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promise to himself no advantage, if he declined to avail himself of those preconceptions which had such an evident and natural and necessary tendency to promote the aggrandizement of an interested adventurer. Hence an impostor, unless he were destitute of every grain of common sense, could not but have acted in the following manner. Giving himself out to be the promised and then eagerly expected Messiah, and having prepared the way by a judicious arrangement with some few trusty and able and determined followers, he would invite the whole nation to rise as one man and to court assured victory under the banners of a heaven-commissioned leader. The Pharisees he would flatter by a decorous approbation of their specious piety: the Sadducees he would entice by the hopes of those temporal blessings, which alone they affected : and the whole nation he would dexterously draw after him, by striking in with all their prejudices, and by confirming all their expectations. As the predicted Messiah was destined to be a prince, he would claim to be received as the temporal king of Israel: and, when he had attained that elevation, he would seek to establish himself in it, partly by inducing the chief men of the country to accept offices under him, and partly by a wise and diligent preparation to meet the formidable armies of Rome whenever they should be brought to act against him.
These, with others of a kindred description, would clearly be the measures taken by an impostor, who, in the reign of Tiberius, wished, for the sake of his own aggrandizement, to play the part of the expected Messiah.
In reality, we can form no idea of an impostor, under such circumstances, acting differently: and absolute matter of fact has shewn the estimate to be just. Broken as the Jews had been by the power of Titus, their rebellious spirit was still unsubdued, and their hope of a temporal deliverer was still unrepressed. In the reign of Adrian, the smothered flame burst forth. Coziba, the chief of a band of robbers, was the leader of the insurgents. To facilitate his project, he assumed the name of Bar-bochab or the son of the star, in allusion to the prophecy of Balaam respecting the Messiah : and in that character, according to their perverted conceptions of the promised saviour, he was readily acknowledged by his infatuated countrymen. Having thus procured the recognition of his claim, he engaged to deliver his nation from the Roman yoke and to restore its ancient liberty and glory. The famous Rabbi Akibha, being chosen by him for his precursor, espoused his cause, afforded him the sanction of his name, publicly anointed him as the Messiah, placed a diadem on his head as king of the Jews, caused money to be coined in his name, followed him to the field at the head of twenty thousand of his disciples, and acted in the capacity of master of his horse. By calling on all the descendants of Abraham to assist the hope of Israel, an army of two hundred thousand men was soon raised, who repaired to Bither, a city near Jerusalem, chosen by the impostor for the capital of his new kingdom *.
To pursue the narrative any farther is superfluous: we have here a practical exemplification of the measures, which had been previously laid down from the mere abstract necessity of the case and the general nature of things. An impostor, during the period of which I am treating, could. not, upon any conceivable principle of action, have conducted himself differently from Coziba.
(2.) If then Christ were an impostor, he could not but have acted as Coziba did : and, doubtless, when we consider the condition of the Jews during the reign of Tiberius in contrast with their condition during the reign of Adrian, he would, humanly speaking, have had a much more flattering prospect of success. But how, in effect, did Christ act? We find him adopting a line of conduct, which was the very opposite to that of Coziba and of every other impostor similarly circumstanced; a line of conduct, which had a necessary tendency to baffle every hope entertained by an ambitious adventurer; a line of conduct too, which common sense itself might
Basnage's Hist, of the Jews. p. 515.
foresee could not but prove fatal to all such hopes.
The Messiah was announced by the prophets as a king : Jesus therefore, claiming to be the Messiah, of necessity claimed also the regal character. But in what manner did he claim it? In a sense favourable to ambition ; the very sense, in which it was understood by the Jews ? Or in a sense perfectly hostile to ambition; a sense, which the worldly-minded Jews never once dreamed of? My kingdom, said he, is not of this world : if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews : but now is my kingdom not from hence*. Nor can it be said, that this account of the nature of Christ's kingdom was merely the evasive subterfuge of disappointed ambition, given indeed before Pilate when every hope of an earthly monarchy had vanished, but unheard of so long as there was any chance of success : on the contrary, it exactly tallied both with the previous declarations and previous actions of this extraordinary claimant of the Jewish Messiahship. To the very last, his disciples seem to have been infected with the general notion of their countrymen, that the kingdom of the great deliverer was to be of a temporal nature. Hence it was, with their high indignation, that the mother of Zebedee's children petitioned, on behalf
John xviii. 36.
of her two sons, for the two chief places in that kingdom: and hence it was, even on the eve of the crucifixion, that there was a strife among them which should be accounted the greatest *. But what was the language of Jesus himself in both these cases ? On the first occasion, he said : Ye know, that the princes of the Gentiles erercise dominion over them, and they that are great erercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but, whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister ; and, whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant : even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many t. On the second occasion, he similarly said : The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they, that exercise authority upon them, are called benefactors.
shall not be so: but he, that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he, that is chief, as he that doth serve. Ye are they, which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel 1. Do we ask the nature of this promised kingdom ? Christ assures his disciples, that it was to be expected only in a future and a better world. As the tares are ga
* Matt. xx. 20-24. Luke xxii. 24. + Matt. xx. 25--28.
Luke xxii. 25-30.