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the people concerning him. Those who received him with much acclamation, and would not be restrained by the rules from paying him the greatest honours, in a few days afterwards we find crying out that he should be crucified. The case was, when they introduced him to Jerusalem, they supposed that he should forthwith show and make himself, what they had no doubt Christ was to be, a great and mighty conqueror; conquering, probably, by some supernatural assistance, all who opposed him, and delivering his own nation from servitude and subjection to power and glory. When nothing of this came to pass, the disappointment provoked them, and they were as eager to punish him as they were before to acknowledge him for their deliverer. This earthly kingdom was what the two sons of Zebedee had in view when they prevailed upon their mother to ask him that they might sit, one at his right hand and the other at his left ; that is, be both chief men under him in his kingdom. And this we see was also the source of the frequent strifes and disputings amongst them, who should be greatest in that expected promotion to power and glory. Lastly, this was the cause that they could never believe, nor so much as comprehend, the many notices he gave
them of his approaching crucifixion, because all idea of his being put to death like a malefactor was absolutely inconsistent with the notions which they and all the Jews firmly maintained, that he was to be king himself, and a deliverer of the Jewish nation.
When he told them, upon their going up to Jerusalem, that he should be delivered unto the Gentiles, mocked, spitefully intreated, spitted on, and that they should scourge him and put him to death ; we read that they understood none of these things, and the saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. And in confirmation of what has been said, I have only to remark, that the Jews at that day expected both a Messiah to appear, and that, when he should appear, he would make them masters of their own land again, and of the world.
Such, therefore, were the opinions and expectations then actually prevailing amongst the Jewish people. Now what I contend for is, that had Jesus, in professing himself, as he did, to be the king of the Jews, been either an impostor or enthusiast, or any other (which he must have been, if the Christian religion be not true), he might have founded his pretensions on any other thing than truth; he would necessarily have fallen in with the established opinion of the country, and produced himself in the character which they expected. Suppose he was an impostor, and had a scheme of taking advantage of the popular expectation, to impose himself upon the Jews for the great person whose appearance they were looking for, it was certainly his business to have framed his account and pretensions agreeably to those expectations.
Had he been an enthusiast whose enthusiasm, or
madness, if you choose to call it so, had been so far infected with the popular phrensy as to imagine itself to be the person promised and expected, then such enthusiasm must at the same time have unavoidably led him to prove himself to be such an one, and to be and to do what these expectations pointed out. And what is a better proof 'than any reasonings, the fact was so. All the false Christs, all the pretended Messiahs, of which there have been some hundreds, have to a man given themselves out to be the destined deliverers of the Jewish nation, and improvers of the world.
of the world. We read in the Acts of the Apostles of Theudas and Judas, who, before the days of the Apostles, had drawn much people after them. Josephus, the famous Jewish historian, 'mentions only nine by name, and multitudes of others whom he does not name' conformably with our Saviour's prediction : “ that there should arise false Christs, false prophets, and deceive many.” Some of these might be impostors whom the expectations of the times and consequent eagerness to listen to such pretences called forth; others might be enthusiasts, whose disturbed imagination caught the contagion from the public throng. But both the one and the other, expectants and enthusiasts, they who adapted these things to the received prejudices of the age, boasted and professed to be what they knew their followers wished for, or what they and every one expected.
Now why Christ did not go along with the rest
who have called themselves Messiahs, if he was like them, it will be difficult to say. But where, it will be asked, did our Saviour in fact differ or depart from the common and received notion of what the Messiah was to be? This remains to be shown.
Now the difference consists in this : that whereas the Messiah, according to the Jewish notion, was to be in his nature a mere man, and like all other men, but in his condition in the world exalted to summits of honour and grandeur above the kings and princes of this world; he, on the contrary, describes himself, and is described by his followers, as low and mean in his outward visible condition, but in his nature very different from the whole race of mankind.
First; I say that the Jewish Messiah was, in their expectation, to be a mere man. The Jews did not suppose Moses himself to be any thing more; nor is there any trace that they had a conception of any thing more in the Messiah. None of the false Messiahs set up for any thing different as to their nature from an ordinary man. The Jews themselves were at a loss to understand those expressions of our Saviour, by which he intended to intimate the distinction and superiority of his own nature. This was so little thought of, that they were unable to resolve the difficulty he proposed to them: “ If Christ be David's son, how calleth he him the Lord ?”
But in his condition their Messiah is to be exalted to superior power and dignity; he is to rule and
triumph over all the enemies of the Jewish state ; he was to restore the kingdom to Israel ; he was to sit upon the throne of his father David, and reign over the house of Jacob for ever.
All these expressions the Jews interpreted and applied literally. The contrary, however, of all this, our Saviour represents his worldly condition, which it evidently was -so mean and low, and humble and contemptibleborn in a manger, and of
parents of station-brought up with these parents-appearing, when he did appear, with a few poor fishermenwithout name, fortune, or learning—the son of man had not where to lay his head-indebted to the benevolence of a certain Galilean who ministered unto him of his substance. He came, indeed, as he expresses it, to minister to others, and not to be ministered unto himself; and at last, as he all along foretold he should be, was delivered to the malice of the Jews, and to the power of the Roman yoke. He never attempted to shake off the Roman yoke, nor encouraged any such attempts in his followers; on the contrary, he withdrew himself when the populace would have hailed their king. He disclaimed the idea of altering or subverting the civil governments of the world—the very purpose for which the Jewish Messiah was expected—expressly declaring that his kingdom was not of this world, and replying, when he was requested to interfere in a private dispute,
Man, who made me a judge over you?”