this foul imputation : they admitted what they could not deny, and endeavoured to explain it away in a manner that was equally blasphemous and absurd. But in this mad attempt they were opposed at once and defeated by an evidence that never will yield to any art or sophistry, being the consistency of this heavenly Teacher's life with his doctrine and pretensions : he preached the Kingdom of God above all (Matt. vi. 33); owned Him above all, prayed to Him above all, obeyed Him above all-even above his own secret inclinations. And as he first preached, professed, prayed and obeyed himself, he also taught and qualified his followers in office to preach, profess and obey, -especially in the part of casting out devils (Matt. x. 8) for others, first casting out their own (Ib. vii. 5). And a co-operation with the prince of the devils is objected by this Pharisaic class (Ib. ix. 34), for one thing! What greater evidence than he gave could he possibly have given of his devotion to God and man, and his opposition to the infernal cause that he was charged with espousing, but which in fact is more chargeable on his enemies ? What should we think of the devil's striving for the Kingdom of God in this manner, aad raising an army against himself? Would not this be Satan casting out Satan? (Ib. xii. 26.)

Such is the answer of the Subject himself on this point, and its sufficiency cannot be doubted: but what answer will its proposers make for themselves to the charge of highest blasphemy which is at the same time laid against them! (Matt. xii. 31, 32.) And, to bring this point more home to its objectors in the present generation; if the Jews in our Saviour's life time imputed an infernal agency to him chiefly on account of his miracles, what will the Jews of time


to the more sure word of prophecy” which has been gathering strength ever since, when they happen to think of it? Will they pretend, that all this part of the divine evidence is got up too by the power of Satan? Must it not strike the parties, that there was something besides imposture in all this; without refer

[ocr errors]


ring to the evidence of particular acts, which is observed to be still more sensible, as for example to the resurrection (or disappearing if they will have it so) of the body of Jesus after his interment, which the Jews themselves allowed?

2, Therefore, as the Jews, while they admitted the disappearing, denied the genuine cause, ascribing such disappearance to a clandestine removal of the body of the Subject by his disciples, this may be regarded as another objection peculiar to that class of opponents. An objection it is that no other class scarcely would ever have thought of besides these most credulously incredulous objectors; objectors who could believe any thing in order to disbelieve what they do not like. To give this objection a name also it may be called, The objection of Fanaticism and imposture; as no one but the greatest fanatic that ever lived could submit to play such a principal part in his own tragedy as must be here supposed; nor any but fanatics and impostors of the first magnitude to second him therein. But, as this objection is better noticed with * the accident of the resurrection of the Subject to which it relates, more needs not be said of it at present. It were however to be wished, that if such evidence as he gave of himself only in a single accident like this be not sufficient to convince every moderate person, it might have at least the effect of restraining some, as some there may be, who can think it possible for themselves to be mistaken; and in that case would be very loath to do any thing, to obstruct the progress of a dispensation in which “all the nations of the earth” are very deeply and beneficially interested, if they be not yet thoroughly blessed according to the promise.

2. But another class of objectors was alluded to under the designation of Greeks, now by an overstrained courtesy called Deists : which, if not more numerous class than the preceding, appear to be their equals at least in stubbornness and misconception; while they have also, as before signified, an advantage, if it be any to them, in the field of objection,--as they will not be tied to the whole compass of the sacred Revelation by way of authority, nor yet to one half, nor indeed to any part thereof sometimes, accounting it all“ foolishness.”—The New Testament as well as the Old, and the Old as well as the New.

* The argument of S. K. 9.

