Now the LORD had said to Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father's house…
If it shall be seen that Christianity has done that for the world which no other system of philosophy or religion has ever effected — if its influence has been so mighty as, wherever it has comes to have civilized the savage — to have raised men in the scale of being, till they have become the first amongst nations; if in every instance, when it has had its proper influences it has exalted the individual above his race, transforming the most vicious into a model of virtue — then we have a new class of arguments in its favour, scarcely less conclusive than those more direct evidences which we first mentioned. An unprejudiced observer cannot deny that all this is true. It is a matter of too much notoriety to be controverted. The Christian nations have, at this moment, such a superiority over all others. I have to place before you, tonight, a single instance of the operation of this mighty agency, in its influence on the purity and happiness of families. I propose to show you in what manner Christianity prevents, or rectifies, the evils of domestic life, and contributes to the happiness of families. It does this in two ways.
I. By the influence of its laws on the community.
II. By the operation of its principles on the minds of individuals.
I. Let us view THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIAN LAWS ON A COMMUNITY.
1. The laws of all those nations which are called Christian are, to a considerable degree, founded on the Christian code.
2. The laws which regulate the marriage contract have an important influence on human happiness. There are three points which we shall notice as applicable to our subject.
(1) Marriage, according to the Christian religion, is a union between a single pair: the husband being permitted to have but one wife, and the wife but one husband.
(2) The Christian law makes marriage between two parties binding for life.
(3) But Christianity provides relief for the greatest injury which a husband or a wife can suffer by making adultery a dissolution of the marriage tie.
3. On the happiness of woman, Christianity has a most special influence. In temporal things she is more indebted to it than man. Her exact place in the social scale is defined in the Scriptures. Christianity, by investing her with equal religious privileges, has forbidden her husband to treat her as a being of an inferior order. "There is neither male or female, but all are one in Christ Jesus."
II. I have to show you how it contributes to the happiness of families BY THE OPERATION OF ITS PRINCIPLES ON THE MINDS OF INDIVIDUALS.
1. The first moral principle of Christianity is love. He only is a real Christian in whom this is predominant. His religion teaches him that his love must be all-pervading and quenchless. His God is represented as love. His Saviour is love incarnate, the embodiment and manifestation of Divine love to our world. On this perfect model the Christian's character must be formed. The whole system of Christian ethics is only a development of the same principles. The gospel, throughout, inculcates the most perfect courtesy and politeness: not that false and hollow code which consists of polished manners and a specious hypocrisy; but that real courtesy which seeks the happiness of others. That which the man of high life professes to be, the Christian really is. He is humble, and the servant of all. He esteems others more highly than himself. Self-denial is a duty which he has practised, as long as he has been a Christian.
2. The principles and precepts of Christianity are not merely general things which apply to the mass of mankind; but they are adapted to particular cases, and especially to domestic duties.
3. Now, such being the operation of Christianity on the character, the residence of one Christian person in a family must have an important influence on the happiness of the whole. The Christian religion qualifies alike for every station. To have learned the lesson of the gospel gives dignity and lustre to the humblest duties.
4. If such be the happy influence shed on a family by one Christian member, how much greater will it be when the head of the family is a Christian. The character and example of the master must have a great influence on the household. Besides, his will is the law by which all things are regulated and controlled. The character of the whole, will, to a considerable degree, reflect the colour of his.
5. How happy must that family be, all the members of which act on the principles of Christianity. In concluding this discourse, I would offer the following practical remarks for your consideration.
I. Recollect that what you have heard this evening is only a small and very subordinate part of the evidence in favour of the truth of Christianity. That evidence is large and conclusive, as I noticed at the commencement of this lecture. He who is in doubt should examine the whole with serious attention and candour, for his own sake: for it cannot be concealed that his everlasting happiness depends on the question.
II. Do not fall into the common mistake of misjudging Christianity by the conduct of Christians. Religion is not chargeable with the fault of its disciples. Whatever the actions of Christians may he, the rule which is given for the direction of their life is perfect. The question at issue is, not what men are, but what Christianity.
III. AS A MATTER OF DOMESTIC POLICY, YOU SHOULD ADOPT CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES. Nothing is so conducive to the happiness of families: it is therefore a point of wisdom to introduce Christian regulations.
IV. If the beneficent influence of Christianity on domestic life tends to prove its Divine origin, THIS ARGUMENT SHOULD PERSUADE YOU TO RECEIVE IT AS A REVELATION FROM HEAVEN. If it be a revelation from heaven it is worthy of all acceptation. Not confined in its influence to the narrow circle of domestic life, nor to the present world, its sublime scheme extends beyond the visible universe, and grasps eternity. It interposes between man and God, and saves the sinner from hell.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: