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12th verse of the chapter, from which I have taken my text. As many as desire to make a fair shoro 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 ceremo. nial, and to assert the exclusive doctrine of the
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 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 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 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 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 tliat 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, and 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 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 wbich 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-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, Psa. 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 unto Abraham : And all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, 1 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, 1 Jo. 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 further 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 might 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,
a 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 roho are in Christ have crucified the flesh, with its lusts : and in the