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would lead men to rest their religious hopes and fears not on matters of doubtful disputation, but on those essential, moral, plain, practical grounds, which are the great foundations of piety and virtue.
I see thee in thy loveliness go forth
Call round thee Genius with his gifted train,
Charge Eloquence to utter thy rebukes
Bid Poetry with all her copious store
Bid Painting shadow forth her rich designs,
WHO ARE CHRISTIANS ?
We are utterly at a loss to conceive how there can be any difference of opinion on the question, what profession of faith is necessary to constitute a man a Christian, as distinguished from an infidel; and we believe that until a comparatively recent date there has been but
one opinion on the subject. The test now adopted by Christians of the exclusive sect, is altogether arbitrary and fallacious, and to us appears opposed to reason, to the usage of all Christian antiquity, and to the plain import of the language of the Bible. It deprives of the sacred name of Christian, multitudes, who daily bow the knee at the name of Jesus, who regard the great truths of his religion as the light and solace of their intellectual existence, and who would die a thousand deaths sooner than renounce them.
In the original and correct sense of the term, a Christian is a follower of Christ, that is, one who professes to derive his religion from him, who regards him as his chieftain and guide, the author of his faith and hopes. A disciple of Moses is one who professes to derive his religion from Moses; a Mahometan one who professes to derive it from Mahomet; just so a Christian is one who relies on the teachings of Jesus, one who embraces the religion of which he was, under God, the founder.
If we carefully read the New Testament, we shall find that the faith deemed necessary to constitute a Christian by Jesus, and his apostles, was exceedingly simple. It consisted in the belief of this single proposition—Jesus is the Messiah, or Christ. Whoever made this profession was considered a Christian as distinguished from a Jew, or a Heathen; and whoever now makes it is a Christian, so far as faith is concerned. He is a Christian, as distinguished from an unbeliever or infidel, and he is authorized to complain of injustice done him, if his title to the name of Christian be denied him. Believing that Jesus is the Messiah, he believes that he was sent of God, that he was divinely raised up
and commissioned, that his religion is not, therefore, the offspring of human genius, that it had a supernatural, a miraculous origin; in other words, that it was the immediate gift of God, that it was in the strictest sense a revelation from heaven. The infidel denies this ; he supposes that Christianity originated in second causes, that it was the invention of man, a work either of imposture, or of enthusiasm. There is then a broad line of distinction between the infidel and the Christian. The Christian believes in the miraculous origin of christianity, believes that it proceeded from God, Jesus as the Messiah having received his commission from Him to teach and to save. The infidel believes nothing of all this, but supposes that Christianity started up, and was propagated in the world by mere human means.
This, we conceive, is the sense of the term Christian, as distinguished from infidel. Whoever employs it in any other sense, departs from primitive usage; he assigns to it a meaning which was unknown to Jesus and his apostles; sets up a test not sanctioned by their example.
That įhe simple proposition, Jesus is the Messiah, or Christ, the son of God, expressions, which, in the language of the Jews, were considered as synonymous, was, as we have asserted, the only article of belief required by the Founder of our religion and by his apostles, the first preachers of christianity, in order to the enjoyment of the christian name and privileges, is too obvious to need formal proof. St John tells us expressly that his desigti in writing his gospel was to establish a belief of this one plain and intelligible proposition; and this in his view was sufficient to the obtaining of eternal life. These are written,' says he, 'that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name.'—John xx. 31. This too was Peter's confesson, which was followed by the declaration of our Saviour, upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.'
" Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.'—Matt. xvi. 16–18. This too, as we are informed in the Acts, was the burden of the Apostles' preaching. What was the word, which Peter preached, which we are told, was gladly received,' and upon the reception of which three thousand converts were baptised ? • Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ,' or Messiah.--Acts, ii. 36. We might go on and quote passage after passage, in which it is distinctly asserted, or plainly implied by Jesus and his apostles, that this was the grand article of faith, and the only one, regarded by them as necessary to constitute a Christian, as distinguished from an unbeliever.
The same may be obs ved of the early Fathers of the church. All who acknowledged a belief of the