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to inform us of our duty to our Creator and to our brethren; to preach an immortality beyond the grave. All the questions of philosophy, he left as he found them, offering no opinion what systems were right, and what were wrong. These observations sufficiently account for Jesus and his Apostles using the popular language when speaking of maniacs; and it has appeared that their use of such language, is no objection to the exposition here presented, and affords no proof that they believed in the existence of demons, or in the reality of demoniacal possession.
WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIALS OF CHRISTIANITY?
No. I. In controversial writings, and in the conversation of those who are called the religious world, frequent reference is made to the essentials of Christianity. We purpose to offer a remark or two on the meaning of this phrase. We shall attempt to answer the question, What are the essentials of Christianity? What are to be considered the grand and leading characteristics of the religion of Christ? What is it that forms the substance of our religion, embodies its essence, exhibits all that is essential and peculiar, and in comparison with which, other things may be regarded as of inferior consequence, and non-essential ?
This inquiry is susceptible of different answers, according to the point of view from which we look at Christianity. It has been usual to class together a certain set of doctrines, according to some orthodox or heterodox standard, as the case may be; and to call these Christianity, by way of emphasis, or the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, the grand essentials which all must receive, else perish everlastingly. This assumes, that the essence of Christianity is placed in its doctrines; an assumption which, to say the least, is not self-evident. Admitting this, however, as true, and a part of the truth, there are other aspects of Christianity besides the doctrinal. Christianity has doctrines, undoubtedly; but it has something far bigher yet,—the moral temper which it inspires, the tone of mind which it generates, the impression of spirituality which it stamps on the character, that rectitude of will which is far more than doctrinal correctness, that charity which is greater than faith.
The question may receive three distinct answers. According to the first, Christianity may be viewed as a series of instructive facts analagous to those of nature, which we are to study and comprehend, unfold, and apply for our own edification; and in this sense, the facts of the life of Christ are Christianity. To ascertain the meaning and purpose of those facts, is to know Christianity. The preaching of the Apostles, is founded on the life and doctrines of Christ. Christianity is their testimony to what they had seen and heard. If we had no opinions or epistles of theirs, but simply a narrative of the life of Christ, an exhibition of the spirit of Christ, we should have all that is essential to Christianity; for Christ's religion is himself, living, acting, and speaking to us.
But the question is more commonly viewed in another light; and according to this, may receive another answer. Christ's religion may be regarded as a system of doctrines, or principles of truth, interesting and important for man to know. Here we might range together those great and prominent principles which pervade Christ's instructions; and they might be contained under the beads ofChrist's doctrine respecting God, his doctrine respecting man, his doctrine respecting duty, his doctrine of immortality. To some such enumeration, all Christ's teaching might be reduced. It would require no great ingenuity to refer everything taught by Christ, to one or other of those heads. Whenever he opened bis mouth and taught the multitude, it was to tell of some one or other of those great themes, of God our Father, or of man our brother; or of the priceless worth of mind, and its sanctification by obedience to the truth; or of that future life, where we reap according to what we sow, and which makes character, or the state of the inner man, the sacredest and gravest thing on earth, and constitutes selfcorrection, self-watchfulness, and self-cultivation, the grand work of life. An analysis of Cbrist's instructions, as they are recorded in the New Testament, would show them to be pervaded by a sublime trust in God, a reverence of his moral character, a submission to his will, and obedience to his commandments; transfusing themselves into every heart that gives them welcome due, and commanding a new creation there, a moral creation. It would be easy to show, that everywhere Christ's teaching recognises the great first doctrine of Judaism, and even of the purest philosophies of Gentilism, the Unity of God; so that, not only Hear, O Israel, but, Hear, O earth, Jehovah our God, is one Jehovah; " there is one God, and none other but he;" in whom centre all moral glories, all spiritual excellences, all natural perfections. The first great truth of all moral religion, of all filial trust, of every form of religious worship, that is raised above the feeling of subjection to some awful power above us, and which is called forth irresistibly even in the savage breast that “sees God in clouds, or bears him in the wind,"—the first great truth of all moral religion, of all spiritual worship, is the soul of Christ's teaching, even the goodness, mercy, and love of God; there is none good but One, good without limit, without defect, and without change; "there is none good but one, that is God;" and we express all this in words which he himself hath taught us, as often as we say Our Father. That man must be