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it not ; and they feared to ask him of that saying." Luke ix. 45. Mark ix. 32. In Saint John's Gospel we have, on a different occasion, and in a different instance, the same difficulty of apprehension, the same curiosity, and the same restraint :"A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me; because I go to the Father. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us ? A little while, and ye shall not see me : and again, A little while, and ye shall see : and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while ? we cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them,” &c. John xvi. 16, &c.
VII. The meekness of Christ during his last sufferings, which is conspicuous in the narratives of the first three evangelists, is preserved in that of Saint John under separate examples. The answer given by him, in Saint John,* when the high-priest asked him of his disciples and his doctrine ; "I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews al. ways resort ; and in secret have I said nothing; why askest thou me ? ask them which heard me, what I have said uuto them ;” is very much of a piece with his reply to the armed party which seized him, as we read in Saint Mark's Gospel, and in Saint Luke's : " Are you come out as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me ? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not." In both answers, we discern the same tranquillity, the same reference to his public teaching. His mild expostulation with Pilate, on two several occasions, as related by Saint John, is delivered with the same unruffled temper, as that which conducted him through the last scene of his life, as described by his other evangelists. His answer in Saint John's Gospel, to the officer who struck him with the palm of his hand, “ If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil ; but if well, why smitest thou me ?''ll was such an answer, as Chap xvifi, 20, 21.
Mark xiv. 48. Luke xxii. 52.
might have been looked for from the person, who, as he proceeded to the place of execution, bid his companions (as we are told by Saint Luke,*) weep. not for him, but for themselves, their posterity, and their country; and who, whilst he was suspended
upon the cross, prayed for his murderers, for 1 they know not," said he,“ what they do." The
urgency also of his judges and his prosecutors to thi
extort from him a defence to the accusation, and his ! unwillingness to make any (which was a peculiar od circumstance,) appears in Saint John's account, as Pre well as in that of the other evangelists.t
There are moreover two other correspondences
between Saint John's history of the transaction and ;" theirs, of a kind somewhat different from those
which we have been now mentioning.
The first three evangelists record what is called our Saviour's agony, i. e. his devotion in the gar. den immediately before he was apprehended ; in which narrative they all make him pray,
" that the cup might pass from him.” This is the particular
metaphor which they all ascribe to him. Saint in Matthew adds, “O my Father, if this cup may not
pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be - done."! Now Saint John does not give the scene 35 in the garden : but when Jesus was seized, and
some resistance was attempted to be made by Peter, Jesus, according to his account, checked the attempt with this reply : “ Put up thy sword into the sheath the cup which my Father hath given me,
shall I not drink it ?''|| This is something more than consistency; it is coincidence : because it is extremely natural, that Jesus, who, before he was apprehended, had been praying his Father, that “that cup might pass from him," yet with such a pious retraction of his request, as to have added, "If this cup may not pass from me, thy will be done ;" it was natural, I say, for the same person, when he actually was apprehended, to express the resignation to which he had already made up his thoughts, and to express it in the form of *
Chap. Ixiii. 28,
ll Chap. xviii. 11.
speech which he had before used, “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it ?" This is a coincidence between writers, in whose narratives there is no imitation, but great diversity,
A second similar correspondency is the follow. ing: Matthew and Mark make a chargę, upon which our Lord was condemned, to be a threat of destroying the temple; “ We heard him say, I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands:"* but they neither of them inform us, upon what cir. cumstances this calumny was founded. Saint John, in the early part of the history,t supplies us with this information; for he relates, that, on our Lord's first journey to Jerusalem, when the Jews asked him, "What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things ? he answered, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. This agreement could hardly arise from any thing but the truth of the case. From any care or design in Saint John, to make his narrative tally with the narratives of other evangelists, it certainly did not arise, for no such design appears, but the absence of it.
A strong and more general instance of agreemen is the following.–The first three evangelists have related the appointment of the twelve apostles,f| and have given a catalogue of their names in form. John, without ever mentioning the appointment, or giving the catalogue, supposes throughout his whole narrative, Christ to be accompanied by a select party of his disciples; the number of those to be twelve ;ll and whenever he happens to notice any one as of that number, 11 it is one included in the catalogue of the other evangelists : and the names principally occurring in the course of his history of Christ, are the names extant in their list. This last agreement, which is of considerable moment, runs through every Gospel, and through every chapter of each. All this bespeaks reality.
* Mark xiv. 58. * Matt. 2. 1. Mark iii. 14. 11 CDap. vi. 70.
† Chap. ii. 19. Luke vi. 12.
Chap. ir 24. i 71.1
CHAP. V. Originality of our Saviour's character. The Jews, whether right or wrong, had under stood their prophecies to fortell the advent of a per. son, who by some supernatural assistance should advance their nation to independence, and to a supreme degree of splendour and prosperity. This was the reigning opinion and expectation of the times.
Now, had Jesus been an enthusiast, it is proba ble that his enthusiasm would have fallen in with the popular delusion, and that, whilst he gave himself out to be the person intended by these predictions, he would have assumed the character to which they were universally supposed to relate.
Had he been an impostor, it was his business to have flattered the prevailing hopes, because these hopes were to be the instruments of his attraction and success.
But, what is better than conjectures, is the fact, that all the pretended Messiahs actually did so. We learn from Josephus, that there were many of these. Some of them, it is probable, might be impostors, who thought that an advantage was to be taken of the state of public opinion. Others, perhaps, were enthusiasts, whose imagination had been drawn to this particular object, by the language and sentiments which prevailed around them. But, whether impostors or enthusiasts, they concurred in producing themselves in the character which their countrymen looked for, that is to say, as the restorers and deliverers of the nation, in that sense in which restoration and deliverance were expected by the Jews.
Why therefore Jesus, if he was, like them, either an enthusiast or impostor, did not pursue the same conduct as they did, in framing his character and pretensions, it will be found difficult to explain. A mission, the operation and benefit of which was to take place in another life, was a thing unthought of as the subject of these prophecies. That Jesus, coming to them as their Messiah, should come unđer a character totally different from that in which
they expected him ; should deviate from the general persuasion, and deviate into pretensions absolutely singular and original; appears to be inconsistent with the imputation of enthusiasm or im. posture, both which, by their nature, I should ex. pect, would, and both which, throughout the expe. rience which this very subject furnishes, in fact have, followed the opinions that obtained at the time.
If it be said, that Jesus, having tried the other plan, turned at length to this; I answer, that the thing is said without evidence; against evidence ; that it was competent to the rest to have done the same, yet that nothing of this sort was thought of by any.
ONE argument, which has been much relied upon (but not more than its just weight deserves,) is the conformity of the facts occasionally mentioned or referred to in Scripture, with the state of things in those times, as represented by foreign and inde. pendent accounts; which conformity proves, that the writers of the New Testament possessed a spe. cies of local knowledge, which could only belong to an inhabitant of that country, and to one living in that age. This argument, if well made out by examples, is very little short of proving the absolute genuineness of the writings. It carries them up to the age of the reputed authors, to an age in which it must have been difficult to impose upon the Christian public, forgeries in the names of those authors, and in which there is no evidence that any forgeries were attempted. It proves, at least, that the books, whoever were the authors of them, were composed by persons living in the time and country in which these things were transacted; and consequently capable, by their situation, of being wellinformed of the facts which they relate. And the argument is stronger when applied to the New Testament, than it is in the case of almost any, other writings, by reason of the mixed nature of the allusions which this book contains. The scene