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“Know, then, that when I say the religion of Protestants is in prudence to be preferred before yours, on the one side, I do not understand by your religion the doctrine of Bellarmine or Baronius, or any other private man amongst you, nor the doctrine of the Sorbonne, of the Jesuits, or of the Dominicans, or of any other particular company among you, but that wherein you all agree, or profess to agree, the doctrine of the Council of Trent, so, accordingly, on the other side, by the religion of Protestants, I do not understand the doctrine of Luther, or Calvin, or Melancthon, nor the Confession of Augsburg, or Geneva, nor the Catechism of Heidelberg, nor the Articles of the Church of England; no, nor the harmony of Protestant Confessions; but that in which they all agree, and that which they all subscribe with a greater harmony, as a perfect rule of faith and action; that is, THE BIBLE. The Bible, I say, the Bible only, is the religion of Protestants.” — - Chillingworth.
“ It was from Christianity that man derived the spiritual element wherein he could once again become self-sustaining, free, and personally invincible; a new vitality awoke in the bosom of the freshened earth, and she became fructified for the development of new productions." - Ranke.
“Christianity, which has declared that all men are equal in the sight of God, will not refuse to acknowledge that all citizens are equal in the sight of the law." - De Tocqueville.
“L'Evangile est démocratique, le Christianisme est républicain!" - Les Conventionnels.
“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?"
“One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.” – Jesus Christ.
THE REPUBLICAN CHARACTER OF
THE INFANCY OF CHRIST.
IN HIS ADVENT, IDENTIFIED WITH THE LOWLY CONDITION IN WHICH
The ancient economy of grace was closing; the era of transition to a better dispensation had arrived. Every thing indicated the approach of a radical and stupendous change. The concluding words of ancient prophecy were full of blended fear and hope. The language of Haggai was startling. “For thus saith the Lord of hosts, Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land.” All reliable interpreters consider this as referring to the coming of the great Redeemer of mankind. His approach was prepared; the place of his appearance on earth was appointed; and his advent was the birth of salvation, the type of all redeeming influence, the pledge of universal freedom.
In the first place, the coming of Messiah was prepared. Jehovah declared aforetime, that he would shake the mighty kingdoms of the earth, and deprive them of that power with which they withstood the progress of exalted principles among
men. “And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come.” This, doubtless, refers to the great political concussions whereby the power of the heathen should be broken, their pride humbled, and they should thus become qualified to receive the salvation prepared for the world. Hence God declares, “ And I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms; and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.”
In view of this great revolution in the condition and prospects of mankind, Isaiah had long before declared, “ Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." The fulfilment of this gracious promise is recorded in the words which the angel of the Lord spake unto Joseph. “ Take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now, all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shali bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel ; which, being interpreted, is, God with us."
It is interesting to observe that all nations known in history have ever expected a Liberator, a person mysterious, divine, and one who, according to the ancient oracles, should bring them salvation, and reconcile them with the Eternal. Prideaux, in his work on the Jews, observes that “the necessity of a mediator between God and man was from the commencement a prevailing opinion among all people.” In proportion as the glorious realization approached, an extraordinary light diffused itself over the world, like the bright beamings of Jacob's star. Cicero caught some of its beams, and in his Republic announced a law eternal and universal, the law of all nations and all times; a single and common master, who should be God even, and whose reign was about to commence. Virgil,