, at least, in point of circumstance. A corner of the field, oliveyard, and vineyard, was not to be reaped or gathered at all, but left behind them
for the poor. They might not glean, where they did reap, or gather the fruits, either in their fields, or their plantations. They might not stoop to take up any little quantity of what might accidentally fall in gathering. If they had forgotten a sheaf of corn, they might not return to fetch it. Such were the fcruples, which incumbered them in their very charities to the poor.
After they had gathered in their fruits, they might not apply them to their use, before they had separated divers portions for other uses. First, a portion to be carried up to the temple, and there presented before the altar. Then another portion for the priests, to be given to them in the country. Neither of which was to be less than a fixtieth part of all their fruits, by the decree of their wise men. Then a first tithe to be given to the Levite; then another tithe two years together to be carried to Jerusalem, (in kind or value), and there spent; and the third year given to the poor of the land.
After all this, whensoever they kneaded a mass of dough, a part must be separated for the priest. Whensoever they killed of the herd, or flock, the priest was to have his share in that. It would be endless to reckon up all particulars in this kind. The general account is thus stated by the Jews: The poor had nine several gifts allotted to them by a standing law, three in the field, four in the vineyard, two in plantations of other kinds; besides the second tithe every third year, The Levites had the tithe of all the fruits that were considerable. The priests had four and twenty other dues, all but one at the people's charge: And of the dues that were so charged, one was the flesh of the expiatory facrifices, and these facrifices were required for above fifty kinds of fins.
But that which I now insist upon is, not the greatness of the expence, which the law charged upon the Jews; but that all their offices of love and charity were so circumstantiated by the law, that they, who had the bestinclinations to these duties in the general, must of necessity be much incum