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faint likenesses of Himself, and inspire them with the spirit of truth and 'heaven. In fine, whatsoever things, relating to man's moral and spiritual nature, are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or of good report, have been brought into existence by their power, and been supported by their influence.
2.-Here, then, from the records of past ages, we have evidence the most complete and satisfactory of the reforming and elevating power which the members of the Christian church have possessed and exercised. How did they attain it? Were they favoured with means of procuring it which are denied to ourselves ? Are we not able to make it our own, even to a greater extent than they were
They gained it through the study of those Scriptures, which presented to them a faithful record of the doctrines and moral laws of Christ, and in which the lineaments of the Divine character of the Saviour were distinctly pourtrayed. They gained it, not only by sitting at His feet and hearing those doctrines, but by appropriating them to their own use after they had heard them. "They gained it, not only by listening to His clear and powerful expressions of the eternal moral laws, which slumbered in their own breasts, but by giving expression to those laws in their own lives, so soon as they had recognized them. They gained it not only by meditation apon His character, in which every doctrine that he taught; and every precept that He enjoined were embodied, but by drinking deeply of the spirit that pervaded it, and applying that spirit in all the relations of life. Just so far as they adopted this course, did they obtain, and manifest their moral power, but no farther. When Christ was withdrawn from them, and their minds were occupied with the subtleties of the schools, or the dogmas of the church, they lost their liberating, moralizing, sanctifying influence
the world. After the times of the first teachers of Christianity, who enjoyed the immediate presence and society of the Savionr, and received miraculous aids, there were no other means than those described of obtaining the Moral Power of Christ; and these means, thanks be to God, we are in possession of. Nay, more, we are freed from the oppressive authority of that church, whose decisions were often deemed by our predecessors of equal, if not of greater im
portance than those of Jesus. The commandments of men, that were like a thick cloud between them and their Master, have been dispelled, and we are thus admitted into the more immediate presence of our Lord. The result ought to be the possession, by us, of greater moral power than dwelt in them. This I believe is the result. When we look over the church as now existing, we may at first doubt the correctness of the conclusion. , Vast, in-, tangible, formless, featureless is its first aspect; it seems to be composed of atoms, having little, or no affinity for, each other, and refusing to be combined by any influence whatever. Were this the whole truth, we might well doubt whether the church could ever effect so much for man again as she has effected; but, amidst all its jarring interests and conflicting voices, there is a harmony perceptible to him who observes attentively—there are indications of a growing union that may produce a strength which shall be irresistible. This harmony and union arise from an increasing disposition, in all parties, to return to the simplicity that is in Christ-to inquire his will, and to do it-to go behind the outward form-behind the dead letter to the life-giving spirit. Men are asking with more earnestness than formerly, what was the mind, what the life of Jesus? and are beginning to regard Christianity as consisting, not in assent to metaphysical creeds and formulas, but in a Christ-like life and conversation. The question of conformity to Christ's example, which has hitherto been altogether secondary, is taking the precedence of every other; and the consequence is an inerease in the Moral Power of the Christian World. The indications of this are around us, and are multiplying daily. We might point to the glorious triumph it has already achieved in our own land over one great evilslavery, supported as it was by, all the influence which long established custom and sordid selfishness could afford it-to the moral force it is now arraying against the barbarous practice of war, and the cheering prospects which every year presents of its ultimate conquest over that desolating monster-to the energy which it has exhibited in the reformation of the drunkard, the prisoner, the ignorant of our cities, and the vicious, who may be said to have been altogether born in sin ; and to the victories it has already gained over the evils which bring desolation
upon all these classes of men.
Since the first ages of the church there has, surely, been no period in which its reforming and sanctifying power has been more apparent, or more successful than now. Such success is the result, under God's blessing, of employing the requisite means. May Heaven grant the present, and succeeding generations, courage to apply them faithfully. Here appears to be the deficiency. There is no lack of power, but a want of determination to wage incessant war with all that mars the earthly peace, or heavenly birthright, of the sons of men.
3.-How numerous are the evils that still demand attention, and call for the exercise of the whole power of Christianity from its professors! When we view the political, commercial, and social life of our age, and compare it with the life of Christ, the work of regeneration which the church has already accomplished sinks into insignificance in comparison with that which it has yet to perform. Christ, and the society of our day! what a difference! how great the distinction between their features ! He lived a divine life--society leads one that is mean and earthly. His basis of action was love to God, and love to man ; is that the actuating motive of the majority of even his professed disciples? Vay, men ask not now as He did whilst He sojourned on the earth, how they may best glorify their God, and serve their fellows, but how they can attain the most ease and honour at the smallest cost of toil and self-denial. This is the inquiry when men set out in life, from the highest to the lowest. A man who enters society with the determination to discharge, so far as he knows it, all his duty to his God, to his brethren, and to his own soul-in fine, to live the life of Jesus in whatever sphere his lot is cast—is looked upon as one who is somewhat beside himself—as one who is grasping at a phantom, rather than at the only real and eternal good. The maxims, the manners, the customs of society, no matter what their character, are thought to be gods, who will better reward him for obedience than the God of Heaven and Earth. I do not say that this is the verbally expressed opinion of society, but experience deceives me if it is not practically expressed every day and every hour of our lives, not only by those who are professed unbelievers, but by those also who are professed Christians. To be a Christian on Sundays is allowable,
nay, it is demanded by respectable men. He who does not attend public worship on the Sabbath is thought to be unreasonable, and peculiar; but, alas ! he who demands that Christian principles should be continually carried out into action in the Parliament, in the countinghouse, in the shop, and in the home, is thought to be much more unreasonable, and is assuredly much more. peculiar. To-murder a man in cold blood upon the highway is classed among the most monstrous of crimes, and the perpetrator of such a deed is justly consigned by Government, at least, to perpetual degradation and imprisonment; but to murder men by thousands for the sake of obtaining a little territory, or establishing a point of honour, is set down for bravery, and thought to be not only allowable, but glorious ; whilst he who would regulate the disputes between nation and nation by the laws of equity ; or in the cases where wrong has been committed, carry out the precept, “ Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you,” is looked upon as an enthusiast and a visionary. To take to oneself by violence, that which was obtained by the sweat of another's brow, is considered robbery, and rightly judged worthy of punishment; but' to get another's property by "cunning and the long head,” is set down for trade, and thought to be not only allowable, but clever ; whilst he who would have all transactions between man and man characterized by perfect honesty, and demand of every one engaged in commerce, that he should embody in his life the precept, “Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you,” is deemed impracticable and inconsiderate.
To sell a human being for gold, is now happily accounted in this country a gross violation of the rights of man, and calls forth the animadversions of our people when transacted in another land; but to disregard the wants of the human soul, and to treat the poor,
helpless, and the young, as portions of a large machine in our manufactories, or as slaves in our menial offices, instead of as brethren and fellow-heirs with us of an immortal life, is considered necessary, and therefore justifiable; whilst he, who would demand from their employers & manifestation of the spirit of the precept,
“ Sell all that thou hast and give to the poor," that they might have a due time at their disposal for the cultivation of their moral and spiritual powers, is accounted a mere theorist, who is not worthy of attention. Then there is licentiousness stalking stealthily over the earth, and ruining the present peace, and everlasting happiness of thousands; there is drunkenness walking about in open day, robbing man of his comfort, despoiling him of his reason, and depriving him of his hope of future bliss; and there is ignorance, that parent of crime, producing its evils as heretofore, and consigning to poverty, wretchedness, and degradation, myriads who might be, in some slight degree, reflections of their heavenly Father's purity and glory.
When we look at the condition of society and see it thus polluted—when we consider the evils, intellectual and moral, which exist in every class—and when we witness the inability of the numerous partial efforts which are made to remedy those evils, to strike at their root-can any Christian doubt that here is the work to which the energies of the Christian church should be directed, that no others can accomplish it, and that with the blessing of Almighty God they can? Looking at the surrounding darkness, can he doubt that one power alone is able to dispel it, and fill its domain with light and life, and that he is bound to do all he can to let that power have free course and be glorified ?
4.-How then may the influence of the church be brought to bear upon the evils? This is the inquiry which should engross all our attention. Chiefly, I reply, through the individual members of the church. There is one tendency of our age, which is liable to draw men's minds off from duly considering the value of this means of redeeming the world. I refer to the tendency to united action. There are in the religious world whole forests of societies, for the accomplishment of the various objects designed by their supporters. In this respect we have outstripped our forefathers; but it may well be doubted if men have not been led to conclude that, by supporting these, they were released from the obligation of watching over their own hearts, subduing their own sins, and promoting their own moral and spiritual perfection. As, when a spirit of philanthropy was first awakened amongst us, early in the present century, Christians thought they