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itself of the resources of omnipotence, yea which binds the heart to Christ and through him to all his followers.
The influence for good or evil, which each individual may exert, is becoming more extensive and far-reaching as the inventions of genius multiply. Look, for a moment, at the power of steam subjugated and controlled by man. It is seating distant nations side by side and face to face; and if upon every railroad car and steamship could be written this truth, "God hath made of one blood all nations;" or this other truth, Christians should love each other; and if every engine, with the great speech of its steam lungs, could tell men that they are brethren, would not peace and concord take the place of enmity?
Look also at the still more wonderful phenomena connected with electricity. "Within a short period," says one eloquent writer, "man has chained the very lightning of heaven, and brought it down, and made it administer to the transmission of human thought, insomuch that our ideas are now transmitted not only with the rapidity of lightning, but by lightning itself. Magic wires are stretching themselves in all directions over this globe of ours; and when their mystic meshes shall at length have been perfected, our globe will be endowed with a sensitiveness which will render it impossible to touch it on any one point, and the touch not be felt from one end of the world to the other."
Thus, "two of the mightiest physical agencies in the universe have been subjected to human control. By one, man's speed over land and sea has the swiftness of the eagle; by the other, thought makes wire its pathway, and lightning its chariot." And if the spirit of toleration, the principles of enlarged benevolence, and Christian activity would only keep pace with the genius of the age, and be commensurate with advantages now enjoyed, the world's redemption might be speedily accomplished. O that our Jerusalem, like that of old, were builded as a city that is compact together." So would it become "fair as the sun; clear as the moon; and terrible as an army with banners." Risc, then, my brethren in the Lord,
"And let us no more revile or blame
Each other, blamed enough elsewhere; but strive
In offices of love how we may lighten
6. Union is promotive of happiness. It not merely constitutes strength, but it is a sure source of joy. If there be unanimity of feeling and harmony of effort, if the golden chain of sympathy link Christians together, while their souls are attuned to one concordant note, here are found peace and bliss in their highest perfection. "If there be, therefore, any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, fulfil ye one another's joy."
The church was intended, under God, to be the channel of peace
to a troubled world. It was designed, "not to reflect from its bosom the tempestuous and angry sky of earthly strife, but the calm of a holier region, giving back to heaven its own image." Christ, the Head of this church, "inculcates the condescending offices of brotherly love, because he knows, that, like the ligaments and arterial net-work of the human frame, the health and happiness of his body, the church, depends on their binding power and reciprocating influences. "Behold," says the royal Psalmist, "how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."
"Sure there is need of social intercourse,
When love sits enthroned in the human breast, reigning supreme without a rival, enjoyment, pure and deep, will legitimately follow, filling the sanctified soul with all the ecstacies of an undivided affection. Beautifully has the poet described it, when he says,
"Sweet is the union true believers feel;
Into one spirit they have drank; the seal
Of Christ is on their hearts; and thus they see
If one is suffering, all the rest are sad;
The grace of Jesus, which they all partake,
Verily we have peculiar reason for exultation while looking forward to the period approaching when the watchman on Jerusalem's sacred walls shall" see eye to eye," and the church united keep a jubilee of praise. Then "mercy and truth shall meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other." Then the sacredness of the family tie, the loving kindredship of Christians, being universally felt and acknowledged, will exert a most precious and hallowed influence tending to attract earth upward to the embraces of heaven!
"The day is coming fast. The church awakes
Who preach the Gospel; and how sweet the song
7. It is only by the exercise of that love, which is the substratum of union, one can resemble God and become imbued with the spirit of heaven. Love is the principal element in God's character, an essential ingredient of his divine nature. O listen ye to the
language which falls upon the ear, sweet as the music of Paradise: "God is love! God is love!" How intimate and sacred must that union be of which the mysterious Trinity in unity is the heavenly Pattern! and how important that those who have been baptized into the three-fold name of Jehovah, should imitate the triune Deity!
Now it is expected that children resemble their parents. If we look among the sons and daughters of men, we cannot fail to notice that they bear a striking resemblance to their fathers and mothers, as to their features, habits, and modes of thinking. So, let me say it reverently, Christians should look like God, and their sympathies be in unison with his. Each adopted son and daughter, born of the Spirit, should bear his moral likeness, while the beatings, throbbings and pulsations of His great heart of love find a response in their own. And the more one loves God the more he will love all the ransomed people of God. Hence the strong affection cherished toward every denomination of Christians by the young convert, amid the warm emotions of a first love, and the dying saint, when on the borders of the Promised Land, and fast ripening for heaven.
