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BY THE REV. GREGORY T. BEDELL, D. D.,
RECTOR OF ST. ANDREW'S CHURCH, PHILADELPHIA.
“We preach Christ crucified.”--1 Corinthians, i. 28.
UNDER all circumstances this is an appropriate text for a Christian minister. If he sets out from this point, he may find a direct road to every truth of the Bible which stands essentially connected with the salvation of man; and let him light upon what truth he may in the whole circle of religion, he will find that from it, there is a direct and open road to this. If he does not set out from this, and attempts to reach any vital truth, he will find himself wandering in darkness, and he will eventually stumble and fall. But appropriate as this text is under all circumstances, it is remarkably adapted to the present occasion,* when our minds are naturally turned from the doctrine to the fact, and then from the fact back again upon the doctrine.
In the wise arrangements of our Church, my friends, we are all annually called to contemplate the stupendous transaction which, as on this day, took place on the mount of Calvary. It was there that the LORD JESUS CHRIST suffered the ignominious death of the cross, the purpose of which had been distinctly foretold years before its actual occurrence. But I have too much before me to-day to suffer my mind to be led back to the time of Isaiah and the Prophets. We have an absorbing present concern. Following the example of the apostle I say, “ We preach CHRIST crucified”-and the divisions under which this discourse will be arranged are as follows:
1. What is this, "Christ crucified ?" II. Why do we preach it?
1. What is this? I offer you two ideas :
1. It is a FACT. What I mean by this is, that as a matter of history, there was such a person as Jesus Christ, who in the days of the emperor Augustus, and under the government of Pontius Pilate, suffered the death of the cross. Apart from all other circumstances, there is an historical interest attached to this fact, which inakes it stand sui generis in the history of the world. About the year 4000, there appeared in Judea a man of austere habits, an unsocial man; one who loved the solitude of his own contemplations, and yet one who appeared forced into public life. And when he came forth before men, he announced himself in language strangely mysterious : “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness; prepare ye
way of the Lord and make his paths straight,”—and he went about Judea, “ crying repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” He did not appear solicitous to make converts to himself, for his speech was rough and discouraging : “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come.” But not long had this man been calling his countrymen to repentance, when there appeared ANOTHER still more mysterious, and when the first one saw him, he seemed struck by some unearthly vision, and he cried, “Behold the Lamb of God.” In a little while we perceive his still more mysterious personage going about the land of Judea. Around him he attracted a few of the poor and illiterate fishermen from the lake of Gallilee, and with them he went the circuit of the land. The poor seemed to love him, for he healed their sick; there was a strange power about him to drive out disease, and death itself was not equal to his arm. By and bye his walk of love seems to have excited the indignation of the higher authorities, and he was watched and troubled, and his path beset with snares. Yet he gave no cause of offence; against the civil or ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the land he manifested no turbulent or rebellious spirit. "He was holy, and harmless, and separate from sinners ;” he did no man wrong—he did all men kindness. But there was a mysterious grandeur about the benevolence of his character which made him an object of hatred. Attempts upon attempts were made to bring him under the power of some law; but he violated none. Still his presence troubled the authorities, and there was no peace when he walked. Upon false pretences he was brought before an ecclesiastical court,-by perjured witnesses was he declared guilty of blasphemy, and dragged to the tribunal of the Roman power. No resistance did he make, no disapprobation did he evince; his countenance was as placid as the lake near which he had often walked when it reflected the softest hues of the summer's even. The judge on his seat pronounced
. him innocent; no real crime was charged; no crime was proven. Yet pronounced innocent, he was condemned as if guilty. This innocent man was made the sport of his persecutors: there were thorns placed upon his brow, and his face, which beamed with benignity, ran down with blood ; stripes were laid upon his unresisting shoulders, and he murmured not; indignity upon indignity was offered him, and he made no reproaches. There was a
a calm, a holy calm, in his sufferings, which might have moved a heart of stone ; but it could not move the infuriate hearts of his persecutors. This innocent man was led out from Jerusalem, bending beneath the weight of the instrument of his torture; he toiled up the hill of Calvary, and to the cross which he had carried was he nailed. And all this while this mysterious man made no complaints, no protests, no threats, no angry replies. There were a few words fell from his lips, " Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” In a short time he died and was buried. Thus was “CHRIST crucified,”—a Fact of history-a fact mys
Christ terious in all its circumstances—but a fact undoubted. When, then, according to the text, “ we preach Christ crucified,” we mean that we lay before you this fact.
But we lay before you this fact for the purpose of a further advancement, and on that fact, 2. We preach Christ crucified as a DOCTRINE.
That is, the fact teaches us something; there are things of consummate importance connected with it, necessary that we should learn; and when we preach Christ crucified, we mean simply to bring þefore your minds the reason of this fact and the results which it was intended to secure. “CHRIST crucified," as a doctrine, is, in its most simple form of expression, that method which a God of infinite purity and holiness has devised, by which he might extend pardon to his guilty and rebellious creatures. We mean by it, that the death of Christ was a satisfaction made to the Divine justice for the sins of mankind, the benefits of which we personally appropriate by faith in Christ, or the acceptance of bim as a Savior; we mean that without this faith in Christ as a Divine Savior and sacrifice for sin, that faith which receives him as a Savior, we have no rational hope of Heaven. The Scripture representation is most emphatically summed up in the Articles and Liturgy of our Church. Let me call your attention to the language, “ the offering of Christ once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual.” (Article xxxi.) In the exhortation to the Communion, that ordinance is spoken of as to be by believers, “received in remembrance of his (Christ's) meritorious Cross and Passion whereby alone we obtain remission of our sins and are made partakers of the kingdom of Heaven," and in another exhortation, “above all things ye must give most humble and hearty thanks to God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of the world by the Death and Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, who did humble himself even to the death upon the cross, for us miserable sinners, who lay in darkness and the shadow of death; that he might make us the children of God, and exalt us to everlasting life :” and in the prayer of Consecration : “all glory be to thee, Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, for that thou of thy tender mercy didst give thine only Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption ; who made there (on the cross) by his one oblation of Himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world."
Were I to repeat the Scripture passages on which these quotations are founded, and where the doctrine is set forth in the words of inspiration, I should occupy your time far beyond the period allowed me. Suffice it to quote, “ other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus CHRIST," "there is no other name under Heaven given among men whereby we may be saved but the name of Jesus CHRIST," "Carist came into the world to save sinners," "In whom we have redemption by his blood, even the forgiveness of our sins."
As this is the subject of my continued pulpit instructions, and as much of what is involved in the idea of “Christ crucified," as a doctrine, will be connected with my subsequent discussion, I shall pass on to my second division ; which is the question,
II. Why do we preach this ?—and the answer is,
1. Because we know of no other way of saving sinners. Other methods have been tried, but have always failed. On this subject, there is a method of placing the truth before you, which may serve a more important purpose than argument : It is the mere naked statement of facts. The following, is from a speech of one of our Indians, on the best method of converting the Heathen. “Brethren, I have been a Heathen myself, and grown old among them; I therefore know their modes of thinking. A preacher once came to us, desiring to instruct us; and began by proving to us that there was a God, on which we said to him, *Well, and dost thou think we are ignorant of that? Go back to the place whence thou camest ? Then again another preacher came, and began to instruct us, saying, “You must not steal, or become inebriated, or tell falsehoods, or lead abandoned lives. We answered him; “Thinkest thou that we know not that ? Go and practically learn these things thyself, and then teach them to thine own people; for who are more addicted to such vices than they ?' Thus we sent him away also. At length a missionary came to my hut, and sat down by me. The contents of his discourse were nearly these; 'I come to thee, in the name of the Lord of Heaven and earth. He sends me to acquaint thee, that he would gladly save thee, and make thee happy, and deliver thee from the miserable condition in which thou at present liest. To this end he became man; gave his life a ransom for man, and shed his blood for man; all that believe in the name of this Jesus, obtain the forgiveness of sins. To all that receive him by faith, he giveth power to become the sons of God. The Holy Spirit