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5. It was the manner of Jesus to rely on a few great general principles in the work of human reform. It appears to have been our Saviour's philosophy, that to reform the world, and correct the vices of the social life of mankind, what is most needed, is the implantation of right principles. Men have gone down in degeneracy under the perverting operation of evil principles. Their understandings are blind, and their “ foolish heart is darkened,” and they are now to be raised up and set right, by those fundarental inculcations which comprehend all the rights, and all the duties of man.
Jesus relied on his Gospel to effect the desired reform. He strikes at no particular evil of the social organization of his times. He does not come to the surface of society with his measures of reform, but he descends to the foundation, and disseminates the leaven of correction at the roots of the social tree. Though he lived under a relentless despotism, he did not preach democracy. Though he moved amid scenes of social corruption, he did not organize against any of its forms. Though the world around him rung with the cries and sufferings of the oppressed, yet he raises do standard of revolt, inculcates no violent redress. On the contrary, he enjoins a religious patience, trusting in God and the operation of the Gospel, for the desired improvement of society and mankind.
Jesus was not indifferent to the evils of society ; but to reform the world, he relied on the moral operation of his great evangelical principles. He would bring men up to the moralities of life, by first teaching them the great principles of life. In this manner, silently, and without violence, does he pursue his great work. It was by "the foolishness of preaching” he would save man, and organize against individual and popular sins. Such was the manner of Jesus. It may not imply that other modes of social improvement are unlawful, but this is the “ more excellent way," which in our times there is danger of losing sight of. Amid the ery and dust of parties and societies, the bright example of the Master escapes us, and we forget that the Gospel is “the wisdom and power of God to salvation."
On the manner of Christ as an instructor, we might greatly enlarge, by adding many graces of character which contribute to the finish, perfection, and glory of the whole. We can barely allude to his self-denial, his superiority to the world, his condescension, his meekness, his diligence, and his prayerfulness.
The last characteristic of our Saviour's manner we now would notice, is his tenderness.. “God so loved the world, that he gave bis only begotten Son” for its redemption. The compassion which inspired the enterprise, accompanied the World's Missionary, as the deep, tender, absorbing sentiment of his soul. How he manifested this sentiment, would be to repeat the whole story of his life. It is true, in this tenderness there is no complacency-ng love of approbation; it was a compassionate feeling, awakened by
the guilty, blind, suffering condition of the world. But it was a profound tenderness, which no insolence of treatment, no wanton abuse, no violence, no relentless persecutions could extinguish in his bosom. “He was despised and rejected of men, they hid as it were their faces from him; he was despised, and they esteemed him not,” but his pity endured—it survived the cruel return.
Jesus, our blessed Master, loved men in spite of their unloveliness-in spite of their unprovoked enmity. The tide of his compassion seemed to swell in proportion to the wickedness that opposed it. Over that city, capable of the darkest purpose ever formed and enacted on earth, he shed the tears of his compassion, and uttered words of the most tender lament which ever fell on the notice of a guilty world. And on that cross, the last device of ingenious wickedness, planted by his enemies, and gloated on by malignant eyes, he gave the finishing display of his unextinguishable pity, in his prayer for his murderers.
Such, fathers and brethren, is the great Scribe of our profession-our Master and our model. We have presented him only in those clerical aspects of his character which pertain to him as a model, not wholly beyond our approach and imitation. When we contemplate the doctrine and character of Jesus, are we suprised that “he taught as one having authority, and not as the Scribes ?" in those alone, without the aid of his higher nature, there was enough to account for his wonderful power over the minds of men.
In his character of Teacher, is there no reason, alas! for a closer imitation of Jesus, by his servants in the ministry of reconciliation? Where is that purity and simplicity of doctrine, and where are the graces of character and manner which shone in the Master and should adorn his servants? Doubtless they exist as the holy anointing of many a Christian pastor, and diffuse an influence over many a privileged parish, giving authority and progress to the truth among men. Such pure earnest, Christimitating lovers and preachers of the truth, cannot fail of success. Following the Master, they will receive the Master's blessing. To such holy men the promise was given and will be fulfilled, “Behold I send the promise of my Father upon rou"-"lo, I am with you alwars, eren unto the end of the world,
The dignity of our ottice, its saendness, the solemnity of its consequences all urge us to comprehend and feel the nature of its duties in the contemplation of Him, who has put us into this ministry. From Jesus alone we learn that doctrine, and imbibe that spirit which are fundamental to a successful ministry. What is our work, but the exaltation of Christ before men? On bim are centnd the hopes of a fallen merid Of huna then let us learn, and know nothing "sere Jesus Christ, and him crucited."
- SERMON DXCIX.
BY REV. SAMUEL HARRIS.
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF TRUE LOVE TO GOD.
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and with all thy strength.”-MARK xii. 30.
WERE I to go to you, my hearers, and ask you, one by one “Do you love God ?" few of you would be willing distinctly to own that you love him not. Yet if Christ should go through the assembly to pronounce his judgment, to how many might he say, as to the ancient Jews, “I know you that ye have not the love of God in you ?” This common reluctance to acknowledge the absence of love to God may be owing to indistinct apprehensions of what is meant by loving him. The single object of this discourse will be to present THE CHARACTERISTICS OF TRUE LOVE TO God.*
I. True love to God must be founded on a correct knowledge of his character.
If you were standing on the summit of the Brocken among the Hartz mountains, some pleasant morning at sunrise, you might see the famous spectre whose mysterious appearance so often has terrified the simple inhabitants. Science has shown it to be only a colossal shadow of the spectator, which, under peculiar circumstances, the rising sun paints on an opposite cloud; but it was long taken for & supernatural object, and the terrorstricken observer bowed down in awe before a magnified image of himself. Just such is God, as he is conceived of by many—nothing better than a magnified image of themselves. This is the charge brought by God himself: "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.”