While we are exhorted to be strong in faith, and to abound in hope, we are called upon to be perfect in love. We are summoned by the celestial voices which speak to us from the pages of Revelation, to put on the shield of faith, and the helmet of hope, but above all, to put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. In not less than six of the epistles it is said that Love is the fulfilling of the law. "Why, a Christian is the child Love. The Bible is a book of Love. Jesus Christ is justifying Love. The Holy Ghost is sanctifying Love. God the Father is glorifying Love.
"Yes, while adoring hosts proclaim,
Unless we can limit the illimitable love of the Infinite One, and bound his boundless compassions, we can never confine the love of the truly pious to family or sect or country. It rejects such circumscribed barriers. It overleaps all party lines, and geographical boundaries, and artificial distinctions, and reaches its arms around the faithful everywhere. It freely and lovingly opens its large heart for the reception of saints and angels. It even enables its possessor to look a reconciled Father fully in the face, and embrace him with all the affection of a dutiful child!
Wonder not, then, that love is the foremost fruit of the Spirit, the end of the commandment, the fulfillment of the royal law, the crowning attribute of Christianity,—that it is elevated upon the throne as the queen of graces. Wonder: not that it is both the
foundation and the top-stone of the spiritual edifice. This is the principle, simple yet sublime, which inflames seraphim, and produces the enrapturing bliss of yonder world of glory.
"Love, in an ever deepening tide,
Spreads, like a sea immensely wide ;—
Love, that love which is the basis of union, is heaven's religion glowing brightly there to-day, the very element and atmosphere of Paradise. It makes the true church, militant and triumphant, a family circle, weaving its silken bond of brotherhood around the hearts of all, where angels can breathe with safety, and God himself delights to dwell. O could we draw aside the curtain hiding the invisible world from our view, and catch a glimpse of that home of purity where differences are all forgotten, where partylines are obliterated, and invidious names swallowed up in glory, methinks we might even now see the Presbyterian and Episcopalian perfectly united, the Methodist and Congregationalist embracing each other, and even John Calvin and John Wesley themselves, with John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, walking arm in arm and communing sweetly together among the hills and dales of that better land. Even now, a Bow of Promise is spanning the moral heavens, wherein all the different aspects of Evangelical truth are blending in harmonious union. The followers of Christ are beginning to join hands in one unbroken league. Fain would we believe that a desire for maintaining "the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace" is destined to increase until the ushering in of the millennial morning; until
"One song shall employ all lands;
The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks
Till, nation after nation taught the strain,
And ultimately earth's redeemed population, out of every nation and denomination, shall be admitted into that one great temple "whose worship is holiness, and whose creed is love."
My brethren, let us unitedly strive to see who shall most resemble, in life and in spirit, him after whose name we are called, that the rent fragments of Christ's mystical garments may be woven again into a web of holiness and beauty. Let us go to the blessed waters of charity, and wash from our foreheads the word Sectarian, and inscribe there, in its stead, the precious name CHRISTIAN. Let us abjure all bigotry, and encircle in the arms of our affection every child of God. Though we may differ on minor points, we will not "fall out by the way;" there shall not be strife between us; for, we are brethren. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for. brethren to dwell together in unity."
No. 11, Vol. XXXI.] NOVEMBER, 1857.
BY REV. SAMUEL T. SPEAR, D. D.,
PASTOR OF THE SOUTH PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF BROOKLYN, NEW-YORK.
[Whole No. 371.
"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."--Matt. 13:31, 32.
THIS parable, so obvious in its meaning that I need not detain you with a word of exposition, is substantially a prophecy in respect to the extension and influence of the Gospel among men. It contains the view which Christ took of the future history of his own system when he was himself upon the earth, and when as yet it had scarcely entered upon its career of expansive conquest. The same view, in a somewhat more definite form, is given in Daniel's interpretation of the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands, which finally became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. This little stone, like the grain of mustard seed, is a symbol of the triumphs and success of the religion of Christ. Both symbols coïncide in presenting this general thought: That Christ ianity is designed by God, and destined in the unfolding history of the world, to become the permanent and universal religion of the race, supplanting all other systems, and reigning supreme over the human mind. This idea, confessedly among the largest known to Christian faith, is one of the cardinal propositions of Modern Mis
*A Sermon preached before the Foreign Missionary Society of New-York and Brooklyn, Auxiliary to the American Board, on Sabbath evenings Oct. 23, and Nov. 1, 1857.