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If they look into the ark of God, like the Bethshemites, with unhallowed eyes and captious scrutiny, they will meet with a similar fate. God will not suffer any to trifle with his holy things. Their rashness will be death to them. Yet do unreasonable men persist in trying and examining the Gospel, by preconceived opinions; some judging of it according to the opinions imbibed in infancy; others approving of it no farther than it will countenance self-indulgence, and according as the preached gospel shall answer these conditions or not, determining to receive or reject it.

Of this latter description were the unbelievers of old: they required in the new religion certain things as indispensible, and when their expectations were disappointed they had done with it. Thus says St. Paul, in the preceding text, The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek wisdom, when they ought to have required nothing but the evidences of its truths; but we preach Christ crucified: a subject they neither expected nor relished; therefore the one found it a stumbling-block, and the other foolishness.

In the words first read to you there are three things to be considered. First, the subject of the Apostle's preaching; secondly, the different modes of its reception among men; thirdly, the true light in which it is to be received.

I. The subject of the Apostle's preaching was Christ crucified: which is in brief this proposition, that Jesus who was crucified, is the Savior of the world; or more fully, the doctrine embraces all that respects the origin and scheme of salvation. Man having subjected himself to the curse of God, no way of deliverance was found but by the divine interposition in his favor. The Father in mere mercy sent his Son into the world, and he undertook to save mankind in the only way in which it was practicable, namely, by substituting himself in their stead. The law of God required perfect obedience; he therefore answered the demands of the law, and fulfilled it in their stead. Their past sins required punishment; he therefore suffered it in his own person.

With this work God declares himself satisfied, and accepts him as a propitiation for the sins of the world—that for which he is willing to be propitious to men, and reconciled to pardon and take them into favor, to give them the spirit of holiness, and at last exalt them to his glory. Moreover, the way in which men can be interested in his death, and receive the benefits flowing from it, is not by palliating their sins, or thinking themselves excusable, but by faith and by faith only: casting themselves upon God as sinners, inexcusable and deserving of hell. If renouncing all hope in themselves they will thus come to Christ, they shall be justified freely by his grace—their hearts delivered from their attachment to sin—and they brought without fail to everlasting happiness. We preach Christ, says St. Paul. This is not indeed,

to be invariably dwelling on the way

of salvation by him; for men would by habit cease to have their attention engaged, and thus the end of preaching would be defeated; but it to make it the main subject of our discourses—it it is to be ever seeking to lead sinners to Christ. To accomplish this end, various means may appear necessary. The ininds of men may require certain preparation, for want of which the Gospel would be unintelligible. The Heathen auditors at Athens needed St. Paul- to explain to them the unity and spirituality of God and his providence, together with the certainty of a future state of rewards and punishments. And probably in addressing the Jews he endeavored to convince them of their condemnation by their own law. He would point to their own sacrifices; and hence argue the necessity of some better sacrifice to take away.

sin. He would always give so much previous instruction as the circumstances of the case seemed to require. As a wise master builder who designs to raise an edifice on a particular spot, surveys the ground, removes other buildings with which it is encumbered, and clears away as many obstructions as possible, that then he may lay a good foundation; so the minister of the Gospel will be gradually seeking to edify the souls of men on Christ the true foundation, and yet make use of all the variety of methods which the topics of religion, or the feelings of men will supply.

But though the way of salvation by Christ need not be constantly the preacher's theme, yet occasionally, and from time to time, men must be called to the single consideration of Christ crucified. This is the sun that warms and enlightens the system of revealed truth: in the direct beanings of this sun we must sometimes be placed, as well as have the genial light of it diffused around us. Whenever we profess to confine ourselves to this doctrine formally and exclusively, we then preach Christ crucified; by representing him to mankind as the only Savior, and the all-sufficient Savior.

1. As the only Savior, we teach, that it is not permitted men to choose their own religion, or to cast up a high way for themselves whereby to arrive at heaven, or to work out a righteousness of their own to recommend them, but that Christ alone is the way, and the truth, and the life; that other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ; that there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby they must be saved, but only the name of Jesus Christ.

2. We proclaim him also the all-sufficient Savior. In his offers of salvation we declare that he requires no previous qualification; but equally regardless of the antecedent morality or immorality of the subjects, he commands them to receive, and not to purchase offers salvation freely to those who see themselves perishing, and promises to give all the holiness

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of heart which is necessary to fit them for heaven: and then, that he is able to save to the utinost--fully qualified to begin, carry on, and complete the happiness and holiness of every believer,

. These doctrines relating to Christ were uniformly insisted on by St. Paul and all the first preachers of the Gospel. Thus we read that Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them;* and when he was explaining the Scriptures to the Eunuch he preached to him Jesus. Notwithstanding the opposition they had to encounter in doing it, the other Apostles daily in the temple, and in every house, ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christof St. Paul, on his conversion, straitway preached Christ in the synagogues; and he determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified; nor to glory in any thing but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. There were some who preached Christ of contention, not sincerely, yet says the Apostle, Whether in pretence or truth, Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. He never repented of having laid too great stress on this doctrine, for we hear him reminding the Ephesians at the time he was taking leave of them, that he had testified to them repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. In all after ages, even to the present moment, the men who are chosen of God to be his witnesses on earth, treading in the steps of

* Acts yüü, 5.

+ Ib. V, 42.

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