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I speak for the advantage of the living upon such occasions, and not to celebrate the virtues of those who have passed the trial, and received their sentence from the supreme Judge. And I am well satisfied the mourning relatives of our deceased friend, who best knew and esteemed his worth, would be rather offended than pleased, if I should prostitute the present hour to so mean a purpose. Indeed, many a character less worthy of praise, often makes a shining figure in funeral sermons. Many that have not been such tender husbands, such affectionate fathers, such kind masters, such sincere upright friends, so honest and punctual in trade, such zealous lovers of religion and good men, have had their putrifying remains perfumed with public praise from a place so solemn as the pulpit; but you can witness for me, it is not my usual foible to run to this extreme. My business is with you, who are as yet alive to hear me.

To you I call, as with the voice of your deceased friend and neighbor,-Prepare! prepare for eternity! 0! if the spirits that you once knew, while clothed in flesh, should take my place, would not this be their united voice, “Prepare, prepare for eternity! ye frail short-lived mortals! ye near neighbors of the world of spirits! ye borderers upon heaven or hell, make ready, loosen your hearts from earth, and all that it contains: weigh anchor, and prepare to launch away into the boundless ocean of eternity, which methinks is now within your ken, and roars within hearing." And remember, " this I say, brethren," with great confidence, “the time is short : it remaineth therefore," for the future—“ that they that have wives, be as if they had none ; and they that weep, as if they wept not; and they that rejoice, as if they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as if they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it ; for the fashion of this world,” all its schemes of affairs, all the vain parade, all the idle farce of life, “passeth away.” And

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if we may at last obtain a better country ; that is, a heavenly : which may God grant for Jesus' sake! Amen.

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SERMON XXIV.

THE PREACHING OF CHRIST CRUCIFIED THE MEAN OF

SALVATION.

1 Cor. 1. 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.

swers.

If we should consider Christianity only as an improvement of natural religion, containing a complete system of morality, and prescribing a pure plan of worship, it is

a a matter of the utmost importance, and worthy of universal acceptance.

In the one view, it is necessary to inform the world in matters of sin and duty, and reform their vicious practices; and in the other, to put an end to that foolish and barbarous superstition which had over-run the earth, under the notion of religious worship. And these ends the Christian religion fully an

Never was there such a finished system of morality, or such a spiritual and divine model of worship invented or revealed, as by the despised Galilean, and the twelve fishermen that received their instructions from him.

But this is not the principal excellency of the gospel ; and did it carry its discoveries no farther, alas! it would be far from revealing a suitable religion for sinners. A religion for sinners must reveal a method of salvation for the lost, of pardon for the guilty, and of sanctifying grace for the weak and wicked. And, blessed be God, the gospel answers this end; and it is its peculiar excellency that it does so. It is its peculiar excellency that it publishes a crucified Christ as an all-sufficient Savior to a guilty, perishing world. It is its glorious peculiarity that it reveals a method of salvation every way honorable to God and his government, and every way suitable to our necessities; and that is, by the sufferings of Christ, the Founder of this religion. This is the ground, the substance, and marrow of the gospel;

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and it is this, above all other things, that its ministers ought to preach and inculcate. It should have the same place in their sermons which it has in that gospel which it is their business to preach ; that is, it should be the foundation, the substance, the centre, and drift of all.

This was the practice of the most successful preacher of the gospel that ever bore that commission : I mean St. Paul. And in this he was not singular ; his fellow apostles heartily concurred with him, We preach Christ crucified. The sufferings of Christ, which had a dreadful consummation in his crucifixion, their necessity, design, and consequences, and the way of salvation thereby opened for a guilty world, these are the principal materials of our preaching; to instruct mankind in these is the great object of our ministry, and the unwearied labor of our lives. We might easily choose subjects more pleasing and popular, more fit to display our learning and abilities, and set off the strong reasoner, or the fine orator: but our commission, as ministers of a crucified Jesus, binds us to the subject; and the necessity of the world peculiarly requires it. Further, this was not the apostle's occasional practice, or a hasty wavering purpose; but he was determined upon it. "I determined,” says he, “not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified :”* 1 Cor. ii. 2. This theme, as it were, engrossed all his thoughts; he dwelt so much upon it, as if he had known nothing else : and as if nothing else had been worth knowing. Indeed, he openly avows such a neglect and contempt of all other knowledge, in comparison of this: “I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, my Lord: ” Phil. iii. 8. The crucifixion of Christ, which was the most ignominious circumstance in the whole course of his abasement, was an object in which he gloried; and he is struck with horror at the thought of glorying in anything else. “God forbid," says he, “that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ !” Gal. vi. 14. In short, he looked upon it as the perfection of his character as a Christian

Or Christ Jesus, even that crucified one. So Dr. Doddridge renders Ιησουν Χριςον και τουτον εσαυρωμενον. Christ Jesus, and that under the inost ignominious circumstances possible, viz. as crucified, was the principal object of his study, and the substance of his preaching.

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and an apostle, to be a constant student, and a zealous, indefatigable preacher of the Cross of Christ.

But though a crucified Jesus was of so much import. ance in a religion for sinners; though this doctrine was the substance of the gospel, and the principal object of the apostle's ministry; yet, as it was not the invention of human reason, so neither was it agreeable to the proud reasonings, or corrupt taste of the world. The preaching of the cross is, to them that perish, foolishness. However, there were some that had the same sentiment of it with St. Paul ; even as many as were in the way of salvation. Unto us that are saved, it is the power of God, ver. 18. To such, that weak and contemptible thing, the cross, was the brightest display of divine power to be found in the universe.

Mankind had had time enough to try what expedients their reason could find out for the reformation and salva. tion of a degenerate and perishing world. The sages and philosophers of the heathen world had had a clear stage for many hundreds of years; and they might have done their utmost without control. But, alas! did any of them, amid all their boasted improvements, succeed in the experiment? Or could they so much as find out a method in which sinners might be reconciled to their God? No; in this most interesting point, they were either stupidly thoughtless, or all their searches issued in perplexity, or in the most absurd and impious contrivances. « Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world ?” Let them appear and produce their schemes upon this head. But hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? ver. 20. Yes, indeed, he has, by proposing a method most perfectly adapted for this end, which they not only never would have once thought of, but which, when revealed, their wisdom cannot relish. Their wisdom appears but folly, in that when they had the world to themselves about four thousand years, they could not, in all that time, find out any successful expedient to amend and save it. And now, if anything be done at all, it is time for God to do it; and how strange, how unexpected, how mysterious was his expedient! and yet how glorious and effectual! “For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the

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foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe ;' ver. 21. This was the contrivance for effecting what all the wisdom and learning of the world could never effect; the plain unadorned preaching of Christ crucified; which, both for the matter and manner of it, was counted foolishness.

But how did the world bear this mortification of their intellectual pride? And what reception did this bounteous divine scheme meet with when revealed? Alas! I am sorry to tell you: The prejudices of their education were different; but they were unitedly set against the gospel. The Jews had been educated in a religion established by a series of miracles; and therefore they were extravagant in their demands of this sort of evidence. Notwithstanding all the miracles Christ was working daily before their eyes, they were perpetually asking him, What sign showest thou ? Those that are resolved not to be convinced, will be always complaining of the want of proof, and demanding more, to vindicate their infidelity. As for the Greeks, their prejudices were of another kind; it was even a proverb among them, that “miracles were for fools ;" * and therefore they did not desire that sort of evidence. But they seek after wisdom. They had been accustomed to fine orations, strong reasoning, and a parade of learning; and these were the evidences they desired to recommend a doctrine to them. And finding the doctrine of Christ crucified had none of these embellishments, they despised and rejected it as foolishness and nonsense,

The method of salvation by the crucifixion of a supposed malefactor, was so extremely opposite to the reasoning, pride, and prejudices of Jews and Gentiles, that they could not bear it. The Jews expected the Messiah would appear as a victorious temporal prince, who, instead of falling a prey to his enemies, would subdue them all with an irresistible power, and advance the family of David to universal empire. And of all other deaths, that of crucifixion was the most odious and abominable to them, because, according to the custom of the Romans, it was the punishment only of slaves; and by their own law it was pronounced accursed; for it is written,

* θαύματα μωροις.

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