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The knowledge of Christ crucified

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The Sermon

The knowledge of Christ crucified

by Henry Wilkinson

Sermon at St Mary's Oxford, August 8th 1642

Text : 1 Corinthians 2:2  " For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified".

It's storied of Heraclitus, the weeping philosopher, that when a  question was proposed to him, what was the subject of his serious meditations?  he returned this answer, That he was studying to know himself: O profitable knowledge, to be thus well aquainted at home! Now the most compendious method of attaining this knowlege is then procured when we know our own ignorance: so that without question he is the best knowing Christian, who knows this, that he knows nothing as he ought to know.  And as in point of knowledge, so also the rule holds good, in point of practice: he is the best proficient in the school of Christ who daily practiceth the divine art of self denial.  For then are we something in God's account when we are nothing in our own.  For a provocation to this duty look upon the Archetypum; a singular pattern of humility is Christ our Saviour, the head of his Church, and there ought to be a conformity between the head and the members.  He that was God from all eternity EKENOSEN HEAUTON, emptied himself ("he laid down his glory not by diminishing it, but by suppressing it in the sight of men" Calvin), became incarnate and wore the rags of mortality: here's a condescension indeed, even the lowest step of humility.  The first lesson then which the disciple of Christ must learn is to deny himself: And certainly there is nothing lost in a self denying way for Christ.  But this is a difficult lesson, and who can learn it?  Counsel a strong man not to glory in his strength, a rich man not to glory in his riches, a wise man not to glory in his wisdom, and they will tell you as the disciples answered Christ, "This is a hard saying and who can hear it", John 6:60.  This grace of self denial is a rare herb and grows nowhere but in the garden which the Lord hath planted.  O what an excellent thing it is for a man to be out of love with himself! That plant had need of much watering from Heaven before it can be brought to such a maturity.  My apostle is an example, standing for all others, when those wise men of Greece expected quaint composures and flashes of rhetoric, he treads quite Antipodes to them, drawing his lines after another and exacter copy.  The simplicity of preaching the cross of Christ is his Apology.  And to strain for sublime raptures upon such an argument were a mere solecism.  Here's one who is in every way an accomplished scholar and yet knows it not, it may be verified of him what Homer speaks of Nestor, "his words were sweeter than honey" (MELITOS GLUKION REEN AUDE, Homer, Iliad, 1).  At Lystra he was styled Mercury, the God of eloquence: yet he shaked off all these tickling enticements.  He makes of all these an act of oblivion.  "Henceforth rub these things from my mind if only Christ be formed in me".  If Christ may be formed in him, he is fiully satisfied and will say with Jacob, in another case, "I have enough"; now let me die. I have all, for I have the knowledge of Christ crucified."  Weigh all other kinds of knowledge in the balance of the sanctuary and they will prove too light.  This I say, even the knowledge of Christ will always preponderate.  A long time modesty  kept in his own commendation but at last it could hold no longer lest it should conceal a truth.  He professed with a thankful heart, I Corinthians 14:18, that he spake with tongues more than all the apostles, and yet here he takes no notice of them. : "It is the property of art to conceal itself" (Artis est celare artem).  St Paul was an accurate linguist and yet so lowly as he would be reputed so.  Nay besides all these, he had the best helps of education: He was trained up at the feet of Gamaliel, a learned rabbi.  He hung upon this doctor's lips ready to take every word that dropped from his mouth and improve it to his best advantage.  Yet not withstanding, all the polite learning which he took up at the feet of Gamaliel, in all humility he lays down at the feet of Christ.  Peruse his protestation in the verse immediately preceding my text "And I brethren when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God".  ("He admits", says Calvin, "that he had no human rhetoric or wisdom to make him successful, but by confessing his lack of such resources he implies that God's power which needed no such help was all the more evident in his ministry"). However others make ostentation of learning, and through an ambitious affectation of eloquence, preach themselves and not Christ; yet I that am a minister of Christ, and called to be His embassador, make conscience to go beyond my commission to add the compositions and varnishings of human eloquence, lest I detract from the simplicity that is in Chtist. You Corinthians may expect eloquence, your city (as it's attested by Cicero) was the eye of all Greece. However I am resolved to deceive your expectation. Here I am, says he, agens consilio, I do it upon most serious advice, and mature deliberation: this is the upshot of my premeditated resolution: My conclusion I retain inviolable (GAR EKRINA etc) non eximiumduxi so Calvin. Non statui, so Tertullian, Non iudicavi, so Erasmus. These versions give light one to another. My text is the determination of Paul the great Doctor of the Gentiles. In the unfolding whereof I shall not crumble the bread of life into an overcurious division, lest I divide the sense. --Out of the words I commend to your observation three remarkable particulars.

