The Respect Due to Human Nature
1 Peter 2:17
Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

Among the many blessings of Christianity, I regard as not the least the new interest which it awakens in us towards everything human, the new importance which it gives to the soul, the new relation which it establishes between man and man. Christianity has as yet but begun its work of reformation. Under its influences a new order of society is advancing, surely though slowly; and this beneficient change it is to accomplish in no small measure by revealing to men their own nature, and teaching them to "honour all" who partake it. The soul is to be regarded with a religious reverence hitherto unfelt. There is nothing of which men know so little as themselves. Men have as yet no just respect for themselves and of consequence no just respect for others. The true bond of society is thus wanting, and accordingly there is a great deficiency of Christian benevolence. It may be said that Christianity has done much to awaken benevolence, and that it has taught men to call one another brethren. Yes, to call one another so, but has it as yet given the true feeling of brotherhood? Do we feel that there is one Divine life in our own and in all souls? Here is a tie more sacred, more enduring, than all the ties of this earth. Is it felt, and do we in consequence truly honour one another? Sometimes, indeed, we see men giving profound respect to their fellow creatures; but to whom? To great men; to men distinguished by a broad line from the multitude. But this is not to "honour all men," and the homage paid to such is generally unfriendly to that Christian estimate of human beings for which I am now pleading. The great are honoured at the expense of their race. They absorb the world's admiration, and their less gifted fellow beings are thrown by their brightness into a deeper shade, and passed over with a colder contempt. To show the grounds on which the obligation to honour all men rests, I might take a minute survey of that human nature which is common to all, and set forth its claims to reverence. But leaving this wide range, I observe that there is one principle of the soul which makes all men essentially equal, which places all on a level as to means of happiness, which may place in the first rank of human beings those who are the most depressed in worldly condition. I refer to the sense of duty, to the power of discerning and doing right, to the inward monitor which speaks in the name of God, to the capacity of virtue or excellence. This is the great gift of God. We can conceive no greater. Through this the ignorant and the poor may become the greatest of the race; for the greatest is he who is most true to the principle of duty. The idea of right is the primary revelation of God to the human mind, and all outward revelations are founded on and addressed to it., He in whom the conviction of duty is unfolded, becomes subject from that moment to a law, which no power in the universe can abrogate. He forms a new and indissoluble connection with God, that of an accountable being. He begins to stand before an inward tribunal, on the decisions of which his whole happiness rests; lie hears a voice, which, if faithfully followed, will guide him to perfection, and in neglecting which he brings upon himself inevitable misery. We little understand the solemnity of the moral principle in every human mind. Did we understand it, we should look with a feeling of reverence on every being to whom it is given. I proceed to observe that, if we look next into Christianity, we shall find this duty enforced by new and still more solemn considerations. This whole religion is a testimony to the worth of man in the sight of God, to the importance of human nature, to the infinite purposes for which we were framed. Men viewed in the light of this religion are beings cared for by God, to whom He has given His Son, on whom He pours forth His Spirit and whom He has created for the highest good in the universe, for participation in His own perfections and happiness. I estimate political revolutions chiefly by their tendency to exalt men's conceptions of their nature, and to inspire them with respect for one another's claims.

(W. E. Channing.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

WEB: Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

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