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But Jesus, though he had formed the mind of man, and knew every human art and science. better than the most enlightened oratour or philosopher, yet he used not the arts of eloquence and the flowers of language as necessary aids to his instruction. He spake with a simplicity, gravity, and dignity well suited to the character of the speaker, to the nature of the doctrines, and to the capacity of his hearers. He did not deliver his doctrines, at once, in an abstract, systematick manner, and then set about to explain, defend and support them. His sublime
system was not delivered in the gross, but gradually unfolded in proportion to the state of preparation in which he found the minds of his disciples or of the multitude. His sermons were not the effect of previous study, but arose from the incidents and occurrences of his life. His discourses were not delivered on set occasions, but as opportunity offered, and no opportunity did he ever neglect of instilling knowledge and heavenly wisdom into his hearers. None who wished to hear the wisdom of Jesus were ever disappointed. Many who came with a captious intention, and from motives of curiosity, went away edified and improved. No particular place was appointed for the de
He ever sought out the
livery of his instructions. He lifted up his voice in the temple and in the desert; in the city and in the field. lost sheep in his wanderings, dragged the wretched from his miserable haunt, conversed with publicans and sinners, practised every species of condescension for the benefit of mankind, and insinuated himself into the good opinion of all, that, happily, some might be gained.
The method which our Saviour generally followed in his instructions, was that of parable or allegory; in which the speaker, by an allusion to sensible objects, or by some natural story, conveys to the mind of the hearer moral and spiritual instruction. This was a method of instruction extremely common among the oriental nations, and it was attended with the peculiar advantage of impressing the truth deeply upon the mind, and of facilitating the recollection of it. What propriety, beauty and force are discernible in all the parables and allegories of Jesus! No writing, ancient or modern, can produce any thing worthy to be compared with the parable of the sower and his seed; the allegory of the marriage supper ; the histories of the prodigal son and the good
Samaritan. With Jesus no occurrence of life passed away unimproved; there was no surrounding object that did not afford him an occasion of uttering something to instruct, reprove, comfort or encourage his hearers. The lilies of the field which grew under his feet, and the birds of heaven which flew over his head, led him to remind his disciples of the paternal care and protection of their heavenly Father. The barren fig-tree led him to caution his disciples against the neglect and abuse of their talents. The different kinds of fruit, and the value put upon them, suggested to his mind that rule of equity which judges every man according to his works. When When present at the feast of the passover, he took occasion, from the objects at that time familiar to the people, to point out to them that true bread of life, and that living water, of which whosoever eateth and drinketh shall never hunger or thirst any more. The sea-side, which he often frequented, and the former employment of some of his disciples, afforded emblems, extremely fit and proper, for representing the nature of that mission on which they were sent. The great increase of so small a grain as mustardseed, suggested the rapid advancement of his
kingdom from such small beginnings as the world then saw before them, and the spreading of his doctrines to the uttermost ends of the earth.
But to multiply particular instances of this mode of teaching, would be endless. I shall only add, that, it is infinitely superiour in beauty and effect to the most studied refinement, and the most scrupulous observance of rules. A comparison will render this perfectly obvious. In discoursing of a particular providence, and the folly of anxiety about futurity, the reasoner of this world would thus address his hearers, in the terms of art and according to the rules of logick: "All anxiety about futu
rity is unnecessary and ill-founded. A wise, "omnipotent, and benevolent being will not "forget that creature to which he has been "pleased to give existence, or refuse an incon"siderable favour, after he has conferred "others so important. Is it not obvious that "the animal creation, which are incapable of
foresight, are yet provided for by the bounty "of heaven; and that many vegetable productions, which are destitute of motion, and incapable of exertion, are yet more splendidly adorned than the most lofty monarchs ?
"If such care is taken of the inferiour crea
"tures, it is a just and obvious inference that "a wise and just being, who values every thing "in proportion to its true worth, will bestow "much more attention upon the first of his "creatures on this globe."
shall eat or
All this is very fine; but it requires little skill in criticism, indeed it requires only an unprejudiced mind, to perceive its great inferiority, and its insipidity, when compared with the beautiful discourse of Jesus on the same subject: "Therefore I you, take no "thought for your life, what ye "what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, "" what ye shall put on. Is not the life more “than the meat, and the body than the rai"ment? Behold the fowls of the air; for they "sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather "into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth "them : are ye not much better than they! "Which of you by taking thought can add "one cubit unto his stature? and why take
ye thought for raiment ? Consider the lilies "of the field, how they grow; they toil not "neither do they spin; and yet I say unto
you, that even Solomon in all his glory was "not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore,