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in prayer, of absolute dependence upon him, of the most ardent love and filial awe towards him, of the most anxious and incessant endeavour to obey his will and promote his glory. .. The Being whom he thus professed to honour, and whom he enjoined his followers to adore, was undoubtedly the Jehovah of Israel, the source to which Moses referred his authority, the founder of the civil and religious polity established among the Jews.* To suppose that Jesus assumed a fictitious commission and forged imaginary credentials, from this Supreme Being; that he poured forth his soul in prayer to him, whose name he was daily prostituting to his own vain and selfish purposes; that he continually exhorted his followers to reverence and obey him, whom he himself was dishonouring by a system of fraud; that he acknowledged him as the Almighty Author of a dispensation which he himself was endeavouring to abrogate-the omniscient framer of laws for which he intended to substitute the fruits of his own invention;this surely is to suppose him guilty of the blackest hypocrisy, as well as impiety. Yet this charge is directly levelled against the blessed Jesus, by all who maintain that the gospel rests upon no foundation but fertility of genius and boldness of enterprize. This charge, however, as well as all the others which tend to impeach the integrity of his principles, or the purity of his motives, is directly contradicted by the whole tenour of his life,--of a life spent in the exercise of his duties
* John viii, 54.
to God and man,-of a life which, according to the concessions of the very men who urge the charge, itself repels and confutes it.**
But having spoken of the transcendent excellence of the character of Jesus, and of its incompatibility with fraud and imposture; and of the strong presumption arising hence in favour of the Christian religion ;-) come, now; briefly, to remark upon some peculiarities in the characters of those to whom the work of human regeneration was confided, after that Jesus had accomplished his earthly ministry.
It is a fact, that Christianity, except in the instance of the Apostle Paul, who was miraculously called to his office sometime after the ascension of Jesus, derived no aid from any extraordinary learning or eloquence in its first preachers.. Nee vertheless the word mightily grew and prevailed.' '. This, as it seems to me, is a strong internal evidence of the truth of our Lord's declaration • The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but-the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." Unless all power, necessary for the accomplishment of the purposes of his great undertaking, were bestowed upon Jesus from on high, and that he communicated of this power to whomsoever he would, the success of the men whom he commanded to go into all nations and preach the gospel, is inexplicable. The unbe-, liever attempts to account for this success, by adducing the firmness with which his disciples
* See Maltby's Illustrations.
preached his doctrines in the world;' but this is referring it to an inefficient cause. In fact, al. though this were a true statement as to the effect produced by their preaching, yet it leaves the cause of all this energy and firmness in the disciples unexplained. Christianity had made great progress even before the Apostle Paul's conversion; and, making all due allowance for his learning and eloquence, it may truly be said, that the faith which overthrew the systems of antiquity, and which is destined to unite in one fold and under one shepherd the whole brotherhood of man, was not established in the world by the • words which man's wisdom teacheth,'—by the means which man's wisdom would have pointed out, nor by the persons which man's wisdom would have employed. The companions of Jesus, those whom he appointed to watch over the interests of the infant church, and to preach the gospel of the kingdom,' might, with propriety, have quoted the words of prophecy, when they beheld the effects produced by their ministry— It is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nought the understanding of the prudent.'
But I proceed to remark, that the persons spo- : ken of in the books of the New Testament as the companions and Apostles of the Lord Jesus, are evidently real, and not fictitious, characters. It would be utterly impossible to place imaginary characters in so many and various lights, and in situations, too, of such extraordinary accident, without betraying the fiction. Peter, for instance, would not have been always Peter. But, as it is,
the character of this companion and friend of Jesus is always consistent with nature, a true portrait of real life. Who, in all the incidents in which his name is introduced, can doubt the identity of the ardent Peter, or where is the portraiture of the man deficient in bis chief peculiarities? Exceeding his fellow-disciples in the vividness of his faith and the ardour of his zeal, he ventures, in going to meet his beloved Master, to commit himself to the unstable surface of the sea. He, of the twelve, is the first to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Peter hesitates not to rebuke him when he foretels his approaching sufferings and death. Of all the disciples, Peter is the chief propounder of questions. When, on the Mount of the Transfiguration, the disciples saw the brightness of their Lord, and the splendour of the two glorious ones who talked with him, and · fell on their faces and were sore afraid,' it was Peter who first found a voice, and exclaimed, “Lord it is good for us to be here.' Of the disciples, Peter only declared that he would go with Jesus “to prison and to death. When their beloved Lord was apprehended by the officers on the-Mount of Olives, it was Peter only who made a show of resistance, and wounded the high priest's servant. When the disciples forsook him and fled, Peter, impelled by his affectionate heart, followed Jesus at a distance, and ventured into the palace of Caiaphas, anxious to see the end. When the women reported what things they had seen and heard at the tomb, Peter ran, and was the first who * went into the sepulchre.' It was Peter, who first
preached Jesus and the resurrection --who upbraided the Jews with denying “the Holy One and the Just,' and with killing the ‘Prince of life. It was Peter who resisted the mandate of the council, and declared his determination to hearken unto the commandments of God, and not to those of men.
I would not omit the notice of the failings of this Apostle ; for they tend also to prove the genuineness of the character ascribed to him by the Christian writers. The faults he committed, he was evidently led into by the peculiar temperament of his mind. It must be mentioned to Peter's dispraise, that being accused, he denied his connexion with Jesus; and that he so far yielded to the prejudices of his countrymen, as, on another occasion, to withdraw himself for a time from communion with the Gentile converts. In these particular incidents the Apostle displayed much weakness. Nevertheless, these are but as it were spots on the surface of the sun. If Peter denied his Master, let it be remembered that it was his affectionate anxiety for the fate of the man whom he loved and revered, that brought him into temptation, and into those circumstances of trial that surprised him into error.
Let it be remembered, to his honour, that only he followed, even if it were
afar off. And, if he once dissembled before his Jewish brethren, might it not have been occasioned by that very goodness of disposition, which shrunk from wounding the feelings of his friends ? Of this however we may be certain, that dissimulation was not a characteristic of