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66 Christ gave
the heart of stone, and gives a heart of flesh. When he shows himself pacified, the sinner is confounded, and sees that to him belongs shame and confusion of face. And as the power of God, when it works upon the heart, is the effect of grace; so it leads us to live to the praise and glory of that grace, which is the source, original, and spring of it.
(3.) When the power of God accompanies his word, as in the case of the disciples going to Emmaus, it makes mens hearts burn within them with a pure flame of divine love, love to God, his works and
ways. The word is as a fire, Jer. xxiii. 29. It gives an unspeakable vivacity of soul. Christ baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
(4.) When the word comes with power, it makes the heart clean: “ Ye are clean through the word I have spoken unto you," John xv. 3. himself for his church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it by the word,” Eph. v. 26. “ Sanctify them by thy truth, thy word is truth," John xvii. 17. " The testimonies of God are clean and pure," Psal. xix. 8, 9. ; and they cleanse the heart upon which they are written, and upon which they take impression, from the love of sin.
4. I shall conclude with a few answers to that practical question which many may have occasion to make, How ought they to behave that do not find the power of God accompanying his word in secret, or in public?
(1.) It is a good sign to those that have this to say, if they truly lament it, and are troubled for it, and are desiring the grace of God to accompany his word. God will satisfy longing souls, if they be crying to God to
to see the wonders that are in his law. Though he chasten them for a little, he will teach them out of his law, to their satisfaction, in his own good time, and give them joy and delight in his word, and make it sweet to their taste.
(2.) Such should take care not to blame God, nor the Scripture, nor the ordinances of God. It is but a self-deceit for men to free themselves of the blame. They ought to consider, the reason why the word does not profit is, when it is not mixed with faith in them that hear it, Heb. iv. 2. We should cry to the Lord, therefore, for that blessed mixture, that every word we read of in Scripture may be mixed with faith, that the Lord may increase our faith, and help our unbelief.
(3.) They should reflect upon their ways and practice, see that there be not some particular sin that the Lord has a controversy with them for, and therefore withholds from them those advantages and consolations that they have got perhaps by the word at other times. “ Do not my words do good," saith the Lord, Mic. ii. 7. ; but it is added, “to him that walketh uprightly." And his heart is not upright which is lifted up within him, Habak. ii. 4. Endeavour after a humble and patient waiting for the Lord, waiting at the posts of wisdom's door, acting faith upon the mighty power, and infinite mercy, and loving kindness, of God; still looking to the death and resurrection of Christ, that we may find ourselves quickened together with him, and made to sit together in hea. venly places, where he is who is our life, that when he appears at last, we may appear with him in glory. To his name be glory and praise for ever and ever. Amen.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST CRUCIFIED THE SUM AND
SUBSTANCE OF SAVING KNOWLEDGE *.
1 Cor. ii. 2.
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save
Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
speaking of the unbelieving Jews, that in reading the Old 'Testament there was a vail on their hearts. The reason of his saying so was, because in reading that volume of God's book, they did not discern Jesus Christ to be, what indeed he was, the chief end and scope of it. That blindness was both a wilful and a judicial blindness. They made their ears heavy, they closed their eyes, they made their hearts fat, and a spirit of sleep and slumber was poured on them. We are taught in Scripture, that it is a blindness of most dangerous consequence; that if the gospel be hid it is hid to them that are lost; and that before a heart turn to the Lord, that vail must be taken away. It is evi. dent from experience, that there has been in all ages something like that Jewish vail on the hearts of professed Christians, not only in reading and hearing the Old Testament, but also the New. And it is not merely of professed Heathens, or unbelieving Jews, that this apostle tells in other places, that there were
Preached at Glasgow, Jan. 8. 1723.
some who frustrated the grace of God, made Christ to die in vain, carried towards him as if that had been the case, and were enemies of the cross of Christ. This he affirms even of some professed Christians in his time. And if this was the case in that age, the age of the apostles, no wonder that in all other ages there has been a wretched bias, in many hearers and readers of the New Testament, to overlook and neglect the chief end and scope of the Scripture. The very reverse was Paul's resolution ; he was determined to know nothing, save Jesus Christ and bin crucified; whereas the carnal inind in every man, by nature, inclines rather to know any thing else than that. Paul esteems it, and calls it, “ the great mystery of godliness ;" whereas many have been still ready to treat is as if either it were no mystery of godliness at all, or as if it were one of the least things treated of in the Scriptures, and mentioned only by the by. Downright opposing it is not the only injury that that glorious mystery met with. Many who do not plainly deny, overlook it. But this in Scripture is reckoned a sin of the same nature and danger with open opposition to it; for how shall we escape, says Paul, whether we oppose it or not, if we neglect so great a salvation ? If we do not believe it, we are Jews in opinion ; if we believe it, and yet reject it, we are in practice more inconsistent with ourselves than the Jews. Nothing is more evident, than that if we believe it certain, that God was manifested in the flesh, to redeem the church by his own blood, this one thing, this one mystery, should take such possession of the hearts of redeemed sinners; should so fill and occupy their thoughts, as comparatively speaking, to leave room for nothing else. It is the glory of the Reformed churches, whom God, of his infinite goodness, delivered from the gross darkness of Babylon, that this great mystery has been so faithfully preached, so frequently, so much exalted and magnified. And we ought to bless the eternal Father of lights, that has, in such a distinguishing manner, favoured this nation
al church, and even this corner of it in particular, with the magnifying of this great mystery of his grace, that is to be the admiration of men and angels to all eternity. Yet there are many reasons that make it necessary for us to be jealous over ourselves, as Paul was over the Corinthians, with a godly jeaJousy, lest we be seduced from the simplicity of the gospel, lest we neglect that great salvation, lest we let it slip out of our minds, lest it take up too little room in our thoughts and esteem. It is not merely the duty of apostles and teachers that the text lays before us, but of all Christians. What the apostle ehiefly taught, is what we and all others ought chiefly to learn, and chiefly to consider. The apostle Paul taught the whole counsel of God, as he declares to the Ephesians, Acts xx. 27. And here he lays before us what the whole counsel of God is. Ve should look
upon this as a pattern laid before us. The apostle Paul also speaks, Phil. iii. 8, 9. about the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, in comparison of which he counted all things but loss and dung; and intimates how earnestly he desired that all others should be like minded, walk by the same rule, and mind the same things. If, therefore, he minded nothing else but Christ crucified, we ought comparatively to mind nothing else either.
In the preceding verse the apostle reminds the Corinthians, that his manner of preaching among them was not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom. He is alluding to certain pretended wise men, to whom the doctrine of the cross of Christ was foolishness; and acknowledges, that his speech had not that excellency that would please them. But we ought not to have the less esteem of it on that account; we ought rather to esteem it the more. The wisdom of those men is science, falsely so called. The apostle's style and matter are not the less excellent, because his sermons did not consist in, what Jude calls, “ swelling words of vanity," but words which the Spirit of God teaches. The matter of his doctrine