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forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, wherein He hath abounded towards us.34 In the doctrine of the pardon of sin through the blood-shedding and death of the Son of God, he made his boast. The knowledge of this was his greatest joy. The manner in which he speaks of it shows his earnestness on the subject. God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; it being the source of the richest blessings to the children of men. If we have right views of the subject, it will be the delightful theme of our rejoicing also. We shall meditate upon it with gratitude of heart. We shall rejoice in the benefits that are derived from it; and partaking of them ourselves, we shall be ready and desirous to recommend it to others, as a sovereign remedy for all the evils of this life, that they may be blessed also. But, alas! how little is this important and heavenly doctrine understood, notwithstanding the general profession which is made of the knowledge of Christianity. How few are those who enjoy the comfort that is to be received from the cross of Christ, or by means of a simple reliance upon His blood-shedding and death for their pardon and reconciliation with God. How few walk humbly with their God, trusting in the merits of their Redeemer as the only ground of their confidence for acceptance in His presence. How few rejoice in hope of the glory of God, as it is the privilege of believers in Christ to do day by day. Whilst Christianity is professed, its principles are not understood, its blessings are not sought; our need of them for our present comfort, as well as for eternal happiness, is not perceived; and therefore they are disregarded. The perishing things of this life are esteemed of greater value and importance than the invisible and eternal things of the life to come. Thus Satan deceives the human race, and persuades them to barter heaven for earth, to be careless and secure with regard to their eternal state, that he may exult in their destruction.
But we may learn from the apostle's earnestness on this subject, that it is not a matter of indifference whether the cross of Christ be our hope and our glorying or not. If our immortal souls be saved, it must be through faith in the blood-shedding and death of Christ on the cross. We must, as guilty sinners, implore pardon for His sake who shed His blood for transgressors; and the benefits of His death and passion must be applied to our consciences by a living faith in the Son of God. Thus only shall we be able really to enter into the meaning of the apostle's expression, with feelings in some measure corresponding to his on this most important subject. And thus we may expect that the God of hope will fill us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.
But at the same time, joyful as this theme will be to our souls, we shall find that the same result will follow from our profession of it and glorying in it, as the apostle experienced. He found that the gospel of Christ, which brought such peace and blessedness to his soul, that he was anxious to communicate it to all around him, in order that they might partake of its consolations, was not acceptable to the world, but met with the most determined opposition and hostility. He speaks,
Secondly, Of the consequence to himself of his glorying in the cross of Christ: By whom (or whereby, according to the marginal reading) the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. This implied that before he was made acquainted with the doctrine of the cross of Christ, or of salvation through Him, he was alive to all the pleasures of the world. But when his heart had been given up to Christ, he no longer sought his happiness in them; the love of the world no longer possessed his mind. Its friendship and its applause were no longer the objects of his pursuit. Its follies and its vices were renounced and abhorred, as opposed to the will of God.
But what do we generally understand by the world? What is it that the children of men are seeking for in it with the utmost ardour ? Its riches, its honours, its pleasures. In these respects the world was crucified to the apostle. He sought not his happiness in them; he coveted them not; he was willing to forego them all for Christ's sake. And it was not an empty boast that he made in this matter; for he was actually put to the test. And then he could say, Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things; and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him. To secure the eternal salvation of his immortal soul, which was to be obtained only by faith in Christ, was his great object; and for this he cheerfully renounced the world, and all the pleasures and gratifications which it presents to the carnal mind. It was by the cross of Christ that the world was crucified to him.
We may learn from his example in what manner the temptations of the world are to be resisted by us also. When they present themselves to us, let us look at the cross of Christ. Let us consider the cause of all His sufferings, and ask ourselves, Did sin cause Him all that anguish and woe which He endured, and shall we consider it to be a light thing? Did He suffer for sin, and shall we wantonly commit it? Let us call to mind His agony and pain, that we may dread sin, and may love Him above all things, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father. What horror and dread of sin, and what love to our adorable Redeemer, is a view by faith of Christ on the cross, suffering for sin, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, calculated to produce. Let us contemplate it for this purpose.
But further, the apostle says that he was crucified unto the world. In
In consequence of his glorying in the cross of Christ, the world looked on him with the contempt with which they regarded a crucified malefactor; and treated him in like manner as Christ was treated on the cross, with scorn and derision. With what contumely was our adorable Redeemer regarded when He was made a curse for us ! Similar was the treatment which the apostle met with from the ungodly world. He speaks to the Corinthians of being reviled and persecuted and defamed; and adds, We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. The humble believer in the Lord Jesus Christ needs not to be surprised if at any time he should find himself exposed to the scorn and enmity of the children of this world. St. Paul asserts that all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Opposition will always subsist between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not, between the children of God and the men of the world.
But will the Christian return evil for evil, and