« AnteriorContinua »
sual, earthly, and temporal, as it stands in opposition to that which is spiritual, heavenly, and eternal. That the worid, considered as an enemy to the life, and faith, and hope of Christians, hath this extensive meaning, the following texts make abundantly plain: "We look not at the things "which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for "the things which are seen are temporal, but the things "which are not seen are eternal." "All seek their own, "not the things which are Jesus Christ's." "Set your affec"tions on things above, not on things on the earth." "The "friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whosoever, "therefore, will be the friend of the world, is the enemy of "God." "Love not the world, neither the things of the "world: if any man love the world, the love of the Father "is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the "flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of "the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth "away, and the lust thereof; but he who doth the will of "God abideth for ever."” "Whatsoever is born of God "overcometh the world; and this is the victory that over"cometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that over"cometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the "Son of God?"
Under this general sense of the world, which by the cross of Christ is crucified unto Christians, the following particulars are included:-Men of the world, who have their portion in this life. Between these and the men who glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, there is an opposition of character, and an opposition of interest, and, in consequence of both, a continual conflict. "If the "world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it "hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own. But because ye are not of the world, "but I have chosen you out of the world; therefore the "world hateth you." Men of the world are enemies of the cross of Christ. When he appeared in it, these hated and persecuted him; and their enmity against him, after he left it, tempted them to hate and persecute all who gloried in his cross. Among this outrageous party who are alway inclined to tear and devour, Paul had distinguished himself, and, until the day in which he was apprehended of Christ Jesus, continued a fierce and bitter persecutor, breathing ou threatenings and slaughter against all who gloried in his cross.-The honors of the world. Honour is
one of those showy and empty things, which men of the world seek to obtain, and in which they always glory. Though titles and estates be out of their reach, they pant after fame and reputation, and freat themselves and one another with great respect. The extravagant value which they set upon themselves, and their endeavours to uphold one another in esteem, create prejudices against the doctrine of the cross, and strengthen their natural enmity against believers who glory in it. "How can ye believe," saith our Saviour, "who receive honour one of another, and seek not "the honour that cometh from God only?" Paul, who had just impressions of the transcendent excellence of the cross, and gloried in it every where, was reviled by this violent party, and accounted "as the filth of the world, and "the offscouring of all things."-The pleasures of the world. Men who are, of the world relish nothing which is not worldly. There are pleasures of sin, which in every sense are criminal, and pleasures of the world, which, though innocent in themselves, become sinful when they take possession of the heart, and divert it from the duties of religion. The latter, as well as the former, are renounced by them who glory in the cross. "Moses chused ra"ther to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to "enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the re"proach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in "Egypt;" and Paul sought not the pleasing of men, assigning for it this substantial reason, that, "if he pleased men, "he could not be the servant of Christ."-The riches of the world. Gain is the great object of wordly men. Love of money, a passion inconsistent with the love of God, is the ruling passion in their hearts, and one of those worldly Justs which stands in opposition to the influence and glory of the cross. "They who will be rich fall into temptation "and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which "drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of "money is the root of all evil, which, while some have "coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced "themselves through with many sorrows."-The friendship of the world. Whatsoever differences and alienations subsist among men of the world, they unite in opposing and resisting the reception of the doctrine of the cross of Christ, and into their assemblies believers, who receive and acknowledge it, cannot enter, without getting to them
selves a blot. The man after God's own heart makes these professions before him: "I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the "congregation of evil-doers, and will not sit with the wick"ed." And by the word of the Lord, one apostle says, "Come out from among them and hold no fellowship "with the unfruitful works of darkness:" while another pronounces the friendship of the world enmity with God, and every friend of the world an enemy of God.-The manners of the world. That great body of enemies to the cross of Christ, called the world, have ways, forms, rules, customs, and maxims, which they have settled among themselves, and which distinguish them from Christians who rejoice in Christ Jesus, and glory in his cross. To all these the apostle set himself in opposition; and some of these he exposes, in the verses before our text, with the highest detestation: "As many as desire to make a fair "shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised, "only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross "of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circum"cised keep the law, but desire to have you circumcised, "that they may glory in your flesh." This disgusting and motley form of Christianity, which deceitful and worldly men attempted to impose upon the churches of Galatia, the apostle of the cross beheld with indignation; and, if the imitations of it in our day do not rouse our indignation, our taste for the cross must be vitiated, and our manners assimilated to the manners of the present evil world.
The crucifixion of the world unto Christians, who glory in the cross of Christ, is to be explained in the SECOND place. Crucifixion of the world is a very unusual expression in language. Unto some it will appear senselessand absurd, to others harsh and disgusting. But by men of spiritual taste, whose senses discern good and evil, it will be esteemed elegant and sublime. It is worthy of observation, though I do not know whether ye have all observed, that among the holy writers, sacred things, and whatever in the dispensations of God is great and extraordinary, are sources of metaphor and imagery. Their spiritual style is raised and embellished by metaphors borrowed from his works in Egypt, and his appearance on Sinai; from his tabernacle and temple, from his ark, his
altar, his mercy-seat; from the burning of incense and the sacrificing of lambs; and from all that was glorious in the forms of his worship, and splendid in the nature of his administration.
The crucifixion of the Son of God is an action in every consideration unparalleled. Whether we consider the efficiency of God, or the instrumentality of men; the invisible causes from which it proceeded, or the obvious ef fects which it produced; the perfections displayed in it, or the glory which followed it, no deed, no event of equal magnitude and importance, stands recorded in the history of the administration and works of God. After the completion of this event, and the revelation of the mystery of the glory of it by the resurrection and ascension of Christ, his holy apostles approached it as a fountain of new figures and ideas, opened to them by the spirit of wisdom and revelation. Particularly, the apostle Paul embellishes his Epistles to the churches with metaphors from this sacred fountain, and discovers a superlative degree of spiritual ingenuity, in the adaptation of expression suggested by the cross of Christ, to explain the principles and enforce the duties of Christianity. Though master of a copious language, which afforded abundance of fi gures and metaphors to express his ideas of spiritual things, he has recourse to the cross of Christ; and by sprinkling his writings from this fountain, gives them a peculiar flavour to every spiritual mind. When representing the state of the corruption of nature in believers, he says, "Our old man is crucified with Christ, that the body "of sin might be destroyed." When describing the character of true Christians, he says, "They who are Christ's "have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts." When setting forth his own experience, he says, "I am "crucified with Christ." Once more, when expressing the state of the world, with respect to himself and every believer in the cross of Christ, this holy man says boldly, elegantly, and triumphantly, in our text, "The world is "crucified unto me."
In the meaning of this sacred expression we are deeply interested. Knowledge and experience of it are necessary to prove the sincerity of our profession, and to give effect to our endeavors to overcome the world. It should be observed that the doctrine of the cross of Christ doth
not oblige believers, who rejoice and glory in it, to hate the men of the world, or to bear ill will to their persons or their welfare; neither doth it restrain them from the sober and temperate use of the things of the world, which are good if men use them lawfully. On the contrary, it allows the use of the latter, and enjoins the love of the former. It should also be observed, that, in our text, the apostle considers the world as an enemy to the cross of Christ, and a competitor for that regard which is due to him, "who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us "from this present evil world." Under this consideration, the world could give him no comfort; do him no harm; and, with respect to his great interest, was an expiring tyranny.
First, The world could give him no comfort. It could not entitle him to the favor of God, nor procure to him salvation, with eternal glory. A person nailed to a cross, which is an instrument of torture and death, is, by his situation, disabled and rendered useless. He can give no comfort, nor render any service to them who look up to him, and behold his misery. With respect to believers, who are interested in the death of Christ, and glory in his cross, this is a figure of the state of the world. To their hearts it cannot give rest and satisfaction, nor facilitate their endeavors to obtain these blessings; because in their consideration it is nailed to a cross. In things pertaining to their chief end, the glorying of God and the salvation of their souls, men of the world, that great congregation of evil doers, cannot assist them with instruction and courrsel. Fellowship with this society is broken up and renounced, and all unnecessary correspondence with it is infectious, contrary to law and prejudicial to their interest. The honor of the world adds nothing to their dignity, and gives no polish to the gems in their crown. Honor which cometh from the cross of Christ is not only superior to that which is of the world, but a balance for the loss of it: "Be"hold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed up"on us, that we should be called the sons of God; there"fore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not "yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he "shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him "as he is." Pleasures of the world do not give satisfaction to them who rejoice in Christ Jesus, and glory in his