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shattered pilaster, that broken column, this beautifully carved chaplet, and that gorgeous, crumbling dome. Alas! that they should be smitten with mortality. If there be laws of reproduction, the laws of change and decay operate with equal cere tainty and force. Even religion itself does not crown with immortality everything embraced within its glorious economy, Prophecies fail. The visions of the seer have passed away, The gift of inspiration is withheld. Tongues have cens
eased, Knowledge shall vanish away. Supernatural communications revealing to the mind the predictions, types, and mysteries of religion are withdrawn. But " charity never faileth.” It lives in the heart of the redeemed here. It yields its sweetest fruits, and sheds its brightest glories hereafter in its own na. tive climes. Its greatest excellevce is its permanence. Even faith, by which we overcome the world, shall be absorbed in sight; and hope, by which we are cheered on our pilgrimage, shall be gwallowed up in a glorious fruition; but charity is greater, because it will forever live and reign as the native child, the brightest ornament of the skies,
2. It is a comprehensive grace. Its very nature shows that it is designed to embrace in its syin pathies the whole human family. It respects the highest good, not of inanimate objects which are incapable of happiness, but of man, and the whole reign of sentient being. The more extensively it operates, the more does it resemble the benevolence of its author, who maketh his sun to shine and his rain to fall upon the evil and upon the good. "For," say's Christ, "if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank bave ye? for sinners also do even the same, And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank háve ye? for sinners also lend to sinners to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again, and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for he is kind unto the unthankful, and to the evil.” Thus we are taught that our love and benevolence are not to be limited to those who can reciprocate our kindness. Such benevolence is coexistent with selfishness; sinners exercise it; but that which belongs to the Christian character aims at the good of all, whether good is received from them or not. Nor does it spend itself in mere sighs and good wishes, “ be ye warmed and clothed," while no provision is made for the things needed. The true Christian is ready to do his utinost to send the gospel to the destitute, to relieve the distressed, to succor the widow and the orphan, to confirm the doubting, strengthen the weak, encourage the virtuous, and reprove the faulty. In short, he is ready to engage in ail the offices of kindness and love, which may promote the present and future good of man, as he was ability and op .
portunity. Every man is his brother, of whatever nation, color or condition.
There is, however, a distinction which God makes, and which he directs is to make. The love of benevolence will lead us to do good unto all men; but the love of complacence prompts us to acts of kindness towards the household of faith, because of their faith and moral excellence. To love Christians as such, and because they are such. And this is a love which is not confined to names, nor parties, nor sects, nor is it hemmed in by ecclesiastical rules and forms, but extends as far as the spirit, and image, and principles of Christ are found.
3. It is of paramount importance. Our Saviour enforced the duty of brotherly love in a new commandment; and enjoined upon mankind the love even of their enemies. He mentions it as the highest qualification of those who shall stand on his right hand, and the want of it as the reason of the dreadful curse that shall be denounced against those on his left, in the day of judgment. Paul declares love to be the fulfilling of the law, and places it first among the fruits of the Spirit. He gives it the preeminence above all other gifts and graces-above the tongues of men and angels-above prophecy and mysteries and knowledge--and even faith and hope. "Now abideth faith, hope, charity; but the greatest of these is charity.” The beloved disciple who lay in the bosom of his Lord and seemed to partake largely of his spirit, tells us that God is love. All his other attributes are but the varied modificatinns of his love. Love presides over all his counsels, and directs all his acts. The same apostle asserts that this attribute is an evidence of our being born of God; and its absence of our still abiding in death. He calls him a murderer who hates another; and him a liar who says that he loves God whom he hath not seen, and hates bis brotler whom he hath seen. Thus Christ and his disciples exhort and teach, that love may continue and abound.
Now, it is not easy to conceive how any honest man can misapprehend and evade these precepts.' He can as readily shuffle any other duty enjoined in the Bible. And he who fancies himself a Christian, while he manifests habitually a spirit in direct opposition to true evangelical charity, is willing to lie under a fatal delusion. He takes upon himself the name of Christ and comes under the obligations of discipleship, while he knows nothing of Christianity. For, the duty of Christian charity is not taught in doubtful phrases, in fancied · analogies, and far-fetched interpretations; but in plain commands, in frequent, earnest entreties and expostulations. And those who are proof against all these will not be urged to duty by considerations of a moral kind. Hence, however much heat and zeal a man may show in defence of bis religious opinions, if they be not kindled by the fire of Christian love, they are fruitless of any good. Men may die martyrs to their opinions, and they may be styled Christian martyrs, and yet be totally destitute of charity. The apostle declares “ Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, I am nothing." It cannot be doubted that the charity of the gospel is absolutely essential to the Christian character. It is the very soul of true piety: the element of heaven.
4. Consider the moral excellence of Christian charity. It is the atmosphere which angels, and glorified saints, and all holy beings breathe. It is the virtue which distinguishes them from all other beings. The fallen angels may possess knowledge and power equal to the unfallen, but they are wholly destitute of love and moral excellence. They have the natural, but are destitute of the moral perfections. The celestial inhabitants, on the contrary, live in the enjoyment and exercise of un mingled, uninterrupted love and felicity. Nor is their love confined to the society of the blessed in heaven, but sheds its beams upon this lower world, for they are ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation. If there is joy among the angels over the repentance of a sinner, there is complacent love for the saints, and pity for all the rest of the human family. The spirits of the just, as they depart this life, leave behind all their censorious, ungenerous, selfish propensities. Their souls are enlarged, their vision of Divine things is greatly extended, and their love, like a flowing stream, will evermore deepen and widen as it rolls down through eternity.
