« ZurückWeiter »
of Jesus, and in bearing his cross, the glory of which had triumphed over the Heathen world. The Cross, he said, was an expression borrowed from the wooden cross of Christ, on which he submitted to the will of God, who permitted him to suffer death at the hands of evil men. Hence, the cross mystical was that divine grace and power which crossed the carnal wills of men, and gave a contradiction to their corrupt affections, and which constantly opposed itself to the inordinate and fleshly appetite of their minds, and so might be justly termed the instrument of man's holy dying to the world, and being made conformable to the will of God. This cross was to be borne within, that is, in the heart and soul; for the heart of man was the seat of sin. Where the man was defiled, there he must be sanctified; where sin lived, there it must die,
there it must be crucified. The way in · which it was to be borne was spiritual, that
is, by an inward submission of the soul to the will of God, as it was manifested by the light of Christ in the consciences of men, though it was contrary to their own inclinations. The great work and business of
the cross was self-denial. Of this Christ was the great example; and as he denied himself, and offered himself up by the eternal Spirit to the will of God, undergoing the tribulations of his life and the agonies of his death upon the cross for man's salvation, so inen were to deny themselves, and to offer themselves up by the same Spirit to do or suffer the will of God for his service and glory. In self-denial there was a lawful and an unlawful self. The lawful self was connected with convenience, ease, enjoyment, plenty, which in themselves were so far from being evil, that they were God's bounty and blessings to us, as husband, wife, child, land, reputation, liberty, and life itself. These were God's favouts, which we might enjoy with lawful pleasure, and justly improve as our lawful interest; but when he, the lender, required or called for them, we must part with them, however great the self-denial. The unlawful self was connected, first, with religious worship; and, secondly, with moral conversation. As it related to worship, it was to be seen in carnal, formal, pompous, and superstitious practices, in stately buildings, images, rich
furniture and garments, rare voices and music, costly lamps, wax-candles, and perfumes, by which men made God a being sensual like themselves. This was such a cross as flesh and blood could bear, but not such an one by which flesh and blood could be crucified. Such external means could never remove internal causes. True worship was only from an heart prepared by God's holy Spirit, without which the soul of man was dead, and incapable of glorifying him.-_Unlawful self as it related to moral conversation, was to be seen in pride and other unlawful passions. Pride was the first capital lust of degenerate Christendom. It coveted inordinate knowledge. Such covering had been productive of many evils.- It coveted inordinate power. By such coveting it had broken the peace both of private families and of nations.-- It coveted inordinate honour and respect. By so doing, it had imposed degrading customs and fashions upon some. It had given false and flattering titles to others. But true honour and respect consisted not in observances like these. By so doing it had introduced terms into speech, which
were abhorrent from simplicity and truth. Such customs and fashions neither he nor his associates in religion, who were bound to deny the lusts of the flesh, could follow.
Pride too led people to an excessive value of their persons. It sought distinction by decorations, the very cost of which would keep the poor; but it became the beautiful to endeavour to make their souls like their bodies. It made distinction by blood and family; but God made all out of one blood and one family; there was no true nobility but in virtue. The proud man was a glutton upon himself; insolent and quarrelsome; cowardly and cruel; an ill child, servant, and subject, inhospitable, mischievous in power. Avarice was the second capital lust. It had a desire of unlawful things. It had an unlawful desire of lawful things. It was treacherous and oppressive. It marked the false prophet, and was a reproach to religion. Luxury was the third capital lust. This was a great enemy to the cross of Christ. It consisted in voluptuous or excessive diet, which injured both mind and body; in gorgeous or excessive apparel, to the loss of innocence; and in excess of recreations, contrary to the practice of the good men of old, whose chief recreation was to serve God and do good to mankind, and follow honest vocations. Sumptuous apparel, rich unguents, stately furniture, costly cookery, balls, masks, music-meetings, plays, and romances were not the many tribulations through which men were toenterthe kingdom of God. Against such things there were heavy denunciations. Man, having but few days, ought to spend his time better. Not only much good was omitted, but much evil committed, by a luxurious life.-- Such luxuries ought not to be encouraged by Christians. They made no part of the cup which Christ drank, and therefore they did not constitute the cup which his disciples ought to drink. Against these, as well as against all customs and fashions which made up the attire and pleasure of the world, he protested, as enemies to inward retirement, and as borrowed from the Gentiles, who knew not God. It was said in their favour, that they afforded a livelihood to many: but we were not to do evil that good might come. However convenient, yet if the use of them was prejudiVOL. I.