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the advancement of Christ's kingdom! Is it to be supposed that Regulus upon his return from Rome to Carthage with the sure prospect of a most painful death before him, was disposed to seek on his journey any of those gratifications which under other circumstances might have contributed to his enjoyment? . Sustained by a sense of duty, by conscious integrity, and by a love for his country, he travelled back to Carthage with a soul elevated above every low consideration. He had but one object in view-to die rather than dishonor his name, or advise his country to a measure which would prove detrimental to its prosperity or renown. So Christians, with the spirit that distinguished their Master, should count no toil laborious, no sacrifice dear, when such labor and sacrifices fall within the range of their duty in their Master's service. They are to have but one object in view, to live not unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again ; and in accomplishing this object every personal advantage and gratification is to be laid out of the question. It will be enough for them to rest when the battle is fought—when the race is run; until then let their lives be eminently lives of labor and self-denial.
The principles of Christianity, when traced to their source, are frequently at variance with the practices of those who pretend to carry them out into common use. Who, for instance, in the age perhaps of Constantine, or amid the splendor and power of the papal court, or wherever religion has been supported, not by its own intrinsic excellence, but by the extraneous assistance of wealth and power, can discover in the spirit and lives of the great number of those professing its sublime, energetic, and mortifying doctrines, that activity and zeal-that submission to the will of God—that deadness to the world, which our Saviour exemplified in his own life, and enforced in his doctrines ? When we look at the indolent and luxurious lives of such—the richness of their attire—the expensiveness of their furniture-their profuse and costly entertainments—in a word, “ their conformity to the world,” are we not ready to inquire, Can these be the disciples of Him who went about doing good,"—who had not where to lay his head-whose life was one of self-denial, in food, in sleep, in almost every personal enjoyment-in order that he might fully accomplish the work which his Father had given him to do? What resemblance do we discover between the "ensample” which Christ left, and the conduct of those who thus profess themselves his disciples—who from the badge they assume undertake to carry out the principles of Christianity in their daily lives and conversation? Such opposition of principle and practice---such a stumbling block in the way of the ungodly—it is the duty of those who really wish to show by their labor and sacrifices that they have the mind of Christ, to remove out of the way, by exhibiting in their conduct the humble, holy, and self-denying spirit of Him who came from heaven to earth to give his life a ransom for us, and to be an “example that we should follow in his steps."
If such be the spirit which Christians in their individual capacity should manifest,—such too is the spirit which should characterize Churches in their collective capacity. A Church is a spiritual house, composed of lively stones—of those who are " sanctified in
Christ Jesus, called to be saints," united together for mutual benefit. In this capacity they are enabled to act with the greater efficiency, like a well organized and well disciplined army with banners—terrible and splendid-arrayed against "principalities and powersagainst spiritual wickedness in high places.” It follows from this, of course, that Churches in their united capacity are to exhibit the same spirit as a Christian in his separate and individual sphere.Churches, then, should be distinguished for their zeal, for the abundance of their labors, for self-denial, for patience, for perseverance in well doing, for incorruptness in doctrine, for charity. The glory of Churches should be that not only a few, but all their members walk with Christ in white—with undefiled garments. So it was with the Church at Jerusalem. So it should be with all Churches now. Being " of one heart and of one soul,” continuing steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and“ in breaking of bread and prayers;" every Church, of whatever name, like that of Philadelphia, should hold fast the little strength" which it hath-labor to increase it-have souls “added to it daily of such as shall be saved," and so "hold fast” as not to lose its “crown.”
This is the spirit we desire much to see in Christians and Churches -a spirit of labor which smiles at obstacles--of self-denial which rejoices at every opportunity of foregoing personal ease and comfort, for the sake of that cause which is dearer than life itself.Should this spirit, so pre-eminently the spirit of Christ, prevail generally and powerfully as it did in the commencement of Christianity, the result would be glorious. The same cause operating now as when Christianity commenced, and which then produced such astonishing effects, would be attended now with the same blessed consequences.
