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due, to preach the gospel to rulers and ruled, and teach them, from that authority, their respective duties to themselves, to each other, and to God.' They may, in the discharge of official duty, apply the principles of religion to the action of civil government, but are not permitted to engage in those parties, where ambition kindles the fire of discord, and worldly policies conHict. Still, ministers of the gospel are citizens, like other men, must feel an interest in every event that transpires, must exercise a kind concern for every public and private interest of men, and they always have the right to an honest opinion on every subject. But the Savior has taught us by exanıple how these rights may be exercised.

The interference of the church of Rome with the political affairs of men, and an attempt to influence or control them, has probably, more than any thing else, served to corrupt and debase her. Wicked and ambitious men have perceived that the most direct way to political power and influence was through the favor of the church. The ambitious man, therefore, who desired to be a minister of state, would first seek a cardinal's hat, and court intrigue occupied his attention more than the care of souls. Her policy, in this way, became almost entirely secular, and the interest of true religion became with its official defenders, a secondary object, or was entirely disregarded. It is necessary that while the ministers of religion feel and express an interest in every thing that concerns the happiness of men, they should be so far separate from any necessary connection with the affairs of the world, as may enable them to direct their entire energies to the duties of their office; and that they should be so far removed also from any necessary participation in the functions of the government as will repress all motives of ambition; that they should be so far raised above want as will preclude the necessity of labor for the means of subsistence, and so far limited in their pecuniary perquisites as will remove the ministry, as a profession, from one of avarice, personal interest, or ambition.

As the ambassadors of Christ, his ministers are to imitate his example, to live and labor as he did, to be conversant with the men of the world but se. parate from their sins, to understand well the institutions of men but to confine their influence to that which will exert a moral effect on society, They sustain to society the character of teachers, and ought therefore to be well instructed. They are judges, as they are expounders of the law by which men are judged, and therefore should well understand the book of the law. They hold the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and when rightly dividing the word of truth, they bind on earth what shall be bound in heaven; and loose on earth what shall be loosed in heaven.

3. We are led to consider the appropriate influence of the Christian ministry. The minister of religion is the expounder of the law of God. He speaks in the name of the Lord. His instructions, therefore, are authoritative, not by reason of his own wisdom or power, but hecause he speaks in the name of the Lord. He is clothed with authority by his office, and it is the truth, which is imperious in its claims. When he appeals to the law and the testimony, there is no higher authority on earth or in heaven-it is the authority of God. He lays open and enforces those principles on which the decisions of the last day will proceed. He divides the congregation into two classes. He appeals to the conscience till it rises, and comes forth in its power. The separated companies stand trembling before him, while he pronounces, the blessing of acceptance on the one, and the sentence of rejection on the other. When this is done under authority of the word of God and approved by it, it is authoritative, and ought to have a decisive influence on every heart, not to drive to despair, as it will do the wicked in the last day, but to excite to effort, for the sentence here is not final. With every decision and appeal of this kind, the minister of Christ is authorized to propose terms of reconciliation.

He always attends the announcement of the sentence with the offer of salvation, a favor which cannot be extended in the last day. As a minister of reconciliation, it is moreover his duty to press the acceptance of pardon, to enforce the command of God" to repent,” and do it without delay. This duty is imperious, binding on every soub The influence of a gospel minister, therefore, in the pulpit, ought to be without limit when his coinmunications are confined to the word of God. When he speaks the truth, he is settiing the seal to the sinner's damnation. He presses the signature of his death warrant. But from the same instrument he reads the offer of pardon and eternal life, to which it will become the credentials and security, if he repents, and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence it is said, “ He is to some the savor of life unto life, to others the savor of death unto death."

When a commissioned ambassador of Christ stands up in the pulpit to announce to sinners the word, and administer the ordinances, of God, he is entitled to the utmost attention for his “work's sake.” Angels view it as one of the most interesting and eventful scenes. God is speaking in his word, and this word cannot be rejected without the most fatal effects on him who rejects it. The messenger is honored by what he bears. His person, the height of his stature, the elegance of his manner, the tones of his voice, the rhetorical accuracy of his speech, are all secondary objects. It is the truth, which is to " kill or make alive," on which the attention should be centred. Angels or devils rejoice at the result.

A minister of God, thus commissioned and endowed, and uniting to a serious discharge of his duties in the pulpit, an affectionate personal intercourse with the people of his charge, will stand in the community where he lives and preaches, the centre of a mighty influence felt through all time, and running parallel with eternity. The very station he holds imparts a sacredness to his character; the familiarity of his intercourse gives life and energy to his influence. In

ages of ignorance the clerical character has exercised an influence over the minds of men of prodigious power. It has, therefore, been sought and assumed by wicked men in furtherance of wicked purposes: and the basest influence has been sometimes exerted on the community, by those who have made the greatest pretensions to piety. No wonder that these facts have made men jealous of ecclesiastical power. I would have them som

that the office of the ministry may never furnish facilities to wicked men in the prosecution of unworthy objects.

We have only to enlighten the public mind, and there is little to fear and every thing to hope for, in the labors of the gospel ministry. Separate church and state, so that ambitious men will find no pasport to promotion through the sacred office. Give the of supporting the gospel into the hands of the people, so that no extravagant salaries and easy livings may tempt the voluptuous into the pulpit. Make the minister the curate of his parish, so that he must work in his calling to secure and retain the affections of his people. Educate the people, so that he must study his books to enable him to instruct them, and then let the minister of the gospel exert all the influence he can. The people need not be afraid of it. He can do no hurt. The influence of talent, of piety, of labor, of moral worth, can never be dangerous. Would that the ministry could in this way increase their influence an hundred fold, and that the people could feel its moulding, commanding, transforming power.

The salutary influence of such a ministry on the morals of any community, the people of this happy country are well able to appreciate. Under a government of laws, and with no power beyond the force of truth, the minister's of religion come into the pulpit, the terror of none but infidels and wicked men.

In this view the ministers of the gospel, though separated from the duties and forms of legislation, are regarded by the patriot and statesman with high honor. They are essentially necessary to the prosperous operation of any government in the certain law under which all authority is held"that righteousness exalteth a nation, and sin is a reproach to any people,”. Hence, in political economy, we deny that the clergy are an unproductive class of men. The influence, which makes men sober, industrious, temperate, and honest, is an influence directly productive. And this, a faithful ministry does. Is the overseer, who prevents idleness and dissipation, who promotes industry, and directs the application of labor to the best effect, is he an unproductive man? Is the planter the poorer for him? If so, let him be dismissed, and let a faithful ministry be dismissed, and let every man do what seems good in his own eyes, and we shall have the proof of that political economy, and of that philanthropy, which has infidelity for its root, and which would dispense with the labors and influence of the ministers of Christ.

4. We are led to notice the consequences attending the ministry of the gospel. Established under such circumstances, and with such an object, the influence of the Christian ministry is necessarily great. In the hands of wicked men it has sometimes proved to be the greatest curse. The very name of priést is imposing, and when attached to a wicked man, has often aided the worst designs. When attended with a tolerable character, or splendid talents, it has often encouraged and spread the most pernicious heresies. Men, naturally conscious of guilt, as they are depraved by nature, seek to quiet their convictions at the cheapest possible rate, The instructions of the official minister of religion, have authority with the troubled sinner; and will have a great influence to disturb, or comfort and establish him.

Hence the influence of a faithful ministry is important. The minds of men are thereby enlightened in the truth. They are made acquainted with their guilt and danger. They are brought to see their opposition to God, are made to feel and fear the consequences, are convicted of sin, and agonize under this conviction. In these distressing circumstances, when they have no help and no hope in themselves, they are led by the ministry of the word to the cross of Christ. They are instructed in the nature, and helped to the exercise of true repentance. They flee to Christ as a Savior from sin. They rejoice in pardon, and are saved from the wrath to come. Their songs of rejoicing are renewed in heaven, and are everlasting. They are redeemed, regenerated, saved. All this great work is carried on through the ministry of the word. Sinners are converted, the church is built, heaven is peopled, the text is verified in this way.

But there are other consequences, which result to sinners from the word preached, the consequences which come on those who reject this word. The ministry that enlightens the soul greatly enlarges its capacity for happiness or misery. The minister of the gospel, therefore, while he furnishes to the mind the light of truth, awakens conviction, and quickens the sensibility of the soul to feel its power. He standsasa messenger of peace before a guilty world, to repeat those offers of mercy first brought by the Son of God himself. He is employed in writing on the tablet of each heart, the sentence of its condemnation, and will be raised at the last day to bear testimony to the inscription. Oh! dreadful must be the doom of those who have despised his warning voice and rejected the word of salvation.

Still the truth remains. Whatever reception the gospel may here find, the text remains, THE CHURCH SHALL BE BUILT, heaven shall be peopled, God shall be glorified. Holding, then, as we do, the keys of the kingdom of heaven, we will come to you in the ministry of reconciliation; we will turn back the bolt; we will open to you the door of heaven, we will invite you and URGE YOU ALL to enter; and if you will not hear, “your blood shall be upon your own heads."

30

SERMON LXX.

BY RUFUS W. BAILEY,

OF SOUTH CAROLINA.

THE WISDOM OF GOD ILLUSTRATED IN THE FOOLISHNESS OF

PREACHING.

1 Cor. 1:21. For after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wis.

dom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

The wisdom of this world never led to a knowledge of the only true God. In the things of religion, the natural understanding is as dark as the natural heart is depraved. In Egypt, the most gifted in wisdom worshipped, and taught others to worship, the sun, moon, and stars, the air, the earth, and the meanest reptiles that crawl upon it. Rome, in the wisdom of this world, had her thirty thousand gods, not the vigilant opposers of vice, but the patrons by example of impurity, violence, and crime. Athens, the mistress of the literary world, had her altar inscribed to the unknown God. By that altar stands the minister of Christ crucified and proclaims—whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you."

This preaching is emphatically said to be " to the Greeks foolishness”-and yet it illustrates the wisdom of Godin opposition to what the “ world knew by wisdom.”

The preaching of the cross appeared to the wisdom of this world to be foolishness, in three particulars.

1. In its opposition to established forms. The theories of the philosophers were reduced to form. They were taught in their schools. They were identified with the literature, the politics, the business, the pleasures, and prejudices of the people. They derived their influence from the antiquity of their claims, the sanction of philo. sophers, and their coincidence with the natural and depraved inclinations of the heart. Yet, against all these authorities and influences, the wisdom of God spoke in the foolishness of preaching. It poured contempt on all the wisdom of this world, and pronounced the whole grand fabric of pagan religion utterly and fatally false from the foun. dation to the top-stone. It called on men to renounce in their religion, all that which had been consecrated by time, by their own approbation and that of their fathers, by the wisdom of their sages and philosophers, and to receive a new system of religion in direct opposition to them all, and which pronounced their religion false, and their gods a lie.

To the wisdom of the world, this appeared indeed as foolishness.

Especially when, in opposition to the philosophers of the age, the Author of this religion was known to be one Jesus of Judea, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and his adherents, without education, political influence, or power, were scattered and despised. The pride of intellect looked down with scorn on such folly. The multitude, bent on their pleasures, and led by their philosophers, rejected the scheme and persecuted its adherents.

2. In the nature of its doctrines. When the doctrines of this reli. gion were developed in opposition to the polytheism, superstitions, and gross practices of the age, its folly, in the light of human wisdom, appeared still more glaring. Instead of three hundred thousand gods, sensual, passionate, and revengeful, it taught the being of one only living and true God, a Spirit, and requiring a spiritual worshipHOLY, and requiring holiness of his worshippers; omnipotent, omnis. cient, and omnipresent; eternal, independent, immutable; just, merciful, wise, and benevolent. It represented all men as depraved, and sunk in spiritual ignorance and ruin. It declared that there was no other name given whereby men could be saved, but the name of Jesus of Nazareth, and that in opposition to the received doctrines of heathen philosophy, the only way to become interested in true religion was to repent of and forsake sin, to be humble and harmless, to exercise forgiveness towards enemies, to live peaceably with all men, and receive this same Jesus as a prophet, priest, and king, whom God had sent into the world to save sinners.

• 3. In the manner of promulging its doctrines. It is by a ministry, to which men are set apart by a certain simple form; and these men are generally selected without regard to worldly connections, or influence, and in the early ages of Christianity, without regard to human learning. The expedient appeared to the view of men too simple and lame to in

There was no parade of names, of power, or influence. The first propagators of Christianity were plain unlettered men, who went forth under the divine commission- Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.' This, with the administration of the sacrament, comprises the public duties of the gospel ministry. Hence we see how the preaching of the cross appeared to the wisdom of this world to be foolishness, in its opposition to established forms; in the nature of its doctrines; and in the manner in which its doctrines were promulged.

Yet in this preaching, the wisdom of God is illustrated in three particulars.

1. In its efficiency. Its efficiency must be one of the necessary proofs of a true religion. Proceeding from the Author of nature, a remedy for the ills under which we suffer, it must possess an adaptation to this end-it must be efficient. And what are the facts? What has the foolishness of preaching done! Before its simple force of truth the philosophers and philosophy of the Greek and Roman schools have retired. They are known no more but in name, in the books which record their absurd doctrines and their downfall.

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