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God, command that these stones be made bread: q. d. “Would I, having all creation at command, know the want of a piece of bread ?' But this temptation was repelled in a manner that discovered his heart to be wholly devoted to the will of God. Our Lord bad also temptations of another kind; be had worldly honours offered him. Not only did Satan present to him all the kingdoms of the world, but the Jewish populace would have made him a king, even by force, if he had not withdrawn himself. If Jesus had possessed the least degree of worldly ambition, there were arguments enough to induce him to comply with the popular desire. They had no king but Cæsar, and he was a tyrannic invader; who had just as much right in Judea as the Empress of Russia and the King of Prussia in Poland. If tbe virtue of Jesus had resembled that of the great sages of Grecian and Roman antiquity, he would have embraced this opportunity, and his name might have been enrolled in the arnals of fame. Their pride was to be patriots ; but that which they called patriotism was abbor. rent to the spirit of Christ. He possessed too much pbilanthropy to enter into national prejudices and antipathies : though the deliverance of his country from the Roman yoke might have been doing a great national justice, and, in this view, very lawful for some persons to have undertaken, yet he declined it; for it made no part of that all-important design for which he came into the world. He was doing a great work, and therefore could not come down.
As his last sufferings drew on, his devotedness to God, and his disinterested love to men, appeared more and more conspicuous. He incurred the displeasure of the Samaritans by steadfastly sctting his face to go up to Jerusalem, even though he knew what would follow upon it. Under the prospect of his sufferings he prayed saying, Now is my soul troubled and what shall I say? Father, save më from this hour ; but for this cause came I to this hour. Father glorify thy name. Never, surely, was such a flood of tenderness poured forth as that which follows in his last discourse to his disciples, and in his concluding prayer for them. Follow him to the Jewish and Roman tribunals, and witness his meekness and patience. When he was reviled, he reviled not again ; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to Him that
judgeth righteously. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter; ' and, as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. There are two kinds of characters which are common among men,-oppressive tyrants, and cringing sycophants. The first are lords, the last are slaves ; but the character given of Christ shows that he was neither the one nor the other. He did no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Though the Lord and Master of his disciples, he was among them as their servant; and when brought before Herod and Pilate, he betrayed Du signs of fear; but, amidst their blustering, imperious, and scornful treatment, maintained a dignified silence.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, und carried our sorrows. Throughout his sufferings he manifested the tenderest concern for sinners, and even for his murderers. The same night in which he was betrayed, he was employed in providing for us, by instituting the sacred supper; and as he hung upon the cross, and beheld his enemies, he prayed Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!
Let not fastidious infidelity object his want of fortitude in the garden; or rather, let it object, and make the most it can of the objection. It is true his soul was troubled; it is true he prayed, saying, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me! That is, he discovered what, among men of the most refined sense, are always accounted the amiable weaknesses of human nature.' Is it an honour under affliction to carry it off, or affect to carry it off with a high hand ? Rather, is it not an honour to feel the hand of God in it, and to acknowledge that we feel it? And if, amidst these feelings, we be in subjection to the Father of spirits ; if, while we mourn, we do not murmur; this is the highest degree of perfection of wbich humani aature is capable. Such was the spirit of our Redeemer, and such was the conclusion of his prayer in the garden : Not my will, but thine be done.
That our blessed Lord was not deficient in real fortitude, is manifest from bis conduct during his trial and crucifixion. He feared God, and put up strong cries, and was heard in that he feared; but he feared not men. There his spirit shrunk under the weight : but here he is firm as a rock. The principal engines with which he was attacked from men were pain and disgrace.
By the first they deprived him of life, and by the last they boped to wound his reputation, and cover bis name with eternal infamy : but neither 'the one nor the other could divert him from his course : He endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
By the misgivings of Christ's human nature in the garden, together with his firmness before men, we are furnished with very important instructions. From thence we learn, that the most dreadful part of his sufferings were not those wbich proceeded from men, but those which came immediately from the hand of God. This agrees with what is implied in that pathetic exclamation, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? He could have borne the rest, but this was worse than death! How can this agree with any other idea of the death of Christ, than that of his being a substitute for sinners ? Upon no other principle can his agony in the garden, or his exclamation upon the cross, be fairly accounted for. From whence also we learn the absolute necessity of Christ's death for our salvation. If it had been possible for the great designs of mercy to have been accomplished without bis being made a propitiation for our sins, there is every reason to suppose that his request for an exemption would have been granted.
In a former paper, I considered the evidences of the immaculate life of Christ ; in this I shall inquire into its importance, as it stands connected with the truth of Christianity itself, and of some of its most interesting branches.
First : If the life of our Lord Jesus Christ was immaculate, it must go a great way towards proving the truth of the gospel which he taught, "and of that religion which he inculcated. If Jesus Christ was “a virtuous and an amiable man,” as Mr. Paine himself acknowledges, be must have been what be professed to be, the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world. To allege, as this writer does, that “ Christ wrote no account of himself-that the history of him is altogether the work of other people," is mere
triding. If the history that is written of bim is undeserving of credit, how came Mr. Paine to know any thing about either the amiableness of his character, or the excellence of that morality wbich he preached and practised ? He knows nothing of either the one or the other, but through the medium of the evangelical history; and if he admit this history in one case, with what consistency can he reject it in another ?
Mr. Paine affects to rank Christianity with other religionswith heathenism and Mahomedism, calling the New Testament writers “ The Christian mythologists ;” But what founder or teacher of any religion will be resort to, whose character will bear any comparison with that of Christ ? Among the sages of antiquity, or the teachers of what is called the religion of nature, there is not one to be found whose life will bear a thorough scrutiny. Natural religion itself must be ashamed of its advocates : and as to Mahomet, there is scarcely any thing in his character but a combination of ambition, brutality, and lust, at the sight of which nature itself revolts. “Go,” says an eloquent writer, “ to your natural religion : lay before her Mahomet and his disciples, arrayed in armour of blood, riding in triumph over the spoils of thousands and ten thousands, who fell by his victorious sword. Show her the cities which he set in flames, the countries which he ravished and destroyed, and the miserable distress of all the inhabitants of the earth. When she has viewed him in this scene, carry her into his retirements. Show her the prophet's chambers, his concubines, and his wives ; let her see his adultery, and hear him allege revelation and his divine commission to justify his Just and his oppression. When she is tired of this prospect, then show her the blessed Jesus, humble and meek, doing good to all the sons of men, patiently instructing both the ignorant and the perverse. Let her see him in his most retired privacies. Let her follow him to the Mount, and hear his devotions and supplications to God. Carry her to his table, to view his poor fare, and hear his heavenly discourse. Let her see him injured, not provoked. Let her attend him to the tribunal, and consider the patience with which he endured the scoff and the reproach of his enemies. Lead her to the cross, and let her view him in the Vot. VIII
agonies of death, and hear his last prayer for his persecutors, Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!
“When natural religion bas viewed both, ask which is the prophet of God? But her answer we have already bad, when she saw part of this scene through the eyes of the centurion who attended at his cross : by bim she spake, and said, Truly this man was the Son of God."*
To admit the amiableness of Christ's moral character, and yet reject the evangelical history of him, is choosing a very untenable ground. The history which the evangelists have given of Christ, evinces its own authenticity. A character so drawn is a proof of its having really existed, and of those wno drew it possessing a mind congenial with it. If Christ had not been that immaculate character which they represent, they could not have so described him. It is not in the power of man to invent any thing like it; the imagination of impostors, especially, would have been utterly unequal to the task. Such a picture could not have been drawn without an original corresponding with it. Writers of fiction have often produced wonderful characters ; they have emblazoned their heroes with extraordinary charms, but they are charms of a different kind from what Jesus possessed. The beauties of holiness are not to be collected in the maoner in which the sacred writers have collected them, by the power of imagination; and as the existence of the picture implies the reality of the original, so also it proves the congeniality of mind possessed by those who drew it. Let the moral character of Christ have been ever so fair, a set of impostors could not possibly have drawn it in the manner in which it is drawn; for this it was necessary that it should be not only observed, but felt, and loved, and imitated. If Judas had written a history of Christ, it would have been a very different one from those which have been transmitted to us, even though it had been of a piece with his confession, I have betrayed innocent blood.
I am not inclined to call Mr. Paine, what he calls the sacred writers, either fool or liar; but methinks it were no great labour to prove him both. It certainly was no mark of wisdom in him to acknowledge Christ to be “an amiable character, and that he
* Bishop Sherlock's Sermons, vol. I. pp. 270, 271.