Page images
PDF
EPUB

its sympathies. Dr. Chalmers is adapted | minuter graces which fetter Mr. Hall, for the popular ear: his bold and reite- and limit his efforts, and have left him, rated statements, his overwhelming tide after fifty years of public life, the author of words, his projecting and striking of far fewer works, and those works of imagery, his small number of distinct less extent and less general importance, thoughts enforced in various different than Dr. Chalmers has produced in one forms; all make him the preacher for the fourth portion of that time. crowded popular auditory. Mr. Hall is In the next Age, it is possible Mr. the preacher for the scholar, the student, Hall's publications may fetch up the way the metaphysician, the man of elegant he appears to have lost in the present. education, the fastidious proud despiser All his practical writings will live, and of spiritual religion, the pretender to a exercise a powerful sway over the public philosophy not thoroughly fathomed. His mind, when many of Dr. Chalmers's may master-mind, his acute insight into the have done their work and been forgotten. very inmost soul, his candour towards Had Mr. Hall more of the bold and intrehis opponents, his infinite reverence for pid character of Dr. Chalmers; would he Holy Scripture, his cautious conclusive write with less anxiety and refinement; argumentation, his delicate and sublime would he devote himself to the prosecubursts of imagery, his superiority to party tion of some great national topic, touching feelings and interests, ensure the atten- the interests of morals and religion ; tion, and fix the conviction, of every com- would he disregard more his own feelpetent and unprejudiced hearer.

ings, in order to do good in a transitory “As to USEFULNESS, the palm must be world; there is nothing which he might conceded, FOR THE PRESENT age, to Dr. not be capable of effecting, under God's Chalmers : he is more bold, more deci- blessing : for no man of the present age sive, more capable of frequent effort, more has gained the ear, and fixed the love ready to commit his unfinished composi- and admiration of his countrymen more tions to the press, more negligent of the than Robert Hall."

SERMON IV.

GLORYING IN THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.

BY THE REV. ROBERT NEWTON.

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one

that believeth."-Rom. i. 16.

You are

Man is a creature of passion, as well, ing grace consists in rectifying every as of reason; and although we readily thing that is wrong in our passions, giving admit that the latter is far superior to the them the proper direction, and bringing former, and that it gives a distinctive them under the controlling influence of peculiarity to our species, yet, still the truth and of religion. movements and sensibilities of our spe Behold, in the particular case of the cies which come under the general de- great apostle of the Gentiles, these obscription of passion, form a very essen- servations are exemplified. tial and a very important part of our aware there was a period in his history nature.

when he courageously contended for his It is, however, my friends, a fact no own imaginary excellencies, and for the less evident than it is lamentable, that abrogated rites and ceremonies of the human passions are awfully perverted Mosaic economy, while he was at the and depraved by sin,--that they have same time ashamed of Christ and of his taken a wrong direction, and are too gospel. Actuated by a zeal at once the generally exercised in direct opposition most intolerant and the most blind, he to their original design. This remark haled to prison all he could find who will hold good in its application to the called on the name of Jesus; not being general passion of shame of which the ashamed to consent–indeed he did conapostle speaks. This is a passion which sent to the death of the first Christian was originally designed by the Author martyr; nor did he blush to witness that of our being to act the part of a sentinel, horrid deed. to give a sensible and salutary check But see what a complete reverse of and alarm, in case of any approach to character converting grace effected, wards the precincts of folly or of crime. what a mighty moral revolution in all his But so totally is this principle blinded thinkings, and feelings, and sayings, and and perverted, that we too frequently see doings. The recollection of his former human beings glorying in that of which prejudices, and errors, and cruelties they ought to be ashamed, and we see covers him with confusion; he blushes them ashamed of that in which they ought with shame at the remembrance of them; to glory; we see them pursuing unblush- and although God, for Christ's sake, had ingly the paths of folly and of sin; whilst forgiven him, he never could forgive they are ashamed of the way of holiness, himself. But no longer is he ashamed of Christ, and of the gospel. Where, of Christ, and of the gospel : :-" What however, converting grace takes place, things," says he, “were gain to me, a beneficial change is produced,-a those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, change so real, so deep, so extensive, doubtless, and I count all things but loss that old things are done away, and all for the excellency of the knowledge of things become new.

One part of the Christ Jesus, my Lord.” Not only do change effected by the power of convert-l we now behold the Jew become a Chris

tian, but we behold the persecutor become he that hath the Son hath life.” And an apostle, and avowing himself the will- although this dispensation of truth, of ing and courageous advocate of that faith grace, and of salvation, was somewhat which he had formerly madly destroyed. obscurely unfolded under earlier dispen“So, as much as in me is,” he says, “1 sations of the church, it is now made fully am ready to preach the gospel to you that manifest by the appearing of our Saviour, are at Rome also;" I have preached it Christ, who hath “ abolished death, and in other places, I have preached it from brought life and immortality to light by Jerusalem round about to Illyricum;" and the gospel." now I long to bear the same testimony Now, if we do not greatly mistake the for my divine Master in the imperial apostle in the very frequent use he makes city. “ For I am not ashamed”—I was of the term "gospel,” he directly and once, but I am not now—“I am not immediately means by it, the doctrine of ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is salvation by a crucified Jesus. We give the power of God unto salvation to every you our reasons for this. one that believeth."

When addressing the Corinthian Let us mark the nature and the ground church, the apostle explains the sense in of this avowal,—the profession which the which he uses this passage.

“ More. apostle makes,—and the reason for it over, brethren, I declare unto you the which he assigns.

gospel which I preached unto you, which I. The natURE AND THE GROUND OF | also ye have received, and wherein ye THIS AVOWAL. He professes himself “not stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye ashamed of the gospel.”

keep in memory what I preached unto What is the gospel ? The gospel is you, unless ye have believed in vain. good news, glad tidings. It was an- For I delivered unto you first of all that nounced by the angel who proclaimed which I also received, how that Christ the Saviour's advent, “ Behold, I bring died for our sins, according to the Scripyou glad tidings of great joy." The tures." Now, that was the very essence gospel announces the best tidings that of the gospel in the apostolical sense of ever were published, the best news to that expression—" Christ died for our which mortals ever listened,news of sins according to the Scriptures." Had salvation, tidings of a Saviour who is he used the term in the vague and geneChrist the Lord,-light for those that are ral sense in which it is employed by in darkness—pardon for those that are some-had he intended nothing more by guilty-mercy for those that are misera-" the gospel,” than the unity of the ble-liberty for those that are bound - divine nature, the doctrine of divine prosalvation for those that are lost-life for vidence, the immutable and everlasting those that are dead. The gospel com- distinctions between right and wrong, prehends the whole scheme of redemp- between vice and virtue,—the doctrine tion—consisting, indeed, of doctrines, of the immortality of the soul, the great and of precepts, and of promises, and of and golden rule of equity—“ As ye threatenings, and of ordinances, which would that men should do to you, do ye we are not about to detail this evening. also to them likewise ;"—had the aposBut we call the gospel a system, because tle meant nothing more than these things it consists of various parts; and yet, all by " the gospel,” he would never have its parts may be resolved into the one dreamed of saying he was not ashamed grand doctrine of redemption and salva- of them. tion by our Lord Jesus Christ. 66 God

It was not at these things that the litewas in Christ, reconciling the world unto rati of the day scoffed and derided; no, himself, not imputing their trespasses n0,-it was at Christ crucified,—that docunto them.” This is the record,--yes, trine so revolting to the pride of our and of all that is recorded this is the fallen nature. Christ crucified was to sum.““God hath given to us eternal the Jews a stumbling-block; and foolishlife, and this life is in his Son;" and I ness to the pride of the haughty Greek.

Aye, and to this very hour the Christian spoken by the Lord when he exercised preacher may discourse on the doctrine his personal ministry in our world, but of Deity,-he may preach on the doc- in his appropriate character as the mestrine of eternal providence,-he may senger of the covenant, the angel of Jepreach on the soul's immortality, and hovah; all those rays of light, those man's moral accountability to the God beams and tints of mercy, that illumined that made him,-he may lecture as long the early dispensations, came from Christ, as he pleases on the golden rule to which the star of Jacob; yes, just as certainly we have already adverted, and men will as the bright effulgence of evangelical approve of this; infidels and semi-infi- light and truth with which we are surdels will signify their approbation : but rounded, bursts from Christ, the glorious the moment he begins to speak about the Sun of Righteousness. And, in addition doctrine of salvation by the atoning sa- to this early manifestation of this good crifice of Jesus, then they begin to scoff, news, in the fulness of time, in the exerand to sneer, and to deride this as the cise of his ministry, he published it as his foolishness of folly. I say, therefore, had own, and delivered it in his own name, the apostle merely referred to these and by his own right and authority; he things, he had never dreamed of saying, has also signed it with his own hand, and “ I am not ashamed of the gospel :" but, sealed it with his own seal; and he has by " the gospel,” he referred to the great authenticated his signature and his seal doctrines of the cross; and in reference to with signs and wonders, and divers mirathem he says, “ I am not ashamed of the cles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, accordgospel of Christ.

ing to the will of God. And, besides this, he adds, in imme My friends, the gospel is divine, it is diate connexion with the text, “ For, from heaven, and not of men; Jesus therein"—Wherein ? In this gospel,— Christ is its author. And it is not only - For therein,” in this gospel, “is the the good news of Christ coming from righteousness of God revealed from faith him, but it is the good news concerning to faith.” By “the righteousness of him; for this gospel is the good news ot God” he does not mean the essential Christ concerning his person, his works, rectitude of the divine nature, but he his atoning acts, his saving benefits, his means, God's method of constituting a kingdom, his glory. Take these things sinner righteous in his sight, which is out of the gospel, and what have you left only through faith in the merits of our behind ? Examine those different editions Lord Jesus Christ.

of the gospel, if I may so express myself, Now this gospel, this good news, is which have been put forth at different emphatically the good news of Christ. periods of time, and under different disThose who published the good news pensations of the church, and you will were careful to inform those to whom find they are full of Christ. That first they addressed it, that it did not originate edition in the patriarchal age, though with themselves, that they had received certainly somewhat obscure, contained of the Lord that which they declared to many promises of a deliverer, who was the people. Not only as a Divine Person to suffer that he might save; that great had the scheme its origination in the deliverer was Christ, the promised seed inmost mind of God our Saviour, but by that was to bruise the serpent's head; and him, as the great Mediator between God the patriarchs saw these promises obscureand man, it has been revealed. That ly, as it were, and were persuaded of their expression in the epistle to the He-truth; they embraced them, died in faith brews is true to a much wider extent than in the promised Messiah who was to is generally understood. Speaking of come, and anticipated by faith the benethe gospel, he says, “ Which at first be- fits of his death. gan to be spoken by the Lord, and was If you examine that edition of the confirmed unto us by them that heard gospel contained in the writings of the him.” Now, it did not first begin to be Hebrew prophets, you will find much

concerning the illustrious personage who Let us ask four questions here. was to appear in our world, who was to Of what is this spoken? Of the gospel establish a kingdom, who was to extend of Christ. As though the apostle had his conquests and his triumphs, and whose said, I am not ashamed of its doctrines. kingdom was to have no end. Then this Are they not all wise ? Are they not all illustrious person was to suffer in order important? Are they not all instructive ? that he might reign. And who was this Are they not all of infinite concern to but the Lord Christ, to whom all the pro- every human being. What is there in phets bare witness?

the gospel of Christ to make a wise man And if you examine that splendid and blush? The more carefully and prayerimposing edition of the gospel contained fully you examine them, the more you see in the Mosaic ritual, there is much gos- their excellence and feel their importance. pel there. What find you there? You As though the apostle had said, I am not find types and shadows, and signs, and ashamed of the precepts of the gospel. symbols, and figurative representations. Are they not all holy, and just, and good, Of all these types, Jesus Christ was the and benevolent? What is there in any great antitype of these shadows he was precept of the gospel of Jesus Christ of the substance-of these symbols Christ which a good man can be ashamed? I was the thing signified.

am not ashamed of the threatenings of And then, if you examine the last and the gospel. Though some have repreperfect edition of the gospel contained in sented them as harsh and severe, they are the narrative of the evangelists, what find all righteous, and they are all holy; they you? You find a most interesting history are all intended and directed against sin, —a history of Christ—his birth, his life, and are all calculated to promote holiness his teaching, his ministry, his death, his and happiness. They are, therefore, only resurrection, his exaltation to his king- modifications of the goodness and love of dom. You find doctrines—the doctrines their great Author. I am not ashamed of of Christ; you find precepts—the pre- the promises of the gospel ; they contain cepts of Christ; you find the promises the very things we want. Are they not -the promises of Christ; and you find rich ? Are they not admirable and various? the ordinances—the ordinances of Christ; Are they not sure and certain ?--are they every thing in the gospel is full of Christ. not “yea and amen” in Christ Jesus?

Christ is also the end of the gospel. What is there in the privileges and proEvery thing in the gospel is designed to mises of the gospel to make a Christian conduct men to Christ, that they may blush? I am not ashamed of the ordiknow and love him, and believe in him, nances of the gospel. It is true, they are and resemble him, and love to honour few in number, and very simple in their him. Remember the record given of that nature; but they are highly significant ; extraordinary star which arrested the they are full of meaning, and are efficaattention of the wise men in the east, and cious whenever they are properly diswhich they followed till it conducted pensed and advocated. them to the very spot where Jesus Christ I am not ashamed of the gospel as the was. Every thing in the gospel is to act gospel of Christ, its divine Author. the part of that star. If we fix our eye on Though meanly born in Bethlehemit, it will conduct us to Christ, that we though for him there was no room in the may know him and love him. What is inn—though born in a stable, and laid the gospel without Christ? A cloud in a manger—though the reputed son of a without water; a shadow without a sub- carpenter—though when he came forth stance; a body without a spirit. from obscurity, and entered on his public

Now, says the apostle, “ of this gospel ministry, he had not where to lay his of Christ I am not ashamed ;"_I am not head-though he was persecuted, though confused; it does not make me blush; I he was crucified, though he suffered and am not discouraged by any thing in the died-though all this was true, yet he gospel.

rose triumphant as a God, and by his

« PreviousContinue »