Page images

pleasures of the world could not seduce, nor its terror's afiright him, nor shall either its promises or threatenings, as temptations to deny and forsake Christ, finally prevail over them to draw back unto perdition. Their conformation to him, which is their glory, was in contemplation before they were made sinners, and even before their existence as creatures. “For whom God foreknew, he also "did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his 6Son." In their union and regeneration, when they are renewed by the Holy Ghost, and put on the new man, which aster God is created in righteousness and true ho. liness, it begins, and, though it will not be perfected till their resurrection, the tendency to perform exerts itself more or less vigorously in holiness and righteousness before bim, all the days of their life.

Thirdly, The person crucified unto the world is a chris. tiap who loves Christ Jesus sincerely, and esteems him highly. Upon Paul, who gloried in nothing save in the cross of Christ, the love of Christ appears to have made the deepest impression. Its perfections and excellences are celebrated in the Epistles which he wrote to the churches, and these celebrations of the love of Christ unto him are proofs of the sincerity and eminency of his love unto Christ. With an everlasting love, which passeth knowledge, Chrisı loves all whom the Father hath given him; and his love to them is the cause of their love to him, drawing forth those professions of veneration and esteem which appear in their exercise and conduct. “Un

to them who believe, he is precious," his person is glorious, his offices are amiable, and his fulness is an object of admiration and praise. Nor is their love to him an occasional pang of affeciion, which moves them on solemn and holy days: In their hearts the love of Christ is a set. tled and operative principle of obedience, both active and passive, discovering itself every day in a practical esteem of his law, and sincere endeavors to keep his commandments. For, saith a man who felt its influence, “the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that Gif one died for all, th were all dead. And that he died «for all, that they who live should not benceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose Cagain."

Fourthly, The person crucified unto the world is a christian who renounced every thing in himself, and in the world, that is against Christ. For the sake of Christ Jesus Paul renounced bis own righteousness, which was of the law, and all the gain in the world which stood in opposition to the interest and glory of Christ. In this renunciation, though every where traduced as a fool, he acted the part of a wise and sober christian man.

Our Lord requires it from all his followers as a proof of the supremacy of their love. “If any man will come after me, let him "deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. If any «man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and “wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his “own lise also, he cannot be my disciple. He that loveth fasther or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he what loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of “me.” Nor will any be losers by it, however harsh it seem

flesh and blood. The gracious reward in reversion, or the hope laid up in heaven, will be an ample indemnification. Present and temporal loss shall be overbalanced with future and eternal glory. “Every one who hath forCsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, For wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting "life.”

In the second place, we shall endeavour to explain that peculiarity of the Christian state, which in our text is represented under the metaphor of a crucifixion unto the world. It should be observed, that figurative language, used by the holy writers to illustrate spiritual things, ought not always to be understood in every sense of which it is susceptible; or, in other words, a metaphor doth not every where signify every thing in effect which it can signify any where. In the last sentence of our text, the apostle retains the metaphor, crucified, used in the precedjog sentence, while the sentiment it expresses is varied. On the one hand, metaphors, generally different in their nature, frequently possess circumstances and relations, which serve as a bond of connection with respect to their meaning and use. On the other hand, those which, in their nature and form, possess general likenesses, bear marks of discrimination with respect to their meanirg and use when applied to the illustration of different subjects.

The state of the world with respect to christians in Christ Jesus, and the state of christians in Christ Jesus with respect to the world, are different subjects. With relation to both, the cause is the same, but the effect, in every consideration, is not the same in both. The virtue of the cross of Christ, which crucifies the world unto christians, and christians unto the world, is the same. But though the effect of the virtue be so far similar as to be aptly expressed by the same metaphor, a different sentiment is under the metaphor; and, in the illustration of it, this sentiment ought to appear different according to the subject to which this metaphor is applied.

As the christian state, with respect to the world, is represented by the metaphor crucified, the account which our Apostle gives of it with relation tù himself is applicable to other christians. When he says, that he was crucified unto the world, it is insinuated that they are also crucified unto it by the same virtue; and his meaning in general is, that he and they, with relation to the world, are in a state similar, in some circumstances or considerations, to that of a man nailed to a cross, and in the agonies of death. But, in order to understand this peculiarity of the christian state, under the metaphor of it, more clearly and extensively, the following particulars may be distinguished and illustrated in the experience of the apostle. His connection with the men of the world was dissolved; his love to the things of the world was expiring; his fear of the hatred of the world was dying; and his contention with the world, as an' opposition to the cross, and an enemy to his salvation by the cross, was near the end.

First, The connection of the apostle with men of the world was dissolved. Though he lived among them, and embraced every opportunity of doing them good, he held no longer fellowship with them in their evil deeds. Fellowship with his countrymen in their opposition and enmity to the cross of Christ; fellowship with the Pharisees, among whom he had been educated, and all his connections with that great corporation called the world which lieth in wickelness, were broken and dissolved. From the enemies of the cross of Christ Paul had withdrawn himself, and had entered himself a fellow-citizen


[ocr errors]

with the saints and household of God, who call on the Name of the Lord Jesus. “When Saul was come to Jeru“salem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples, but ssthey were all afraid of bim, and believed not that he was "a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to "the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen "the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and "how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of " Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out "at Jerusalem.” Separation from the communion of the world is not peculiar to apostles and preachers of the cross. Communion with this body is inconsistent with the sincerity and purity of the christian profession; and in their conversion and union to Christ, all christians renounce it, and enter themselves into fellowship with the saints. Though they live among the men of the world, and reckon it their duty to be useful to society, their ungodly connections and familiarities with them are given up. Christians, who maintain unnecessary friendships and intercourses with enemies of the cross and haters of the Lord, are justly suspected of hypocrisy and insincerity in their profession and character, since they act in opposition to these rules for forming the one and distinguishing both. «Come out from among them and be ye separate.' “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of dark"ness.” Walk not henceforth as other Gentiles walk, “in the vanity of their mind." "Be ye not conformed to "tliis world.” “Live no longer the rest of your time in "the flesh, to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”

Secondly, The love of the aposile to the things of the world was expiring and hastening to extinction. Crucifixion is a state in which the sufferer may linger some hours, but will certainly die at last; and, though love to things of the world as a lust was not yet dead, or totally deprived of power, in this heavenly man, it was dying, or in a state which hastened to death, and would certainly terminate in death. The cross and love of Christ had introduced and raised to dominion new inclinations and propensities, which leathed and sickened at the remains of his old affections. Things of which he was fondest before had now lost their relish, and, in their contrariety to the law of Christ, were objects of his aversion and detestation. To him the pomp of the world was an exhibition of vanity in the sight of a

dying man, and its riches, and honour's, and pleasures, were bitter as the essence of wormwood and gali to a person expiring under the agony of crucifixion. Propensi.. ties, and inclinations, and feelings similar to those which reigned in the heart of this holy man of God, possess dominion in the hearts of all who live Godly in Christ Jesus, and reign in higher or lower degrees of vigour, according to their faith and impressions of his love. Crucified by the virtue of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ unto this preseni evil world, they behold the vain shews exhibited in it as mnen, with the shadow of death upon their eye-lids, would behold the decorations of a stage; hear the noise of its miron, as one on a cross would enjoy a concert of music; value its riches as a man descending into the grave would esteem a mountain of gold; and appreciate its honours, as one at the hour of dissolution will prize a ribbon or a star.

Thirdly, The apprehensions of the apostle of the hatred of the world were dying. That mighty and numerous body of evil-dvers, called the world of the ungodly, were in arms against the cross of Christ, and threatened with destruction all who appeared for its honour and jj.teresi. Paul was singled out as an object of their resentment, and schemes against his life formed a part of their system of operations. The eminency of his office, and the liveliness of his zeal, and the strength of his reasoning, provoked their indignation, and exposed him on every sideto odium and popular fury. But though he was not without feeling, his apprehension was deadened. He felt as though he felt not, looked in the face of the enemy without fear, and heard the storm rattling about his ears like the wise man whose house is founded on the rock. Hence he uses, concerning his state, these extraordinary expressions: “Troubled on every side, yet not distressed; “perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not for“saken; cast down, but not destroyed. As dying, and be. "bold we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, “yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as “having nothing, and yet possessing all things." Had believers knowledge and impression of the virtue and glory of the cross of Christ in the same degree, its effects on their fears and apprehensions of ungodly men would be siinilar in them all. Of all sufferings, those to which we

« PreviousContinue »