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travailing through the agonies of his passion, and through the cruel martyrdom of his death, that thus, as a sacrifice for sin, he might redeem from the evil, and put man in the capacity of working out his own salvation with fear and trembling—when he unveiled the awful mystery of the Christ crucified, I say, it is not to be wondered at that these worshippers of human reason—these refined and polished idolaters—these poets, and orators, and philosophers, should make mockery, and be as busy as bitter in pointing their scornful sarcasms at the Apostle in his holy work. “What will this babbler say? He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods!" It is not to be wondered at that they should account the most powerful of the Christian doctrines, the doctrines of the Cross, foolishness—and so they did, as opposed to what they believed; as containing avowals for which they saw no necessity in themselves (for a man unconvinced of sin, can see no reasonableness in the office of a Saviour); as inculcating principles and enforcing duties which opposed their own; as maintaining the agencies of the blessed Spirit in enlightening the mind and sanctifying the heart; as exhorting to prayer and faith, in the name of Jesus, and to holiness of the life, as tracking the steps of Jesus. It is, I say, no wonder that they should have treated the Ι words they heard with utter contempt; and though "spending their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing," yet, upon hearing such things, so irreconcileable with all preconceived notions of their own, so humiliating for the conclusions they forced against themselves, that they should have left the presence of the Apostle for their schools and their temples, their false philosophy, and their false gods! There is, indeed, one striking instance to redeem from the sweeping judgment, that of Dionysius the Areopagite, one instance to show how hard the conquest is of the Gospel preached to the poor, over the minds that are puffed up with the conceits of human learning; how difficultly the truth, as it is in Jesus, wins its way where the wisdom of the wise is lifting the heart to arrogancy! May not some here be as averse from receiving the great doctrine of our mission, of our preachment of Christ, and him crucified, and who are not only so because of the strong alliance betwixt their own souls and the things the science-falsely so called, which they have gotten from books and schools, and seminaries of unsound learning; from false and compromising teachers; from the blind leaders of the blind? Are not some here so possessed or full of the knowledge which is of long and arduous attainment, as to shut out the claims of Gospel truth ?-so intensely occupied with the pursuits of literature, as to give themselves no time for the cultivation of the principles of the New Testament?—so deceived in the false estimate they make of the value of the distinctions amongst the wise and learned, as to retain none for the wisdom of a book, where the way-faring man may be as great a proficient as them
selves; accounting the simplicities of the scheme, which it glories to unfold, the veriest foolishness? It is a fact that, at some of our schools, the religion which Christ came down from Heaven to teach-which he endued men with miraculous powers to teachwhich he sent a holy person of the Godhead to teach, with his influences and assistances-into whose mysteries angels desired to look-which is to be considered, in the sight of an infinitely wise God, as the law of every life, to know and to practise, upon which will hang the balance of eternal and opposite destinies for every soul: it is a fact, I say, that, at many of our schools, this religion remains untaught; is sunken beneath the knowledge of some critical niceties in the construction of a learned and dead language; is to be left with the cheap and common acquirements of writing and arithmetic; is to be obtained, come when it may, at some future and unspecified period of an after-life; yea, religion is to be thus a self-taught system, when the early habits have already received the stamp and form they shall hold to the last, and the antipathies are already set in against all that would oppose the pleasures, restrain the gaieties, and check the libertinism of youth!-Parents, this subject opens an awful responsibility under which you stand to God for the culture of the understandings and hearts of the offspring which God has given you. Oh! subordinate the "one thing needful" to the many and unnecessary things which cumber so many: show your rising families your own estimation for the truths of Jesus, by placing them first in the scale of importance: forget not the holy injunction which comes recommended by the authority of the wisest of wise men-" Train up a child in the way he should go, that when he is old he may not depart from it;" which presses in the experience of an Apostle: "And ye, fathers, bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord:" be cautious that in making them knowing, as the Greeks of old, ye bring not upon them the awful judgments of the Greeks of old, who regarded the preaching of Christ crucified as foolishness; "who professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and bowed themselves to stocks and stones."
