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not in his own name, or to do his own will, but as one sent of God to do the will of him that sent him. As proof of these facts, he referred not merely to the testimony of John the Baptist, and to the voice from heaven at the time of his baptism, but to the numerous miracles which he had performed in the Father's name. Until men were convinced that he was commissioned by God, they could not receive his instructions and precepts as of divine authority. This we may regard as a good reason for his making faith in himself an essential of Christianity. Hence, too, we find John saying, near the close of his narrative, “ These things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, ye might have life through his name. John xx. 31.
We may now exhibit a list of articles, which have the Messiah's stamp as essentials of Christianity.
1. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John ïïi. 16.
2. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life ; but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life." John iii. 36.
3. “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke xiii. 3.
4. “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. y. 20.
Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John iï. 3.
. 3 6. “ Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matt. xviii. 3.
7. “ Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart; and ye shall find rest to your souls : And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Matt. xi. 29, and Luke xiv. 27.
8. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John xiii. 35.
9. “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” John viii. 31.
10. “If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you ; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matt. vi. 14, 15.
11. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matt. vii. 21.
12. “Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of nine, and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house upon a rock; “ and every one who heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened to a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” Matt. vii. 24, 26.
13. “For every one who exalteth himself, shall be abased ; and he who humbleth himself, shall be exalted.” Luke xviii. 14.
In the first of these articles the love of God is spoken of as the source of all that Christ has done for the salvation of men; and the Messiah is brought to view as the medium through which God displays his forgiving love.
The second article mentions believing on Christ as an indispensable condition of that life which the Gospel offers through him; and as evidence that this life has commenced in the soul. This may account for John's saying, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God," or begotten of God. 1 John v. 1. So much is not said of believing any other doctrine of the gospel. Yet how very seldom at the present day is this doctrine so much as named among the essentials of Christianity!
The last of the enumerated articles exhibits the principles of divine retribution. This is of such importance that it was stated by Christ on three different occasions. It shows what temper of mind we must possess to be exalted in the kingdom of God.
All the articles between the second and the last, illustrate either the nature of saving faith in Christ, or that humility of heart which is an indispensable condition of divine approbation. Other passages might have been quoted to illustrate the essentials of Christianity ; but they are perhaps all implied in what we have already quoted ; and several of these mutually imply each other.
The great purpose of all the articles which Christ rep
resented as essential, is to save men from their sins, and to bring them into a state of moral or spiritual conformity to the Captain of their salvation. He that complies with these indispensable conditions will possess that love which is the fulfilling of the law, and that meek and quiet spirit which is, in the sight of God, of great price. To be of such a temper of mind is essential to gnspel obedience, and to the enjoyment of that felicity which is prepared for the people of God.
The twelfth article embraces an important principle or idea, which should be understood in all the others. By the words, “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, — or doeth them not,” we are taught that what things soever the gospel saith, it saith to them who are under the gospel, or who are favored with gospel instructions. The requirements and threatenings of the gospel extend only to those who have opportunity to hear them. God does not hold the heathen as responsible for gospel privileges until these privileges are extended to them. In regard to those who are denied these privileges, God will know how to judge them in a manner which shall display both his righteousness and his mercy. In his hands we may safely leave them. The Judge of all the earth will do right.
It is worthy of serious notice how very different are the essentials of Christianity, as stated by the Messiah, from those doctrines which have been taught as essentials by uninspired men. How often have we seen lists of essential doctrines, so called, which did not embrace a single article which was ever uttered by Christ, or which was ever represented as an essential article by him, or by his Apostles ! In modern catalogues of essential articles, it would almost seem, that the writers or compilers had studiously avoided every article which Christ mentioned as essential.
Where shall we look for a passage in which Christ said, -Except ye believe that God is three distinct persons of equal dignity, ye shall in no case enter the kingdom of God?
Or, He that believeth on the Son, as the second person in the Trinity and equal with the Father, shall have everlasting life ; but he ihat believeth not on the Son as the Father's equal, shall not see life.'
Or, 'Except ye believe that God shows his displeasure
against the first sin of Adam, by bringing all his posterity into the world with a nature wholly sinful, and under his wrath and curse, ye cannot see the kingdom of God.'
Or, 'Except ye believe that God forgives the penitent only on the ground of a vicarious punishment, which he inflicted on his innocent Son, of equal dignity with himself, ye cannot be my disciples.'
Except ye believe that the repentance of a sinner is impossible, without the supernatural influences of the Holy Spirit, ye cannot be saved.'
Or where shall we find a form of speech, denoting what is essential, applied by Christ or his A postles to any one of the doctrines which are at this day contended for as essential, or as a test of Christian character? We have examined the Scriptures not a little, and, as yet, we have been unable to find the least evidence, that any one of the modern, supposed essential doctrines, was so regarded by any inspired teacher or writer.
We may then ask, by what authority can any Christian, or sect of Christians, form and establish as a test of character, or essential article of faith, any thing which was not so represented or taught by Christ or his A postles? We believe it to be impossible to show whence such authority could be derived, or to show that such acts are not of the nature of injustice or usurpation.
By careful examination it will be found that whatever Christ taught as essential, was adapted to produce humble and kind affections, — the very reverse of those which have too commonly been evinced in supporting such essentials as have been fabricated by uninspired men. Christ proposed no mysterious or unintellig ble propositions, as essential articles of faith, — nothing more unintelligible, than that he was
“the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Indeed he taught nothing as essential, which may not be included in the wisdom that is from above, that is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
The consequences of overlooking or disregarding what Christ taught as essential, and substituting the products of man's wisdom, deserve the most serious consideration. For to this policy may be ascribed by far the greater part of the contentions and persecutions which have occurred among Christians. Indeed, something analogous to this occasioned the persecution which was suffered by the Messiah himself. The scribes and Pharisees had their system of essentials, on the ground of which they reviled, impeached, and secuted the Prince of Peace. As in his opinion it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath, he healed on that day. On this ground they were not afraid to say, “We know that this man is a sinner." As he, in answer to questions, acknowledged before the Sanhedrim, that he was the Son of God, they accused him of blasphemy, and adjudged him as deserving of death. Hence, we may see that purity of character is no certain security against being defamed and persecuted, by men who dare to establish such essentials in religion, as are not authorized by God; and the fact that the pure character of the Messiah was thus calumniated, should make fallible men careful in regard to judging the hearts of those who happen to dissent from their selfinvented essential doctrines.
It was not many years after the resurrection of Christ, before difficulties arose among his disciples, in regard to the essentials of religion. Some of the Jews, who avowed their belief in him as the Messiah, seem not to have been satisfied with what he taught as essentials. To these they wished to add circumcision ; and thus they taught others who believed in Christ, – “Except ye be circumcised
“ after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” Thus they would have made circumcision, one of their own traditions, essential to the salvation of Gentiles. The advocates for this doctrine occasioned much trouble in the churches, and did much to excite strong prejudices against Paul. At subsequent periods other doctrines were taught as essential, and tests of character. It would perhaps be impossible now to collect and exhibit the multitude of doctrines which have been contended for as essential, since the days of the Apostles, by one sect or another ; doctrines, too, which were never thought of as essential by Christ, or any inspired writer. Each creed-making sect has had its essential doctrines; and what has been deemed essential by one sect, has been censured as heresy by another. By such means, the professed friends of Christ have been, from age to age,
divided into sects hostile to each other. It is a remarkable fact, that the doctrine which has been
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