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upon his public ministry; and then, from the highest point of earthly toil, he showed how we are to accompany him through much tribulation to the fairest heights of celestial glory. The Son of man was the manliest of men; the most humane, and, at the same time, the most brave; he taught as never man taught, because he sought usefulness rather than honors, and was ready to enter the lists against the most numerous and mighty foes, whenever the feeble were to be defended or the captive set free. It mattered not though crowned and mitred tyranny condemned his advocacy of mercy and truth. It was impossible for his righteous soul to be otherwise than “ bold in the right, and too bold to do wrong." Christ was never afraid to speak out and tell men the truth. His denunciation of the hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees, those “whited sepulchres” of the nation in those last stages of degeneracy and moral putrescence which they had mainly produced, is in point to show that he was above the influence of fear or favor in his teaching, whatever might be the reputation of his hearers or the rank in which they moved. He never injured the wealthy and powerful by refraining from dealing out to them wholesome counsel ; but his especial solicitude was for the welfare of the great multitudes who did not scorn his lowliness, but, on the contrary, in a measure, appreciated the constant labors he performed for their sakes, and gladly listened to his discourse. They recognized in him a sympathizing friend, an untiring brother, a champion divine.
“Patient of toil, serene amidst alarms,
Finally, the love of Christ for the common people was not only deep beyond all precedent, but it was also in every respect the most impartial; and, if any thing was wanting to secure their undivided regard, this would succeed beyond all other
Christianity was the first universal educator. Its spirit is the patron of all excellence, the enlightener of all mind, "the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” When this Liberator of universal thought appeared, he signified the divine purpose
of his mission in the well-known words, " The Lord has sent me to evangelize the poor.” Why the poor? Doubtless because they formed the greatest number, and suffered the greatest wrongs; and, since all souls are of equal value before God, when he weighs them in the balance of eternal justice, the soul of the great masses should certainly preponderate. The common people recognized Christ, and adored him in the deepest obscurity, while, as he rose on the general view, men of station and power saw in him nothing to admire, but every thing to persecute. The people loved him, because they saw in him the transparent wisdom and impartial love they so much needed ; and he in turn loved them the more, because, in their destitution and despair, they were willing to confide in him as the great Master who had come to teach every class of mankind without money and without price. This was instruction and love which met men's entire yearnings, aspirings, and powers, and was employed to raise human nature, by enlarging and cultivating its faculties, but not to fortify tottering thrones and exclusive sects. As Christ himself was conscious of a perfect union with God, he designed to produce, upon all who were susceptible of such a feeling, a corresponding impression of an existence pervaded with the fulness of the divine spirit and nature. Devout emotions, tender, fraternal bonds, and the sublimest aspirations, are inherent in the nature of the gospel, flowing spontaneously forth from the word, the spirit, and the life of Christ, and were most strongly confirmed by the perfect harmony between his manifestation in the flesh and that inward perception of the godlike, which, through it, was first awakened to full consciousness in the popular heart. Jesus was the Shekinah to the world ; a palpable imbodiment of Jehovah to
in a far wider and higher sense than the Shekinah of old; for he was not merely a symbol of the divine perfections gleaming in the cloud, and circumscribed by a narrow sanctuary, but infinite wisdom and universal love realized distinctly
and rapturously to the common intellect and affection of mankind. The beloved Son was the bright image and representative of the great Father of us all, whose advent was designed to testify the worth of the soul in the sight of God, and to qualify it for the infinite functions for which it was framed.
In order best to accomplish the work which was given him to do, our Savior appeared in the greatest poverty, and lived upon the generosity of those who suffered with him the ills of life. With the noblest zeal he attacked the strongest party among his countrymen, and seemed purposely to excite the indignation of all who were tyrants and bigots at heart. To know who were the wretched creatures he most denounced, we have only to ascertain who had already inflicted the greatest wrongs on their race. The Pharisees had transformed morality into a subtle casuistry about ceremonials, and made it the patroness of most pernicious hypocrisy. The Sadducees had reduced it to a system of arbitary maxims for the use of unprincipled sensualists; and the Essenes, to a gloomy asceticism, fit only for fanatical anchorites and morbid enthusiasts. They all agreed, however, to abandon the common people to uncultivated desires, and were satisfied themselves, selfishly, to conform to their own frivolous formulas, and treat the excluded multitudes with bitter contempt. To rescue morality from such degradation, and to open on earth the fountains of free salvation, instead of priestcraft so accursed, was the design of Christ and his glorious reward.
He would convert men to himself by making them like himself, and thus bind them to each other with a love as comprehensive and magnanimous as
He would disabuse them of all prejudice, destroy from amongst them all hinderances to mutual improvement, and invest each devotee, at the shrine of impartial justice, with the nobility of heaven. He drew golden truth from its original sources, and scattered it as widely as possible among the miscellaneous crowds, not simply to meet their immediate wants, but to stimulate their appetite, and to remind them that the inexhaustible mine was laid open to be explored by all. He sowed the field of the world with the seeds of most precious harvests thickly scattered, and invited every rank and condition to gather unlimited stores for themselves. He addressed the masses, and not private circles; went to the reading-desk of the synagogue, and not the secret alcoves of the temple ; and made every spot where his feet stood and his voice resounded, a perpetual source of the widest, highest, freest, and most powerful instruction. It was his own declaration, “ And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” That is, all men are made susceptible of emotion, as well as capable of believing; all men love to feel, as well as to think; and in my gospel is an exciting and exalting power, adapted to the human mind, and to which, if permitted through appropriate instruction, it will every where respond, feeling that by the contact all its faculties of head and heart are refreshed.
Can we wonder that the eyes of the Redeemer, “ which seemed to love whate'er they looked upon," as they met the popular gaze, held all spirits spell-bound ? Is it strange that those tones of his which every where proclaimed that all rational beings have an equal right to live and enjoy elicited applause from the throbbing hearts on which they fell? The common people must have been something less or more than human to have resisted the power of wisdom so exalted, and love so impartial. He taught them to look into the everlasting mysteries of God's might, to be assimilated to infinite excellence, and thus to become divine. He created in the common people faith, that living power which grows by the struggles it encounters, and outruns the demands made by the trials of life. As Elijah, who wore a rough garment, arose to heaven with chariot and horses of fire, so Christ would encourage the humblest of earth's children to aspire after celestial treasures of the greatest worth, through a career the most resplendent and full of beneficence. Standing in the presence of such a teacher and such a friend, the people saw God manifest in the flesh, who addressed a common nature, aroused common emotions, and imparted common blessings, and whose life, as well as doctrines, proclaimed a model worthy of being not only admired but imitated by all.
THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST.
IN HIS DEATH, THE DIVINE ATONER IN WHOM ALL ARE INVITED TO TRUST
FOR THE HIGHEST FREEDOM AND IMMORTAL JOY.
We have surveyed the infancy, the youth, the manhood, and the public ministry of Christ. It remains to consider the crowning act of his life on earth, and the results which thence emanate and spread through time and eternity. We believe that the divine Savior died for the wretched, whose sorrows he felt; atoned for the sinful, whose guilt he assumed ; and triumphed alone on the cross in gloom, that he might open the gates of glory to all, and proffer to each a crown.
In the first place, Christ died for the wretched, whose sorrows he felt. The progressive character of his career was climacteric in the most interesting and sublime degree. The different traits of his life grew fairer and brighter at each successive development, until his person was invested with multifarious charms, each one perfect in itself, and all blended in a perfect whole; as celestial hues appear one after another only to consummate their beautiful union at last in the rainbow, spanning earth and touching heaven. If our Lord was more than human in his human growth, and infinitely beneficent in his earthly toils, he was indeed divine in the merits of his death, and in those consequences of his sacrifice which so intimately connect the destinies of our race with the councils and career of the Almighty.