Page images
PDF
EPUB

DISCOURSE

AT THE INSTALLATION OF THE REV. M. I. MOTTE.

BOSTON, 1828.

TIMOTHY II. 17.

FOR GOD BATH NOT GIVEN US THE SPIRIT OF FEAR, BUT OF POWER, AND

OF LOVE, AND OF A SOUND MIND.

Why was Christianity given? Why did Christ seal it with his blood ? Why is it to be preached ? What is the great happiness it confers ? What is the chief blessing for which it is to be prized ? What is its preeminent glory, its first claim on the gratitude of mankind ? These are great questions. I wish to answer them plainly, according to the light and ability which God has given me.

I read the answer to them in the text. There I learn the great good which God confers through Jesus Christ. He hath given us not

• the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.' The glory of Christianity is, the pure and lofty action which it communicates to the human mind. It does not breathe a timid, abject spirit. If it did, it would deserve no praise. It gives power, energy, courage, constancy to the will; love, disinterestedness, enlarged affection to the heart; soundness, clearness, and vigor to the understanding. It rescues him who receives it from sin, from the sway of the passions ; gives him the full and free use of his best powers; brings out

O

and brightens the divine image in which he was created; and in this way not only bestows the promise, but the beginning of heaven. This is the excellence of Christianity.

This subject I propose to illustrate. Let me begin it with one remark, which I would willingly avoid, but which seems to me to be demanded by the circumstances in which I am placed. I beg you to remember, that in this discourse I speak in my own name, and in no other. I am not giving you the opinions of any sect or body of men, but my own.

.

I hold myself alone responsible for what I utter. Let none listen to me for the purpose of learning what others think. I indeed belong to that class of Christians, who are distinguished, by believing that there is one God, even the Father, and that Jesus Christ is not this one God, but his dependent and obedient Son. But my accordance with these is far from being universal, nor have I any desire to extend it. What other men believe is to me of little moment. Their arguments I gratefully hear. Their conclusions

I I am free to receive or reject. I have no anxiety to wear the livery of any party. I indeed take cheerfully the name of a Unitarian, because unwearied efforts are used to raise against it a popular cry; and I have not so learned Christ, as to shrink from reproaches cast on what I deem his truth. Were the name more honored, I should be glad to throw it off; for I fear the shackles which a party connexion imposes. I wish to regard myself as belonging, not to a sect, but to the community of free minds, of lovers of truth, of followers of Christ, both on earth and in heaven. I desire to escape the narrow walls of a particular church, and to live under the open sky, in the broad light, looking far and wide, seeing with my own eyes, hearing with my own

ܪ

ears, and following truth meekly, but resolutely, however arduous or solitary be the path in which she leads. I am then no organ of a sect, but speak from myself alone ; and I thank God that I live at a time, and under circumstances, which make it my duty to lay open my whole mind with freedom and simplicity.

I began with asking, What is the main design and glory of Christianity ? and I repeat the answer, that its design is to give, not a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind. In this its glory chiefly consists. In other words, the influence which it is intended to exert on the human mind, constitutes its supreme honor and happiness. Christ is a great Saviour, as he redeems or sets free the mind, cleansing it from evil, breathing into it the love of virtue, calling forth its noblest faculties and affections, enduing it with moral power, restoring it to order, health and liberty. Such was his great aim. To illustrate these views will be the object of the present discourse.

In reading the New Testament, 1 everywhere meet the end here ascribed to Jesus Christ. He came, as I am there taught, not to be an outward, but inward deliverer; not to rear an outward throne, but to establish his kingdom within us. He came, according to the express language and plain import of the sacred writers, 'to save us from sin,” “to bless us by turning us from our iniquities,' 'to redeem us’ from corruptions handed down by tradition,' to forma glorious and spotless church' or community, to create us anew after the image of God,' to make us by his promises partakers of a divine nature, and to give us pardon and heaven by calling us to repentance and a growing virtue. In reading the New Testament, I everywhere learn, that

I Christ lived, taught, died, and rose again, to exert a purifying and ennobling influence on the human character ; to make us victorious over sin, over ourselves, 'over peril and pain; to join us to God by filial love, and above all, by likeness of nature, by participation of his spirit This is plainly laid down in the New Testament as the • supreme end of Christ.

Let me now ask, Can a nobler end be ascribed to Jesus? I affirm, that there is, and can be no greater work on earth, than to purify the soul from evil, and to kindle in it new light, life, energy, and love. I maintain, that the true measure of the glory of a religion, is to be found in the spirit and power which it communicates to its disciples. This is one of the plain teachings of reason. The chief blessing to an intelligent being, that which makes all other blessings poor, is the improvement of his own mind. Man is glorious and happy, not by what he has, but by what he is. He can receive nothing better or nobler than the unfolding of his own spiritual nature. The highest existence in the universe is Mind; for God is mind; and the developement of that principle which assimilates us to God, must be our supreme good. The omnipotent Creator, we have reason to think, can bestow nothing greater than intelligence, love, rectitude, energy of will and of benevolent action; for these are the splendors of his own nature. We adore him for these. In imparting these, he imparts, as it were, himself. We are too apt to look abroad for good. But the only true good is within. In this outward universe, magnificent as it is, in the bright day and the starry night, in the earth and the skies, we can discover nothing so vast as thought, so strong as the unconquerable purpose of duty, so sublime as the spirit of disinterestedness and self-sacrifice. A mind,

ܪ

« PreviousContinue »