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I shall conclude, brethren, with a word of exhortation. Whilst we are careful to rest the principles of our faith exclusively on the gospel of Christ, and to regulate the terms of our Christian fellowship by the same unerring rule, let us ever be careful, through the grace of God, individually and collectively, to adorn the doctrine of our divine Master by a life and conversation becoming the gospel. Let our faith in Christ our blessed Redeemer evidence its truth and reality, in “working by love,” in “purifying the heart,” and in “overcoming the world.” Let the true principles of the gospel, love to God, love to one another, be manifest in our general deportment. And, “laying aside every weight, and the sins which so easily beset us, let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
In this course our best interests are safe. In this way we may, it is true, fail to obtain the approbation of frail, perishing man; but we shall infallibly secure the favour of Him, whose love is better than life ; and at whose right hand there shall be fulness of joy, and pleasures evermore. Which may God of his mercy grant, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE MOTIVES, MEANS, AND END, OF THE
[Preached before the GENERAL SYNOD OF ULSTER, at Armagh,
in June, 1823.)
1 CORINTHIANS, ii. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with
excellency of speech, or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech, and my preaching, was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power ; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."
From the accounts which have came down to us of the labours and travels of the first teachers of Christianity, it may be collected that the Apostle Paul had resided at Corinth, one of the principal cities of Greece, nearly two years; and that. his ministry, as an ambassador of Christ, had there met with considerable acceptance and success.
The city of Corinth was, at the time, a place of extensive commerce, and of great wealth; and its inhabitants accordingly, taken in general, were immersed deeply in luxury and vice :-yet the Apostle succeeded, notwithstanding these unpromising circumstances, in there erecting a Christian church. That church, we may presume, was well and faithfully instructed in the principles and rules of Christianity during his residence among them. But he had not long removed, to pursue his labours elsewhere, when a flood of evils burst in upon them; and some of the grossest disorders were introduced-partly through the misplaced zeal of some who were friendly to the Christian cause; partly through the influence of some false teachers, who, to forward their own views, fostered the spirit of controversy and division; and partly, no doubt, from the remaining leaven of their old sentiments, which had not perhaps been completely brought into subjection to the obedience of Christ.
This last mentioned cause produced, doubtless, its full effect among the Corinthians. In common with most of their nation, they had been much employed in “seeking after wisdom;" they were great admirers of “science, falsely so called ;' and strenuously attached to one or other of the several systems of philosophy, which were
taught throughout the whole of Greece with the greatest art, and enforced by the most captivating eloquence.
Thus it happened, that, among the evils which had so soon crept into the Corinthian church, the pride of learning had tempted some of them to dispute the plain doctrine of the gospel, and to despise the simple manners, the artless, unadorned language, of those who stood up as its advocates. This affectation of science is accordingly one of the first errors which the Apostle, in writing to the Corinthians, sets himself to discountenance and correct. He begins by informing them, that “ Christ had sent him to preach the gospel—not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." He tells them that the cross of Christ was the instrument wherein God had chosen to display his power and wisdom; and by which he designed to eclipse, to baffle, and confound, the combined learning, and eloquence, and philosophy of the world. He reminds them of Isaiah's prediction to this effect—“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world ? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world ? For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 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."
In pursuance of the same design, the Apostle, in the passage before us, distinctly reminds the Corinthians, how, during his residence and ministry among them, he had purposely declined all display of human learning and eloquence, and confined himself exclusively to the great object of his apostolic mission: “And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not addressed to you in the enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power ; to the end that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
Although the Christian priesthood, in this age, and in this land, be placed in circumstances different, in many respects, from those by which the first ministers of Christianity were surrounded ; yet, our commission being in substance the same with that of the Apostles, we undoubtedly have in their maxims the best general rules for