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leading features ; every thing is clear, unforced, unadorned; the fentences are short and intelligible ;the language plain and natural ; no fuperfluous or far-fetched epithets-no accumulation of fynonimous, or nearly synonimous words, to amplify or impress the ideas of the speaker-no involved circumlocutions -no effort to express things in a bold, emphatical
This fimplicity of stile and structure is essentially connected with, and evidently arises from the ' fimplicity of the design. The writers of these narrations appear solely
as Christ's humble at“ tendants, felected for introducing to the know“ ledge of others this infinitely higher character, " who is himself in a pre-eminent sense, the mouth, “ and the oracle of God;" it is this subordinate part which they profeffedly and uniformly act. Struck with the ineffable dignity of the Messiah whom they serve, they lose no opportunity of exhibiting him to the world, and appear to consider the introduction of their own opinions, conjectures or reasonings, unless where they make a part of the narration, as an impertinence ; they fink themselves in order to place him in the most conspicuous point of view ; they preach not themselves, but Christ Jesus, the Lord. Hence in the historical part of the New Testament, we never find the least trace of any attempt to shine by studied expression, composition, or.
r Vid. Dr. George Campbell's preliminary, dissertation to his translation of the gospels, in 2 vols. 4to. Lond. 1789--vol. ift. 3d differtation, $ 4, p. 66, \ 18, p. 82, and s 24, p. 95.
sentiment; plainness of language is always preferred, because the best adapted to all capacities, though in a stile by no means slovenly, yet in little points, as about those grammatical accuracies, which do not affect the meaning and perfpicuity of the sentence, rather careless than curious. In this sort of simplicity our Lord's biographers peculiarly excel ; and surely this is very opposite to the turgid and obscure productions of a mind inflated and confused by fana ticism.
But the turn of thought and expression, is not only clear and intelligible, but in the highest degree moderate and calm; so far from exaggerating trifles into importance, and indulging the extravagancies of enthusiasm, that the most striking displays of wisdom, the most engaging exertions of beneficence, calculated to rouse the warmest admiration and gratitude, are related with perfect coolness, without any marks of wonder, or exclamations of sympathy: nay further, the most ftupendous exertions of miraculous power
-the course of nature fufpended-all manner of diseases healed by a word--the winds and waves controuled by their master's voice; and even the depths of the grave yielding back the dead to life at his command. Events such as these, the history of which we cannot peruse without astonishment, which seem necessarily to call forth the strongest expressions of wonder and reverence, the boldest flights of enraptured eloquence; even these are related as coolly
as the most common occurrences, laid before the
The same calmness of mind is equally conspicuous in the unimpassioned, but not unfeeling manner in which the evangelists relate the cruel sufferings of their divine Lord, as well as the obstinacy, the perverseness, the infatiable malignity of his enemies ; in all their narration, not one opprobrious epithet, not one severe 'expression escapes them ; can any thing more strongly distinguish them from fanatics, whose fury and hatred perpetually burst forth, when roused by opposition of any kind, much more when such opposition inflicts the severest personal injuries, and pursues with contempt and persecution the most facred objects of religious reverence ? Such calmness, rarely, if ever attained by philofophic wisdom, is surely utterly inconsistent with fanaticism.
On this subject it has been well observed by a 'ju. dicious writer, “ that as you find in the works of “ the apostles and evangelists no inconsistent ravings, “ nothing of the madness or extravagance of enthu6 fiasm, so neither do you find any bold high ex“ pressions, importing indecent familiarity with the
$ Dr. M*Knight, in his truth of the gospel history, 4to. p. 427.
“ Divinity, no bitter invectives against the religion « of the country where they preached, no abusive
language of persons or things deemed sacred, no “ proud exaltation of their own merits, no indignant " reprobation of their countrymen, who had rejected " and crucified their divine Lord, and still opposed « his religion and persecuted his followers; no dif
regard and contempt of the rest of mankind for blindness and idolatry.” They declare, indeed, that all mankind labour under sin ; they call men every where to repent; and proclaim Christ Jesus, as the only name under heaven by which men, can be faved; but these facred truths are delivered, not with pride and arrogance, but with the deepest humility and self-abasement; and we find them all disclaiming all power and holiness of their own, not once only, and merely for formsake, but repeatedly, and from the heart.
On this subject an observation has been made, which though somewhat refined and minute, seems just and important, and peculiarly illustrates that calmness and candour, which, it is contended, repel from the evangelists all suspicion of their being actuated by the heat and violence of fanaticism. It is this, that our Lord's biographers feldom bring for
* Vid. Dr. G. Campbell, as quoted above, dissertation iïi. fect. 22. p. 87 to 90. This learned writer carries the observation farther than I do: so far as it is necessary for my argument, its justice will not, I trust, seem doubtful.
ward the names of those of whom they can mention nothing but to their disgrace, except when there seems to be some necessity for thus particularly marking them out, in order to authenticate some parts
of the history in which these persons were materially concerned. Thus, in the gospels, the names of the high priests, the Tetrarch of Galilee, the Roman governor, and the treacherous disciple, are all that are particularly mentioned of those who were active in the prosecution and death of our Lord ; and in the Acts, none are particularly named who were engaged in the persecution of the Christians, except fome of the Roman magistrates, the kings Agrippa and Herod, the high priest Ananias, and the orator Tertullus--all of whom, from their high rank or other circumstances, were the most distinguished actors in the events recorded, whose names could not have been wholly suppressed, without stripping the history of those particulars, which at this day form the strongest marks of its authenticity and truth.
Thus also we can account for the particular mention made of the crimes of Ananias, and Sapphira, and Elymas, because these perfons were themselves the subjects of signal miraculous interferences, which would have lost much of their credibility, had they been related merely in general terms, without specifying the occasions which gave rife to them, and the individuals on whom they had been wrought.