« 上一頁繼續 »
in mortal combat with each other upon a public stage. Such bloody sports are no more. .
Women of condition would have no relish, as of old, for the sight. They would not be able to behold it with so much composure as to observe and admire the skill and agility of the champions, and interest themselves in the issue of the combat. The tender virgin would not rise from her seat in ecstacy as the victor put his dagger to the throat of the vanquished; and exclaim, 'He is my delight;' and give a sign with her thumb for him to lay open the breast of the prostrate wretch. Nor would the audience applaud and shout when the blood of the dying man gushing from the ghastly wound, flowed upon the stage.
3. Further, Christian nations are not des-' titute, as the Heathen, of natural affection. “No man in a Christian country, would avoid the burden of a family by the exposure of his in fant children; no man would think of settling the point with his intended wife. before marriage, according to the ancient practice, that the females that she might bear, should be all exposed, and the boys only reared.”
Bishop Horsley, vol. 3. Serm. xl. before Phil. Soc. los Bishop Horsley ut supra. The general neglect of human life is a striking characteristic of Paganism. The value of human existence and happiness was reserved to be proved by
4. Once more; Christianity has cleared away the immense mass of misery and vice, arising from the heathen customs of divorce and polygamy. It is no longer the practice, as it was in the latter days of Rome, for the profligate woman of rank to count the years, not by the consuls, but by the number of her husbands. The statutes of all Christian countries are framed in conformity with the rules of the gospel, and no cause of divorce is allowed but that which violates the fundamental law of the union.
By this one act, Christianity has more benefited mankind, than can be adequately conceived. All the social affections, all the purity and comfort of domestic life, all the duties of family morals and religion, all the right education of children, spring from the inviolability of the nuptial contract. Perhaps, the superiority of Europe over Asia, more depends on the abrogation of the practice of polygamy, and the
that religion which teaches the immortality of the soul and the redemption of it by Christ. “ The truth is, so very little value do these people (the Hindoos) set on their own lives, that we cannot wonder at their caring little for the life of another. The cases of suicide are double those of suttees; men, and still more women, throw themselves down wells or drink poison, for apparently the slightest reasons, generally out of some quarrel, and in order thai their blood may lie at their enemy's door.— Bishop Heber's Journal, vol. i. p. 269.
I confess to you, my mind sinks under the accumulated conviction of this combined evidence. I confess to you, that the propagation of the gospel assumes, in my view, an attitude of moral demonstration which no one but the Almighty God could have given it. I see the wisdom and foreknowledge of God in the predictions of it: and his power and truth and mercy in its accomplishment. I can conceive of no higher evidence being proposed to a reasonable creature like man. The divine operations in every part of the Christian revelation demonstrate the immediate hand of God; and, wherever we look, the proofs of this supernatural original, break in upon the humble and sincere heart. The proof of Christianity is a universal proof springing from all its parts, and attending it in every step of its progress. If one topic fail to produce conviction, let the enquirer act as he does in the case of the divine Providence in the works of nature. Let him have recourse to the universality of the evidences, the different classes of proof, the concurring and unexpected marks of divine agency and interference.
I. But in order to the full effect of these demonstrations, A RIGHT STATE OF MIND is indispensable. Nothing can satisfy the proud,
the obdurate, the captious.-But why do I thus speak?-I see the doubting mind impressed. I behold the nighty force of truth. I hear the confession of the fickle and conceited youth now awakened to consideration. The new and combined demonstration of the divine origin of the Christian religion, from the rapidity and extent of its propagation, fills him with astonishment. He falls down and worships the God of salvation. He acknowledges his former ignorance and folly. He takes up the New Testament with other feelings than he ever did before. He falls prostrate in penitence at the foot of that Saviour whom he had neglected or despised. He breaks off those sins and habits which made unbelief or hesitation unavoidable; and he admits the purifying doctrine of the Son of God.
Go on, then, young enquirer, in the course of sincere penitence and humiliation on which you have begun. Listen not again to the objections and sophistry of the wicked. Open your heart to the full dominion of Christianity. Bring into captivity every thought unto thc obedience of Christ. Be honest to your convictions. Act upon what you know. Implore the grace of that Holy Spirit in his ordinary operations, whose extraordinary power accompanied the first apostles. The conversion of nations is only the multiplication of the conversion of individuals. You cannot indeed witness the miracles of the gospel, but you receive them by authentic testimony; and you behold before your eyes the accomplishment of prophecies in their effects. The heart of man is the same, the demands of Christianity are the same. The foundations of penitence the same. The method of pardon and reconciliation, in the meritorious cross of the Son of God, the same. The renovation of the human heart the same. The resistance of our natural passions the same. The obstacles from the world around you of the same kind. The operations of grace vary not essentially from what they were in the apostolic age.
You may attain a similar conviction of the truth of Christianity now, with the first converts. The evidence may somewhat differ in its form and vividness and immediate impression ; but it is the same in authority, truth, and obligation.
II. And the more you thus enter practically into the great question of this lecture, the will your convICTION BE STRENGTHENED. If the divine torrent which rolls by you, once relieves your own thirst, you will understand better its virtue and excellency, and the living