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- In the gospel Jesus menaces with eternal punisha ment those who shall not fulfil his precepts. This frightful doctrine was not contradicted in the assembly; the superstitious love to tremble; those who threaten them most, are the most eagerly listened to. This was undoubtedly the time for establishing firmly the dogma of the spirituality and immortality of the soul. The Son of God ought to have explained to those Jews, but little acquainted with this matter, how a part of man could suffer in hell, whilst another part was rotting in the earth. But our preacher was not acquainted with any of the dogmas which his church has since taught. He had not clear ideas of spirituality ; he spoke of it only in a very obscure manner : Fear (said he, in one place,) him who can throw both body and soul into hell”-words which must have appeared unintelligible in a language, in which the soul was taken for the blood or animating principle. -It was not till a long time after Jesus, and when some Platonists had been initiated in Christianity, that the spirituality and immortality of the soul were converted into dogmas. Before their time, the Jews and Christians had only vague notions on that important subject. We find doctors in the first ages speaking to us of God and the soul as material substances, more subtile indeed than ordinary bodies. It was reserved for latter metaphysicians to give us such sublime ideas of mind, that our limited understandings are bewildered when employed on them.


that what the Pharisees admitted was only a transmigration of souls, similar to what had been taught by Pythagoras, and not a resurrection like that of the Christians...See Prideaux Hist. des Juifs, tome 2.

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THOUGH the obstinacy of the doctors of the law and principal men among the Jews created continual obstacles to the success which Christ had promised himself, he did not lose courage; he again had recourse to prodigies, the certain means of captivating the populace, on whom he plainly perceived it was necessary to found his hopes. This people were very subject to diseases of the skin, such as leprosy and similar cutaneous disorders. No doubt can be entertained on this point, when we consider the precautions which the law of Moses ordains against these infirmities. To establish his reputation the more, Christ resolved to undertake the cure of this disgusting disease with which his countrymen were so much infected.

According to St. Luke, a leper came, and prostrated bimself at the feet of Jesus, and adored him, saying, that he had heard him spoken of as a very able man, and that, if he was inclined, he could cure him: -on this, Jesus merely stretched forth his band, and the leprosy disappeared*. Hitherto Christ had only

* St. Luke, v. 12. St. Matt. viii. 2. St. Mark, i. 40.


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recommended it to those he cured to go and present themselves to the priests, in order to offer them the gift prescribed in such cases *; but on this occasion he thought that he would reconcile them by strictly enjoining this mark of deference: He therefore exacted of the cured leper, that he would satisfy the ordinance of the law; but at the same time recom:nended secrecy as to the physician's name,-a secret which was not better preserved by him than by others. Jesus forgot that it was not sufficient to impose silence on the persons he cured, but that it was likewise necessary to lay a restraint on all the tongues of the spectators; unless indeed it is supposed that these miracles were performed with shut doors, and witnessed by the Saviour's disciples only; or, rather, that they were not performed at all.

Meanwhile, the leper's indiscretion was the cause why Jesus, according to St. Mark, no longer ventured to appear in the city t. The priests seem to have taken in ill mood the cure he had performed: He therefore withdrew into the desart I, where the more he was followed, the more he buried himself in concealment, It was in vain that in this situation the people desired to hear him ; it was in vain that the sick, who ran after him, requested their cure; he no longer suffered that marvellous virtue, calculated to cure every disorder, to exhale from him.

After having wandered for some time in the desart, ruminating on his affairs, he re-appeared at Capernaum. The domestic of a Roman centurion, much beloved by

* Levit. xiv. and St. Matt. viii. 4.
+ St. Mark, i. 45. # St. Luke, v. 16

his master, was at the point of death from an attack of the palsy* This Pagan believed that Jesus could easily cure his slave; but instead of presenting him to Christ, as he ought to have done, he deputed some Jewish senators, whom he seems to have brought from Jerusalem, to wait on the Messiah. However disagreeable this commission might be to persons whom the centurion had no right to command, and who by that step seemed to acknowledge the mission of Jesus, these senators performed it.

Christ, flattered with seeing an idolator apply to him, set out immediately; but the centurion sent some of his people to inform Jesus, that he was not worthy of the honour thus intended him by entering his house; and that to cure his servant it was sufficient to speak only one word. Jesus was delighted with this; he declared, that he had not found so much faith in Israel ; and with one word, if the Gospel may be believed, he performed the cure. He afterwards gare the Jews to understand, that if they persisted in their hardness of heart, (the only disease which the Son of God could never cure, though he had come for that purpose +,) the idolatrous nations would be substituted in their stead in the inheritance of heaven, and that God, notwithstanding his promises, would abandon his ancient friends for ever and for ever. The Gospel, however, does not tell us, whether this centurion, so full of faith, was him. self converted.

The day after this cure, Jesus, having left Caper

* St. Matt. viii. St. Luke, vii.

+ We are assured that the Messiah of the Jews had been clearly predicted and designated by their own prophets; but in that case, how came the Jews not to recognize him?

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naum, arrived at Nain, a small town in Galilee, about twenty leagues distant, which proves that Christ was a

It will be answered, that the blindness of the Jews was also predicted by the same prophets who had predicted the rejection and death of the Messiah. To this I object that a wise and omnipotent God, who must always exactly adapt his means to his ends, ought to have employed a more certain and efficacious mode of deliverance for his people; but if he did not intend their deliverance (and surely to know that the scheme adopted would fail is tantamount), then it was useless to send his son, and to expose him to a certain and foreseen death. It will he said, that the corruption and wicked, ness of the Jews had at length exhausted the patience of the Almighty, who, although he had sworn an eternal alliance with Abraham's posterity, was now determined in consequence to break the treaty. It will be pretended that God vas now resolved to reject the Hebrews, and adopt the Gentile nations, who had been the objects of his hatred for so, long a period; but surely nothing can be more inconsistent with just notions of an immutable Deity, whose mercies are infinite, and whose goodness is inexhaustible. If the Mesa sjah announced by the Jewish prophets was sent to the Jews, then ought he to have been their deliverer, and not the destroyer of their worship and nation. If it be really possible to discover any meaning in the obscure, enigmatical óracles of the Jewish prophets--if any thing can be divined in those inexplicable logographes which have been dignified with the pompous name of prophecies, we shall find that the prophets, when in a good humour, always promised the Jews an avenger of their wrongs, a restorer of the kingdom of Judea, and not an abolisher of the religion of Moses. If the Messiah was sent to the Gentiles, then was he not the Messiah promised to the Jews; he could not be the destroyer of their nation. If it be said, that Jesus himself declared he came not to abolish but to fulfil the law of Moses, then I ask why do the Christiaas reject the Jewish dispensation ?

Thus whatever way we take it, Jesus Christ could not be the person foretold by the prophets, siņce it is evident that

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