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leading features; every thing is clear, unforced, un-
* Vid. Dr. George Campbell's preliminary differtation to his translation of the gofpels, in 2 vols. 4to. Lond. 1789—vol. rst. 3d differtation, § 4, p. 66, § 18, p. 82, and § 24, P. 95.
fentiment; plainness of language is always preferred, because the best adapted to all capacities, though in a ftile by no means flovenly, yet in little points, as about those grammatical accuracies, which do not affect the meaning and perfpicuity of the fentence, rather careless than curious. In this fort of fimplicity our Lord's biographers peculiarly excel; and furely this is very oppofite to the turgid and obfcure productions of a mind inflated and confused by fanaticism.
But the turn of thought and expreffion, is not only clear and intelligible, but in the highest degree mode. rate and calm; fo 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 roufe the warmest admiration and gratitude, are related with perfect coolness, without any marks of wonder, or exclamations of fympathy: 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 fuch as thefe, the history of which we cannot peruse without astonishment, which seem neceffarily to call forth the strongest expreffions of wonder and reverence, the boldeft flights of enraptured eloquence; even these are related as coolly
as the most common occurrences, laid before the reader with all their minutest circumftances, but laid before him briefly and plainly, without any attempt to magnify their greatness or their confequences.
The fame calmnefs of mind is equally confpicuous in the unimpaffioned, but not unfeeling manner in which the evangelifts relate the cruel fufferings of their divine Lord, as well as the obftinacy, the perverseness, the infatiable malignity of his enemies; in all their narration, not one opprobrious epithet, not one fevere expreffion escapes them; can any thing more strongly distinguish them from fanatics, whose fury and hatred perpetually burst forth, when roufed by oppofition of any kind, much more when fuch opposition inflicts the feverest personal injuries, and pursues with contempt and perfecution the most facred objects of religious reverence? Such calmness, rarely, if ever attained by philofophic wisdom, is furely utterly inconsistent with fanaticism.
On this fubject it has been well obferved by a 'ju dicious writer, "that as you find in the works of "the apoftles and evangelifts no inconfiftent ravings, nothing of the madness or extravagance of enthufiafm, fo neither do you find any bold high ex"preffions, importing indecent familiarity with the
Dr. McKnight, in his truth of the gospel hiftory, 4to.
"Divinity, no bitter invectives against the religion "of the country where they preached, no abusive ડ language of perfons or things deemed facred, no "proud exaltation of their own merits, no indignant
reprobation of their countrymen, who had rejected "and crucified their divine Lord, and ftill opposed "his religion and perfecuted his followers; no dif"regard and contempt of the reft of mankind for "blindness and idolatry." They declare, indeed, that all mankind labour under fin; they call men every where to repent; and proclaim Christ Jefus, 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 formfake, but repeatedly, and from
On this fubject an obfervation has been made, which though somewhat refined and minute, seems juft and important, and peculiarly illuftrates that calmness and candour, which, it is contended, repel from the evangelifts all fufpicion of their being actuated by the heat and violence of fanaticifm. It is this, that our Lord's biographers feldom bring for
Vid. Dr. G. Campbell, as quoted above, differtation iii. fect. 22. p. 87 to 90. This learned writer carries the obfervation farther than I do: fo far as it is neceffary 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 difgrace, except when there feems to be fome neceflity for thus particularly marking them out, in order to authenticate fome parts of the history in which these persons were materially concerned. Thus, in the gofpels, the names of the high priests, the Tetrarch of Galilee, the Roman governor, and the treacherous difciple, 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 perfecution of the Christians, except fome of the Roman magiftrates, 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 diftinguished actors in the events recorded, whofe names could not have been wholly fuppreffed, 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 fubjects of fignal miraculous interferences, which would have loft much of their credibility, had they been related merely in general terms, without fpecifying the occafions which gave rife to them, and the individuals on whom they had been wrought.