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the Apostles of old, have persisted in proclaim. ing the glories of their Lord. They take their place at a distance, as being servants, from a wish to remain unnoticed, that the single undivided attention of mankind may be fixed on the Master whom they serve. They preach not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord. They are equally cautious about leading their hearers into error, by confounding the grace of God and the law of works; or by setting forth such principles of morality as the heathen sages might have taught; and give themselves up to
pre the study of those divine mysteries which are known only by revelation, that from them they die may learn how to build up your souls on that
sho foundation, which will stand the test of the the judgment-day.
Moreover, when they preach Christ crucified, as they find it revealed, they are not concerned about making the doctrine appear more reasonable, so as to approve it to the learned, nor to state it so as to leave no room for objections; but as the Scriptures have left it, so they take it up. They do not gild over the cross, or invest it with gaudy trappings, lure men to it by deceitful panegyricks, but T they take their stand at the foot of the bloodstained tree, and proclaim in those words which were written on the cross, This is Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews. Thus the Apostles preached. What reception this preaching met with in the world comes next under our consideration.
II. To the Jews it was a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness. The Jews had been accustomed to displays of supernatural glory: The promulgation of the law at Mount Sinai was accompanied with all that splendid train of circumstances which most powerfully strike the outward senses. Hence the Jews, when they heard of the pretensions of our Lord, sought of him a sign from heaven saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee, a sign from heaven. So those who came to hear St. Paul preach in the synagogues, expected he would ground his doctrines on a fact of such extraordinary glory, that the very description of it should delight and astonish them. But when they found that a man put to death by their countrymen was the foundation of this new religion, which was to supersede the whole system of the Jewish ritual, they rejected it without hesitation. Thus the person of Christ was a stumbling-block to the Jews, because deficient in external glory:
Equally offensive to them was the doctrine of the Gospel: because it was directly subversive of all their self-righteous confidence. They were by the Apostles told that God was no respecter of persons; that before him their mouths must be stopped; that they were as guilty as the rest of men, and must be saved, if they were saved at all, not because they were the children of Abraham, or were strict in ceremonial observances, and in works of morality, but only by faith in that person whom
they had put to death. They found moreover, that the Gospel is proposed equally to the moral and immoral, making no difference between thenı, but reducing them to a level; offering to Scribes and Pharisees salvation on the same terms as to publicans and sinners. Every part of such a statement was calculated to provoke their indignation. To renounce their own righteousness, and thus to be brought on a level with the accursed Gentiles, was what they never would hear of without rage. National, and personal pride; prejudices imbibed in infancy, and inveterate by time, all revolted against such humiliating doctrines. They stumbled according to the prophecy of Isaiah, and the predictions of Simeon, He was for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offence; he was set for the fall of many in Israel
. Though he visited them as the day-spring from on high-though he rose as the morning star, and shone as the sun in his strength, to guide their feet and shine on their path to heaven, they took offence at him; in consequence the Gospel remained more than darkness to them: it became as a stumbling-block in their way, to which when they came they stumbled, and fell over it headlong into eternal perdition.
The Gospel met with nu better reception among the Greeks, who rejected it from causes which correspond to those which influenced the Jews. As the Jews sought after a sign, 80 the Greeks sought after wisdom; and as the Jews were proud with self-righteousness, so
the Greeks were filled with conceit of their learning. They sought after wisdom. Every branch of human learning was at this time in the highest state of cultivation, but the favorite study was that of the science of morality; to that they directed particularly their attention in order to discover some method of checking the progress of profligacy. They inquired into the difference of virtue and vice, as to the happiness of man--they formed systems of morality according to their various views, defended them by learned arguments, and were zealous of making proselytes to their sentiments. Hence on the appearance of the preachers of the Gospel, the philosophers expected from men setting out to be the instructors of the world, profound learning-a labored investigation of truth and morals--refined arguments, and ingenious deductions-something which might entertain cultivated minds, and lay the foundation for new improvements in theoretic wisdom. These things they sought, but they found them not. They heard the sermons of St. Paul, but there was nought in the matter or manner of them that satisfied their literary thirst; they received no increase to their ideas by his doctrines, nor did they find any exercise of their powers of reasoning by his manner of stating them. On the contrary, the simple preaching of Christ crucified, with the expectation of reforming mankind by it, appeared to these philosophers highly foolish and absurd, insomuch that they openly ex
of eternal punishment deter him from sin: he continues his course of self-indulgence, and becomes headstrong, intractable, outrageous. All human means having failed to reclaim him, he is generally given up as irrecoverably vicious. In the course of a short time the very same person may be seen walking soberly, righteously, and godly; not partially reformed, but following universal holiness holding communion with that God whose very name he hated-delighting in that society which once he despised—he lives the ornament of human nature, and dies with a hope full of immortality. What was it, we ask, that changed him? Did the angel Gabriel lead him in a vision to the empyreal heaven, and over-power his corruptions by a' torrent of divine glory; or was a 'spirit of darkness sent to conduct him to the confines of hell, that the nearer sight of the livid flame might startle his soul and force him from his sins? No! these arguments, or others as strong, had been tried in vain; legal hopes never yet made the heart yield. No! the man whose change we are accounting for, once heard that faithful saying, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--that the Son of God himself had died for the chief of sinners-that now pardon for the past was offered freely, and grace for the future stored up for the penitent. This strikes his attention and wins his heart, and a gleam of returning hope begins to steal through his breast. If this great