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and they may be styled Christian martyrs, and yet be totally destitute of charity. The apostle declares “ Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, I am nothing." It cannot be doubted that the charity of the gospel is absolutely essential to the Christian character. It is the very soul of true piety: the element of heaven.
4. Consider the moral excellence of Christian charity, It is the atmosphere which angels, and glorified saints, and all holy beings breathe. It is the virtue which distinguishes them from all other beings. The fallen angels may possess knowledge and power equal to the unfallen, but they are wholly destitute of love and moral excellence. They have the natural, but are destitute of the moral perfections. The celestial inhabitants, on the contrary, live in the enjoyment and exercise of uns mingled, uninterrupted love and felicity. Nor is their love confined to the society of the blessed in heaven, but sheds its beams upon this lower world, for they are ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation. If there is joy among the angels over the repentance of a sinner, there is complacent love for the saints, and pity for all the rest of the human family. The spirits of the just, as they depart this life, leave behind all their censorious, ungenerous, selfish propensities. Their souls are enlarged, their vision of Divine things is greatly extended, and their love, like a flowing stream, will evermore deepen and widen as it rolls down through eternity.
But this beaven born charity, although its range is as wide as the universe, and its aim is the highest good of all the race, still is by no means blind to,error, nor indifferent to immoral conduct. It weeps when men make void the law of God, and rejoices when truth triumphs, holiness is exalted, and God is honored. What exalted benevolence in Moses that should make bim willing to be blotted out of God's book rather than that the sin of Israel should not be erased! How disinterested the benevolence of Paul, who wished himself accursed from Christ, or in other words, separated from Chaistian communion as a vile and worthless thing; for the sake of bis brethren and kindred according to the flesh! None but souls enlarged and elevated by Divine inspirations of benevolence can make such approaches to the character of the Redeemer who died for his enemies.
But it should be observed that there are gifts and graces which appear very much like the spiritual, but are really desti. tute of divine life and love. Reference is had to those whose gifts. are rather intellectual than spiritual, that possess the glare with the coldness of the iceberg; who are endowed, perhaps, with a wonderful volubility, pray with great fluency, speak with the tongues of men and angels, seem to possess all knowledge and all faith, and yet they are as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal, Miny, eminent in these traits, have proved themselves vile and
worthless. Genuine Christian charity, on the contrary, is a modest virtue; it vaunteth not itself; is not puffed ; doth not behave itself unseemly, and yet is always intent on doing good. Like Christ, who was himself the perfect embodiment and highest expressiou of charity, it accomplishes its benevolent purpose, and then shrinks from the world's observation and praise.
Again, love is the great bond of Christian communion. The church is a body composed of many members, yet so united by spiritual ties, that if one member suffer, the whole body suffers with it. Now love is the cure of all those evils which may disease the members and threaten the body. It will restore health and beauty to the whole system, and preserve it in the vigor and activity of immortal life.
The vast and complicated machinery of nature is kept in motion and made to work out its stupendous results by the force of laws which act harmoniously. These laws are the constant uniform pressure of the hand of the Almighty. Now, should anything interrupt the harmony of their action-any disturbing force be introduced which should cause them to act and react upon each other--universal confusion would follow, and the whole material superstructure would be shattered and hurled into ruin. So the greatest evils that ever have, or ever can happen to the church, originate in the violation of the great law of love. We aver it as our settled conviction, that the Christian church has suffered more from this source, than from all the opposition and persecution received from the world without. The flames of passion, envy, jealousy, and recriminations within, bave consumed, as it were, her life and power, while those from without have only singed her garments.
Charity commends Christianity to the unbelieving world. Nothing does it so effectually. Hence, the prayer of our Saviour for his disciples: That they all may be one: as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The apostacy first separated mankind from their Maker, and this prepared the way for disunion among themselves. And the farther they separated from God, the common centre, the wider--like concentric waves-have they parted one from another. The object of Christ's mission was to unite them, first to their Maker, and having thus a common centre of attraction—a common object of love and reverence, they would of necessity be united to one another. It is an axiom in mathematics, that things equal to the same thing are equal to one another. So it is an axiom in morals, that all created intelligences who love the same glorious God, will love one another. Drawn to a common centre, they are influenced by the same laws of attraction. Christ knew this, and therefore prays to his Father that they
all may be one in us, as the first thing absolutely essential to union among themselves. And this harmony amony Christians is equally essential to the world's faith in Christianity. It wipes from her garments all unseeinly spots, and presents her to the world as she truly is, the most lovely and beautiful ob. ject that ever engaged the attention of immortal minds. As a system of religion it is perfect and complete, whether you regard its spirit or its principles, its ordinances or its institutions, its hopes or its eternal realizations. But most men judge of religion by the character of its professed friends. This is natural. The tree is known by its fruit. When we contem· plate the obscenity and moral debasement of the most devout worsbippers of idols, we cannot avoid the conviction that their religion is a system of gross falsehoods in its principles, and of the most loathsome impurity in its practice. Investigating the pbilosophy of Paganism, such is found to be the fact. Christianity, on the contrary, as seen in its legitimate effects, breathes a spirit the most kind, gentle and loving, and inculcates principles the most pure, ennobling and sanctifying. Let its principles be transcribed into the lives of mankind-let all who are Christians in name be living epistles read and known of all men, and it would fill them with wonder, if not with admiration. So heavenly would it appear that it could not fail to convince the mind of its Divine origin, if it proved ineffectual to win over the heart. Its love and benevolence will prevail where nothing else can; to captivate the heart and subdue the soul. And how much more permanent and woble are such conquests than those achieved by physical force! That religion which cuts way by the sword, or depends for its progress upon power or civil policy, is from any other source tban from Heaven. But that which opens for itself a passage by its own intrinsic excellence and loveliness, shows its Divine origin, and is sure to make glorious conquests over sin and error.
Hence, let the lives of Christians generally reflect the lovely spirit and the unsullied purity of our religion, and it would lend wings to the gospel and bid it fly through the world, scattering its blessings wide as the ruins of the apostacy. O, when shall all feuds and divisions come to an end? When shall the bow of peace span the Protestant Christendom, and sweetly smiling charity sit like a dove upon all hearts ?
Antichrist looks with a malignant pleasure upon all the bickerings, contentions and schisms which occur in the Protestant world. He raises his bloudy crest and surveys with a keen eye our fair heritage, and rattles around the very porches of our sanctuaries. We anticipate glorious times when the Man of Sin is destroyed; but this glory will not consist so much in the external rule or dominion of the church, as in the universal restoration of her primitive purity and simplicity. When Christians shall waive disputes about minor things, and unite upon the platform of fundamental truths; w ben they shall make real moral excellence the ground of union and mutual affection, and things unessential the objects of mutual forbearance ; when such times shall come, then will the lion and the lamb lie down together, and
there shall be none to hurt or destroy in all God's holy mountain. This, this is tbe long wished for millennium.
But this joyful period will not come till the professed friends of the Redeemer unitedly and earnestly engage in eradicating wbatever is anti-Christian in themselves. The Man of Sin will not be overthrown by mere physical force, nor by hurling the thunderbolts of inyective at the infallible Chair. More, by far, will be accomplished by slaying what remains of the Man of Sin within ourselves. While rancorous, uncharitable, schismatical feelings exist in the Protestant world, and the spirit of Christianity is supplanted by its forms, Anti-christ will sit undisturbed upon his throne; the great red dragon will continue to pursue the woman, aud cast from his mouth floods of wrath.
The evangelical Alliance, if it has done nothing more, has brought out to the observation of the world one glorious truth that may be made of paramount practical utility, namely, that there is "an invisible but essential, a hidden but a real unity in the Church of Christ." That while in the external there have been differences, in the internal there bas been unity. The regenerating, sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is in all hearts one and the same in its essential characteristics. And hence all who are born of God exhibit the lineaments of a common paternity, love substantially the same truths, breathe the same spirit, and are destined to the same home in heaven. “We must carry the Alliance with us into all our several spheres of action, and work out the grand idea which has been presented here. We have collected round the waters of charity, and we have washed the name
sectarian' from our brow; we have placed the name of Christian' there : we have abjured bigotry ; we have espoused and adopted love. We will catch from the page of bistory what as yet has been an apborism to decorate or garnish a speeeh : we will place it on our banners : it is our own motto: it seems in a spirit of prophecy to have been made on purpose for us: In fundamentals, unity; in circumstantials, liberty ; in all things, charity."* Let the maintenance and the working out of such noble sentiments become general in Christendom, and soon will the anthem of the church's jubilee be shouted from the heavens' and caught up by hill and mountain, will roll its choral strains up every vale and along every shore of this lower world.
II. Let us inquire what can be done to promote Christian charity.
We must acknowledge moral worth whererer ue find it. Whatever is good is from God, and He is to be acknowledged in all things, as well in the tinsel on the wing of the butterfly as in the lustre of the sun; as well in the structure of the little ant as in that of the great elephant; as well in the bloom of the modest violet under your feet as in the glory of the heavens over your heads. In like manner all moral excellencies are to be recognized. We must approve of what is right and good in our antagonist, as well as in our friend, whose views harmonize with our own. And we must take care that our own whim or caprice is not the measure of worth and goodness we see in others. We are not to say that this thing is right and that is wrong, simply because it is or is not conformed to our standard of sentiment or taste. The Word of God is the only infallible standard of right, and by that alone are all views of moral worth to be formed. There are different degrees of
* Rev. J. Angel James before the Evangelical Alliance, London.
moral worth in different individuals, but none are as holy as they ought to be. This fact should teach us mutual forbearance and charity; to rejoice in moral excellence in whatever degree and in whatever person it is found. And this will sweeton our tempers and remove our animosities; while it is sure to soften down the asperities and win over the respect of our antagonist, and thus tend to lessen the distance between us. There is a kind of spirit which is so different from that charity which thinketh no evil, that it seems to think nothing but evil of those who happen to differ from us. It is a sour, acrimonious state of mind, which looks at everything through a jaundiced eye, and criminates those who honestly differ from us in opinion. We seem not to understand that a jewel may be found even among rubbish; that Jesus is to be worshipped even when lying in a stable; and that the ark of God is to be owned though in the possession of the Philistines. Now, if all professing Christians had more of that charity which is not puffed up, and thinketh no evil, they would find their minds more composed and the acidity of their hearts more effectually neutralized. They would see that all truth and wisdom is not with them : that it is possible to be right and owned of Christ though differing from them : that they hold many things in common with those from whom ecclesiastical lines or a bad spirit separates them; and this would make them modest, forbearing, and courteous.
We should think much upon the love of God. “We love him because he first loved us;" and he that realizes how God has loved him will find in this a constant and urgent reason why he should love his brother. Says John: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” The motive here presented urges us to the exercise of charity the most catholic and comprehensive; charity that endureth all things, and never faileth ; that while it covers a multitude of sins and is slow to imputé iniquity, will nevertheless put forth untiring energies to save men from transgression and its dreadful consequences. The love of seraphs burns not like a lamp in a se. pulchre, but like the stars of heaven it sheds its beams upon other objects. The love of God is in its very nature diffusive. It knows no bounds, and will not be confined within prescribed limits. It dispels the clouds, and stills the tempests, and sweetens the whole atmosphere of the soul. It enlarges the mind, and softens the affections, and calms the passions, and smooths the ruggedness of our natures. It cuts up pride and selfishness root and branch, and inspires us with the most kind and generous feelings. Who can contemplate Jehovah sending rain upon the evil and upon the good; and who can trace the Saviour from the manger to the cross, whose every act was tenderness and love, and not feel his boson swell with the most onlargod bopovolence ? Dwell much upon the astonishing love of God if you would have a full measure of charity.