1. The Apostle's profession or resolution  EKRINA TOU EIDENAI  I determined to know.

2. The object of his profession exprest,

1. positively,  IESOUN CHRISTOUN, Jesus Christ,

2. Privatively and by way of Antithesis  EI ME this and nothing else.

3. The condition or qualification of the object,  KAI TOUTON ESTAUROMENON, and him crucified. Homo naturaliter appetit scire. Every man by nature is desirous of knowledge. In point of knowledge the cry in general is, with the horseleech's daughter, Give, give. There's no satiety in it. Of all other goods, knowledge is to be set at the highest estimate. And of all sorts of knowledge the knowledge of Christ is superexcellent: and if we raise the climax higher, that knowledge which concerns the Cross of Christ is most excellent, sweet and comfortable. You see then that I am warranted by my Apostle, to outbid all the knowledge in the world. The knowledge of Christ transcends all the knowledge in the universe, This is the wisdom of God in a mystery, 1 Cor.2:7.  It's that which the blessed Angels desire to peep into, and they use more than ordinary diligence. (Margin: PARAKUPTEIN is to watch out and to gaze intently and with observant mind - Gerhard in Harmon. Evang.) It's beyond the sphere of their apprehension. Let all human learning unveil to this. Let all secular knowledge rise up and give up the bucklers. Let the profoundest Philosophers, those Glimmerers and as I might say those Night-worms in Divinity, learn so much knowledge as to know their ignorance. All their lamps twinkle and cannot illuminate the soul of man. What clouds and mists are there in the most exquisite  Arts and Sciences until they be dissipated  by the sun of righteousness. Extract the quintessence of the most elaborate volumes  of Philosophers (though things in themselves of precious value), yet compared with the knowledge of Christ, they are but brutish ignorance, no better than those husks that the Prodigal son fed on, devoid of all real solid nutriment.

In the discussion of this excellent knowledge, for my more methodical progress, I'll resume the parts of my text in their proposed order, taking my rise at the Apostle's profession EKRINA TOU EIDENAI, I determined to know.

1st Part: Concerning knowledge in general

You hear my Apostle's determination is unalterably fixt upon this principle, to be a knowing man. He hath discovered a gem in the field, and therefore he digged hard in the mines of wisdom to get possession of it.

Non nisi sublato reperitur gemmula saxo

(Stone must be removed before the jewel can be found)

Tis no marvel that the Apostle should be so eager in the pursuit of knowledge. The Minister of the Gospel, as well as the Priest under the Law, ought to be a man of knowledge: For the Priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts: Mal. 2:7. Hence Calvin concludes that he ought to be a teacher. An ignorant minister is none of God's making, for God gives gifts where he gives a calling.(Margin: The gift of teaching cannot be separated from the function of priest: it's monstrous to claim to be a priest if he's no teacher: Calvin).

How then can a man attain unto the riches of wisdom, unless he hath the key of tongues to open them unto him? Hence it comes to pass, that diversity of tongues are reckoned with the choicest persons and things, as Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, Miracles, Gifts of healing, Helps, Governments: 1 Cor. 12:28. How much is a divine accommodated by the knowledge of tongues? For how can he beat out the meaning of the Holy Ghost unless he understand his language? Methinks then, our desires should be raised to as high a pitch as Solomon intimates, Prov. 18:1  Through desire a man having separated himself intermeddleth with all wisdom. This separation is lawful, to leave company to study the harder, as Mercer observes (...the man who forsakes company and seeks wisdom in the desire and study to obtain it, and immerses himself in the whole of doctrine, with all human contact removed so that he may apply himself more freely to his studies - Mercer on Prov. 18). A scholar will find special use of arts and sciences: they enrich the mind with knowledge, and help to untie many knotty controversies. Let me then persuade you to compass these spoils of the Egyptians, to leave no pains unattempted in the pursuit of learning. Arts and sciences caught a fall in Adam. How prudent a course it would be for us to raise a building out of those ruins, and to have that part of God's image restored? Solomon excelled the learnedest and put down the skilfullest in their own art, 1 Kings 4:30. There's made up a catalogue of his knowledge in natural things. And they pass under the seal and signature of the Holy Ghost as being subservient unto religion, and therefore of great price, dignity and value. Moses, who as they say lived in Hermes Trismegistus' time, was learned in the mathematics, and things that appertained unto human learning: the text is clear: And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds, Acts 7:22. If any be enemies to University learning, I conceive with St Jude v. 10: they speak evil of those things which they know not. Their ignorance, as Junius observes, is uncivil, unjust, malicious and impious. They may fitly be compared to the fox in the fable, who said the grapes were over bitter, because they were above his reach. None but an ignoramus is an enemy to knowledge. Thus you see how we ought to prize knowledge wherever we find it. But let us confer our principal pains for the attaining of that knowledge which only will make us wise unto salvation. Throughout the whole book of Proverbs a wise man and a godly man are convertible terms. Religion is therefore called the way of understanding, Prov. 9:6. And it is the high commendation of a wise man, Prov. 1:5, that he will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.

