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ordinary, the person on whom the miracle was performed had not informed himself of the author of it. Here the matter ended, as they made no further enquiry. But Jesus baving sometime after met the paralytic, made himself known to him, and then the late ter informed the Jews of the name of his curer. These Hebrews were so irritated, that from this instant they formed the design of getting Christ put to death, because, according to St. John, he had done these thing's on the Sabbath day. *
Nevertheless, it is not probable that this was the true cause of the rage of the Jews.
However scrupulous we suppose them, it is presumed that their physicians and surgeons did not think themselves obliged to refuse medicines to the sick on the Sabbath. There is reason to believe, that Jesus, not content with curing, did moreover order those he cured to violate the Sab. bath by carrying their bed, which was a servile work: or rather these unbelievers regarded the miracles of the Saviour as mere delusions, impostures, tricks of dexterity, and himself as a cheat, who might excite disturbances.
Jesus having learned that the Jews were ill disposed towards him, on account of the transaction of the Sabbath, which they accused him of violating, attempted to justify himself. He made a fine discourse, tending to prove that he was the Son of God, and that his Father authorised him not to observe the Sabbath. But he took care not to explain himself very distinctly on this filiation ; and by his ambiguous language, he insinuated the eternity of his father, but did not call liim God. Yet the Jews divining his object, were very much offend
* St. John v. 1--16.
ed at this pretension.* ' He changed therefore his batteries, and threw himself on the necessity by which he acted. Verily, said he to them, the Son does nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do. The Father, who loves him, sheweth him all things that he himself doeth, and he will shew him greater works than these." By these expressions Christ seems to overthrow his own eternity, and infinite knowledge; for he announces himself as susceptible of learning something, or as the ape of the Divinity.
To impress the minds of these unbelievers, whom his enigmatical jargon could not convince, he declared that henceforth the Father will no longer intermeddle in judging men, but had devolved that care on his Son. This however, had no effect ; as the Jews expected a great judge, they were not yet staggered. Jesus, like our Christian teachers, for want of better arguments, took the resolution to intimidate his audience, knowing well that fear always prevents the exercise of reason. He gave them therefore to understand, that the end of the world was near, which ought to make them tremble.t
The testimony of John-Baptist, had, as we have * St. John v. 17. &c.
+ The second coming of Christ, immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem, attended with all the signs and concomitants of the end of the world, is announced both in Matthew and in Luke; and from these, and other parts of the New Testament, it appears the disciples were told that they were to be present on that occasion, either alive or raised up from the dead. That generation was not to pass away until all these things were fula filled, and both heaven and earth should sooner fail than this prediction. Jesus expressly said, on sending forth his disciples to preach the gospel, ye shall not have gone over all the cities of Judah until the Son of Man be come.” The apostles there
seen, facilitated the first successes of Jesus ; but on the other side, the difference they had remarked between the conduct of the latter, and that of the fore. runner, destroyed the force of this testimony; our orator pretended therefore to have no need of it, and strove even to weaken its value. He was a burning and a shining light to them; you were willing for a season to rejoice in his light; I have a greater witness than his. Here he appealed to his works, which he maintained to be infallible proofs of his divine mission. He undoubtedly forgot at this moment, that he spoke to peo ple who regarded his marvellous deeds as delusions and impostures ; his works were precisely the thing which it was necessary to prove even to the very Jews, who saw them performed ! Yet this manner of reasoning has been since adopted with success by Christian doctors, who, when doubts or objections are advan.
fore called it the last times, and the end of the world. The event having belied the prediction, the successors of the apostles were willing to give another interpretation to the words of Jesus ; and, therefore, instead of the destruction of the world being implied in these predictions, they, by a facility peculiar to the clergy, when they find themselves involved in any difficulty, gave out that Christ only spoke in reference to a grand millenium, which he was about to establish on the earth. Accordingly, of this opinion we find Cerinthus in the first century, and from him it was transmitted to Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, by oral tradition of the early Christians. It was also embraced by Jus. tin Martyr, Irenæus, Tertullian, Hippolitus, Lactantius, Theophilus of Antioch, Methodus, Victorinus, and the most illustrious of the ancient fathers. Something might be offered in excuse for these primitives adopting this fanatical notion ; but he ought only to be regarded as an insane person who, at the end of the eighteenth century, can give the smallest credence to so absurd and ridiculous a story.
ced against the mission of Jesus, throw themselves im. mediately on his miraculous works, which were at all times incapable of convincing the very persons who they tell us had been witnesses of them.
Among the proofs employed by Christ to exalt his mission, he advanced one, the only tendency of which is to destroy the mission of Moses, and make him be regarded as an impostor. He told them, you have never heard the voice of my Father ; whilst it was on the voice of this Father, of whom Moses was the interpreter, that all the law of the Jews was founded. Howeyer, after having thus annihilated the authority of scripture, our orator wished further to prop his mis. sion on the same scriptures, by which, according to him, he was announced. “ Fear,” says he, “ the Father; I will not be the person who will accuse you before him ; it will be Moses, in whom you trust, because you believe not in him ; for if you believed in him, you would also believe in me.* I am come in the name of the Father, and you pay no attention to it; another will come in his own name, and you will believe in him."
The hearers of this sermon were not moved by it:
* Notwithstanding this testimony in favour of Moses, what confidence can be placed in the pretensions of a man to divine inspiration, who, after asserting he wrought so many miracles, could not convert his people from idolatry; and who, after hav. ing caused forty-seven thousand Israelites to perish by the sword, had the effrontery to assume the title of the meekest man on earth ? Is it certain that the books which are attributed to Moses, and report so many miraculous circumstances, are “perfectly authentic# and what proof have we of his mission, except the testimony of a number of superstitious, ignorant, and credulous Israelites, who were evidently the dupes of this ferocious legislator?
they found it unconnected, contradictory, offensive, and blasphemous ; the fear of seeing the end of the world arrive, did not hinder them from perceiving the want of just ipference in the orater, who took away from his Father, and restored to him the quality of judge of men, which he had at first appropriated to himself. Be: sides, it would appear, the Jews were of good courage as to this end of the world, which events bad so often belied. Their posterity, who beheld the world subsist, ing after this, notwithstanding the express prediction of Jesus and his disciples, have founded their repugnance for his doctrine, among other things, on this wapt of accomplishment; and from his sublime discourse the incredulous conclude, that it is very difficult for an impostor to speak long without contradicting and detecting himself,
The inefficacy of this harangue made Jesus perceive, that it was in vain to prosecute the plan of mira. cles, in order to draw over to his party the Jews of Jerusalem. He forbore therefore to perform them, though the circumstance of the festival of the passover would seem to furnish him with a very favourable opportunity. Iteven appears he was completely disgusted with the incredulity of these wretches, who showed themselves no ways disposed to witness the great things, which he had exhibited with success to the inhabitants of Galilee. To see miracles, there must be a simplicity, more rare in a'capital than in the country; besides, if the populace are well disposed even in large cities, the magistrates and best informed persons commonly oppose a bulwark against credulity. *
* We have heard of the populace running to the miracles of M. Paris, and believing them ; we have even heard persons of distinguished rank and women of quality, persuaded of their re•