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THE GLORY OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST DISPLAYED.
GALATIANS vi. 14.
But 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.
"SUPPOSE ye that I am come to give peace on "earth: I tell you, nay, but rather division. For fromi "henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three "against two, and two against three. The father shall be "divided against the son, and the son against the father; "the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against "the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-inlaw, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
While Christ was on earth, people who heard his doctrine and saw his miracles were divided in their opinions concerning him; and after he was descended, and his doctrine confirmed by signs and wonders, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, the division continued; Jews and Pagans divided against Christians, and Christians against Jews and Pagaus. Nor were Christians themselves perfectly joined together in the same mind concerning the faith of Christ. Among the churches of Galatia, different opinions arose with relation to the importance and efficacy of his cross in the justification and acceptance of sinners before God; and in this epistle, Paul, by whose ministry these churches had been planted, disputes for the honor of the cross with great force of argument, and with becoming fervour and holdness of spirit. In nothing terrified by its adversaries, this fervent and zealous apostle protests, that whatever they might choose to glory in, he had determined to glory in nothing save the cross of Christ, by whom the world was crucified unto him, and he was crucified unto the world.
Concerning the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, the world is still divided. In this house five are divided, three
against two, and two against three; Jews, Pagans, and Mahometans, against Papists and Protestants, and Papists and Protestants against Jews, Pagans, and Mahometans. Nor are Papists and Protestants of one mind. The former paint the cross, and bow to an image of the stump of the tree, while the latter protest against these innovations, and separate themselves from images and idols. But, what is more to be regretted, among Protestants there are also divisions. Some glory in themselves, and, neglecting the cross of Christ, bring forward, with great pomp and noise, their own works, to solicit and to establish their justification and acceptance in the sight of God. Others glory in their shame, and, giving themselves over to ungodly and worldly lusts, blaspheme this object, which is the glory of Christianity, in the estimation of men to whom the Son of God hath given eyes to behold its glory.
In such circumstances, an inquiry into the grounds and reasons of that extraordinary esteem, which the apostle in our text professes for the cross, is proper and seasonable. Undismayed at the arm of persecution, and unmoved by the arguments of guile and deceit, this learned and holy man says, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross "of our Lord Jesus Christ." We shall consider the great object which appears before us in these words; display the glory of the object; and illustrate the esteem and veneration for it which the apostle professes, and which we ought to profess.
Now, my brethren, we are entering upon a subject, the knowledge of which surpasses all other knowledge. The most we know of it is, that it passeth knowledge. We may speak, but little more can be said than that it is unspeakable; and when we write, it is not so properly to describe, as to tell the world that it cannot be described. Compared with the revelation of the riches of the glory of the mystery of the cross of Christ, the history of the world, excepting its relation to this, is the history of confusions and vanities. The least, however, we can do, is to desire to look into the revelation of the mystery; and, while speaking and hearing, we will offer up our desire unto him who is able to satisfy it, by shining in our heart, and giving us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.
The great Object which our text sets before us is to be considered in the FIRST place. Observe these words in it, "The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ;" and consider the Person described by the names; the triumphant manner of speaking concerning him; and the sense in which his cross is used.
Consider, First, The Person described by the names. Lord Jesus Christ. This is the Person who appeared in glory on the road to Damascus, and called to the writer of our text, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" This is the Person upon whom the hope of salvation hath been builded from the revelation of the mystery of God in Paradise; and this is the Person on whom it will be built until the mystery of God be finished. Anointed to be the Prophet, the Priest, and the King of the Church, revelation, from the day in which it was opened to the day in which it was sealed up, directed the eye of the world toward the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation; and after the sealing up, and while there are men to be saved, the ministry of reconciliation will direct them to look unto him, that they may be saved. "Neither is there salvation "in any other, for there is none other name under heaven, "given among men, whereby we must be saved." Dost thou believe and acknowledge, O sinner, what thou art hearing? Art thou convinced of sin, righteousness, and judgment? Art thou sensible of guilt, pollution, ignorance, and impotence? Dost thou see wrath revealed from heaven against thine ungodliness and unrighteousness? Dost thou believe that there is salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ, and by no other name? Why dost thou not seek the knowledge of his name, and put thy trust in his person? Observe, upon this interesting subject, the seriousness and fervour of the learned man who depressed himself below the least of saints, and reckoned himself the chief of sinners. "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss "for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things "but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ "Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all "things, and do count them but dung, that I may win "Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righte"ousness, which is of the law, but that which is through "the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by "faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resur
"rection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made "conformable unto his death." May the Holy Spirit lead every hearer into these just and honorable sentiments of the excellency of the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the suitableness, sufficiency, freeness, and necessity of his righteousness and death unto salvation.
Consider, Secondly, The warm and triumphant manner in which the Apostle speaks of the Person. Before his names he inserts the word, "our," and says, "our Lord Je"sus Christ." Speaking of his own interest, he uses the word "my," and says, "Christ Jesus my Lord." But when he speaks of the interest of the body, the word “our” is used with propriety: "Our Lord Jesus Christ;" because we were chosen in him before the foundation of the world. Our Lord Jesus Christ; because he took part of the flesh and blood whereof we are partakers. Our Lord Jesus Christ; because he substituted himself in our room, fulfilled for us the righteousness of the law; and redeemed us from the curse. Our Lord Jesus Christ; because he betrothed and married us to himself, in the day of power, and the time of love. Our Lord Jesus Christ; because we have given our own selves to him, and claimed him for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Our Lord Jesus Christ; because we are represented in him, and because he appears for us in the presence of God, as our intercessor and advocate. Our Lord Jesus Christ; because he manages for us all our interests and concerns on earth, being given to be head over all things to the Church, which is his body; and made Captain of our salvation, to bring us to glory. The generous soul of this holy apostle rejoiced that others besides himself were made partakers of Christ, and that he could say both "Christ Jesus my "Lord," and "Christ Jesus our Lord.” True Christians are all of the same mind. Their heart is glad and their glory rejoiceth, when they behold multitudes counting all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus their Lord. Nor is it the welfare of men, but the glory of Christ, which is the spring and principle of this elevation and largeness of heart. Like our natural body, the body of Christ hath many members, and the members observe with pleasure and joy the fashionings of his body, and the new members filling up their places in it; because this glorifies the Head of the body, and increases the weight and splendour of his crown.
Consider, Thirdly, The sense in which the Apostle uses the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in the text. order to understand this term more clearly and extensively, we shall distinguish the sense by the words, particularly; generally; comprehensively.-Particularly, 'Cross' is one designation given to the instrument of infamy and pain on which our Lord Jesus Christ died, and Tree is another. Paul uses the former most frequently, and Peter the latter; and by both designations we are reminded of the pain and infamy of his death. To the cross he was nailed, and on the tree he bare our sins in his own body. The Son of God on a cross and a tree, is an object deeply mysterious! Angels desire to look into it, and in it behold the manifold wisdom and unsearchable judgments of God. Men, more nearly interested than angels, should always remember it with gratitude, and honor it with praise. The Author of liberty suffering the death of a slave; the punishment inflicted on the meanest persons for the greatest offences, inflicted on the highest person, who had committed no offence; the Holy One and the Just dying in the form of a servant, and, which is still dower, under the character of an evil-doer, are considerations of the riches of sovereignty, wisdom, and justice, which are unsearchable, and past finding out.-Generally, The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ denotes the sufferings which he endured from his birth to his death. In meditation, and even in discourse, it is useful to distinguish, and to think and speak of his sufferings in his infancy, in his ministry, in his death; or of his sufferings from wicked men, from evil spirits, and from the immediate hand of his own Father. But, though we be allowed the help of these distinctions, we should not forget that his sufferings are a whole, or one complete satisfaction, of which the cross is a general expression. All the sufferings of his humiliation occurred to the mind of the Apostle, when he gloried in his cross; but he used this particular expression in a general sense, because the cross was the consummation of the whole, and a proper mean to recal and to revive impressions of the infamy and bitterness of his death. In the discourses and writings of the Apostles, you will observe an endeavor to perpetuate the memory of the shame in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, after he was crowned with glory and honor. Instead of con