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crous, nor his reputation extensive; nor his power of long duration.
This too is contradicted by matter of fact. No teacher can boast of so many disciples; no name is so widely diffused; and after a lapse of eighteen centuries, the field of his triumph is extended and extending, and his outstretched arms are expanded to embrace a globe.
How is all this to be accounted for? Who shall explain this accumulation of mystery ? Consult, on the subject, the learned Jewish doctor of laws, whom we formerly quoted with respect. His reasoning upon it is as sound, and as conclusive now, as it was near two thousand years ago. “If this counsel or this work were of men, it must liave come to nought; but because it is of God, it cannot be overthrown.” Christianity is the cause of heaven, and therefore it hath prospered, and shall continue to prosper.
We have hitherto beheld our blessed Lord single and unconnected; gradvally shewing himself to the world as a Teacher sent from God. In the passage which has now been read, we find him laying the foundation of his church, forming and modelling his household, beginning to provide a succession of public teachers of his religion, who should carry on to the end of time, the instruction of an ignorant, the reformation of a corrupted, the salvation of a perishing world. The career of John Baptist, his kinsman and forerunner, was now come to an end. That rigid moralist and honest reformer had, by speaking truth and acting faithfully, incurred the displeasure of an arbitrary despot, who cast him into prison, where he soon after fell a victim to the resentment of an abandoned woman. But this John had already given a repeated and public testimony to Jesus Christ, as the Messiah promised to the fathers, and as “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." And, at his baptism by John, God had confirmed that testimony by a voice from heaven.
As the Baptist's public labours drew towards a conclusion, those of Jesus Christ were advancing to their commencement; and, as we have seen, they were first employed for the instruction and relief of his kindred and townsmen of Nazareth, where he had been brought up. His benevolent services there, however, were most ungratefully requited, the minds of his auditors being poisoned with envy, and, as a necessary consequence, their hearts hardened Through unbelief. Disappointed of success there, where it might have beer so reasonably expected, he gives pot up, in sullen dissatisfaction, the work which was given him to do, but leaving Nazareth, in the manner related in the preceding Lecture, he proceeds to Capernaum, a town of Galilee, on the sea-coast, on the confines of the inheritance of the two ttibes Zabulon and Nephthalim, denominated “Galilee of the Gentiles," from its proximity to the regions of Tyre and Sidon.
But what step of our Saviour's progress was unmarked by the finger of ancient prophecy, and consequently directed by a special interposition of Divine Providence ? Isaiah, who had so clearly and fully described his character and offices, in the passage which he read and applied to himself, in the synagogue at Nazareth, has also clearly and undecidedly announced his visit to Capernaum, and the light and glory which bis preaching and mighty works should diffuse over a region which lay buried in heathenish ignorance and idolatry. How runs the prophecy ? “ Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulon, and the land of Naphtali, and afierward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” And what saith the history? “ Leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea-coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim : that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulou and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Geoules : the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shaduw of death light is sprung up.” In this to is not "the arm of the Lord revealed ?” Thus clearly does infinite wisdom foresee whatsoever shall come to pass: thus confidently doth unchangeable, unerring truth declare the end from the beginning, and thus irresistably doth the mighty power of God bring it to pass. And thus by a series of " immutable things," that “God who cannot lie" is affording "a strong consolation" to those who have fled for refuge to lay "huld upon the hope set before us."
Jesus takes up the same theme which constituted the subject of John's preaching, namely the doctrine of repentance; that humbling doctrine, which regards a world lying in wickedness, ignorance and misery so deplorable, as to be fitly represented by the powerful and expressive imagery of " darkness" and “the region and shadow of death ;" that compassionate doctrine which stretches out a friendly hand to the guilty and the wretched; that reviving doctrine which gently draws the trembling sinner to the God of mercy, and which forbids the vilest to despair. And by what argument is this salutary doctrine recommended and enforced, by both the forerunner, and by the greater who followed after bim? “ The King of heaven is at hand :" the reign of grace, the dominion of love; a new display of divine perfection, even God descending to dwell with men upon earth, that he might prepare men to “ sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” What a fulness of time was now come when " the Prophet of the Highest,” like the sun, “rejoicing as a strong man to run a race," began to “go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace!" The great Sovereign in this heavenly kingdom, in a manner peculiar to himself, announces his own public entry on the exercise of his authority ; the Prince of Peace cries aloud, and proclaims "the acceptable year of the Lord !"
We said, in a manner peculiar to himself: for it looks as if he were meaning to court neglect, to excite compassion, or to provoke contempt, noi to engage attention of to command respect. When we behold the carpenter's son forming an humble alliance with three or four simple, illiterate, unconnected fishermen, the inhabitants of a little town on the coast of the sea of Galilee, Who is so timid as to take the alarm? Who is su sanguine as to expect any thing from such a confederacy? Who is such a visionary as to prognosticate from it the downfall of idolatry, and the revolution of empires ? But this proved indeed the grand crisis in human affairs. It produced an universal and everlasting change in the state of the world. It was the establishment of a kingdom destined to control, and, at length to swallow up every other; nay, which was to outlast the sun, and survive the system of nature; which was to prove the foundation whereon to rear a new and more glorious fabric of creation, to serve as a theatre whereon to display wonders which shall leave the pride of kings at an infinite distance behind. “ All these things shall be dissolved : nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. On the day that Jesus called “ Simon and Andrew his brother, James and John his brother” from their boats and fishing-nets, imperial Rome shook to the foundation ; the Jewish hierarchy expired: Satan's empire fell; and on their ruins, began to arise" a kingdom which cannot be moved ;" the predicted throne
and kingdom of David's Lord, which the zeal of the Lord of hosts was “10 order, and to establish with judgement and with justice, even forever.”
These simple men with simple names, then obscure, unnoticed, unknown, were hastening to acquire a celebrity which speedily eclipsed the titles of royalty, and the glare of imperial purple. “ Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ;" John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” are held in lasting and grateful remembrance by the nations of the earth, while the memory of their mighty contemporaries, a Tiberius, a Nero, and a Domitian, is rosting in the dust, or preserved from oblivion by a note of infamy, and a sentiment of detestation. In the former we revere the benefactors of the human race ; from the latter we turn away with abhorrence, as from so many monsters The despised Galileans became “ fishers of men," converted myriads to the faith and hope of the Gospel, and, to this day, by their writings, continue to minister to the edification and comfort of the Christian world ; and now that the papal throne is sinking after the imperial into utter annihilation, the throne of those humble followers of the Lamb is like that of their divine Master, built upon a rock, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail.
The power of persuasion accompanied the call of Jesus :'- Walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brethren ; and he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets and followed him.” Presently after, he saw another pair of brothers, pursuing the accustomed labours of their humble occupation ; "and he called them. And they immediately left the ship, and their father, and followed him." It will be said that they had very little to lose, and therefore merit not the praise of having made a very costly sacrifice. No man can make a greater sacrifice than that of his all, whether it be much or little. When a person deliberately resigns the means of earning his bread, he casts himself entirely on Providence. The woman of Sarepta who, at the word of the prophet, brought her last morsel of bread to satisfy his hunger, exhibited a most illustrious display of confidence in God; as did likewise that other poor widow, whom Jesus beheld casting her two mites into the treasury, and whose liberality he so highly extols : " he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all. For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had." It is not the quantity given, but the spirit in which it is bestowed, that stamps value on the gift. Peter indeed, on a certain occasion, seems to have highly rated the surrender which he made, and to have deemed himself fully entitled to a compensation : “ Then answered Peter, and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore ?” Jesus admits the claim : he undervalues not the sacrifice which affection has offered up, and points out the glorious compensation which he was ready to make : “ And Jesus said unto them, Verily, I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” Such is the unbounded generosity of him who saith in another place: " Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you he shall in no wise lose his reward."
But there must have been an inconceivable something in the manner and address of Jesus Christ, which could induce men in circumstances such as those of the disciples, to forego the very means of subsistence, and to follow him at all bazards. They feel the attraction of true goodness, but have not
as yet any apprehension of the person, nature and mission of the Master whom they were preferring to all worldly relations, possessions and prospects. But their choice was shortly justified, as they attended his footsteps through the cities of Galilee : and it is highly grateful to find a first favourable impression, completely confirmed, or far exceeded by knowledge and experience. They were to be made witnesses for Christ to all nations, every opportunity is therefore afforded them of the most intimate communication with him, " all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among them :" that they might declare to the world “ that which was from the beginning, which they heard, which they saw with their eyes, which they looked upon, and which their hands did handle of the word of life.” Through a channel, and on the testimony of witnesses, so little liable to suspicion, “ the truth as it is in Jesus" has been transmitted to us.
The mode of conveying to the minds of men “the gospel of the kingdom,” next arrests our attention. He went teaching in their synagogues. This consisted, if we may judge from his practice at Nazareth, in rehearsing aloud, before worshipping assemblies, the Scriptures of the old Testament, either in their order, or passage selected for special occasions, and particularly applied. And this in every age and state of the church, ever since a revelation came down from heaven, was and is the ground work of public instruction and devotion ; even the word of the living God, the standard of truth, the foundation of faith, the rule of life.
