« AnteriorContinua »
cealing it, or of being ashamed to mention it, these holy men appear to have gloried in recording it; repeating frequently these intolerably harsh terms, the Cross and the Tree. Hence one of them says, "He became obedient "unto death even the death of the cross;" and another, "Whom ye slew and hanged on a tree." It was not enough for the one to say, "Obedient unto death," without reviving the disgraceful circumstance-"Death of the cross;" nor for the other to say, "Whom ye slew," without pricking the hearts of his hearers by adding-"Hanged on a tree,' They judged, and judged right, that it was for the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ to record the infamy of his death.Comprehensively, The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is used to express the doctrine of his humiliation, sufferings, and death. The words "persecution for the cross of "Christ," in the twelfth verse, compared with our text, show that the apostle had this sense in his eye; and, in writing to the Corinthians, he designs the preaching of Christ "the preaching of the cross," these being with him synonymous or convertible expressions. This sense of the cross of Christ comprehends both the former, and includes the doctrine of his person and humiliation, from his birth to his death. Nothing could be harsher, or more offensive to the ear of the world, than the preaching of the cross. "To the Jews it was a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks "foolishness." One would almost think that this Apostle, who for the sake of the gospel became all things to all men, and particularly, to them who were under the law, became as under the law, and to them who were without law, as without law, might have avoided this term, especially when there were abundance of softer words to express what it meant. But, taught by the revelation of the Spirit to believe, and to preach, and to record the riches of the glory of the infamy of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, he encountered the prejudice and ridicule of the world, and gloried in the use of those harsh terms, the Cross and the Tree.
According to our method, we shall now display the glory of the Object which is set before us in the text. The Apostle supposes the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ to be glorious. That learned and holy man would not have gloried in an object which is not glorious. Glory and shame
are contrary qualities, and cannot meet together in the same object, under the same consideration. But in the cross of Christ these contrary qualities unite, and, by their union, form a glorious shame. He who endured it is glorious, and the ends and effects of his enduring it are glorious. The glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ shall be displayed in the following particulars: The designs to be accomplished by it; the preparations made for it; the spectators who beheld it; the perfections illustrated in it; the wonders which celebrated it; the revolutions effected by it; and its internal and gracious influence upon the minds and wills of men.*
First, The designs to be accomplished by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ are glorious. It was designed, that the persons in the Godhead should be manifested, their perfections magnified, and their works glorified. It was designed, that the law should be fulfilled and the curse executed; and that men, who had transgressed it should be forgiven, justified, reconciled, sanctified, saved, and brought to glory. And it was designed that sin should be condemned, the works of the devil destroyed, the gates of hell dissolved, the doors of heaven opened, and a new creation raised up, to the praise of the glory of each person of the Godhead. These are comprehensive and glorious designs, becoming the wisdom and love of the Father to plan, the condescension and grace of the Son to execute, and the power of the Spirit of truth to attest and to confirm. None of them has failed in the execution. By the cross of Christ every one is completely and honorably accomplished. And after their accomplishment is confirm. ed, with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his will, every tongue. should say, "Salvation to our God, who sitteth on the "throne, and unto the Lamb."
Secondly, The preparation for the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is glorious. No sooner was this mystery revealed, than preparation began for the exhibition of it. in the fulness of time.. Saw we clearly, and in full length,
* These particulars, and the striking sentiments which illustrate them, are collected from the Sermon entitled,. Glorying in the Cross of Christ, by the Rev. Mr, John MLaurin.
the chain of operation which stretches itself from Paradise to Calvary, we should perceive in every link a connexion of events, nearer or more remote, with the light of the knowledge of the glory of the cross. The overflowing of the deluge, the separation of the sons of Noah, and the division of the earth; the redemption from Egypt, the miracles in the wilderness, and the conquest of Canaan; the elevation of David to the throne, the succession of his seed, and the dissolution of his royalty in the captivity; the deliverance from Babylon, the rise and fall of the great nonarchies, according to the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, and the establishment of the Roman empire, contributed, under the providence of God, to settle the world in that state, or frame, which was fittest for the appearance and exhibition of the cross. Sacrificing, which began after the entrance of sin, and continued until the Son of God appeared in our nature, and put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, was a shadow and prefiguration of his cross. Nor was sacrificing in the heathen world, where it degenerated into the vilest and most horrid superstition, wholly without effect: By it the minds of men were familiarized to the notion of substitution, and, notwithstanding their gross and brutal apprehensions, prepared to receive the doctrine of the Just suffering for the unjust, when the ministry of reconciliation revealed it to the world. Add to these preparations, special providences toward the peculiar people, prosperous and adverse, from the call of Abraham to the birth of Jesus Christ, together with the rise, succession, and ministry of the prophets, from Enoch, the seventh from Adam, unto John, who prepared the way of the Lord, and cried aloud in every ear, “Behold the "Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world;" and you must acknowledge the preparation for the exhibition of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ to be glorious, and becoming the wisdom and grace of God, for whom and by whom are all things.
