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had it been committed to merely human execution, it could not have proceeded a single step, and would have been remembered only as a frantic reverie.
Yet all this hath Christianity undertaken. Her voice is, without distinction, to people of every color, and clime, and condition: to the continent and the isles; to the man of the city, the man of the field, and the man of the woods; to the Moor, the Hindoo, and the Hottentot; to the sick and desperate; to the beggar, the convict, and the slave. She impairs no faculty, interdicts no affection, infringes no relation; but, taking men as they are, with all their depravity and woes, she proffers them peace and blessedness. Her boasting is not vain.
The course of experiment has lasted through more than fifty generations of men. It is passing every hour before our eyes; and, for reasons to be afterwards assigned, has never failed, in a single instance, when it has been fairly tried.
The design is stupendous; and the least success induces us to inquire, by whom it was projected and carried into effect. And what is our astonishment, when we learn, that it was by men of obscure birth, mean education, and feeble resource: by men from a nation hated for their religion, and proverbial for their moroseness; by carpenters, and tax-gatherers, and fishermen of Judea! What shall we say of this phenomenon? A recurrence to the Jewish scriptures, which had long predicted it, either surrenders the argument, or increases the difficulty. If you admit that they reveal futurity, you recognize the finger of God, and the controversy is at an end. If you call them mere conjectures, you are still to account for their correspondence with the event, and to explain how a great system of benevolence, unheard, unthought of by learned antiquity, came to be cherished, to be transmited for centuries from father to son, and at length attempted, among the Jews ! And you are also contradicted by the fact, that however clearly such a system is marked out in their scriptures, they were so far from adopting it, that they entirely mistook it; rejected it, nationally, with disdain ; persecuted unto death those who embarked in it; and have not embraced it to this day! Yet in the midst of this bigoted and obstinate people, sprang up the deliverance of the human race.
Salvation is of the Jews. Within half a century after the resurrection of Christ, his disciples had penetrated to the extremes of the Roman empire, and had carried the dayspring from on high to innumerable tribes who were sitting in the region and shadow of death. And so exclusively Christian is this plan, so remote from the sphere of common effort, that after
it has been proposed and executed, men revert perpetually to their wonted littleness and carelessness. The whole face of Christendom is overspread with proofs, that, in proportion as they depart from the simplicity of the gospel, they forget the multitude as before, and the doctrines of consolation expire. In so far, too, as they adapt to their own notions of propriety, the general idea, which they have borrowed from the gospel, of meliorating the condition of their species, they have produced, and are every day producing, effects the very reverse of their professions. Discontent, and confusion, and crimes, they propagate in abundance. They have smitten the earth with curses, and deluged it with blood; but the instance is yet to be discovered, in which they have bound up the broken-hearted. The fact, therefore, that Christianity is, in the broadest sense of the terms, glad tidings to the poor, is perfectly original. It stands without rival or comparison. It has no foundation in the principles of human enterprise; and could never have existed without the inspiration of that Father of lights, from whom cometh down every good and every perfect gift.
II. As the Christian fact is original, so the REASONS OF ITS EFFICACY ARE PECULIAR. Christianity can afford consolation, because it is fitted to our nature and character. I specify particulars:
First. The gospel proceeds upon the principle of immortality.
That our bodies shall die is indisputable. But that reluctance of nature, that panting after life, that horror of annihilation, of which no man can completely divest himself, connect the death of the body with deep solicitude. While neither these, nor any other merely rational, considerations, ascertain the certainty of future being; much less of future bliss. The feeble light which glimmered around this point among the heathen, flowed not from investigation, but tradition. It was to be seen chiefly among the vulgar, who inherited the tales of their fathers; and among the poets, who preferred popular fable to philosophic speculation. Reason would have pursued her discovery; but the pagans knew not how to apply the notion of immortality, even when they had it. It governed not their precepts; it established not their hope. When they attempted to discuss the grounds of it, they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. The best arguments of Socrates are unworthy of a child, who has learned the holy scriptures. And it is remarkable enough, that the doctrine of immortality iş as perfectly detached, and as barren of moral effect, in the
hands of modern infidels, as it was in the hands of the ancient pagans. They have been so unable to assign it a convenient place in their system; they have found it to be so much at variance with their habits, and so troublesome in their warfare with the scriptures, that the more resolute of the sect have discarded it altogether. With the soberer part of them it is no better than an opinion; but it never was, and never will be a source of true consolation, in any system or any bosom, but the system of Christianity and the bosom of the Christian. Life and immortality, about which some have guessed; for which all have sighed; but of which none could trace the relations, or prove the existence; are not merely hinted, they are brought to light by the gospel. This is the parting point with every other religion; and yet the very point upon which our happiness hangs. That we shall survive the body, and pass from its dissolution to the bar of God, and from the bar of God to endless retribution, are truths of infinite moment, and of pure revelation. They demonstrate the incapacity of temporal things to content the soul. They explain why grandeur, and pleasure, and fame, leave the heart sad. He who pretends to be my comforter without consulting my immortality, overlooks my essential want. The gospel supplies it. Immortality is the basis of her