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me, they will also persecute you : if they have kept my saying, they will keep your's also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me*. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues : yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father nor met. Such was the constant tenor of Christ's language to his disciples : such was the mode, in which he sought to allure followers and to gain proselytes. That its total want of earthly encouragement was abundantly felt, is clear, not only from the reason of the thing, but from the express testimony of the narrative itself. On one occasion of receiving these melancholy and discouraging communications, it is said, that the disciples were exceeding sorry I: on another, that Peter began to rebuke him . But not in the slightest degree would Christ either change, or even soften, his language. He still persevered in his own most extraordinary mode of gaining followers. He still allured his countrymen to enlist under his banners, by promising them every sort of persecution, universal hatred, flight, banishment, excommunication, contempt, affliction, death. This was the method, in which he invariably thought fit to advance his
* John xv. 18—21.
t John xvi. 1-3.
Matt. xvi. 22.
project, whatever might be its precise nature. Now can any person seriously believe, that an artful and selfish impostor would adopt such a plan of aggrandizement, as Christ, if we suppose him to be an impostor, must be viewed as having actually adopted? The thing is incredible: and he, who, with these testimonies before his eyes and with even a moderate knowledge of human nature in his head, can yet persuade himself, against all moral evidence, that the man, who could systematically act as Christ acted, was nevertheless an impostor who sought his own aggrandizement and advancement; such a person, instead of charging a believer in revelation with an easy faith, may himself be well deemed a very portent of credulity.
On the whole, if Christ were indeed an impostor, it will baffle the greatest ingenuity to determine, what could have been his object. Wealth, and power, and reputation, those darling idols of the proud and the ambitious, he utterly slighted himself: and all his precepts have a direct tendency to discourage the love of them in others, and thus plainly to make his followers the most useless tools for an artful adventurer that can well be imagined. What then was his object, if he were an impostor? In the case of other notorious and allowed impostors, Coziba for instance and Mohammed, nothing is more easy than to detect and define the ultimate object of their varied machinations : yet it will not be the least difficulty, with which Infidelity is hampered, to specify, clearly and distinctly and on solid grounds moral and historical, the precise object, which Jesus of Nazareth had in view, when he gave himself out to be the expected Messiah, and when he thus attempted to delude his Hebrew countrymen.
2. But, if Christ were not an artful impostor, it may be contended that he was a brain-sick enthusiast : a solution, which will equally destroy the belief, that he was a prophet really sent from God.
Let us see then, whether this hypothesis bids more fair for stability than the last. : In prosecuting such an inquiry, we are obviously led to study the character of Christ, as it stands developed in the histories of him which have come down to us : for, whether he be, or be not, an enthusiast, we can only form a judgment from his words and from his actions.
(1.) Now, with regard to his words, even Infidelity itself allows, that so pure and so perfect and so rational a code of morals was never before promulgated. It is easy to distinguish between the wild ravings of enthusiasm, and the words of soberness and truth. Let any person carefully read the Sermon on the mount, together with the various other recorded discourses of Christ; and then honestly say, to which class these documents ought to be referred.
Blessed are the poor in spirit : for their's is the
kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn : for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness : for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful : for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure
in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so; he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but, whoso, ever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, that, except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Ye have heard, that it was said by them of old time ; Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, that, , whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Ye have heard, that it hath been said; Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you ; Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you ; that ye may
be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Take heed, that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise, ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore, when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do, in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But, when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth : that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father, which seeth thee in secret, himself shall reward thee openly. And, when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are : for they love to pray, standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet; and, when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret ; and the Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor steal. Judge not, that ye be not judged : for, with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged; and, with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye ; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou