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1 THESS. IV. 13, 14.
I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, con
cerning them which are asleep; that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
CHRISTIANITY founds her claim to general reception upon doctrines most abasing to human pride, and facts calculated rather to repel than to invite human credulity. Her cardinal doctrine, which all the rest subserve, is the justification of a sinner, his deliverance from the bondage of his sin, and perfect happiness in heaven, through faith in a Savior who himself fell a victim to his enemies, and expired, as a malefacVOL. I.
tor, under the infamy of the cross. Nothing more repugnant to their preconceived notions was ever proclaimed in the ears of men. It is the object of their dislike, their derision, and their scorn. We preach, says the apostle, we preach Christ crucified; unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Grecks foolishness !! So it was at the beginning; so it is at the present hour; and so it will remain to the end.
The cardinal fact of Christianity, without which all her other facts lose their importance, is the resurrection from the dead of this same crucified Savior, as the prelude, the pattern, and the pledge of the resurrection of his followers to eternal life. Against this great fact the children of disobedience, from the Pharisees of Jerusalem down to the scoffers of New York, have leveled their batteries. One assails its proof; another, its reasonableness; all, its truth. When Paul asserted it before an audience of Athenian philosophers, some mocked-a short method of refuting the gospel; and likely, from its convenience, to continue in favor and in fashion.
Yet with such doctrines and facts did the religion of Jesus make her way through the world. Against the superstition of the multitudeagainst the interest, influence, and craft of their priesthood-against the ridicule of wits, the reasoning of sages, the policy of cabinets, and
the prowess of armies--against the axe, the
, cross, and the stake, she extended her conquests from Jordan to the Thames. She gathered her laurels alike upon the snows of Scythia, the green fields of Europe, and the sands of Africa. The altars of impiety crumbled before her march -the glimmer of the schools disappeared in her light-Power felt his arm wither at her glance; and, in a short time, she who went, forlorn and insulted, from the hill of Calvary to the tomb of Joseph, ascended the imperial throne, and waved her banner over the palace of the Cæsars. Her victories were not less benign than decisive. They were victories over all that pollutes, degrades, and ruins man; in behalf of all that purifies, exalts, and saves him. They subdued his understanding to truth, his habits to rectitude, his heart to happiness. In an appeal to that of which they were unexceptionable judges, their own experience, Paul thus exclaims to the believers of Thessalonica: They themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto
turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
The change from pagan to Christian character; from midnight darkness to light in the Lord, was abundantly visible, and not to be explained
you; and how