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Christians, Examples to the World.

Christians, Examples to the World.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
STEPHEN OLIN, D.D., LL.D.,




Do all things without murmurings and disputings that ye may be
blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst
of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights iu
the world, holding forth the word of life, that I may rejoice in the day
of Christ, that I have not run iu vain, neither labored in vain. — Phil.,
ii., 14-16.
STEPHEN OLIN, D.D., LL.D.,




Do all things without murmurings and disputings that ye may be
blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst
of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights iu
the world, holding forth the word of life, that I may rejoice in the day
of Christ, that I have not run iu vain, neither labored in vain. — Phil.,
ii., 14-16.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Oct 18, 2013
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CHRISTIAS, EXAMPLES TO THE WORLD.STEPHE OLI, D.D., LL.D.,Do all things without murmurings and disputings that ye may beblameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midstof a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights iuthe world, holding forth the word of life, that I may rejoice in the dayof Christ, that I have not run iu vain, neither labored in vain. — Phil.,ii., 14-16.The most important duties of religion are the most fre-quently inculcated, and on that account trite. To impressthem on even pious people becomes a matter of peculiar dif-ficulty. When we read of them in the Bible, it is often, fromtheir familiarity, difficult to fix the attention upon them. Itis well, when we may, to discuss this class of Christian obli-gations in connection with the high reasons on which theydepend and the vital principles from which they spring. Thesubject of this discourse oflers us its instruction under this spe-cial advantage. The faithful performance of Christian dutyand the diligent cultivation of piety are enjoined by a refer-ence to the Christian's proper office and function. Chris-tians are lights, or, rather, himinaries — light-givers. Theyare patter^is for others, " holding forth the word of life." Onthis account they are exhorted to fidelity and to the highestachievements of piety. Such, as I understand it, is the k -soning oi" the text.I. In (^! er parts of the Bible Christians are denominated,as they are here, the light of the world ; and they are calledupon to let their light shine : " Ye are the light of the world.either do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, buton a candle-stick, that it may give light to all who are in thehouse. Let your light so shine before men that they may see
 
CHRISTIAS EXAMPLES TO THE WORLD. 221your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heav-en."* The language of our text, under the same figure, con-veys a different lesson. It affirms that Christians do shineas lights of the world. They are its actual sources of illu-mination. They impart to the immortal souls around themsuch impressions as they get, and are likely to get, of religionand its duties. The mass of men do not go to the highestsources of information in forming their opinions on any sub- ject. Many are not qualified for such investigations. Manymore are too idle, or too busy with their own affairs, to givethe requisite attention to any subject not forced upon them bytheir daily pursuits. They judge of other things on the re-ports of those no better qualified than themselves to form opin-ions, but who have, from some cause, been led to take an in-terest in them. In this way men form their opinions on themost important subjects. They choose their party in politics,not by any careful investigation of principles, but by their ac-cidental associations — by the conduct and character of thosewith whom they happen to be acquainted or connected. Atyrant, or an oppressor, or a fop, in the guise of a pubUc offi-cer, or at the head of an industrial estabhshment, naturallyrepels from his party and opinions those who are in a posi-tion to be unfavorably affected by his disagreeable peculiari-ties, while the opposite virtues will prove more effectual thanstrong arguments and popular harangues in the work of con-vincing opponents and gaining adherents. It is under thesesilent influences, acting upon them spontaneously and freely,as sunbeams fall upon the eye, that men form their opinionsof the character of individuals, of benevolent and literary in-stitutions, of professions and classes. It is no reflection uponthe intelhgence or independence of men that they receivetheir impressions and form their opinions thus passively.They are but obeying the law of their being. They can notbut be so acted upon by the men and the facts that surround* Matth., v., 14-16.
 
222 CHRISTIAS EXAMPLES TO THE WORLD.them. They have not time, any more than inclination, toinvestigate for themselves each subject upon which they doand must form an opinion. All that I have affirmed of thepotver of influence in a lower sphere is specially and emi-nently true in regard to its agency in molding religious opin-ions. "Without previous study or careful investigation, wefind ourselves in possession of a religious creed by or beforethe dawn of manhood. Those who have never learned thecatechism, nor enjoyed religious instruction in the Sunday-school, or in the church, or at home, do nevertheless find them-selves indoctrinated, to a certain extent, in rehgious things.They have their fixed ideas in regard to what the Gospel is,and to what it requires. They have a certain standard,high or low, of Christian morality, and of practical and ex-perimental piety — a standard, too, which is likely to remainwith them, with modifications less or more considerable,through life. Multitudes have obtained the first principlesof rehgion, they know not how, without efibrt or design ontheir part. They have caught them from the living Chris-tianity around them. They have received them passively.They have been reflected upon them by their religious friendsand neighbors. Just as they have formed their notions of thecolors, and complexions, and forms of the material world inthe light of the sun, which these objects have reflected uponthe eyes of the beholder, so have they formed their ideasof the Gospel by the manifestations of its spirit by professedChristians. As the most symmetrical and beautiful forms,seen in a bad light, impress upon the eye a distorted image,so, when professed Christians, the appointed representativesof the Gospel — the lights of the world — Christ's luminariesfor this dark sphere, shine dimly, or darkly, or not at all, arethe religious sentiments of unconverted men degraded, dis-torted, or enfeebled, till they are no longer worthy of God orfit for man — till they are too gross to purify, and too weak and false to convert the soul. The world will believe, not

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