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JESUS, OUR MASTER.
It cannot be that we have hearts, and that they are to remain cold and insensible to all these various and touching manifestations of the mingled tenderness and wisdom of the Man of Nazareth. Who can help feeling that he must come hither—to this, the heavenliest model of all virtue, to kindle his best sentiments, to elevate and refine his sense of truth and rectitude, to feed his imperishable soul? Who so high in rank, so gifted in intellect, as to refuse to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Master ? In all that elevates human nature, he is the master of us all. There is nothing humiliating—oh no—it must be our delight and honour—it must all-ennoble us to accord him this title. The words of the fervent old poet-have they now no music in our ears?
“How sweetly doth My MASTER sound! MY MASTER !
Unto the taster:
The instances I have adduced in this chapter to illustrate the moral greatness of Jesus Christ, I have arranged with very little order. I knew not how to do otherwise, or better, or where to begin. And I know not now where to end. There are numerous other occasions upon which the wonderful beauty of his moral being is disclosed. I must break off with the hope that the illustrations of this great subject, which have been specified, have been stated at least with some distinctness and discrimination, not altogether from hearsay, but with some personal feeling of their truth. If this hope be not justifiable, it would be in
THE UNCONSCIOUSNESS OF THE NARRATORS.
But if I have been at all successful in what I have attempted, then enough has been said to show how abundant are the materials which the Christian Records have furnished us, whereby we may construct in our minds an idea of moral greatness, to which history affords no equal. Not a trace appears in these writings of any design to work out the uniform consistency, apparent in this respect. The writers appear to be occupied with nothing but a statement of facts; of facts which, however, they do not enlarge upon, nor make the least effort to combine into a whole. They pass abruptly from one incident to another, entirely different in its details, unconscious of the beautiful and godlike spirit which they portray. Not that they were insensible to the power of the character of him, whose words and works they relate. They could not possibly have given stronger proof of their being thoroughly imbued with the spirit of Jesus, which was the spirit of truth, than they have given in their simple, unvarnished narrations.
vain to say more.
THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS,
“ Auctor nominis ejus Christus, qui, Tiberio imperitante, per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus erat.”—Tacitus ANN. lib. xv.
The leader of this denomination was Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius, suffered punishment under the procurator Pontius Pilate.Trans.
the accounts of the death of Jesus and his rising from the dead are so numerous and impressive, that I propose to make this portion of the history the subject of particular examination. It is precisely such a relation of these most interesting events as we might naturally expect, supposing them to be true. The whole style of narration, the discrepancies between the different accounts, the very errors and mistakes apparent in some subordinate particulars, all indicate precisely such a state of feeling as must have been produced in the eye and ear witnesses, if the things related actually took place. It is in this perfect truth of feeling, so abundantly disclosed, that I find an impregnable ground for my faith. The testimony of one man, giving indubitable tokens of a true spirit, is absolutely decisive in itself, admitting of no comparison with the testimony of men in whom no such spirit is discernible, even though they were numberless. It is not therefore upon the number of the witnesses in
The marks of truth and nature
THE DEATH OF JESUS.
the present case that I rely, but upon the overwhelming evidence given that these histories are the productions of truth and honesty. It is true, we are extremely liable to be deceived as to the indications of the presence of a true mind in any given instance. But what does this prove? Not, surely, that there is no such thing as a true mind, but that truth of feeling is so powerful to impress and convince, that the slightest appearance of it carries with it the greatest weight.
Jesus was tried and executed on the day preceding the Jewish Sabbath, of course on a Friday. Respecting the precise hour of his crucifixion the accounts vary.
Various methods of reconciling the statements of Mark and John have been attempted, but it seems to me scarcely necessary.
It would be very strange, and not at all natural, if the power of noting the lapse of time had not been disturbed in the minds of the spectators and participants in the scene, while events were taking place so intensely interesting.
From the time Jesus was nailed to the cross until he expired, it appears from the different accounts that he spoke seven times. We are not able to determine with certainty the precise order in which the various sentences and ejaculations ascribed to him were uttered. The following, however, appears to me their most probable sequence. As they were nailing him to the cross, or just as that terrible office was completed, he breathed forth that sublime prayer upon which I remarked in the foregoing chapter, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they
* See Mark xv. 25, and John xix. 14.
PROBABLE ORDER OF HIS EJACULATIONS
248 do.” After he was crucified, they immediately began to jeer and ridicule him. And then it was that the brief conversation passed between him and one of his fellow-sufferers. “This day thou shalt be with me in paradise”—in other words, thou shalt immediately be with me in the condition of the virtuous dead.' The individual to whom these words were addressed, in his ready appreciation of the character of Jesus, whose meek and touching demeanour he had observed, in rebuking the other criminal who had joined with the crowd in ridiculing Jesus, how impressively did he show that he was already, spiritually speaking, on the very threshold of heaven! Already was he in paradise. Shortly afterwards, Jesus, recognising among the multitude his mother and his favourite friend John, signified his wish that she should regard John as her son in his place, and that John should consider her as his mother. The thirst naturally attendant upon the intense
agony which he was enduring soon became so severe that he could not help giving expression to his feelings. He exclaimed “I thirst," and one of the crowd brought, fastened upon the end of a reed, a piece of sponge which had been dipped into a mixture of vinegar and myrrh, a preparation used on such occasions, out of mercy to the crucified, to stupify and deaden their sensibility. A portion of this mixture was offered to Jesus, just before he was crucified, and he refused to drink it. He would not avail himself of any such means of escaping the torture that awaited him. Just before the sponge was lifted to his lips, his sufferings were so severe that for a moment he seemed to be overwhelmed with a feeling of