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he is at particular pains to destroy every foundation of boasting or glorying in ourselves : Rom. iii. 24-28. “ Being justified freely by bis grace, through the redemp. “tion that is in Jesus Christ : whom God hath set forth “ to be a propitiation, through faith in his blooch, to declare “ his righteousness for the remission of fins that are past, “ through the forbearance of God; to declare, I lay, at this “ time his righteousness; that he might be just, and the
justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is “ boasting then ? It is excluded. By what law ? of works?
Nay ; but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude, “ that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the “ law.” Nay, we find that all his public services he considers as quite unfit subjects of boasting, even when he is obliged to mention them for his own vindication : 1 Cor. xv. 9, 10. “ For I am the least of the apostles, that
am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted " the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what “ I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me, was “ not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they “all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with
I am persuaded that those who, from really Christian principles, serve God in their generation with the greatest zeal, will be most rearly to renounce all plea of merit up. on that account. I have read with pleasure the following account of the temper expressed by John Knox, that emi. nent instrument in the reformation, when he was drawing near to his dissolution. Some person prefent mentioned to him, what confort he might now have in his extraordinary labor and great usefulness in the church: to whom he answered, “ Forbear to puff up the flesh with vanity, to “ which it is of itself sufficiently prone. The port I “ would be in at, is that of the free grace of God, through “ the merits of my blessed Saviour.” The truth is, chele are but the sentiments which shall not only go with us to death, but continue with us to eternity. A deep sense of redeeming love, and grateful celebration of the Redeemer's glory, is not only the language of the church on earth, but the delightful worship of the church triumphant in heaven : Rev. v. 11, 12, 13. “And I beheld, and I heard " the voice of many angels round about the throne, and " the beasts and the elders : and the number of them was “ ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thou“ sands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb " that was llain, to receive power, and riches, and wil“ dom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. “ And every creature which is in heaven, and on the “ earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, " and all that are in them, heard I, saying, Blessing, and " honor, and glory, and power be unto him that fitteth up“ on the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."
II. We proceed now to the second general head of difcourse, viz. To consider what reason every real Chriftian hath to glory in the cross.
This indeed opens to us a lubject of the most amazing compass and extent. Though there is nothing here but what is vile and contemptible to an unbelieving worldly mind; by the eye of faith, every thing that is wonderful, amiable, and valuable, is discovered in the highest perfection. I cannot particularly enumerate every subject of glorying in the cross; and therefore shall just point out to you the three following fubjects of meditation, which though they often run into one another, may be considered in distinct and separate lights. 1. The glory of divine perfection shines in it in the brightest manner. 2. The riches of divine grace are manifested in it to the most astonishing degree. 3. The sanctifying efficacy of it is so transcendently fuperior to that of any other niean, as fhews it to have been the appointment of infinite wisdom.
1. The glory of divine perfection shines in it in the brightest manner. Would we directly contemplate the glory of the invisible God, as it shines in his works and ways ? let us look upon the cross. It hath been sometimes, and very juftly, faid of the works of God, that they have usually in them something much more wanderful and excellent than appears at first view. It hath also been further observed, that, in this refpect, there is a complete contrast and opposition between the works of the Creator
and those of the creature. Every thing that flows from God, the more ftri&tly we examine it, and the more perfectly we know it, the more we fhall admire it; but every work of the creature, the more perfectly it is known, the more its inherent weakness always appears. This discovers itself, even in coinparing the produce of the field with the effects of human art. Naturalists observe, that the finest and most admirable human manufactures, when feen, as by a finer sense, with the assistance of a microfcope, appears quite coarse and irregular ; but that if you look at a pile of grass, or any thing natural, with the fame assistance, you will see ftill more exquisite and delicate strokes of the almighty operator.
If this is the case even in the material procluctions of natural power, how much more must it be so in the un. searchable mysteries of God's spiritual kingdom? In none will it hold more than in this chief of the works of God, this glorious though despised object, the cross of Christ. Here indeed the glory of God appears in all its lustre. It appears in so strong and so various lights, that the highelt angels are employed, delighted, and lost in the contem. plation of it : 1 Pet. i. 12. “ Which things the angels defire to look into.” Eph. iii. 10.“ To the intent that
now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly
places, might be known by the church the manifold “ wisdom of God.” O what a display of power in the union of God and man! What an almighty arm was required to make these things meet, which were infinitely diftant! The Creator of the ends of the earth born of a woman! the Self-existent become a feeble infant! the Lord of glory covered with Mame! The Judge of all con. demned to suffer! The Author of life giving up the ghost !
What unsearchable wisdom appears in finding a victim able to bear almighty vengeance! in finding a way by which sin might be at once punished and pardoned, justice fully satisfied, even where mercy is extended ! Little wonder indeed that the angels desire to look into this mystery. They had tatted the fruits of divine benignity in the happiness of innocent creatures; they had seen the VOL. I.
glory of divine justice in the perdition of the rebel-angels ; but the cross of Christ was the first thing that discovered to them the glory of divine mercy, in pardoning the chief of finners, without in the least obscuring the brightness either of justice or holiness, nay to the illustration of both. In the cross of Christ there is a more awful and penetrating view of the justice and holiness of God, than could have been given by the irreparable destruction of the whole race of Adam. And at the same time, his not “ sparing his “ own Son,” but “ delivering him up for us all,” is a more astonishing effect of love, than pardon without fatisfaction could have been, had that been a thing in itself possible. There is no end or measure to our views of this subject; but I hope many of you will now say, with the apostle Paul, what I dare say he has not yet done repeating in heaven, Rom. xi. 33, “O the depth of the riches both of " the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable “ are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
2. The riches of divine grace are manifested in the cross of Christ to the most astonishing degree. It is not merely a wonderful work of God, which all his intelligent creatures may behold with admiration, but it is a design in which we ourselves have an immediate and an infinite concern: For, Ifa. liii. 5. “ He was wounded for our “ transgreslions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the “ chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with “ his stripes we are healed.” O what an amazing display of unmerited love! Every divine perfection indeed appears in it very clearly, but chiefly love. The tender mercy of our God predominates, actuates, and reigns through the whole. Christ's undertaking, in general
, is the fruit and evidence of the everlasting love of God : Jobn iii. 16. “ For God so loved the world, that he gave “ his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, “ should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Salvation, in the whole of its purchase and effect, was the fruit and expression of the infinite love of Chrift: Rev. i 5, 6. “ Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our fins “ in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests "unto God, and his Father; to him be glory and domi
" nion for ever and ever. Amen." The believing foul is never more at a lofs than when attempting to confess its obligations to redeeming love. The human mind never feels its weakness more than when it attempts to conceive, or to illustrate, this truly incomprehensible subject.
The grace of redemption may be considered and illuftrated in a great variety of lights: From the greatness of the misery from which we are delivered ; for “ we are “ saved from wrath through him ;" From the greatness of the happiness to which we are entitled ; for we are made “ heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ :” From the guilt and unworthiness of the objects of this love ; for it
when we were enemies that " we were reconci. “ led to God by the death of his Son." But befides these considerations, there is more than enough of divine mercy to excite our wonder in the cross of Christ, the price paid for our redemption.
Great sufferings usually melt the heart to sympathy and tenderness, though we have no immediate concern in them at all : but how much more must every fource of tenderness be opened, when we consider the sufferer as an innocent person, and as suffering in our room! Remember the person, remember the nature, remember the greatness, remember the end, of his suffering; the eternal Son of God, the great Immanuel, covered with fhame, dragged to an unrighteous tribunal, not to abide the decrees of justice, but to bear the effects of blinded rage! See him, O fhocking sight! blind-folded, buffeted, and spit upon, severely scourged, crowned with thorns, arrayed in purple, adored in derilion! See him nailed to the cross! () shameful, O tormenting, O most accursed manner of death! Is it porsible to conceive the grace of this amazing humiliation, this infinite condescension ? I would even call it incredible condescension, but that happily it carries upon it this great truth, That God's ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts. Apply it therefore, O finner ! and see how it magnifies the love of God. Was all this abasement, all this shame, all this suffering for me? and shall I not glory in the cross ? Shall I even glory in any thing but the cross ? As it magnifies the divine power, as