Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

dispensation henceforth dead, only to kindle every star of heaven, every page of Scripture, and every rood of earth all a-blaze with the light of salvation for every eye. It is here, on the ragged irons, in the expiring moanings of Him“ in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” and “who tastes death for every man,” that a meaning high as heaven, deep as hell, and wide as the outskirts of creation, is given to his own gracious words: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

“ The living heavens shout with thousands of angel voices round the throne, and a glory of love gushes out over the universe, which shortly before had fastened its looks upon a fearful place of sacrifice.”

In the second place, redemption does not infringe upon free will, and all should profit to the utmost by its sanctifying and ennobling influence. Since freedom of action is the principal and indispensable means of progress, the very object of re. demption is to lead men to, and confirm them in, the path of perpetual advancement. From the very dawn of the gospel, the free use which would be made of it was announced : " Simeon said unto Mary, his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against.” To be compelled to carry

. the cross of Christ is not to “ take up” his cross. In his lamentation over Jerusalem, whose inhabitants he “would have gathered together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings,” Jesus utters the simple but terrible reproach, “ye would not.” This free use of Christianity goes even so far, that, from being the chief instrument of peace, it may

be perverted to the occasion of war; this Jesus declared : “ Think not I am come to send peace on earth; I am not come to send peace, but a sword; for I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household.” “I am come to send fire on the earth ; and what shall I if it be already kin. dled?". It is as an explicit recognition of free will under the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

power of redemption, that the angel says to the apostle : “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still ; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”

Christianity leaves the mind of the individual, as well as the civilization of the masses, to its own free course of development, sure that the divine principles of purity and love it implants will suffice to moderate and guide it, so that excesses of all kinds and differences repugnant to its spirit, of every degree, will be either restrained or averted. Independent of every thing earthly, temporal, and transient; independent of nature, which is merely the domain on which it toils and its progress is accomplished ; and independent of mankind, which is its pupil and beneficiary, Christianity is divine, and therefore cannot be destroyed; it is the soul and substance of perfect freedom, and therefore is too mighty for sectarian chains, and too capacious for exclusive creeds. It is a beneficent and allblessing spirit, like the sun shining on the imbecile and blind. It gently permeates the arteries and veins of the whole social system, softens manners, calms hatred, enlarges sympathy, expands benevolence, and every way exalts and ennobles the soul. Let us be most anxious to imbibe this influence, and thus become “ filled with all the fulness of God.”

Thirdly, Christianity being designed for the world, it is our first duty and highest privilege to exert our utmost powers in diffusing this invaluable treasure among all mankind. Every one who truly receives the gospel, and by it is made anew after God's image, has, by the very nature of his renovated affections, an inclination and indescribable joy in rendering the gift of inspiration saying to others, as it has been to himself. This sentiment was sublimely expressed by the apostle Paul : “Fulfil ye-my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Yea, and if I be offered on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all” — he the missionary, they his supporters, and co-workers at home, all loving and toiling together to fill the earth with the

[ocr errors]

knowledge of Jesus Christ. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." The means of distribution are earthen, adapted to every section of our globe, and the most solemn obligations require that the disciples of Christ should go every where, diffusing light, life, and immortal joy. This is God's gift to humanity, and is to be bestowed without respect to condition or rank. We are appointed to carry out, along every meridian and through every zone, the whole Bible and the gospel entire, not the religion of a sect or section, but the Christianity of Christ, a divinely original, majestic, beneficent, godlike type, as it is found in Jesus of Nazareth, and is destined to be exemplified in all the world.

PART II.

THE REPUBLICAN CONSTITUTION

OF THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH.

[ocr errors]

“Being persuaded of nothing more than of this, that whether it be in matter of speculation or of practice, no untruth can possibly avail the patron and defender long, and that things most truly are likewise most behovefully spoken.” — Hooker's Polity.

To endeavor to impose our sentiments by force, is the most detestable species of persecution. Others are as much entitled to deem themselves in the right as we are.” - Godroin's Political Justice.

“They who contend that nothing less can justify subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles, than the actual belief of each and every separate proposition contained in them, must suppose that the legislature expected the consent of ten thousand men, and that in perpetual succession, not to one controverted proposition, but to many hundreds.” – Paley's Moral Philosophy.

Christianity will civilize, it is true; but it is only when it is allowed to develop the energies by which it sanctifies. Christianity will inconceivably ameliorate the condition of being. Who doubts it? Its universal prevalence, not in name, but in reality, will convert this world into a semi-paradisiacal state; but it is only while it is permitted to prepare its inhabitants for a better. Let her be urged to forget her celestial origin and destiny, - to forget that she came from God, and returns to God; and, whether employed by the artful and enterprising, as the instrument of establishing a spiritual empire and dominion over mankind, or by the philanthropist, as the means of promoting their civilization and improvement, she resents the foul indignity, claps her wings, and takes her flight, leaving nothing but a base and sanctimonious hypocrisy in her room.”Hall's Address to Eustace Carey.

“ La révolution est tout entière dans l'Evangile. Nulle part la cause du peuple n'a été plus énergiquement plaidée, nulle part plus de malédictions n'ont été infligée aux riches et aux puissants de ce monde. Jésus Christ est notre maître à tous.” – Les Girondins.

“My kingdom is not of this world.”

“Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's; and unto God the things that are God's.” — Jesus Christ.

1

CHAPTER I.

THE CHURCH WITHOUT A KING.

[ocr errors]

The policy of kings and the avarice of priests have ever sought to blend religion with civil power, and make the church an appendage of the state. But every such attempt has served only to emasculate Christianity of its true force, and utterly to destroy its greatest glory. Such results might indeed be expected; since, as John records, Jesus himself declared, “My kingdom is not of this world.” When human power subordinates the altar as a prop to its throne, earthly majesty is sure to receive much more of the incense than the King of heaven, whose divine prerogative alone it is to govern the spirits of men. That kingdom, whose comprehensive rule embraces at once the highest and the lowest ranks of our raco, has nothing to do with our petty affairs of state, and seeks no protection save the right of free discussion, and unimpeded intercourse with all mankind.

Such, doubtless, were the nature and original design of our holy religion ; but its high use and beneficent influence have as yet been but partially enjoyed. Primitive purity was soon corrupted, and secular alliances fearfully dwarfed and degraded those ennobling institutions which were vouchsafed to disinthrall and bless the world. Let us glance at the history of the alliance between church and king; the nature of this relationship; and its results.

In the first place, our discussion requires an historical glance at the great evil the world has so long had occasion to deplore. But it is not our intention to go into minute details. All intelligent persons are familiar with the circumstances under which Constantine, in the fourth century of the Christian era, seized

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »