1 Corinthians 1:24
but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Sermons
Christ -- the Power and Wisdom of GodC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 1:24
Christ -- the Power and Wisdom of GodCharles Haddon Spurgeon 1 Corinthians 1:24
Christ is Our WisdomPhilip Henry.1 Corinthians 1:24
Christ the Power of GodJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:24
Christ the Power of GodH. Bremne 1 Corinthians 1:24
Christ the Wisdom of GodJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:24
Christ the Wisdom of GodT. Lessey.1 Corinthians 1:24
Christianity, the Wisdom and Power of GodW. L. Alexander, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:24
Christianity's Divine PowerA. Oliver, B. A.1 Corinthians 1:24
Divine PhilosophyH. Bonar, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:24
Preaching the CrossR. S. McAll, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:24
The Gospel Adapted to the State and Circumstances of ManJohn Kemp.1 Corinthians 1:24
The Gospel is the Sum of WisdomC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 1:24
The Mystery of PowerCanon Knox-Little.1 Corinthians 1:24
The Offence and Success of the CrossT. Horton, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:24
The Power of God and Wisdom of GodD. King, LL. D.1 Corinthians 1:24
The Power of God in Self-SacrificeH. Bushnell, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:24
Man's Wisdom and God'sH. Bremne 1 Corinthians 1:17-25
The Preaching of the CrossE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 1:17-25
Paul's PreachingJ. Exells, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
Paul's PreachingW. M. Taylor, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
PreachingJ. Baldwin Brown, B. A.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The Aim of the MinistryC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The Cross Neutralised by Theories About ItPrincipal . Edwards.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The Cross of Christ of None EffectS. Martin.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The Foolishness of PreachingM. Dods, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The Gospel as Preached by PaulA. J. F. Behrends, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The Gospel Neither Ritual nor PhilosophyJ. Oswald Dykes, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The Preaching Which the Apostle Condemns as IneffectiveJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The True Minister of ChristJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The True Work of the PreacherH. W. Beecher.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The World's Greatest Blessing and its Greatest EvilD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
How St. Paul Regarded the Preaching of the GospelC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
The World's Foolishness, and God's WisdomR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 1:19-25
An Orthodox PreacherA. Buckley.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Apostolic PreachingJ. Hooper.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Apostolic PreachingE. Oakes.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Apostolic PreachingD. Fraser 1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Apostolic Preaching: its Theme and EffectsJ. Bowers.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christ CrucifiedThomas Horton, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christ CrucifiedC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christ CrucifiedJ. Baldwin Brown, B. A.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christ CrucifiedJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christ CrucifiedC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christ CrucifiedT. R. Stevenson.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christ CrucifiedJ. Waite 1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christianity Viewed in Three AspectsD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
En Touto NikaG. Kingsley, M. A.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
How the Gospel TriumphedJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Jew, Greek, and ChristianA. M. Fairbairn, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Offensiveness of the Gospel to Human PrideJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Our PreachingJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Preaching ChristF. W. Robertson, M. A.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Preaching Christ and Preaching the TimesPrincipal Edwards.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Preaching Christ CrucifiedJ. Oswald Dykes, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
St. Paul's Preaching At CorinthC. Clayton, M. A.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
The Atonement Adapted to AllC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
The Causes of the Rejection of the GospelJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
The Cross of ChristDean Stanley.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
The Crucifixion of ChristI. Barrow, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
The Gospel and its OpponentsJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
The Jews Require a Sign, the Greeks Seek WisdomThomas Horton, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
The Reasonableness of the GospelBp. Fellowes.1 Corinthians 1:22-24


The power of God is seen in nature and in providence, but here we have a new conception of it. Jesus Christ is that Power. In his person, as God manifest in flesh, there resides the potency of the Highest; but the apostle is here thinking mainly of him as crucified. In that cross, which seems to us the culmination of weakness, he sees the very power of God. Consider -

I. THE ELEMENTS OF DIVINE POWER TO BE FOUND IN THE CROSS OF CHRIST.

1. The death of Christ manifests the power of God's love. As soon as we understand the meaning of the cross, we cannot help exclaiming," Herein is love!" Nor is it merely the fact of his love to men which it reveals, for this might be learned elsewhere; but it is the greatness of his love. It is the "commendation" of it (Romans 5:8) - the presenting of it in such a way as to powerfully impress us with its wonderful character. Here is the Son of God dying for sinners; and on whichever part of this statement we fix attention, it casts light on this marvellous love.

(1) The Son of God! The strength of God's love to us may be gauged by the fact that he gave up to death his own Son. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son," etc. (John 3:16); "He that spared not his own Son," etc. (Romans 8:32). What a power of love is here! Not an angel, nor some unique being specially created and endowed for the mighty task, but his one only Son. Human love has rarely touched this high water mark.

(2) For sinners! "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Human measures and analogies fail us here. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13); but here is love for enemies. And love, not in mere sentiment, not in simple forbearance, but in self sacrifice - love persisting in its purpose of salvation in the face of hatred and scorn. Thus on both sides the love of God is seen in power. And what a battery to play upon the hearts of men!

2. The death of Christ manifests the power of his justice. No reading of the cross that leaves this element out of account can explain the mystery. In a work the professed design of which is to restore men to righteousness, there must surely be no breach of righteousness; yet it is here put to a severe test. Is the Law impartial? Will it punish sin wherever it is found? What if the Son of God himself should be found with sin upon him? Shall the sword awake and smite the man that is God's Fellow (Zechariah 13:7)? Yes; for he dies there as one "bruised for our iniquities." Surely justice must be mighty when it lays its hand on such a victim. If that modern description of God as a "power making for righteousness" is applicable anywhere, it is so here; for nowhere is he so severely righteous as in the working out of salvation for men. Nothing can more powerfully appeal to conscience than his treatment of the sinner's Surety; and nothing can more thoroughly assure us that the pardon which comes to us through the cross is righteous.

II. THE POWER OF GOD IN THE CROSS AS SEEN IN ITS PRACTICAL EFFECTS, Our readiest measure of any force in nature is the effect it produces, and in this way we may gauge the power of the cross. Take it:

1. In regard to the powers of darkness. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:15; comp. Hebrews 2:14). The execution of this purpose is intimated in Colossians 2:16, "Having put off from himself the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it [the cross]." It is as if ten thousand fiendish arms were stretched out to pluck him from that cross; but he strips them off him, and hurls them back into the abyss. It cost him much to win that victory, even "strong crying and tears" and an agony of soul beyond all human experience; but the triumph was complete.

2. In regard to the actual salvation of sinners. To deliver a man from sin in all respects, undo its direful effects, and fit him to take his place among God's sons, - what power is adequate to this? Take Paul's own conversion, on which apologists have been willing to stake the supernatural character of Christianity. And every conversion presents substantially the same features. It is nothing less than a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) - a calling of light out of darkness, order out of chaos, life out of death; and this is a more wonderful exercise of power than that which gave existence to the universe. The fair temple of God in the soul has to be built, not out of fresh hewn stones, but out of the ruins of our former selves. A poor weak man is rescued from corruption, defended "against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12), and presented at last without blemish before God, - what but Divine power can accomplish this? Add to this the exercise of this power in a countless number of instances. From the steps of the throne survey that radiant multitude, beautiful with the beauty of God and noble with the nobility of Christ, and the might of the cross will need no other proof.

3. In regard to what he enables his people to do and suffer for his sake. Take an active missionary life like that of Paul. Read such a catalogue of afflictions as he gives us in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33, and ask why a man should voluntarily undergo all these. Thousands have followed his example, meeting toil, privation, death, for their Lord's sake. Nor does the power of the cross shine less conspicuously in the sick chamber. How many a Christian invalid exhibits a patience, a meekness, a cheerfulness, which can be found nowhere else! - B.







But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
God will always so ordain it in His providence that some shall at all times welcome His gospel. First, for the accomplishment of His own elect. Secondly, God will also have it for the honour of His own truth, and the doctrine itself which is delivered. Thirdly, for the encouragement of the labours of His own servants and ministers which are employed in preaching the gospel. This observation should accordingly be improved by those which are ministers to quicken them in their work; forasmuch as there where God calls them, He will more or less be assistant to them. Secondly, observe this, that a minister for the success of his doctrine is especially to consider how it takes with those which are most godly and religious; thus does the apostle Paul here, he does not so much trouble himself to think how it was accepted of those Jews and Greeks, but how it was to them which were "called." The ground hereof is this: First, because such as these they have best skill and judgment in the work; every one studies rather to approve himself in any business which he undertakes to workmen rather than to bunglers. Secondly, such as these they come to the Word freest from prejudice and carnal affection. A drunkard will never like that preacher that presses sobriety, nor an adulterer him that preaches for chastity. Thirdly, those which are godly and effectually called are most to be regarded for their entertainment of the work, because they are most intended in the work itself. This condemns the contrary disposition and practice of many who more consider how their doctrine takes and is accepted of those which are great and wise and mighty in the world, than how it takes with those which are good and pious. We come now to the words more closely in themselves, "But unto them which are called," &c., where we have these two parts chiefly considerable. First, the success of the gospel considered simply in itself, "Christ the power of God," &c. Secondly, the parties to whom it is thus laid down two manner of ways. First, in their personal qualification, "To them which are called." Secondly, in their national qualification, "both Jews and Greeks." To these it is thus effectual and successful. We begin first of all with the parties; and that first of all in their personal qualifications. "To them which are called." For the further opening of it to you there are these three things especially considerable of us in it. First, the Author of it who it is that calls. That is no other than God himself. Thus in verse 9 of this present chapter, "God is faithful by whom ye were called," &c, And 2 Thessalonians 2:14 — "Whereunto He called you by our gospel," speaking of God. And 2 Peter 1:3 — "Through the knowledge of Him that hath called us"; he speaks of God still. It is God and He alone that is the Author of our effectual calling. Therefore let us learn to give Him the praise and glory of all, "and show forth the virtues of Him that hath called us." And let us look upon His call as the spring and fountain of all the good which comes from us. First, freely of His own accord, none moving or persuading Him hereunto. And secondly, sweetly in the preservation of the natural liberty of the will in the exercise of it. And thirdly, yet strongly in an irresistible drawing of the heart to the embracing of His heavenly motions. Secondly, for the subjects of this calling, who they are which are called; this we have from God to be only the elect (Romans 8:30). This now accordingly takes it off from any personal qualification in ourselves as to be the original and cause hereof unto us. And this for the subjects of this calling, who they are; for the general, they are the elect. The third is the terms from whence, and to which. This the Scripture sets forth unto us in sundry expressions, as first from darkness to light (Colossians 1:12, 13). From the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:18). From the world to the fellowship of Christ and the saints (1 Corinthians 1:9). From a state of hell, and wrath, and death, to a state of life, and peace, and salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:14). These are the terms from whence and to which. And this sets forth unto us the excellency and dignity of our calling considered in itself. I come now to them in the second place, in their natural qualification both Jews and Greeks; this must be taken in connection with the former reference. The apostle had in the verse before laid a disparagement upon such, as concerning their rejection and ill entertainment of the gospel, affirming it to be to the Jews a stumbling-block and to the Greeks foolishness. Now that he might not be here mistaken as condemning these whole nations at large, he here qualifies this censure. "But unto them which are called both Jews and Greeks," &c. In the laying of censures at any time upon a community of persons, whether nations or societies of men, we must take heed while we find fault with some, that we do not indefinitely condemn all. This restriction is requisite, first, to prevent discouragement in the condemned, that so we may not trouble the minds of those which are innocent. Not break the bruised reed, &c. Secondly, to prevent scandal in the standers by, and that others may not be offended at them for it. Thirdly, to prevent injustice in ourselves, and that we may not give wrong judgment. This does, therefore, meet with the rashness or malice of many persons in this particular; ye shall have some people so to condemn an whole company, as that they spare none at all in it. But to speak more particularly to the words, "To them which are called both Jews and Greeks." We see here that God has His numbers, and portion, more or less in all people and nations without any difference. This may be made good unto us from these considerations. First, both Jew and Gentiles they are the subjects of God's election. Secondly, Christ died for both. They have both alike interest in Christ. Thirdly, they have both alike interest in the gospel and means of salvation; this was cleared by Peter's going to Cornelius (Acts 11:17, 18). The consideration of this present point is thus far useful unto us, as it teaches us two things — First, to pray for the calling and conversion of the Jews. And secondly, to pray for the accomplishment and fulness of the Gentiles. But then again a little further, these words may be here taken, not only in an historical sense, but in a moral; not only as spoken particularly of these two nations, the Jews and the Greeks, but likewise as spoken of such persons as were noted either for simplicity or wisdom — the Jews being notorious for their stupidity, and the Greeks famous for their learning. And so there is this in it, that God has His lot and portion amongst learned and unlearned both; there is no exception in point of conversion. The ground hereof still is this, the good pleasure and will of God, who is no respecter of persons. Therefore let those which are unlearned not here excuse themselves. Again for those which are learned, let them not rest themselves in their human learning. Now the second is the success of this preaching itself, "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God"; where we may observe how as the apostle crossed these Jews and Greeks in what they desired, so also he did in a sort comply with them. Christ is to them which are called both the wisdom and power of God. First, He is so absolutely, and considered simply in Himself in the whole office of His mediatorship. For the power of God, first, this showed itself — First, in His incarnation, when He was born of a pure virgin. Secondly, in His crucifixion and death. Thirdly, in His resurrection (Romans 1:4; 2 Corinthians 13:4). Fourthly, in His ascension and coming to judgment (Mark 14:62; Matthew 24:30). Lastly, as in that which was done upon Him, so also which was done by Him (Matthew 28:18). Thus was Christ the power of God. Secondly, He was the wisdom of God; as God in Him did show forth His wisdom, and as in Him were hid all the treasures both of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). And here Christ was the wisdom of God in divers explications. As — First, in choosing such a fit and accommodate means for the reconciling of His justice and mercy both. Secondly, in choosing such an unlikely and unexpected means, and thereby confounding the wisdom of the world. Thirdly, in furnishing of Christ with all such gifts as were fitting Him to perform that office which He had laid upon Him. And thus was Christ both God's power and wisdom considered absolutely in His own office. Secondly, He was so also relatively, in order and reference to believers, "To them which were called" He was the power and wisdom of God. First, I say He was so estimatively, in the apprehensions and opinions which they had of Him; they counted Him to be both the wisdom and the power of God. The reason of this is this, because that now after conversion men have a new understanding put into them, and see things with other eyes than they did before. Secondly, He is so to them which are called effectively, in that He has an answerable influence upon their persons, and that in each particular. First, He is the power of God to them (2 Corinthians 13:3), "Mighty in you." And that again in sundry respects. First, in His death, the mortifying of their lusts (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:6). Secondly, in His resurrection, for the raising them up again. First, corporally in their bodies (1 Corinthians 6:14). Secondly, spiritually in their souls (Colossians 2:12). Thirdly, Christ is powerful in believers for the conquering and overcoming of temptations, and fighting against principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:10, 11). Fourthly, in enduring of afflictions, which without this power they could never sustain. Lastly, in final perseverance (1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:24). Thus is Christ the power of God to them. Secondly, He is the wisdom of God to them also in sundry respects likewise. First, in revealing to them the mind and will of God in those things which concern their salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30). Secondly, in giving them discretion to walk worthy of their heavenly calling, and to honour religion by their conversation. Thirdly, in giving them a spirit of discerning, to judge aright of persons, and times, and things. Lastly, in teaching them to number their days, and to consider their latter end (Deuteronomy 32:29; Psalm 90:12).

(T. Horton, D. D.)

What was it in Christianity which mainly incensed the scribes and Pharisees? They disliked its simplicity, which contrasted with their ceremonial; its purity, which frowned on their dissoluteness; but what they above all detested was the Cross. Nor could the ignominy and agony which Jesus underwent of themselves be fascinating to any one. What was it, then, which induced so many to acknowledge in Christ crucified "the power of God and the wisdom of God"? I reply —

I. THE HUMILIATION OF CHRIST WAS JUDICIAL. So His enemies professed to regard it. But they were not consistent in their accusations, and the sentence of Pilate has not been confirmed by man's sense of justice. And yet justice was maintained in His death; and this maintenance of justice commends and endears His death to indebted followers. He was cut off, but not for Himself. But how can the sinless justly suffer for the sinful? As a matter of fact the effects of iniquity often fall upon the blameless. But is substitution so utterly excluded from our own forensic proceedings, that the very idea of it should be scoffed at? An established mode of punishment is by fine, but fines are often paid by proxy. If a culprit were languishing in a dungeon from inability to pay the sum demanded, and a friend paid it for him, the feeling would not be that righteousness had been outraged, but that law had been upheld while generosity was manifested and misery relieved. The clear doctrine of Scripture is that Christ's sufferings were sacrificial (Hebrews 9:26). Here is a pathway for pardon in which justice itself shines resplendent, and is more honoured in clemency than by countless retributions. Here is a road for the sinful ascending to heaven, yet such as to discourage sin and render it infinitely detestable. And if such be the character and influence of the Saviour's suffering, is not Christ crucified "the power of God and the wisdom of God"?

II. THE HUMILIATION OF CHRIST WAS ACCOMPANIED WITH MANIFESTATIONS OF HIS DIGNITY. Certainly His abasement was profound. And yet all this humiliation was suitable to dignity. His was that dignity that was often attacked, but never impaired: a dignity which appears, like a majestic edifice or sublime promontory seen at night, more vast and imposing for the gloom with which it is surrounded. And we never find the Son in circumstances of special abasement without some accompanying seal or token of Paternal acknowledgment and favour. Note the attendant circumstances of His birth, baptism, death, &c.

III. THE HUMILIATION OF CHRIST, IN ITS SPIRIT AND OBJECTS, INFINITELY TRANSCENDS ALL OTHER EXHIBITIONS OF MORAL EXCELLENCE AND GLORY. View it —

1. In relation to the Sufferer. What filial obedience when He said, "The cup that My Father hath given Me shall I not drink it?" What fulfilment of righteousness when He met the claims of a broken law, and, contemplating it in all its magnitude, could say in expiring, "It is finished." What friendship to sinners when He died for them to gain them admission into His glory.

2. In relation to our race. In this respect it is the grand manifestation of God's love to man (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9).

3. In relation to its effects. Who can dispute their prodigious influence? They have visibly changed the aspect of the world. See the power of this love manifested in the apostle of the Gentiles. And this was but a single instance illustrative of countless multitudes.

(D. King, LL. D.)

I. PERSONALLY. Christ considered as God and man is —

1. The power of God.(1) From all eternity. "All things were made by Him," &c.(2) But when He came to earth He gave abundant proofs of His power in His miracles and resurrection.(3) He is the power of God now, for "He sitteth at the right hand of God." He hath the reins of Providence in His hands, and is the Sovereign Head of the Church, the Lord of heaven, and death, and hell.

2. The wisdom of God.(1) The great things that He did before all worlds were proofs of His wisdom. He planned the way of salvation; He built the heavens. Mark the world, and see all its multitudinous proofs of the wisdom of God.(2) And when He became man He gave proofs enough of wisdom. In childhood He astonished the doctors by His questions; and in manhood He confounded Pharisee, Sadducee, and Herodian. And when He paralysed those who came to take Him by His incomparable words.(3) And now that He is our Advocate before the throne, now that the reins of government are in His hands, we have abundant proofs that He is the wisdom of God.

II. IN HIS GOSPEL. That gospel is —

1. A thing of Divine power.(1) How could it have been established if it had not in itself intrinsic might? By whom was it spread? By learned doctors, fierce warriors? No, by fishermen, untaught, unlettered. How did they spread it? By their swords? No, but by their simple words. But what was this gospel? Was it a thing palatable to human nature? No, it was a gospel of morality most strict, it was a gospel with delights entirely spiritual. And yet it spread. Why? Because it has in it the power of God.(2) How has it been maintained? No easy path has the gospel had. The good bark of the Church has had to plough her way through seas of blood. But "the blood of the martyrs" has been "the seed of the Church." It has been like the herb camomile, the more it is trodden on the more it grows.(3) I do not wonder that the Church has outlived persecution, so much as I wonder she has outlived the unfaithfulness of her professed teachers. From the days of Diotrephes to the latter times men of all sorts have come into her ranks and done all they could to turn her aside. And, even now, when I mark the supineness of many; when I see the want of unction and prayerfulness, she must have the power of God within her, or else she would have been destroyed.(4) There are not a few of you who would be ready to bear me witness that I speak the truth. There are some who were drunkards, &c., and now you are here, as different as light from darkness.

2. The wisdom of God. The intellects of Locke and Newton submitted to receive the truth of inspiration. What a vast amount of literature must be lost if the gospel be not true. No book was ever so suggestive as the Bible.

III. IN THE HEART.

1. The power of God —

(1)For salvation.

(2)In temptation.

(3)In trouble.

2. The wisdom of God. If you want to be a thoroughly learned man the best place to begin is to begin at the Bible, to begin at Christ. But wisdom is not knowledge, but the right use of knowledge; and Christ's gospel helps us by teaching us the right use of knowledge.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The wisdom of any scheme is evinced by the excellency of its effects, and the simplicity and fitness of the means by which they are produced. Power is seen in the sure and easy overcoming of obstacles which lie in the way of success. Applying these tests to the scheme of redemption, by means of the atoning death of Christ, we shall see enough to satisfy us that in it we have a transcendent manifestation of the power of God and the wisdom of God. Consider the influence of Christianity upon —

I. THE WORLD AT LARGE.

1. The wisdom of God is seen in —(1) The exceeding excellence of its results. When it appeared the spiritual condition of mankind was deplorable. Among the Gentiles all knowledge of the true God seemed to have fled, and among the Jews the light of revelation was hid by thick clouds of prejudice and ignorance. It seemed the midnight of the world, but when this darkness was at its worst the Sun of Righteousness arose. Before it ancient superstitions yielded up their sway, the stiff formalisms of a shadowy economy gave place to living spiritual realities; old traditions grew decrepid, religion came back to be a dweller in man's heart, the reign of vice became smitten as with a dead palsy, the bonds of society were re-knit and made firmer than ever, philosophy, instead of pandering to man's passions, became the minister of his virtues, poetry dipped her sparkling cup in the river of the water of life, art bathed herself in the light of heaven; so that over the whole field of human interests there spread an influence which proclaims the surpassing wisdom of Him by whom the whole had been purposed and performed.(2) The simplicity of the means employed. A few poor, illiterate men went forth to convert the race — to tell the world that their Master was incarnate Deity, that He had died for the world's sins, and had gone up into heaven, and that through Him there was free remission of sin and eternal felicity to all who would come unto God through Him. This was all. No glare of worldly power; no resources of worldly learning; no artifices of carnal rhetoric; no courting the favour or the assistance of the great or wise.(3) The suitableness and adaptation of these means to the end in view. The design was not to establish Christianity by any means.(a) If fraud or force, e.g., be used on its behalf, an injury and not a benefit is conferred upon it; for, being a religion of truth and love, it would be self-contradictory to suppose it capable of being aided either by falsehood or tyranny.(b) As its aim is to regulate man's whole being by spiritual principles and motives it can only interfere with this to mix up its appeals with anything which addresses itself to man's carnal and earthly nature.(c) As its great design is to erect in man's soul an undivided empire for God, it is necessary that he shall be made to feel that it is not on the ground of eloquence or science, but on the ground of God's word to him that his hopes of pardon and grace must rest.(d) Who, then, does not see in the means employed an agency most wisely adapted to attain this end and no other? Had the apostles come working no miracles, the proof of their Divine commission would have been defective; had they wrought miracles more frequently, they would have incurred the risk of attaching to them a multitude who were attracted by their power, but had no real love for their doctrine. Had they been men of splendid abilities, they might have rested so much upon these as to hide from the people the purely Divine character of their doctrine and mission. Had they put themselves under the protection or sought to advance their cause by the resources of human power, the empire which they would have founded would not have rested simply on the basis of inherent worth of the doctrine they taught.

2. The power of God is seen in the obstacles it has overcome. These obstacles were of a kind which might well have discouraged any but men who felt that they were sustained by Omnipotence. When we think how hard it is to effect even a slight reform in some long established and corrupt system; how interest, fashion, and prejudice, and even sometimes the better feelings of our nature rise up against any attempts to displace time-honoured errors or usages: we may well admire the boldness of the apostles who went forth to overthrow all the religions that then enjoyed the homage of the race. And when we consider their fewness, illiteracy, and poverty, the unpretending character of their machinery and the repulsiveness to human pride of their doctrines; when we see all the learning, wealth, and power of the world forbidding their progress; when we see the kindling of the fires of persecution; and when we see how to meet all this they had no weapons but words, we may well stand in wonder at the courage which led the apostles of Christ to descend into the arena to do battle in His cause. But they knew perfectly what they were about. They knew that however humble the instrument, he becomes irresistible when the agent is the Almighty (vers. 27, 28).

II. UPON INDIVIDUALS.

1. Here is a man who was once afar from God, resting on His righteous displeasure. Behold him now! He has been brought nigh to God; he has found the pardon of all his sin; and he waits but the summons of the Judge to enter His presence with a good hope of a triumphant acquittal at His bar. How transcendent the change in that man's condition and character and prospects! And how simply has it all been brought about — by the mere reception and realisation of the truth concerning Christ and Him crucified! And in spite of what tremendous obstacles has this been achieved — obstacles from old habits of evil, and the strong tide of custom and fashion, and the incessant assaults of him who goeth about seeking whom he may deceive and destroy! Who can refuse to see in such things a supernatural agency?

2. In judging of this subject we should not forget that the redemption of the sinner is the raising of him to a higher state of being and of blessedness than that from which Adam fell. By the work of the gospel on his soul man is brought nearer to God; he is placed under higher motives to love and serve God; and he draws from the Divine favour restored a depth of joy which those who have never lost that favour cannot reach. How wonderful is this! Who can refuse to behold here the working of Him whose attribute it is "from seeming evil" to be "still educing good" — of Him who is "excellent in counsel" as well as "wonderful in working"?

(W. L. Alexander, D. D.)

An air of singular antithesis will be observed to pervade this passage, and the verses with which it is connected. The wisdom of the world is contrasted with the inscrutable wisdom of God; and its vaunted science with its own palpable folly, as evinced in an unnatural but universal ignorance of God. The things which it accounts to be foolishness are placed in honourable competition with those which it falsely reverences as wise. Again, the blind infatuation of the Jews is set over against the unprofitable curiosity of the Greeks; the prejudice of the one against the insolent derision of the other. By the text itself our attention is invited to a brief but most comprehensive delineation of the character and great subject of the apostolic ministry. It was the preaching of "Christ ,crucified." And its subject was, net the truths of natural religion, not the precepts of moral virtue, but the work and glory of the Saviour, as inseparably associated with His own sufferings and death. Let us consider —

I. THAT ASPECT OF REPULSIVENESS AND FOLLY WHICH THE GOSPEL HAS IN EVERY AGE PRESENTED TO THE GREATER PORTION OF MANKIND. The attestations demanded for the establishment of a new religious system must obviously vary with the condition of those to whom they are presented. The greatest force of argument may be expended in vain if it comport not, in its form and bearing, with our habitudes of thought. There are two comprehensive classes into which human minds may, with reference to this design, be advantageously divided: such as are susceptible of being wrought on through the medium of external objects, and such as are affected chiefly by the force of abstract reason. Now, to these great classes there are specific forms of proof respectively adapted. There is the evidence we are accustomed to denominate external, consisting of accrediting signals and actual events — and that also which we call internal, namely, the reasonableness, congruity, utility, and moral fitness of systems, considered in themselves. Neither of these should be wanting in a religion that assumes to be Divine. The demand, therefore, referred to by the apostle, if made with intelligence and candour, could not have been disregarded. It was natural, and could not be wrong, that they should call, in the one case, for a sign, to show that an institute, in all its parts so singular, had truly the impress of divinity; and in the other for the manifestations of celestial wisdom, to evince that what was alleged to be revelation was beyond the reach of artifice and the power of falsehood. Their fault lay only in this. It was with perverted sentiments and obstinate preconceptions this demand was accompanied. Yet both these forms of evidence were amply and unitedly supplied. They who, with a mind open to conviction, had beheld the Saviour's miracles, were awed by the revelation of His power. "We know," said they, "that Thou art a Teacher sent from God; for no man can do those miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him." They who had listened candidly to His discourses were astonished at the discoveries of His superhuman wisdom, exclaiming, "Never man spake like this man." In different instances, indeed, it would appear that each of these kinds of evidence alternately prevailed. It was probably the healing of the impotent man, rather than the preaching of Paul, which constrained the multitude at Lystra to exclaim, "The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men." Yet in ordinary cases the internal evidence was inseparably linked with the external, and an answer equally provided for the satisfaction, or the silencing, whether of those who demanded a sign, or of those who sought after wisdom. Let us observe, further, the force of the term here employed to describe the method adopted in their publication of the gospel — "We preach" — proclaim, announce, in the manner of a herald, Him who was crucified at Jerusalem. We require of all men allegiance in His name; and, denouncing all rival pretensions, ascribe to Him an absolute dominion. We present these claims, not as subjects of debate, but of testimony. Our appeal is less to reason than to conscience, and more to the actual subjugation of the soul than either. And yet, as if the meanness of His outward circumstances had not been sufficiently opposed to all Jewish expectations, it was emphatically as "the Crucified" that they proclaimed Him. However easily they might have cast this fact into comparative obscurity, by dwelling on His inflexible constancy, His unparalleled benevolence, His heroic self-devotement, His resurrection; yet, disdaining all such evasions, they exultingly pointed to His crucifixion, now as a sacrifice, now as a triumph, and thus appeared to invite the united scorn and hatred of mankind. It is not easy adequately to conceive what amount of impulsive and imperious conviction must have been required, in that earlier age, to proclaim in this manner, as the Christ, one that had been crucified. To avow that belief, in the face of universal contempt, to defend it when its bare annunciation would seem an outrage on the very name of reason, must have demanded, I do not say a grandeur of moral heroism, but a strength and fixedness of persuasion, such as the world has rarely witnessed. But such as the gospel appeared to the Jews and Greeks of the first ages, such is still essentially its aspect, when viewed in its primitive and unsophisticated character, to multitudes in every country. They hate or they despise it for the same reasons. It presents to some of them a cause of offence and irritation; to others one of ridicule or proud neglect. There are the superstitious, who loathe its simplicity, and the speculative, who repel its practical requirements. As to the one class, it is too spiritual for their reliance on external ordinances, and far too humbling to flatter or confirm their self-dependence. As to the other, it is originally derived from a source unknown to all their wisdom, established by proofs not apprehensible by their investigations and experiments, and enforced by sanctions destructive of their vaunted freedom, recommended by inducements which appeal not to reason, but to faith. They may both conspire to acknowledge somewhat which they call by its name, but ,which has as little either of its native features, or its inherent energy. Elsewhere, though its doctrines are professed, its spirit is evaporated. In opposition, therefore, to all such attempts to modify or to disguise its character, we fearlessly allege the conduct of the first disciples. For it should never be forgotten that such as was the strength of their conviction, such, too, must have been the fulness of that proof by which it was sustained; and thus the measure of their confidence is the measure also of the credibility of the whole frame and fabric of the gospel. Thus, what was evidence to them will become, in a twofold manner, evidence to us; while we see, not only the belief in which it issued, but that actual and living character which belief, thus generated, was found in practice to create. Nor was their confidence misplaced. The gospel proved itself equal to every emergency, and adapted to every design. By this consideration we are led to examine —

II. THOSE TRANSCENDENT MANIFESTATIONS OF THE DIVINE POWER AND WISDOM WITH WHICH THE GOSPEL HAS BEEN EVER SEEN TO BE ACCOMPANIED, BY ALL WHO HAVE RIGHTLY UNDERSTOOD ITS PRINCIPLES, OR IMBIBED ITS SPIRIT. Let us endeavour, therefore, to form definite conceptions of the sense wherein the apostle intends to characterise the excellency of the gospel, when he calls it "the power of God and the wisdom of God." It is plain that there are two acceptations chiefly, wherein this statement may be understood, either as denoting that that gospel, and the great events which it makes known, constitute an eminent manifestation of God's power and wisdom, or else that they are an instrument by which His power and wisdom are eminently found to operate. According as we determine on the one or the other of these applications, the great mediatorial scheme will be naturally brought into comparison with different portions of the Divine workmanship, to which it will be seen to possess different, though not incongruous, affinities; and the analogy of which to itself may aid us more precisely to apprehend, and more impressively to feel its import. If we select the former, the labour of human redemption will demand to be compared with those manifestations of the Creator's agency presented in the structure of the physical universe, or else with those more exalted essences formed by His word out of nothing, angels and the spirits of men. If the latter, then we shall be taught to compare the doctrine of redemption, in its practical effects, with the inexhaustible energies of nature, and its numberless and nameless influences, in quickening, renewing, beautifying that wondrous frame, whether of sentient or material things, with which we are surrounded. By the one, our attention is directed to the work and process of redemption; by the other, to the tidings which proclaim it. It is the Saviour Himself on the Cross that, in the one, shines forth with all the glory of omnipotence, bearing the burdens of a guilty world; and in the other, it is His gospel, realising, through the grace of His Spirit, the sublime purpose of its renovation. Perhaps it is not necessary wholly to separate these references, or to decide so rigorously between them, as that either should be excluded in the observations that follow. If we think of the design which was effected and the objects attained upon the Cross, how jarring claims were readjusted in the Divine administration, how infernal principalities were overthrown, and evils were decisively suppressed; if we advert to the honour which was thus insured to the great Ruler, and the benefit acquired to His dominions, to the progress of His righteousness and mercy; if we see the curse that had blasted the earth, now arrested, we are ready to take up the language of the text in its first and simplest application, and to speak of the crucifixion of Messiah as the last and greatest of those wonders which are for ever revealed in the wisdom and the power of God. Or, if we examine the actual effects flowing from the proclamation of the gospel, and permanently signalising it as an instrument for the renewal of mankind, we shall be equally prepared to adopt, though in another sense, the sentiment before us. We speak not of its efficiency to ameliorate men's secular condition. Our present reference is to consequences of a higher character; it is to those spiritual transformations, of which the gospel has ever, from the first ages, been everywhere productive. For the altars of: heathenism sank not alone; but the strongholds of sin within the soul were equally demolished. The night of falsehood was dissipated, and the phantoms of error" fled. The slumber of conscience was broken. The captivity of the affections was unloosed, and the imprisoned soul was invited to cast away her chains. The world was renewed around her. With the utmost justice, therefore, not less than with the utmost magnificence, may this doctrine of redemption be described under the appellations here employed; and it is not without reason that so eminent a place-is assigned it, when the apostle calls it by the names of those two great attributes which stand foremost in the array of the Divine perfections — wisdom and power. And it must be so; for without consummate wisdom a being of unlimited power would be most inapt to the control of numberless free and accountable agents; but without power equal to His intelligence, a being of infinite wisdom, baffled by His own designs, and lost in the immensity of His own purposes, would be supremely and infinitely miserable. Their combination in equal measure, therefore, as it is inseparable from His nature, is required alike in order to His rectitude and His felicity. Each has its own sphere of action, and each its standard of independent excellence, It is power which brings out of nothing; wisdom which arrays and beautifies. Power is the source of elements; wisdom, of affinities; power, of innate forces and undirected energies; wisdom, of useful adaptation s and beneficial results. Power might create a chaos; wisdom must fabricate a world. His power finds its witnesses in the lightning and the whirlwind; His wisdom, in those delicate and just proportions which fit the most destructive of elements to sustain and nourish life. Perhaps it is power which most astonishes us in the productions of nature; wisdom, which excites our greatest admiration in the disposals of providence; but the union of both, which we behold, with the sublimest ravishment, in the mystery of redemption. It is a high and sovereign exercise of power to pardon sin, but an arrangement of profoundest wisdom to make that pardon consistent with the honour of the Lawgiver, and the security of His dominion. Power might rescue; wisdom would redeem. We behold almighty power raising up from amongst the nations the ancestry of the Messiah, preserving His lineage unbroken through so many ages, and fulfilling, by continued miracle, what had once been uttered by an unalterable decree: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and to Him shall the gathering of the people be." But we discern not less of wisdom, so ordering all things by the cooperation of natural causes, that, when the long-looked-for Messiah actually came, the state, both of the world and of His own people, should be such as to insure His rejection, and to issue even in His death; and yet to make the consequences of His ministry the most extensively effectual, causing their tidings to spread and their influence to be experienced with the greatest speed and certainty, over every land. How illustriously is the agency of omnipotence revealed, when at length, though lifted up upon a Cross, He becomes the Conqueror of death, the Spoiler of the grave, the Deliverer of captive souls, and the Emancipator of an enslaved world! And yet, conspicuous as are these discoveries, the features of unerring and awful wisdom are at least equally discernible. It is the part of such wisdom to attain the greatest ends without profuse or ineffective expenditure; to restrain the premature disclosure of its objects; to provide, infallibly, against emergent occasions and contingent events; to neutralise opposition and hindrance; or to convert opponent forces into auxiliaries and useful allies; and thus to secure its results, in manner exempt from complication or embarrassment, as well as from ostentatious or unmeaning display. Now, in each of these is revealed "the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God," in the process of redeeming mercy. We select but one further discovery of the union of these attributes as exhibited in the gospel, viz., in the practical effect of all upon the hearts and conduct of men. When God had created the matter of the globe, and was about to put the stupendous mass first into motion, there remained one problem as yet unresolved, on which its welfare and permanency were essentially dependent. It was this: What was that specific direction in which an impulse might be given which should originate, by the same act, those complicated yet inseparable movements which insure the perpetuity of its place in the general system, and the regularity of those changes which are demanded for its own immediate service? Here, then, was an occasion for the combined and equal manifestation both of power and wisdom. Neither could accomplish the purpose, separately from its fellow. Hence followed the sweet interchange of day and night, the grateful vicissitude of seasons, the admirable diversity of climate, soil, and temperature, the perpetual freshness of the air and ocean, the inexhaustible plenitude of life, its constant renovation, and its numberless diversity. All was secured in a moment, but destined to continue, without interruption or rest, until the same hand should interpose to stay its progress or to change its course. Such is the analogous phenomenon, but presented on a sublimer scale and in connection with more awful elements, in the world, not of matter, but mind, and in relation, not to the physical events of nature, but the destiny of the imperishable soul. The problem here was to determine what was that mighty impulse which, in one act, should combine all that was essential to its separate happiness with all that was necessary to the order of the moral universe; what that mysterious movement which, once impressed upon it, should for ever continue unexpended, securing the completeness of its nature, together with the perpetuity of its relations; how the energy of duty could be united with the calm of dependence; rectitude of action, with simplicity of trust; quenchless aspirations, with unresisting submission; the consciousness of perfect liberty, with the necessity of unceasing obedience. That impulse could be imparted only through the agency of love. All was effected by the Cross. And oh! what marvellous transformations attest the greatness of that one and all-commanding impulse! What beneficial consequences are insured through the whole compass of our spiritual existence! What rich and happy productions spring up together, to reveal both its energy and its design! Hence it is that love derives her flame, adoration her incense, gratitude her song, hope her fairest visions, fear her most purifying terrors, humility and patience their most permanent motives and firmest support. Reason here finds the loftiest inquiry, contemplation the sublimest object, memory the sweetest recollections. And thus the power of the Cross prevails to sanctify the whole character both of thought and action; just as the same sap which supplies the root with moisture becomes verdure in the foliage, fragrance and beauty in the flower. Sin is hence made, not so much to be shunned because it is dangerous as to be hated because it is unholy; while the performance of duty is secured rather by its congeniality with the tendencies of a renewed nature, than by its mere connection with the acquisition of happiness. And the manner in which these results are wrought out is one equally applicable to every order of intellect and every condition of society. Besides, the just and practical belief of these truths is far from being limited by the boundaries of their strictly intellectual revelation. They operate to save and purify, not because they are rational or beautiful, but because they are Divine; being in harmony with our whole spiritual nature, and proceeding from the same hand which has fashioned the constitution of our being. Many a voyager is therefore guided by these lights from heaven, by whom the wonders of their mechanism were never penetrated; and their "sweet influences" are often realised where their mystic glories are unknown. And now behold it in its not less wonderful effects upon our social affinities and conduct, and on the relation of the individual to the good of the whole. To soften barbarian ferocity, to refine the habits of the civilised, to strengthen the bands of human sympathy, and to entwine more firmly the links of universal brotherhood; these are the methods by which it insures an unrestricted diffusion, and an ever-widening control. Let us now attempt to deduce and apply to practical purposes.

III. THE REFLECTIONS WHICH THIS REVIEW IS, IN BOTH ITS PORTIONS, FITTED TO SUPPLY.

1. It cannot, I think, be doubted that a sanguine calculator, judging from the rapidity and number of the first triumphs of the gospel, would have expected, before this period, its far more wide and unobstructed diffusion. "Such," he might say, "were its effects when it began to be proclaimed among the nations. Why have those effects in so large a measure disappeared? But the calculation would be made in ignorance both of the gospel and of human nature. Behold what it is really accomplishing wherever it is faithfully and simply preached. Or let its results be estimated in their more essential character. The experience of twenty centuries has borne uniform testimony to this truth, that no other apparatus is adapted to the momentous work of human renovation; and that even where this is employed its efficacy depends, to a very large extent, on its application being unencumbered and alone.

2. It is natural to inquire, Has the Church been at all times duly considerate of the method in which only it might anticipate prosperity, in its efforts for the diffusion of the gospel, and how it might legitimately commend it to approbation and confidence? As a matter of Divine revelation, we should surely present it without addition or retrenchment. Even in its external accompaniments and the circumstances attendant on its ministration, we should preserve the same subordination of all things to the discovery of its native greatness. The stateliness of sumptuous buildings, and the splendours of a gorgeous ritual, are little in harmony with the religion of the Cross. The effulgent beauty of the gospel requires not, and its majesty forbids, such enhancements.

3. We cannot but admire the method adopted by the first advocates of Christianity to secure the diffusion of their principles, and thus learn in what manner to pursue the same object for ourselves. They presented them, as we have seen, with the directness of an unwavering and solemn proclamation. Must man be wooed into acquiescence, or enticed into belief, when it is not speculative principles, but stupendous facts, on which his redemption is suspended? Or must the gate of life be set open with the pomp of ceremony and the voice of music, before the outcast will condescend to enter it, though the avenger of blood is behind him and the sword of justice is already flaming and unsheathed? Besides, if we are to judge what might have been the result of such accommodation by its effect in modern times, the expedient is one presenting little claim to have been employed at such a period, or by instructors so prepared.

4. How powerful is the inducement, and how plain the directory, to seek for ourselves an interest in the blessings of this great salvation! If it be the production of such wisdom and power our hope can never be disappointed.

5. What a test is supplied in this description to ascertain whether we have truly received the spirit of the gospel! If it be adjusted by infinite wisdom and armed with infinite power, then what should have been its effects, and what have they actually been? Has it conquered our vices, eradicated our evil propensities, humbled our presumption? Again, is it unresisted and absolute? Is one evil not supplanted by another, but all, increasingly, by this new element of good? Is the effect of Christian principle consistent and uniform? Does it pervade our total conduct and impart its character to all our actions? If not, what is our religion but a whited sepulchre, beautiful without, but full of death within? Let us never, then, rest satisfied with dubious or inoperative principles.

6. We are taught how to count on the future progress and final triumphs of the gospel. Thus organised and thus sustained, it might appear to guarantee even its own perpetuity. What need have we to shrink because of the ravings of blasphemy, the surmises of false wisdom, the sorceries of perverted genius, the sneers of wit, the antipathies of taste, the caprice of passion, the assaults of unbelief? Has not the gospel already encountered enemies at least as formidable? Finally, we cannot fail to be reminded how great must be the glory wherein all shall issue. What the consummation when this scene of wonders shall be perfectly unfolded!

(R. S. McAll, D. D.)

1. To redeem a world.

2. To save sinners.

3. To subdue sin and Satan.

4. To establish His kingdom.

5. To remove the curse and make all new.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. IS GOD A BEING PASSIBLE OR IMPASSIBLE?

1. It would seem to follow from the infinitude of His creatively-efficient power and the immensity of His nature that He must be impassible. Besides, He is spirit only, and what we call force cannot touch Him.

2. But after all there must be some kind of passibleness in God, else there could be no genuine character in Him. A cast-iron Deity could not command our love and reverence. The beauty of God is that He feels appropriately toward everything; that He feels badness as badness, and goodness as goodness — pained by one, pleased by the other. A very large share of all the virtues have, in fact, an element of passibility in them, and without that element they could not exist. Indeed, greatness of character culminates in the right proportion and co-ordination of these passive elements. And God is great as being great in feeling.

3. We raise a distinction between what we call the active and the passive virtues. If I impart a charity, that is my active virtue; if I receive an insult without wishing to revenge it, that is my passive virtue. And without this in its varieties we should be only no-characters, dry logs of wood instead of Christian men. Or, if we kept on acting still, we should only be active machines; for what better is the active giving of a charity if there be no fellow-feeling or pitying passion with it to make it a charity? Now God must have these passive virtues as truly as men. How, then, shall we conceive Him to have them when He is, in fact, impassible? The salvation is here; God, being physically impassible, is yet morally passible, i.e., He is a Being whose very perfection it is that He feels the moral significance of things. Be can feel ingratitude when He cannot feel a blow. He can loathe impurity when He cannot be injured by any assault. He is pleased and gratified by acts of sacrifice when He could not be comforted or enriched by benevolence. A thermometer is not more exactly and delicately passive to heat than He is to the merit and demerit of all actions. This, accordingly, is the representation given of Him in the Scriptures. Thus He is blessed according to the merit and beauty of whatever is done that is right. He smelled a sweet savour in Noah's sacrifice. He has pleasure in them that hope in His mercy. He is tender to the obedient, pitying them that fear Him as a father pitieth his children. On the other hand, by how many pains of feeling does He suffer in His relation to scenes of human wrong. The sighing of the prisoner comes before Him to command His sympathy. In all the afflictions of His people He is afflicted Himself. And, in the same manner, He is said to be exercised by all manner of unpleasant sentiments in relation to all manner of evil doings; sore displeased, wroth, &c.

4. But this painful feeling in regard to evil — what is this but to assume the unhappiness, or, at least, the diminished happiness of God? How, then, shall we save His infinite blessedness? By just dropping out our calculations of arithmetic and looking at facts. It seems to be good arithmetic that, if any subtraction is made from God's infinite happiness, He cannot be infinitely happy. No, on the contrary, He may even be the more blessed because f the subtraction, for to see that He feels rightly towards evil, despite of the pain suffered from it, to know that He is pouring the fulness of His love upon it, to be studying now, in conscious sacrifice, a saving mercy — out of this springs up a joy deeper than the pain, and, by a fixed law of holy compensation, the sea of His blessedness is kept continually full. All moral natures exist under this law of compensation. To receive evil rightly is to master it, to be rightly pained by it is to be kept in sovereign joy.

II. Thus far I have spoken of God's passive virtue, principally as concerned in feeling towards what is moral just according to its quality. But THERE IS A MORAL PASSIVITY VASTLY HIGHER AND REACHING FURTHER, VIZ., A PASSIVITY OF MERCY OR SACRIFICE.

1. In this a good or perfect being not only feels toward good or evil according to what it is, but willingly endures evil, to make it what it is not — to recover and heal it. No extraordinary purity is necessary to make any one sensible of disgust in the contemplation of what is vile, but to submit one's ease to the endurance of wickedness, in order to recover and subdue it, requires what is far more difficult.

2. Just here, then, we begin to open upon the true meaning of "Christ the power of God." There is no so great power even among men as that which conquers evil by enduring evil. Just here evil becomes insupportable to itself. It can argue against everything but suffering patience: this disarms it. All its fire is spent. Christ crucified is the power of God, because He shows God in self-sacrifice, because He brings out and makes historical in the world God's passive virtue. By this it is that He opens our human feeling, bad and blind as it is, pouring Himself into its deepest recesses and bathing it with His cleansing, new-creating influence. There is the highest efficiency in it for it is moral power, not physical force. Hence it is that so much is said of Christ as a new-discovered power — the power of God unto salvation: the Son of God with power; the power of Christ. The power is conceived to be such that Christ is really our new Creator. We are His workmanship created unto good works.

3. But how does it appear that so great efficacy is added to the known character of God by the life and death of Christ? Was not everything shown to us in His death explicitly revealed in the Old Testament? God was represented there as being duly affected by all evil according to its true nature; displeased, abhorrent, &c. But to have these things ascribed formally to God is one thing, and a very different to have them lived and acted historically in the world. Perfections that are set before us in mere epithets have little significance; but perfections lived and acted before the senses, under social conditions, have quite another grade of meaning. And if this be true respecting God's mere passivities of sensibility to right and wrong, how much truer is it when we speak of Him in sacrifice. No such impression or conception of God was ever drawn out, as a truth positive, from any of the epithets we have cited. And nature gives it no complexion of evidence. We could almost as soon look for sacrifice in a steam-engine as in nature. How necessary, original, powerful, then, is the God of sacrifice — He that endures evil and takes it as a burden to bear — when we see Him struggling under the load. Somewhere there is a wondrous power hid in the Cross! And the suffering is physical — a suffering under force.

III. IF, THEN, GOD IS PHYSICALLY IMPASSIBLE, HOW DOES IT APPEAR THAT HE IS ANY WAY EXPRESSED IN THE PASSION OF CHRIST? how does the passion present Him as in sacrifice?

1. By the physical impassibility of God is not meant that He cannot suffer by consent or self-subjection, but only that He cannot be subjected involuntarily. To deny His liberty to exist under assumed conditions whenever there are any sufficient reasons for so doing might even be a greater infringement of His power than to maintain His natural passibility.

2. We can clearly enough see that there is no difficulty in the Passion of Christ which does not also exist in the Incarnation itself. How can the Infinite Being God exist under finite conditions? How (for that is only another form of the same question) can the Impassible suffer? And yet it would be a most severe assumption to say that God cannot, to express Himself and forward His negotiation with sin, subject Himself, in some way mysteriously qualified, to just these impossible conditions.

3. Be this all as it may, there are ways of knowing that are shorter and wiser than the processes of the head. In this Passion of Jesus it must be enough that I look on the travail of a Divine feeling, and behold the spectacle of God in sacrifice. This I see and nothing less. He is visibly not a man. I feel a divinity in Him. He floods me with a sense of God, such as I receive not from all God's works and worlds beside. And when I stand by His Cross I want no logical endorsement; enough that I can see the heart of God, and in all this wondrous Passion know Him as enduring the contradiction of sinners. Why should I debate the matter in my heart when I have the God of sacrifice in my heart? He that endures me so, subdues me, and I yield.O Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world! what Thou didst bear in Thy blessed hands and feet I cannot bear. Take it all away. Hide me in the depths of Thy suffering love. Conclusion:

1. Here let us learn to conceive more fitly the greatness of God. His greatness culminates in sacrifice. If He were only wise, omnipotent, eternal, just; even that would present Him as an object worthy of profoundest reverence, but in the Passion of Jesus He is more. There His power is force; here it is sacrifice. There He astonishes the eye; here He touches and transforms the heart. The God of mere amplitude will do to amuse the fancy of the ingenious — the God of sacrifice only can approve Himself to a sinner.

2. And here it is that our gospel comes to be so great a power. It is not, on one hand, the power of omnipotence falling in secretly regenerative blows. Neither is it, on the other, any mere appeal of gratitude drawing the soul to God by the consideration of what He has done. No; this wonderful power is God in sacrifice. This is the power that has new-created and sent home, as trophies, in all the past ages, its uncounted myriads of believing, new-created, glorified souls.

3. And you that have known this dawning of the Lord, what a certification have you in this sacrifice of God's sympathy! How intensely personal He is to you! Go to Him in your every trouble. When the loads of conscious sin are heaviest on yon, and you seem even to be sinking in its mires, address Him as the God of sacrifice. Have it also as your lesson, that you yourself will be most in power when readiest in the enduring of evil; that you will bear fruit and be strong, not by your force, not by your address, not by your words, but only when you are with Christ in sacrifice.

(H. Bushnell, D. D.)

I. THE CROSS REPRESENTS THREE GREAT IDEAS WHICH SUM UP WHAT IS NEEDED BY US ALL FOR THE FULFILMENT OF VOCATION.

1. The idea of Duty. In the moral mystery of the Passion we see this special characteristic in the Representative Man. He perfectly subordinated every sinless desire of ease, or wish for deliverance, to the fulfilment of the infinite claim of duty, though it drove Him to His death.

2. The idea of Love. I am assured in the gloom of the Passion that "God is Love." And this force of the Passion has strength to attract the soul to the Redeemer with infinite desire. Love implies generosity of service; "loved me, gave Himself for me," rouses the generous answer "love for love." Now this is a spiritual power of the Passion drawing and enabling me to love God.

3. The idea of Holiness. Thus we name that perfect loveliness which is the sum of the moral glory of God. Now to the creature there is a possibility of the grasp and apprehension of the heavenly beauty. The fact was seen in Jesus crucified, and by the infinite merits of the Passion is guaranteed to man a share in the grace, in the life of the Man of men. Jesus crucified is the source, the promise of this power.

II. IN THE CROSS THERE IS DIVINE POWER.

1. I have watched the wild waves of an Atlantic storm. The wind was screaming to a pitch of tempest, the clouds rolled mass on mass of inky blackness, only relieved by a glow of vivid fire. The waves towered high, then sank again in restless mountains and unstable valleys of seething sea. A splendid spectacle! the spectacle of nature in exercise of unrestrained tremendous power!

2. I have watched the great engines in Chicago pumping up with steady unabated beat their three hundred million gallons hour by hour from the central depths of Michigan, for the use of that strangest city of the New World.

3. I have started turning into the Scuola di San Rocco at Venice, brought suddenly face to face with that grand and pathetic picture of the Crucified, displayed there these centuries in living colour from the genius of Tintoretto.

4. Nature, Mechanical Invention, Art — each show the mystery of power. But the power that consoles the sunken spirit, kindles the heart's best affections, changes and invigorates the stern or failing will, and transforms the corrupted soul to the likeness of the Divine ideal — a power moral, spiritual, supernatural — that is the greatest of all. Ah! that is found in the Crucified; it becomes the possession of the creature by union with Christ.

III. IN THE CROSS IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION.

1. What is it to be saved? Is it to make a satisfactory investment in insurance against final punishment, when here in our mortal pilgrimage we have, so to speak, "taken our fling," and passion and ambition have had their unrestricted play? Certainly not.(1) It is to be placed habitually on a higher platform of thought, and to be awakened to a sincerity of manly and abiding sorrow for aught in our motives or actions unworthy or wrong.(2) It is to have that light of the heart, that strength of the will, that eager purity of the affections, by the force of which we breast the waves of sorrow, sustain ourselves with meekness under the strain of success, and in the darkest hours, as in the brightest moments, do not fail in unselfishness and truth.(3) It is to rise out of the ruts of convention; it is to strangle the treachery of self; it is to have the clear eye and spiritual understanding of the inhabitant of eternity; to be advancing in fitness to play our part as citizens of that blessed commonwealth which is quickly coming — "the new heaven and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness."(4) In one word, it is to have the heart of a man, as his Creator conceived him, pure, tender, and loving; it is with that heart to love God supremely, perfectly; and in God to lose self in love for others — that is to be saved!

2. Can this be ours? Thou hast answered, "It can," O my Jesus! my Redeemer! The lesson of it comes from the Crucified; its power, its possibility from the precious blood.

(Canon Knox-Little.)

Note three preliminary considerations.

1. Christianity is the only historical religion. Buddhism, Brahminism, and Mahomedanism have a history, but Christianity alone is founded upon a history. It could not have arisen anywhere else than where it did. It was the outgrowth of Judaism, and the realisation of the Messianic idea. Christianity is historical, too, because it is founded upon the history of Jesus. You cannot separate Christianity from Christ. Its doctrines are simply the interpretation of Christ's history.

2. There was a preparation everywhere for the spread of Christianity, if it could prove its truth. The civilised world was then under the rule of Rome. The old religions were losing their hold, so there was a disposition to listen to a new religious claimant. There was also peace throughout the empire. There was in providence "the fulness of time." But these favouring circumstances would not have availed if the Christian preachers could not have vindicated the truth of the history on which it rested.

3. While Christianity had strong passions, selfish interests and prejudices to overcome, it had yet, in man's moral and spiritual necessities, wants which it professed to meet. And now, let us proceed to consider the conflicts which Christianity had to wage, and in which it showed its power and attested its truth.

I. THE CONFLICT WITH A CORRUPT JUDAISM. With the Judaism of Moses and the prophets Christianity could have no conflict. "Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets," &c.

1. But that a contest with contemporary Judaism was inevitable will be seen in the study of its leading features. Note —(1) The prevalent view as to the character and mission of the Messiah. The Messiah was the hope of the Jews. But they misread the prophecies; and they invested Him with a worldly dignity which was never claimed for Him.(2) It did not enter into their minds that there would be any material change in their worship under the Messiah. There were still, they believed, to be the priests, the temple, and its imposing ritual.(3) The Jews had long been God's peculiar people; and they believed that they would still continue to be so.

