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Beauty & Necessity of Christ-Centered Preaching

foxcroft gospel ministryI am really enjoying Thomas Foxcroft’s little book, The Gospel Ministry. It is a sermon he preached in 1718 on the nature of gospel ministry as he began a pastorate. He is particularly eloquent in urging that every sermon should be about Christ. Here is a long quote which is particularly rich.

“Whatever subject ministers are upon, it must somehow point to Christ. All sin must be witnessed against and preached down as opposed to the holy nature, the wise and gracious designs, and the just government of Christ.  So all duty must be persuaded to and preached up with due regard unto Christ; to His authority commanding and to His Spirit of grace assisting, as well as to the merit of His blood commending – and this to dash the vain presumption that decoys so many into ruin, who will securely hang the weight of the hopes upon the horns of the altar without paying expected homage to the scepter of Christ.  All the arrows of sharp rebuke are to be steeped in the blood of Christ; and this to prevent those desponding fears and frights of guilt which sometimes awfully work to a fatal issue.  Dark and ignorant sinners are to be directed to Christ as the Sun of righteousness; convinced sinners are to be led to Christ as the Great Atonement and the only City of Refuge.  Christ is to be lifted up on high for the wounded in spirit to look to, as the bitten Israelites looked to the brazen serpent of old.  The sick, the lame, and the diseased are to be carried to Christ as the great Physician, the Lord our Healer; the disconsolate and timorous are to be guided to Christ as the Consolation of Israel, and in us the hope of glory.  Every comfort administered is to be sweetened with pure water from this Well of salvation, which only can quench the fiery darts of the evil one. The promises of the gospel are to be applied as being in Christ ‘yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us’ (2 Cor. 1:20).  So the threatenings of the law are to light and flash in the eyes of sinners as the terrors of the Lord and sparks of the holy resentment of an incensed Savior, which hover now over the children of disobedience and will one day unite and fall heavy upon them.  The love of Christ for us is to be held forth as the great constraining motive to religion, and the life of Christ as the bright, engaging pattern of it.  Progress and increase in holiness are to be represented under the notion of abiding in Christ and growing up unto Him who is the Head, even Christ.  Perfection in grace is the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, and eternal life is a being forever with the Lord where He is, beholding His glory and dwelling in our Master’s joy.

Thus, in imitation of the apostolic way of preaching, there must be a beautiful texture of references to Christ, a golden thread twisted into every discourse to leaven and perfume it so as to make it express a savor of the knowledge of Christ. Thus every mite cast into the treasury of the temple must bear this inscription upon it, which was once the humble language of a pious martyr in the flames, ‘None but Christ, none but Christ,’ so that everyone, beholding in the Word preached as in a glass the glory of the Lord, may be changed into the same image, from glory to glory.” (9-11; emphasis added)

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