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mind which can cherish and adopt a contrary opinion.
OBJECTION II. It is asserted by Sceptics, as a justification of their denial of the divinity and divine mission of our blessed Saviour, that his object on earth was an occult design to make himself a temporal king of the Jewish people.
Sceptics have attacked revealed religion by various objections; and though there has been no truth in them, yet there has in general appeared a certain degree of plausibility in their arguments: but in their objection to it on the principle that our blessed Saviour intended to make himself a temporal king of the Jews, so far is there from being any truth, that there is not in it even the smallest plausibility or probability; and a greater absurdity never disgraced the human intellect than such a supposition. It is very readily admitted, that there are many
instances in history where persons have arrived from private stations in life to be kings and emperors; but then they have been either chosen by the rulers of the nation, for the high opinion those rulers entertained of their singular merit, as Numa; or by the
army, for the union of great personal qualities and military talents, as Vespasian; or else they have accomplished their ambitious design by taking advantage of the circùmstances of the times and the raging of party, and from the possession of great warlike abilities, as in the case of Julius Cæsar: but to suppose that our Saviour should intend a revolution in the state, whose doctrines breathed nothing but peace, whose actions were all of a pacific nature, and neither the one nor the other interfered in any respect in worldly or political concerns, is a supposition too puerile and absurd to be admitted for a single moment. The Jews certainly entertained an idea, that, when their Messiah came on earth, he would appear with great grandeur and power; and they expected he would emancipate their nation from the dominion of the Romans, and restore again the kingdom to Israel: and as our Saviour knew this to be their opinion, if he had meditated to become a temporal king, is it to be conceived he would have chosen, to achieve his purpose, a set of timid, ignorant fishermen ? This is not to be supposed: or if he had had such design, is it any more to be supposed that he would have affronted as he did the
Scribes and Pharisees, and the Doctors of the Sanhedrim, telling them they were a set of lawless hypocrites, who had contaminated the law of Moses, and were so wicked, that the vilest people would be admitted before them into the kingdom of heaven? So far from affronting these people, if he had designed to have made himself a king, he would have courted, flattered, and associated himself with them, and have endeavoured to form a party with such of them as he supposed would have furthered his purpose. But do we find any thing of a seditious or rebellious disposition in the character of the mild and peaceable Jesus? So much the reverse, that, when the chief priests and rulers were exasperated in the highest degree against him, and brought him before Pilate, though they would have been very glad to have done so if they could, did they lay to his charge any of those commotions or conspiracies, in which he must have been unavoidably, more or less, engaged, had he attempted to have made himself a king? We find nothing of this; but so much the contrary, that Pilate himself asks these cruel and unjust rulers, when they thirsted for his crucifixion, “ Why, “ what evil hath he done?" and, after having
twice examined him, declares, he could find no fault in him; and asserts the most perfect conviction of his innocence of every charge brought against him in the following formal, solemn, and remarkable manner; " When he saw he could prevail nothing, but “ rather a tumult was made, he took water, " and washed his hands before the multitude, “saying, I am innocent of the blood of this
just person : see ye to it.” The Scripture likewise informs us, that Pilate well knew the Jews had accused him unjustly, only from envy, and because he had exposed their crimes and hypocrisy. Further, can it be şupposed, if any crime of a seditious nature had or could have been proved against our Saviour, but that Judas Iscariot must have known it, being one of his disciples, and constantly with him? and had he known any such, he would have laid it to his charge : but, like. Pilate, he was so conscious of his innocence in all respects, that, when he found Jesus was condemned, “he repented him, “self, and brought again the thirty pieces “ of silver to the chief priests and elders, say"ing, I have sinned, in that I have betrayed “ the innocent blood. And he cast down the " pieces of silver in the temple, and de
parted, and went and hanged himself;" an act which it is impossible to suppose he would have committed, had our Saviour been guilty of ány
sedition or rebellion against the government. There does not appear, either from the words or actions of our blessed Saviour, even the most superficial argument to justify the objection in question ; and none but a very ignorant Sceptic could possibly admit it; for those who are otherwise (whose number, though it should not be, is unhappily much too great) know very well, that the political and powerless situation of the province of Judæa, with respect to their dependence on the Roman empire, was such, during the whole time our Saviour lived on earth, that it was absolutely impracticable, I may say impossible, for any man or set of men in their senses to think, with the least hopes of success, of rebelling' against that power, and setting up a temporal king against its will. How can it be supposed, then, the meek Jesus could harbour such design, whose doctrine was, " Love
your enemies ; do good to them “ which hate you: and unto them that smit“ eth thee on the one cheek, offer also the “ other?" In short, before a person can admit that our blessed Saviour had any inten