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attention every thing he said or did. And when he saw the meekness, the patience, the resignation, the firmness, with which our Lord endured the most excruciating torments; when he heard him at one time fervently praying for his murderers, at another disposing with dignity and authority of a place in Paradise to one of his fellow sufferers; and at length, with that confidence, which nothing but conscious virtue and conscious dignity could at such a time inspire, recommending his spirit into the hands of his heavenly Father ; he could not but conclude him to be a most extraordinary person, and something more than human. But when, moreover, he observed the astonishing events that took place when Jesus expired; the agitation into which the whole frame of nature seemed to be thrown; the supernatural darkness, the earthquake, the rend. ing of rocks, the opening of graves ; he then burst out involuntarily into that striking exclamation, Truly this was the Son of God.”
Here then we have a testimony to the divine character of our Lord, which must be
considered as in the highest degree impartialand incorrupt: the honest unsolicited testimony of a plain man, a soldier and a heathen; the testimony, not of one who was prejudiced in favour of Christ and his religion, but of one who, by habit and education, was probably strongly prejudiced against them.
And it is not a little remarkable, that the contemplation of the very same scene which so forcibly struck the Roman centurion, has extorted a similar confession from one of the most eloquent of modern sceptics, who has never been accused of too much credulity, and who, though he could bring himself to resist the evidence both of prophecy and of miracles, and was therefore certainly no bigot to Christianity, yet was overwhelmed with the evidence arising from the character, the sufferings, and the death of Jesus. I allude to the celebrated comparison between the death of Socrates and the death of Jesus, drawn by the masterly pen of Rousseau. The
passage is probably well known to a large part of this audience; but it affords so forcible and so unprejudiced a testimony to the divinity of Christ, and bears so striking a resemblance to 5
that of the centurion, that I shall be pardoned, I trust, for bringing it once more to your recollection, and introducing it here as the conclusion of this Lecture.
“ Where, (says he,) is the man, where is the philosopher, who can act, suffer, and die, without weakness, and without ostentation? When Plato describes his imaginary just man, covered with all the opprobrium of guilt, yet at the same time meriting the sublimest rewards of virtue, he paints precisely every feature in the character of Jesus Christ. The resemblance is so striking that all the fathers have observed it, and it is impossible to be deceived in it. What judice, what blindness must possess the mind of that man, who dares to compare the son of Sophroniscus with the Son of Mary! What a distance is there between the one and the other! The death of Socrates, philosophizing calmly with his friends, is the most gentle that can be wished ; that of Jesus expiring in 'torments, insulted, derided, and reviled by all the people, the most horrible that can be imagined. Socrates, taking the poisoned cup, blesses the man who presents it to
him ; and who, in the very act of presenting it, melts into tears. Jesus, in the midst of the most agonizing tortures, prays for his enraged persecutors. Yes, if the life and death of Socrates are those of a sage, the life and death of Jesus are those of a GOD."
N the preceding Lecture we closed the
dismal scene of our Lord's unparalleled sufferings ; on which it is impossible to reflect without astonishment and horror, and without asking ourselves this question, Whence came it to pass that so innocent, so excellent, so divine a person as the beloved Son of God, in whom he was well pleased, should be permitted by his heavenly Father to be exposed to such indignities and cruelties, and finally to undergo the exquisite torments of the cross? The answer is, that the occasion of all this is to be sought for in our own sinful nature, in the depravity and corruption of the human heart, in the extreme wickedness of every kind which overspread the whole world at the time of our Lord's appearance upon earth, and which