like God in his mind, in order to be blessed in himself and accepted by his Creator, because only the pure in heart can see God through the vision and communion of a kindred spirit, would be found, as another principle, running through all Christ's teaching, From the former principle, flows the doctrine of free forgiveness, through the mercy of God, and because himself loved us, and provided the means of our moral health; and from the last, or the indispensableness of holiness and obedience, follows the necessity of repentance, or turning from all evil, as the commencement of that new and better life of spiritual privilege, to which, in Christ, or through Christianity, we are called. That life is a theatre of probation, of struggle against evil, of effort toward good, in which the spirit has to put forth its power, and to labour, and strive, and work while it is day, and keep itself unspotted by corruption and temptation, is another of those all-pervading principles that run through the teachings of Christ. But the grand peculiarity of Christianity, is its moral doctrine of love or benevolence, as the fulfilling of the law; the love of God the Creator, and of our fellow-man, being the brief and comprehensive expression of all our duty. The great truth of human brotherhood, ought to be regarded rather as a fruitful and liberal source of a thousand benignant principles, than to be styled a doctrine of Christianity. It is everywhere implied; and in one well-known and oftquoted instance, that of the humane Samaritan, it is formally worked out and applied in the most beautiful apologue or parable which the heart of man ever conceived. No teaching of human brotherhood, no answer to the question, Who is my neighbour? was ever so touching and so effective as Christ's tale of the benevolent Samaritan, who ran with ready heart to succour a brother in distress, not considering what he believed or where he was born, but only what he suffered. Resurrection, retribution, and immortality, are leading principles of Christ's teaching; and no account of Christianity could be complete without them. Thus we have found, that Christianity, as a system of doctrine, contains the principles of a benevolent Deity; of holiness, trust, and love, as his accepted service; of repentance, and remission of sins through the mercy of God; of human brotherhood, and the law of love; of retribution, or receiving according to our deeds; of resurrection and immortality.
But, Christianity may be regarded in yet another light. Without the formality of doctrines, it may be viewed as an exbibition of the moral influences and aims that should direct the path of life. Supposing us to be wrong in every one of those doctrines which we have affirmed to pervade the teaching of Christ; suppose that the logical process is vicious, by which we evolve the oneness and goodness of God from the Gospel—the brotherhood of the human race, and Christ one of us--the necessity of repentance, effort, holiness, and self-denial-the law of love, and the heaven of our faith and hope; put the case, that we have mistaken in each of these deductions, and that for the Unity we must substitute something else---and for the free mercy of God something very opposite--and supernatural influences, with a vicarious redemption, for man unfolding and cultivating his own nature througb moral influences, as the preparation for coming bliss, and as the condition of present happiness; suppose the highest kind of improbability, that principles the very reverse of those we have indicated, constitute doctrinal Christianity, there still remains another view, where we are less liable to mistake, and where, with doctrinal inaccuracy, there may consist a moral salvation. We cannot mistake the character which God wishes us to have, when we look at the life and the heart of Christ. This essential of Christianity, or rather this essential Christianity, we cannot miss, unless there be singular obscurity in the language of the New Testament, or singular obtuseness of intellect, else corruptness of will in us. Imagine, for an instant, that we have wholly misconceived the language of Christ; can we mistake the spirit of his life? Do we not there see the meek and quiet spirit, which, in the sight of God, is of great price? Do we not there behold the gentleness, truth, and benevolence, which would make earth a paradise, did such influences hallow all bearts, and establish God's reign among us? Do we not then look upon the ideal or pattern of what man should aim to become, as a moral being, full of all kindly charities, and labours of love, and meek hope, and holy reverence of the high and the pure and the true? May we not say, that, independently of all doctrinal discussions, there is a common and pervading spirit of holy influences, there is a certain genius or temper, which spreads through and animates all, like the Divine presence in his works? The tone' of thought and feeling which we catch from appreciating the character of the Christ, and from feeling with him, is very distinct from what may be called the doctrines of Christianity. Even when Christian doctrine was very much corrupted, there went forth a saving and preserving power from Christ's character, which kept his religion from total and irremediable corruption. According to this view—the highest, I conceive, which we are able to take of our religionits essence is placed in the endeavour to form ourselves to our highest ideas of moral excellence; in fidelity to our own highest nature; in listening reverently to the voice, the still small voice, of our reason; in a mind open to truthful progress; in liberal feeling, pure affections, and benevolent activity; in short, the Christian temper