Page images

“ stitute others of a more ignominious and execrable im: “port in their room. Only I would beg the serious reader “ to spend a moment in the following reflection. Is it so, " that a polite and delicate ear can hardly endure so much " as the found of the words ? How amazing then was the "condefcenfion, how charming and adorable the goodnefs “ of God's illustrious Son, to bear all that is signified by “ these intolerably vile terms, bear it willingly, bear it “ chearfully, for us men, and our salvation !"

Before concluding this head, it will be proper to obferve, in what it was the apostle did not glory. There is plain. ly a tacit opposition in the forın of his expreflion, to some things in which others were apt to glory, and he as hearti. ly despised : “God forbid that I should glory fave in the « cross of our Lord Jesus Chrift.” He says in general, Phil. iii. 7. “But what things were gain to me, those ! “ counted lofs for Christ." We find elsewhere, in his writings, express mention of those partievlars which he renounced as any subject of boasting. 1. His learning as a scholar; 2. His privileges as a Jew; 3. Even his zeal and activity as a minister of Christ. Let us consider each of these by itself.

1. He would not glory in his learning as a scholar. The apostle Paul had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and seems to have been well accomplished in every branch of human science. Yet he speaks of it with great neglect, or rather with a noble disdain, when com. pared with the doctrine of the cross : 1 Cor. 1. 17. “ For is Christ fent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel : “ not with wisdom of words, left the cross of Christ should u be made of none effect," And again, ver. 19, 20. “ For “it is written, I will deftroy the wisdom of the wise, and “ will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. * Where is the wife? where is the scribe? where is the “ difputer of this world ? hath not God made foolish the “ wisdom of this world ?" It may perhaps be asked, What is the meaning of this renunciation of human learning and wisdom? Is there any real opposition between learning and the cross? Would not the legitimate use of human wifdom lead us to embrace it? To this I anfwer, that it feems to imply these three things.

(1) An admiration of the divine glory in that which had not on it any of the marks of human wisdom: in con, sequence of this, a stedfast adherence to the doctrine of the cross, though those who were wise in their own conceit might be tempted to despise it, and to defpise him for its fake. This great scholar, then, was not unwilling to fuffer the derifion and contempt of other fcholars for his glorying in the cross.

(2) It implies such a superlative admiration of this glo rious and interesting object, that all the knowledge he poffessed, and the honor he could otherwise acquire, seemed to him unworthy of regard : his attention was wholly fixe ed upon, and his affections wholly engrossed by, his Ro. deemer's cross.

(3) It implied, that though he certainly ought, and cera tainly did use the noble parts and accomplishments of which he was possessed, with zeal in his master's cause å yet he did it with that humility and felf-denial, with that noble contempt of vain embellishments, which fhowed he was not building a monument to himself, but seeking the honor of his Saviour. The doctrine of the cross should be treated in a manner some how correspondent to it; not with a learned and oftentatious self-sufficiency, but with a meek and truly evangelical self-denial,

Mistake me not, my brethren: I am not speaking a gainst learning in itself; it is a precious gift of God, and naay be happily improved in the service of the gospel; but I wilt venture to fay, in the spirit of the apostle Paul's writings in general, and of this passage in particular, Accursed be all that learning which sets itself in opposition to the crofs of Chrift! Accursed be all that learning which diguises or is afhamed of the cross of Chrift! Accurfed be all that learning which fills the room that is due to the cross of Christ! And once more, Accursed be all that learning which is not made fubfervient to the honor and glory of the crofs of Christ!

Well then, the learned and eloquent apoftte renounced the wisdom of words; and how do we apply this in gene.

ral ? By a small comparative efteem of all natural advan, tages ; and by thinking it, in the heart, a greater honor and a higher privilege to sit down at Christ's table, and to find acceptance with him, than to possess beauty, wif. dom, learning, riches, and honors in the highest possible perfection: and may God grant, that every one in this assembly may be able to say, in fincerity, that, in what things he thinks he excels, these he is willing to "count “ loss for Christ!"

2. The apostle would not glory in his privileges as a Jew. This we find him affirming in many places of his writings : Phil. iii. 4. “ Though I might also have con. “ fidence in the flesh. If any other man think that he “ hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more : Circum. “cised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Ben“ jamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a “ Pharisee ; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touch

ing the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." Toward the latter end of the Jewish commonwealth, there was a very prevailing and gross mistake among them, to look upon their external privileges as entitling them to the favor of God, and making a difference between them and others. We have reason to be sensible, that much of the fame disposition is really to adhere to men in every age. But one great design of the gospel is, to level the pride of man, to throw down all distinction in point of merit before God, and to show, that the power of the Redeemer is equally necessary to, and equally fufficient for, all without exception: Rom. iii. 22.." Even the righ" teousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto " all, and upon all them that believe ; for there is no dif“ ference.” Rom. x. 12. “ For there is no difference be

tween the Jew and the Greek : for the fame Lord over “all, is rich unto all that call upon him.” Col. iii. II. “ Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcifion nor “ uncircumcifion, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: $ but Chrift is all, and in all.”

3. The apostle did not glory in his perfonal character, not even in his zeal and activity as a minister of Christ, This appears through the whole of his writings, where he is at particular pains to destroy every foundation of

[ocr errors]

boasting or glorying in ourselves : Rom. iii. 24.-28.

Being justified freely by his grace, through the redempka tion that is in Jesus Christ: whom God hath set forth Ab to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare “ his righteousness for the remiffion of fins that are past, " through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this “ time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the

justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what-law ? of works?

Nay; but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude, “ that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of " the law.” Nay, we find that all his public services he considers as quite unfit subjects for boasting, even when he is obliged to mention them for his own vindication : 1 Cor. XV. 9; 10.

" For I am the least of the apostles, that am “not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the * church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I "am; and his grace which was bestowed upon me, was

not in vain ; but I labored more abundantly than they s all : yet not I, but the grace of God which was with ft me."

I am persuaded that those who, from really Christian principles, serve God in their generation with the greatest zeal, will be most ready to renounce all plea of merit upon that account. Ihave read with pleafurethe following account of the temper expressed by John Knox, that eminent in. strument in the reformation, when he was drawing near to his dissolution. Some person present mentioned to him, what comfort he might now have in his extraordinary labor and great usefulness in the church: to whom "he answered, “ Forbear to puff up the flesh with vanity, * to which it is of itfelf sufficiently prone. The port I * would be in at, is that of the free grace of God, through " the merits of my blessed Saviour." The truth is, these are but the sentiments which shall not only go with us to death, but continue with us to eternity. A deep sense of redeeming love, and grateful celebration of the Redeemer's glory, is not only the language of the church on earth, but the delightful worship of the church triumphant in heaven: Rev, v. II, 12, 13. “And I beheld, and I heard


* the voice of many angels round about the throne, and « the beasts and the elders : and the number of them was W ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thou“ fands; faying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb " that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, w and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And w every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, W and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard. I, saying, Blessing, and honor,

and glory, and power be unto him that fitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."

II. We proceeck now to, the second general head of elifcourse, viz. To consider what reason every real Chrifgian bath to glory in the cross. This indeed opens to us a subject of the most amazing compass and extent. Though there is nothing here but whạt iş vile and contemptible to an unbelieving worldly mind; by the eye of faith, every thing that is wonderful, amiable, and valuable, is diseovered in the highest perfection. I cannot particularly enumerate every fubject of glorying in the cross; and therefore thall just point out to you the three following fubjects of meditation, which though they often run into one another, may be considered in distinct and feparate - lights. 1. The glory of divine perfection shines in it in the brightest manner.

2. The riches of divine grace are manifefted in it to the most astonishing degree. 3. The

fanétifying efficacy of it is so transcendently superior to. that of any other mean, as thows it to have been the appointment of infinite wisdom.

The glory of divine perfeétion fhines in it in the brightest manner. Would we directly contemplate the glory of the invisible God, as it fhines in his works and ways ? let us look upon the cross. It hath been some. Fines, and very justly, said of the works of God, that they bave usually in them something much more wonderful and excellent than appears at first view. It hash also been further observed, that, in this refpect, there is a complete contrast and opposition between the works of the Creator and those of the creature. Every thing that flows from


« PreviousContinue »