The gods of the heathen, it is well known, are only magnified men, having all the evil passions of men :
“Gods changeful, jealous, passionate, unjust,
Whose attributes are rage, revenge, and lust." Minds enlightened by the Bible are disgusted with the grossness
* The reader will find a full discussion of this subject in Dr. Bellamy's unrivalled work entitled, “True religion delineated and distinguished from all counterfeits." While this sermon is an independent discussion of the subject, occasional coincidence of thought will be noticed, which it has not been found possible to avoid.
of this error; yet in a more refined form, they embrace it and shape their idea of God from their own wishes, rather than from the truth. Loving sin themselves, they do not appreciate the holiness of God, which abhors and opposes every sin with an infinite intensity. Partial always to themselves, they do not appreciate the impartiality of God, who condemns them according to their deserts. Regarding God's love as a fondness, blind and partial as their own, they fail to recognize, in their harmony, “ the goodness and the severity of God." Changeful themselves, they do not appreciate God's unchangeableness, alike in his requirements, his threatenings and his promises. Short-sighted and inpatient, they do not appreciate the eternal plans of Him with whom one day is as a thousand years, and who through the changes of many generations, pursues his purpose to its accomplishment. Accustomed to act with prime reference to their own interests, they sometimes even settle it as a first principle of their creed, that God must always act as they do, for their personal good, and that whatever their character, he will eternally busy himself to make them blessed ; so that God is nothing but the man's own selfish wishes, embodied and clothed with almightiness. Selfishness itself can never be conscious of opposition to such a God. Sin itself will love God, it be is pictured as what the sinner wishes him to be, rather than what he is. So Paul, in his impenitence, thought that he loved Godnay, that he had an extraordinary zeal for him ; but he says, “When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” When the law of God, applied to his conscience, showed him God's true character, he found himself an enemy of God. Such a discovery is essential to the beginning of true love to God in every unrenewed heart. True love to God fastens, not on a god of the human imagination, but on the God of the Bible—the holy, the just, the good.
II. Love to God implies complacency in his character. Mere knowledge does not insure love. If the heart delights not in a character, the knowledge of that character will awaken hatred ; and in this case, the clearer and more accurate the knowledge the greater the dislike. The more closely opposite natures are made to know each other, and are brought into contact, the more powerfully they are repelled. Hence a clear knowledge of God in those whose hearts do not delight in him, only arouses the hidden enmity of the heart. Satan, of all creatures, knows God the best, and hates him the most. Hence, while those who love God, when they go into his presence in eternity, and there discover his character as they had never discovered it before, break out uncontrollably into praise,—those of a contrary character, when they, in eternity, behold God in all his holiness and glory—when they behold him as he actually is—begin at once, and continue for ever, to curse and to blaspheme him.
You sometimes say of a man, “The more I know him, the more I dislike him." This may be owing to his wickedness, which you more and more discover. But his must be a fearful depravity, if, the more clearly and correctly he knows the actual character of God's spotless holiness, the more he dislikes it. Yet such must be the fact, unless there be in the heart a complacency in God's character. On this point, therefore, I insist, that love to God implies complacency or delight in his character.
This complacency implies delight in God. You see a company of men before a fine painting ; some will be enraptured with its beauty; others will express no delight in it. The reason is, that the former have, the latter have not, a taste for such beauties. There is a beauty in holiness as really as in a painting ; the highest of all beauty is the beauty of holiness; and the highest form of that highest beauty is the beauty of holiness as it appears in God. They who love God appreciate that beauty ; they delight in it; they love to contemplate it as it appears in God's attributes, as it is revealed in his Word, as it is exhibited in his acts of providence and grace, and especially as it shines in Jesus Christ. So it is with the angels and the glorified spirits; they are enraptured with the loveliness of God's character, so that they never tire of praising it; “ they rest not day and night, saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.'” So it is, in their measure, with all who love God on earth : they are delighted with the holiness of his character ; the more they see of him, as he has revealed himself in his word and his works, the more they delight in him; and they say, “ Who is a God like unto thee? Thy name alone is excellent, and thy glory is exalted above the heavens."
It is because those who love God feel this complacency in his character that praise is the natural language of love.
But complacency in God implies more than that delight in him which expends itself in contemplating and praising him; it implies also, oneness of feeling with God; oneness of desires and aims, and similarity of disposition. It implies loving what God loves, and abhorring what he abhors."
Entire contrariety of disposition makes complete, full-orbed love impossible. A virtuous person cannot render perfect love to a vicious one: nor a vicious person to the virtuous. I know that a poet has ascribed to woman such words as these :
“ I know not, I ask not, if there's guilt in thy heart;
I but know that I love thee, whatever thou art.”
And these words are continually quoted as the strongest expression the very highest triumph of woman's love. But, my hearers, the love that is not impaired, that does not lose something in discovering the criminality of its object, must be a love that sympathizes with that criminality. It is possible, indeed, for virtuous love to survive even that deadliest blow-the discovery