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farther into perdition. And when the time came for them to commence their immortal work of regenerating the world, they were morally prepared for the undertaking, and Judas was equally prepared for the result of his training, bribery, treason, remorse, despair, suicide, perdition.
But a great system like that of Christianity, could dawn upon such minds as those of the disciples only by degrees. It was the will of God that the new religion should shape itself partly by doctrines, and partly by events, doctrines anticipating events, and events interpreting doctrines. The doctrines of Christianity were completed in the teachings of Christ, but they were not understood, partly because that state of things had not come about, to which they were intended to apply, and partly because their minds were already preoccupied by expectations of a state of things totally different from that which really took place.
Christianity was established then partly by teaching, and partly by events; by teaching which prepared the way for and gave meaning to events, and events which interpreted and gave significancy to teaching. The fundamental error which blinded their minds to all that he said to them, was their mistaken expectations with regard to himself. They had no other idea than that entertained by their countrymen, that in a few months, or years at farthest,
when his cause had become sufficiently strong and
The first check which these hopes sustained, was the information that he was going up to Jerusalem not to reign, but to be crucified. This declaration was made under the most interesting circumstances. It was just after Peter's declaration of his full faith in Jesus as the Messiah. "Thou art surnamed the Rock, and upon this rock, will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Peter was doubtless highly elated with this promise, though somewhat mysterious. To guard against any false and worldly hopes which his followers might cherish from his encouraging language to Peter, he took that occasion to inform them of an event as dark and humiliating as his late promises had been magnificent. "From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief Priests and Scribes, and be killed, and raised again the third day." For such a prediction Peter was utterly unprepared. He thought his master must be under some strange delusion, or rather laboring under temporary hallucination. His words, when rendered into modern phraseology, are something like these; "God be merciful to you, you must be beside yourself."
This prediction, though reiterated many times during his ministry, seems to have produced no permanent impression. So it was with all the warnings he gave them of the baselessness of all worldly hopes grounded on their connexion with him. Still they went on cherishing boundless expectations of their destiny as the prime ministers of King Messiah. These hopes alone were sufficient to prevent their understanding the elevated character of his discourses. When he spoke of himself as a king, as coming with great power and glory, he
thought of being enthroned in the hearts and minds of the world, as swaying mankind, as he has done, from the invisible throne of truth. Their imaginations were crowning him on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, building his palaces, arranging his court, and assembling his armies.
In the meantime, affairs were taking such a turn, as to be preparing to fulfil his prophecies, and to disappoint their hopes. Jesus had publicly appeared as the Messiah of the Jews, but altogether failed to meet their national expectations. They had expected a military hero and deliverer, and lo! the meekest of men! They had expected the Son of David with an outward splendor, at least as imposing as that of David and Solomon, and, behold! he was so poor that he had not where to lay his head! They naturally supposed that he would take to his society and his counsels, at least that part of the nation, which was most prominent for station, learning, religious sanctity, and civil dignity. But instead of this, he had chosen his followers from among the fishermen and tax-gatherers of Galilee, men alike destitute of rank and education. From both church and state, he held himself studiously aloof. That such a man as this should pretend to be their Messiah, they held to be not only a national indignity, but impiety to God, a bold profanation of a sacred character. But his offences had not been confined to
sins of omission. He had not only neglected the civil and religious functionaries of the nation, but had openly denounced them as utterly unworthy the confidence of the people. He had loaded with every term of reproach that part of society, which the multitude regarded as the most religious. He had publicly called them hypocrites, whited sepulchres, brood of vipers, wolves in sheep's clothing, blind guides, adulterers, thieves and robbers. He had intimated that the kingdom of the Messiah was not to be national, that the heathen were to be freely admitted into it, while a greater part of their own nation was to be rejected and destroyed. But what had irritated them to the highest pitch of resentment, was the hints he was reported to have thrown out, that their national pride and glory, the temple, which they had been forty-six years in building, and was just then finishing in the most commanding magnificence, had not long to stand, and instead of being its defender, he should in some way, be connected with its destruction.
A man who had committed so many enormities, in that period of violence and blood, could not long be safe. The Jewish council would probably have taken him off long before, could they have done so without implicating themselves, or exciting popular commotions. At any rate, they were determined to destroy him, and if it could be done under the forms