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tradicted in this matter,) and to have a large interest in his father's inheritance ; not because it was so in fact, but as reasoning with them upon their own principles.
But what is nearer still to the case in hand, is the parable addressed to Simon the pharisee. Our Lord here supposes that Simon was a little sinner, and a forgiven sinner ; and yet in fact he was neither. No set of men were greater sinners in reality than the pharisees ; and this man gave proof of his being in an impenitent and unforgiven state. But Christ reasoned with him upon his own principles; q. d. “You reckon yourself a little sinner, and that what few failings you have will doubtless be forgiven you : well, be it so ; this woman is a great sinner, and so accounts herself: I forgave her all her transgressions, and therefore you need not wonder at her conduct ; her love to me is greater than yours, even allowing, for argument's sake, that your love is sincere.'
Thus in the parable under consideration, our Lord solemnly warns all the members of his visible kingdom, who professed to be the people of God, and who had their expectations of being forgiven of him without determining whether their professions were sincere, or their expectations well-founded ; that if they forgave not men their trespasses, neither would his heavenly Father forgive them their trespasses. Whether they were sincere or not, made no dif. ference as to the argument: If a person lays his account with being forgiven of God, and is unforgiving to his brother, his conduct is inconsistent and wicked ; for, being under the power of self-deception, his motive is the same as if it had been otherwise.
There are some subjects on which I feel myself incapable of throwing any fresh light. Where this is the case I think it my duty to decline them. Under this description I must reckon the questions of a correspondent who signs himself A BEREAN : and another, who has addressed me under the signature of CANDIDUS, concerning the decrees of God. I feel difficulties upon those great subjects, on which, at present, I had rather pray than write.
The character and work of Christ form a very considerable part of the gospel embassy. The attention of Christians, in all ages, has been deservedly drawn towards this important subject. His Godbead, his manhood, bis miraculous conception, his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession at the right band of God, are topics, each of them full of the richest consolation to believers. There is nothing pertaining to Christ wbich is uninteresting. It has lately struck my mind, that the immaculate life of Christ is a subject that has not been insisted on in our sermons and bodies of divinity in proportion to its importance in the evangelical scheme. The thoughts which I have to offer upon this subject will be continued in two parts. In the first, I shall take a view of the evidences with which it is supported; and in the second, consider its connex. ion with the truth of Christianity, and of some of its leading principles.
The EVIDENCES by which the immaculate life of our Lord Jesus Christ is supported are as follows :
First : His friends who knew the most of him, and who wrote his life, describe him as without fuult. The characters of men are often best esteemned by those who know the least of them. Like works of art, they will not bear a close inspection ; but those who were most conversant with Jesus, beheld his glory, and loved him best. Peter tells us, He did no sin, neither was yuile found in his mouth. He describes him as a lanb without spot. Paul speaks of him as being made sin for us, who knew no sin. John teaches, that he was manifested to take away our sins ; and in him was no sin : and the whole company of the disciples, in their address to God, speak of him as his holy child Jesus. Acts iv. 27. It is true, some of the evangelists do not make express mention of his perfect innocence ; but they all write bis life as faultless. There is not a shade of inperfection that attaches to his character, from the beginning to the
end of their accounts of him. This evidence derives peculiar weight from the evident impartiality of those writers in other cases : they do not hide each other's faults, nor even their own. The imperfections of the apostles, during Christ's life upon earth, were nu. merous, and in some cases affecting ; yet they narrate them with the greatest sincerity. Even those faults which are most degrading to dignity of character, and the most mortifying to reflect upon, they never affect to conceal. They tell of their little foolish contests for superiority, of their carnality in desiring an earthly kingdom, and of their cowardice in forsaking their Lord and Master in the hour of extremity; but never do they suggest any thing to his disadvantage.
Secondly: His worst enemies have never been able to substantiate a single charge against him. Though our friends have the greatest advantages of knowing us, yet it may be alleged they are partial, and that the scrutiny of an adversary is most likely to discover our imperfections. Be it so : it is to the glory of Christ's character that it will bear the test of both. A public challenge was given to the Jews, bis most inveterate enemies, to accuse him of sin (John viii. 46.); and not one of them dared to accept it. That which adds peculiar weight to this evidence is, the circumstance that Christ bad just before inveighed against them with the keenest severity : Ye are of your father the denil, said be, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a liar from the beginning : and because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Under such charges from him, if there had been any shadow of a ground for accusation, they would most certainly have seized it. The apostles gave nearly a similar challenge on behalf of their Lord as he had given for himself. They tared their countrymen with having denied the Holy One and the Just, and preferred a murderer before him. How are we to account for the silence of these adversaries ? It was not for want of will ; it must, therefore, be for want of power.
