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knowledge upon his
and benevolent mind ? Did He therefore look upon human nature as utterly and desperately depraved, -as only fit to be the subject of declamation to the Satirist, or to furnish out doctrines of gloom for the Theologian ? Did He, therefore, like the wise men of the world, sit still, and coldly indicate that no remedy could be applied ? O no, my brethren! with all his knowledge of the vices and the corruptions of the human heart, he knew what the pride of speculative or worldly wisdom never yet knew ;-he knew that, amidst all the cloud of sin, there was yet a lurking principle of Faith which sought for its God,
and that amidst all the degradation and grossness of earthly selfishness, there was yet a spark of love and gratitude which might be found, and touched, and kindled into flame. It was this knowledge which, wherever He went, rendered his demeanour so mild, so compassionate, and forgiving. He did not upbraid men either with their depraved nature, or their actualsins,—these he left it to their own consciences to expose to them; but he told them, that they might be saved,--that if they would follow Him and his footsteps, he would lead them
right; and that if they came unto Him, however weary and heavy laden, He would give them rest. This knowledge of the wanderings and sins of men seemed merely to add to the ardour of his desire to guide and to restore them. There was no offensive pride nor anger mingled with his pity. Here, too, “ He knew what was in man;" and with all the fellowfeeling of a man, he felt what was due to the very prejudices and corruptions which he sought to remove.
It is from this gentleness and humility, perhaps, that so very little of what can be called Doctrine or formal enunciation of truths necessary to be believed, is to be found in our Saviour's preaching. He never crossed the religious prejudices of the Jews, except when they were productive of manifest bigotry or hypocrisy. Much less did he inflame men's minds with any of those disputes which have since been started in the Christian world to the infinite prejudice of the Religion which He taught ! He confined his lessons almost entirely to the genuine principles of piety and morality, as they are naturally awakened in the heart; and so unobtrusive, indeed, was he in his deportment, that he left many important, tenets rather to be gathered from the events of his history, than from any systematic instruction. He did not labour to enforce the necessity of an Atonement by controversy or preaching,—but he died upon the Cross ;-He established the fact of our Ressurrection, not by the strife of words ---but He Himself rose from the dead. This was a teacher who, indeed, “ knew what was in man;" who could accommodate himself to every thing that was great, or every thing that was weak, in human nature who saw that in this wonderful creature virtues and vices, wisdom and prejudices, are unaccountably mingled together; and who, while he was most zealous to elevate the one, and to remove the other, yet touched both with that delicacy and tenderness, that even the very pride of the heart which He corrected could scarcely take offence at his gentle Hand.
III. It was, however, in this feature of human nature, its Pride, and Self-sufficiency, that our Saviour, in the third place, beheld the chief obstacle to his instructions; and, accordingly, what he ever aims at most, is to bring down this strong-hold of Sin. This he does, how! ever, with the same perfect knowledge of our nature, and with the same gentleness and be nevolence which appeared throughout all his demeanour. He did not paint in mortifying or debasing colours, the innumerable sins and follies of man, and hold him up as an object of abhorrence and contempt.
He knew too well i “ what was in man,” and how naturally the pride which he sought to bring down, would take arms in its own defence against such hateful representations. He rather indirectly painted the beauty and loveliness of an humble and teachable spirit; he pointed to the simplicity of “ little children;" and with this irresistible appeal to every affectionate or paternal heart, he taught our wayward race, that the kingdom of Heaven is not the reward of those haughty and lofty dispositions which nursed by the splendours of power, or wealth, or fame, but is open only to those gentle and simple minds that will quietly drink in the principles and the affections of celestial natures. This was the character which he sought to form in His Disciples, as all that was required to conduct them to goodness and happiness.
When he found this humble and attentive mind even in the midst of trespasses and sins, it was sufficient, he knew, under His guidance, to lead back again to peace, and to purity : when he found it not among the righteous themselves, such men, he saw, whatever excellencies they might now possess, were not yet qualified to become His disciples. Hence, we see, that he places so much weight on the possession of an undoubting and confiding spirit. thou believe ?” is the question which He so often puts to those who come to him; by which he does not mean, ' is thy understanding convinced of any particular class of religious truths, or art thou under the influence of any distinct spiritual impulse ; but art thou disposed to lay aside, thine own untutored presumption, and to throw thyself like a little child upon the wisdom and compassion of thy Heavenly Father, and of Him whom He hath sent?
Such, my brethren, is a very imperfect view of the character of that wisdom and knowledge, which was to be found in our Great Teacher, and in Him alone. Slight and imperfect as it is, it may yet suffice to show how deserving of study and application of mind, are the words and