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disciples were asleep while the spectacle was displayed ---a circumstance which has occasioned a suspicion, that the whole was only a dream.
The apostles, who remained at the foot of the mountain, and had been deprived of this spectacle, wished to try their spiritual powers on a lunatic, or one possessed; but the devil disregarded their exorcisms. The father of the disordered person, perceiving their master descending from the mountain, immediately presented his son to him, whom Jesus cured; he then gave a strong reprimand to those fumblers; told them that their want of success was owing to want of faith, a grain of which was sufficient to remove mountains; he therefore recommended to them fasting and prayer, as the surest receipt for expelling certain demons, more rebellious than others *.
The people, however, withstood all these wonders: the devils, with whom they were possessed, could not be expelled by any means which Christ had yet contrived. Expecting, therefore, to draw over some of the strangers, whom the solemnities brought always in great numbers to the capital, he resolved, on account of the feast of Tabernacles, secretly to repair thither. Agitated, however, by the most troublesome misgivings, he traversed Galilee; he explained himself on his fears in an enigmatical and concealed manner to his apostles, who could not comprehend what he said; but who, on observing their master grieved, conformed themselves to his humour.
On arriving at Capernaum, the place of his usual residence, the officers charged with collecting the cus.
* St. Matt. xvi. St. Mark, ix. St. Luke, ix. 17.
toms, took him for a stranger, and did not even recognise Matthew their old companion; they accordingly exacted the custom or tribute. Jesus being a Jew was offended at their demand; but whether they did not hearken to his reasons, or that he did not wish to be known, he dispatched Peter in search of a piece of thirty-pence in the mouth of a fish; or rather desired him go and catch a fish, which being sold for that sum, served to pay the custom.
The apostles, having understood from the Saviour's discourses, that his kingdom was still very distant, annused themselves with disputing on the pre-eminence and ranks they should enjoy in the empire wbich had been obscurely announced to them. In this they have been since faithfully imitated by their successors*. In
* T'he disputes between Christian priests have always been scenes of animosity, hatred, and heresy. We find these to have existed since the infancy of the church. A religion founded on wonders, fables, and obscure oracles, could only be a fruitful source of quarrels. Priests attended to ridicu. lous doctrines, instead of useful knowledge; and when they should have studied true morality, and taught mankind their real duties, they only strove to gain adherents. They busieut themselves in useless speculations on a barbarous and enigmatical science, which, under the pompous title of the science of God, or theology, excited in the vulgar a reverential awe. They invented a bigoted, presumptuous, and absurd system, as incomprehensible as the god whom they affected to worship. Hence arose disputes on disputes concerning puerile subtilties, odious questions, and arbitrary opinions, which, far from being useful, only tended to poison the peace of society. In these contentions we regret to find the most profound geniuses occupied, and are forced to censure the pros. titution of talents worthy a better cause. The people, ever fond of turbulence, entered into quarrels they could not the mean time. Jesus took occasion from this dispute to deliver a sermon on humility. He called for a child, placed it in the midst of them, and declared, that this child was the greatest among them. This sermon, by which our clergy have profited so well, contains fine parables, and points out escellent means whereby to attain heaven, but not to thrive on earth. As all these, however, are only repetitions of what is taught in the sermon on the mount, we refer the reader to it.
Jesus wrought no miracles during his abode at Capernaum, where he had an interest not to be too much spoken of. His brethren or his parents, who it seems were of the same mind as the priests, repaired to that place on purpose to persuade him to leave his asylum and go into Judea, where he might exhibit his skill. They reminded him that the feast should draw him to Jerusalem, where he could not fail to find an opportunity of signalising himself *.
This ironical tone enabled Jesus to forsee that they were plotting against him. Here eternal truth extria cated itself from these importunities by means of false hood. The Son of God told his brethren to go to the feast, but assured them that for himself he would not go*. This, however, did not hinder him from taking the road to Jerusalem, but with the greatest secresy. In his way he cured ten lepers, among whom one only, who was a Samaritan, shewed any gratitude to his physician; and from courtesy to his faith his sins were remitted +. Notwithstanding this miracle and absolution, the incredulous do not find, that Christ can be acquitted of having prevaricated.
understand. Princes undertook the defence of those priests they wished to favor, and orthoxloxy was decided by the longest sword. This assistance the church never hesitated to receive in times of danger; for on such occasions the clergy rely rather on human assistance than on the promise of God, who declared that the sceptre of the wicked should not rest upon the lot of the righteous. The heroes found in the annals of the church, have been obstinate fanatics, factious rebels, or furious persecutors; they were monsters of mad. ness, sedition, and cruelty. The world, in the days of our ancestors, was depopulated in the defence of extravagancics which excites laughter in a posterity, not indeed much wiser than they were. Christianity Unreiled.
* St. John, vii.
It seems very strange, that the Son of God, to whom his omnipotence furnished so many honourable means of acting openly, had recourse to subtilty and deception in order to elude the snares of his enemies. This conduct can be ex. plained only by admitting, that what seems falsehood to carnal eyes is truth in the gospel.
JESUS SHEWS HIMSELF AT JERUSALEM.-HE IS FORCED TO
LEAVE IT.- RESURRECTION OF LAZARUS.-TRIUMPHANT
ENTRY OF CHRIST.-HIS RETREAT TO THE GARDEN
OF OLIVES.--THE LORD'S SUPPER.
HE IS ARRESTED.
IT is probable that our hero changed his intention of showing himself publicly at Jerusalem on learning the diversity of opinions which divided the capital on his account*. He imagined that his
He imagined that his presence and discourses would remedy the inconstancy of the people, and remove the perplexity of disputants; but he deceived himself. He who so often recommended the cunning of serpents, failed on this occasion. But how revoke an immutable decree? The world had been created solely on purpose that man might sin, and man had sinned in order that Christ by his death might have the glory of making atonement for the sinner.
If they spoke much evil of Jesus in Jerusalem, they spoke also much good. Praise is a snare, wherein the Son of God himself was caught. Flattering himself with being able to reconcile the suffrages, he went to the temple and preached. But what must have been
* St. John, vii. 11, &c.