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THE TRUE GLORY OF THE CHRISTIAN.
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 ! unto the world.
AVING 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 shew, that whatever difference of motive and opinion might prevail, among these three descriptions of adversaries whom our apostle had to encounter, and however 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 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 shew, 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.
The first of these three proposals we have endeavored to execute, by considering, 1. The nature of this reciprocal crucifixion : 2. The gradation of which it admits: 3. The difficulty, the bilterness of making a sacrifice so very painful. We now proceed to what we next proposed, namely,
II. To shew, 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 de rive 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 bimself 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 earth, are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance, Isa. xl. 15. He it is, by whose supreme authority kings reign, and princes decree justice, Prov. viii. 15. It is true that the greatness of this adorable Being raises him far above all our services. It is true that his throne is established for ever; and that the united force of all created things would in vain attempt to shake it. But if the Christian can contribute nothing to the glory of so great a master, he publishes it abroad, he confounds those who presume to invade it, he makes it to be known over the whole earth.
The hero of this world sometimes derives his glory, from the hatred with which he is animated, against the enemy on 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 impressed upon 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 honorable career.
It is considered, in the world, as glorious, 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 wright, 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. I, 2.
The hero of this world sometimes derives his glory, from the brilliancy of his archievements. 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 laboring 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 atchievements of the Christian.
The hero of this world sometimes derives his glory, fom the benefits which he has procured to 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 recompence 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, 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 honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever ! Amen. Rey. vij. 12, Great and mar