We have witnessed in modern times the effects produced by this principle of self-denial and labor, to a great extent, by two celebrated sects, in the diffusion of the Christian religion. The motives however which influenced these two sects to sacrifice, unparalleled since the days of the apostles, were indeed widely different. We refer to the Jesuits and the Moravians. In the case of the Jesuits, their zeal, their labors, their sacrifices, and their astonishing perseverance to accomplish their objects have astonished the world, jealous as they have been of their motives and purposes. When we consider the results produced by their labors and sacrifices, we are disposed to exclaim, What an amount of good might have been actually accomplished had all Christians exerted the same zeal and perseverance in promoting and diffusing the simple doctrines of the Gospel and the pure spirit of experimental godliness! In the contemplation, however, of the blessed spirit of Christ, as exhibited in the operations of the Moravians, we see a glorious result. In the short period of a century they have succeeded, by a handful of devoted, self-denying men, to establish the Gospel in some of the coldest and most barren climes-in countries whose very atmosphere was impregnated with death-among the rudest and most barbarous tribes--tribes sunk lowest in the scale of civilization, as well as among the ignorant and settered slaves. With a spirit which bore the indelible mark of its Divine original—wherever nature presented the most formidable obstacles—wherever the human race was to be
VOL. VII.- October, 1836. 43
found in its most forlorn and degraded condition, there these faithful servants of their. Divine Master proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ, as the power and wisdom of God, to the salvation of every one that believeth. And every where, with but few exceptions, they have succeeded-have failed only when opposed by obstacles beyond human control. And yet how small is the Moravian Church! What a lesson is this to us all of us, who are so “slow to learn and reluctant to understand.” If that small society, which in Europe and America is scarcely known out of its humble enclosure, and whose means have always been so extremely limited, have effected so great a work among the heathen, chiefly by a spirit of personal labor and sacrifice, aided by Divine grace, what would be the incalculable result were the whole body of Christ the Church, throughout the world, to be animated by the same spirit? This spirit can be exhibited at home as well as abroad-if not on.so grand a scale, and at so much personal hazard, yet still daily exhibited by Christians and Christian Churches in that sphere in which the providence of God has placed them. Let the Churches be animated by this spirit, and if there be no amalgamation of the distinctive principles of the various sects in one general scheme, there will, nevertheless, be a union of design a concentration of effort, in spreading the Christian religion “ from sea to sea; and from the rivers to the ends of the earth.” Hasten, O Lord, this Gospel day—this day of the Son of man! Our limits warn us to bring this part of our subject to a close. We proceed, therefore, to point out more in detail the efforts, acts, and self-denial, which are, after all, the truest and best tests of pure vital principles. In doing this, we may observe,
First, That Christians should appropriate their property to the cause of God.
In the practice of the first Christians, without considering it as a model for our imitation, we may see the natural tendency of Christianity, when it is felt in its full force, to open and expand the heart, and to subdue that selfishness which is one of the strongest passions of our nature. Shortly after the effusion of the Holy Spirit on the day of pentecost, “the multitude of those that believed were of one heart, and of one soul; neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.” This is to be regarded as great triumph of Christianity over the selfishness of the human heart-a triumph effected not by any ulterior views of self-interest, but simply in reference to the glory of God in the extension of his kingdom.
Few feelings are stronger than the love of property. And yet here we find a large body of individuals influenced by the “unsearchable riches of Christ," overcoming these feelings-relinquishing their individual rights-calling none of those things which they possessed their own, but having every thing in common. That this state of things did not continue to exist, may be ascribed to various causes. That it did exist, and that its existence can be clearly traced to the direct influence of the Gospel, shows, and will show to all ages, that the tendency of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to lead Christians to appropriate their property in order to send the “ Gospel to every creature."
Here, then, is the first fundamental law of Christianity, the law of love, producing love to our neighbor, and leading to acts of effort and self-denial, in appropriating our property for the good of our neighbor. This consideration should lead Christians generally to inquire how far they are influenced by the same spirit in appropriating their property to the advancement of Christ's kingdom upon the earth.
The obligations of duty implied in these remarks, extend to all classes of Christians. Even the poor are not excepted. If the poor widow of Zarephath, with her handful of meal and cruise of oil, and the poor widow of the Gospel with her two mites, gave of their substance to this cause, there can be but few whose circumstances wholly exempt then from this duty, or, I might rather, say, this invaluable privilege--for he who feels that love for souls which brought his Master from heaven to earth, will, in the poorest circumstances, seek occasions to cast his mite into the treasury, rather than make excuses for withholding it.
