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1885, June 25,

* Gift of

Henry G. Denny,

of Boston,


District Clerk's Office.

BE it remembered, That on the fifth day of January, A. D. 1827, and in the fifty-first year of the Independence of the United States of America, Hilliard, Gray, Little, and Wilkins, of the said district, have deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words following, to wit:

"The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. With an Introduction giving an Account of Jewish and other Sects; with Notes illustrating obscure Passages, and explaining obsolete Words and Phrases; for the use of Schools, Academies, and private Families. By J. A. Cummings, Author of Ancient and Modern Geography. Second Edition, revised and improved."

In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, " An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned:" and also to an Act, entitled, "An Act, supplementary to an Act, entitled, An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned; and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."


Clerk of the District of Massachusetts.

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Of the Jewish and other Sects mentioned or alluded to in the New Testament.

THE word sect signifies a party, which is distinguished by some particular tenets, or articles of belief.

There was among the Jews in the time of our Saviour a variety of sects; but the principal were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes. The Scribes, though not a distinct sect, yet from being so often mentioned in the New Testament, deserve to be noticed.

Besides these there were other sects of less importance; as the Hero'dians, the Gaullonites, and the Nazarenes' of Jewish origin; the Gnostics, the Nicola'itans, the Cerinthians, &c. whose opinions were composed of the extravagant conjectures of heathen philosophers and Christian heresies.

The sect of the Pharisees arose about one hundred and fifty years before our Saviour. They believed the immortality of the soul, the resurrection and future reward of the righteous, whom they supposed to be Jews only; but that there was no resurrection of the wicked, though their souls at death passed immediately into punishment. But what most distinguished the Pharisees was, a superstitious attachment to peculiarities of dress, food, and religious ceremonies. They affected a most profound regard to the law of God, and the sacred books; but they explained away their meaning, so as to make them conform to the traditions of the elders or ancients. This incumbered their religion with innumerable trifling forms and observances, such as frequent washings, fastings, praying aloud in the most public turnings or corners of the streets, an affected gravity of dress, gesture, and mortified looks, scrupulous tithings of all manner of herbs, their building the tombs of the prophets, to make themselves appear more righteous than their fathers, who killed them; and their over scrupulous observance of the Sabbath, even to the exclusion of works of charity and mercy. All these our Saviour told them they did to be seen of men; while under the cloak of religion, they were in reality most notorious hypocrites, guilty of cruelty, injustice, oppression, extortion, and all manner of wickedness. The Pharisees, as well as all the other Jewish sects, expected in the Messiah, only a mighty, temporai prince, who should deliver them from the dominion of the Romans, and exalt the Jewish nation above all others in power, splendour, and magnificence. Of course they despised the Saviour's humble appearance, rejected his claim to Messiahship, closed their ears against his mild and heavenly instructions, and persecuted him with malice even to the cross, a death most disgraceful and ignominious. They considered themselves too sacred for intercourse with others, and separated themselves from Pagans, and from all Jews, who did not comply with their peculiarities. Hence probably the name of their sect from the Hebrew word Pharash, which signifies to divide or separate

The Sadducees derived their name from one Sadoc, the founder of their sect, who lived about two hundred and sixty or seventy years before Christ. They believed that God was the only immaterial or spiritual being in the universe; that besides him, there was neither angel nor spirit. Unlike the Pharisees, they rejected all tradition, and adhered strictly to the literal expression of the sacred books, especially the Pentateuch, or the five books of Moses. They believed there would be no resurrection of the dead, nor any future state of rewards and punishments, and that death put a final period to human existence. Hence, as might be expected from such sentiments, they gave themselves up to the indulgence of pleasure, and every species of licentiousness. Of course the pure doctrines and example of our Saviour offended them, and his cutting reproofs fell upon them with such severity, that they united with their bitter enemies, the Pharisees, in pursuing him to death.

The Essenes, who seem to have been only a party of rigid Pharisees, had their rise one or two centuries before the Christian era. They believed the immortality of the soul, the existence of angels, and a future state of rewards and punishments, which they supposed extended only to the soul, considering the body a mass of malignant matter, the prison-house of the immortal spirit. They believed every thing ordered by an eternal fatality, or chain of causes. They disallowed oaths, except on admission of new members into their society, when they were solemnly imposed, and held most sacred. They paid the highest regard to the moral precepts of the law, but neglected the ceremonial, except what regarded bodily cleanliness, making an annual present to the tempie at Jerusalem, and the observation of the Sabbath, which was so strict, that they would scarcely move an article about them, or even attend to the calls of nature. They were sober, abstemious, and peaceable; they fasted much, despised riches and finery, and wore out their clothes before they changed them. They lived quietly, and without noise; some of them retiring to solitary places, where, like the Roman monks, they devoted themselves to a contemplative life, while others cultivated the earth for support. They rejected women from their society, and generally lived in a state of celibacy; and to support their society, they adopted and educated the children of other men. The Essenes

are not expressly mentioned in the New Testament; but in all probability Paul alludes to them, when he inveighs against those, who forbid to marry, who command to abstain from meats, and who, through a voluntary humility, pay worship to angels; and it is probable, his epistles to the Ephesians, the Colossians, and his first to Timothy, were written against the errors introduced and inculcated by this sect.

