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manding. It is, - where it is found genuine, - it is the very character Christianity desires to enlist in its service; because, furnished with Christian principles and aims, it will move deliberately and surely onward in that improvement which bears the corruptible up to incorruption and the mortal to immortality. Why then do so many preachers misrepresent this character ? why speak of it as if it were made up
still of the vices of heathenism, and the follies of chivalry, and never had been changed in the least by the influence of our religion. Can they not see that by so doing they embalm the evil ? They insist upon it that it is manly to avenge insults. This is not true; but if they insist on saying it, they must not complain if others believe it, and if those who aspire, as the young always do, to be manly, without knowing precisely what it means, should be led by their own teaching to cherish vices for virtues, and shame instead of glory. On the other hand, men of the world mistake the Christian character yet more widely; they say to themselves, “How timid and abject it is ! how entirely it narrows the mind! how it prevents all vigorous action! It would take the man of business, and tell him to spend life in lonely musings; it would call men home from the ground of action, to cherish feelings and note down emotions; it would tell the thoughtful man to refrain from all independent research, and never to look beyond the letter.' In a word, Christianity, as men of the world understand it, is not a very forcible nor intellectual thing ; but, because it is harmless and well-meaning, they pay respect to its institutions, and to the hearts in which it resides.
We would ask, What is the prevailing idea of Jesus Christ? Do not men conceive him, with a face of delicate and surpassing beauty, with a manner of graceful humility, with an eye that could not kindle, and a brow that could not frown? Such is the form in which fancy has delighted to paint the Son of God; forgetting that he had active virtues also, and that this picture, so unlike the Oriental features, conveys not the least impression of his mind or power. We confess that this would be a trifle, did it not show that the character is misunderstood. For where is the energy that kept him in never-weary action ? where is the eye, which never slept till the last duty of the day was done? where the deep thought which gave birth to his matchless wisdom ? where the wondrous might, by which in the presence of death he kept down the mortal agony, and made the storm in his breast be still? Instead of representing one who was born of the Hebrew race, and exposed to a vertical sun, as pale and delicate, we would even prefer to take literally the prophetic description, and believe that he had no form nor comeliness, — no beauty that they should desire him ; but his visage was marred more than any of the children of men by his exposure to the elements and his long acquaintance with grief. We cannot conceive him as bent and yielding; we should look for furrows and weather-stains upon the rock of ages ; we should expect to find in his countenance the lines of patient thought, of glowing energy, of strong devotion, of courage which no suffering could break, of a heart which a thousand deaths could not bow. There never was a character, which had more force and firmness than that of Jesus Christ, and doubtless it was seen in his manner and form. The Jews said to him, “Thou art not yet fifty years old '; and from this we may gather that the head which had borne the day's sunshine and the dews of night, bore the marks of manliness, hardship, and exposure. What was it which made the officers sent by the Pharisees, return, without daring to arrest him? What was it which made the soldiers fall to the ground, when he said to them, I am he'? What was it, but the majesty with which he confronted the Roman governor, and in reply to the question, “ Art thou a king then ?' said, “Yes, I am a king.
But we must say what constitutes the manly Christian character. The foremost trait is decision of mind, supported by strength of heart. Religion is an active duty; it is not so contemplative as many suppose; it never retires to meditate, leaving any active duty undone, if it can be done. True, our Saviour retired to meditate and
but it was when the night had come, and no man could work, - when the streets of Jerusalem were still, when deep sleep was on every eye, when the mourning for a time forgot their sorrows, and the sick were relieved from their pain ; then it was, that having worked the works of him that sent him all the day, he felt at liberty to spend the night in prayer to God. He never seems to have given time to sacred thought, so long as any thing remained to do; and we fear that the
reason why men are so partial to the contemplative duties of religion, is, that it is pleasant to have the heart engaged in meditation, while it is hard to keep the hands busy in the service of God. But it is true nevertheless, that all depends, not on contemplations, feelings, and resolutions, but deeds. Active duty being thus important, it follows, that the manly trait, decision of mind, is one of the greatest excellences man can possess. Our Saviour himself possessed it in perfection ; he was never for a moment at a loss, though surrounded by those who were proposing artful questions and writing down his replies. Though snares were every where spread for him, he walked through the world with confidence and security; and there never was a moment, when any hesitation, any faltering on his part, gave the least advantage to his foes. The reason was, that he had but one star to guide him ; he had a single purpose in his breast, which he was determined to accomplish; and that was, to finish the work which was given him to do.
