Page images
PDF
EPUB

behold our inferiors, not only as not of the same flesh and blood with ourselves; not only as little entitled to the comforts and advantages of this life; but as unworthy of partaking with us in the divine favour, and the happiness of a glorified state. The doctrine of grace is considered by the men of the world as too great a leveller, to be freely admitted consistently with their own ideas of exclusive privileges, or of worldly policy. It must therefore be cried down, wherever their authority can prevail.

But surely their objection does it honour. It shows that the doctrine is favourable to the whole human race; that it is not narrow, partial, unjust; but, like the Author of all good, whence it flows, accepts not the persons of men, neither regards the transient and petty distinctions of rank, but shows favour to the meek and lowly, and to all that are good and true of heart, whether in the palace or in the cottage.

Take comfort, ye poor and despised brethren; for God, by his gospel, has promised to bestow on you riches and honours, durable as they are solid, and such as no earthly power can confer or alienate: and would to heaven that they who trust in worldly riches and honours, could but behold in a true light their real poverty and dishonourable

ulage.

! Yet they should remember, that death is a greater leveller, and one whom no policy or power can escape.

2. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another ?' -John v. 44.

Men lean on reeds, when they rely solely on each other for happiness and honour. Indeed, what real honour can one poor lost creature receive from another, who is exactly in the same condition, if without grace ?

Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.'-1 Cor. 10.

state, when destitute of grace, or, in other words, the favour of the Almighty Sovereign, the Lord of lords, and the King of kings.'

SECTION XLIII.

The universal Prevalence of the Holy Spiritthe genuine Grace of the Gospel_highly conducive to the happiness of civil Society, as well as of Individuals.

It always appeared to me an absurdity, that men should act in their corporate capacity on such principles as, in their individual and private state, they would deem profligate. Public acts are the

Nescit religio nostra personas accipere, nec conditiones hominum, sed animos inspicit singulorum. Servum ac nobilem de moribus pronunciat. Sola apud Deum libertas est non ser vire peccatis. Summia apud Deum est nobilitas clarum esse virtutibus. Hieronymus ad Celantiam, Ep. xiv.-“Our religion knows not to accept the persons of men ; neither does it regard the external condition, but the internal disposition. It pronounces a man a lord or a slave according to his morals. The only liberty in the sight of God is not to be the servant of sin. The highest nobility before him is to become illustrious for virtue.”

Ευγενεια δε, η της εικονος τηρησις, και προς το αρχετυπον &GOMO WOLG, nv epyasetat loyos kai apern. Greg. Naz. in Orat. xi.-" Nobility is the preservation of the image of God, a resemblance of the great model of all excellence, both which are effected by reason and virtue."- Greg. Naz.

Ευγενειαν δε λεγω, ουχ ην οι πολλοι νομιζουσιν" απαγε: αλλ' ην ευσεβεια χαρακτηριζει και τροπος, και η προς το acts of private men; and wherever public acts are immoral, it may be concluded, that those who sanction them in a body, are, as separate members, insincere friends of virtue, and hypocritical professors of religion. Offensive war, and treacherous violation of the most solemn treaties, could never be countenanced by whole nations of Christians, if the individuals were actuated by the sentiments of true Christianity.

It has been said, that we are not to look for the effects of Christianity in national acts or public councils. Why not? Are they not men and Christians, who perform national acts, and compose public councils ? When a man gives a vote for any public measure, or advises the supreme magistrate, does he drop the Christian in the voter or the counsellor ? Common sense revolts at the idea of the same men's renouncing their identity, splitting themselves into several characters, and acting in one inconsistently with their most serious duties and solemn engagements in another, which, at the same time, they profess zealously to support. Misery unutterable arises to the human race, from this duplicity. The sanctity assumed in one character throws a false glare and varnish over the villany practised in the other, and makes it pass current by authority.

A man who is a real Christian, not a political conformist only, will be a Christian in his public conduct as well as in his private. He will be a

TT PwTov ayalov avodoc. Idem, in Orat. xxiii.--" When I speak of nobility, I mean not that which the vulgar herd deem such. Far from it. I mean that which piety and good morals characterize; and a return to the first good, to the original state, from which human nature has fallen.”

Christian statesman and member of parliament, no less than a Christian father, husband, and neighbour.

Now, no man is a Christian in name only, when his Christianity arises from the operation and evidence of the Holy Ghost. His very heart is converted. The whole man is renewed. He is no longer a proud, selfish, cruel being, greedily seeking his own fancied gratification, at the expense of other men's happiness, but guided in all his conduct by the sentiment of love. The law of kindness governs all his actions. His wisdom is gentle; and he uses power, if he possesses it, in imitation of the all-powerful Being above, in diffusing blessings to all who are within the sphere of his influence.

Suppose, then, kings, and rulers of all descriptions, under the benign operation of the Christian spirit, and consequently firm believers and defenders of Christianity. Unnecessary wars immediately cease. The prophecies of Isaiah are accomplished. Swords and spears are converted into pruning-hooks and plough-shares. The lion fondles the lamb, without an inclination to devour it.

The people, feeling the blessings of such government, and actuated by the gentle affections of charity, become cordially attached to it, and to each other. Universal tranquillity reigns. The whole society, both the governed and governing, co-operate in adding to the comforts and diminishing the evils of life; piety to God and love to man display the vital efficacy of the gospel, and prove that it is not a cunningly devised fable, invented by priests for the support of kingly power, but the lively energy of God, actuating the human bosom, and restoring man to that perfection of nature by the second Adam, which was lost by the disobedience of the first in paradise.

The truest patriotism, therefore, is to revive or diffuse genuine Christianity ; to teach men to seek and to find the grace of God through Christ Jesus. This is the philosophy which should be taught from the chairs of our universities and the pulpits of our churches. It would not then fall to the illiterate and fanciful mechanic, who often disgraces it, not only by ignorance of all other science, but too often by a violence of passion and malignity of temper, which seem to evince that he does not possess what he so warmly recommends to his audience.

Christianity is so far from unfitting man for society, as the calumniators have said, that its graces and virtues are peculiarly social. It teaches every thing that is just and kind. It is the false, mistaken, hypocritical, and, above all, the political Christianity, which has been the cause of mischief and misery. This has ever been used as a cloak for maliciousness. But where the Spirit of God, the living gospel of immediate grace, goes hand in hand with the written gospel, there every thing lovely, friendly, and beneficial, is the natural and unavoidable result. The root is good, and the fruit delicious and salubrious in the highest degree. May the tree spread its umbrageous branches over the land, and all the people take refuge and seek solace under its expanded foliage! The throne that is established in righteousness is fixed on the Rock of ages; and the people who have the Lord

« PreviousContinue »