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a religion which claims God for its author must be suitable to our just conceptions of him, and to the nature and circumstances of those for whom it is designed : that there can be no contradiction or inconsistency in God's proceedings: and that he cannot set his seal to what would disprove any of his perfections, or give a subsequent revealed law repugirant to a prior natural law. When therefore unreasonable doctrines are imputed to Christianity, there are many who, instead of carefully examining what ground there is for such an imputation, will reject the religion in the gross, notwithstanding the strength of its external proofs when duly examined. But prepossess men in favour of Christianity as agreeable to reason in every respect, in its new discoveries as well as its republications; in other words, give them a scriptural representation of it, and you dispose them to admit the evidence of miracles and prophecies ; and to argue with rational Christians, that the subject matter of Christ's religion can both be defended on its own proper footing, and likewise appears to be true because it ultimately derives its origin from the God of truth,
OF THE MANNER IN WHICH OUR LORD TAUGHT.
OF THE AUTHORITY WITH WHICR HE SPAKE.
OUR Lord's religious and moral lessons are not inferred from a train of reasoning, nor systematically arranged; but they are suited to the capacity of matkind in general, and are delivered with a majesty becoming a heavenly messenger. They are likewise transmitted to us in a manner most likely to gain attention, and to make a deep and lasting impression : for they are divine commands, comprised in a narrow compass, interwoven with an affecting history, exemplified by a perfect life, and enforced by the most powerful motives. The form, “I say a unto you,” so often repeated in the discourse on the mount, where our Lord's decision is opposed to that of Moses himself, and those solemn admonitions, “ Take heed how ye hear,” "e He that hath ears to hear, let him hear,” shew a consciousness of the high character with which he was invested. His general manner impressed his hearers with awe and
• Matt. v. 22, 28, 32, 34, 44. b Luke vüi. 18.
Matt. xi. 15. xiii. 9, and p. p.
Δείξι νυν καλα μοι, καθαράς ακιάς το, πετάσσας.
Orpheus, poes phil. H. Steph. 96.
d astonishment; and was one circumstance which extorted a confession from the officers sent to apprehend him, that “ never man spake like him.”
I have f already mentioned some of the magnificent expressions which our Lord used of himself to awaken and instruct the Jews. The authority which accompanied his instructions may be further illustrated by the following passages: “Many & prophets and kings and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them ; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. Go ye hand learn what that meaneth ; I will have mercy, and not sacrifice. This i do, and thou shalt live. "Heaven and earth shall
pass away; but my words shall not pass away. Ye call me Master and Lord ; and ye say well, for so I am. Im am the bread of life. I am the light of the world. Io speak that which I have seen with my
Father. As the p Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father. 9 If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me. have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye
know that I am he. I•give you power to tread on ser- . pents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you. The Son restoreth to life whom he will. The Father hath given him to have life in himself, and to execute judgment. All that are in the
r When ye
d Matt. vi. 28. Luke iv. 32. Matt. sxii. 33. fc. 1. sect. 2. & Matt. xiii. 17. Luke x. 24. i Luke x. 28. k Matt. xxiv. 35. "John xüi. 13. * ib. viii. 12. . ib. 38.
John X. 15. rib. viii. 28. s Luke x. 19. • John v.21, 26, 27.
• John vii. 46.
Matt. ix. 13. m John vi. 35. & ib. xii. 32. * ib. 28, 29. John xvi. 15. * Matt. x. 32, 3. * John x. 28.
shall bear his voice, and shall come forth. "All things that the Father hath are mine. No* man ascendeth up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven; even the Son of man who was in heaven. In my Father's house are many mansions : if it were not so, I would have told you : I go to prepare a place for you.
This is the will of him that sent me; that every one who sceth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life. Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father who is in heaven : but whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Fa- . ther who is in heaven. The stone, which the builders rejected, is become the head of the corner. “The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then shall he reward every man according to his works. Id give unto my sheep eternal life ; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world. Then shall he say also to those on his left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
These are a specimen, not a full enumeration, of passages uttered by our Lord with great dignity and majesty ; and some of them shew thc justness of | Fenelon's remark, “f Jesus Christ, master of his doc
* John iii. 13. yib. xiv. 2.
b Matt. xxi. 42.
T jb, vi. 40. · Matt. sri. 27.
trine, distributes it with tranquillity. He says what he chooses, and he says it without any effort. Не speaks of the kingdom and glory of heaven, as of his Father's house. All the grandeur, which astonishes us, is natural to him : he was born there, and he mentions nothing but what he had seen, as he himself assures us.”
THAT RESTRICTIONS OF HIS PRECEPTS ARE SOMETIMES INTRO
DUCED BY HIM.
THE limitations of Christ's precepts are for the most part left to reason and nature. We may observe, however, that he sometimes limits them. He commands us to give alms and to fast, butsecretly ; to pray, but without ostentation, or vain repetitions : he condemns angere without a cause, enjoins forgiveness" in case of repentance, and teaches us that the love due to our enemiese consists in blessing them, doing good to them, and praying for them.
* Dialogues sur l'eloquence. Amst. 1788. p. 94.
* Matt. vi. 3, 4, 17, 18.
bib 6, 7.
cib. v. 22. There is not suffi. cient authority to omit the word eixñ, though it is some wliat doubtful. Luke xvii. 3, 4.
• Matt. v. 44.