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deep things contained in heavenly wisdom. Again, he thus answers those who complained of his refraining from the abstruse subjects which formed the principal topics of the ministrations of the false teachers - 'I, brethren, could not speak unto you, as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat, for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able 2. And again,— Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who, by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil 3.'
In all these passages such a method of teaching is clearly implied, as had respect to the gradual advancement of the believers in spiritual knowledge; so that the Apostle gave here a little, and there a little,' not displaying all the truths he knew to those to whom they would have been 'foolishness' at that stage of their experience in religion 4.
2 1 Cor. iii. 1, 2.
3 Heb. v. 14. 4 See Thruston's Twelve Discourses, p. 12-14.
Now the question is, how far St. Paul was justified in this particular by the example of our Saviour.
If the argument from analogy be taken into consideration, it must be admitted, that it will afford a strong authority in favour of the Apostle's practice. From the time of the first promise of a redeemer, given immediately after the fall, when it was simply declared that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, a series of successive prophecies gradually unfolded the particular tribe, the family, the individual house from which the Messiah should spring-the time and place of his birth-the minutest circumstances of his life-the scope of his mission—the qualifications with which he should be endowed for sustaining his mediatorial office.
In consequence of these several revelations, which were all understood to point clearly at a certain specified character about to arise at a definite season, a general expectation of the adyent of some great prophetic teacher was excited among the Jews, which had a tendency to prepare their minds for the proper reception of the truths he would be commissioned to deliver. Accordingly we find that little more than a century and a half before our Lord's birth, they pulled down an altar which the heathen had profaned, and laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple in a convenient place, until there should come a prophet to shew what should be done with them 5. And at a subsequent period in the history, when the high priesthood was conferred on Simon and his
posterity after him, a very remarkable reservation was made, with evident reference to the prevailing expectation of a heavenly teacher. - The Jews and priests were well pleased that Simon should be their governor and high priest for ever, until there should arise a faithful propheto. It was in allusion to this universal opinion, that when our Lord began to display the powers with which he was invested, the people said, "that a great prophet had risen up amongst them, and that the Lord had visited his people?.'
5 1 Maccab. iv. 46.
6 i Maccab. xiv. 41.
Nor was this all. When the season for Christ's appearance
had arrived, a harbinger was expressly sent to prepare the way before him, and to declare that the kingdom of heaven was at hand; through whose ministry a great and general attention to religion was awakened previous to the commencement of the labours of his great Master. St. Paul himself, addressing the Jews of Antioch, lays an important stress on the preparatory commission of John, as if it had been among the decrees of God, that the sun of righteousness could not arise, till his messenger had testified concerning the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour Jesus, when John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel 8. Nor was it till John's personal ministry had altogether finished, that our Lord's began. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee–From that time Jesus began to preach'.' So insensibly did the Lord, through whose influence are the preparations of the heart in man, make room for his spiritual vine, and cause it to take deep root, and fill the land.
9 Luke, vii. 16.
8 Acts, xiii. 24.
The gradual manner in which the eyes of the world were thus directed to Christ before his actual appearance upon the scene of his ministry, would lead us to suppose that a similar method would be adopted by himself, in the exercise of his functions as a teacher of righteousness, when the fulness of time had arrived for his mission. It will be my object to inquire,
1st. How far our Lord's manner of teaching appears to coincide with this assumption.
In the sixth chapter of the Apostolical Constitutions, after rules have been laid down for
9 Matt. iv. 12. 17.