which language cannot describe, and which is the surest pledge of a perfect and happy life.”

The virtues which these holy men studied and practised are the great and peculiar virtues of the Gospel. They shine in the character of Christ : the object of his mission was only to enforce and illustrate them, and they are founded on that immortality which he brought to light. These virtues, moreover, form the life and soul of the Christian records; and they widely distinguish the apostles and the churches established by them from all other bodies of men, whether Jews or Pagans. Every paragraph furnishes evidence that these men were the followers of Jesus. But I will confine myself to three circumstances in their history, as demonstrating beyond contradiction the truth of this assertion.

1. Philo says that the Esseans worshipped God, as their name imports, with peculiar holiness; and that not by sacrificing animals, but by cultivating purity of heart. Now this is the very feature which distinguished the Gospel from Judaism, as understood in those days. The ideas entertained by the vulgar, and even by the learned, were diametrically opposite to those of our Lord, in regard to the most acceptable mode of worshipping God. The former not only laid great stress upon sacrifices and rites, as indispensable and immutable parts of the religion of Moses, but they went further, and made the religion of Moses altogether to consist in them. On the contrary, the Christians aimed at repealing the Levitical code, and at substituting in its room wellregulated affections, inward purity, and moral rectitude of disposition, as the true ground of acceptance with God. When therefore Jesus, in

opp0sition to ritual pretenders, represented the law and

the prophets as comprehended in the maxim of doing to others whatever, under' a change of circumstances, we should wish them to do for us; when he proclaimed that God was a spirit, and that the hour was coming when the true worshippers should worship him in spirit and in truth,—they accused him of destroying the law and annulling the prophets; and under this charge they virtually put him to death. The opposite spirit of the ritual and spiritual systems is still more evident from the preaching of the apostles. Stephen was accused of speaking blasphemous words against this holy place and the law. The Judaizing zealots persecuted Paul for the saine reasons. Even the Jews who believed were all zealous for the law. Acts xxi. 20. This fact proves with absolute certainty, that the notion of worshipping God with acceptance, not by ritual observances but by purity of heart, was at this time new among the Jews, and consequently that the holy men who, according to Philo, substituted the latter in the room of the former, could be no other than disciples of Jesus. 2. It is not to be supposed that any

considerable body of men ainong the Jews, in the time of our Lord and afterwards, could have been objects of violent persecution, but the Christians. The sufferings of these are too well known to require proof or illustration. Soon after the head of this party had been ignominiously put to death, havoc was made of his church, then in its infancy: men and even women were haled and committed to prison; the rulers and other leading men being the instigators of such measures : and they are the measures which Philo has in view when he thus writes : “ Many powerful men rise against the Esseans, in consequence of differing from them. Some of these being eager to surpass the untameable fierceness of beasts, omit nothing that may gratify their cruelty : and they cease not to sacrifice whole flocks of those within their power; or, like butchers, to tear their limbs in pieces, till themselves are brought to that justice which superintends the affairs of men.” The apostle asserts the same fact in nearly the same language: “ We are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Rom. viii. 36. And under what pretence were these cruelties com. mitted ? “ Yet,” says Philo, “ their furious persecutors have not been able to accuse, in any one in. stance, this band of holy men.” And the conviction of this fact induced Paul triumphantly to put the question, “ Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's chosen people ?" But had such violence any effect in suppressing their zeal, or diminishing their numbers?“ On the contrary,” says their indignant apologist, “all men, captivated by their integrity and honour, unite with them, as with men who enjoy the true freedom and independence of nature; admiring their communion and liberality, which language cannot describe, and which is the surest pledge of a perfect and happy life.” To the same effect adds our apostle: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us : for I ain persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

3. Jesus Christ brought life and immortality to light.--In consequence of his divine mission, he

formed the astonishing design of reforming the world, and to make his own death a pledge of the destruction of death to the human race. He selected twelve men to witness the things which he said and did during his ministry; and these he commissioned to convert the nations, with no other means of accomplishing that arduous object but the truth and importance of the facts which they had to communicate, and the miraculous powers with which they were endowed. The substance of their preaching was, that God sent his son into the world to reveal a future state: that he performed many mighty works, of which they had been witnesses: that he voluntarily submitted to an ignominious death; and was raised the third day from the dead, as a proof of the resurrection of all mankind : that though now ascended to heaven, and seated on the right hand of God, he would again return to raise the dead and judge the world: that all men were alike included in the object of his mission; that all therefore should repent and reform; and that if they changed their lives, and practised righteousness in all its extent,-glory, honour and immortality would be their reward. The preachers were express in declaring that the object of their doctrine was to turn men from their iniquities, and make them partakers of a divine nature. Impracticable as this commission might appear to human view, it succeeded in a wonderful manner. Multitudes in every country, hitherto devoted to vice and superstition, became ander the influence of the Gospel bright examples of piety, benevolence, and purity.

• After having received,” says Justin Martyr, “ the Christian doctrine, we have abandoned the Pagan gods, and through his son worship hiin who

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is the only uncreated God. Those of us, therefore, who before delighted in impurities, now rejoice in sobriety; those who practised the magical arts, now have devoted themselves to the benevolent and eternal Father; those who sought to acquire wealth above all things, now make their possessions in common, and give to every one that has need; those who hated and slaughtered each other, and who maintained no intercourse, as being of different tribes,-now, after the appearance of Christ, live in the same communion, praying for their enemies, and endeavouring to convert those who unjustly hate them; that, having lived agreeably to the fair precepts of Christ, they may have the well-grounded hope of obtaining from God, the sovereign of all, the same glorious rewards with ourselves." Apol. i. p. 20. ed. Thirlby.

The following passage of Lactantius, though carrying the appearance of declamation, yet contains the words of truth and soberness :

« The mighty energy of the divine precepts on the minds of men is demonstrated by daily experience. Give me a man that is irascible, reproachful, or impetuous ; and by a few words of God I will restore him mild as a lamb. Give me a man that is covetous, and tenacious of his property; and I will give himn back to you liberal, and distributing his money with full hands. Give me a man fearful of pain and of death; and he will despise crucifixions, and flames, and tortures. Give me a man that is lustful, an adulterer, and a gambler; and you will presently see him sober, chaste, and temperate. Give me a man that is cruel, and thirsty for blood; and his fury will be changed into real clemency. Give to God a man that is unjust, foolish, or an offender;

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