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the inspired Prophets and Apostles themselves.
Most truly may it be said, never Impostor or Enthusiast spake like Him.
Instances have been recorded of well intentioned persons, feigning a divine mission, for the
purpose of improving the sentiments and the conduct of mankind. There have been legislators, who falsely pretended to this, that they might better enforce their maxims for the general good. There have been zealots, led by a heated imagination to believe themselves divinely inspired. But these pretensions have for the most part been made subservient to worldly purposes, or maintained by worldly power. No such means or purposes characterise our Lord's ministry. He spake to the hearts and consciences of men, disclaiming all external aid. He expressly forbade violence and compulsion. He aimed at no magisterial power. He interfered not with any such power, by whomsoever exercised; but enjoined submission, and himself submitted to it, as a religious duty. Would a deceiver have thus declined every offer of human assistance? Would an enthusiast have forborne to avail himself of the many opportunities afforded to him of kindling the zeal of the multitude, and carrying his point by
force? Would either of these have distinctly forewarned his followers of his own ignominious death, and called upon them to “ take
up the cross, and follow himo;" yet at the same time declare, that “the gates of hell “ should not prevailt” against the had undertaken ? Certainly, never did impostor or enthusiast speak to such purpose, or with such effect; submitting to the world's scorn and contumely, yet overcoming every effort of the world to oppose the irresistible progress of his doctrine.
With equal truth may it be said, never Jewish scribe or Heathen philosopher spake like Him.
The teaching of the Jewish scribes consisted chiefly of frivolous comments on the Law of Moses, mixed with traditions of
vague authority, corrupted by glosses of their own, and by palpable misinterpretations of the Law itself. They were more occupied in minute ritual observances, than in the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, justice, and righteousness. Nor could they produce authority higher than their own for these instructions. To quote the saying of some distinguished Rabbi, was sufficient to obtain for them credit and admiration. How different was the character our Lord assumed! He taught as a Lawgiver, not a mere Expositor of the Law. He raised the thoughts of his hearers above the letter of his precepts, and above its external observances, to display to them its spirit and its truth. He gave them enlarged and comprehensive views of it, adapted to the universality of that religion he came to establish.
s Matth. xvi. 24.
1 Matth. xvi. 18.
He swept away the spurious maxims pretended by the Pharisees to have been said “ of old time,” and restored the moral Law to its genuine purity and lustre. By such an elucidation and such an enlargement of its meaning, he more clearly illustrated its main design, that of being introductory to the great dispensation of mercy and truth which through Him was to be fulfilled, and which had its origin even before the Law itself was promulgated.
No less different was our Lord's teaching from that of Heathen sages. These, for the most part, delivered their doctrines in dark oracular sayings, or abstruse and recondite reasonings. Many seemed to take a pride in purposely concealing them from the multitude. But, with Him, the necessity of elaborate proof or subtle reasoning was entirely superseded. He spake as One who had both omnipotence and omniscience within himself! “ Believe me for the very work's sake,” was sufficient to convince the most learned as well as the most illiterate, the philosopher as well as the peasant. Nevertheless, with this
paramount claim to the reception of his doctrine, the simplicity and meekness of his bearing were no less extraordinary. The sublimest truths were delivered in the plainest and most familiar language, as the result of no mental labour, and needing no other confirmation than his own word could give them. “Father ! “ I thank thee,” said he,“ that Thou hast “ hidden these things from the wise and
prudent, and revealed them unto babesa.” They were hidden from such as were too wise in their own conceits to receive any thing that was not the fruit of their own discoveries; but were made plain and easy to all who accepted them with the docility of children confiding in the infallibility of their instructor
Lastly, never Prophet or Apostle spake like Him.
Prophets and Apostles have wrought miracles, have been gifted largely with inspiration, have produced ample testimonials that they were messengers of God. But the difference betwixt the ambassador and the sovereign is precisely that which distinguished them from Him, who, though he came in appearance as a messenger, was Himself “ Lord 66 of all.” Observe the contrast between His language and theirs, in declaring the divine will. They spake “in the name of the Lord,” as mere instruments in his hands ;-He, in His own name, as identified in power and authority with the Most High.“ Verily, verily, “ I say unto you,” was his most common form of speech. “ I say unto you, That in “ this place is one greater than the tem
u Matth. xi. 25.
ple* ;”—“Behold, a greater than Jonas is “ here ;—Behold, a greater than Solomon “ is here"." John the Baptist was “ more “ than a Prophet;" yet He that came after him was “ mightier than he?"
Moses was a Lawgiver, and faithful in God's house “ as a “ servant;” but Christ came as a Son over “ his own housea." His whole deportment corresponded with this preeminence.
If such, then, were the distinguishing characteristics of our Lord as a divine teacher, the application of the subject is too obvious to escape notice. It admonishes the Chris
z Matth. ii. 11.
x Matth. xii. 6. y Matth. xii. 41, 42. a Heb. iii. 5, 6.