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And the very epistle before us is a proof that the preaching of Christ crucified, though calumniated by some, and ridiculed by others, here proved to them which were called, both Jews and Greeks (a goodly number), the "power of God and the wisdom of God." During the apostle's first residence at Corinth, for the space of about eighteen months, he had steadily adhered, in the face of all opposition, to the plan which he had marked out for himself. He had not flattered the prejudices of the Jew, or indulged the tastes of the Greek. He had not sought to gain acceptance for the gospel by anything that savoured of worldly policy. He had not endeavoured to ingratiate himself with the refined and subtle disputants, whom he had to address, by the employment of any of their usual rhetorical artifices. He had uniformly resisted the temptation to display that learning with which his mind was stored, and had been content to forego the credit which he might have obtained by arguing with his opponents in their own way; for he had a much higher aim than to acquire a name among men. The ministry which he had received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God, was the one thing which filled his mind and engrossed his thoughts. Every thing else in him was swallowed up by his zeal for the glory of God and the good of souls. And, in the endeavour to communicate to others the knowledge of the Saviour, of whose grace and love he had tasted so largely himself, he was ready to sacrifice every personal consideration, to renounce every earthly advantage, and to encounter the most distressing privations, and the most ignominious treatment. That such was the case may be inferred as well from other passages of scripture as from that more especially before us, wherein the apostle reminds his Corinthian converts that the success which had attended his ministry among them was not attributable to any excellency of speech or of wisdom" on his part; for "I determined," he emphatically declares, "not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified." And should not this be the determination of the Christian minister in this day? In nothing, surely, ought the example of this eminent apostle to be more closely followed.
The circumstances under which we are called to exercise our ministry are very different, it is true, from those of the apostolic age. We have not, at least in this country, to labour among self-righteous Jews, or blinded idolaters. We have not to address those who have never previously heard of the way of salvation through a crucified Re
deemer. But yet our congregations, though composed of those who are professedly Christian, must be considered as containing a large proportion, it is to be feared, of persons who continue in their natural state of alienation from God, and who are practically unacquainted with "the truth as it is in Jesus." Men are now precisely what they were when the gospel first began to be preached; and, if they are to be recovered from the power of sin and Satan; if they are to be released from the bondage of their corruptions; if they are to undergo that great spiritual change, which is to fit them for heaven; if the "carnal mind, which is enmity against God," is to be exchanged for the "spiritual mind, which is life and peace," it is indispensable that the same method of preaching should be adopted as that which the apostle employed with such distinguished success. It is only by our determining not to know anything among our people "save Jesus Christ and him crucified" that we can hope to accomplish the great end of our ministry, so as to be able to "give our account with joy, and not with grief." There is no preaching, but the preaching of the cross of Christ, which can be expected to produce any real and abiding effects. It is only when redemption through the blood and righteousness of the Son of God is made the prominent subject in our addresses from the pulpit, it is only when the attention is pointedly directed to his person and work and offices, it is only when he is held up as an all-sufficient Saviour, that the enmity of the human heart is ciliated, that the obduracy of the "natural man" is overcome, and that the soul is at last brought "into captivity to the obedience of Christ," its rightful Lord and Master.
Before we proceed to consider more at length what is implied in the apostle's determination not "to know anything save Jesus Christ and him crucified," it may be right to observe that it never could have been his intention to underrate the value and disclaim the use of intellectual knowledge. His own attainments were superior, we have reason to believe, to those of most of his contemporaries. Whatever knowledge he had acquired by education, and which had either lain dormant in his mind or been lamentably misdirected in its application, became, after his conversion, by being pressed into the service of the sanctuary, a most useful auxiliary in the promotion of the great end which he had in view the extension of Christ's kingdom and glory. And if, therefore, in his thus employing the aids of human learning in the furtherance of the gospel cause there was nothing inconsistent with the determination
to "know nothing save Jesus Christ and him | bringing glory to God in the salvation of crucified," there can be no reason why the sinners, he kept in view. It would not seem learning in this day should be thought likely to be for the interests of religion that her to enfeeble or obscure that "testimony of teachers should confine themselves to proGod," which the ministers of our church fessional studies, and entirely put aside the have to deliver, or interfere with what ought consideration of all subjects of general lito be their single and exclusive object-that terature and science. The more enlarged of saving sinners through the preaching of the their range of information, the better able doctrines of the cross: on the contrary, as they will be so to shape their instructions as much of what was in the primitive times that persons of every class shall hear divine communicated by direct inspiration is now to truths presented to them in a way that may be gained only in the use of means, it must be calculated to rivet their attention, convince be highly important that those who are to be their judgment, and influence their practice. the instructors of others, at