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purpose is illustrated and confirmed by his words, actions, and instructions. It is no where said or intimated, that he waited until he found himself incapable of producing any effect upon his own countrymen, and was obliged to relinquish his plan of rescuing them from moral and political degradation, before he expanded his views and directed his thoughts to foreigners. On the other hand, I have shown that the universality of his plan commenced with his ministry. The first year of his public labors had scarcely elapsed, before he spoke of receiving the heathen into the kingdom of heaven, Matt. 8: 11, 12, and informed the Samaritan woman, that the whole earth was soon to be consecrated as a temple to the service of God, and God to be worshipped in spirit and in truth, John 4: 21-24. True, he spoke in clearer and stronger terms upon the subject towards the close of his public career, but that his plan was perfected at its very commencement, cannot be denied. He kept its accomplishment before him in every step that he took while on the theatre of action, with a clearness, which could have resulted only from his having in view a plan accurately formed, and perfected in all its parts. Every thing that he taught and did, was exactly to the purpose.-Had he had nothing of the kind in contemplation, he would not have cast so many glances at this great object, while under the necessity of confining his labors to his countrymen, nor have observed on so many occasions that he felt himself called to be something more than a reformer of the obstinate Jews. One of the finest objects of history is to make us acquainted with great men, and enable us to develop their plans. In the present case, it has accomplished this object most effectually; and the great man cannot be found who has so often and so clearly expressed himself respecting the compass of his enterprises and plans as Jesus. Were we, therefore, as unprejudiced and impartial in judging of him, as, according to rule, we usually are, in judging of others, we should never hesitate to believe, that Jesus had the good of all men in view, and be constrained to admit, that every thing that history has ever said
respecting the views of any great man, must be uncertain, if no certainty be found here.*
II. THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST'S PLAN.
13. But what were Christ's real intentions? what character did he give to his plan? In answering this question, I shall confine myself closely to what the Evangelists have said upon the subject. If the expressions which they use be impartially compared together, we shall find that they exhibit a clearness and connexion, which must remove every important doubt respecting the real character of Christ's plan.
Jesus commenced his public career with the declaration, that the kingdom of Heaven, the kingdom of God was at hand, Matt. 4: 17. Mark 1: 15. Luke 4: 43, and conducted in a manner, from which every one may see, that it was not his intention to be considered merely as a herald and harbinger of this heavenly kingdom, but as its author and founder. From the whole course he pursued, it is evident that his object was to prepare for a mighty change upon earth. He spoke of a commission which he had received from God, in the execution of which he was obliged to engage, John 10: 18. 12: 49, 50; and of a work, which God had intrusted to him, John 4: 34. 9: 4: 17: 4. He early chose assistants to be educated agreeably to his views, and ultimately employed as his delegates, Mark 3: 13-19. Luke 6: 12-16. Matt. 10: 2-4. He declared, that by means of these delegates he would establish an imperishable church, Matt. 16: 18, 19, and invite all the nations of the earth to participate in the kingdom of God, Mark 16: 15. Matt. 28: 19. Finally, he always represented his own life, as the expense at which this divine kingdom should be established upon earth, John 10: 11-16. Matt. 21: 33-44. 26: 28. Luke 22: 20; while, at the same time, he spoke of himself, as the most distinguished per
* Vid. Appendix B.
sonage in the new state, as its head and king, Matt. 20: 20 -23. 21: 38, 42. 24: 30. 25: 31. John 10: 11-16. 17: 2. 18: 36, 37.
14. That the manner in which Jesus introduced himself to his countrymen, had a reference to the expectations they entertained, is perhaps undeniable. Had they not at this time, been looking for such a change as was commonly signified by the expressions, the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, under which they comprehended the sum of their most exalted hopes and desires, it would have been in vain for him to predict the approach of such a kingdom, for people would have paid no attention to the notice and have altogether neglected to prepare themselves for the event; but, because Jesus made use of this attractive form of expression in order to give a concise intimation of his purpose, it by no means follows, that with it he combined such views and expectations as his countrymen had done; nor, because he made his appearance as the author and founder of the kingdom of heaven, that he pledged himself to the performance of every thing which they expected and demanded of this kingdom.* We must ascertain what views he had respecting the kingdom of God which he came to establish, entirely from his own explanations. This is the only way to avoid imputing to him something false, and proceeding upon the gratuitous supposition, that his views respecting the kingdom of heaven, coincided with the expectations of his countrymen. In order, therefore, to obtain a right apprehension of the character of his plan, I shall examine his description of the kingdom of heaven, the establishment of which he declares to have been the
[This is one of the principal arguments adduced by the Fragmentist, Vom Zwecke Jesu, S. 10-12. 24 ff. 108-I13. 129–133, in support of his assertion respecting the political plan of Jesus. Moreover it was proper that Christ should reject those capricious views of the kingdom of God which originated in the contracted dispositions and feelings of his nation, and commence with the purer ones grounded upon the Old Testament, and which the Jews might and would have known, had they examined the Scriptures in a conscientious manner. Comp. Matt. 22: 29.]
