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question is presented to you, in whatever form, it calls on you to act. Every plan of benevolence that is submitted to you affords an opportunity to test your character, and will actually develop that character. And as if God would present to his people the highest possible inducements to devote themselves to the good of men, he has placed before them an entire world of sufferers and sinners, that they may make full proof of their Christian principle. As if he would excite them in the highest manner, he has foretold brighter days of the church, and assured us that times are advancing that shall correspond with the deepest desires of the people of God. And as if he would set his seal to the expression of Christian feeling in regard to the pagan world, he has followed the efforts of his people with a signal blessing. Now it was precisely this state of things that called forth the burning ardor of Paul. Nay, more, it was the view of the deep guilt and woes of suffering man that moved the Son of God with compassion, and led to the self-denial of his ministry, and the agonies of the garden and the cross. need not add, that if the woes and dangers of man found their way to the bosom of God's own Son, it is not to be wondered at that they should find their way also to all who are his followers. Can a man be a Christian whose bosom does not respond in this to the feelings of the Lord Jesus? If I have read the oracles of religion aright, he cannot.
Once more. Every Christian is placed amid domestic scenes and circles of friendship that will bring out his character. You have a child unrenewed. That child will soon stand at the bar of God. Nay, that child shall tread the deep profound of the eternal world, and live for ever. Need we put to a Christian parent, to excite his interest, the question whether that child shall live for ever in heaven or in hell? There is a feeling in a Christian bosom that anticipates this question, and there is much in the situation of that child to bring the Christian out and develop his character. You have a parent who has watched over your infancy, and been always kind; but that parent is not a Christian. Can there be any thing among mortal men so fitted to call forth deep feeling in the youthful Christian bosom as the sight of the parent's venerable locks, and the feeling that that parent is going unrenewed to the bar of God? You are a brother, or a sister, or a friend. The leaden, slow-moving ages of eternity are before your [unconverted friends; and what in all the universe is better fitted than this to call forth all the Christian within you to humble and holy effort to save those friends from the deep shades of eternal night? You are members of a Christian church. Does it slumber? Have the shades of a heavy night fallen on our eyelids? Are there hundreds who have no professed interest in all that the Redeemer has done to save them? Are they unrenewed, unpardoned,-what is, alas! most deeply melancholy-unconcerned, and unalarmed? They go to eternity, and they appeal to the Christian to put forth all his efforts to save them from death. You live in an age when your influence in the cause of revivals and Christian benevolence may be felt around the globe. The utmost pagan tribe; the blackest, foulest cell of guilt, and filth, and wo; the darkest dungeon of depravity on pagan soils may be reached by your benefactions. A revival of religion in any church, such as existed in the day of Pentecost, might be felt in its influence in all this land, and in every land. The development of your Christian principles, my fellow-members of the church, is what the world demands, and what the Savior who died asks of you. If his death will not do it, there are no motives in the universe that will. There is no other blood; there are no other groans; there can be no more such dying agonies.
BY ALBERT BARNES.
REASONS WHY THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER SHOULD BE DEVELOPED.
MATT. v. 14, 15, 16.-Ye are the light of the world, &c.
In my former discourse I endeavored to prove that the Christian character will be developed in all cases where there is piety in the heart; that it is not merely a matter of obligation that the piety of Christians should be manifest, but it is a matter of sober truth that where it exists it will be manifest; and that the world is admirably adapted to bring out the character of man; to show what the sinner is, what the hypocrite is, and what the Christian is, and where he may be found. In the prosecution of the same subject I wish now to furnish an answer to one single question, Why should the Christian character be made manifest, or be developed ?
Our Savior has given us the answer in the text. It is for two objects: two objects which blend themselves together, and result in the same thing,—first, that our good works may be seen; and second, that being seen, they may lead others to embrace the same religion, and glorify God by a holy life.
I. My first argument is, that religion is of no value unless it is brought out, and made manifest to the world. What is the use of light if it be hid under a bushel? What the value of parental affection unless it is brought out, so as to benefit your children? What the use of friendship, if your friend can never calculate on your aid in times of necessity? What would be the value of patriotism, if your country could not depend on you in times of danger? What is the value of the skill of a physician, unless the sick can calculate on his willingness to impart aid? What is the value of rich golden ore unless it be recovered from the earth, and turned to a circulating medium, and be made the means of comfort or of benevolence?
Just so it is with religion. What is the value of a profession of religion, where there is no living, humble, devoted piety? Of just as much value as would be the expression of parental tenderness while the parent would see his child languish with disease, and not seek relief; or sick or in prison, and not come to him: or as would be the piteous moanings of friendship, when your professed friend would see you pine in want, or incarcerated for a debt which he could easily discharge, and not lift a finger to aid you; or as would have been the professions of Washington about liberty and love of country if he had sought repose in the shades of Mount Vernon, or of Robert Morris had he hoarded his gold, and seen an army famished and naked, bleed and die without aid. What is the common value of a profession of religion where there is manifestly nothing more? What but to bring a reproach on the cause which can never be wiped away; to put an argument into the mouth of scoffers, which we can never meet; to parry all the appeals which we make to the consciences of sinners, and to hang heavy weights on the chariot-wheels of the great Redeemer?
That there will be concealment of principles in heaven-any diffident, and retiring piety where man can take refuge for want of decision, in the plea of unostentatiousness,—and where the assumption of modesty may be pleaded in
bar of the command to be seen and known as the friend of God, no man can pretend. Christ will cease, says Paul, to be admired in all them that believe; and they that be wise, says Daniel, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever; and then, says the Savior, shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of my Father.
II. The Christian should manifest his character, because he lives for nothing else. When a man is converted to God, he is prepared that moment for heaven; —that is, he has passed through the great revolution of moral feeling which will henceforward distinguish him from the wicked; and if he then dies, God will receive him to rest. It becomes then a most interesting question, why does God continue his stay on the earth? Why does he ordain that he shall still be doomed to live in a world of sin-to encounter contempt, and persecution, and poverty, and temptation, and lingering disease? Were an angel of bliss arrested in heaven, and commanded to descend to our scenes of calamity and want and wo--to be the tenant of a human body, and the object of the ribaldry and scorn of the world, it would be a case for which he would expect that some reason could be rendered. Now, whatever might be the conjectures of such a pure spirit in regard to the design for which he should live on the earth, they would not be the following. He would not conclude, 1st. That his business here was to become rich, and to lay his riches by in some useless deposit. God values gold too little to redeem a man, or to employ an angel, for the sole purpose of accumulating it. The shedding of the Savior's blood and the influences of the Holy Spirit had some other design than to brighten the faculties of man for successful purposes of gain. He who could make the mines of Potosi, or the gold of Ophir, or the diamonds of Golconda as easily as he could the coarse granite, needs no such waste of means to bring accumulated property into the universe. Nor, 2d. would it be, that he might sit down in ease, and recline on a bed of down, for the sole purpose of enjoyment. This is manifestly not the world for such repose; nor was it a part of the promises, that this should be the allotment of the Christian.
Enough of our race are influenced solely by a regard to wealth, and pleasure, and fame. Enough under the influence of native feeling, tread the paths of ambition, and cross oceans and hills in pursuit of gold. Enough crowd the places of amusement; lie down in the lap of luxurious enjoyment, and walk in the ways of pride and vanity. To this number of melancholy magnitude, it is not well that there should be added the name of the Christian. In this whole revolted world, it is well to believe that there are some who are influenced by other motives, and live for other ends.
But if the Christian lives for none of these things, what is the object for which he is continued on earth? I answer, that it is, first, that his character may be developed that the principles of the man may be brought out that it may be seen and known what he is. It is to show the signal triumphs of the grace of God, in overcoming the deep-laid native propensities of the man; in subduing wild and evil passions amid objects fitted to excite; in breaking his hold on the world, when ten thousand allurements are around; and in unclenching the hand of avarice; smoothing the brow of care; stilling the whisperings of envy; opening the heart of selfishness; and chaining down a wayward imagination to a sober, humble view of the realities of this, and the world to come. This is manifestly the design of religion as presented in the New Testament. And where this does not exist, we say that there religion has no power-that it makes no distinction between its professed friends, and other men. The second design of our continuance here is, that the evidence of our religion may so shine
as that others may be benefited by our living. For no man liveth unto himself, and no man dieth unto himself. That this is the design of the Christian's living is clear from the example of Christ and the apostles. They believed that the Christian life might be turned to great practical account. They gave themselves to the great enterprise of saving a dying world; and the world felt that they did live, and Satan's empire through all its hosts gave signs of wo that all was lost. The Christian now lives for this. The salvation of men excites a deep interest in his bosom. It is an object for which he will pray, and toil, and deny himself. I say not that it is an object for which he ought to feel, but it is one which he does feel. It is a part of the man--the thing by which he is known—which constitutes his individuality—and by which he will be estimated at the judgment-seat of God.
III. The Christian character should be developed, because there is no reason for its concealment. The Christian, so far as he is a Christian, has nothing which he desires to hide from the notice of any being, created or uncreated. This is clear from the New Testament. He that is ashamed of me and of my words before men, said the Son of God, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed before his Father and the holy angels. And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, cannot be my disciple. The life of Christ shows also that this was the grand principle on which he acted. He affected no disguise. He concealed no sentiments. His views of sinners he advanced with the utmost fearlessness. His judgment respecting hypocrites he proclaimed in their presence, at the hazard of his life. His doctrines he advanced alike amid the rich and the poor, at Jerusalem, and on the hills of Galilee. He felt deeply at the condition of dying sinners, and the impending calamities of Jerusalem; and the dignified and exalted Son of God was not ashamed to be seen weeping over the doom of the devoted city. How many Christians on the earth are there now who would feel themselves degraded to be seen weeping at the prospect of the impending damnation of sinners? How much persecution would he have saved by a prudent reserve, by concealing his tears, by a time-serving policy, by a studied trimming between the service of God and the world. How peaceful might have been his life in the hills of Galilee, if he had advanced no sentiments but such as fell in with the previous views of the people!—So judged also the apostle Paul. He felt for the condition of a dying world, and he was not ashamed to have his feelings known. He felt for the condition of men deceived in the church, and he was not ashamed to say, "I tell you even weeping that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction." Nor was he held back by any views of prudence and ease, from letting it be felt to the ends of the world that he believed men to be in danger, and was resolved that they should know his feelings at any expense of time, or toil, or pain, or blood.
Now religion affects no concealment. It has nothing to disguise. The sun, the moon, the stars, the heavens have nothing to conceal-nor has the Christian. There is not a sentiment in the Bible, nor a duty, which he wishes or is willing to conceal. There is not a doctrine, however repulsive, that he does not wish should be known, and which he is not willing by any feasible or proper way to make known. The whole operations of religion are above-board. We have no mysteries-and religion keeps back nothing from the Christian. It does not permit us to doubt that there is a hell, and that the wicked are descending there-and the Christian is willing that you should know that he thinks so. Christianity frowns on your foolish pleasures, your gayety, and fashions, and frivolity; your theatres, and places of revelry, and the Christian is not ashamed that you should know he thinks so. Christianity regards every
man as by nature the enemy of God, needing renovation, and in danger of eternal wo, and the Christian hides not this opinion. Christianity seeks the destruction of your schemes of wickedness; the humbling of the heart of pride; the annihilation of your plans of grandeur and ambition. It seeks an entire change in the feelings, thoughts, purposes, deeds, and destiny of the wicked, and is willing that you should know that this is its aim.
Now are these things which we are to conceal? Are we to shut the great truths of our redemption from the view? Or, what is the same thing, are we to live as though these were not true-are we to conceal in our bosoms that living and active principle which separates us from others, and leave the impression on them that we esteem them safe, and that we have no belief of their danger? Are we to make all the arrangements of our livings-order all the circumstances of our families-array our persons with as splendid attire, and be as gay, and giddy and thoughtless as though we were just like others-living for the same ends, and putting forth no effort for their salvation? Who is it that practises concealment? The wretch who has some plan of evil. The man who wishes to insinuate himself into your favor to obtain by fraud your gold. The infidel, the drunkard, the gambler, who is aiming at your money or your principles. The seducer, who would undermine your virtue. He who would betray your confidence who uses oily and smooth, and cunning flattery to ruin you-who overlooks your faults; commends your foibles; praises your beauty, your skill, or your learning; professes profound admiration of your accomplishments, to make you a prey to his selfish designs.-And shall the Christian be ranked with such men? Is he a man who believes a thing in his heart, and attempts to pass off a different opinion in his life? Is he a man whose characteristic it is that he wishes to convince you that he still loves the world-that he feels no interest in the salvation of man-who strives to imitate the gay, to associate with the great rather than the pious, to cultivate the society of the rich, rather than those who fear God? You have the hope of heaven. Is that a hope which it is your aim to conceal? You feel that you are a sinner. Are you ashamed that this feeling should be known? Are you unwilling that it should be known that you pray, or fear God; or can deny yourself for the cause of benevolence? Are you undistinguished from your fellow-men, except at the communion table? Then there centres all your religion. And under the plea that religion is modest and unobtrusive, that it seeks retirement, how many appear just like the men of the world-lay plans just like the men of the world-aspire to office just like the men of the world-live, feel, act, just like the men of the world-deny themselves as little, lay plans of gain as greedily, are as much moved at losses, and as little known in places of prayer, and in their closets, turn as coolly away from plans of benevolence, grasp their gold as tightly, and use their influence as reluctantly, as the men who profess to be influenced only by a regard to this world. When religion retires thus, the world may well ask, what is its value?—Nor can we find a ready answer.
IV. The Christian should manifest his religion for the sake of the power of his example over other men.
There is nothing in this world that has so much power over a man as the gospel; and there is nothing that will so affect the mind of a sinner-so try him, and bring him out, as a life of active and decided piety on the part of a Christian. But in order that this may be seen, it is proper to advert to a singular abuse of one of the loveliest traits of the Savior's life among his professed friends. The Savior was modest, was retiring, was unostentatious. He sought the shades of private life, and rebuked noise and display. He frowned on open and public proclamation of our piety, our prayers, and our alms. All this is