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rame feel that they have a property in them. And why has it been thus ? Simply because these venerable men reproduced the image of apostolic piety and charity; because they preached the gospel to the poor, and, like their Master, sought out want, and woe, and guilt, and felt the loudest call where there was the deepest need; because they shrank from no form of vice and wretchedness, but had faith in God, and in the name of Jesus of Nazareth could cast out the foulest spirit that ever dwelt in man. And every where, throughout the church, where Christians come together for the relief of the oppressed and the desolate, the poor and benighted, they learn to esteem and love each other, and, however far divided by sectarian landmarks, to trace in each other features of brotherhood. As the church abounds more and more in good works, and all of every name toil to lift the burden of guilt and woe from off our common nature, this mutual tolerance and sympathy will grow, - Christians will see their Master's image reflected from every quarter, - they will see that he, who should come, has come, and is working in the bosom of every separate communion. And, when love becomes the crowning grace of the whole church, then will the walls fall down, - then will the bars between the separate folds be removed, and the disciples will again be one under the blessed name first borne at Antioch.
3. Once more, let us give the question of our text a more immediately personal application. Let us, who profess to believe in Jesus, search ourselves, and see whether our Jesus is indeed the Christ of God. Has he, who should come, come to us, or look we for another? This we may know by “the spirit, which he has given
us." There is no need of examining ourselves about subtleties of doctrine; for, though we have all faith and all knowledge, and yet have not charity, it profiteth us nothing. But have we the spirit of brotherly love shed abroad in our hearts? Is man in all his wanderings and pollutions dear to us as man? Do our pulses throb quick in sympathy with the suffering? Are not our feet slow, our hands idle, when a voice of woe appeals to us? Do we love to do such works as Jesus wrought before the disciples of the Baptist? Is it our delight to carry the bread of life to the hungry soul, and to fill the cup of salvation for the thirsty spirit ? And are we conscious of doing these things, not mechanically, but from the heart, from an impulse which will not let us rest, from a love, which cannot bear to be without imparting? My brethren, if these things be found in us, he, who should come, has come, nor need we look for another. Such love to man can flow only from ardent love for the true God. Such fruits can be borne by no sham piety, by 'no mock religion. Such fruits can never ripen from that hope of the hypocrite, which shall perish. If there be in our souls a fountain of love, which is never dry and never ebbs low, it is a fountain, which only an infinite source can keep thus full. We can thus love only by loving God, and loving all his children in him, and him in all his children. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." ." He that lov. eth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”
Brethren, has he, who should come, come to our re. spective churches, and to us individually? This is a
question asked concerning us at the present time with a new and peculiar emphasis, by the opponents of those more rational and liberal views of gospel truth and Christian communion, which, though united by no sectarian bond, we hold in common. And it is well that these views should be sustained, and defended by that irresistible weight of argument and scriptural testimony, to which they can make their rightful appeal. But it is one thing to prove our doctrines true, and another to demonstrate that Jesus is with us. We may hold the truth in unrighteousness; and, if we do, our expositions and arguments will fall powerless. Our truest defence is that of a Christ-like spirit manifested in Christ-like works. Christ in our midst can be made manifest only by love unfeigned, by a charity full and free, by oựr zeal to diffuse the joy of his salvation and the blessedness of his reign among the benighted and the destitute. What then are we doing, individually or collectively, to promote the cause, for which Jesus lived and died? There are several terms of comparison, which we might do well to employ in answering this question.
We might compare our expenditures in religious charity with those, which we make for our own superfluous gratification. Do we spend the most for pleasure, or for Christ, - for the last of the eye and the pride of life, or for the cause, in which Jesus yielded himself as a sacrifice? It is certain, that, if we came up to the gospel standard of beneficence, our appropriations for sending light to those in darkness would far exceed those, which we make for indulgences, that do not even add to the comfort or happiness of life. We often indeed complain that we cannot afford to give for pious uses; but are
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there any of us, who cannot afford such charity better than the widow whom Jesus praised, who cast in her whole living into the treasury of her God ? Her two mites were not savings from her luxury; but were wrung by pious zeal from her necessities. It is in charity that we are most prone to commence our retrenchments. As Christians, we ought to end them there, and to yield up any mere superfuity, rather than deny ourselves the luxury of doing good. Do we complain that, in order to do much good, we must deny ourselves? And what is it to be a Christian?“ If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself.” To spurn the yoke of self-denial is to strike ourselves from the roll of disciples.
We might again measure our religious charity by its results. How much do we and the churches in communion with us effect annually, or how much have we effected within any given term of years, towards the increase of Christ's kingdom ? How much has his reign extended itself through our instrumentality? How many benighted souls have been cheered by light, which we have kindled ? Suppose that all Christian churches made efforts and sacrifices in the cause of Christ in just the same proportion, according to their numbers and ability, in which we are making them, how many centuries would it take to evangelize the world? Would the world ever be evangelized ? Would our Redeemer's kingdom grow perceptibly? Or would it remain forever stationary? These are solemn questions, - questions, which, 1 fear, we should find it hard to answer with comfort to our own consciences. It cannot be denied, that, were our zeal and energy in works of Christian charity the rule and standard for the church universal, the wheels of Christ's chariot would drag
slowly and heavily along the path of ages. Yet why should we be exempt from the duty of urging on the conquering car, of preparing for Emmanuel's coronation as King of Kings? Who has given us leave to stand idle, while Christians of so many sects and so many various gifts are rushing into the harvest field? Who has discharged us alike from cost and effort in the warfare against superstition, infidelity and sin? Brethren, on this point it is high time that we should awake out of sleep. It is not enough for us, that we fence our own folds, and feed our own flocks. It behooves us to enlarge our circle of brotherhood, our bounds of neighborhood. All, who can be aided by our charity, have through Christ a claim upon it.
Consider the blessedness of that charity, which aims to convert the sinner from the error of his ways. It were an incalculable good to save a single soul from death. For the sinner thus rescued lives not for himself. He works upon others, upon the community. He leaves an impress of himself, that can never pass away. He leads others into the path of life, and they others still, and so on, in a current of holy influence widening and deepening all down the stream of time. Give in faith, entrust your free-will offering to the God of the harvest ; and eternity will reveal fruits, which time can never show. Give; and you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just, — you shall rejoice in heaven with those, who, through your charity, shall have been brought into the Savior's fold, and taught the song of the redeemed.