Imágenes de páginas

kivg thought it most safe and prudent to comply with them.

The number of these rulers in every city was in proportion to the number of its inhabitants ; as many thousands as it contained, so many rulers, of that rank and denomination, belonged to it; from which regulation the estimation and consequence of each city was discernible at one view. And from this consideration arises that fine allusion of one of the prophets concerning the place where Christ should be born; so understood and applied by the chief priests and scribes themselves, as the evangelist informs us, (Matt. ii. 5, Mic. v. 2,) “But thou, Bethlehem, Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, (in comparison of those cities that have rulers of thousands belonging to them,) yet out of thee he shall come forth unto me that is, to be ruler in Israel ; whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting." So exactly was almost every minute circumstance relating to the Saviour of mankind delineated and foretold by those divinely-inspired writers, who lived so many hundred years before he came into the world.

Captains of Thousands, sc. The rest of the officers that governed the army we find called by the titles of captains of thousands, captains of hundreds, captains of fifties, and captains of tens ; who probably were of the same rank with those whom Moses constituted, in the wilderness, rulers of thousands, &c., and at first acted in a double capacity, being at the same time civil magistrates and military officers.

The captains of thousands seem to have been much the same as colonels of regiments with us; and the captains of hundreds might probably answer to those who, in our army, have the command of troops and companies; the captains of fifties and tens, to our subalterns, serjeants, and corporals.

Among the list of David's adherents, while he fled from Saul (1 Chron. xii. 1, 14) and kept himself close at Ziklag, after several names mentioned, it is said, “ These were of the sons of God, captains of the host: one of the least was over an hundred, and the greatest over a thousand.” Again, we read of others, said (1 Chron. xii. 20) to be captains of the thousands that were of Manasseh. And, when David had thoughts of bringing the ark of God from Kirjathjearim, we are told (1 Chron. xiii. 1) he consulted with the captains of thousands, and hundreds, and with

And, again, when he declared his intentions about building the temple, it is said that he (1 Chron. xxviii. 1) assembled all the princes of Israel, the princes of the tribes, and

every leader.

the captains of the companies that ministered to the king by course, and the captains over the thousands, and the captains over the hundreds.

So, when Jehoiada the high-priest had a mind to bring on the restoration, by declaring Joash to be king, (2 Kings, xi. 4,) he sent for the rulers over hundreds, with the captains, and the guard, and shewed them the king's son, and gave

them proper instructions what they were to do. And the captains over the hundreds did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest commanded. And to the captains over hundreds did the priest give King David's spears and shields, that were in the temple of the Lord. And he took the rulers over hundreds, and the captains, and the guard, and all the people of the land, and they brought down the king from the house of the Lord, and he sat on the throne of the kings. And we read (2 Kings, i. 9, 11, 13) of three captains of fifties, who, with their fifties, were sent successively by Ahaziah, king of Israel, to bring the prophet Elijah to him. The Apocryphal writings tell us (1 Mac. iii. 55) that Judas ordained captains over the people, even captains over thousands, and over hundreds, and over fifties, and over tens.

These officers, from the captain of the host down to the lowest subaltern, appear, after the monarchy took place, to have received their

commissions from the king, (whereas they were before chosen by the people.) When Samuel declares to the people the manner of the king that was to reign over them, this is part of it, (1 Sam. viii. 12 :) he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties, &c. Accordingly, when Saul began to grow jealous of David's rising glory (1 Sam. xviii. 13) he removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand. So we read, (2 Sam. xviii. 1,) that David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds over them, (2 Chron. xxv. 5,) and that Amaziah gathered Judah together, and made them captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds


A SHORT, yet very comprehensive and well-stated account of this ancient mode of government was published in the year 1780, on the spur of an occasion which too clearly demonstrated the lamentable want of this excellent institution : I mean the dangerous riots in that year, which could not have proceeded to such an alarming excess, had not this institution been long disused, for otherwise “ the civil power," as the sensible author remarks, “would have fully guarded us from its outrages,” p. 45. “I ascribe," says he, in Letter II., p. 27, “ the complete formation of those general outlines, by which we have ever defined the English constitution, to Alfred, on the authority of historians, who specify the particular regulations which rendered his government so happy as well as glorious, which have been, in some degree, preserved amidst violent and numerous revolutions, to which every Englishman has an unconquerable partiality; and the restoration of which to their proper vigour

« AnteriorContinuar »