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THE WORLD CRUCIFIED BY THE CROSS OF CHRIST.
GALATIANS vi. 14. last clause.
By whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto the
NOW proceed to the second thing proposed, which
was, To show the influence of the cross of Christ in crucifying the world. This, my brethren, deserves your most serious attention, as pointing you to the great and vital principle of the Christian's fanctification, the true and only source of spiritual comfort and peace. The cross of Christ is always considered in the apostolic writings as an object of the highest dignity and merit; and the believer is there taught to speak of it in expressions of the warmest attachment and regard. Witness the words of the text itself, in the preceding claufe: “ God forbid that I should “ glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We may perhaps be easily induced, in a time of external qui. etness and peace to adopt this sentiment as an opinion, or to use it as a form ; but happy, and only happy, those in whom it dwells as an ever present truth, and operates as a daily governing principle!
Taking the subject in great latitude, I might observe, that the cross of Christ being the price paid for the blessings of salvation in general, every illuminating discovery in the mind, and every gracious affection in the heart,
which are the work of the divine Spirit, may be justly a. scribed to it. But I propose, at this time, to consider it fingly as an object of faith, and to thew how the firm petsuasion and frequent recollection of this great truth tends to crucify the world to us, and us to the world; the rather, that we find elsewhere our victory over the world ascribed to faith, and this faith particularly terminating on the Son of God: 1 John v. 4, 5. “ For whatsover 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 ?" For the further illustration of this subject, " then, let us observe,
1. That the cross of Christ crucifies the world, as it gives us an immediate and striking view of the mortality of our nature, as well as the original and general cause of this mortality. The vanity of created things is in nothing more manifest, than in their precarious nature, particuJarly our own tendency to the dust, by which all earthly relations shall be speedily and entirely dissolved. In this view, indeed, you may say, that the death of any other person, sickness, and all its attending symptoms, or a funeral, with its mournful folemnities, tends to crucify the world : and most certainly they do. But there is some. thing ftill more in the cross of Christ. There we see, not only the death of our nature but the death of the Son of God in our room. There we are carried back to a view of the great cause of the universal reign of the king of ter. rors, sin. Sin first brought death into the world; and this made it neceflary that Christ “ should tafle of death “ for every man,” that we might be restored to spiritual life. Mortality, therefore, is written in the most legible characters on the cross of Christ. Nay, the curse of creation itself is written upon the cross of Christ. We cannot look upon it, therefore, in a serious manner, without being deeply affected with the doom which we ourselves have Itill to undergo : “ Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return.'
.” It is impossible to avoid knowing that we must die ; but those only discover the moment of this truth, who see its procuring cause. Those only have just and abiding impressions of the speedy approach of natural death, who are filled with concern for their own deliverance from the power of the second death.
2. The cross of Christ crucifies the world to a believer, as it shews him how little he deserves at the hand of God. Believers on the cross of Christ see him standing in their room, and bearing the wrath of an offended God, which was their due. When this is not only profeffed with the mouth, but received into the heart, it gives a deep conviction of the evil of sin, and lays the finner proltrate in humility and self-abasement. Must not this greatly weaken and mortify all worldly affection, which takes its rise from pride and self-sufficiency? It is, if I may speak so, a fort of claim and demand upon Providence, as if something were due to us. : Worldly persons, in prosperity, not on. ly cleave to the world as their portion, but may be said to assert their title to it as their property. The same in. ward disposition may be discovered by their carriage in the opposite state.
When their schemes are broken, and their hopes blasted, by repeated disappointments, or when their possessions are taken from them by unexpected strokes, they resift and rebel with impatience and indignation, as if some person had done them wrong.
But when men are sensible that they deserve nothing at the hand of God, this mortifies their earthly desires, and puts their complaints to silence. See how Job expresies himself after all his calamities, as sensible that he had lost nothing of his own, chapter i. 21. “Naked came I out of
my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither : " the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed “ be the name of the Lord.” Let me fpeak of this, my brethren, as a gracious disposition, which, alas! is too often but weak, yet surely hath place in the heart of every child of God. Let me suppose himn convinced, that he is unworthy of the least of all God's mercies; will he not keep his posfellions the more loosely, and will he not quit his hold the more easily? But where shall we learn real felf-abasement so well as from the cross ? where shall we learn how little we deserve that is good, so well as in that place which shews we have indeed deferved every thing
that is evil? where thall we learn to make moderate de: mands of created mercies, but where we see, that not only the creature, but life itself, was forfeited by our guilt ? Let me suppose a condemned criminal carried, with many others, to a scaffold, there receiving a pardon, and witnessing, in the execution of others, what was the fentence of the law upon himfelf; will he, at this inftant, think you, be impatient or thankful? Will he be jealous of the honor or relpect paid to him ? will he quarrel about the dignity or convenience of the place assigned to him? No surely. Lost in the confideration of the fate he has escaped, and the favor he has received, he will pay
little regard to matters of small comparative importance. Just so the Christian, placed by faith at the foot of the cross, deeply moved by a discovery of the wrath of God, which he had deserved to suffer to eternity, and taking an imme diate view of what his Redeemer suffered to deliver him from it, will be little thoughtful of the world, or any of its enjoyments.
3. The cross of Christ crucifies the world, by reversing all worldly maxims, and shewing of how light estimation worldly greatness is in the fight of God.
So long as worldly maxims prevail, and worldly greatness is in high esteem, the cross of Christ is a despised object. But fo foon as this object acquires bulk and value in the believer's eye, by being taken for what it really is, the world is disgraced in its turn. It plealed God, in his infinite wilclom, for the falvation of finners, to send his own Son into the world, in the human nature : and as it was in itfelf a deep step of humiliation, for the Son of God to be found in fashion as a man; fo, even in this assumed nature, he was attended with every circumstance of meannels and bafeness. No retinue of illustrious ministers to serve him ; no fplendid or elegant apartment to receive him; but born of a mean woman, brought forth in a stable, and laid in a manger.
Memorable and instructive history indeed! which shall never be forgotten where the gospel is preached, to the end of time.
Remember, my beloved hearers, though divine sweet. ness and benignity adorned his carriage, though divine
power and energy attended his ministrations ; yet poveriy, Nander, and contempt were his continual portion ; so that he could say, in the language of the prophet, “ proach hath broken my heart :” and again, “ The foxes “ have boles, and the birds of the air have nests; but the “ Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Some of the ancients have represented the Saviour as of extraordinary beauty of countenance and comeliness of form, founded perhaps on a literal interpretation of that expression in the Pfalmift, Pfalm xlv. 2. “Thou art fairer than “ the children of men; grace is poured into thy lips ; " therefore God hath blefled thee forever.” Without being positive, I shall only say, that this does not correlpond much with the other circumstances of his incarnation, And indeed some have supposed directly the contrary, founding their opinion upon the language of the prophet Isaiah, chap. lii. 14.“ As many were astonished at thee; " (his visage was so marred more than any man, and his “ form more than the fons of men);" as also, chap. liii. 2. “ For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and
as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor " comeliness: and when we shall see him, there is no “ beauty that we should defire him.” Whatever be in this, it is beyond all question, that the whole course of his life, and particularly the remarkable conclusion of it, was one continued tract of suffering and mortification,
Does not this, Christians, bring a reproach upon worldly greatness, and stain the pride of all human glory? Does it not show how little it is esteemned of God, and how lit. tle it is an evidence of his acceptance or approbation? What an influence must this have upon the believer to crucify the world ? How must it endear to him a mean and despised, and reconcile him to a suffering state? With what propriety does the Christian, when he is baptized in the name of Christ, renounce the world, its pomps, and its pleasures ? Does not a single reflection on the de. spised state of our Redeemer, in the days of his flesh, make you patient under contempt, and extinguish the defire of applaufe? Have you any remaining uneasiness at seeing others getting before you in the career of ambi. VOL. I.