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mighty prince, an irresistible conqueror : every enemy was to fall before his feet: the whole world was to be modelled anew by him: and, in the political and moral arrangement which was to characterize the reign of this universal monarch, the favoured Jews, the chosen people of Jehovah, were to become both temporally and spiritually the undisputed head of the nations.
2. In each respect the very opposite to the fancied Messiah of the house of Judah, in all characteristic points the precise reverse of Odin and Mohammed and Rama and Hercules, was the meek and lowly prophet of Nazareth. Victory indeed he promised to his disciples : but it was a victory over themselves, over their unruly lusts and passions, over their pride and avarice and selfishness and ambition. Conquest he promised to his followers : but it was a conquest of the mind, not of the body; a conquest, by which all nations should be spiritually subjugated in the day of his power. Arms, potent and welltempered, he placed in the hands of his soldiers : but the weapons of their warfare (as the apostle speaks) were not carnal, though mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ *. With respect to principles, instead of a haughty,
2 Corinth. x. 4, 5.
daring, active, enterprizing, spirit; he recommended meekness, humility, mercy, peacefulness: instead of a temper, quick to resent insults and prone to avenge injuries; he inculcated a mild tolerance of indignities, insomuch that (proverbially speaking), whosoever should smite one of his followers on the right cheek, he should turn to him the left also : and, instead of that licence which a warrior 'freely concedes to a warrior; he urged the need of the most accurate purity, not only in action, but even in thought. Despised himself and rejected of men, on account of his inculcation of a philosophy so abhorrent from all their cherished partialities and prejudices, he taught his disciples, that, preaching his doctrines, they must expect the same reception from the world. Temporal things, such as dignity, riches, luxury, and honours, he utterly undervalued : eternal things, such as the love of God, happiness in a future world, and ultimate perfect holiness, he exclusively proposed to his followers. He promised them heaven, not, like Odin and Mohammed, as a reward for fighting bravely in his cause and for gloriously dying upon the blood-stained battle-field; but as the prize, which would be awarded only to purity and humility, to holiness and self-denial. To obtain the palm, a mere outward demonstration of fiery zeal in his service was not sufficient. Not every one, that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven : but he, that doeth
the will of my Father which is in heaven *. What that will is, he explicitly set forth in terms, which could not be misapprehended, though they would tend little to secure general popularity. 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, whosoever 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 t.
3. Such was the character assumed by Christ, when he claimed to be the Messiah of the Jews. Its worldly impolicy I have already considered f: with that I am not at present concerned. I am now viewing it abstractedly and internally: I am placing it, on the grounds of its own distinctness and peculiarity, in contrast with the characters of acknowledged impostors.
The brilliant success of Odin or of Mohammed may forcibly strike upon the imagination: but the very means, which they took to promote their respective objects, tend immediately, in an age of cautious investigation, to induce more than a suspicion, that they were bold and interested adventurers. Internal evidence makes against their pretensions : abstractedly, we see much to
* Matt. vii. 21.
+ Matt. v. 19, 20. . See above Sect. v. § II. 1.
dazzle and attract and chime in with the passions of mankind; but we see nothing, which might rationally lead us to believe that they were prophets sent from heaven.
Now, just as strongly as internal evidence tells against their pretensions; so, by the rule of opposites,, must it tell with equal strength in favour of the pretensions of Christ. For, as their character forms the very basis of the internal evidence against them; so a character, diametrically the reverse, must needs form the basis of the internal evidence in favour of the person who sustains that character. Whence it clearly follows, that, the stronger the internal evidence is against the former; just in the same proportion must it be stronger in favour of the latter. In truth, it is impossible to study the character of Christ on the one hand and of Odin or Mohammed or Coziba on the other hand, without feeling the weight and value of this particular sort of evidence. A religion, which falls in with all the evil passions of mankind, which coincides with their worldly and ambitious speculations, and which exhibits its author as aiming at power and self-aggrandizement through the medium of warlike courage and activity, may dazzle the eyes of the ambitious or the thoughtless: but a religion, which directly opposes the corrupt appetites of our species, which strikes at the root of pride and selfishness and greediness, which has a direct tendency to meliorate our hearts and dispositions, which in
culcates all the milder and more useful virtues, which enjoins kindness and benevolence and purity and harmony, which calls us away from the fleeting things of time to God and holiness as the only real chief good, and which exhibits its author as despising worldly riches and grandeur and as intent only upon the moral improvement of the human race in order to their qualification for happiness in a future state of existence; a religion, thus characterized (and such is the religion of Christ), instinctively approves itself to every well regulated mind, as evinced by internal evidence to be indeed a religion worthy of and proceeding from the pure and beneficent Creator of the universe. To believe at once with the infidel, though from directly conflicting internal evidence, that Odin and Cozibą and Mohammed and Christ are alike impostors, argues as much want of clear reasoning, as it does abundance of blind credulity.
II. I have been led, in some measure, to anticipate the second particular which I purposed to notice; the spirit and genius of the Christian religion: it is needless for me to remark further on its purity and its benignity, its heavenly-mindedness and its divine sharity: the character of its author could not be adequately discussed, if these topics were omitted. Avoiding, therefore, needless repetition, I shall consider Christianity, in contrast with allowed impostures, only so far as regards its honesty and its disinterestedness,