But this beaven born charity, although its range is as wide as the universe, and its aim is the highest good of all the race, still is by no means blind to.error, nor indifferent to immoral conduct. It weeps when men make void the law of God, and rejoices when truth triumphs, holiness is exalted, and God is honored. What exalted benevolence in Moses that should make bim willing to be blotted ont of God's book rather than that the sin of Israel should not be erased! How disinterested the benevolence of Paul, who wished himself accursed from Christ, or in other words, separated from Chaistian communion as a vile and worthless thing; for the sake of bis brethren and kindred according to the flesh! None but souls enlarged and elevated by Divine inspirations of benevolence can make such approaches to the character of the Redeemer who died for his enemies.
But it should be observed that there are gifts and graces which appear very much like the spiritual, but are really desti. tute of divine life and love. Reference is had to those whose gifts are rather intellectual than spiritual, that possess the glare with the coldness of the iceberg; who are endowed, perhaps, with a wonderful volubility, pray with great fluency, speak with the tongues of men and angels, seem to possess all knowledge and all faith, and yet they are as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal, Miny, eminent in these traits, have proved themselves vile and
worthless. Genuine Christian charity, on the contrary, is a modest virtue; it vaunteth not itself; is not puffed ; doth not behave itself unseemly, and yet is always intent on doing good. Like Christ, who was himself the perfect embodiment and highest expression of charity, it accomplishes its benevolent purpose, and then shrinks from the world's observation and praise.
Again, love is the great bond of Christian communion. The church is a body composed of many members, yet so united by spiritual ties, that if one member suffer, the whole body suffers with it. Now love is the cure of all those evils which may disease the members and threaten the body. It will restore health and beauty to the whole system, and preserve it in the vigor and activity of immortal life.
The vast and complicated machinery of nature is kept in motion and made to work out its stupendous results by the force of laws which act harmoniously. These laws are the constant uniform pressure of the hand of the Almighty. Now, should anything interrupt the harmony of their action-any disturbing force be introduced which should cause them to act and react upon each other-universal confusion would follow, and the whole material superstructure would be shattered and burled into ruin. So the greatest evils that ever have, or ever can happen to the church, originate in the violation of the great law of love. We aver it as our settled conviction, that the Christian church has suffered more from this source, than from all the opposition and persecution received from the world without. The flames of passion, envy, jealousy, and recriminations within, bave consumed, as it were, her life and power, wbile those from without have only singed her garinents.
Charity commends Christianity to the unbelieving world. Nothing does it so effectually. Hence, the prayer of our Saviour for his disciples: That they all may be one: as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The apostacy first separated mankind from their Maker, and this prepared the way for disunion among themselves. And the farther they separated from God, the common centre, the wider--like con. centric waves-have they parted one from another. The object of Christ's mission was to unite them, first to their Maker, and having thus a common centre of attraction-a common object of love and reverence-they would of necessity be united to one another. It is an axiom in mathematics, that things equal to the same thing are equal to one another. So it is an axiom in morals, that all created intelligences who love the same glorious God, will love one another. Drawn to a common centre, they are influenced by the same laws of attraction. Christ knew this, and therefore prays to his Father that they
all may be one in us, as the first thing absolutely essential to union among themselves. And this harmony among Christians is equally essential to the world's faith in Christianity. It wipes from her garments all unseemnly spots, and presents her to the world as she truly is, the most lovely and beautiful ob. ject that ever engaged the attention of immortal minds. As a system of religion it is perfect and complete, whether you regard its spirit or its principles, its ordinances or its institutions, its hopes or its eternal realizations. But most men judge of religion by the character of its professed friends. This
is natural. The tree is known by its fruit. When we contemplate the obscenity and moral debasement of the most devout worshippers of idols, we cannot avoid the conviction that their religion is a system of gross falsehoods in its principles, and of the most loathsome impurity in its practice. Investigating the pbilosoplıy of Paganism, such is found to be the fact. Christianity, on the contrary, as seen in its legitimate effects, breathes a spirit the most kind, gentle and loving, and inculcates principles the most pure, ennobling and sanctifying. Let its prin. ciples be transcribed into the lives of mankind-let all who are Christians in name be living epistles read and known of all men, and it would fill them with wonder, if not with admiration. So heavenly Would it appear that it could not fail to convince the mind of its Divine origin, if it proved ineffectual to win over the heart. Its love and benevolence will prevail where nothing else can; to captivate the heart and subdue the soul. And how much more permanent and noble are such conquests than those achieved by physical force! That religion which cuts way by the sword, or depends for its progress upon power or civil policy, is from any other source than from Heaven. But that which opens for itself a passage by its own intrinsic excellence and loveliness, shows its Divine origin, and is sure to make glorious conquests over sin and error.
Hence, let the lives of Christians generally reflect the lovely spirit and the unsullied purity of our religion, and it would lend wings to the gospel and bid it fly through the world, scattering its blessings wide as the ruins of the apostacy. O, when shall all feuds and divisions come to an end? When shall the bow of peace span the Protestant Christendom, and sweetly smiling charity sit like a dove upon all hearts?
Antichrist looks with a malignant pleasure upon all the bickerings, contentions and schisms which occur in the Protestant world. He raises his bloody crest and surveys with a keen eye our fair beritage, and rattles around the very porches of our sanctuaries. We anticipate glorious times when the Man of Sin is destroyed; but this glory will not consist so much in the external rule or dominion of the church, as in the universal restoration of her priinitive purity and simplicity. When Christians shall waive disputes about minor things, and unite upon the platform of fundamental truths; when they sball make real moral excellence the ground of union and mutual affection, and things unessential the objects of mutual forbearance ; when such times shall coine, then will the lion and the lamb lie down together, and