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CLXII. The characteristics of the eloquence of Jesus Christ are not less striking, and prove him to be more than man. In his discourses this venerable man is so true, so simple, so familiar, so full of good sense, that, whosoever has but the first degree of reason, is capable of understanding him. He is so great, so wise, so deep, that he astonishes the greatest geniuses; however little conception one has, he understands him; and the more wit one possesses, the more he admires him. He is proportionate to the narrowest under. standings, and at the same time he is above the most sublime minds.
CLXIII. In the discourses of Jesus Christ, you discover nothing that savours of pageantry and ostentation, because he is without pride : you see nothing that looks like affectation, neither in the choice of words or that of figures, because he has no vanity, and does not seek to make himself to be admired;
Through which of the dark clouds of ancient philosophy could you make us perceive as brilliant a perspective of the life to come, of the immortality of the soul, of the resurrection of the dead, of the universal last judgment, as that vhich is held forth to the christian in the four gospels?
Where in paganism shall we meet with exhortations as pressing to the practice of erery virtue, with motives as powerful to piety and zeal, with means as well calculated to make us attain them, as are those which we read at every page in that inimitable book ? Were I called upon to cite passages relative to these divine objects, I would have to transcribe almost the whole book. Sufhce it to observe, that every where we remark striking traits of a more than human wisdom, which not only renders it superior to all the productions of the human mind, but moreover entirely different from them. This superiority and difference are still more strongly marked by a circumstance which is peculiar to these books, to wit : that whilst their moral part, which is of a more general use, is found to be so clear, and so set within the reach of persons of all states and capacities, the learned in exploring its hidden treasures find it to be an inexhaustible mine, which enables them to draw thence, continually, new discoveries on the nature, the attribules, and the dispensations of divine providence. Is it to be wondered at, that after perusing the sacred books, and especially the gospels, one should not be able to read without weariness and disgust the cold maxims of a Ženo, of a Marcus Aurelius, of an Epictetus: maxims delivered without authority, without sanction, without any motive that might guarrantee their observance. I have always admired the good sense of a man who found nothing more ipsupportable, than those purely philosophical moralities.” Er amen of the intrinsic evidence of Christianity, by L. Jenyns.
nothing that is said to please men, because he is not their flatterer; nothing that is said to strike agreeably the imagination, because he does not seek to amuse them; nothing that savours of satire, because he has too much pity for the miseries of men, to make a sport of them. All the discourses of Jesus Christ retrace to me a man who does not speak to men but to teach them how to be good and happy; who loves them with the purest and most disinterested love. His eloquence is sublime, but this sublimity is that of good sense, that is to say, that, which produces the most prompt, the most universal and the most durable effect, because it is impossible to contradict it, every one imagining within himself, what good sense has dictated to others; that, which we least distrust because it cannot be suspected either of passion, or interestedness, or artifice; that in fine which owes its success but to truth, and, of course, that, which was to characterize the Incarnate Truth.
The more we study Jesus Christ in that admirable book, the Gospel, which religion has happily placed in our hands from our first youth, the more we shall be struck at the greatpess of this adorable God-man. Jesus will always be new for us, we will always imagine we behold him for the first time. Every day we shall discover in his speeches some new trait of reason and wisdom, which we had not as yet seen : every one of his words is a treasure; the body of his doctrine is like a mine of precious metal, which has not as yet been exhausted, although it has been searched for upwards of eighteen hundred years, and that will never be exhausted. All in it is true, all is beautiful, all full of sense : the purest reason beams in it throughout: nothing can be added to it, and nothing can be retrenched from it: all in it is necessary, and nothing is wanting. It is the master-piece of him who makes nothing but what is perfect--I mean, of God.
Sanctity of Jesus Christ.
E'LXIV. To bave shown that Jesus Christ was the wisest of men, a man perfectly wise, is to have demonstrated, that he was also the holiest of men, a man perfectly holy. This second assertion becomes not only probable, when the first is established: but it becomes absolutely certain. As man is constituted at present, the vices of the heart never fail to darken the dictates of reason, although they never entirely extinguish them : in those whose heart is depraved, reason is never pure, and, of course, perfect virtue is inseparable from perfect reason, and no one can be wise with that complete and absolute wisdom to which nothing is wanting, without being at the same time holy, with that holiness without spot, which leaves nothing to be desired. A man that is not perfectly holy, could not even have an idea of perfect sanctity : such a man can neither form to himself, nor, of course, present to others an image of virtue that will portray it, such as it is, and that will bear all its features.
