« AnteriorContinua »
ent tyranny, in opposition to the kingdom of the cross.-Its efforts, like the struggles of a dying monster, may be with considerable force, and frequently productive of ill effects upon the indolent and unwatchful, and even upon the alert and enterprising christian. But through the virtue of the cross these shall be checked, resisted, and repressed; and, as surely as crucifying virtue exists and reigns in the triumphant cross, this great malefactor, the present evil world, shall die, and its body be given to the burning flame.
Fourthly, By the triumphant virtue of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, the present evil world, which is condemned and lingering under the torments and pangs of a crucifixion, shall finally expire in the great day of his wrath. The elements, which in their present unnatural and convulsed state, are occasions of sin and haunts of temptation, shall dissolve and perish at the rebuke of his countenance. "The heavens and the earth which are now, "by his word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against "the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men." Before him, ungodly men, who have been tempters and seducers of his people, enemies and persecutors of his cross, deniers and blasphemers of his Godhead, and despisers and rejecters of his grace, and righteousness, and law, shall be covered with confusion, condemned and driven into hell, to be punished with everlasting destruction. "Unto them who are contentious, and do not obey "the truth, but obey unrighteousness, he shall render indig"nation and wrath, tribulation and anguish." You who are glorying in the cross, and all who have gloried or shall glory, together with those who for the sake of it endured the contradiction and oppression of the world, shall at that day behold the last convulsive fit, and hear the last expiring groan of an enemy which, with respect to you, has lingered many years under the agony of crucifixion. "And then "shall the moon be confounded, and the sun ashamed; and "the Lord shall reign" in the new heavens and the new earth, and "before his Ancients gloriously."
You have heard the sense of the term world in our text ascertained; the crucifixion of the world unto believers who glory in the cross of Christ explained; and the virtue of his cross by which it is crucified unto them displayed. After some observations, which the illustration of these
particulars has suggested, we shall conclude with an exhortation.
First, This present evil world is in a state of opposition to the designs of the wisdom and love of God by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. By his obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, God designed to glorify himself in the salvation of a multitude of perishing and lost sinners. But in virtue of the curse, Satan was permitted to erect a tyranny over the minds and consciences of sinners, and by their means, to raise in the world a violent opposition to the love and authority of the Creator, and Preserver, and Saviour of men. Under this tyranny, which has subsisted, is subsisting, and will subsist till the present frame of the world be broken down and dissolved, the minds of men are alienated from the life of God, and an opposition is maintained to the dispensation and reign of his grace, by Jesus Christ our Lord. The opposition of character which scripture acknowledges between men of the world and men of God, is a real and not a chimerical opposition. These two divisions of men are in opposite states, and in opposite interests, and the one is perpetually in conflict with the other. "Ye are of God, little children, and have over"come them, because greater is he who is in you than he who "is in the world. They are of the world, therefore speak "they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are "of God; he that is of God, heareth us; he that is not of "God, heareth not us; hereby know we the spirit of truth "and the spirit of error."
Secondly, The world is under an incapacity to frustrate the purposes which God designed to obtain by the humiliation and cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. By the crucifixion, the arm of tyranny is disabled and broken. Though the tyrant should not expire instantly, he cannot disengage himself, recover his strength and liberty, nor resist with effect the power that has disarmed, condemned, and adjudged him to die. Under this image, or figure, the state of the world is represented. It was nailed to the cross when our Redeemer and Saviour was revealed and promised, and in no one instance has it been able to shake the foundation of his throne, or frustrate the reign and administration of his grace. Its arm is broken, and its tyranny is expiring. Though its life is prolonged for a season, till the words of God be fulfilled; though it roar and make a
hideous noise; though it struggle, and disturb heaven, and earth, and sea; though it raise war and persecution against the foliowers of the cross, it cannot prevail. Neither by its strength, nor by its policy, nor by its depravity, shall any of those for whom Christ died, perish. "I give unto "them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall "any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave "them me, is greater than all, and none is able to pluck "them out of my Father's hand."
Thirdly, The virtue of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, with respect to his enemies, is vindictive and penal. Of these enemies, this present evil world is a collective body, and the crucifixion of it, by the virtue of his cross, is a vindictive and penal, a just and an holy deed. Operations of the wrath of the Lamb are executions of the curse of the law. From this curse a select number are redeemed by the blood of his cross, reconciled to God, and made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. But with respect to the world of the ungodly, who reject the Author and resist the mean of redemption, the curse is in force, and the operation of it rendered more dreadful by the vengeance of the Redeemer. Destruction, and we may say, double destruction, is the end of every enemy of the cross of Christ. In his office, the power of destruction, as well as of salvation, is vested. The execution of the curse upon the enemies of his cross is judgment, which the Father hath committed to him; and that the execution of it upon them will be inconceivably dreadful, is declared plainly in his word. "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, thou "shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." "He "who despised Moses' law died without mercy, under two "or three witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment "suppose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden "under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of "the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy "thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? "For we know him who hath said, Vengeance belongeth "unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord." "And the "kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, "and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every "bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens "and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of
"him who sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the "Lamb. For the great day of his wrath is come, and who "shall be able to stand?"
Fourthly, The vindictive virtue of the cross of Christ against his enemies extends itself backwards and forwards. It extended itself backwards through all the generations which preceded his crucifixion, and crucified the world unto Abel as truly and effectually as it crucified it unto Paul. It extends itself forwards, and, from his crucifixion, hath exerted, and will continue to exert, its virtue until the world be dissolved. The waters of Noah, the flames of Sodom, the plagues of Egypt, the pools of Nineveh, the dens of Babylon, together with all the judg ments executed before our Lord was crucified, were operations and effects of the vindictive and penal virtue of his cross upon the world. And, since his crucifixion, the ashes of Jerusalem, the miseries of the Jews, the calamities of the Gentiles, together with the destruction of the man of sin, the crushing of the insurrection of the latter days, and the final dissolution of the world, are effects of the same vindictive and operative cause. "For the Fa "ther judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment "unto the Son. And hath given him authority to execute "judgment also, because he is the Son of man.'
Fifthly, Unto them who have fled for refuge to the cross of Christ, and glory in its virtue, the world should not be an object of terror. Paul was not moved by its efforts against the virtue of the cross nor afraid of perishing by its arms. Who would tremble at the execrations and struggles of an implacable enemy, who is disarmed, condemned, and crucified? Though still alive, as surely as virtue exists in the cross of Christ, it shall die, and, till it expire, the Lord Jesus, by whom it is crucified is "our refuge and "strength, a very present help in trouble.' "The hea"then raged, the kingdoms moved, the sea roared, the "earth trembled. He uttered his voice, the earth melted. "The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our re"fuge, Selah." "The floods have lifted up, O Lord; the "floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up "their waves. The Lord on high is mightier than the "noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea." "Who art thou that art afraid of man that shall die, and "the son of man that shall be made like grass? And
"forgettest the Lord thy Maker, who hath stretched forth "the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth? and "hast feared continually every day, because of the fury of "the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where "is the fury of the oppressor?-But I am the Lord thy "God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: the Lord "of Hosts is his Name!"
Sixthly, From the triumphant virtue of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto his people, there rises strong consolation while this monster is yet alive, and in possession of riches, and pleasures, and honor, and power. Before it expire, its struggles may be terrible. It may seem to come down from the cross, and to recover strength. By wars and commotions, by injustice and violence, it may be permitted to plunder, and, in a sense, to "wear out the saints of the "Most High;" but these, and all the excesses it is capable of committing, are only the last struggles of a disabled, crucified, and expiring tyrant. Look in the glass of prophecy, and, from the dissolution of a part of the tyranny, assure yourselves of the expiration of the whole. "I be"held till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and "given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of "the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their "lives were prolonged for a season and time.” When the time of the end will be, is a secret which is not communicated. But the virtue of the cross will continue to operate upon the tyranny of the world, on the one hand, till, by a slow, yet certain process, its dissolution be accomplished; and upon the preservation and increase of the church, on the other, "till we all come in the unity of the "faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a "perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the ful"ness of Christ."
Believers, unto wliom the world is crucified by the vir tue of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, we exhort to patience. "Be patient brethren, unto the coming of the "Lord," when your eye shall see the death of this tyrannical body, and your hearts shall rejoice in the Lord over its dissolution, "Saying, we give thee thanks, O Lord God "Almighty, who art, and wast, and art to come, because "thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast "reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath