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sway for a season. We must not use, as one of our weapons, fraud. The monks of the middle ages thought it was legitimate to employ what they called, by the strangest inconsistency, pious frauds; they might as well speak of honest thieves or of just rogues. Nor must we use the bribe. You never can bribe a man to believe what he does not believe; you may make him, by your bribe, a hypocrite, but you cannot by any pressure of money make that man a Christian. We must not employ persecution. What a pity that that was not learned sooner. We justly charge the Church of Rome with persecuting, and holding persecuting doctrines; she can reply with tremendous effect that some of our reformers persecuted also; and there is no denying it. Knox wished idolaters to be put to death; Cranmer sanctioned persecution ; Calvin never has been perfectly defended from the burning of Servetus; even the Quakers that went to Pennsylvania persecuted. The fact is, persecution is not the property of Rome; it is an indigenous weed that grows up in the human heart. The only difference is that we Protestants have now repudiated it, because we are a reforming and improving Church ; and that the Church of Rome still retains it, because she is an infallible Church, incapable of improvement or change by the lapse of years. But let the sword be unsheathed by the foes of truth, not by its friends; for persecution never yet promoted a righteous cause ; and all the fires of Christendom cannot burn out one
truth, and all the genius of Europe cannot build great irreligious falsehood. We are to employ the truth. There is majesty in truth; there is a promise of success and a blessing to them that preach it. And that truth we are to preach boldly; not asking, Will it offend this man, or will it be palatable to that man ? but preaching the truth in all its purity and fulness, resist it who may. We are to preach the truth in love. Never does truth pierce the heart so deeply and so speedily as when it is a true word spoken in an affectionate and loving spirit. Men will not be scolded into conviction. Men will not be threatened into conviction, they will not be driven into conviction. All the terrors of hell can never convince me of a thing I am not convinced of; as a rational being I must have argument, and reason, and texts from the mouth of God; and then my judgment will be convinced, and my affections will be won also.
The Christian is to be faithful to truth, to duty, to God, faithful to death, that is, to the end ; not in the morning of life only, not in the meridian of life only; but when the grey hairs of age, and the failing pulse, and the faltering steps give tokens that man goeth to his long home, and that the golden bowl is about to be broken at the fountain.
Now mark the nature of the promise. “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” The promise is he whose word is Yea and Amen, “I will give thee a crown of life." These wills and shalls in the Bible are full of music and of
comfort. “I will give thee ;” not, you shall have it as your right; not, you may purchase it as your property ; but, I will give it by grace. “I will give thee.” Notice the individuality of this. Now what is this a token of? It is a foretaste of that day when, in the vast and surging 'mass that shall assemble at the judgment-seat of God, each individual shall be so insulated in his own feelings, that amid the awful silence he shall hear his own heart beat, and amid the intense insulation he shall feel as if he and the burning eye of the omniscient God were the only twain in the vast universe about him. “I will give thee a crown of lite.” What is the nature of this reward ? The word “crown is not the translation of the Greek word dlaồnua, which denotes the imperial diadem that a monarch wears; but it is the translation of the Greek word otepavos, which means the laurel or the bay crown given by nations to various persons who excelled. Every bride was crowned on her bridal day, and wore this onepavos as the distinguishing mark of her happy and honourable position. Then, if you turn to the Greeks, they had otepavol, the word for “ crowns,” for their actors, their poets, their painters, their wrestlers, their racers, and those that excelled in rowing, in sailing, and in all the varied games of their country. . The Romans had their naval and their military
They had crowns for special deeds of heroism. The Roman who had entered the breach, or had planted the eagles of his country on the
highest battlement of the foe, received a special
And in more modern times we shall find instances of this also. During the Republic of Rome, in 1341, Petrarch was summoned to that great capital; there, after the sound of a trumpet, and in the midst of a vast assemblage of illustrious Romans, patricians, generals, and successful soldiers, the President of the Roman Republic put a laurel crown around the poet's brow, with which he walked to St Peter's, and there laid it upon the altar, that it might be consecrated, and put upon his brow again not only an honourable, but a sacred thing.
These crowns were composed of ivy, of bay, or of laurel or oak leaves; they were no sooner wreathed around the brow of the conqueror than the chaplet began to fade, leaving but the memory of it behind. Such is the figure or imagery employed by our blessed Lord to describe that crown which he will bestow on those who are faithful even unto death.
In this world faithfulness does not always get the prize; there must be success or victory. But in that better world for which we are candidates the crown is given not to the successful only, but to the faithful; and the eulogium pronounced by our blessed Lord is not, Thou hast been successful; but “Thou hast been faithful over a few things ; and the promise of the crown here is not merely to him who is successful, but unto him who is faithful unto death. At that glorious day, when the Prince of the kings of the earth shall sit upon the throne
of His glory, and there shall be gathered before Him all nations, and the angels of heaven shall constitute his gorgeous retinue, and the stars above and all the powers of nature below shall respond to what He says; at that day, when all nature shall be wrapped in silence of the intensity of which we have now no conception, a voice will roll and echo through the universe, clear and musical, transmitting its reverberations from sea to sea, and from height to depth, and from depth to height; a voice that will have thousands of responses from glad hearts in songs of joy: “Come, ye blessed of my Father;" wear not a laurel, that fades, not an ivy leaf, that time tints, but a crown of life; “ inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world.” When the King shall sit upon the throne of His glory, there shall be all nations, people, kindreds, and tongues; as if to teach us that no nation has a monopoly of the gospel, no Church is an exclusive preserver of Christianity; for at that day they that receive a crown shall come out of every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue.