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For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."

THE celebrated orator of Athens, being on a certain occasion asked, what was the principal thing in his art? replied, "action;" being asked what was the next considerable, he again made answer "action;" being asked what possessed the third rank in importance, he persisted in the same reply, "action."

In like manner, but with far greater justice, if I may be allowed to illustrate things divine by things human, and everlasting concerns by the pursuits of time, were a Christian pastor interrogated as to the end and aim of his ministrations, he would answer, that it ought to be "Christ crucified." Were he asked to what object his views ought next to be directed, he would reply, "Christ crucified." And were the same question put to him a third time, or as often as the inquirer might choose, he would still proclaim, "Christ crucified."

If we offer the prayers of the church, it is on the altar of "Christ crucified." If we preach the word, it is the foundation of "Christ crucified," on which we build every instruction, moral, doctrinal, and experimental. If we dispense the holy sacraments, it is that we may set forth in them the

*First Sermon after Ordination.

august spectacle of "Christ crucified." If we administer consolation to the children of sorrow, to the poor and the destitute, to the broken spirit, to the contrite heart, it is the blood mingled source of "Christ crucified," from which alone the streams of comfort are derived. "Christ crucified," is the all in all, the first and the last, the beginning and the ending of our public ministrations, and ought to be, of our private studies. Such must have been the sentiments of St. Paul, when he told the Corinthians that "he determined not to know any thing among them, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."

As this great apostle was well skilled in the learning of his day, his determination cannot be interpreted in its literal acceptation. He does not mean that he sought to divest himself of the various knowledge which he had acquired. This would have been impossible, had he been so inclined; nor can we discover what good purpose it would have answered. We may suppose him paraphrasing his own text thus: "Whatever attainments I may have made in science, however agreeable the display of them might be to some; and notwithstanding that love of popular applause, which is too apt to obtrude itself upon the minds of public men, yet I have resolved to make no confused mixture of the things of God with the things of man; I am resolved to be silent on my attainments in the wisdom of the age; I have resolved to teach no other doctrine but that which is the power of God unto salvation, the doctrine of Jesus Christ; and to consult no other interest but that which involves your immortal concerns, the interest of Jesus Christ. Of Jesus Christ do I say? Nay; of Jesus Christ, and him crucified; the rock of offence to the Jew, and the object of contempt to the Gentile."

This was St. Paul's determination, my brethren; and, I doubt not, you feel that it was worthy the greatness of the


But that we may form the more judicious estimate of it,

and improve it to our greater benefit, let us see what those matters might be which he resolved not to know.

FIRST.-He resolved not to compliment the false taste of the Corinthians, by perverting the end of his ministry, and inculcating for doctrines, the commandments of men, and the systems of a vain science.

Corinth was a city of Greece, abounding, like its other cities, in learned men. Its inhabitants were curious and inquisitive; and before the planting of a Christian church among them, universally devoted to philosophical pursuits. Their philosophy, however, was superficial and variable; well characterized by our apostle elsewhere, as consisting in "oppositions of science falsely so called." It was, in short, such a philosophy as we may expect to find among men left to the unassisted investigations of frail reason, or voluntarily closing their eyes against superior light. Such as it was, however, they were enamoured of its imaginary charms, and measured their opinions of other men by the attachment or the aversion which they discovered to their own favourite pursuit. Every new philosopher superseded those who had gone before him, in the admiration of this fickle people; and the flame of rivalship often burst forth between the schools of contemporary sages. Something of this disposition is observable in the divisions which arose among the converts whom St. Paul had formed into a church at Corinth. "It hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren," says the apostle, that there are contentions among you; every one of you saying, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ."*

Besides this, there were among the Corinthian converts, Jews, who contended for the Mosaic ceremonies, and by their superstitious observances, made the sacrifice of Christ of none effect.

Against all these empty conceits; this idle sophistry; this philosophy, so uncertain, so vain, and so useless; this su

*I Cor. i. 11. 12.

perstition, pregnant with such anti-christian issues; the apostle puts himself in arms. He determines to give it no quarter; to know nothing of it; and, in all his sermons, his writings, his conferences, and his defences, to inculcate the truth, in its simplicity, of "Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Here him publish the holy challenge: "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 call ed both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God; because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men."*

SECOND.-St. Paul determined to shew no indulgence to the criminal pursuits of the people among whom he officiated. He obeyed the superiour impulse which warned him to cry aloud, and spare not. From the convenience of her situation for commerce, Corinth was among the most opulent of ancient cities. She was amply provided with the accommodations, the elegancies, and the superfluities of life. This, by a natural, or at least, a too common consequence, betrayed her citizens into luxury and impure vices; and such lengths did they proceed in sin, that they became infamous, even to a proverb. This epistle furnishes melancholy evidence that even of the converts to the Christian profession, many did not abjure their former propensities. Not to speak of that litigious spirit which led them, on every slight difference, to heathen tribunals. One of their members is stigmatized with the crime of incest; and many did eat and drink judgment to themselves, by profaning, through intemperance, the holy communion of Christ's body and blood.

*1 Cor. i. 20.-25.



Practices, so far from comporting with the doctrine of "Jesus Christ, and him crucified," that they crucified the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame.

In this state of things, when conduct and principle were so much at variance, what should the apostle do? should he suffer them to continue in sin? or should he compromise matters, by allowing them to compound with duty, and to excuse violations of one statute, by obedience to another? or finally, should he lay his axe at the root, and by one stroke, cut down the tree of wickedness? He could not hesitate. He "determined not to know any thing, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." The cause of Christ suffered reproach from the crimes of those who avouched it. The person of Christ was wounded by those of his own household. The end for which Christ offered himself upon the cross, which was, that he might purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, was defeated. Their own bodies, which Christ had consecrated by his spirit, as so many temples for himself, were defiled. This was the ground taken by the apostle, from which to convince the Corinthians of sin. This was the weapon which he grasped, and triumphantly used to break in pieces the power of corruption. He rested in no plea; he taught no doctrine; he consulted no interest, but "Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

THIRD.--St. Paul determined not to consult his own fame in the display of genius and eloquence. "And I, brethren," says he, "when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God." "And my speech, and my preaching, was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power."* But let us not conspire with ignorance, bigotry, and fanatacism, to mistake the apostle. Was he not eloquent? Yes. History, profane or sacred, names not the man possessed of more persuasive or commanding powers, than Paul of Tarsus. We cannot surely forget the day when the citizens of Lystra mistook him for * 1 Cor. ii. 1. 4.

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