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'But God forbid that I should glory, sare in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,' Gal. vi. 14. THE subject of this resolution is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which we are to understand not the material or wooden cross on which the Redeemer was suspended, and in which there could be nothing whereof to glory; but the sacrificial cross, by which he made atonement for sin, and reconciled us unto God. In a more extended sense the cross means the peculiar doctrines of the gospel, which all refer to the cross as the foundation on which they rest, and the centre in which they terminate. We may ob
The state of mind which the apostle expressed in reference to this subject. He resolved to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; thus expressing his approbation of it, his confidence in it, his attachment to it, his expectations from it, his determination to adhere to it, to commend it, to contend for it, to live under its influence. He spake in his public capacity, and expressed the determination of every faithful minister of Christ; he spake also in his private character, and gave utterance to the feelings of every real believer.
subservient to the honour of the cross. He still gloried in many things. He gloried in his infirmities; but it was that the power of Christ might rest upon him. He gloried in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses; but it was for Christ's sake. He became a fool in glorying. He gloried in the birth of Christ, in his life and labours, in his teaching and miracles; but it was because they all pointed to the cross. He gloried in the doctrine of Christ, because it was the doctrine of the cross; in the preaching of Christ, because it was the preaching of the cross; in the death of Christ, because it was the death of the cross; in the triumphs of Christ, because they were the triumphs of the cross. The apostle had the best possible
Reasons for resolving to glory in nothing save He saw in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. in it the most interesting display of the divine character that was ever presented to the world; exhibiting the justice, the holiness, the power, the truth, and the mercy of God in perfect harmony, and with the clearest evidence. He beheld in it the end and fulfilment of the Old Testament dispensation, which all pointed to the cross, and terminated in it. In the cross the type was met by its antitype, the shadow by the substance, the prefiguration by the reality, the prediction by the event: the dawn was succeeded by the day, the stars disappeared in the brighter light of the Sun of righteousness. In the sacrifice of the cross the apostle witnessed the achievement of a complete and final victory over sin, and satan, and the world, and death. He discerned in it the sure foundation of a sinner's confidence and hope towards God, than which other foundation can no man lay,' but on which whosoever believeth shall not be confounded, world without end. He knew it to be the only effectual mean of securing the attainment of
He excluded every other ground of glorying not consistent with the honour of the cross. There were many other things in which he had been accustomed to glory: but he no longer regarded them as grounds of glorying. What! Shall he glory in his honourable descent; sprung from the father of the faithful; of the stock of Israel; of the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of the Hebrews? God forbid.' Shall he glory in his connection with the church of the living God; circumcised the eighth day; a member of the commonwealth of Israel; to whom pertained the covenants, the adoption, the giving of the law, and the promises? God forbid.' Shall he then glory in his superior intellectual attain-personal holiness, both by the moral perfecments; brought up at the feet of Gamaliel; pos- tions which it exemplifies, and the purifying sessing a mind highly cultivated by the pursuits influence which it exerts. The enemies of Christ of philosophy, and richly furnished with the stores praise virtue, but the disciples of the cross pracof literature? God forbid.' Shall he rather tise it. And as the cross is the effectual mean glory in the correctness of his moral deportment, of sanctification to believers, so it is the apas touching the law, a Pharisee; and as touching pointed instrument of conversion to sinners. the righteousness which is in the law, blameless? Upon all these grounds Paul might well say, 'God forbid.' 'What things were formerly gain God forbid that I should glory, save in the to me, these I counted loss for Christ: yea, I cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.' count all things but loss that I may win Christ, and be found in him.'
But whilst Paul rejected every ground of glorying not consistent with the claims of the cross, he made every other subject of glorying
This was in him the language of grateful experience. He knew the value, because he had felt the efficacy of the cross. What but the influence of the cross changed the fury of the persecutor into the zeal of the preacher, and the
pride of the self-righteous Pharisee into the humility of the Christian disciple? What but the power of the cross supported him under the fiery trials that befel him, and enabled him in the near prospect of martyrdom to say, 'Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous Judge will give me at that day, and not to me only, but to all them that love his appearing.' For Paul is one only of an innumerable multitude who possess the same confidence, and taste the same consolations, and whose lips and lives express the same acknowledgments.
Mankind are naturally disposed to glory in everything save in the cross of Christ; but whilst some glory in their wealth, and some in their rank, and some in their honours, and some glory even in their shame, let our language be, 'God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.'
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God,' 1 Peter iii. 18.
EVERY view in which the sufferings of Christ can be contemplated serves to enhance their value, and furnishes additional reason for wonder and praise. How important do they appear when viewed in connection with
deeper interest when the character of the sufferer is contrasted with—
The unworthiness of those for whom he suffered. He the Just One suffered, but it was 'for the unjust;' for the guilty, who were obnoxious to his justice; for the depraved who were odious to his holiness, and averse to his service; for aliens and enemies, for the worthless and helpless, who neither deserved his favour, nor desired it; for the ungodly,' whom he might not only have left to perish in their sins, but whom he was called on to punish for their sins. But in order justly to estimate the sufferings of Christ, we must consider
The gracious design for which he suffered. It was not merely that he might save us from wrath, but that he might sanctify us from sin, and bring us unto God.' He suffered that he might bring us to the knowledge of God, of his perfections and government, of his righteous law and redeeming love, of his abhorrence of sin and his compassion for sinners, of the way in which he might be both a just God and a Saviour. He suffered that he might bring us to the favour of God, by expiating our guilt, and procuring the blessing of a free and full remission of sin; by fulfilling the law, and working out for us a complete and everlasting righteousness. He suffered that he might bring us to the likeness of God, by providing a channel through which the influences of the Spirit are sent forth into the hearts of his people, to renew them after the image of Him that created them in righteousness and true holiness.' He suffered that he might bring us to the enjoyment of God on earth, by taking away sin which had set up a barrier between God and us; by thus opening up a way of to God, and laying a foundation of acceptance with him, on the footing of which we may come boldly to the throne of grace for mercy to pardon, and grace to help us in every time of need. And he suffered that he might bring us to the
The character of the sufferer! 'It is better,'as the apostle had observed, 'that ye suffer for welldoing than for evil-doing.' And he could appeal to Christ as an illustrious example of generous and undeserved suffering. He was perfectly 'just,' yet he suffered. The Jews loaded him with accusations, and demanded his crucifixion; but his innocence shone forth even to the convic-presence of God in heaven. The kingdom tion of his enemies. The wife of Pilate proclaimed it; for she sent to him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with the blood of that just man.' Pilate himself bore public testimony to it; for he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person.' And to the same effect the Roman centurion exclaimed, Certainly this was a righteous man.' We are assured by far higher authority that he did no sin, and knew no sin; that he is the Holy One and the Just, and did always those things that pleased the Father.' The sufferings of Christ acquire a still
which he received for himself, is at the same time the inheritance which he purchased for his people. At his ascension he took possession of it in their name, and on their behalf. He is now, by his word and Spirit, preparing them for it, and conducting them to it; and as the completing act of his mediatorial administration he will introduce them into the personal possesssion of it by presenting them before the presence of his Father's glory faultless and blameless with exceeding joy.'
Those for whom Christ suffered needed to be
brought nigh to God. They are by nature the
children of wrath even as others; they are far from God, and ready to perish. But they who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.' And having thus been brought nigh they ought to live near to God, cherishing a humble and contrite sense of their natural alienation and estrangement from him, and a grateful and affectionate sense of their restoration to his friendship, cultivating the feelings which are suited to the relation which they bear to him, and acting habitually under the impression that they are no longer 'strangers or foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.'
'Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice,
Psal. 1. 5.
It is well known that, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, and the most fearful judgments were executed upon the unbelieving Jews, those who had believed in Jesus Christ were miraculously preserved. And to this historical fact there seems to be a reference here, in the spirit of prophecy, for the announcement comes from Jehovah in the midst of threatened vengeance. 'Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.'
But there is a more awful judgment than that of Jerusalem intended here. It was typical of the final judgment of the world. And blessed be God, he who preserved the Christians in the siege of the ancient city, so that not a hair of their heads was injured, will deliver his people in the day of final retribution, with a far more glorious deliverance, fulfilling again the gracious promise of Christ, and far more illustriously than before. 'He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.' Nor will he be satisfied with their deliverance merely, for he will exalt them to be sharers of his own glory; as it is written, 'the saints shall judge the world,-yea, they shall judge angels.'
But who are they that shall thus be delivered and honoured? What is their present character?
The answer is
What are their attainments? clear and full,the saints of God, who have made a covenant with him by sacrifice.'
'The saints!' The title is borrowed from the sanctuary of old, and it means to be set apart, or separated, implying, that as the sanctuary was set apart for the service of God, so his believing people are separated from the ungodly, and devoted to his worship and fear. Did God dwell in the sanctuary? They are the temples of the Holy Ghost. Were all the ordinances of the sanctuary expressive of purity? They are pure in heart. Was holiness the law of the house? They are enjoined, be ye holy, in all manner of conversation.' With what propriety then are they termed saints? And is it not reason of surprise and humiliation that the term is used in the world as a reproach; and that there are many who shrink from bearing the appellation as though the deepest dishonour attached to it? Let it be our highest ambition to be reckoned among the saints of God, for they truly are the excellent of the earth.
As saints they are in covenant with God. This is the bond of connection between Jehovah and his people. His address to men is, 'hear and your souls shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. According to this covenant he becomes their God and they his people,-He engaging to provide for all their wants, and they unreservedly yielding up themselves to him. It engages pardon and acceptance and purity and peace, all spiritual blessings here and hereafter, with a right to a competent portion of the good things of this life, so far as they may be necessary and conducive to the real interests of his people. And the relation of God to them is expressed in this form of covenant for their encouragement and comfort: as it is written, 'God willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us. Let the sinner enter into this covenant, and he will find it the ark of safety, the city of refuge, the hiding-place from the storm of life and death and judgment. At the same time it implies a hearty and universal surrender to God. He receives us into favour, and we give him our hearts. He provides for our necessities, and we yield him our services. He pledges to us his love, and we lay ourselves, all we are, and have, upon his altar. He avouches us to be his people, and we avouch him to be our God.
And how can a pure and holy God thus treat
with sinners, such as we are? This covenant is made with him 'by sacrifice.' It was made in eternity, not with the sinner, but with the Saviour, in the sinner's room. This is the testimony of the divine word, 'I have made a covenant with my chosen,-I have given him for a covenant unto the people.' Jehovah treats with sinners through the mediation of his Son, nor could his purity allow him to do so otherwise. The covenant secured all the blessings the sinner needs, but it was on the condition of the death of its surety. Sinners are taken into covenant with God through the blood of the everlasting covenant. They come to Jesus, are united to him by faith, obtain an interest in his death, are then entitled to plead what he has done and suffered, and so enter into covenant with God by sacrifice, even through the merits and mediation of the sacrifice which Christ presented, when he gave his soul an offering for sin, and bare our sins in his own body on the tree. In no other way can the sinner come to God or enjoy his favour. 'No man cometh unto the Father but by me.' But coming thus he is welcome. When the blood was seen on the houses of Israel in Egypt they were passed by and left in safety by the destroying angel; and when the blood of the covenant is seen upon the sinner God accepts him, and owns him for a son. On the ground of that sacrifice he may ask and receive till his joy be full, God will withhold no good thing from him. And he may continually say, 'having therefore boldness to enter into the holiest of all, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us through the vail, that is to say, his flesh, and having an High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith.' Thus, coming to God through a covenant, sealed by the sacrifice of his Son, we need not fear even to stand before him in the judgment.
Meantime, in the solemn anticipation of that judgment, let us see that we live as those who have entered into covenant with God by sacrifice. In the prospect of being gathered in judgment, let us now gather together in the name of our great High Priest. There are many assemblies where we ought not to be found,—not with the ungodly in their pursuit of earthly pleasures and sensual gratifications, not at the race-course, the theatre, or the ball-room. Let us gather together at the family altar, knowing God will pour out his fury upon the families that call not on his name; in exercises of social prayer, knowing that if two shall agree upon earth, touching any thing they shall ask, it shall be done unto them; in the sanctuary, for God loveth the gates of Zion more
than all the dwellings of Jacob; at the sacramental table, seeing Christ hath said 'do this in remembrance of me.' Acting and living thus, then may we trust there is evidence that when God shall pour out the vials of his wrath upon the ungodly, we shall be included in the number of his people, of whom he shall say, 'Gather my saints together unto me, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.'
'Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee,' Psal. lxxiii. 25.
THERE are many temptations, in the present aspect of the world, to doubt and distrust the providence of God; and on many occasions the mind of David appears to have been greatly harassed by them. He says, ver. 2, 3, 'my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped; for I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.' Still worse, he was tempted to express himself, ver. 13, 14, 'I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency; for all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.' But he was delivered from these vain and sinful thoughts. He informs us how this was, ver. 17, ‘I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.' Looking at the events of time, as there shown in the light of eternity, he exclaimed, ver. 19, how are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are consumed with terrors.' Humbled for his distrustful suspicions, he cried out, My heart was grieved, so foolish was I and ignorant; I was as a beast before thee.' He counted his own conduct highly irrational, and recovering the right exercise of his mind, he lifted up his soul to God, and said, 'Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.'
These are the words of truth and soberness; and whatever may be the outward aspect of affairs, the more the exclamation of the psalmist is considered and tried, so will it be found to be wise and reasonable.
( Whom have I in heaven but thee?' We know of two glorious orders of beings in heaven besides Jehovah, glorified saints and holy angels. But what are these compared with God? They may be admired, and in some respects imitated, and their fellowship earnestly desired; but they cannot be sought unto in prayer, nor confided in
to bless us, nor approached with the honour of worship. There is a disposition in the human mind to exalt them beyond their true condition, but this is condemned in the scriptures as superstitious and idolatrous. In the book of the Revelation, xxii. 8, 9, we read, 'When I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not, for I am thy fellow-servant; worship God.' Jehovah will not give his glory to another. Let us beware, that however we may admire the glorified inhabitants of heaven, we do not trust in them nor adore.
The wise man raises his thoughts above the earth. God is his chosen portion. How satisfying and secure! He is reconciled to God in Christ Jesus, and loves, and serves, and honours, and enjoys him as a Father. The divine perfections are his security; unerring wisdom his counsellor; almighty power his support; unchanging faithfulness his refuge; unbounded love his consolation; inflexible justice his defence. OurThe name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe.' 'O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.' They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.' O that we may ever breathe the spirit of David, saying with our whole heart,
But whatever temptation may arise from this source, it is more difficult to say, 'There is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.' great attractions are to the earth and earthly things. And yet how vain are they all!
Riches! They are uncertain, and make to themselves wings and fly away. They are unsatisfying, mere husks, that cannot be food for a rational and immortal mind. They are perplexing, often more difficult to keep than obtain, to use than earn. 'If riches increase, set not thy heart upon them.' Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.'
Pleasures! They are commonly the seeds of pain. Hear one who tried all their rounds, and bore faithful testimony to their insufficiency: 'I
'Whom have I in the heavens high
Heb. ix. 22.
gave myself unto wine, I made me great works, Without shedding of blood is no remission,' I got me servants and maidens, I gathered me also silver and gold; whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.'
Ambition! A mere bubble! A phantom that may amuse for a moment, but beguiles and leaves to the bitterness of disappointment. Remember the history of the great king Nebuchadnezzar. 'He spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word', was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken. The kingdom is departed from thee. They shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men.' Those that walk in pride,
he is able to abase.'
The creature! We may love him, but not supremely. We may enjoy him, provided only we enjoy God in him. Apart from God he will be a snare. If put in the room of God, he will
IF any one will turn to a concordance, and search for the term blood, he will find it is used with so much frequency in the scriptures as at once to suggest the idea of great importance being attached to it. Nor is it the mere frequency of the term that is remarkable so much as the use of the blood itself, in connection with the doctrines intended to be taught, and the ends to be answered by it. Throughout the whole of the Old Testament scriptures, under all dispensations of religion, it has the greatest prominence given to it. If Abel offered unto God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, one feature of difference between their offerings was the shedding of blood. When Abraham was taken into covenant with God it was sealed by blood. And for its use under the Mosaic economy see the preceding context, from which the passage under meditation is an inference, and in every verse of which the term occurs, ver. 18—22. "Neither the first Testament was dedicated without blood. Moses took the blood of calves and goats and sprinkled the book and all the people-this is the blood of