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Roman rulers been properly convinced that Jesus was the Christ, his death would not have taken place, as the accomplishment of prophecy, and of our redemption, required: for, "if the princes of this world" had known the wisdom of God, "they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."* On the other hand, they being obstinately, wilfully, and sinfully blind to his character, and bent on his destruction, and there being a law that all false prophets and blasphemers, and, of course, especially those who should be so daring as falsely to assume the character of Messiah,† should be put to death; it was necessary to avoid, for a time, all such explicit declarations in words as would have given them a handle to proceed, by an unjust application of the law, prematurely against him. Again, he evidently wished men to infer his Messiahship from his works and his teaching in general, rather than to have it pressed on their reception by positive assertions; and it is plain that this was, at least at first, the way which was most reasonable, most dignified, and most likely to be successful. He directed his apostles to abstain from insisting on this great truth, and even from stating it openly, till the evidence on which it rested was complete, and they could bring it forward with a force of proof which no candid mind could resist. That evidence might be considered as completed by his exaltation, and the outpouring of the Spirit. Accordingly, after that, the apostles were most explicit. Thus, Peter, having spoken of the resurrection and ascension of the Redeemer, and the descent of the Holy Ghost, sums up his sermon, on the day of Pentecost, in these words: "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ."

In connection with this charge, our Lord proceeded : "Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes, and be slain and be raised the third day." As our Lord spoke plainly to his disciples of his being the Messiah, so, from this time, he began to speak plainly of his being a suffering Messiah—an idea very contrary to the carnal notions of the Jews, but very important, and, indeed, quite essential. "The Son of man must suffer:" there was a necessity for this, in order to his accomplishing the work of our redemption, and fulfilling ancient prophecy. He also stated to them the necessity, for the same reasons, of his resurrec

* 1 Cor. ii. 8.

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tion. To enter on any particular illustration of these points, however, would be an anticipation of what properly belongs to a more advanced period of the sacred history. We shall, therefore, only observe here, that our Lord's devotedness and love are strikingly illustrated by the consideration, that he proceeded in the perfect foreknowledge of all that lay before him; and that after his sufferings were all over, and he had risen from the dead, he said to the two disciples, on the way to Emmaus: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?"

The disciples were much astonished, and troubled, at this declaration of our Lord, not being aware of the glorious purpose his sufferings were to promote; and Matthew and Mark tell us that Peter "took Christ," that is, probably, took him by the hand, "and began to rebuke him”-tenderly to chide him, "saying, Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee." But our Lord turned round, and looked on the disciples, knowing them to be of the same mind with Peter, and, with unusual severity, rebuked Peter, saying: "Get thee behind me, Satan" (adversary); "thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest"-relishestmindest "not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."

Nay, our Lord now taught, not only that he was to suffer himself, but that all who would be his disciples must expect to suffer also. "When he had called the people unto him, with his disciples also," (as we learn from Mark*), he then, as Luke mentions in the 23d verse," said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me." If any man will, that is, wish, or be willing, be cheerfully and resolutely minded "to come after Christ," to follow him as a disciple: "he must deny himself." This is an universal rule: it is as applicable now, as it was when Christ walked on earth; and therefore, it highly concerns us all to attend to its import, and to comply with its requisitions. Let us consider, then, for a little, what is implied in the self-denial to which we are here called. It does not imply a disregard to our own true interest and happiness, for, these are always found, at last, to be inseparably connected with the path of duty. But it implies that we are to be denied to ourselves, as depraved and sinful creatures that we are to be denied to that spirit which

* Mark viii. 34.

would set up ourselves, our own wills, as the rivals of God -that we are to be denied to every thing which would, in any way, interfere with our submission and fidelity to Jesus Christ. More particularly, if we are to be the disciples of Christ, we must be denied to our own wisdom. While we are to use the natural wisdom, the reason, which God hath given us, we are not to trust in it as sufficient to show us the way of life. There is more hope of a fool, than of those who are wise in their own conceit. The wisest must not glory in their wisdom. We are to be sensible of our ignorance, and desirous to be taught of God, who "hideth these things from the wise and prudent, and revealeth them unto babes." We must be denied to our own righteousness. If we imagine that any thing we are, or say, or do, can have merit to procure the divine forgiveness and favour, or render us worthy of Christ, that will be an insuperable barrier to our submission to the Redeemer. We must renounce all trust in ourselves, plead guilty before God, and cast ourselves on his free mercy, by faith in his son's righteousness. We must be denied to all obviously sinful propensities and habits. Christ is willing to save us from our sins, but he will not save us in our sins. To suppose that we may be saved notwithstanding our continuing in sin, would be to make him "the minister of sin," and to turn the grace of God into licentiousness. "If we would be Christ's, we must crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts;" we must "through the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body;" we must "deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and live soberly, righteously, and godly in the world." We must de denied, not only to what is obviously sinful, but also, to every earthly enjoyment, when it comes into competition with our regard to Christ. We must, for example, be denied to those bodily indulgences which, though in themselves innocent, when under due restraint, become incompatible with spirituality of mind, when felt to be essential, or very important, to our happiness. We must "keep under our bodies, and bring them into subjection." We must be denied to our reputation. Though we are to value a good name in the world, if it can be had consistently with faithfulness to our Lord; we are cheerfully to forego it, if it cannot be retained but at the expense of our conscience. If situated in any degree like Moses, we are to feel and act like him: he "refused to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the

pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of reward." We must be denied to our friends. That is, though we ought highly to value their good will, and to endeavour to preserve it by all means consistent with duty; we must not allow ourselves to be so wrought on by them, however near and dear to us they may be, as to be prevented from following Christ. Should they attempt so to influence us, we must be denied to their solicitations, allurements, and upbraidings. It sometimes happens that the greatest foes to a man's salvation, are those of his own household. In reference to such a case, our Lord "He that loveth father, or mother, more says, than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son, or daughter, more than me, is not worthy of me." We must be denied to our property, so as to be ready to undergo any sacrifice of our substance-to our ease, so as to be ready to undergo any torture-to our liberty, so as to be ready to go to prison-and to our very life, so as to be ready cheerfully to lay it down, rather than prove unfaithful to our Redeemer. None of those things must move us; neither must we count our life dear to us, so that we may finish our course with joy.

Following out the same strain, our Lord says that, if any man will come after him, he must "take up his cross daily." This form of expression is borrowed from the circumstance that those who were led out to be crucified were, generally, made to carry the cross on which they were to suffer: and it teaches us that we ought to be ready to undergo any trials which may befal us, and to have even the spirit of a martyr, for Christ's sake. This implies that the cross, or trouble of some kind, is before us, with which we must lay our account that while crosses occur daily, or very frequently, every man has some cross, or trial, which may emphatically be called his own-that we are not to go in search of crosses, or, to make crosses for ourselves, or, rashly and needlessly to expose ourselves to trouble-and finally, that we ought readily to take up whatever cross providence may clearly lay in our way, that is, we ought to bear it, not because we cannot do otherwise, and by compulsion, but willingly, and so as to go on thankfully and joyfully under it.

In this way of denying ourselves, and taking up our cross, we are to "follow Christ," who not only calls on us to show that we are his disciples, but who, in denying himself, and

becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, at once" suffered for us, and left us an example that we should follow his steps." Let us, then, examine ourselves by this test. What self-denial are we exercising? what cross are we bearing for Jesus' sake? If we are following the desires of an unrenewed heart; if we are turning aside from the cross which God lays in our way, or, if compelled to bear it, we are rebelling under it; if we are walking according to the course of this world, and in no way distinguished. from those who are of the world: then, whatever we may imagine, or profess, we are not the followers of Christ, we have not the Spirit of Christ, and we are none of his. But, if we have learned to submit our views and will to his; if we count all things but loss, for the excellency of his knowledge and righteousness; and if, by his cross, the world be crucified unto us, and we unto the world: then are we indeed his disciples, and we may rest assured that, having followed him here, we shall be with him hereafter.

Our Lord now goes on to bring forward arguments to this Christian course. "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it." * Whosoever shall wish to save his temporal life, to escape persecution unto death, by denying Christ, shall lose life in the most important sense, that is, shall come short of heaven, and shall die the second death, or perish for ever. "But whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it." In other words, he who shall lose his temporal life, or be put to death, for Christ's sake, shall escape endless misery, and gain life eternal. "For, what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself or be cast away?" Suppose a man were actually to get possession of all the riches, pleasures, and honours of the world; these would not be an equivalent for the loss of his temporal life, much less for the loss of his soul, and of eternal life. But, on this weighty text, which would afford ample scope for a whole discourse, we cannot now dwell. Lord, grant that we may form a proper estimate of the relative value of temporal and eternal things, and take all our measures accordingly.

Verse 26. "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of

*Summum crede nefas animam præferre pudori,

Et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas.

Juven. viii. 79.

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