	This is the end of Christ's coming into the world, to be a light unto it, John 1:9. PHOS EN HO KURIOS, KAI GNOSIS HE ALETHES, EIS HEN METETETHEMEN - The Lord is our illumination and that true knowledge into which we are translated, so Clemens Alexandrinus (Clem. Alex. Stromata 6). By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, Isa.53:11. And it's David's prayer, O continue thy loving kindness unto them that know thee, Ps.36:10. Knowledge is the foundation of all other graces. Faith, Hope and Love are grounded on knowledge. It's God's first work to illuminate the understanding. The scales fell off Paul's eyes before he became a preacher of the gospel. The promise is to those whom the Father draws, John 6:45, that they should be THEODIDAKTOI, all taught of God. But this promise excludes not the preaching of the gospel, as learned Rolloc observes on the place (People abuse this text if they despise the spoken word or the external word and scripture: Rob. Rollock on John 6:45). And that you may know where this knowledge resides, let me assure you,

1. Divine knowledge is humble

That it ever lodgeth in an humble breast. The knowledge taught of God is an humble knowledge. But when God opens a man's eyes and gives him the spirit of understanding, he then discerns in himself more ignorance and folly than knowledge. After that he hath studied this
domum interiorem [inner home], his own conscience, as Bernard styles it) he knows more ill by himself than all the world can acquaint him withal. As the consideration of his primitive integrity  may be scientia inflans [knowledge that puffs up], so the review of his original prevarication may be scientia humilians [humbling knowledge]. As that may puff up, so this may humble. It's the greatest honour of the learnedest Rabbis, to be men of the humblest spirits. And the more humble they are, the greater proficiency they make in knowledge. Let them consider, what they have is derivative: Quid habes, quod non accepisti? [What do you have that you did not receive?] Their abilities are not their own, but so many talents concredited unto them of which they must stand accomptable unto him who is their Lord and Master (Margin: The lower a man becomes in his own estimation, the greater his progress in the knowledge of God: Bernard). It's undoubtedly true that the most ignorant are apt to think best of themselves. The Laodiceans were well conceited of themselves, and the reason was because their eyes were not opened.

2. Is a reforming knowledge

Neither doth divine knowledge float in thy brain, but,
secondly, it works a reformation upon thy heart and life. To depart from evil is understanding, Job 28:28. Hereby we are sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments, 1 John 2:3. This is a KRITERION indeed of a man of knowledge. Hath thy knowledge an effectual influence upon thy life and conversation? Doth it quicken thy love to Christ and inkindle thy zeal for his glory? When the spirit of wisdom breaks in upon thy soul (just as when the spirit of God came upon Saul) it makes thee another manner of man. This spirit is a fire, to purge thy corruptions,. It's water, to allay thy passions. It's a wind to blow and scatter thy swelling thoughts of vanity. May that popular rumour never be verified of our age, that never was more knowledge, and never less practice. Now when knowledge abounds, as the waters cover the seas, where's the return of a sanctified conversation? He's truly the knowing man who reduceth his knowledge into practice. Knowledge and practice should go together in a mutual equipage, being conjoined in an indissoluble union by the Holy Ghost. If then God hath advanced you to places of higher dignity, God expects from you more duty and obedience. If God hath bestowed greater gifts upon you, he expects better fruits of holiness to be manifested throughout your whole life and conversation. For where much is given, much is required. He's a man of learning that is a man of a sanctified conversation. I remember that Bernard gives an instruction or two for knowledge (Super Cantica, Sermon 37) ut scias quo ordine, quo studio, quo fine [know, in what order, with what study, to what end 4]. For order, that must be known in the first place that most nearly conduceth unto thy salvation. For study, that must be studied which is most worthy of thy love: and as for the end, that must not be curiosity but the edification of thy own and thy brother's soul. These directions in my text meet as lines in the same center. Christ Jesus is first to be known, worthiest of our love, and the end of all our knowledge. This puts me in mind of my second particular, the object of my Apostle's resolution EIDENAI IESOUN CHRISTOUN, to know Jesus Christ.

2nd Part: Concerning the knowledge of Jesus Christ

In these Epistles Paul useth the name of Jesus above 500 times, and no wonder, for in this name there are above 5000 treasures. Yea in it all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are reposited. If you would anatomise all Paul's epistles, you should find the sacred name of Jesus written in the heart of them in golden characters as truly, as they falsely report, it was seen in the heart of
Ignatius Loyola, that grand impostor. I have read that Phidias made a buckler for Minerva, wherein his own name was so curiously ingraven that it could not be took out without the dissolution of the whole frame. So Christ hath divinely wrought his name in the Scriptures, and that so accurately, in so much that you cannot take it out but the truth will fall to the ground. Christ is the complement and perfection of all science, the ground of all consolation. Hereupon the prophet concludes triumphantly: I will rejoice in the God of my salvation, Hab. 3:18. HE GNOSIS EMON KAI PARADEISOS HO PNEUMATIKOS AUTOS EMON HO SOTER HUPARCHEI:our knowledge and spiritual paradise is our Saviour: so Clemens Alexandrinus (Strom. 6). O, then above all thy gettings, labour to get this understanding, to know Christ and him crucified. Have this and thou needest no more.It's theunum necessarium, the only requisite. A man may read 20 lectures in Aristotle and yet be never the more moralised man. All Plato's and Aristotle's precepts meddle not with heart pollution nor tend to the reformation of the inward man. A man only acted by principles of nature cannot correct the least vice.. It's beyond the sphere of its activity to discover sin in its proper colours, I mean the sinfulness and the pollution that is in sin. Tis true a temperate Socrates, a just Aristides, a covenant-keeping Regulus, shame many of us Christians and will rise up in judgment against us and condemn us, but their morality could not advance them to the third heaven. The eye of natural reason was too dim to discern Christ erected upon a pole. Their charity, then, justly deserves the check, who inlarge the way where Christ hath straitened it. The text is express, there's no other name given under heaven, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Till this truth be expunged out of Canonical Scripture, I shall never admit any scientiam mediam [middle knowledge] or postern door, to let in those who are without the pale of the Christian world. As for those Jesuited persons who advance nature and deprave grace, the time may come when  upon conviction of conscience, they may be forced to conclude with Bellarmine's Tutissimum est etc (It's the safest way to rely upon the grace of God - Bellarmine, lib. 5 de Justificatione), when as that idolised AUTEXOUSION [ability in oneself] will prove an Egyptian reed, to give them the slip in their greatest necessity.

3. Characters of knowledge

Now it's requisite that I should put a difference between the precious and the vile, and distinguish that knowledge which is so in reality and truth, from that which is counterfeit and only personates a Christian. View it in these distinguishing characters: This is a fundamental, an excellent and a soul-saving knowledge.

1. I say this is a fundamental knowledge. The knowledge of Christ is the sum and substance of all divinity, the scope of all the Scriptures, the very pith and quintessence of all religion, even that which is (without controversy) the great mystery of Godliness. The Scripture is the field and Christ the pearl of price, the Scripture the box, and Christ the precious  ointment. Pretiosum oppobalsamum in gemmeo myrhothecio [precious ointment in jewelled casket]. Christ is called in Scripture LOGOS, "the Word" KAT EXOCHEN [par excellence], as though every word in Scripture did re-echo this precious word. The Apostle sets it down unto the life, Eph. 2:20, 21, And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.

2. Add hereunto, this is an excellent knowledge. The Apostle, though a man of incomparable gifts, yet accounted all things but loss and dung, in comparison of this, Phil. 2:8. TA PANTA [all things], be what they will, honours, riches in their greatest estate and confluence, arts and sciences in their resplendent lustres, let them be virtues which beautify the mind, yet when they come in competition with Christ they pass under such a censure, ZENIAN KAI SKUBALA , loss and garbage, the most vile and contemptible things in the world. This knowledge must needs be amiable, because it proceeds from Christ the fairest of ten thousands.

3 And lastly, for the complement of all, this is a
soul-saving knowledge. When all philospophical speculations puzzle and non plus thy understanding, and cannot administer the least auxiliaries unto thee (For the natural man perceiveth not the things that are of the spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2:14) then when thou hast the spirit of discerning to see their emptiness and impotency, Christ darts a ray of supernatural knowledge into thy soul, infuseth into thee new principles, a renewed nature. And now thou discernest with another manner of eye, for the spiritual man knoweth all things. Thou must then have a better master than Aristotle to teach thee. This knowledge can nowhere be learnt but in the school of Christ. A man may be admired for a great Gnostic, as accurate a text-man (as Buxtorf records of the Jews) as to know every letter in the Bible and observe every point (as the Masorithes do) yet all this while he may be a mere stranger to this soul-saving knowledge. For if the doctrinal truth of Scripture be not made an experimental truth unto thy soul and conscience, though thou mayest be reputed a great scholar, yet thou art far from being a good Christian. When Christ comes into thy soul by his grace, he renews thee in the spirit of thy mind, he purifies thy nature, reforms thy life, redeems thee from thy vain conversation. When his gracious face shines upon thee, he makes his ways and saving health known unto thee, as it is in Psal. 67:2.

