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others, placed, this day, in circumstances which I had not anticipated. I therefore crave your indulgence, whilst I deliver the following discourse; and I pray that the blessing of God may rest on my endeavours to state, and to enforce the TRUTH.]
THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST SUPREMELY EXCELLENT.
PHILIPPIANS, III. 8.
"I count all things loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord."
In this passage of sacred writ, the ideas conveyed by St. Paul may be, I conceive, thus paraphrased. Messiah, Jesus, my Lord! He of whom the ancient prophets spake as the Lord's anointed and chosen one;-a Redeemer, Deliverer, and Saviour; who was manifested as Emmanuel, God with us; who came to save his people from their sins ; who came down from heaven to give light, and life, and salvation to the world; who having given his life a ransom for many-given himself to be a sacrifice-a sin offeringa propitiation for the sins of men; rose again from the dead, a glorious conqueror of Satan, and the gates of hell; and who hath ascended up on high, in the possession of full power to rule in heaven and in earth, till all his enemies be put under his feet; and till he hath brought to eternal bliss and glory all those, of every tribe, and tongue, and nation, who believe on his name. And his is the only name given among men (the only name proclaimed by divine authority from the skies) by which man can be saved.
Messiah, Jesus, my Lord!—to know him: to win him; to be found in him; redeemed by his death; justified by his righteousness; and sanctified by his Spirit,—is in my estimation of infinite value-there is nothing under heaven to be compared to it. The esteem and regard of my kindred; the consideration of my friends and countrymen ;
the rank and privileges of a civil and religious nature, which all men so much value; if denied me because of my devotion to Christ, I willingly forego them.
The ground of hope as to acceptance with God and eternal bliss, which I once fondly cherished; arising from a religious and strictly moral education, and (as far as man is concerned, and the rites and observances of religion referred to,) a blameless life-these I abandon; not desiring to have my own righteousness which is of the law; but that which is through the faith of Christ; the righteous. ness which is of God by faith.
My bodily ease, and temporal comfort; a sure competence in my native country; the delights of a settled home, and a circle of friends with whom I have grown up from childhood-these, when my Lord's cause requires it, I willingly relinquish. Things that I have heretofore esteemed gain, I now count loss for Christ. "Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." Such, my friends, is St. Paul's language; and this language is not the vapouring boast, or the declamatory harangue of an untried man.. For the sake of Jesus he had already suffered the loss of all things. Friends, and kindred, and home and country, and domestic comfort, and personal ease and safety, he had already sacrificed. And he had lost the good opinion of the society amongst whom he lived, and for his devotedness to the crucified Jesus, had subjected himself to the appellations of enthusiast and madman; and had been despised and vilified, and suffered persecution and insult, and endured hunger and thirst, and every privation. For he considered that winning Christ, -obtaining a knowledge of him, more than compensated all.
The knowledge of Christ, it is affirmed, is supremely excellent. And in what then does its excellency consist? A dignified and eminent preacher and prelate of former days has, in a discourse on this text, argued the excellency of this knowledge from the four following topics. The knowledge communicated by Christ, does, in the
1st place, more fully reveal to us the nature of God.
2dly, It gives us a more certain and perfect law for the government of our lives.
3dly, It propounds to us more powerful arguments to persuade men to the obedience of this law than did Judaism or Paganism, and,
Finally, it furnishes us with better motives and considerations to patience and contentedness under the evils and afflictions of this life than they did.
These generalities are true, and good, and important, as far as they go, but they come not up to that distinct and experimental knowledge of the salvation which is in Christ; which was the object of St. Paul's admiration and esteem. There is a work which Jesus performed, as well as doctrines which he taught; and that sort of knowledge which not only makes us acquainted with Christian principles, but also makes us participators of the benefits of the Saviour's work, is the thing which is of such high value, and to be held in supreme estimation.
It is the saving knowledge of Christ's mediatorial work, by which human beings are delivered from the awful penalties of a violated law; whereby they are delivered from the curse of sin, and the love of sin, and the practice of sin; by which they are restored to peace with God; to peace with conscience; and to peace with their fellow men; as far as their tempers and actings can effect that peace.A knowledge which, in proportion as it is diffused throughout the world, will not only bless individuals and families, but which will unite families, and tribes, and nations in the bonds of peace and of reciprocal love; and will banish strife and injustice, and oppression, and bloodshed, and wars from the face of the earth.
Knowledge of every sort is good; learning and science, which contribute to the rational and useful occupation of the human mind, and which promote the civilization and temporal comfort of man, are to be esteemed-we are not this day the advocates of ignorance: we too say ' encourage education all round the world; especially make man acquainted with the wonders of his Creator's works-lead him if you can through the garden and the forest, and across
the ocean, and to the mountains' top, and shew him the hand of God as displayed in the creatures, animate and inanimate, which every where he beholds; and raise his eyes to heaven, to contemplate the sun, and the moon, and the stars, their magnitude and motions, and light and glory.' But, since man is a guilty creature, justly deserving God's wrath and curse-if you carry not to him a knowledge of the salvation which is in Jesus Christ, you have still left him without that which is essential to his happiness; without that which is essential to the transformation of his character. You leave him still in spiritual darkness; you leave him Satan's captive; the slave of selfish or malignant passions-in his heart an enemy to God; and consequently still justly under the curse.
The knowledge of Christ's mediatorial work; the fellowship of his sufferings; the efficacy of his atoning sacrifices when he died for us on the accursed tree; the triumph of his resurrection; the glory of his ascension; and the proclamation of mercy from the Redeemer's throne in heaven, to all kindreds and peoples and tongues, and all classes of rebels and offenders-soften and melt man's previously hard and impenitent heart; and accompanied by the influences of God's Holy Spirit, bring him with weeping and supplication to confess his guilt; to renounce his sins; to renew his allegiance; and commence a career of loyal and affectionate devotedness to God his Saviour, whose love he desires to imitate; whose precepts he studies to obey; whose beneficent spirit he cherishes-inducing him to care not only for his own things, but also for the things of others; and to seek not only his own salvation and happiness, but the salvation and happiness of all mankind; and this leads him to desire, from motives of the purest and most heavenly benevolence, that all the kingdoms of this world should become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ.
My brethren, are not these the feelings and motives which have brought you together from different parts of the British Isles this morning? Is it not a wish to promulgate to the ends of the earth the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, that fills every breast? and that wish arises from a
conviction that the excellency of this knowledge so far exceeds every other attainment, or distinction, or good, that the acquisition of these, and the omission of this, could not be denominated a gain; but a mighty loss. Yea, doubtless! and ye count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.
We have then set before us distinctly the object of this assembly; it is not any subject of amusement for the ima gination; or merely intellectual gratification; nothing that concerns personal aggrandizement, or family distinction, or party superiority, or national glory;-but an object of greater interest to every regenerated soul than all these united; an object of infinitely greater magnitude than the merely temporal concerns of the whole world; an object that elevates the mind far above, and keeps it clear of, the attractions and antipathies that name or sect, or climate or colour, or tribe or nation, induce. The benignity of the deity, and the love of Christ, bear us along with them, and constrain us to rise superior to self, and to the transitory good that temporalities confer, and the momentary evils that destitution of these can inflict; in order that we may convey to every child of our heavenly Father's world; to every human creature, the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
I will here quote to you, in confirmation of this statement the words of the preacher to whom I have already alluded. "If a man," says he, "by a vast and imperious mind, and a heart as large as the sand upon the sea-shore (as it is said of Solomon) could command all the knowledge of nature and of art, of words and things; could attain to a mastery in all languages, and sound the depths of all arts and sciences; measure the earth and the heavens, and tell the stars; declare their orders and motions; could discourse of the interests of all states; the intrigues of all courts, the reason of all civil laws and constitutions; and could give an account of the history of all ages; could speak of trees from the cedar that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springs out of the wall; and of beasts also, and of fowls, and of creeping things, and of fishes, and yet should in the mean