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in which they are found more perplexed. If I mistake not, no terms in ancient authors are so doubtful as those appropriated to philosophy, many of which seem to have their meaning scarcely settled even at the present time. With these sources of doubt before them, translators would have been extremely perplexed, and would have perplexed their readers still more by their own terms, chosen, often erroneously, to express the doubtful meaning of their originals. But the language used by our Saviour, was suited to all men; the best language for philosophers themselves, the only language for other men. All men can understand it better than any other, most men can understand no other.

The plainness of our Saviour's manner is conspicuous, also, in the obvious nature of his allusions and illustrations. These were all derived from objects familiar to the apprehension of mankind at large, according to the rule of eloquence in this respect laid down by Cicero. Every reader of our Saviour's discourses must have observed this fact. The city set on a hill ;' the salt of the earth ;' the candle, which is not to be set under a bushel, but on a candlestick ;' the vine and the branches;' the shepherd and the sheep;' are instances which cannot be forgotten. These, and others of the like nature, are the happiest of all allusions, and the best of all illustrations. They are natural, but forcible; everywhere offering themselves, and everywhere beautiful; familiar, but possessed of sufficient dignity; and attended always with this bigh recommendation, that they are easily understood by men in every situation of life.

The plainness of our Saviour's manner is remarkably evident, also, in his parables. Instruction appears to have been communicated in allegorical discourses generally resembling these, from the earliest

But no instructor ever formed them so happily as Christ. The subjects alluded to are chosen with supreme felicity, and the allusions are conducted with the utmost skill and success. The allegorical part of the story is always just and impressive, commonly beautiful, not unfrequently sublime, and in several instances eminently pathetic. The meaning which it is intended to convey is at the same time definite, clear, and obvious. The parable, instead of shading the thought, illumines it, and instead of leaving the reader in doubt, contributes not a little to the satisfaction of his inquiries. When we consider the perplexed, enigmatical manner in which both Jewish and Gentile teachers, at that time, conveyed many of their most important instructions, we shall, on the one hand, see this characteristic of our Saviour's discourses in a stronger light, and, on the other, shall be led to admire suitably the wisdom with which in this respect he taught mankind.


Nearly allied to the plainness of our Saviour's instructions is their simplicity. By simplicity, in this case, I mean that general characteristic of discourse, in which both the thoughts and words appear to have been adopted without the effort of selecting, and merely because they offered themselves; and to follow each other in the order in which they offered themselves, without contrivance, and in the manner most remote from either study or affectation. Of this important characteristic, as critics universally agree, the ancient writers furnish more numerous and more perfect examples than the moderns. Among ancient writers, those who penned the Scriptures hold, by general acknowledgment, also, the first place. But amid these, as well as all other instructors of mankind, Christ as a pattern of perfect simplicity stands unrivalled. His discourses, though fraught with doctrines of the most profound and wonderful wisdom, and sentiments of the highest sublimity and beauty, appear still, as if neither the words nor the thoughts were the result of the least study, but sprang up spontaneously in his mind, and flowed from his tongue in a sense instinctively, in a manner strongly resembling that of children. The impression made by the manner in which they are delivered, is, that they are the result of mere unadulterated nature, prompting the speaker with an unresisted impulse, as if he knew how to speak in no other manner. The effect of this manner of discoursing is undoubtedly in an eminent degree happy, whatever may be the subject or the drift of the discourse. When this is didactic, simplicity gives the teacher the most desirable aspect of artlessness, candour, and sincerity. When it is historical, beside presenting the speaker as invested with these important characteristics, it lends the utmost beauty and impressiveness to his narration. When it is sublime or pathetic, it presents the objects which excite these emotions in the strongest light, and excites the emotions themselves in the highest degree which is possible. As examples, illustrating


in the most perfect manner the truth of all these observations, I allege particularly, Christ's Sermon on the Mount; his Parabolic Sermon, recorded Matt. xiii.; several of his discourses with the Jews, recorded by St. John; those addressed to his disciples, commencing with the xivth chapter; his intercessory prayer in the xviith of that Evangelist; the Lord's Prayer ; the parables of the Prodigal Son, the Rich Man and Lazarus, and the Good Samaritan ; and the discourses concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, and the final judgment, in the xxivth and xxvth of Matthew. The parable of the Prodigal Son, particularly, may be alleged as the first example of beautiful and pathetic simplicitly which has been ever given to mankind; as without a rival, and without a second.

2. Christ exhibited in his manner of instructing the most perfect modesty and delicacy.

Both Jewish and heathen teachers, before the time of Christ, were remarkable for pride, vanity, and of course for boasting. Pharisaical and stoical pride have been proverbial for near two thousand years. The Grecian philosophers exhibited to the world their true character, in this respect, by calling themselves Lopor, or wise men. Those of the East assumed denominations equally arrogant and contemptible. The pride and vanity which they exhibited in this manner, they manifested also in every other form, and on every convenient occasion. Liko a disagreeable odour, this unbecoming character eludes every attempt to conceal it, and forces itself upon the mind, whereever the writer becomes the subject of his own thoughts.

In direct and perfect opposition to them all, Christ, though teaching with a wisdom and greatness of character altogether unrivalled, has not suffered, I need not say a proud or vain thought, but even the most distant appearance of such a thought, to escape from his lips. Though more frequently than any other teacher compelled, by the nature of his mediatorial office, the tenour of his discourses, and the disputes in which he was engaged with the Jews, to become the subject of his instructions to them; and although doing and saying that which, far more than any thing ever done or said, must awaken the conviction of personal greatness and superiority, yet he has never even in the most remote hint or allusion intimated a single indulgence of either pride or vanity in his own mind. No resemblance of boasting can be found in all his discourses. Himself, as an object of admiration or applause, is for ever out of sight and ont of remembrance.

Delicacy is the kindred, the ally of modesty, and an attribute of instruction as well as an excellency of character which appears to have been very imperfectly known to the teachers, both Jewish and heathen, who lived at or before the time of our Saviour. From them all he is perfectly distinguished by the most complete exhibition of this excellence. Not a sentiment, not a word, has fallen from his lips which can give pain, in this respect, to a mind of the most finished refinemeut and virtue ; not a word, not a sentiment, fitted to awaken one improper thought, or to allure in the least degree to any unbecoming action.

3. Christ taught with entire boldness and integrity.

These highly honourable characterestics of oår Saviour's instruction are everywhere visible, and, so far as I know, universally acknowledged. Particularly are they conspicuous in his open, intrepid attacks on the Pharisees and Sadducees, the men who at that time held the whole power of the Jewish government, and the whole influence over the Jewish nation. These sects also were the leaders of that nation in all their bigotry, their miserable superstition, and their deplorable devotion to a mere outside morality and worship. They corrupted them in their moral and religious principles, and introduced a sensual, loose, and nearly atheistical system of doctrine and practice. To these men Christ, with no defence but his own wisdom, innocence, and purity, opposed himself with uniformity, vigour, and immoveable firmness ; exposing the unsoundness of their wretched doctrines, the futility of their arguments, the hypocrisy of their professions, and the enormous turpitude of their lives. All this he did with such clearness of evidence, and such pungency of reproof, that they themselves often shrunk from the detection, and trembled for the

very ex: istence of their principles and their power.

At the same time, and in the same manner, he reproved and exposed all the popular prejudices of bis country. Gentle, modest, and humble beyond example, he united with this character an unyielding fixedness of principle and deportment, and a perfect destitution of that love of popularity, and that desire of applause, which are such prominent traits in the character of most of those who have attempted the instruction

of mankind. There is not in his instructions a single instance of the least concession to any religious, civil, or personal prejudice of his countrymen. On the contrary, he treated them

' , all openly, uniformly, and alike. Even their favourite doctrine, that they were, and were ever to be, the peculiar people of God, together with all the mischievous consequences which they derived from it, he resisted on many occasions, and in many forms; declaring that they were not, in the true and scriptural sense, the children of Abraham ; and showing them,

; that their natural descent from this patriarch would not, by itself, be the least advantage to them, while the abuse of their privileges would only increase their guilt, and enhance their final condemnation.

Nor was Christ less direct and sincere in reproving his friends. In them, notwithstanding all the gentleness and tenderness with which he taught them, he allowed no variation from truth or duty ; and reproved them on every occasion for their prejudices, bigotry, unbelief, contentions, faults and follies of every kind. Exact truth and unwarping holiness appear evidently to have been the objects which he made the standard of all his instructions, as well as of his life. No tenderness, friendship, or gentleness of disposition, no fear of the populace or the powerful, prevented him from reaching this standard on every occasion ; no zeal transported him beyond it. He, and he alone, among those who have taught mankind, knew how to make all the affections of man perfectly accordant with truth and duty, and perfectly subservient to the establishment of them in the world.

4. Christ taught mankind with an authority peculiar to himself.

This characteristic of Christ's teaching was twofold.

(1) The authority derived from the weight of his precepts, and the manner in which they were inculcated. This I take to be especially what is intended by St. Matthew in the following passage ; . And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings,' (that is, the sayings contained in bis sermon on the mount) · the people were astonished at his doctrine ; for 'he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.' In the authority of this kind, Christ far excelled every other instructor. No precepts are so important as his, no manner of teacbing is so dignified and so commanding.



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