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soul. Wherever the attempt has been made to ex-. tend Christianity by the sword and by conquest, it has been, where spiritual darkness and corruption have prevailed, and where the light and glory of the church had departed.
The religion of Christ is not to be extended over the world by the power of intellect, or the force of human reasoning, persuasion or eloquence. Although God employs men of great intellectual powers, and endowments; and although the work, to which he calls them requires mind of high order and cultivation; yet by these alone, nothing could be accomplished. Mere human reasoning, however powerful, is insufficient to convince the depraved mind of the truth; and no persuasive eloquence, though it were that of a seraph, can convert the soul, or dislodge the fatal influence of sin, which sways its powers. What can mere argument or persuasion do, to change the heart, in which sin holds its dominion, and to bring it under the influence of boliness? If men ever profess to surrender to such weapons, that citadel within, which Satan fortifies, remains untouched, and he holds it still in his undisturbed possession.
This kingdom is not to be advanced and estublished, either by an alliance with, or aid from, the civil governments of the earth. From the corrupt principles on which civil governments have been established, and the corrupt policy they pursue, even in their greatest perfection, any alliance of Christianity with them, would only have a tendency to tarnish its purity; and any aid which could be rendered by them, would only operate to promote an outward conformity, from motives of interest, or the influence
of fashion; but could never advance it in its experience and power. Wherever such an alliance has taken place, religion has always been made the obsequious servant of the state; and to become so, it must be rifled of its glory, and degraded, and brought down, from its own high and divine dignity and independence.
Christianity is destined, by its divine Author, to occupy a higher station. However infidelity may sound the alarm of danger of an alliance between church and state in our highly favored country, we will not disguise our expectations, that the religion of Christ is yet to obtain the ascendency, not only in this, but every other government in the world, and that its 'principles are to pervade every mode and form of their administration. No form of government, however there may be degrees of excellence, will be perfect, until then: and then, whatever may be their form, the people under them will be free and happy. Christianity, we do believe, is yet to ascend every throne, and sway every sceptre, in the world; not as she once ascended the throne of the Cæsars, to be corrupted by the embrace of unsanctified royalty—not to sanction oppression and crime—not to be clothed with purple, and decked with a diadem, to cover the pollutions contracted in her elevation; but by reigning in the hearts of rulers, diffusing, and rendering operative, her principles of justice, equity, and love; purifying the fountains of civil power, and rendering all governments, what they ought to be, blessings to mankind.
It is not by great religious establishments, supported by compulsory exactions from the poor, to main
tain a pampered and subservient priesthood, in splendid idleness; it is not, by legislative enactments of moral duties, either to be violated with impunity, or enforced by the execution of civil penalties,-that this holy religion is to gain its dominion, or exert its benign influence. It is by its silent operation, pervading all hearts, from the lowest to the highest, that it is to make the framers of human laws ministers of peace, and those who execute them promoters of righteousness. This ascendency of religion, will not be accomplished by the craft or ambition of its professors—not, by their seeking for, or grasping after, political elevation—not by their efforts, by intrigue, or sycophancy, to seize upon, or to guide, the reins of government—not by endeavoring to ascend to the high places of the earth: but it will be, by the resistless energy of the truth, as it shall make its way to the hearts of the great and mighty, as well as the mean and obscure,-teaching them, by its influence, its principles, and its precepts, to be the benefactors, and not the oppressors, of their race—teaching those elevated to the highest stations of honor and power, that they are not exalted, for their own interest, or aggrandizement, but to promote the peace, and happiness, and prosperity, of the human family, and to advance His glory, by whom kings reign, and princes decree justice; and whose ministers they are, to execute his will.
We now notice the positive description which is given of the weapons of the church's warfare in subduing the world to Christ. They are mighty through God.
Reference to a few passages of Scripture, and a glance at the history of the introduction and progress of Christianity, will be sufficient to illustrate the Apostle's meaning. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the Power of God, unto salvation, to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For Christ sent me, not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel; not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God. But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews, and Greeks, Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
From these passages, and many others, it is obvious, that the gospel-and especially the preaching of Christ -is the chief weapon, by which God pleases to exert his mighty power, for the conversion of men. And they cannot be fairly interpreted on any other principle, than that the saving effect is accomplished by the direct exertion of divine power, through it, on the understandings and hearts of men. are mighty through God; not by any inherent power, but by the influence of the Holy Spirit, making the word of God, quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword. The Apostle, in all the success which attended his exertions, assures us, that he preached the gospel, not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and with power; that faith should not stand, in the wisdom of
men, but in the power of God. He knew that the strong fortress of sin in his own heart, defended as it had been by all the pride of human learning, and pharisaical righteousness, had been subdued by, and induced to surrender to, that power alone. And that the high imaginations of prejudice and self-sufficiency, which had exalted themselves, in his bosom, against the knowledge of God, had been cast down, by the simple exhibition, to his views, of the melting spectacle of Christ crucified.
The philosophy of the mind composed no part of the education which the Apostle received when he sat at the feet of Gamaliel. Although he knew nothing of the science, he gives us the result of his own experience in the school of Christ. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. If the modern persuasion of mental science, in its application to theology, to the exclusion of the direct operation of the Holy Spirit on the heart in conversion, had been directly in his view, we cannot conceive of a caution, more applicable to the case, than that which he had given. Beware, lest any man spoil you, through philosophy, and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Three thousand stubborn hearts were made to yield to Christ, on the day of Pentecost. By what power? The force of argument, contained in Peter's simple sermon? or the fervid eloquence with which it was delivered? Was it because the minds of those con