PARK

THE PROMINENCE OF THE ATONEMENT


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Edwards Amasa Park was born at Providence, R. I., in 1808. After a short pastorate of two years he became professor at Amherst, and subsequently at Andover Theological Seminary. He was one of the well-known exponents of the New England Calvinism, and his teachings had a wide influence over the ministers of his generation. His sermons, frequently rewritten, were marked by elegance of style and great moral force. Both as a preacher and teacher he showed largeness of view, depth of thought, and a rare facility of clear and powerful expression. He wrote a number of biographies and other works. He died in 1900.

Lewis O. Brastow, D. D.


PARK

1808-1900

THE PROMINENCE OF THE ATONEMENT

For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.—1 Corinthians ii., 2.

Should the apostle who penned this eloquent expression resume his ministry on earth, and should he deign to hold converse with us on the principles of his high calling, and should he repeat his strong words, I am now, as of old, determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, some of us would feel an impulse to ask him:

"Can your words mean what they appear to imply? You are learned in Rabbinical literature; you have read the Grecian poets, and even quoted from Aratus; you have examined the statuary of Greece, and have made a permanent record of an inscription upon an altar in ancient Athens; you have reasoned on the principles of Aristotle from effect to cause, and have taken rank with the philosophers, as well as orators of the world; and now, you seem to utter your determination to abandon all knowledge save that which concerns the Jew who was crucified. You once said that you had rather speak five words with the understanding, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue; and here, lest the pithy language of this text should fail of being truly apprehended, we desire to learn its precise meaning in three particulars:

"In the first place, do you intend to assert that our knowledge is controlled by our will? You determined not to know anything save one. Can you by mere choice expel all but one of your old ideas, and make your mind like a chart of white paper in reference to the vast majority of your familiar objects of thought?"

"I am ready to concede," is the reply, "that much of our knowledge is involuntary; still a part of it is dependent on our will. In some degree, at some times, we may attend to a theme or not attend to it, as we choose, and thus our choice may influence our belief, and thus are we responsible, in a certain measure, for our knowledge. Besides, the word 'know' is used by us Hebraistic writers to include not only a mental apprehension, but also a moral feeling. When we know Christ, we feel a hearty complacence in Him. Again, to 'know' often signifies to manifest, as well as to possess, both knowledge and love. We do not know an old acquaintance when we of set purpose withhold all public recognition of him, and act outwardly as if we were inwardly ignorant of his being. But I, Paul, say to you, as I said to the Corinthians, that I shall make the atonement of Christ, and nothing but the atonement of Christ, the main theme of my regard, of my loving regard, and such loving regard as is openly avowed."

Thus our first query is answered; but there is a second inquiry which some of us would propose to the apostle, were he uttering to us personally the words which he wrote to the Corinthians. It is this:

"Should a Christian minister out of the pulpit, as well as in the pulpit, know nothing save the Crucified One? Did you not know how to sustain yourself by the manufacture of tents; and did you not say to the circle of elders at Ephesus, 'These hands have ministered to my necessities'? Did you not dispute with the Roman sergeants, plead your cause before the Roman courts? Must not every minister cease for a time to converse on the word of Jesus; and must he not think of providing for his own household, lest he become worse than an infidel?"

"I am willing to admit," is the reply, "that the pulpit is the place where the minister should speak of Christ with more uniform distinctness than in other places; but there are no places, and no times, in which he should fail to manifest, more or less obviously, his interest in his Redeemer. Wherever he goes he has a pulpit. Whether he eat, or drink, or whatever he do, he must do all for the glory of God, and the highest glory of God is Christ, and the highest honor of Christ is in Him crucified. A minister must always respect the proprieties of life; in honoring them he knows that appropriate model Man who, rising from the tomb, wrapped up the napkin that was about His head, and laid it in a place by itself. Now the proprieties of life do require a minister to speak in the pulpit on themes more plainly and more easily connected with the atonement, than are various themes on which he must speak in the market-place or in the schools. But all subjects on which he may discourse do lead, sooner or later, more or less obviously and easily, to the great work of Jesus; and he should converse on them with the intent of seizing every hint they give him, following out every line to which they point him, in the direction of the cross. I have been in many synagogues, and in the temple, and on Mars' Hill, and on a Mediterranean ship-deck; and once I was hurried along in a night ride from Jerusalem to Cęsarea with four hundred and seventy soldiers, horsemen and spearmen. I have resided at leisure with my arm chained to a Roman guard in a prison at the capital of the Roman Empire; but in all such places I have felt, and everywhere I do feel, bound to speak out, and to act out, all the interest which the fitness of the occasion admits, in the atonement of Jesus; and not to manifest, and not to feel, any interest in any theme which may lessen my regard for this, the chiefest among ten thousand!"

But there is a third question which some of us would propose to the apostle, were he to speak in our hearing the words of the text:

"Should every man, as well as every minister, cherish and exhibit no interest in anything but Christ? Should a sailor at the masthead, a surgeon in the extirpation of the clavicle, a warrior in the critical moment of the last charge, look at nothing, and hear of nothing, but the cross? Must not everyone conduct business, and sustain cares, which draw his mind away from the atonement?"

"I am ready to grant," is the reply, "that some duties are less plainly and less intimately connected than others with the work of Jesus; but all of them are connected with it in some degree, and this connection may be seen by all who choose to gain the fitting insight. The great principle of duty belonging to the minister in the pulpit, belongs to him everywhere; and the great principle of duty belonging to the minister, belongs to every man, woman, and child. There is not one religion for the man when he is in the temple, and another religion for the man when he is in the parlor or in the street. There is not one law for ordained pastor, and another law for the tradesman or the mechanic. The same law and no different one, the same religion and no different one, are the law and religion for the apostles, and publicans, and prophets, and tax gatherers, and patriarchs, and children, and nobles, and beggars. Every man is bidden to refuse everything, if it be the nearest friend, who interferes with the claims of the Messiah; and therefore every man, layman as well as clergyman, must keep his eye fixed primarily upon the cross. He may see other things within the range of that cross, but he must keep the cross directly at the angle of his vision, and allow nothing else, when placed side by side with the tree of Calvary, to allure his eye away from that central, engrossing object."

Here, then, is our third question answered; and in these three replies to these three queries, we perceive the meaning of our text to be: that not on the first day only, but on every day likewise, not in the religious assembly only, but in all assemblies, and in all solitudes likewise, not the preacher only, but the hearer likewise, every man must adopt the rule, to give his voluntary, his loving, his secret and open regard to nothing so much as to the character and work of his Redeemer.

Having inquired into the meaning of the apostle's words, let us proceed, in the next place, to inquire into the importance of making the atonement of Christ the only great object of our thought, speech and action.

And here, did we hold a personal interview with the author of our text, we should be prompted to put three additional queries before him. Our first inquiry would be:

"Is not your theme too contracted? It is well to know Christ, but in all the varying scenes of life is it well not to know anything else? Will not the pulpit become wearisome if, spring and autumn, summer and winter, it confine itself to a single topic? We have known men preach themselves out by incessant repetitions of the scene at Calvary,—a scene thrilling in itself, and on that very account not bearing to be presented in its details, every Sabbath day. How much less will the varying sensibilities of the soul endure the reiteration of this tragic tale every day and at every interview! Such extreme familiarity induces irreverence. The Bible is not confined to this theme. It is rich in ecclesiastical history, political history, ethical rules, metaphysical discussion, comprehensive theology. It contains one book of ten chapters which has not a single allusion to God, and several books which do not mention Christ; why then do you shut us up to a doctrine which will circumscribe the minds of good men, and result in making their conversation insipid?"

"Contracted!"—this is the reply—"and you consider this topic a limited one, whose height, depth, length, breadth, no finite mind can measure? Of what would you speak?"

"We would speak of the divine existence."

"But Christ is the 'I am.'"

"We would speak of the divine attributes."

"But Christ is the Alpha and Omega; He searcheth the reins and trieth the hearts of men; He is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; full of grace and truth; to Him belong wisdom and power and glory and honor; of His dominion is no end. Of what, then, would you speak?"

"We would speak of the divine sovereignty."

"But Christ taught us to say: Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight—and He and His Father are one."

"We would converse on the divine decrees."

"But all things are planned for His praise who was in Christ, and in whom Christ was at the beginning."

"We would discourse on electing love."

"But the saints are elect in Christ Jesus."

"We would utter many words on the creation of men and angels."

"Now by our Redeemer were all things created that are in heaven and that are in the earth, visible and invisible."

"We would converse on the preservation of what has been created."

"Now Christ upholdeth all things by the word of His power. What would you have, then, for your theme?"

"We would take the flowers of the field for our theme."

"But they are the delight, as well as the contrivance of the Redeemer."

"We would take for our theme the globes in space."

"But they are the work of His fingers."

"Then we would take the very winds of heaven for our theme, lawless and erratic as they are."

"But Jesus taught us to comment upon these as an illustration of His truth. His poetic mind gave us the conception that the wind bloweth where it chooseth to blow; and we look on, wondering whence it cometh, and whither it goeth, knowing only that it is the breath of the wonderful, the counselor, who arouseth it as He listeth, or saith, Peace, be still. What else, then, do you prefer for your topic of conversation?"

"We prefer the laws of nature for our topic."

"But in them the Father worketh and Christ worketh equally."

"If it be so, we will select the fine and useful arts for our subject."

"But all the materials of these arts and all the laws which compact them, and all the ingenuity which arranges them are of His architectonic plan. He is the guide of the sculptor, painter, musician, poet. He is the contriver of all the graces which we in our idolatry ascribe to the human discoverer, as if man had originally invented them. The history of the arts is the history of Christ's government on earth. Will you propose, then, some other theme for your remark?"

"Do let us converse on the moral law."

"You may; but Christ gave this law and came to magnify it."

"Then let us comment on the ceremonial law."

"You may; but all its types are prophecies of Jesus."

"Then we will expatiate on virtue in the general."

"Do so; but Christ is the first exemplar, the brightest representative of all abstract goodness, of all your virtue in the general."

"Then we will take up the ethical maxims."

"Take them up; but they are embodied in Him who is the way, the truth, the life."

"We will resort, then, to human responsibility for our subject of discourse."

"But we must all appear before the judgment seat of that fair-minded arbiter who is man as well as God."

"May we not speak of eternal blessedness?"

"Yes; but it is Christ who welcomes His chosen into life."

"Shall we not converse, then, on endless misery?"

"Yes; but it is Christ who will proclaim: Depart, ye cursed."

"The human body; we would utter some words on that."

"But your present body is the image of what your Lord wore once, and the body that you will have, if you die in the faith, is the image of what your Lord wears now; the image of the body slain for our offenses and raised again for our justification. And have you still a favorite theme which you have not suggested?"

"The pleasures of life are our favorite theme."

"Yes, and Jesus provided them and graced them at Cana."

"The duties of the household are our favorite theme."

"Yes, and Jesus has prescribed them and disciplines you by them, and will judge you for your manner of regarding them. What would you have, then, what can you think of for your choice topic of discourse?"

"We love to talk of our brethren in the faith."

"But they are the indices of Christ, and He is represented by them."

"We choose to converse on our Redeemer's indigent, imprisoned, diseased, agonized followers."

"And He is anhungered, athirst, penniless, afflicted in them, and whatsoever we do to one of them we do to Him, and what we say of one of them we say of Him."

"May we speak in the pulpit of slaves?"

"Of slaves! Can you not speak of Medes and Parthians, Indians and Arabians? Why not then of Africans? Have they, or have they not, immortal souls? Was Jesus, or was He not, crucified for them? Was He ashamed of the lowly and the down-trodden, and those who have become the reproach of men and the despised of the people? You may speak of all for whom Christ died; as all men, bond or free, and all things, globes or atoms, suggest thoughts leading in a right line or in a curved line to the cross of Christ. All things, being thus nearly or remotely suggestive of the atonement, are for your sakes; whether Paul or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come,—all are yours, for your thoughts, for your words. If things pertain to the divine essence, the whole of that is the essence of Jesus; if they pertain to the divine relations, all of them are the relations of Jesus; if they pertain to the noblest and brightest features of seraphs, all the angels of God bow down before Jesus; if they pertain to the minutest changes of human life, in all our vicissitudes Jesus keeps up His brotherhood with us; if they pertain to the vilest and darkest spot of our depravity, they pertain to Jesus,—for to speak aright of sin is to be determined to speak of Christ and of Him crucified for sin.

"And is this the doctrine which men call a contracted one? Narrow! The very suspicion of its being narrow has now suggested the first reason why you should place it and keep it as the crown of all your words and deeds—it is so large, so rich, so boundless, that you need nothing which excludes it. And therefore," continues the apostle, "I mean to know and to love nothing, and to make it manifest that I care for nothing, in comparison with, and disconnected from, the God-man, as He develops all His attributes and all His relations on the cross."

But were the author of these laconic words in a familiar conference with us, we might be tempted to address to him a second inquiry:

"Is not your theme too large? At first we deemed it too small, but now it swells out before us into such colossal dimensions that we change our ground, and ask: Can the narrow mind of man take in this multiplicity of relations, comprehended in both the natures, and in the redemptive, as well as all the other works of Christ? Do not frail powers need one day as a day of rest, and one place as a sanctuary of repose, from every thought less tender than that of the atoning death itself? Must we not call in our minds from Christ and Him crucified, so as to concentrate all our emotions on the simple fact of Christ crucified?"

"Too large a theme!" this is the reply, "it is a large theme, too large to be fully comprehended by finite intelligences. Men have dreamed of exhausting the atonement by defining it to be a plan for removing the obstacles which stand in the way of our pardon. It is too large for that definition, as the atonement also persuades the Most High to forgive us. Then men have thought to mark it round about by saying that it is a scheme for inducing God to interpose in our aid. But the atonement is too large for that defining clause, as it also presents motives to man for accepting the interposition of God. Then some have thought to define it exactly, by saying that the atonement is both an appeal to the Lawgiver and also an appeal to the sinner. Too large still is the atonement for that explanation. It is an appeal to both God and man, but it is more. It is an appeal to the universe, and is as many-sided as the universe itself is to be variously affected. Can we by searching find out the whole of atoning love? It is the love of Him who stretched out His arms on the fatal wood, and pointed to the right hand and to the left hand, and raised His eyes upward, and cast them downward; and thus all things above and below, and on either side, He embraced in His comprehensive love. It is a large theme, but not too large to operate as a motive upon us. The immeasurable reach of a motive is the hiding of its power. The mind of man is itself expansive, and requires and will have something immense and infinite of truth or error, either overpowering it for good or overmastering it for evil. The atonement is a great theme, but not too great; and for the additional reason, its greatness lies, in part, in its reducing all other doctrines to a unity, its arranging them around itself in an order which makes them all easily understood. We know in other things the power of unity amid variety. We know how simple the geography of a land becomes by remembering that its rivers, altho meandering in unnumbered circuits around the hills and through the vales, yet pursue one main direction from one mountain to one sea. Now all the truths of God flow into the atonement. They are understood by means of it, because their tendencies are toward it; and it is understood by means of them, because it receives and comprehends them.

"Consider more fully the first part of this sentence; all other truths are understood by means of the atonement. It gives to them all a unity by illustrating them all. Other truths are not so much independent themes, as they are branches growing up or sidewise out of this one root, and they need this single theme in order that their relations may be rightly understood. What, for example, can we know in its most important bearings, unless we know the history and office of our Redeemer? Begin from whatever point we may examine the uses of things, we can never measure their full utility until we view them from the cross. The trees bud and blossom. Why? To bear fruit for the sustenance of the human body. But is this an ultimate object? The nourishment of the body favors the growth of the mind. But is the human mind an end worthy of all the contrivances in nature? Does the sun, with all its retinue of stars, pursue its daily course with no aim ulterior to man's welfare? Do we adopt a Ptolemaic theory in morals, that man is the center of the system, and other worlds revolve round him? All things were made of God, as the Being in whom they all terminate. Do they exist for elucidating His power? This is not his chief attribute. His knowledge? There is a nobler perfection than omniscience. His love? But there is one virtue imbedded as a gem in His love, and His love is but a shining casket for this pearl of infinite price. This pearl is grace. This is the central ornament of the character of Jehovah. But there is no grace in Jehovah save as it beams forth in Christ; not in Christ as a mere Divinity, nor in Christ as a mere spotless humanity, but in the two united, and in that God-man crucified. All things were made by Him and for Him, rising from the cross to the throne. Without reference to Him in His atoning love has nothing been made that was made in this world. The star in the East led wise men once to the manger where the Redeemer lay; and all the stars of heaven lead wise men now to Him who had risen above the stars, and whose glory illumines them all. He is termed the Sun of righteousness; and, as the material sun binds all the planets around it in an intelligible order, so does Christ shine over, and under, and into, and through all other objects, attract them all to Himself, marshal them all into one clear and grand array, showing them all to be His works, all suggestive of our duty, our sin, our need of atonement, our dependence on the one God, and the one Mediator between God and man.

"The first part of my sentence was, All other truths are understood by means of the atonement. Consider next the second part: The atonement is understood by means of other truths. It crystallizes them around itself, and reduces them into a system, not only because it explains them, but also because it makes them explain it. It is not too large a theme, for all the sciences and the arts bring their contributions to make it orderly and plain. Our text is a simple one, because its words are interpreted by a thousand facts shining upon it, and making themselves and it luminous in their radiations around and over it. Listen again to its suggestive words:

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

"Now, what is the meaning of this plain term 'Christ'? It means a 'King.' But how can we appreciate the King, unless we learn the nature of the beings over whom He rules? He reigns over the heavens; therefore we investigate the heavens. The whole earth is full of His glory; therefore we study the earth. He is the Lord over the angels; when we reflect on them, we catch a glimpse of Him in His regal state. He is the King of the Jews and the Gentiles. When we meditate on men, we enjoy a glance at Him who was born for this end, that He might have dominion over our race. When we contemplate the material worlds, all the vastness and the grandeur included in them—the sphere of mind, all the refinement and energy involved in it—we are overpowered by the reality, surpassing fable, that He who superintends all the movements of matter and first spake it into being and once framed, as He now governs, the souls of His creatures—He is the King who atoned for us; and the more we know of the stars in their courses, and of the spirit in its mysteries, so much the deeper is our awe in view of the condescending pity which moved their Creator to become one with a lowly creature acquainted with grief for you and me. So much is involved in the word 'Christ.'

"But our text speaks of Jesus Christ. That word 'Jesus!' What is the meaning of it? It means a 'deliverer,' and in the view of some interpreters it means 'God, the deliverer.' Deliverer? From what? We do not understand the power of His great office, unless we learn the nature and the vileness of sin; and we have no conception how mean, how detestable, sin is, unless we know the needlessness of it, the nobleness of the will which degrades itself into it, the excellence of the law which is dishonored by it. All our studies, then, in regard to the nature of the will, the unforced voluntariness of depravity, the extent of it through our race, the depth of it, the purity of the commands aiming to prevent it, the attractions of virtue, the strangeness of their not prevailing over the temptations of vice—they are not mere metaphysics; they are studies concerning the truth and the grace of Immanuel, who is God with us, and whose name is 'Deliverer' because He delivers His people from their sins; sins involving the power and the penalty of free wrong choice; a penalty including the everlasting punishment of the soul; a punishment suggesting the nature and the character of the divine law, and the divine Lawgiver, in their relation to the conscience and all the sensibilities of the mind; and that mind, as undying as its Maker. All these things are comprehended in the word 'Jesus.'

"But our text speaks of Jesus Christ and Him crucified: and this third term, 'crucified,' adds an emphasis to the two preceding terms, and stirs us up to examine our own capabilities—to learn the skill pervading our physical organism, so exquisitely qualified for pain as well as pleasure; the wisdom apparent in our mental structure, so keenly sensitive to all that can annoy as well as gratify; and thus we catch a glimpse of the truth, that He who combines all of our dignity with none of our guilt, and with all of the divine glory, and who thus develops all that is fit to be explained in man, and all that can be explained in God—He it is who chose to hang and linger with aching nerve and bleeding heart upon the cross for you and me. This cross makes out an atonement of the sciences and the arts and brings them also, as well as devout men, at one with God; all of them tributary to the doctrine that we are bought with a price—that we are redeemed, not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of a man, who was God manifest in the flesh. Too large a theme is the atonement? But it breaks down the middle wall of partition that has kept apart the different studies of men; and it brings them together as illustrations of the truth, which in their light becomes as simple as it is great.

"The very objection, then, that the redemptive work is too extensive for our familiar converse, has suggested the second reason why it should be the main thing for us to think upon, and speak upon, and act upon: It systematizes all other themes, and gains from them a unity which becomes the plainer because it is set off by a luminous variety; and for this cause," continues the apostle, "I intend to know nothing with supreme love, except this centralizing doctrine which combines all other truths into a constellation of glories."

There is still a third inquiry which we might present to the author of our text, could we meet him in a personal colloquy:

"Your words all converge toward one point; will they not then become monotonous, and inapposite to the varying wants of various, or even the same, individuals?"

"A monotonous theme!" this is the reply: "What can be more diversified than the character and work of Him who is at one time designated as the omniscient God, and at another time as a Mechanic; at one time as a Judge, and at another time as an Intercessor; now a Lion, and then a Lamb; here a Vine, a Tree, there a Way, a Door; again a Stone, a Rock, still again a Star, a Sun; here without sin, and there He was made sin for us.

"Monotonous is this theme? Then it is sadly wronged, and the mind of man is sadly harmed; for this mind shoots out its tendrils to grasp all the branches of the tree of life, and the tree in its healthy growth has branches to which every sensibility of the human mind may cling. The judgment is addrest by the atonement, concerning the nature of law of distributive justice, the mode of expressing this justice either by punishing the guilty or by inflicting pain as a substitute for punishment, the influence of this substitution on the transgressor, on the surety, on the created universe, on God Himself. There is more of profound and even abstruse philosophy involved in the specific doctrine of the atonement, than in any other branch of knowledge; and there has been or will be more of discussion upon it, than upon all other branches of knowledge; for sacred science is the most fruitful of all sciences in logical deduction, and this specific part of the science is the richest of all its parts.

"Here, then, is the first method in which you may keep up the habit of making 'Jesus and Him crucified' the soul of your activity: Bring to your help the force of a resolute determination. There is a tendency in this resolute spirit to divert your thoughts from other themes, to turn the current of your sensibilities into the right channel, to invigorate your choice, to exert a direct and reflex influence in confirming the whole soul in Jesus. God is in that determination. He inspires it. He invigorates it. He works with it and by it. There is a power in it, but the power is not yours; it is the power of God. God is in every holy resolve of man."

In our interview with the apostle we should address to him a second inquiry:

"In what method can we avoid both the fact and the appearance of being slavishly coerced into the habit of conversing on Christ and on Christ alone? You speak of taking your stand, adhering to your decision; but this dry, stiff resolve-comes any genial spirit from it? Will you not be a slave to your unswerving purpose? Your inflexible rule, will it not be a hard one, wearisome to yourself, disagreeable to others? You hold up a weighty theme by a dead lift."

"I am determined"—this is the reply—"and it is not only a strong but it is a loving resolve. For the love of Christ constraineth me; whom having not seen in the flesh I love; in whom, though now I see him not, yet believing, I rejoice with the joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is not a business-like resolution. It is not a diplomatic purpose. It is not a mechanical force. It is an affectionate decision. It is a joyous rule. It is the effluence of a supreme attachment to the Redeemer.

"And this is the second method in which you may retain Jesus Christ as the jewel of your speech and life: Cherish a loving purpose to do so. A man has strength to accomplish what with a full soul he longs to accomplish. Your Christian toil will be irksome to you, if it be not your cordial preference; but if your undeviating resolve spring out of a hearty choice of your Savior, then will it be ever refreshed and enlivened by your outflowing, genial preference; then will your pious work be the repose of your soul. There is a power in your love to your work. It is a power to make your labor easy for yourself and attractive to others. This is not your power; it is the power of God. He enkindles the love within you. He enlivens it. He gives it warmth. He makes it instinct with energy. God is in all the holy joy of man."

In our conference with the author of our text we might suggest to him our third and last inquiry:

"In what method can we feel sure of persevering in this habitual exaltation of Christ? You speak of your stern purpose, but can you depend upon the continuance of it? You speak of your cordial as well as set resolve. But who are you? (forgive our pertinacious query). Jesus we know. But His disciples, His chief apostles—is not every one of them a reed shaken with the wind, tossed hither and thither, unstable as a wave upon the sea?"

"I know it is so"—this is the reply. "Often am I afraid lest, having preached the gospel to others, I should be a castaway. And after all I am persuaded that nothing—height depth, life, death, nothing—shall be able to separate me from the love of Christ; for I put my confidence in Him, and while my purpose is inflexible and affectionate, it is also inwrought with trust in the atonement and the intercession. I do pursue my Christian life in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. For all the piety of the best of men is in itself as grass, and the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field. Therefore serve I the Lord with all humility of mind and with many tears and temptations. Yet I am determined with a confiding love. I am troubled on every side; my flesh has no rest; without are fightings, within are fears; in presence I am base among you, my bodily presence is weak and my speech contemptible; and if I must needs glory, I will glory in the things which concern my infirmities. Still, after all, I am determined, my right hand being enfolded in the hand of my Redeemer. I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day. For my conversation is in heaven, from whence I am to look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself. I say the truth in Christ; I lie not; I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I injured the Church of God; I am less than the least of all saints. Still I am determined; for by the grace of God I am what I am; and this grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I but the grace of God which was with me; for I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me, and therefore I am determined.

"Borne onward, therefore, by your fixed plan, and no one can succeed in anything without a plan, yet you must never rely ultimately upon your determined spirit. Allured further and further onward by your delight in your plan, and no one can work as a master in anything without enthusiasm in his prescribed course, still you must not place your final dependence upon your affectionate spirit; for if you take, for your last prop, either the sternness or the cheerfulness of your own determination, then you will know your determination, and you are not to know anything save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Here, then, is the third method in which you may give the fitting prominence to the best of themes: You must rest for your chief and final support on Him and only on Him, from whom all wise plans start, by whom they hold out, and to whom they all tend, who is all and in all, Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

My Christian brethren, you are all apostles. Every man, every woman, every child, the richest and the poorest, the most learned and the most ignorant of you—who have come up hither to dedicate yourselves and this sanctuary to your Lord, all being sent of Him to serve Him, have in fact and in essence the same responsibility resting on you as weighed on the author of our text. And he was burdened by the same kind of temptations and fears which oppress your spirit. But he was held up from failing in his work by a threefold cord; and that was his resolute determination, as loving as it was resolute, and as trustful as it was loving, to know nothing save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The last that you hear of him as an impenitent man is in the words: "And Saul, yet breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord." It was Christ whom the proud Jew last opposed. The first that you hear of him as a convicted man is in the words: "Who art thou, Lord?" It was Christ whom the inquiring Jew first studied. And the first that you hear of him as a penitent man is: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" It was Christ to whom the humble disciple first surrendered his will. And the first that you hear of him as a Christian minister is: "And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogs that he is the Son of God." And the last that you hear of him as a Christian hero is: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course. I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." And the secret of this victorious career is in words like those of our text: "I adhered to my plan (when among the fickle Corinthians), I was decided (when among the vacillating Galatians) to know nothing (when among the learned at Athens and them of C�sar's household at Rome) save Jesus Christ (when I was among my own kinsmen who scorned Him), and Him crucified (when I was among the pupils of Gamaliel, all of whom despised my chosen theme); still I was determined to cling to that theme among the Greeks and the Barbarians, before Onesimus the slave and Philemon the proud master; for I loved my theme, and, suffering according to the will of God, I committed the keeping of my soul to Him in well-doing as unto a faithful Creator."

And herein is it to be your plan, my brethren, and your joy, not to make this sanctuary the resort of wealth and of fashion, but rather of humble suppliants, who by their prayers may divert all the wealth and fashion of the world into the service of your Lord; not to make this temple the resting-place of hearers who shall idly listen to the words of an orator, but a temple of earnest coworkers with Christ—thinking of Him, speaking of Him, loving Him first, and last, and midst, and without end. As you come to this house of God on the Sabbath, as you go from it, as your week-day recollections gather around it, may you renew and confirm your plan to know your Redeemer, and not only to shut yourselves up to the supreme love of nothing except Christ, but also—His grace will be sufficient for you—to worship and serve Christ in the central relation of Him crucified. Knowing Him alone, He will sustain you as fully as if He knew you alone. He will come to you in this temple as frequently as if He had no other servants to befriend. He will listen to your prayers as intently as if no supplications came up to Him from other altars, and He will intercede for you as entirely as if He interceded in behalf of no one else; for remember, that when He hung upon the cross, He thought of you, and died for you, just as fully as if He had been determined to think of no one, and to die for no one, save you, whom He now calls to the solemn service of consecrating your own souls, and your "holy and beautiful house" to the glory of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.