« AnteriorContinuar »
not allow us to impeach either the sincerity or the sublimity of his devotion. It is, therefore, evident, that in all the conduct of Jesus, he dared to appeal to the eye of the multitude, and to open his very soul in the eyes of heaven to witness the purity of his life. As Jesus was himgelf a man of prayer, in almost every discourse he enjoined upon his disciples secret, uninterrupted communion with his Father, as being absolutely necessary to their receiving open manifestation of his favour. And, since they had commenced his servants, and were anxious to promote his cause, he repeatedly assured them, that their most arduous success could alone be performed by prayer, and by fasting. A method this, we are obliged Lo confess, of establishing reputation and interest, entirely foreign to the conduct of a deceiver; and must therefore compel us to approve the holy person and life of Jesus.
4. The last quality in an approved character, and which constitutes a material part of human excellence, is MAGNANIMITY. If to bear poverty nobly, to suffer injuries with patience, and to sacrifice our wealth, repose, fame, and life, for the sake of virtue, constitute true greatness and solid glory; we dare appeal to the most avowed enemy of the Gospel for the just application of this assemblage of real excellence to the person of Jesus. He had no where to lay his head, and became of no reputation, that he might accomplish our felicity. Though often surrounded with an enraged multitude, his soul yearned at human misery, and he stretched forth his hand to relieve! In the last period of his sufferings, he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep is dumb before her shearers, so he opened not his mouth. Though on Calvary he was exposed to unparalleled contempt, and suffered the most inconceivable tortures both
in soul and body, his magnanimity abode ; calmly he uto tered a fervent prayer for his crucifiers, and then most solemnly breathed his soul into the bosom of his Father. We are obliged to say, from the history of Jesus, that those dreadful scenes did not take him by surprise. He forcsaw the whole; and long before they commenced, he forewarned his disciples of them, and said, thus it behoved hin to suffer. His magnanimity, therefore, was deliberate, and not the effect of misguided zeal or untempered passion. Were it possible for his faithfulness and love to have failed, he could as easily have saved himself from the rage of his enemies, as to have resigned himself to their power. But his heart was firm; he was born thus to suffer and to die for the glorious purpose of man's redemption.
From this review of the BENEVOLENCE, the TRUTH, the DEVOTION, and the MAGNANIMITY of Jesus, may we not most cheerfully assert, that he possessed every virtue in the highest possible perfection? His joys were grave; his grief just. His love was without alloy, and his benevoience shone with unrivalled glory! His goodness, piety, inflexibility, all his excellencies were in perfect harmony with each other. His vices, or his infirmi. ties, where are they? Some said he was a good man; others said, Nay; but if satan retires, and can find nothing in him, let his inveterate enemies amongst mankind stand at an awful distance, while every friend to truth and to virtue, confirm the sentiment of Peter, Jesus was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners!
Whence these ancorrupted passions found with Jesus? That heart from whence such brilliant virtues flow cannot be soiled with human guilt. What other person, however bright his virtues, but at some period of his life, hath discovered his part in universal corruption? Jesus, therefore, must be more than human; and which directs our further inquiry, in hope of seeing his brighter glory. This we will attempt in our next lecture.
Meantime be not ashamed to own Jesus in the face of daring infidelity. And you who are the younger part of this family, yield not to those who lay in wait, to rob youof your attachment to Christianity. You are not called to follow a cunningly devised fable, but to rejoice in Christ Jesus, who is the perfection of truth, and worthy your most ardent praise! Christians, as such, should glory in the virtue of the Saviour. Some infidels have dared to reflect upon the Virgin Mary; but, it is very remarkable, scarce an individual has attempted to impeach the personal virtue of Jesus. Although some professors of religion may pay little attention to this testimony, I assure you it is of the highest importance. If the moral character of Jesus be imperfect, all, of course, which relates to his professed redemption must be of no advantage. However, while we avail ourselves of the concessions of the opposers of Jesus, we rejoice in the numberless testimonies contained in the Scriptures of his benevolence, truth, devotion, and holy magnanimity. On this, therefore, we rely, and in this will we glory!
THE DIVINE NATURE OF CHRIST.
Acts xvii. 32.
Couid I but paint his beauteous name,
INDEED, what matter of more consequence for us to hear and to understand than the character of Jesus? Were this in any degree imperfect, we may at once stop in a profession of his Gospel, for all beyond it must be fatal ruin! We must, however, say, there are a thousand testimonies to convince a guilty man, that he cannot save himself; and if delivered from deserved wrath, it must be by the intervention of another. Jesus of Nazareth is proposed as a Saviour. We have investigated his moral character, and are obliged to say, it was without spot or blemish; perfectly consonant to the law of humamity, and worthy its dignity. The BENEVOLENCE and TRUTH of his soul, the DEVOTION and MAGNANIMITY of his life, were without a shade, and, as such, teach us to believe he was, indeed, separate from sinners. How can this thing be? Are not all men subjects of equal corruption? How can one plant in the human garden bear good fruit, when all the rest, without exception, are loaden with fruit the most corrupt? Jesus must be more than human. A created angel he could not be; for, it is positively asserted, He took not on him the nature of angels, but the sced of Abraham. Nor, in the scale of being, could two natures, human and angelic, constitute one person. To pursue our inquiry, therefore, into the person of Jesus, we must have recourse to those declarations which he made concerning himself; and also, avail ourselves of the sentiments of those who were eye and ear witnesses of all that Jesus taught and performed.
THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CONCERNING HIMSELFI came forth from the Father, and am come into the world ; again I leave the world, and go to the Father. I and my Father are one. If ye had known me, ye
would have known my Father also; and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. He that hath seer me
hath seen the Father. Before Abraham was, I am. All - things that the Father hath are mine. The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unta the Son; that all men should honour: the Son euen as they honour the Father.
From these declarations it impartially appears Jesus claimed an equality and an unity with Jehovah; that by. him alone the Father becomes manifest ; that the infinite attributes and dominion of the Father were equally his; that he existed before Abraham; and that equal honours were due to him as to the Father. These sentiments are scriptural! Notwithstanding, it may be suggested, these assertions of Jesus may not be considered in an absolute, but in a subordinate degree ; nor should we, at so remote an age, indulge the free exercise of implicit faith upon them. Let us then produce the opinion of those who were conversant with Jesus, and who knew both his doctrines and his real character: for this will be an effectual method of obtaining satisfaction.
ZACHARIAS, father of John the Baptist. And thou child Yi, e. John), shalt be called the prophet of the Highest