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of our text as sanctioning the doctrine of purchased remission of sin by mere external acts of charity. If such a compromise may be made with the Deity, and upon such easy terms, will it not be obvious that a partial distribution has been made of the means of expiating sin; since, under such a presumption, the rich possess means which the poor do not. But it will be seen that this is not the case, as, upon referring to the
passage of St. Paul before quoted, we shall find that charity in the abstract cannot really exist without love, and for this very reason, because it is begotten of it; the mere giving therefore, without that feeling from which pure benevolence is derived, will be nothing better than a tinkling symbal. Thus the poorest person therefore may
exercise that charity at once," pure and undefiled before God," wbich alone is more than whole burnt offerings and burnt sacrifices," as truly and as signally as the wealthiest. Let him only love his brethren as sons of God and fellowheirs with himself of life eternal, and he cannot fail to practice that benevolence which does not consist in casting large sums of money into the public treasury, but in zealously doing all the good in his power.
Do not let us imagine that the poor are virtually less charitable than the rich ; on the contrary, they are frequently more so; for riches are apt to harden the heart by withdrawing it so completely within the narrow circle of self-love as to absorb all its better sentiments in the one ignoble feeling of self-gratification ; whereas the sympathies of the poor towards each other are more frequently excited by similarity of interests and a nearer identity of condition; and thus when those sympathies are awakened, their reciprocations of kind fellowship will be the more earnestly exercised and with greater disinterestedness than is commonly found to prevail among their richer brethren. Riches and temporal distinctions, except those arising from eminent talents or eminent virtues, are in truth but too apt to contract our love towards our fellow-creatures by increasing our love of self, and when self-love passes the proper boundary line, it is perhaps the greatest of moral deformities, because then it is distorted from a religious sentiment into a criminal passion and leads to almost every evil which the first transgression in Paradise has introduced into the world.
It will be evident, from the view we have taken of the text, that the Apostle inculcates the principle of universal love ; and though, in the
us, his precept applies to the interchange of it among the early converts to the religion of Christ, still, in numerous other passages of the apostolic writings, the inspired teacher contends for the general application of
it, and in none more definitely than where he asserts that“ love is the fulfilling of the law." Shall we then restrict the operatiou of a principle which the inspired minister of the Redeemer has pronounced to be universal ? Let us not imagine that our love is bestowed, as God designs it should be, if we limit it to those of the sàme country and religion with ourselves. Jew, Turk, Infidel and Heretic have a positive claim to it by the Divine Law. The claims of kindred humanity, of which love forms the very essence, is the common privilege of every rational being. Christ vouchsafed his love even to publicans and sinners. Why should not we? He commanded us to love our enemies, to do good even to our persecutors. In fact under any circumstances we are forbidden to hate, and so paramount an obligation is the observance of this command, that in his divine prayer the Saviour bids us make our forgiveness of others a condition of our own.
There are some persons, and those, alas ! not few, who imagine that all without the pale of christianity are outcasts from heaven, and have therefore no claim either to their religious or social sympathies. They look upon them rather with the stern detestation of morose bigots than with the meek compassion of benevolent Christians. They presume that their rigid and uncompromising sanctity so exalts them above the spiritual condition of those who are still groping for light, through the darkness of idolatry, or are bewildered in the mazes of a blinding superstition, that their sympathies cannot penetrate the abyss of that moral degradation into which they are unhappily plunged who have never heard “the glad tidings of the gospel of peace.” But are we to withhold our love from men only because to them the benefits of Christianity have not extended—who only walk in darkness because they are without light, when God has commanded the exercise of love towards all mankind? You will perhaps however be surprised if I tell you that many Christians may learn from the Pagan a better Christianity than is even generally practised in a Christian land ? You shall judge for yourselves. There is a celebrated heathen maxim that would not disgrace a Christian divine. It pronounces the duty of a good man even in the moment of destruction, to consist “not only in forgiving, but even in a desire to benefit his destroyer, as the sandal-tree, in the instant of its overthrow, sheds perfume upon the axe that fells it.” It was also a favorite precept of a Pagan poet - the wise and benevolent Sadi;
“ confer benefits on him who has injured thee.” Cap
you think that the promulgators of such doctrines, if their actions were in conformity
with these doctrines, will be among the outcasts from heaven? Can there really be a Christian who would deny to such teachers, even though idolaters, the everlasting inheritance of the good ? If there be--and there are such I am not ashamed to say that I would far rather be such a heathen than such a Christian ! Alas! that any one can be so short-sighted, so enslaved by prejudice as to suppose that there is nothing in the idolater worth loving, worth respecting. Listen to the words of one at a time when the inhabitants of this prosperous country were staining the high places of the land with the blood of a ferocious fanaticism--when religion was made a pretence for the most sanguinary act that ever disgraced a christian kingdom. I am now about to quote to you the words of an idolater to the great Mahomedan Emperor, Aurungzebe, in a protest which he addressed to that tyrant against the imposition of a tribute.
“If,” says the noble-minded Hindoo, “your Majesty places any faith in those books, by distinction called divine, you will there be instructed that God is the God of all mankindnot the God of Mahomedans alone. The Pagan and the Mussulman are alike in His
presence. Distinctions of color are of His ordination. It is He who gives existence. In your temples, to His name the voice is raised in prayer. In