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BENEFICIAL EFFECTS OF CHRISTIANITY.
1 TIMOTHY iv. 8.
Godliness is profitable unto all things, having pro
mise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
We have reviewed the arguments for the truth of Christianity which are derived from the miracles performed, the prophecies accomplished and now accomplishing in the world, and from its rapid and extensive propagation.
These establish beyond all reasonable ques. tion the divine authority of our religion : and we might now pass on to the subject of the inspiration of the scriptures.
But there is another external argument of great moment which I am desirous first to notice, that derived from the MORE OBVIOUS EFFECTS WHICH CHRISTIANITY HAS PRODUCED AND IS PRODUCING UPON THE WELFARE OF MANKIND.
This is generally classed with the Internal VOL. 1.
Evidences. And undoubtedly many of its details and most of the causes from whence it springs, are best reserved for that part of our course. Still I cannot but think that the beneficial effects of Christianity are so obvious to every candid observer, that we may properly arrange them with the external proofs. It is surely a powerful argument in favour of revelation, that it advances the solid happiness of man, that it has the promise of the life that now is; that, whilst its great object is to remedy the fallen state of our nature by the spiritual blessings of redemption, it uniformly dispenses also temporal benefits, and raises the condition, and promotes the present well-being of the human race. Christianity doth this in various ways—it implants those PRINCIPLES on which the welfare of individuals and states dependsit has actually BANISHED an immense mass of frightful evils from Christian countries-it has MITIGATED many other evils which are not entirely removed--and it has ACTUALLY CONFERRED and is conferring the most numerous and substantial positive benefits on mankind..
I. Christianity IMPLANTS THOSE PRINCIPLES upon which the welfare of individuals and states depends.
1. It begins in the proper province of reli
gion, the silent course of private and domestic life. It makes good fathers and mothers of families, good children, honest men-servants and maid-servants, faithful tradesmen, quiet villagers, peaceful manufacturers and husbandmen. These are the materials of public property. The welfare of states is only the consequence of individual happiness. ? · 2. In the next place, Christianity arouses the powers of conscience and directs aright its determinations. It gives solemnity and sanctity to oaths-on which the security of persons and property, and, indeed, of society in all its relations, so much depends. Thus it lays the foundations and forms the sanction of human laws. Wherever it spreads, it sets up a judge and avenger within the breast, and governs man by the fear of an invisible tribunal. 1. 3. Then it discourages and tends to eradicate the vices which most directly infest societyrapacity, violence, malice, revenge, profligacy, treachery; and establishes the contrary virtues of honesty, meekness, forgiveness of injuries, purity, fidelity and truth : and thus restores peace and harmony amongst men. . 4. Further, it mitigates that insatiable ardour after worldly possessions and enjoyments, which is the spring of so many acts of injustice and oppression; by elevating man to a consideration
of spiritual, intellectual, solid, pure, eternal blessings.
5. It implants especially the principle of enlarged, active, effectual benevolence, in opposition to that inordinate self-love which is the bane of every virtue, the enemy of all public spirit and love of country, and the gangrene of states. On earth peace, good-will towards men, is inscribed on the banners of the Christian faith,
6. It is, again, the spring of personal exertion and beneficial industry-it expels indolence, and self-indulgence, and inspires an active and useful diligence, the employment of life to the most valuable purposes, and the occupying with our time and various talents as accountable stewards of the Great Householder. • 7. Lastly; it elevates the whole character, enlarges and improves the mind, raises man in the scale of being, brings him back to himself, to his fellow-men, to his country, to all the ends for which he was created, to his God. It first teaches him to love the Lord with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength; and then to love his neighbour as himself.
II. By the operation of these principles the Christian doctrine has actually BANISHED AN IMMENSE MASS OF FRIGHTFUL EVILS from Christian states.
1. Idolatry with all its atrocious impurities and cruelties was gradually expelled from the kingdoms of Europe, Asia, and Africa, as our holy faith was propagated. Human sacrifices prevailed in the heathen world. Men offered their sons and their daughters unto devils. The polished Greeks and Romans were infected with this horrid practice, as well as the ruder Scythians and Thracians. It reached from one end of the globe to the other. Our own ancestors offered their Druidical victims; and on the discovery of South America, it was found, says Robertson, that Montezuma immolated twenty thousand human beings annually to the sun.' The light of truth scared away the monster from the Christian flock.
2. Again, the heathen were full of murder, as the Apostle strongly expresses it. Scenes of blood made a part of the public diversions of the people. Miserable slaves were exposed to the fury of wild beasts for an amusement and recreation to the populace, and were engaged
1 See Bishop Porteus's Beneficial Effects of Christianity; to which excellent summary of Ryan's larger work I am much indebted. Bishop Horsley's Sermon before the Philanthropic Society; Paley; Wilberforce's Practical View; Fuller's Gospel its own Witness; Harness' Happiness of Men ; Šumper's Reception; the Monthly Lectures, 1827; and Dewar's Designs of Christianity, have also aided me.