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“For her my tears shall fall,
For her my prayers ascend,
Henceforth he comprehends the deep significance of that command which embraces the two highest aims of the human soul, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness."
3. But, thirdly, the motives which the gospel furnishes, are as essential to human greatness, as the range of view it opens, and the aims it inspires. A man may have the widest range of knowledge and the noblest aims, but without the proper motives to apply the one and carry out the other, he will accomplish nothing. He will lack efficiency, success. It must ever be the characteristic of a great mind, that it shall have the pratical force to carry out the plans of the intellect and the aims of the heart, so that the aim shall become an action, and the idea have an embodiment. The plan of a steam-engine was ingenious while yet it existed only in the brain of the inventor; but it was the projection of that plan into actual form, into the substantial machinery of iron, and the application of a power which turned its pondrous wheels, and shot the rattling train or the flying steamer to its destination, which gave to the theory and the intention their practical worth. Many a feasible scheme, and noble aim, have never seen the light, for want of motive power, to bear with strong and systematic pressure on dormant energies. The world has enough of sentimental dreamers. Dreams must become acts. We do not say that a man must lack efficiency of character without faith, nor that he will of course possess it, with faith. But we do say that without faith the greatest efficiency will not move in the right direction ; and with it, a character of inferior strength, feels the spring of new
a and powerful motives, and begins the only process of growth and development toward true greatness. The energy of a Napoleon, the efficiency of a thousand Robespieres would never reach there. It is not on the road.
Besides, we deceive ourselves by appearances, in our measurement of power. There are outbreaks of lawless energy more imposing than if the same force were expended quietly in systematic modes. Beneath the earth's surface are forces which accumulate, till by a sudden explosion a continent is shaken. But the silent moon as she circles the earth walking in her brightness, calm and serene, every day, lifts toward herself the masses of all the oceans, and with healthful and responsive currents all round the world, like throbs of life, moves the waters of every sea. The torrent that plunges with roar and spray into a chasm, strikes us with awe. But the same current led down to that level through field and grove and meadow by a hundred winding streams that pass gently on, pleases the beholder by the sweetness of its murmur and
the verdure that springs by its sides. The same elements of power are working in new forms, and accomplishing other ends. It is not the boisterous violence of energy, which measures the greatness of power. The Almighty wields omnipotent forces, in gentleness, and a universe, in quiet harmony. And men, could they approach to a similitude of the infinite one, must do so by partaking not only of the holiness of his aims but also of the ease and quiet majesty of his action.
Efficient power in man so far as it relates to human greatness, must be directed as we have seen, to great ends. And the degree of that power must depend upon the number of the human facul ties which can combine for such ends, and upon the energy, the stedfastness, and the harmony with which they move toward them. In a bad cause, the noblest powers of man work against him. Ever and anon they are raising a mutiny, or sounding a retreat, and spreading confusion among his own ranks. It is only in the cause of God that they can move forward unbroken, undismayed and triumphant. Faith combines and harmonizes, and directs all the powers of man. What one, does not the Christian consecrate to God? What one, subject to his law, may not promote his glory ? Faith links them all to one holy purpose. It weakens none though it tames and chastises the lawless. It depresses none, though it subdues and softens the wayward. Evidently, it does not diminish or impair the native strength of the mind; while by quickening these higher sensibilities which were before dead, by drawing forth those better affections which fasten upon the unseen and eternal
, by kindling holier aspirations, by inspiring purer hopes, by awakening deeper and warmer sympathies, it brings into action nobler elements of power. True, it turns the native energies into other channels, and works them in new forms; but it gives depth, and tone, and earnestness, and elevation, to the entire character
We might refer here to its influence upon national character. It will be found that the people most distinguished for intelligent, unwavering faith in God, for a faith which embraces the cardinal doctrines of the gospel, are preeminent for those qualities which constitute rational strength. Look at the brave Magyars. But a few millions in number, and occupying a small area, they withstood and often routed the combined forces of Austria and Russia. Their faith gave them the clear consciousness of their rights, and heroic bravery in defending them. It took two of the most formidable nations of Europe to crush them. Look at the Swiss and the Scotch. Look at the whole Puritanic stock wherever you find them. With a character broad and deep in its foundations, compact, massive, towering, they are a mountain of granite. They stand where God placed them, and they are impregnable.-We might speak of individual characters. Cromwell and Washington
were greater men for their faith. Chalmers, as the literary professor, and the moralist, would have been admired; but it was his faith which made him great. But the example of Paul is a better illustration of our meaning and a more decisive proof of our position ; because Christianity was inwrought more intimately into his character, and we see that its transformation was, under God, the work of faith.
As a bigoted Pharisee, indeed, Paul was not a weak man. He had the mental energy of a son of thunder. He could drive his foes “even unto strange cities," for there was an exceeding madness in his vengeance. But all his capacities could avail him nothing for true greatness, while employed for the narrow ends of sectarian bigotry. It was when the gospel opened its higher field of truth for the expansion of his mind and the elevation of his aims; it was when love to Christ crucified supplanted the love of sect, and the scheme of the world's redemption bade him embrace in the same affection, both Jew and Gentile, the world over; it was when he planted himself upon the foundation of eternal things, and anchored his immortal hope sure and stedfast within the vail, that he began his great work. Now, every energy, while it took a different direction, took also new vigor and a deeper tone. Higher elements are working in him. He is another man; no longer Saul the Pharisee, but Paul the believer. He is stronger, firmer, greater than before. He does not lower, indeed, with that fearful vindictive passion which breathed threatnings and slaughter. He has kindled with the theme of a Redeemer's love and a Redeemer's kingdom of righteousness and peace. The smile of his Master's spirit plays over his character, and the light and warmth of love beam out from it. We find him in journeyings, often, in perils and weariness, in stripes and imprisonments. But wherever you follow him, into Arabia or Damascus, into Jerusalem, Athens, or Rome, whether before the haughty Felix, the conceited, jealous synagogue, or the polished Areopagus, you behold him as strong and fearless as he is gentle and courteous; as manly in his bearing, as he is humble in pretension; holding equally to his rights as a citizen, and to his spirit as a Christian. With a keen consciousness of injury, yet forgiving in meekness, with broad views of doctrine, and a truly liberal spirit, yet contending earnestly for the faith with unyielding fidelity to the truth; bearing stripes with fortitude, imprisonment with patience, and insult with magnanimity; persevering amid reverses ; hopeful in the darkest hour; ever girding himself with the same divine armor ; holding on his perilous and rugged way with an upward aim, and a serene and hopeful spirit, and a purpose that knows no faltering, a love that had no abatement, and a faith that was unshaken as the hills,-always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that his labor was not in vain.
If the world knows true greatness in man, it is here, and faith was its chief element. While it tamed his natural impetuosity, and broke down his arrogance and self-confidence, it gave him the higher, stronger elements of love to the Redeemer, humility at the cross, and faith in God.
That very system of doctrines which so many have scouted as narrowing the soul and degrading the believer into a weak, servile thing that cannot stand in the presence of a man, or be efficient for any manly work, or liberal with any broad view, or cheerful with any rational enjoyment,-that very system of doctrines, gave to Paul a sublimity of greatness unparalelled in the world's history. Faith in them, was the telescope of his far-reaching vision ; the rock of his adamantine firmness; the inspiration of his lofty heroism. It was the fuel of that inward flame, which softened his natural asperities, and blended the most incongruous elements; which adjusted and balanced the widest contrasts, giving to his character the unity and strength of a divine harmony, and throwing over it the charm and sweetness of a heavenly serenity.
He is a short-sided, groveling man, who bows down to a hero renowned for success in destroying men's bodies, and scorns a Paul for the nobler ambition of saving their souls.
It will be seen that faith appropriates all right motives of a temporal nature, while it superadds those of eternal moment. We need not here analyze these motives, whether they bear upon the aims of personal holiness, or on the promotion of the Messiah's kingdom in the world. They are drawn from the majesty of infinite justice and the love of a Divine Redeemer; from the goodness and the severity, the grace and the truth, the forbearance and the threatenings of the Most High ; from the dreadful evil of sin as measured by an infinite atonement or by an eternal penalty ; from the worth of the soul and the awful contingency which hangs round its prospects; from entire dependance and from conscious guilt; from the freeness and greatness of the salvation provided, and from the immediate danger of losing it forever; from the condition which inspires hope and forbids delay; which appeals alike with incessant and oppressive force to duty and interest, to gratitude and fear. From the very nature of these motives there is an infinity stamped upon them. Nothing can add to their power. And besides it is not merely their power taken separately, which adapts them to human wants, but their wonderful balance and harmony of operation. There cannot be conceived a system of motives equal to these, either for power, elevation, or constancy of purpose. They bear directly upon every spring of character; they thrill the deepest-toned chords of the human soul.
It is often said that great exigencies make great men. The se. cret is, they inspire high aims, and arouse and direct every natural energy. It was so in our Revolution. It is so in all great crises in the affairs of men. Even in relation to earthly interests, men need great motives to arouse them. They must be placed in a position where momentous consequences turn on present deliberation or present action. And much more is this true in relation to those higher spiritual interests to which depraved man is dead, and to which he must be quickened by abounding grace, as well as by infinite motives. Faith reveals at once, the depths of man's debasement, the nobleness of his capacities and the greatness of his destiny. It throws around the lowest man an interest almost overwhelming. Though a guilty, lost creature, he is an heir of immortality. Ransomed by an infinite atonement, he may be restored to all that constitutes the worth and the blessedness of man: to the love of God, and the consciousness of his favor : but his destiny hangs upon the passing hour.
Leave out of view the religious and immortal interests of man, and those facts of the gospel which put these interests in immediate peril, and yet in a peril from which they may possibly be rescued, and the condition of man is hopeless. The last missionary has left his comfortable home, to meet hardship and death for the sake of the nations that sit in darkness. The only adventurer among them, will be the curious traveler, the scientific inquirer, the importer, or the gold digger. Let religion die, and philanthropy falls the same hour into the same grave. True, there are some who now deny all religion, and yet have a form of philanthropy—perhaps something of its life. But if it be anything more than empty sentimentalism, if there be any vitality in it, that mnst be fed by inhaling the religious atmosphere around, as men are said to have sustained life for a period, not by taking food themselves, but by inhaling its odor. But the soul of such philanthropy must be as great as the bodies of such men. Take away the facts and motives of religion, and man is but an intelligent, social animal. His dignity and worth are gone. Morality, too, has lost its basis, and benevolence its aim, and life its meaning. What high aspiration remains for man? or what system of education can keep him from sinking down into that debasing animalism which says, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.”
On such a system greatness is impossible to man. He wants the capacity, the aims, and the motives of greatness. These are all found in the gospel and there alone. For this brings life and immortality to light; it reveals the worth of man, the cause of his present wretchedness, his nobler destiny, and the motives and means for attaining it. The erection of hospitals and asylums, and the prosecution of every work of real reform, it would not leave undone. But it commands every man as an immortal creature, to “ seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Spiritual and immortal ends must hold the first place. Earthly good cannot be gained, sought chiefly, and for its own sake. The