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far as practicable, of the primary facts and grounds of that faith? But assuredly, throughout the whole apostolic age, and even during part of the second century, close and effective examination might be, and must have been made, by many friends and many enemies : therefore the subsistence and growth of the religion through that period, amidst such violent, various, and disheartening oppositions, affords a separate proof that it was sustained by miraculous attestations, present or recent, which neither its foes could shew to be false, nor its converts suspect to be delusive.' Vol. I. p. 314-317.
In another place, the Author represents, with great justness and force of argument, the strong probability, that multitudes of persons who were inquiring about Christianity, or who had embraced it, would, in the earlier periods, actually take journeys from the neighbouring countries, or even from Greece, Italy, and remoter coasts, into Judea and to Jerusalem, to collect on the spot, and from the yet living eye-witnesses, the amplest means of contradicting or confirming the facts which had been declared to them. The age of the apostles was one in which travelling was common and easy. Excellent roads bad been made in every part of the empire, and they were constantly frequented. The exigencies of the Roman Government, and the perpetual business, military and civil, which was in operation to and from the mistress-city and all the provinces, made the transit to all parts of the empire usual and constant. In particular, the Jews were in the habit of going to the Passover and the other great festivals at Jerusalem, from all parts of the world in which they might be settled. This fact of itself
• shews how natural and how easy an undertaking it would appear, for converts or inquirers to travel thither, either to reassure their faith or to gratify their attachment.'
One of the most important characters of this work is its animated piety, its deeply serious feeling, its constant tendency to promote the vital spirit and practice of religion. It is but too well known, that many treatises upon the external evidences of revelation, convincing and in other respects valuable as they are to a certain extent, deal only in the logic of the case, and scarcely ever attempt to press the personal obligations of that religion whose origin they have proved to be Divine. This defect is most pernicious. Among other false and dangerous inferences which it can hardly fail to produce, these are obvious,--that the whole question is one of theory and of intellectual curiosity; that the rejection of Christianity is a matter of innocent opinion,-at least, a misfortune rather than a fault; and that a man may be equally virtuous and happy, equally approved by God, and safe for eternity, whether he embraces or renounces the records of revelation. None of these baneful conclusions can be drawn from the volumes before us. Appeals to the con
science, to the moral wants, and to the everlasting responsibility of the reader, are not indeed forced, or introduced formally and artificially: but, when a natural opportunity for them arises, it is not shunned. They occur where the greatness of the occasion calls for them; and they are expressed with explicitness, tenderness, simplicity, and strength. Among the reflections and appeals of this kind which occur, our limits will permit us to take only one specimen.
- Yet often has the dejecting thought assailed him, [the Author,] at last, what will be effected ? What but a fruitless, nay, a melancholy work, if we should merely bring some to a right historical faith, or re-assure and fortify them in it; but none to a vital faith ; none to the obedience of faith ; none to understand, to receive, to adorn, that doctrine which is the power of God? Reader, suffer not that dejecting thought to be verified. It depends on you, personally, by the grace of God, to preclude its fulfilment. If you, and you alone, will but act, as even a qualified assent to the truth of this religion does in all reason engage and bind you to act, the writer's aim cannot be unfulfilled. Nay, though it should fail as it respects all others, in your individual happiness it will be richly fulfilled and requited. But, if you mean not so, if you do not propose, or at least desire, to go beyond mere assent, and, admitting Christianity to be divine, to seek and endeavour that you may verily possess it, then, I am inclined to counsel you, proceed no further. Do not aggravate your own inconsistency by acquiring new testimony for truths of infinite importance, which you still mean to neglect, or which you intend shall have no true power over your mind and life. Already you think this gospel came from God.' Can you then fail to perceive, (even before studying it,) that it must be « worthy of all acceptation” from man?'
had no grounds of assent beside those very limited and external views of Christianity which have been taken in the preceding pages, [you are, by the obligation of reason, bound to say,)“ I have here reviewed the characteristics of this religion ; its origin, the obstacles over which it triumphed, the rapidity of its extension: and, did I know no more, I should yet confess that all this could not be a work merely human. It must have been divinely originated and sustained. Whether the divine support were visible or invisible, it must have been special. Whether the miracle were open or secret, it must have been real. The founder and first heralds of this doctrine must have been taught and commissioned and upholden by the Almighty Author of good." ---You would judge rightly, as I apprehend, even on these grounds; and you are well aware that there are other proofs at hand to corroborate your judgement. But,-is it possible that the consequence can escape you? Or do you wish, though it meets and presses on you, to elude it? If you should merely admit it to be highly probable, that Jesus and his apostles were accredited messengers of him who is omnipotent to save and to destroy, is it not the greatest self-impeachment of common sense and even sanity, not to examine, with deep seriousness, their recorded messages ? If you
Even if you
be conscious that, while judging in this general way the religion of Christ to be divine, you yet feel towards it and him a cold and reckless indifference; then, how can you be wholly unconscious of that “ madness of the heart” which nothing, except this slighted dispensation itself, even offers to cure? For, though you may say or feel at present, I am happy or easy without being a religionist ;-you must see that life has many and great evils ; you must know that, were all these escaped, its good with itself will soon decline and terminate ; you must secretly confess that you know not, “ in that sleep of death, what dreams may come". Meanwhile you are apprised that the religion which
admit to be divine, involves and answers those most momentous questions, If a man die, shall he live again? How shall man be just with God? What must we do to be saved? Yet you do not apply yourself to the earnest study of it. It came from God; and that is enough! You are content with a few slight notions of what it describes and teaches. You are no infidel: but-you have no turn for Theology!
• Now, what would be thought of a similar conduct in other affairs?' Vol. I. p. 337-340.
