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world. What was there in either institution, that could deliver men from all doubt and uncertainty about their future condition, or that could disarm and
the universal guilt of mankind
Let this then admonish us of what, from its familiarity, we are, now, so prone to forget, the importance, which characterized the doctrine of Jesus.
The extraordinary nature of it equally appears; but will further and chiefly be seen, if we attend to the means, by which this supreme blessing is said to be conveyed, and effected.
That a divine person, divine in the highest sense of the word, should descend from heaven and take our nature upon him; the Heir of all things b should be content to appear in the form of a servante; and, having life in himselfd, should chuse to suffer death ; that, by this astonishing humiliation, he should pro
propose to effect an end, equally astonishing, The salvation of a ruined world; that, being without sin himself, he should offer himself a sacria fice for sin; that in virtue of his all-atoning death, he should undertake to abolish death, and open
b Heb. i. 2.
*e Phil.ii. 7.
John v. 26.
the gates of eternal life to the whole race of mortal man; that, in this way, he should assume to be our Wisdom and Righteousness, our Sanctification and Redemptione; These are the great things of which Christ spake ; these the amazing topics with which he Billed his discourses. And must we not conclude, that he spake as never man spake ? I do not, at present, urge the accomplishment of all these wonders. That is a distinct consideration. But it must be allowed, that he spake in this tone, and to this effect. And did ever any man before him utter such things ? Did it ever enter into the heart of man to conceive such things ? which surely are enough to arrest our attention ; to turn our thoughts on the evidence, with which they are accompanied; and, till we admit the force of that evidence, to convince us, at least, that such a speaker as this, is eminently distinguished from all other speakers, that ever addressed themselves to mankind. He discovered, on other occasions, no defect of mind, or temper; nothing, that should lead us to suspect him of weakness, or enthusiasm ; And when such a person so
speaks, the sublime and extraordinary nature of his doctrine is no small presumption of its truth.
II. Another circumstance that distinguishes the discourses of Jesus, is the AUTHORITY, with which they were delivered. The people themselves remarked this circumstance, and were astonished at it; for he taught them, says the sacred historian, as one who had authority, and not as the Scribes f.
Interpreters differ in explaining what this authority was; but it consisted, very clearly, in these three things. 1. He taught mankind without any degree of doubt and hesitation, with the air of one who knew the truth of what he said, and was perfectly assured of all he spake. Verily, verily, I say to thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen 8.
2. He taught his great lessons of morality and religion, not as derived from the information of others, or from the dictates of his own reason, but as immediately conveyed to him from the source of light and truth, from God himself. Whatsoever I speak, even as the Father said to me, so I speak 5. 3. Lästly, He delivered his doctrine on very many occasions, as the proper author of it, as one who had a right to propose the terms of Salvation, in his own name.
f Mark i. 22.
& John üi. ll.
I say unto You—is the formulary, with which he prefaces his momentous instructions. He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day! Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of lifek. Nay, he goes so far as to assert expressly, that he hath life in himself, even as the Father hath life in himself. And though he says, at the same time, that he had this privilege given him by the Father, and though he declares, elsewhere, that as the Father had taught him, so he spake m; yet there is no contradiction in these affirmations; for he tells us expressly-- All things that the Father hath, are mine”; And I and the Father are one o.
These three circumstances, taken together, constitute the proper authority of Christ's doc
k John xii. 50.
i John vi, 40.
trine. It was the authority of one, who spake from conviction; who spake by the special appointment of God the Father, who even spake, by virtue of his own essential right, from himself, and in his own name.
Compare, now, this authoritative way of speaking, with that of the Jewish Scribes; who explained their Law, as they could, by the precarious traditions of their forefathers, and the uncertain glosses of their celebrated Doctors : Compare it with that of the Gentile Philosophers ; who quibbled, by the help of a little logick or metaphysicks, on the nature of God and the Soul; who advanced their doctrines of futurity, on the credit of an old fable, or an old song; and even delivered their moral lectures on the weak grounds of their fanciful or discordant systems; in the way of negligent speculation, or, which was worse, of altercation and dispute: Compare it, lastly, with that of all others, who, in antient or modern times, have taken upon themselves to instruct mankind; and see,
if any of these ever assumed the exalted tone, or spake with the authority of Jesus, of the. Carpenter's Son, as Julian and the followers of that school affect to call him.