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obligatory on Christians : and the epistle to the Hebrews was written to shew the superiority of the Christian law above the Jewish.
Another subject, occasionally introduced by our Lord with the greatest wisdom, was the admission of the Gentiles into the church of God. This part of the divine counsels is early mentioned in the gospels, to shew that it was not an after thought on the rejection of Christ by the Jews. It was referred to by
Simeon, when the child Jesus was presented in the temple. The appearance of the star to the Arabian Magi shewed that the Gentiles had an interest in the birth of Christ : and John the Baptist alluded to the conversion of the heathen, when he taught the Pharisees and Sadducees that God was able of the very * stones to raise up children unto Abraham. Our Lord's prophecies of this event both by parable and in express terms are 'elsewhere cnumerated. The * most distinct of them was addressed to the Jews during the last week of his life. To his a disciples he was more explicit ; and, especially, after his resurrection. It was made the subject of a vision to Peter, when he had received the Spirit. We see what a tumult was raised, when St. Paul represented Christ as saying, “I d will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” To this apostle the gospel of the è uncircumcision was committed ; and he expressly
Gal. iv. 9, 10. v. 1. vi. 15. Rom. siv. 14. * Matt.iii. 9. y Part i. c. iii. sect. i. p. 192. * Matt. xxiv. 14. and p. p. xxvi. 13. and p.p. Mark xvi. 15. Luke xxiv. 47.
c Acts e Gal. ii. 7.
w Luke fi. 31,
dc. xxii. 21.
assures us that the call of the Gentiles was God's
f eternal purpose.
It must be observed also that the wise and lowly Jesus was not full and explicit on the subject of his own glorious nature and exalted offices. This light was too strong to be admitted at once. But after his resurrection and ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit, after a gradual preparation of men for such magnificent truths, it was revealed by his apostles that he 8 was from the beginning, that he was the h Word of God, that by him i all things were cre-, ated, that he was the " image and 'representative of the invisible God, and that he was over all - God blessed for ever.
A RECAPITULATION OF OUR LORD'S CHARACTER.
UPON the whole : when our Lord is considered as a teacher we find him delivering the justest and most sublime truths with respect to the divine nature, the duties of mankind, and a future state of existence ; agreeable in every particular to reason, and to the wisest maxims of the wisest philosophers; without any mixture of that alloy which so often debased their most perfect productions; and excellently adapted to mankind in general, by suggesting
Eph. iii. 11. i Col. i. 16.
& 1 John i. 1. k ib. v. 15.
1 John i. 1. 1 John i. 1. Rev. xix. 3. John i. 18.
In Rom. ix. 5.
circumstances and particular images on the most awful and interesting subjects.
We find him filling, and, as it were, overpowering our minds with the grandest ideas of his own nature; representing himself as appointed by his Father to be our instructor, our redeemer, our judge, and our king; and shewing that he lived and died for the most benevolent and important purposes conceivable.
He does not labour to support the greatest and most magnificent of all characters; but it is perfectly easy and natural to him. He makes no display of the high and heavenly truths which he utters ; but speaks of them with a graceful and wonderful simplicity and majesty. Supernatural truths are as familiar to his mind, as the common affairs of life to other men.
He takes human nature as it came from the hands of its Creator ; and does not, like the stoics, attempt to fashion it anew, except as far as man had corrupted it. He revives the moral law, carries it to perfection, and enforces it by peculiar and animating motives : but he enjoins nothing new besides praying in his name, and observing two simple and significant pasi. tive laws which serve to promote the practice of the moral law. All his precepts, when rightly explained, are reasonable in themselves and useful in their tendency : and their compass is very great, considering that he was an occasional teacher, and not a systematical one.
If from the matter of his instructions we pass on to the manner in which they were delivered, we find
our Lord usually speaking as an authoritative teacher; though sometimes justly limiting his precepts, and sometimes assigning the reasons of them. He presupposes the law of reason, and addresses men as rational creatures. From the greatness of his mind, and the greatness of his subjects, he is often sublime; and the beauties interspersed throughout his discourses are equally natural and striking. He is remarkable for an easy and graceful manner of introducing the best lessons from incidental objects and occasions. The human heart is naked and open to him; and he addresses the thoughts of men, as others do the emotions of their countenance or their bodily actions. Difficult situations, and sudden questions of the most artful and ensnaring kind, serve only to display his superior wisdom, and to confound and astonish all his adversaries. Instead of shewing his boundless knowledge on every occasion, he checks and restrains it, and prefers utility to the glare of ostentation. He teaches directly and obliquely, plainly and covertly, as wisdom points out occasions. He knows the inmost character, every prejudice and every feeling, of his hearers; and accordingly uses parables to conceal or to enforce his lessons: and he powerfully impresses them by the significant language of actions. He gives proofs of his mission from above, by his knowledge of the heart, by a chain of prophecies, and by a a variety of mighty works.
He sets an example of the most perfect piety to God, and of the most extensive benevolence and the most tender compassion to men. He does not merely exhibit a life of strict justice, but of overflowing benignity. His temperance has not the dark shades of austerity ; his meekness does not degenerate into apathy. His humility is signal, amidst a splendour of qualities more than human. His fortitude is eminent and exemplary, in enduring the most formidable external evils and the sharpest actual sufferings : his patience is invincible ; his resignation entire and absolute. Truth and sincerity shine throughout his whole conduct. Though of heavenly descent, he shews obedience and affection to his earthly parents. He approves, loves, and attaches himself to amiable qualities in the human race. He respects authority religious and civil ; and he evi. dences his regard for his country by promoting its most essential good in a painful ministry dedicated to its service, by deploring its calamities, and by laying down his life for its benefit. Every one of his eminent virtues is regulated by consummate prudence; and he both wins the love of his friends, and extorts the approbation and wonder of his enemies.
1 Ποικίλαις δυνάμεσι. Ηeb. ii. 4.
Never was a character at the same time so commanding and natural, so resplendent and pleasing, so amiable and venerable. There is peculiar contrast in it between an awful greatness, dignity and majesty, and the most conciliating loveliness, tenderness and softness. He now con verses with prophets, , lawgivers and angels; and the ne:st instant he meekly endures the dulness of his disciples, and the blasphemies and rage of the multitu de. He now calls himself greater than Solomon, one who can command