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SERMON XVIII.

I CORINTHIANS xv. 1, 2.

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel

which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand. By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

We remember what we love. The wonderful faculty of memory is strengthened or enfeebled by education, degrees of knowledge, habits of life, general pursuits, and all the variety of circumstances and events which affect our intellectual and moral being.

One great end of the ministry of the gospel is to recall to our minds the truths of Christianity, and preserve or renew that impression of them upon the conscience and heart, upon which our salvation, under God's mercy, depends. For if we firmly retain in our memory and feelings, as St. Paul teaches us in the text, what we have heard, and act practically upon it, we shall be saved.

But if we let go the truths of the gospel and allow them to escape from us, we shall be found to have “believed in vain;" our religion will turn out to have been "a delusion, we shall still be found at the hour of death, in our sins."

Let us then consider the subject of Memory, as it respects the retaining faithfully the truths of the gospel ; what we may bc perhaps allowed to term, RELIGIOUS MEMORY ; with regard to the truths which are chiefly to be kept in mind ; the difficulties of doing so; and the best means of strengthening the memory for this duty.

I. The gospel in its primary elements, is that which the apostle is treating of in the text and the succeeding verses : “ I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you – - for I delivered, first of all, that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again according to the Scriptures.” The death of Christ as a sacrifice for it ; his burial; his resurrection on the third day for our justification, in accomplishment of the Scriptures of Moses and the Prophets, and received by a lively faith as the foundation of our hope of pardon and reconciliation, and the motive of our steadfast obedience; these are the simplest rudiments of Christianity.

1. These the apostle had delivered and preached to the Corinthians with all fidelity, exactly as he had received them by immediate revelation, or from inspired persons, the witnesses of the events. The truths, then, which the memory must retain, are the main branches of divine revelation as contained in Holy Scripture, and delivered and preached to us by the ministers of Christ, exactly as they lie in that inspired Record, and without human addition, subtraction, or alteration.

2. These first elements are, however, connected with the one great scheme of Redemption which runs through the whole of the Bible, and was developed with increasing details and brightening light, as the birth of Messiah approached ; till it at last stood forth in its full radiance in the epistles of St. Paul and the other apostles, endued with the Holy Ghost at the day of Pentecost. This sublime plan, extending from the creation of man to the final consummation of the Mediatorial kingdom, it is the duty of ministers to unfold. The chief parts are, man's original righteousness; his fall ; his corruption and impotency to spiritual good; the guilt and responsibility of his sinful nature; the deity, incarnation, atonement, and righteousness of the only-begotten Son of God; the operations and grace of the Holy Ghost; and the authoritative and spiritual rule of Christian conduct, consisting of the law of God as expounded and applied in the New Testament, and embodied iu the life of Christ.

3. But this scheme must be preached as the nourishment of a new principle of grace in the soul of man; or rather as the source first, and then the nourishment of it. The doctrines of the gospel and its precepts are not to be theoretically entertained merely. Religion in the heart of man must be a heavenly thing. His ignorant and alienated affec. tions, will and conscience must be quickened to spiritual life and perception by the Holy Ghost. The sinner must be renewed in the spirit of his mind; born again; born of God; made a new creature in Cbrist Jesus. The doctrines of redemption are the nourishment of “this new-born babe" of the spiritual world. They are the guide of its hopes, fears, joys, consolations, as springing from the primary facts of the death and resurrection of Christ, and the promises of God made therein. The precepts are the direction of the internal feelings and outward conduct, springing from the same divine principle. The Revelation of the Bible is designed to bring man back to that life of God in the soul, in which Adam was created.

4. But the afflictions and sorrows connected with this course of spiritual feeling and conduct, must ever be borne in mind by those who would deliver what they have received from Holy Scripture. The great spiritual adversary, as "the God of this world,” either goes about as the “ roaring lion” of open persecution, or seduces as the wily old serpent by this world's pageantry and lusts, or, “transformed into an angel of light,” infuses deadly error into the instruction of some, who have assumed to themselves in all ages, as amongst the Corinthians, the appearance of " ministers of righteousness." Reproaches, calumnies, opposition, unkindnesses; and, if circumstances allow, bitter ridicule, oppression, banishment, loss of goods, and even of life itself, are the uniform effects of the profession of Christ's religion in its humility and spirituality amidst a crowd of idolaters, rebels, intellectual triflers, philosophers, proud Pharisees, disputers of this world, and unbelievers or misbelievers. The cross must be daily taken up, that we may really follow Christ.

5. The filling up the outline of main truths, with all the statements of Scripture, both primary and secondary, respecting them, is a further principle to be preached as we have received it.

This can never be perfectly accomplished; but approaches may be made to it. A few propositions, such as the summaries of creeds and articles, are of excellent use; but if we stop in them, instead of continually filling up the outline with the details which the Holy Ghost has thought it right to reveal, and to reveal

that we may receive and act upon them, our Christianity will be very different from that of the New Testament as the consequent and supplement of the Old. A Christianity fixed firmly on its primary elements, impregnated with the idea of the vast scheme of redemption, turning all into the food of a divine life in the soul, and prepared boldly to sus. 2. The strong tide and current of the world flows directly in opposition to the tendency of the truths we have been considering. The principles of Christianity are soon forgotten; they escape from us ; they pass slightly over the surface of the affections; they do not sink deeply and perma. nently into the memory and heart; there is no affinity, no natural bias of the will and affections to aid them. The current of the world flows full and strong against these slight barriers. Unless there be a constant struggle and effort on our part, we are insensibly carried down the stream, and find ourselves upon inquiry at an immense distance from the point where we imagined ourselves to be firmly fixed.

3. The difficulty is augmented by winds of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. It was thus, as I have mentioned, with the Corinthians as to the great doctrine of the resurrection. The particulars of St. Paul's inspired preaching on that topic had faded from their memory ; new impressions had been made by the glittering eloquence of the false teachers; the corrupt propensities of fallen man had agreed but too well with their seductions ; metaphysical subtilties had been made the occasion of objections as to the manner of the dead being raised, their order, and the bodies with which they should appear. They thus relaxed much from their former steadfastness, immoveableness, and abundant labore in the work of the Lord.

It is surprising how soon the impression of the most capital articles of faith fades from the memory of the age, when some sweeping error, or heresy, becomes fashionable and is decked up in meretri. cious ornaments to appear like truth. The Gnostic heresies of the first centuries, the Arian of the third and following, the Pelagian in the time of Augus

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