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WHAT DO YE MORE THAN OTHERS?
By Rev. FREDERIC D. HUNTINGTON.
PRINTED FOR THE
American Unitarian Association.
118 WASHINGTON STREET.
Price 3 Cents.
WHAT DO YE MORE THAN OTHERS?
“What do ye more than others ?” Jesus puts the question to his followers, – to the listening company gathered about him on the Mount of Olives. He is setting before them the breadth of the Christian commandment, the depth of the Christian doctrine. He holds up to them the magnitude of the true Christian purpose ; and he shows that purpose to be higher, infinitely, and nobler, than the barren formalities of the publican, or the canting hypocrisy of the Pharisee. The mere outward sacrifice, he tells them, and he tells us, – the sacrifice laid heartlessly upon the altar of stone, – is a much less worthy thing than forgiveness and reconciliation with an offended brother. The forsaking of outward evil is but a light matter, compared with that inward renewal, that spiritual renovation, which prompts the cutting off, if need be, of the right hand, and the plucking out of the right eye, or the denial of any selfish passion by which offence might come. Not injury for injury, not retaliation for wrong, , not the old, stern code of revengeful bitterness, is to be the rule henceforth of life and temper ; but the left cheek turned when the right is smitten, a double kindness to
the exacting and the oppressor, love for one's enemies and not for friends alone, sympathy for the sufferer, blessing for cursing, benevolence for hatred, and prayers for the persecutor. And then — after this glowing succession of thoughts and principles of action, the sublimest ever spoken, poured forth with the earnestness, naturalness, and simplicity of a genuine prophet, with the heavenly fire in his soul — come those searching questions, -“If ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute (or regard with honor] your brethren only, what do ye more than others ? Do not even the publicans so ?” And then follows that celestial precept, — "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."
It is the effect of expressions like these, and probably a designed effect, to bring a fresh glow of feeling and aspiration over our whole religious nature; to touch us also, if we are capable of being deeply stirred, with the divine beauty of goodness ; to deepen our sense of obligation, and give new intensity to our resolution to live righteously ; to renovate, for the time at least, the whole moral atmosphere of our being; to lift us upward, though but for one moment, to the serene and spiritual elevation of Christ, above the Olivet where he stood and spake, to the higher than Sinai mount, where we get new glimpses of duty and strong convictions of truth, and commune with God.
“What do ye more than others ? ” I proceed to unfold the doctrine that it is proposed to draw from these words. The doctrine is, — That what men are constantly
admitting, by their common speech and common actions, respecting the truth of Christianity and the importance of Christianity, holds them, in all consistency, to be really Christians, and to live a Christian life. We are continually granting, in one way and another, that the Christian religion is a very necessary thing to the world ; necessary to the society in which our lot is cast ; necessary to our own individual selves. Then, I say, we are bound to treat it accordingly, to deal with it agreeably to that great admission. I speak, of course, when I say this, of those who are nominally Christian, - of such as call themselves, and rejoice to call themselves, and claim to be called by others, members of a Christian community ; who concede the authenticity of the revelation recorded in the Gospels. Open unbelievers, or avowed skeptics, are for the present left out of view. They are not included under that class of persons addressed in the argument before us. And yet I believe it would not be difficult to construct a very logical process of reasoning, by which it should appear that they also are making, in different modes, more concessions than they are aware to the spirit and the authority of our faith ; concessions by which they too stand committed to meet the requisitions of this faith, and become disciples.
But we are concerned now with nominal Christians ; and the position we take respecting them is, that their nominal belief binds them to an actual belief, a belief that will show itself in devout affections of piety and work itself out into deeds of righteousness. These profess, sometimes, perhaps, almost unconsciously to themselves, more than others. The world, then, has • VOL. XIX. — NO. 235.