Christianity as Taught by Christ

1 Pet. 3:15.---' Be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.'

There is here a play upon the words in the original which we fail to see in our Version. It seems in English as if there were a contrast between the giving the answer and the reason, when, in fact, they are the same. We might read it; be ye ready always to give a justification to anyone who would require you to justify the hope that is in you.

The hope that is in us is the Christian hope. Now we are Christians by inheritance. Born in a Christian land, of Christian influences, we have been 'called' in God's good Providence 'to this state of salvation.' But this is not a sufficient reply to the man who asks 'Why are you a Christian?' The mere accident of birth cannot be enough. On this principle a heathen by birth should remain a worshipper of many gods, or a Mohammedan remain a Muslim. In our case, indeed, the circumstances of our birth is a blessing; it is on the right side, and in our favor. But it brings a responsibility with it. It will add to our condemnation if we have had the light from our entrance into the world, and yet have not apprehended or used it intelligently. It is our inheritance, but what if, having the title deeds, we have never taken the trouble to examine them, but have been content to take and enjoy our estate, and lo! the time comes when our right of possession is challenged, when we are told there is a flaw in the succession, and we have no answer to make? No, we must have a better reason than this to give.

Why am I a Christian? I am a Christian because I believe in the Founder of Christianity, in the Christ, not only of theology, but of history. As we read in the Gospels of the life of Christ we cannot help being struck not only by His work and His teaching, but by what He says about Himself. Again and again He puts Himself in the foreground. 'Come unto me,' is His constant cry to men. He declares Himself to be King, Master, Savior, Judge of man. He claims for Himself the personal allegiance and devotion of mankind. It is this that primarily distinguishes Him from the rest of teachers, not because He was guilty of self-assertion, but because it was true. And he who would be a Christian must take Christ at His own estimate of Himself. We must believe Him to be who and what He said He was.

But I am a Christian because I believe what He taught. We cannot separate the Teacher from His teaching. We cannot say that he was the best of men, but that His teaching was untrue and not to be believed; for then the best of men would be the worst of teachers. And this is an impossible position for any reasoning man to take. What, then, did He teach? What does He tell us which we accept as true because we are Christians, and believe in the Christ who said it?

Christianity, as He teaches it, is a philosophy which guides us into all the truth, if we will but follow it patiently. In every religion worthy of the name there is to be found some grain or grains of truth, but in Christianity we have a mine of priceless wisdom. As it has been well said, "The teaching of Christ contains all that is beautiful and good and wise in other systems. It supplements and supersedes all. It is the final revelation. What other religions sought, the Christian religion has found."

Christianity is a moral system which leads to righteousness towards God and man. This is the essence of the religion of Christ. Nothing in it takes the place of right doing: 'Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven.' His enemies confirmed it, as they acknowledged, one and all, that the Founder of this new religion was righteous. History testifies to the fact, as it tells how, wherever Christianity has made its way, it has been a new and potent force for righteousness to the world, whether ancient or modern.

The astonishing spread of Christianity through the length and breadth of the Roman empire was not merely nor mainly due to the intellectual ability not the organizing capacity of the early Christian missionaries, nor even to their devotional zeal. These doubtless were contributory factors, but the main factor was the type of life displayed by the Christians themselves. The best men of the time were profoundly dissatisfied with the coarse-ness and selfishness and ineffective intellectualism with which their social surroundings were charged. They were longing for an atmosphere of thought and feeling, and for modes of life and conduct, to which their nobler nature could respond. And gradually they became aware that hat they were seeking for was in their midst---little communities of men and women living together as members of a united family live, tending to their sick, caring for their poor, teaching their ignorant, consigning their dead with reverent hopefulness to the grave, always ready to place their beneficent activities as the disposal of those outside their own fold who were in need of them. And so they were attracted, and the attraction gradually became stronger till at length they found themselves swept into the current of the new movement, and ready to live and die in promoting it.

Christianity is a revelation of man to himself. It tells man what for long centuries he has tried to find out, and has failed. What am I? Where came I? Where am I going? men have asked. There have been many answers, but none of them satisfied the longings of men until Christ came and taught man what he had so long wanted to know. Man is divine; he has come from God; he must return to God. This is the answer of Christianity to man's questionings.

Christianity is a revelation of God to man. It is only in Christ we can know God as a loving Father. nature can tell us of His majesty, His power, His greatness, His wisdom, His providence, but it knows little or nothing of His loving Fatherhood. No teacher before Christ came, not even Moses or David, dreamed that this could be. But Christ has taught us that God is a Father, longing that the children who in their willfulness have become estranged from Him should return, never faltering in His patience, never hesitating at any sacrifice: 'God so loved the world that he gave.'

Christianity gives man a new motive for right doing. Not merely admiration for the good nor fear of the consequences had proved sufficient to transform man. But Christ revealed the true secret. What admiration or fear could not do, love alone could do. 'If ye love me, keep my commandments'; 'A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.'

Christianity throws a light on the mystery of evil in God's world. It does not ignore it as do some teachers, nor does it identify it with mere ignorance or talk of it as the lowest form of good. It does not tell us, as teachers of bygone days have taught, that evil is the work of a twin God, a God of evil, endowed with equal powers, and capable of endless strife with the God of goodness. But Christ teaches us that evil is a disease, which is not part of the nature of man as God made him, is not of the will of God, and He points us to a remedy for the disease which no other teacher had discovered. 'If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sin.'

Christianity is a religion for all. Other religions have been in their very character suitable only for some. they have been invented for the classes, not for the masses. They have required some condition which all do not possess. But Christianity is for all. Its teaching is so profound that the wisest cannot exhaust it, and yet so simple that the unlearned and the little child can find sweetness in its truths. It is for all, and so in every land where it has been carried it has taken root. In all the nations, the most polished, the most degraded, it has grown and flourished. Men learned like the priest of India, or savage as the barbarian of Patagonia, the conversion of whom to Christianity convinced Darwin of the good of Christian mission, have alike yielded to the rule of Christ, and have become His willing, loyal subjects.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha