The Great Purpose of Christianity
2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Why was Christianity given? Why did Christ seal it with His blood? Why is it to be preached? What is the great happiness it confers? I read the answer to them in the text. There I learn the great good which God confers through Jesus Christ. "He hath given us, not the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." The glory of Christianity is, the pure and lofty action which it communicates to the human mind. It does not breathe a timid, abject spirit. If it did, it would deserve no praise. It gives power, energy, courage, constancy to the will; love, disinterestedness, enlarged affection to the heart; soundness, clearness, and vigour to the understanding. It rescues him who receives it from sin, from the sway of the passions; gives him the full and free use of his best powers; brings out and brightens the Divine image in which he was created; and in this way not only bestows the promise, but the beginning of heaven. This is the excellence of Christianity. In reading the New Testament I everywhere learn that Christ lived, taught, died, and rose again, to exert a purifying and ennobling influence on the human character; to make us victorious over sin, over ourselves, over peril and pain; to join us to God by filial love, and above all, by likeness of nature, by participation of His Spirit. This is plainly laid down in the New Testament as the supreme end of Christ. In the prophecies concerning Him in the Old Testament, no characteristic is so frequently named as that He should spread the knowledge of the true God. Now I ask, what constitutes the importance of such a revelation? Why has the Creator sent His Son to make Himself known? I answer, God is most worthy to be known, because He is the most quickening, purifying, and ennobling object for the mind; and His great purpose in revealing Himself is, that He may exalt and perfect human nature. God, as He is manifested by Christ, is another name for intellectual and moral excellence; and in the know ledge of Him our intellectual and moral powers find their element, nutriment, strength, expansion, and happiness. To know God is to attain to the sublimest conception in the universe. To love God is to bind oneself to a Being who is fitted, as no other being is, to penetrate and move our whole hearts; in loving whom we exalt ourselves; in loving whom we love the great, the good, the beautiful, and the infinite; and under whose influence the soul unfolds itself as a perennial plant under the cherishing sun. This constitutes the chief glory of religion. It ennobles the soul. In this its unrivalled dignity and happiness consist. I fear that the world at large think religion a very different thing from what has been now set forth. Too many think it a depressing, rather than an elevating service, that it breaks rather than ennobles the spirit, that it teaches us to cower before an almighty and irresistible being; and I must confess that religion, as it has been generally taught, is anything but an elevating principle. It has been used to scare the child and appal the adult. The main ground of the obligation of being religious, I fear, is not understood, among the multitude of Christians. Ask them, why they must know and worship God? and, I fear, that were the heart to speak, the answer would be, because He can do with us what He will, and consequently our first concern is to secure His favour. Religion is a calculation of interest, a means of safety. God is worshipped too often on the same principle on which flattering and personal attentions are lavished on human superiors, and the worshipper cares not how abjectly he bows, if he may win to his side the power which he cannot resist. I look with deep sorrow on this common perversion of the highest principle of the soul. I have endeavoured to show the great purpose of the Christian doctrine respecting God, or in what its importance and glory consist. Had I time, I might show that every other doctrine of our religion has the same end. I might particularly show how wonderfully fitted are the character, example, life, death, resurrection, and all the offices of Christ to cleanse the mind from moral evil, to quicken, soften, elevate, and transform it into the Divine image; and I might show that these are the influences which true faith derives from Him and through which He works out our salvation. Let me only say that I see everywhere in Christianity this great design of liberating and raising the human mind.

(W. E. Channing, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

WEB: For God didn't give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.

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