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GALATIANS vi. 14. last clause.
HE character of a fervant of God is sometimës de
fcribed in fcripture by particular dispositions or in. stances of obedience, and sometimes by a general view of the spirit that runs through the whole of his temper and carriage. Each of these ways has its own advantage and use. Each of them is to be found in its proper order in the holy scriptures, and stands there as a proof of their fulness and perfection. The whole of this passage, but particularly the last clause, upon which I am now to insist, is of the general kind, and, in the apostle's own example, gives us a very compréhensive view of what ought to be the temper and disposition of every real Christian : “ By " whom," that is, by Christ crucified, or, “ by which, that is to say, by the cross of Christ; “ the world is cruci, “ fied unto me, and I unto the world.”
This description will serve, if carefully attended to, as a trial and touchstone of fincerity; and, in particular, will serve to distinguish real religion from some of its most deceitful and plausible counterfeits. At the same time, it will furnish the fincere Chriftian with very important diz Vol. I.
rections for his preservation and improvement, by points ing out the most fatal and dangerous rocks of temptation, which it is his interest to avoid. Having explained the words in my discourse upon the former part of the verse, I now only observe, that the proposition contained in thein is, “ That the world is crucified to the believer, and he to "the world, by the cross of Christ.” This naturally resolves itself into two parts, which I propose to consider distinctly, viz.
1. What is the import of a believer's being crucified to the world, and the world to him.
2. What influence the cross of Christ hath in producing this effect. Having done this, I will,
3. Make a practical improvement of the subject.
• I. FIRST, then, we are to consider the import of a believer's being crucified to the world, and the world to him. This seems to deserve the greater attention, that through the whole New Testament, there is a direct opposition stated between the world and the disciples of Christ; an opposition of character, an opposition of interest, and a continual conflict in consequence of both; John xy. 18. 19. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me “ before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world " would love his own; but because ye are not of the “ world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore " the world hateth you.” In this passage the world seems to be taken chiefly for the men of the world, or its inhabitants. It is, however, taken in a more extensive fenfe in the two following: 1 John ii. 15. “ Love not the world, “ neither the things that are in the world. If any man * love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." “ i John v. 4. For whatsoever is born of God, overscometh the world : and this is the victory that over“ cometh the world, even our faith.” Here, no doubt, it fignifies not only men, and our hopes or fears from them, but every thing in the present life that may be the object of carnal affection, of sinful or undutiful attachment.
The expression in the text, “ The world is crucified to 5 me” is figurative; but abundantly plain, and exceedingly strong. It might be considered very extensively, and feveral things upon it may probably afterwards occur. Let it suffice at present to make two obfervations. (I. This intimates the sincerity and heartiness of the believer's oppolition to the world. It must be remembered, that crucifixion was a death the most painful and difgraceful that could possibly be inflicted. When this image therefore, is borrowed, and applied to the believer's separation from the world, it implies not only an indifference to it, but the most fovereign contempt of it, from the deepest and strongest conviction of its absolute vanity. Nay, as no persons were crucified, but who were hated as well as despised by their judges, to be crucified to the world, implies an unfeigned abhorrence of its pollution, and a dread of being enslaved by it. · 2. The same thing intimates the perpetuity and fixed. ness of the Christian's opposition to the world. Those who were crucified were devoted to destruction, when they were nailed to the tree; they were not only tormented for a season, but fixed there till death concluded the scene : so I apprehend the apostle intended to signify, by this expression, his final separation from the world, without the least hope or desire of ever returning to it.
After taking this short and general view of the import of the expression, it will be necessary more distinctly and fully to consider what is implied in being crucified to the world. This ought to be done with the greater care, that it is at once an important and difficult duty. To be truly crucified to the world, I am afraid is exceeding rare; and even those who are so in fincerity, upon the whole, are far from being so in the degree that they ought to be. The punishment of crucifixion is a strong image, in one particular, of the believer's character. Though it was certain death, it was flow and lingering; fo worldliness, in many persons, continues long vigorous, and dies very slowly.
There is another reason for treating this subject with care, that men are very apt to consider such expressions as extravagant, and carrying matters an unreasonable length Miltaking the nature of the duty, they are neither cena cerned themfelves to practise it, nor will they allow that any body else does so in reality. I will therefore endeavor to thew you, 1. What is not implied in crucifying the world ; 2. Wherein it immediately and properly confifts.
On the first of these, I beg your attention to the following particulars.
1. The world's being crucified to us, does not imply that there is any evil in the natural world, considered in itself, and as the work of God. The whole frame of nature, as it was produced and is preserved by God, and the whole course of Providence, as conducted by him, are perfectly faultless. We may even say more, the creation carries on it such an image of its Maker, as the materials are able to bear. In this view, it is our duty to look upon the world with reverence, and adore the glory of God in all its parts, from the highest to the lowest. The evil arises wholly from ourselves, and our disposition to fin. . When we say a corrupt enticing deceitful world, it is but another way of speaking for the corruption of the human heart.
2. It does not imply that we shouki undervalue. or be insensible of present mercies. Every gift of God is good, if it be received with thankfulness, and used with fobriety. The more the world is crucified as it ought to be, the more we will discern the goodness of God, even in common mercies. It is matter of daily experience, and well worthy of observation, that those who idolize the world most, as an object of sinful desire, do ufually despise the world most, as the subject or ground of thankfujness to God. A voluptuous, ambitious, or envious person, who. pursues the world with eagerness, and never thinks he has enough, is commonly, discontented and unthanksul. His eyes are so wisifully fixed on what he wants, that he neither remembers nor, values what he already has. On the contrary, the self-denied and mortified Christian, though despising the world as an object of pursuit, is yet deeply sensible of the kindness of Providence, in his daily prefervation, or liberal provision. A mind formed upon the principles of the gospel, may look down with contempt upon the lustre of a throne, and yet know the value, and feel a sense of gratitude in the poffeflion of a crumb. ? . 3. It doth not imply that the world is uselefs to a believer, even with regard to his spiritual benefit. It is not enly certain that he may have, but that he will have, the fanctified improvement of every state: Rom. viii. 28. 4 And we know that all things work together for good, " to them that love God, to them who are the called ac16. cording to his purpofe.” The same mercies which make a wicked man insolent, make a good man thankful. They also extend his power of doing good to others. You may fee, by our Saviour's advice, how the world may be profitably employed: Luke xvi. 9. “And I say unto you, “ Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrigh“ teousness; that when ye fail, they may receive you in. " to everlasting habitations.” See also the account of his procedure at the great day, Matth. XXV. 34.-36. Their
shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, "ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared “ for you from the foundation of the world. For I was
an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and " ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me 6 in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye vi“ fited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
4. It does not imply that we ought to retire from the employment or business of the world altogether. Though there is a manifest danger in being too much involved in business, as well as too much devoted to pleasure ; it is an error, on the other hand, to place religion in voluntary poverty, in monkish austerity, or uncommanded maceration of the body. This is not doing, but deferting our duty: it is not crucifying the world, but going out of it; it is not overcoming the world, but flying from it.
But let us now consider, directly and positively, what is implied in the world's being crucified to us, and we to the world. And that the afier illustrations may be at orce more intelligible and more convincing, it will not be improper to begin by saying, in general, that we must be crucified to the world in those respects in which man, at his first apostafy, fell away to the world from God. While naan continued in innocence, the world, which in itself