Abbildungen der Seite

teacher; it was, in fine, his commission to announce and characterize, by the most striking features, Him who was to come after him.

The weak things of the world !-In conformity to these views, so far excelling all human views, the Messenger of the Most High was to be born of a virgin, in an obscure family, but descended from illustri. ous ancestors, to whom the most magnifi. cent promises had been made by ancient predictions. This birth was to be proclaim. ed to shepherds; and the celestial heralds, commissioned to celebrate by their hymns these glad tidings, were to instruct these shepherds in the object and the extent of the mission of Christ-On earth peace, good-will towards men.-Good-will--not towards one single elected nation, but towards all the nations of the world.-Goodwillnot to one single generation, but to every generation to come; the benevolence of the BEST

GREATEST of Beings comprehends all mankind, because he is the father of all.


The weak things of the world !--In this marvellous dispensation of Providence, what numberless circumstances still present themselves to me, all directed to divert the at. tention of man from human grandeur, towards that which is alone truly great! This child, the desire of all nations, is born in a manger, the supposed son of a carpenter : For was he, at whose feet all thrones were one day to be cast down, was he to borrow his glory from the splendor of thrones? Was he, to whom all nature and all minds were to become subject, was he to be invested with the power of kings? And, because he could give all power to his disciples to command (even as he himself did) all nature, and all the hearts of men, therefore his disciples were to be chosen from amongst fishermen and publicans ; and these were the men whom he was to commission to teach all nations, and reform the universe.

[blocks in formation]



M I not, however, precipitate in my

judgment ? Am I not hurried on too rapidly towards belief and admiration ? Has the universe acknowledged its master? Has this salutary doctrine reformed the universe ? --I cast my eyes around, and I see with astonishment, that this celestial light illuminates but a small part of the earth; and that a thick darkness overspreads the rest. And, even in the enlightened parts, how many dark spots do I discover!

This difficulty, however, may be easily surmounted. If this doctrine of life is to be as permanent as the present state of our globe, what are seventeen centuries, when compared to the total duration of the world? Perhaps no more than seventeen days, or seventeen hours, to as many ages. Shall I judge of the duration of this religion, as I do of the duration of empires ? Every empire is as the grass of the field, and all the glory of empire as the flower of the grass; the grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the religion of the Lord doth not pass away. It will outlive all empires. Christ must reign till God hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed, is death.

On a further examination of this difficulty, I find that it answers precisely to another, which sometimes presents itsell; concerning the unequal distribution of the various gifts and endowments both of the body and the mind. On considering attentively this second difficulty, it leads to a palpable absurdity. The gifts of the mind, as well as those of the body, depend on a multitude of physical circumstances, cona

nected with each other, and this connexion reaches back even to the first instant of the creation. For every man, therefore, to have possessed the same endowments, and in the same degree, it would, in the first place, have been necessary, that men should not have been born one from another; for how much may not the primitive organization of the human frame be modified by successive generations ? It would have been requisite, in the second place, that all men should have been born in the same climate, should have fed on the same aliments, should have led the same life, received the same education, and lived under the same government. For how can I deny, in a greater or less degree, the influence of all these circumstances on the mind ? In this case, the slightest cause carries its influence far beyond every thing I am able to conjecture.

To effect, therefore, this perfect equality of gifts between every human individual, it would have been requisite that they should all have been cast in the same mould; that the light and heat of the earth should have been every where equal ; its productions

« ZurückWeiter »