Thirdly, The spectators of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ are glorious. Legions of unclean and abominable spirits beheld him suffering, and multitudes of wicked and ungodly men wagged their heads at him; but these were not so properly the spectators, as the enemies of his cross. The principalities and powers in the heavenly places were the spectators. Of these powers we know little more,
than that they shine in heaven, minister on earth, and desire to look into the mystery of the cross. In the exhibition of this mystery on Calvary, these shining ministers were several ways interested. Through the blood of the cross, they did not need redemption themselves, but they delighted in beholding ours obtained. They loved the Sufferer, and loved the people for whom he was suffering; and their love to each interested them in the glory of the one, and the salvation of the other. Rising early in the morning of the creation, they sang together the praises of the Creator; but, in the place of skulls, an object of praise greater than creation appeared, and threw the whole host into silent adoration. Here they beheld him whom they had been lately commanded to worship, nailed to a tree, and lifted up upon a cross. In their presence, the rebellious part of their own order had been driven out of heaven, and chained down in hell. Hitherto they had seen perfect holiness united in the divine administration with perfect blessedness, and probably supposed, from the justice and holiness of God, that the guilty could not be cleared, nor the righteous punished. But new views of boundless sovereignty and unsearchable wisdom opened and extended the knowledge of these principalities, when they beheld the Holy one and the Just made sin, the Lawgiver under the law, the Sovereign in place of the rebel, and the blessed and only Potentate made a curse, and numbered and punished with transgressors.
Fourthly, The illustration of the perfections of God in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is glorious. In the exhibition of this mystery, every person in the Godhead appears, and every perfection breaks forth in the highest splendor. Particularly, Love: "God is love," and the cross is the manifestation of this glory of his nature. “In "this was manifested the love of God towards us, because "that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that "we might live through him. Herein is love; not that we "loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be "the propitiation for our sins." When the believing eye turns toward the cross, the love of each person of the Godhead appears. The love of the Father to the Son, the love of the Son to the Father, the love of both to the Spirit, and of the Spirit to both, the love of each to sinful, guilty, and miserable men, shine forth, and become ob
jects of contemplation, and themes of discourse, which can never be sufficiently praised and adored.-Wisdom. To obtain the best end by the fittest and most honorable means, is the praise of the glory of wisdom. The great and comprehensive end of the imitations and designs of God, is his glory in the redemption and salvation of men, and the cross is the mean to obtain this end. In the dignity of the end, and the fitness of the mean, there is a depth of contrivance which renders his wisdom the admiration of angels and of men. The glory of God, in communications of love and goodness to innocent and holy creatures, is easily acknowledged; but in the cross an object inconceivably higher presents itself to the mind, the glory of God in the opening of an intercourse with sinful and guilty creatures. In the punishment of sin, all men acknowledge the glory of his righteousness; but in the cross we behold the glory of his righteousness in the forgiveness of sin. By the wisdom of God, the cross of Christ is so admirably contrived and adjusted as to magnify and make honorable the law, and the transgressor of the law. The respect which his. obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, puts upon the law, puts respect upon the transgressor; and the honor which is done to the transgressor, is honor done to the law itself. An end, with the mean to obtain it, inpossible to human wisdom, is the praise of the glory of divine wisdom; and when the cross is considered as the mean to obtain this great and comprehensive end, the glory of God in the salvation of men, reason itself, if it is not perverted, will acknowledge, that in the contrivance of both, God hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.-Power. Upon the cross, as in the gospel, the working of the exceeding greatness of the mighty power of God appears inconceivably glorious. Turn thine eye, O hearer, toward Calvary, where our Lord was crucified, and behold exertions greater and more marvellous than the creation and support of the universe! Almighty God strengthening his dear Son with his arm, and bruising him under his wrath, sustaining him under a weight which would have crushed the creation, and by his weakness, breaking the forces of earth and hell, which were in opposition! Revenging wrath is a weight which creatures are not able to bear. Principalities and powers sunk beneath it into outer darkness and endless misery, The wrath which crush