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“ is who coming after me is preferred before “ me; whose shoes latchet I am not worthy 66 to unloose.” It was predicted by Isaiah, that at the time of his coming there should be peace on earth ; which was most singularly fulfilled; for Christ was born in the Roman empire during the latter part of the reign of Augustus Cæsar, which empire was at that time mistress of the world, and was then in a state of peace; which it had only been for three short intervals before, from the foundation of Rome to the battle of Actium, a period of rather more than seven hundred years.
On our Saviour's entering on his ministry, by his life, death, resurrection, and doctrines, he completes all the other prophecies respecting him. He is a prophet like Moses, establishing like him a new religion; he appears to the Scribes and Pharisees as the son of a carpenter, and accordingly is despised and rejected; he affirms of himself, that he knew not where to lay his head'; that he was grieved for the hardness of the hearts of the Jews; and that his soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death : thus he proves
that he was a man of sorrow, and
acquainted with grief. By his sermon on the Mount he preached, in the most open and public manner, his Gospel to the poor, to the lowest classes of the people, and informed them of the true nature of the Deity; which Plato expressly asserts it to be an impossibility for any human being to do. In the same open and public manner he cured the lame and blind, and raised the dead : in short, he performed all the miracles it was predicted he should do. He likewise destroyed the
power of the Devil, by abolishing idolatry and su, perstition; for the Emperor Julian and other Heathen writers particularly affirm, that all power and efficiency in their oracles had ceased, in consequence of the prevalence of Christianity. He told mankind the exact, measure of duty God expected them to perform, and defined it in so short, clear, and comprehensible a way, that no one could misunderstand it; declaring to the human species, if they accomplished that duty, or sincerely endeavoured to do so, and had so proper an idea of the infinite goodness of God, as to believe it to be such as induced him to send his Son into the world, that mankind should not perish, but have everlasting life; that they should then enjoy for their portion
in this life that peace of God, which it is neither in the power of the world to give or take away, and in the life to come eternal happiness. By these doctrines, wherever they are imparted, the measure of man's happiness is evidently increased ; and as by his death and resurrection he vanquished the power of death, and brought life and immortality to light; and by his death became an oblation for the sins of the whole world ; certainly in and by him all nations of the earth are blessed.
But besides this strong and potent evidence, there is a great deal of further collateral evidence in favour of the Christian dispensation. Among other instances, its extraordinary singularities ought to be noticed, as exceedingly indicative of its truth, and of its proceeding from God. Thus Mr. Pascal remarks, that, whilst the Christian religion enjoins man to acknowledge himself vile, and naturally prone to evil, it equally requires of him that he should aspire to a resemblance of his Creator. “ Be ye perfect, “ even as your Father which is in heaven 6 is perfect.” St. Paul informs us likewise, when writing on the establishment of the Gospel, that it being the pleasure of God
that no flesh should glory in his presence, in other words, that the establishment of the Christian religion should clearly appear to proceed from, and be established solely and entirely by, divine appointment, he writes, that God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are. When the emperor Julian attempted to establish the economy of Plato's Republic only in a village, he could not do it, though the greatest philosophers in the Roman empire were selected for the accomplishment of his purpose. But when God designs the establishment of the Christian religion in that mighty empire, and the overthrow of its idolatry and polytheism, twelve poor illiterate fishermen accomplish the business, in spite of the emperor Julian, the philosopher Libanius, and all other emperors and philosophers. Again, it is decreed by the will of God, that this religion should be propagated only by the evidence it offers to the understanding, and by its influence on the morals of men. Accordingly, when a small band of fishermen and mecha
nics, without power or interest, went forth on this vast design, and carried with them no other arms than the plain, unsophisticated words of truth, they proved themselves superior to all the power of their enemies; though, during the three first centuries, that power was exerted against them with all imaginable fury, cruelty, and violence, they overcame in the conflict, they subdued the world. But when a number of potent princes and warriors, with a professed resolution to enlarge the bounds of Christendom, drew together immense armies, armies animated with such an extraordinary zeal and enthusiasm, as nothing seemed able to withstand, after repeated and obstinate attempts, and a terrible slaughter of their subjects, they returned (the few who did return) with shame and disappointment; having learnt by miserable experience, what they might have learnt from the Old or New Testament, that it is not the design of Providence that Christianity should be propagated by the sword *.
* Vide the Sermons of Dr. Powell, Master, of St. John's, Cambridge, published by Dr. Balguy. These Sermons are of very superior merit; the first is addressed peculiarly to those who lead a college life, and is well deserving the perusal of every Academician; as is the 13th, of every sensual, intemperate chafacter; and from the 4th to the 12th, of every one who is de