Imágenes de páginas

Europeans or Asiatics. I would refer you to the sublime maxims of Christ's morality, and there, I am sure, you will find enough to rebuke your pride, to teach you your failings, and to stir you to reformation. Christ spake not as worldly men speak, in the accommodating spirit of prudence : he preached absolute religion. He disdained everything local and contingent, sectarian and partial, and taught God's universal truth for the benefit of all mankind, Europeans and Asiatics alike. Let it not be supposed that I allude to any special form of Christian ethics as it is understood and accepted by particular donominations of the Christian Church. No; I have not derived my conceptions of Christ. or his ethics from the dogmatic theology or the actual life of any class of his followers. I do not identify him with any Christian sect. I have gone direct to the Bible to ascertain the genuine doctrines of morality inculcated by Christ ; and it is my firm conviction that his teachings find a response in the universal consciousness of humanity, and are no more European than Asiatic, and that in his ethics “ there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond, or free.” May we all learn to draw near to God by conforming to the spirit of these precepts !

The two fundamental doctrines of Gospel ethics, which stand out prominently above all others, and give it its peculiar grandeur and its pre-eminent excellence are, in my opinion, the doctrines of forgiveness and self-sacrifice ; and it is in these we perceive the moral greatness of Christ. These golden maxims how beautifully he preached, how nobly he lived ! What moral serenity and sweetness pervade his life ! . What extraordinary tenderness and humility--what lamb-like meekness and simplicity!

His heart was full of mercy and forgiving kindness : friends and foes shared his charity and love. And yet, on the other hand, how resolute, firm, and unyielding in his adherence to truth! He feared no mortal man, and braved even death itself for the sake of truth and God. Verily, when we read his life, his meekness, like the soft moon, ravishes the - heart and bathes it in a flood of serene light ; but . when we come to the grand consummation of his career, his death on the cross, behold he shines as the powerful sun in its meridian splendour! (Cheers.) It is .. these two cardinal principles of Christian ethics,--so utterly opposed to the wisdom of the world, and so far exalted above its highest conceptions of rectitude, which require to be duly impressed upon the European and Native races, as upon the proper appreciation of these, I believe, depends the reformation of their character.

The meekness which Christ recommends is not mere sentimentalism ; his charity is not passive or sectarian. His meekness is that deep serenity of the soul, that extraordinary self-possession, which is never - ruffled by provocation and insult, and is above resentment. His charity is active and universal, and is based on the true spirit of brotherhood. It loves all men, and seeks the welfare and happiness of all - but what is more, it loves the enemy.

Christ tells us to forgive our enemies, yea, to bless - them that curse us, and pray for them that despitefully use us ; he tells us, when one smites the right cheek, to turn the left towards him. Who can adequately conceive this transcendent charity ?

The most impressive form in which it practically · manifests itself is in that sweet and tender prayer which the crucified Jesus uttered in the midst of deep agony—“Father, forgive them, for they know

not what they do." (Loud cheers.) Othat we could be inspired with the spirit of this excellent prayer ! Whát a sublime protest this is against those unnatural passions of resentment and vengeance which we are so apt to indulge! I hope this large-hearted charity will regulate the mutual relations and dealings between my countrymen and the Europeans, and lead them to co-operate harmoniously in all that is good. Often have I advised my Native friends to forget and forgive the wrongs inflicted upon them by cruel and insolent Europeans, instead of seeking to gratify their anger. If we are maltreated by others, we have no right to maltreat them in return. Shall we not rather forgive them and do good to them with generous hearts ? What if they be our bitterest enemies,-what if they heap upon us insult, and slander, and violence, and provoke us to the utmost pitch,-shall we not with loving hearts pray-Father, forgive them ? (Cheers.) Surely, if a Native could learn charity from brutal violence, and meet provocation with forgiveness instead of anger, his victory would be complete, while his oppressor would lie vanquished amid shame and ignominy and public execration. (Applause.) To the European community, the doctrine of Christian charity applies with even greater force. In it lies the best antidote for the defects in their character I have noticed. As Christians, they ought to be baptized into true Christian meekness; their rough nature will be thereby humanised, and their proneness to indulge in violence and ferocity will be effectually curbed. Their obligation to do so is peculiarly pressing and urgent ; they are bound to follow the emphatic precepts and living example of charity and meekness of him whom they profess to regard as their master. Meekness is essentially a

Christian virtue, and those who delight in vengeance, and boast of their muscular Christianity, are unworthy of the Christian name. It is, I believe, the bounden duty of Christian men and women to adhere strictly and literally to the doctrine of forgive-ness inculcated by Christ. But it grieves me to · find that, far from doing this, many seem to -take that doctrine as mere theory, which they think it absurd to

to act upon. As theory, they descant on its beauty, and regale themselves with the poetry of religion which they find in it; but in practice they set it aside as an extreme of misguided sentimentalism, or, at best, an ethical hyperbole. They know too well that, by altogether avoiding antagonism and recrimination, and systematically returning love for enmity, they would too soon jeopardize all their temporal interests, and find it impossible to get on in the world- not to speak of the derision and ridicule they would bring upon themselves ; they accordingly, with profound wisdom and discretion, try to keep themselves aloof from this dangerous theory of forgiveness ! (Hear, hear.) Nay with a view to appear consistent with their Christian profession, they put an agreeable construction upon Christ's doctrine ; they qualify it so as to accommodate it to their worldly position and circumstances. They make out exceptional cases, in which they would justify vindictiveness and revenge. Failing to conform their character to Christ's law, they ingeniously adapt the law to themselves, and the requirements of their worldly interests. Failing to obey the law in its integrity, they mutilate it, and make Christian morality easy and convenient. (Cheers.) This is indeed to be regretted. If they would simply contend that Christ's law of forgiveness is too high

[ocr errors]

for us, and that it is difficult to carry it out practically, I could heartily sympathize with them. But when they proceed to pervert the spirit of that law, and seek to lower its standard, because they cannot raise themselves to it, I feel it my duty to protest against such unwarrantable misconstruction, and vindicate the ethics of Christ. Have we any right to mutilate truth on the plea of our inability to grasp it fully ? Shall Christ be robbed of his precious diadem of forgiving meekness, that his nominal followers may, with privileged audacity, gratify their vengeful feelings, and ever and anon cry -Blood for blood ? (Loud cheers.) . Let me assure you that Christ's precepts on this subject are too lucid and plain to leave any doubt in the mind as to their true import ; and their rigid integrity admits of no compromise or mutilation Christian brethren, I beseech you to remember that you are bound to fulfil literally the doctrine of love and forgiveness as set forth in the Gospel. You should not only restrain anger and shun vengeance, and patiently bear affront and provocation, but freely and generously bless them that curse you, and do good to them that hate you and maltreat you. You should try to conform fully to the golden maxim-Love thine enemy, and show in your daily life the unfathomable charity of Christ. (Applause)

The other leading doctrine of Gospel morality I have alluded to is self-sacrifice. The paramount importance of this to my countrymen it is impossible to exaggerate, as it is this which affords the best remedy for the chief defect in the Native character, riz., selfishness. The precepts which enjoin this virtue are so numerous and emphatic and prominent in the Gospel that one feels no difficulty whatever in recognising it as the one great truth which

« AnteriorContinuar »