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COLOSSIANS i. 28: "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
In the verses immediately preceding the text, we find the Apostle enlarging with his usual zeal and earnestness on a subject peculiarly dear to him; on the glorious mystery of God, or in other words, on the great purpose of God, which had been kept secret from ages, to make the Gentile world partakers, through faith, of the blessings of the long-promised Messiah. "Christ, the hope of glory to the Gentiles," was the theme on which Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, delighted to expatiate. Having spoken of Jesus in this character, he immediately adds, "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
On the present occasion, which invites us to consider the design and duties of the Christian ministry,
I have thought that these words would guide us to many appropriate and useful reflections. They teach us what the Apostle preached; "We preach Christ." They teach us the end or object for which he thus preached ; "That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." Following this natural order, I shall first consider what is intended by "preaching Christ." I shall then endeavour to illustrate and recommend the end or object for which Christ is to be preached; and I shall conclude with some remarks on the methods by which this end is to be accomplished. In discussing these topics, on which a variety of sentiment is known to exist, I shall necessarily dissent from some of the views which are cherished by particular classes of Christians. But the frank expression of opinion ought not to be construed into any want of affection or esteem for those from whom I differ.
I. What are we to understand by "preaching Christ"? This subject is the more interesting and important, because, I fear, it has often been misunderstood. Many persons imagine, that Christ is never preached, unless his name is continually repeated and his character continually kept in view. This is an error, and should be exposed. Preaching Christ, then, does not consist in making Christ perpetually the subject of discourse, but in inculcating, on his authority, the religion which he taught. Jesus came to be the light and teacher of the world; and in this sublime and benevolent character he unfolded many truths relating to the Universal Father, to his own character, to the condition, duties, and prospects of mankind, to the perfection and true happiness of the human soul, to a future state of retribution, to