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the numerous radical conversions it has effected among the worst individuals. Men of iron will, men scaled in all varieties of wickedness, men who to strength of sin and strength of nature added the strength of hoary habit; how often have such men by some simple tract, some Scripture sentence, some common sermon, been subdued into new men! The Ethiops whitened, the dappled leopards parted with their spots; and beyond a doubt it was the Gospel, pure and simple, that wrought the wonder.
Look also at the vast restraints which the system exerts on the masses in Christian lands. Of all lands the Pagan are the most corrupt. Next come the Mohammedan, which have some grains of Christianity in their creed. Still better are the countries holding the Greek and Roman superstitions, which include still more of the true Gospel. And best of all, as formal statistics show, is Protestantdom, with its still greater leaven of the religion of Christ. It is here we find as nowhere else the kingdom of the ten commandments. Our legislation, the manners of our people—to say nothing of the practice of our churches—dark as they are when projected on a perfect law, shine like Chaldean stars on the inky background of heathen countries. Further, on comparing together different communities of the same Protestant land, we find those most exemplary in every moral respect which are brought most regularly and closely into contact with Christian principles and institutions. The places among ourselves where the Bible is most read and the sanctuary most frequented, are the places where vices, and disorders, and all that wise parents would dislike in a home, least flourish. Now, what is the explanation of this? We .answer, the mighty restraining power of Christianity. The strict, pure system, with its popular cast and grand sanctions, is evidently just fitted to produce such results. It is a plain cause, a sufficient cause, a cause whose variations correspond with the observed variations in the phenomena to be explained. And what other can be assigned? “Liberty,” says the reviewer; “ Liberty! The moral differences you speak of are owing to the different degrees of civil freedom enjoyed; for freedom gives industry, enterprise, education, and comfort to the masses; all of which things favor public virtue.” But this explanation does not profess to touch the case of communities belonging to the same country. Also it does not appear that freedom, apart from some measure of Christianity or under the same low measure of it, has been wont to stand connected with any better state of public morals than absolutism. Were the ancient heathen republics any more correct in their manners than the average of ancient heathen monarchies? Are the Papal republics of South America any fairer to look at than the Papal kingdoms of Brazil and Spain? The aristoc. racies of absolute monarchies, always freer than the other classes--have they, as a rule, been noticeably less loose in morals than the masses under the same religious influence ? Indeed, who would suppose that mere diminishing the restraints on corrupt human nature would be likely to improve its behavior? But does not autocracy in the people tend to general industry, enterprise, intelligence, thrift; and so to an orderly and decorous social condition ? Far from it. Superior liberty alone is never peculiarly connected with these things. There must be at least liberty and order; which latter is one of the things to be accounted for. Mexico has long had as free a constitution as could be desired; but as there have been but little order and security among the people, they have had little heart for any but the most make-shift mode of living. And so in several neighboring states. Indeed hardly anything is plainer from the course of experience than that order in liberty cannot be maintained except on the basis of a general intelligence, laborious vigor, and sound principle in the people.
As examples of great historic successes pertinent to our purpose, we may instance the triumphs of Christianity in the primitive age, and at the reformation of Luther. At both these times she entered the field substantially alone. On her side were none of the gods and demigods of worldly circumstance. On the contrary, every power of this kind was bitterly against her. Antiquity was against her, wealth was against
her; art, literature, and philosophy, were against her; pontiffs and Cæsars, old and new, were against her-all bitterly zealous in giving aid and comfort to her enemy. And that enemy, the central enemy itself—what a very monster for intense vitality and power! They err exceedingly who suppose this foe to have been the decayed Paganism, the hollow Judaism, or Romanism with its widely acknowledged abuses. It was not these so much as the giant wickedness of the times, only partly expressed in these forms. Never in the history of the Papacy was Europe more corrupt, both in doctrine and practico, than the monk of Erfurth found it. Never, probably, was the core of society, Gentile and Jewish, more eaten out by vice than when Jesus appeared. Of course this great corruption struggled with all its might against the spread of a religion so strict and pure as the Christian. Christianity conquered. In a brief space she steadily forced her way into ascendancy throughout that old Roman world. In a few years she won to Protestantdom principalities, cantons, kingdoms; and all despite that unparalleled enemy with its paladin mitres, crowns, diets, conscript-fathers, persecutions, prestiges of all sorts. Do such achievements as these come of strength less than gigantic?
Another fact. Christianity has never declined before other moral forces anything like as rapidly and frequently as they have before it, when all have been left to their own intrinsic energies. And so they are left in the United States and Great Britain. Now in these countries the law and doctrine of Christ have always recovered in months the ground which they were years in losing. Compare the reactions under the Wesleys, under Edwards, under Chalmers, with the corresponding declines. It is seen that the infidelity, the formalism, the indifferentism, the legal wickedness of all kinds, came in on foot and went out on wings. And those late religious changes in Ireland, how surprisingly numerous and rapid they have been! Who ever heard of Protestant parishes, under merely moral influences, changing to Romanist so fast or frequently? With us it is no uncommon thing for a revival in the course of a few weeks, or even days, to break
completely the staff of wickedness in a community, and almost abolish prevalent infidelities and heresies. And, pray where is the instance of these things, one or all, reciprocating conquests on the gospel after the same magnificent manner? Of all men, Americans who hear so often the rushing mighty wind of awakenings, and see all things in its path abruptly bending and breaking, should be least troubled with misgivings as to the power of Christianity. This superior rapidity of success shows that, at least in its best states, the system has greatly more conquering power than any other opposing moral force whatever, not excepting sin itself; while the superior frequency of its successes shows that it inaintains the conquering state greatly better than any opponent.
In further proof appeal may be made to the fact that on open and equal field the gospel always conquers whatever moral forces appear against it, so long as it remains pure and entire ; while it maintains its purity and completeness much better than any of them. No one presumes to judge unfavorably of the energy of a chemical agent from what it does in a state of adulteration. What does it when it is itself and by itself—this is the test question. If, when freed from all impurities and retaining every element that properly enters into its composition, the pile of Volta makes the dead man leap, decomposes the firmest substances, fires the least inflammable, bursts rocks asunder, and triumphs over space and time in the instantaneons utterance of our thought a thousand miles away; these effects are the proper measures of the battery's power; and not what it does when the acid is absent or the zinc impure. And so, what Christianity does when pure and entire, is the only proper expression of its force. Strictly speaking, it is then only that it is Christianity. Now, what does it in this state? We answer, conquer, conquer, and nothing but conquer. The world may safely be challenged to produce an instance in which the strict system, substantially nothing more and nothing less, has failed to gain ground on its enemies when equal field has been allowed. The primitive church, as long as it continued itself, went on spreading. So did the church of the reformation, save where the civil power interfered. Never yet was a really Christian mission planted that did not gain perceptibly as soon as it was fairly at work without molestation. It is true that sometimes missions have been given up on account of civil interference, want of support from home, a change of circumstances apparently inaking another field more eligible ; but never on account of total want of progress. And look at home. None know as well as ministers of the gospel, that there being given in a place a pure Christian doctrine, a living Christian church, and a faithful Christian ministry, that is, real Christianity with all its institutions in a normal state, it is sure to make progress against all opposing influences. None of us ever heard of a place where it was not so.
But what power does the system possess to maintain its purity and entirety? Vastly more than is possessed by any other opposing system or force. Every Calvinist believes that the gospel once heartily embraced by the individual never loses its hold on him in any substantial respect of doctrine or practice. It is but a corollary from this view that the system as an institution of society must resist all changes in itself with great vigor. That it does so-indeed that it does so
with vastly greater vigor than any competing forces—is plain from previous remarks. Its purity and completeness are its conquering state. All alteration from this state must come solely from those adverse influences whose overt action, as we have seen, it is mightily able to subdue and abate. But vastly greater power in Christianity to subdue and abate such influences on open field is really vastly greater power in it as compared with opposing forces to resist their more secret actions : provided it includes equal resources for detecting and watching these actions. This it does. It names its enemies, it vividly illustrates their general subterfuges of attack, it summons its friends to vigilance with infinite motive and almost perpetual tocsin. What could any system do more? Actually no system in the wide world is so much a caveat, requires its disciples so much to sleep in their arms, or rather labors so much to turn every disciple into a sentinel, and every sentinel into a sleepless Uriel standing in the sun