G. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) Hallock.

The English pulpit : collection of sermons online

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— mine emphatically — " that ye love one another." It is the badge
of discipleship : " By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,
if ye love one another." Philosophers and teachers had given to their
disciples some peculiar sentiments or mark. Says Christ, Love shall
be the badge of my disciples ; and let that man be accounted an im-
postor, a pretender, a hypocrite, whatever else he may have, who has
not my mark upon him, and is not distinguished by love to his breth-
ren.

Such, brethren, is love. How excellent ! Love, without any sel-
fish, interested ally, neither darkened by hatred nor shaded by caprice,
19 an attribute which pertains to Deity, and that which sums up all the
others. This fair spirit sits enthroned in the heavens, where she lives
as a principle omnipotent, an clement Divine ; she dwells in brightness
and in eternity with the Almighty. Her music is the song of the an-
gelic host, the sigh of the sympathetic spirit, the prayer of the humble
and the contrite, the gratitude expressed to the author of every mercy,
and the word of kindness dropped from the lip of charity. Love pre-
vailed over the creation of the world, made man almost an angel, and
gave him as his residence a paradise almost a heaven. Love preserves
the harmony of the upper sphere, and marks out the progress of the
soul through troubles here, and immortality hereafter. Her form was
seen, her voice was heard on earth, when the Son of God became in-
carnate ; and he has bequeathed to his church, as an inestimable lega-
cy, the power of love, as the essence of his religion.

But, brethren, is there all this beautiful display of love amongst us
that there should be ? If an angel that knew nothing of ecclesiastical
history, but was totally unacquainted with all the details of its darken-



CHRISTIANITY A SYSTEM OF LOVE. 101

ed page, and knew nothing of the church of God, but that it was a com-
pany of men and women, redeemed by the precious blood of hira who
became incarnate, before whose throne he bowed, regenerated bj the
same Spirit which had filled hia heavenly mind with hoUness, and des-
tined for that blessed world, fr^m which he had dropped down upon
men — I say, if such a visitant came among us, what kind of beings
would he expect to see in men and women thus circumstanced ? Would
he not look that they should appear as so many sparkling forms of pure,
bright love, so cemented to one another by their common love to their
Divine Father and his to them, as that they should scarcely have any
separate interest, inclination, or will — all filled with the most compla-
cent benignity one towards another, each contributing to the happiness
of all, and all building up the happiness of each ; who though perad-
venture they may not in all things think alike, nor be marshalled under
the banner of one particular regiment, yet would never allow their dif-
ferences to embitter their hearts, or to alienate their aficctions one from
another ; in short, would he not expect to find in our world so many
pieces of immortal glory, flashing the lustre of that world from which
he himself came ? Alas ! what grief he would feel, what disappoint-
ment he would experience, at hearkening to the bitter controversy and
witnessing the wide alienation of professing Christians ! Would he not
conclude that he had lost his way, mistaken his world, lighted upon
some other abode than that to which he had directed his course. Would
he not say, I came in search of the blood-bought church, the love-ce-
mented multitude ; and do you mean to say that this is it ? Is it for
this divided, discordant church, the Son of God died upon the cross ?
Oh ! where is the fruit of his agony, the answer of his prayer ? Breth-
ren, do we not deserve the rebuke ? does not the reproach lie upon us ?
God helping us, we will put it away. But is it not true, that the bitter
and thorny aloe of Christian contention is quite full blown upon the
steps of the Christian temple ? Is it not true, that the nettle andT the
bramble grow luxuriantly in its course ? Is it not true, that birds of
discordant notes utter their screams around ? Well, thanks to Jeho-
vah, we are beginning, I trust, to displace these plants of deformity,
and to raise in their room the myrtle, the fir-tree, and the ohve, from
whence the voice of the turtle, the emblem of peace, shall be heard
through the length and breadth of the land. So that ere long, if an-
other visitant come to our world in search of the blood-bought multi-
tude, the love-cemented church, we shall be able to present to him
something that will not disappoint him, cause him to droop his wings,
and to go back to his heaven with a dejected countenance.



102 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

n. Now, brethren, let us consider, secondly, one or two reasons,
why the different denominations of evangelical Christians should exer-
cise this love one towards another.

