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THE MIND WHICH WAS IN CHRIST.
PHILIPPIANS II. 5. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
The divine origin of Christianity may be evinced, by a countless variety of unanswered and unanswerable arguments. Among these arguments, while there are many better fitted to confound and silence “the disputer of this world,” there is perhaps not one more calculated to produce and strengthen conviction in the honest inquirer, than that which is deducible from the perfect suitableness of the Christian revelation to the consti. tution and circumstances, the weaknesses and wants, the tendencies and capabilities of fallen humanity.
To perceive clearly, and feel strongly, the force of this species of evidence, a much deeper acquaintance with human nature, in its original principles and present state, and with the Christian revelation in its doctrines and precepts, is necessary, than the bulk of mankind are either possessed of, or inclined to acquire. But while a profound knowledge, both of the constitution of man, and of the revealed system in all its parts, is necessary to enable a man fully, to appreciate the strength of this argument, even a superficial acquaintance with these subjects, if it is but accurate so
far as it goes, is sufficient to produce a conviction that it is a very strong one. It is surely impossible for an unprejudiced mind, not to perceive in the revealed system, a wonderfully extensive and minute correspondence with the leading features of man's character and situation, as a rational, dependent, free, active, accountable, religious, improvable, immortal, guilty and depraved being; and it is equally impossible to perceive this correspondence without drawing the conclusion, that human nature and Christianity have a common Author,—that a system so suited to man could originate only with Him who “knoweth our frame, for he hath made us.”
It is a persuasion of this truth which induces us to think, that there is no department of human science, from which more extensive and va. luable contributions may be levied, for promoting the interests of Christian truth, than the philosophy of the human mind. When, by a strict adherence to those laws of induction, which have introduced so much light and order into the regions of physical science, the facts in reference to man's intellectual, and moral, and social constitution, shall be accurately ascertained and classified, the truth, beauty, and excellence of the Christian system, as suited to that constitution, will be placed in a new and most striking point of light; the natural consequence of which will be, the exposure of the futility of the arguments and objections of infidels, and the production of an increased feeling of satisfaction and security in the bosoms of reflecting believers. It would lead us into a wide but most interesting field of discussion, to follow up the general remarks now made, by a variety of particular illustrations.
Waving these illustrations, however important and interesting, as at present unseasonable, let me fix your
attention for a little on the peculiar manner in which Christianity teaches moral truth, and on its singular adaptation to the nature and situation of man. The view of human duty exhibited by Heathen moralists was not only radically defective and materially erroneous, but the manner of its exhibition was but little calculated to impress the mind, affect the heart, or influence the conduct. Abstruse reasonings about the fitness of things,-general declamations about the beauty of virtue,-cold inanimate precepts of conduct, if not contradicted, at any rate very imperfectly exemplified in their own behaviour,-might, in some degree, exercise their pupils' faculties of reasoning and memory, and render them subtle disputants and pompous declaimers, but had little tendency to enlighten their minds in the knowledge of moral truth, or to imbue their hearts with the love of moral excel. lence. It is far otherwise with the religion of the Scriptures. While the system of moral truth which they evolve is incomparably more extensive and pure than that of the Heathen moralist, it is not, like his, couched in cold generalities, in abstract uninteresting language. It «
comes home to men's business and bosoms.” It is deeply impressive, and it is perfectly intelligible. It derives this character principally, we apprehend, from the circumstance of its being embodied and exemplified in the character and conduct of Jesus Christ. We are not merely told what is right and what is wrong ; we have placed before us a person in our own nature, and in circumstances similar to ours, displaying every holy disposition, and performing every dutiful action, and we are called to contemplate, to admire, and to imitate; and as we are naturally most disposed to imitate those whom we love, this perfect pattern of excellence is one to whom we are infinitely indebted, and whom every principle of duty and gratitude calls on us to regard with a supreme affection. So well suited is Christianity, as a teacher of virtue, to a being like man, who is more easily taught by example than by precept,—who is more deeply affected by interesting facts, than by abstract reasonings, and in whom the disposition to imie tate corresponds in strength with the affection to the object of imitation.
Into this train of reflection, which will not be useless if it lead us to a more attentive consideration of the internal evidences of Christianity, an inexhaustible store of consolation and establishment to the Christian, -I have been led, by observing the apostle, in the passage chosen as a subject of discourse, summing up the whole of the Christian's duty in one short comprehensive maxim, “Let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus."
At the table of the Lord, over the instituted symbols of his holy suffering humanity, we have just been avowing our confidence in the Redeemer's atonement, our submission to his authority, and our desire to be conformed to his image. It cannot surely be unseasonable, then, shortly to consider the mode of think. ing and feeling to which we have obliged ourselves by this solemn profession, and which cannot be more comprehensively and energetically expressed than by the terms in the text, our “having the mind in us that was in Christ Jesus.” I count, therefore, on your devout attention, while I, first, EXPLAIN, and, secondly, ENFORCE, the apostolic injunction, “Let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus.”
I. The word translated “mind *," is a term of very comprehensive meaning. It is descriptive both of the
* O gover:Iw, vide Schleusner.