« AnteriorContinua »
"death he might destroy him who had the power of death, "and deliver them who through fear of death were all "their lifetime subject to bondage."-Entrance of the soul into the kingdom. "An entrance shall be ministered unto "you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord "and Saviour Jesus Christ."-Resurrection of the body."By man came death, and by man came also the resurrec❝tion of the dead; for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ "shall all be made alive."-Everlasting life. "As sin "hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign "through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ "our Lord." These, all these, together with blessings which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor heart peceived, are fruits of the cross, and, by them who glory in it, thankfully and devoutly acknowledged.
Fourthly, As a confession before men of the name and honour of our Lord Jesus Christ. Glorying is a declaration or confession of sentiment and feeling with regard to the objects in which men glory. With regard to the cross of Christ, Paul did not conceal nor dissemble his sentiments and feelings. By glorying in it, he published these wherever he went, on all proper occasions. "I am not ashamed of "the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto sal"vation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and "also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of "God revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, The "just shall live by faith." The power of the gospel unto salvation is derived from the cross, in which this bold preacher.gloried: "For," saith he, "the preaching of the "cross is to them who perish foolishness, but unto us who "ale saved, it is the power of God." And again, "We "preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, "and unto the Greeks foolishness; but, unto them who are "called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God "and the wisdom of God." By these open declarations did this bold and faithful man publish his sentiments of the cross, and confess the feelings which the belief of its importance impressed on his heart. If we have the same sentiments and feelings, we should not, or rather, we will not, dissemble. "With the heart man believeth unto right"eousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto "salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth "on him shall not be ashamed." In acknowledging the
scripture to be the word of God, in receiving the confession of faith, and in adhering to the testimony for the importance and glory of the cross of Christ in salvation, which Seceders maintain, you have declared your sentiments concerning this glorious object. Continue glorying in it to the end, believing it with the heart, confessing it with the mouth, and honouring it with good works, in your conversations toward God and man. This the world expect, and this God our Saviour requires. "Whosoever "shall confess me before men, him will I confess also be"fore my Father who is in heaven. But whosoever shall "deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Fa
"ther who is in heaven."
Fifthly, As a renunciation of every sentiment, and every thing dishonorable to the importance and glory of the cross of Christ in salvation. For the riches of the glory of the fellowship of the cross of Christ, Paul renounced the excellency of speech, the wisdom of words, the righteousness of the law, the gains of a Pharisee, and dependence on the services which he performed for the gospel in his ministry. In none of these did he glory; on none of these durst he depend for acceptance and life. To him the cross of Christ was all in all for acceptance and life. This glorious object took possession of his heart, and left room for nothing else. So full was he of it, and so careful to keep out every thing in opposition to it, that he tells the Corinthians, "he determined to know nothing among them, "save Jesus Christ and him crucified." In glorying in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, Christians renounce every sentiment dishonorable to it, and count loss and dung every thing that would divide with it the glory of their salvation. Depending on their own righteousness, and working in their own strength, are both given up as dishonorable to the Lord Jesus, who in justification is our righteousness, and in sanctification our strength. Sentiments dishonorable to the cross of Christ, though given up by the light of our understandings, are not denied and subdued in our affections without strife and contention. Inclinations toward the law of works, which are reigning affections in the natural heart, fight against living by the righteousness of faith and the strength of Christ, and frequently bring believers themselves into the bondage of a legal spirit.
After these considerations of glorying, which are common to Christians, we shall exhibit, in the THIRD place, Some considerations of it which are peculiar to Paul. In the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, his interest is common with Christians; and, with respect to the considerations of glorying which have been represented, his exercise and theirs are also common. But this man is to be considered not only as a Christian, but as an Apostle of the cross; and these considerations of glorying in it, which are peculiar to him, ought not to be overlooked.