If it be objected that the two cases above stated are extraordinary ones, and not to be adduced as forming a general rule for the imitation of the poor, we answer, that we are not so fully sensible of the force of this objection. In one particular, and in but one, the cases are extraordinary. They exhibit the extraordinary strength of the faith of these individuals. They both believed in God, believed they were doing their duty, and believed that He who “takes care of the sparrow, would much more take care of them.” The records of the Church in all ages, without doubt, present numerous instances of a similar character. The orphan house of Halle, in Germany, was founded by means but little beyond the widow's handful of meal, and cruise of oi?; and the Moravian missionaries acted as the widow did with her two mites, when they set out for Greenland without money, without “two coats," without any provision for future emergencies.
Great importance should be attached to the offerings of the pious poor. They may actually go farther, and do more real good than the splendid gifts of those who do not act from the same holy motives, or than even the richer gifts of those who do not profess the same degree of faith as their humbler and poorer brethren. Giving their “all” to promote the great work of the conversion of the world, while it strengthens in the poor that faith and dependence in God for the want of which our Saviour rebuked his disciples, when he said, “O ye of little faith,” is in accordance wiih the economy of God's ancient people; and when the mite, whatever it be, is accompanied with their prayers, and doubtless is followed by their pious breathings to distant lands, it possesses a real value in the estimation of all who confide in the Divine promises. In this age of missionary enterprise, who can tell the good which may result from a penny, freely contributed by one who can give no more, while it is accompanied with faith and prayer, and continually watered, perhaps in some solitary widow's habitation, with tears. A penny will buy a tract which contains ten pages. This tract may be the means of enlightening the mind of the sovereign of some mighty heathen empire. Who can tell but a tract, bought with the penny of the believing poor, may be the means of the conversion of the mighty Asiatic despot, and of the consequent diffusion of Christianity among three hundred millions of our fellow beings.
There is nothing extravagant in this view ; faith is the same powerful and productive principle in all ages. It is not one thing in Abraham and another in his children. See what resulted from the faith of Abraham! He was but a single individual, and “him as good as dead;" and yet there “sprang from him so many as the stars of the sky for multitude, and as the sand which is by the seashore, innumerable.” So it is impossible to trace beforehand the effects which may follow from the offerings of the poor, thrown into the treasury, in the spirit of that faith by which “ Abraham believed God, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness."
The rich are, of course, to appropriate a portion of their property to the same cause, according as God has prospered them. As to the amount to be given, whether a fifth or a tenth-whether more or less—this at present is not a point under discussion. There is, however, one particular connected with this subject which should not be forgotten. We refer to the curtailment of the expenses of the rich, with a view to the extension of Christ's kingdom. What opinion are we to form of the self-denial of those who never study to make a single curtailment in any of their expenses-who, perhaps, after all their own craving desires have been gratified, are willing to give something of the surplus to the cause of Christ! We are apt to suppose when we possess the power to gratify our inclinations, we may do so innocently, not considering that we are but" stewards of the manifold gifts of God," and that we are required to use what we possess with a view to the glory of God. Whoever therefore denies himself that which he has the ability to procure with a view to the glory of God in the salvation of the world, acts in the spirit of his Master, and shows, at the same time, that he regards his property as an instrument to subserve the cause of the Redeemer.
Indeed, in every true Christian's breast the love of property is a desire which burns but feebly, in comparison with the inextinguishable ardor he feels for the extension of Christ's kingdom. În an early age we read of those who took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, in view of a better inheritance. Where such a spirit existed, covetousness, which is denominated idolatry in the word of God, was not the predominant passion. But this spirit is not confined to any particular period in the history of the Church-or to any particular exigency in the Church. It is a feeling common to Christianity in all ages, and under all circumstances. And it is this feeling, originating from the source of all benevolence itself-from Him who" was rich, but for our sakes became poor”—which should lead Christians to view their property as an instrument for farthering the cause of Christ, and which, therefore, should make them feel solicitous to appropriate it to this object. Christians should manifest the spirit of sacrifice and self-denial.
Secondly, By engaging personally in the work. Their time, their talents, their influence, should all be employed in promoting the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom.
A disposition which regards exclusively our own salvation, and not that of others, is diametrically opposed to the religion of Jesus