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CHRIST CRUCIFIFD,
THE GREAT THEME OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY:-

A SERMON.

To the Editor of the Christian Observer. I inclose a discourse recently delivered on a special occasion. If you consider it likely to be useful in the present state of our Church, it is very much at your service.

T. H. H.

1 Corr. ii. 2. I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus CHRIST

and HIM CRUCIFIED.” Of all the prejudices raised against the Gospel, when it was first preached, this was the greatest, viz., That its author, the Lord Jesus Christ, had come to so miserable and ignominious an end, as to die upon the cross; crucifixion being accounted the most infamous of all capital punishments. Freemen and citizens of Rome were not subjected to it; the Romans having restricted it to the basest of their slaves, when they committed any atrocious crimes. The utmost opprobrium and degradation attached to every one upon whom this punishment was inflicted: and the Jews regarded it as consequence of the Divine malediction ; because it is written in their law, “He that is hanged, is accursed of God;” (Deut. xxi. 23 ; Gal. iii. 13.) Yet such was the punishment endured by Jesus Christ.

Saint Paul was not ignorant to how low a degree of humiliation Jesus descended, in submitting himself voluntarily to the death of a malefactor upon the cross. He knew that, in consequence of that ignominious death, the preaching of the cross was “a stumbling-block to the Jews, and to the Greeks foolishness,” (1 Cor. i. 25); and that, in proposing his Divine crucified Master to the faith, adoration, and love of mankind, he would infallibly excite against himself the hatred and rage of the Jews, and the disdainful sarcasms of the Greeks. Paul knew, moreover, that if he confined himself to preaching the circumcision, that is to say, the precepts and ceremonial institutions of the law of Moses, he would not only escape persecution but would continue to enjoy the good will and esteem CARIST. OBSERV. No. 61.

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of his own sect and people. Nevertheless, it was the cross, or the doctrine of salvation through a crucified Redeemer,--and particularly this fundamental truth, that Jesus died upon the cross in order to make atonement for sin, and reconcile us unto God; and that He has put away sin by the sacrifice of himself upon the cross,—so that, now, all who believe in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life :-it was this very doctrine of the cross, so opposed to all human systems, opinions, and prejudices, as well as to his own credit and temporal interest :this very doctrine it was, which the Apostle preferred to every other, and which he preached “in season and out of season." He did not consider the cross as a mere supplement to the knowledge which he had already acquired, or as a secondary object of his preaching; but he regarded it as the only foundation which can be laid, and on which he must build all his instructions. To him the cross was every thing; and he renounced every thing for the cross. Though he was a Pharisee, who had been “brought up at the feet of Gamaliel,” and “taught according to the perfect manner of the law;" and though he knew how to derive illustrations of what he taught from so many sources of human science; yet he not only relinquished them all, but he even accounted them as utterly worthless, in comparison of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. Hence it was, that, penetrated with a conviction of the unworldly character of the Gospel dispensation, he wrote to the Corinthians in the following terms :-“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came, not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God: for I DETERMINED NOT TO KNOW ANY THING AMONG YOU, SAVE JESUS CHRIST, AND HIM CRUCIFIED.” (1 Cor. ii. 1, 2.)

Christ Crucified is, indeed, the library which the souls of the blessed in heaven will be studying to all eternity. “ This," said the eminently learned Bishop Stillingfleet, “is the true medicine of the soul, which cures all maladies and distempers. Other knowledge makes men's minds giddy and turgid ; this settles and composes them to the truest view of themselves, and thereby to humility and sobriety. Other knowledge leaves men's hearts as it found them; this purifies and makes them better.” It is not astonishing, therefore, that St. Paul DETERMINED NOT TO KNOW ANY THING, SAVE Jesus Christ, AND HIM CRUCIFIED. These words present to our meditation three important topics, viz. : The fact asserted respecting the Apostle's preaching; the great THEME or subject of all his discourses and writings; and the PRACTICAL RESULTS of the doctrine of “ Christ Crucified.”'

I. We are, in the first place, to investigate the fact asserted respecting the Apostle's preaching.

No sooner was Paul miraculously converted, than he “ STRAIGHTWAY preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the son of God:” and the Acts of the Apostles, as well as his own Epistles, attest how earnestly and faithfully he set forth the doctrine of “Christ Crucified,” - not as an esoteric or private doctrine, which was to be imparted only to a few individuals, or to be promulgated with reserve, but as the great, the sole foundation of man's salvation : “for other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor. iii. 11.) The method pursued by the Apostle in illustrating this great theme of his discourses was various according as he addressed Jews or Gentiles. He adapted his instructions to the genius, and even to the prejudices, of the people to whom he preached. To the Jews he cited their prophets;

and to the Greeks, their philosophers and poets. At Jerusalem his eloquence was Jewish ; and at Athens it was Athenian. But, in every instance, his conduct proved how deeply he was penetrated with the supreme importance of this fundamental doctrine of the Gospel.

1. Thus,“ he confounded the Jews who dwelt at Damascus," overwhelming them with his arguments; and proving, or demonstrating by a connected series of facts and reasonings, that Jesus is very Christ, or the Messiah. (Acts ix. 23.) Most probably he pursued the same line of argument, which he afterwards addressed to the Jews at Thessalonica ; with whom “he reasoned,” for three successive Sabbath days, “out of the Scripture; opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead ; and that this Jesus, whom he preached unto them, was Christ.” (Acts xvii. 2, 3.) His method seems to have been this :—He first collected the scriptures which spoke of the Messiah, and then he applied them to Jesus of Nazareth ; "shewing that in him all these scriptures were fulfilled, and that he was the Saviour whose advent they expected. He also shewed that the Christ, or Messiah, must needs suffer ; that this was foretold by the Prophets, and was an essential mark of the true Messiah. By proving this point, he corrected their erroneous notions of a triumphant Messiah, victorious over their national enemies; and thus removed the scandal of the cross. To the Jews at Antioch in Pisidia, he made known the atonement, death, and resurrection of Jesus, “through whom was preached the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things," from the guilt of all transgressions against God, “ from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts xii. 26—39.) At Corinth, “he reasoned” in a similar way "in the Synagogue, every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and Greeks that Jesus was the Christ. (Acts xviii. 4, 5.) What account did the Apostle give to King Agrippa concerning his ministry? “I witness,” he said, “ both to small and great, saying none other things than those which Moses did

say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light to the” Jewish “people, and to the Gentiles." (xxvi. 22, 23.) And, finally, to the Jews at Rome “he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the Law of Moses and” out “of the Prophets." (xxviii. 23.) In all these cases, the sufferings and vicarious death of Christ, and consequently the doctrine of his crucifixion, formed the grand theme of the Apostle's discourses to the Jews :

2. As they also did in his addresses to the GENTILES, with whom, however, he pursued a somewhat different line of argument.

At Athens, for instance, Paul took occasion, from an altar erected to the unknown God,—to announce to the Athenians the true God; and in the compass of a few sentences, he, with singular ability, refuted the errors of the religion of the common people, as well as those of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. And "he preached unto them Jesus and the Resurrection,” and “ also a future judgment of the world by Jesus Christ,” whom God had raised from the dead ;—not only the resurrection, but also the mission of Christ, and his atonement. (Acts xvii. 17-31.)

So, when Felix, the Roman governor, sent for Paul, after he had "heard him concerning the faith in Christ,” the Apostle “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come." "He preached the doctrine of the deity, atonement, and the judgment of man by Jesus

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Christ, and thence inferred the necessity of righteousness, holiness, and morality, as the proof both of fitness to meet that judgment, and the proof of faith in Jesus, who was to be his judge. And with such force, majesty, and eloquence did the Apostle reason, that the profligate conscience-stricken governor, though surrounded by his officers and guards, trembled with dismay, on the tribunal of justice, before the prisoner in fetters.

3. The same theme-Christ CRUCIFIED—formed an equally explicit and prominent topic in St. Paul's epistolary writings. Not to multiply unnecessary proofs :-a few passages only shall be adduced from his Epistles to the “Church of God at Corinth,” (1 Cor. i. 2, and 2 Cor. i. 1), which was composed partly of converted Jews, but principally of Gentiles or Greeks.

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were the all-important topics upon which he addressed the Corinthians. Thus, in his first Epistle (xv. 3, 4), he says :-"I delivered unto you FIRST OF ALL”—as the leading and primary doctrine of the Gospel—“that which I also received,” by Divine communication from the Lord Jesus, “how that Christ died FOR OUR SINS -as an expiatory offering on account of our sins“ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES: and that he was buried, and rose again the third day, ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES.” And though the Jews demanded of him such proofs of his Divine mission, as had been granted to Moses ; while the Greeks required him to bend his doctrine, so as to make it accord with their own captious and disputatious philosophy: yet he ceased not to “preach Christ CRUCIFIED,” a suffering and crucified Messiah, "to the " carnally-minded “Jews a stumblingblock, and to " the proud and self-complacent wisdom of “the Greeks, foolishness : but unto them who are called” to the knowledge of the Gospel, “ both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” “And," the Apostle continues, "I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech,” with powerful and attractive eloquence, “or of wisdom,” meaning that kind of wisdom which was in such request and so much cultivated in Greece. “For I DETERMINED NOT TO KNOW ANY THING AMONG YOU SAVE JESUS CHRIST, EVEN HIM THAT WAS CRUCIFIED.” This was the Apostle's fixed and deliberate purpose, when he arrived at Corinth, where (we know) he dwelt at least a year and six months. (Acts xviii. 1-11.) Now, in order that we may fully appreciate the force of this his determination, we must recollect that Paul made it, “knowing the peculiar fondness of the Greeks for subtle disquisitions, and for graceful and finished elocution ; and at a time when his own mind (as we may judge from his writings) was strongly inclined by nature to abstruse discussions, which could not fail to attract the attention of the acute and subtle reasoners of Greece ; and that he made this resolution, when he must be fully aware, that the theme which he had chosen to dwell upon, would most certainly excite derision and contempt.”+ Yet he formed, and adhered to, this resolution—that he would « not know anything among " the Corinthians, “save Jesus Christ and him crucified.

And,” (he adds) “I was with you in weakness, and fear, and much trembling: and my speech and my preaching” were, “not with enticing ” or persuasive “words of man's wisdom ;” not with that kind of oratory

* Rev. George Townsend's Charge + Barnes's Notes on 1 and 2 Corinto the Clergy of Allertonshire, in 1838, thians : on 1 Cor. ii. 2, vol. i. p. 41.

New York, 1841, 8vo.

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which was adapted to captivate and charm, and which the Greeks so much admired: “but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power," (the mighty energy of the Holy Spirit accompanying and confirming his ministry ;) in order “that your faith should stand, not in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God.” (1 Cor. ï. 1–5.)

Again, in his second Epistle to the Corinthians, he says most explicitly iv. 2), “We.. have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. . . For we preach not ourselves, but CHRIST Jesus the Lord.” We do not substitute our own opinions for the declarations of eternal truth ; or seek to advance our own glory or worldly interest, by perpetuating a system of delusion profitable to ourselves; neither have we any “dominion over your faith. (i. 24.) “Ambassadors for God, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, Be Ye reconciled unto God.” (2 Cor. v. 20.) “ We” thus “preach, not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord : and," instead of setting up ourselves as your masters, we declare “ourselves” to be "your servants for Christ's sake.” (iv. 5.)

These passages (to which many more might have been added) will, I trust, be abundantly sufficient to demonstrate the fact, that “ Jesus Christ, and him crucified," was the great theme of the Apostle's discourses and epistles; and that this doctrine was announced by him, explicitly, prominently, and without reserve, on all occasions, and to all persons, whether rulers or subjects, bond or free, noble or ignoble, rich or poor,

learned illiterate. It is, however, worthy of remark, that, in thus preaching “ Christ crucified,” the Apostle did not confine himself to a mere historical relation of our Redeemer's crucifixion, or to a vivid and pathetic delineation of the circumstances incident to that all-important event. For it is possible, brethren, so to depict them, as deeply to excite the passions, and yet no saving effect shall result from such a delineation. Neither did St. Paul preach, that the material cross is to be reverenced and ADORED, as the Romish section of the catholic or universal church, in several of her services, erroneously teaches and practises :* invoking the “faithful cross “ the only noble

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That idolatrous ADORATION is given Altar, he receives from a deacon a cross to the material cross by the Romish that had been previously prepared on Church, is demonstrated by the follow- the altar ;) which (turning his face ing extract from the Rubric in the ser- towards the people] be uncovers a vice for Good Friday, given in the little from the top; beginning salone] Roman Missal. (a.)

the anthem * Ecce lignum crucis,' On Good Friday, after certain les- [Behold the wood of the cross]. Then sons and prayers have been recited, the assistant clergy join with him as far “the priest puts off his chasuble, [goes “ Venite adoremus," (Come, let us ap to] the Epistle (Horn), and (there] adore.) But while the choir is singing at the back (part of the] corner of [the [Venite adoremus] all (prostrate them,

selves, se prosternunt; Husenbeth, kneel] (a.) The Editions consulted for this note are, except the officiating] priest. Then he 1. Missale Romanum, Romæ 1826, apud Pbilippum et Nicolaum de Romanis, in folio;

advances to the front corner [of the same and 2. “ The Missal for the use of the Laity,

Epistle-horn) and, uncovering the right with the Masses for all Days throughout the arm [of the cross), and elevating it a little year, according to the Roman Missal...

higher than before, he begins Ecce lignum newly arranged, and in great measure translated by the Rev. F. C. Husenbeth....

crucis, (the others singing and adoring With the approbation of all the Right Rer. as before.] Then the priest (proceeds Vicara Apostolic in England. Third Edition, to] the middle of the altar, and uncovers London, 1840. 12mo. Words omitted to be translated by Mr. Huscpbeth, are printed

the whole of the crucifix (cross]; and, between Brackets.)

lifting it up, begins [a third time] still

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