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fear of change-perplexes monarchs ;'-he comes to brave the united forces of superstition and hypocrisy. Stern and severe,—surrounding corruption tainted him not: 'unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,' he spake as the messenger of the Most High, and held forth, as it were, the roll that is inscribed with “ lamentations, and mourning, and woes." No mean accommodation to prejudice or to power, no fluctuating suspense between God and Mammon, no shrinking at the frown of titled villainy withdrew him from the execution of his sacred mission, or lowered the dignity of his exalted character. Unknown to the distracting follies of the world, and unspotted by its vices, he came forth from the depths of solitude, to pursue that course of duties, whose gain was persecution, and whose reward was martyrdom.—Though Herod “heard him gladly ;" yet he deigned not to court his favour, rather than to serve the cause of truth. He preferred the darkness of a dungeon to the splendours of sinful honours. — From this prison he departed not, - but confirmed the honesty of his views by the sacrifice of his life.- "TOLOÛTOS • του Προδρόμου δρόμος τοιούτος ο αγών και το στάδιον" ως μη τη του ξίφους ακμή προέσθαι τι της αληθείας 8”
5 Ezek. ii. 10.
6 Incerti Auctoris Laudatio Joan. Bapt.-So also Chrysostom :-“ Tooûtos o lwávums ive où ariños, où dóžav, očk äido ουδέν των ανθρωπίνων υφορώμενος, αλλά ταυτα πάντα καταπατών,
και μετα της προσηκούσης ελευθερίας τα περί του Χριστού πασιν - dvaknpúttww.”
We shall now consider some of the actions of John the Baptist, in connection with those of Jesus,—and derive from the Contrast another argument of the impossibility of connivance and imposture.
The enemies of revealed religion, unable to deny that the reciprocal testimony of the Baptist, and the Messiah, to the truth of their respective missions, is unequivocal and decisive, have been driven to the conclusion, that their whole conduct was the result of a concerted plot, maintained by means of secret communications, and contrived with a view of converting the popular delusion to the purposes of private ambition'. Plausible as this hypothesis may appear on a superficial view of the subject, it will be found, on a more minute enquiry, to involve a succession of incongruities too monstrous for imbecility to credit, or ingenuity to reconcile.
It must be 'admitted, that, if two impostors agree to support two different characters, in order to attain a common object,—they will avoid, as much as possible, to act in a manner likely to im
1“Quelques-uns ont dit qu'il y avoit eu un complot entre Jesus et Jean-Baptiste, pour en imposer au peuple, pour flatter l'espérance que les Juifs avoient d'un liberateur, et que JeanBaptiste étoit convenu de ceder le premier rôle à Jesus. Mais il auroit fallu du moins nous apprendre quel intéret, quel motif ces deux personages ont pu avoir de former ce complot, de s'exposer tous deux à la mort, et de la subir en effet pour flatter les espérances de leur nation.” Encyclopedie Métho
dique.— Thespérances de leuert, et de la s
pede the success of their joint design. If, therefore,-on the simple assumption that they possessed just sufficient understanding to see the connexion between causes and effects, and just sufficient prudence not to undertake attempts disproportionate to their strength,-it can be shewn, that John and Jesus adopted a course of action, which seemed best fitted to defeat each other's measures, we may justly infer, that it is improbable they were connected deceivers.
I. The most striking point of difference between the conducts of John and Jesus is this :Jesus performed a great variety of surprising miracles : but “ John did no miracle?.” –We shall attempt to account for this distinction in a subse-, quent part of this Essay; all we insist upon, at present, is—the argument it affords of the improbability of collusion.—On the supposition that they were but impostors engaged in the prosecution of a preconcerted scheme, John might as easily have pretended to miraculous powers as Jesus, and nothing could have deterred him from the exercise of such powers, but a conviction that they were not calculated to promote the success of their undertaking. - But, certainly, the most obvious expedient, to which a counterfeit prophet would have resorted, in confirmation of his claims, would have been an appeal to supernatural agency, and an imitation of the miracles of that Elijah, whose spirit and power he affected to possess. Nor can it be objected, that he avoided adopting this method of evidence from an apprehension, that it
might lead the multitude to mistake the messenger for the Messiah himself: for, on the hypothesis of deception, the principal actor might have maintained his superior influence over the minds of the spectators, by inventing more dexterous delusions, and producing more astonishing effects.-How, then, shall we explain the fact, that they abstained from an experiment, at once so easy and so serviceable, and pursued that course which carried with it an appearance of inconsistency, from which nothing else could be expected but a rapid increase of evils and perplexity, an unnecessary accumulation of difficulties and dangers, continual obstruction and final defeat ?—No other answer can be given, than that their conduct seems not to have been formed on principles of artifice, and determined by calculations of expediency; that it admits not, in this particular, of the suspicion that it proceeded from previous agreement; and that, thus far, it is in the highest degree improbable, that they were confederate impostors.
II. A second very remarkable difference between them is observable in their character and external appearance.-John, austere, mortified, abstemiqus; shunning alike the luxuries of dress, diet, and social intercourse; and strictly observing the severest forms and ordinances of the most rigid order ;--Jesus, mild, gentle, and familiar, joining in society and converse with publicans and sinners, and openly neglecting the undue restraints and ceremonies of the prevailing sects. — Suppose them joint deceivers, and it is impossible to account for this marked discordancy of manner, otherwise
than by presuming, that they were under the necessity of personating two characters, exactly correspondent with the prophecies delivered by their respective parents. But how little was their conduct adapted to the general interpretation of these predictions!-Under the pressure of successive calamities, the Jewish nation had derived comfort from an increasing expectation of a temporal deliverer, and the inspired expressions of Zacharias and of Mary seemed calculated rather to encourage, than to destroy a notion, to which they were attached by the most lively associations of liberty and of triumph. Now had Jesus entered into a career of hypocrisy, and engaged in the stratagems of deceit, he would have identified himself with the Messiah of their imagination, and insinuated his claims by artfully moulding his discourses on established prejudices, and adroitly accommodating his mode of life to reigning inclinations.—But his conduct was entirely the reverse.—He began by mixing with men of that class, which was despised as the meanest, and of that profession, which was abhorred as the worst, — with the poor and the publicans.-Nor was the latter part of his life at variance with the former.—When multitudes were eager to press upon him the assurance of their submission, and to draw him to the exercise of sovereignty, he rejected their offers, and retired from their sight. His words also were in unison with his actions ;-- his declaration to Pilate, that his kingdom was not of this world, was a final blow to their hopes of power, and an express contradiction of their explanations of Scripture. But if we