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of the apostle in the words of my text, and through the whole epistle from which they are
But what is perhaps not so easily discoverable in it, but which ought to be very carefully observed, is, that as St. Paul was maintaining his thesis against opponents of different sorts, so he likewise supports it on different principles. Three descriptions of persons argued in favour of the Levitical observances. The first did so from a prejudice of birth and education. The second, from an excess of complaisance. The third from a criminal policy.
1. A part of the Jews, who had been converted to Christianity, could not help preserving a respect for the Levitical ceremonies, and wished to transmit the observance of them into the Christian church. These were the persons who acted from a prejudice of birth and education.
2. Some of them, more enlightened, out of complaisance to others, would have wished to retain the practice of those rites. In this class we find no less a person than St. Peter himself, as we learn from the second chapter of this epistle, the eleventh and following verses; and what is most to be regretted in the case, this apostle fell into such an excess of compliance, that he not only authorised by his example that respect which the Jews had for the Levitical institutions; but, being at Antioch when certain Jews were sent thither by St. James, he pretended to break off all intercourse with the Gentile converts to Christianity, because they had not submitted to the ordinance of circumcision; in this he acted from an excessive and timid complaisance. This weakness of St. Peter, to mention by the way, has been laid hold of by one of the most declared enemies of Christianity, I mean the philosopher Porphyry. The reproaches which he vents against the Christians, on this ground, appeared so galling to them, that they had recourse to a pious fraud to defend themselves. They alleged, nay, they perhaps seriously believed, that the person thus branded with timidity was not Peter the apostle, but one Cephas, who, as they are pleased to give out, was of the number of the seventy disciples of Jesus Christ, mentioned in the gospel. A most chimerical supposition! which has been latterly adopted by a celebrated Jesuit, and which has swelled the catalogue of his extravagances.
3. But if some from prejudice wished to transmit the Levitical ceremonies into Christianity, and others from an excess of complaisance, there was still a third description of persons who did so, out of a criminal policy. Such were the pagan converts. Respecting which it is necessary to remark, that the Jewish religion was tolerated by the Roman laws; whereas the religion of Jesus Christ was proscribed by them, and Christians were thereby exposed to the most violent persecution. This it was which induced the pagan converts to conform to the Levitical ceremonies, that they might pass for Jews under this veil of Judaism. A passage of St. Jerome to this purpose deserves to be here inserted. "CAIUS CESAR,"
Father Hardouin, in his Dissertation on Gallatians
| says he,* "AUGUSTUS and TIBERIUS enacted laws, by which the Jews dispersed over the Roman empire were authorised to practise the rites of their religion, and the ceremonial institutions transmitted to them from their fathers. All those who were circumcised, though they had embraced Christianity, were considered all over the pagan world as Jews; but all those who remained in a state of uncircumcision, while they professedly received the gospel, were equally persecuted by Jews and pagans. There were teachers among them, therefore, who, in order to screen themselves from these persecutions, submitted to be circumcised, and recommended circumcision to their disciples."
These are the words of St. Jerome, and they throw much light on what our apostle says in the twelfth verse of the chapter from which J have taken my text. "As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ." And as a relaxed morality has always the most numerous supporters, we see that in the church of Galatia, the teachers who made the greatest use of this artifice, not only attracted the greatest number of disciples, but likewise made that superiority a source of vain-glorious boasting. This is the sense of the words which immediately precede our text: "For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they might glory in your flesh."
These were the three descriptions of opponents against whom Paul had to maintain the inutility of the observance of the Levitical ceremonial, and to assert the exclusive doctrine of the cross.
One of the principal causes of the obscurity of St. Paul's Epistle is this, that it is not always easy to distinguish the general arguments which that apostle advances in them, from certain reasonings of a different kind, which are conclusive only against some particular adversaries. Is it not evident, for example, that all the consequences which he deduces from the history of Hagar, whom he makes the emblem of the ancient dispensation; and from that of Sarah, whom he makes the emblem of the evangelical, could make an impression only on the minds of Jews, who were accustomed to allegory, and who particularly discovered it in the different condition of that wife, and of that handmaid of Abraham; as appears in many passages of Philo, which it would be improper at present to introduce?
Now, my brethren, it is impossible to have a clear conception of the Epistles of our apostle, without carefully distinguishing those different adversaries whom he had to combat, and the different arguments which he employs to confute them. Nay, this distinction is the very key which explains to us the different conduct observed by the apostles toward their proselytes. For they believed themselves obliged, with respect to those who had come over from Judaism, to tolerate that Levitical ceremonial to which they were attached by the prejudices of birth; whereas this connivance might have proved dangerous to others who conformed to
Hieron. tom. 9. in Galat, vi. 12.
the practice of it merely from the dastardly | By the world of cupidity we understand those self-same beings, considered so far as by our abuse of them, they seduce us from the obedience which we owe to the Creator. Of the natural world it is said, Gen. i. 31, "God saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good." And St. Paul says, 1 Tim. iv. 4, that" every creature of God is good... if it be received with thanksgiving." The Christian does not break with the world in this first sense of the word. On the contrary, he makes it the object of his frequent meditation; he discovers in it the perfections of the great Being who created it: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handy work," Ps. xix. 1. Nay more, he makes it the object of his hope: For the promise, I quote the words of St. Paul, in chap. iv. 13, of his Epistle to the Romans, "For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was made to Abraham: and all things are yours; whether Paul or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world," 1 Cor. iii. 22.
It is the world of cupidity, therefore, that our apostle speaks in the words which I am attempting to explain, that world of which it is said, "The world passeth away, and the lust thereof. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world," 1 John ii. 15. 17. "The friendship of the world is enmity with," or as it might have been rendered, "is hatred to God." This is the world which "is crucified" to the Christian; the Christian "is crucified" to this world. The apostle, in expressing himself thus strongly, refines upon a form of speech which frequently occurs in Scripture, that of "dying to an object." To die to an object, is, in the style of the sacred authors, to have no farther intercourse with that object. In this sense our apostle says, in chap. ii. of this Epistle, ver. 19, "I through the law am dead to the law;" in other words, the genius of severity which predominates in the Mosaic economy, lays me under the necessity of entirely renouncing it, "that I might live unto God;" the meaning of which evidently is this, that I may have undivided recourse to a dispensation which presents the Deity as more accessible to me. In like manner, "to die to the world of cupidity," or what amounts to the same thing, "to die unto sin," is to renounce sin; "how shall we who are dead to sin live any longer therein? likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin: but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord," Rom. vi. 2 11. I am still quoting the words of St. Paul.
But as if a violent death were more really dying than death in a milder form, Scripture, in order to mark more decidedly the sincerity of the renunciation of the world, which is ascribed to the Christian, is not satisfied with representing him as dead, but holds him up as crucified to the world of cupidity: "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him," Rom. vi. 6. "They who are in Christ have crucified the flesh, with its lusts;" and in the text, "the world is crucified unto me, and I am crucified unto the world:" that is, illicit cupidity exists no longer with respect to me, and I subsist no longer with respect to it.
2. There is, however, a certain degree of ambiguity in these ideas of "deadness to the
motive which induced them to disguise their religion, or to screen themselves from the persecution to which it exposed them who gloried in making profession of it.
But whatever difference there may be in the character of the opponents whom the apostle was combating, and in the arguments which he employed to confute them, he presses on all of them this principle, on which the whole fabric of Christianity rests. The sacrifice which Jesus Christ offered up, that of his own life, is the only one capable of satisfying the demands of divine justice, awakened to the punishment of human guilt; and to divide the glory of the Redeemer's sacrifice with the Levitical ceremonial, was, as he expresses it, to preach another gospel; was to fall from grace; was to lose the fruit of all the sufferings endured in the cause of Christianity; was a doctrine worthy of being rejected with execration, were it to be preached even by "an angel from heaven." Our apostle goes still farther; he solemnly protests that no worldly consideration should ever have power to make him renounce this leading truth of the gospel; that the more it exposed him to hatred and suffering, the more he would rejoice in the knowledge of it, and in making it known to others; in a word, he declares he will continue to preach the cross, were the consequences to be, that he himself should be nailed to it: "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." This is the general scope of the epistle to the Galatians, particularly of our text, which is the conclusion of it.
But it is of importance to descend into a more particular detail. And, in order to throw more light on my subject, I propose, as far as the limits prescribed me permit, to attempt the three following things:
I. I shall examine wherein those sentiments of the Christian consist, which enable him to say that "the world is crucified unto him, and he unto the world."
II. I shall show that in such sentiments as these true glory consists.
III. I shall demonstrate that it is the cross of Christ, and the cross of Christ alone, which can inspire us with these sentiments; from which I shall deduce this farther consequence, that in the cross of Christ alone we can find a just ground of glorying. Vouchsafe us a few moments more of your attention to the elucidation of these interesting truths.
I. What is the disposition of mind denoted by these expressions, "the world is crucified unto me; I am crucified unto the world?" In order to have just ideas of this reciprocal crucifixion, we must comprehend, 1. The nature of it. 2. The degrees. 3. The bitterness.
1. The nature of it. "The world is crucified unto me; I am crucified unto the world:" this is a figurative mode of expression, importing a total rupture with the world. Distinguish two different senses in which the term world may be taken: the world of nature, and the world of cupidity. By the world of nature we understand that vast assemblage of beings which the almighty arm of Jehovah has formed, but these considered as they are in themselves.
world," of "crucifixion to the world," of "a | my body, and bring it into subjection," 1 Cor. total rupture with the world." For this reason ix. 27. Hence those advances in the Christian it is that we said, that in order to have just course; "not as though I had already attained, ideas of this disposition of mind, it is not suf- either, were already perfect, but I follow after ficient to comprehend the nature of it, but that This one thing I do, forgetting those we should also understand the gradations of things which are behind, and reaching forth which it admits. If, in order worthily to sus- unto those things which are before, I press totain the Christian character, an absolute renun- ward the mark, for the prize of the high callciation of the world, in the literal sense of the ing of God in Christ Jesus," Phil. iii. 12—14. words, were indisputably necessary, where is "He is crucified unto the world." He is so the person, alas! who durst pretend to assume in respect of hope and fervour. Hence those that name? Would it be a Noah? would it be sighings after the dissolution of the body, which an Abraham? would it be a Moses? would it be forins, as it were, a wall of separation between a David? would it be a Peter? would it be a God and us. Hence those ardent breathings Paul? would it be one of you, Christians of our after a dispensation, and economy of things in own days, who seem to have carried piety to which we shall be able to give an unrestrained its highest degree of fervour, and "who shine effusion to the love of order, and be completely as lights in the world, in the midst of a crook- united to Jesus Christ. "For we that are in ed and perverse nation?" Phil. ii. 15. this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; nor for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord; and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord," 2 Cor. v. 4. 6. 8.
Where, then, are those saints to be found, in whom an ill-smothered cupidity emits no sparks? That female is an example of what is called virtue, by way of eminence, in her sex; and which, according to the ideas of the age in which we live, seems to constitute the whole of virtue, as far as she is concerned; but, impregnable to all the assaults which can be made upon her chastity, she succumbs under the slightest temptation that attacks her on the side of avarice; and she loses all self-government, the moment you recommend to her, to take care that her charities be in something like proportion to her opulence.
That man is a pattern of reflective retirement, and modest silence: but, unshaken by the rudest attacks made upon his spirit of reserve, he yields to the slightest solicitations of pride, he decks himself out with the names and titles of his ancestors, he admires himself in the poorest effusions of his brain. How easy would it be to multiply examples of this sort!
But if it be impossible to say, taking the expression in the strictness of interpretation, that the Christian has broken off all commerce with the world, that he is "dead to the world," that "the world is crucified unto him," and that "he is crucified unto the world;" he possesses this disposition of mind, nevertheless, in various respects, and to a certain degree. "He is crucified unto the world;" he is so in respect of intention, he has that sincere will "to pull down every strong hold, every thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God;" it is an expression of St. Paul's, 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. Hence such protestations as these, "O Lord! thou hast searched me, and known me," Ps. cxxxix. 1. "Lord! thou knowest that I love thee," John xxi. 17. Hence the bitterness of regret on account of remaining imperfection, "Ŏ wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Rom. vii. 24. Hence those prayers for the communication of fresh supplies of heavenly aid; "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law," Ps. cxix. 18. "Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God: thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness," Ps. cxliii. 10.
"He is crucified unto the world." He is so in respect of exertion and actual progress. Hence those unremitting conflicts with the remains of indwelling corruption; "I keep under
3. But the Holy Spirit, in representing to us our renunciation of the world, under the idea of a death, of a crucifixion, intended to mark not only the nature and the degrees of the disposition of mind which these expressions denote, but likewise to indicate the difficulty, the bitterness, of making such a sacrifice.
In very rare instances do men die without suffering. Death, in the gentlest form, is usually preceded by violent symptoms, which some have denominated the harbingers of death.These harbingers of death are mortal swoonings, feverish heats, paroxysms of pain, tortures insupportable. Crucifixion, especially, was the most cruel punishment which human justice, shall I call it? or human barbarity ever invented. The imagination recoils from the repre- sentation of a man nailed to a tree, suspended by the iron which pierces his hands and his feet, pressed downward with the weight of his own body, the blood of which is drained off drop by drop, till he expires merely from excess of anguish.
