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Knowledge to the Minds of Men, and they ofteh stick Chriff's with them, when the Impressions, made by other rational Speaking in Discourses, are obliterated and forgotten. Hence Phedrus vindicated. says of the Æfopick Fables.
Diligenter intuere has nenias ;
And he farther shews how Æsop, in his Condition, was best able to teach Men their Duries this Way.
Poor Slave! he durft not plainly fay
Tales he drejt,
of these, Menenius persuaded the Commonalty of Roman, which was all in an Uproar, to be reconciled to the SeDate; and by another of the like Kind, Demosthenes escaped being delivered up to Alexander. But the Jesus,
above all Nations, delighted in this Way of Reasoning, as i St. Hierom, who lived long in Palestine, informs us in his
Comment on Math. xiv. And the Jewish Books, at this 5 Day, are full of such Parables as our Saviour uses.
And they are, oftentimes, ushered in with the same Phrase and Way of Speaking, as our Saviour introduces his; Whereunto shall I liken such a Thing? Says Christ. The Jewish Books say, A Parable: To what is the Thing like?
To‘a Man,'io a King of Flesh and Blood. ** Nay, in the Talmudical Treatises, there are Parables to be found, almost the very fate with those of our Saviour. In the Treatise Killaim, there is a Dispute of serving sepon the Rocks and Stones, and of mixing Wheat and Tares together. And in Peah, a Tract in the Talmud of Jerusalem, they speak of a Tree of Mustardl-seed, which one might climb up into, like other Trees. Now, when this parabolic: Way of teaching Morality was the most celebrated Method among the Fevs, you ought not to blame our Saviour,, who always industriously avoided Singularity, for his falling in with their common Practice.
But fuppofing Christ, as you would have had him, our's Dif- should have taught Morality in the Way of the Hearben courses a Philosophers; the Jews then would have despised his Serche Erfern mons more, than you do now. The Eastern Way of Way of Reasoning was so different from that of the West, that Reasoning the foundest Philosophy of Greece or Rome would have
been mere Jargon and Cant, if it had been proposed in the philosophick Way, at Jerusalem. The only Method of Reasoning, which agreed with their Palates, was to usher in an handsome Simile, or Story, apposite to the Matter discoursed of ; to apply a smart
Saying of fome ancient Worthy; or to bring gocd Proofs from their Law, ar ancient Tradition; but to go to prove Morality to them, as Plato arid Tidly do, from the eternal Rules of Justice, from the Rect trade and Honorableness of Virtue, and the Pravity and Turpitude of Vice, would have been meer Heathen Greek tô that Nation, and such a way of Talking, as 'the wife ft Men of their way of Education would have vilely despised. - Indeed, the Greeks and Romans were forced to argue after that. Manner, becau! they wanted Revelation to instruct them in Morality; and they had no other way, to come to the Knowledge of particular moral Obligations, but only to deduce then from general and uncontroverted Principles; but the fears must contemn this round-about Way, as having a thorte * Vid. Dr: Lightfoot's Harmony of the New Testament. p. 30.
Method, to come to the Knowledge of their Duty, only
Therefore our all-wise Redeemer, (who well knew
Besides, if the Men of Learning and Education could By meking have understood such let and rational Discourses, as you here on this would have our Saviour to have spoken, yet the ordinary lofophy and People, whom our Saviour was to do most Good among, Eloquence, must only have come to have gaped at his Lectures,with- he would qut understanding a tittle of them. Possibly same fuch not have Men as Philo, or Josephus, Men of an Alexandrian Edu- stood by cation, who had conversed among the Heathen Philoso- People. phers, might have understood such a Vein of Arguing as you contend for ; but the poor ordinary Jews, and Men, who only had an Education, in Fudea, could never have understood him. In short, that, which our Saviour took up: wich, was the Country and the popular Eloquence, and which he must expect to do most good by; and therefore, upon very wise Grounds, he chose to make use of this, rather than to please the itching Ears of a few. Men, who could relish nothing but the Eloquence of Greek and Latin Books.
Ánother very good reason, why our Saviour did not give a Rationale of all the
Moral Duties he preached was, Because that would have run his Lectures out into too great a Length; it would too much have burthened the Memory of his Anditors; and would have hindred his Sermons from being such comprehensive Compendiums of Divinity, as they now are. "To have given a Rationale of but one or two Heads of fome of his Discourses; to have Thewo all the particular Excellerícies, viż. of a peaceable Disposition, the invärd Quiet and Sarisfa&tion, and the outward Love and Esteem, the blessed Fruits of it in Families, and Societies, in Church and State, &c. To have gone through all the other Duties, after this Method, would have made the Sermon upon the Mount bigger than
Aquinas's Sums; and so our Saviour must have been a great Deal longer a preaching, than he lived.
But lastly, there was no Need, that our Saviour should make use of such rational Harangues as others do. He taught as one having Authority, and not as the Scribes. He himself had Authority to command what was to be done; and not only to prove it. Other Doctors among the Jews, were to prove a Thing to be a Duty, because it was commanded in God's Word, or delivered heretofore by the inspired Prophets; but our Saviour was inspired himself, and his Miracles proved what he said to be the Word of GOD, better than any Arguments or Glosses upon Scripture.
Phil. I have something to urge against one of your Arguments, which asserts, That Christ's Way of speaking by Parables, and such Jewish Ways of Reasoning, was best understood by the People; when 'tis plain they were not: For Matth. xiii. Christ is said purposely to speak in Parables, that the Jews might not understand him. Which by the way is a very odd Way of giving Laus, or obliga tory Rules, in such dark Terms, as no body can tell what they mean.
Cred. All the Parables of our Saviour, (as particularly those which gave Representations of Moral Duties, fuch as that of Dives and Lazarus, and of the wife and foolish Vio
gins, &c.) are not difficult to be understood; and when he Christ does speaks as a Legislator, as in the Sermon on the Mount, he or speak lays down his Rules in plain and direct Terms. But
his Legislawhen he speaks of some of the Mysteries of Christianity, tions ; nor , of the Rejcetion of the Fews, and the Preaching the generally Gospel to the Gentiles, or the like; he then only makes use difficult. of obscure Similies, which some of the captious Fows, who followed Christ out of no good Design, might not understand. And herein he did no otherw ays, than what Iam- / blichus says Pythagoras did, who said many things in a hidden and covert Manner, which those, who came to learn of him with a pure Mind might understand; but others, though they heard him, could not perceive his Meaning. And lo in the 13th Chapter of St. Mathew, there was a promifCuous Multitude, which followed Christ ; all of which did not come with a good Design t) learn his Do&trine; and that made him, at that Time, propose it more obscurely; but when those captious People were gone off, he thien cxplained himself more openly to his Disciples, and some other good People which were probably with them. Or it was sufficient if he did it only to his Disciples, who would make it sufficiently known after his Death ; there
sufficient and material Reasons, that all the Doctrines of Christianity should not be revealed, till the World should be in a better Disposition to receive them.
Phil. There are several of Christ's Axions likewise, which do very much disgust me, as particularly the Cavalcade he made upon bis Ajinego, as one of our friends * has expressed it. To ride upon such an odd Sort of Beast at the Head of a Mob, is an Action not becoming a wise or grave Man, more especially the Messias or Son of God. And does it not look like an Affectation of Popularity, to suffer the Rabble to hosannah him all along upon the Road, and to throw their Cloaths in the Way to grace the Triumph? If you and I were to see the same Thing done, by one whom we were not prejudiced by a previous Respect to, we could not but think it to be
Oracl. of Reaf. p. 163.