« EelmineJätka »
reform and justify and sanctify men in this mysterious truth? Why should this be mainly insisted upon? Is not such preaching a feeble ‘and doubtful means of bringing men to religion and the true obedience of God? May not the doctrine be considered as sufficiently implied, though it is not continually insisted on? and are not moral duties, in fact, the only intelligible and efficacious topic of popular instruction? Thus the cross of Christ is still a stumbling-block to the self-righteous. They still shrink from fully admitting salvation to be of grace. They still consider the laboured details of ethics to be the most promising method of advancing piety, It is still to them a weak and dangerous scheme to preach nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified.
But in this mystery there is in truth THE GREATEST DISPLAY OF THE POWER OF GOD.
This will appear if we consider THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CRUCIFIXION ITSELF. It is weak indeed if you view it only in its external appearances; but not so, if you recollect the moral greatness of the sufferer, who predicted every part of his passion, and yet endured it with perfect willingness; nay, displayed under it all the graces of meekness, resignation, patience, tenderness to his parent, and forgiveness of his enemies—not so, if you call to mind the convulsion of all nature at his death, the preternatural
darkness, the rending of the rocks, the earthquake, and the opening graves—not so, if you remember that in the very midst of his agony, the Redeemer pardoned a dying malefactor ; and as he yielded up the ghost, compelled the Roman centurion to exclaim, Truly this was the Son of God. If you weigh these extraordinary events, you will begin to perceive the power of the Cross.
But this will be more evident if you consider the End for which his sufferings were endured, an end foretold by all the Prophets since the world began, the redemption of mankind by his offering of himself a sacrifice for sin, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. This stupendous design of mercy changes at once our estimate of the whole scene, and leads us to view the crucifixion itself as an illustrious display of divine power. Even on the cross our Saviour really travelled in the greatness of his strength. And this fully appeared in his RESURRECTION FROM THE GRAVE. Then was our Lord raised by the glory of the Father: then was he declared the Son of God with power: then did he arise as a triumphant conqueror over death andhell ; and the glories of the resurrection reflected a glory on the cross.
But THE POWER WITH WHICH THE APOSTLES WERE ENDUED BY THE HOLY Ghost, again, demonstrates this, They were illiterate and
simple men ; but a divine power fitted them for the high office of preaching the cross of Christ, bestowed on them the miraculous gift of tongues and a supernatural courage, and carried them through all their dangers in testifying the death and resurrection of their Master to a sinful world. Here we perceive the display of the power
of God. But we shall behold it still more clearly if we consider THE PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL IN THE WORLD. In this the ercellency of the power appeared to be of God and not of men. The doctrine was contrary to the commonly received notions of mankind. It opposed all their passions and prejudices. It demanded the renunciation of established customs and habits. It exposed its followers to privations and difficulties. It was preached by men unknown to fame, and in a manner the most artless and unassuming. And yet it spread most rapidly over the whole known world, and established itself on the ruins of Pagan and Jewish superstition. It thus appeared to be the rod of God's strength, the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. “I see the Apostles go forth. Do they bring with them, as worldly conquerors, numerous cohorts? Do we see in their hands a glittering sword? Do they employ with ostentation the insinuating arts of the orator? No. What then are their arms? The Cross. They set forth, they arrive, they appear, they triumph,
They hold in their hands the oracles of truth, and the false oracles of Satan are silent. They approach, the ark of Dagon and the idols of the nations are overthrown. They preach the King of kings, and the proudest monarchs bow before him. They cause the light of the world to shine, and the darkness of superstition is dispersed. They unfold the standard of salvation, and infidelity sees its banners forsaken. They display the sign of redemption, and the people are saved. In a word, they raise the brazen serpent, and all the wounds which the infernal serpent has inflicted, are healed. What wonders does the powerful virtue of the Cross effect, without borrowing any thing from man * !”
This part of the subject brings the question home to ourselves. The Gospel thus propagated by the Apostles, we have received and profess to obey. If therefore we are true Christians, we know the power of the Cross IN ITS ACTUAL 'IN-.
This influence is, after all, the most astonishing proof of its virtue, and that in which all other proofs end. The doctrine of the crucifixion is eminently the power of God, because it is the only doctrine which, being accompanied by the Holy Spirit, changes the heart, overcomes the customs and prejudices and lusts of men, brings
FLUENCE ON OUR OWN HEARTS AND LIVES.
* Duquesné in loc.
them to repentance for sin, and to faith in the atonement of Christ for pardon and justification ; which sanctifies and purifies the affections and life, produces the real love of God, consoles and supports us under trouble, strengthens us under fears and weaknesses, and carries us undismayed through the terrors of death. Every true Christian is crucified with Christ, and has the power of Christ resting upon him.
Nor is there any other way in which the power of God is to be shown in the FUTURE CONVERSION OF THE WORLD. No other doctrine will be employed in subduing the proud Mohamedan, and in convincing the stubborn Jew, but the preaching of Christ crucified. No other will be the means of overthrowing the various rites and superstitions of Paganism, and of illuminating a dark world. This, and this only, will finally subvert the kingdom of Satan, and confound all his subtle devices and machinationsThy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.
Thus is the preaching of the Cross the mystery in which the power of God is stupendously displayed; and this in OPPOSITION TO EVERY OTHER MEANS FOR SAVING MEN.
For what have all other means accomplished? What has ever been done to change the heart and lives of men but by the doctrine of the Cross? What have heathen ethics, or abstract morals, or vain philosophy, or human suasion, or political theories