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resurrection from the dead was declared | so various, so powerful,
with all his to be the Son of God with power, accord acquired abilities, and learning, and supeing to the Spirit of holiness. He is, there- rior talents,—this man, so signally and fore, the Prince of Life, the Conqueror of pre-eminently qualified to examine any Death, the Lord of Glory, the Captain of thing in order to ascertain its merits or our salvation; and I am, therefore, not demerits,—this great man, with these ashamed of him.
great powers, here avows that he is not By whom is this spoken? “I am ashamed of the gospel of Christ!” And not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” who art thou that art arrogating to thyself And who am I? Is this the language of lights superior to St. Paul, and art affectsome individual whose early prejudices, ing to find things in the gospel which and biases, and impressions, were all in make thee blush? Blush, indeed, for favour of the gospel ? And is he so com- thyself; and, if thou canst not do this, pletely fettered by these prejudices of others will blush for thee. Hide thy education and habit, that he is absolutely diminished head in the dust! What! incompetent fairly and dispassionately to thou affecting to be ashamed of the gospel, examine this gospel ? Nay, my friends, and such a man as St. Paul not ashamed you know the reverse of this was the fact; of it! It would be a good reason for thee, you know that all this man's prejudices, were no other to be found, rather to glory, and early habits, and impressions were because St. Paul gloried in this gospel. directly and violently opposed to the gos Let us ask a third question, To whom pel, that he was “exceedingly mad was this spoken? To whom was this proagainst this way," and that he was preju- fession made? To some rude, and remote, diced, and so full of blind, intolerant zeal, and barbarous, and savage, horde ?-to that, when he was persecuting the friends men without any kind of cultivation, or of the gospel, he thought he was “ doing science, who were absolutely incompetent God service." And yet, such is the con- to examine into that concerning which viction that he has of the divinity and this man avows he is not ashamed? Is efficacy of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that it so? No, my friends ; this proposition all his prejudices and early impressions was addressed to those who dwelt in the were entirely destroyed; and he avows iinperial city: this avowal was made to himself not ashamed of the gospel – I the Romans, the inhabitants of the capital am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ." city of the world, Rome, the seat of uni
Who am I? Is this the language of versal empire, the residence of statesmen, some individual, with a warm heart, and poets, and artists, and historians, indeed, but with a very weak head -a and philosophers—the seat of science and man of a very slender understanding—a literature, where lived men the splendour man capable of being carried away by of whose genius shed a lustre on the strong impulses—who can examine no- imperial city that commanded the admithing, but is ready to believe every thing ration of the world. -a man without any learning or science ? Here is a sort of implication here, as if Is it so? We know, my friends, that just some one had said, St. Paul has gone the contrary to this is the fact. It is this round about, from Jerusalem to Illyricum, man, emphatically the great—the great talking about Christ crucified; but when apostle of the Gentiles, a most extraordi- he is at Rome, he will change his voice ; nary man;—perhaps he was one of the he will blush to talk about the cross of greatest of all the great men that the Christ then; he wi blush to talk about great God ever made. How lofty his the cross of Christ among philosophers powers of intellect !-how keen, how and sages. He will then begin to say penetrating, how comprehensive! What fine things about the Supreme Being. a mind he had! And then his learning, He will begin to harangue them on eternal too,-how various and profound !-how providence, on the immortality of the soul; far beyond his contemporaries! And yet but not a word will he say about the this man, with all these natural talents, cross of Jesus Christ.–Do they say so?
He will prove the contrary. I will let gospel while I have life-I will not be every one know, as though St. Paul said, ashamed of it when I die. when I get to Rome, that I will avow him Now, for a profession like this, such a there : I will not blush to talk about him man must have had some good reason to there : I will take my stand ; and, stand- assign, something to justify the profesing side by side with the philosophers sion. What was it? Does he say, “I and the sages, I will announce something am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” that is of infinitely more importance than because it is true ? Had it been false, he any thing they ever conceived. I am not would have blushed to own it. Does he ashamed of the gospel, though in the say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of service of the gospel I endure toil, and Christ,” not only because it is true, but insult, and obloquy: I am not ashamed because it is important ? Had it been a of the gospel, though in my attempts to frivolous thing, he would have been propagate it, I may be in perils often, “ in ashamed to go about proclaiming it. Does perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in he say, “I am not ashamed of the gosperils by mine own countrymen, in perils pel,” because it is Christ's gospel ? On by the heathen, in perils in the city, in the admission that the gospel comes from perils in the wilderness, in perils in the Christ, it follows that we have no more sea, in perils among false brethren:" still reason to be ashamed of the gospel, than I am not ashamed.
of Christ, its author; it follows that “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” whatever comes from him must be Some who hear me may understand the worthy of him. Another reason, howphilosophy of language ; and they know ever, is assigned: “I am not ashamed of that, in this peculiar form of speech, there the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of is great emphasis, great meaning, more God unto salvation, to every one that bethan appears on the face of it. “I am lieveth.” Not only in point of theory is not ashamed of the gospel.” It is equal it worthy the approbation of every wellto the most courageous and triumphant constituted mind; but, in point fo fact, avowal of the gospel : as though he said, brought to the test of experience, it is the So far am I from being ashamed of the power of God unto salvation to every one gospel, that I make my boast of the gos- that believeth: a good reason this. pel; so far am I from being dishonoured In this general view, there are two or by the gospel, that the gospel is to me three things to be noticed. my greatest glory, my honour, my crown. The first is, the divine energy of the As though he had said, I despise every gospel: “ the power of God.” What is thing in comparison with the gospel. this power? There was, you are aware, Had he learning ? Yes, he had, and knew a marvellous power, which marked the its worth. I despise all my learning, in first promulgation of the gospel : the men comparison with the gospel. Had he who announced the good news were ena. science? Yes, he had, and know its bled to authenticate the tidings they use. I despise all my science, in com- published, by performing many illustrious parison of the gospel of Christ. Had he miracles. Now there seemed a peculiar talents? Yes, and of a very high order. fitness in this, under the then existing I despise all my talents, in comparison circumstances. It is very true that, when with the gospel. I will bring all my ho- they preached the gospel to their coun. nours to the foot of the cross, and say, trymen, the Jews, they had the Jewish “ God forbid that I should glory, save in Scriptures to appeal to, and they reasoned the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 out of the Scriptures, proving from them am not ashamed of the gospel when I am that Jesus was Christ. But what could at liberty_I am not ashamed of the gos- they do when they went among Greeks pel when I am in bonds—I am not and Romans? There were no Jewish ashamed of the gospel when I am among Scriptures to which they could appeal, its friends I blush not to acknowledge it then : and, therefore, it seemed peculiarly among its foes :- I am not ashamed of the fit, the great Author of the gospel should
accredit these men, by investing them There are two senses in which the goswith extraordinary powers, enabling them pel is the power of God, independently to work miracles in confirmation of the of the power to work miracles. The gogo message. They preached the gospel; and pel, as a system of divine truth, is the most then they proved that the message they powerful thing the world ever saw. How delivered was from God, by healing the powerful in its authority! It comes sick, cleansing the leper, giving sight to clothed in the authority of Him whose the blind, raising the dead-performing will is law, and whose power is absolute. all these miracles and mighty deeds, on How powerful again in its evidence! purpose to authenticate their message. Is it not attested by all the evidence of
You are aware that many expositors, which, from the nature of the subject, it and many Christian preachers, have thus is capable? How powerful in its mointerpreted the energy of which the apostle tives! Oh, how stirring are the motives here speaks. However, with all deference of the gospel! How powerful in its to very high names, I beg to state that I influence ! What powerful representado not think that the apostle here princi- tions does it present before us of the evil pally, if at all, refers to miraculous powers. of sin—that odious and abominable thing The apostle is here speaking of a power which a holy God hateth! How powerthat was universal among all believers— ful, again, in its representations of the a power that reaches " to every one that beauty of holiness! How lovely, and believeth.” But there is no evidence that attractive, and powerful, and moving, in the power to work miracles was given to its displays of the mercy of God, of the every believer in the primitive church. love of Christ, of the joy of religion, -of There were some churches, which were the felicities of heaven,—of the torments highly distinguished in this way—the of hell! How does it address those two church of Corinth, for example; but it great movers of the human mind and chadoes not appear that all had this power; racter-hope, and fear !