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Charles Pettit McIlvaine.

The work of preaching Christ : a charge, delivered to the clergy of the Diocese of Ohio, at its forty-sixth annual convention, in St. Paul's Church, Akron, on the 3d of June, 1863 online

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Online LibraryCharles Pettit McIlvaineThe work of preaching Christ : a charge, delivered to the clergy of the Diocese of Ohio, at its forty-sixth annual convention, in St. Paul's Church, Akron, on the 3d of June, 1863 → online text (page 2 of 4)
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Jesus, it cannot produce. It is just as true and
important concerning truth as concerning men, that
" the branch cannot bring forth fruit except it abide
in i\\Q vine."

Now wliat is the best mode of setting forth this
system of grace? Where shall we begin? Shall
we first take up tlie elements of religion (the out-
sides of the circle ; reasoning upward from gen-
eral truths to the more particular ; explaining and
enforcing ordinances and institutions of the Church)
as our road of approacli to the Head and Life of the
Church ; confining attention to means of grace be-
fore we liave directed our liearers to the grace itself
in the great fountain liead ; and thus gradually, and
after a long process of preparatory work, arriving
at last at the person and mission and sacrifice of



THE WORK OF PREACHING CHRIST. 23

Christ ? But we must remember wlio they are whom
we are thus keeping so long in the cold and in the
dark. They are sinners under the condemnation of
the law of God. They are dying sinners. How brief
the time of some of them to learn, you know not.
You have no time to spend on preliminaries before
you have introduced them to the great salvation.
What they have most need to know is, He who came
to seek and to save the lost — how they may find him,
and what are the terms of his salvation. Begin at
once with Christ — " Behold the Lamb of God " — is
the voice. There is no light till that light appears. The
icy-bondage of the sinner's heart yields not till that
sun is risen. Astronomers, when they teach the solar
system, begin with the sun. Thence, to the related
and independent orbits, is easy. So the apostles
taught. See how, when they had the whole system
of the Gospel, as distinguished from that of the law,
to teach the Jews — the whole outward and visible
of the Christian Church, as well as all the inward
and spiritual of the Christian life, all so new and
strange and unpalatable to a people so unprepared,
so entangled with traditionary aversions and deep-
seated perversions, see how they leaped over all pre-



24 THE WOKK OF PREACHING CHRIST.

liminaries aud began at once with Christ and him
crucified, the sacrifice of his death, " and the power
of his resurrection." At once they broke ground
and set up tlie banner of their ministry there. Just
at the point where the pride of the sinner would
most revolt, and the wisdom of man was most at
fault, and the ignorance of Jew and Gentile was
most complete, where the Jew saw only a stumbling
block and the Greek only foolishness, tliere they
opened their message. " I delivered unto you, first
of all (said St. Paul), that which I also received,
liow that Christ died for our sins according to the
Scriptures."* Tliey could not wait to root out pre-
judice, plant first principles, approach the en-
trenched power " that ruleth in the children of dis-
obedience," by the strategy of man's wisdom, when
they knew that Christ was the great " power of God
unto salvation." At once to open the windows and
let in the sun was their way of giving light to them
that sat in darkness. At once to show the amazing
love of God to sinners in not sparing His own Son,
but delivering him up for us all, was their way to
draw the sinner's heart to God. Human device

* 1 Cor. XV. 3.



THE WORK OF PREACHIXG CHRIST. 25

would have said, as it has often said, in substance,
Make philosophy prepare the way. Clothe your
teaching in robes of man's wisdom. Keep back the
offence of the cross till you have first conciliated the
respect of your hearers by a show of human learning
and reasoning. And when your master must be
preached directly, don't begin at his death. Speak of
his life, its benevolence, its beauty. Compare his
moral precepts with those of heathen sages. Christ
as the example and the teacher, is your great theme.
" No (said St. Paul), lest the cross should be of none
effect," " that your faith should not stand in the
wisdom of men, but in the power of God." They
remembered the words of' their Lord, " I, if I be
lifted up, will draw all men unto me." Lifted
up in the cross he had now been. Lifted up as
Christ crucified for us, in the sight of the whole
world, by the ministry of the Gospel he was next to
be. Such was God's argument with sinful men.

They believed and therefore preached. God gave
the increase, and wonderful was tlie harvest.

