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of, that he was also qualified to be the Saviour of their souls; and was equally difpofed, and able, to ensure their everlasting interests beyond the grave. “That all power was given 'to him in heaven, and in earth: and that he . had the words of everlasting life. .
Chrift's moral and religious character more par.
ticularly considered and explained from the conduct of his life.
D AVING considered the miracles of Il Chrift, as the firft difcovery which he gave of his character and office, as the meffenger of God, we are in the next place, to confider the more ordinary incidents, and tranfactions of his life. In this part of the effay, it is propofed to enquire more particufarly into his moral and religious character, and with this view, to trace through the conduct of his life, the inffuence of that important principle, which, as was observed before, gave the peculiar colour, and distinction to his character.
Jefus having afferted his commiffion as the mefsenger of God, began his public teaching with a folemn exhortation to repentance, or that change of mind, without which, he knew, impure and finful creatures, fuch as men, would not be able to attain that happiness, and immortality, which it was the purpofe of his miffion to this world, to bring
them to. * Jesus began to say, repent, for • the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
Soon after he had thus opened his commisfion, we are informed, + that when he went about preaching the gospel of the kingdom, • He saw the multitudes, and was moved with "compassion on them, because they fainted, • and were scattered abroad, as sheep having 'no shepherd. They fainted,'i.e, they were ig. norant of, and unsupported by those truths of God, which give nourishment and strength, and comfort to the foul of man; • They were * scattered abroad, as sheep having no shep• herd,' i. e, they had no fufficient instrucEtor, to lead them in the way to happiness and immortality. That this was the sense of these expressions, appears from the gospel of St. Mark, I where we are informed, that being thus moved with compassion, because the people were as sheep having no shepherd, • He therefore taught them many things.' This circumstance at the beginning of our Saviour's public ministry, naturally suggests the following remarks.
Ift, That the first and strongest point of light in which he viewed mankind was that, of their being rational and immortal crea.
* Mat. iv. 17.
+ Mat. ix. 36.
Mark vi. 34.
tures, capable of moral and religious instructions, and of attaining by their influence, to everlasting life.
2dly, That viewing them in this point of light, the first emotion which he felt concerning them, was pity to their souls; because for want of moral and religious instructions, they were wandering from that rational, virtuous and immortal happiness, for which their nature was designed. .
3dly, That as this compassion to the souls of men, discovered a disposition that was excellent and amiable, in its own nature, fo.it suited with a very great propriety, the purpose of his coming to this world, and gave a most agreeable indication of what was to be the ruling principle and motive of his after life. The Evangelist informs us, * that immediately before he had expressed his compassion on the multitude, he had been healing all manner of disease and sickness among them: and very probably the people as they stood around him, were expressing their gratitude and joy, . on the occasion. This, to any other person, would have given compleat fatisfaction and delight. Jesus however had too deep an infight into the interests of human nature, to be satisfied with these events. He knew that
Mat. ix. 35.
the diseases of the body, and all the visible ca, lamities of life, were but trifling, when com. pared with those unseen and everlasting miferies, which arise from ignorance and guilt, or, what he calls the loss of the immortal soul.
He knew that the people whom he saw around him, rejoicing in the effects of his be. neficent and mighty works, and acknowledg. ing their obligations to their benefactor, were created for enjoyments of a different, and more important nature; that he himself had come from heaven to lead them to these no. bler enjoyments; but that they were so unfortunare aș not to know, either the nature of that happiness for which they were designed, or the method of attaining it; nor had hither to met with any wise or faithful teacher, to conduct them to it. --- Jesus beholding the multitudes in this uncommon, but affecting light, had compassion on them, says the Evangelist, (alluding to the tenderness and care of a faith, ful fhepherd). * ' Because they were as fheep
* This image would convey a stronger apprehension of the ftate of Jefus' mind to the Jews who lived in the days of the Evangelist, than it does to us.' The pastoral life was then in great honour and cfteem; the riches of their greatest men confilted chiefly in their flocks, and they placed their honour and delight in attending them, and preparing proper nourishment and pasture for them. Whatever therefore concerned the in