« PreviousContinue »
sacred writings, through successive ages, almost from the foundation of the world. He supported these great characters with uniformity, with consistence, and with dignity, throughout the whole course of his ministy. The work he undertook was the greatest and most astonishing that can be conceived, and such as never before entered into the imagination of man. It was nothing less than the conversion of a whole world from the grossest ignorance, the most abandoned wickedness, and the most sottish idolatry, to the knowledge of the true God, to a pure and holy religion, and to faith in him, who was the way, the truth, and the life. He proved himself to have a commission from heaven, for those great purposes, by such demonstrations of divine wisdom, power, and goodness, as it is impossible for any fair, and ingenuous, and unprejudiced mind, to resist. When all these circumstances are collected into one point of view, they present such a body of evidence, as must overpower by its weight all the trivial difficulties and objections that the wit of man devise against the divine authority of the gospel. Let us
consider, in the first place, the transcendent excellence of our Lord's character, so infinitely beyond that of every other moral teacher; the gentleness, the calmness, the composure, the dignity, the integrity, the spotless sanctity of his manners, so utterly inconsistent with every idea of enthusiasm or imposture; the compassion, the kindness, the tenderness, he expressed for the whole human race, even for the worst of sinners, and the bitterest of his enemies; the perfect command he had over his own passions; the temper he preserved under the severest provocations; the patience, the meekness, with which he endured the most cruel insults, and the grossest indignities; the fortitude he displayed under the most excruciating torments; the sublimity and importance of his doctrines; the consummate wisdom and purity of his moral precepts, far exceeding the natural powers of a man born in the humblest situation, and in a remote and obscure corner of the world, without learning, edu
cation, languages, or books. Let us consider, | further, the minute description of all the most
material circumstances of His birth, life, sufferings, death, and resurrection, given by the ancient Prophets many hundred years before He was born, and exactly fulfilled in Him, and Him only; the many astonishing miracles wrought by Him in the open face of day, before thousands of spectators the reality of which is proved by multitudes of the most unexceptionable witnesses, who sealed their testimony with their blood, and was even acknowledged by the earliest and most inveterate enemies of the Gospel. Above all, let us consider those two most remarkable occurrences in the history of our Lord, which are alone sufficient to establish the divinity of His person, and of His religion; I mean His wonderful prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, with every minute circumstance attending it; and that astonishing and well authenticated miracle of His resurrection. When we lay all these things together, and weigh them deliberately and impartially, our minds must be formed in a very peculiar manner indeed, if they are not most thoroughly impressed with faith in the Son of God, and the Gospel which He taught.
The manner of our Saviour's teaching was the most easy
and natural that can be imagined. He generally draws His doctrine from the present occasion and the objects that surround Him; from the most common occurrences and occupations ; from the seasons of the year; the service of the Jewish synagogue, or their solemnities; from some extraordinary accidents, remarkable places, or transactions, and the like. Thus, upon curing a blind man, He styles Himself “the Light of the World," and admonishes the Pharisees of their spiritual blindness and inexcusable obstinacy, in refusing to be cured and enlightened by Him (John ix. 5, 39, 41).--On little children being brought to Him, He recommends the innocence and humility of that state, as very proper qualities for all those who would be true members of His church, and, under the same figure, intimates the privileges that belong to all such, (Mark x. 14, 15; Matt. xviii. 4, 5, 6, 10.) Beholding the flowers of the field and fowls of the air, He teaches His disciples to frame right and worthy notions of that Providence which supports them, and therefore will support beings of a rank so much superior to them, (Matt. vi. 26, 28; Luke xii. 24), &c.—Observing the fruits of the earth, He instructs them to judge of men by their fruits, and not to be themselves unfruitful under all the means of grace, (Matt. vi. 16; Luke vi. 43, &c.) — Taking notice of their behaviour at a feast, He first gives general advice therein to both the master and his guests; and from thence brings them to the consideration of a better entertainment, to which they were all invited; but of which few
among them would be persuaded to render themselves worthy, (Luke xiv. 7, 16, &c.)- From meat and drink, He leads them to the eating of His body and drinking His blood in a spiritual sense ; the being nourished with his doctrine and partaking of His kirgdom, (John vi. 31, 53, &c.)- From outward washing, to the purifying of the heart, and cleansing the affections, (John xiii. 8.) --- From tasting of the fruit of the vine after the paschal supper, to the celebration of an eternal festival of freedom, rest and happiness, in another world, (Matt. xxvi. 29;