Thus, dear brethren, we have our lesson. We
must begin as well as end with Christ, and always
abide in him, for the life and power of our ministry,
2



26 THE WORK OF PREACHIXG CHRIST.

just as for the peace and joy of our own souls. But
liaving tlius begun, what remains ? It is the revealed
office of the Holy Ghost, as the Sanctifier and the
Comforter, to glorifr Christ. " He shall glorify
me," said the Lord. But how ? " He shall take of
mine, and shoiu it unto you^ It is our office also,
under the power of the Holy Ghost, to glorify Christ
in all his person and relations to us, and by the same
method, namely, to take of ivhat pertains to him and
shoia it unto men. Wliatever pertains to him, we
are to show. We must '" expound in all the Scrip-
tures tlie things concerning himself." Of those
things we will attempt a brief sketch and outline,
but it must be only the merest outline, and that very
imperfect.

We must preach Christ in regard to the glory of
the Godhead which he had with the Father before
the world was. We cannot exhibit the death of the
cross to which he became obedient, without consid-
ering the infinite majesty of the throne from which
he descended. We must keep the connection which
the apostle has given us between the glory of our
Lord before he came in the flesh, and his humilia-
tion in the flesh. You remember that " he became



THE WORK OF PREACHIXG CHRIST. 27

obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, ''^ is
introduced by " being in the form of God, he thought
it not robbery to be equal icith God^^

In the same connection is the Incarnation and
Birth of our Lord. Very near are the mysteries of
Bethlehem to those of Calvary. We cannot tell
how Jesus bore our sins, without telling how he
took our nature. To show that he coidd stand in
man's place under the law, we must show that he
was made very man. Hence, in the apostle's ac-
count, between the form of God from all eternity
and the obedience unto death, the connecting event
is, " he teas made in the likeness of man^ We must
take care that in a just zeal for his divinity we do
not impair or put in a place of comparative unim-
portance his humanity. The one is as essential to the
Gospel as the other — the perfect man as the perfect
God. Our confession glories as much in the Word
'; made flesh," as in the truth that the same Word
" was God." In beholding and showing the great
salvation, we are to consider as of equal necessity
thereto " the Man, Christ Jesus," and that he was, and
is, " Jehovah our Righteousness." In the earliest
* Phil. u. 6-s.



28 THE WORK OF PREACHING CHRIST.

ages of Satan's attack upon the integrity of the
gospel, the heresies did not more assail the essential
divinity than tiie real humanity of Christ ; knowing
that if he we?'e not perfect man, the sacrifice for
man's sins were as unavailing as if he had been only
'man. The assaults of these present times are indi-
cative, we think, of the same strategy. How care-
fully and minutely do the Scriptures exhibit our
Lord as man in all that is of man, while at the same
time we are made to behold his glory, " as of the
only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
" In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son,
made of a woman,'^ that in all time and to all eter-
nity he might be " made unto us of God," through
his death, " wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctifi-
cation and redemption."

In setting forth our Lord's atoning death, we
must keep in full view his perfect life — that suffer-
ing life between the cradle and the cross, in which
his obedience to the law, completed by the endur-
ance of its curse for us, was all wrought out. He
was the Lamb icithout sjoot, that he might be the
sacrifice all-suificient. It was his meetness as the
purchase-price of our redemption, and at the same



THE WORK OF PEEACIIIXG CHRIST. 29

time the pattern of tlie mind wliicli must be in us to
make us meet to be partakers of that redemption.
Christ our example of holiness is a most important
part of the setting forth of Christ as our foundation
of hope. There was one hour in his li^e for which he
came into this world f" but every hour while he was
in this world, as leading to that, exhibited the mind
that was in Christ Jesus, and which must be also in
us. In preaching Christ crucified, let us take care
that we avoid the mistake, not unfrequently made, of
terminating our representation almost entirely with
the crucifixion — as if the slaying of the sacrifice
completed the oblation of the sacrifice ; forgetting
the office of the High Priest to enter within the veil
with the blood of sprinkling, carryiiig the sacrifice
before the mercy-seat, there to appear in the pres-
ence of God for us, and thus to " obtain eternal re-
demption for us." '' Christ crucified "' is not merely
-Christ on the cross, but Christ also " on the right
hand of the throne of God," as having " endured the
cross." That throne is called " the throne of the
Lamb," and tlie redeemed in heaven are represented
as praising " the Lamb that icas slainJ' The

* John xii. 23, and xvii. 1.



30 THE WORK OF PREACHING CHRIST.

preaching of Christ crucified goes necessarily into
all that Christ did and obtained for us after, and in
consequence of, his crucifixion. The Kesurrection,
Ascension, and Exaltation to head-ship over all
things, are great themes, vitally associated with
what immediately preceded them, forming the essen-
tial connection between what was finished " once for
all " when Jesus died, and what is yet to be finished
" for all tliat come unto God by him," now that he
" ever liveth.'^ We must preach Christ in his ever
living intercession — Christ the High Priest above
with the incense and the blood, or we leave incom-
plete the view of Christ crucified. When he cried
'^It is finished, ^^ and " gave up the ghost," it was the
slaying of the sacrifice ; it was the suffering of the
Lamb of God for us ; it was the being " made a
curse for us," that was then finished. " There re-
maineth no more sacrifice for sin ;" but there does
remain the perpetual oblation of the one finished
sacrifice. Our hope stops not at the cross, but " en-
tereth to that within tlie veil whither Jesus our fore-
runner is also, for us, entered, made a High Priest
after the order of Mclchizedek." Thither, there-
fore, our ministry must also enter. Too often does



THE WORK OF PREACHING CHRIST. 31

what otherwise is well as gospel preaching come
short of that mark. Our preaching follows Christ
in his resurrection, and perhcps in his ascension ;
but do we sufficiently place before the faith of the
sinner, for his prayers and his hopes to rest on, for
his consolation and peace to drink of when he strives
to come unto God, Jesus as now the glorious Inter-
cessor — showing in his hands th'e print of the nails
of the crucifixion, and bearinar in his heart all the
necessities of every believer ? When we exhort to
the running the race with patience " looldng unto
Jesus, ^' do we sufficiently direct the eye of the hearer
to Jesus, the glorified, in his p'^esent office and work
for us ? Remember, that when the apostle said,
'' He is able to save to the uttermost," he added, as
the essential evidence, ^'seeing he ever liveth to
7nake intercession for usT

I must not pass from this immediate neighborhood
of the great sacrifice, without a few words about its
nature. To speak of it as a sacrifice for sin in such
general terms only as leave room for the most un-
real, figurative and accommodated sense, is to come
far short of our duty and of what the special ten-
dency of error in these days demands. When we



32 THE WORK OF PREACHIXG CHRIST.

administer the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, we
" show the Lord's deatli.^^ Let us take care that when
we show the same in words, we do not come short of
tlie teaching of the Sacrament. Our church inter-
prets that teaching with studied precision, in her
communion office, in reference to errors prevalent
when that office was framed. She calls the sacrifice " a
full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satis-
faction for the sins of the wliole world." She teaches
us to pray for remission of sins through faith in the
Uood of Oirist. We must imitate that precision
in reference to errors now propagated. Besides the
perfectness and sufficiency of the sacrifice, in opposi-
tion to those who would add to it, we must insist
strongly and pointedly on its stnct^j p7'opitiat07"i/
and vicarious nature, in opposition to those who
would destroy it. Under such strong texts as
" Christ hath redeem.ed us from the curse of the
law, being made a curse for us ;"''^" " He hath made
him to be sin for us, who knew no sin,"t we must
teach Christ as standing literally in our stead under
the condemnation of our sins ; all our guilt laid upon
him ; he, the condemned one for us, that we might

* Gal. Hi. 13. f 2 Cor. v. 21.



THE WORK OF PREACHIXG CHRIST. 33

be accounted the rigliteous in him. I see not how
we can come short of such a sacrifice and yet preach
Christ crucified, according to the Scriptures.*

Closely allied to our Lord's priesthood, offering
the perpetual oblation of his sacrifice, is his office as
the great Prophet and Teacher of his Church. " In
him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowl-
edge." He is "made unto us of God, wisdoin,^^ as
well as " righteousness." Christ crucified is Christ
the Liglit as well as the Life. To his invitation,
" Come unto me and I will give you rest," is joined
the precept, ''learn of meJ' The g-eat subject of
saving learning is Christ himself, and he is the only
effectual teacher of that learning. They that have
" learned Christ," so as truly to know him, are de-
clared to have " heen taught by Mm the truth as m
Jesus^ Yf hatever our advantages of human teach-
ing, even of the truest exposition of God's inspired

* The strictlj' substitutionary character of Christ's sacrifice for
our sins I consider of the most viUil importance to be cleai'ly
taught, if we would satisfy the language of Scripture, or do our
duty to God and man. " He was made sin for us ;" by which I
understand that he stood for us under the law, by imputation of
our sins, bearing all our sins, and as perfectly identified and
charged with them as it was possible for one "who knew no
sin" in himself tp be.

