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those things that make for peace,” and to “be at peace among themselves." We had heard of him as “the Author of peace in the churches of the saints,” * and we had learnt that peace was one of the most necessary fruits of his Spirit — one of the great characteristics of his kingdom. That this sign of christian life might be vouchsafed to their converts was, we knew, the prayer of every apostolic benediction. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another:" such was, by the Saviour's own announcement, to be the criterion of his church. And as the Giver of these commands of mutual affection we had been first taught to think of bim, till he had become identified in our minds with ideas of peace and love. Yet here we find this Divine Teacher of the religion of concord declaring to his disciples that he was come, not to give peace on earth, but rather division.

How, then, shall we explain this seeming contradiction? How reconcile these opposite characters of Christ, as the author of peace and the author of division ? It may help us to do so, if we examine the whole context of that address, whereof the text forms a part, in the parallel passage of St. Matthew's gospel,t where it is more fully related than in St. Luke. We find there an account of Christ's exhortation to the twelve, when he gave them their first commission of teaching his truth to others. In this the declaration which forms our present subject is

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introduced, by a prophecy of the persecution which these first preachers of the gospel must expect to meet. Christ warns them that theirs would be a mission which would sever the dearest ties, and estrange from them the household affections of those they loved; “ for the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child, and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death ; and ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.” He arms them against the terror which this anticipation of bereavements so cruel might well create, by reminding them of the providential care and love which would still watch over them, and bidding them not “fear them which, though they can kill the body, are not able to kill the soul." After thus preparing them for the trials of their own particular lot, he announces to them, in more general terms, that the effect of his coming would be, not to send peace on earth, but a sword: “ for I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household.” And from this predicted effect of his coming he draws the following conclusion : — “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me: he that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it.”

Thus we see, from the whole context of the passage, that the words of the text are a description of a state of things which would follow the preaching of Christ's gospel, and not an encouragement of feelings contrary to the spirit of the gospel. We see that Christ declares, not that division was the object, but that it would be the consequence, of his coming. He denies not that peace was the design of his teaching, but gives a warning that discord would be its effect. His assertion is prophetic, not permissive; foretelling strife, but not commending it; preaching love, but predicting hatred. His words are the expression of his Divine foreknowledge how the mild and gentle character of his religion would be perverted by men. “He laboured for peace; but when he spake unto them thereof, they made them ready for battle.”

And truly, if we consider what Christianity is — if we observe the perfect design of that system of motives, whereby it tends to produce love and concord and unity among men, it may well seem strange and wonderful that they who profess and call themselves Christians, should live hateful and hating one another. Borrowing the words of St. Paul, we may say, that if there had been a law given which could have given peace, truly peace should have been by the law of Christ. “A new commandment give I unto you,” so spoke the Saviour to those for whom he was about to suffer, “that ye love one another.” And what other commandment did he associate with such affecting motives, such touching appeals, as this? The

indispensable condition of pardon from God was mutual forgiveness; or, in other words, mutual love. To enforce this duty was one great end of that atoning sacrifice, wherein the Lamb of God was slain for the sins of men; for so he himself applies it, and so his apostle urges it, when he calls upon us “to forbear one another, and forgive one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us." In that divinest model of prayer, which Christ himself has left for our guidance, we are taught that it is vain even to ask forgiveness for ourselves, till we have first granted it to others. So earnestly, so consistently, so impressively, “ hath God called us unto peace.” And bad man received the gospel truly and fully, had the nations which call themselves by the name of Christ fashioned themselves after bis example, what further room had there been for strife or enmity ? how would it have been possible for christian men, acting on christian motives, to disobey their Master's so plain command ? what cause could possibly have arisen among Christians for variance and hatred, if all men, at all times, had been “ lowly, meek, long suffering; forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” But alas ! the true spirit of Christianity, in the presence of which no evil passion, no unloving temper, can exist, never has been fully received by men. The kingdoms of this world have, in name indeed, become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; yet how inadequately, and


even, in some respects, how vainly! For since the time when Christianity was adopted as the rule of faith and life by all the civilized nations of the earth, what has the world's history been, but one continued proof that Christ's professed followers know not what spirit they are of? The lust of dominion, and the pride of conquest, continue to be motives as powerful with a christian as with a heathen people. No approach has been made to the realization of that picture of Christ's kingdom, that reign of peace, whereof prophets sang : for the time seems as far as ever distant, when “nation shall no more rise up against nation, neither shall they learn war any

Still we read the same repeated chronicle of oppression and resistance, injuries and revenges, wars and rumours of wars; till we are almost ready to exclaim, “Where is the promise of his coming ; for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation ?”

But if the secular history of christian nations shews no evidence of christian love, no sign that they are members of one body of Christ, their ecclesiastical history presents a still more painful spectacle. The first tells us that Christianity was unavailing to conquer strife; the second shews Christianity itself turned into an occasion of strife. Of this it is that our Saviour's words, in the text, are more especially prophetic; for though they relate, in their first meaning, to the division between the Christian and the unbeliever, yet they have had a far wider and more

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