And, in the first place, is there not an agreement in our views of the
fundamental doctrines of Christianity ? Do we not hold the inspiration
and the sufficiency of the Scriptures, the Divine Trinity of Persons in
the essence of the Godhead, the incarnation of the Son of God, and the
atonement and salvation of the world, the great Protestant docti-ine of
justification by faith, the regeneration and sanctification of the human
soul by the Spirit, and the necessity of holiness as the evidence of real
faith ? What ! shall I hold back from the Episcopalian who with me
acknowledges the doctrine of the Trinity, because his views of church
government differ from mine ? Shall I refuse my hand to the Presby-
terian because he thinks the church should be governed by elders, by
the many, instead of each particular congregation being independent ;
while at the same time he believes the incarnation and atonement of
Christ ? Shall I refuse communion with my Methodist brethren, be-
cause they do not see with me in the doctrine of election, and the per-
severance of the saints ; while I see eye to eye with them on the doc-
trine of justification by faith and regeneration by the Spirit ? Shall I
scowl on the Baptist, because he refuses to receive children at the font ;
while at the same time he holds with me all the fundamental truths of
Christianity ? Brethren, if I retire from a man, because of a differ-
ence of minor importance, do not I disparage the grand principles of
agreement and set the minor ones above them ? If I do not hold com-
munion with him, because we differ in small things, am I not thereby
throwing discredit on the great and fundamental doctrines of God's
blessed word ?

But this is not all : the great evangelical body, in all its divisions
are agreed, secondly, in views of personal, vital, and experimental re
lig^n. Philosophers may be united on the principles of science, be
cause science has no necessary connexion with the state of the heart
and does not necessarily depend for evidence on the state of the heart
But the doctrines of Christianity do ; they are not like the aurora ho
realis floating in the pure regions of the atmosphere, but doing nothing
for the fertilizing of the globe. The doctrines of the gospel are not
like gems in a cabinet, deposited there for show, and not for use ; they
are all vital principles of action — means of sanctification. And, my
dear Methodist brethren, here we are one. You and I agree most
perfectly that no man is a Christian because he was born in a land so
called ; and that no man becomes a Christian by mere baptism. We
hold together the religion of the affections ; we hold the necessity of



CHRISTIANITY A SYSTEM OF LOVE. 103

"joy and peace in believing," as the evidences of faith; we hold in
common the -witness of the Holy Spirit, either direct or indirect, or
both ; and therefore, in all the principles of experimental and vital re-
ligion, we are one, and are called upon, in the exercise of love, to
" serve one another."

Again : we are engaged in a common work, and through Divme
grace are blessed with a common success. Yes ; what are we about ?
Striving one and all to bring into execution the plans of the eternal
mind, in reference to our world ; to carry into application the death of
the Son of God upon the cross ; to fulfil the purpose for which the
Spirit is poured out from on high, and the Scriptures are written. And
we have all done something for this.

Brethren, I honor you. You have carried the lamp of salvation in-
to almost every nook and dark corner of our land ; you have covered
the country with your chapels ; your patriotism is seen in your piety —
in what you are doing for the country. Then I turn my attention from
home to foreign parts. You have aided to burst the manacles which
fettered the slave, and to give liberty to a hundred thousand believers
in the West Indies. In connexion with your Baptist brethren, and
that illustrious man, whose name in your kindred society will to-morrow
be mentioned in tones of grief and with tears of sorrow, you have done
more ; for you have given the liberty, wherewith Christ makes his peo-
ple free, to these slaves, as they were once in the body. I view your
progress in New Zealand, Polynesia, and South Africa, with gratitude
and delight. I look upon that splendid blossom of missionary hope and
prospect, your mission upon the Gold Coast of Western Africa. I turn
to Ceylon, and to other parts of the world, and thank God for the to-
kens of his favor, which he has granted you there. We, brethren,
have done something mighty ; there is no room for jealousy — none for
envy. And here, on the ground of common success, is a reason for
our loving and serving one another. When Cowper, the poet of pa-
thos and piety, was recovering from that direful malady under which
he suffered from the hand of God, and in public worship was acknowl-
edging his thankfulness to the Author of his mercy, in the same pew
there sat with him an individual, whose heartfelt gratitude was over-
flowing in a hymn of praise, in which he seemed so heartily to join, that,
says Cowper, " I could not help saying in my heart, bless you for prais-
ing him thus, whom I so much love." I catch the sentiment, and I
say to my Methodist brethren, bless you for all you have done for that
dear Savior whom, without presumption, I dare afl5rm I love. And I
doubt not, dear friends, that the response will come back from your



