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THE MORAL IDEA WHICH IN FACT THEY REVEAL.
powerful, and altogether singular as it is, is not all. It is but the shadow of the argument which they carry with them. They not only do not violate the original beauty of that life, but more strikingly than anything else related of Jesus, they reveal, exalt, and perfect the moral idea which we form of him. They give us a conception of moral character, of the spiritual power and glory with which humanity is capable of being clothed, that we could not form by any
other means. Nay, they harmonize not only with his life, but with the profoundest philosophy of our being. I cannot desire nor imagine any evidence for their reality more complete and satisfactory.
Every one feels the force of the internal evidence for Christianity, expressed in its moral lineaments, in the wisdom and benignity of its precepts, the purity and thoroughness of its rules of life, and the virtues of its founder. If I do not mistake, here lies the main foundation of every intelligent man's faith. The internal moral evidence the most sceptical have felt. Now what I say is this, that in no part of the New Testament histories is this moral power, in my view, more conspicuous than in the accounts of the miracles of Jesus. There is that in them, which goes to my heart as directly, creating faith there, as his eloquent recommendations of peace and love. In the exercise of his singular power, there is not only no display, nothing done for effect, no puerility, but a sublime “majesty of action,” a godlike singleness of purpose, a perfect naturalness, in which the heart may behold, with awe and with tears, the crowning manifestation of Divinity. His authority over matter arrests my
JESUS AS A PROPHET.
attention, chiefly as it reveals his moral power, evinced in an entire freedom from pride and every selfish aim, and the complete, yet calm devotion of his whole being, with all its unprecedented gifts, to the cause of truth and of God.
JESUS AS A PROPHET.
"—Thou prophetic spirit that inspirest
My chief object in this chapter is, to show how satisfactorily the great founder of Christianity is proved, in the histories of his life, to have been possessed of an extraordinary knowledge of future events.
I wish first, however, to make some remarks upon the nature of his Prophetical Gift.
Whether he pierced the veil of Futurity by special, instantaneous inspiration of God, or by the natural intuition of his own wonderfully endowed being, I do not pretend to determine, I do not know. But one thing is very plain. I cannot shut my eyes to the analogy that presents itself between the prophetical power of Jesus and the very nature of all mind.
All things are in an infinite variety of ways interwoven with one another-great and little, high and low, past, present, and future. The knowledge of any one thing involves an acquaintance with numberless other things. How far into the depths of the past
THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY.
191 hath the eye of science penetrated, simply by surveying the present appearance and condition of the earth! What mighty and remote revolutions hath the human mind predicted by observing the present positions of the heavenly bodies! Nay, is not our very nature as it exists in all men, in a feeble degree perhaps, but still in a certain sense, prophetical? What is this yearning that we have towards the future, or, to say no more, the bare idea of the future, what is it but the
germ of prophecy in the human soul? It reveals at least the desire and capacity of foreknowledgethat faculty of our being, which, let us only advance
we may, and as we feel that we ought, will qualify us to receive whatever communications of foreknowledge may be made to us here or hereafter, and however they may be made. Beautifully, but not more beautifully than truly, has it been said,
“ Knowest thou Yesterday, its aim and reason ?
Workest thou well To-day for worthy things ?
But calmly wait what hap soe'er it brings.” But why fear not the future? Why calmly wait? Because to the mind that wisely listens to the past and faithfully uses the present, there must come the assured conviction that the future has in store for it no real evil. To know so much of futurity as this, though we should never know more, is it not prophetic knowledge? To know and feel that the everlasting future can do us no harm, surely this is to see with a prophet's ken! But some minds have seen further and more clearly into the coming time than others.
Their knowledge of futurity was the result of no
THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY.
192 process of reasoning—no weighing of probabilities. It was not the product of calculation. It was sight. And they saw not the visible world with the outward eye more distinctly than they foresaw what they foretold. Such were the ancient prophets. “Abraham,” said Jesus, "saw my day and was glad." The eye of the body is but a dim type of the eye of the prophetic soul. But never in the flesh have we had such a manifestation of prophetic vision as in Jesus Christ. He has cast all other prophets into the shade. His prophetical ability came not by education nor by reasoning. It was a special gift of God. Still its whole manifestation in the life of Jesus is in perfect harmony with nature. It is new, unprecedented, but still analogous to all that we see and know of mind, of spirit. And thus it reveals upon itself the divine signature, and proves that it is the inspiration of the Father of spirits.
Wonderfully endowed as Jesus was, he could not but be a prophet. I pray the reader to ponder the case well. I would disclose to him new grounds of faith.
While on earth, as the Gospel of John declares, the Son of Man was in Heaven, in that spiritual and eternal world where no veils of time circumscribe the view. Having the purest moral sense, he saw the moral aspects, circumstances, relations, destinies, of the scene in which he stood. He knew himself and those around him. “I know," said he, “those whom I have chosen.” Are we not able, therefore, to track, a little way at least, that mysterious power of intuition or inspiration—I know not its name, certain only that
THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY.
it is divine-by which he foretold his own fate, the fate of his nation, even to many minute particulars, the treachery of one of his disciples, the cowardice of another, and the desertion of all ? His foreknowledge was marvellously profound and accurate. How does it draw aside the veil which hides from us the wonderful powers of the spiritual world, revealing to us a spirit commanding disease and death, and penetrating into futurity! But altogether unprecedented as was the prophetical knowledge of Jesus, it was still limited. The precise time when that national catastrophe would take place which he predicted, he declared he did not know. It was known only to God.
This account of the prophetical power of Jesus will be regarded by most, I suppose, as a mere speculation; and, (it grieves me to say it,) a bold speculation. I strive to think freely, but I do not covet the reputation of boldness. The view I take of the prophetical character of Christ seems to me the simplest, most natural, and unspeakably the most vital, and to take much less for granted than the popular theory of the case. This, like the popular idea of the miracles, appears to be founded upon the unconscious, but most extravagant assumption, that the whole order of things, material and immaterial,—all the forces and limits of that mighty spirit, which is around and within us-are perfectly known; that God, instead of being ALL IN ALL, sits “outside," having delegated the care of all ordinary matters to another power,
the order of Nature; and that when anything occurs out of the little circle of the experience of man, child of