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The doctrine of the Atonement
Isaiah liii. 10, 12,
So also with regard to the Atonement. It was obviously a notion
to which their minds were long habituated. And yet it is not familiar to unlikely that the same principle which afterwards led them to separ
ate the suffering from the triumphant Messiah, might have blinded them to the union of the victim and the priest in one person; and have led them to consider him whose soul was to be an offering for sin, as distinct from him who was to make intercession for the trangressors. One part of this doctrine, too, could not but be unacceptable to the Pharisaical party, namely, that the atonement was one, once made, for the sins of all. That all, even the righteous, should require this atonement, was of itself mortifying and revolting to the self-approving Pharisee; but that all the rites and forms which typified or alluded to this act should be pronounced henceforth null and void, deprived them of every pretence of accumulating merit by the laborious observance of them, and was perhaps to them the hardest obstacle which they had to overcome.
That the doctrine of a future state was familiar to the Jews at sfatetuture the period of the Advent admits of no question. It is well known
to have been one of the points of controversy between the Pharisees and Sadducees; and as the former gave the tone of opinion and faith to the people, their belief in a future state may be fairly ascribed to the nation at large. The doctrine had been gradually developed by their prophets, together with that of the Messiah's spiritual reign, of which indeed it was a necessary adjunct. Those then
among the Jews, who so understood their Scriptures, as to admit the spiritual application of these latter prophecies, may be said to have seen their way far into this great secret of revelation. But the case was somewhat different with the rest, and these we know formed an exceeding great majority. For it is obvious, that to expect a temporal authority to be established, and a temporal government to be conducted, by means of eternal rewards and punishments, is incongruous and absurd; and under such a confused and disjointed view, not only did those labour who rejected Jesus, but many of those who (however much convinced that he was the Messiah) were yet so encumbered with their national prejudices, as to continue to expect from him the assumption of temporal power. So closely did the habits of the Mosaic dispensation adhere to those who had lived under it, and so great pains did it require to clear away the old incrustation, as it were, of the Law, with which Christianity had been plastered up and concealed, until it was safe.to bring it forth into the light. Of all its glorious features which were then made manifest, life and immortality were the chief.
III.-RELIGION OF THE SAMARITANS. ALTHOUGH the Samaritans claimed for themselves all the privileges of the Mosaic covenant, yet our Saviour in his first mission of the apostles distinguishes these from “the lost sheep of the house Matt. X. 6, of Israel,” and, it may be added, from the Gentiles also. Accord- and xv. 24. ingly, if we look to the accounts which are given of their origin and of the nature of their faith, we shall find religion amongst them assuming a somewhat different character from that under which it has appeared, either in the Jewish or in the Gentile world. With the Jews it was revelation neglected, with the Gentiles it was revelation perverted, with the Samaritans it was revelation corrupted.
Their origin and the history of their faith is this.75 When the History of king of Assyria carried away the ten tribes into captivity, he repeopled Samaria with colonists drawn from various parts of his dominions. The new settlement becoming infested by wild beasts, the calamity was attributed to the wrath of the neglected God of Israel; and accordingly, on the application of the colonists, one of the captive priests was sent from Assyria “to teach them how to fear the Lord. Thus was the knowledge of Jehovah introduced among them, although, in the first instance at least, they could only have regarded him as the tutelary deity of the land, whom it was incumbent on them to associate with the former objects of their worship. Nor is it likely that their views would be greatly corrected or improved by the continual accession of Jewish refugees to their community; these being for the most part criminals, outcasts, the very refuse of the people."
Under all these disadvantages, the true faith must nevertheless have been gaining ground amongst them, for we find them at a subsequent period anxious to become incorporated with the Jews, so as to form one people and one Church. Sanballat their
governor sought to bring this about, by giving his daughter in marriage to Manasses, brother to Jaddus the Jewish high priest. But the Jews could not brook the union. Manasses was forced into banishment, and with him went a numerous train of adherents into Samaria. The benefit which must have accrued to the Samaritan religion from this event is obvious. The immediate result was the erection of an Temple on independent temple on Mount Gerizim, and the more orderly obser- Honnin vance of that which they maintained to be the pure Mosaic law; because on the writings of Moses alone did they found their faith and their practice."
And certainly, whatever were the deficiencies or the mistakes of Christ's the Samaritan creed, to them, and not to the Jews, we know the manifestaMessiah vouchsafed, in express terms, to declare who he was. Both himself to
75 2 Kings xvii. Joseph. Antiq. Lib. IX. Cap. ultim. 76 Josephi Ant. Lib. XI. C. 8, in fin.
77 lbid. C. 7, 8.
Jews and Samaritans were anxiously expecting him; but it is plain, that the expectation of the Samaritans was widely different from that of the Jews; for when the inhabitants of Sychar thronged forth to gaze on him who was reported as fulfilling the prophetic marks of the Christ, they were neither surprised nor offended, at meeting with no greater personage than a lowly traveller, seated beside Jacob's well, and asking for a draught of water. The grounds of this difference form the most interesting point of the inquiry concerning the religion of the Samaritans; and to the superior clearness and correctness of their notions it was doubtless owing, that they were favoured with this more explicit avowal of himself by the Messiah, and were otherwise noticed by him in the course of his ministry.
Amongst the heresies of the Samaritans was their rejection of all er megetation the Scriptures save the Pentateuch, 78 so that if their expectation was
founded solely on the Scripture prophecies, to the Pentateuch we from that of must look for the ground-work of their faith. Now, whoever will
run through these early promises of a Saviour, will perceive that the most prominent feature in them, as far as regards the objects of the blessing, is, that all the nations of the earth shall be partakers of it." It was the extension of the blessing then to all nations which formed the essential feature in their expectation, as distinguished from that of the Jews. Of spurious descent, and having now failed to identify their case with that of their rivals, they had not like them any prejudices to obstruct the ready admission of this great truth.
