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said, are in expectation of the Messiah. The moment, established by their prophecies, is arrived. Wearied with the yoke of the Romans, they are ripe for a revolt. Will it be difficult to convince them I am the sovereign born to the Israelites? No. My birth, my education, the fulfilment of the predictions of the prophets, even before my birth, my talents, and my unequalled knowledge of morality, virtue, and truth, all are undoubted pledges of my success. But, then the prophecies also say, the Messiah shall be put to death; that he shall be rejected by his people; and that before his martyrdom he shall be put to the most exquisite tortures. Is it to be believed, then, let me ask, that any common man, much less one with the sublimest understanding, and the most tender nature, should have undertaken the fulfilment of a prophecy so personally disastrous?
Christ shed his blood, and gave up his life in the cause of virtue and of true religion; that he might complete his obedience, in the highest instance of submission and resignation to the will of God; and that he might obtain that honour and reward, which had been proposed and set before him, and in the hope and prospect of which he acted. His death was a vicarious propitiation.
pitiation. He had a law given him from God, and that law he fulfilled. Nor can I omit reiterating what his favourite disciple so much dwells upon, and which I cannot but consider as a strong confirmation of his religion: "he spake as never man spake," and lived as never man lived.
To insist upon the miracles relative to Christ, would be to insist upon what would have but little effect upon the minds of anti-christians, who, if they believe not the religion, will certainly give no credit to the relation of the facts. But I may be permitted to insist upon the undeniable truth, that in the history of mankind, Christ is the only founder of a religion, who has been proved to have been totally regardless of interested and selfish considerations. All others, Numa, Mahommed, and even Moses himself, blended their religious institutions with their civil, and by them obtained dominion over their respective people; but Christ neither aimed at, nor would accept of any consequence or power; he rejected every object, which all other men pursue, and made choice of all those, which all other men fly from, and are afraid of; he refused authority, riches, honour, and pleasure;
* St. John.
and courted poverty, ignominy, torture, and death. Who ever, before or after him, made his own sufferings and death a necessary part of his original plan, and fundamentally and absolutely essential to the success of his mission?
Christ did not, like the philosophers of the heathens, content himself with scholastic speculations and reasonings about virtue and religion, and then leave the noble cause to fight for itself. He did not pretend to philosophize, where he dared not undertake. But, after he had introduced and recommended his divine system to the world, and that not only by the intrinsic sublime energy of his doctrines, upon the hearts and consciences of men, but by his immaculate and exemplary life, he died a martyr in its defence, and sealed its verity with his blood. Here then, surely, I might put the authority of Christ, and the credit of Christianity, to issue. Let any nation upon earth, besides Christians, make it appear, that the authors and founders of any of their several religions, did not in many instances give up the cause of virtue, to comply with the prevailing prejudices of the people, and to guard themselves in safety; nay, that they did not intermix and blend the grossest absurdities in belief, with the grossest
grossest immoralities in practice; let them do this, and the name of Christ shall stoop to give place to any other name under heaven, that can plead a better title to the universal honour, love, and veneration of our species.
OBJECTIONS against the evidences of Christianity are undoubtedly entitled to consideration, nor can they too seriously, or too candidly, be examined. For instance, it is asked, is the Christian religion contained in the books of the Old Testament, or did Moses and the prophets understand and teach the revealed doctrines of Christianity? No, I know it is answered, not clearly, explicitly, and literally; but darkly, obscurely, and under types and shadows. Literal Judaism was figurative Christianity; and literal Christianity is mystical Judaism; the letter of the law was the type of the gospel; and the letter of the gospel is the spirit of the law; the law was the gospel veiled; and the gospel is the law unveiled, and brightly illuminated. Moses was the shadow of Christ, and Christ is the substance of Moses. Now this forced and obscure method of harmonizing the law and the gospel, or the Old Testament and the New; together with a vast variety of other conceits, which confound common sense, and bewilder