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CHRIST OUR EXAMPLE.
“ But we all, with open face beholding as in
a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”—2 Cor. iii. 18.
AMONG those who call themselves Christians, there is a large class with whom some vague estimate of character makes up the whole idea of religion. A good Christian is understood to be one who pays his debts, loves his family, deals honourably with his neighbours, and
carries himself amiably and respectably according to his station in society; without any reference to what he believes of the doctrines of Christianity, or whether he believes in Christ at all. The unbelieving poet's axiom is their favourite creed
“ His can't be wrong whose life is in the right.”
But the creed is falser than the axiom. This is in the abstract true; for there is no rule of right but the revealed will of God—no example of right but the example of Christ; and he whose life is conformed to these, cannot indeed
" This is the will of God, that ye believe in him whom he hath sent." To believe in Christ and follow in his footsteps, we must be born anew and sanctified by the Holy Spirit and this is to be a Christian indeed. But this is not the poet's meaning, nor the meaning of his unconscious copyists, whether they be avowed Socinians, or of the many who are Socinian in heart without being aware of it. These all, unless they think it bad taste to name the name of Christ, or unless the enmity of the heart to the doctrines of the gospel is so great that they would exclude Christ from their religion altogether, profess to think the example of Jesus the only thing worthy of attention ; the morality of the Bible the only thing of importance in it. To conform to these, they fancy themselves fully competent, by virtue of some power given by God at their birth ; or some grace imparted in baptism; or some act of amnesty, they scarce know what, by which the will is to be taken for the deed, and they who have not done well are to be accepted as having done the best they could. If to persons of this class we speak of faith, they tell us that works are better. If we speak of sin, they say, God is merciful, and their hearts are good. If we set Christ before them, they say it is better to be like him than to talk so much about him. The disciples of Christ, living by faith upon his name, meet with ungentle treatment at their hands; the long repented sins of former days, the deeply mourned
defectibility of present conduct, being esteemed sufficient evidence of hypocrisy. But if there be those, on the other hand, who “deny the Lord that bought them,” and live without God in the world, they are defended on the ground that, being upright and conscientious men, we have nothing to do with what they think. Nay, I have observed that even the word of God meets with but partial acceptance at the hands of these moralists; they like none of it but the gospels, which they idly and falsely conceive to be the practical part of Scripture. “Character, character !”—this is their cry; they will have nothing but character. It seems to them that professors of religion cannot be right, their conduct being so defective. Men of the world cannot be wrong, being so amiable and upright. Should
such persons cast an eye upon this
page, I would bespeak from them a favourable attention. They will not find here a treatise upon faith. I shall not attempt to prove
that such opinions virtually set at nought