104 THE ENaLISH PULPIT.

society to ours, and we shall bless one another, and God for each oth-
er, for what we are doing together.

in. Now, thirdly, I go on to consider in what kind of service we
are to manifest our love to each other, as different denominations.

And here, my brethren,! advocate nothing latitudinarian ; I ask for
no compromise ; for as long as denominational differences exist, there
must be denominational preferences. And we love our denominations,
because each of us deem them most accordant with the word of God,
and there is the ground of our love to them. I am no advocate for that
spurious philosophy, which sprung up some forty or fifty years ago,
which proposed to build a system of universal benevolence upon the de-
struction of individual tenderness ; as if we could love the whole more,
by loving each particular part of it less. The order of nature is to pro-
ceed from species to genus, from individual to generality, from that
which is near to that which is remote. Every man, by taking care of
his own soul first, is better prepared to take care of the souls of others ;
he who looks well to his own family is conti-ibuting to the well-being of
the country ; the farmer that takes care of distant fields is expected,
first of all, to begin with his own ; and so we are expected, in our love
to the universal church, to begin with that section of it to which we
may each respectively belong. Therefore I ask for no relinquishment
of attachment or attention to that particular part of the great family of
God to which we belong ; but I ask, that we engage in all those exer-
cises for each other, by which we can manifest our love, and serve each
other without in the smallest degree injuring that part of the church
with which we are more intimately connected.

And how shall we do this ? By purifying our controversies from all
wrath, malice, uncharitableness and evil speaking ; by avoiding all mis-
representation of each other's sentiments, caricaturing each other's sys-
tems, or deducing from each other's principles inferences which we
should repudiate with abhorrence ; by being careful not to exaggerate
the points on which we differ, till we seem to make them of equal con-
sequence with those on which we agree — which, to my idea, seems to
be the very essence of sectarianism ; by doing nothing to each other
which may lower us in public opinion ; by rooting out all the prejudices
of education and of sect, by extinguishing all envy of each other's suc-
cess ; by abstaining from all suspicion and doubt as to the sincerity of
each other's motives ; by refraining from all underhand proselyting,
and by not exposing each other's weaknesses ; and, may I now say, by
embracing that discovery of modern charity, that what affects the whole
affects each part, that what strengthens the body strengthens each



CHRISTIANITY A SYSTEM OF LOVE. 105

limb, and that -what weakens that body, weakens each member. If
Poperj and Infidelity triumph, it is at the common expense of us all ;
if a cloud of reproach hang over the church of God generally, the
cold, chilling and withering jower of it will be felt by each of us.
And what cloud is so dark, what is so withering, as the dissensions cf
the Christian church ? Infidelity, like a vulture, scents the smell of
battle from afar, directs her course to the field of conflict, and gorges
and fattens on the blood of the combatants. Popery, like the witches
and the wizards of the dark ages, carries on her incantations amidst
the uproar of the elements, and the storms that are raging. Brethren,
let us disappoint the appetite of the vulture, and the malice of the wiz-
ard ; let us come closer to each other ; let us come nearer and nearer,
for our common defence and for our common sympathy. " Divide and
conquer," is that watchword which was handed up from hell by Satan
to his emissaries ; " Unite and resist," is the counterword which heav-
en gives to us all. And then, brethren, — to make it bear upon the pres-
ent object of our meeting, — " union is strength," inasmuch as the divid-
ed state of the Christian world appears to me to be one of the mightiest
obstacles in existence to the conversion of the Redeemer's kingdom, God
will not employ his church to bring on the millennium, till that church
is more harmonious. We must be calm, dignified, tranquil, holy, peace-
ful, to be fit for the great work to which God has called us. He em-
ploys the graces, and not the furies, to fulfil his purposes of mercy to
mankind. Like, then, the tribes of Israel, each bearing its own' stand-
ard, but all collecting round the ark, let us move onward, all standing
together under the cooling shadow of the cloudy pillar, and reflecting
together the brilliant splendors of the fiery symbol that led the conse-
crated host through the wilderness. Depend upon it, a harmonized
church must be the precursor of a converted world ; an^, to my eye,
one of the brightest signs of the times, one of the most decisive marks
that God is about to bless us all in advancing his cause on the earth is,
that he is bringing us all nearer to each other.

