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§ 1. From the character of Jesus and the salutary effects of Christianity, proofs have often been drawn in favor of the truth of this religion
§ 2. It has seldom been observed, however, that the mere plan devised by Jesus for the good of mankind, is of such importance and extent as to designate a man upon whom had been conferred the dignity of the most exalted ambassador of
§ 3. To be convinced of this, we must,
(1) ascertain from history what Jesus had in view,.
§ 5. We shall not even attempt to refute what has lately been said respecting the object which Christ had in view. We shall merely collect together the accounts of his friends upon this subject and give them a connected representation § 6. These accounts, however, are perfectly credible, and to be
§ 7. To form a correct conception of the plan of Jesus from them, we must attend to its compass, its character, and the manner in which it was to be carried into effect
I. THE COMPASS OF CHRIST'S PLAN.
§ 8. A disposition has been evinced by some to maintain that Jesus acted solely for his own nation and aimed at the res
toration of genuine Mosaicism
SKETCH OF THE PLAN DEVISED BY JESUS FOR THE GOOD OF MANKIND.
§ 4. We are not here to speak of what theologians call the office of Christ, but merely of what his plan has in common with the benevolent plans of other venerable men
(b) from his language respecting it,
(b) and in part from his declarations
§ 19. The religion then prevalent both among the Jews and
§ 21. This representation rendered religion clear and simple, destroyed the pernicious influence of the priesthood, and instead of the sacrificial service, introduced a worship of God in spirit and in truth
§ 22. Hence also the doctrines of the providence of God, the reconcilableness of God, and the immortality of the soul, received additional light and confirmation
§ 23. Morality required no less improvement, as it was not what
§ 26. By means of this principle, morality was placed in its true
§ 27. was purified,
28. was secured against fanaticism and extravagance, § 29. and rendered intelligible to common intellects
30. And this love to God and man was the power by means of which Jesus intended to ennoble mankind and render them happy.
§ 31. Hence, also, he directed his attention to society, which, owing to the prevalence of a selfish spirit, was then in the greatest disorder
§ 32. True, he did not intend directly to meddle at all with
§ 33. But he was not on that account indifferent to the temporal
welfare of his followers
§ 37. He intended to improve these by animating every one with a love to act for the state and all parts of the political union,
§ 38. and by connecting mankind together as close as possible and giving them the highest degree of cultivation and perfection
§ 34. The civil institutions in existence, however, were not to be violently attacked, but left to their fate,
§ 35. and by means of religion and morality' preparation was to be made for better regulations.
§ 36. Jesus intended therefore to commence his reformation by improving the domestic relations
III. THE MANNER IN WHICH CHRIST'S PLAN WAS TO BE CARRIED INTO
§39. Jesus might have employed power, a secret society, or the gentlest means possible for this purpose
JESUS DID NOT THINK OF EMPLOYING POWER.
40. This is evident from his declarations,
41. and the whole tenor of his conduct;
42. and appeals are made in vain to his last entrance into Jerusalem to render the contrary probable
JESUS DID NOT THINK OF EMPLOYING A SECRET SOCIETY.
§ 43. It has of late been pretended that Christ employed a secret society.
§ 44. Though it is difficult to make every thing as clear in this respect as one could wish,
§ 45. yet it is undeniable, that we find not the least trace of the existence of a secret society, by which Jesus apparently intended to operate, either in his external connexions,
§ 46. or his institutions of instruction;
47. in his private life,
48. the language and expressions of his friends,
49. or in their enterprises after his death
§ 54. Jesus therefore intended to accomplish his object, simply by means of convincing instruction, and such institutions as were adapted to advance morality,
§ 55. and he commanded his apostles to do the same
§ 56. Fairness necessary in a critical examination of that portion of antiquity before Jesus
§ 57. From general principles, however, it is probable, even now, that we shall light upon no man in all antiquity, who resembles Jesus in regard to that enlargement of thought and benevolent goodness of heart which embrace all man
50. Neither can what Clement and Origen have said respecting higher mysteries, existing in the bosom of the church, 104 § 51. nor any thing that is known respecting the Gnostic sects
be so interpreted as to imply the existence of such a society. 106 § 52. We have the express declarations of Jesus however to the
§ 53. and other circumstances which are altogether incompatible with the supposition of the existence of such a fraternity. 110 JESUS CHOSE THE GENTLEST MEANS POSSIBLE.
112 . 117
NO GREAT MAN OF ANTIQUITY BEFORE JESUS, EVER DEVISED A BENEY
OLENT PLAN FOR THE WHOLE HUMAN FAMILY.