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In answer to this charge, I think it fufficient to refer to the obfervations of Lord Lyttleton on this paffage. Vid. his Converfion of St. Paul, from p. 151 to 153.
It is alledged as a strong inftance, to fhew that Christian faith is founded on immediate inspiration and infused evidence alone, that when our Lord faid to St. Matthew, follow me, "immediately he left all and followed him.”
"It would furely feem ftrange, (fays the * advancer of this objection) humanly confidered, to fee him thus deferting a "beneficial employment, for he knew not whom, at a word's "fpeaking" as if it were in any degree probable that St. Matthew, who refided at Capernaum, which was the place of our Lord's general refidence, as well as that of many of his difciples, and the scene of many of his most distingnished miracles, fhould not know who our Lord was. He had healed there, before this call, the Centurion's fon, Matth. viii.—and very fhortly before, the paralytic, who was let down through the roof, our Lord was furrounded by fuch multitudes. But, fays this author, † "it is likely if what he had feen before had "had that good effect upon him, as to difpofe him to difciple"fhip, he would have had the merit of engaging voluntarily "in the fervice, without waiting for a particular addrefs." What a likelihood is this was it then in St. Matthew's ! power to choose whether he should become the select follower, the intimate friend, the confidential minifter, of our Lord? and would it have been decorous to obtrude himself, unasked, into fuch a fituation? or, on the other hand, when a teacher, who had fo fully proved his divine character, invited him to this facred function, was it unreasonable to obey the gracious call?
P. 140. The character and conduct of Chrift "Jefus; without attempting to delineate all the features of this confummate character, &c."
Such a minute vindication of our Lord's character feems the lefs neceffary, as a number of writers have pointed out its spotlefs perfection, by the greateft variety of arguments; and though
Vid. Chriftianity not founded on argument, p. 65.
perhaps no one of them has confined himself ftrictly to the fubject of enthufiafm, yet almoft any one, fuggefts abundant proofs of our Saviour's total freedom from any fuch weakness -particularly Duchal, in the admirable difcourfes on our Saviour's character, with which he begins his prefumptive arguments for the Truth of the Chriftian Religion, printed in Lon don, 1753. Macknight in his Truth of the Gospel History, Lond. 1733, b. 1, chap. iii. and iv. Bishop Law in his Reflections on the Life and Character of Christ, annexed to his Theory of Religion. Dr. Randolph in his View of our Saviour's Ministry, and particularly Primate Newcome, in his Obfervations on our Lord's Conduct and Character; who has enumerated the different writers who preceded him on this fubject, while his own work fupplies fuch copious information as will, in all probability, fatisfy the ferious enquirer.
Should my young readers wish to collect from Dr. Newcome's work, at one view, the parts that most immediately relate to this circumftance in our Lord's character, they will be affifted by the following references; they will find the nature of his doctrines explained in part 1, chap. i. the fix firft fections; the reasonableness of his precepts vindicated, part 1, chap. ii.; his caution and referve in afferting his Meffiahfhip juftified, part 1, chap. ii. fect. 3; and to confine ourselves to these virtues which are more immediately connected with this subject, they will find his juftice illuftrated in part 2, chap. i. fect. 4,
His temperance, part 2, chap. i. fect. 5.
His meeknefs, Ib.
fect. 6. fect. 7.
His humility, Ib.
His refpect for civil and
And above all, his con-
If they perufe these fections with care, and add the recapitulation of our Lord's character, in part 2, chap. i. the 14th fection, with the confirmation of the whole, derived from the teftimony borne to it by enemies, adduced in book 2, chap. ii. and from the artlefs and impartial manner of the evangelists, illuftrated in chap. iii. of the fame work, they cannot, I think, but receive the fulleft conviction, that the divine Jefus was to
tally free from every symptom of enthusiasm, and adorned with that perfect wisdom and fober dignity which became the teacher of righteousness and the Son of God.
P. 196." I say the truth in Christ Jesus; I lie "not; my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy "Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual forrow in my heart; for I could wish that I myself
were accurfed from Chrift for my brethren."
The commentators on this paffage (Rom. ix. 3.) labour to qualify and to foften this exclamation; I confefs I fee not the neceffity of doing fo-such a wish could never be conceived as made deliberately and seriously, because it implies an impoffibility which it would be repugnant to the attributes of God to fuffer, and therefore it would be impious seriously to wish. It seems to me nothing more than a natural though bold hyperbole, burfting forth from the apoftle, whofe quick fenfibility diftreffed at the idea of the rejection of his countrymen, which he was under the neceffity of announcing, labours to find the strongest terms for expreffing his ardent affection for them, and his grief at this rejection. An hyperbole almost as strong occurs, when the apoftle (Gal. i. 8.) anxious to imprefs upon the Galatians the danger of apostatizing from the truth of the gofpel, and the guilt of those who should attempt to feduce them, exclaims, "though we, or an angel from heaven, preach
any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached "unto you, let him be accursed." Surely this does not imply that the apostle seriously thought it poffible that he himself or an angel from heaven fhould preach contrary to the gospel he delivered them. Perhaps this hyperbole was fuggefted to the apostle by the paffage, Exod. xxxii. 32. when Mofes wishes to be blotted out of the book of God, rather than that the Ifraelites fhould not be forgiven their fin. Whoever wishes to fee other interpretations may confult Locke and Macknight in Loc. and Witfius's Differtation upon it in the fecond volume of his Mifcellanea Sacra; and especially a fermon on this text, preached before the univerfity of Oxford, by Dr. James Bandinell, annexed to his fermons preached at Bampton's lecture in the year 1780, Oxford, 1780.
Obfervations on the chief objections made to the morality of the gospel, as being extravagant and fanatical.
In the preface it has been fhewn in what ftrong terms the morality of the gospel has been accused of fanaticism; and in the 6th chapter, those characters have been pointed out which feem most decidedly contrary to such a spirit-characters which, it is hoped, will vindicate it from this accufation. It would be extremely tedious to quote all the texts which have been overstrained or misrepresented by the mistaken friends, or the prejudiced enemies of Christianity, fo as to afford pretexts for this imputation, and it is fcarcely poffible to interpret doubtful or obfcure paffages of fcripture without an immediate comparison with the original context; commentators must therefore be reforted to for the explanation of particular texts. It may be fufficient here to enumerate the general grounds on which this accufation has been fupported, hinting at the answers which may be made and referring to authors, where fuch queftions will be found fatisfactorily difcuffed.
The first pretext is derived from the strong terms in which the writers of the New Testament speak of the little value which is to be set on the things of this world, or the severity with which they condemn them, and enjoin men to look to the favour of God, and the rewards of another life, as the great, nay, almoft the fole object worth their attention. *Love not the "world, neither the things of the world." "Take no
thought (it fhould be no anxious thought) for to-morrow, "what ye fhall eat or what ye fhall drink, or wherewithal ye "fhall be clothed; whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever "ye do, do all to the glory of God: the friendship of the "world is enmity with God." Thefe, and fuch paffages as thefe, are adduced to fhew that Chriftianity inculcates a fcheme of morality wholly impracticable and enthufiaftic, inconfiftent with the feelings of human nature, and the business of human life. On this charge it may be observed, that it is most certain Christianity does not give any reasonable ground to fuppofe that
1 John ii. 15.
Matt. vi. 31.
1 Cor x. 31. S James iv. 4. it
it encourages men to * forfake the neceffary business, or the ufeful relations of human life; that it supposes the stations of hufband, and wife, and children; of masters and servants, of rulers and fubjects, of rich and poor, of teachers and learners; and that it gives fuch rules for human conduct in all these different fituations, as require strict integrity, active benevolence, unaffuming humility, patience and refignation; in short, every quality which tends to promote the happiness of the individual, and the welfare of fociety; rules, which if practifed, would make the whole world a fcene of virtue, piety, and peace.
It is equally certain that † industry, attention to the interefts of those with whom we are connected, or for whom we are concerned, far from being prohibited or discountenanced, are recommended, and even enjoined. It may in the next place eafily be fhewn, that those paffages which feem most strongly to condemn the world, the things of the world, and the cares of the world, mean only to condemn the ‡ fordid pursuits, and vicious pleasures, and exceffive love of the world; to condemn fenfuality, ambition, covetousness, extreme folicitude, repining at the difpenfations, and diftrufting the providence of God. But while we vindicate the gofpel from fuch mifinterpretations as would pervert its exalted, but rational precepts, into fanatical rants, we must never forget that its precepts, and its motives are really f exalted, far exalted above the general ideas, and general practice of mankind. That it proposes the fear and the love of God as the leading principles of action, to which every other motive must be subordinate, and by which every action ought to be controuled. That these facred principles are not to confine their operations to occafional prayers, to a temporary and tranfitory influence in the church or the clofet, but
* Vid. Supra, p. 94, 95, and compare Rom. xii. xiii. and xv. chapters. Gal. v. and vi. Col. iii. and iv. 1 Tim. iii. and iv. v. and vi. Titus ii. and iii. How admirably the principles and precepts of Christianity may be applied to illustrate and enforce the different duties of every rank of life, confult Gisborne's Excellent Enquiry into these Duties paffim; his Conclufion on the Truth of Christianity, is peculiarly worthy attention.
+ Vid. fupra, p. 95, 96-101.
Vid. Maclaine's Letters to Soame Jenyns, Letter 4th.
S Vid. Mr. Wilberforce's excellent View of Profeffed Christianity, contrasted with real Christianity, particularly chap. iv, v. and vii.