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educated people, respecting the power of a blind fortune, an irregular chance, and a severe and inexorable fate, which sometimes rendered them negligent, at others filled them with presumption or despair.-Fathers are very forbearing towards the faults of their children, and ready to forgive them as soon as they discover signs of reformation. Jesus gave a most exalted description of the love of the supreme Father in this respect, his reconcileableness and willingness to forgive sin, and the anticipating kindness with which he meets all who repent and amend, Luke 15: 1-32. Matt. 18: 21-35. John 3: 16, 17. Of course, this took away all need of expiatory sacrifices, solemn purifications, painful courses of penance, and the various means which had thus far been resorted to, for appeasing the incensed Deity, and averting the punishment of sin, and exhibited them in the light of base superstitions.-Finally, nothing is dearer to fathers than the life and preservation of their children. The supreme Father can preserve forever, and confer immortality. Jesus therefore spoke with greater energy, confidence, and expression of the immortality and boundless duration of the soul, than any one had ever done before him. He every where intimated that he himself stood in a close and perpetual connexion with a higher world, an invisible order of things, John 1:52. 3: 13. 6: 51. 8: 23, and hence that to him death was nothing more than a return to this better, this more exalted sphere, John 16: 28. At the same time he asserted that all men were destined to this kingdom of immortality, and that it was his business to conduct them thither, Matth. 6: 19-21. 10: 28. 25: 21-46. Luke 16: 19-31. John 3: 16. 5: 24. 10: 27-30. 14: 2, 3. 17: 24. Hence he never undertook to prove the immortality of the soul. Instead of doing so, he spoke of it as something which could not be a matter of doubt. He spoke of it as a citizen of this kingdom of immortality, and one acquainted with it from actual experience. His discourses always breathed the spirit and power of a better world, excited deep feelings in all who approached him, and filled them with overpowering convictions of a
never ending state of existence. Hence nothing like doubts, respecting a future state, or that firm denial of it, so common to the age in which he lived, was ever to be met with among his followers. He who became a member of his church and felt the influence of his gospel, had a sense of immortality too vivid, and felt himself brought into a relation to heaven too close, ever to admit of his faith's being shaken, Phil. 3: 20, 21. It was Christ's intention, therefore, to destroy idolatry with all its abominations; to irradiate the night of profound ignorance that prevailed; to collect together and bring to light the truth found here and there in philosophical lecture rooms, or wrapt up in mysteries, and by exhibiting it in the clearest and most intelligible manner, and conveying it to the cottages of the ignorant and the low, to effect the greatest and most benevolent change that ever took place in the convictions of the human family.
$23. Jesus however intended to operate with no less energy and impression upon the dispositions, feelings, and moral habits of mankind. Morality needed his aid as much as religion. Its character among the Jews at that time was extremely bad.* The Pharisees had transformed it into a subtle casuistry about religious ceremonies, and made it a patroness of the most pernicious hypocrisy. The Sadducees had reduced it to a lax system of prudential maxims for the use of frivolous and selfish sensualists, and the Essenes, to a gloomy asceticism, fit only for melancholy anchorites and pious enthusiasts. They all abandoned the common people to their uncurbed desires, and felt satisfied with themselves if they sacrificed diligently, observed the statutes of the fathers, and treated the heathen with bitter hatred and proud contempt. The sa
[Staudlin, Gesch. d. Sittenlehre Jesu, I. 419 ff.]
cred writings of the nation, indeed, contained great treasures of moral instruction, but they were as useless as if they had never been in existence. Immorality pervaded all ranks, broke up the relations of society, spread universal disorder, and had occasioned that decline of the Jewish state, which ended in the most fearful destruction.
