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ney, Christ, considering the bad disposition of his countrymen, thought proper not to enter the city of Nazareth, the place of his nativity. He applied to himself the famous proverb, that a prophet has no honour in his own country.* It was otherwise in the rest of the province :-as soon as the people knew of the arrival of Jesus, they neglected nothing to welcome him. St. Luke assures us that he was esteemed and honoured by every body.t There is reason to believe that these good people had beheld the wonders which he had operated in Jerusalem, during the festival of the passover. I In gratitude for these favourable dispositions, and for the faith he found among the Galileans, Christ did not content himself with instructing them, but confirmed his mission, and testified his love, by a crowd of prodigies. The number was doubtless very great, as St. Matthew is constrained to say vaguely, that he healed all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the people ; $—that it was sufficient to present to him the sick, whatever diseases they might be afflicted with; lunatics, whose number was great in that country; idiots, hypochondriacs, and persons possessed with devils, had but to fly to him for relief, and their cure was certain.
This multitude of miracles, for so they style the cures operated by Jesus, drew after him a crowd of idlers and vagabonds, as well from Galilee as from Jerusalem, Decapolis, Judea, and the country beyond Jordan. It was in this journey be made the acquisition of two famous disciples : they were brothers, sons of a fisherman of the name of Zebedee, and called James
St. Johniv. 44. + St. Luke iv. 44.
St. John iv. 45.
and John.. The first, though very probably he could pot read, afterwards coinposed mystical works, which are eren at this day revered by Christians. With re. spect to John, who was a very fine lad, he became the favourite of his master, and received from bim marks of distinguished tenderaess. He became afterwards a sublime Platonist, and, through gratitude, deified Christ in the gospels and epistles published in his
The reputation and resources of Jesus were so great jo Galilee, that to augment the number of his disciples it was only necessary for him to open his mouth and speak. The two disciples already mentioned he called with an intention to keep near his person. Wishing, however, to repose himself after the fatigues of preaching and miracles, he resolved to quit the cities, and retire to the sea coast. He conjectured, that to make himself desirable, and not waste his credit, it was pru. dent not to suffer himself to be seen either too long or too near. The people, fond of hearing the wonder. ful sermons of Jesus followed him.-Pressed by the crowd, he happily perceived two vessels; and throwing himself into one of them, “precisely that which appertained to Simon Peter, the first of his disciples, he harangued the eager multitude from it. Thus the boat of a fisherman became a pulpit, from whence the Deity uttered his oracles.
The Galileans were not rich, and accordingly the troop of Jesus' adherents augmented. We find bis four first apostles labouring in their trade of fishermen during the abode of the Messiah in the province. The day on which he preached in the vessel had not been fortunate for them; and the night preceding it had not been more favourable. Jesus, who know more than one profession, thought, that it behoved him to do some. thing for people, who sheved so much zeal. When, therefore, he had finished his harangue, and the crowd had retired, he bade Simon advance into the middle of the water, and cast his net; the latter excused hinself, saying, that he had already thrown several times without success. But Christ insisted : then Simon said, I will cast it on thy word: on which, by an astonishing miracle, the net broke on all sides. Simon and Andrew being urable to drag it out, they called their comrades, and drew out of it fishes enough to fill two ships. Our fishermen were so surprised, that Peter took his master fora wizard, and prayed him to depart. But Jesus encouraged him, and promised not again to occasion the like alarms, seeing that henceforth he, Peter, should no longer busy himself with the catching of fish.
The Messiah finding himself near Cana, judged it proper to enter that place, as he had once before performed a miracle there. An officer of Capernaum, whose son was sick of a fever, repaired to this village, on purpose to try the remedies of Jesus, of whose efficacy so many persons boasted.
lle besought the physician to come to his house, and cure his son ; but our Esculapius, who did not chuse to operate before eyes too clearsighted, got rid of this importunate person in such a way as not to risk bimself, in case he should not succeed : Go, said he to the officer, thy son liveth. The officer, while approaching his own habitation, learned that the fever, which perhaps was intermittent, had left his son. No more was necessary to cry up the miracle, and convert all the family.
After having traversed the sea coast, and made some stay at Cana, Jesus repaired to Capernaum, where, as
has been related, he had fixed his residence. The family of Simon Peter was established in that city ; and it was no doubt this reason, joined with the bad treatment he had received from the inhabitants of Nazareth, that determined Christ to make choice of this abode. It appears he was abhorred in the city where he had been educated; for as soon as he attempted to preach there, the people wanted to throw him headlong. At Capernaum they listened to and admired him; he harangued in the synagogue, explained the scripture, and shewed that he himself was foretold in it. In the midst of his sermon one sabbath day, they brought him a person possessed, who, perhaps in concert with him, began to cry out with all his might; “Let us alone: what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth ? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the holy one of God." The people waited in terror for the issue of this adventure, when Jesus, certain of his ground, addressed himself not to the man, but to the devil possessing him, "Hold thy peace,” said he," and come out of him." Immediately the malign spirit overturned the possessed, threw him into horrible convulsions, and disappeared without any person seeing him.
Physicians, and especially those acquainted with the eastern countries, do not admit miracles of the nature of this one. They know that the diseases taken for possessions, were owing solely to disorders produced in the brain by excessive heat. These maladies were frequent in Judea, where superstition and ignorance impeded the progress of medicine and of all useful knowledge.* Out of that country we find but
* Religion, particularly the Christian, has always declared few persons possessed with devils. This incredulity strips Jesus of a great number of his miracles; yet even taking away from him the possessions, there still remains enough. Most of the possessed found among us are hypochondriacs, maniacs, hysterical women, melancholy persons, and those tormented with the vapours or spasms : or they are impostors, who, to gain money, interest the simple and display the power of the priests, consent to receive the devil, on purpose that the clergy may have the glory of expelling him. There is scarcely a possession amongst us which could resist a flogging.
Miracles are food for the imagination, but the
war against science and all human knowledge, which have been looked npon as obstacles to salvation. Neither reason nor study are necessary to men who are to submit their judgments to the yoke of faith. From the confession of Christians themselves, the founders of their religion were simple and ignorant men. Their disciples must be as little enlightened as they were to admit the fables and reveries they have received from them. It has always been remarked, that the most enlightened men seldom make the best Christians. Science is apt to embarrass faith ; moreover it turns the attention from the great work of salvation, which is represented as the only necessary one. If science be serviceable to political society, ignorance is much more so to religion and its ministers. Those ages destitute of science and industry, were the golden age of the church of Christ. Then were kings dutifully submissive to priests ; then the coffers of priests held all the riches of society. The ministers of a very numerous sect have even kept from the eyes of their fol. lowers, the sacred pages which contain the laws of their religion. This conduct is undoubtedly very discreet ; for reading the bible is the surest of all means to prevent its being respected. If, in fact, the maxims of the Christian religion respecting science, were rigorously and universally followed, no political society could subsist.--Boulanger,