Christ Crucified

John Foxe

Originally Printed In 1575

Posted On May 10, 2017

In 1570, at the request of Edmund Grindal, Bishop of London, John Foxe preached a sermon at Paul’s Cross, which was an open-air pulpit {on the grounds of St. Paul’s Cathedral} of mostly timber with room for 3 or 4 inside it, set on stone steps with a lead-covered roof and a low surrounding wall. From here was preached much of the English Reformation, with sermons preached here usually printed and thus redistributed to a wider audience. This lofty exposition of the Protestant doctrine of redemption and attack on the doctrinal errors of the Papist Church was enlarged and published that year as A Sermon of Christ Crucified.

“To know the crucified sacrifice of Christ’s body to be a perfect deliverance of all his people, to be a full satisfaction once, and for ever, for all our sins - to be a free justification, redemption, and righteousness before God for ever, to all them that believe in him, without any other means or help adjoined to him - this is to know Christ Jesus crucified.” Foxe.

Some information in regards to this Sermon as preached by Foxe, in 1570, as related by George Townsend, from the Acts and Monuments of John Foxe, printed in 1870.

Controversy in the present day is banished to the press, or to the platform. It seldom intrudes itself into the pulpit. At this time, however, the preacher who should have omitted all allusion to the great division between Rome and England, would have been considered as deserting his duty. He would have been deemed either ignorant, cowardly, or traitorous. We may justly believe, therefore, that the public anticipated some vehement and bitter invective against popery from the martyrologist. If they did so they must have been much disappointed by his sermon at St. Paul’s Cross. Though he was both willing and anxious to comply with the popular wish, after he had once consented to preach, of assailing the errors of the apostate church, he did not treat popery as the political enemy to the government, or institutions of England. He spoke of it as the spiritual enemy of the souls of men. He contrasted the effects of the papal doctrines, with the Christian doctrines, to which they are opposed. He argues well and satisfactorily, that the popish doctrine of the continual sacrifice of the mass, and the Christian doctrine of reconciliation with God in the one, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction which was made once for all, cannot consist together, but must destroy each other. He preached the one only doctrine which is again beginning to be stigmatized as absurd, by many learned and deeply-reasoning theologians; but which will ever be regarded by the humble-minded and wounded in spirit, as the only source of comfort and justification before the Creator, by the faith which worketh obedience, by love to the Saviour who has completed the reconciliation of the soul which believes, to his Father and our Father, to his God and our God. He preached a sermon which would be called ‘ultra-protestant’ among those who would neutralize our opposition to the soul-destroying doctrines of the church of Rome, by inventing new terms of reproach against their brethren, to palliate their own inconsistency. Christ, and his apostles, the fathers and the reformers, conquered the dominion of evil, by urging on their hearers, the Christian, evangelical, ‘ultra-protestant’ truths of the sinfulness of the unconverted nature of man - the necessity of repentance - the value of the only atonement - and the continued work of the Holy Spirit to sanctify and renew the soul. From these solemn topics they derived warning to the impenitent, and comfort to the humble believer. John Foxe followed in their train, and imitated the example of those sacred leaders of the church, from earth to heaven. He addresses his discourse, to all them that labour and are heavy laden in conscience. After alluding, in his Epistle Dedicatory, to the means by which the church of Rome presents the circumstances of the passion of Christ to the people, he observes, that “to know the crucified sacrifice of Christ’s body to be a perfect deliverance of all his people, to be a full satisfaction once, and for ever, for all our sins - to be a free justification, redemption, and righteousness before God for ever, to all them that believe in him, without any other means or help adjoined to him - this is to know Christ Jesus crucified.” He apologizes for the publication of his sermon, and affirms that he only permitted it to be printed that it might give consolation to the humble and heavy laden. “ Forasmuch,” he says, “ as the Lord hath a remnant of some faithful servants, which walk after their Lord and God with a perfect heart, and are not hearers only, but seekers also of his kingdom; and especially for your cause that labour and are laden in conscience, wheresoever, or whatsoever ye are, in whom the Lord hath wrought an earnest hunger, and hearty seeking for his kingdom, for you most principally I have penned this sermon of Christ crucified, and to you specially I dedicate and commend the same; desiring the same Lord Jesus, crucified for us, that you in reading hereof may receive such spiritual refreshing to your souls, and high courage of faith in Christ Jesus, that neither Satan may deceive you; nor the law terrify you; nor death confound you; nor sin oppress you; nor conscience captive you; nor hell-gates prevail over you; but that you, rightly understanding with all saints, what is the hope of your calling, the riches of your inheritance, the greatness of his power towards you; and what is the breadth, length, and profundity, and what is the estimable love of knowledge of Jesus Christ crucified, may super abound in all heavenly consolation, and also, with a holy pride, may triumph in Christ Jesus.” The text which he selected was from the fifth of the second of Corinthians. He considers the sender of the message, the messengers, and the message of the Gospel itself. Many beautiful passages might be selected from these three divisions, especially the supposed address of Christ to Satan and to Death, and the final triumph of the Cross over all its enemies; as well as from the hortatory paragraphs at the conclusion. His prayer for the church has been generally admired. He concludes with a petition for the members of the church of Rome which may still be offered with a devout and humble heart by the members of the church of England. A brief postscript to the papists follows, in which they are invited and urged to meet the weighty points of doctrine taught by the reformed Anglican church, relative to the sufficiency of Christ’s passion and atonement, either by refutation, or consent. Such was the Sermon on Christ Crucified, preached on Good Friday, by John Foxe at St. Paul’s Cross; and so long as the Liturgy of the Church of England is valued, or the holy Scriptures of truth are read, so long will the substance of this noble homily be esteemed, by the members of the catholic church, who can distinguish the inventions of man from the perfection and simplicity of the truth of the great atonement, which is the substance and the object, of the revelation of the Gospel of Christ.