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ancient history more circumstan- seems to have been a thing genetially, minutely and faithfully rally expected by the Christians. transmitted to us, than that of Were then these Epistles writthe Jewish war predicted by the ten after the destruction of JeruMessiah. Is there no providence salem ? If not, whence did the in this ?
writers or the Christians in geneWill any objector ask, –Might ral, derive the idea of the tremennot the prediction have been dous calamities which were at written after the event? We an- hand ? Need it be repeated, that swer; on as good ground as the whole voice of antiquity reyou believe that Jerusalem was pecting the Epistles, concurs in destroyed when it was, or that it assigning them a date prior to the was destroyed at all, you may ruin of Jerusalem? Need the unbelieve that the prediction pre- believer be chailenged to point ceded the event. The question out a single word, clause, or pasin short comes to this, Is any sage in the gospels, from which thing recorded in ancient history it can be reasonably inferred, worthy of being credited ? that they were written after the
I ask then, whether you believe predicted events took place. that those books of the New Had they been written subseTestament, called the gospels, of quent to the events, would there Matthew, Mark and Luke, were not probably have been some written by the men whose names specification of names and dates ? they bear ? If you say you do Is there any thing in the comnot; I must ask the reason : plexion of these historians from Why are they not as likely to be beginning to end, which has even genuine,as the history of Tacitus, the appearance of cunning or imor any other writer of that age? posture, or of any thing but unriTill some answer can be given to valled simplicity ? this question, may it not be taken Once more ; Suppose the profor granted, that the books were phecy to have been fabricated written by the reputed authors, after the event. By whom was and before the destruction of Je- it done? It must surely have rusalem ? Matthew was one of been done by a Christian. But the twelve apostles, and there is in it there are admonitions of abundant evidence that all the Christ to his disciples, to save apostles died before Jerusalem themselves by flight. The Chriswas destroyed, except John; and tians, when the siege approached, it is truly remarkable, that the either did make their escape, or only apostle who could have for- they did not. If they did, they ged the prediction after the event, must have bad the prophecy has not recorded it at all.
among them; for the event was It may also be observed, that sudden and unexpected to the in the Epistles contained in the nation. If the Christians did not New Testament, there are plain make their escape, let me ask, allusions or references to such would any intelligent Christian, an event, as approaching. It in writing for Christians a history
of their master, have been so ab- gard them, were either ignorant of gurd as to insert admonitions as them, or bad treated them with delivered by him to them, of neglect ? which they had made no use The subject is too important when the occasion occurred ? to be thus dismissed.
me reWould he have fabricated these flections on the prophecy itself, admonitions, when facts had al- and on the principal event foretold, ready proved, that those who were may be expected in subsequent most concerned to know and re- numbers.
WHY WAS JESUS CHRIST PERSECUTED ?
It is an interesting question, forms of worship which were conWhy was Christ persecuted ? fined to theraselves, and, through By what conduct, and what doc- an excessive and arrogant estitrines, did he awaken that unre- mation of their own distinctions lenting malignity which pursued and peculiarities, discarded the him to the cross, and even exult- obligations of general benevoed in his last pangs? The sub- lence, and severed as far as posject is important, as it throws a sible the bond which united Justre on the character of our them to the great family of manLord, and as it may correct some kind. Such were the Jews, and mistakes as to the class of his especially the Pharisees ;-and followers, to whom the honour what course did Jesus pursue? His eminentiy belongs of walking in whole ministry was one continued his steps.