—fear of the evil all did not heal the sick, all did not raise we have to experience—hope of the good the dead. The apostle is here speaking we have to receive. It connects eternity of a power that is universal as faith; with time,-it is a powerful hammer to every believer was under the influence of break the rocky heart in pieces—it is a this power, but every believer had not powerful fire to penetrate into the inmost the power to work miracles: the apostle, recesses of the human mind. therefore, does not refer to this. Besides, There is, however, a still higher sense he is speaking of a power connected with in which the gospel is the power of God. salvation; and I confess I do not see the I know the gospel is truth—and, thereconnexion between the power to work fore, it is powerful ; simple truth—and, miracles and the conversion of a man's therefore, more powerful ; divine truthsoul. I think the two things are essen- and, therefore, most powerful of all truth. tially distinct; and I think there may be And we must take care we do not attrithe one where the other is not. Read St. bute too much to the mere letter of the Paul's epistle to the Corinthians, and see gospel, to the mere sentiments and ideas how I am there borne out in this remark. of the gospel. The gospel is the power of How many had the one who were sadly God, because it is the ordinary instrument deficient in the other! And does not the whereby the energy of God, the Holy Ghost, apostle suppose-and, under the influence is communicated to the hearts of men. The of plenary inspiration, he could not have gospel is the dispensation of the Spirit, supposed a thing that could not have and the Spirit is a dispensation of power; happened—he supposed that a man may and, where the gospel is faithfully have the power to work miracles, and even preached, the Spirit of power is present; to remove mountains, though his heart so that while the word of the gospel falls may be destitute of vital piety: whereas, on the ear, and the ideas of the gospel he is here speaking of a power that is are communicated to the understanding, “unto salvation."
the power of the Holy Ghost touches the
heart and the conscience, and the gospel Think, then, of this universal opposicomes “not in word only,” though it tion—think of the feeble instruments emdoes come in word, " but also in power, ployed—think of what the gospel had to and in the Holy Ghost, and in much do, and the wide extent to which it assurance.”
travelled and triumphed, and say, was Take into consideration the four follow- not this the power of God? On what ing circumstances, and try to ascertain the other principle can you possibly account greatness of that power that marked the for the fact, that the gospel, under such first propagation of the gospel.
circumstances, did thus triumph ? In the first place, the powerful, combined, Ah, my friends! and the gospel is still and universal opposition which it had to the power of God. I confess to you all, contend with. Every thing rose in oppo- that if I did not believe the gospel still to sition against the gospel; all the preju- be the power of God, I should utterly dices of the people, all the bad passions despair of any such effects. One man of the people, all the institutions of the cannot change the heart of another. Not people, the craft of the people being in the language employed—not the ideas danger-yea, and the civil arm, too, lifted communicated; oh, no! there must be an up, and the whole world in arms against energy divine; the power of the Lord the gospel.
must be present, and that power must Then, again, the feeble, and slender, and apply the truth; and, therefore, we see (humanly speaking) incompetent instru- the power of God still manifested. Take ments employed. What, was a considerable an instance now. army sent forth in full equipment, with On Sabbath evening last but one, in fire and sword, to dragoon the nations into the town of Devonport, a poor, besotted, a profession of Christian faith? No, my careless old man-an old man-of-war's friends, the weapons of their warfare were man, I believe-came into the chapel, not carnal. There is no way by which and those who knew him best, believed he coercion can travel and arrive at a man's had never spent five minutes in his life in mind; mental error cannot be cut to thinking, “What am I? Whither am I pieces by the sword. These men went going? Is there another world? Have forth—twelve simple, artless men—pen- I a soul as well as a body ?" He saw a nyless and powerless; with nothing but large crowd, and he thought he would simple truth to publish, and in that name try to get in. He succeeded in the atto conquer the world; the world being up tempt; and it pleased the Lord, though in arms against them wherever they go, the preacher drew the bow at a venture, and yet the world conquered by them! to direct an arrow that hit, and an arrow
Think, in the next place, what the gos- that pierced that old sailor's inmost soul, pel had to do. It had to produce a moral and to stick fast there; he was judged of renovation; it had to illuminate the all-he was condemned of all; the tears mind, to sanctify the heart, to regulate began to gush from those eyes that had the life, to make all things new. I do scarcely ever wept before, and he began not wonder, then, that these were said to to sigh. As he returned home, he wept, be men who “ turned the world upside and said to a person, “I cannot rest till down." Yes, indeed; but the moral God has mercy on me; my conscience world was wrong side up. And yet it condemns me: I am guilty; I am petriumphed.
