« PrécédentContinuer »
if God so clothe the grass of the field, "which to day is, and to-morrow is cast into "the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith."*
III. Thirdly. Never man spake with such authority and power as Jesus of Nazareth. Former teachers advanced what they taught with much uncertainty, frequently as mere conjecture, in the way of speculation, and for the sake of debate; Jesus taught mankind without any degree of doubt and hesitation, with the air of one who knew the truth of what he said, and who was perfectly assured of all that he spake. Verily, verily I say unto thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen." Former messengers merely delivered what they had received, and spoke as coming from another. Jesus delivered his doctrine in his own name, and supported it by his own authority. I say unto you was the form in which he introduced his precepts and instructions.
The effect of his preaching corresponded with the power and energy with which he spoke. Nothing could resist his divine elo
Matthew, chap. vi. verse 25. 30.
quence. His friends were persuaded, his enemies were confounded, and all wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. In the language of ancient prophecy " he made the crooked places straight, "he broke in pieces the gates of brass and "cut in sunder the bars of iron." Very early did he give proofs of the power with which he spake; for at the age of twelve years, he reasoned with the doctors in the temple, to such effect, that all who heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. The first discourse which he delivered to the world, after entering upon his publick office, was no less effectual than sublime. "It came to pass, we are told, when "Jesus had ended these sayings, the people "were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as one having authority, and "not as the scribes."
It was the same energetick eloquence that confounded the officers who had been sent to apprehend Jesus, and drew from them the confession in the text, "that never man "spake like this man." Though armed, and invested with a legal commission they shrunk back at his discourse, and were afraid
to lay hands upon him or to do him any harm. A word or a look from him produced a much greater effect than the most eloquent discourses from the tongue of another. This we can only account for from the intimate knowledge which, as God, he had of the human character. He knew what was in man, he traced the silent current of thought as it rose in the mind; he saw the most secret designs of those with whom he conversed; he was intimately acquainted with the workings of the several passions, and how they were to be moved and actuated. And what resistance, do we imagine, could be made to a speaker who had the hearts of all men in his hands, and could turn them whithersoever he would? What effect, indeed, is still produced in the ordinary preaching of the word, when Jesus speaks by his spirit to the hearts and consciences of men? The gospel then becomes a two-edged sword, sharp and piercing, dividing between the joints and marrow, reaching to the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
I have given you but a very imperfect sketch of the superiour excellency of Jesus as But enough has been said to
render the pious and well-disposed grateful to God, who has favoured the world with so admirable an instructor. Enough has been said to make us esteem and value the Christian system, and to search the scriptures which contain the words of eternal life, the sublime doctrines of which we have been speaking. Enough has been said to make every good man reverence and obey the precepts of him, "who spoke as never man spake."
The state of humility, in which Christ appeared on earth, perfectly fitted to the discharge of his duties as a mediator, and a source of comfort and joy to his disciples.
MATTHEW, CHAP. Xiii. VERSE 55, 56:
"Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him."
A PROPHET is not without honour, save in his own country. Recollection of his early life, familiar acquaintance with his relations and friends, envy at his success, and the mean jealousy of those around him, that one taken from among themselves should form great pretensions and aspire to superiour eminence, all conspire to check his rising greatness, and to rob him of that respect to which his merits might seem to entitle him. In no instance