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verts to Christianity, as well as their preaching. in all ages since, it has been the fidelity of the truehearted men and women, who have embraced some higher principles of godliness than those generally received in their day, and adhered to them through good report and evil report, at any expense, at any sacrifice of present prosperity or ease, it has been the fidelity of such, that has carried onward the work of the Lord, the redemption of the world. There have been instances in ancient and modern times of the mighty effects produced by the example of individuals, which I would gladly adduce, if time permitted. The Apostle has given us, in the eleventh chapter of his Epistle to the Hebrews, a list of the faithful ones of old, who did so much in the cause of God and humanity. But in later days, we have Oberlin, the pastor of a rude, illiterate, half-civilized people among the Alps, who, by his untiring perseverance in a life of active and passive godliness, succeeded by himself in greatly changing their characters, and in diffusing amongst them the blessings of knowledge and religion. There, too, was Felix Neff, who, in a very similar situation, by the same means, - his own example, produced a like signal effect.
But there can be no need that I should multiply instances in proof or illustration of the powe of a holy example. It is felt more or less, it is acknowledged, by all men, and ever has been. Why, we are assured in Holy Writ, that if there had been ten, ay, only five, righteous men in Sodom, that wicked city would not have been destroyed, for there would have been a reasonable hope that the influence of their example might have reclaimed
even that profligate people. You may go now into the most immoral community on earth, and if there be a truly good man there, you shall see that his life and character are not without influence. It may not be sufficiently powerful to redeem that community, but it will check some in their mad career. And you shall see that the upright man has the confidence of even the most licentious. In the hour of their utmost need, they will look to him for counsel and assistance. Such is the tribute that the human soul everywhere pays to goodness. Where the character of the holy man fails to produce a visible effect while he lives, its influence may be seen after his death. His virtues, perhaps, administer a reproof, which a wicked and perverse generation at first will not bear. They may hate him because he tells them the truth. They may gnash their teeth at him, persecute him in many ways, put him to death. But after all, there is a witness in his favor even in their own bosoms. They cannot quench the light of his life. They cannot obscure the excellence of his character. And when they have glutted their malice, and spent their rage, the conviction will return to their hearts, that the fault was not in their victim but in themselves. They will smite their breasts in self-reproach. The confession will rise irrepressibly to their lips, "Truly he was a righteous man." They will feel that it were better for them to become like him.
Converts to Christianity were greatly multiplied by the martyrdom of Stephen. Saul of Tarsus, while standing by and holding the garments of those who were stoning the holy man to death, beheld the power of his faith, saw
the joy of heaven - the peace of God-in his angelic countenance, and that young, furious Hebrew zealot received into his heart the conviction which was the beginning of his own conversion. So it was with others in that day. So it has been since. We all attribute the successive advances that the Gospel has made in subsequent times to the example of those holy men, who have embraced its principles "in all godliness and honesty," and maintained them at any expense of suffering,
even death. Indeed, it has passed into a proverb, that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.' True goodness is imperishable. Fidelity to truth and duty is never lost. Prophecies may fail. Tongues may cease. Knowledge may vanish away. But true goodness is never lost. Now the history of Jesus of Nazareth is the most signal illustration of this great fact in the economy of the moral world.
Jesus was the holiest of all the sons of men. He was the express image of the Heavenly Father. He was God manifest in the flesh. He was the perfect man. Therefore did he quicken more of his own generation than any other one who ever lived. Therefore has he made a deeper impress of himself upon the ages that have succeeded, than any other of the benefactors of our race. And therefore shall his benign influence live, and be diffused farther and wider, and descend deeper, until the hearts of all men are subdued unto God, and the world is filled with righteousness, peace, and joy. It was, I believe, the unexampled goodness of Jesus, that gave him such unexampled power over the hearts of others. It was because he was himself so holy, that he induced so
many to become likewise holy. It was because he was himself free from sin, that he stretched out so strong an arm for the deliverance of others. Notwithstanding he had the gift of prophecy, and understood all mysteries and all knowledge; notwithstanding he had all faith so that he could remove mountains, if he had not had charity - the true spirit of piety and benevolence— living. in his heart, and active in his life, he would have been nothing. It was because he was the best of men, that he has exerted the greatest influence upon mankind. His power, as the Great Redeemer, is to be ascribed in but a small measure to any thing extrinsic to his perfect, his divine character.
The fame of his wonderful miracles undoubtedly drew around Jesus multitudes of that people who were then eagerly looking for a temporal deliverer. But miracles alone do not convert men to holiness. Others before and since his day wrought miracles, no less wonderful than his, who yet seem to have done little for the salvation of men. It is true, also, that Jesus discoursed on the sublimest themes, taught the most momentous truths, inculcated the most elevated principles of morality. But the preaching of righteousness alone is not enough to change men's hearts. Though one speak with the tongue of an angel, if he have not the spirit of God living in his heart, and acting in his life, he is but sounding brass. Most of the doctrines and precepts of Jesus had been taught by one or another of the prophets or moral philosophers who preceded him; but they had not before been fully illustrated in the life and character of any one. It will not be pretended that our Saviour exerted any super
natural influence to attach men to him, and make them his followers. No. Truth, argument, exhortation, entreaty, reproof, enforced by his consistent, his perfect life, were the only means he used to bring men to God. He had no alliance of the wealthy, or the great, or the learned to support him. Indeed, the rulers of the people and the priests of religion were his chief opposers. For he would not compromise a jot of truth to adapt it to their cherished opinions. He would not swerve a tittle from the straight way of right, to accommodate their vices. He faithfully reproved their selfishness and hypocrisy. He disappointed their earthly expectations. He discouraged their ambitious hopes. And he enjoined upon them a respect and regard for all men, which their haughtiness could not stoop to show. So they set themselves to oppose, and if possible to destroy, him. And they seemed to be successful. Jesus was left almost alone, misunderstood, misrepresented, calumniated, rejected, despised. And at length the scribes and Pharisees so perverted the minds of the common people, who at first had heard him gladly, that they too conspired in putting him to an ignominious death. Let it not be forgotten in this connection, that Jesus showed no solicitude to perpetuate his name and his praise in the world. He did not write a line to preserve his doctrine, or to describe his life and character, and rescue them from the obloquy his enemies had heaped upon them. No. He died as he had lived, true to his principles, faithful to his duty, trusting in God, and trusting in humanity too; knowing that he had sowed seed in the world that would not be lost, but bring No. 234.