One should therefore have enough to do, if one had to vindicate in detail all that such wanton objectors are pleased to condemn in the gross. When one is able to anticipate, or they will condescend to indicate, any particular objection, one does not often find much difficulty in meeting it with a plain solution ; whether the objection relate chiefly to the moral or divine character of the Subject. Which may be the reason that the Evangelists, believing as we might in the irrefragability of their evidence, have not been at all shy in repeating, or giving occasion to, such objections: and even we ourselves, with the divine blessing on our endeavours, need not be afraid of them; as a man may have strong enemies, and be fully sensible of their strength without any alarm or apprehension for the consequence, when he knows that his friends are stronger. So says the Psalmist, “The waves of the sea are mighty, and rage horribly : but yet the Lord, who dwelleth on high is mightier” (Ps. xciii. 5). And it were a pity, that THE FULL AND UNMINGLED SATISFACTION to be derived from that quarter should find any abatement,—that it should yield to a diminished conviction, to a something hanging about,-a something that one does not care to define, a something that one does not care to trust one's faith with; when truly one's faith might have nothing to be afraid of, if one would but give it a free scope; as may be seen by a small sample of Greek, or deistic, objections, 1, on the moral and official character; 2, on the divine nature and mission of the subject: with 3, a few errors which it is fair to retort on the objectors.

1, And first, of objections on character, which the Subject still finds every where among Jews as well as Greeks, and Greeks as well as barbarians, though he owes them to his own countrymen of course originally,-to those who are most concerned in its elevation, and of all his country. men to the Pharisees in particular ; who might have had the best chance of knowing their falsehood, if they could but have had the heart to feel, as well as the learning-to detect it. Passing over some objections that have been noticed * already among the accidents of the Subject, and others either too foul or too frivolous to deserve repetition in this place at least,

-1, The first that claims our attention will be one relating to the superior topic of religion : as heretofore the GREEKS have been known to persecute to the death one of the most orderly and enlightened of their countrymen, under a pretence of vindicating the religion which they had debased by their fables and superstitions,--and would have been as likely to crucify this one too as his countrymen the Jews for exclaiming against long prayers and “ using vain repetitions, as the heathen do” (Matt. vi. 7); not observing, that it was the formality of prayer that he exclaimed against, and not the sincere practice,-as appears by his teaching men to pray without ceasing (Luke xi. 8), confirming the same by a beautiful parable (Ibid.), and what is more,-by his own private example; when “ he went out into a mountain to pray, and CONTINUED ALL NIGHT IN PRAYER TO GOD” (Ib. vi. 12). But we may presume, that even in so long a service as that he USED NOT VAIN REPETITIONS : for if he repeated the self same prayer-suppose that heavenly form which he taught his disciples, for example, (Mat. vi. 9, &c.)-many times in succession, we may be assured, that it was not without the sincerest meaning and heartiest application. Would to God,

* In S. K. Jesus-Sermons.

every one could


in that manner, if it were only for a few minutes at a time, or long enough to repeat the Lord's Prayer without abstraction, leave alone “ all night.”

—2, And if it can be objected by those who care so little for it, that the Subject had a mind to overthrow the worship of God,—the objectors may as well go on to allege also, that he had set himself to supplant or undermine the ordinances and institutions whether sacred or civil with which that worship is connected. Supposing indeed an assertion that he made once in public to have been not unprovoked, it would seem likely enough, that he had been charged with this inconsistency by his countrymen and cótemporaries; as he tells them thus, “ Think not, that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Mat. v. 17, 18). And, judging from the subsequent experience of about eighteen hundred years which have elapsed since this prediction or decree-the divine Author's intention seems to be so far fulfilled, that the law and the prophets can never be destroyed without his own work likewise, through the indissoluble order by which this new dispensation is interwoven with the old. That there have been DEPARTURES from the spirit of both—that is, of both the Law and the Gospel, cannot be denied; but these notwithstanding, the Law and the prophets, remain, and are “fulfilling? " apace by the new light and energy which they derive from the Gospel.

-3, But even in this, the Subject's gospel or teaching, some may find fault; as, for example, with a way that he had of stirring up the Jews of Jerusalem by a comparison with the gentiles, and sometimes even more disadvantageously with their own brethren among the Samaritans (Luke x. 33, &c.); although it was no more than God had foreshewn of him by Moses, saying as in his own person,



« VorigeDoorgaan »