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ment of his suffering, which, though it has been fince very properly and frequently imitated, was then, I apprehend, new. His prudence is difcerned, where prudence is most wanted, in his conduct upon trying occasions, and in answers to artful questions. Of these the following are examples : His withdrawing, in various instances, from the first symptoms of tumult, and with the xpress care, as appears from St. Matthew, of conducting his ministry in quietness; his declining of every species of interference with the civil affairs of the country, which disposition is manifested by his conduct in the case of the woman caught in adultery, d and in his repulse of the application made to him, to interpose his decision about a disputed inheritance ; his judicious, yet, as it should seem, unprepared answers, will be confessed in the case of the Roman tribute, in the difficulty concerning the interfering relations of a future state, as proposed to him in the instance of a woman who had married seven brethren ;& and, more especially in his reply to those who demanded from him an explanation of the authority by which he acted, which reply confifted, in propounding a question to them, situated between the very difficulties, into which they were insidiously endeavouring to draw him."

Our Saviour's lessons, beside what already has been remarked in them, touch, and that oftentimes by very affecting representations, upon some of the most interesting topics of human duty, and of human meditation ; upon the principles, by which the decisions of the last day will be regulated, upon the superior, or rather the supreme importance of the religion, k upon penitence, by the most pressing calls, and the most encouraging invisations,' self-denial,m watchfulness," placability, confidence in God, the value of fpiritual, that is, of mental worship, the necessity of moral obedience, and the directing of that obedience to the spirit and principle of the law, instead of feeking for evasions in a technical construction of its terms."

a Luke xxiii. 34. Mat. xiv. 22. Luke v. 15, 16. John v. 13. vi. 15. c xii. 19.

f Mat. xxii. 19. d John viii. 1.

e Luke xii. 14.
& Ib. 28.
h xxi. 23. et seq.

i Mat. xxv. 31. et seq. k Mark viii. 35. Mat. vi. 31–33. Luke xii. 16, 21–4, 5. 1 John xv. m Mat. v. 29.

n Mark xiii. 37. Mat. xxiv.42-XXV. 13. o Luke xvii. 4. Mat. xviii. 33.

P Mat. V. 23-30. 9 John iv. 23. 24.

Mat. v. II.

1

If we extend our argument to other parts of the New Teftament, we may offer, as amongst the best and shortest roles of life, of, which is the same thing, descriptions of virtue, that have ever been delivered, the following passages :

“ Pure religion and undefiled, before God and the Father, is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

“ Now the end of the commandment is, charity, out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned.”

“ For the grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.”

Enumerations of virtues and vices, and those fufficiently accurate, and unquestionably just, are given by St. Paul to his converts in three several epistles.d

The relative duties of husbands and wives, of parents and children, of masters and servants, of Christian teachers and their flocks, of governors and their subjects, are set forth by the fame writer, e not indeed with the copiousness, the detail, or the distinctness, of a moralist, who should, in these days, fit down to write chapters upon the subject, but with the leading rules and principles in each ; and, above all, with truth, and with authority.

Lastly, the whole volume of the New Testament is repleto with piety ; with what were almost unknown to heathen moralists, devotional virtues, the most profound veneration of the Deity, an habitual sense of his bounty and protection, a firm confidence in the final result of his councils and dispensations, a disposition to resort, upon all occafions, to his mercy, for the supply of human wants, far aslistance in danger, for relief from pain, for the pardon of fin.

a James i. 27.

bi Tim. i. 5. d Gal. v. 19. Col. iii. 12. i Cor, xiii, vii. 5. 2 Cor. vi. 6, 7. Rom. xiii.

c Tit. ii. 11, 12.

c Eph. V. 32. vi. I.

CHAP. III.

The Candour of the Writers of the New Testament. I MAKE this candour to consist in their putting down many passages and noticing many circumstances, which no writer whatever was likely to have forged ; and which no writer would have chosen to appear in his book, who had been careful to present the story in the most unexceptionable form, or who had thought himself at liberty to carve and mould the particulars of that story, according to his choice, or according to his judgment of the effect.

A strong and well-known example of the fairness of the evangelists, offers itself in their account of Christ's resurrection, namely, in their unanimously stating, that, after he was risen, he appeared to his disciples alone. I do not mean, that they have used the exclusive word alone ; but that all the instances which they have recorded of his appearance, are instances of appearance to his disciples ; that their reasonings upon it, and allusions to it, are confined to this supposition ; and that, by one of them, Peter is made to say, “ Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead." The commonest understanding must have perceived, that the history of the resurrection would have come with more advantage, if they had related that Jesus appeared, after he was riseng to his foes as well as his friends, to the scribes and pharisees, the Jewish council, and the Roman governor ; or even if they had afferted the public appearance of Christ in general unqualified terms, without noticing, as they have done, the presence of his disciples upon each occafion and noticing it in such a manner as to lead their readers to suppose that none but disciples were present. They could have represented it one way as well as the other. And if their point had been, to have the religion believed, whether true or false; if they had fabricated the story ab initio, or if they had been disposed, either to have delivered their testimony as witnesses, or to have worked up their materials and information as historians, and in such a manner as to render their narrative as specious and unobjectionable as they could; in a word, if they had thought of any thing but of the truth of the case, as they understood and believed it ; they would, in their account of Christ's several appearances after his resurrection, at least have omitted this restriction. At this distance of time, the account as we have it, is perhaps more credible than it would have been the other

way ; because this manifestation of the historian's candour, is of more advantage to their testimony, than the difference in the circumstances of the account would have been to the nature of the evidence. But this is an effect which the evangelists would not foresee ; and I think that it was by no means the case at the time when the books were composed.

Mr. Gibbon has' argued for the genuineness of the Koran, from the confessions which it contains, to the apparent disadvantage of the Mahometan cause.a The same defence vindicates the genuineness of our gospels, and without prejudice to the cause at all.

There are some other instances in which the evangelists honestly relate what, they must have perceived, would make against them.

Of this kind is John the Baptist's meffage preserved by St. Matthew and St. Luke, (xi. 2, 3. vii. 19) “Now when John had heard, in the prison, the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or look we for another ?" To confess, ftill more to state, that John the Baptist had his doubts concerning the character of Jesus, could not but afford a handle to cavil and objection. But truth, like honesty, negle&ts appearances. The fame observation, perhaps, holds concerning the apostacy of Judas.b

a Vol. IX. C. 50. note 96. ,b I had once placed amongst these examples of fair concession, the remarkable words of St. Matthew, in his account of Christ's appearance upon the Galilean mountain ; " and when they saw him, they worshipped him, but for:e daubted." I have since, however, been conAvinced, by what is observed concerning this passaget in Dr. Townsend's discourse upon the refurrection, that the tranlaction, as related by St. Matthew, was really this : “ Christ appeared first at a distance ; the greater part of the company, the moment they saw him, worshipped ; but some, as yet, i. e. upon this first distant view of his person, doubted ; whereupon Christ came upt to them and spake to them," &c. : that the doubt, therefore, was a doubt only at first, for a moment, and upon his being feen at a distance, and was afterwards dispelled by his nearer approach, and by his entering into conversation with them, xxviii. 17.

Page 177. + St. Matthew's words are, Kai o foc En Bovo Ixows taaangev ethis. This intimates, that when he first appeared, it was at a distance, at least from many of the spectators. (Ib. p. 197.)

John vi. 66. “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” Was it the part of a writer, who dealt in suppression and disguise, to put down this anecdote?

Or this, which Matthew has preserved, (xiii. 58.). “He did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”

Again, in the same evangelist, (ver. 17, 18.) “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets ; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil; for, verily, I say unto you,

till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle thall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." At the time the gospels were written, the apparent tendency of Christ's mission was to diminish the authority of the Mosaic code, and it was fo con{idered by the Jews themselves. It is very improbable, therefore, that, without the constraint of truth, Matthew should have ascribed a saying to Christ, which,

primo intuitu, militated with the judgment of the age in which his gospel was written. Marcion thought this ext to objectionable, that he altered the words so as to invert the sense, a

Once more, Acts xxv. 19. They brought none accusation against him, of such things, as I supposed, but had certain queftions against him of their own superftition, and of one Jesus which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive." Nothing could be more in the character of a Roman governor than these words. But that is not precifely the point I am concerned with. A mere panegyrist, or a dishonest narrator, would not have reprefented his cause or have made a great magistrate represent it, in this manner, i. e. in terms not a little disparaging, and bespeaking on his part much unconcern and indifference about the matter. The same observation

may

be repeated of the speech which is ascribed to Gallio. (Acts viii. 14.) “ If it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it, for I will be no judge of such matters.

Lastly, where do we discern a stronger mark of candour, or Jess disposition to extol and magnify, than in the conclusion of the fame history? in which the evangelift, after relating that Paul, upon bis first arrival at Rome, preached to the Jews from morning until evening, adds, “and some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.

a Lard. vol. XV. p. 422.

R

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