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inclinations : Christ says, Be pure in the last recesses of your mind. He then, who lives a pure life is teaching Christ, even though he may not on every occasion name Him. In the Sermon on the Mount there is contained no reference to any one special doctrine of Christianity, as we should call it ; nor in the Epistle of St. James is there found one word respecting the doctrine of the Atonement; but if we take this Sermon or this Epistle, and simply work out the truths therein contained—tell us, are we not thereby preaching Christ? To preach Goodness, Mercy, Truth, not for the bribe of heaven or from the fear of hell, but in the name of God the Father, is to preach Christ.
Once more : the expression Preaching Christ implies preaching Truth in connection with a Person; it is not merely Purity, but the Pure One; not merely Goodness, but the Good One, that we worship. Let us observe the twofold advantages of this mode of preaching : first, because it makes religion practical. Some of the Greek teachers were also teaching Purity, Goodness, Truth ; they were striving to lead men's minds to the First Good, the First Fair. The Jewish Rabbis were also endeavouring to do the same, but it is only in Christ that it is possible to do this effectually. Christian brethren, it is only in Christ that we find our ideal realised. There are times when a dark scepticism envelopes our hearts; we turn to the world, and find that all is selfishness there; we turn to our own hearts, and there we find only pollution and corruption : it is when we turn to the Perfect One, we feel that God has once been upon this earth within the limits of Humanity, it is in “God manifest in the flesh" that goodness becomes possible. The second advantage in preaching Christianity in connection with a Person is, that it gives us something to adore, for we can adore a person, but we cannot adore principles.
Lastly, to preach Christ is to preach the doctrine of surrender to the Will of God. The religion of Christ has been well called the religion of Divine Humility. St. Paul would not preach Christ the conqueror, but Christ the crucified, Christ the humble. You may know a man when once you know what it is he worships. The Apostle was surrounded by all the wisdom and beauty and glory of Corinth, and yet he could turn away and declare his determination of knowing nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. There was but one thing before which his heart was prostrated in deepest adoration, and that was, the loving, humble, crucified Man of Nazareth. This is Christianity; love to God and love to man, that surrender of self-will through life and death which marks the whole existence of the Redeemer.
We are, in the second place, to consider the results of this teaching on the several classes of his hearers. To the Jew it was a stumbling-block, something over which he could not pass; the Jew could not receive the Gospel, unless accompanied by signs and miracles to prove that it was from God. To the Greeks it was foolishness, for the Apostle spoke to them as an uneducated, uncultivated man; and they missed the sophistry, the logic, and the brilliant eloquence of their professional orators. Neither could they see what advantage his teaching could be to them, for it would not show them how to form a statue, build a temple, or make a fortune, which things they looked upon as the chief glories of life. But there was another class on whom his words made a very different impression. They are those whom the Apostle describes as “the called.” To them Christ was the Power and the Wisdom of God. He does not mean to assert here the doctrine of an arbitrary Election or Predestination ; on the contrary, he says that this calling was in respect of inward fitness,“ believing," and not of outward advantages. Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” God prepares the heart of man for the reception of the Gospelthat is God's blessed plan of election.
1 CORINTHIANS, ii. 1-7.
HE subject of the Apostle's ministrations at Corinth has
already been defined. We found that it was Christ crucified, and we endeavoured to explain what was meant by this expression. Here again, in the second verse of the second chapter, we meet with the same resolve of St. Paul's—" not to know anything among them save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”
Our attention cannot be drawn too often to the distinction between preaching Christ crucified and the Crucifixion of Christ. You are aware that it is said by some that the Gospel is not preached unless the Crucifixion be named. Now the Apostle did not preach that; but he preached Christ-Christ the Example-Christ the Life-Christ the Son of Man-Christ the Son of God-Christ risen-Christ the King of Glory.
But ever and unfailingly he preached that Christ, as a humbled Christ crucified through weakness, yet living by the power of God. Because obedient unto death, therefore God also had highly exalted Him. Christ crucified, in opposition to the idea of Christ the Conqueror, or Christ the Philosopher ; by preaching which he might have won both Jews and Greeks. We will consider the spirit or tone in which St. Paul preached.
And first, it was in a decisive tone of personal conviction. It was "the testimony of God.” It was not an opinion. Observe, he does not say, “I think so,” but “God says. so." So, in writing to the Galatian Church, he says: "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after
For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
St. Paul was no hired teacher—not an official expounder of a system. He preached what he believed. He felt that his words were Eternal Truth: and hence came their power. He preached ever as if God Almighty were at his side.
Hence, too, arises the possibility of discarding elegance of diction and rules of oratory. For it is half way towards making us believe, when a man believes himself. Faith produces faith. If you want to convince men, and ask how you shall do it, we reply, Believe with all your heart and soul, and some souls will be surely kindled by your flame.
Secondly: It was in a spirit of self-abnegation. “ I determined to know nothing save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” He was entirely emptied of all reflex references to self. There were no side-glances at his own prospects, his own reputation, his own success. And this sincerity and self-forgetfulness was a source of power. It was so with the Baptist, who declared of Christ: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” I said last Sunday, that in any work which is to live, or be really beautiful, there must be the spirit of the Cross. That which is to be a temple to God must ever have the marble polluted with the name of the architect or builder. There can be no real success, except when a man has ceased to think of his own success. A man is truly saved only when he has ceased to think of his own salvation.
Thirdly: It was a spirit of personal lowliness. “I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." Partly, this refers to his bodily infirmities and personal disadvantages; but partly, too, it means deep humility and unaffected modesty. For the expression “fear and trembling" cannot have reference to his bodily infirmities.
Now, remember who it was who said this,-the bold, daring St. Paul, whose soul was all of flame, whose every word was a
half-battle, who stood alone on Mars Hill, and preached to the scoffing Athenians “ Jesus and the Resurrection.” How little they who heard his ponderous sentences could have conceived that “weakness, and fear, and much trembling" of the invisible spirit !
But again : see how this tells on the tone of his ministry. St. Paul did not begin with asserting his prelatical dignity and apostolical authority. He began with declaring truth, and that “ in trembling.” Then, when men disputed his right to teach, he vindicated his authority, but not till then. And this is a lesson for modern times. The Apostolical Succession is not the ground on which we can claim to be the Nation's teachers. It is true for Order—but not for Truth. Each minister must prove his.apostolical succession by apostolic truthfulness, sincerity, and courage—as St. Paul proved his—and by his charity, and by his Christ-like meekness. “Truly the signs of an Apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds."
The test of his truthfulness being “in demonstration of the spirit and of power.”
NOTE.-Hebraism, Rom. viii. 21. “Glorious liberty." What is meant by “powerful spirit ? ”—Proof.