« PreviousContinue »
PRINTED FOR THOMAS DOBSON, AT THE STONE HOUSE, NO. 41, SOUTH
REYNOLDS AND PALMER, PRINTERS.
LIFE AND CHARACTER OF CHRIST.
THE true intention of the gospel writers was not to give a complete account of all the things that Jesus did, much less of all the reasons and occasions of them; but only to record so many naked facts* of
* To make evident, who that master was, whose disciples they professed themselves, their business was to tell how they knew him, what miracles he had wrought, and all those other particulars of which we read in their gospel: in which they make use of no disquisitions, but, in a plain and faithful narrative, declare their knowledge of these matters. And this looks like the singular care and wisdom of Divine Providence, that nothing of human invention might be said to be mixed with the gospel; which could not have been prevented, had the apostles în their writings set down not only what they themselves had seen, but their conjectures also, and deductions from the actions and sayings of our Saviour.
It doth not appear, that ever it came into the mind of these writers, to consider how this or the other action would appear to mankind; or what objections might be raised upon them. But without at all attending to this they lay the facts before you, at no pains to think whether they would appear credible or not. If the reader will not believe their testimony there is
each kind as would be abundantly sufficient to lay a sure foundation for our faith in his divine mission, and by that faith lead us to eternal happiness.
And indeed the account which we find there delivered, plain as it is and simple, and by that very simplicity, the more credible, is in itself of so very extraordinary a nature, and exhibits such an amazing scene of wisdom and goodness, as must, when duly attended to, convince us that it could have no less than a divine original.
That the great messenger and mediator of a new covenant, fixed in the divine decrees from the beginning, foretold by the ancient prophets, and announced by a host of angels: that he should at length
no help for it; they tell the truth, and attend to nothing else. Surely this looks like sincerity; and that they published nothing to the world but what upon the best evidence they believed themselves. It is likewise remarkable, that through the whole of their histories the evangelists have not passed one encomium upon Jesus, or upon any of his friends; nor thrown out one reflection against his enemies, although much of both kinds might, and no doubt would have been done by them, had they been governed either by a spirit of imposture or enthusiasm. Christ's life is not praised in the gospel, his death is not lamented, his friends not commended, his enemies not reproached, nor even blamed: but every thing is set down just as it happened; and all who read are left to judge and make reflection for themselves; a manner of writing which the historians would never have fallen into, had not their minds been under the guidance of the most sober reason, and deeply impressed with the dignity, importance, and truth of their subject.