Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

our Lord to have been often at Jerusalem,"* referring to Luke xiii. 34, and Matt. xxiii. 37. The passage from Luke is, “ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not !” The passage from Matthew is to the same purpose, and almost in the same words. To this I think it sufficient to reply, that, in my opinion, the preaching of Jesus in Jerusalem, at four public feasts, and in Judea, all the last half year of his ministry, abundantly justifies the language.

« The astonishment and fear of the twelve, described by Mark, (x. 32,)” your Lordship says, “imply that Jesus had before incurred danger at Jerusalem.”+ The passage is, " And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went before them, and they were amazed, and as they followed, they were afraid.”

Now this amazement seems to me to have been occasioned by the idea of the difficulty our Lord had just before expressed, of rich men getting into the kingdom of heaven, when to be rich and great was their original view in following Jesus. And their fear might have been occasioned by the intimation our Lord had just given them of the persecutions they were to expect in his service. Nothing is there said of any danger to Jesus himself in particular. However, it is well known that Jesus had been in danger at Jerusalem, and his disciples expressly referred to it, when they would have dissuaded him from going to see Lazarus.

In the last place, your Lordship says, that “ our Lord's words, from the days of John the Baptist until now, Matt. xi. 12, are better suited to the opinion, that the Baptist's imprisonment had taken place eight or ten months before, than about four weeks.”[

I answer, that they would have suited better still if the interval had been eight or ten years; but better, as I sup. pose it, to have been four weeks, than four days. But, my Lord, " from the days of John the Baptist,” certainly means the beginning of his preaching, which I suppose to have been seven or eight months before this discourse of our Lord's.

After reciting these and other arguments, by your Lordship's own confession still weaker than these, and on which,

Reply, p. 140. (P.)

f Ibid.

Ibid. (P.)

therefore, I do not animadvert, you very properly add, “ Still I believe that the sagacity of critics would have been fruitlessly employed about these hints, but for John's supplemental history.”* Much, indeed, my Lord, are the favourers of your Lordship's hypothesis indebted to that one word Torxa, in the sixth chapter of that Gospel. It is the corner-stone of the whole system. But it seems now to be so much loosened by the repeated pushing of several able critics, that I cannot help thinking it will soon be forced out of the place it has so long occupied; when all that has been so long and so laboriously built upon it will fall to the ground.

There are arguments of a different complexion derived from the Gospel history, favourable, as your Lordship thinks, to the supposition of our Lord's ministry having continued more than a year and a few months ; but I think I need not reply to them, as you say, “ My reason for mentioning these passages is, that I might somewhere take notice of all the marks of time respecting the length of our Lord's ministry, or supposed to respect it.”+ I shall, however, just repeat them after your Lordship, that they may have an opportunity of making what impression they can upon our readers. They are the following: “ The parable of the fig-tree, (Luke xiii. 6-9,) which had been barren for three years ;” our Lord's saying, “ I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected ;” (Luke xiii. 32 ;) Herod having - desired to see Jesus (Luke xxiii. 8) of a long season ;" * our Lord's words to Philip, (John xiv. 9,) Have I been so long time with you ?" and, lastly, his saying to his disciples, (Matt. xv. 16,) “ Are ye also yet without understanding ?" I can freely say of such arguments as these, Valeant, quantum valere possunt. ·

SECTION IX. Of the Argument for the probable Duration of our Saviour's

Ministry from the Objects of it. This topic, my Lord, is, in its own nature, a very vague one ; for, leaving facts, we are too much at liberty to conjecture what we please, and therefore judge variously. On this account I had intended not to have troubled your • Reply, p. 144. (P.)

+ Ibid. pp. 143, 144. (P.) Ibid. pp. 141, 142. (P.)

Lordship, or our readers, with any thing farther on this sub. ject, but to leave what we have both advanced to make what impression it will. But there are some observations of your Lordship on this subject, in reply to others of mine, that I think you will expect that I should take some notice of.

I shall first make one general remark, which is, that your Lordship and myself, biassed, perhaps, by our different hypotheses, are apt to attend to different things, your Lordship more especially to what you suppose our Lord had to do, and I to what he actually did. Your Lordship, for instance, considers the business of instructing the twelve apostles as requiring a long space of time ; * whereas I attend more to what they actually learned ; and finding it to be very little, suppose it to have required but little time. And your Lordship must acknowledge that their full in. structions were not given before the descent of the Spirit, after our Lord's ascension. After his death and resurrec. tion, they were as full as ever of their ideas of a temporal kingdom. They had acquired, indeed, a rooted affection and veneration for him, on account of the perfect innocence and great excellence of his character, a conviction that he was a teacher sent from God, and the Messiah, and consequently a thorough persuasion that he was incapable of deceiving them. But surely a year's intimacy was sufficient for these purposes.

