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into almost every part of the vast Roman empire; and we have reason to suppose, into countries where the Roman arms had never penetrated.* The only means employed for this success were, the purity of doctrine and life, and the miraculous powers of its preachers. On the evangelical facts now stated, I shall offer some observations, tending to point out their intimate connexion with the whole Christian scheme. The extraordinary circumstances attending the birth and ministry of the Baptist, evidently evinced him to be that messenger who was to prepare the way before the Messiah, and who had been foretold by the prophets Isaiah and Malachi. Our Saviour's supernatural conception was a species of new creation of human nature, exempted him from that taint which, derived from our first parents, had spread through our whole race, and enabled him to exhibit that nature in unsinning purity.
The apostle, in respect of his resurrection and its effects, calls him the last Adam, and the second man," seeming also thereby to intimate, that Christ's human nature was such as that which the first Adam had received on his creation. Our Saviour's birth by Mary, was necessary to prove him to be of the house and lineage of David, according to the prophecies delivered concerning the Messiah; of which house, both Mary and her
a Arabia (see Gal. i. 17) and India.
b 1 Cor. xv. 45-47.
husband Joseph were. Her immaculate conception was also requisite to verify the celebrated prophecy of Isaiah, that the Messiah should be born of a virgin, and that his name should be called Immanuel." Our Saviour, by receiving baptism from John, recognised and sanctioned that person's quality as his forerunner, and, on the performance of this rite, his own dignity and character, as the Messiah, were declared by a voice from heaven. As the devil had seduced and ruined our first parents, and made them bring sin into the world; so he who was to restore the fallen race of man, was appointed to foil the tempter, and to obtain over him that first triumph which proved the divine power, by which he was to place him for ever under his own feet, and under the feet of all his faithful followers. The transfiguration evinced, by the testimony of Moses and of Elias, and even of God himself, that he was to establish and confirm that new covenant of grace and salvation of which the Mosaical economy was only the preparation, and that the law led directly to the gospel. To this solemn scene, three of his apos
Luke ii. 4. Jer. xxiii. 5, 6; xxxiii. 15—17. Amos ix. 11. Mat. xxii. 42. Mark xii. 35. John vii. 42. Mat. xii. 23; xxi, 9-15.
b This passage of Isaiah has been interpreted as having no reference to Christ. But it is sufficient for me that it is applied to him by the evangelist Matthew, i. 22, 23.
tles were admitted as witnesses. The transfiguration of our Saviour's body may also have been intended as a type or emblem of that incorruptible and spiritual frame with which the just shall be invested at the general resurrection. It is needless, surely, to state how much the perfection of his character established his claim to be a teacher of righteousness. His cruel and ignominious death, while it attested, beyond contradiction, the sincerity of his pretensions, and sealed the veracity of his character, also, by furnishing the main ground on which rested the pardon of sin, abolished sacrifices for ever, and afforded a certain pledge of the clemency of God towards all who, embracing his religion, manifested the truth of their profession by repentance and amendment. His resurrection constituted the grand evidence of his divine mission, and gave an encouraging anticipation of the resurrection of his followers. His sojourning forty days on earth after that event, enabled his apostles, and "more than five hundred brethren, of whom he was seen at once, completely to ascertain the identity of his person, and to bear testimony to this grand proof of his mission. This circumstance may also be considered as an emblem of his "coming a second time, to judge the quick and the dead." His ascension into heaven affords the certainty of his
a 1 Cor. xv. 6.
b 2 Tim. iv. 1. Heb. ix. 28.
followers "obtaining the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls," and that place which he is gone "to prepare for them, that where he is, there they may be also." His present power at the right hand of God constitutes him head over all things to the church, by showing him "placed above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." This glorious and permanent exaltation establishes his power to protect and defend the real interests of his church, and of every individual member of it, to extend its limits, and to insure its final triumph. The effusion of the Holy Ghost on the apostles, the gift of tongues, and other miraculous powers, including the prophetic endowments with which they were furnished, were so necessary to qualify them for their most important of ministries, that, without them, they could not have discharged it; and as these were indispensable qualifications for their office, so their astonishing success evinces the reality of their possessing them.
a 1 Pet. i. 9.
b John xiv. 3.
4 Eph. i. 20.
c Mark xvi. 19. Phil. ii. 10, 11.
Thus, the memorable facts above stated, as recorded in the New Testament, are both closely connected with each other, and supply a solid foundation for the doctrines which are built on them. These doctrines I proceed now briefly to
OF THE DOCTRINES OF CHRISTIANITY.
THE fundamental doctrine of Christianity, as well as of Judaism and of natural religion, is, that there is only one God, the creator of heaven and earth, a being of infinite perfection, the supreme governor of the world, who exercises a constant, wise, and beneficent providence, and is the sole object of religious regard and worship; that he has prescribed to his intelligent and moral creatures, laws adapted to their respective constitutions and faculties; that he exacts their obedience to these; that he will judge them according to the rules of unalterable justice; and that their happiness or misery will depend on their conformity to these rules, or on their departure from them. But, to the dictates