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THE SUBJECTS OF HIS TEACHING.
with its truth. We call the principles which he inculcated by his name, but not because he originated them, for they are older than the creation. But he did originate a new manifestation of them. He not only asserted them with an unprecedented clearness, he gave
them a new and living force in his own being. He realized them in all their beauty and fulness in his life. In his doings and sufferings the true sacred writing, the characters and symbols by which the divine mind expresses itself,—the great facts and principles of the moral world were revealed anew. If we cannot always discern the whole of the truths he uttered in nature and life, we can at least discover some intimations, some germs of them there. Affecting no peculiarity of language, he freely expressed himself in the popular religious phraseology of the day, but interpreted, as the language of every man should be, by the general tone of his life, we see that it was used by him metaphorically. Who, for instance, can for a moment suppose that when he talked of his kingdom and his glory, he had any idea of an outward kingdom, a visible glory, when his whole life shows so eloquently that it was the glory of an entire selfsacrifice, which won and inspired his whole soul? Recollect his sublime declaration to Pilate, “ Yes, I am a king.” How does he define his regal character? “For this end was I born,” he adds, “and for this cause came I into the world to bear witness to the truth. Every true man is my subject.” How perfect his definition of real power of true greatness ! “Let him who would be the greatest be the servant of all!" To the beautiful correctness of this definition, what
evidence has been afforded in the history of the world! Even the sublime doctrine of a future life, which is so frequently represented as a peculiar doctrine of Christianity, is nowhere formally asserted by Jesus. It is rather taken for granted—treated as if it were a plain and indisputable fact. And if theologians were not so anxious to exalt the Gospel at the expense of reason and nature, it might be perceived that the immortality of man, like all the other truths of the New Testament, is written in our very nature, and that in all his allusions to it, Jesus regarded it as a natural truth.
So much now may I venture to say, that with it respect to the substance as well as the style of his teaching, the author of Christianity affected nothing peculiar, and herein was his greatest peculiarity-his most original trait. He treated the truths he uttered as great and momentous truths; as possessed of a value of which the world had not dreamed, of a profoundness which thought had not fathomed. He declared them with a new authority, and exemplified them as they have never been exemplified before nor since. But he did not appropriate them to himself. They were of the world,—of eternity and of God.
Behold now the unutterable, everlasting gloryalas! that I should be compelled to add, the as yet unsuspected glory—of the humble peasant of Judea, that he taught fully by his lips and his life, what ?the very truth which universal nature from all its heights and depths, and the infinite God teach! I confess I see no disparagement to Christ in the fact that Christianity is as old as the creation, for I
THE GREATNESS OF CHRIST.
believe that it is a great deal older—from eternity. “ Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever God had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting is the truth taught by Christ.”
But why, it may be asked, why call the truths of religion by his name, if they were taught so long ago and by so many mighty teachers, if they were, long before he appeared, engraven upon the ancient tables of the human heart? For a plain and emphatic
The life of Jesus of Nazareth, his words, acts and sufferings, being real, being facts, are a part of the grand and all-instructive system of creation,they constitute a page, nay, a chapter, and at once the profoundest and the clearest chapter, in the vast volume of God. Nowhere do I see spiritual and eternal things so clearly revealed, so touchingly expressed, as in his life. The truth which all else teaches is presented by him and in him with a new significance, an original beauty. Let it be that he taught nothing more than the religion of nature, still by concentrating all its force and loveliness in his individual being, by incorporating it with his life, and so teaching it as it had never been taught by any other, he made natural religion his religion, His truth. He has given a new illustration of it. Regard his life as only a part and portion of the great system of nature, the grand chain of Providence,-still I say that from no quarter of the grand whole come there such all-enlightening beams as from him. His history amidst all objects and events is by far the most luminous point. It is the grand interpretation of
THE GREATNESS OF CHRIST.
Nature—the revelation of her mysteries. There the truth shines forth with satisfying clearness. Therefore do I hold it to be true and right to call the truth he preached through his own being, his truth-Christian truth. When it is so denominated, it is not meant that he appropriated it to himself. On the contrary, in the sense in which it is his, it is more effectually put within the reach of all men, and imparted to all, and we are made to feel that it is natural and eternal truth. It may sound extravagantly, yet so perfect is the manifestation of the spiritual power and beauty of truth in him, that if I presumed to say, but I do not -if I presumed to say for what one purpose God made all that we see, and arranged the mighty and complicated course of events, I should say it was in order to provide a sphere for the manifestation of such a being as Jesus of Nazareth ; that he is the Masterpiece of the Divine Artist, for the creation of which all else was ordained, "the Heir of all things.”
“The deep philosopher sees chains of causes and effects so wonderfully and strangely linked together, that he is usually the last person to decide upon the impossibility of any two series of events being independent of each other; and in science, so many natural miracles, as it were, have been brought to light,—such as the fall of stones from meteors in the atmosphere, the disarming a thunderbolt by a metallic point, the production of fire from ice by a metal white as silver, and referring certain laws of motion of the sea to the moon, -that the physical inquirer is seldom disposed to assert confidently on any abstruse subjects belonging to the order of natural things, and still less so on those relating to the more mysterious relations of moral events and intellectual natures."-SIR H. Davy.
The next aspect under which we may contemplate the character of Christ is in relation to those extraordinary works of power and benevolence ascribed to him. It is interesting to see how they illustrate his moral elevation.
As the difficulty which most minds find in admitting the reality of the Christian miracles, arises not from the peculiar character of these miracles, but from the idea of a miracle of any kind, I propose first to state what I understand by a miracle.
The word miracle is derived from the Latin word · miraculum,' which signifies simply a wonder. Taking the term in this sense exclusively, no one is disposed to doubt the reality of an event, solely on the score of its wonderfulness, because in this sense there is