CLXV. The passions and the vices which corrupt the will of men, (especially pride,) always pervert reason and impress it with false ideas in matter of morality. It is from the passions that moral errors, private and public, spring. It is the passions which, at all times and among all nations, have begotten those monstrous prejudices which change vice into virtue and virtue into vice, and reduce men to the painful necessity either of being wicked or dishonouring themselves. For men always wish to be able to think themselves good, and by a necessary consequence of this sentiment, they strive to transform into a virtue the vice that pleases them.
Let a vicious man undertake to paint virtue, whatever may be his genius, his vices, without his being aware of it, will guide his pencil and throw on the picture such traits as will disfigure it. This is what has happened to those ancient philosophers, whom pagan antiquity has so much eulogized and
In beholding Jesus Christ, such as I represent him to my. self, in perusing the Bible, my reader, I doubt not, will find him still greater; and I feel bold to affirm, that if he find many new traits to add to the picture, which I have made of him, he will not find any to strike out.
CLXXIX. He will be compelled to confess, that Jesus Christ was exempt, not only from all vice, but, moreover, from all defect, and from all weakness. That he had all virtues, that he had them in an eminent degree; that he has left far behind him, at an infinite distance, all great men, that have preceded him, and that have followed him. That he had the character of sanctity, which properly became a God-man ; insomuch that, if it be true, that God would become man, he ought to have been such as Jesus Christ has been ; that it is in him we must look for true sanctity: that he is the model of all men, in whatever condition they be, and in whatever situation they are found : proportioned to all; above all; whom all can imitate, and none can equal : that he resembles those masterpieces of architecture, painting, and sculpture, which can be compared to nothing, because they are above every thing; and with which, all other works are compared, in order to judge of their beauty, according as they approach them more or less; that no particular virtue constituted the character of Jesus Christ, because he possessed them all in the same degree, which is the supreme degree, that he cannot be defined by any particular virtue, as we are used to define almost all great men; that his definition must present the idea of all virtues, and that his name is The Holy, or the Saint of Saints.*
* The divine character of Jesus Christ, does not, in order to be felt, stand in need of foreign recommendations. It recommends itself by its own unmeasurable greatness and elevation; and in order to be struck with admiration of it, it is enough to view it. Still it will not a little assist our weakness, when we behold the enrapturing impression, which it made on the strongest and most comprehensive minds, of past ages as well as of the present. But that adorable character appears in all its lustre, when we behold sophistic impiety itself en. raptured at the beauty, the greatness, the wisdom, and sanctity of this adorable God-man. Yes, the very conspirators against the Son of God, could not re
On the Beauty, Excellency, and Sanctity of the Law of Jesus
CLXXX. From what has been said of the wisdom and sanctity of Jesus Christ, our reader is, no doubt, disposed to listen with a lively interest to what still remains to be said respecting the beauty, excellency, and sanctity of his holy law. He will expect nothing from this venerable man but what is wor
frain from paying their tribute of adıniration and respect to this divine personage, whenever they viewed it in the silence of their passions.
“I must confess," says the too-much renowned J. J. Rousseau, “ that the majesty of the Scriptures strikes me; the sanctity of the Gospel speaks to my heart. Behold the books of the philosophers, with all their poesys; how insignificant are they beside this! Is it possible, that a book at once so sublime and so simple, is the work of men ? Is it possible, that he, whose history it fure nishes, is himself but a man? Is this the language of an enthusiast, or of an ambitious sectarian? What meekness, what purity in his manners! What moving grace in his instructions! What elevation in his maxims! What deep wisdom in his discourses! What presence of mind, what wit, and what justness in his answers! Where is the man, where is the sage, who knows how to act, to suffer, and to die without weakness and without ostentation? When Plato is pourtraying his imaginary Just, covered with all the opprobriums of crime, and worthy all the rewards of virtue, he is painting trait for trait, Jesus Christ. The likeness is so striking, that all the fathers of the church have felt it, and that it is not possible to be mistaken. What prejudices, what blindness must not one possess to dare to compare the Son of Sophronicus to the Son of Mary? Socrates, dying without pain, without ignominy, easily maintains to the end his personage ; and if this easy kind of death had not reflected honour on his life, one would doubt, whether Socrates, with all his wit, was any thing more than a sophist. He invented, they say, morality. Others before him, had put it in practice; he said no more than what they had said; be did no more than to reduce their examples into lessons. Aristides was just, before Socrates had said what justice is. Leonidas had died for his country, before Socrates had made it a duty to love one's native country. Sparta was sober, before Socrates had recommended sobriety. Before he had defined virtue, Greece had already abounded in virtuous men. But where did Jesus Christ take among his own that elevated and pure morality, of which he only has given both the lessons and the example ? From the midst of the most furious fanaticism, the highest wisdom caused itself to be heard; and the simplicity of the most heroic virtues