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History has but one answer. Reason has but one answer. Christianity alone-single-handed, persecuted Christianity, by the agency of twelve obscure Jews, began the wonderful change, and under the favor of God has accomplished its every step of advancement. Till such a thing as the religion of Christ appeared in the world, a reformation of heathen society was never dreamed of. Till Christians appeared among the Gentiles, none had ever adventured, none were ever disposed, to labor for the improvement of mankind. Christian writers were the first that dared to drag the abominations of classic antiquity to light, and brand them with the condemnation of truth and righteousness. The first Christian emperor issued the first prohibition of inhuman practices and amusements, which many centuries had sanctioned. Till the gospel set up its churches and gathered its disciples, the gentile world had never seen such a spectacle as that of a society united by bands of love, shining in the beauty of holiness, animated with zeal to do good at the expense of self-denial and sacrifice.
How exclusively the happy effects of which we have been speaking are the fruit of Christianity, is evident from the fact, that when you take up a map of the world and mark out the boundaries of Christendom, you mark also the boundaries of all civilization and refinement; that as you approach the regions where the Bible is best known and most obeyed, you perceive a rapid increase of all the virtues and charities and blessings of which the society of man is capable; that the highest elevation of the human char
acter is where Christianity reigns in her purest form, and the blackest page in the history of Christendom, the page most polluted with vice, and red with cruelty and murder, is the record of the people who trampled down the institutions of the gospel, decreed the living God out of existence, and attempted to raise the deities of ancient paganism from the dead. That many individuals who deny the truth, and profess to be free from the influence of Christianity, are decent men and far removed from the condition of the heathen in point of moral precept, as well as practice, is no evidence against our position. The light of Christianity is all about them, and they cannot help seeing by its aid. They have learned Christian truth from their childhood, and it cannot be unlearned. Do what they may, they cannot think or act without its influence. They may boast the sufficiency of their own reason, but they can no more exercise their reason without the aid of revelation, than they can breathe the air of spring without the fragrance of its flowers. "On all questions of morality and religion, the streams of thought have flowed through channels enriched with a celestial ore, whence they have derived the tincture to which they are indebted for their rarest and most salutary qualities."* What a community of Deists would be without Christianity, can only be known by remembering what Deists were before Christianity came into the world, and what they became when, in France, they supposed they had almost banished her from the earth.
How remarkable are the confessions of infidels to the excellent fruit and indispensable influence of the gospel. Bolingbroke acknowledges, that "Constantine acted the part of a sound politician in protecting Christianity, as it tended to give firmness and solidity to his empire, softened the ferocity of the army, and reformed the licentiousness of the provinces, and by infusing a spirit of moderation and submission to government, tended to extinguish those principles of avarice and ambition, injustice and violence, by which so many factions were formed." "No religion," says the same opposer of Christianity, "ever appeared in the world, whose natural tendency was so much directed to promote the peace and happiness of mankind. It makes right reason a law in every possible definition of the word. And therefore, even supposing it to have been purely a human invention, it had been the most amiable and the most useful invention that was ever imposed on mankind for their good." Thus even Rousseau: "If all were perfect Christians, individuals would do their duty; the people would be obedient to the laws; the magistrates incorrupt; and there would be neither vanity nor luxury in such a state." Such are the confessions of many other writers of the same class. And yet, these men would run the ploughshare through the foundations of the church of Christ, so that one stone should not be left upon another. So much for the consistency, the virtue, and disinterested benevolence of infidelity; or rather, so much for the contradiction between its head and its heart, its convictions and its vices.
I know of nothing, in the way of fact, more strikingly illustrative of the legitimate fruits of Christianity, more completely in proof that all the social and moral blessings which civilized nations at present enjoy are to be ascribed to her influence, and that what she once was, as a tree of life to the nations, she is now, and ever will be, than the history of the missions among the heathen which Protestant Christians are now sustaining. Here we have experiments of her power in all climates, over all habits and dispositions, and with all classes of mind. She has gone in among the ice-bound inhabitants of Greenland, whose intellect was as slow and sleepy and creeping as the seals they lived on, and whose hearts were as barren and cold as their perpetual snows. She has entered among the inhabitants of the southern extreme of Africa, the Hottentots, the very lowest gradation of human nature, whose souls were supposed to be as incapable of enlightening and enlargement as the instincts of the vermin that covered them. She has tried her powers among the ferocious tribes of American Indians-upon warriors nourished with blood, and breathing a spirit of slaughter which no sufferings nor dangers could ever tame. She has lifted up her voice in the islands of the Pacific, among savages, uniting with the most inhuman idolatry the most beastly vices and unnatural cruelties; and from all this heterogeneous display of unshapen depravity, by the mere influence of her truth and love, she has led forth a multitude of disciples for the Lord Jesus, in whom are found precisely the same distinctive fea
tures of meekness, humility, love, and holiness. Look at the Sandwich, or the Society Islands. Within our own times were they universally pagan, having no altars but those of demons; no law but that of violence; no morals but those of unbridled passion. Theft was the most national art. Polygamy, crimes against nature, the murder of prisoners taken in war, the destruction of infants, and the sacrificing of human victims, prevailed throughout their population. What is the change? Where are now their idols? In the museums of our missionary societies, as trophies of the victories of the cross, or cast "to the moles and the bats" by those who once adored them. The plan and mould of society have been recast. Laws, wisely enacted and well administered, keep the peace and promote improvements. Crimes of all kinds are obliged to cease, or go into concealment. Marriage has given parents new affection for their children, and their children new ties among each other. Benevolence, unknown before, has awakened a desire to go about doing good. The Sabbath is reverenced and widely observed for rest and worship. The arts of peace are cultivated where formerly the only art desired was that of war. The march of civilization is visible in all domestic comforts and private affairs; in agriculture, commerce, buildings, cleanliness, dress, manners, and government. Schools are spread through the islands, and education is eagerly sought by a large portion of the people of all ages and classes. Such are the fruits of Christianity in our day. Nothing else could have produced such fruits. Just after