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“ been deposited in our hands, we violate “ no one's marriage bed, we deal conscien“ tiously with our wards, we help the needy, “ and never retort evil for evil. Let those “ who untruly give out that they are of our “ sect, look to themselves; we know them “ not. In a word, who is there that hath “aught to say against us, and when is a “ Christian called to answer at law, unless “ for his religion ? A religion which, after * so long time and inquiry, no man hath “ evinced to be incestuous, or defiled with “ blood. For behaviour thus harmless, and “ for such integrity, for righteousness, for “ The best offerings are good dispositions, “ a pure soul, and sincerity of speech. He “ therefore supplicates God, that studies to “ be harmless; he makes oblations to God, “ that abstains from every dishonest prac“ tice; and he slays the most eligible vica “ tim, that rescues a human creature from “ jeopardy. These are our sacrifices, and “ the rites with which we worship our God : 56 and thus amongst Christians, he is the “ most religious man who is the justest”.”
modesty, for faithfulness, for truth, for the “ living God, are we burnt.” “ You pu“ nish crimes committed,” saith another, “ but with us to devise sin, is sin ; you dread “ the conscious knowledge of your asso“ ciates, but we our own solitary conscience « necessarily inherent in our being. And to “ say no more, the prisons are crowded with - criminals of your religion ; but no Chris“ tian is there, unless he be either accused “ on account of his faith, or be a deserter “ from his faith.” In another place he says,
g Minucii Feliciis Octav. Sect. xxxv, a J. Gronovio. Lugd. Bat. 1709.
Thus conspicuous in their moral virtues, they were no less so in the fortitude with which they practised them. The love of Christ had made them moral, and that same love made them bold. Their fortitude was not constitutional ;; it arose from principle, was temperate and determined. They resisted temptations, and displayed a noble contempt of death. “ These fourscore and “ six years,” cried Polycarp, when tempted with the offer of life to abandon Christ, “ These fourscore and six years serve I him, “ and he never wronged me. How then can “ I blaspheme my King and Saviour ?" But when the Proconsul persisted in requiring INFLUENCE (ser. I. him to swear by the fortunes of Cesar, he said “Since thou ostentatiously requirest me " to swear by what thou stylest the fortune “ of Cæsar, as if thou wert ignorant of what “ I am, hear me boldly speak, I am a Chris66 tian"."
h Sect. sxxii.
This fortitude was not confined to leaders : it was common to the company of believers, male and female, children and adults. The love of Christ imparts a courage which nothing can destroy. “ The soldier of God is “ not abandoned amidst his sufferings, or “ brought to an end by death."
Such, without enlarging, are the effects of the love of Christ on the life and conversation of those who feel it in their hearts. In vain will you look for such a motive in morality of deportment, in the beauty of virtue, in a sense of the fitness of things, in a feeling of responsibility to God. These matters read well in books, but affect not the heart. Self-interest, passion, prejudice, the fear of reproach or death, will destroy the force of any one or all of these, in the majority of those who profess to be influenced by them. A few may think that they feel their influence, and live accordingly. But which of these motives, I would ask, restrains the sins of the heart? Which of them destroys selfishness, engenders real hatred of vice, and a love of virtue? The truth is, virtue and vice, out of the Gospel, have no determinate meaning. Ancient and modern philosophers have all differed in their views on this subject, . and that according to their passions and prejudices. I could mention names and quote. opinions of those who have been considered first in the schools of philosophy, as a confirmation of the above assertion, did time permit, or inclination prompt. Let it suffice to remark, that there is scarcely a vice, however gross, which has not been dignified with the title of virtue, by one or other of these characters". In the Gospel alone, the line of difference is accurately drawn, and the love of Christ constrains to a real hatred of one, and love of the other. .
h Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. 4. cap. 15. i Min. Fel. Octay. xxxvii..
This was the theme upon which Paul delighted to dwell, both in his preaching and writings. He was not ashamed of proclaiming
m The reader will find abundant proof of this in Dr. Dwigbt's two Sermons on Infidelity.
and enlarging upon that love which passeth knowledge. In thus doing, he has set an example which all ministers ought to follow. They may preach the fear of punishment, and the hope of reward, till they are blind and deaf; but if they do not unfold the love of Christ, sinners will remain sinners. This is the grand motive, the sole persuasive to a holy life, a life of godliness; as well as the great mean of softening the heart, and constraining sinners to cast down the weapons of their rebellion”.
Without it, the ruined temple of our nature cannot be restored; and unless it be restored, God cannot dwell in it by his Spirit. Man must be pardoned and accepted, before the fruits of the Spirit of God can be displayed. And to what other source can we trace these fruits, but to the constraining love of Christ?
na “ You have at least taught me, that to preach Christ is the only effective way of preaching morality in all its branches; and out of your humble cottages have I gathered a lesson, which I pray God I may be enabled to carry, with all its simplicity, into a wider theatre, and to bring with it all the power of its subduing efficacy upon the vices of a more crowded population." Chalmer's Address to the Inhabitants of Kiliany, p. 43.