But there were some who, in the lifetime of Jesus, did accuse him. They said, He is a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. They insinuated that he was ambitious. Jesus having de. elared, saying, I am the light of the world, they answered, Thou. barest record of thyself, thy record is not true; and the same obe
jection is repeated by a modern Jewish writer. * They also charged him with blasphemy, in that be, being a man, made himself God; and for this supposed blasphemy, they put him to death. To the former part of these charges it may be answered, that they who preferred them, do not appear to bave believed them : if they had, they would have made use of them, especially when challenged to accuse our Lord of sin. As to the latter part of them, I acknowedge, were I to embrace any system of Christianity, which leaves out the proper deity of Christ, I should be unable to vindicate him. Either his words did mean what the Jews understood bim to mean, or they did not. If they did, upon every hypothesis which excludes his proper deity, he was a blasphemer; if they did not, he ought explicitly, and with abhorrence, to have rejected the idea of making bimself God ;-hut, if I admit that he really was God manifest in the flesh, all these objections fall to the ground. · It is worthy of notice, that modern unbelievers are not very eager to attack the moral character of Christ. Through all their writings, full of railing accusations on every other subject, one cannot but remark a cautious reserve upon this. Mr. Paine, who in a talent of the highest importance to the cause of infidelity, I mean impudence, has but few equals ; even Mr. Paine declines this part of the business. Amidst all his rancour against revelation, he seems disposed to follow the advice of Pilate's wife, to have nothing to do with that just man. “ Nothing," he observes in his Age of Reason, « which is here said, can apply even with the most distant disre. spect to the real character of Jesus Christ. He was a virtuous and amiable man. The morality that be preached and practised, was of the most benevolent kind.” Whether Mr. Paine can consistently with these concessions reject the evangelical history, we shall by and by inquire; suffice it at present to observe, that though he disowns Jesus to be the Son of God, yet he ranks among the witnesses in favour of his moral character.t But, can it be true, we may be
* Mr. Levi. . The present leader of the Eaglish Socinians has dared to insinuate, that if we knew the whole of his private history, it is probable he might not be al-, together free from sin, por is it of much consequence to him whether be were so or not.
tempted to ask, that Mr. Paine, that determined adversary to Chris , tianity, should have made such a concession in favour of Christ ? Is Saul also among the prophets? It is even so; nor let it appear a matter of surprise : the father of lies himself was constrained to unite in this truth : I know thee who thou arty--the Holy One of God.
Thirdly: Christ himself, who best knew his own heart, and who never was known to boast, bore witness of himself, that he was free from sin. Not only did he challenge his most inveterate enemies, saying, Which of you accuseth me of sin? but declared, what no other man did or could, that he always did those things which pleased God; that there was no unrighteousness in him ; that when the prince of this world should come, he should find nothing in him; and that he was meek and lowly in heart, a perfect model for his followers to imitate, and into whose image they were predestinated to be conformed. If it be objected, in the words of the ancient Jews, He beareth record of himself, his record is not true,
it might be answered in the words of Jesus, • Though he bare record of himself, yet his record is true; for he knew wheace and what he was ;' and as he was never known to deal in empty boasting, his testimony has great weight.
Fourthly : The temptations that our Lord underwent, instead of drawing him aside, displayed his character to greater advantage. Seasons of temptation in the lives of men, even of good men, are commonly dark seasons, and leave behind them sad evidences of their imperfection. It was not without reason that our Lord cautioned us to pray, saying, Lead us not into temptation. There are but few, if any instances, in which we enter the field of contest, and come off without a wound; but, to our Redeemer, temptation was the pathway to glory. There was nothing in him on which it could fasten its arrows, therefore, rebounded upon the head of the tempter. In all points he was tempted like as we are, yet without sin. He underwent the trials of poverty and want. He was often hungry and thirsty, and had not where to lay his head ; yet he bore it without repining; he wrought miracles to satisfy the wants, and alleviate the miseries of others ; but, for himself, strictly speaking, be wrought no miracle. It was upon this ground that Satan first accosted bim ; If thou be the Son of