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is so much insisted on as an earnest of our own resurrection. Not Advantage that the same truth would have admitted of a doubt, if only a Christianity declaration of it had been made by our Lord or the Holy Spirit ; in this point nor, again, that other proofs of his ability to raise us would not have sufficed; but it was a sample of the general resurrection, “the first-fruits of them that slept;" and a truth so experimentally 1 Cor. xv. 26. proved, differs as much in its effect on the belief and feelings, as mere precept differs from example, or rather as the effect of precept, disjoined from the example of him on whose authority it rests, differs from the effect of precept, example, and authority, united in the same person.
For this end also the chastisement of our sins may have been exhibited in the person of a suffering Redeemer. For it is evident, that (for aught we know) the redemption of mankind might have been effected, and the scene neither exhibited nor revealed to men. As it is, we feel the force of St. Paul's appeal, He that spared Rom. viii. not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?”
Jesus Christ is set forth by the sacred writers as the perfect Nature of pattern of Christian duty. By which we must understand, not that
example. he fulfilled all the duties which a Christian life may embrace, but all which were within his sphere of action. It is perfection in the mode, rather than in the extent which it embraces. It will nevertheless be found, on a very little reflection, to be extensive enough to furnish a model for the chief part of every man's life, and to be applicable in many points, which would appear at first to lie beyond its compass. Thus, as a worker of miracles, his example cannot indeed be literally imitated, but it may still be adapted to the case of all. The same benevolence which was evinced in the exercise of Divine means by him, inay be testified in our behaviour, by the use of human means conducive to the same purpose.
We cannot, indeed, redeem a world by the sacrifice of our lives, but many sacrifices and personal denials there are which conduce to the welfare of others, and in making these we shall be acting like our great example. We cannot save men's souls, but we may help them into the way of salvation; and although we have no power to ascend to heaven by any efforts of our own, by looking stedfastly on Him who has gone before us, we may kindle that hope, and that faith, whereby we shall ascend to eaven like Him.
Again, there are relations of domestic and public life out of which duties arise, such as the Saviour cannot be literally said to have fulfilled, because he stood not in those relations, and had no opportunity of exemplifying the practice of the duties. We cannot contemplate him as a father and master of a household, but we see him in the bosom of his apostolic family,—those whom, as if with this design, he calls his mother and his brethren ; and what example Matt. xii. 49. could more forcibly recommend the observance of family prayer, for
Luke vi. 12;
Matt. xxvi. instance, than that which he has so exhibited, by adding to his
solitary devotions, and to his attendance on the public service of the Luke ix: 28: synagogue, the custom of praying in private with his disciples ?
If we consider the sphere of life in which our Lord moved, it will be seen that, although his example thus became applicable to many cases strictly beyond it, yet it was more particularly suited to the exercise of those moral duties which are peculiar to the Christian scheme, viz. humility and forgiveness of injuries. The propriety and advantage of this is obvious. To the heathen moralist these qualities, considered as virtues, were as new as the doctrines of the Ātonement and the Resurrection. To the Jew, the latter at least was equally so; and both required that the practice of them should be recommended by a life such as the Saviour led, in which his condescension in dwelling amongst us was more apparent from his poverty and lowliness, than if he had been numbered with the rich and powerful; whilst his every act of mercy, and his every word of exhortation to the Jews, was a return of good for evil. The closing scene of his ministry was only a more prominent display of those Gospel virtues exemplified in the whole course of it. He submitted voluntarily to a death appropriated to the meanest criminals, and he died praying for his enemies.
His teaching not Philosophical:
Matt. xviii. 2.
As to his mode of teaching, it was not systematic; and in this his example was imitated by the apostles. The language and form in which it was delivered was unphilosophical; that is, instead of employing terms of science, he formed his expressions from passing occurrences, and whatever objects happened to be present to his hearers at the time of his addressing them. Or else he spoke in
parables, or made use of that ancient symbolical language so often John xiii. 5 adopted by the Jewish prophets, as, when he washed his disciples'
feet, and set a child in the midst of them. Importance Whatever be assigned as the probable motive which occasioned bering this
our Lord to choose this unphilosophical and unsystematic mode of instruction, it is highly important that the fact should be clearly kept in view by the Christian who searches the New Testament for the great doctrines of Christianity. Without doing so, he cannot fail to be surprised, and somewhat confounded, at finding these doctrines, neither arranged in order, nor often directly asserted, but lying in detached portions, each difficult perhaps to be found entire, but easily produced by combining one passage with another.
As by this method it often happens, that one portion of the Reasons for doctrine sought for will be found in the Old Testament, another in
the New, the connexion and unity of the two dispensations, of which they are the several records, become the more apparent, and this might have been one end contemplated by our Lord in adopting it.
It entailed on the disciple of the Gospel the necessity of searching the earlier Scriptures for the words of eternal life.
A further advantage accrues from it to the evidence of Christianity. Its doctrines being thus diffused and intermingled with other matter, could not by any possibility have been so forged and inserted, as to leave no occasional mark of seaming and joining. Our Saviour's Gospel is like his robe, “ without seam, woven throughout,” and he who receives it, must take it all, for it cannot be divided.
As to the matter of his teaching, his discourses aim either at cor- Matter of recting what was perverted, and explaining what was obscure, in the preceding state of morals and religious knowledge, or else they declare truths not before revealed. With the several leading topics which they embrace, the Christian reader is presumed to be familiar; and it is sufficient to observe briefly, that of the former kind are his exhortations to inward purity, as opposed to mere outward acts of obedience, and compliance with the spirit rather than with the letter of the precept. To the latter class belong the doctrines of Atonement and Grace; of the Trinity in Unity; certain points of revelation relating to a future state; and whatever else may be considered as peculiar to the Christian revelation.
III.—HIS MIRACLES. The chief object of our Lord's miracles was to prove his mission ; Object of and it may be observed, that in this case, and in that of Moses, (of all who ever pretended to found a religion on them,) the miracles supported the credit of the religion, not the religion the credit of the miracles. As testimony, however, they do not properly form part of his ministry (as a teacher,) but they have likewise a moral and a religious meaning, and in this point of view they do so.
They have a moral meaning, because they are all benevolent, whereas as proofs they might have been destructive or indifferent, as were the miracles of Moses and the Prophets. As it is, they not only prove that Christ came from God, but declare that he came with a benevolent purpose.
They have also a religious meaning, because they typified some Their of the chief doctrines of his Gospel. Thus when he converted into aneho my wine the water set for purification, he taught that sin was cleansed doctrines. by his blood, and not by the ritual observances of the law. His divine nature was asserted by walking on the sea, and by whatever other miracles invested him with the scriptural characteristics of Jehovah. When he healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and enabled the lame to walk, he not only proved his authority, and exercised his compassion, but suggested the inference, that he had 2" Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters.”—Psalm lxxvii. 19. “ The Lord is mightier than mighty waves.'
"-Psalm xciii. 4.
come to restore our corrupted nature to its original purity, to enlighten the ignorant, as all men were, and to enable us to stand in the path of life, when without him we could not but fail and sink.
Hence possibly the necessity of faith in the persons on whom the miracles of healing were wrought; for if these miracles had no further intent than to prove his power, or even his benevolence, it is obvious that he, to whom were committed all things in heaven and in earth, did not need the concurrence of any object of power or of benevolence. But as he had made Faith necessary to that eternal salvation which he came to offer, it was fitting that the temporal deliverance should in like manner be offered with the same condition, if we suppose the latter to be intended as a type of the former; else the symbolical lesson would have been incomplete, and liable to misconstruction.
One observation more on our Lord's miracles. They were not only proofs of his authority, and means of instruction, but also specimens of that mercy, the full and entire display of which is reserved for hereafter.
To understand this, it must be borne in mind, that Satan brought into the world both sin and death, moral and natural evil; and the result of our Lord's triumph over him was to be the removal of both. In healing the sick, then, and raising the dead, the Saviour
may be considered as giving an instance of the exercise of his power in removing natural evil; whilst the same was evinced with regard to moral evil, by casting out devils, the agents of him who was the source of sin. It was doubtless in reference to this latter object, that he caused them on one occasion to depart into a herd of swine, thus proving that the possession was real, and not the result of a disordered imagination. The same end might have been likewise contemplated in the record of the Temptation; for in neither of these instances at least could the power of imagination account for the phenomenon.
In the first the Divine Being was above its delusions, in the other the brute was as much below it.*
Symbols long retained in Relig worship.
In the first rude state of language, signs, gestures, and actions were no doubt the chief mode of expressing all ideas. But in religion, custom being more sacred than in the ordinary intercourse of life, the primitive vehicle of thought continued here longest in use, and was still the chief form of worship for ages after language became more intelligible than signs and symbols. In proof of this, we may observe how large a proportion of the latter was preserved in the religious service of the Israelites.
As the progress of language advanced, the primitive usage
8 Warburton's Divine Legation, B. IX. C. V.
gradually declined, and in the last establishment of religion, only Christian two symbolical institutions were appointed, Baptism and the Lord's
These, then, we might expect to find expressing the most impor- Their object tant truths of that last
revelation, in a form intelligible to the savage as well as to the philosopher, to men of all languages, and in all ages; and that such is the instruction which they convey is obvious. Atonement for sin by Christ's death on the cross, and the influences of the Holy Spirit in regenerating and sanctifying us—these are the main features of the Christian scheme; and these are embodied in the two Sacraments. Baptism, under the symbol of washing with water, represents our spiritual purification. In the Lord's Supper the symbol is twofold. The bread is broken, and the wine poured out, to denote his dying for us; the bread is also eaten, and the wine drunk, to denote the spiritual strength and refreshment, the life, which we derive from his mysterious presence and union
But why not, it may be said, in this latter, as in the former Their sacrament, adopt the most direct and exact representation of the scene so recorded, such as would be the flesh and blood of an animal? The case appears to be this: the atonement was so represented before the event took place, because greater exactness was requisite to render the agreement of the event with its type so apparent as to be easily recognised and admitted: but so close a resemblance not being necessary in a commemorative symbol, (the event being already known, and the connexion between them admitted,) that symbol was changed, to prevent any confusion between the old rite, which was prophetic, and the new one, which was commemorative; between the Jewish sacrifice, which had no independent and inherent efficacy, and the Christian sacrifice, which possessed it.
V.-HIS PROPHECIES. A PROPHECY is a miracle performed for posterity, and to our Our Lord's Lord's prophecies the same observation applies as to his miracles. Prophecies. One intent of them was to prove the truth of his mission: “Now John xiii. I tell you before it come, that when it is come to pass ye may believe that I am he.” So considered, the prophecies are not, strictly speaking, a portion of his ministry. But, like his miracles, they were also the vehicles of instruction, and this view of them falls under the present subject of remark. They may be conveniently arranged under four heads, as treating,
19; xiv. 29.
1. Of Himself.