Subjoined to the work, we find Three Dissertations, under the title of Appendices, on subjects not less interesting in themselves than important, as elucidating many parts of the preceding argument: I. The probable Temper towards Christianity,
of Proselytes to Judaism and of Judaising Gentiles. II. The * Nature of that Accession of Proof for Christianity which is . derived from its Subsistence, amidst all the foregoing Oppo
sitions, through the Half-Century following the Apostolic Age. * III. On the National Conversions to Christianity, from the • Time of Constantine, through the Middle Ages; and on the • Modern Conversions in the South-Sea Islands. We can do no more than thus mention these appended writings, though, had we room, or were they separate publications, we should have gratified our readers not a little by the detail of much original and weighty matter, e.g. upon the motives and moral condition of the perfect and the imperfect proselytes from the various forms of idolatry to the acknowledgement of the Only God, the God of Israel; upon the existence of numerous philosophic Monotheists among the cultivated Romans ; upon the often assumed existence of eminent facilities, in the age of the apostles, for the dissemination of their doctrine ; upon the time of the cessation of the primitive miracles; upon the solid grounds of faith in the absence of miraculous attestations; and upon the contrast between the secular and forced conversions of tribes and nations, after Christianity had been desecrated to political purposes, and those which were produced by rational evidence and the moral power of heavenly truth in the hand of its almighty Author.
In reviewing these volumes, we cannot but have received a deep impression of their value, and a strong feeling of gratitude that so copious a body of information, hitherto accessible only to a few scholars and men of leisure, is here placed within the reach of popular readers, made attractive even to those whose minds are not inured to literary toil, and applied, by calm, judicious, and powerful reasoning, to the most beneficial of all intellectual and practical purposes. But we have not been unmindful of the severer part of our duty. We have been on the watch for objections and faults; but the circumspect and delicately cautious character of the Author's mind has prevented our fastening upon any which it will not appear hypercritical to mention. However, we have thought that, when adverting to himself and his writings, particularly in the preface, the Author indicates a sensitiveness and a self-depreciation which he is not justified in indulging. Both the reasonable probability of the case, and the public reception of his former works, should have inspired him with more confidence. We think, also, that Mr. Sheppard has not shewn himself so reluctant as he justly might have been, to allow, without at least a protest against its probability, the malevolent assertion of Celsus, that Jesus was, as • they say, little of stature, unsightly, and ignoble.' (Vol. I. pp. 72. 78. 85.) Not that we deem the glory of Christ to have consisted in external beauty; not that we would foster any mode of “knowing Christ after the flesh”, which would be only giving countenance to a worldly taste; not that we doubt the influence of labour and hardship, poverty, sorrow, and manifold suffering, in producing a marked effect upon the limbs and countenance of the afflicted Nazarene; not that we charge his enemies with a very gross exaggeration of appearances, when they said to a man of thirty-four, “ Thou art not yet fifty years old”; not that we dare affirm the figure and features of Jesus to have been cast in the most perfect mould of symmetry and beauty ;-but simply, that we acknowledge the obligation of seeking for truth, upon all subjects, small as well as great; and, when certainty is confessedly not attainable, of being satisfied with reasonable probability. Now let us attend, in this surely not unlawful or uninteresting exercise of conjecture, to the glimmerings of evidence and the results of theoretical but impartial considerations. We look upon it as altogether alien from the meaning of the prophecy, to understand Isaiah liii. 2, 3, as at all a description of the bodily form or external manners of the Redeemer. The design is, we conceive, to describe, in the prophet's style of poetical amplification, the objections of the Jews, and of unbelievers universally, to the spiritual glories of the Messiah, his holy character, his expiating sufferings, his grace to the unworthy, and his divine authority; objections at once false and impious. Those who understand the principles of physiology will admit the incontestable truth of the assertion, that the miraculous production of the human existence of our Lord, by the immediate power of the Holy Spirit, did, of physical necessity, preclude the causes of formative defect and imperfection ; though the corporal frame thus produced would, most probably, be extremely delicate, and endowed with an unrivalled exquisiteness of sensibility. There are some passages in the Evangelists which seem to imply, that the aspect and attitudes of Jesus bore a dignity and meek majesty, in such insuppressible manifestations, as often struck even his enemies with admiration and awe. And it can admit of no doubt, upon some of the most certain principles of human nature, that the holy affections of our Lord's mind, existing in absolute perfection, never dormant or remittent, never interrupted by irregularity, or inadvertence, or successful temptation, but always intense and active, must have given to the entire action of nerves and muscles, which produces physiognomonical expression, a character pure, sweet, and majestic, such as never belonged or could belong to any sinful child of man. Add to all this, the lofty communion which the soul of Jesus perpetually held with the perfections of Deity, and his consciousness of his own personal union with that Infinite Essence,—and what must have been the effect? We are incapable of appreciating it. It required to be modified and subdued by the deep abasement to which he stooped for the sins of the world, or human gaze could not have endured it. For reasons such as these, we confess ourselves not disposed to impute any undue colouring to the passage of the pious poet, where he represents the angel standing still to survey Jesus as he lay asleep on the slope of a rock:
Gabriel sah ihn vor sich in süssem luftigen Schlafe,
Klopstock's Messias, i. 534–540.
Art. III. 1. The Nature and Use of Parables as employed by Jesus
Christ. An Essay which obtained the Norrisian Medal for the Year 1828, in the University of Cambridge. By the Rev. John Henry Pooley, M.A. Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. 8vo.
pp. 51. Cambridge, 1829. 2. An Exposition of the Parables of Our Lord; shewing their Con
nexion with his Ministry, their prophetic Character, and their gradual Development of the Gospel Dispensation. With a preliminary