But THIRDLY and briefly, we are advised, in our text, of other and happier effects which the preaching of the doctrine of the Cross produced: "But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God." To them which are called-to them who, by deep examination of their own hearts-who, by sincere contrition for sin-who, by prayer for the light and sanctification of the Holy Spirit-who, by faith in Christ, as the Saviour of men, and a solemn renunciation of the world, and by obedience and purity of the life, and by love to God, have rendered the means of grace available; who thus are made willing in the day of the Lord's power; who ascribe no honour,
no praise to themselves, but are under a constant and deep sense of the gratitude due to the free and gratuitous mercy of God; "who hath made us to differ;" who hath called us by "his grace; who hath called us according to his purpose; who hath saved us, and has called us with a holy calling; not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." To such, the doctrine of Christ crucified is the power of God and the wisdom of God! The power of God-this, in the sacrifice and atonement of Christ, hath its most marvellous display, inasmuch as the restoration of a world therein effected is a greater miracle than the creation of a world; for in the one case the elements were passive and yielding, in the other there was nothing but opposition, intractability, and obstinacy. The power of God was here evinced in magnifying and making honourable that object which by man was held as the most debased and contemptible, in shedding a glory about the cross-in turning the punishment of an alleged criminal into the blessed fame of a martyr-in converting the means of a human degradation into the process of exalting souls to happiness and heaven. The power of God was here made manifest in breaking the chains which bound down a whole world, travailing, and pain, and sorrow, to the heirdom of hell-in its grappling with and overcoming the apostate and rebellious spirits, in destroying sin and the power of death, at the very hour when the triumph on their side seemed the more complete. The power of God was shown here in the provision of a victim, who, by the strengh of his own infinite virtues, should make satisfaction to the inexorable exactions of the divine justice. The power of God was discovered here in the selection of the means, that were as opposed as means could be to those which lay in the ability of man to save from Satan and lift to God! But what is the governance of this truth in your own hearts; is the doctrine of the cross received there as the power of God? Does it keep in subjection every disposition to rely on human endeavours? Does it suppress the gloryings in human strength? Does it hold undermost the powers of sin? Does it constrain to a more intense faith, a more fixed trust in him who is the great mover, the only efficient worker ? Does it remove every doubt, every fear, every suspicion of danger, in submitting yourselves wholly to the course which the doctrine involves as coming from God? To recognise the Divine Power in it, is surely to keep the mind clear of every scruple, to free the understanding from all uncertainty upon the issues of the matter. The receiving that which the power of man authorizes, does not preclude the chance of our being deceived, of our erring to the soul's hurt; but the receiving that which has the impress of the power of God, there cannot be any thing there but truth and security. To know of the doctrine whether it be of God, is to hold fast the form of sound words and believe to salvation! Again, the preaching of
Christ crucified is to them which are called, the wisdom of God: it is contradistinguished from the wisdom of the world: "Behold! I will proceed, (saith the holy one of Israel,) to do a marvellous work amongst this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understandings of their prudent men shall be hid;" or, as St. Paul quotes, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world. Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world; 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." The doctrines of the cross are eminently the wisdom of God to them that are called, inasmuch as by a way which was altogether incomprehensible to man, they exhibit a view how the divine justice may be exercised in a revelation of the divine mercy, and how the divine mercy may be glorified in the exercise of the divine justice they discover a mode after which the just Judge may be satisfied, and at the same time the dignities of the victim be retained-how the curse may be removed, the penalty remitted, and yet the truth of the awful sentence be preserved inviolate-how, instead of an obscuration, a strengthening, a gathering of the divine glories, may come out of the shadows of the cross! The doctrine of the cross is the wisdom of God, inasmuch as in spirituality and power it is of the divine teaching; inasmuch as in it there is an exact fitness after its various supplies to the existing wants of the soul; inasmuch as it is an opening up of consolations and blessings which were otherwise locked in secrecy and darkness; inasmuch as it makes a disclosure of the only course for the attainment of the only end that is worthy of an immortal spirit, by steps the very opposite to those which had been insisted on by "the wise after the flesh;" inasmuch as in its silent impressions upon the heart it conduces most to a likeness of the nature of a holy God, and whilst it enriches with the highest earthly good, bequeathes, as it were, the heirdom of the kingdom of heaven! And, now, is the preaching of this doctrine appreciated as the wisdom of God by you? Do you receive it as little children, in the spirit of humility and obedience? Is it the theme of your constant admiration, and the impulse of a living gratitude? Without this wisdom what were your moral condition, what were your happiness, what were your hope? As ignorant men, ye had not known the way of salvation; as guilty sinners, you had been groaning under the wrath of condemnation, under the weight of the curse; as hopeless and abandoned souls, you had now been counting, had now been brooding over, the miseries of one eternal night of blackness and perdition! and now that the doctrine is preached, the power and wisdom of God declared, in the great atonement of a Christ crucified, do any remain careless about it,
unimpressed by it? Are there any who turn it into a derision and a mockery? Are there any who still, with a perverse mind and obdurate heart, cleave to the evil, rejecting the only one way to happiness, to salvation, to heaven, to God; loving darkness rather than light, and preferring the bondage of Satan to the liberty of the children of God? Any here-let the inquiry search into every heart—let it try the understanding and the spirit as it circulates among you; let it, by the awe of the thought, that if the preaching of Christ crucified is to you foolishness, foolishness it must remain, as speaking peace in the agonies of a dying hourfoolishness it must remain, as making promise of a blessed immortality-Amen.
DELIVERED BY THE REV. MR. LIEFCHIELD, OF CRAVEN CHAPEL, NEAR REGENT STREET.
ROMANS, ii. 4.-"Despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance, and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?—But, after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God."
It is surprising with what dexterity men shift from themselves the charge of guilt, or at least contrive by their going on in sin to indulge the most feeble ideas of damnation, of future punishment and even of eternal rest! Whatever tends to expose to us the heinousness of sin, and thus to wean our hearts from the love and practice of it, must be of the highest importance. Every sin that we are warned of on earth, if we are unregenerate will prove a future source of agony; but if we are in a state of salvation, every fresh developement of the remaining power of sin upon us, will lay the foundation for additional happiness and holiness of characWhatever therefore, I say again, tends to expose to us the heinousness of sin, and so to wean our hearts from the love and practice of it, must be considered of the greatest importance. Now there seems to be no subject so well calculated to do so, as that of divine goodness; it sets before us the guilt, the ingratiude and the folly of sin, and leads the mind to grieve over it on that account. This is the subject which the apostle sets before us, and to which we beg your earnest attention this morning. "Despisest