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themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord. Deeply impressed with their Master's instructions, and far from affecting to be called Rabbi, or to be honoured of men as fathers and teachers in things divine, they never allowed themselves to forget that they had only one Father who is in heaven, and only one Teacher the Messiah. The unimpassioned, yet not unfeeling, manner, wherein they relate his cruel sufferings, without letting one harsh or severe epithet escape them, reflecting on the conduct of his enemies, is as unexampled as it is inimitable, and forms an essential distinction between them and all who have either gone before or followed them, literate or illiterate, artful or artless, sceptical or fanatical. For if, in the latter classes, the illiterate, the artless, and the fanatical, fury and hatred flame forth, wherever opposition or contradiction presents them with an occasion; the former, the literate, the artful, and the sceptical, are not less distinguishable for the supercilious and contemptuous manner, in which they treat the opinions of religionists of all denominations. The manner of the Evangelists was equally removed from both. Add to this that, without making the least pretences to learning, they nowhere affect to depreciate it; but, on the contrary, show a readiness to pay all due regard to every useful talent or acquisition.


§ 25. From all that has been said I cannot help concluding that, if these men were impostors, agree, ably to the infidel hypothesis, they were the most ex

traordinary the world ever produced.

That they were not philosophers and men of science, we have irrefragable, I had almost said intuitive, evidence; and of what has hitherto been found invariably to mark the character of fanatics and enthusiasts of all religions, we do not discover in them a single trace. Their narratives demonstrate them to have been men of sound minds and cool reflection. To suppose them deceived, in matters which were the objects of their senses ; or, if not deceived, to suppose such men to have planned the deception of the world, and to have taken the method which they took, to execute their plan; are alike attended with difficulties insurmountable. The Christian's hypothesis, that they spoke the truth, and were under the influence of the Divine Spirit, removes at once all difficulties, and, in my judgment, (for I have long and often revolved the subject,) is the only hypothesis which ever will, or ever can remove them. But this only by

the way.

$ 26. CONCERNING the other qualities of style to be found in these writings, I acknowledge, I have not much to add. Simplicity, gravity, and perspi. cuity, as necessarily resulting from simplicity, are certainly their predominant characters. But, as in writings it is not always easy to distinguish the qualities arising from the thought, from those arising merely from the expression; I shall consider, in a few sentences, how far the other properties of good writing, commonly attributed to the style, are ap- ,

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plicable to the Evangelists. In what concerns har.
mony, and qualities which may be called merely su-
perficial, as adding only an external polish to their
language ; about such, if we may judge from their
writings, they do not appear, as was hinted before,
to have had any the smallest solicitude. To
the sense (the only thing of importance enough to be
an object to them) in the most familiar, and conse-
quently in the most intelligible, terms to their read-
ers, seems to have been their highest aim in point of
style. What concerned the sound alone, and not the
sense, was unworthy of their attention.

In regard to elegance, there is an elegance which results from the use of such words as are most in favour with those who are accounted fine writers, and from such an arrangement in the words and clauses, as has generally obtained their approbation. This is still of the nature of varnish, and is disclaimed, not studied, by the sacred authors. But there is also an elegance of a superior order, more nearly connected with the sentiment; and in this sort of elegance they are not deficient. In all the Oriental languages great use is made of tropes, especially metaphor. The Scriptures abound with them. When the metaphors employed bear a strong resemblance, and the other tropes are happily adapted, to the subjects they are intended to represent, they confer vivacity on the writing. If they be borrowed from objects which are naturally agreeable, beautiful, or attractive, they add also elegance. Now of this kind, both of vivacity and of elegance, the Evangelists

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furnish us with a variety of examples. Our Lord illustrates every thing (agreeably to the use of the age and country) by figures and similies. His tropes are always apposite; and often borrowed from objects naturally engaging. The former quality renders them lively, the latter elegant. The ideas introduced are frequently those of corn-fields, vineyards, and gardens. The parables are sometimes indeed taken from the customs of princes and grandees, but oftener from the life of shepherds and husbandmen. If those of the first kind confer dignity on the examples, those of the second add an attraction, from the pleasantness of images which recal to the fancy, the thoughts of rural happiness and tranquillity. And even in cases where propriety required that things disagreeable should be introduced, as in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the whole is conducted with that seriousness, and chaste simplicity of manner, which totally exclude disgust. We may justly say, therefore, that the essential attributes of good writing are not wanting in these histories, though whatever can be considered as calculated for glitter and ostentation, is rather avoided than sought.

$ 27. Upon the whole, therefore, the qualities of the style could not, to those who were not Jews, nor accustomed to their idiom, serve at first to recommend these writings. The phraseology could hardly fail to appear to such, awkward, idiomatical, and even vulgar. In this manner it generally did appear to gentile Greeks, upon the first perusal.

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But if they were, by any means, induced to give them a second reading, though still not insensible of the peculiarity, their prejudices and dislike of the idiom rarely failed to subside. A third commonly produced an attachment. The more they became acquainted with these books, the more they discovered of a charm in them, to which they found nothing comparable, or similar, in all that they had learnt before ; insomuch that they were not ashamed, nay, they were proud, to be taught by writers, for whose persons and performances they had formerly entertained a sovereign contempt. The persecutors of the church, both Jews and Pagans, perceived, at last, the consequences of conniving at the study of the Scriptures, and were therefore determined to make it their principal object, to effect the suppression of them, particularly of the Gospels. But the more this was attempted, the more were the copies multiplied, the more was the curiosity of mankind excited, and the more was the inestimable treasure of divine knowledge they contained, circulated. Early, and with avidity, were translations demanded, in al. most every known tongue. Those Christians who had as much learning as to be capable, were ambi. tious of contributing their share in diffusing amongst all nations, the delight as well as the instruction, which the study of these books conveyed into the soul. Nor was this admiration of the divine writings to be found only among the vulgar and the igno

It is true, it originated among them ; but it did not terminate with them. Contrary to the com


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