But this is not all : we must serve each other by reciprocal help in
pecuniary matters. Oh ! say some, I cannot in conscience subscribe
my money to a society that propagates what I consider to be error. I
doubt, my brethren, this is rather the logic of the pocket, than of the
conscience ; because, upon the ground of the objector, I would say,
you will admit there is more truth than there is error in this denomi-
nation which seeks your support ; one part error, perhaps, and nine-
teen parts truth ; and then, if you will not give your money to propa-
gate error, you should give your money to propagate truth ; and, sure-
ly, the nineteen parts have a greater claim upon your support than the



106 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

one part is repellent. Besides, the man that argues thus, should be
quite sure that he is infallible, and that there is no subtle mixture of
error in anything of his own ; and few of us, I suppose, claim infalli-
bility.

Then, again, let us " serve one another," by advocating each oth-
er's cause. Of all the sights in our divided, discordant world, there is
scarcely any one more gratifying to me, than to see .a semicircle of
members and ministers of all denominations collected round the presi-
dential chair of him who acts as the medium of our union and commun-
ion at a public meeting. Every missionary platform ought to be a
communion- ta,ble, where all the followers of Christ should meet in the
blessed fellowship and the sweet comfort of love. And what applies to
the platform, applies equally to the pulpit. We should be always ready
to advocate each other's missions ; and angels must rejoice over every
instance of this kind, as repelling the taunt of the infidel, and the scoff
of the Papist, who in sarcasm tell us, that our missionary schemes are
like many bubbles of enthusiasm, blown by bigots, followed by fools,
and that they will explode by the expansive force of their own absurd-
ity ; mere schemes of selfishness, to set up our denominations in dif-
ferent parts of the world, to the neglect or opposition of others. Foul
spirits of darkness, you lie. Our object is not sectarian, but Christian ;
and all of us have been the happy instruments of converting myriads of
men and women " from the error of their ways," and translating them
with robes washed white and clean in the blood of the Lamb, to the king-
dom of our Father. We know to-night — we feel it, and we exhibit it
— " how good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in
unity."

But now, brethren, permit me to advance a few motives for this re-
ciprocal exerfise of love and service.

And, in the first place, as a motive to " love " and " serve one
another," I mention, that in doing so, we serve one common master.
Who is that ? Not Wesley, Whitfield, Calvin, or Luther, but that dear
friend of sinners, before whose throne they are casting down their
crowns at this moment, and would have us cast down ours. Yes, we
go to exhibit the mighty magnet of the cross, and draw men to Christ,
that we may make men Christians. Yes, Christian is their surname,
whatever baptismal name we give them in addition. We go to carry
together — (is it not so ?) — the ark of the covenant into the dark
realms of Paganism on the one hand, and of Mahometanism on the
other. We go on, bearing the sacred vessel, responsively singing, as
we bear it onward, " The world for Christ ! " Angels catch the sound,
and respond, " The world for Christ ! " Devils, in despair, groan



CHRISTIANITY A SYSTEM OF LOVE. 107

forth the echo, " The world for Christ ! " God, in the purpose of his
power and of his mercy, seals the decree, and says, " The world for
Christ." In serving one another, then, we serve Christ.

Secondly, in serving one another, we accomplish the same great
object. And what is that object? Not, brethren, to. turn men from
one set of opinions to another, without turning them to God ; not get-
ting them to renounce the ceremonies of one religion to take up the
ceremonies of another religion, without worshipping God in the spirit,
and serving Christ Jesus, and having " no confidence in the flesh."
This would not be worth our pains, nor the money we have been ex-
pending. No, brethren, our object is to turn men to God ; and there-
fore, whoever serves another serves himself, so far as the accompUsh-
ment of his object is concerned.

