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varying mass of infirmity, misery, and guilt ; and He arrayed before it all the splendour of Omnipotent Benevolence—all the magnificence of Omnipotent Love. He inveighed-He warned -He exhorted. He lifted up the veil from every inordinate affection, and tore away the gaudy blossom from the luxuriant shoot of sin, before it could ripen into fruit.
The instructions of our Saviour in nothing resemble those that have been delivered to the people in succeeding generations. His preceptsat that period almost wholly of a novel description-are unaccompanied either by proofs or by arguments. He “opens his mouth,” and pours forth a plentiful stream of sententious rules, frequently illustrated by the nicest aptitude of metaphor, and occasionally animated by the sternness of just invective. He appears openly and authoritatively as the Messenger and Son of God. He asserts, and requires implicit belief. He condescends to no other means of persuasion than those which arise from the respect and veneration of His followers; and He attains His object, simply by the majesty and evident verity of His impressive doctrines..
Not indeed that Christ intended, in this collection of precepts, to communicate a COMPLETE system of morality. Many circumstances of conduct must arise which are not here directly provided for; and which the understandings of those to whom such fundamental principles were delivered, could not, at one and the same time, have distinctly embraced. But here, will be found the most striking and the most important of all: here, the most comprehensive rules which may readily be applied to every necessity and diversity of life. To have inserted all, would have been a useless and interminable labour : it would have crowded and confused the memory with that which may be better inferred, and thus more easily comprehended.
But although there appears to exist so much difference between the spirit of the Mosaic laws and those of CHRIST, yet it arose more especially from the false glosses with which the Jews had contrived to disguise the former. Christ came to fulfil both the Law and the Prophets, so far as they restrained the commission of offences by annexing suitable awards; but where they stopped, it was His office to begin. It was His constant endeavour to free the Mosaic ritual from all the unmeaning traditions and customs, with which it had been straitly encompassed; and which it required an arm, manifestly from Heaven, to cut through. To Him alone and to Him but partially-did it pertain to dash aside the proud sentiment of their infallible superiority over the rest of creation—to demonstrate that their broad phylacteries—their profuse and ostentatious alms—their hypocritical pompousness of supplication-their sad and disfigured visages, were all heinous sins, instead of elevated virtues. The design of the Mosaic Law was to render men better; and where it failed in this, there it became the Saviour and instructor of mankind to abridge or to enlarge. Christ, it is remarkable, attempts not to overthrow, and never appears to censure, the civil laws of the Jews. He leaves them as they were found ; and their final overthrow arose, not from His reproaches or attacks, but from the nature of their conformation. They lasted as long as they were essential to the well-being of those for whom they were instituted; but, after the advent of the seed of David, they slowly disappeared.
Very dissimilar, in truth, was it with the MORAL law. Moses only came short of what was required. His laws in themselves were good ; and, under all the existing circumstances, clearly the best that could have been devised. But when another dispensation arrived—when, free from much of the barbarism of past times, the world was advancing in civilisation—when, enormous errors were to be rooted out, and remedies provided against the re-establishment of the same, or the rise of others-it became necessary to enforce a more consistent moralitya truer scale of justice, and a more reasonable principle of right. Moses legislated for the consequences of human thoughts; but Christ laid
down laws for the regulation of the thoughts themselves. Christ struck at the root of evil: Moses only lopped away some of the higher branches. The Hebrew Legislator amputated the morbid limb; but the advantage was comparatively trivial, while the whole body was corrupt. It remained for the great Physician to expel the baneful principle which consumed the soul's vigour—to reinstate it in its healthfulness, and to constitute it a fitting candidate for heaven.
The Mosaic Law was, indeed, infinitely superior to every other institution which human wants had originated. It was more merciful, more just, more uniformly generous. But it was formed to the condition of the time, and partook, therefore, necessarily of the infirmity of the time. Hence the numerous ceremonies and painful rites with which it was accompanied. Useless and unmeaning as many of them appear, they were yet requisite to separate the Jewish people from the idol nations that surrounded, and that were but too often alluring them to transgress. They were designed, also, to prefigure the spiritual religion of Jesus Christ: and perhaps it might be in anticipation of His “ easy yoke”-in order to place the Saviour's advent more remarkably in contrast, and to render it therefore more truly acceptable, that these burdensome institutions were originally imposed.
. When Christ had finished the promulgation of His surprising doctrines, He came down from the mountain, followed by the multitudes of those whose admiration and attention He had secured. It is easy to conceive the agitation of heart with which His sayings would be received -the discussions that would ensue—the cold doubts of some, and the fervid conviction of others. He had “opened His mouth, and taught them"-taught such divine truths as they had never before heard; and the amazement which they expressed, bespoke at least a consciousness of their value, if it did not stir them “ to do likewise.” How many out of these there were, who might be likened unto the man that built his house upon a rock-upon which the rains ineffectually descended and the floods came -against which the winds blew, and it fell not hard, indeed, it were to ascertain ! Assuredly, the Divine Author of these blessed doctrines would not be contented with the mere astonishment of His hearers. He would require that the good seed which He had sown, should take root downward and bring forth corresponding fruit.
But if that Divine Author were disappointed --if even His voice could be heard with wonder, but without avail—if the multitudes that surrounded Him as He sat upon the mountain—if the Scribes and the Pharisees and the hypocrites of all denominations, that listened to