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a voice from without-how it should respond to the voice; and the light of conscience, thus résuscitated and restored, should meet and be in harmony with the external light that has awakened it. But still the question recurs, who lifted that voice at the first; and whence, or in what quarter, did the light arise ? Both in the Islands of the South Sea, and in the North American wilderness__large portions of the territory have been reclaimed; and the men formerly of savage life, whose consciences had lain in a state of dormancy and delusion from time immemorial, are now awake to the pure morality of the Gospel—not however in virtue of a light that sprung up among themselves, but of a light brought to them by missionaries from afar. Thus it is, we historically know, that the local darkness in every particular country of the world has been dissipated—by a visitation from abroad, by a movement from some region of light to this region of barbarism. This gives a sort of experimental solution to the question—whence did light break in upon the world at the first; or at the period of its universal darkness, when that pure and perfect system of morality, the introduction of which requires to be accounted for, was nowhere to be found_how and from what quarter, must it not have been from beyond the world, that the invasion was first made ?* “ When darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the people, the Lord,” it is said, “ shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” “When the people which sat in darkness saw great light, when on them which sat in the region and shadow of death the light shone”– did it spring up from the earth itself, or was it a supernal light which shone over them? Might it not have been a super-human light, although it met with a reflection in human bosoms ? Might it not have been a super-human voice that first gave utterance to those lessons of highest virtue, although it called forth a response and an echo from the consciences of men ?
* The first origin of civilization in the world is a controversy charged with principle. If history, which it seems to do, countenance or confirm the assertion that it never arose spontaneously in any nation—this points strongly to the conclusion of a primary revelation.
6. It might help us to pronounce on this question all the more confidently, if we look to the state of the Jews at the time of our Saviour-to their exclusive, their inveterately national principle, and contrast it with the more generous and expansive principle of our own Christianity—the one being obviously a system for a nation, the other as obviously a system for the species. Who, it may be repeated, could be the first author of such an enlargement ? It follows not from any distinction of ours between the ethics and the objects of revelation, that, however competent for humanity to own the lesson, it was therefore competent for humanity to have framed it—and, more especially, cumbered, as the universal mind of society then was, by the weight of those prejudices which it was called upon to renounce. The light which appears in the very midst of this darkness, could not, we apprehend, have been originated there. In the history of the apostles themselves, we recognize
slowness and the extreme difficulty of its
reception, by a merely Jewish understandingwhich, though at length brought to acquiesce in the system, could never have devised it. In the very nature of that system, and more especially when taken in connexion with the circumstances in which it arose, we have an internal evidence for the divinity of its origin. To teach that which is not only repugnant to the taste, but at variance with all the hereditary and long established notions of society—to have germinated, in the heart of a dark and narrow region, a system of morality, that conflicted at the time with all which was immediately around it, but now receives the homage of every enlightened and well-exercised spirit in Christendom—such a phenomenon closely approximates to a miracle, or rather possesses all the characters of an event as extraordinary. If to do that which is beyond human strength be a miracle of power, and to prophesy that which is beyond human foresight be a miracle of knowledge
-then for a carpenter of Galilee to have taught, or for fishermen of Galilee to have promulgated that which was beyond human discovery, and surely beyond all the means and likelihoods of a discovery by them, this may well be termed a miracle of science or a miracle of sentiment.
17. This conclusion is greatly strengthened, when we attend in detail to the moralities of the Gospeland, more especially, to those of its original moralities which may be regarded in the light of a protest against, not merely the universal practice, but till then the universal sense and feelings of mankind. Its prescribed love of enemies—its law
of universal purity, extending to the imaginations of the heart as well as to the overt acts of the history—its moral estimation of the superiority which lies in the desires and purposes of the inner, over the deeds and observations of the outer man _its equal and diffusive benevolence, without the abjuration at the same time of those relative sympathies which bind together the members of the same family—its high standard of charity, the love of one's neighbour as one's self; and withal, the extension of this neighbourhood so as to embrace the men of other climes and other countries than our own, embracing all in fact as we have the opportunity—its respect for rank and yet the honour in which it requires us to hold all men, so as to maintain unbroken the distinctions of civil life while it dignifies and exalts the very humblest of the species—the equal estimation in which it holds rich and poor on the high scale of immortality, and yet the homage which it pays to nobility and office, giving to this world's authority all its prerogatives while reserving for the objects and interests of another world all their immeasurable value--its self-denial—its profound humility and self-abasement_its renunciation of pleasure and ambition and vanity_its walk of faith rather than of sight its just comparison of the magnitude of time with that of eternity-above all, its entire subordination to God whom it teaches us supremely to love and implicitly to obey— These are the leading characteristics of the morality of the Gospel, new to the world at the time of its publication, however fitted to recommend itself to the moral nature, not extinct though under obliteration, given to men at the first and coeval with the species. And not only is this the morality which most approves itself to the calm and enlightened judgment of men, but, in act and in experience, is it found to be the best for the happiness of the world—a regimen of peace and charity and righteousness that of itself would turn earth into heaven; and when once universal, which it is its obvious tendency at length to become, then, in the great and glorious renovation that ensues, the brightest visions of prophecy will be fully realized. The same gospel which gladdens every heart and every family that it enters, would turn the dwelling-place of every nation whom it christianizes into a gladsome land; and, when once commensurate with the globe and of complete operation on all who live in it, it would revive and regenerate the whole earth. Other codes and other constitutions have been framed for the separate countries of the world, and they tell the wisdom of their respective but earthly legislators; but this, in its characters alike of goodness and of greatness, and withal of boundless application, obviously announces itself as the code of humanity—and bespeaks the comprehensive wisdom of Him, who, devising for all times and for all people, is the Legislator of the species. It is not the workmanship of a few peasants in Judea. The perfection of its moral characteristics, the greatness and perpetuity of its results_both speak to us of a different fountainhead, and decisively point to us the celestial origin whence it must have sprung.