The word Scribes was not the name of a particular sect, distinguished from all others by peculiar modes of practice and belief; but it is a general term, applicable to those of every sect, who made the law of Moses, and the prophetical and sacred books their particular study, so as to become capable of commenting upon them, and of publicly teaching the people. The Scribes were in general the descendants of Levi, who, being very numerous, and not always engaged in the immediate service of the temple, had leisure and opportunity to qualify themselves for this duty. From the frequent mention in the Gospels of the Scribes and Pharisees in connexion, it is probable the greatest number of the Scribes were, at that time, of the sect of the Pharisees. The Scribes are mentioned in the Old Testament, as performing a variety of duties, civil and religious. They registered the affairs of the king, transcribed the scriptures, discharged the duties of secretaries and clerks, executed all kinds of writing, and attended to the education of youth. They were numerous and much respected. The eccle- · siastical Scribes of the New Testament, were the learned of the nation, who expounded the law, and taught the people. They were the lawyers or Doctors of the law, and at the same time the preaching clergy among the Jews. But in the time of our Saviour, they were a wicked class, perverting the scriptures, and extolling the absurd traditions of the elders above them.

The Hero'dians were probably not a religious sect, but a political party, who derived their name from Herod the Great, and who favoured his claims, and those of his patrons, the Romans, to the sovereignty of Judea. It is supposed that some of the Herodians might be weak enough to believe that Herod was the Messiah, or to flatter him that he was so, that they might the better please him, and secure his favour. The leaven of Herod, therefore, against which our Saviour warns his hearers, Mark viii. 15, might be the false idea, that Herod was the Messiah; or idolatry, to which the Jews, especially such as were attached to the Romans, were always inclined.

The Gaulonites, though not expressly mentioned in the New Testament, existed as a party in the time of Jesus Christ. They were Galilæans, and took their name from one Judas Theu'das, a native of Gau/lon in Upper Galilee. In the tenth year of our Saviour he excited his countrymen, the Galilæans, and many other Jews, to take up arms, and venture upon all extremities, rather than pay tribute to the Romans. He taught his party, that they were a free nation, and ought not to be in subjection to any other; that they were the elect of God, and he alone their governor, and therefore, that they ought not to submit to any ordinance of He was however unsuccessful, and his followers in their first attempt were entirely routed and dispersed; yet so deeply had he infused his enthusiasm into their hearts, that they never rested till, in their own destruction, they had involved that of the city and temple. To this wild and fanatic party seem to be addressed many of those passages in the New Tes tament, in which obedience to magistrates is so piously and rationally inculcated.


The Nazarenes were a body of Christians, converted principally from the Pharisees. Though they embraced Christianity, they entered so little into its real spirit, that they were still fond of the beggarly elements, and carnal ordinances of the ceremonial law. To repress their inordinate superstition, seems to have been the intention of the severity with which the law is treated in the apostelic writings, where we are taught to let no man judge us with regard to meats or drinks, or the observance of holy days, or of the new moons, or of the Sabbath days, which were a shadow of things to come, whereof Jesus Christ is the substance. Besides the absurd traditions, the fatal blindness, and the groundless expectations of these Jewish sects, the Christian religion had to contend with the no less erroneous and dangerous principles of heathen philosophy, of which there were various sects among the Greeks and Eastern nations. From blending these false principles with Christianity arose the Gnostic sects, which, though not expressly mentioned in the New Testament, are frequently alluded to. The word Gnostic is of Grecian origin, and signifies a knowledge superior to that of other men

The Nicola'itans, mentioned in the Revelation of St. John, were a Gnostic sect, who derived their name from one Nicolas, their founder. They taught that lewdness and idolatrous sacrifices were lawful. They were of course loose and profligate in their lives, and aimed at nothing but their own secular advantage.

The Cerinthians were another of the Gnostic sects. It took its name from one Cerinthus, who taught many extravagant and debasing notions of God, of the creation of the world, of Jesus Christ, and the worship which he came to establish. To refute these dangerous errors, is supposed to have been one object for which St. John wrote his Gospel and Epistles.

It is against the philosophy of the Gnostics, and not against any true science, that those texts in the Epistles are levelled, which seem to arraign and decry philosophy. This is that philosophy, which is described as vain, deceitful, traditionary, founded upon the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. These are the profane and old wives' fables, the endless genealogies, vain babblings, and opposition of science falsely so called, which we are to reject, and not to give heed to. Of these Gnostics or knowing ones, as they presumed to call themselves, the apostles write, when they say, there are certain men, crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation; ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. And again, Now if Christ be preached, that he rose from the dead, how say some among you, that there is no resurrection of the dead?

At the time our Saviour made his appearance upon earth, almost the whole human race seems to have lost the knowledge of the true God, and the nature of that worship, which he requires. The Jews, though in possession of the scriptures, had perverted their meaning, and substituted for them an endless variety of tedious ceremonies and traditions, little less absurd than the bloody rites of Paganism. The whole heathen world, even the most polite, learned, and civilized nations, were, with few exceptions, sunk in the grossest superstition and idolatry, and the most abominable corruption and depravity of manners. They neither understood the true nature of God, the worship due to him, nor the moral duties he required of his creatures. They had no clear notions or firm belief of the immortality of the soul, and a state of rewards and punishments in another life. They believed the world to be under the direction of a vast number of gods and goddesses, to whom they ascribed the very worst passions and vices. They worshipped dead men and women, birds and beasts, insects and reptiles, together with an infinite number of idols, the work of their own hands. In their conduct they were almost universally addicted to the most infamous vices. Even many of their most solemn ceremonies, and acts of devotion, were scenes of the grossest sensuality and licentiousness. Others of them were attended with the most savage and cruel superstitions, and sometimes even with human sacrifices. This is the state in which our Saviour found the world; under the influence of superstition, false philosophy, and national prejudice; and in opposition to all these was his religion to be established. No wonder its progress was so slow, and that it was so soon contaminated by the systems, which it had to encounter.

The sacred writings, which Christians receive, as divinely inspired, are called in general scripture, or the scriptures, which literally signifies writing, or the writings. This title often occurs in the New Testament, and was commonly used, in the time of our Saviour, to denote the books received by the Jews, as the rule of faith. It has since been extended to the writings of the apostles and evangelists, as completing the whole of divine revelation; so that the writings of the Old and New Testaments are now indiscriminately called by Christians, by way of distinction, scripture, or the scriptures.

The whole collection of these sacred writings is called the Bible. This word, in the original, signifies book, and is given to the writings of prophets and apostles by way of eminence. These collectively are called the book or the Bible, as superior in excellence to all other books. The Holy Scriptures are divided into the Old and New Testament. The Old Testament contains the books written under the old dispensation of the law of Moses; the New Testa ment contains those published under the new dispensation of the Gospel.

The New Testament, containing the inspired books, written after our Lord's ascension into heaven, is a title, which was early borrowed by the church from scripture, and authorized by St. Paul himself.

This title, according to the passages of scripture whence it is taken, should be rendered covenant. And in this view the new covenant signifies, "A book containing the terms of the new covenant between God and man." But according to the meaning of the primitive Church, which bestowed this title, it is not altogether improperly rendered New Testament; as being that, wherein the Christian's inheritance is sealed to him, as a son and heir of God, and wherein the death of Christ, as a testator, is related at large, and applied to his benefit. As this title implies, that in the Gospel unspeakable gifts are given, or bequeathed to us, antecedent to all conditions required of us; the title of testament may be retained, although that of covenant is most exact and proper.

The sacred writings of the New Testament are all handed down to us in the Greek language, which was that most generally understood at the time they were written. They are historical, epistolary, and prophetical. Of the former are the Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Acts of the Apostles.

The Greek word, which signifies joyful tidings, is exactly answerable to our English word gospel, which is derived from the Saxon word god, which signifies good, and spel, which signifies speech or tidings. In the New Testament this term is confined to the glad tidings of the actual coming of the Messiah; and is even opposed to the prophecies concerning Jesus Christ, Rom. i. 1-2. So in Matt. xi. 5, our Lord says, the poor have the Gospel preached to them; that is, the coming of the Messiah is preached to the poor. Hence the church gave the name of Gospel to the histories of Jesus Christ, that is, to those sacred histories wherein the good news of the coming of the Messiah, with all its joyful circumstances, are recorded. 1*

The following table shows, at one view, the time when, the places where, and the immediate objects, for which the five historical books of the New Testament were written, according to Michaelis. The humble Christian who duly appreciates divine truth, will not doubt that whatever was written by inspiration, is adapted, with infinite exactness, to the condition and wants of all men, in all ages.

BOOKS. St. Matthew

Judea, or near it

In Hebrew, or Syro-Chaldaic, for the use of the Hebrews.

In Greek for the use of the Romans, who did not understand Hebrew

St. Mark

St. Luke

St. John

The Acts by St. Luke

In Greek for the use of the Gentile Christians in Egypt, Greece, &c.

To refute the errors of Cerinthus and the Gnostics.


For the use of the churches every where.

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A Chronological Account of the Books of the New Testament.

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Paul's Epistle to the Galatians

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Paul's two Epistles to the Corinthians, and that to the Romans

Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, to Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, and Hebrews
Acts of the Apostles by St. Luke

Paul's two Epistles to Timothy, the one to Titus, and the Second Epistle general of Peter
The Epistle of James, and that of Jude, about

John's Gospel

Three Epistles

St. John in the Isle of Patmos wrote the Revelations






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