Thus I have endeavoured to describe the object of this knowledge positively considered, let's now view it as privatively, and by way of antithesis set down in the text, EI ME, only, or nothing else besides Jesus Christ.

Q. But doth no other knowledge pass current? Doth my Apostle use a kind of ostracism, to banish all secular learning out of the school of Christ?

A. Doubtless such an interpretation stands not with the sense of my Apostle.
Nulla mihi scientia tanti fuit, ut aliud cognoscere appeterem quam Christum, licet crucifixum [No knowledge meant so much to me that I should wish to know anything rather than Christ crucified], so Calvin ad loc.[on the text]. He esteemed no knowledge equal to the knowledge of Christ. Per sapientiam verbi evacuatur crux Christi -By eloquence of words the Cross of Christ is made of none effect: so Aquinas upon the place. But these two agree with Estius and Pareus who are no enemies unto human learning, but they much disrelished the affected eloquence of new-fangled preachers who rent the people asunder, from unity to mutiny, from faith to faction, and so tear the seamless coat of Christ. They bragged of Cardan's vainglorious humour (otherwise a man of wisdom) who making a cataloque of renowned worthies inserted himself, Hieronymus Cardanus, in the number. So these instead of preaching Christ in all humility are not ashamed to vent the frothy issues of their abortive brains, rather to tickle their auditors' ears than to affect their consciences. Therefore to this poison my Apostle prescribes a sovereign antidote and that is to preach Christ and him crucified. Sola Christi cognitio sufficit ad salutem, saith Pareus. The knowledge of Christ is alone sufficient unto salvation. But he adds further, sed cum aliis  conjuncta, tanto erit jucundior: but mixt with other sciences will relish some palates the better. Having a spice of human learning, it may win upon men's affections and so take the learned in their own art. Augustine going to have his ears tickled had his heart touched, and got Christ to boot, with the eloquence of Ambrose. A minister ought to preach in the most winning way and ought to endeavour by a pious kind of fraud (not in a Popish or Machiavilian sense) to insinuate himself into the affections of his auditors. I ground my assertion upon the Apostle, 2 Cor. 12:16. Being crafty I caught you with guile. The preacher studied acceptable words. Elegant composures and apposite expressions are commendable. I know not anything to the contrary, but an Egyptian jewel may be dedicated to the service of the sanctuary. The Apostle quotes Menander, Aratus, Epimenides, heathen poets, that so he might foil the Gentiles with their own weapons. (Margin: we see it's not enough to trust in our own integrity unless we are catching such people by our efforts. It's not to be thought of as a superficial or casual attraction, but an exquisite dligence: Calvin). Chrysostom upon my text saith, The Apostle who knew greater things of art could not be ignorant of these lesser things (margin: O TOI NUN TA MEIZONA TEN TECHNES EIDOS POLLO PLEON TA ELASSONA ISCHUSEN AN: Chrys. on Dan. 2:34): yet he would relinquish his learning, deny his parts, seem to be ignorant of his gifts, that by this means he might gain people to the knowledge of Christ. The Apostles, Acts 4:13, were accounted by the Council IDIOTAI, illiterate men, even idiots (as the word is commonly Englished) yet these God used as instruments to confound the wisdom of the wise, and to put to silence the most knowing men. We read in Daniel of a stone without hands cut out of the mountains, which battered all the rest in pieces: so the gospel of Christ in its purity and simplicity, without the help of human policy or contrivances, throws down all the towering thoughts of men, it levels mountains as low as the valleys, and casts down the high and mighty from their seat. It's the arm of the Lord, Isa. 53:1. It's the power of God unto salvation, Rom. 1:16. Yet all this while, though I admire divine learning and prefer it to the highest place, accounting all knowledge none at all to the knowledge of Christ, nevertheless I discard not human learning from its office and conveniency and usefulness in a learned republic. My heart's desire and prayer is, that the sun may never set upon our Israel, but that the schools may flourish in learning and religion, and that the sons of the prophets may grow up as young plants, and be as the polished corners of the temple, never wanting honourable encouragements. But for the prevention of abuses which are apt to creep in, I hope a caution or two will not be unseasonable.

