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perfect knowledge of God, and for a larger measure of his Spirit.
But although it is presumptuous to imagine that we have been so irrevocably and inalienably given to Christ, as to make it impossible for us to be separated from him; and although it is unsafe to judge of our interest in him by any other criterion than that of a fruitful faith ; yet to those, who are able to look to him, as the shepherd of their souls, with that comfort and confidence which encourages them to persist in a consistent course of godliness, not with that assurance which would make them reckless of the dangers by which they are beset,--to them it is a source of unspeakable joy, to reflect that they belong to one who can make his strength manifest in their weakness, who is all-powerful to save, who is invested with the supreme sovereignty and control over all things that are in heaven and in earth, and that are under the earth; who can do for us all that God can do, for he is with God and is God; I and my Father are one. It is a matter of inexhaustible comfort, to know that we are in the hands of him, who has already declared the feelings with which he regards his little flock that is in the midst of a naughty world; I pray for them: I pray not for the world ; but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine : and all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them.
And this is the perfection of that joy which the Christian feels, in contemplating Jesus Christ as his Shepherd; that he is one with God. He is not merely his instructor, his guide, his delegated guardian ; it is not only that, as a Saviour, he has once offered himself a sacrifice for sin : but he is still his almighty king, protector, and friend; The Lord himself is my Shepherd, therefore I shall not want. Jesus Christ has declared himself one with the Father; not merely one in counsel and intention, as some pretend; but one in power ; All things that the Father hath are mine. If one in power, then certainly one in nature: and it is this perfect unity of the Father and the Son, in purpose and in power, in love towards man, in the gracious design of redemption, and in the mightiness of its execution, which renders the Gospel revelation so adequate to all the wants of our fallen nature, so abundantly satisfying to all the desires of the soul.
These are the doctrines, upon which every shepherd, whom the Lord hath set over a part of his flock, to give them their portion of
meat in due season, must strenuously insist, if he would make his pastoral office answer all the ends of a Gospel ministry, and himself escape that rebuke which was uttered against the unfaithful shepherds of Israel, Ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened; neither
healed that which was sick ; neither have
that which was broken; neither have ye brought again that which was driven away: neither have ye sought that which was lost.22 And these are the doctrines, upon which the flock of Christ must feed when they are proposed to them, as that nourishing and vivifying food, which can be had in his fold alone; which the children of this generation loathe and turn
from with contempt, or aversion, as transcending the grasp of their reason, or opposing the bent of their inclinations; but in which the humble and sincere Christian finds the true strength of his motives, and the certainty of his hopes; his security against the power of evil during his continuance in the flesh; and his title to that crown of glory that fadeth not away, which will be given to him when the chief Shepherd shall appear.23
22 Ezek. xxxiv. 3.
23 1 Pet. v. 4.
THE CROSS OF CHRIST.
1 COR. I. 23, 24.'
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.
The preaching of the Gospel St. Paul terms the preaching of the cross ;* nor can he find any expression more characteristic of its doctrines than that in the text, We preach Christ crucified ; and having said that the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, i. e. to the obstinate unbelievers, foolishness, he adds, that it pleased God by this foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. The doctrine of the
* 1 Cor. i. 18.
1 Preached on Good Friday.
cross is therefore a saving doctrine, a vital doctrine, a fundamental doctrine of Christianity; and we hold it to be no less indispensable now, than it was in St. Paul's time, that every minister of the Gospel should be able to say with truth, We preach Christ crucified. That wonderful and glorious truth is still to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks, or the disputers of this world, foolishness : but to them which are called, who have heard the voice of God in the Gospel, and have been inclined by the Spirit of God to give ear to it; who have had
grace to bring every thought into subjection to Christ, and to receive with meekness the Word of life; it is the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
We preach Christ crucified. Does the Apostle mean simply to say, that he proclaims the historical fact, that Jesus died upon the cross ? Surely not : about that there was no dispute, either on the part of Jew or of Greek : on the contrary, it was the very ground of their objections. He evidently means, We preach a crucified Saviour, as the distinguishing and saving doctrine of the Gospel; unto us which are saved, it is the power of God: in other words, it is the power of God unto salvation to every one