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In this illustrious manner did the great Redeemer of mankind depart, after having finished the grand work which he left the bosom of his Father to execute; a work which God himself, in the remotest eternity contemplated with pleasure, which angels with joy described was to happen, and which through all eternity to come, shall at periods, the most immensely distant from the time of its execution, be looked back upon with inexpressible delight, by every inhabitant of heaven; for though the minute affairs of time may vanish altogether and be lost, when they are removed far back by the endless progression of duration, this object is such, that no distance however great can lessen it. The kingdom of heaven is erected on the incarnation and sufferings of the Son of God, the kingdom and the city of the Almighty, comprehending all the people of God in the universe, made happy by goodness and love, and therefore, none of them can ever forget the foundation on which their happiness stands established. The human species in particular, recovered by the labourof the Son of God, will view their Deliverer, and look back on his stupendous undertaking with the highest rapture, while they are feasting without interruption on its delicious fruits. The rest of the members likewise of the city of God, will contemplate it with perpetual pleasure, as the happy means of recovering their kindred that were lost, and possibly the grand confirmation of the whole rational system, in their subjections to him who reigneth for ever, and whose favour is better than life itself.
Thus have we followed our dear Redeemer through all the transactions of his life, and enlarged on the stupendous miracle of his resurrection, on which glorious event the whole christian doctrine is founded.
As the similarity between Christ, and the law-giver Moses (whom the divine Redeemer mentioned to his disciples but a short time before his ascension into heaven) is so very remarkable, we shall, as an illus
tration of the glorious subject, point out a few instances; which will evince, that the prophecies of old were only to be compleated in the sufferings and death of Christ.
Moses was the most distinguished of all the prophets, and his greatest prophecy was that of another prophet to be raised like unto himself. He was, at the time of •» this prediction, about to leave his people, and, therefore, to give them some comfort, he promised them another prophet. "The Lord thy God, (said he) will raise unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him shall ye hearken." Deut. xviii. 15.
That this person of whom Moses prophesied, was the great Redeemer of mankind, is amply evident, and that Moses resembled Christ in a much greater degree than any other person ever did, will appear from the following circumstances:
Both Moses and Christ shewed signs and wonders, and in these respects none of the ancient prophets were like unto Moses. None of them were lawgivers, they only interpreted and enforced the laws of Moses. None of them had such clear communication with God; they all saw visions, and dreamed dreams. Moses and Christ are the only two who perfectly resembled each other in these respects.
Moses fled from his country to escape the hands of the king of Egypt: so did Christ when his parents went into Egypt. Afterwards *• the Lord said unto Moses, in Midian, Go, return into Egypt; for all the men are dead which sought thy life," Exod. iv. 19; so the angel of the Lord said to Joseph in nearly the same words, "Arise, and take the young child, and go into the land of Israel; for they are dead which sought the young child's life;" Matt, ii. 20, pointing him out, as it were, for that prophet, who should arise, like unto Moses.
Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, chusing rather to suffer affliction; Christ refused to be made king, chusing rather to suffer the like.
Moses, (says St. Stephen) " was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," and Josephus says, that he was a very forward and accomplished youth, and had wisdom and knowledge beyond his years. St. Luke observes of Christ, that '' he increased (betimes) in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man," and his discourses in the temple with the doctors, when he was but twelve years old, were a proof of it.
Moses was not only a law-giver, a prophet, and a worker of miracles, but a king and a priest: in all these offices the resemblance between Moses and Christ was singular.
Moses brought darkness over the land; the sun withdrew his light at Christ's crucifixion ; and as the darkness which spread over Egypt was followed by the destruction of their first-born, and of Pharaoh and his host: so the darkness at Christ's death was the forerunner of the destruction of the Jews.
Moses foretold the calamities which would befal the nation for their disobedience: so did Christ.
The spirit which was in Moses was conferred, in some degree, upon the seventy elders, and they prophesied; Christ conferred miraculous powers on his seventy disciples,
Moses was victorious over powerful kings and great nations } so was Christ by the effects of his religion, and by the fall of those who persecuted the church.
Moses conquered Amalec by holding up both his hands; Christ overcame his and our enemies when his hands were fastened to the cross.
Moses interceded for transgressors, and
caused an atonement to be made for them, and stopped the wrath of God; so did Christ.
Moses ratified a covenant between God and the people, by sprinkling them with blood; Christ with his own blood.
Moses desired to die for the people^ and prayed that God would forgive them, or blot him out of his book; Christ did more, he died for sinners.
Moses instituted the passover, when & lamb was sacrificed, none of whose bones were to be broken, and whose blood protected the people from destruction: Christ was the paschal Iamb. *
Moses lifted up the serpent, that they who looked upon him might be healed of their mortal wounds; by properly looking up to Christ all will be healed.
All the affection of Moses towards the people, all his cares and toils on their account were repaid by them with ingratitude, murmuring and rebellion; the same returns the Jews made to Christ for all his benefits.
Moses was ill used by his own family; his brother and sister rebelled against him; there was a time when Christ's own brethren believed not in him.
Moses had a very wicked and perverse generation committed to his care and conduct, and to enable him to rule them, miraculous powers were given to him, and he used his utmost endeavours to make the people obedient to God, and to save them from ruin; but in vain; in the space of forty-two years they all fell. in the wilderness except two; Christ also was given to a generation not less wicked and perverse, his instructions and his miracles were lost upon them, and in about the same space of time, after they had rejected him, they were destroyed.
Moses was very meek above all men that were on the face of the earth: so was Christ.
The people could not enter into the land of promise till Moses was dead; by the death of Christ the kingdom of heaven was opened to believers.
Moses enlightened the Jews under the dispensation of the old law; Christ enlightened the Christians under the Gospel.
Moses did great wonders in the land of Egypt; Christ did great miracles in Judea.
In the deaths of Moses and Christ there is also a resemblance of some circumstances: Moses died, in some sense, for the iniquities of the people; it was their rebellion which was the occasion of it, which drew down the displeasure of God upon them and upon him; Moses went up, in the sight of the people, to the top of the mount Nebo, and there he died, when he was in perfect vigour, when " his eyes was not dim, nor his natural.force abated:'' Christ suffered for the sins of men, and was led up, in the presence of the people, to mount Calvary, where he died in the flower of his age, and when he was in his full natural strength.
Neither Moses, or Christ, as far as we can collect from sacred history, were ever sick, or felt any bodily decay or infirmity, which would have rendered them unfit for the toils they underwent: their sufferings were of another kind.
Moses was buried, and no man knew where his body lay; nor could the Jews find the body of Christ.
Lastly, as Moses, a little before his death, promised "another prophet;" so Christ, before his death, promised " another comforter."
Moses (says St. Ambrose) was the figure of that Preceptor that was to come; who
should preach the Gospel, fulfil the Old Testament, build the New, and feed the people with celestial ailment.
Such are the comparisons relative to the great Resemblance between Moses and Christ: but the greatest similitude consists in their both being law-givers, which no other prophet ever was. They may resemble each other in many other circumstances, and a fruitful imagination may strike upon farther resemblances; but what we have been mentioning may suffice; and we may ask, is this similitude between Moses and Christ the effect of mere chance? Let us search all the records of universal history, and see if we can find a man who was so like to Christ as Moses was. If we cannot find such an one, then have we found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God.
Thus have we followed our dear Redeemer though all the transactions of his life, and enlarged on the stupendous miracle of his resurrection,as the whole christian doctrine is founded on that glorious event.
And from this history it is abundantly evident, that our blessed Saviour shewed himself to his disciples and friends only, not to the Jews in general. This circumstance gave Spinosa a pretence for raising an objection, which his disciples have considered as the strongest argument against our Lord's resurrection. "If, say they, he really rose from the dead, to have shewed himself to his enemies as well as to his friends, would have put the truth of his resurrection beyond all doubt, than, which, nothing could be more necessary to the cause of Christianity; and, therefore, the resurrection to a few select friends only, renders the affair extremely suspicious and improbable.
But this argument, however plausible it may appear at first sight, is destitute of the least force, because it may be demonstrated, that if Jesus had shewed himself to his enemies, and to all the people in general, these appearances, instead of putting the truth of his resurrection beyond all doubt, would have weakened the evidence of it, at least, in after ages; and, consequently, have been of infinite prejudice to mankind ; fbr, upon the supposition that our blessed Saviour had shewed himself openly, one of the two things must necessarily have happened: either his enemies, submitting to the evidence of their senses, would have believ, ed his resurrection ; or resisting that evi* dence, they would reject it altogether. We shall first consider the latter.
