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and, that this doctrine makes three Gods. But have those persons duly considered their own scheme, and attended to the consequences of it? If every thing essential to God is found in Christ, is he not God; and if he be distinct in nature, is he not another God; and if so, must there not be two Gods? The absurdity of the opinion which admits two Gods, is equally great with one which would actually admit. three. That there is but one God we all maintain. The mode of his existence is the thing in dispute. There would be a palpable contradiction in supposing God to be three in the same sense that he is one; and one in the same sense that he is three. But it would be very arrogant in us, who are ignorant of most things which occur daily, and to whom the little words why, and wherefore, convey so much that is puzzling, and perplexing, to decide, that there can be no way in which God can be both one and three. If it is a matter of revelation we are bound to receive it as we find it represented, and if there is an inward witness which determines the minds of the people of God, we ought to consider, that other testimony, however various, and strong, will leave us in a state of indecision, unless we have this witness; and of course, we should seek to be qualified to judge, before we undertake to form a judgment.
In making up an opinion of Christ we are led to attend to the purpose which he had in view in coming into the world. Some persons have thought, that nothing else was aimed at by the coming of Christ but to set the things of duty, and of a future state more clearly before mankind; and to add to his doctrines, and precepts the weight of his own perfect example. Upon this supposition all which we need is information, the disposition being invariably to follow the path of rectitude when it is marked out for us. though we ought never to lose sight of the instructions, and the example, of Christ, we pass over the principal thing, if we do not attend to his death. There are those who profess to believe in the atonement, to whom the death of Christ seems to be no substitution for the punishment of the sinner; at least for his final rejection, because in the view of such persons, some portion of virtue is still attached to human nature. Yet surveying man as he appears, and acts him
self out in this world, can we deny that he is a transgressor from the womb, in opposition to his fellow men, and opposed to his own best interest; sunk in sin; and hastening to sink in misery? The law which we have broken has death for its penalty. How shall the transgressors live, if the justice of God be made manifest, unless some one appear for him as a substitute, able to sustain that curse, which coming on the transgressor would be to him, complete perdition? Looking to the highest order of creatures, can we find one in whom we could have confidence; one concerning whom we could say, I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day.
The ceremonial law is wholly without meaning, and useless, except as it refers to the guilty, and polluted state of man; and to the atoning sacrifice, and cleansing blood of a Savior. Let the grand object, the death of Christ be out of sight, and you can give no reason for the many costly offerings, required of the Jews; nor for their many ablutions. Very minutely circumstantial was the worship of the Jewish church; and the gospel history explains the typical ceremonies. The prophecies respecting Christ, point directly to his death, and assign the ruined state of the moral world as the reason for it. When John Baptist called the attention of his disciples to Christ, he said, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. Christ repeatedly made mention of his own death, that he might correct the mistakes generally entertained about him, and lead those who were looking for dignities in an earthly kingdom, to aspire after that crown of righteousness which he was to purchase with his blood. Among his declarations to this point we find him saying, And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. Lest the meaning of Christ should be misapprehended the sacred historian was directed to add, this he said signifying what death he should die. The New Testament throughout, and the Old likewise, abounds in the sentiment, that Christ died for the salvation of his people, and, that his death is the only foundation of hope and happiness.
To omit many things which might be said upon the question in our text, let the concluding remark be at this time, that Christ is precious to every true believer, and, that, that love to him which is implanted in the renewed heart is much stronger than even maternal affection. Of this there can be no doubt, for his disciples are required to love him with such an affection that in a comparative view, they may be said to hate their nearest relatives and friends. That love of Christ which has not a constraining influence, is love only in name; those cords which do not bind the soul to him who gave it being at first; and who as the quickening spirit, gives new life to dead sinners are not the cords which in Christ's house connect the members with the head. A christian's feelings upon the subject, are well expressed in the language of a christian poet:
I'll carve his name upon the bark;
And every wounded tree,
Shall bleed, and bear some mystic mark,
IN THEIR PREACHING, MINISTERS ARE TO REGARD THE STATE OF
I. CORINTHIANS iii. 1, 2.
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
CORINTH, an ancient and celebrated city of Greece, was the capital of the province, or canton, of Achaia, in the peninsula called Peloponnesus. Situated between the two seas of Greece, it became very opulent, and pride, luxury, and lewdness, were the consequences of its wealth.
In the eighteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles we have an account of the visit of St. Paul to this city; of the treatment which he received; and of his success in planting a church. At Corinth the Apostles found Aquila, and Priscilla, had been converted to the christian faith, and who had lately come from Italy, on account of the edict of the Roman Emperor, banishing all Jews from Rome. With these persons he resided, and wrought with them, at their trade of tent making.
Upon the sabbath he went to the synagogue and reasoned among the Jews, and with such Gentiles, as met with them upon the subject of religion. But his preaching in the synagogue appears not to have been of long continu
ance; for when by the coming of Silas, and Timotheus, from Macedonia, he was pressed in spirit, and testified to the Jews, that Jesus is Christ, they rose in opposition, and broke out into open blasphemy. Upon this he forsook the synagogue, warning the Jews of their danger, and afterwards taught in a house that was near, belonging to a Gentile of the name of Justus, who before had renounced idolatry, and had become a worshipper of God. Though the Jews made insurrection against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat to be tried by Gallio the deputy of Achaia, they were disappointed in their malicious purpose, and he was protected, and continued a year and six months at Corinth, so that Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptised.
Soon after Paul left Corinth, other teachers, of a different character, with high pretensions, disturbed, and divided the people. Of the state of the church the apostle was in one way and another informed, and he wrote this letter, probably, from Ephesus, in reply to one which he had recieved from Corinth. His letter to the church embraces more things than are to be found in theirs to him, for it notices corrupt doctrines, and practices, existing among them, concerning which they had made no mention. They were in a proper mood to be satisfied with nothing, for any length of time, and their ears itched for something more deep, and far fetched, than the plain, practical, doctrine which the Apostle had inculcated. He could better judge of their case than they could themselves, and he had adapted his preaching to their circumstances.
He mentions in the passage now selected for consideration, what was his method of teaching, while at Corinth, and why he adopted such a method.
In the consideration of this passage, we are led to inquire first what we are to understand by the terms milk and meat. The literal meaning, is obvious to every one; and we all know, that though milk is good for all periods of life, it is so peculiarly suited to infancy, that meat, designed as an aliment, for a state more advanced, will by no means answer as a substitute for it. No terms, perhaps, can be turend