Christian Love,
or the Influence of Religion upon Temper

By John Angell James, 1828



Adopting the method pursued by the old divines, I shall take up this part of the subject in the way of INSTRUCTION.

1. May we not infer from it, the divine origin of those Scriptures which give such a pre-eminence to the duty of love.

The contents of the Word of God have ever been considered, and very justly, as an evidence for its divine authority. The Bible is its own witness—the sublimity of its doctrines, surpassing alike the invention and the comprehension of the human understanding; the harmony of its writers; the grandeur of its style, the more remarkable if we consider the illiterate character of many of those who wrote it; the elevation and purity of its morality, especially when contrasted with the condition of the whole world; the view it gives us of the nature and attributes of the Deity, of the character of Jesus Christ, and the state of human nature, of the scheme of redemption, of the elements of evangelical piety, of the certainty and glory of immortality—are all the hand-writing of Jehovah, and together form this illustrious inscription—"THE WORD OF GOD!"

Where is anything like this among the works of men? Could ignorance have devised a system so sublime, or depravity a scheme so holy? But to go no farther than the subject we are now considering, and which may be regarded as not only a single precept of morality—but the spirit of the whole, is it conceivable that such a generous and self-denying system of duty could have sprung from the selfishness of human nature? Would man, had he been left to the mere exercise of his reason, and the impulses of his own heart, ever have summed up all morality and social obligation in that one word, LOVE, and have represented this as the essence of virtue? Is there anything analogous to this in any human system with which we are acquainted?

Examine PAGANISM, both ancient and modern; and what of this spirit do you find in its multiform varieties? Was benevolence, as has been already asked, ever embodied in an idol? Was a temple, a statue, or an altar ever raised to its honor? Abstractions of wisdom and power, and some few of the sterner virtues of human nature, together with many of its sinful passions, obtained a niche in the Pantheon; but such a virtue as that enjoined by Paul, not only was not worshiped—but would have been despised, by all classes of ancient idolaters, as diametrically opposed to those qualities in which they considered human greatness to consist. To say nothing of that spirit of cruelty which, like a demon legion, possessed, and tortured, and convulsed the worshipers of Moloch; even the milder and classic mythology of the Greeks and the Romans breathed into its votaries no spirit of universal philanthropy.

The patriotism of these nations, the chivalrous self-devotedness, which is blazoned with such splendor on the page of history, and which kindles such enthusiasm in the youthful imagination—what is it but the light of a consuming fire? The patriotism of Rome and of Greece, in their best and purest days, was but a selfishness of the most destructive kind, which trampled down pure philanthropy with indignant scorn, as a base and cowardly spirit—a traitor against the absorbing glory of Athens; or of the Roman commonwealth. Those proud and haughty patriots thought that the world was made for them, and cared not what rights of other nations they invaded, so as they could strengthen their own power; nor what misery they inflicted, so as they could extend their own fame. Selfishness the most engrossing, was the soul of their system—every man considered himself as represented by his country; and, in contending for the honor of the latter, was fighting for his own aggrandizement. Had love been in the ascendant in those ages, the world would never have been made to lie prostrate at the feet of Alexander or of Caesar.

And who among the poets sang the praises of universal benevolence—who among the legislators made it the basis of their morals—who among the philosophers expatiated on the glory of human kindness—or laid the obligation to cultivate it upon the consciences of their disciples? The highest virtue of paganism was martial prowess. So heavenly a glory never shone upon it, as is contained in that one sentence, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," or if any theory, distantly analogous to it, was found there, it was a borrowed light, the dim reflection of the distant brightness of divine truth.

And as to modern paganism, we need not say how vain it is to seek for universal love amid the ferocities of the American Indians, the murderous cruelties of the South Sea Islanders, the disgusting selfishness and ridiculous vanity of the Chinese, or the insulting and degrading oppression of the Hindus.

Next turn your attention to MOHAMMEDANISM; and in what page of the Koran will you find—we will not say, such a description, and such an enforcement, of philanthropy as we have in this chapter; but where do you find a recognition of this principle? In all those pretended revelations from heaven, of which Gabriel is said to have been the bearer, where is there such a description of Deity as this—"God is love!" or such a sentiment as that which arises out of it, "he who dwells in love, dwells in God, and God in him?" So far from recognizing this principle, Islamism condemns and forbids it. It enjoins almsgiving, it is true, and gives it a high place among its virtues—but this is not the same as love, and may be often carried to a great extent without a particle of the nature of love. This system of imposture, abounding as it does with minute and ridiculous ceremonies, and a slavish regard to absurd ritual observances; enforces, by the authority of its founder, the most ferocious and blood-thirsty hatred, to all who do not receive it in the exercise of implicit faith. Wars against all infidels are not only enjoined in many passages of the Koran—but are declared to be in a high degree meritorious in the sight of God. How completely Islamism has filled its votaries with the most ferocious bigotry and the most merciless intolerance, is known by universal testimony. They everywhere pour insulting contempt upon all who are not Muslims, and feel a savage delight in adding cruelty to insult. "The infidel dogs," is a common appellation applied to Christians. The spirit of the system is everywhere visible in the absolute despotism of the governments of those countries in which it prevails. Where it is found, the arts and the sciences do not flourish, and liberty withers in its shade. The flaming scimitar of the Sultan is its patron and defense; it was propagated by the sword—it is supported by the bow-string, and it is essentially and unalterably cruel. Such is Islamism—a curse to the world, a mystery in the divine government, a dreadful obstacle to the spread of Christianity, and the reverse of all that is holy and beneficent in the glorious gospel of the blessed God.

INFIDELITY, it is true, has attempted an imitation of this virtue—but infidels have had the Bible to copy from; and even with this model before their eyes, have produced a caricature, instead of a facsimile. The 'universal benevolence' of this school is at war with the private affections and individual tenderness. The 'universal benevolence' of Christianity springs out of private affections and individual tenderness, and is founded upon them. We contend, therefore, that this noble, and generous, and useful disposition is one of the peculiarities of revealed truth; and whence—but from heaven, could it have proceeded, and who—but Jehovah, either could or would have given it the authority of a law?

Whoever will reflect for a moment, will be struck with the singularity of the fact that the Bible resolves the whole of devotional piety into love to God, and the whole of morality into love to man. Is this, we ask again, the work of human invention, or does it look like the production of imposture? Would the selfishness of man have devised such a system; for where, among all his handiwork, do we find anything like it? O no! It is a part of the superscription of heaven—it is the impress of divinity—it is the seal of truth!

2. We learn, that the spirit of true religion is not only unlike—but opposed to the characters most admired by the people of the world.

In NATIONAL affairs. The character which the historian loves to delineate, on which he delights to exhaust the stores of his genius, and to lavish the richest coloring of his pencil; which he is most pleased to exhibit to the admiration of his readers; and in which, with an eager sympathy, those readers take as much delight as did the author, perusing it again and again; until the soul glows with enthusiasm—is not the meek and virtuous prince, who is intent only on the arts of peace, and the internal welfare of his kingdom. No—but the ambitious hero, who fills the world with the fame of his victories, and by the aid of dauntless courage, consummate skill, and inordinate lust of dominion, goes on from conquering to conquer. This is the man for whom the admiration of posterity is claimed; whose crimes are lost sight of, in the splendor of his military genius; and whose cruelty is forgotten, in the success with which it is followed. Thus it is that under the power of evil fascination, these demon-men are idolized in the sight of the miseries they have inflicted, and within hearing of the groans they have extorted—merely on account of the vast military talents they possess, and of their power to torment others.