Indeed, their unsuccessful rivalry with the Jews, might be supposed to have rendered them more sharp-sighted, in
eliciting what to them was a consolatory view of the prophecies. Reasons for Now this being the point, which beyond all others formed the
greatest obstacle to the reception of the Messiah by his own people, it is not to be wondered at, that with a view to this the Samaritans should receive some particular notice from our Lord.
Thus much on the supposition, that the Samaritan expectation was derived solely from the Jewish Scriptures. But if (as has been stated to be the opinion of some) the general expectation of the heathen world had some origin independent of this, it is but natural to conjecture further, that those who were by descent almost altogether heathen, would not have been excluded from these sources of traditionary prophecy enjoyed by the rest of the Gentiles; and that their knowledge of these might have helped them to a clearer exposition of the Jewish record than the Jews themselves generally adopted.
78 See Appendix [D.] 79 See especially Gen. xii. 3; xviii. 18; xxii. 18; xxvi. 4; xxviii. 14.
THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST.
The period which will pass under review in the following inquiry, embraces the three great stages in the establishment of Christianity. In the first, it was taught by our Saviour himself on earth ; in the second, it was intrusted to the ministry of men divinely inspired and extraordinarily assisted; in the last, it was permanently placed in the hands of governors and teachers neither divinely inspired nor extraordinarily assisted.
There are several remarkable omissions in our Lord's personal omissions ministry, such as that he never baptized, although baptism was the in Christ's rite of admission into his religion; that he did not preach to the explained. Gentiles, although the most distinguishing feature of the new dispensation was its extension to all mankind; that he established no church during his abode on earth, and left no written laws behind him: all which seem to indicate, (what the Gospel account of him more expressly declares,) that he came to be the subject of Christianity more than the author of it. In the former view, he appears as God manifested in the flesh, and in that character accomplishing our redemption by his mysterious sufferings and death. In the latter, he appears as the teacher of mankind, instructing them in the method whereby they might attain to the Divine favour thus made accessible to all. His ministry so considered may be conveniently classed under the following heads:
I. His ordinary Life, considered in the light of an Example.
This view will not include a detailed account of the events of his life, obviously because the Bible is in the hands of all. A familiarity with them is presumed, and on this presumption they will be introduced or alluded to, not in the way of narrative, but as they fall under the several divisions into which the subject has been arranged.
1 In the mode of considering Christ's Ministry which has been here adopted,
the question of its duration, and also the chronological arrangement of its several
1.-EXAMPLE OF CHRIST.
Want of an
The importance of example and precept united in the same person is obvious, and consists in the learner being at once impressed with a conviction that the teacher is sincere and his precept practicable, and being furnished with a pattern to excite and guide him in the practice of it. If, added to this, the same person be moreover the source of that object, on account of which the rules enjoined are valuable, the combined effect is of course considerably heightened.
That the Divine commandments, as delivered to mankind before example in the incarnation of the Son of God, laboured under a disadvantage, dispensation arising from the want of such an example, cannot be questioned.
The disciple of the old dispensation, was circumstanced like the tyro, who has to learn an art from written rules, for want of a master to practise under. To obviate this disadvantage, it was necessary that the commands should be more numerous, more minute and specific, and more literally enforced. Still, in some points, it would seem impossible, that any mode of instruction should produce a similar effect, to that which has resulted from the great Christian mystery. He, for instance, whom we have never seen nor conceived in thought, cannot become an object of the affections, in the same manner as he with whom we are familiar. The command to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and all our soul, and all our strength, could never effect the same purpose, as God manifested in the flesh, so as to become the natural object of sympathy, of love, and of gratitude.
On this principle doubtless it is, that the resurrection of Christ
parts, are necessarily excluded. On the Bp. Kaye, in his Eccl. Hist. p. 158, former point, namely, the period which attributes Tertullian's statement to a it embraced, there is now perhaps little mistake of the year in which Christ was difference of opinion, at least contro- revealed, for the year in which he sufferversy has been long silent on the subject. ed. See also Benson's Chronology of But few questions historical or doctrinal our Saviour's Life, C. VII. page 241. have been more frequently renewed from The arrangement of the several porthe earliest period of the church. It is tions of Christ's Ministry by, Archbishop quite marvellous, too, to find the im- Newcome in his Harmony, is perhaps as mense difference of time ascribed to our probable as can be suggested. The events Lord's Ministry among those who differ- of the Resurrection are those to the ed concerning the point in the period right disposition of which the most imnearest the source of information. Ter
portance attaches, and it is on this par: tullian * and Origent have been supposed of the subject that most difficulty is liketo fix it, the one within the compass of ly to be felt. West on the Resurrection a year, the other a little beyond it; whilst is too popular a book to require any Irenæus seems to assert a period of reference to be made to it, as containing twenty years. The subject has been the ablest solution of the apparent inoondiscussed by Bp. Marsh in his notes to sistencies which the Gospel narrative Michaelis with his usual learning and presents, but like Dr. Less's work on the judgment. See Vol. III. C. II. Sect. 7, Authenticity of the Scriptures, it derives note.
a value from one circumstance, which
cannot be too often brought into notice; * Adv. Judæos, C. 8.
it was the result of real doubt and scep† IIspà ápxwv, Lib. IV. C. 5.