The second mode of instruction employed by our Lord, was “preaching the gospel of the kingdom.” This seems to have been something more than a simple reading of the Scriptures, followed by an equally simple application of the word read to its appropriate object, as in the instance which has already been under review: “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” The word translated to preach is derived from a noun which signifies herald, public crier, the messenger of prince to prince, of nation to nation. Thus the prophet Isaiah might be said to preach to the men of his day, when, by the command of God, he executed the office of a herald; “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob, their sins.” And thus, in strictness of speech, Christ himself might be said to preach, when “in the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” In a greater latitude, to preach is, from a given topic, to argue, to exhort, to reprove, to encourage; to assail the heart, in the view of producing conviction, and of regulating the life through every avenue of the soul, the intellect, the passions, the very senses. Thus Paul on Mars-hill at Athens, “ preached Jesus and the resurrection.” Thus also at Troas, after breaking of bread," he preached, and continued his speech until midnight." And as Christ himself thus preached, " he sent out his twelve disciples to preach, saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand;" and with this solemn charge he left them, when he ascended into heaven: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you : and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." And thus until now, through the operation of his mighty power," the foolishness of preaching," the preaching of “ Christ crucified” is “ to them that are called, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."
Teaching and preaching were accompanied, and supported by the display of miraculous powers, all employed in doing good.
“ He healed all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease, among the people.” This general
description of human wretchedness, to which the promised Messiah was to apply a remedy, is followed by a sad enumeration of the several particulars which compose this depressing aggregate; some of them were more common, and in many cases removeable by human skill and the use of ordinary means ; some were more obstinate and hopeless, as the palsy, lunacy, which in general bid detiance to the healing art, and terminate at length, the one in the dissolution of the body, the other in a total derangement of the mental powers. This catalogue is closed by an extraordinary malady, seemingly peculiar to that period and spot of the world, diabolical possession. Attempts have been made to explain away this terrible affliction into a species of madness or epilepsy, to which the human frame has in all ages been deplorably subjected, but which can with no propriety be ascribed to the operation of malignant spirits. The instances, however, both of the existence of the disease, and of the cure, are too nunerous, and too specific, to be confounded with mental disorder or bodily infirmity; and every attempt of the kind ought to be resisted, as a blow aimed at all historical evidence, as an insidious design to limit the agency of spiritual beings, and to measure all existing powers by those of man. The influence of the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" has no peed to be demonstrated. And wherefore should it be thought a thing incredible that, for a season, and for purposes by us inscrutable, this evil spirit might be permitted to harrass and convulse the bodies of men, that the superiour power of the Son of God might be manifested in recovering, both in body and in spirit, "out of the snare of the devil, the:n who are taken captive by him at his will ?"
The whole taken together, the teaching, the preaching and the miraculous cures performed by Christ, in their combined effect, amount to this: There is not an evil which man is liable to, in his body, his mind, his estate, of yesterday or of many years standing, but what must yield to the wisdom, the power, the grace of Christ. It was the union of those several methods of conducting his divine mission that gave weight to each separately, and to the combined whole. Miracles without instruction might have amused, might have excited admiramon and astonishment. But we know how very transient and inefficient impressions of this sort are. The wonder ceases, it is driven out by a new prodigy, and this, in its turn, gives place to a third, and so on in succession, till extraordinary become mere common things, and no salutary effect is produced. But when the person who has been trying to instruct me, and whose lessons I found wearisome, and treated with neglect, takes a kindly interest in me and my concerns, makes my health and comfort his own; when be interposes seasonably, condescendingly, in behalf of myself, my child, my friend, my neighboer; and not only seasonably, but powerfully, effectually, in a way that far transcends the usual course of things; when I behold my teacher and my benefactor to be one and the same, the same man who vouchsafed to point out truth and tell me my duty, giving sight to a man that was born blind, and raising the dead to life, then the lesson comes with force to the heart and conscience. Nicodemus, the Jewish ruler, felt and acknowledged the irresistible power of this combination. He said to Jesus, “ Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God : for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him." Thus the simplicity of doctrine is dignified and impressed by the lustre of miracle, and the effect of miracle, on the other hand, acquires permanency from the stability, importance and usefulness of the doctrine.
The preaching of the Gospel is no longer supported and confirmed by miracles. Granted. It is no longer necessary that it should. While supervatural, external aid was necessary, such aid was communicated. In Jesus Christ and in what he did, taught and suffered, the Scriptures were fulfilled. He