Page images
[ocr errors]

out his whole narrative, Christ to be accompanied by a select party of disciples; the number of these to be twelve * ; and whenever he happens to notice any one as of that number t, it is one included in the catalogue of the other evangelists; and the names principally occurring in the course of bis history of Christ, are the names extant in their list. This last agreement, which is of considerable moment, runs through every gospel, and through every chapter of each.

All this bespeaks reality.

* vi. 7

* xx. 24. vi. 71,



Originality of our Saviour's character:

The Jews, whether tight or wrong, had understood their prophecies to foretell the advent of a person, who by some supernatural aslistance should advance their nation to independence, and to a fupreme degree of splendour and prosperity. This was the reigning opinion and expectation of the times.

Now, had Jesus been an enthusiast, it is probable that his enthusiasm would have fallen in with the popular delusion, and that, whilst he gave himself out to be the perfon intended by these predictions, he would have assumed the character to which they were universally supposed to relate. VOL. II.



Had he been an impostor, it was his bu. siness to have flattered the prevailing hopes, because these hopes were to be the instruments of his attraction and success.

But, what is better than conjectures, is the fact, that all the pretended Messiahs actually did so.

did so. We learn from Josephus that there were many of these. . Some of them, it is probable, might be impostors, who thought that an advantage was to be taken of the state of public opinion. Others, perhaps, were enthusiasts, whose imagination had been drawn to this particular object, by the language and sentiments which prevailed around them. But, whether impostors or enthusiasts, they concurred in producing themselves in the character which their countrymen looked for, that is to say, as the restorers and deliverers of the nation, in that sense in which restoration and deliverance were expected by the Jews.



Why therefore Jesus, if he was,

like .them, either an enthusiast or impostor, did not pursue the same conduct as they did, in framing his character and pretensions, it will be found difficult to explain. A mifsion, the operation and benefit of which was to take place in another life, was a thing unthought of as the subject of these prophecies. That Jesus, coming to them as their Messiah, should come under a character totally different from that in which they expected him; should deviate from the general persuasion, and deviate into pretensions absolutely fingular and original; appears to be inconsistent with the imputation of enthufiafm or impofture, both which, by their nature, I should expect, would, and both which, throughout the experience which this very subject furnishes, in fact have, followed the opinions that obtained at the time.

If it be said, that Jesus, having tried the other plan, turned at length to this; I an


fwer, that the thing is said without evidence; against evidence; that it was competent to the rest to have done the fame, yet that nothing of this sort was thought

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »