G. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) Hallock.

The English pulpit : collection of sermons online

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the minor parts of Christianity. In the prospect of the millennium, in
which " the knowledge of the Lord is to cover the earth as the waters



CHRISTIANITY A SYSTEM OF LOVE. 109

cover the channel of the sea," I see enough to rejoice in, without stay-
ing to ask who has done most to accompUsh it, or whose opinions will
then most widely prevail.

My beloved and honored brethren in the ministry, of every name
and denomination that may be present here this evening, bear with me
while I give utterance, not indeed to the responses of oracular wisdom,
or to the counsels of patriarchal authoi-ity, but to the effusions of a
brother's heart, anxious for your success and for his own. If Christians
are to be " the light of the world," we are to be the hght of the
Church. If the Church is to be " the salt of the earth," we are to be
the salt of the Church. Our influence, I say, — although I seem to
magnify my office, but not myself — is great, and our responsibility
proportionate. We cannot be negative characters. The pulpit, raised
as it is between the law on the one hand and the gospel on the other,
is the very centre of the moral universe, and all the world will feel
its influence, and feel it through all the ages of eternity. There is a
mighty power in this ministerial and pastoral character, more than
even in books. Here are the

" Thoughts that breathe and words that burn."

The minister in earnest awes by the thunder of his sermon, delights
by its music, or kindles by its enthusiasm the souls of those who hear
it. There is an addition of all that influence which we carry with us
in the private circle, where a single remark may be the means of start-
ing an immortal soul on a career of glory, never to end for ever and
ever ; or may sink that soul down to the bottomless pit. Oh ! let us
consider how much the harmony of the Church, the conversion of the
world depends upon us ! In one sense, though in a very different one
to that which Tractarian theology contends for, we are the channels
through which the blessing of God descends to the Church and to the
world. Oh ! let us take care how we choke those channels by indo-
lence, negligence, or carelessness, and that we keep them open by min-
isterial zeal, fidelity and holiness. Immortal souls, for their eternal
destinies, hang upon our hands : we, in reference to the world, retard
or accelerate the millennial glory. Oh ! let us then, in these eventful
days, look up to God, by fasting and prayer, that we be not found
wanting at our post ! Considerable stir has been made of late about
the rising ministry, but oh ! my venerable fathers in Christ, is it not
true that we on whom the snows of winter are descended, who have
had so much more time to study the worth of souls, the value of divine
truth, the importance of salvation, the terror of damnation, and the
life of eternity, are more wanting even than some of our younger



110 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

brethren. Oli ! that God would help us all, younger or older, to con-
sider how much the tone and temper of the Church depend upon us —
how much we have it in our power to bring Christians closer to each
other, or to repel them to a wider distance ! May we all consider,
that God will hold us responsible for what we do, for the Church and
for the world I Upon us hang the interests of our Master, which will
flourish or decay as we appeal to the minds and hearts and consciences
of our people. May God lead us to meditate upon these tremendous
truths ; for sometimes it does appear to me wonderful, that with such
interests hanging upon us, we can be so light-hearted, or that we can
find any rest upon our beds, when such interests are dependent upon
us. ^lay the Lord God grant that we may be found faithful — kind-
ling the purest and the brightest zeal in the souls of our hearers, and
aiding onward, as our duty, our honor, and our privilege is, the tri-
umphal car of the Redeemer, who is going forth " conquering and to
conquer ! "

Brethren, what need I say to you on the subject of your missions ?
As to their nature, their importance, their extent, and at the same
time their claims, you know all this better than I do. God has great-
ly honored and blessed you. Without one particle of envy, without a
single feeling but that of gratulation and thankfulness, I think of your
more than X 100,000 a-year, for the support of your missions. I can
only stand and wonder and adore. You leave us far behind. We
wish that we were up with you, but we do not for a moment regret that
you are blessed of God to the extent of your liberality. Go on and
prosper. You have missions of which any denomination under the
sun might, (I will not say be proud) but for which any one, and every
one might be thankful. To whatever part of the vast field I turn my
eyes, I see every thing which should be felt by you as a motive and
stimulus to greater zeal. Look at the West Indies, where you began ;
what wonders has the Lord achieved by you there ! Look at Ceylon ;
how many, in that eastern part of the world, have you turned from
following dumb idols to serve the living and true God ! Look at your
more modern missions of Polynesia ; look at New Zealand ; look at
the Fejees ; in all those spots of God's world you see motives for
thankfulness and increased zeal. May the Lord bless you in your
mission to Africa ; may you be the honored instruments of carrying
the gospel of mercy into those regions that " are full of the habitations
of cruelty ! " There plant the standard of the cross, amidst those
pyramids of human skulls, and other marks of ferocity, which have
troubled the feelings and inspired the zeal of your missionaries. Go
on, brethren ; you have reached a pitch which might lead any body to



CHRISTIANITY A SYSTEM OF LOVE, 111

suppose that it needs no stimulus, and admits of no increase ; but the
Methodist body will repudiate the idea of not looking for any increase.
It would be as bold an attempt for any man to fix the ne plus ultra of
Methodist zeal as it would be to fix the ne plus ultra of scientific re-
search and attainment. Halt, is not a word which your leaders are
accustomed to give to those who follow them ; to retrogade is not a
motion which their followers are accustomed to make. Onward I is
the cry. Your missionaries abroad give the sound, and friends at
home echo it here. Brethren, perhaps it will startle you when I say,
that you could, if you would, raise another X100,000 to that which
you have raised. Oh ! go forward, that we, peradventure, may have
our zeal kindled and warmed by you.

There are four questions, which in conclusion, I would put to you —
may you not do more — can you not do more — ought you not to do
more — and will you not do more ?

May you not, when the world is all before you, and Providence
your God ; when there is no limit, but that which your means impose
upon your efibrts ; when doors are opening in every part of the world,
and voices from heaven and the earth are saying, " Come and help
us ? " Go and help them. You can do more. Where is the man,
except he be among the poorest in society, who will rise and say, with
all his luxuries or comfort,s that Providence has bestowed upon him,
that he can do no more ? Can is a mighty word, and cannot is a
fearful one for any man to utter in reference to duty. What you can
do, ought you not to do ? Can the word ought be measured by any
other limit than the word can ? Wliat you ought to do, that will you
not do ? Men are afraid of that word will, as if it belonged only to
Omnipotence, and was the fiat of the Creator. Brethren, it is a law-
ful word ; we find it in the Scripture ; and let every man say. By
God's grace I will do what I ought to do. I ought to do what I can
do, and from this hour I will study the meaning, and act under the
potency of the questions that have been submitted this night to me.

Brethren, I have done. I throw this oifering upon the altar of your
cause, with one regret — and only one — that it is not more worthy
of the cause of the people of God I have come here to-night to advo-
cate.



112 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

SERMON IX.

THE GKEAT THEME OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY.
BYJABEZBURNS, D.D.

■' For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ,and him crucified."

1 CoBINTHIABS, ii. 2.

The apostle Paul was eminentlj a man of one subject, and that sub-
ject was Christ ; Christ in his person, work, offices and glory. He
made this evident by his preaching, for immediately after the record
of his conversion, it is added, " And straightway he preached Christ
in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God." — Acts ix. 20. This
too was his theme at Antioch, in Inconium, to the jailer and others at
Philippi, at Corinth, and in Thessalonica. Before the apostle finished
his eloquent oration to the Athenians, he announced the doctrine of
the resurrection, and the judgment of the world by Christ Jesus. —
Acts xvii. 31. In harmony with these statements was the apostle's
noble avowal, that if he visited imperial Rome, he would go unto them
in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. Not only do
we see the apostle's one subject from the topics of his constant preach-
ing, but also from the uniform tenor of his epistles. Hence, writing
to the church at Colosse, he refers to Christ, in them, the hope of
glory, whom, says he, " we preach." To the Philippians he declares
that he " accounted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowl-
edge of Christ Jesus his Lord." He declared to the brethren in Ga-
latia, that he would not glory in any thing, save in the cross of our
Lord Jesus Christ. So when he wrote his second letter to the Co-
rinthians, he observes with peculiar emphasis, " We preach not our-
selves, but Christ Jesus the Lord ; and ourselves your servants for
Jesus' sake." So in the striking language of the text : " For I de-
termined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and
him crucified." Probably the idea of the apostle was, that in his
search after knowledge, he would devote his chief thoughts and time
to know more and more of the Savior, and that as an apostle commis-
sioned to preach to a perishing world, he would make the Lord Jesus
and his cross the great theme of his ministry. Noble resolution ! —
Evangelical averment ! Worthy of him who had been so marvellously
converted by the grace of Christ, and who was destined to be one of
the chiefest of the apostles. But the resolution of Paul is worthy of
every Christian minister. Though this subject was the grand theme
of the apostles and early preachers of the gospel, it is still as fresh



GREAT THEME OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 113

and rich and all-essential as ever. Let us then endeavor to define and
illustrate the resolve of the apostle, and then ascertain if it be capa-
ble of vindication. Let us,

I. Define and illustrate the resolve of the apostle.

1. He could not mean absolutely that he would not preach on any
other subject. For he did preach on the being and majesty of the
Godhead, and his infinitely blessed perfections. He did preach on
the wonders of creation, and the wisdom and bounty of divine provi-
dence. He did preach on the fall of man ; and on human depravity,
and man's utter helplessness and misery. He did preach the moral
excellency of the law, and its design, as our school-master, to bring us
to Christ. He did preach the doctrines of repentance, and obedient
conformity to the will of God. He did preach the graces and virtues
of the Christian character, and entire holiness of heart and life. He
did preach on death and judgment and eternity, on the joys of heaven,
and the terrors of the wrath to come. It is clear, also,

2. That he did not mean to confine himself only to the great fact
of Christ's crucifixion. His language is, " Christ, and him crucified."
Hence we find that he dwelt largely on the Savior's Godhead and di-
vine glory. He insisted on the sinlessness of his humanity. On his
resplendent and unparalleled miracles. His teaching. His obedience
unto the death. His ascension and perpetual intercession. His regal
glory and second coming. But he obviously designed,

3. To make the crucified Redeemer the grand leading theme of his
public ministrations. He would dwell on this principally. That the
facts and doctrines of the cross should never hold a subordinate, but
the chief place in his discourse. That this should be the Alpha and
Omega of his sermons. The great Sun and Centre around which all
other truths should revolve. That Christ crucified should be the one
foundation on which he would endeavor to build the whole structure
of the Christian system. That this should be the essential feature,
the very life of that gospel he would publish to the world. Hence he
writes unto the Corinthian brethren, towards the conclusion of this
epistle, " For I delivered unto you first of all, that which I received,
how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." — 1
Cor. XV. 3. The resolve in the text evidently imphes,

4. That Christ crucified should be declared as the only hope of the
perishing sinner. He would make known this truth at all times and to
all men. He made it evident that he pointed the apostate, ruined sin-
ner only to the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.
He made known no other way of escape from the wrath to come. He de-

8



114 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

lighted to declare that it was a " faithful saying and worthy of all ac-
ceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to sav^e sinners." That
he " had tasted death for every man," and " gave himself a ransom
for all, to be testified in due time." yes, these were the truths in
connection with Christ's crucifixion the apostle rejoiced to proclaim. It
was his work and life to point the dying sinner to the cross of Christ.
He doubtless intended,

5. That he loould make all other subjects to harmonize with this, and
to terminate m it. For instance, he showed how both the moral and
ceremonial law were inefficient to save the transgressor, and that the
cross only could do what neither the one, nor both of them could effect.
He discoursed, too, on Jewish history, that he might explain the mean-
ing of the various types and ceremonies of that people, as being elu-
cidated and embodied in Christ. That Jesus was the true passover
sacrificed for us. That he was the real bread of life which came down
from heaven. The blessed rock from which gushed forth the waters
of life for a perishing world. The apostle also often quoted from the
writings of the prophets, but here also he never lost sight of his one grand
subject. He made it evident that Christ was the sum and substance
of prophecy, that to him bare all the prophets witness. That Christ
was the illustrious personage of whom Moses in the law and the proph-
ets had written. See also 1 Peter i. 10 — 12. Thus the apostle made
Christ and his cross both the great centre and end of his ministry.
But the declaration of the text also included the idea that the apostle
would,

6. Refer to all the momentous asjyects and phases of Christ's crvr
cifixion. In this he would dwell on the death of Christ, — (1) As
the work of Jewish unbelief and malevolence, by which as a nation
they had filled up the cup of their iniquity. They had often sinned
ao-ainst God by the rejection of his counsels, and the persecution of
the prophets. God had sent various of his servants unto them, but
they had despised their message and put them to death. At length
he said, I will send unto them my Son, for they will reverence him.
But when Christ appeared in their midst, they said this is the heir,
let us kill him. Hence they rejected his gracious word and despised
the annunciations of his love. Though he did such works and ratified
his truth by such signs as none other had ever done, yet they despised
him, maltreated him, thirsted with bitterest hate and envy for his
blood, and at length, with the most atrocious wickedness, they put him
to a cruel and ignominious death. And so intent were they on this
deed of unheard-of baseness and violence, that they publicly preferred
the release of Barabbas to Jesus, and even announced to the world



GREAT THEME OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 115

their cheerful readiness that the blood of Christ should be upon them
and upon their children. Peter did not fail with the utmost fidelity to
charge them with having, by wicked hands, crucified and slain their
own Messiah, the Son of God. — Acts ii. 22, 23. How the impreca-
tion they uttered in reference to the blood of Christ has been fulfilled !
How it has rested on their unbelieving posterity to this day ! But
the apostle, while lie would show that the crucifixion of Christ was an
act of unpai-alleled wickedness, yet he would also dwell on the impor-
tant truth that it was, (2) The execution of God's own design in his
purposes of grace towards our world. Hence Peter, in the passage
we have partially quoted, adds, " Him being delivered by the determi-
nate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken," kc. Hence
the apostle often dwelt on the divine intentions in reference to the re-
demption of mankind, and on the wisdom and pov/er by which all
events were controlled in reference to this consummation. God laid the
foundation of his merciful designs before time began to roll, and he
overruled the voluntary wickedness of the Jews for their accomplish-
ment. He would declare Christ crucified, (3) As an act of unexam-
pled love and grace on the part of the Lord Jesus. It was infinite
compassion and love which prompted the Savior to undertake the
achievement of our redemption. It was this love that constrained him
to assume our humanity, and though he was rich, yet caused him for
our sakes to become poor. And how poor, what tongue can declare !
It was this love that was embodied in his incarnate state, that was ut-
tered in all his gracious discourses, exhibited in all his merciful mira-
cles, that shone with such pure and gentle radiance in all his actions.
It was this that led him to endure scorn and reproach, that made him
submissive to keenest suffering, that caused him to drink the bitter un-
mixed cup in Gethsemane, and to be bathed in blood, while prostrated
in the garden, the scene of his agony. It was love that led him to
suffer the indignities of his base mock trial, and to expire in unutter-
able pain and ignominy on the accursed tree. A greater evidence of
love he could not display than by laying down his life for us. Hence
the cross was the grand climacterical display of the love of Christ to
a guilty world. Love, deep, intense, infinite, unsearchable ! In Christ
crucified was thus proclaimed in unmistakable language the immeasur-
able riches of his grace. But the cross too was designed, (4) As an
exposition of the benevolence of God. Often have both theologians
and poets done dishonor to the Father by teaching that he was ren-
dered propitious and merciful through the work of the Son. That he
sat upon his throne arrayed in habiliments of flaming wrath. That he
was uitent on the eternal ruin of the guilty transgressor, but that the



116 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

Son, more pitiful and compassionate, interposed, and thus moved God,
by his propitious engagements, to clemency and love. Nothing can
give a more false and dishonorable view of the divine character than
such representations. Such views are at utter variance with the
teachings of Christ himself, and altogether irreconcilable with the
scheme of the gospel. Jesus declares that " God so loved the world
that he gave his Son ;" hence the gift of Christ was the evidence, the
effect of his own original, pure and spontaneous love. Christ did not
come to obtain his clemency, but to publish and demonstrate it. He
came as the grand,hving fact of God's intense love toward us — and
greater love even Deity could not evince than in not withholding his
own Son, but delivering him up for us all. God had shown his regards
towards us in the gifts of nature and in the bounties of Providence,
but he never gave so bright and so glorious an evidence of it, as in
the crucifixion of his beloved Sou. But by declaring Christ and him
crucified, the apostle would further dwell, (5) On the extreme evil and
malignity of sin, and the spotless holiness of God. God had often de-
clared his utter detestation of all sin. In the sentence passed on our
first parents, and in their expulsion from paradise. In the evils which
immediately flowed from man's transgression. The groaning sterile
earth, the diseases of the body, the agonies of death and the triumphs
of the grave. He had declared his abhorrence of moral evil in the
law given on Sinai, under circumstances of peculiar majesty and gran-
deur. A grandeur so awful and overwhelming that even Moses, with
holy alarm, exclaimed, "I exceedingly fear and quake;" — but the
clearest manifestations of sin's heinousness and extreme turpitude was
reserved for the cross, when God's own Son should expire under pecul-
iar circumstances of grief and pain and ignominy, as the only sacri-
fice by which atonement could be made, and through which alone the
sinner could be saved from it. Even hell, with its darkness and wail-
ing and horror and endless blackness and despair, offers not so striking
a declaration of the infinite evil of sin, as is seen in the crucifixion of
the holy and ever-blessed Son of God. God here declared in terms
which it is impossible to mistake, that sin was so desperately evil and
so entirely contrary to his holy nature, and righteous laws, and equita-
ble government, that it could only be effaced by the offering up as the
great sacrifice, the Lord of life and Prince of Glory. How appro-
priate then that declaration, that we have redemption through his
blood, even the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace.
Such then were some of the striking phases under which the apostle
would contemplate the crucifixion of Christ, and the truths he would
announce in connection with it. No marvel that he should resolve to



GREAT THEME OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 117

know nothing among men, but the great, profound and comprehensive
subject of Jesus Christ and him crucified.
We inquire, then,

II. If this avowal is capable of vindication.

This avowal we conceive to have formed the very glory of Paul's
apostleship. No higher resolve could he have adopted. No holier or
nobler averment could he have declared. Various are the weighty rea-
sons on which a successful vindication of the apostle might be ground-
ed. We must be content to notice two or three. The apostle's
avowal was worthy of himself and the gospel he preached, —

1. Because in the facts and doctHnes of Chnsfs crucifixion was
presented a true system of relicjion in opposition to the multifarious
schemes of earthly philosophy. Long before the apostle preached the
gospel, philosophers of various countries had published the principles
of their diversified systems of ethics and religion. Hence men had
not wanted for instruction, such as it was, on the subject of the soul
and its innate longings for happiness. But ancient philosophy was
only like the feeble,flickering light of the expiring lamp, and there was
no clearness in its revelations nor certainty in its enunciation. One
system was in direct opposition to another, and their lying oracles
never uttered, but in dark and uncertain sound. The great teachers
of these systems were not agreed on one point of any importance in
relation to the lofty aspiration and high hopes of immortal beings.
They were not agreed even as to the divine existence. " For the
world by wisdom knew not God." Some of them taught that there
were two gods, one the patron of evil and the other of good. One
to be the object of dread, the other of confidence and love. Most of
these teachers rather believed in a multitude of gods, and were given
up to the gross superstitions by which they were surrounded. They
were not agreed as to the real nature of moral evil. The vices of some
were the virtues of others. They could not agree as to the true char-
acter of the chief good. Some taught that it consisted in pleasure,
one party applying the term to sensual, the other to mental gratifica-
tion. Others, that it consisted in obtaining to perfect stoicism and
indifference to all pleasure and pain. They had only feeble and un-
certain guesses as to the future. They had their misgivings as well as
their hopes, in reference to the soul's immortahty. And of the res-
urrection of the body they had not the smallest possible conception.



Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 13 of 45)