« PrécédentContinuer »
the only preachers of the Gospel whom at his ascension he left behind him in the world. From his preaching they derived their own conversion, and their qualifications for the business of converting others. The existence of these preachers, since all Christians become converts by means of the truths contained in the Gospel, was absolutely necessary to the conversion of their fellow-men; and the preaching of Christ was equally necessary to the conversion of themselves.
When we remember, that in the number of the preachers of the Gospel the apostles are included, the importance of this article will appear in its proper light. To them the whole Christian world, throughout the past, present, and future ages of time, confessedly owes its redemption from spiritual darkness, and its introduction into the marvellous light' of Christ's kingdom.
But it is only indebted to them in the immediate sepse. Ultimately, this immense blessing is owing to the preaching of the Redeemer himself. The importance of his preaching, therefore, may be fairly estimated from the greatness of the blessing
6. It was necessary that Christ should preach the Gospel, for the purpose of furnishing important evidence of its divine origin.
Interesting evidence of the divine origin of the Gospel is derived from the fact, that it was preached by Christ; and that in two ways.
(1.) It cannot be rationally supposed, that a mere man, educated as he was, without any advantages beside those enjoyed by the poor people of the Jewish nation, generally, could have devised the Gospel by the strength of his own mind.
The Jews asked, with the utmost good sense, this question concerning our Saviour : How knoweth this man letters, having never learned ?' John vii. 15. The only rational answer to this inquiry is, that what they meant by letters, viz. the wisdom which he taught, he received immediately from God. It is plainly impossible, that he should have devised this wisdom, had he been ever so advantageously educated, either from the frivolous and superstitious doctrines of his countrymen, or from the vain, gross, erring, and self-contradictory philosophy of the heathen. Scarcely any thing can be imagined more unlike the Gospel of Christ, than the instruc
tions given by both these classes of men. But Christ was not thus educated. On the contrary, he was in the proper sense an unlearned man. That which he taught sprang up, therefore, originally in his own mind. But no other such mind ever appeared in this world. Nor was such wisdom ever taught here by any man, whether learned or unlearned. That it should be taught by a man unlearned, as he was, from the mere force of his own mind, is a far more improbable counteraction of those laws, which regulate and limit the nature of man, than a Revelation from God can be, of any supposable laws of nature.
(2.) Christ proved the Gospel to be from God by his life and miracles.
Christ asserted his doctrine to be derived immediately from God. To prove the truth of this assertion he wrought a multitude of wonderful miracles, and appealed to them, as decisive evidence that it was true. A miracle can be wrought by none but God; for no other being can suspend or counteract that infinite power, which is unceasingly employed in bringing events to pass, according to those which are called the laws of nature. But God cannot work a miracle to support a falsehood; for this would be no other than a declaration that the falsehood was true. The miracles of Christ therefore, were an unquestionable proof that bis Gospel is a Revelation from God.
The holiness of his life is another proof of the divine origin of the Gospel; a proof not less solid, although, perhaps, less frequently allowed its full force. No miracle is a more palpable contradiction to the laws which respect the nature of man in this world, than the perfect holiness of Christ. At the same time, this character forbids, as absurd and contemptible, the supposition, that he was capable of uttering a known falsehood.
But Christ declared that his Gospel was from God. Coming from such a person, the assertion cannot, without perfect irrationality, be called into question.
Had not these proofs of the divine origin of the Gospel been furnished by Christ, the evidence on this subject would undoubtedly stand on very different ground, and want not a little of its present strength and completeness.
7. It was necessary that Christ should preach the Gospel,
in order to the fulfilment of numerous prophecies, which foretold this part of his character.
One of these, contained in Isaiah lxi. and applied by Christ to himself, Luke iv. 18, 19, may stand in the place of all others. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the
The predictions of the Scriptures were not written merely that they might be fulfilled; but when they were written, it became indispensable that they should be fulfilled. The prophetical character of Christ was predicted, because it was an event determined on by infinite wisdom, because of its own intrinsic importance and utility to the universe, and because the prediction itself also was in many respects useful and important. After it was once written, those who hear me will, without the aid of an explanation, discern with a glance, that its fulfilment became indispensable.
For all these reasons, and some others, which we can comprehend, and undoubtedly for others which lie beyond our reach, it was necessary, that Christ should assume and execute the office of a preacher of the Gospel. It is hoped that this attempt to elucidate a subject, so interesting in itself, of such magnitude in the scheme of redemption, and yet so rarely an object of investigation, or even of attention, will not be unedifying to those persons who regard the mediation of Christ with reverence and complacency.
A PRO PH E T.
HIS PERSONAL PREACHING.
THE THINGS WHICH HE TAUGHT.
THE OFFICERS ANSWERED, NEVER MAN SPAKE LIKE THIS MAN.
JOHN VII. 46.
In the last Discourse, I proposed to consider the character of Christ as a Prophet, or, as the great Preacher of truth and righteousness, under the following heads :
I. The necessity of his preaching the Gospel :
The first of these subjects I discussed at that time. I shall now proceed to an examination of
II. The things which he taught.
In the context we are informed, that the Sanhedrim sent officers to take Christ, as he was preaching in the temple, and bring him before them. When they returned without him, they were asked by the Sanhedrim, why they had not brought him. They answered in the words of the text, - Never man spake like this man :' that is, The things which he said, and the manner in which he said them, were such as never before were exhibited by any human being.
These words were uttered by Jews, his enemies ; by officers and dependants of the Sanhedrim, his most bitter enemies; by those officers when commissioned to seize him for trial, and punishment; by those officers, therefore, when under the strongest motives to take him, as being exposed to danger and punishment, if they did not take him; and, finally, are uttered, as containing the only reason why they did not take him. All these facts teach us, that the things which Christ spoke, and the manner in which he spoke them, were singularly excellent and impressive; so excellent and impressive, as to induce these Jews to allege it, as the only reason why they had not performed their official duty. It is not easy to conceive how a more convincing testimony could have been given to the unrivalled excellency of Christ's preaching. Particularly will this appear, if we remember, that the doctrines and precepts of Christ violated all the prejudices of the human heart, especially of Jews; and that there was nothing in his manner of the kind which is usually called popular, or calculated to catch, for the moment, the applause of his audience, and produce a favourable bias towards the speaker. In the consideration of this and the following heads, we shall have opportunity to examine, in some measure, how far the things recorded of Christ will warrant us to entertain the same opinion.
Among other things taught by Christ, I shall mention, 1. The abolition of the peculiarities of the Mosaic system.
The Mosaic system consisted of three great parts, the moral, the judicial or political, and the ceremonial. All the peculiarities of this system belong to the two last; the first being in its own nature applicable to mankind generally, in all circumstances. That these peculiarities were one day to be abolished was often indicated by the prophets of the Old Testament, from the days of Moses down to those of Malachi. This seems to be sufficiently indicated by our Saviour himself, in his discourse to the disciples, going to Emmaus. Luke xxiv. 25, &c., Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them, in all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself. The things concerning Christ are here asserted to have been spoken by Moses and all the prophets : viz. his life,