principal object of his appearance upon earth, and of all his efforts.
§ 15. There is a great lack of credible information as to the history of the Jews and their mode of thinking, at the time of Christ. It is very difficult, therefore, to form accurate conceptions of the views which this nation entertained respecting the kingdom of God, of which they were then in expectation. It is quite certain, however, that they flattered themselves with pleasing dreams of an earthly kingdom, and were anticipating a change, which should not only restore them to freedom and civil independence, but put them in the possession of every sensual enjoyment, and give them a splendid dominion over the other nations of the earth. Those Jews to be found in foreign countries, had similar expectations ;† nor were the disciples of Christ themselves destitute of them, as is perfectly evident from the accounts of the Evangelists.
§ 16. Every thing that Jesus did, on the other hand, goes to prove, to the greatest degree of certainty, that by the kingdom of heaven he understood no such thing as a universal monarchy of the Jews.
(a) It is well known that he made his appearance in the greatest poverty, Matt. 8: 20. Luke 9: 58, and lived upon the generosity of his friends, Luke 8: 3. It is also well known, that, so far from seeking any connexion with the rich and powerful, he was careful to avoid them, John 4: 46-50. Luke 9: 9. Particularly deserving of notice, however, is the zeal with which, on every occasion, he attacked the Pharisees, the strongest party among his countrymen, and seemed purposely to excite their indignation. Had it been his intention to effect a political change, he would have courted their favor, and been oblig
* Vid. Corrodi, Kritische Geschichte des Chiliasmus, Band I. S. 108 ff., and Hess, Ueber die Lehren, Thaten, und Schicksale unsers Herrn, Abschn. V. S. 135 ff. [Ausgb. v. 1806, B. I. Abschn. VI. S. 386 ff.]
† Lardner's credibility of the Gospel History, Part I. Book I. Ch. V. p. 169 seqq.
ed to unite himself with them.* Instead of doing so, he devoted himself to the common people, Matt. 9: 36. 11: 5, and especially to those, who were for the most part despised and neglected, Luke 5: 29, 30. 15: 1, 2. His sole object in this was, to instruct them in religion and labor for their moral improvement, Matt. 11: 5. Luke 5: 31, 32. That he did not do so in order to obtain the affections of the multitude, and employ them in accomplishing something of a political nature, is evident from the fact, as will be shown farther on, that he made his escape from them and retired, as soon as he saw his efforts produce any unusual excitement among them, John 6: 15. In general, nothing is to be found in any of his discourses respecting the public affairs of the nation and the condition of the state. On the other hand, he put off all those who applied to him upon such subjects, Luke 12: 13, 14. John 8. 1-11, and once, when constrained to give his opinion in regard to a political question proposed to him, he declared himself in favor of supporting the established constitution and yielding obedience to the Romans, Matt. 22: 17, 21. Mark 12: 13-17. Luke 20: 20-26. Besides, he never appeared with the bustle and importunity of a demagogue, determined to effect a political revolution, and give a new constitution to the state, but always in the peaceful capacity of a teacher, who had the instruction, and moral improvement of his fellow citizens solely at heart.
(b) Let us now attend to the declarations which he combined with such conduct. He was asked when the kingdom of God should come. His answer was, 'It will not be announced by visible pomp, nor excite surprise, for it has its seat in the inner man, Luke 17: 20, 21.†
The best accounts of the almost boundless influence which this sect exerted upon the nation, are given by Josephus. Comp. particularly, Antiq. 1. XIII. c. 10. §5. Havercamp's ed., [Whiston's trans. the same, TR.;] also Serarii Trihaeresium, 1. II. c. 13. p. 79.
This interpretation is most agreeable to the usus loquendi and the context. For the usus loquendi, vid. Schleusner's Lex. under the world, εντος. This meaning is required by the context, because