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the spirit breathing in the life, and from the fulness of his character to learn the fulness of his precepts. Surely Christ embodied and impersonated his own teachings. Surely the life of Christ is undoubted Christianity. Surely his character is Christian Duty; and his destiny Christian Faith. Surely he knew and exhibited the practical tendencies of his own doctrines; and surely to set him up at the fountain-head of our moral being, as God's image to the conscience, and to strive in all things to be like unto him, “ whom we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus," cannot be to preach “another gospel,” or to mistake fatally the essentials of Discipleship. “If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."* The definition of a Christian, when deduced from the words and the life of the Christ himself, thus comes out to be-one who TRUSTS himself in all things to that God of whom Jesus was the image; and who CONFORMS himself in all things to that will of God of which Jesus was the perfect expression. “ This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”+
Turn we now to a different quarter for an answer to our inquiry what it is to be a Christian; from the one Master to the multitude of professors; from the original image, distinct and bright, to the transmitted reflections, all claiming to be genuine copies; from the single voice, sweet and clear, to the confusion of jarring tongues; from the pure fountain to the impure streams; from Christ to Christians. I am entirely guiltless of the intention of satire, but it is quite impossible to avoid the appearance of it in any attempt to give the features of Christianity as they appear in the Christians of the day, in those, that is, who claim to be Christians exclusively; for the tamest truth of description excites ideas • John xiv. 23.
+ John xvii. 3.
of the true Christ, so contrasted, that it has, without intention, all the effect of sarcasm. Surely a stranger to the only true source of our religion, examining its actual forms as they exist in the world, and selecting its characteristics from that which is largest and most prominent, would not be guilty of misrepresentation, if he described a Christian as one who was shut up within the narrowest circle of religious ideas; who identified himself and his opinions with absolute Truth ; who idolized himself and his sect as the only friends of God; who was so unconscious of a liability to err, that he breathed, unknowingly, an atmosphere of infallibility, and insulted the Rights of other men, not more fallible than himself, without perceiving the invasion ;-one so used to arrogate to himself and to his own party, all excellence and all truth, that he starts in surprise, innocent of what can be meant, when he is told that he is pressing on the liberties of other minds, who, with as deep an interest as he can have in their own salvation, have searched into these things and read differently the mind of God ;—as one who regards a few metaphysical propositions, confessedly unintelligible as the only hope of human salvation, and who, in the confidence of this faith, speaks to his fellow men as if he had secret council with God; assumes to be on « a religious level” nearer to the spirit of the most High, who, on that more elevated standing, drops more readily into his heart communications from Heaven;—and who, when he pays any regard to other men at all, looks down upon them from an eminence; assumes as proved their ignorance, their errors, and their sins; insults their opinions; treats with no brotherly respect the convictions of Truth and the dictates of Conscience which them are Voices from the living God; denies that they e equal zeal for truth, or equal ability to discover it;
the idea of religious equality, and looks amazed when tell him, though it be in apostolic words, that they
give place by subjection, no, not for an hour;"
will not “ give place by sub)
and finally adds mockery to insult and wrong, by telling the men whom he so treats, that all this is Christian affection, and an interest in their souls.
It is painful to put last in order, not the true, but the untrue idea of a Christian, and therefore to set us right, I will present the original picture again in apostolic words. “ Hereby we do know that we know him if we keep his commandments." “Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” “ If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” “ Let no man deceive you : he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous."*
There is still another way of bringing into comparison the spirit of Christ and the character of that Christianity which assumes to itself to be the only fruit of his spirit. We can compare the existing state of the Christian world with the expectations of Jesus, with that state of things to which he looked forward as the Reign of his spirit, the Kingdom of the true Gospel upon earth. If the Christianity that prevails has not realized the expectations of Christ, then its practical tendency is evidently not in the direction of the true Gospel; it is, to the extent of the failure, a departure from the power and character of the original spirit. Christ could not be mistaken about the proper operations of his own spirit; and the system whose operations do not fulfil his promises cannot contain a full and perfect ministration of his spirit. And this argument will amount to something like a demonstration, if we can show, first, that this system which has failed to realize the expectations of Jesus as to the condition of his Church, has, for large tracts both of time and space, been the prevailing influence of the Christian world, with nothing to obstruct it, so that it has had full and free scope to work its own works, and to manifest its own spirit; and
* 1 John ii. 3, 5, 29 ; iji. 7.
secondly, if we can point to the something in that system, which manifestly has caused it to be destructive of those hopes, and to work counter to this expectation of Christ.
There is no sublimer idea of Christianity than its delightful vision of a UNIVERSAL CHURCH; the kingdom of the Gospel becoming a kingdom of Heaven on earth; uniting the nations by a spiritual bond; in every heart among the families of men kindling the same solemn ideas, and opening the same living springs; subduing the differences of class and country by the affinities of worship, by kindred images of Hope, of Duty, and of God becoming a meeting place for the thoughts of men ; including every form and variety of mind within that spiritual faith which leads onwards to the infinite, yet presents distinct ideas to the heart of childhood, and feeds the sources of an infant's prayer; assembling in their countless homes the Brotherhood of man around the spiritual altar of one Father and one God, whose presence is a Temple wherein all are gathered, and whose Spirit, dwelling in each heart, meets and returns the seekings of all his chil
Such was the Christian vision of the CHURCH UNIVERSAL, of the union of all good men in the worship of one God under the leadership of his Image, growing up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
Such was the sublime idea that filled the mind of Jesus when he looked forward in heavenly faith, to the reign of his spirit, the kingdom of his Gospel in the world. “ Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.”* Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which
believe on me through their word ; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they
may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou sent me." Such also was the magnificent and healing
• John x, 16; xvii. 20, 21.
view that filled the hearts of the Apostles when they protested against burdens being laid upon Christ's freemen; rebuked the first manifestations of a sectarian Christianity; and would acknowledge no distinctions between those who were walking in the steps of the same master, and moulding their souls into the same similitude of Christ. “ There is one body, and one spirit, even as ye 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. But unto every one is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love."* “ Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit. And there are differences of administration, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” “ For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one spirit.” “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular.”+
Such is the Christian and Apostolic view of the Church of Christ on earth. Turn we now to the actual Church. Is it a realization of this divine image of the mind of Jesus? Is * Ephes. iv.
+ 1 Cor. xii.