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It is particularly observable of the evangelists, and indeed of the inspired writers in general, that not one of them speaks of the insufficiency of his own abilities, notwithstanding the greatness of the subject which he undertakes. In the genuine books of scripture there is no such language as the following : “ If I have done well, and as is fitting the story, it is that which I desired; but if & slenderly and meanly, it is that which I could attain unto." The authors of the sacred books shew a consciousness that they were writing under the all sufficient influence of the Spirit.
62 Macc. xv. 38.
PROOFS IN OUR LORD'S CONDUCT TIIAT HE WAS NOT AN
THE striking opposition between the tenour of our Lord's actions as a religious teacher, and what might naturally have been expected from a Jewish impostor, forms an argument for the reality of his divine mission with which I shall conclude.
After having received full attestations from the Baptist, whom all men held to be a prophet, after the descent of the Spirit in a bodily shape, and the approbation of God himself by a voice from heaven; instead of asserting his Messiahship in Jerusalem, where men were prepared to admit his claim, he retired into the a desert during forty days, and then • departed into the obscure country of Galilee.
He contradicted the reigning preconceptions of the Messiah, by his own humble appearance and his selection of humble followers. The worship of God which he required was a d spiritual one, unlike the ceremonies and pomp of the Jewish temple : his morality was too strict for worldly minded men : he declared his design to substitute an universal religion in the place of a national one: he f preferred mercy to sacrifice; inveighed against Pharisaical traditions ; neither practised himself, nor taught his disciples to practise - Pharisaical austerities; and subjected himself to a charge of violating the sabbath, and to extreme danger, by repeatedly working miracles on
• Matt. iv. 1. 6 John i. 44. See Randolph's View, &c. p. 45. - Matt. viii. 20. d John iv. 23, 4. e ib. iv. 21.
f Matt. ix, 13. gib. xv. 6.
nib. is. 14.
Though John the Baptist attracted much notice, and all men held him to be a prophet, Jesus did not obtain his testimony by a preconcerted plan with him; but John knew him not till he came to be ' baptized.
The accounts of the wonders which preceded and followed his miraculous birth were not forgeries in which he was assisted by his kinsfolk; for they did not acknowledge * his prophetical character : his religion and its evidences were not a political device; for he opposed, admonished and reprehended the Jewish rulers, and was hated and slain by them.
Nothing indeed could be at a greater distance from secular views than his behaviour to the rich, powerful, and wise men of this world. When a Jewish ruler came to him at the first passover, we see in him no earnest endeavour to secure so useful a convert. He discoursed of a new birth, of receiving the Spirit by baptism ; and humbled his pride as a master in Israel for not comprehending his words. He shewed his own contempt of wealth, by intrusting Judas with the m bag, his only faithless follower, and one of whose faithlessness he had early knowledge ; and he occasionally spake of the " deceitfulness and evil o tendency of wealth ; and described the rich as p suddenly cut off, and as lifting up their eyes in future torments after faring sumptuously in this life. The following language was used by him to one of that class, who asked him what he should do to
i John i. 31. Matt. xiii. 22
k ib. vii. 5. lib. iii. 3, 5, 10. mib. xii. 6. vi. 64 • Luke xvi. 9, 11. pib. xi. 20. c. xvi. 23.
inherit eternal life: “If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor ; and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” His reproofs of those in power were the freest imaginable, when their unbelief and vices deserved them. And instead of lamenting that the wise and prudent were not in his train, who were the fittest instruments to compass worldly ends, he made it a ground of thanksgiving to God that his doctrine had been hidden from them and revealed unto babes. Nay, he recounted this among the eharacteristics of his Messiahship, that his gospel was preached to the poor.
We have seen that he was equally free in cen. suring his own followers, even the most zealous and eminent among
them. When his disciples asked him who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, he chose out none of distinguished attachment or ability ; but observe his answer : " Whosoever shall humble himself as a little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
When a certain Scribe, and therefore a convert of no mean rank, said to him, “ Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest ;" his discouraging reply was, “* Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.”
When he was called the Holy One of God by a demoniac, whom the people might think endued
4 Mark x. 21. and p. p. * Matt. xi. 25. s ib. 5. "P, 397, 8. 508. Matt. xviii. 4. W c. viii. 20. See also Luke ix. 59-62.
with a spirit of divination, “ Jesus rebuked him,
saying, Hold thy peace.” In like manner he often concealed his miracles, often retired after he had wrought them, and never made an ostentatious display of his power. He also commanded Peter, James and John not to y disclose his transfiguration, and the glorious vision and the voice from heaven which accompanied it, till he was risen from the dead.
When the multitude were about to make him a king, an end which an impostor would have promoted, he retired to : a mountain alone. And when the same multitude sought him and discovered his retreat, he thus addressed them, “ Verily, a verily, I say unto you, ye seek me not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you; for him hath the Father sealed, even God:” and he purposely alienated them, and some of his disciples, by the most figurative and dark of all his discourses.
Thus, again, when Philip and Andrew told Jesus that certain Hellenistic Jews desired to see him ; penetrating their worldly motives, he spake of his approaching death, and taught his disciples to expect persecution in this life and an eternal
in the next.
When he commissioned his twelve apostles, one part of his injunction to them was, “ Freely ye have received, freely give.”
* Mark. i. 25. tib. 32-65.
y Matt. xvii. 9. 2 John vi. 15.
. ib. 26, 7. co. 66. dib. xii. 20—26. e Matt. X. 8.