The reason that so many Christians are destitute of this manly decision is, that they have not singleness of heart. They wish to do their duty perhaps, but they have other purposes beside ; and, though they walk in the true path, they are perpetually turning to the right and left, to see if they cannot reconcile their fancied interest with their duty. They wish to stretch the lines of duty a little, to help their worldly prosperity, and at the same time would retain their hold upon
their eternal welfare. But a man who has not directness of purpose is double-minded, and unstable in all his ways. This is seen in the history of guilt. He who is not ready to be quite abandoned, who is haunted by the lingering remonstrances of his conscience, does not succeed in his crimes; while the wretch who is thoroughly hardened, who has no conscience left to disturb him, thinks of nothing but the accomplishment of his purpose, and becomes a successful and triumphant villain. The same is true of the Christian ; let him have a manly, direct, straight-forward purpose, and all difficulties give way before him; but, if he trifles, delays, and falters, asking whether duty requires quite so much, whether he cannot get to heaven on easier terms, he never arrives at the fidelity or blessedess of the Christian.
The other thing essential to the manly Christian character is, that this decision of mind shall be accompanied with energy of action.
Our Saviour exhibited this in every moment of life; not only did he resolve without hesitation, but he accomplished his purpose as soon as it was formed. Very different this from the usual way of men. They make up their minds that they will do a duty, and then, delighted with this victory over themselves, they sit down as self-satisfied as if it were actually done, and take care to forget that resolving is one thing, and performance quite another. If their conscience upbraids them, they put it off by saying that they will do the duty to-morrow; and this is precisely the same as saying that they will not do it now. They have no reason to think that a day will bring forth any better disposition, any holier energy; they know that time sweeps away the resolutions as well as the works of man; it always destroys, and never rebuilds nor repairs. The word tomorrow should be blotted from the calendar of life; it is a mirage, which gives encouragement ending in despair.
Nothing can be more powerfully contrasted with the general weakness of mankind in this respect, than the example of our Saviour, and those who were like him.
There was nothing violent or stern in his energy. No; for all great exertions of power are silently made. In the material world, there is no greater power than that which wheels the orbs of heaven in circles so various and vast that they bewilder the mind; while at the same time, there is no power in the universe so calmly, silently exerted. No one heard his steps as he went about doing good ; no one heard him strive or cry, or raise his voice in the streets. They could only trace his path, by the good he had done ; by hearing the tongue of the dumb, which he had unbound, growing eloquent in his praise; by seeing the eye, which he had opened, gazing for the first time
upon the face of nature, and kindling with admiration and delight. They could trace him, as we trace a stream through the wintry meadow, by the bright green which springs on its borders, while all around it is withered. It was because he obeyed at once the dictates of his heart. When the Pharisees stood before him with an air of conscious power, though the people looked with reverence upon their phylacteries and the broad blue ribbon which marked the chosen among the chosen people, though he knew that they could and would bring him to the cross; it was his duty to expose them, and he did it with an energy that made them tremble; and if we bring the scene before us, we imagine him rather with the kingly presence of an archangel than the frail and yielding form with which he is represented. We are told by Pliny, that the ancients had no likeness of Homer, but that they united in ascribing to him features which seemed expressive of his mind. The same has been done with the form and countenance of our Saviour; and the result shows that his character is misunderstood. The truth is, his tenderness derives its beauty from being associated with the grand and melancholy majesty of the priest, the prophet, and the king.
Examples of this decision and energy were found among the Apostles; not rivalling that of their Master, but still highly exalted among men.
The life of St. Paul was as striking and adventurous as the imagination ever drew; and wherever he appears, he seems profoundly intent on that high purpose which it was the business and ambition of his life to fulfil. When he stands before the Roman governor, and speaks with fearless energy of the duties and dangers unfolded by Christianity, the man of power trembles before his prisoner. When he stands in the Areopagus, where the towers and temples which he sees beneath him gave him a fearful impression of the greatness of the religion he is about to overthrow, he addresses his venerable hearers with an eloquence bold, fervent, and commanding. When he was in Cesarea, surrounded by those who loved him as their father, and who besought him with tears that he would not expose himself to certain death by going up to Jerusalem, although a prophet seconded their prayers by showing the imprisonment that awaited him there, he said, "What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.' These are incidents, which no one who has the least power to estimate manly strength of purpose, and religious selfdevotion, can read without a glowing heart. One incident shows how manfully he resisted oppression ; careless as he was of personal suffering, he made it a matter of duty never to add strength to lawless power by tamely submitting to wrongs. When he had been beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, the magistrates, finding that he was a Roman citizen, sent orders to release him; but he said, "They have beaten - N. S. VOL. VI. NO. III.