Imatges de pàgina

the passage before us the Apostle distinctly points out the prominent feature of Christianity—the corner-stone of the gospel dispensation; and settles accordingly, with precision, what ought to be the scope and substance of our preaching and ministry—“ Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

As the Son of God assumed our nature, and appeared in the character of a Mediator between God and his sinful creatures; as he was sent of the Father to teach us the knowledge of salvation; to prescribe to his followers the rule of life ; to set an example of perfect obedience to that rule; and, in the end, to “ suffer for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring sinners to God;" so, the distinct exhibition of his mediatorial office and atonement, ought to be the habitual aim, as it is in truth the principal and proper duty of every minister of the gospel. It is far from being enough, nor was it the practice of the primitive teachers of Christianity, to merely allude to this main fundamental truth occasionally, generally, or at a distance. They made it, as they ought, and all who copy after their model ever will make it, the key of their instructions, the chief burden of their ministry.

Yet, let me not be mistaken, as though I meant to countenance the practice of those ministers of the gospel, who dwell almost exclusively on the sufferings and the death of the Redeemer, as if an implicit reliance on the sacrifice of Christ

were all that is required of Christians; the effect of which is, (so far as their influence extends) to cause it to be regarded as not merely an unnecessary, but an impious employment, to inculcate the rules of Christian living which we find in the gospel.

The principal error in the ministry of many, seems indeed to consist in limiting the range of their instructions, and grounding their 'system exclusively on some one principle. Thus it may be noticed, that while some forget to teach the distinctive truths of Christianity, others neglect to recommend and enforce its indispensable duties. While some would seem to make morality independent on Christian faith, others appear to regard faith as a substitute for Christian morality. And whilst one, perpetually insisting on the practice of virtue, overlooks the foundation of hope which is laid in the gospel-another, under. valuing the precepts of virtue, recommends an implicit reliance on the sacrifice of Christ. After all, I am persuaded that there is not, and that there cannot be, so much real as apparent difference in the sentiments of those whose ministry may be thus characterized, or of the people who are respectively attached to them. Still, it must be observed, that neither seem to copy after the apostolic model, or to declare the “whole counsel of God.” When we look into the New Testament, and consult the preaching of Christ and his Apostles, we cannot but observe that Christian principles and Christian practice, Christian faith and Christian works, are there uniformly made to go hand in hand ; and, sure, what the wisdom of God hath joined together, the folly of man should not presume to put asunder? It is our business, undoubtedly, to teach the doctrine of faith ; but it ought to be that faith only which “worketh by love," which “purifieth the heart,” and “overcometh the world.” And it is equally our business to enforce the prescriptions of morality; but it ought to be that morality only which is taught in the gospel-which springs from a heart purified by the faith, and sanctified by the grace of the gospel ;

of the gospel ; a morality which can flow only from those pure and powerful principles, “ loving him who first loved us,” and “loving our neighbour as ourselves."

The range of Christian instruction is wide and extensive; but let us take care that we do not lose ourselves in this ample field. Let us not so wander into any adjoining territory, as to lose sight of the great and distinguishing land mark of Christianity-the mediation of the Son of God. The circle of revealed truth is of sufficient diameter ; but the cross of Christ is the pivot about which it should revolve--the centre, from which all the radii should diverge, or in which they should terminate.

Thus, whatever the holy scriptures have revealed of the origin and accountableness of man; of his apostacy, guilt and condemnation; of the

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infinite purity of the divine nature, and the unchangeable obligation of the divine law; of the weakness and deceitfulness of men's hearts, and the abounding wickedness of their lives ;-all these, and such as these points, ought to be frequently and plainly insisted on by the Christian preacher, as directly tending to the production of humility, repentance, and reformation, and preparing the way for the thankful and cordial reception of the doctrine of Christ crucified. And thus the various scriptural instructions and admonitions which are necessary to the cultivation of the Christian spirit, and the regulation of the Christian conduct-all that relates to the immutable force of the moral law, and the necessity of an unreserved obedience to its precepts—the winning and powerful influence which a sense of redeeming love should have on the human affections; and the intimate connexion of the disclosures and motives of the gospel, with a practical and willing subjection to its precepts ;-all that regards the dangers, the trials, the temptations, of the Christian life ;--all that belongs to the duties of diligence, and vigilance, and prayer-of meekness, and temperance, and charity ;_every thing of this kind falls fairly within the range of the Christian preacher's duty, and should be regarded as inseparably connected, and accordingly taught in connexion, with the mediation of the Son of God. In a word,

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all the doctrines of scripture are

given by inspiration of God, and are profitable for instruction in righteousness;”—but the doctrine of Christ crucified is plainly the leading doctrine of the gospel. Other doctrines of religion are valuable only by their connexion with and dependence upon this. Other truths may be, and are, of vital importance, as introductory to it, or consequent upon it. But to exhibit the Son of God as voluntarily submitting to degradation and death, for the redemption of fallen man, is, beyond peradventure, the main design of the Christian scriptures; and ought, therefore, to form the basis and the substance of all our ministrations. Thus should we follow the footsteps of the Apostle, who resolved to limit his exertions to the diffusion of the leading principles of Christianity--the doctrine of Christ crucified, together with the truths and duties essentially connected with it. Whoever heard him preach would have supposed that he knew, that he attended to, nothing else. For whatever other knowledge he possessed, (and he was a man of acknowledged learning,) this was the only species of knowledge which he chose to discover in the character of an Apostle, or showed himself concerned to promulgate among Christians. Modelling our conduct upon his, we shall “ not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord;" we shall not suffer ourselves to “glory, save in the cross of

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