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are correctly taught, as that they are all brought together and digested into a perfect system, in which nothing is wanting, and nothing is superfluous. In order to feel how wonderful this is, we must recollect how little comparatively the wisdom of philosophy did actually effect. We may take the strongest case which can be put. Just before the times of our Saviour, Cicero wrote a book on the moral duties of man. He was profoundly skilled in the Greek philosophy, and was himself one of the most highly gifted of men. His book must therefore be considered as the last and most perfect result of unaided human reason. Without insisting on its want of authority, or the fact, that many genuine virtues, especially the passive and devotional ones, are wholly omitted, and that many false and equivocal qualities are extravagantly commended, it is enough to observe that it is fundamentally and essentially defective in this particular, that the obligation of virtue is never once placed on its proper ground-our relation to God; and that its practice is never enforced by the only adequate sanction-our relation to a future world.
Consider what a phenomenon is here! That, which all the wisdom of Greece and Rome was unable to effect, is consummated at a single effort by an unlettered peasant, educated amidst the malignant prejudices and narrow bigotry of the Jewish nation. If from one of the most obscure of our villages, a man wholly without advantages
should bring forward the complete system of the Newtonian philosophy, it would not reach the singularity of this case. Whence then had this man his wisdom? Admit his own account of it, that it was not his, but God's, who sent him, and every thing is easy and clear. Deny it, and you will have a moral miracle to account for, incomparably great
any which christianity calls you to believe. We have remarked that the gospel of Christ is original in the comprehensiveness of its design, and in the perfection both of its fundamental principles, its particular details, and its general plan. We might now proceed to show that the manner in which the gospel was introduced, and the means provided for its duration and defence in after ages, are also wholly original and peculiar. Both of these topics would afford many strong illustrations of the general subject of this discourse, but they open a field too wide to be at present occupied. Let us hasten to remark, in the last place, on the originality of the character of our Saviour himself.
3. We find in the life of Jesus an union of qualities, which had never before met in any being on this earth. We find embodied in his example the highest virtues both of active and of contemplative life. We see united in him a devotion to God, the most intense, abstracted, unearthly, with a benevolence to man, the most active, affectionate, and universal. We see qualities meet and harmonize in his character, which are usually thought
the most uncongenial. We see a force of character, which difficulties cannot conquer, an energy which calamity cannot relax, a fortitude and constancy which sufferings can neither subdue nor bend from their purpose, connected with the most melting tenderness and sensibility of spirit, the most exquisite susceptibility to every
gentle impression. We see in him the rare union of zeal and moderation, of courage and prudence, of compassion and firmness; we see superiority to the world without gloom or severity, or indifference or distaste to its pursuits and enjoyments. In short, there is something in the whole conception and tenor of our Saviour's character so entirely peculiar, something which so realizes the ideal model of the most consummate moral beauty, something so lovely, so gracious, so venerable and commanding, that the boldest infidels have shrunk from it overawed ; and though their cause is otherwise desperate, have yet feared to profane its perfect purity. One of the most eloquent tributes to its sublimity that was ever uttered, was extorted from the lips of an infidel. “ Is there any thing in it,” he exclaims, “ of the tone of an enthusiast or of an ambitious sectary? What sweetness, what purity, in his manners; what touching grace in his instructions ; what elevation in his maxims; what profound wisdom in his discourses; what presence of mind, what skill and propriety in his answers; what empire over his passions! Where is the man, where
is the sage, who knows how to act, to suffer and to die, without weakness and without ostentation. When Plato paints his imaginary just man covered with all the ignominy of crime, and yet worthy of all the honours of virtue, he paints in every feature the character of Christ. What prejudice, what blindness must possess us to compare the son of Sophroniscus to the son of Mary. How vast the distance between them. Socrates, dying without pain and without ignominy, easily sustains his character to the last ; and if this gentle death had not honoured his life, we might have doubted whether Socrates, with all his genius, was any thing more than a sophist. The death of Socrates philosophizing tranquilly with his friends, is the most easy that one could desire ; that of Jesus expiring in torture, insulted, mocked, execrated by a whole people, is the most horrible that one can fear. Socrates, when he takes the poisoned cup, blesses him who weeps as he presents it ; Jesus, in the midst of the most dreadful tortures, prays for his infuriated executioners. Yes! if the life and death of Socrates are those of a sage---the life and death of Jesus are wholly divine."
Now let me ask whether, if for this perfect conformity with his own perfect precepts our Saviour had no model, not only among his own countrymen, but in the wide world ; if nothing like it had ever before appeared, or been imagined ; if we find in his situation not one external advantage
which could give the promise of such a character, but every thing most adverse to it; if we are unable to assign a single circumstance adapted to raise his mind above the depression of the grossness and superstition which surrounded him; must we not feel, that to say that this greatest and purest of all characters was at the same time the greatest of all hypocrites and impostors, is to assert a most glaring and absurd contradiction? If
you say, against all evidence, that this character is fictitious, and never really existed, you, increase instead of lessening the prodigy. You make the histories of the evangelists the greatest wonder of human invention. That for the purposes of fraud, these simple and unlearned men should be inspired with powers for the most difficult of all the efforts of genius, the consistent and harmonious representation of a perfect character, cannot for a moment engage our belief. That ignorant Jewish impostors, without any model to copy from, should have succeeded in the delineation of a character so wholly original, placed in circumstances so various and new, especially where supernatural agency is introduced, is surely beyond all comparison more difficult of belief, than that the God of benevolence, in mercy to his children, should have sent his Son on the earth to realize such a character, and to teach us by his perfect example how we should live, how we should suffer, and a still harder lesson, how we should die.