testimony against their One principal cause of the row and upworthy views of God persecution of Jesus (a cause to and of his service; one continued which our remarks will now be testimony to the unbounded love confined) is to be found in the of our heavenly Father, and to enlarged, generous and liberal sen- his delight in benevolence and timents, which he communicated in charity, as the most acceptable relation to the character of God, and service which his creatures can to the nature of religion. Jesus was render him. Jesus continually sent to live and to preach in the taught, that the character of God midst of a bigoted, exclusive and is parental, that his love excensorious people, who regarded tends beyond the Jew to the GenGod as a partial being, and ex- tile, and that many shall come pected to monopolize his favour, from the east and west, the north who regarded all other nations and south, and sit down with with contempt, and ascribed to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in his the Creator the same unfriendly kingdom. He taught, that God feelings, who placed religion in prefers mercy or humanity to
sacrifice, that the noblest use of testified against their narrowness, the Sabbath is doing good, and hypocrisy, pride and bigotry, that the compassionate Samari- because he resisted their exclutan, although a worshipper on sive feelings and hopes, and in Mount Gerizim, was more his conduct and teaching, inculceptable to God than the Priest cated a liberality of sentimeut and Levite, whose superiour light altogether uncongenial with the did not guide them to charity. spirit of his age. It is true, that He taught, that the Pharisee, not- they condemned Jesus at last on withstanding his long prayers different grounds. They accusand disfigured face, was an abom- ed him before Pilate, of making ination in the sight of Heaven, be- himself a king and the Son of cause he despised and condemned God. But in this they discovothers, because he valued himself ered their characteristick hypoon his forms, and made a parade of crisy. At that very moment, saintship, whilst his heart was a they were looking with restless stranger to mercy, justice, and impatience for a distinguished the love of God. He taught personage, who would assume that God abhors ostentation, cen- these very titles, of Son of soriousness and spiritual pride, God and king of Israel, and and that the service, in which he under whose sway they hoped to most delights, consists in the ex- subvert the throne of the Cæsars; ercise of a candid and forgiving and one great objection to Jesus temper, and in modest and silent was, that he gave no countenance acts of kindness and devotion. to these views, but preferred the In one word, he taught, that God glory of founding a spiritualempire loves not a chosen few, but sent of love to God and to maukind. his son to be the Saviour of the We thus learn one principal world; that Publicans, Sinners, cause of that singular hatred with Samaritans and Gentiles are all which Jesus was pursued, his accomprehended in the offers of his tions watched, his words pervertmercy; that love of enemies and ed, his character aspersed, and his a love of peace constitute men, blood shedon the cross as if he were in the noblest sense, children and the vilest of malefactors. To the and followers of their Father in same cause we must ascribe, in a heaven; and that the reign of great degree, the persecution of the Messiah consists, not in spread- apostles. Every where the Jews ing a religion of forms, or in ex- followed these first preachers of alting a particular people, but in Christianity with clamour and diffusing through the whole earth rage, because they taught, that filial piety, humility, and charity. God was the God of the Gentiles
These generous and enlarg- as well as the Jews, that the blesed views were a principal cause sings of the Messiah were equally of the malignity and persecution, extended to all mankind, that the which fell on the head of Jesus. partition wall of the Mosaick The Elders, Rulers, Scribes and dispensation was broken down, Pharisees, hated bim because he and that love was the fulfilling
of the law, and the badge of church, and to observe that, notthe subjects of Messiah's king- withstanding the light of the gosdom.
pel, as gloomy and as dishonouraThese remarks place the cha- ble views of God have been curracter of Jesus in a peculiarly at- rent among Christians, as pretractive and exalted light. I vailed among the Jews. The know not a stronger evidence of history of the church shews us, his divine mission and sublime that the most difficult triumph of virtue, than his superiority to the Christianity is over that exclunarrow spirit of his age, and his sive spirit, which brought Jesus cheerful and 'resolute endurance Christ to the cross. Would to of scorn and outrage, in incul- God, that our own age were an cating the paternal character and exception to this truth. What a unbounded love of God, and the thick darkness at this moment glory and blessedness of charity. hangs over a large part of Chris-From these remarks we also tendom. The mild and cheering learn, to what Christians the ho- light of the gospel hardly strugnour eminently belongs of heing gles through the clouds of errour. conformed in principles, efforts The theory which is embraced by and sufferings, to Jesus and his many Christians in relation to the apostles. They are those Chris- character, government and will tians, who adhere to enlarged and of God, is truly horrible.--Do Jiberal views of God's character not some Christians believe, that and service amidst opposition God brings men into existence and persecution, who, denying wholly depraved and wholly imthemselves and taking the cross, potent, that he selects a certain hold forth in a bigoted, exclusive number, as exclusive objects of and censorious age, those great that grace which is essential to principles which exposed their salvation, and plunges the rest beloved Lord, and their eider into eternal misery, on account brethren, the apostles, to re- of sins to which they were inproach, anil violence, and death. evitably impelled by the nature
It is a melancholy truth, that which he gave them? Do not these generous views, which some Christians believe, that God were persecuted in the time of consigns to eternal flames chilChrist, have continued to be oppo- dren who die in infancy, or if he sed to the present day. But at spares them, that he still regards this we cannot wonder. The them as meriting this doom, and selfishness, pride, and timidity of spares them that they may be men all unite in leading them to trophies of his pardoning mercy ? ascribe to God partial, narrow, se
Do not some Christians believe, vere, and tyrannical principles of that the millions and millions of administration, and to disparage, the heathen world, who are born censure, hate, and persecute those, and live in the thickest darkness, by whom more liheral views are are all lying under sentence of cherished. It is melancholy to endless wo, and can only be savlook back on the history of the ed by that gospel which has never
been preached to them? Do not sionate Jesus, have placed on the some Christians believe, that God throne of Heaven, a God, under will consign to eternal tor whose dominion the universe ments every individual, however would be shrouded with a horrid unwearied in the study of the gloom, and existence become an Scriptures, who cannot recon- infinite calamity ! Such is the cile the doctrine of three persons God, whose attributes have struck in the Godhead, with the funda- terrour into multitudes of conscimental doctrine of the Divine entious believers, and from whose Unity, and who conscientiously oppressive and degrading serbelieves that the Scriptures every vice, many have fled for refuge where speak of God as one per- to infidelity, or
to infidelity, or to absolute son, even the Father ? Do not thoughtlessness on the subject of some Christians believe, that religion ? God has not given one word of It is a very interesting question, promise in the whole Bible, to What is the duty of Christians some who are acknowledged to while such darkness prevails ? be among the best men on earth, Their duty is to follow their magwhose only errour is, that they ter, in exhibiting in their lives and have been baptized by a minister, with their lips, enlarged, generous on whose head no hand of a bishop and liberal views of God and of ever rested, and have declined his service. Let them be patient submission to a discipline, which and persevering witnesses to his they sincerely believe to be un- paternal character, his unboundauthorized by the word of God ? ed love, his equitable adminisTo cònclude, do not vast num- tration, and to the superiority of bers of Christians believe, that love or charity to faith, hope, and God confines his favour to those the most burning zeal. If they who assent to this or that obscure are appointed to suffer reproach, and inexplicable dogma, about calumny, esclusion, excommuniwhich men of the greatest wis- cation, or the loss of the best dom and apparent piety have earthly blessings in making this been divided, and prepares into- good profession, let them look to lerable and endless fire and wo Jesus, who was persecuted before for all who dissent from the un- them in the same cause, and esintelligible creed?—s not such teem it an honour to be associated the God who is now worshipped with him, by a fellowship of sufby a vast number of Christians ? ferings. As affectionate children and may we not say, that accor- of God, let them lift up their ding to some of these views, he is voices against those sentiments a God of as dark and vengeful which cover him with dishonour, attributes as ever haunted the and change him from the Father, imagination of a Druid, or was into the tyrapt and scourge of his ever adored in the gloomy fo- creation. As brethren of the rests of the North ? Such is the human family, and members of God, whom many professed fol- the body of Christ, let them never lowers of the benign and compas. cease to oppose those exclusive