The philosophers of Greece and Rome had devoted a great part of their efforts to the improvement of morality, and it cannot be denied that they had accomplished much and said many sagacious and excellent things. The morality of the heathen world, however, was very defective. Apart from the fact, that usually it either favored selfish principles, and constituted merely a system of rules for the gratification of the senses, or required an extravagant selfdenial and greatness, which rendered man a proud and gloomy being and divested him of every thing like sympathy and kindness, it exerted no influence upon the great mass of common people, and had no one to procure for it such an influence. Its guardians satisfied themselves with disputing in their schools respecting what ought to constitute its fundamental principles, and left the people to their fate. It is worthy of particular remark, therefore, that the morality of the Greeks and Romans had little or no connexion with religion, and hence was absolutely destitute of that effective character and simplicity without which it cannot prove of any avail to the multitude. Among the other nations of the earth, morality derived its chief support from inherited customs, paternal ceremonies, and single maxims, often not more than half true; and even this, though always weak, was rendered still more insecure by the prevalence of superstition. These circumstances render it easy for us to perceive the force of the loud and unanimous complaints made by all the writers of those times, respecting the universal, fearful, and al
[Testimonies to this effect are to be found collected together in interpreters upon Rom. 1: 24 seqq., particularly in Cornelius Adamus, Exercitatt. Exegeticae, nr. 5, de malis Romanorum moribus ante praedicationem evangelii; Meiner, Geschichte des Verfalls der Sitten der Römer, L. 1782; Dess. Gesch. des Verfalls der Sit
most incurable corruption of morals. To remove this corruption from the very foundation, it was necessary to procure for morality a transforming influence, extensive, effectual, and almost directly opposite to what it had hitherto had; or, which is the same thing, to purify it, unite it with religion, and give it a perspicuity and power, which should render it intelligible and impressive to all mankind without exception. Now by examining the spirit and regulations, which, according to the testimony of history, morality received from Jesus, we shall be able to ascertain whether they furnished a remedy for these imperfections.
24. The religion which Jesus intended to spread throughout the world, was a living faith in God. This God he called the Father of mankind, whom he represented as his children, and consequently as brethren; objects of his love and care, in a course of education for a better life, and destined to an eternal state of existence. It was natural that the morality of a person capable of giving such views respecting God, and our relations to him and each other, should resolve itself into a love to God and all his rational creatures. It did so in reality. It cannot be doubted that Jesus reduced the whole system of morality, by which he intended to reform the world, to a grateful love to God, and a fraternal love to man. More than once he declares the commandment which enjoins such a love to be the principal one in the moral law, and to comprehend all the rest, Matt. 22: 35-40. Mark 12: 28-31. Luke 10: 25-29. Hence he goes so far as to make this love the only sure test of his followers, John 13: 34, 35, 12-17. Every thing that he teaches respecting the disposition and feeling of God towards his rational creatures, is adapted to awaken and cherish an internal and grateful love in their breasts towards him, Matt. 5:49. 6: 25-33. 7: 7-11. John 3: 16, 17, 10:17, 18, &c. The duty of loving all mankind is exhibited in so
ten, der Wissensch. u. s. w. in den ersten Jahrhunderten nach Christi Geburt, Wien, 1791; Nachträge zu Sulzer von Manso u. A., IV. 443 ff. VI. 81 ff. 294 ff; Scheibel, Beyträge zur Kenntniss der alten Welt, II. 1—110.]
clear and perspicuous a manner, in the exalted and touching representations, which he has given of the worth and dignity of human nature, as to force itself upon those who are most unaccustomed to think, Matt. 18: 10, 11. John 3: 16, 17. Luke 10: 25-37. Matt. 25: 31-46. He required a practical exhibition of this love in such strong terms, expressed himself upon the subject so frequently and so clearly, and illustrated, animated, and confirmed what he said upon the subject in so impressive and touching a manner by his own example, that in the end his apostles also unanimously agreed in preaching this love, and called it the royal commandment, the fulfilling of the whole moral law, the summary of all true perfection, the highest point of greatness to which a man can attain, and something which will put him in possession of an eternal excellence, 1 John 2: 6-11. 3: 10-18. 4: 7—21. 5: 1—3. 1 Pet. 3: 8, 9. Rom. 13: 8, 10. Gal. 5: 17. Col. 3: 14. 1 Tim. 1: 5. 1 Cor. 13 to the end. James 2: 8.
$25. Jesus has not left what he meant by this love unexplained. His own love to God was the most punctual obedience to the will of God. He evinced it by doing his Father's commandments, and voluntarily giving himself up to a most ignominious execution, for the purpose of fulfilling the divine commission which he had received from the Father, John 4: 34. 10: 15-18. 14: 31. When therefore Jesus represented love to God as the principal commandment in the whole system of morality, he did not by any means speak merely of a play of devout feelings and pious emotions, nor of an enthusiastic mortification of one's self, and vain efforts after a union with God, a perfect coalescence with the being of God; the love which he had in view, and declared to be the substance of all morality, was a voluntary obedience to the will of God, and a faithful observance of all his commandments. Hence he recognises that man only as a worthy citizen of the kingdom of heaven, Matt. 7: 21, who does the will of the Father in heaven, without which obedience he positively assures us, that the most zealous