Is this frightful image overstrained, when employed to represent the pains which the Christian is called to endure, the conflicts which he has to maintain, the sacrifices which he is bound to make; agonies which he is under an indispensable necessity to undergo, before he possibly can attain that blessed state which our apostle had, through grace, arrived at, when he said, in the words of my text, "the world is crucified unto me, and I am crucified unto the world?"
Represent to yourselves a Christian, represent to yourselves a man as yet a novice in the school of Jesus Christ, called to combat, sometimes the propensities which he brought with him into the world; sometimes to eradicate a ha bit which has grown up in him, till it is become a second nature: sometimes to stem the torrent of custom and example; sometimes to mortify and subdue a headstrong passion, which engrosses him, transports him, drags him away captive; sometimes to bid an everlasting farewell to the place of his birth, to his kindred,
and, like Abraham, "to go out, not knowing whither he went;" sometimes, with that same patriarch, to immolate an only son; to tear himself, on a dying bed, from friends, from a spouse, from a child, whom he loves as his own soul; and all this without murmuring or complaining: and all this, because it is the will of God; and all this, with that submission which was expressed by Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of the Christian's faith, his Redeemer and his pattern: "Not what I will, but what thou wilt," Matt. xxvi. 39.
O cross of my Saviour, how heavily dost thou press, when laid upon a man who has not yet carried love to thee to that height which renders all things easy to him who loves! O path of virtue, which appearest so smooth to them who walk in thee, how rugged is the road which leads unto thee! O yoke of Jesus Christ, so easy! burden so light to him who has been accustomed to bear thee; how difficult, how oppressive to those who are but beginning to try their strength! You see it, accordingly, my brethren! you see it on the page of inspiration, to renounce the world of cupidity, is to present the body in sacrifice; "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice," Rom. xii. 1; it is to "cut off a right hand," it is to "pluck out a right eye," Matt. v. 29, 30; it is for a man to deny himself," it is to "take up the cross:" for "if any one will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me, "Matt. xvi. 24; it is, in a word, to be "crucified with Jesus Christ;" for "I am crucified with Christ," Gal. ii. 20; and, in the words of the text, "The world is crucified unto me, and I am crucified unto the world." My God, how much it costs to be a Christian!
the Redeemer offered up of his own life, is alone capable of satisfying divine justice, and of reconciling guilty man to God.
We then entered into a more particular detail on the subject, by proposing,
I. To examine wherein that disposition of the Christian consists, by which he is enabled, with St. Paul, to say, the world is crucified unto me, and I am crucified unto the world." II. To show, that in such dispositions as these, true glory consists.
III. To demonstrate that it is the cross of Christ, and the cross of Christ only, which can inspire us with these sentiments; as a foundation for this farther conclusion, that in the cross of Christ alone we can find a just ground of glorying.
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.
The first of these three proposals we have endeavoured to execute, by considering, 1. The nature of this reciprocal crucifixion: 2. The gradations of which it admits: 3. The difficulty, the bitterness, of making a sacrifice so very painful. We now proceed to what was next proposed, namely,
II. To show, that in such dispositions as are expressed by our apostle, true glory consists.
In order to elucidate and confirm this position, I mean to institute a comparison between the hero of this world, and the Christian hero, in the view of making it evidently apparent, that this last has infinitely the superiority over the other. From what sources does the hero of this world pretend to derive his glory?
The hero of this world sometimes derives his glory, from the greatness of the master to whom his services are devoted. He congratulates himself on contributing to the glory of those men who are so highly exalted above the rest of mankind, on being the support of their throne, and the guardian of their crown. The Master, to whose service the Christian has devoted himself, is the King of kings: he it is, in whose presence all the potentates of the
THE TRUE GLORY OF THE CHRIS-earth "are as a drop of a bucket, and are
counted as the small dust of the balance," Isa.
HAVING presented you with a general view of the apostle's reasoning in this epistle; having considered it as an answer to three different classes of opponents, whom St. Paul had to combat; namely, those who maintained the observance of the Levitical institutions, to the disparagement of the gospel, 1. From the prejudice of birth and education: 2. From an excess of complaisance: 3. From criminal policy: we proceeded to show, that whatever difference of motive and opinion might prevail among these three descriptions of adversaries whom our apostle had to encounter, and how-ed ever different the strain of reasoning which he employs, according as the character of each demanded, he supports, in opposition to them all, this principle, on which the whole of Christianity rests, namely, that the sacrifice which
The hero of this world sometimes derives his glory from the hatred with which he is animated, against the enemy with whom he is making war. What enemy more hateful can a man engage, than the world? It is the world which degrades us from our natural greatness; which effaces from the soul of man, those traits which the finger of Deity himself has impressupon it; which destroys our pretensions to a blessed immortality.
