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because they have found flowing from him a life which could bring God and man into blessed harmony. Standing before the world in his spiritual glory, he has not only cleared up and rendered definite the world's notion of moral excellence, but he has inspired it with just that spirit which, in its final results, must place it at one with God. The best and holiest of the race, looking at him, have revered and loved, and through reverence and love have ascended toward him; and, in their combined action, as the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church of Christ, have manifested an identity of spirit with the Father and the Son that is wonderful to behold. You ask me for the evidence. Then run your eye over the historic page, and mark the paths that have been trodden by apostles and martyrs and confessors of ancient days—by disciples, from palace or hovel, in later times. How are these illumined by their deeds! Look at the unlawful desires they have restrained—the ferocious passions they have allayed—the inhuman customs they have softened - the barbarous manners they have humanized—the despotic institutions they have abolished -the wronged and the oppressed they have vindicated and defended—the civil and religious freedom they have developed—the popular and inalienable rights they have established. Look especially, I pray you, at the sweet and blessed charities they have diffused—the amount of sickness and sorrow they have assuaged—the loving care they have created for the afflicted—the asylums they have built for the maimed, the deaf, the dumb, the blind--the folds of holy thought and influence into which they have gathered those children of ignorance and vice whom they have taken by the hand of cordial brotherhood amid the world's laugh and scorn—and the atmosphere of healing sympathy they have diffused around the whole race of man. Great God ! if thy most holy spirit has not been banished from the earth, lo, these eighteen centuries, then must not these, through the plenitude of thy grace, have been thy chief instruments for its dissemination ? And while it has bound them in one indissoluble bond by the purity, disinterestedness, philanthropy and piety which it has made common to them all, has it not equally brought them into a living harmony with Thee, the God of justice, mercy, love_and with that best loved Son of thine whom Thou didst send “to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord”?
And now shall I appeal to your individual experience, and ask whether you, too, have not felt the redeeming, renovating power of those vital and universal elements of goodness which flow from the character of the ascended Son of God to awaken the moral sympathies of the human soul in every age and clime? Have not his habitual piety, his pure and lofty motives, his large and benevolent aims, his active goodness, his compassion for the sorrow-stricken and depraved, as they have presented themselves to your spiritual vision, passed into your souls, filled you with the very spirit of his divinity, and constituted you, too, sons of God” ļ I do not ask whether they have conformed you to his precise image, led you to the performance, as far as possible, of his precise work, or allured you to seek like positions to those which he dignified and blessed. Such conformity and routine might be induced upon the surface of your lives without your possession of any vital element at the sources of your being : but I ask whether the quickening influences of that “Sun of Righteousness” have passed into the depths of your soul, developing there the germs of a Christlike character, which, ever expanding into vaster proportions and higher beauty, and ever adapting themselves to the varying emergencies of your mortal career, can sanctify all the relations in which the great God may place you? In fine, has the life of Christ had a fresh manifestation in your human soul? Has it endowed you with penetration to discern, and with power
to discharge, the manifold and solemn responsibilities involved in the civilization of to-day, inspiring those of you to whom that civilization, with its sharp contrasts, has brought large wealth, to use it for virtuous ends and godly purposes ; and filling those of you to whom it has denied even the necessities of life, with that divine spirit which can ennoble and illumine with celestial glory the lowliest mortal lot? Has it conferred on you ability to obtain, through the extraordinary literary developments and scientific triumphs and artistic glories of our generation, a clearer vision of the truth and modes of operation of the Great Soul of the universe ? Has it bestowed on you that moral courage which, amid the terrible competitions and conflicting claims of the society of this nineteenth century, can constitute you a saint, not on Sundays only, but on week-days; not in your devotions only, but in your profession or in your trade ? Has it made you a conservator of probity and eternal justice in your dealings with your fellows, causing you to feel as near to heaven and under as awful responsibilities in your counting-house or in your shop, as in the sanctuary at work, as at prayer? Has it constrained you boldly and manfully to attack the causes of poverty, licentiousness and crime, whether arising from the improvidence, the sensuality or the dishonesty of their slaves, or from that demoniac avarice which is the source of oppression and destitution, and therefore of evils so dire ? Has it sent you forth, a minister of charity, to the sufferer and the prisoner--constituted you an angel of the love of God to the distressed and sorrowing, and carried you with the willing steps of mercy to the scenes of desolation and woe, that you might breathe the spirit of consolation into riven souls, and soothe the last hours and point to heaven the departing spirits of the burdened and diseased ? Has it endowed you
energy when under the pressure of daily duty, or conflict, or trial-given you fresh glimpses of God's goodness when you were enveloped in the darkest clouds-blessed you with the feeling that He is good, and life is beautiful, when you were tottering beneath the burden of the cross ? Has it bestowed on you the ability to make the evils of life and the sins of men subservient to the development of your love-to be like Jesus when anger is stirred, or pride tempted, or patience tried—to be calmly enduring amid another's
provocations, forbearing in presence of another's passions ? If it be so, and just so far as it is so, you have, in virtue of this life of Christ in your soul, become at one with him and with God. The at-one-ment has been wrought out for you, not by special arrangement between two powers outside of you, but by the quickening influence of Christ's spirit coming into the depths of your nature, to suggest his thoughts of truth and his conceptions of duty in the midst of the work which is given you to do—to open in your soul ever-enlarging conceptions of its boundless applications—to amplify your experience of its indestructible vitality amid the changes of time and natureto inspire you with the consciousness that you are not only obeying your own will, nor only unfolding your own thoughts, nor only carrying on a work of your own, but that you are obeying the will, unfolding the thoughts, and accomplishing the purposes of God and of Christ. This experience will interpret for you, better than any theological statement, the prayer of the divine Saviour for the great at-one-ment, “That they all may be one ; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us."
LUKE iii. 2, 3 : “The word of God came unto John the son of Zachariah in the wilderness.
And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.'
The last of a mighty line, John the Baptist closed the series of the noblest men that the world had ever beheld-Israel's prophets. They were men whom God raised up to bear witness to the truth,
-men to whom His word came with power and might that they might testify against the idolatries and lies, the tyrannies and rebelliousness, the selfishness and animalisms, of the world,-men who, because they gave themselves up to God in singleness of mind, and sought His glory, not their own, were privileged and fitted to bear the glorious responsibility of calling all men to renounce their idols and worship the One True God. This self-consecration to God, which the Hebrew prophets so grandly manifested and preached, shines on us with undiminished lustre from the character and history of him who was at once the last and the greatest of them all. Let us consider what we learn from the brief record of what he was and did, as it is preserved to us in the Gospels.
“The word of God came unto John.” God speaks to all men ; but He chooses those to do His work and to receive