Again : we employ the same means. What are these ? Education
for the children, preaching for the adults, fellowship for the converts.
No crucifixes, no reHcs, no trumpery of Popery, no Jesuitical tricks,
no Romish ceremonies, no holy water, no baptizing children stealthily,
no smuggling in priests under the disguise of carpenters, no ships of
war, no steamers bearing cannon, no grape-shot fired upon poor defence-
less women and children, no Tahitian bloodshed, perfidy and treachery ;
we leave these things to Popery, it is worthy of them, and they of it.
We carry God's blessed Word. We send the truth by men who un-
derstand and feel it — who appeal to the understanding ; to the intel-
lect by reasoning, to the heart by persuasion, to the conscience by all
the force of those great motives which are evolved in the truth. We
go to evangelize, and to bring civilization in its train. Brethren, we
do all this ; and therefore these are motives to " serve one another."
Our means are alike. We carry not the edicts of monarchs, the de-
crees of councils, the traditions of men ; we carry not the institutes of
fellow-creatures as the supreme authority ; we go to make the Bible
the book of the world even as it was given to the world, we go under
the warrant of the command of Jesus Christ to " preach the gospel to
every creature," and guide our conduct in all things by the acts of the
apostles. And therefore there is no reason for suspecting each other;
none for standing aloof. We may compare our prospects, the most
secret as well as the most pubUc, and we shall find that as honest men
we can " serve one another," for we are pursuing the same object un-
der the same means.

I have only one thing more ; and that is, we anticipate the same
result. Very few of us are wholly taken up with the idea, though in
our musings we may dwell upon the subject, that our denomination is
to be the religion of the millennium. Perhaps, my brethren, God may



108 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

intend to take us all to pieces, and make none of our religions exactly
that of the latter-day glory, but bring out a new and a more perfect
system than any of us have yet attained to. But without troubUng
ourselves as to what denomination is to prevail in the latter-day glory,
it is enough foij^ us to know that there is to be a latter-day glory —
that there is to be a millennium, in which Christianity shall cover the
earth in its purest and brightest form. And the man who in the fore-
sight of the downfall of Popery, Paganism, Mahometanism, Judaism
and Infidelity, and the raising up of Christianity upon their ruins,
holds his heart in abeyance till he has ascertained, if he can, whether
it is his denomination that is to prevail, — who, in imagination listening
to the shouts of a renovated world, while he::ven and earth are res-
ponding to each other, " Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reign-
eth ! " determines not to echo the song till he can ascertain whether it
is raised by Methodist, or Episcopahan, or Presbyterian, or Congrega-
tional voices, or he who watches " the new heavens and the new earth"
emerging out of the moral chaos of our world, refuses to rejoice before
he has ascertained whether his party is then to be dominant, may be a
sectarian, but he cannot be a Christian.

Friends of Immanuel, friends of your species, friends of your Bible,
in the hope and the prospect of our regenerated, redeemed world, in
which, under tlie peaceful sceptre of Jesus, the earth shall be deliv-
ered from slavery, from tyranny, and from war, — when commerce
shall be purified from its stupidity, literature from its pride, and phi-
losophy from its scepticism ; do not stand calculating or conjecturing
who are to do this, and how it is to be accomplished ! Brethren, we
are all to do it, and God will honor us all ; and when our world shall
be illuminated, and the latter-day glory shall come, and the light of
heaven shall spread over the earth, it will, perhaps, be as impossible to
say who has done most to accomplish this, as it is to say which of those
gas lights has thrown most splendor around us this evening. Here
they are — all illuminating the place together. And so will it be with
respect to the glory of that period to which our attention is now di-
rected ; we shall all be honored of God to do something to bring it on,
and shall praise him on that day, not only for what we have done, but
for what others have done. And the man that hushes the groans of
creation, and spreads over our desolate earth the verdure of moral
vegetation, shall have my hand, my heart, my prayer, my adoring
praise and gratitude to God, however I may differ from him on the
subject of church government, the ordinances of religion, or some of



Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 12 of 45)