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the contrary, would have been hurtful to such unbelievers that it tended to defeat the design and success of Christ's ministry, by narrowing the sphere, or shortening the term of it--that, lastly and chiefly, it was unreasonable in itself, and contrary to the general scheme and order of God's moral government.
Let no man then abuse himself with foolish imaginations, as if Christ was wànting in that which became his office and mission; still less, as if he acted from any caprice, or unconcern for the souls of men, in not forcing their belief; but least of all, as if his pretensions had any thing to fear from the little faith of those to whom he addressed himself, and could only prevail with the weak and credulous, with those who were unable or indisposed to scrutinize his miracles. Even this last insinuation has been made, not only without grounds, but against the fullest evidence; the miracles of Jesus having been numerous, public, illustrious, and even acknowledged, at ast not convicted of imposture, by his bitterest enemies, by those who were most active and most able to examine into the truth and reality of them.
With regard to the miracles in question, let us be so ingenuous as to confess, that, if these
were necessary to announce his office and character to the men of Nazareth, more than these were unnecessary, and that their unbelief affords the best grounds to conclude, that they
Consider too, that, if no reasons had occurred to us for this conduct, it could not certainly appear that it was unreasonable, . When we know, in fact, what the method of God's dealing with mankind has been, in any instance, we may be able perhaps to discern good reasons for it. But we can seldom affirm with any shew of reason, from any preconceptions or general speculations of our own, what it should or must be. Here we are manifestly out of our depth, and cannot stir a step without the hazard of absurdity or impiety.
If we have reason to admit the divine authority of our Religion, whatever conduct it ascribes to Jesus, must be fit and right, however impenetrable to us. If we admit it not, our concern is to see that we have reason for not admitting it. This matter is to be tried by the evidence given of that authority only, I mean by the external proofs, and historic testimony, on which it rests. When this is done, no slight cavils of reason, no fanciful suspicions, no plausible objections, nor any thing else but the most obvious contradiction in something it asserts to the clearest dictates of the human understanding (which no man has ever yet found) can possibly shake, or so much as affect, that authority.
In the present case, we have seen how entirely groundless the objection is to Christ's conduct at Nazareth. But if this objection could not have been answered, nothing had followed but a conviction of our ignorance. It might still be true (as we now see it to be), that Jesus acted agreeably to his divine character in not doing many miracles before the people of Nazareth, because of their unbelief
We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the
consider these words, either as an admonition to the ministers of the Gospel, To preach not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; or simply as a fact, which St. Paul asserts of himself and the other Apostles, That they preached not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.
In either sense, the words are instructive; but I take them in the latter sense, only. I would confirm and illustrate this assumed fact: and then employ it as a medium to prove
divine authority of the sacred writings. If it be true, that the Apostles preached not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, it will, perhaps, be seen to follow, That therefore they preached not from their own private suggestions, but by the direction of the Spirit
The assertion of the Text is, indeed, general, and to this effect, “ That a number of persons, who were employed to convert the world to the Religion of Jesus, did, in the tenour of their lives and the course of their ministry, pay no regard to their own interests of any kind, and were only intent on the due discharge of their commission.”
But the subject, in that extent, is too large for a discourse of this nature. What I would offer to your consideration, is ONE SINGLE INSTANCE of that indifference which the Apostles shewed to their own interests, I mean, Their total disregard of human applause in preaching the Gospel.
In this restrained sense of the words, men may be said to preach themselves, in two respects: When they shew a solicitude to set themselves forth with advantage: 1. as to their MORAL character. And 2. as to their INTELLEC