But the New Testament lavishes no eulogies on such men—bestows no praise on their deeds—but treats them as the bitterest enemies of human happiness. The 'sword of conflict' and the 'laurel of victory' are not among the objects that it commends to our veneration—but which it devotes to our detestation. The peacemaker is the character on which it bestows all its praises, and which it invests with its richest honors.

If we descend from national affairs to the more confined range of SOCIAL spheres, we shall find the same perversion of judgment, the same misconception of true excellence, and the same misplaced admiration. What is the character which is usually most applauded in fashionable circles, and also by the generality of mankind, whether rich or poor? Is it not the high-spirited individual who is quick to discern offense, and bold to resent it; who will allow no one with impunity to tread upon the skirt of his dignity, or his right; who is, perhaps, in some things, frank, generous, and affable; but under this exterior conceals a proud, vindictive spirit, which can brook neither a superior nor a rival—but is ever aspiring to distinction; who is courteous—but ambitious for fame; who would not willingly and intentionally give offense—but having given it, would feel himself forever disgraced by putting on the garment of humility, and asking forgiveness; who would give alms to the needy—but not honor the godly. Is not this the most admired of the world's favorites? Is not revenge dignified by the name of honor—and pride called courage?

In short, are not the qualities generally admired by men, of the active, irascible, and ambitious kind? And are not the meek, and gentle, and passive virtues looked upon with disesteem, and treated with contempt? Is poverty of spirit, is humility, is self-abasement, is the forgiveness of insults, is patience under provocation; admired, applauded, imitated? Is it to the character formed of these graces, that the silent homage of the heart, and the loud praises of the tongue, are paid? Quite the contrary. The men who would practice the Christian graces, must make up their minds to endure the world's scorn, and to be treated as poor weak-spirited creatures, who deserve all the ridicule they receive, because of their forbearance in submitting to it. And yet this is the spirit of true religion—for this is the temperament of Jesus!

When Jesus Christ came into the world, he found it full of the notion that human glory consisted in ambition, pride, and revenge. The Jew and the Gentile participated in the sentiment, and hence he took particular pains to correct this notion, giving, in his sermon on the mount, a delineation of character the very opposite of this. Indeed, the design of that sermon was to rectify the mistakes then universally prevalent on the subject of 'true piety' and of happiness, and to teach the world that his disciples were to be pre-eminently distinguished by humility, penitence, meekness, purity, peaceableness, forgiveness, thirsting after righteousness. These are the qualities of a true Christian, and everyone who bears the character, must sedulously cultivate its appropriate dispositions, and be willing to bear the ridicule to which they will expose him. He must never seek to conciliate the favor of the unconverted, by imitating their spirit, or disguising his own; but bear their scorn, and wait with patience for a world where humility and meekness will be honored and rewarded, and love, their parent disposition, be crowned with glory!

3. This subject plainly shows us that true religion is exceedingly DIFFICULT.

It is a very common supposition that it is an easy thing to be a Christian. And if to be a Christian were nothing more than going to a place of worship, indulging in pious emotions, subscribing to religious institutions, and professing certain religious opinions—the supposition would be correct—for nothing is more easy than all this. But if the spirit of true religion be the disposition described in this chapter, then must it be obvious to everyone who knows his own heart, that to be a true Christian is the most difficult thing in the world!

The Scriptures everywhere represent true piety by terms, allusions, and figures which imply the greatest effort, and the most persevering labor. Hence we are commanded to "strive to enter in at the strait gate;" to "lay aside every weight, and the sin which most easily besets us, and to run with perseverance the race that is set before us;" to "labor for the food which endures unto eternal life;" to "fight the good fight of faith;" to "mortify the deeds of the body;" to "crucify the flesh." What terms! what ideas! what metaphors! Can anything that is easily accomplished require or justify the use of such language? If it were a light thing to be a Christian, could the sacred writers with any propriety have employed such strong and very expressive figures? Nothing, surely, can more impressively teach us the absolute and indispensable necessity of incessant as well as vigorous effort. The course of a sinner is down-hill. "Easy is the descent to hell." A transgressor has nothing to do but to give himself up to the indulgence of his corruptions, and he will slide without effort to perdition!

Not so the true Christian. Heaven, by an appropriate figure of speech, is represented as on a high eminence, which cannot be reached without constant and laborious climbing. Not that all this is necessary to merit heaven—but to reach it—we are justified by faith without works, and become entitled to eternal life, exclusively by the righteousness of Christ; nor are we to conceive of the faith by which we receive this righteousness, as consisting of any violent strivings of our minds—but as a simple dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ, for acceptance with God—but we are speaking of the Christian temper, of practical religion, of sanctification, of going on through all the trials and temptations of life, to the possession of that crown of glory which Christ has merited for us; and if this be easy work, there is nothing difficult!

4. True religion is a comparatively RARE thing among men. This is indeed a melancholy and a painful reflection; for it is saying in other words, there are but few that are saved. It is applying to our own times the awful language employed by our Lord as descriptive of the state of things in his days upon earth, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Tremendous, and truly dreadful is the idea, that the greatest part of mankind are moving towards the bottomless pit, and sinking daily in crowds to the miseries of eternal perdition! Such a sentiment ought not to be admitted to the mind, except upon the clearest evidence; neither ought it to be uttered by the lip, much less be recorded by the pen, except with a view to lessen the havoc which it describes, by disturbing the delusion which is the cause of this extensive ruin!

It is evident—at least if the Word of God is true—that no man can be saved without true religion; and that the religion which does not include Christian love, is, in fact, no true religion at all. The only enquiry, then, to be answered, is—Does Christian love abound, or is it comparatively rare? Is the great mass of human beings around us actuated by a spirit of universal benevolence—a benevolence which is the fruit of regeneration, and the effect of faith; which springs from love to God, and is cherished by a sense of redeeming grace; which is exercised in obedience to the divine authority, and with a view to the divine glory; which, in its operations, is full of forbearance and meekness, kindness, toleration, sympathy, humility and unselfishness? Is this the prevailing disposition of the bulk of mankind? Do we see it manifested in society? Alas! alas! instead of this, do we not still see those passions in operation which the apostle mentions as descriptive of the conduct of mankind to each other in his day. "Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled by others and became slaves to many wicked desires and evil pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy. We hated others, and they hated us." Titus 3:3.

Are not anger, malice, revenge, selfishness, envy, pride, and censoriousness—the predominant dispositions in the generality of mankind? Who can deny this, or who will attempt to deny it? And if this be the case, true religion must be comparatively rare. Few, indeed, are living in the exemplification of Christian love. Dreadful, alarming idea! I tremble as I write! My soul is distressed—and groans with anguish over my own statements. I would disbelieve them, if I could; and, even believing them, I would shut them up in my own bosom, if it were not necessary to promulgate them, in order to detect that delusion which, by leading men to think that it is an uncommon thing for souls to be lost, makes it a still rarer occurrence for them to be saved. I must come to the conclusion—for I cannot help it, without becoming an infidel—that there are, in our time, many more who perish, than are saved. "Hell has enlarged its appetite and opens its mouth without limit; into it will descend their nobles and masses." Isaiah 5:14.