Your Lordship speaks of " a long series of prophecies having preceded our Lord's coming, and that every former dispensation had a manifest subserviency to his.”+ But I consider the Gospel dispensation as only opened by Christ himself, and, therefore, that those prophecies equally respect all that was done by the apostles, and indeed what is doing to this day.

Your Lordship says, that on my hypothesis 6 it might have been objected in all ages, that our Lord's miracles and doctrines had not been subjected to due scrutiny." I answer, that this might have had some weight if no more miracles had been wrought in defence of Christianity, besides those that were wrought by Christ himself; but it has no weight at all when it is considered, that the power of working miracles did not cease with our Lord, but continued in equal if not greater vigour with the apostles, and others to whom they communicated spiritual gifts. Our

Reply, p. 170. (P.)

+ Ibid. p. 169. (P.)

| Ibid. p. 172. (P.)

Saviour himself says, (John xiv. 12,) that they should do greater works than he had done. Accordingly, our Saviour's miracles did not exceed those of the apostles in magnitude, and they certainly fell far short of them in number; and the latter continued through the whole apostolical age; so that all the effect that the best-attested miracles could have, was produced.

On one occasion your Lordship seems to write as if you thought that even fewer miracles than our Saviour himself wrought might have been sufficient. For, after reciting the particulars of what you suppose him to have done in one year only, and that into which you throw the least business, you say, “ This is the substance of all that is recorded between the first and second passover; and I think it amounts to a very full promulgation of the Gospel, and affords a very satisfactory proof of its divine origin.”*

As it has a near connexion with this subject, I shall here introduce. what your Lordship says of the time that our Lord must have spent at Chorazin and Bethsaida, in order to justify the vehemence of his denunciations against those cities. « From our Lord's mention of Chorazin and Bethsaida, as the scene of most of his mighty works, and of such as would have convinced Tyre and Sidon, I conclude that they had repeated, as well as ample means of con. viction.

“ There is only one miracle recorded as wrought near Bethsaida, and whoever has attended to our Lord's manner will discover traces in this relation, that the inhabitants of that place were deemed by him unworthy of his farther interposition to convert them.

"I think that Jesus often visited these places from Capernaum, and that he both taught in their synagogues, and wrought miracles in their streets. Cities twice mentioned with Capernaum seem to have enjoyed like means of reformation with that favoured city; and the adopters of an hypothesis shew themselves embarrassed, who must almost necessarily recur to a single miracle publicly performed, or to as much as was transacted at Capernaum in the evening of a single day, as sufficient grounds for such awful declarations concerning the impenitence and punishment of these cities.”+

Now, my Lord, if I may be allowed to judge for myself, I feel no embarrassment at all in this case. On the contrary, I think your Lordship will find yourself not a little embarrassed in shewing that even Capernuum itself, that favoured city, as you call it, enjoyed any more advantage than I suppose our Lord had, at least time enough, upon my plan, to allow both to Chorazin and Bethsaida. For all that we know of his performing there, was the cure of the demoniac in the synagogue, with the other transactions of that particular sabbath; his healing the centurion's servant on his return from his first excursion, the cure of the para. lytic person, and the raising of Jairus's daughter, with the other events of the day on which he called Matthew, and the discourse in the synagogue, related in the 6th chapter of John.

· Reply, p. 166. (P.)

+ Ibid. p. 94. (P.)

Your Lordship may suppose much more than this to have been done, but this is all that is related; and, for my own part, I see no reason for supposing any more. Your Lord

a ship may speak as slightly as you please of " a single Shin morales Jichel S miracle publicly performed;" but certainly, if the circumstances were such as to leave no doubt but that it was a real miracle, it must have been sufficient to have answered all the proper purposes of miracles; and any thing farther, of that kind, must have been superfluous. What could it have signified to work repeated miracles before those that ascribed all our Lord's miracles to the power of Beelzebub?

As to moral instructions, the delivering of them cannot be said to have been our Lord's particular business. He certainly neglected no proper opportunity of giving useful lessons to the people, and especially of correcting the abuses which the Scribes and Pharisees had introduced into the interpretation of the law. But it ought not to be forgotten by us, that our Lord's proper business (if we may be allowed to form a judgment concerning it from the tenor of the Gospel history) was to exhibit sufficient proofs that he was a teacher sent from God, and the promised Messiah, and especially by his resurrection from the dead.

Every thing else, such as the practical use of this, was the business of the ordinary preachers of the Gospel. Aud if we suppose our Lord's proper business, that is, such as no other person could with propriety do, to have been any thing more than this, (for which one year was abundantly sufficient,) three years, or thirty years, would not have sufficed. Nay, he must have preached in person to the end of the world.

VOL. XX.

« AnteriorContinuar »