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sire that His image should for an instant be supplanted by any inferior object. Single and supreme, He was enthroned in their hearts and understandings. Their highest aim was to prove faithful messengers to Him that sent them, and to refresh the soul of their Master. They loved Him above all things, and their single-hearted ambition was, that He should occupy the same place in the affections of every creature under heaven. : 3. But, thirdly, the conduct of the inspired writers proves their freedom from a sectarion spirit. There is not a more common delusion than mistaking the spirit of party for the spirit of Christianity. One circumstance will be found to be an unfailing test. When men, by their conduct, prove, that they are less concerned for truth and righteousness than for the honour of their sect, it is certain that they are far from being influenced solely by those motives which the Gospel supplies. When their abilities and their influence are ab
1 Prov. xxv. 13.
sorbed in vindicating and applauding one another, there is too much reason to fear (to use the language of our Saviour ') that they know not what manner of spirit they are of; too much reason to fear that their unity will last no longer than they may happen to pursue the path of selfishness, without crossing or justling one another. We see nothing like this in the simple integrity of the holy Apostles. Each was really and honestly engaged in the advancement of truth; too honestly to take indirect means of obtaining admiration among men. They were of one heart and soul. Their unity was not the hollow association of vanity and selfishness, but the indissoluble bond of charity and truth. Peter wrote no panegyric on John, that John, in his turn, might record the acts of Peter. They were, in fact, thoroughly honest men, and that is what no set of men ever can long remain, who suffer a sectarian spirit to influence their mode of acting.
But all the inspired writers were not of the number of the Apostles. A considerable portion of the New Testament is occupied with the writings of two of their companions, St. Mark and St. Luke. Why, then, it may be asked, did not some others amongst the disciples and attendants of the Apostles, collect the various particulars of their private histories ? still more, why did they not preserve a record of the conduct of their missionary labours, which must forever remain so deeply and justly interesting to the churches that they founded ? It will be at once apparent, that this is a question which, in reality, touches on another. For it is all the same as to ask, why the Holy Spirit did not direct and inspire the Primitive Church to preserve authentic records of the lives, and labours, and sufferings of the Apostles? Put in this form, the question becomes deeply interesting and important, as it cannot but throw considerable light on the design of the New Testament. For God does nothing without a purpose; and his purpose, in the dictation of the Holy Scripture, is undoubtedly the benefit
of the Church. To this point I trust to call your attention in a future discourse.
Meantime, let us ask ourselves these simple questions: If the Apostles were Christians, what are we? Has the nature of Christianity been changed to suit the corruptions of our hearts? Have the terms and conditions of salvation been exploded since they were first propounded by the Almighty ? Has any new avenue to eternal happiness been discovered, since Jesus Christ pointed out the strait gate and the narrow way to His disciples, and commanded them to strive to enter in? Is Christianity a fable? Or is it, at most, a slight improvement on heathenism? Ask those who have attempted the conversion of the heathen, and they will tell you, that the evil lives of Christians, their avarice, their licentiousness, are the great stumbling-block in the way of the heathens' embracing our religion. And Christians have been heard to argue, that it is needless to attempt to convert the heathen, since, in some respects, the heathen are better than
ask any one who has read the New Testament, or the history of the Church, whether such assertions could possibly have been made in the Apostolic age, or for a long period after. The lives of the Primitive Christians did more to subvert idolatry, than the preaching of their missionaries. The Apologist of Christianity could once say, without fear of contradiction, to the sovereigns of the heathen world, We were once like yourselves. See what we are now, and what the love of Christ has made us?! The Primitive Christians believed, that they were accountable beings : that they were destined to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and there to receive the reward of the deeds done in their bodies. They believed, that the words of the Lord to the Prophet, which immediately precede our text, contain no idle threat or delusive promise.“ Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame
some to che dust of the earty of them that
See, for instance, the Second Apology of Justin Martyr, addressed to Antoninus Pius.