rishing; what shall I do ?" And the perThink of the extent of the triumph. To son told me, the following evening, that such an extent did they carry the gospel he was still pleading with the Lord, dethat the language which the Psalmist termined not to rest till he found redemputtered, in reference to the heavenly tion in the blood of Christ. Now, I ask bodies, was applied to the extensive con- you, what was that but the power of God? quests of these men by the gospel : Take another instance illustrative of the « Their line is gone through all the earth, power of the gospel. and their words to the end of the world.” Here is a Pharisee (the Pharisees were
not peculiar to the Jews of old time ; | ture up to the right hand of the Majesty there are Pharisees under the Christian on high, where “he ever liveth to make name and garb, who think themselves intercession for the transgressors;” and righteous and despise others,) here is an " he is able to save to the uttermost old man, now, grey in his Pharisaism; all that come unto God by him.” He and, in the pride of his heart, he has been saves from sin, from the guilt and power saying, many years, “ Stand by, for I am of sin, from the pollution of sin, and from holier than thou.” Many a time he has the penalty due to sin. affected to thank his Maker that he was Now, the gospel not only unfolds this not as other men—no drunkard, no pro- salvation in all its length, and breadth, fane swearer, no Sabbath-breaker. Many and fulness, and glory, but it becomes a time has he said, “ All these things the instrument of communicating the salhave I kept from my youth up.” He has vation it has to unfold. Look at the man erected for himself, by his own skill, and who is saved by the gospel ; his mind is by the might of his own arm, a lofty enlightened, his will is subdued, his superstructure of self-righteousness, and conscience is washed from guilt, his thinks the materials of it very sound, and affections are sanctified, his life is formed considers himself perfectly secure in it. according to the precepts of the gospel ; Even this is brought into contact with he becomes, not physically, but spiritually the gospel; and what is the gospel in and morally, a new creature. He is saved such a case? It is a conductor to convey from darkness to light; he is saved the lightning, not from it, but to it. from bondage to glorious liberty ; he is Struck by the lightning of heaven, the saved from sin to holiness; he is saved power of God, this superstructure of self- from misery to happiness; he is saved righteousness is shivered to atoms, and from death to life. Look at this man, and all the props, and pillars, and depend see the happy change that has taken encies of the Pharisee are broken to place, and ask by what this is produced ? pieces; and there you behold him on his By the gospel of Christ. Shall we, then, knees, with uplifted hands and contrite be ashamed of it?—of the gospel of heart, for the first time in his life, saying, Christ, that saves men—that makes men “ God be merciful to me a sinner!” wise, and happy, and holy in themselves What is this? This is the power of God. -the gospel of Christ, by the power and
The gospel has not lost its power; the influence of which vice is subdued, so gospel is still accompanied by the influ- that he who was a drunkard is become ence of the Spirit. Here lies our strength sober, and he who was a swearer fears an -here lies our hope. The gospel is oath, and he who was dissolute becomes powerful to wound, and it is powerful to chaste ? And by what means was this heal; it is powerful to pull down, and it effected ? By the gospel of Christ. is powerful to build up again ; it is The gospel of Christ has done more to powerful to kill a man's self-confidence, make men holy and happy in a few weeks and it will save “ with all the power of or months than all the boasted systems an endless life.” And, therefore, the of philosophy and science put forth by apostle speaks of the saving efficacy of the sages of Greece and Rome could efthis gospel : " it is the power of God to fect in ages. They could not bring the salvation.” The salvation of the gospel inhabitants of an obscure village to live is a salvation from sin. Man has sinned according to their views of moral science. -all have sinned; and, because all have But oh, what does the gospel accomsinned, all are guilty ; and, because all plish! I do not wonder that not a man are guilty, all are obnoxious to punish- durst accept the challenge of St. Paul :ment. But Jesus Christ is the Saviour; “ Where is the wise ? Where is the he came into the world to save sinners; scribe? Where is the disputer of this to save sinners he lived, to save sinners world ?" Ah, where are you now? You he died, to save sinners he rose from the laughed at me and the gospel-you dead, to save sinners he took human na- thought I was a foolish man, and had no