Imágenes de páginas

the observance of the Levitical ceremonial, and to asa sért the exclusive doctrine of the cross.

One of the principal causes of the obscurity of St. Paul's Epistles 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 mind of Jews, who were accustomed to allegory, and who particularly discovered it in the different condition of that wise, 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 the practice of it merely from the dastardly 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 thein, 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; wag a doctrine worthy of being rejected with execration, were it to be preached even by an angel from heaven. Our apostle goes still further; 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 consequence 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 shew that in such sentiments as these true glory consists.

III. I shall denionstrate 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. By the world of cupidity, we understand those self-samne 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 the 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 firmamentsheweth 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 ch. 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,” i Cor. iii. 22.

It is of 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,” i John ii. 17, 15. 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 ain 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 dic unto sin, is to renounce sin: hon shall we who are dead to sin live any longer therein ? likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin; but alive unlo 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, nith 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 world, of cru

« AnteriorContinuar »