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not cover the whole difficulty. We are still at a loss to know how these writers came to recollect so many particulars. It is therefore to be considered further, that, although it is not pretended that they wrote until years after the death of Jesus, still it is not to be supposed that the events which make up their narratives, had lain dormant in their minds in the interval. The things which they record, they had been relating orally for years. The contents of these books had in all probability constituted the burthen of their preaching, the testimony whereby they created faith in the minds of their hearers.
But it is in that trait of the teaching of Jesus upon ... which I have been remarking, that I find a satisfactory explanation of the minuteness of detail which characterizes these writings. Had his discourses been abstract and general, we might well doubt whether they could have been so easily remembered. But as it was, his style of teaching was most admirably adapted to fix the sentiments and often the very words he uttered in the memory. It seems to me that if he had carefully and designedly taught upon a system of mnemonics, he could not have stamped his words more effectually upon the minds of his hearers, beyond
cated; otherwise, all the effect of representing the Deity as speaking, might, to an imaginative mind, be lost. The idea of the dignity of human nature, thus poetically expressed in the Mosaic account of the creation, is also found in the writings of Seneca, and, it is curious to observe, with precisely that difference in the mode or style of expressing it, which we should expect between writers of such different degrees of cultivation. “ Cogitavit nos," says the philosopher, "ante Natura quam fecit !"_"Nature paused before she made us." See Le Clerc in V. T.
THE PARTICULARITY OF THE GOSPELS
the possibility of being forgotten. We are all familiar with that curious law of the mind, the law of association. We all know how easy it is to preserve the remembrance of the merest trifles, if they only chance to be associated with some outward object or incident. When we travel a road after a long interval, its successive scenes, as they present themselves, will recall the most transient thoughts that were suggested, the most incidental remarks that were made, the last time we passed that way. We perceive that almost every syllable of the declarations of Jesus was uttered under circumstances rendering it impossible that it should ever be forgotten. On one occasion, when attended by an immense multitude, he turned round while the people were crowding after him, and said, “If any man will be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.” I doubt whether any who heard these words, fully understood their purport at the time. And yet when we consider the circumstances under which they were said, we see that they must have made a startling and ineffaceable impression. A crowd was following Jesus, intensely excited by the hope that he would prove to be the Messiah—the glorious leader and king so long and ardently looked for. Taking advantage of this state of feeling, Jesus declared in substance, “If you would indeed follow me, you must take up your crosses, you must consider yourselves as condemned to death.” Again, turn to the account of the raising of Lazarus. When Jesus had cried aloud, “Lazarus, come forth,' he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and with a cloth about his face. And Jesus
121 said, 'Loose him and let him go.'” At first view we cannot help feeling that there is an abrupt falling off here in the narrative, a sudden descent to a trifling particular—to an observation apparently and comparatively insignificant. We instantly ask how came Jesus to give this trifling direction? Or, if he did give it, how happened the narrator to recollect it and to think it worth while to put it on record? These queries are silenced the instant we recur to the probable circumstances. If the dead man actually appeared, into what consternation must the by-standers have been thrown! Some shrieked, some fainted, and all, transfixed and bereft of their composure, and doubting whether they beheld an apparition or real flesh and blood, left Lazarus to struggle and stagger in the grave-clothes in which he was wrapped hand and foot. It is impossible that any one present could have failed to be most deeply impressed with that sublime self-possession which Jesus alone preserved, and with which he quietly bade them go and loose the grave-clothes, and set Lazarus at liberty. That simple sentence—“And Jesus said, Loose him, and let him go,'”—thus considered, in connexion with the circumstances, how full is it of truth and nature ! my
mind, it furnishes evidence the most decisive, because entirely incidental, of the reality of the restoration of Lazarus. It is a slight circumstance in itself, but in its perfect naturalness there is an indelible stamp of truth. Ex pede Herculem.
So by numerous instances it might be shown, that oftentimes the slightest remark of Jesus must have sunk deeply into the minds of those around him, in
THE SUBJECTS OF THE TEACHING OF JESUS.
association with the particular circumstances, and under the pressure of the peculiar occasions on which it was uttered.
The remarks which I have made upon the character of Jesus as a teacher, have been confined to the form and style of his teaching.
I have not touched upon his characteristic views and doctrines. Nor shall I attempt a discussion of them. To give a complete and discriminating account of the truths he taught, lies not within my ability. Under this head, I might deal easily and largely in general assertions, but a true and distinct portraiture of the moral and religious doctrines of Christ is quite another matter. To be well and wisely done, it would require, if I mistake not, a thorough appreciation of the various systems of religion and philosophy by which Christianity was preceded, and of the true philosophy of mind and morals. Without a profound acquaintance with these, it is hardly possible to estimate the author of Christianity justly. We may think and speak extravagantly of him, and with a brief sentence, place him immeasurably above all other teachers. But it is another thing to think of him justly, and with discrimination.
There is however one characteristic of his religion, as it was taught by himself, to which I would ask a moment's attention. It is the entire absence of all that is vulgarly termed speculation—theory. Every sentiment uttered by Jesus, admits of being understood as the expression of a fact-an eternal and essential truth. His religion, as a revelation, is a
THE SUBJECTS OF HIS TEACHING.
123 revelation of things true from all eternity. The great topics of his teaching were not the fancies, the creations of his own mind. They existed in the nature of things. When he declares, for instance, that “unto him who hath shall be given, and from him who hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath,” who does not see that this is only the assertion of a truth, wrought into our very nature and condition, and corroborated by all our observation of life? He who improves, acquires more power; he who does not improve, loses the power which he originally possessed. Again, read over the beatitudes, and you will find that they all express natural truths. “ Happy are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Is not inward purity the sense, the eye whereby we discern the pure spirit, the indwelling God of the universe ? “Happy are the merciful, for they shall .. obtain mercy.'
In the possession of a merciful temper, have we not a gift of divine love-a token of divine mercy? Even in that startling declaration, “ Whoso liveth and believeth in me shall never die,” we have an indisputable fact. Is it not inevitably and unchangeably true, that death ceases to be death to him whose feelings and views accord with the spirit of this great Teacher? When he spoke of his coming in power and great glory, he asserted a glorious fact of which we are the witnesses. He is coming in the influence of his religion, more gloriously, with a deeper and more searching power, than if he had appeared in person amidst the clouds of heaven accompanied by angelic hosts. Examine his language on all occasions with this view, and you will be struck