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ANOTHER TRAIT OF THE TEACHING OF JESUS. 231

association with the particular circumstances, and under the pressure of the peculiar occasions on which it was uttered.

Another characteristic of his teaching, to which I would ask a moment's attention, is the entire absence of all that is vulgarly termed speculation-theory. Every sentiment uttered by Jesus, admits of being understood as the expression of a fact-an eternal and essential truth. His religion, as a revelation, is a revelation of things true from all eternity. The great topics of his teaching were not the fancies, the creations of his own mind. They existed in the nature of things. When he declares, for instance, that 'unto him who hath shall be given, and from him who hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath,' who does not see that this is only the assertion of a truth, wrought into our very nature and condition and corroborated by all our observation of life. He who improves acquires more power; he who does not improve loses the power which he originally possessed. Again read over the beatitudes and you will find that they all express natural truths. "Happy are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Is not inward purity the sense, the eye whereby we discern the Pure Spirit, the indwelling God of the Universe? "Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." In the possession of a merciful temper, have we not a gift of Divine Love-a token of Divine mercy!

It is, by the way, an impressive circumstance, that the first of his discourses of any length on record, the Sermon on the Mount, as it is termed, (Matth. v. 3 to 11 inclusive,) should commence with an answer to the great question which philosophers had in vain endeavoured to solve, with a definition of happiness. And what a definition! altogether so original that the wisest

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of human teachers may well withhold their vaunted wisdom and shrink from a comparison. Not in pride and plenty and mirth, but in a lowly, sorrowing mind, amidst persecution and tears and blood, he saw the elements, the springs of human blessedness. Study those wonderful words of his, and see how true it is in the very nature of things that they only are blessed whom he pronounced so.

But to return. Even in that startling declaration • Whoso liveth and believeth in me, shall never die,' we have an indisputable fact. Is it not inevitably and unchangeably true, that death ceases to be death to him whose feelings and views accord with the spirit of this great Teacher! When he spoke of his coming in power and great glory, he asserted, as I have endeavoured to show in the foregoing chapter, a simple fact of which we are the witnesses. He is coming in the influence of his Religion, more gloriously, with a deeper and more searching power, than if he had appeared in person amidst the clouds of Heaven, accompanied by an angelic host.

If we cannot always discern the whole of the truths he uttered in nature and life, we can at least discover some intimations, some germs of them there. Affecting no peculiarity of language, he freely expressed himself in the popular religious phraseology of the day, but interpreted, as the language of every man should be, by the general tone of his life, we see that it was used by him metaphorically. Who, for instance, can for a moment suppose that when he talked of his kingdom and his glory, he had any idea of an outward kingdom, a visible glory, when his whole life shows so eloquently that it was the glory of an entire self-sacrifice which won and inspired his whole soul. Recollect his declaration to Pilate, "Yes, I am a king." How does he

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define his regal character? For this end was I born,' he adds, and for this cause came I into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every true man is my subject.' How perfect his definition of real power-of true greatness! Let him who would be the greatest be the servant of all! To the beautiful correctness of this definition, what evidence has been afforded in the history of the world! Even the great doctrine of a future life, so frequently represented as a peculiar doctrine of Christianity, is no where formally asserted by Jesus. It is rather taken for granted-treated as a plain and indisputable fact. And if the theologians were not so anxious to exalt the Gospel at the expense of reason and nature, it might be perceived that the immortality of man, like all the other truths of the New Testament, is written in our very nature, and that in all his allusions to it, Jesus regarded it as a natural truth.

So much now may I venture to say, that with respect to the substance as well as the style of his teaching, the author of Christianity affected nothing peculiar, and herein was his greatest peculiarity-his most original trait. He treated the truths he uttered as great and momentous truths; as possessed of a value of which the world had not dreamed, of a profoundness which thought had not fathomed. He declared them with a new authority, and exemplified them as they have never been exemplified before nor since. But he did not appropriate them to himself. They were of the world, of eternity and of God.

Behold now the unutterable, everlasting glory-alas! that I should be compelled to add, the as yet unsuspected glory of the humble peasant of Judea, that he taught fully by his lips and his life, what?-the very truth which universal Nature from all its heights and

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depths, and the infinite God teach! I confess I see no disparagement to Christ in the fact that Christianity is as old as the Creation, for I believe that it is a great deal older-from eternity. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever God had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting,' is the truth taught by Christ.

But why, it may be asked, why call the truths of Religion by his name, if they were taught so long ago and by so many mighty teachers, if they were, long before he appeared, engraven upon the ancient tables of the human heart? For a plain and emphatic reason. The life of Jesus of Nazareth, his words, acts and sufferings, being real, being facts, are a part of the grand and all-instructive system of Creation, they constitute a page, nay, a chapter, and at once the profoundest and the clearest chapter, in the vast volume of God. No where do I see spiritual and eternal things so clearly revealed, so touchingly expressed, as in his life. The truth which all else teaches is presented by him and in him with a new significance, an original beauty. Let it be that he taught nothing more than the religion of Nature, still by concentrating all its force and loveliness in his individual being, by incorporating it with his life, and so teaching it as it had never been taught by any other, he made natural religion HIS religion, HIS truth. He has given a new illustration of it. Regard his life as only a part and portion of the great system of Nature, the grand chain of Providence,still I say that from no quarter of the grand whole come there such all-enlightening beams as from him. His history amidst all objects and events is by far the most luminous point. It is the grand interpretation of Nature-the Revelation of her mysteries. There the truth shines forth with satisfying clearness. Therefore

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do I hold it to be true and right to call the truth he preached through his own being, his truth-Christian truth. When it is so denominated, it is not meant that he appropriated it to himself. On the contrary, in the sense in which it is his, it is more effectually put within the reach of all men, and imparted to all, and we are made to feel that it is living and eternal truth. It may sound extravagantly, yet so perfect is the manifestation of the spiritual power and beauty of truth in him, that if I presumed to say, but I do not-if I presumed to say for what one purpose God made all that we see, and arranged the mighty and complicated course of events, I should say it was in order to provide a sphere for the manifestation of such a being as Jesus of Nazareth; that he is the Masterpiece of the Divine Artist, for the creation of which all else was ordained," the Heir of all things."

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