the same time Though not of the world, we should know that they are possessed themselves of that what is passing in the world. We should "knowledge which maketh wise unto sal- not allow ourselves to be left behind in the vation" (else how should they teach it?), general advance of knowledge, but endeashould have their minds well stored with such vour, as far as may be, to gain a competent information as will enable them in every vary- acquaintance with those subjects upon which ing emergency to "make full proof of their the public mind is being exercised, in order ministry.' Much of our usefulness, under that we may be prepared either to oppose God, will depend upon this; and it is surely, what is evil or encourage what is good. Yet therefore, a mistake to think that we may be how careful, on the other hand, should we excused, after having commenced the active be not to allow secular avocations and studies duties of our sacred calling, from adding to to occupy too great a share of our time and what must necessarily then be "a very in- attention, nor permit ourselves to engage in sufficient amount of theological knowledge. them for their own sake, and by way of As well might the lawyer think that those amuseinent, rather than as furnishing us with preparatory studies, which were necessary to the means of prosecuting more successfully fit him for entering upon the exercise of his the great work of winning souls to Christ! profession, would, without further and con- It were far better that we should be utterly tinual additions to his legal knowledge, con- ignorant of all that we might fairly be exstitute him an accomplished jurist. With pected to know, than that we should be wantus, to whom is committed the dispensation of ing in devotedness to the ministerial work, the gospel of the grace of God, no argument and be exhausting upon comparatively trifling should be wanting to show that, "without that objects of pursuit those energies which should "attention to reading," which the apostle be employed upon the business of our "high enjoins upon his "own son" in the faith, we calling." cannot hope to accomplish what may reasonably be required of us, and to have it in our power effectually to defend the cause of our holy religion against the attacks which are being continually made upon it. And, now that infidelity is working its way in a more insidious manner than ever, now that popery is rearing its head with unexampled audacity, there is need of a more than ordinary amount of knowledge to qualify the spiritual watchmen of our Zion, for laying open the artifices, for meeting the cavils, for refuting the sophistries, and for repelling the assaults of those who are leagued together in their opposition to the "faith once delivered to the
But theological knowledge, though allimportant, is not the only knowledge with which it is desirable that the ministers of Christ should be conversant. There is no branch of human learning which may not be made to serve an important purpose, if only the great end of the Christian ministry, the
And now let us proceed to consider what is implied in the apostle's determination, "not to know anything save Jesus Christ and him crucified." Under this expression there is included, I apprehend, the whole gospel system in all its bearings and all its ramifications. The guilt and misery entailed upon the human race by the original transgression; the condemnation of every soul of man for having broken that divine law, which admits of no infringement of its enactments; the expiation of sin through the atoning sacrifice, and meritorious obedience of the Son of God; the method by which the sinner is rescued from the power of his corruptions, and enabled by the sanctifying influences of the Spirit to acquire a meetness for heaventhese I need not say are the great and fundamental truths which constitute the gospel, and in the elucidation and enforcement of which every minister who is faithful to his trust will, after the example of St. Paul, be continually engaged. By the preaching of
"Christ crucified" is not, therefore, to be apostles is evident from the record of their pro understood the dwelling exclusively upon the ceedings which has come down to us, and also great and mysterious fact of the Son of God from their own language, in the epistles to the having poured out his soul unto death for churches. Whatever might be the duty which the redemption of a lost world, though this they sought to enforce, it was inculcated upon is a theme upon which too much can scarcely the basis of Christian doctrine; and, whether it be said; but it is the bringing forward, in were that of husbands and wives, or parents their just measure and proportion, all those and children, or masters and servants, it was truths which have relation to the great pur- sure to be mentioned in connexion with the pose for which God became "manifest in grace and love of the Redeemer. In urging the flesh"-the promotion of the divine glory upon their converts the grace of humility, in the salvation of a guilty and ruined race. for instance, they do not speak of it merely For, though Christ be the sum and substance as something good and excellent and suitof the gospel, and though the setting forth able to the Christian character, but as de"redemption through his blood, the forgive- riving its most powerful recommendation ness of sins, according to the riches of his from the amazing exhibition of it in the ingrace," should be the frequent business of the carnation, sufferings, and death of God's preacher, yet is there no ground for the as- eternal Son. And so in the case of brotherly sertion that the gospel is not preached, and love, and of any other Christian virtue which that Christ is not duly honoured, unless he the first preachers of the gospel might desire be made the immediate subject of every ser- to enjoin upon their converts, it was always mon. For, if it be true, as it undoubtedly is, to a grateful sense of what had been done that there is nothing in the whole compass and suffered by the Saviour that they reof Christian duty and Christian privilege ferred for the constraining motive which which is not connected with faith in the Re- alone could be expected to operate in the prodeemer, then will the practical enforcement duction of the desired effect. In the beof moral obligation be an essential part of the lieving apprehension of the Redeemer's love, preaching of Christ crucified." While the in the union of the soul, through faith, with atoning sacrifice and justifying righteousness him who is the source of spiritual life, we of the Son of God will occupy, as they ought, are to look, my reverend brethren, as our a very prominent place in our ministrations; predecessors in the ministry did, for that while we shall deem it right to be constantly which can alone secure the practice of all directing the attention of our hearers to the that is "pure, lovely, and of good report." person and work and offices of the Saviour, Inferior motives may, perhaps, operate as a and not at those seasons only when the church check upon sin in its grosser forms, and seems to require it by her services, we shall as an incentive to the observance of a make it our business, in the exercise of a wise creditable morality; but to expect that discretion, to give to every portion of revealed any thing deserving of the name of holiness, truth its due consideration, entering with all involving, as that does, the consecration of minuteness into the detail of practical duty, the heart and affections to God, can be the and showing the inseparable connection of result of any teaching but such as is strongly faith and holiness. In fact, the preaching imbued with the spirit of the gospel, would of "Christ crucified" will embrace the set- be as hopeless as to think to gather grapes ting forth of whatever is "profitable for doc- of thorns, or figs of thistles." And not only trine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction is there no ground for the fear which has in righteousness; that the man of God may sometimes been so absurdly, though perhaps be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good conscientiously, entertained, that the interests works." In every discourse that is delivered, of morality are likely to suffer from an unrewhether there be a distinct exhibition of served statement of the doctrines of grace; Christian doctrine or not, there will be a re- but nothing is more certain than that the ference to Christ's love in dying for sinners-practice of it can only thus be effectually sethe great principle from which all accept-cured. The doctrines of grace may be, and able obedience must flow, and "such a skil- have been, abused. There were those, even ful interweaving," it has been well expressed, "of all other legitimate topics, with those cardinal truths that centre in the cross, as will show at once, however remote the subject from the centre of the gospel system, that it always obeys the attraction, and shines in the light of Christ."
That this was the practice pursued by the
in the early church, who said, "Let us continue in sin, that grace may abound." But, while we shall do well to guard the doctrine of justification by faith without works from the perversion to which through the corrup tion of human nature it is liable, we shall make it, as the apostle did, the leading fea ture in our preaching.
But, even were no such deplorable result to be apprehended from the working of that corrupt principle, which has given an attractiveness to what were wont to be considered as the most objectionable features of the Romish worship, there would still be abundant reason for carefully shunning what has, at all events, a tendency to render the mind satisfied with a barren and unmeaning formalism, and deprive religion of its vitality. How much were it to be wished that those energies which in many cases are wasted upon the merest puerilities should be devoted to the great work of saving souls, through the preaching of the doctrines of the cross! How much were it to be wished that every one, to whom is committed the ministry of reconciliation, should feel as Nehemiah did, when he said, "I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down :" I cannot leave my proper business, that of "showing to men the way of salvation," and urging Christ upon their acceptance, to engage with a zeal, so utterly disproportioned to their real value, in the regulation and arrangement of what are, at best, but the accessories and adjuncts of religion. It would be one sure method of counteracting principles, so injurious in their tendency, if the great end of the ministry were more constantly kept in view, and the determination of one who so well knew the best way of fulfilling it were acted upon, viz., "not to know anything save Jesus Christ and him crucified.' The mind, when it is directed to a subject fitted to exercise all its powers, and awaken all its sympathies, has no inclination to dwell upon trifles.
And here let me remark that in St. Paul's and service regulated in a suitable and beconduct in this particular, and likewise in his coming manner, has in not a few instances dwelling so much and so forcibly upon the been carried to such a length as to have great mystery of the atonement, while carry- changed the distinctive character of our proing out his determination not to "know any testant worship, and brought it to a very thing save Jesus Christ and him cruci- near approximation with that of the Romish fied", we are furnished with a convincing church. And it is impossible not to perceive proof, if any could be needed, of the unscrip- that one most disastrous effect of this has tural character of the doctrine of " reserve,' " been to enervate the mind, to render it inof which we at one time heard so much. And capable of healthy or rigorous action, and to how persons with the New Testament in dispose it to adopt the worst errors of popery. their hands could ever be led to think it right to throw a veil over what is the distinctive feature of the gospel, and its chief glory, is indeed surprising. It only shows how easy it is for men to depart from the simplicity of the faith, when they affect to be "wise above that which is written," and when they set up the conclusions of their own reason in opposition to God's revealed will. It can be no trifling offence against the majesty of the Most High to curtail and mutilate any part of his holy word, under any pretext whatever. Reconciliation with God through faith in the propitiatory sacrifice of his Son, and the free offer of forgiveness through the blood that was shed upon Calvary, are the very essence of that gospel which we are commissioned to preach; and nothing but a full, clear, and unreserved statement of these truths can exempt us from the guilt of "handling the word of God deceitfully." It may be that an inadequate sense of the transcendent importance of the doctrine of "Christ crucified" has paved the way for the introduction of other errors in teaching, of no trifling magnitude, and diminished in no slight degree the efficiency of some ministrations. How, for instance, but for this could it happen that the church, entitled, we admit, to all honour and allegiance as a divine institution, should be made, as it is by some, the almost exclusive topic in every discourse, and be constantly referred to, as if it were the sole channel for the conveyance of grace to the soul? In this excessive veneration for the church, which is so striking a feature in much of the theology of the present day, there seems to be a forgetfulness of the pre- And what is there that in this respect will eminence of its divine Head, and of his claim bear a comparison with the gospel? The to be considered as the great Source of spi- redemption of the world by the death and ritual life. A result so much to be deplored passion of our Saviour Christ, both God and would seem to follow from the apostle's ex-man; the provision thus made for the recovery ample being lost sight of, and from the want of a faithful adherence to the doctrine of Christ crucified. Hence also may arise, in all probability, the undue attention now bestowed, in some quarters, upon the externals of religion, and which, though at first nothing more perhaps than a laudable wish to every thing belonging to God's house
of mankind from a state of guilt and misery, and their restoration to a state of unspeakable happiness and glory; the person, the love, the grace, the unchangeableness of the Saviour-what a vast, what a stupendous, what an unspeakably important subject! Such the apostle considered it. It was the one subject, which filled his mind and engrossed
and imperfection with which he pleaded it. Though" not a whit behind the very chiefest of the apostles", he was oppressed with a sense of his unworthiness, and painfully alive to what he felt to be his shortcomings. And can it be necessary to draw the inference? or must we not at once see what should be the temper and spirit of every minister of Christ? Looking, as the most faithful and earnest amongst us well may, to our defects, our infirmities, our inconsistencies; looking to our want of spirituality, of self-denial, and devotedness; looking to the little which we have done for the cause of him, "whose we are, and whom we serve," how can we do otherwise than feel, as the apostle did, when he spoke of being in "weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling"? And yet, on the other hand, we may also say, "Seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not.' Great as the difficulties are which we have to encounter; serious as the obstacles are which we have to overcome; much as there is to try our spirits, and ex
his thoughts. Everything else was viewed by him in subordination to it. Upon whatever other topic he might occasionally touch, to this he invariably reverted with delight, and upon this he expatiated with rapture. This was the theme which gave full scope to the energies of his understanding, and called forth all the sensibilities of his heart. And the great secret of his success in bringing men, through the power of the Spirit accompanying his preaching, from "darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God," was this -that he spoke of nothing, and taught no thing, and gloried in nothing, save Jesus Christ and him crucified." O that this were more than ever the soul's resolve of every one of us, my reverend brethren, to whom there has been given, through God's gracious will, a commission, less extensive indeed, but not less important, than that of the great apostle of the Gentiles! For thus only can we hope to prosper in the work whereunto God hath called us, and to be made instrumental in "gathering into the fold of Christ those sheep of his, that are dis-ercise our faith and patience, we may yet persed abroad, and his children, who are in the midst of this evil world, that they may be saved through Christ for ever." Let the doctrine of Christ crucified be preached by us in all its integrity and in all its simplicity, and proof will not be wanting that it is now, what it was in the primitive times, "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." In whatever else we are constrained to differ, in this let us agree, to know nothing among our people" save Jesus Christ and him crucified," and to devote ourselves to the diligent performance of those sacred duties, which devolve upon us as "ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God."
And, when we consider what it is, my reverend brethren, to be faithful in such a stewardship, what singleness of purpose it involves, what devotedness of heart, what "simplicity and godly sincerity," we may well have the same feeling, with regard to the discharge of our ministerial work, as the holy apostle had, when he said, as in the verse succeeding the text, "I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." And yet what did he fear? Not the reproach of the cross; not even bonds, imprisonment, persecution, or death itself; for none of these things moved him, neither did he count his life dear unto himself. But what he did fear was, lest he should fail in the adequate performance of that great and all-important work which was "given him to do;" lest the cause of his divine Master should suffer from the weakness
hope, in reliance upon that grace which is
KEEPING CHRIST'S WORD*.
WE inquire what we are to understand by keeping Christ's word. And here we may at once reply that it, generally speaking, signifies sincere and uniform obedience; such obedience as is perfect as to the desires entertained by the soul, those desires. The true disciple sets up as his though imperfect as to the actual realization of standard of duty the example of his Saviour. He never aims below the mark left by Christ himself. To be as Jesus was-holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners; to find it his meat and drink to do the will of his heavenly Father; to be zealous, affectionate, submissive, childlike-this is his great desire. His will is to be in all respects obedient: he would not tolerate one departure from the path of duty, but throughout his pilgrimage • From "Two Sermons ;” by rev. T. Sheepshanks, M.A.