2*



34 THE WORK OF PREACHING CHRIST.

word, all is powerless spiritually to enlighten us in
the knowledge of God and of Christ, till he who
speaks as never man spake shall add to it the teaching
of his Spirit, so that we shall learn, not merely by the
Scriptures, but in tliem from and of Him, Christ
as " the truth " as well as " the vjay,^^ " the wisdom "
as well as " the righteousness of God," the living
" Word " as well as the ever-living Priest and Inter-
cessor, must be showed in our ministry, if we preach
Christ crucified, not merely as once on the cross,
but as now in his glory.

But Christ crucified is not only " the righteous-
ness of God " and " the wisdom of God," but " the
potver of God unto salvation." "Him hath God
exalted to be a Frince,^^ that he may be a Saviour,
" mighty to save.''^ " Unto the Son, He saith, Thy
throne, Ged, is forever and ever, a sceptre of
righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom."
Christ as King, in a glorious sovereignty over all
things in heaven and earth, we must declare. It "is
the crowning aspect of Christ, the crucified. It is
" the THRONE of the Lamb that teas slain, ''^ before
which the multitudes without number, of the saved
in heaven are represented as ascribing " power and



THE WORK OF PREACHING CHRIST. 35

riches and strength and glory and honour and bless-
ing." By his death he purchased, as Mediator, a
glorious kingdom of redemption. At his ascension,
he went to receive it. There now he reigns over
all his people in earth and heaven, and over all else,
for his people. When he shall come again, it will
be in the glory of that kingdom. It was a grand
introduction to that precious invitation, " Come unto
me all ye that labor and are heavy laden," and that
attending precept, " take my yoke and learn of me,"
when he said (in the verse next before), " AU tilings
arc delivered unto me of my Father T"^

It was when he was in the humiliation and suffer-
ings of the cross that, as the great King, he
stretched forth the sceptre of his power to the mal-
efactor at his side, and gave him repentance and
remission of sins, and opened unto him- the kingdom
of heaven. And now that, having endured the cross,
he is set down at the right hand of the throne of
God, tcf reign forever and ever, he hath all power
to make good all his promises to those who receive
him and to punish with everlasting destruction those
who reject him. There is no part of our Te Deum
*Mat. xi. 27.



36 THE WORK OF PREACHING CHEIST.

tlmt more animates tlie worsliip of my heart than
these two sentences, " Thoir art the King of Glory,
Clirist ! " " When thou hadst overcome the sharp-
ness of death, thou didst open the kingdom of
lieaven to all believers." It is as King of Saints
that he freely receives every sinner who seeks his
salvation,- writing the law of his kingdom in his
heart, giving him victory over the enemies of his
soul, making him triumphant in death, and finally
saying unto him from his throne, " Enter thou into
the joy of thy Lord." It is as Christ crucified and
glorified and " King of Saints " that he utters that
promise of royal authority and power, " To him that
overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne,
even as I also overcame and am set down with my
Father in His throne." ^

Here then is another aspect in which we must lift
up the Lord Jesus in our ministry. We must not
let it be forgotten that, in all the tenderness of his
invitations and promises, he speaks " as one tlrnt hath
authority," not only to make them good, but to
punish their rejection. The invitations of his grace
are the commandments of his throne, to be answered
* Rev. iii. 21.



THE WORK OF PREACHING CHRIST. 37

for at his bar. Hence, the preaching of Christ
crucified ceases not till it has exhibited " the judg-
ment-seat of Christ." It must be noted that, when
the Apostle says, " Knowing the terror of the Lord
we persuade men," he is speaking of the terror of
our Lord Jesus in his day of judgment.^ That day
is called '' the great day of the wrath of the LavihT^
Why the wrath of the Lamb ? Why but to keep
still in view the great sacrifice of atonement ; to
teach that Christ on the throne of judgment is
Christ that was crucified ; that the cliief. question of
that day will be, whether we have accepted or neg-
lected the great salvation purchased by his blood ;
and the chief terror of that day will be the ven-
geance of that blood upon its rejection ? While we
love to speak of the blessedness of " the saints in
light" as "joint heirs with Christ," we can not dis-
charge our whole duty as preachers of Christ, unless
we speak of the heritage of those who " receive his
grace in vain." We have a most impressive exam-
ple in St. Paul, who, knowing nothing in his ministry
" but Jesus Christ and him crucified," pictured so sol-
emnly that day when, coming " to be glorified in his
* 2 Cor. V. 10, 11. t Rev. vi. 17.



38 THE WORK OF PREACHING CHRIST.

saints and to be admii'cd in all them tliat believe/^
the Lord Jesus " shall be revealed from heaven, in
flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that obey not
the gospel, and who shall be punished with everlast-
ing destruction from the presence of the Lord and
from the glory of his power."^

But the preaching of Christ as the crucified ex-
tends through all the inheritance of his people for-
ever and ever. It deserves your particular remark
how carefully, in many places, the Scriptures, in
speaking of the actual condition of the redeemed in
heaven, and its connection with the Lord Jesus as
its author, source, and substance, so speak of it as
to keep not only Christ on the throne, but Christ
crucified^ Christ tli^, sacrifice^ in most conspicuous
view. This is especially seen wherever he is spoken
of in his glory as " the Lamb^^^ which of course
means the Lamb of sacrifice — the antitype of the
paschal lamb and of the daily sacrifice of the law ;
the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, " He is led as
a lamb to the slaughter," " wounded for our trans-
gressions. Thus the multitude which no man can
number, who stand in white raiment and with palms
*2Thes3. i. 7-10.



THE WORK OF PREACHING CHRIST. 39

of victoiy before the throne, are represented as
" before the LaimhJ'' and their adoration is in ascrib-
ing " salvation to the Lamh,''^ and notice is carefully
drawn to their having " washed their robes in the
blood of the Zambj'^ and all that high communion
and blessedness is called " the marriage-sujyper of
the Lamh,^^ and in all that dwelling-place " the Lanib
is the light thereof, ^^ and he that " feeds them and
leads them to living fountains of water " is " the
Lanib which is in the midst of the throne," and " the
river of the water of life," representing their whole
felicity, proceeds " out of the throne of the Laml,^^
and the book of citizenship of the New Jerusalem,
in which are written the names of all that are to
inhabit there, is " the book of life of the Lanib
slain from the foundation of the worlds - Most
evidently the intent of all this is to carry adoring
thoughts of the sacrifice of the cross into our every
thought of heavenly happiness, and to represent the
heir of that felicity as never forgetting that great
price ; never seeing the Lord in his glory without
seeing him as once " crucified and slain ; " never
ascending any height of " the heavenly places," or

* Rev. xiii. 8 and xx. 12, U.



40 THE WORK OF PREACHING CHRIST.

drinking at any stream of their blessedness, ■without
seeing in Christ not only " tlie Author and the Fin-
isher," but all in him as " the Lamb slain,^^ as he
that ''Uveth and loas dead^^^ Christ the propiti-
ation^ Christ crucified. Atonement by sacrifice is
written all over the heritage of the righteous. It is
the chorus of every song of the saints in light. All
heaven echoes witli " Unto him that washed us from
our sms in his oion hloodr So must it be in all
our preaching concerning the happiness of the
saved — Christ the purchaser and dispenser, but the
glory of his cross never separated from the glory of
his throne. When we " shall see him as he is," we
shall not cease to think of him as he was.

Here a word about our representations of what
is the happiness of the redeemed in heaven — what
constitutes it. There is a chilling effect of many
books and sermons on that subject — so much gener-
ality, so little about what the Scriptures place so
above all ; so much made of the subordinate and
accessory features, the pastures and the flowers of
tlio heavenly land, and so little of the Sun that
gives them all their beauty and life ; as if you
should speak of the garden of Eden, and mako



THE WORK OF PREACHING CHRIST. 41

more of wliat God planted than of the presence
and communion of God therein — not remembering
what Paradise in all its beauty became to man when
that communion was withdrawn. Christ is carefully
to be preached, as being, himself, in his glory
and communion, the heaven of his people ; as well
as, in his humiliation and sacrifice, its purchase-
price. How striking is the testimony of the Scrip-
tures to this point. Has Jesus gone away to pre-
pare a place for us in his Father's house? His
promise is, " I will come again, and receive you
unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also."
Does he pray his Father in behalf of the happiness
of his people, the prayer is, " that they may be with
me where I am and behold my glory." While it
doth not appear what we shall be " as sons of God "
and " joint heirs with Christ," does St. John speak
of one thing that we do know. It is that " we shall
be like and see him as he is." Does Jesus promise to
them that overcome, that they " shall eat of the hid-
den manna " ? That manna is himself. " I am that
bread of life." Is heaven described as a glorious
city of habitation ? " The Lamb is the temple " and


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Online LibraryCharles Pettit McIlvaineThe work of preaching Christ : a charge, delivered to the clergy of the Diocese of Ohio, at its forty-sixth annual convention, in St. Paul's Church, Akron, on the 3d of June, 1863 → online text (page 2 of 4)