2. When the Messiah came, where, they asked, was His kingly splendour? Where was the national restoration His coming was to bring? But the apostles taught the kingship of Jesus; that salvation was only by believing in Him; that the sacrificial worship was to cease; that salvation was for Gentiles as well as Jews. How would you expect this religion to be received by the Jews? Just as we find it was received, with a contempt and hatred which soon took form in a bitter persecution. But in spite of the whole power of the hierarchy, and the prejudices and persecutions of the people, Christianity did root itself in Jerusalem. The bitter opposition encountered here was met wherever the apostles found Jews. But by and by the new faith conquered; the Church supplanted the synagogue.

II. THE CONFLICT WITH PHILOSOPHY TO THE GENTILE WORLD. When Christ came, the literary activity in the Roman empire was great; and in the main centres of population there were schools, or colleges, which were crowded with students.

1. Let us look, then, at the teaching of these schools, and we shall see what Christianity had to encounter. The Stoics, while holding that God was the soul of the world, were yet virtually pantheists. In morals, they were distinguished by their austerity. They considered that a man had reached perfection when he was indifferent alike to pleasure and pain. The Epicureans, on the contrary, were practically atheistic. Having nothing either to hope or fear from death, they set themselves to extract from this world all its pleasure. Their maxim was: "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die."

2. Now where was the likelihood of Christianity commending itself to Stoic or Epicurean, if beneath its doctrine there had not been the solid ground of incontestable fact? The idea of Greek philosophers accepting a Jew as their teacher, and a crucified Jew as their Saviour! Nor were they more conciliated when they had a fuller exposition of Christian truth and duty, and came to see how much was demanded of them in the crucifixion of all the lusts of the flesh. And Paul was not blind to this. But Christianity triumphed. The philosophers could not controvert its facts; and humbling though its teaching was to their pride, and opposed to their passions, it yet won its way. And before many years went by, some of the ablest and most cultured of them were found among the defenders of Christianity.

III. THE CONFLICT WITH PAGAN RELIGIONS.

1. These were in doctrine and worship directly opposed to Christianity. The heathen were surrounded with gods, and their whole public and private life was interwoven with the service of these gods. The old pagan religion had entwined itself round the entire man. And then the ceremonial of heathen worship was most imposing. It had its magnificent temples. Moreover, this old religion was patronised and upheld by the State.

2. Now the very claim of Christianity was fitted to arouse the votaries of this idolatry against it. It declared that there is no god but the God who is in Jesus Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. Here it would tolerate no compromise, would allow of no divided homage. And then Christianity had neither splendid temple, nor imposing service. It came recommended neither by the worldly greatness of its founder, nor that of its apostles. It demanded an entire revolution of their life, a revolution which could only have the effect of impoverishing tens of thousands who were fattening on the revenues of idolatry. Had the gospel history not been true, no attempt could have been more hopeless than to overthrow the old idolatry. But mighty although the forces opposed to Christianity were, yet it overthrew them.

IV. THE CONFLICT WITH THE LICENTIOUS SPIRIT OF THE AGE. Under the old pagan religions, a man might be held to be religious without being moral. But under Christ morality is a part of religion. Christianity threw its light on the evil of sin, disclosed its awful doom, and called on men as they valued their eternal peace to yield to that Divine Saviour who had died for them and risen again, and in simple faith to give their hearts to be ruled by Him, to be made holy by Him. It was no cheap attachment which it sought. Now, could the apostles ever have gained converts from the degraded masses if they had not been able to show them that the gospel history was true; and if the people had not felt that there was that in it which spake as nothing else had done to their conscience and their heart? Conclusion:

1. The success of Christianity in the face of these forces is thus a conclusive proof that it is from God. But that that conclusion may be confirmed, we must look at the rapidity with which Christianity spread. Hardly had the third century closed, when the Emperor Maximinus — one of the bitterest enemies — was constrained to say, in one of his edicts, that almost all "had abandoned the worship of their ancestors for the new sect."

2. And what has been its history since? A chequered but most instructive one. Other religions, like those of Buddhism and Mahomedanism, have risen and spread widely; but they have shown that they have no reviving power. Wherever they have decayed, they have never been restored. But Christianity has in it a power of revival which causes it to send forth new branches. Yes, while the old religions are dead or dying, Christianity is living and extending.

3. And this progress is precisely what was predicted. When a reformer, who is inflamed with enthusiasm, begins his work, he usually anticipates a speedy triumph. But Jesus buoyed up His people with no such hopes. He told them that they would have tribulation in the world, but assured them that ultimately His kingdom would triumph. And the result has been in accordance with the prophecy.

(A. Oliver, B. A.)

1. In His eternal nature.

2. In His incarnation.

3. In His mediation.

4. In His exaltation.

5. In the application of the gospel.

6. In its glorious results.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. IN THE MYSTERIOUS CONSTITUTION OF HIS PERSON. He is styled, by one of the prophets, "the Wonderful." The more we gaze upon Him, the higher the wonder of His person will rise. But the wisdom of God became eminently conspicuous in the constitution of Christ as a propitiation for sin. Two natures were required, a suffering and a satisfying sacrifice. Suffering would not do without satisfaction; satisfaction could not be made without suffering.

1. An infinite satisfaction was required, consequently. there was but one nature that could present it. And here is that foundation on which the Divinity of Jesus rests.

2. But another nature was requisite for suffering; for Deity, abstractly considered, cannot suffer. And not only was suffering required, but human suffering; the penalty attached to the transgression of the law was suited to a human nature. But it was necessary that this human nature should be pure. A "holy thing" was required: the lamb was to be without blemish and without spot.

3. It was, moreover, necessary that these two natures should be constituted one person; and the union of the two natures was as perfect as the infinite wisdom of God required; for there was no change or confusion of the natures. The Deity, with all its ineffable glory was not deteriorated by its union with humanity. I know that there is wisdom displayed in every evolution of the Divine character; and great as it was to make man, it was greater to make God-man.

II. IN THE GLORIOUS RESULTS OF HIS ATONEMENT.

1. The consummation of God's great purpose to redeem man. The great redeeming plan commenced with the Father, who "so loved the world," &c. And here is the difficulty — God is an infinitely righteous Being. God saw the fearful havoc which sin had wrought, and how was He to repair it? Justice required the execution of the penalty. There were but two modes of proceeding. The wisdom of God might have been displayed in destruction. But, oh, how much more illustriously does His wisdom shine in the recovery of maul

2. The manifestation of the Divine attributes in their perfect and harmonised glory. Here you behold justice, truth, goodness, love; but they are altogether. When did we ever behold such a spectacle? The attributes of the Divine Being had been displayed in angelic history — all His amiable attributes, in reference to those who kept their first estate, and all His fearful attributes in the history of those who rebelled; but there were two separate and distinct theatres for these revelations. Nor does the human history furnish a parallel. The path of providence has occasionally exhibited one attribute and then another. Sometimes justice, as in the deluge, or in the overthrow of the cities of the plain; sometimes truth, as in the emancipation of the Hebrews; at one time, stern justice, and then at another, smiling mercy; but it was reserved for the gospel to exhibit them in combined and harmonious lustre; and when Jesus came to redeem our world, all God's attributes came rejoicingly with Him: "Justice and mercy met together — righteousness and peace embraced each other."

3. The triumphant manner in which our Lord conquered His enemies. Christ met Satan in His own way — the Cross was Satan's own weapon. But by that very Cross was the illustrious seed of the woman bruising the serpent's head, and destroying the powers of darkness; and it was by the Cross that Christ spoiled and triumphed over principalities and powers, made a show of them openly, and held them up to angelic scorn.

4. The firmer establishment of the Divine government. The Divine government is a government of motive, and all other kinds of government are coercive and irrational. Was there ever such a revelation of God's love as that which beamed on the Cross? And does not love beget love? Where much is forgiven, much is loved; and such a view of God attaches all spirits to Him.

III. IN THE PRACTICAL DISPENSATION OF HIS GOSPEL. The Church, you know, is the theatre by which the wisdom of God is made known to principalities and powers. Angels are our fellow-students, and what do they see? First of all the agents — poor Galileans, with nothing to offer to the learned, nothing to the commercial man, nothing to the politician. If the first preachers of the gospel had been invested with all the attractive learning of the schools, the most splendid truths of the gospel would have been obscured by human greatness; but the less there was of man, the more there was of God. And do you not perceive how strikingly the wisdom of God is manifested in the adaptation of the discoveries of Himself to our conceptions? There sits a poor fatherless child, there a poor widow, yonder a desolate orphan; and the gospel proffers them all that consolation which God only can impart. But, besides this, there is the accompanying influence. To the mere eye of philosophy this is nothing; but a poor man comes in, and he gazes, and there is nothing to strike him; but by and by the scales fall from his eyes, by and by a new influence comes over the heart, and he exclaims, "God is in this place, and I knew it not!" Witness the poor publican, smiting on his breast, groaning out the sinner's only plea, "God be merciful to me a sinner"

(T. Lessey.)

an epitome of knowledge; a treasure-house of truth; and a revelation of mysterious secrets. Ah, dear friends! if ye seek wisdom, ye shall see it displayed in all its greatness; not in the balancing of the clouds, nor the firmness of earth's foundations; not in the measured march of the armies of the sky, nor in the perpetual motions of the waves of the sea; not in vegetation with all its fairy forms of beauty, nor in the animal with its marvellous tissue of nerve, and vein, and sinew; nor even in man, that last and loftiest work of the Creator. But turn aside and see this great sight! an incarnate God upon the Cross; a substitute atoning for mortal guilt; a sacrifice satisfying the vengeance of heaven, and delivering the rebellious sinner. Here is essential wisdom; enthroned, crowned, glorified. Admire, ye men of earth, if ye be not blind; and ye who glory in your learning, bend your heads in reverence, and own that all your skill could not have devised a gospel at once so just to God, so safe to man.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

1. Our age is eager in its pursuit of knowledge. It professes to be a truth-loving and a truth-seeking age. It has obtained a far insight into the dark processes of that which is called "nature." "Wherever it has turned its steps, it has found stores of truth. In all this there is wisdom which we do well to study. Yet all these are but parts — a whole, of which nothing less than the infinity of Godhead is the measure. Hence it is that, while, in all the regions of creation, may be seen portions of this wisdom, only in the Son of God, in Christ Jesus, the incarnate Word, is the mighty whole contained. He, and He only, is "the wisdom of God."

2. By the expression, "the wisdom of God," thus applied to Christ, is not merely meant that He is infinitely wise. Suppose we have an able architect, and a goodly palace built by him, into which he has thrown his whole genius; we say of himself, he is skilful, but we say of his work, there is his skill, there is the outward personification of all that is in him, and without which you could not have known what is in him. Of other buildings erected by him we may say there is some skill; but only of his masterpiece should we say that it is the skill or the wisdom of the man. So with the poet and his magnum opus. Thus it is with regard to Christ. In the works of creation God has displayed fragments of His wisdom: but in Christ He has summed up and put forth the whole of it.

3. Wisdom is one of the last things which we are in the habit of connecting with the name of Christ. We connect with it salvation, pardon, life, righteousness, love. Yet it is wisdom that God so especially associates with Christ. "He, of God, is made unto us wisdom." "In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." When God looks at Him, that which He especially sees in Him is wisdom.

4. The subject is a very wide one; we take up here only that section of it which relates to the person of the Christ.(1) In this there are two parts — the Divine and the human; and these, both in themselves and in their union, distinction, adjustment, co-operation, harmony, make up that glorious Person. The whole Creator is in Him, and the whole creature is in Him; yet both retaining the properties distinct and unchanged by the union. In man is seen God; in God is seen man. All that is glorious in the Godhead, and all that is excellent in manhood, is gathered into one person, and fully exhibited in Him. By this union these two parts are revealed to each other; heaven is revealed to earth, and earth is revealed to heaven.(2) It seems to be union only at a single point; for it is with one body and one soul that the Godhead is united. But that single point is enough; that one link unites the natures. In order to moor a ship we do not require a thousand cables, each fastened to a separate plank or spar; one strong cable, fixed at one point, makes fast the whole, and connects the entire vessel with its anchor.(3) Nor was it with one particular stage of our being that this union was formed; but with all; from the first moment of conception in the womb to death and the grave. Had the Son of God united Himself with manhood in its maturity, there would have been no union and no sympathy with the different stages of human life and growth.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

I. THAT MAN, ALTHOUGH ENDUED WITH THE CAPACITY OF RECEIVING INFORMATION, YET BY HIS OWN UNASSISTED EFFORTS IS TOTALLY UNABLE TO ACQUIRE THE KNOWLEDGE OF THOSE TRUTHS WITH WHICH: IT CHIEFLY IMPORTS HIM TO BE ACQUAINTED.

II. THAT UPON HIS BEING ENLIGHTENED WITH THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AND OF HIS DUTY, HE MUST NECESSARILY BE IMPRESSED WITH A DEEP SENSE OF HIS OWN DEPRAVITY AND GUILT.

III. THAT HE HAS A CONSCIOUSNESS OF MORAL OBLIGATION, AND IDEAS OF MORAL EXCELLENCE, WHICH EXPERIENCE TELLS HIM HE CANNOT BY HIS OWN EFFORTS FULFIL AND REALISE.

IV. THAT HE IS SUBJECTED TO MANY AFFLICTIONS, FOR WHICH, UPON THE PRINCIPLES OF REASON, HE CANNOT ACCOUNT, NOR DISCOVER TO WHAT GOOD PURPOSE THEY TEND.

V. THAT ALTHOUGH HE FEELS BOTH PRESAGES OF, AND DESIRES AFTER A FUTURE STATE OF BEING, YET, FROM THE LIGHT OF NATURE, HE NEITHER DERIVES ASSURANCE OF ITS EXISTENCE, NOR ANY CERTAIN INFORMATION CONCERNING IT.

(John Kemp.)

I. HOW ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND THIS?

1. Objectively. As He alone is the object about which all true wisdom is conversant (Colossians 2:3). Wisdom is either Divine or human, the wisdom of God or of men. He is the wisdom of God, as the power of God (chap. 1 Corinthians 1:24), because the Divine power and the Divine wisdom were never so manifest in anything that ever He did as they were in Christ, that is, in the great work of our redemption by Him. All His works are made in wisdom (Psalm 104:24; Proverbs 3:19). He governs the world in wisdom, wisely ordering all events to the great end of His own glory and His people's good. But above all, in our redemption by Christ. In Ephesians 3:10 it is called the manifold wisdom of God, such as angels wonder at. He alone is the object of all our true wisdom. There are other things about which wisdom is conversant, but none like Christ (1 Corinthians 2:2; Philippians 3:7, 8).

2. Effectively, as He is the author and finisher of all that in us which is true wisdom. Now, that is grace; grace is true wisdom, and nothing else is so. How is it said He is made unto us of God wisdom?

(1)in respect of eternal appointment and designation.

(2)In respect of effectual application, in the fulness of time.What are the special acts of this wisdom, by which it may appear whether we are so turned, so made wise?(1) If Christ be made unto us wisdom, we have been in some measure convinced of our own folly; this is the first step (1 Corinthians 3:18). A fool thinks himself wise (Proverbs 26:12). As the Pharisees (John 9:40). A wise man knows himself a fool, as David (Psalm 73:22). Agur (Proverbs 30:2, 3). Now inquire, How is it with me? What is the opinion I have of myself?(2) If Christ be made unto us wisdom, we are brought to see the excellency and usefulness of wisdom, and begin to prize it at a high rate, and to beg it of God rather than anything else in the world.(3) If Christ be made unto us wisdom, we have chosen God for our chief good and highest end, and the Lord Jesus Christ as our alone way to Him. If so, we are wise; if not, to this day we are fools. The proper act of wisdom is to determine the choice to right ends; as in other things, so in spiritual things, the things of the soul. Inquire what is your chief good and highest end.(4) If Christ be made unto us wisdom, it hath taught us to fear the Lord, and to depart from evil (Job 38:28). There is this difference between wisdom and knowledge — knowledge is in speculatives, wisdom is in practice. Many have a great deal of the former that have none of the latter; good heads, but bad hearts and bad lives. See the properties of heavenly wisdom (James 3:17). It was thus with David (Psalm 119:98-101; Ephesians 5:15, 16).(5) If Christ be made unto us wisdom, it hath made the things of time to be as nothing to us, and the things of eternity to be all in all; it has altered our thoughts and pursuits. What are the good things temporal, riches, honour, pleasure, in comparison with the good things eternal?

II. THE PRACTICAL INFERENCES. If Christ be made wisdom to those that are in Him, and only to those, then —

1. They that are not in Him are not wise. Nabal is their name, and folly is with them. Christless people are fools. I prove it by three arguments:(1) They choose like fools. Is he not a fool, that when a pebble is offered to him by one and a pearl by another chooses the pebble and refuses the pearl? Was not Esau a fool in parting with his birthright for a mess of pottage?(2) They count like fools. They count themselves wise, and religious people a company of fools, when themselves are the fools, and the religious wise (John 7:48, 49; Luke 18:10). They count upon time to come as their own, and presume accordingly; when, alas! it is not so. They count upon going to heaven when they die, but are miserably mistaken.(3). They carry it like fools. The carriage of a fool is vain and frothy; there is no seriousness in him. He carries it like a fool that hugs his worst enemy to his bosom, and turns his back upon his best friend; and doth not the sinner so?

2. They that are sensible of their want of wisdom, and would be wise, may learn hence whither to go, and what to do, that they may attain it. The way is to apply thyself to the blessed Jesus, who is made unto us of God wisdom. And plead this text — Lord, art Thou not made unto us of God wisdom? What need is there of this plea? Universal need, every day, in everything. They that have most have need of more.(1) We cannot carry it as we should in any relation without wisdom, neither as superiors, inferiors, nor equals. What need have magistrates of wisdom (Psalm 2:9)! A conviction of this made Solomon ask as he did (1 Kings 3:7-10). Ministers arc in the same situation (Colossians 1:28). What a plague are foolish shepherds (Zechariah 11:15). So are masters of families, husbands, wives, parents.(2) Nor can we carry it as we should, in any condition, without wisdom. If we prosper and thrive in the world, there is need of wisdom, to manage it so that we be not ensnared, not destroyed by it. If in affliction it is necessary, that we may keep the mean between fainting and despising.(3) Nor can we carry it as we should in any duty to be done to God or man without wisdom. If we pray, we need wisdom that we do not ask amiss.(4) Nor can we carry it as we should in any difficult case that lies before us, nor tell how to determine for the best, without wisdom (Ecclesiastes 10:10).

3. Here is matter of unspeakable comfort to all true believers, that Jesus Christ is made wisdom, that is, as some interpret it, that all that infinite wisdom that is in Him as God, and all that infused wisdom which He had as God-man wherein He grew (Luke 2:52), is all made over to us, to be employed for our good.Apply it —(1) To our particular, private affairs, especially in the great turns of our lives. If thou art in Christ, He will order them for thee, and He will order them wisely (Ephesians 1:11), according to the counsel of His will. Therefore submit to His disposals quietly, patiently; of choice, cheerfully; wisdom would have it so.(2) To the public affairs of the Church and nation.

(Philip Henry.)

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