Imatges de pÓgina
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justifying to a certain point the obstinacy of the people to whom these oracles were given.

How indeed could these be conceived, before the event had so well justified it in the person of Jesus, son of Mary? How, I say, could there be conceived an intelligence in some sort divine and human together; a being both great and lovely, triumphing over the Devil, yet tempted and carried away by that infernal spirit, that prince of the powers of the air, and made to travel in spite of himself; at once master and servant, king and subject, sacrificer and victim, mortal and immortal, rich and poor, a glorious conqueror, whose reign shall have no end, who is to subdue all nature by prodigies, and yet a man of sorrows, without the conveniences, often without the absolute necessaries of this life, of which he calls himself king; and that he comes, covered with glory and honour, terminating a life of innocence and wretchedness, of incessant crosses and contradictions, by a death alike shameful and cruel, finding in this very humiliation, this extraordinary abasement, the source of an unparalleled elevation, which raises him to the summit of glory, power, and felicity; that is, to the rank of the first of creatures?

All christians agree in finding these characteristics, apparently so incompatible, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, whom they call the Christ:' his followers gave

him this title by eminence, not that he had been anointed in a sensible and material manner, as some kings, prophets, and sacrificers anciently were, but because the divine spirit had designated him for those great offices, and he had received the spiritual unction necessary thereunto.

* We had proceeded thus far on so competent an article, when a Dutch preacher, more celebrated for this discovery than for the indifferent productions of a genius otherwise feeble and ill-informed, showed to us that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah of God, was anointed at the three grand periods of his life, as our king, our prophet, and our sacrificer.

* The passage from this asterisk to the following one, concerning the Dutch preacher, was suppressed in the Dictionaries, because it was considered extraneous.

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At the time of his baptism, the voice of the sovereign master of nature declared him to be his son, his only, his well-beloved son, and for that very reason his representative.

When on Mount Tabor he was transfigured and associated with Moses and Elias, the same supernatural voice announces him to humanity as the son of him who loves and who sends the prophets ; as him who is to be hearkened to in preference to all others.

In Gethsemané, an angel comes down from heaven to support him in the extreme anguish occasioned by the approach of his torments, and strengthen him against the terrible apprehensions of a death which he cannot avoid, and enable him to become a sacrificer the more excellent, as himself is the pure and innocent victim that he is about to offer.

The judicious Dutch preacher, a disciple of the illustrious Cocceius, finds the sacramental oil of these different celestial unctions in the visible signs which the power of God caused to appear on his anointed; in his baptism, the shadow of the dove,' representing the Holy Ghost coming down from him ;-on Tabor, the miraculous cloud, which enveloped him ;-in Gethsemané, the bloody sweat,' which covered his whole body.

After this, it would indeed be the heighth of incredulity not to recognise by these marks the Lord's Anointed by eminence—the promised Messiah; nor doubtless could we sufficiently deplore the inconceivable blindness of the Jewish people, but that it was part of the plan of God's infinite wisdom, and was, in his merciful views, essential to the accomplishment of his work and the salvation of humanity.

But it must also be acknowledged, that in the state of oppression in which the Jewish people were groaning, and after all the glorious promises which the Eternal had so often made them, they must have longed for the coming of a Messiah, and looked towards it as the period of their happy deliverance; and that they are therefore in some sort excusable for not having recognised a deliverer in the person of the Lord Jesus, since it is in man's nature to care more for the body than for the spirit, and to be more sensible to present wants than flattered by advantages 'to come,' and for that very reason, always uncertain.

It must indeed be believed, that Abraham, and after him a very small number of patriarchs and prophets, were capable of forming an idea of the nature of the spiritual reign of the Messiah ; but these ideas would necessarily be limited to the narrow circle of the inspired : and it is not astonishing that, being unknown to the multitude, these notions were so far altered that, when the Saviour appeared in Judea, the people, their doctors, and even their princes, expected a monarch

2-a conqueror-who, by the rapidity of his conquests, was to subdue the whole world. And how could these flattering ideas be reconciled with the abject and apparently miserable condition of Jesus Christ? So, feeling scandalised by his announcing himself as the Messiah, they persecuted him, rejected him, and put him to the most ignominious death. Having since then found nothing tending to the fulfilment of their oracles, and being unwilling to renounce them, they indulge in all sorts of ideas, each one more chimerical than the one preceding.

Thus, when they beheld the triumphs of the christian religion, and found that most of their ancient oracles might be explained spiritually, and applied to Jesus Christ, they thought proper, against the opinion of their fathers, to deny that the passages which we allege against them are to be understood of the Messiah, thus torturing our holy scriptures to their own loss.

Some of them maintain, that their oracles have been misunderstood; that it is in vain to long for the coming of a Messiah, since he has already come in the person of Ezechias. Such was the opinion of the famous Hillel. Others more lax, or politely yielding to times and circumstances, assert, that the belief in the coming of the Messiah is not a fundamental article of faith, and that the denying this dogma either does not injure the integrity of the law, or injurés it but slightly. Thus the Jew Albo said to the pope, that “to deny the coming of the Messiah was only to cut off a branch of the tree, without touching the root.”

The celebrated rabbi, Solomon Jarchi or Raschi, who lived at the commencement of the twelfth century, says, in his Talmudes, that the ancient Hebrews believed the Messiah to have been born on the day of the last destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies. This is indeed calling in the physician when the man is dead.

The rabbi Kimchi, who also lived in the twelfth century, announced that the Messiah, whose coming he believed to be very near, would drive the christians out of Judea, which was then in their possession; and it is true that the christians lost the Holy Land: but it was Saladin who vanquished them. Had that conqueror but protected the Jews, and declared for them, it is not unlikely that in their enthusiasm they would have made him their Messiah.

Sacred writers, and our Lord Jesus himself, often compare the reign of the Messiah and eternal beatitude to a nuptial festival or a banquet; but the Talmudists have strangely abused these parables: according to them, the Messiah will give to his people, assembled in the land of Canaan, a repast in which the wine will be that which was made by Adam himself in the terrestrial paradise, and which is kept dry, in vast cellars, by the angels at the centre of the earth.

At the first course will be served up the famous fish called the great Leviathan, which swallows up at once a smaller fish, which smaller fish is nevertheless three hundred leagues long: the whole mass of the waters is laid upon Leviathan. In the beginning, God created a male and a female of this fish; but lest they should overturn the land, and fill the world with their kind, God killed the female, and salted her for the Messiah's feast.

The rabbis add, that there will also be killed for this repast the bull Behemoth, which is so large, that he eats each day the hay from a thousand mountains. The female of this buil was killed in the beginning of the world, that so prodigious a species might not multiply, since this could only have injured the other creatures : but they assure us that the Eternal did not salt her, because dried cow is not so good as sheLeviathan, The Jews still put such faith in these rabbinical reveries, that they often swear by their share of the bull Behemoth, as some impious christians swear by their share of paradise.

After such gross ideas of the coming of the Messiah, and of his reign, is it astonishing that the Jews, ancient as well as modern, and also some of the primitive christians unhappily tinctured with all these reveries, could not elevate themselves to the idea of the divine nature of the Lord's Anointed, and did not consider the Messiah as God ? Observe how the Jews express themselves on this point in the work entitled “Judæi Lusitani Quæstiones ad Christianos.'-" To acknowledge a God-man,” say they, “is to abuse your own reason, to make to yourself a monster-a centaur—the strange compound of two natures which cannot coalesce."* They add, that the prophets do not teach that the Messiah is God-man; that they expressly distinguish between God and David, declaring the former to be master, the latter servant, &c.

When the Saviour appeared, the prophecies, though clear, were unfortunately obscured by the prejudices imbibed even at the mother's breast. Jesus Christ himself, either from deference towards, or for fear of shocking the public opinion, seems to have been very reserved concerning his divinity. “He wished,” says St. Chrysostom, “ insensibly to accustom his auditors to the belief of a mystery so far above their reason. If he takes upon him the authority of a God, by pardoning sin, this action raises up against him all who are witnesses of it. His most evident miracles cannot even convince of his divinity those in whose favour they are worked. When, before the tribunal of the sovereign sacrificer, he acknowledges, by a modest intimation, that he is the son of God, the high-priest tears his robe, and cries, Blasphemy! Before the sending

* Quæst. i. ii. iv. xxiii. &c.

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