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persons. But it seems to have been delivered to no great number; perhaps, too, within a limited space of time. It stands in marked distinctness from the general tenour of his teaching; and it stands also in contrast with that teaching as to the mode of its reception " (On “Ecce Homo," Good Words, Feb. 1868).
This is no distinction without a difference ; for the difference is no less than that between the human and the superhuman, between the Son of man and the Son of God.
Again, speaking generally, we may say that, according to the first Gospels, the chief aim of the preaching of Jesus was to teach righteousness; but according to the fourth, on the contrary, its chief aim was to inculcate belief in himself, or to teach doctrine. It is, thus, the practical against the doctrinal; Works versus Faith. Exceptions may be culled from all the Gospels, it is true ; but it will, we think, be admitted that the distinction generally holds good. Perhaps nothing exhibits this divergence so markedly as the two occasions on which Jesus is represented as being called on by inquirers to explain, or to state "the whole duty of man.” For example, in Matthew (xix. 16-21), the question put to Jesus is, “What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Jesus replies, “If thou wouldest enter into life, keep the commandments.” ommit no murder, theft, adultery, etc. “All these things,” said the young man, “have I observed : what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wouldest be perfect, go, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.”
In striking contrast to this is the teaching of the fourth Gospel (John vi. 28, 29). When asked, “What inust we do, that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." It is true that in this latter case righteousness is supposed to co-exist with faith, still there is a great difference as to which is put in the first and which in the second place.*
But though these seemingly discordant utterances may by some ingenuity be made to appear reconcilable, and may, perhaps, actually be reconciled, yet other inconsistencies remain, which baffle all the attempts of the harmonizer.
In Matt. xi. 10, Jesus, speaking of the Baptist, says, “This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.” (See Mal. iii. 1-5; also Mal. iv. 5, 6.) This messenger and this Elijah seem to be one and the same, having the same office of purifying and converting the Jews, before the day of retribution. Jesus accordingly also terms John the Elijah (Matt. xi. 14): “This is Elijah, which is to come.” (See also Matt. xvii. 10-13.)
But Jesus nowhere in the Gospel of John calls the Baptist either the Elijah or the messenger of the covenant, and this is not a mere purposeless omission, since, were he represented as doing so, this Gospel would not be consistent with itself; for the Baptist, whom it exhibits as divinely commissioned, emphatically denies that he is the Elijah, as we have seen (John i. 21): "Art thou Elijah? And he saith, I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered, No." And ver. 25, “Why then baptizest thou, if thou art not the Christ, neither Elijah, neither the prophet ?”
* See Dean Stanley's “Lectures on the Jewish Church,” vol. i. P. 451.
The prophet alluded to is probably the one foretold in Deut. xviii. 18, 19. "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee (Moses), and will put words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him," etc. Now, Jesus (in the fourth Gospel) seems to represent himself as this prophet (John v. 46) where he says, “If ye believed Moses, ye would believe me; for he wrote of me.” The people also received him (John vi. 14) as "the prophet that cometh into the world."
For the same reason, doubtless, John, in this Gospel, is not the Elijah, i.e. because the function of the Elijah is performed by Jesus himself—that, namely, of baptizing with the Holy Spirit, and so converting and purifying the people. These offices, then, of issuing the commands of God, and of giving power to obey them, are here deemed too high for John; yet does John sustain a distinct relation to the Messianic kingdom, and one predicted by Isaiah—he is the voice crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” etc., but it is a wholly different preparation from that of the messenger of Malachi. John's function, in the fourth Gospel, is to prepare the way of Jesus simply by testifying to his Messiahship. Thus, “There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light” (John i. 6–8). The office of John, then, was merely to bear testimony to Jesus, who alone could enlighten men as to the commands of God, and who alone could give power to obey those commands, and to become the obedient children of God, for “As many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John i. 12).
The doctrine that Jesus is the Christ predicted by the prophets, is the keystone, yea, the foundation of the whole fabric of Christianity (as the very name implies), a foundation laid before Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthian Church. (See I Cor. iii. 11.) We have seen that as to the predicted forerunner of the Christ, the teaching of Jesus in Matthew is in irreconcilable conflict with that in the fourth Gospel ; but let us approach the fundamental question—the Messiahship of Jesus—and try to ascertain what was. the public teaching of Jesus in relation to this doctrine, and whether the differences between the Synoptic Gospels and the succeeding one affect also this basal rock on which the Church is built.
Yet first let us glance at the way in which John the Baptist fulfils his office of bearing witness to Jesus. That he foretold the near approach of the Messiah's kingdom, and that the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Ghost, is admitted on all hands; but, according to the last Gospel, John testified that Jesus was this Messiah (John i. 15): "John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me.” And ver. 29, John“ seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world !”
gain, vers. 32, 33, “And John bare witness, saying, I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven; and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, he said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, the same is he that baptizeth with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
In the Synoptics John gives no such evidence, It does not appear therein that any one but Jesus saw the dove and heard the voice, for “the heavens were opened unto him” (Matt. iii. 16). He immediately goes into the desert, and remains forty days (Mark i. 12, 13). He does not begin to preach till after John is imprisoned, and, instead of John's emphatic testimony before Jesus' public life commenced, wc find the Baptist, having heard while in prison of the works of Jesus, sending his disciples to him expressly