First, the Apostle gloried in preaching the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. With him the gospel and the cross are designations of the same doctrine, and preaching the one is preaching the other. Wherever he preached, the gospel inclusive of the cross, or the cross comprehensive of the gospel, was the text or theme of his discourse. At Corinth, he determined to know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified. In Galatia, he evidently set forth Jesus Christ crucified. At Ephesus, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and reconciliation by his cross, were his subject. The riches of the glory of this mystery is the great theme of his Epistle to the Colossians; and on Marshill, among the Athenians, his remonstrance against the reigning superstition concludes in an assertion of the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Although the term Cross be not in every discourse and every epistle, the Apostle always preached and wrote the doctrine of which that term is a designation; and so far was he from being ashamed, that he gloried in publishing this doctrine to the world. "Christ sent me to preach the gospel, not with
the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be "made of none effect." "To me, who am less than the "least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach "among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." In these, and many other passages he professes his esteem of the gospel of Christ, and glories in publishing to the world the glad tidings of salvation through his cross.
Secondly, The Apostle gloried in defending the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Set for the defence of the gospel, and in nothing terrified by its adversaries, he appeared boldly for this despised cause, and spoke in defence of it before kings and governors. While at liberty, he reasoned, in the meekness and gentleness of Jesus Christ, with
enemies of his cross, and persuaded them to be reconciled through it to God. Against the strong-holds of infidelity, and the vain imaginations of men, he used every weapon in the spiritual armory, and gloried in bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. When confined, this good soldier of Christ Jesus did not yield the cause which he had defended. In defence of it, Epistle after Epistle was written to the Churches, and his bonds were consecrated to its honor and interest. His defences in Jerusalem before Lysias, and in Cesarea before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa, are bold appearances for the faith of the gospel. Where the importance and glory of the cross were concerned, he spared not the highest characters in the Church. "When Peter was come to Antioch, "I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blam"ed. For, before that certain came from James, he did eat "with the Gentiles; but when they were come, he with"drew, and separated himself, fearing them who were of "the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled like"wise with him, insomuch that Barnabas also was carried "away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they "walked not uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel, "I said unto Peter, before them all, If thou, being a Jew, "livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the "Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the "Jews. We, who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of "the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the "works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even "we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be jus"tified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the "law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justi"fied."
Thirdly, The Apostle gloried in the signs and wonders by which the Holy Ghost confirmed the doctrine of the cross of Christ. "I have therefore," saith he to the Romans, "whereof I may glory, through Jesus Christ, in "those things which pertain to God. For I will not dare "to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not "wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient by word "and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the pow"er of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round "about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel "of Christ." In things pertaining to God, Paul had
whereof to glory, and, through Jesus Christ, he did glory in these things. Subduing the Gentiles to the obedience of faith, and consecrating and offering them to God, were great and honorable services, in which he had been successfully employed. But his instrumentality in these was not that whereof he gloried: In these services, he considered himself as the polished instrument of Divine power, and acknowledged that Christ did them by his ministry. The mighty signs and wonders which confirmed the preaching of the cross, in his ministry, were effects and operations of the power of the Spirit of God; and glorying in them was not glorying in himself, but glorying in the Lord, who confirmed the word with these signs; and in order that all the churches might observe in his exercise the union of self-denial with glorying in the cross of Christ, he says in another place, "Most gladly therefore will I rather "glory in mine infirmities, that the power of Christ may "rest upon me."
Fourthly, The Apostle gloried in suffering for the cross of Christ. Wherever he preached, the Holy Ghost witnessed that bonds and afflictions were to be endured. But none of these things moved him: Neither the premonitions of suffering, which were given from the commencement of his ministry, nor the enduring of these sufferings till it was finished, sunk or dejected his mind.On the contrary, his courage and magnanimity rose in proportion to the violent attempts of the world to crush. him, and persecution for the cross of Christ appeared to him a mark of honour and a subject of pleasure. "I take "pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in"persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I "am weak, then am I strong. Thrice was I beaten with "rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck; a "night and a day I have been in the deep: In journeyings "often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by "mine own countrymen, in perils by the beathen, in perils "in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, "in perils among false brethren: In weariness and painful"ness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings "often, in cold and nakedness." All this weight of affliction for the cross of Christ, the Apostle reckoned light, and unworthy to be compared with the glory of reigning together with him; and, instead of yielding to the enemies