1st Caution: Purge and cleanse human learning

Before you make use of human learning, labour to cleanse and purge it. There's much dross in it and therefore it must be refined. It requires an  understanding head to cull out what is legitimate and to reject what is spurious. Things must not be took on trust at adventure by an implicit faith relying upon the judgment of learned doctors. There's a Lydius lapis [Lydian touchstone] to discern true from counterfeit. Ad legem et testimonia, Isa. 8:20, [to the law and the testimony]: examine all doctrines by the touchstone which is the Word of God. Take heed that thou bring not in those things which contradict the principles of thy faith. Better to relinquish thy author and sacrifice him to the flames, than flinch one tittle from the rule, which is the word of God, and so make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience.

2nd Caution: Make human learning subordinate unto divine

In the next place be advised to make all human learning subservient and subordinate to divine. Hagar was courteously entertained whilst she was a servant, but when once she domineered and despised her mistress, she was turned out of doors. The comparison is obvious, between humanity and divinity. If that, being but a handmaid, flaunt it and outbrave her mistress, let her be cashiered in the same manner. The captive woman must have her nails pared and her head shaven before she might be entertained for a wife, Deut. 21:12. In like manner we must pare off all the superfluities, protuberances and excrescences of human learning, before it can be dedicated to the service of the Lord. As Moses in his glorious lustre put a veil before his face, so were it an act of prudence sometimes to conceal a man's self. The veil of silence is ofttimes the  best attire of sobriety. A fool, saith Solomon, speaks all, but a wise man holds it in till afterwards, Prov. 29:11.

3rd Caution: Use human learning with moderation

Use human learning with moderation and modesty. The gold sanctifies not the altar, but the altar the gold. Human learning improveth not divine, but is itself improved by it. Arts are holy in their use only, which is to attend upon sacred knowledge. And whilst they do so, the law entitles them to some kind of holiness: nam qui sacris serviunt, profana non sunt [for what serves the sacred is not profane]. Surely then that painter discovered abundance of folly, who when he could not make the picture handsome then fell a daubing of it. A remedy worse than the disease. Onesilus his head (as I find it in Herodotus, Terpsic.), when it was empty of brains, was filled with honeycombs. Such are those, and may they never come near our Athens) whom I may term capita sine cerebro [heads without brains], brainless or brainsick heads, who glean tares from a stage and scatter them in the pulpit: whilst Jesuits and postilers are mustered up by scores, scarce one quotation of Scripture.

This is just as if a man should forbear wholesome food and gnaw hungerly upon flint stones, according to the civilities [read "similitudes"?] of
Robertus Guleus. The Lord complains of this epidemical disease, Jer. 2:13, My people have committed two evils, they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, even broken cisterns. Would Jerome's dream might instruct our morning thoughts. He dreamed that Christ said unto him: Inveni te magis Ciceronianum quam Christianum [I find you more like Cicero than Christ]. Away with such lines of luxuriant fancies, strong you may call them, but by an antiphrasis they are as weak as water and cannot quench the drought of a thirsty soul. What's the shell to the kernel? What are all these outsides to Christ crucified? We cannot preach Christ in any other method, but we shall bewray [betray] our own vainglory, betray the honour of God and the souls of his people. When poor souls lie a-bleeding and they cry out "None but Christ", what advantage will all the froth of wit afford them? When all the flourishes of wit are empty and can do no good, there must be a real solid thing (as I may say) corpus solidum succi plenum [a solid substance full of vigour] that must add a word of comfort to a troubled spirit. Let me beseech you in the bowels of Christ, that you would preach Christ, and that in all humility. He's the best preacher, and he will reap the best fruit of his pains, who endeavours to condescend to the capacity of his auditors. Perspicuity is the ornament of an orator, and the humble preaching of Christ crucified is the grace of a sermon. And so I am fallen upon my last particular, KAI TOUTON ESTAUROMENON, and him crucified.

3rd Part: The knowledge of Christ crucified

Here's a man of the right stamp indeed. What the Jews accompted a stumbling block, and the Greeks foolishness, he accounted his only glory. God forbid, saith he, that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world, Gal. 6:14.

Q. But why doth the Apostle so often inculcate this expression, Christ crucified? Why not, Christ incarnate, or Christ risen, ascended and glorified? Why not Christ rather in his robes, than now in his rags?

A. I answer, without the knowledge of the cross, the knowledge of Christ will profit us nothing. Upon that he was made KATARA [curse], a curse for us to redeem us from the curse of the law. Christ made our atonement upon the cross where he felt the phials of God's wrath poured down upon his righteous soul, having assumed the person of an offender.

Where then is the wise, where is the scribe, where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? (1 Cor. 1:20). Are swelling words suitable to this exinanition of the Son of God? Is a lofty style correspondent with this abasement? Is it fit to discourse sweetly and delightfully upon gall and vinegar, and to beset nails and thorns with flowers of rhetoric, and to bring our Saviour in pomp of words and vainglorious pageants of art unto his cross?  This is not to preach Christ, but to preach a man's self in a vainglorious affectation of eloquence. Herein consists the duty of a minister, for matter to preach Christ only, for manner with all humility, and him crucified. This is the preaching when all's done; this I may term the very art of preaching, which directly tends to the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Admit a man be of never so mean a presence, and men come to hear him possessed with a prejudicate opinion, yet if he labour to divide the word aright, and to speak to the conscience rather than the fancy of his auditors, O what wonders doth the Lord work by weak means? As by rams' horns the walls of Jericho were battered in pieces, and by earthen pitchers the huge host of the Midianites was discomfited, so by that preaching which the wits of the times, and men that applaud their own fancies, accompt empty and foolish, the Lord works miraculously in the conversion of souls. It's the Apostle's assertion: For after that in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preching to save them that believe.

Thus having endeavoured to beat the corn out of the ear, suffer me now to grind it at the mill. Application is the life of every sermon. Let me then intreat your patience, in a few words, to press what hath been said unto your practice, and then I shall put a period to my discourse

Marlorate, out of Calvin, draws two inferences of practice:
Quid docendum [what's to be taught] first, and then Quid discendum [what's to be learnt] afterwards: Christ crucified is the substance of all that we can preach or hear. It's a lesson can never be enough taught, and never enough learned.

In the first place, seeing this is that lesson which we all ought to teach (Fathers and brethren) suffer, I beseech you, the word of exhortation, to confer your best endeavours to put in practice this excellent method and exquisite art of preaching. Waste not this precious lamp of the sanctuary in making ADIAPHORA, circumstantials, the main imployment. What's this but to tithe mint and cummin and to neglect the weightier matters of the law. HENOS ESTI CHREIA [one thing is needed]. There's one most needful doctrine which you ought frequently to inculcate and make deep impressions upon the conscience, and that's the knowledge of Jesus Christ and him crucified. I cannot sufficiently admire how sacred is the ministerial function. What a great honour is it to be imployed in embassy for the king of heaven! O! what fidelity is requisite in the discharge of so concerning a message? You are God's sword bearers, bear up that sword which he hath put into your hands. The Lord hath promised to be your portion. And if I invert the order of the words, that they which live upon the altar ought to serve it, it's a piece of the same truth, as well as that. The Lord hath so ordained that those which serve the altar should live upon the altar. The readiest way (I conceive) to suppress schisms and divisions is by preaching the power of godliness. This is the way to stop the mouths of gainsayers, when they see that self is not the main engineer, nor the promoting of man's own particular ends and interests, but the glory of God, and the love of Christ constrains a man, then they are put to silence and have nothing to gainsay. We read how Moses, in his own cause, was the meekest man upon the face of the earth, yet transported with zeal in the cause of God. A spirit of discretion is required in a Christian, lest he may quickly pluck down with the one hand what he endeavours to build up with the other. Moderation is much talked of; it's a good to be desired. For ofttimes it serves as a golden bridle to curb a passion. But Calvin's caution to Melanchthon (Epist. ad Melanc.) is worthy of your observation, Take heed, (saith he), that moderation do not quench thy zeal. Meekness and silence doth good, and is commendable in a man's own cause. It is a man's glory to pass by a personal injury: but when religion suffers and the cause of God lies a-bleeding, then to be silent argues a spiritual stupefaction, as if a man were possessed with a dumb devil. When men preach their own inventions, teaching for doctrines the traditions of men; when men deride the way of holiness, casting nicknames and aspersions of Puritans, Precisians and I know not what upon them, so that they may render their persons and profession odious, just as they dealt with the saints in the primitive Church, who were put into bearskins and then worried: when men are not afraid to exercise their wits, to be witty even unto bllasphemy, to cast a slur or a jest upon that sacred word, by which one day they shall be judged: this is not to preach Christ crucified, but it's to crucify him afresh, and to put the Lord of glory to an open shame. When men like Jehu drive furiously, mistaking a passion for zeal, and so ofttimes spoil a good cause in the carriage, this is not suitable to that meekness that was in Christ. Let not then any humour or opinion sway thee; there's nothing so dangerous in religion as this compliance with humours and fancies, and siding for self-interests and advantages. The Spirit of God must be thy pilot to steer thee, and the word of God must be thy compass, and the glory of God ought to be in thy eye as the scope and end of all. Take nothing upon trust, but imitate those noble Bereans, who let nothing pass without due examination. For we read that they searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Acts 17:11).

As you have heard what we must all teach, so you shall hear what we must all learn, viz: Christ crucified. Let me then persuade you (as Jerome doth in an epistle to Paulinus: discamus ea in terris quorum scientia perseverabit in coelis), Let's learn that knowledge on earth which will carry us unto heaven. May it never be verified of any of us, that we seek our own things and not the things of Jesus Christ, and that we resemble Mercury's statue, that point the way to others but move not one step ourselves. A good life is the best commentary of a good sermon, and the best contentation [confutation?] of a slander. The shepherd hath discharged his duty when by his own example he leads his flock to the waters of comfort. We should all labour to be spiritual builders. As no noise was heard in Solomon's temple, so my heart desires that there may be no differences or jarrings to be heard among us. Quirites was a forcible word with Caesar, to suppress all his soldiers' mutinies. And shall not the word Christiani be as prevalent with us. What said Abraham to Lot, Gen. 13:18: Let there be no strife between my herdsmen and  thy herdsmen, for we be brethren. So say I, we that are sons of the same mother the Church, servants of the same God, heirs of the same hope, how should we consult the good, one of another, labouring to build up one another in the holy faith, considering to provoke one another to love and to good works. We are ALLELON MELE, members one of another [Eph. 4:25].

Is there a controversy between thee and thy brother? Be not wanting in thy duty to pray for him: this, if anything, will be the reconciler. Imitate thy Saviour on the cross, who prayed for his enemies. None are so bad but they deserve thy prayers and commiseration. Is thy brother ignorant? Do not despise him: consider who made thee to differ from thy brother, and a greater mercy requires a greater measure of thankfulness. Copy out that excellent advice of the Apostle, 1 Pet. 4:8: And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves, for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. This is to learn Christ crucified, when we labour to purify ourselves even as he is pure (1 John 3:3), when we labour to be holy as he was in all manner of conversation, when we imitate him in putting on bowels of mercy and tender compassion. My brethren, God hath given you greater measure of knowledge, and therefore he expects from you greater improvements. It was a grievous complaint of Austin in his time: surgunt indocti et rapiunt coelum, et nos cum doctrinis detrudimur in gehennam. God grant that our holy life may be the confutation. Let it never be told in Gath and publisht in the streets of Askelon (I wish there were no cause) that any son of Levi should prove a son of Belial, and make the sacrifice of the Lord to be abhorred. God forbid that in so sacred an order (as the ministerial function is) that there should be any profane Esaus, any taunting Ishmaels and blasphemous swearers.

We cannot in any wise brook intruders into the Church. We abhor, and that deservedly, their irregular motions who run before they are sent. Wherefore we should all unite our prayers and endeavours in our capacities and callings to God as one man, to hinder such from ever setting fotting in our Israel. If any such be (as I fear there are), methinks the fearful judgments of God executed upon Uzzah and Uzziah for their over-officious services, and intermeddling without a calling, should make them fear and tremble, CHERSIN ANIOTOIS, so unpreparedly to adventure upon sacred mysteries. In the
interim, let us walk inoffensively and more circumspectly in our life and conversation, and give no just offence, neither to Jew nor Gentile nor Church of God. This counsel is not unseasonable, for we know not what advantage a scandalous life gives unto a common adversary. If those that should be seers yet will be blind; if the watchmen sleep, and the shepherds leave their flocks to hirelings, then will some of Jeroboam's priests, of the basest of the people, presumptuously usurp the ministerial function. Take which you will, a negligent minister who performs not his duty, or one that runs without a calling, of his own mission, and the flatteries of such like himself, they are both abominable superfluous branches, which God will pluck up and sweep away as dung out of the Church. Would we then have our callings more honoured, and our persons more reverenced, and our doctrine with more cheerfulness embraced? Let's all endeavour to be more conscientious in the discharge of our duties. Let us not post off reformation from one to another, accusing and excusing one another, but let's commune with our own hearts, make diligent enquiry into our own bosoms, every one saying with himself in particular, what have I done? (Jer. 8:6). The way to contract greater reverence abroad is to be more circumspect at home, that as we go beyond others in knowledge, so likewise we should outstrip them in the practice of holiness. Christ in a more special manner hath communicated unto us the knowledge of his ways. How should we strive with a pious contention, which of us should bring most glory to God, and advance the cause of Christ!  It shall be my close and prayer with Moses, that God would put his Urim and Thummim upon his holy ones, even write upon all our hearts, Holiness unto the Lord, that so we may be a royal generation, a holy priesthood, a peculiar people, to set forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into this marvellous light. I shall conclude with the Apostle, Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord