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

The English pulpit : collection of sermons online

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Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 14 of 45)
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How true of them, destitute of the hght of divine truth, " that they
wandered in endless mazes lost." They were like the perplexed and


alarmed mariner ■without compass or chart, in the midst of the dark and
blighting mist. But Paul rejoiced that in connexion with the cross was
a true, clear and blessed system of religion adapted to all the hopes and
desires of the immortal mind. Hence, in preaching Christ, he called
the attention of men to the Sun of righteousness which had arisen on
the Avorld, bringing celestial light and joy to a bewildered race. Here
was the true and great teacher, who had solved all difficult problems,
and answered all the important inquiries of the human mind. Here
was a new system of ethics and worship, full of holy lustre and moral
beauty. Here vice was truly depicted, and virtue distinctly revealed.
Here the true God was made known in all the grandeur of his perfec-
tions. Here the chief good was positively exhibited. The way of hap-
piness written as with a sun-beam, and life and immortality brought to
light by the gospel. Here the eternal world was unveiled, and the
glories of heaven and the horrors of hell presented for the contempla-
tion of men. In one word, here was a system of pure and certain and
harmonious truth, worthy of the acceptance of intellectual and undying
beings, and of this system the cross of Christ was the immovable basis,
and the grand centre. But the apostle's avowal may be vindicated
on the ground,

2. That in Christ and him crucified was contained the hody and re-
ality of the Jewish ceremonial. Judaism, in contradistinction to pagan
philosophy, was a divine institution, which originated with God, and
reflected his truth and glory. But it was evident that it was only lo-
cal in its character and of transitory duration. It was but the figure
or type of a better and more enduring dispensation. All its services
and sacrifices and rites Were shadows of good things to come. It only
required candor in the Jew to discern that Christ was the end
of the whole ceremonial institution, the body of all their shadows,
the object distinctly recognized in all their types. He was the true
paschal lamb. The real sacrifice for sins. The one great offering
for the people. The teacher and prophet like unto Moses, unto whom
the people should hearken. That the tabernacle with its altar, the ho-
liest of all Avith its furniture, the priesthood with its services, all point-
ed to Christ, and all terminated their labors in him. Here, then, the
apostle preached the very system of saving religion, which God had
been pre-figuring from the time of Moses, the goodly land of which
Canaan itself but feebly typified. And hence the apostle resolved to
present this system to the inquiring, anxious Jew ; in ' all its divinity
and adaptation to his moral necessities. Hence exclaims the apostle,
" But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and
unto the Greeks foolishness, but unto them which believe, Christ the


power of God, and Christ the wisdom of God." 1 Cor. i. 23, 24.
But we vindicate the apostle's avowal,

3. As Christ crucified was to be the great moral attraction of our
perishing species. Jesus himself had declared, " And I, if I be lifted
up, will draw all men unto me." These words of the blessed Savior
had especial reference to the manner of his death. Hence Paul knew
experimentally the influence of the cross in subduing the enmity of the
heart, and bringing the conscience into reconciliation with God. Paul
knew the power of the cross in destroying the dominion of sin, and in
bringing all the deep emotions of the soul into a state of holy and obe-
dient love. Besides, the apostle realized in Christ crucified all that
man, in his fallen and miserable condition, could possibly need. Did
man under a sense of heavy guilt sigh for pardon, he declared that
*' through this man is preached forgiveness of sins, and by him all
that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not
be justified by the law of Moses." Acts xiii. 38, 39. Did man feel
the misery of his polluted state and desire holiness, he could announce
that a fountain had been opened for sin and uncleanness, and that the
blood of Christ, God's Son, cleansed from all sin. Was man tortured
with the anguish of a distracted conscience, the apostle would appeal to
the same cross, and by it preach peace to them that were near, and
to them that were afar off. Were men in circumstances of dread when
contemplating death and the grave and eternity, he would show that
the light of the cross irradiated the sombre tomb, and opened a bril-
liant pathway to eternal glory. Hence, also, he connected the cross
of Christ with the gift of eternal life to all believers. What good rear
son had he then to resolve not to know anything among men, save Jesus
Christ and him crucified ? But the apostle not only knew the influence
of the death of Christ personally, but he also knew that by its inher-
ent energy it was to subvert and overthrow the empire of sin, and
build up to entire completion the kingdom of grace among men.
Hence with holy triumph he exclaimed, " Now thanks be unto God,
which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the
savor of his knowledge by us in every place." 2 Cor. ii. 14. Paul
had confidence that the power of the cross would overthrow Paganism,
with all its multifarious, cruel and horrid rites, and Judaism, not-
withstanding the existing prejudices against Christ and his holy gos-
pel. Then he knew well that the cross and the universal dominion of
Christ over all flesh were essentially connected, and that by the vir-
tues of Calvary Jesus should reign from the rising to the setting of the
sun. Hence this view of Christ's mediatorial work and glory had been
asserted by the prophet Isaiah, who in connection with predictions of


tlie Messiah's sufferings and death, had also prophesied as the final
result, that " he should see his seed, prolong his days, and that the
pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his hand. That he should see
the travail of his soul and be satisfied." Isa. liii. 10, 11. And with
these sentiments harmonized the declaration of the apostle in his letter
to the Philippians, — " Who being in the form of God thought it not
robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and
took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of
men : and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and
became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. "Wherefore
God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is
above every name ; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth ;
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the
glory of God the Father." Here, then, we learn on what the hope of
our world's renovation rests, and the means for its accomplishment.
All, all is to be effected by the power of that gospel whose glorious
principles are concentrated in Jesus Christ and him crucified. We
have yet to contend with the superstitions and cruel and polluted rites
of heathenism, but we trust in the doctrine of Christ crucified for the
overthrow of every pagan temple, and the utter extirpation of idolatry
from the world. We rely on this for the annihilation of the Mahome-
dan imposture, the religion of the beast, and know that the crescent
must fall and pass away before the glory and power of the cross. And
this doctrine, too, must uproot the superstitions of Romanism, and the
mere crucifix and Maryism shall perish before the mighty influence of
the truth as it is in Jesus. And scepticism and profligacy and world-
liness, with every form of moral evil, shall be exiled from our world by
the effulgent glory and celestial majesty of the gospel of Christ. We
despise not the progress of science and philosophy ; we do not under-
rate the value of learning, and the spread of literature ; we cannot be
indifferent to the various important benevolent institutions of our times,
but on none of them can we rest for the world's deliverance from error
and guilt. Our only hope clings to the faithful and extended promul-
gation of the doctrine of Christ and him crucified. yes, the light
and saving influence of Calvary are powerfully working for the restora-
tion of our world from debasement, sin and death, to a state of univer-
sal dignity, holiness and bliss.

And now what are the important lessons we derive frcjjn this subject ?
We see,

1. What is the very essence and glory of the gospel. It is the great
fact of Christ's death as an atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world.


It is true that he both lived and died as an illustrious example of holy
obedience and resignation to the will of God. That he died to confirm
with his dying breath and his flowing blood the great truths which he had
taught, and the celestial principles of his kingdom. But it is an essen-
tial truth, that he died to redeem us to God. That he suffered the just,
for us the unjust, to bring us to the enjoyment of the Divine favor and
everlasting life. That he bore in his own body our sins upon the tree.
And that now God may, in the exercise of the most rigid equity, be
manifested both as the just God and yet the Savior. And now in
Christ's name may be preached to every fallen child of man, repentance
and remission of sins. Men may now return to God, because he hath
redeemed them, and redeemed them not with corruptible things, such
as silver and gold, but with the " precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb
without blemish and without spot, who verily was foreordained before the
foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you."
1 Peter i. 18, 19. The exclusion of this great subject, or giving it
an inferior place in the gospel system, is virtually the withholding or
enshrouding the brightest and sweetest rays of gospel glory. We

2. What should still be the chief topic of pulpit ministration. It
i3 " Jesus Christ and him crucified." This should be the constant and
not the merely occasional theme. This should be the precious golden
thread running through the whole web of our discourses. It is vitally
connected with every doctrine, with every blessing, with every privi-
lege, with every duty of Christianity. It is the very heart and spirit
of evangelical preaching. For this there is no substitute. When this
is wanting, the cardinal principle is wanting. No embellishments of
rhetoric, no style of composition, no beauty of thought, no grandeur of
idea, no energy of expression, can make up for this. All without this
is the chiseled form, and it must be cold and without life. It is the
painted representation, but it is nothing after all but canvass and col-
oring applied with the touch of a human hand, the glory and the divin-
ity are wanting. Sermons without this maybe chaste or elegant, they
may be startling or eloquent, but evangelical and Christian they are
not. No, the resolve of the man who feels the power of the truth on
his own heart, and who longs to bring the same power to bear on the
hearts of others, must be that of the apostle, " For I am determined
not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified."
We learn from this,

3. The probable main cause of the apparent extensive failure as to
the success of preaching. It is possible for men to retain an honorable
character for being evangelical, while Christ and his cross are subordi-


nate themes in their ministry. And if the gospel only is the power of
God unto salvation, and Christ crucified is the very power of that gos-
pel, how can such preaching be effective when that theme is not al-
ways in the ascendant. Let it not be imagined that it is essential to
this that certain phrases must always be in use or a certain monoto-
nous mode observed in the discussion of pulpit discourses, but rather that
the spirit of the cross should imbue the minister's heart on every oc-
casion. This theme alone can bring the love of God, in all its omnipo-
tent influence, to bear on the human heart, and we know of nothing
else that can soften and renew it. How careful we should be, that as
preachers we are not diverted from the doctrine of Jesus Christ and
him crucified. Oh, let us preach him always, and with all our hearts,
and then we may confidently expect that God will crown our labors
with eminent success. Blessed be God, the cross has lost none of its
saving virtue. It is still the grand catholicon for all the ills and woes
which affect our common humanity. We inquire,

4. What personal interest and acquaintance have you with this great
subject ? You may hear of Christ crucified and not spiritually under-
stand it. Or you may understand it in its doctrinal bearing, and yet
be strangers to its saving power. You may often hear of the cross,
and yet live at a great moral distance from it. You may even love to
listen to evangelical truth, and yet be the slaves of error and unbelief.
Even a profession of attachment to the cross may be made, and yet in
works you may deny him. Brethren, how is it with you ? Have you
so contemplated Jesus Christ and him crucified that you can confident-
ly say, " He loved me and hath given himself for me ?" Has Christ
been formed in your hearts the hope of glory ? By the cross have
you obtained peace and joy in the Holy Ghost ? Here have you found
rest to your wearied soul, and a good hope through grace ? Do you
revere the cross, glory in it, and by it has the world been crucified to
you and you to the world ? Are the sacred interests of the cross yours,
and so yours, that you live constantly under their constraining influ-
ence ? Are you hving to advance its peaceful and joyous triumphs ?
Does it cheer you in sorrow, strengthen you hi trouble, is it your hope
in death, will you trust only and entirely to it when you shall plunge
into the swellings of Jordan ? Will your hope and love to the cross
bear you up, when the world is on fire — and when the Savior comes
in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory ? Brethren, an
experimental knowledge of Christ and him crucified is our only blessed-
ness in this world, and can be our only song and joy forever.

And now, in conclusion, let it be our first concern to know really and
savingly for ourselves, Jesus Christ and him crucified, and then let it


be the great end of our lives to promote to the utmost of our ability the
knowledge of that blessed subject among others. For this is life eter-
nal, to know the true God and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. Amen.



" Ye men of Israel, hoar these words ; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by mir-
acles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know : Him
being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked
hands have crucified and slain." — Acts ii. 22, 23.

If there be joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sin-
ner that repenteth, what must be the joy of that minister who on good
grounds has reason to conclude, that by the instinimentality of his min-
istrations the kingdom of heaven has been opened to a multitude of
perishing sinners ? That joy of all joys is the highest, the deepest,
the richest, and the strongest. Such was Peter's joy upon the day of

He who enters on the work of the ministry, enters into tribulation.
When Peter was appointed to the ministry, to the apostleship, he was
appointed to martyrdom. He that said to Peter, " Feed my sheep,
feed my lambs," said also unto him, " When thou wast young, thou
girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest ; but when thou
shalt be old, thoa shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird
thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." Peter's ministra-
tion was a scene of glory, but it was a scene of tribulation ; it was
contested all along its course with the fiercest and the most virulent
opposition ; but God gave him to taste at its outset the sweetest joy
that a minister can taste, and so prepared him for the bitternesses that
were to come.

The first sermon, the very first sermon, that Peter preached, was
with the Holy Ghost and with power. My text is a part of it. You
know the simpUcity of his manner, the order and power of his argu-
ment, the force and majesty of his eloquence, — and oh, how success-
ful was that first sermon ! Peter brought home to his hearers the
guilt which they had contracted ; he set before them Jesus Christ cru-


cified hy them — ah ! and /or them as well as bj them ; and that ser-
mon at once captivated three thousand hearts — three thousand were
pricked to the heart, believed, and were added unto the Lord. Our
God is in the heavens, and still our Jesus reigns. We that preach in
this day, are sometimes tempted to inquire, " Who hath believed our
report ? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ? " but our God
is in the heavens, and still our Jesus reigns, and " with him is the res-
idue of the Spirit." May he pour it out on this congregation ! May
the arm of the Lord our God be made bare amongst us to-night ! I
bring you no new gospel ; I rejoice that I preach to those, mainly so
at least, this evening, who have been accustomed to the burden of my
ministry, and who know that I have nothing else to preach but Jesus
Christ, and him crucified. " Hear these words, then, ye men of Isra-
el," and be thankful that ye have to hear them, not in hell, but on
earth where the gospel is preached. " Jesus of Nazareth, a man ap-
proved of God among you by miracles, and wonders, and signs," said
Peter unto the people to whom he preached, " which God did by him
in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: him being delivered
by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken,
and by wicked hands have crucified and slain."

Now, there are four inquiries to which I shall endeavor to direct
your attention from these words. First, Who was delivered ? " Jesus
of Nazareth, a man approved of God." Secondly, To what was he
delivered ? Crucifixion ; " Ye crucified him." Thirdly, By whom
was he thus delivered ? " By the determinate counsel and foreknowl-
edge of God, and by your wicked hands and hearts." Fourthly and
lastly. The design on 'account of, and the end for which, Jesus of
Nazareth was delivered : " for us men, and for our salvation." May
God the Holy Spirit assist me to preach, and you to hear !

I. Who was delivered ? Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus of Nazareth had at once a name of ignominy and a name of
renown ; a name of scandal and a name of glory. Jesus of Nazareth,
or as it is in the original, Jesus the Nazarene — called a Nazarene in
Scripture because he was devoted unto God — called a Nazarene by
the Jews because he was brought up at Nazareth ; and they availed
themselves of that fact in his earliest history, to fasten upon him what
they thought would be an indelible stigma. " Jesus of Nazareth."
Jesus is a name of glory. It was, indeed, a human name, a common
name : it was borne by many, as we read in history, before it was ap-
plied to him who was born of a virgin ; but when it was once put on
him who was born of the virgin in Bethlehem, it never was put on


any other. You do not hesitate to call your children by the name? of
the apostles, always excepting the name of Judas — for "what father
could bear to have a son called by the name of Judas ? The name
that had been an honorable name, was by the fact of the conduct of
him that betrayed the Son of man with a kiss, blighted, blasted, and
withered away. But the name of Jesus, which had been a human
name, a common name, before it was put upon him born of a virgin,
when once it was put upon him became a divine name, a superhuman
name, and no father dares to call his son Jesus, because God has
called his Son Jesus.

" This is the name to sinners dear,
This is the name to sinners given."

This is a name above every name, Jesus of Nazareth ; he saves us by
the power of his cross, by the glory of his throne.

We observe, that the particular feature of his character here de-
veloped in the text, is, the power of working miracles. " Jesus of
Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, and won-
ders, and signs J^ Now these three words, " miracles, wonders, and
signs," are synonymous, the import of them is the same, substantially
the same. He wrought miracles. What is a miracle? A miracle
has been defined — "a suspension of the power of the laws of nature ;
a suspension or counteraction of the laws of nature." And what are
the laws of nature ? The laws of nature are the association and agen-
cies of God, by which he employs certain causes to the production of
certain effects, and not others — a certain association between definite
causes and definite effects — what our philosophers call " the laws of
nature ; " what the Bible calls " the ordinances of heaven." What
philosophers signify by the terms, the essential, the inflexible, eternal
laws of nature, is nothing at all but the will of God acting in a defi-
nite way ; and these laws of nature, these ordinances of heaven, this
fixed association between cause and effect — Jesus of Nazareth broke
in upon them, disturbed them when he pleased, set them aside as often
as he listed. He showed that he was the Author of nature, and that
all these laws which philosophers call the laws of nature, were of his
own making, his own ordination ; and, therefore, as he produced the
effects without their appropriate causes, as he produced results apart
from the usual associated causes, therefore he was the God of nature ;
and, by his power of working miracles, proved that he was God over
all. His miracles are called wonders, because they filled the specta-
tors with wonder ; and they are called signs, because they were in-
dexes of the properties, and prerogatives, and character of him that
wrought them.


" Jesug of iN'azaretli, a man approved of God among you by mira-
cles, and wonders, and signs, -which God did by him in the midst of
you, as ye yourselves also know.'' Yes, he might very well say that
he was preaching to a people who had seen Jesus raise the dead —
who had seen him walk upon the lake of Gennesareth — who had seen
him multiply a handful of bread, so that thousands were fed — they
had seen him give sight to a man born blind. How did he effect it ?
Why, he spat upon the ground, made clay with the spittle, and an-
ointed the eyes of the man born blind ! Was that likely to make a
blind man see ? Was that the way to open the eyes of a man born
blind, to besmear the eye-balls over in that Avay ? Why did our Sa-
vior do it in that manner ? It was done to teach those who witnessed
the miracle, that the thing itself did not follow from the physical means
employed ; for there was no connection whatever between besmearing
the blind man's eyes over in that way and his reception of sight. It
was to show that the thing wrought was solely the effect of him that
wrought it, and not in any wise connected with the physicial means
employed at the time of the production. The miracle excited their
attention, as well it might. It was examined ; it was tested ; the
scribes, and pharisees, and priests, tossed it from crucible to crucible ;
they endeavored to find some flaw in it ; but after all their long at-
tempts to detect some fallacy, in effect they said, " We will give it
up ; we cannot deny it ; it is unquestionable that a notable miracle
has been wrought by the man."

His power of working miracles was farther displayed in the resur-
rection of the dead — as we have already noticed. He raised the
son of the widow at Nain, he raised the daughter of Jairus, he raised
Lazarus. Had he only raised up the daughter of Jairus, our infidels
would have said, it was not a resurrection, it was merely a case of
suspended animation. WeU, but, besides that, he raised the son of
the widow of Nain, who had been dead some days. And that is not
all : he raised Lazarus, who was dead and buried, and not only dead
and buried, but the process of putrefaction had commenced on the sol-
ids and fluids of the body. In that hot country putrefaction took

Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 14 of 45)