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illustrious inscription-" THE WORD OF GOD." Where is anything like this among the works of men? Could ignorance have devised a system so sublime, or depravity invent a scheme so holy? But to go no farther than the subject we are now considering, and which may be regarded as not only a single precept of morality, but the spirit of the whole, is it conceivable that such a generous and self-denying system of duty would have sprung from the selfishness of human nature? Would man, had he been left to the mere exercise of his reason, and the impulses of his own heart, ever have summed up all morality and social obligation in that one word, LOVE, and have represented this as the essence of virtue? Is there anything analogous to this in any human system with which we are acquainted?
Examine PAGANISM, both ancient and modern; and what of this spirit do you find in its multiform varieties? Was benevolence, as has been already asked, ever embodied in an idol? was a temple, a statue, or an altar, ever raised to its honour? The abstractions of wisdom and power, and some few of the sterner virtues of human nature, together with many of its sinful passions, obtained a niche in the Pantheon; but such a virtue as that enjoined by Paul, not only was not worshipped, but would have been despised, by all classes of ancient idolaters, as diametrically opposed to those qualities in which they considered human greatness to consist. To say nothing of that spirit of cruelty which, like a demon legion, possessed, and tortured, and convulsed, the worshippers of Moloch, even the milder
and classic mythology of the Greeks and the Romans, breathed into its votaries no spirit of universal philanthropy. The patriotism of these nations, the chivalrous self-devotedness, which is blazoned with such splendour on the page of history, and which kindle such enthusiasm in the youthful imagination, what is it but the light of a consuming fire? The patriotism of Rome, and of Greece, in their best and purest days, was but a selfishness of the most destructive kind, which would have trampled down pure philanthropy with indignant scorn, as a mean and cowardly spirit-a traitor against the absorbing glory of Athens or of the Roman commonwealth. Those proud and haughty patriots thought that the world was made for them, and cared not what rights of other nations they invaded, so as they could strengthen their own power; nor what misery they inflicted, so as they could extend their own fame. Selfishness the most engrossing was the soul of their system: every man considered himself as represented by his country, and, in contending for the honour of the latter, was fighting for his own aggrandisement. Had love been the ascendant in those ages, the world would never have been made to lie prostrate at the feet of Alexander, or of Cæsar.
And who among the poets sang the praises of universal benevolence; who among the legislators made it the basis of their morals, who among the philosophers expatiated on its glories, or laid the obligation to cultivate it, upon the consciences of their disciples? The highest virtue of paganism was martial prowess. So heavenly a glory never
shone upon it, as is contained in that one sentence, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, as thyself," or if any theory, distantly analogous to it, was found there, it was a borrowed light, the dim reflection of the distant brightness of divine truth. Sejoy 23
And as to modern pa, we need not say how
vain it is to seek for universal love amidst the ferocities of the American Indians, the murderous cruelties of the South Sea Islanders, the disgusting selfishness and ridiculous vanity of the Chinese, or the insulting and degrading oppressions of the Hindoos.
Next turn your attention to MOHAMMEDANISM; and in what page of the Koran will you find, we will not say, such a description, and such an enforcement, of philanthropy as we have in this chapter; but where do you find a recognition of the principle? In all those pretended revelations from heaven, of which Gabriel is said to have been the bearer, where is there such a description of Deity as this" God is love!" or such a sentiment as that which arises out of it, "he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him?" So far from recognizing this principle, Islamism condemns and forbids it. It enjoins almsgiving, it is true, and gives it a high place amongst its virtues, but this is not the same as love, and may be often carried to a great extent without a particle of its nature. This system of imposture, abounding, as it does, with minute and ridiculous ceremonies, and a slavish regard to absurd ritual observances, enforces, by the authority of its founder, the most ferocious and bloodthirsty hatred of all who do not receive it in the exercise of implicit
faith. Wars against all infidels are not only enjoined in many passages of the Koran, but are declared to be in a high degree meritorious in the sight of God. How completely Islamism has filled its votaries with the most ferocious bigotry and the most merciless intolerance, is known by universal testimony. They everywhere pour insulting contempt upon all who are not Mussulmans, and feel a savage delight in adding cruelty to insult." The infidel dogs," is a common appellation applied to Christians. The spirit of the system is everywhere visible in the absolute despotism of the governments of those countries in which it prevails; where it is found, the arts and the sciences do not flourish, and liberty withers in its shade. The flaming scimeter of the Sultan is its patron and defence; it was propagated by the sword-it is supported by the bow-string, and it is essentially and unalterably cruel. Such is Islamism: a curse to the world, a mystery in the divine government, a dreadful obstacle to the spread of Christianity, and the reverse of all that is holy and beneficent in the glorious Gospel of the blessed God.
INFIDELITY, it is true, has attempted an imitation of this virtue, but infidels have had revelation to copy from; and even with this model before their eyes, have produced a caricature instead of a fac simile. The universal benevolence of this school is at war with the private affections and individual tenderness: that of Christianity, springs out of them, and is founded upon them. We contend, therefore, that this noble, and generous, and useful disposition is one of the peculiarities of revealed truth; and
whence, but from heaven, could it have proceeded, and who but Jehovah either could or would have given it the authority of a law? Whoever will reflect for a moment, will be struck with the singularity of the fact, that the Bible resolves the whole of practical religion into love to God, and the whole of morality into love to man. Is this, we ask again, the work of human invention, or does it look like the production of imposture? Would the selfishness of man have devised such a system; for where, among all his handy work, do we find anything like it? O no!-It is part of the superscription of heaven-it is the impress of divinity-it is the seal of truth.
2. We learn, that the spirit of true religion is not only unlike, but opposed to, the characters most udmired by the people of the world.
The character which the historian loves to de lineate, on which he delights to exhaust the stores of his genius, and to lavish the richest colouring of his pencil; which he is most pleased to exhibit to the admiration of his readers; and in which, with an eager sympathy, those readers take as much delight as did the author, perusing it again and again, till the soul glows with enthusiasm ;-is not the meek and virtuous prince, who is intent only on the arts of peace, and the internal welfare of his kingdom: no, but the ambitious hero, who fills the world with the fame of his victories, and by the aid of dauntless courage, consummate skill, and inordinate lust of dominion, goes on from conquering to conquer: this is the man for whom the admiration of posterity is claimed; whose crimes are lost sight of in the splendour of his genius, and whose cruelty is