« PrécédentContinuer »
Among the nations of the world there is " a time of war and a time of peace," but no time can you count on when you may safely repose from vigilance or activity. It is the world you have to conquer; so long, therefore, as you are in the world you are in the country of the enemy, and though you may not every moment be repelling some formidable attack, yet the sentinels must be ever at their post, the soldiers must ever have on "the armour of light, on the right hand and on the left." It becomes you, therefore, brethren, to "put on the whole armour of God; and, above all, to take to yourselves the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.' The cause for which you fight, the allies which are leagued on your side, the example of those who have gone before you, the assistance which is promised you, and the rewards which await you, all combine to animate your exertions. The cause in which you are engaged is that of righteousness and of God. Jehovah himself is your buckler and your shield, and you ought therefore to "quit yourselves like men, to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." Those who have gone before you have encountered dangers and difficulties greater than those to which you are now exposed, for "you have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin;" and lo, they now stand before the throne of God arrayed in white robes, with crowns on their heads, and palms of victory in their hands. The conflict indeed may be severe and protracted,trust in the Lord, and the victory shall be sure. If the men whose portion is in this life willingly exert themselves to obtain an earthly and corruptible crown, will not you strive to obtain one that is incorruptible? "Fight then the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eter
* Eph. vi. 11, 16.
nal life." Recollect that you are not sent a warfare on your own charges, that you "fight not uncertainly, or as those beating the air;" for neither peril nor sword shall prevail against you; and after a few years of hostility on earth, you shall be conducted to a region of glorious triumph and endless peace. If then, my friends, your hearts should at any time be ready to fail for fear at the prospect of approaching dangers, look beyond them to heaven, the goodly land of your inheritance,-look up to that cloud of witnesses, who view your exertions, and exult in your success,-look up to Jesus Christ, the captain of your salvation,-look by the eye of faith to these glorious objects, and through the strength of the Almighty, and the aid of his omnipotent arm, you shall be enabled to retire from the field of battle more than conquerors. "It is a faithful saying,”—“ In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I
have overcome the world."
*John xvi. 33.
THE CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST.
1 CORINTHIANS i. 23.-We preach Christ crucified.
FROM the passage with which these words are connected, it appears that the doctrine of the crucifixion of Christ was regarded with emotions of strong aversion and contempt both by Jews and Greeks. "The Jews required a sign." Misapprehending an expression in the prophecies of Daniel, they expected their Messiah to come in the clouds of heaven with visible splendour, and, in the view of myriads of admiring spectators, to receive from the "Ancient of days" his promised kingdom. Misapprehending the predictions of all their prophets relative to that kingdom, they expected it to be one of a political and secular nature, in which Jerusalem, instead of Rome, would be the metropolis of the world, and the Jews would be exalted to a lofty pre-eminence over all other nations. To a people enslaved by such ideas and anticipations, it may well be supposed that the doctrine of a spiritual Saviour, who had lived in poverty, and died as a felon and a slave, would be most perplexing and most offensive: To them "Christ crucified was a stumbling-block.”
"The Greeks sought after wisdom." They delighted in the profound and subtle speculations of philosophy,
and in the artificial and elaborate embellishments of oratory and to them the doctrine of Christ appeared not only unattractive but preposterous. "To them it was foolishness."
But the crucifixion of Christ, though a stumblingblock to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks, was the cardinal fact in the system of Christianity. It is the centre to which all its other facts, and all its promises and doctrines converge: the basis on which rest all the hopes and expectations of its disciples: the pillar, if we may so express it, on which the supreme Ruler has engraven in conspicuous characters the attributes of his nature and the leading principles of his government. And hence, says the apostle in the passage before us, we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness: but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." "We preach Christ crucified:" that is the most prominent topic in our ministrations; the sum and substance of our preaching.
It can hardly be necessary to remark, that the apostle did not intend to say that he and his fellow-labourers in the Gospel restricted their preaching to the announcement of the simple and naked fact, that Christ was crucified. To preach Christ crucified is more than that: It is to preach that fact in connexion with those truths and topics which are obviously and naturally conjoined with it;-in connexion with his character and dignity as a Divine person, with the nature of his death as a sacrifice for sin ;-in connexion with human guilt and depravity, which rendered his death necessary; and in connexion with its results, both to himself and to us: In connexion, therefore, with that un
limited dominion to which he is elevated in his media
torial capacity, with the blessings of that immortal redemption which it insures to all who believe and obey him, and in connexion with the claims which it gives him to our love and obedience. These topics constitute the substance and essence of the Gospel; and these topics, as you are aware, are brought before you in almost every sermon. It is not to all, nor indeed to any of these topics, that I propose at present to direct your thoughts. Instead of entering on a field so extensive, and so often surveyed, all that I intend is to consider the crucifixion of Christ chiefly as the central fact or event in the religion of Christ, and to mention some of the more remarkable properties by which that event is characterized, and on which you may this day meditate with interest and advantage. In humble dependence on the Divine blessing, let me then solicit your attention to the following particulars : The crucifixion is a most singular event; an event predicted long before it happened; a most mournful event; a most joyful event; a most important event; a most instructive event; a most terrific event; a most glorious event; a most certain event; a most memorable event.
I. The crucifixion of Christ was a most singular event. Death itself, simply considered, is a common occurrence; for it is appointed unto all men to die: and almost every day we hear of the death of some of our fellow-creatures. Nor was death by crucifixion a rare occurrence in the age when Jesus of Nazareth was nailed to the accursed tree. Read the records of Roman history, and you find masters often causing their slaves to be put to death by that inhuman and degrading punishment; and you find generals causing the soldiers of vanquished armies, or the inhabitants of