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wherever the voice of nature speaks, and speaks in vain, to fallen man, the voice of revelation may penetrate and restore him to himself and to his God.*
It is impossible for me not to notice here the labours and success of the British and Foreign Bible Society. The text seems of itself to be a sufficient authority for the widest possible circulation of the Holy Scriptures; so that whereever there are men who need conversion, wisdom, joy, and illumination; the law of the Lord-that perfect, sure, right, perspicuous, and eternal standard of truth-should be disseminated among them.
THE CROSS OF CHRIST THE DISPLAY OF THE DIVINE GLORY.
1 CORINTHIANS I. 22-24.
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom. But 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.
THE doctrine of our Lord's sufferings and atonement is the fundamental truth of Christianity. But it is at the same time the truth which is most opposed to the pride of the human heart. Men are prone to establish their own righteousness and to rely on their own wisdom; and therefore despise and reject the humiliating truth which overthrows both. It has been thus in every age. But it was more especially so among the luxurious and learned Corinthians at the first promulgation of Christianity. The
Jews scattered amongst that people, required a sign from heaven to introduce a Messiah who should erect a temporal kingdom, and make them victorious over their enemies; whilst the Greeks, who were the body of the inhabitants, sought for the display of human wisdom and philosophy, the ornaments of eloquence, and the charms of address. To the first, therefore, the preaching of the Cross was an offence and stumbling-block; to the second it appeared as foolishness. But still the Apostle was not ashamed of his cause, because he knew that to them who were called, both Jews and Greeks, it would appear to be, what it really was, a stupendous exhibition of the power of God and of the wisdom of God.
It will be my endeavour from this text to show, that the Crucifixion of Christ is that mystery of religion in which God mainly displays his POWER and his WISDOM, notwithstanding the weakness and folly which men erroneously connect with this event.
I. THE CROSS OF CHRIST IS THAT MYSTERY OF RELIGION IN WHICH GOD MAINLY DISPLAYS HIS POWER.
I acknowledge, indeed, that to the eye of human reason the crucifixion of Christ APPEARS TO BE AN EVIDENCE OF WEAKNESS. I concede this with the Apostle. It is, so to speak, the
weakness of God. The divine power is hidden. Many circumstances connected with the appearance of Christ upon earth, were marked by a character of feebleness. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Especially, his last agony and death were ignominious and mysterious. What power was manifested in the painful and accursed death of the cross? What against the successful accusations of the Jews? What amidst the dying sorrows of the Saviour? What in the crucifixion between two thieves, in the taunts and reproaches of the Jews, and in the confusion and dismay of his few trembling disciples? Is this the Messiah of whom the Prophets spoke? This the Saviour of mankind? This the consolation of Israel? Can we wonder that the Jew, filled with the prejudices of his nation, and estimating the credentials of a Messiah from a false view of the predictions of glory and triumph which were to attend him, stumbled and was offended at the mystery of the crucifixion?
And though the external offence of the Cross has in a great measure ceased among Christians, yet, what may be termed, The doctrine of the Cross, the doctrine which establishes the crucifixion as the only means of pardon, peace, and holiness, in opposition to the works of the law, still appears weak and inefficient to the eye of worldly persons. What, they ask, is there to
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 forgivenessof his enemies--not so, if you call to mind the convulsion of all nature at his death, the preter