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43–45: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Now I hope I may be justified in expressing my belief, (though it varies from the declaration made by the Editor,) that no greater honour can be justly given to any teacher of the will of God, than what is due to the author of the doctrines just quoted, which, with a power no less than standing miracles could produce, carry with them proofs of their divine origin to the conviction of the high and low, the learned and unlearned. The Editor, in page 101.* lays much stress on circumstances, the very minuteness of which, he thinks, “serves to enhance their value as testimonies.” He alludes to the epithet “Lamb of God” having been twice applied to Jesus by John the Baptist, two of whose disciples were thereby induced to become followers of Jesus. This is considered by the Editor as implying an admission on the part of Christ, that as a lamb, particularly the Paschal Lamb, was used in sacrifice as an atonement for sins, he also came into the world to sacrifice his life as an atonement for sin. We find,
* London Edition, p. 37.
however, the term “lamb,” as well as “sheep,” applied in other places, where no allusion to the sacrificial lamb can be well imagined, and from which we infer that these were epithets generally applied to innocence subjected to persecution; a meaning which sufficiently accords with the use of the word lamb in the instance in question. We have those terms applied by Jesus to his disciples in John, ch. xxi. vers. 15–17, where he commands Simon Peter “to feed his lambs,” “to feed his sheep;” and in ch. x. vers. 26, 27, “Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.”—“My sheep hear my voice.” Now, many of the apostles suffered death in consequence of their endeavours to withdraw men from sin: but the Editor will not thence, I presume, maintain, though it follow from his argument, that the term “lamb” was applied to them, to shew that, by their death, they also atoned for the sins of mankind. The Reverend Editor might have spared the arguments he has adduced to prove, that Jesus was sent into this world as the long-expected Messiah, intended to suffer death and difficulties like other prophets who went before him ; as the Editor may find in the compilation in question, as well as in its defence, Jesus of Nazareth represented as “The Son of God,” a term synonymous with that of Messiah, the highest of all the prophets; and his life declares him to have been, as represented in the Scriptures, pure as light, innocent as a lamb, necessary for eternal life as bread for a temporal one, and great as the angels
of God, or rather greater than they. He also might have omitted to quote such authority as shews, that Christ, being a mediator between God and men, “declared that whatsoever they (his apostles) shall ask in his name, the Father will give them;” for the Compiler, in his defence of the Precepts of Jesus, repeatedly acknowledged Christ as the Redeemer, Mediator, and Intercessor with God, in behalf of his followers. But such intercession does not, I presume, tend to a proof of the deity or the atonement of Jesus, as interpreted by the Editor; for God is represented in the sacred books to have often shewn mercy to mankind for righteous men's sakes; how much more, then, would he naturally manifest his favour towards those who might petition him in the name of one whom he anointed and exalted over all creatures and prophets? Gen. ch. xxx. ver. 27: “I have learned by experience, that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake.” Jeremiah, ch. xxvii. ver. 18: “But if they be prophets, and if the word of the Lord be with them, let them now make intercession to the Lord of hosts.” Moreover, we find angels declared to have been endued with the power of pardoning and redeeming men on various occasions. Genesis, ch. xlviii. ver. 16: “The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads!” Erodus, ch. xxiii. vers. 20, 21: “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not ; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.”
With regard to this doctrine, I have carefully noticed every argument advanced by the Editor, from the authority of Jesus himself, in its support; and have adduced such arguments as may be used by those that reject that doctrine, and which they rest on the authority of the same Divine Teacher: leaving the decision of the subject to the discreet judgment of the public, by declining to deliver any opinion, as an individual, as to the merits thereof.
On the Doctrines and Miraculous Narrations of the New Testament.
I REGRET that the Editor should have accused the Compiler of having charged “on the dogmas or doctrines of Christianity those wars and that bloodshed which have occurred between nations merely termed Christians.” The Compiler, in his defence of the Precepts of Jesus, has ascribed such disputes and contentions not to any thing contained in the Scriptures, but to the different interpretations of dogmas which he esteemed not essential for salvation. In order to convince the Editor of the accuracy of my assertion, I entreat his attention to p. 18, line 32, and page 22, lines 1–3, of my defence of the compiled Precepts, under the designation of “An Appeal to the Christian Public.””
The Editor observes, that “wars and bloodshed existed before the promulgation of Christianity in the world; neither Christianity, therefore, nor its dogmas, created the causes of wars and bloodshed. They existed in the human mind long before its doctrines were published; and that quarrels and feuds between the Arians and the Orthodox in the
* See above, p. 112, line 32, and p. 116, lines 1–3. F