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the arts of peace, the art of war, the art of legislation, the services and sacrifices of idolatry and superstition, the schemes of philosophy, the gloomy path of scepticism, infidelity, atheism. But all proved unavailing to heal man's deadly plague.
Having now seen, then, how every remedy failed that was devised by man, let us next contemplate, in the third and last place, God's own effectual cure.
“For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Now, you will observe that, in providing a remedy for a world that was sinful, polluted, alienated, helpless, miserable, and that had failed in every experiment made through successive ages to relieve its own malady—the first thing wanting, the main requisite for a perfect cure, was a remedy for man's guilt.
And here, brethren, when we contemplate God providing such a remedy, we do not find him changing one iota of his essential character-we do not see him foregoing the claims of his justice, and proclaiming the transgressor at once free. We do not find him yielding one single atom of his righteous demands in reference to man's fallen race, while he proposes to make them happy. We do not find the honour of God as King, Lawgiver, Judge, at all sinking in the remedy he devises and proposes for the sinner's exaltation. No, we find him still peerless in his majesty as before; his law fulfilled, his justice vindicated, his holiness unsullied, his integrity unimpeached and unimpaired, and the high honours of his throne maintained. And, as he knows well the extent of human guilt and the depth of human corruption—as he has
watched all the wayward wanderings of the human heart, and is intimately acquainted with its thorough alienation and its utter wretchedness—he looks not to human nature for help or for deliverance. He looks not to guilt, for expiation-he looks not to pollution, for purity-he looks not to enmity, for love—he looks not to helplessness, for relief–he looks not to death, for life. But, turning away from the impotence and imbecility of man, he turns round to his own co-equal Son, and upon him he lays our help—from him he expects our deliverance. In him is all power; and, uniting our nature with his own, he embodies in that nature the innate dignity of the eternal Godhead. But he comes not down to earth that he may call upon man to satisfy the claims of the law he has broken, or to answer the demands of the justice he has insulted. He comes not down that he may inflict on the trembling culprit all the vengeance to which he has exposed himself. No! but that he may bear all that wrath upon himself. He appears as the sinner's substitutethe sinner's surety—the sinner's friend. As he sees the lightnings play, and hears the thunders roll, and marks where the wrath is about to alight-then he comes forth travelling in the greatness of his strength -speaking in righteousness, mighty to save. Then a voice is heard to break the dread stillness, saying, " Deliver them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom. " When he sees the world weak as to its own help, and ready to sink down into an eternity of woe, he himself undertakes to bear the descending curse, and makes himself the glorious pedestal on which man may stand and rise to heaven. Yes, my fellow
Then was it, after all these experiments had been tried and tried in vain—then was it that the world's fancied highest wisdom appeared on the scene in the form of Infidelity. The existence of a Deity was denied, “ The fool said in his heart, there is no God;" and, could he have had his wish, he would not only have dethroned the Almighty, but would have blotted out from his own creation, the Being at the thought of whom man, as a sinner, had been made to tremble. Atheism braved heaven's thunders. It raised its altars—it proclaimed to its deluded votaries, immunity from all punishment, and all responsibility, and freedom to commit all manner of iniquity without let or hinderance; it allowed full and unrestrained scope to every lust, however vile, and to every passion, however violent; it laughed to scorn every principle of righteousness, and every motive to virtue; it overleaped, or would break down, every barrier which God has in his mercy reared to keep back man from guilt
. Thus infidelity stalked abroad, in ancient times, as it does in our own day. It received countenance from the sentiments and conduct, the influence and example, of monarchs, and statesmen, and philosophers. But it failed then, as it fails now, in securing the result it promised and contemplated—the real happiness of mankind. By whatever specious names it may call itself — philosophy, liberalism, socialism, enlightenment, it utterly fails in making men wiser or better. In the ancient world, before the coming of Christ, it had many powerful auxiliaries, and it prevailed, and was professed among the higher and middle classes, to a great extent, in a measure supplanting the old superstitions. But the Being who permitted it to have existence, and permitted it in his mysterious wisdom to attain the ascendency for a time among his creatures here below, at length caused his voice to be heard, and announced, that now that the world had added this last experiment to all the others, which like it had failed, it was full time that he himself should come forth, and reveal for the world's cure, the remedy which he himself had devised. "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” But upon the detailed consideration of this, which is the third and last head of discourse, we cannot at present enter.
“ For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew
not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”—1 CORINTHIANS, i. 21.
In formerly discoursing from these words, we remarked that the general purport is evidently this viz. that when, in accordance with God's wise arrangement, a fair and full trial had been made of the native unaided powers of man; and when it had been clearly ascertained, not from theory but from experiment, not from fancy but from fact, that he was unable of himself to attain to a saving knowledge of God, or secure the glorious ends of religion and virtue— then, God was pleased to proclaim the doctrine of the cross,—the preaching of which the world deemed folly, and yet by the very foolishness of preaching which doctrine, he saved and yet saves them that believe. Now, all this ignorance of God, says the text, was permitted and appointed in the exercise of God's sovereign wisdom. For it was desirable that the powers of man should be fully tested before the gospel was introduced, in order to show that it had not originated in, and was not dependent upon him.
Sufficient time, moreover, had been given for the