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The manner in which the disciples narrate the life of Christ is likewise uncommon, and worthy of peculiar notice. There is something here perfectly unique; the whole compass of human literature furnishes nothing similar. That the men who wrote the gospels loved their Master, is too plain to be denied. Their renunciation of every worldly advantage and prospect, their entire devotedness to his cause, their multiplied and bitter sufferings for his sake, all display both the sincerity and fervour of their love. In what raptures will they describe his life and death! But, on examination, we find no such thing. The writers of the epistles speak in ecstacy of his excellence and love: the prophets do so too. Isaiah, especially, has all the impassioned expressions of a deeply affected spectator of his crucifixion. But the evangelists are perfect calmness: human fervour will call it indifference. There is no attempt to move the passions of their readers: they mix not their own feelings with what they narrate. There is not a single commendation of Christ, in the form of a panegyric, through the whole of the gospels. They describe his miracles and wondrous works without praise; and in a tranquillity of manner which seems at first sight unaccountable. There is not the most distant attempt to magnify them, and excite admiration. Nay, when they describe his sufferings and death, and the cruelty of the Jews, they do not give way to passion and grief: there is no invective against his enemies; no pity expressed for the sufferer; no acrimony against Judas, or the chief priests. They relate all as if they had no concern in the matter. When Xenophon describes the death of Socrates, we observe nature expressing her feelings in sympathy with the sufferer, in commendation of his virtues, and in crimination of his enemies. Why do we not meet with the same thing in the biographers of Jesus? This is the more remarkable, as they were not men who had been taught to disguise their feelings. They must certainly have been under a superior guidance.

and to reduce their examples to precept.-But where could Jesus learn among his competitors, that pure and sublime morality of which he only hath given us both precept and example?- The death of Socrates, peaceably philosophizing with his friends, appears the most agreeable that could be wished for; that of Jesus, expiring in the midst of agonizing pains, abused, insulted, and accused by a whole nation, is the most horrible that could be feared. Socrates, in receiving the cup of poison, blessed the weeping executioner who administered it; but Jesus, in the midst of excruciating tortures, prayed for his merciless tormentors. Yes! if the life and death of Socrates were those of a sage, the life and death of Jesus were those of a God. Shall we suppose the evangelic history a mere fiction? Indeed, my friend, it bears not the marks of fiction; on the contrary, the history of Socrates, which nobody presumes to doubt, is not so well attested as that of Jesus Christ. Such a supposition, in fact, only shifts the difficulty, without obviating it: it is more inconceivable, that a number of persons should agree to write such a history, than that one only should furnish the subject of it. The Jewish authors were incapable of the diction, and strangers to the morality, contained in the gospel, the marks of whose truth are so striking and inimitable, that the inventor would be a more astonishing character than the hero."

What a mind! to conceive ideas so beautiful and so just! The divinity of the New Testament is displayed as with a sunbeam! But what a heart! to resist the force of all this evidence, to blind so fine an understanding, and to be able to subjoin—“ I cannot believe the gospel!"_Rousseau.

SECTION JII.

The Delineation of Human Nature.

This is a subject concerning which we may, in a revelation from God, expect to receive particular information; nor shall we be disappointed. The heart of man has been the study of the most eminent philosophers; and to explore the springs of action, and trace its operations, has been deemed one of the most useful employments. But where shall we find so just and so full a view of human nature as in the New Testament? The heart is anatomized; and every part, to its inmost recesses, is presented before our eyes. The various disorders in the understanding, the will, and the affections, which constitute human depravity, are accurately delineated. The numerous deceptions to which men are liable, both from the workings of their own hearts, and likewise from the operation of external causes, are here unmasked. The principles which influence the conduct of men are described both in a didactic and historical way: and by looking into our own breasts, we perceive the deseription to be just. The account given of what passes in the hearts of wicked men is so accurate, that when their motives of action, their restraints, their fears, their remorse, their desires, and their pursuits, have been delineated from the New Testament, they were ready to consider themselves as pointed at by the preacher. Good men are described in it; their dispositions, their aims, their temptations, their difficulties, their hopes, their distresses, their consolations; and all with such perfect exactness, that they are sensible the book could be written by the searcher of hearts alone. It enters likewise into every walk of relative life; it sets before us the rich and the

poor, the young and the old, man in prosperity and in adversity, in life and at death; and gives a well-drawn picture of each.

In addition to these, while this wonderful book represents the distresses, the guilty fears, and the wants of men, it unveils the gospel, as the grand remedy which divine wisdom and mercy have provided. It describes the effect which the gospel has upon the heart, in delivering it from these evils, and in producing faith, sanctity, and happiness. A great variety of different tempers and situations of the heart is exhibited ; and the influence of the gospel in them clearly shown. The Christian feels from experience, and remarks from observation, that the description is perfectly and entirely just: and he finds here an argument for the divine authority of the book, which he cannot resist.

When I sit down and reason on the matter, I am filled with admiration and astonishment. The writers of this book were most of them fishermen of Galilee; and all the earlier part of their days was spent in following their laborious employments, not in the study of human nature. But they all show the same accurate knowledge of man; and their system is the same. This remark might very properly be extended to the Old Testament. Besides, they were Jews, separated from the rest of mankind, and but little acquainted with them; but they describe men of all nations, and of all ages. The book suits us just as well as it did those who lived in their own days. For profoundness of remark, for justness of description, for extent of view, none of the writings of the ancient philosophers are to be compared to this volume. But whence comes the superiority of these unlettered men ? Let the deist account for it if he can.

SECTION IV.

The Doctrine of a Mediator, and Redemption through him. That man should love God with all his heart, and his neighbour as himself, is not the language of religion only; it is likewise the dictate of reason. But, alas! neither reason nor religion have had sufficient influence to produce this effect. Man has offended God, and guilt exposes him to punishment; for the holiness of God must hate sin, and his justice lead him to testify in his conduct the displeasure which his heart feels. That man is also a depraved creature, and manifests that de

pravity in his sentiments and disposition, the whole history of the human kind furnishes abundant proof. If the annals of the different nations of the earth do not portray the tempers and actions of a race of dreadfully depraved creatures, there is no such thing in nature as an argument. The tendency of guilt and depravity is as naturally and certainly to misery, as of a stone to fall downwards.

In what way guilty and depraved creatures can be delivered from wickedness and punishment, and restored to goodness and felicity, is one of the most difficult, as it is one of the most important, questions which can employ the mind. God is justly displeased: how shall he be reconciled? Guilt makes man afraid of God: how shall the cause of fear be removed? Depravity makes man averse to intercourse with God: how shall his sentiments and disposition be changed? These are all difficulties which natural religion cannot resolve; and concerning which reason is utterly silent.

Repentance and reformation have been considered by many as fully sufficient to banish all these evils; but they have no countenance for their opinion from the course of God's moral government. A debauchee repents bitterly and sincerely of his vicious excesses; but repentance does not heal his diseased body: “he is made to possess the sins of his youth;" and the fatal effects of his vices bring him to an early grave. The gamester repents of his folly, and reforms his conduct; but his penitence and reformation do not procure the restoration of his lost estate; and he spends his remaining years in poverty and want. By imitating, men testify their approbation of the divine conduct, in their ideas of distributive justice. The murderer is seized, and led to the tribunal of the judge. He professes to be penitent, and there is no reason to question his sincerity. But do any think that his repentance should arrest the arm of the righteous law? He is condemned, and suffers death. If then the sentiments of men, confirming the conduct of God, proclaim the insufficiency of repentance to atone for iniquity, no rational hope can be entertained of its efficacy. We must look to another quarter: but where shall we look?

An extraordinary interposition of the Supreme Being appears necessary; and a revelation of his will to give us information on the subject. Though it would be presumption in us to name every thing that a revelation will contain, we may say with confidence, it will be full and explicit as to the pardon of sin, and the method of a sinner's reconciliation with God. These are indispensably requisite. The New Testa

ment does not disappoint our wishes or our hopes; it enters fully into all these difficulties, and proposes a remedy for every evil which we feel. The doctrine of a Mediator, and redemption through him, presents itself to our eyes in every page, and forms the very core of the Christian religion.

The mediator is Jesus Christ. The dignity of his person the apostles are at a loss for words to describe. " He is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person.”—Heb. i. 3. “He was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”—Phil. ii. 6. “But because the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he himself also took part of the same.”—Heb. ii. 14. His office is described in all its parts. He appears as a Prophet, Priest, and King; and we are taught, that on account of the obedience unto death of the Mediator, who now in heaven maketh intercession for us, God may be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus; that through faith in his name, pardon of sin, reconciliation with God, and the enjoyment of his friendship, may be obtained; and that in consequence of the appearance of Jesus Christ, and of his mediatorial acts, the Holy Spirit is sent down to earth, to remove human depravity; and by enlightening the minds and sanctifying the souls of men, to make them meet for that state of perfect and eternal blessedness which is promised in the gospel.

As the whole of the doctrine of a Mediator is matter of pure revelation, it is far more difficult for us to pass a judgment concerning the necessity, wisdom, and fitness of the whole, or of some of its parts, than in the principles of natural religion. There are various points on which the doctrine depends, and with which it is connected; as for example: the evil and the effects of sin; the injury it does in the universe; what is necessary in order to forgiveness, consistently with the holiness and rectitude of the divine nature, and the honour of the divine government; and the example or warning necessary to be given to all intelligent beings. These are things in which God alone is competent to judge. No man is qualified to decide on these high themes, further than God directs him by the light of revelation. In various parts and bearings the doctrine is above our comprehension; but in none is it contrary to our reason: this would involve in it certain condemnation, but that does not. Though, in many particulars, we cannot understand how it is brought about, yet we clearly perceive that, according to the New Testament, many of the important designs of the Supreme Ruler are accomplished by it. If the means are extra

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