Summary: This Sermon is #1 and #2 from the Rev. Andrew Lee’s SERMONS published in 1803 by Isaiah Thomas,Jr. at Lisbon, Connecticut. Transcribed by Fredric Lozo, September 2004.
The entire book Andrew’s Lee’s Sermons is available free at Project Gutenberg as e-Text #15031.
The Wisdom of God in the means used to propagate the Gospel.
1 Corinthians i. 27,28.
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and god hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, and things which are not, to bring to nought things which are." *
* The two discourses on this text were originally one, and preached before Windham Association, at Thompson, October Session, 1798. Probably some of the ideas which they contain, may have been suggested by reading Paley’s Evidences of Christianity; but as the author had not that book in his possession when he wrote on this subject, he is not able particularly to give credit to that excellent writer, if here his due.
THE mercy promised to the fathers was Christ, the Savior. That "the desire of all nations should come," was a prediction of his incarnation; and his entrance here was announced by a heavenly messenger, with, "Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy--to all people."
YET "when he came to his own, his own received him not!" To many he hath been "a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense!"
THE design and tendency of Christianity are most benevolent; but being opposed to men’s lusts, which rule in their members, all the malevolence of depravity hath been excited against it. Jews and Gentile united in the opposition. "The kings of the earth stood up and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ--both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel."
THE Christian religion did not creep into the world in the dark. It first appeared at an enlightened period, and among the most enlightened of the nations. The sciences derived from conquered Greece, had been improved at Rome, and communicated to its dependencies. Syria was then a province of the Empire. Every movement in Judea was observed and reported at the metropolis. The crucifixion of our Savior was sanctioned by a Roman deputy; and the persecuted Christians were allowed an appeal to Caesar. Soon therefore, did the religion of Jesus make its way to Rome.
THE power of Rome had also reached its acme; and as the spirit of Christianity was diverse from that of the world, the learning and power of the Empire soon combined against it. That this religion would be crushed and vanish away as a dream of the night, was generally expected.
EVERY circumstance seemed to indicate such an event. Those reputed wise, considered the gospel scheme as foolishness; and the instrument which were chosen to propagate it were thought to be weak and contemptible. It was also observed to spread chiefly among the lower order of men, who had not the advantages of literature, nor been initiated in the mysteries of Judaism, all which served to inspire its enemies with confidence, that it would soon come to nought.
THE apostle takes notice, in the context, of the contempt then so generally poured on Christianity, and declares the wisdom of God in the permission of it. He also predicts the triumph of the cross; especially over the powers then combined against it--predictions which afterwards fulfilled: For those powers were all subdued and humbled, and Christ and the gospel exalted. The Christian religion was openly professed, and became the most reputable religion in many countries; particularly in Syria and at Rome and its numerous provinces; and by the means then ordered of God. This is the spirit of the text--_God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the mighty, &c_.
IN discussing the subject, we shall _consider the means used to propagate the gospel--the opposition made against it--and the wisdom of God in the choice of the means_; which will bring up to view some of the objections which have been made against the truth of the gospel.
IN treating of the means used to propagate the gospel, we pass over the preaching and miracles of Christ, and the wonders which took place at his inexcuseable in neglecting so great salvation; but they preceded sending the gospel to the gentiles, and the means used to spread it among them. The apostle had no reference to Christ, or any thing done or suffered by him, when he spake of _the foolish and weak, and base things, used of God, to confound those which are wise and mighty_. He spake only with reference to the instruments which were chosen to carry the gospel abroad and persuade the nations of the earth to receive it.