The hero of this world sometimes derives his glory from the dignity of the persons who have preceded him in the same honourable career. It is considered in the world, as glo
rious, to succeed those illustrious men who have filled the universe with the sound of their name, who have made terror to stalk before them, and who signalized themselves by exploits more than human. The Christian has been preceded in his career by patriarchs, by prophets, by apostles, by martyrs, by those multitudes of the redeemed, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, Rev. v. 9. Those holy men have been called to wage war with sin, as we are to subdue our passions; to form in their inner man, as we are, piety, charity, patience, the habit and the practice of every virtue. The Christian has been preceded in his career, by Jesus Christ himself, the author and the finisher of the faith. "Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race which is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame," Heb. xii. 1, 2.
The hero of this world sometimes derives his glory from the brilliancy of his achieve ments. But who has greater exploits to glory in than the Christian can display? To shake off the yoke of prejudice, to despise the maxims of men, to resist flesh and blood, to subdue passion, to brave death, to suffer martyrdom, to remain unmoved amidst the convulsions of dissolving nature, and, in the very wreck of a labouring universe, to be able to apply those exceeding great and precious promises, which God has spoken by the mouth of the prophet, Isa. liv. 10. "The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed: but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." These, these are the achievements of the Christian.
The hero of this world sometimes derives his glory from the benefits which he has procured for others, from the blessings with which he has enriched his country, from the slaves whose chains he has burst asunder, from the monsters of which he has purged the earth. Who is, in such respects as these, a greater benefactor to society than the Christian? He is at once, its bulwark, its light and its model. The hero of this world sometimes derives his glory from the acclamations which his exploits excite, and from the magnificence of the recompense with which his merits are to be crowned. But whence proceed the acclamations which inflate his pride? Does it belong to venal souls, to courtiers, to hireling panegyrists; does it belong to persons of this description to distribute commendation and applause? Have they any thing like the idea of true glory? Extend, Christian, extend thy meditations up to the greatness of the Supreme Being! Think of that adorable intelligence, who unites in his essence all that deserves the name of great! Contemplate the Divinity surrounded with angels, with archangels, with the seraphim! Listen to the concerts which those blessed spirits compose to the glory of his name! Behold them penetrated, ravished, transported with the divine beauties which are disclosed
to their view; employing eternity in celebrating their excellency, and crying aloud day and night: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts! The whole earth is full of his glory," Isa. vi. 3. "Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God, for ever and ever! Amen," Rev. vii. 12. "Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty! just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints! Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy," Rev. xv. 3, 4.
This Being, so worthy to be praised, and praised in a manner so worthy of him, he it is who has been preparing acclamations for the conquerors of the world. Yes, Christian combatant! after thou hast been treated "as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things," 1 Cor. iv. 13, after thou shalt have mortified, subjected, crucified this flesh; after thou shalt have borne this cross, which was once "to the Jews, a stumbling block; and to the Greeks foolishness;" and which is still to this day, foolishness and a stumbling block to those who ought to consider it as their highest glory to bear it; thou shalt be called forth in the presence of men and of angels; the eye of the great God shall distinguish thee amidst the innumerable company of the saints; he shall address thee in these words: "Well done, good and faithful servant," Matt. xxv. 21. He will fulfil the promise which he this day is making to all who combat under the banner of the cross: "to him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne," Rev. iii. 21.
Ah! glory of the hero of this world, profane panegyrics, inscriptions conceived in high swelling words of vanity, superb trophies, diadems, fitter to serve as an amusement to chil dren, than to engage the attention of reasonable men! what have ye once to be compared with the acclamations, and with the crowns prepared for the Christian hero? I sacrifice, my brethren, to the standard prescribed to the duration of these exercises, the delicious meditations which this branch of my subject so copiously supplies, and all I farther request of you is a moment's attention, while I endeavour to make you sensible, that it is in the cross of Jesus Christ alone, we find every thing necessary to inspire these noble dispositions; in order to deduce this consequence, that in the cross of Jesus Christ alone, the Christian must look for true glory; and in order to justify this sentiment of our apostle: "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!" Under what aspect can you contemplate the cross of Christ, that does not dispose you to break off entirely with the world?
III. If we consider that cross in respect of its harmony with the whole contradiction which Jesus Christ endured upon earth, it has a powerful tendency to awaken in us the dispositions which St. Paul expresses, so as to say with him, "the world is crucified unto me, and I am crucified unto the world." Our great Master finishes upon a cross, a life passed in contempt, in indigence, in mortification of the senses, in hunger, in thirst, in weariness, in separation from the world; would it be becom