Imatges de pÓgina



and concentrating the scattered rays of light which these wanderings about the home of our Lord have struck out?

Perhaps; at any rate, we can try, and without the slightest apprehension that the record may prove a forgery. Every thing will be found in most perfect agreement with all ascertained facts of chronology, topography, and history. The references to time are not very numerous or significant, but they agree most beautifully with the assumed age of our Lord's advent. When there is occasion to allude to matters in which this idea is involved, it is done with the utmost simplicity and naturalness. As an example-one of many equally pertinent-take the demand about the tribute-money, and the answer of Jesus, Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's. We have examined the "image and superscription" of this Roman penny on the very spot where the tax-gatherer sat, and with the evidences scattered all around us that these lordly Romans were actually here. History, the treasured coin, and these prostrate ruins, unite in proving that the teacher Jesus, the caviling Pharisees, and the tax-gathering Romans were all here, and the entire incident is admirably illustrated and confirmed.

The references to topography are very numerous and entirely satisfactory. We need only mention Nazareth, and Cana, and Capernaum, and Chorazin, and Bethsaida, and the regions around this lake. Every thing is natural, and in accordance with ascertained facts, even to the omission of this city of Tiberias in the list of places visited by our Lord. There is also a sort of verbal accuracy at times which is always pleasant to meet. Thus Jesus is said to go down from Cana to Capernaum, and we now know that the latter place is not only the lowest, but actually six hundred feet lower than the Mediterranean Sea. And so, also, in the appeal to "a city set on a hill:" if he pointed to Safed, as he probably did, nothing could be more emphatic. This town is seen from an immense distance, and can not be hid. And if not Safed, there are many other towns all about the region where the remark was made, and a reference to any one of them was perfectly natural and emphatic.

The allusions to manners and customs are still more numerous than those to the topography of the land, and they agree most perfectly with the supposed age of the world and character of the people. It is implied in almost countless ways that those with whom our Lord associated on these shores were accustomed to out-door life. They meet on the mountain to hear him preach; they follow him into a desert place of Bethsaida to be fed; they spend whole days there without any apparent provision for either shelter, sleep, or food; they are found in the open court of houses or on the shore of the lake at all times, etc., etc. Now all the specifications are here, just as they should be-the mountain, the desert place, the shore, the open court, the climate so warm as to lead the people into the open air, the present habits of the people-every thing in exact accord with the Gospel narratives. The inhabitants not only go forth into the country as represented in the New Testament, but they remain there, and sleep in the open air, if occasion require, without the slightest inconvenience. Again, the incidental mention of women and children in the great assemblies gathered around Jesus is true to Oriental life, strange as it may appear to those who read so much about female seclusion in the East. In the great gatherings of this day, at funerals, weddings, festas, and fairs, women and children often constitute the largest portion of the assemblies. I have seen hundreds of these gatherings in the open air; and should a prophet now arise with a tithe of the celebrity of Jesus of Nazareth, there would quickly be immense assemblies about him "from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judæa, and from beyond Jordan." Bad, and stupid, and ignorant, and worldly as the people are, their attention would be instantly arrested by the voice of a prophet, and they would flock from all parts to see, hear, and be healed. There is an irresistible bias in Orientals of all religions to run after the mere shadow of a prophet or a miracle-worker. A grand fraud was enacted in Lebanon a few years ago, in order to raise the wind to build a church. The water that burst out while the workmen were digging the foundation,


it was published abroad, would restore the blind to sight, and quickly multitudes of these unfortunate people, from all parts of Palestine and Syria, and even ship-loads from Egypt, hastened to the spot, to bathe their sore or sightless balls in the wonder-working water. I myself saw long files. of blind leading the blind, marching slowly and painfully on toward the blessed stream, and it was not until great suffering and loss that the insane multitude could be restrained from making the worse than useless pilgrimage. Such are Orientals of this day; and to know what was the character, in these respects, of those to whom Christ preached, we need only study that of the people around us. In nothing does the East of this day throw more light upon New Testament history than just on this point, and it is certainly one of much importance.


Instructions addressed to such a people, assembled in the open country or on the sea-side, would naturally, almost necessarily, abound in illustrations drawn from country life and from surrounding objects. No others would so seize upon their attention, be so readily comprehended, or so tenaciously remembered. Accordingly, we hear the divine Teacher exclaim at Shechem, "Lift up your eyes to the fields, already white to the harvest. Pray ye the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into the fields." Thus, too, He speaks of the vineyards; of the good branches purged; of the dry ones gathered for the fire; of the penny-a-day laborers standing in the market waiting to be hired, and of their receiving their wages at the close of each day. Such things as these we now see constantly, daily, and to the minutest. shade of verbal accuracy. Again, the sparrows that chatter on every man's house teach lessons of filial trust in the providential care of our heavenly Father, and lilies more gloriously arrayed than Solomon rebuke undue solicitude as to wherewithal we shall be clothed. Then we have the leaven and its lesson; the mustard-seed, with its prophetic promise to the Church; the sower's four sorts of soil, and their diverse results; the good seed, and the tares of the enemy; the fig-tree, with its promise of spring, and its threatenings

to the fruitless. Or, descending from the land to the lake, we have the fishermen, their ships, their nets, and their occupation, so suggestive to apostles and preachers who must be fishers of men. We need not enlarge this list; every

reader of the New Testament can add to it from his own recollection; but it is important to remark that all these allusions are perfectly natural and appropriate to the country, the people, the Teacher, the age, and every other circumstance mentioned or implied in the evangelical narratives. We have the originals still before us. The teachings and illustrations of our Lord would have been out of place in any other country except this. They could not have been uttered any where else.

There is one aspect of Christ's character, and one class of allusions in his public teaching which deserves special consideration. Our Lord was most emphatically a religious teacher and reformer, and, of course, we expect to find constant reference to the manners and morals, the superstitious and religious ceremonies of the people; and so there is, and with wonderful correspondence to the existing state of things in this same land. Contemplate, then, the man Jesus, the Teacher, the Reformer, as he stood on the shores of this lake eighteen hundred years ago. Who and what was he to the men of that age? He was a Jew. But what was it to be an ordinary Jew of Nazareth in the year thirty of our era? In very many respects, just what it is to be one now in this Tiberias or in Safed-to be intensely and most offensively fanatical to regard one's self as pre-eminently holy, the special favorite of God, and to despise all others to be amazingly superstitious-to hold obstinately, and defend fiercely an infinite number of silly traditions and puerile fables-to fritter away the whole life and power of religion in a rigid observance of trifling ceremonies. The common Jew of Tiberias is self-righteous, proud, ignorant, rude, quarrelsome, hypocritical, dishonest, selfish, avaricious, immoral, and such, in the main, were his ancestors eighteen centuries ago. We know this, not so much from the New Testament as from Josephus, that special pleader and grand apologist for his nation.



Now here is a problem for the skeptic, How comes it that there is nothing of this Jew in Jesus? How could "the model "-ay, the perfect pattern for all ages and all lands -how, I say, could he grow, develop, and mature in Nazareth? Who taught him the maxims of the sermon on the mount? Whose example of charity, kindness, and compassion did he copy? How did he alone, of all Jews, nay, of all mankind, conceive, propound, and practice perfectly a purely spiritual religion? That he did all this is undeniable, and it is for those who find in Jesus of Nazareth nothing but a common Jew to explain the wonderful phe


Again, Jesus grew up from his youth to manhood among a people intensely mercenary. This vice corrupted and debased every relation of life. Here, again, Josephus not only agrees with the writers of the New Testament, but goes far beyond them. We can fill up the outlines of his picture from the every-day life and manners of the people about us. Every body trades, speculates, cheats. The shepherdboy on the mountains talks of piastres from morning to night; so does the muleteer on the road, the farmer in the field, the artisan in his shop, the merchant in his magazine, the pasha in his palace, the kady in the hall of judgment, the mullah in the mosque, the monk, the priest, the bishop -money, money, money! the desire of every heart, the theme of every discourse, the end of every aim. Every thing, too, is bought and sold. Each prayer has its price, every sin its tariff. Nothing for nothing, but every thing for money at the counter of the merchant, the divan of the judge, the gate of the palace, the altar of the priest. Now our Lord was an Oriental, and grew up among just such a people; but who can or dare say that there is the faintest shadow of this mercenary spirit in his character? With uncontrolled power to possess all, he owned nothing. He had no place to be born in but another man's stable, no closet to pray in but the wilderness, no place to die but on the cross of an enemy, and no grave but one lent by a friend. At his death he had absolutely nothing to bequeath to his

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