« AnteriorContinuar »
his surprise, when on beginning to speak he heard the cries of rage, and the multitude accusing him of being possessed with a devil. In spite of the confused noise that reigned among the audience, Jesus continued to harangue. Perhaps indeed he might have succeeded in conquering the bad disposition of the assembly, if a company of archers had not arrived, and interrupted him precisely in the warmest part of his sermon. He was speaking of bis heavenly Father, and this occur. rence has undoubtedly made us lose a sublime treatise on the nature of the divinity*. These archers, how
* This circumstance, however, need scarcely be regretted, for the ancient fathers have furnished us with many sublime and edifying works on this subject. Tertullian has posi. tively said, that God is a body. In the council of Elvira it is forbidden to light wax candles in church-yards, for fear of scaring the souls of the saints. In the fourth century spiri, tuality was not yet decreed: there was a great dispute be. tween the monks of Egypt about God, in order to ascertain whether he was corporeal or incorporeal. M. de Beausobre, in his Hist. de Manicheisme, tome 1. p. 207, shews, that among the first Christian doctors, each formed ideas of God and the soul conformable to the philosophic sect in which he had been educated. A Platonist made God incorporeal; a Pythagorean made him an intelligent fire, a light endowed with intelligence; an Epicurean made him a material being, an animal immortal and very happy. Many doctors revered hy 'the church would now-a-days.endanger themselves were they not quicäly to retract their errors. Moses himself would be burned by the inquisition for being both a Jew and a materialist. Even few Christians have written on the existence of God, without drawing on themselves an accusation of atheism. Descartes, Clarke, Pascal, Arnauld, and Nicole, have been considered as Atheists. The reason is plain :-It is impossible to prove the existence of a Being so inconsistent as the God of the Christians. We shall be told
everz had no design to seize him ; they wished only to impose silence on him; it was therefore easy for him
to steal away.
Jesus, whose temper appears to have been vindictive and restless, was piqued at the insult, and continued his invectives against the priests, doctors, and prin. cipal men among the Jews, who taking counsel on the subject; they agreed to fulminate a decree against him and try him for contumacy; but Nicodemus, whom we mentioned before, undertook his defence, and proposed to his brethren to go and hear him before condemning him. They, however, insisted that no good ever came out of Nazareth, i. e. that his protege could be only a vagabond.
In his retreat on the mount of Olives, Jesus learned that they had delayed his trial. He therefore appeared next day in the temple by day break. The doctors and senators came a little later, and brought him a female accused of adultery a crime for which, according to the law, she ought to suffer death. The doctors, perhaps acquainted with her conduct, and informed of Christ's drawing after him women of wicked lives, wanted to ensnare him. He might have got off by merely saying, that it was not for him to judge ; but he wished to argue. He wrote on the ground; and concluded very prudently, that for one to judge it is
that men have no means of judging of the Divinity, and that our understandings are too narrow to form any idea of him. Why then do they dispute incessantly concerning him? Why assign to him qualities which destroy each other? Why recount fables of him? Why quarrel, and cut each others' throats because these fables are differently interpreted by different persons and by different nations ?
necessary to be himself exempted from all sin. Then addressing himself to the doctors, “ let him among you who is without sin, cast the first stone at her." At these words they departed, shrugging their should
Jesus remained alone with the adultress, whom the Jews would not have treated so tenderly if she had been really culpable; on this he said to her, “Since no man bath accused thee, neither will I condemn thee : Go then, and sin no more.”
Having happily escaped from this danger, Jesus thought himself in safety ; but, induced by his natural petulance, he again hazarded a sermon in the temple ; he spoke only of himself; and what follows was nearly his strongest argument. " You ask," said he, “ a full proof by two witnesses. Now I bear witness of my Father, and my Father bears witness of me; you therefore ought to believe in me;" which amounts to this; my Father proves me, and I prove my Father. The doctors were but little surprised with this circuitous and erroneous reasoning, and with a view to come directly to the point, “ Who art thou ?" "I am," replied Jesus, “ from the beginning, and I have many things to say to you ; but I speak to the world those things only which I have heard of my Father." The audience were no doubt impatient at these ambiguous answers : Jesus, who wanted to augment their embarrassment, then added, that they would know ‘him niuch better, after they had put him to death.
The Messiah did not omit to display great views in this conference; he informed his hearers in dark language, that it would not perhaps be impossible to shake off the Roman yoke. But either through fear of chastisement, or that they did not believe such a
man in a condition to effect so great a revolution, they affected not to comprehend him. Piqued at finding the doctors and Pharisees so dull and opiniative, he called them children of the devil; he affirmed that he was older than Abraham. In short, he broke out in a manner so unreasonable that the people, declaring against him, were about to stone him. Jesus, perceiving his folly when too late, concealed himself at first, and thereafter seized an opportunity to escape.
From this time his miracles became more rare, and the zeal of the people subsided. It was therefore necessary to rekindle it : Jesus accordingly performed miracle by curing a man born blind, with a little earth moistened with spittle. This man was a well known mendicant, whom they could not suspect of any arti. fice. Yet they would no longer tolerate him after he had received his sight; an incident which no doubt diminished the alms he was in use to receive; but perhaps he was made a disciple; and indeed some legends assert that, after the death of Jesus, he came into Gaul, where he became a bishop or inspector, which at least presupposes good organs of vision.
Be that as it may, the prodigy made a noise and came to the knowledge of the Pharisees. The beggar underwent an examination ; he openly confessed that one called Jesus had cured him with a clay of his composition and some bathings in Siloam. It must, however, be acknowledged that the bad humour of the Pharisees went a little too far on this occasion. They made it a crime for the physician to have composed his ointment on the Sabbath, and formed the project of excommunicating whoever should countenance our physician,
This resolution made Jesus tremble. He knew the power of excommunication among the Jews; he found himself crossed in all his designs; and dared not venture to preach in Jerusalem, or shew himself in any other place; every thing, even his miracles, turned against him. It was not even without some difficulty that he had escaped from the capital. At a little distance he knew of an asylum and society in Bethany, where his friend Lazarus possessed a house. He accordingly took the resolution of retiring thither ; but though it was a large house, the party that accompanied him might have incommoded their host. This determined Jesus to send seventy of his disciples on a mission to Judea, to whom it appears he now gave very ample powers; for on their return we find them applauding themselves, and overjoyed at the facility with which they expelled the devils.
Scarcely had Christ arrived at Bethany, when, in order to receive him in a becoming manner, they prepared a banquet. But the voluptuous Magdalane, content to derour with her eyes her dear Saviour*, left
* Jesus, it is said by some writers, was very beautiful, which very naturally accounts for the Magdalane's attachment to him. We have a small tract, in Latin, on the beauty of Christ, composed by a Minime named Pijaret, and printed under the title of De singulari Iesu Christi D. N. Salvatoris pulchritudine, in 12mo. Paris, 1651. In the supposititious letter of Lentulus addressed to the Roman senate, will be found an exact description of the person of Jesus. Codex Apocryph. N. T. tome 1, p. 301.-Others, however, have maintained, that Jesus, to shew his humility, assumed a very ugly visage. It would really be gratifying, if some clergyman or layman of the present day would point out one particular as to the life, character, or person of the Messiah, in which all or even only two of his historians agree.