Page images

joy : tears, which shall soon be exchanged for that comfort and peace in the Holy Ghost,-for that holy ardour in your Saviour's cause, which, springing up within you, shall send you forth more“ fervent in spirit, to serve the Lord” during the short remaining time he may yet require you to “watch." And when that time of watching and of trial shall be ended, supported by the

sure and certain hope of a resurrection to eternal life,” you shall close your fading eyes in peace : and while your body shall lie down in the grave, and mingle with its parent dust, your now purified spirit, freed from the shackles which bound it to its earthly tenement, shall wing to heaven its flight, and with joy“ return unto the God who gave it.”




1 CORINTHIANS 1. 23, 24.-“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.

EVEN at the first preaching of Christianity, there were found not a few bold and wicked infidels, who impiously dared to brand it with the opprobrious names of weakness and foolishness. And, that this unhappy race is not yet extinct, the many open attacks which are still continually made, both upon the divinity of Christ, and the doctrines of his Gospel, alas ! but too plainly prove.

Now, since the religion we profess, carries with it the strongest, the most unquestionable proofs of divine benevolence and love, since it recommends itself to our approbation by a system of the purest, the most exalted doctrines ;doctrines which tend to enlighten the understanding and improve the heart,—to rescue us from all uncertainty and error here, and to open to us the most cheering prospects of a blissful immortality; it is surely every man's interest to wish them to be true : for, if Christianity be a fiction, say, what is there within the compass of either ancient or modern learning, sufficient even to heal the wounds of present sufferings, much less to withdraw the envenomed sting from future apprehensions ? And shall the scoffs of the infidel, or the cavils of the philosopher, when opposed to these important considerations, weigh aught but as dust in the balance ? Shall such vain and delusive arguments lead men to reject and deny a faith so indispensably essential both to their temporal and eternal happiness? Alas! too wide and diffusive has been infidelity's baneful influence; and it is with the earnest hope of guarding you, my brethren, from making shipwreck of your faith, that, by the aid of that Holy Spirit, which can alone minister power to the preacher, and grace to the hearer, I will endeavour, to "put to silence the ignorance of foolish men,” against the doctrine of the cross, and shew you that the plan of the Gospel Dispensation is perfectly conformable to the rules of true wisdom, and equally suitable to the

honour of God, and to the unspeakable advantage of man.

And first, with regard to the abrogation of the ceremonial part of the Mosaic law, we may observe, that this law was from its first promulgation, of a temporary nature, and plainly intended to yield to a clear and more extensive display of God's will, which in after times, should be revealed in the Gospel of His Son, to which it bore, in all its parts, a plain and distinct relation. In early ages, indeed, it was of great importance to Adam's fallen race, that the purity of truth should not every where be obliterated, nor its lustre be entirely dimmed ; but that in one special, one chosen part of the earth, it should be allowed to “take root and fill the land.” But it was neither consistent with the perfect goodness nor the universal benevolence of God, that the knowledge of his will should remain thus limited and confined, thus faintly shadowed out, through all succeeding generations. Nor indeed was this permitted by the conduct of the Jews themselves ; for even this highly favoured people had so blended error with truth, superstition with religion, and vice with virtue, that a farther discovery of the Divine Will was become as necessary to them, as to the rest of mankind. In the fulness of time, therefore, God, in His infinite mercy, sent His only begotten Son into the world, to dispel the mists of ignorance, to enlighten the understandings of the simple, and to make known the way of His salvation, even to the ends of the earth. But though “He came to His own, His own received Him not :” yea, their wicked heart was hardened, and rejecting the Lord of life, the Lord who came to “redeem them from death, and to ransom them from the power of the grave,” they desired a murderer to be granted unto them. And even after the astounding fact of his resurrection had stamped the seal of divinity on his mission, and proved him to be the very Christ, the Son of the living God,-still, the preaching of the Cross was “to the Jews a stumbling block, as it was to the Greeks foolishness.” Indeed, every part of the Redeemer's spotless life, from the obscurity of the manger, to the ignominy of the Cross, was so directly opposed to all their secular expectations, as perhaps in some degree to account, not only for their despising and rejecting him, during his personal ministry among them, but also for the contempt with which, in each succeeding age, his doctrines have been spurned, by the once favoured and chosen people of God. Mistaking the nature of Christ's kingdom, and misinterpreting the ancient prophecies relating to it, they foolishly expected, in the promised Messiah, an earthly conqueror, surrounded with all the pomp of regal splendour, who should sit

« PreviousContinue »