Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

cross.

Unto them the streams, at which the men of the world drink, are tasteless; and from them they turn away to the fountain of living waters, and joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom they receive the atonement. The wealth of the world cannot enrich them, nor make any addition to their treasures; and the manners, which are formed upon its spirit and principles, are not their examples. Upon the whole, the world, considered as an enemy to the cross, and a competitor for that regard which is due to him who died on it, can be of no service to them, because it is crucified.

Secondly, The world can do them who glory in the cross of Christ no spiritual harm. When a tyrant is crucified, his tyranny is at an end. By his situation his power is dissolved, and is no longer an object of apprehension and terror. This is a figure of the state of the world with respect to believers; who are partakers of Christ, and interested in the salvation of his cross. The power and the. enmity of the world can make no impression upon their state, nor separate them from the love and favor of God. Of this our apostle is fully persuaded. With the glory of the cross before his eye, and all the benefits it procured in his hand, he gives a defiance to the power and the enmity of the world: "What shall we then say to these things? If "God be for us, who can be against us? He who spared "not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how "shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who "shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? it is "God who justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? it is "Christ who died, yea rather who is risen again, who is "even at the right hand of God, who also maketh interces❝sion for us. Who shall separate us from the love of "Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or “famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (As it is writ"ten, For thy sake we are killed all the day long, we are "accounted as sheep for the slaughter.) Nay, in all these "things we are more than conquerors through him that "loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor "life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things "present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor "any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the "love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." The world, notwithstanding, is still alive and in possession of

the power of doing evil; and glorying in the cross of Christ, by whom it was crucified to him, could not make our Apostle insensible of the injustice and ingratitude of men. But the outward evil, which he suffered from men of the world, was overbalanced with the joys of reconciliation to God by the death of Christ, and, through the virtue of his cross, helped forward his salvation. For, saith he, "As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our conso"lation also aboundeth by Christ. For our light affliction, "which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more ex"ceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not "at the things which are seen, but at the things which are "not seen." At this present time, when persecution for the cross of Christ is suppressed by law, Christians, who live Godly in Christ Jesus, are still suffering from the world. The men of it are unjust and unkind, and, through remains of corruption, the things of it prove temptations and snares to their heart. But their state in the favor of God the world cannot hurt, nor will this tyrant ever be permitted to come down from the cross, and subject them again to the bondage of corruption.

Thirdly, With respect to Christians who glory in the cross of Christ, the influence of the world is an expiring tyranny. Crucifixion is a slow and lingering death. A tyrant, after he is lifted up on the cross, doth not instantly expire. For several hours he may continue alive; and, in the figure by which the apostle expresses the state of the world, this circumstance ought not to be overlooked. In union with Christ the world, with respect to believers, is nailed to the cross. From that moment it ceases to be what it had been, a reigning and enslaving power. But as a tempter and seducer it still lives, and exerts itself to insnare the affections and recover the dominion of the heart. When the world is crucified, the danger is not over. Through remains of corruption, its influence is extensive and powerful. Honour, and pleasure, and ease, and gain, uniting with pain, and shame, and loss, and inconveniency, prove strong temptations to the last. Com plaints of the tyranny of earthy affections, and of the vanity of the carnal mind, are heard among believers when their heads are covered with grey hairs, and their connections with the world dissolving. The world, notwithstanding, as a tempting and seducing power, is in an expiring

state. It cannot come down from the cross and recover. Sentence of death is denounced against it, and execution begun. Every believer longs for the full execution of the sentence in the conflagration and dissolution of this monster. "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the "night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a "great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent "heat: the earth also, and the works which are therein, "shall be burnt up. Seeing then that all these things shall "be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in "ali holy conversation and godliness? Looking for and has"tening unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the "heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements "shall melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless we, accor"ding to his promise, look for new heavens and a new "earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, be"loved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent, "that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and "blameless."

The virtue of the cross of Christ in the crucifixion of the world, is to be explained in the THIRD place. In our version of the text, we read, "by whom," which refers to Christ, and expresses the influence of an agent; and were we to read "by which," it would refer to his cross, and express the influence of a mean. Christ and his cross, though distinguished in language, are united in operation; and in the crucifixion of the world, the agent and the mean, though distinguished in expression, are united in their virtue the virtue of the latter proceeding from the dignity of the former. It should also be observed, that in displaying the virtue of the cross of Christ in the crucifixion of the world, his cross is to be understood in all the extent of its meaning, or as a form of expression which is substituted for the whole of his humiliation. In this extensive consideration of its meaning, the following particulars concerning its virtue in crucifying the world unto them who glory in it shall be illustrated:

First By the humiliation and cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, the world was crucified unto himself. As an opposition formed and maintained by the working of Satan against the designs of his humiliation and cross, he condemned it to be crucified and dissolved. The design of

his appearing in the world, and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, was not to judge and condemn, but to save. "God sent not his Son into the "world to condemn the world, but that the world through "him might be saved." "If any man hear my words, and "believe not, I judge him not at present, for I came not to "judge the world, but to save the world." For judgement he came, notwithstanding, into the world; and the world, which was already under condemnation, refusing to acknowledge him to be the Great God our Saviour, and rising up against his love and authority, he judged by his doctrine and works, testifying of it that its deeds were evil, and denouncing and confirming the sentence of condemnation which adjudged it to dissolution against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. In this condition the world appeared to our Lord Jesus Christ in the days of his flesh. By him its riches, and honours, and pleasures, were treated as showy and unsubstantial vanities, and with respect to spiritual and heavenly considerations, as earthly, perishing, and dying things. Ungodly men in it who hated, contradicted, resisted, and blasphemed him, and at last condemned and crucified him, could not disconcert the designs, nor defeat the enterprizes of his love. Their outrageous and impotent opposition no more affected his honour and success, than the execrations and convulsions of a condemned, and crucified, and expiring tyrant. The evening before they nailed him to the cross, instead of being disconcerted by what was past, or dismayed at what was coming, he says, "I have overcome the world," overcome the prince, overcome the men, overcome the temptations, overcome the love, overcome the hatred, the pleasures, terrors, promises, and threatenings of this present world.

Secondly, In union with Christ, believers enter into the fellowship of his cross, and participate in the strength and glory of its virtue upon the crucifixion of the world. This is a memorable revolution in their state. Though the same persons, their nature is changed by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. Justified by grace, and become heirs according to the hope of eternal life, they have connections with Christ so close and high, that scripture acknowledges them to be partakers and members of Christ, to be baptized and planted into

his death, and even crucified with him. Their spiritual union, their new nature, and their high relations, are principles which, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, produce that conformity or likeness to Christ, which is the beauty and glory of their conversations in the world. "As "he is, so are they in this world;" and as this world is unto him, so is it unto them. It is crucified unto him, and crucified unto them. Unto them riches, and honour, and pleasure, in their opposition to the cross, are perishing and dying things. Worldly lusts with their provision, and worldly men with their false principles and evil works, with respect to them, are in a state which as certainly tends to death, and will as surely issue in it, as crucifixion. "None of these things move me," said the Christian hero who wrote our text. Bonds and afflictions, the terror of flesh and blood, moved him no more than the struggles and execrations of a tyrant nailed to a tree. Believing in Jesus Christ, and improving the conquest and victory of his cross, he stood firm, looked bold, defied all, resisted all, conquered all, triumphed over all. "Who is he that "overcometh the world, but he who believeth that Jesus "is the Son of God? Whatsoever is born of God over"cometh the world; and this is the victory which overcom"eth the world, even our faith” in the victory of Christ over the world.

Thirdly, The virtue which crucifies the world unto believers, exists in the cross of Christ. It was not in Paul. He could not crucify the world unto himself. No such attempt did he any where make, and no such thought did he ever entertain in his mind. The glory of the whole virtue he ascribed to the cross and power of Christ. "By "whom," Christ the agent, and by which, cross the mean, "the world is crucified unto me." 33 In our text, the crucifixion of the world is considered not as an effort of the strength of our zeal, but as an effect of the virtue of our Redeemer's cross. Had it been left to our zeal, we could not have crucified it, and it never would have been crucified. The crucifying virtue resides wholly in the victorious cross; and to his power and love, who died and triumphed on it, the glory of the crucifixion of this enemy is wholly due. Though it is not yet dead, its life is in an expiring state; nor will it ever be permitted to disengage itself, and recover its force as an absolute and independ

« AnteriorContinua »