Reader! Let the dreadful announcement, that it is a rare thing to be saved, startle you like thunder from your slumbers, and lead you to institute the most serious, and solemn, and impartial examination of your heart! Do not rest satisfied with a 'mere vague idea of religion', or a mere general, careless assumption that you are a Christian. Without such a disposition as that we have considered, you have no true religion; and without true religion, you must perish eternally! You have, perhaps, been a professor of religion, and have approved a gospel ministry, and have enjoyed the light and advantages of gospel ordinances; but this will only aggravate your guilt, and condemnation, and misery! If you are not living under the influence of Christian love, you are living without true religion, and must have your doom with those of whom it is said, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all those who forget God!"

5. We learn the great criminality of many things still remaining, and in some degree approved of, among professors of religion.

National antipathies are too often found in considerable strength in the minds of Christians, especially in a time of warfare. Mistaking the nature of patriotism, and thinking, as did the ancient Greeks and Romans, that love for our country implies hatred of every rival nation—we are too apt to imbibe the spirit of the times and places in which we live, and to cherish a feeling of ill-will towards our national competitors. The religion of the New Testament is by no means hostile to a spirit of pure and sublime patriotism; that patriotism which seeks to exalt a nation by all the arts of peace, the discoveries of science, the inventions of imagination, the diffusion of knowledge, morality, and true religion. But the thirst of conquest, the love of aggrandizement, the lust of domination, which would make us dislike a nation because it limits our power and resists our aggressions—is an unchristian feeling, and an offense against the law of love!

From everything which would flatter the pride, or excite the ambition, or exasperate the anger, or increase the irritability of a nation—from everything that would swell the current of prejudice against another country, we should carefully abstain. As Christians, we should have no national enemies, no enmities and aversions excited by the geographical divisions of the globe. We should remember that God has made from one man, all the nations which dwell upon the earth—and therefore, that all men are our brothers, and should be loved as brothers. A Christian is, in one sense, a 'citizen of the world'; and although he was born in England, should abhor the thought of an 'national dislike' to any person of any other country. When national passions are roused and incensed, he is to bear no part in the widely circulating hatred; and amid much that he may regret and condemn, is still to remember that he is not to be "easily provoked."

Allied to this, is the passion for war. Whether the abstract principle of the unjustifiableness of war in every case, be tenable, we will not now discuss. But that war, as it is usually maintained, is utterly indefensible on Christian principles, can admit of no question. It is but too evident that great numbers of real Christians are not duly impressed with the deep criminality and great heinousness of the 'warlike spirit'. Instead of bearing their testimony, by all proper means, and on every suitable occasion, against it, they partake of the general and murderous enthusiasm. They cherish the same antipathies; are actuated by the same 'revengeful, proud, ambitious spirit'—as the people of the world. They defend by argument the wars that arise, as just and necessary. They read with as much avidity the details of battles. They boast with as much exultation of the victories which are obtained. They enter as deeply into all the ardor of the warlike passion, as though they were the worshipers of 'Mars'—the god of war; instead of Jehovah—the God of love!

Ought these things to be? Are they not a manifest and flagrant violation of all their principles and professions? The whole substance, genius, and tendency of Christianity—is towards peacefulness. The God whom we worship delights in mercy, and is infinitely benevolent. The character of Jesus, who is our example, is formed of all the meek and gentle virtues—in the greatest perfection. The scheme of salvation is a plan of grace. All the doctrines of Scriptural revelation unite in their tendency to soften and sweeten the temper. The precepts of Christian morality forbid wrath, anger, malice, revenge of every kind or degree—and enjoin us, in no case to render evil for evil—but always to return good for evil. The whole tenor New Testament is directly opposed to that rage and resentment to which the world has given the delusive names of 'courage' and 'a sense of honor'—and from which wars and contentions proceed.

To these proud, harmful and evil fervors—which are but an imitation of the passions that rage in full force in the natures of brute animals—the religion of Jesus Christ offers all the opposition of divine authority. Let any man think of the crimes committed, and the miseries inflicted by a single battle—and surely if he has ever read only one of the Gospels, or one of the Epistles, he must be convinced that 'hatred of war' is an essential feature of practical religion. But we need go no further than this chapter to prove that the warlike passion, even in the least degree, is opposed to Christianity. For if love were universally prevalent, swords would be beaten into plough-shares, and spears into pruning-hooks! It is high time for the followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, in every part of the world, to study the bent of their religion, since in the knowledge of this, many of them are still lamentably deficient!

It is a shame upon what is called 'the Christian world', that it has not long since borne universal, impassioned, and indignant testimony against that enormous evil which still rages, not only among the savages of Africa, or of the back settlements of America—but among the scholars, the philosophers, the Christians, the ministers, of Europe. In vain, so far as regards the diffusion of a peaceable spirit, has science enlightened the mind; in vain has learning softened the manners, and cultivated the taste; in vain has art multiplied the comforts; in vain has even religion established the faith, and in some measure sanctified the minds of the inhabitants of Christendom; for war—horrid, destructive, bloody war—is as much practiced, and as much patronized, as ever!

Whatever men have learned, they have not learned to love one another; whatever attainments they have made in knowledge, they have made scarcely any in love; however high they may have soared above the savage into the heights of science, they are still nearly upon a level in a taste for war. But real Christians should come out, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing—let them act upon their own principles, and become not only the friends—but the advocates of peace—let them echo back in their several spheres the angel's description of Christianity, "Peace on earth, good will to men," let ministers, from the pulpit; writers, from the press; private Christians, in their communion with each other and with the world—inculcate a fixed and irreconcilable abhorrence to war! Let the church of God be a society for the diffusion of the principles of universal peace.

Christian love forbids the indulgence of SECTARIAN prejudice among churches. God has for wise ends, no doubt, permitted the existence of various and conflicting opinions among real Christians—but, unhappily, instead of making these differences merely the occasion of mutual forbearance, and opportunities for showing through what interposing minor differences of opinion Christians can press to recognize and embrace each other; instead of converting them into tests of the sincerity, and proofs of the strength of our attachment—we have permitted them to rise up into separating walls, which divide and alienate our hearts from each other. Perhaps, even towards those whose errors are too fundamental to allow us to acknowledge them as fellow-Christians, much less to hold communion with them in the bond of church-fellowship, there is not enough of genuine love. For is there not something of bitterness and contempt, of wrath and ill-will—instead of that deep compassion and tender pity with which their situation should ever be viewed?

But as to those that agree with us in all the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, and differ from us only on the forms of church government, on the mode and subject of a sacrament, or on some of the minor points of doctrine, surely, surely, towards them we should maintain the full force of brotherly affection, without allowing our differences to interrupt for a moment the exercise of the most entire good-will. We would indulge a hope that in this age there is a nearer approximation than there was, of the various denominations of Christians to each other; that the spirit of intolerance is dying away; that there is a greater disposition to recognize each other, in the fullest sense of the term, as members of the same body, and brethren in the same family. But even yet, there is too much contempt to those who differ on minor points, remaining among ministers. There is too much of the sectarian spirit among laymen. There is too much of the feeling of rivalry and suspicion. There is too much disposition to misconstrue actions, to arraign motives. There is too much inclination to envy and jealousy. It is too common for the ministers and members of the Church of England to look with haughty contempt, and to speak as they feel, towards those who secede from the church; and to revile them as troublesome schismatics, as rebels against established authority, who are actuated by a love of change, an impatience of restraint, a trend for democratic principles, a disaffection to the constitution of their country.

But is this love? Does this accord with the spirit of Paul in the chapter we are now considering? May it not be that the reasons for separation from the Church of England, appear in our eyes to have all the force of a divine law? May not those things which appear to be matters of indifference to our accusers, appear to be matters of great importance to us? Can it not be supposed that as moral questions are differently discerned by good men, there may not be all that error in our views, which is sometimes ascribed to them? Let the greater names of our denomination be read over, and especially let their immortal productions be perused; and then let it be said, whether they have not minds as capacious, learning as profound, piety as ardent, insight as acute—as can be found among those from whom they have seceded; and whether this array of names, supported and adorned as it is by all that can give sanctity or dignity to human nature, should not be enough to secure for us the exercise of Christian toleration. May we not be Christians? And if so, ought we not to be loved as Christians?

On the other hand, let the members of evangelical dissenting communities exercise a spirit of holy liberality towards their brethren in the Church of England. Let them cease from resolving their motives of the ministers of the Church of England into a mere love of wealth and power. Let them believe it possible that these 'churchmen' may have a conscience as tender, a desire as fervent, as their own, to know and do the will of God. Let them not conclude that 'churchmen' are necessarily the willing slaves of politicians. Let them suppose that love to Christ, and zeal for God, and benevolence for man—may burn as brightly and as purely upon the altar of these 'churchmen', as upon their own. Let them not cease, openly, manfully, and on all suitable occasions, to state and enforce their principles—but cease to state them with a spirit of bitterness and wrath. Let not the ashes of the martyrs be gathered up, to blacken the descendants in office. Let them not visit the sins of the bigots of a past age, upon the ecclesiastical rulers of the present. Let them in all their statements, since they believe they have the truth on their side, throw over it the lovely and attractive charm of meekness. Let them read the names and the works of the authors belonging to the English Church, and realize that genuine Christian kindness should be cherished towards such men.

Love throws herself between the two parties, and calls for a truce to prejudice, and for the return of the sword to its scabbard. Let us consider how many, and how important, are the points on which we unite. "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." We may certainly find, in these 'seven unities' a sufficient bond of union, a sufficient ground of love, and a sufficient scope for our sympathy, whatever varieties on other subjects may distinguish us from each other.

Let it not be thought from what has been said that it is only by Churchmen and Dissenters, in their opposition to each other, that the law of love is violated. For it must be confessed and regretted that the law of love is not always observed as it should be, by the various sections of the latter body. Baptists, Paedobaptists, and Methodists, are all too often actuated by a degree of envy, jealousy, and selfishness, utterly unworthy of the great cause of true religion, and altogether at variance with their common principles. What attempts are sometimes made by the Wesleyans to raise a prejudice against Calvinism and its adherents, by deformed, horrid, and ferocious-looking caricatures of that system. And, on the other hand, how often are the whole body of Methodists condemned by Calvinists, as upholding all the errors of Pelagius! Baptists pour unmeasured contempt on infant baptism—and are repaid by their opponents in ridicule on adult immersion. Statements are often given of the sentiments of a sect, which that sect would deny—and consequences deduced from them, which they would abhor!

And then, what clashing of interests frequently takes place when a new church or denomination is introduced into a town or village! Sometimes this new church comes without occasion for it—there is really no need for another similar body of Christians—as the existing means of public instruction are already sufficient, both as to quantity and quality—and, in this case, to be animated by such a zeal for our church or denomination, as to set it up at the certain hazard, and especially with the very hope, of dividing a prevailing and hitherto peaceful body of Christians, is in the last degree a hateful effusion of party spirit. Men may call it zeal for the glory of God; but call it what they will, it is, when exhibited in its own deformity, nothing but envy, or the selfishness which seeks its own.

In other cases, what jealousy and ill-will have been stirred up in the minds of an existing church, by an attempt made by another church to establish itself in the same local area! It signified nothing how large was the place, how great the population, how inadequate the means of religious instruction—all this was left out of view—and the new church, though they preached the gospel in its purity—was opposed and disliked, because it came into a field were there was already an evangelical body, though that body could not be said to have occupied more than one little nook or corner of the uncultivated land.

It would be injurious to name any denomination as having manifested most of this evil envious spirit—no one denomination, perhaps, is altogether free from it; but we have known, in some instances, such wretched, paltry and wicked means resorted to. Such attempts to oppose the new comers, by defaming their principles, by insinuating charges against their ministers, by throwing suspicions even over the purposes of their private meetings. Such a system of espionage, by sending 'spies' to gather something to cavil at from the discourses of their opponents; such a series of tricks to draw away the young and unwary from the other church—that we have felt it somewhat difficult, in witnessing this absence of Christian love in others, to retain it in exercise in our own hearts towards them.

Instead of indulging such envy, jealousy, and ill-will—all denominations who agree in the fundamental truths of the Gospel, should regard and hail each other as only so many companies in the same gospel army—or so many laborers in the same field—or so many workmen in the same building—having one common object, and serving under one common head. But alas! alas! Some congregations of professing Christians are exceedingly jealous and envious of each other! This remark does not apply so much to the larger bodies, which are to be found in our great towns and cities, as to the smaller ones, which exist in our less populous places.

But we have all too much prejudice, and too little Christian affection for each other. We all need more of the mind of Christ. We do not wish to see a spirit of indifference to our distinctive opinions—this would be a sin in the other extreme—but we desire to behold a more cordial good-will and confidence towards those who differ from us, and far, far less of the malicious envious spirit of sects and parties!

Christian Love would soften the harshness, and remove the bitterness, of CONTROVERSY. We are not enemies to well-conducted controversy. As long as the truth is attacked—it must be defended; and as long as error exists—it must be assailed. To give up the truth for the sake of peace, is a conspiracy against the Bible, and establishing a covenant with the enemies of the Lord. Not an iota of God's Word must be surrendered to error and infidelity. We must "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints," and resist, if need be—unto imprisonment, torture, and death. A hollow, fawning, indulgent spirit—which would conciliate the friendship of men who are in rebellion to the Scriptures—by giving up, or treating lightly, any of their contents, has the curse of heaven upon it.

"Christian controversy is the safety valve of theological zeal. The 'party-spirit' of is opposed to it, being too intolerant for discussion. Truth has always triumphed by means of controversy—she has grown powerless only when the sleep of lethargy has stolen upon the church. What is Christianity itself—but a standing controversy with the infidel, the sensualist, and the formalist—the men of the world? We admit that the spirit of controversy, or, to speak more properly, the controversial spirit, is not, in itself, very conducive to the cultivation of personal piety. The angry controversialist and fierce arguer is not always a devout believer or an amiable member of society. The church has been sometimes as much disgraced by her advocates, as annoyed by her assailants; and there are internal debates and disputes, which, as friends to true religion, as well as friends to peace—we would wish to have terminated forever. But alive, as we trust we are, to the dangers of controversy, we must, nevertheless, protest against that timid, trimming, self-indulgent, ultra-liberal dread of religious debate, which would give up truth, to keep peace with error, and consign those celestial weapons of the spiritual armory—reason and Scripture—to the ark of the church, as useless regalia." (Eclectic Review)

It is highly probable that all controversy will never cease, until truth stands revealed amid the light of eternity. But there will come a period, when men will discuss their differences in the spirit of brotherly affection; when perhaps, there will be fewer points unsettled, and those few will be debated with toleration and mutual esteem. Too many, in their disputations about religion, contend for truth, until they have destroyed love; and even, in reference to the former, present it in so mutilated a form, as to deprive it of much of its own engaging beauty.

Luther's prayer should be presented by all—"From frivolous, fruitless controversies, good Lord, deliver us!" It is well observed by an old writer, that "Disputations in religion are sometimes necessary—but always dangerous; drawing the best spirits into the head from the heart, and either leaving it empty of all, or too full of fleshly zeal and passion, if extraordinary care be not taken still to supply and fill it anew with pious affection towards God, and love towards man." There is no case in which good men are more under the power of the deceitfulness of the heart, than when engaged in religious controversy; and when, under the idea that they are only "contending earnestly for the faith," they indulge in all kinds of unhallowed tempers, dip their pens in gall, deliberately write, as deliberately print, and no less deliberately justify, the bitterest sarcasms—the severest irony—the most railing accusations—the grossest misrepresentations—the most uncharitable surmises. In short, when, as the controversy is about religion—a circumstance which ought to produce a spirit directly the reverse—there is no degree of abuse, reviling, and defamation, to which they do not have recourse. Such has been too often the tone of religious controversy, and by which it would seem as if the graces were mere heathen courtesans, in whose company a Christian should blush to be found; while 'the furies' were so many personifications of holy zeal, whose assistance is to be solicited in the support of truth.

Oh, what a handle has the spirit of angry controversy given to infidels against the whole system of Christianity! They have fought against Christianity with poisoned arrows, and the gall of furious church squabbles has supplied the venom in which they have dipped their sarcasms, ironies, and jests. It is high time that the apostle's exhortation should be practically remembered—"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior." All who contend for the faith should remember Paul's advice to Timothy—"And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth." 2 Tim. 2:24-25. "For man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." James 1:20

Let any one read this chapter, and say if it be possible to justify the spirit in which contentions for the truth are generally carried on. Let it not be pleaded that we are commanded to 'rebuke sharply', as if this furnished an apology for uncharitableness; for duties cannot be in opposition to each other, and therefore even this must be performed in a manner that is compatible with meekness and love. Unfortunately, the spirit of harsh embittered controversy is as popular as it is sinful—those pugnacious disputers, by whom it is carried on, are generally the leaders of a party, which thinks itself happy in a representative who with his shield can defend them, and with his tremendous sword can vanquish their enemies—and thus lead them on to victory and supremacy. It would be amusing, if it were not too serious a matter for entertainment, to hear how these people exult in the exploits of their 'formidable Hercules'; and to see how securely they repose under the protection of his fearsome and far-reaching club. What deep disgrace is it upon the professors and teachers of the religion of the lowly Savior, to suppose that his doctrines and his precepts require the aid of sinful and unhallowed passions to give them effect.

We may next exhibit the criminality which attaches to the sin of SCHISM, and deplore its prevalence. It will be necessary to explain here what I mean by 'schism'. No term has been more employed, or more abused than this—it has furnished to bigots of all parties, a theme of angry declamation, and a subject of bitter accusation and reproach, against all who differ from them in opinion; upon whatever ground, or in whatever spirit, that difference is maintained. Papists charge this sin upon Protestants; while the Church of England, in its turn, attempts to fasten the guilt of it upon all who secede from her denomination. It is circulated with eagerness from one denomination to another as a term of ignominy, and is continually calling into exercise some of the worst passions of human nature. Papal bulls, Episcopal charges, clerical sermons, angry party-spirited journals—are continually harping upon it. And multitudes, who have no other means of blackening an opponent, think that they cannot more effectually succeed in rendering him both odious and guilty, than by calling him a 'schismatic'. I will at once confess, that schism is, indeed, when properly understood, a sin of so enormous a kind, that too much cannot be said for its condemnation. But it is not properly understood. In its etymological signification, it means a split, a division, a separation of that which was originally one. (Matthew 9:16, John 7:43)

Campbell's remarks are so clear and convincing on this subject, that they may with great propriety be referred to. As breach, or rupture, is the literal import of the term, in our language, whenever these words may be figuratively applied, the term schism seems likewise capable of an application. It invariably supposes, that among those things whereof it is affirmed, there subsisted an union formerly, and as invariably denotes that the union exists no longer. In this manner the apostle Paul uses the word, applying it to a particular church, or Christian congregation. Thus he adjures the Corinthians, by the name of the Lord Jesus, that there be no divisions, or schisms, among them—and in another place of the same Epistle, "I hear that there are divisions," or schisms. In order to obtain a proper idea of what is meant by a breach, or schism, we must form a just notion of that which constituted the union whereof the schism was a violation. Now the great and powerful cement which united the souls of Christians, was their mutual love. Their hearts, in the emphatic language of Holy Writ, were knit together in love. This had been declared by their Master, to be the distinguishing badge of their profession "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another." Their partaking the same baptism, their professing the same faith, their enjoying the same promises, and their joining in the same religious services—formed a connection merely external, and of little significance, unless, agreeably to the apostle's expression, it was rooted and grounded in love. As this, therefore, is the great criterion of the Christian character, and the foundation of Christian unity, whatever alienates the affections of Christians from one another, is manifestly subversive of both, and may, consequently, with the greatest truth and energy, be denominated schism. It is not so much what makes an outward distinction, or separation (though this also may, in a lower degree, be so denominated), as what produces an alienation of the heart, which constitutes schism in the sense of the apostle; for this strikes directly at the vitals of Christianity. Indeed, both the evil and the danger of the former—that is, an external separation—is principally to be estimated from its influence upon the latter—that is, in producing an alienation of heart; for it is in the union of affection among Christians, that the spirit, the life, and the power of true religion are principally placed.

Wherever an 'alienation of heart' takes place, and whatever be the occasion of it, whether there be an external separation or not, there is a schism. It may arise in the Church of England, and has, perhaps, arisen in the divisions characterized by the terms evangelical and anti-evangelical. Or it may arise—as, alas! we know to our shame and distress, it does too often arise—in our Independent churches; so that without any actual and visible separation, this dreadful evil may be in full and mischievous operation. On the contrary, there may be a diversity of opinion in the same society, as in those Baptist churches that admit of mixed communion, without any schism. And provided there is no alienation of heart, no interruption to mutual esteem and good will—there may be even an external separation, without schism.

This sin of schism can have no existence except in those cases where the unity of the spirit is disturbed, and the bond of peace is severed. As long as sincere love remains, there is, in the full sense of the term, no schism. Consequently, whatever tends to alienate the hearts of Christians from each other, whatever tends to produce discord, whatever tends to stir up strife—no matter who may be guilty of such conduct—is the very essence of this hateful vice of schism. If men will attempt to coerce the conscience, by legislating for others in such matters as those of religion, and interfere, by human authority, in affairs which should be transacted through the medium of the Bible, between God and the soul—they must be answerable for those divisions which arise from the conscientious objections of people who cannot submit to such enactments.

If to separate peaceably from the Church of England, be the sin of schism, how will the Church of England justify itself from the same charge brought against her by the Church of Rome? The schismatic is not he who peaceably secedes; but he who renders secession necessary, by setting up requirements with which the separatist cannot comply, without violating his conscience. Not that I mean to say Episcopalians, or even the supporters of any established religion whatever, are schismatical, except where their conduct is such as is calculated to produce mutual disaffection; so neither, on the other hand, are dissenters justly chargeable with this sin, unless their conduct can be fairly proved to be founded on a factious spirit of ill-will towards the religious establishment of the country. It is nothing to say that their dissent proceeds on insufficient grounds, and their objections to the Church, as by law established, are to things that are indifferent in themselves, and therefore frivolous and vexatious. If they are indifferent matters, why then impose them? but of their indifference or importance, dissenters themselves must judge, as did the reformed churches of Christendom, of the corruptions of Popery.

If a dissenter employs himself in stirring up ill-will towards the members of the Church of England, by arraigning the motives of its ministers, and charging them with sordid avarice, or a mere love of worldly pomp and domination; or by questioning the piety of its members; or by exciting animosity; or producing alienation of heart in the minds of his own party—or if he so states, defends, and enforces his own principles, as that the natural result in those who hear him shall be an interruption to all communion of heart, and to the exercise of all mutual good will between the two denominations—if he employ himself in widening the breach between them, and repelling them further from each other—he is indeed a schismatic, and deserves all the reproach which such conduct can bring upon him. But then it should be recollected that no less guilty of the sin of schism, is he who, as a minister of the Church of England, employs his talents in holding up dissenters to public ridicule as a factious, troublesome, dangerous body, seceding upon no grounds but such as are frivolous, entitled to reproach for what they have done, and to suspicion of what they may do.

But leaving names and parties, schism is the sin of doing anything to alienate men's hearts from each other, whatever be the occasion or the means of the estrangement. And it is a sin of a magnitude and enormity, which few can estimate. It is the very opposite of love; and in saying this, we arraign it upon the most solemn and the most capital charge which any indictment can prefer. We all have, perhaps, something of this schismatic spirit. But little does it occur to some men, when they are advancing their charges, and fulminating their anathemas against others for the sin of schism, that, while in the eye of God, the objects of their anger are innocent of the crime that is laid to their charge—they themselves are regarded by Him whose judgment is according to truth, as the greatest schismatics upon earth.

The temptation cannot be resisted of introducing here a long—but no one who has a taste for literary or moral beauty will deem it too long—extract from the writings of Mr. Hall– "The Roman Catholic church no doubt looked upon it as a signal triumph, when she prevailed on France's King Louis, to suppress the Protestant religion. But what was the consequence? Where shall we look, after this period, for her Fenelons and her Pascals—where for the distinguished monuments of piety and learning, which were the glory of her better days? As for piety, she perceived she had no occasion for it, when there was no luster of Christian holiness surrounding her—nor for learning, when she had no longer any opponents to confute, or any controversies to maintain. She felt herself at liberty to become as ignorant, as secular, as irreligious, as she pleased; and amid the silence and darkness she had created around her, she drew the curtains, and retired to rest. The accession of numbers she gained by suppressing her opponents, was like the small extension of length a body acquires by death—the feeble remains of life were extinguished, and she lay a putrid corpse—a public nuisance, filling the air with pestilential exhalations.

"Such, there is every reason to believe, would be the effect of similar measures in England. That union among Christians which it is so desirable to recover, must, we are persuaded, be the result of something more heavenly and divine than legal restraints or angry controversies. Unless an angel were to descend for that purpose, the spirit of division is a disease which will never be healed by troubling the waters. We must expect the cure from the increasing prevalence of true religion, and from a copious communication of the Spirit to produce that event. A more extensive diffusion of piety, among all sects and parties, will be the best and only preparation for a cordial union. Christians will then be disposed to appreciate their differences more equitably, to turn their chief attention to points on which they agree, and, in consequence of loving each other more, to make every concession consistent with a good conscience. Instead of wishing to vanquish others, everyone will be desirous of being vanquished by the truth. A filial fear of God, and an exclusive desire of discovering his mind, will hold a torch before them in their inquiries, which will illuminate the path in which they are to tread. Instead of being repelled by mutual antipathy, they will be insensibly drawn nearer to each other by the ties of mutual attachment. A larger measure of the spirit of Christ would prevent them from condemning every legitimate difference which others might have.

"The general prevalence of piety in different communities would inspire that mutual respect, that heart-felt homage for the virtues conspicuous in the character of their respective members, which would urge us to ask with astonishment and regret—Why cannot we be one? what is it which obstructs our union? Instead of maintaining the barrier which separates us from each other, and employing ourselves in fortifying the frontiers of hostile communities, we should be anxiously devising the means of narrowing the grounds of dispute, by drawing the attention of all parties to those fundamental Biblical principles in which they concur.

"To this we may add, that a more perfect subjection to the authority of the great Head of the church, would restrain men from inventing new terms of fellowship, from lording it over conscience, or from exacting a scrupulous compliance with things which the Word of God has left indifferent. That sense of our own imperfect knowledge, should incline us to be looking up for a superior light, and make us think it not improbable that, in the long night which has befallen us, we have all more or less mistaken our way—and have much to learn, and much of our own deficient knowledge to correct. The very idea of identifying a particular party as the 'true church' would be exploded—the foolish clamor about schism, hushed—and no one, however poor his knowledge, should be expected to surrender his conscience to the claims of ecclesiastical dominion.

"The New Testament is surely not so obscure a book that, were its contents to fall into the hands of a hundred serious, impartial men, it would produce such opposite conclusions as must necessarily issue in their forming two or more separate communions. It is remarkable, indeed, that the chief points about which real Christians are divided, are points on which the Scripture is silent—mere human fabrications which the presumption of men has attached to the Christian system. A larger communication of the Spirit of truth would insensibly lead Christians into a similar train of thinking; and being more under the guidance of that infallible Teacher, they would gradually tend to the same point, and settle in the same conclusions. Without such an influence as this, the coalescing into one community would probably be productive of much mischief; it certainly would do no sort of good, since it would be the mere result of 'intolerance and pride' acting upon 'indolence and fear'.

"During the present disjointed state of things, then, nothing remains but for everyone to whom the care of any part of the church of Christ is entrusted, to exert himself to the utmost in the promotion of vital religion, in cementing the friendship of the good, and repressing with a firm and steady hand the heats and eruptions of harsh, intolerant party spirit. He will find sufficient employment for his time and his talents, in inculcating the great truths of the gospel, and endeavoring to 'form Christ' in his hearers, without blowing the 'flames of contention', or widening that breach which is already the disgrace and calamity of the Christian name. Were our efforts uniformly to take this direction, there would be an identity in the impression made by religious instruction; the distortion of party features would gradually disappear; and Christians would everywhere approach toward that ideal beauty spoken of by painters, which is composed of the finest lines and traits conspicuous in individual forms. Since they have all drank into the same spirit, it is manifest nothing is lacking—but a larger portion of that spirit, to lay the foundation of a solid, cordial union. It is to the immoderate attachment to secular interests—the love of power—and not the lack of evidence for truth—not to the obscurities of revelation, we must impute the unhappy contentions among Christians—maladies which nothing can correct—but deep and genuine piety. The real schismatic is not so properly the person who declines a compliance with what he judges to be wrong, though he may be mistaken in that judgment—so much as the man who sedulously employs every artifice to alienate the affections of good men from each other."

How desirable it is that true religion should prevail more than it does. If the spirit of true religion is love, then who can avoid longing for its universal dominion? How much is it to be coveted for the peace of our churches! It must be confessed, and that with grief and shame, that Zion is not yet a "peaceful habitation," nor do all her assemblies present the good and the pleasant sight of brethren dwelling together in unity. Contentions about one thing and another abound. The seeds of discord are plentifully sown, and bear an exuberant crop of the fruits of contention. How many religious communities are shattered by discord—to their own injury, to the exultation of their enemies, and to the discredit of true religion! Many are the causes which produce this unhappy state of things; but that which gives force to them all, is the absence, or the weakness—of love. Here is the grand defect, and all other circumstances are but subsidiary. It is most melancholy and humiliating to discover, when some trifling disagreement occurs, what small attainments in piety and love these churches have made; how insignificant is the subject over which two parties will engage with all the eagerness of contention; and how bitter the spirit with which the contention is carried on. It has been said that quarrels about religion have been usually maintained with more malevolence than any other. This we deny; but, at the same time, we must admit that they are often sustained with a measure of bitterness that is a disgrace to all concerned.

The usual occasion of disagreement is either the 'dismissal' or the 'choice' of a minister. And not infrequently do believers wrangle about him who is to teach them, until they have lost the very spirit of piety itself. But whatever may be the occasion, lack of love is the cause of all feuds and strifes!

Oh! what churches we would have, if Christian love had its full scope! The PASTOR would labor with the most earnest, indefatigable, and unselfish zeal for the eternal welfare of the flock; and make it evident that compassion for souls, and not filthy lucre, was the impulse of all his conduct. Affection would beam in his eyes, and breathe in his spirit, while "the law of kindness" would dwell on his lips. He would preside over the people in the meekness of wisdom; and, instead of proudly lording it over God's heritage, he would rule them in love. He would be gentle among them, "as a mother feeding and caring for her own children." Instead of being provoked by any little unintentional infringement on his rights, or disrespect to his dignity, he would bear with that which is the result of ignorance, and wisely and meekly reason with those who wronged him. Over all his talents, however brilliant, he would put the 'garment of humility'. And, with respect to all his success, however great, he would speak in the language of modesty. He would neither envy his more gifted or successful brethren, nor proudly vaunt over his inferiors. To all under his pastoral care, even the most illiterate and poor, he would conduct himself with the humility and love of true benevolence, put the most favorable construction on the actions of his people, repose in them an honorable confidence, labor to correct their errors, whether doctrinal or practical, and have no greater joy than to see them walking in the truth!

Christian love would also dictate to the PEOPLE towards their minister, a line of conduct no less pious than amiable. It would lead them to attach themselves decidedly and warmly to his person and ministry; to demonstrate in every possible way their sincere and cordial wish to promote his comfort; to abstain from everything that would grieve his mind, and by every means in their power to promote his usefulness. It would not allow them to be offended by his faithful rebukes—but cause them to submit, with Christian frankness and humility, to his cautious admonitions and reproofs. Christian love would lead them to interpret, in a favorable manner, any little neglects, or unintentional offenses—and would make willing and reasonable excuses for his seeming inattention. Christian love would cover, and not expose—his minor shortcomings, faults and foibles. Christian love would lead them to manifest a fitting respect for his office and opinion—and, while it would leave them in full possession of entire freedom of thought, and manly dignity of conduct, would still prescribe that humility and respect, which the Scriptures claim for those who are set over them in the Lord.

In the conduct of the people towards EACH OTHER, Christian love would check all that irritability which is excited by a word—all that anger which is cherished until it ripens into malice or revenge. How much is the peace of our churches disturbed by such hot or sullen people! But did this heavenly virtue prevail, care would be taken not to give offense; and equal care would be in exercise not to take offense. One man would bridle his tongue, lest he should utter words that would grieve; another would control in his temper, lest he should be provoked when he ought not; and all would be watchful against whatever would destroy the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace. If any action has been done, or any word spoken, of a doubtful kind, no one would suspect an evil motive—but rather be ready to conclude in favor of a good intention; suspicion would be displaced by mutual confidence; and hasty imputations of what is wrong, would be displaced by the belief or hope of what is right. Instead of circulating ill reports of each other, or believing them when circulated, all would entertain too much good-will, and too high an opinion of their brethren, to listen to an insinuation against them. Universal kindness would reign throughout the society—each would feel an interest in the whole, and by "whatever things are lovely," would promote their comfort, and bear their burdens. There would be no struggle for pre-eminence, no grasping at power—such pride would be abhorred, and all would be subject one to another—the rich would not be puffed up, nor vaunt themselves against the poor, nor would the poor envy the rich. In a time of difficulty, such as the choice of a minister, there would be a giving up as far as possible, of individual feeling, and all would consider the general good; no one would selfishly wish to have his taste alone consulted—or his opinion alone attended to. No one would obtrude his views upon the rest in an unseemly manner—but each would consult all.

We may again remark, what churches we would have, if love were the ruling principle which governed them. "Then would each of them present a peaceful haven, inviting men to retire from the tossing and perils of this unquiet ocean to a sacred enclosure, a sequestered spot, which the storms and tempests of the world were not permitted to invade." Then would the prayer of Christ be answered, and his people be one, and show by their unity a demonstration of the divinity of his mission, which the most impious could not resist—then would the church on earth present a calm, unruffled surface; which would reflect, as from a mirror, a bright resemblance of the church in heaven. Let us, then, for the honor of our principles, for the credit of our common Christianity, for our own peace and comfort in relation to the body of the people—seek that more of this heavenly spirit of Christian love, may be diffused among all who are called by the name of Christ.

How desirable is it that such a religion as this, should be spread over the face of the whole earth! In what a miserable condition is our globe. The whole world lies in the wicked one—is entangled in the coils, and bitten by the fangs, and tortured by the venom of the old serpent—the devil. Justly has the apostle said, that "the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now." Nearly eighteen centuries have passed since Paul saw this bleeding victim of Satan's cruelty, and heard its groans—and it is bleeding and groaning still. Wherever we go, either in reality or in imagination, we find ourselves in a valley of tears, where forms of misery, indefinitely varied, and almost innumerably multiplied, rise before our eyes, and utter nothing but, "Woe, woe, woe!" Who can wonder that our world should thus be little else but a region of misery?

Think upon the evil passions which predominate in human affairs. Think of the vile affections, which, like furies, tyrannize over the minds of men—wrath, malice, revenge, envy, pride, suspicion, selfishness, cruelty, slander—these are the tyrants of diabolical government, which usurp the dominion of the world in the name of Satan, and which with something of his power and his fury, torment the miserable children of men. How much of cruel slavery, bloody warfare, remorseless oppression, deadly revenge, operative mischief, crafty subtlety, insulting pride—is perpetually at work in the destruction of human happiness! The prevalence of Christian love would put a stop to all this—it would beat the 'sword of war' into the 'ploughshare of peace'. Christian love would break the galling fetter of slavery, and bid the captive go free. Christian love would change the tyrant into a kind father. Christian love would convert the venom of malice into the milk of human kindness. Christian love would transform the crafty serpent into the innocent dove. Christian love would tame the ferocity of the implacable assassin into mercifulness. Christian love would teach him to pronounce forgiveness, who now breathes out nothing but slaughter. Christian love would teach pride, to put on humility as a garment. Christian love would give to the vigilant eye of intelligence, the expression of toleration, instead of the glance of suspicion. Christian love would substitute, for the torment of envy—the exquisite delight of that sympathy which can rejoice with those who rejoice.

What an argument for Christian missions! And what a motive to their zealous support! We have already proved that both Paganism and Mohammadanism are hostile to a spirit of universal benevolence. If, therefore, the world is ever to be subjugated to the mild and beneficial dominion of love, the conquest must be made by Christianity. And to this honor is Christianity destined—it was to this theme that the evangelical prophet struck his lyre, when he said "Many nations will come and say—Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Temple of the God of Israel. There he will teach us his ways, so that we may obey him. For in those days the Lord's teaching and his word will go out from Jerusalem. The Lord will settle international disputes. All the nations will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. All wars will stop, and military training will come to an end. Everyone will live quietly in their own homes in peace and prosperity, for there will be nothing to fear. The Lord Almighty has promised this!" "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard and the goat will be at peace. Calves and yearlings will be safe among lions, and a little child will lead them all. The cattle will graze among bears. Cubs and calves will lie down together. And lions will eat grass as the livestock do. Babies will crawl safely among poisonous snakes. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes and pull it out unharmed. Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain. And as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord."

Such is the poetic and beautiful description which is given by the prophet, of the harmonizing and benevolent tendency of the Gospel, as well as of its effect wherever its influence is entirely submitted to. How exceedingly is it to be desired that such a system should be universally prevalent! The awful description which the apostle gives us of the idolatry of his times, and of its demoralizing effects—deeply as it is colored, and darkly as it is shaded—is not less justly applicable to the Pagan nations of the present day, than it was to those of antiquity. "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless." Romans 1:25-31

What a picture!! Who can contemplate it without horror? Yet such is the state of society—such the aspect of the moral world—such are the crimes that deform, and pollute, and torment the human race under the reign of Paganism, which, wherever it exists, converts earth into the vestibule of hell, a den of wild beasts, a range of malignant demons—which educates men for fiends amid the worst of excesses of depravity—and tortures its victims in this world, preparatory to their execution in the next. Who that pretends to carry in his bosom the heart of a man, much more who that professes to have the spirit of a Christian, which is the mind of Christ—but must mourn in bitterness of soul over this frightful wilderness, and long to bring these habitations of cruelty under the reign of Christian love?

Let it be recollected that whenever the religion of Jesus Christ is felt in its proper influence—whenever it changes the heart, and sanctifies the life—it does not merely turn men away from dumb idols—but causes them also to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present evil world. It does not merely lead to a change of names, a substitution of one set of religious rites for another; but while it removes all that is impious in idolatry—it displaces all that is odious and abominable in vice. It presents the first table of the law, and says, "You shall love God with all your soul," and then holds up the second, and commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Wherever the Gospel of Christ is permitted to govern society, it banishes all that can afflict—and introduces whatever can comfort the human race. All the crimes and the curses of society flee before it, while all the blessings of earth follow in its train. It not only brings learning, and arts, and sciences, with all that can adorn the mind and embellish life—but, as its chief benefit, it establishes the reign of love. This it has done to a considerable extent in many places already; and even its enemies have acknowledged it. And he who would see what true religion can do, has done, and will yet do—in exalting benevolence on the ruins of cruelty, and in establishing the reign of mercy—let him contemplate, as he may do, through the medium of missionary reports, the once wild and savage Eskimos—now converted into peaceful, harmless, and benevolent followers of the meek and lowly Jesus! Or the once murderous Tahitians, who reveled in the blood of human sacrifices, and slaughtered without remorse their own children, now exhibiting a character remarkable for its mercifulness and gentleness. Or the once marauding tribes of South Africa, casting away their poisoned arrows and their spears, and exhibiting a moral transformation as great and striking—as if lions were changed into lambs. And these are the triumphs of that true religion, of which the many branches, and the multiplied duties, are summed up in that one word—LOVE!

Friends of humanity! by all the love you bear to God or man, I implore you to labor to the uttermost in extending the true piety you profess. Estimate, if you can, the deep guilt of neglecting the cause of Christian missions. None of you have done what you could have done, or what you ought to do, in this most sacred, most important cause. I ask, what proportion of your property ought to be put in requisition for promoting the universal reign of love? Is a tenth, or a fifth, or a third, enough for that cause, the object of which is to teach all men that dwell on the earth to love God supremely, and each other as themselves? Enough to be given for the purpose of cementing the whole human family together in a union of affection? Enough to give to a cause, which, when it is completely victorious—and completely victorious it will be—will banish pride, and malice, and envy, and revenge, from the abodes of man? How can you live in splendor—how can you enjoy your luxuries—how can you dwell with delight upon your accumulating hoards of wealth—while all this is needed to extend the influence of true religion? Alas! alas! because you have so little true Christian love in your own soul. Christian benevolence, were it felt in its full force, would lead to self-denial, to thriftiness, to simple habits, to personal sacrifices—in order that you may have more to spare for the great object of Christian missions!

But in addition to your money, and your influence, give to the cause of missions your private, sincere, fervent, believing, and constant prayers. It is only by the power of the Divine, Omnipotent Spirit, that the kingdom of Christ can be established in this selfish world. Read the chapter which we have considered (Romans 1), compare with it the present state of mankind—and then say if anything but the same power which called the chaos out of nothing, and raised this fair and beautiful world out of chaos—can effect a transformation so astonishing and sublime as would be effected, if this region of dark and vengeful passions were converted into an abode of holy, and mild, and benevolent affections. Beseech Jehovah daily, that he would arise and plead his own cause; for surely love must be eminently the cause of him who is infinite in goodness, and delights in mercy. Give him no rest until, in answer to believing and earnest prayer, he shall say, "Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth—so wonderful that no one will even think about the old ones anymore. Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation! And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and delight in my people. And the sound of weeping and crying will be heard no more. The wolf and lamb will feed together. The lion will eat straw like the ox. Poisonous snakes will strike no more. In those days, no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain. I, the Lord, have spoken!"