James Smith, 1661
Most men have some favorite subject, and Paul had his. Many subjects were embraced in his ministry — but one fixed his eye, filled his heart, and occupied most of his attention. We may be sure, from the wisdom he generally displayed, and the abundance of grace that he possessed, that it was an important and worthy subject. It was Christ crucified. This he carried everywhere. This he preached always. This he preached to all. Therefore alluding to his first visit to Corinth, he said, "I determined to know nothing while I was with you--except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." 1 Corinthians 2:2
Paul's Determination.To introduce one subject, and to keep pretty much to one point, which was — salvation by a crucified Savior, and by a crucified Savior alone. That Savior was a Jew — how offensive to the pride of Greece! That Savior was a God — how mysterious to the mind of man. A God-man, who on earth, had obeyed every precept of God's violated law — who had suffered in his own person, the whole penalty of sin, and had conquered and crippled all the foes of his disciples — who promised the greatest possible blessings to all his followers — and who engaged to secure admission to Heaven, for all who believe on his name. What a wondrous subject! What a wondrous Savior! Well may Paul determine to preach Christ crucified to all, Christ crucified as for all, and to preach Christ crucified always, and everywhere.
Paul's Reason for His Determination.This has partly been given — but we may be excused if we enlarge a little. Why did Paul determine to make known Christ crucified, and that alone, at Corinth? Because the Corinthians needed a Savior — and they could be saved by Christ crucified alone. Because God works by, and honors this subject. Because he lived upon and enjoyed this truth himself. Because he had seen glorious effects produced, by preaching it elsewhere. Because, also, he knew that if this doctrine would not win them, and bring them back to God — nothing could.
We have been preaching and writing about "Christ
crucified" for many years. We have also seen glorious effects produced by
it. We have seen . . .
the hardened, melted down into penitence and love;
the miserable, made happy;
the sorrowful, filled with comfort;
the guilty, put in possession of pardon;
the filthy, made clean and holy;
the troubled, made calm and peaceful;
and the cruel, made kind and gentle!
But we have sometimes seen just the opposite, for we have seen some hardened; we have seen bad feelings excited; we have heard hard and wicked speeches uttered; and we have seen those who lived ungodly lives, live more ungodly still. Yes, the same gospel, is to one party, the savor of death unto death; and to the other, the savor of life unto life.
Reader, you have heard Christ crucified preached, and you have read the same doctrine in God's word — what effect has it had on you? Has it reconciled you to God? Has it filled you with joy and peace? Has it inspired you with confidence and courage? Has it embittered sin, filled you with a love to holiness, and consecrated you to the service of God? If it has had its natural and proper effect — it has.
But some effect it has had — if you are not better for it, you are worse. If not softened — you are hardened; if not brought near unto God — you are further off than ever. If it is not the means of your salvation, it will prove a stumbling block, over which you will fall and perish as many of the Jews did. Examine into this matter well, I beseech you, for it is of the greatest possible importance.
Christ crucified, was unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto those who were called of God, both Jews and Greeks, Christ was the power of God, and the wisdom of God — and one or the other will be the case with you!