Those enemies of the great Redeemer of mankind, who resisted the evidence of their senses, or who though really convinced, would not acknowledge their conviction, must have justified their disbelief, by affirming, that the person who appeared to them, As risen from the dead, was not Jesus whom the Roman governor had crucified, but an impostor who personated him. On any other foundation their infidelity would have been ridiculous and absurd; but if the believing Jews by our Lord's appearing personally to them, would have been laid under a necessity of denying the reality of his resurrection, even though persuaded of it in their own minds, the evidence of fact could have gained nothing by such public appearances: because the generality of the Jews were not capable of passing a judgment upon the falsehood which Christ's enemies must have made use of to support their denial of his resurrection. Being unacquainted with Jesus, they could not certainly tell whether he was really the very person whom the Romans had crucified. His apostles, disciples, and acquaintance, who, by their long attendance on him, knew his stature, shape, air, voice, and manner, were the only proper persons by whose determination the point in dispute could be decided: consequently, if our Lord had appeared to all the people; if any considerable number of his enemies had
continued in their infidelity, the whole stress of the evidence of his resurrection must have rested on the evidence of the very persons, who, according to the plan pitched upon by Providence, bear witness to it now, and upon whose testimony the world has believed it. So that instead of gaining an additional evidence by the proposed method of shewing Jesus publicly to all the people, we should have had nothing to trust to but the testimony of his disciples, and that clogged with this incumbrance, that his resurrection was denied by many to whom he appeared, and who were not convinced thereby.
But, in the second place, it may be supposed, that in case our blessed Saviour had shewed himself publicly, the whole nation of the JeVs must have believed ; that future generations would thus have had the fullest evidence of the truth of his resurrection. •
This, however, will not appear to be the case, if we consider, that the greatest part of our Lord's enemies having not given themselves the trouble of attending him often, cannot be supposed to have been so well acquainted with his person, as to know him with certainty. For which reason though he had shewed himself to them, even the belief of his resurrection must, in a great measure, have depended on the testimony of his disciples and friends. If so, it is not very probable that his appearing publicly would have had any great effect on the Jews, to persuade them to embrace a crucified Messiah. It is far more reasonable to believe they would have rejected the whole, and continued in their infidelity.
But to give the argument all the force the Deists can desire, let us suppose, that, in consequence of our blessed Saviour's appearing to all the people of the Jews, the nation in general would have been convinced of the truth of his resurrection, and become his disciples; what advantage would the cause of Christianity have reaped from such effects of our Lord's public appearance? Would the evidence of his resurrection have become thereby the more unquestionable? Or would the modern infidels have been the better disposed to believe in this crucified Jesus? By no means. For we do not find that men of this class are at all the more ready to believe the miracles of Moses in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness, because the whole nation were witnesses of them. The -truth is, had our blessed Redeemer persuaded all the people of the Jews, by appearing personally to them, the objections against his resurrection would have been ten times more numerous and forcible than they are at present; for would not the whole have been called a state trick, a Jewish fable, a mere political contrivance, to patch up their broken credit, after they had so long talked of a Messiah, who was to come at that time? Besides, we should certainly have been told, that the government being engaged in the plot, a fraud of this kind might have easily been carried on, especially as the people in general would eagerly fall in with it; because it was so exactly adapted to their prejudices, and because the few who had sagacity enough to detect the fraud, could have no opportunity of examining into it. Or, if they did examine and detect the fraud, would not have dared to make any discovery of it, in opposition to the whole weight of the state: so that they would let it pass quietly, without once calling it in question.
To say the truth, the resurrection of our great Redeemer, universally believed among the Jews, and published to the world, by the unanimous voice of the nation, would have been liable to an infinite number of objections, which are all effectually cut off by the scheme made choice of by the wisdom of Providence: for as the people in general, and the rulers in particular, continued in their infidelity, the persons concerned in this supposed
fraud, must have carried it on under the greatest disadvantages.
The reason is, that instead of making many friends to assist them, which a fraud of this kind requires, all men were their enemies,- and interested to discover the cheat. The Jewish rulers, in particular, gave all possible encouragement to make the strictest scrutiny into the fact, and into all its circumstances; and many, doubtless, zealously made the inquiry with the utmost exactness. The apostles who preached the resurrection, exposed themselves to the fiercest resentment of the men in power; because the resurrection of our great Redeemer cast the greatest reflection upon those who had put him to death. It should also be remembered, that if the generality of the nation had not continued in their unbelief, the apostles, who preached the resurrection, would not have suffered those persecutions which in every country were raised against them, chiefly by the Jews; and, consequently, one ofthestrongest arguments for the truth of their testimony would have been wanting: whereas, by their having been persecuted to death for their preaching the resurrection of their great Master, they fully demonstrated how sincerely they believed the great fact which they preached in continual jeopardy of their lives.
Thus have we endeavoured to answer, in the plainest and most satisfactory manner, the principal objection made by the Deists against the truth of our blessed Saviour's resurrection: and shall conclude this chapter with a few reflections on the life of the blessed Jesus, a life, the greatest and best that was ever led by man, or was ever the subject of any history, since the universe was called from its original chaos, by the powerful word of the Almighty.
The human character of the blessed Jesus, as it results from the account given of him by the evangelists, for they have not formally drawn it up, is entirely different from