« PoprzedniaDalej »
who accused him of casting out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. If the peculiar nature of his kingdom had been fully declared, their prejudices must have operated in a direction, that would have been inimical to its establishment.
We are in this instance, also, presented with an evidence, that the ignorance and prejudices of men are made subservient to the important plans of their Creator. The Supreme Director is at perfect liberty to communicate the degree of knowledge to his creatures which he may deem the most proper. He permits them to reason from what they know, and he does not restrain them from drawing wrong conclusions; but he takes advantage of their very ignorance, and renders it conducive to their future good.
Their expectations of a temporal Messiah, who should lead them on to victory and to glory, diffused a knowledge of his mission, and rendered him the object of popular attention. But chagrin at their disappointment created him many enemies, and finally conducted him to the cross, through the ignominy of which it was ordained that he should ascend to a throne.
Jesus Christ did not hastily remove such prejudices, from his immediate disciples and fol
lowers; for, in imitation of his Father's exam→ ple, he preferred natural means to the extent of their efficacy. He doubtless knew, that if he had prematurely revealed to them the whole counsel of God, they also would have been offended, and have forsaken him. This position becomes probable from the surprise and alarm they expressed, when he found it necessary to inform them of his approaching death. He cautiously prepared the way for the introduction of his kingdom, by evincing, from the purity of his morals, the wisdom, equity, and benignity of his conduct, that he was qualified to reign. He had gained such an ascendancy over their understandings and affections, that the temporary disappointment of his disciples did not induce them, for a moment, to exclaim against him as an Impostor. They were stupified with astonishment, that such a character should suffer with malefactors; and that all the promising expectations, raised by so wise and good a Being, should be frustrated; but their complaints were merely expressive of the greatness of their disappointment. "We trusted that this was he who should redeem Israel," is the only expression upon record, that escaped from their lips. Their admiration of his character, previous to his
death, their deep sorrow at that mournful event, succeeded by the joy at a triumphant and miraculous resurrection, subsequently placed their faith in the divine mission of their Lord and Master, upon a basis that could not be shaken by all the shocks of persecution. In consequence of this process, their minds were fully prepared to receive information and instructions relative to that kingdom, which they were the constituted instruments of establishing in the world.
Thus did he gradually instruct his immediate followers, and the most unprejudiced among the Jews, to expect some extraordinary event. By declaring that he came to establish a kingdom, he encouraged the hopes of his adherents; by declaring that his kingdom was not of this world, he quieted the alarms of his enemies. Such declarations, in connection with the hints occasionally given, concerning his ignominious death and triumphant resurrection, furnished evidences, after he had triumphed over the grave, sufficient to convince every serious reflecting mind, that he was of a truth the Messiah, ordained not only to redeem Israel, but the whole world, from a more fatal and ignominious bondage than that of the Roman yoke.
ENQUIRY INTO THE EXTENT OF THE BLESSINGS PROMULGATED TO THE WORLD, IN THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.
We have remarked, that in all human plans and projects, our estimation of the beneficence and the wisdom of the projector, or the agent, will be regulated by the intrinsic nature of the good to be produced, connected with the extent of its promised advantages. As Christianity is the last and best dispensation, as it is the completion of the Divine plan, for the good of mankind, it is natural for us to infer, that the proposed good, will be as extensive as it is in the power of infinite Beneficence to render it. These are the first suggestions of reason, and they would be cheerfuly indulged, had they received the open sanctions of a divine revelation. But the extent of these blessings is not clearly revealed. A dark mist hangs over the subject. Hence the various disputations and diversities of opinion among speculative Christians. The obscurity may, with great propriety, stimulate our
sown, and to the leaven which was put into meal, he beautifully illustrated, and predicted, the certainty of its spreading, notwithstanding the smallness of its origin. Its primary object was to oppose, and finally to overthrow, all the powers of darkness, by illuminating the minds, and improving the hearts of men, in a manner consistent with the freedom of their own choice; for they were to be a willing people in the day of his power; and every evidence of its being cordially received was a presage of future success. After the seventy disciples had been sent into the cities and places, where he proposed first to plant the standard of his Gospel," by working miracles, and proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven is nigh," they returned with transport, saying, (6 Lord, even devils are subject to us through thy name." He also expressed his joy at their success, as it was a commencement of the conquest that was to be obtained over the powers of darkness; and an anticipation of future victories, over that spirit which still worketh in the children of disobedience. "He said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”
Having thus introduced a kingdom which is not of this world, he retired to complete its establishment; and by his triumphant resurrec