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Christ. The Jewish authors were incapable of the diction, and strangers to the morality, contained in the gospel; the marks of its truths are so striking and inimitable, that the inventor of them must be a more astonishing character than the hero."
We will next hear the sentiments of one of our countrymen. Soame Jenyns was born in London. He sat in Parliament nearly forty years, during which time be mostly represented Cambridge ; and for more than twenty years was one of the Lords of trade, in which situation he continued till the year 1780. As an author, he attained no small degree of reputation by fine talents, which had every aid that useful and polite learning could bestow. He had a critical judgment, an elegant taste, and a rich vein of wit and humour. In his* 66 View of the Internal Evidences of the Christian Religion,” after enumerating persons of different descriptions, he candidly acknowledges in relation to the truths of the gospel, “ that he once perhaps believed as little as themselves; but having some leisure, and more curiosity, he employed them both in resolving a question which seemed to him of some importance : Whether Christianity was really an imposture, founded on an absurd, incredible, and obsolete fable, as many suppose it: or whether it is what it pretends to be, a revela. tion communicated to mankind by the interposition of supernatural power?”
x Soame Jenyns on his death bed, particularly rejoiced in the belief, that his “ View of the Internal Evidences" had been useful. And spoke of death in such a manner as showed he was prepared to die.
On a candid inquiry, he soon found that the first was an absolute impossibility, and that its pretensions to the latter, were founded on the most solid grounds. In the pursuit he pereeived at every step, fresh light beaming from Christianity; and even parts of it the most obscure, on examination, afforded the clearest proofs, that they were equally beyond the power of human artifice to invent, and human power to discover.
We will begin with his first proposition : “That there is now extant, a book, called the New Testament, which was written soon after the extraordinary events which it relates; as we find them quoted and referred to by an uninterrupted succession of writers, from those to the present times.
“ Secondly, that from this book may be extracted a system of religion entirely new, both in its object and in its doctrines; not only su
perior to, but totally unlike every thing which had ever before entered into the mind of man.
“Thirdly, that from this book may be collected a system of ethics, in which every moral precept founded on reason, is carried to a higher degree of purity and perfection, than in any other of the wisest philosophers of preceding ages ; every moral precept founded on false principles is totally omitted, and many new precepts added, peculiarly corresponding with the new object of this religion.
Lastly, that such a system of religion, could not possibly have been the work of any man, or set of men, much less of those obscure, ignorant, and illiterate persons, who actually did publish it to the world, and that, therefore, it must undoubtedly have been effected by the interposition of Divine power, that is, it must derive its origin from God.
“Let us examine," continues Soame Jenyns, - what are the new precepts of the Christian Religion, which peculiarly correspond with its object, the preparing of us for the kingdom of hea
Of these, the chief are, poorness of spirit, forgiveness of injuries, and charity to all men : to these we may add repentance, faith, selfabasement, and a detachment from the world, all moral duties peculiar to this religion, and alsolutely necessary to the attainment of its end.
“Of the first we shall give this description : * Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' By which poorness of spirit, is to be understood a disposition of mind, meek, humble, submissive to power; void of ambition, patient of injuries, and free from all resentment. This was so new, and so opposite to the ideas of all Pagan moralists, that they thought this temper of mind a criminal and contemptible meanness, which must induce men to sacrifice the glory of their country, and their own honour to a shameful pusillanimity; and such it appears to almost all who are called Christians, even at this day, who not only reject it in practice, but disavow it in principle, notwithstanding this explieit declaration of their Master.
“ We see them revenging the smallest affronts by premeditated murder, as individuals, on principles of honour; and, in their national capaci. ties, destroying each other with fire and sword, for the low considerations of commercial interests, the balance of rival powers, or the ambition of princes. We see them with their last breath animating each other to a savage reTenge; and, in the agonies of death, plunging, with feeble arms, their daggers into the hearts of their opponents; and, what is still worse, we hear all these barbarisms-celebrated by historians; flattered by poets; applauded in theatres; approved in senates; and even sanctified in pulpits !-But universal practice cannot alter the nature of things; nor universal error change the nature of truth !
“Pride was not made for man; but humility, meekness, and resignation; that is, poorness of spirit was made for man, and properly belongs to his dependant and precarious situation; and is the only disposition of mind, which can enable him to enjoy ease and quiet here, and happiness hereafter. Yet was this important precept entirely unknown until it was promulgated by Him, who said : Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Verily I say unto you, whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.'
Another precept equally new, and no less excellent, is, forgiveness of injuries: Ye have heard,' says Christ to his disciples, thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy; but I say unto you, love your enemies; bless them that eurse you ; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them who despitefully use you.'