Bishop J. C.
"God forbid that I should glory, save
the cross of our lord Jesus Christ." Gal. 6:14.
you think and feel about the cross of Christ? You live in a Christian
land. You probably attend the worship of a Christian church. You have
perhaps been baptised in the name of Christ. You profess and call
yourself a Christian. All this is well: it is more than can be said of
millions in the world. But all this is no answer to my question, "What
do you think and feel about the cross of Christ?"
I want to tell you what the greatest Christian that ever lived thought
of the cross of Christ. He has written down his opinion: he has given
his judgment in words that cannot be mistaken. The man I mean is the
Apostle Paul. The place where you will find his opinion, is in the
letter which the Holy Ghost inspired him to write to the Galatians; and
the words in which his judgement is set down, are these : "God forbid
that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Now what did Paul mean by saying this? He meant to declare strongly,
that he trusted in nothing but Jesus Christ crucified for the pardon of
his sins and the salvation of his soul. Let others, if they would, look
elsewhere for salvation; let others, if they were so disposed, trust in
other things for pardon and peace: for his part the apostle was
determined to rest on nothing, lean on nothing, build his hope on
nothing, place confidence in nothing, glory in nothing, except "the
cross of Jesus Christ."
Reader, let me talk to you about this subject: Believe me, it is one of
the deepest importance. This is no mere question of controversy; this
is not one of those points on which men may agree to differ, and feel
that differences will not shut them out of heaven. A man must be right
on this subject, or he is lost for ever. Heaven or hell, happiness or
misery, life or death, blessing or cursing in the last day,--all hinges
on the answer to this question: "What do you think about the cross of
I. What did the Apostle Paul not glory in?
There are many things that Paul might have gloried in, if he had
thought as some do in this day. If ever there was one on earth who had
something to boast of in himself, that man was the great apostle of the
Gentiles. Now if he did not dare to glory, who shall?
He never gloried in his national privileges. He was a Jew by birth,
and, as he tells us himself,-- "An Hebrew of the Hebrews." He might
have said, like many of his brethren, "I have Abraham for my
forefather. I am not a dark, unenlightened heathen; I am one of the
favoured people of God: I have been admitted into covenant with God by
circumcision. I am a far better man than the ignorant Gentiles." But he
never said so. He never gloried in anything of this kind. Never for one
He never gloried in his own works. None ever worked so hard for God as
he did. He was more abundant in labours than any of the apostles. No
living man ever preached so much, travelled so much, and endured so
many hardships for Christ's cause. None ever converted so many souls,
did so much good to the world, and made himself so useful to mankind.
No father of the early Church, no Reformer, no Puritan, no Missionary,
no minister, no layman,--no one man could ever be named, who did so
many good works as the Apostle Paul. But did he ever glory in them, as
if they were in the least meritorious, and could save his soul? Never!
Never for one moment!
He never gloried in his Knowledge. He was a man of great gifts
naturally, and after he was converted, the Holy Spirit gave him greater
gifts still. He was a mighty preacher, and a mighty speaker, and a
mighty writer. He was as great with his pen as he was with his tongue.
He could reason equally well with Jews and Gentiles. He could argue
with infidels at Corinth, or Pharisees at Jerusalem, or self-righteous
people in Galatia. He knew many deep things. He had been in the third
heaven, and heard unspeakable words. He had received the spirit of
prophecy, and could foretell things yet to come. But did he ever glory
in his knowledge, as if it could justify him before God? Never! never
for one moment!
He never gloried in his graces. If ever there was one who abounded in
graces, that man was Paul. He was full of love. How tenderly and
affectionately he used to write. He could feel for souls like a mother
or a nurse feeling for her child. He was a bold man. He cared not whom
he opposed when truth was at stake. He cared not what risks he ran when
souls were to be won. He was a self-denying man,--in hunger and thirst
often; in cold and nakedness, in watchings and fastings. He was a
humble man. He thought himself less than the least of all saints, and
the chief of sinners. He was a prayerful man. See how it comes out at
the beginning of his Epistles. He was a thankful man. His thanksgivings
and his prayers walked side by side. But he never gloried in all this,
never valued himself on it,--never rested his soul's hopes on it. Oh,
no! never for a moment!
He never gloried in his Churchmanship. If ever there was a good
Churchman, that man was Paul. He was himself a chosen apostle. He was a
founder of Churches, and an ordainer of ministers: Timothy and Titus,
and many elders, received their first commission from his hands. He was
the beginner of services and sacraments in many a dark place. Many a
one did he baptise; in many a one did he receive to the Lord's table;
many a meeting for prayer, and praise, and preaching, did he begin and
carry on. He was the setter up of discipline in many a young Church.
Whatever ordinances, and rules, and ceremonies were observed in them,
were first recommended by him. But did he ever glory in his office and
Church standing? Does he ever speak as if his Churchmanship would save
him, justify him, put away his sins and make him acceptable before God?
Oh, no! Never: Never for a moment!
And now, reader, mark what I say. If the Apostle Paul never gloried in
any of these things, who in all the world, from one end to the
other,--who has any right to glory in them in our day? If Paul said,
God forbid that I should glory in anything whatever except the cross,
who shall dare to say, "I have something to glory of: I am a better man
Who is there among the readers of this tract, that trusts in any
goodness of his own? Who is there that is resting on his own
amendments,--his own morality,--his own performances of any kind
whatever? Who is there that is leaning the weight of his soul on
anything whatever of his own, in the smallest possible degree? Learn, I
say, that you are very unlike the apostle Paul. Learn that your
religion is not an apostolic religion.
Who is there among the readers of this tract that trusts in his
Churchmanship for salvation? Who is there that is valuing himself on
his baptism, or his attendance at the Lord's table,--his church-going
on Sundays, or his daily services during the week,--and saying to
himself, "What lack I yet?" Learn, I say, this day, that you are very
unlike Paul. Your Christianity is not the Christianity of the New
Testament. Paul would not glory in anything but the cross. Neither
Oh, reader, beware of self-righteousness Open sin kills its thousands
of souls. Self-righteousness kills its tens of thousands. Go and study
humility with the great apostle of the Gentiles. Go and sit with Paul
at the foot of the cross. Give up your secret pride. Cast away your
vain ideas of your own goodness. Be thankful if you have grace, but
never glory in it for a moment. Work for God and Christ with heart and
soul and mind and strength, but never dream for a second of placing
confidence in any work of your own.
Think, you who take comfort in some fancied ideas of your own
goodness,--think, you who wrap up yourselves in the notion, "all must
be right, if I keep to my Church,"--think for a moment what a sandy
foundation you are building upon! Think for a moment how miserably
defective your hopes and pleas will look in the hour of death, and in
the day of judgment! Whatever men may say of their own goodness while
they are strong and healthy, they will find but little to say of it
when they are sick and dying. Whatever merit they may see in their own
works here in this world, they discover none in them when they stand
before the bar of Christ. The light of that great day of assize will
make a wonderful difference in the appearance of all their doings. It
will strip off the tinsel, shrivel up the complexion, expose the
rottenness, of many a deed that is now called good. Their wheat will
prove nothing but chaff: their gold will be found nothing but dross.
Millions of so-called Christian actions will turn out to have been
utterly defective and graceless. They passed current, and were valued
among men: they will prove light and worthless in the balance of God.
They will be found to have been like the whitened sepulchres of old,
fair and beautiful without, but full of corruption within. Alas, for
the man who can look forward to the day of judgment, and lean his soul
in the smallest degree on anything of his own!
Reader, once more I say, beware of self-righteousness in every possible
shape and form. Some people get as much harm from their fancied virtues
as others do from their sins. Take heed, lest you be one. Rest not,
till your heart beats in tune with St. Paul's. Rest not till you can
say with him, "God forbid that I should glory in anything but the cross"
II. Let me explain in the second place, what you are to understand
by the cross of Christ.
The cross is an expression that is used in more than one meaning in the
Bible. What did St. Paul mean when he said, "I glory in the cross of
Christ," in the Epistle to the Galatians? This is the point I now wish
to make clear.
The cross sometimes means that wooden cross, on which the Lord Jesus
was nailed and put to death on Mount Calvary. This is what St. Paul had
in his mind's eye, when he told the Philippians that Christ "became
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Phil. ii 8.) This
is not the cross in which St. Paul gloried. He would have shrunk with
horror from the idea of glorying in a mere piece of wood. I have no
doubt he would have denounced the Roman Catholic adoration of the
crucifix, as profane, blasphemous, and idolatrous.
The cross sometimes means the afflictions and trials which believers in
Christ have to go through if they follow Christ faithfully, for their
religion's sake. This is the sense in which our Lord uses the word when
He says, "He that take not his cross and followeth after Me, cannot be
my disciple." (Matt. x. 38.) This also is not the sense in which Paul
uses the word when he writes to the Galatians. He knew that cross well:
he carried it patiently. But he is not speaking of it here.
But the cross also means, in some places, the doctrine that Christ died
for sinners upon the cross,--the atonement that He made for sinners, by
His suffering for them on the cross,--the complete and perfect
sacrifice for sin which He offered up, when He gave His own body to be
crucified. In short, this one word, "the cross," stands for Christ
crucified, the only Saviour. This is the meaning in which Paul uses the
expression, when he tells the Corinthians, "the preaching of the cross
is to them that perish foolishness." (I Cor. i. l8.) This is the
meaning in which he wrote to the Galatians, "God forbid that I should
glory, save in the cross." He simply meant, "I glory in nothing but
Christ crucified, as the salvation of my soul.
Reader, Jesus Christ crucified was the joy and delight, the comfort and
the peace, the hope and the confidence, the foundation and the
resting-place, the ark and the refuge, the food and the medicine of
Paul's soul. He did not think of what he had done himself, and suffered
himself. He did not meditate on his own goodness, and his own
righteousness. He loved to think of what Christ had done, and Christ
had suffered,--of the death of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, the
atonement of Christ, the blood of Christ, the finished work of Christ.
In this he did glory. This was the sun of his soul.
This is the subject he loved to preach about. He was a man who went to
and fro on the earth, proclaiming to sinners that the Son of God had
shed his own heart's blood to save their souls. He walked up and down
the world to tell people that Jesus Christ had loved them, and died for
their sins upon the cross. Mark how he says to the Corinthians, "I
delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that
Christ died for our sins." (1 Cor. xv. 3.) "I determined not to know
anything among you save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." (1 Cor. ii.
2.) He, a blaspheming, persecuting Pharisee, had been washed in
Christ's blood. He could not hold his peace about it. He was never
weary of telling the story of the cross.
This is the subject he loved to dwell upon when he wrote to believers.
It is wonderful to observe how full his epistles generally are of the
sufferings and death of Christ,--how they run over with "thoughts that
breathe and words that burn," about Christ's dying love and power. His
heart seems full of the subject. He enlarges on it constantly: he
returns to it continually. It is the golden thread that runs through
all his doctrinal teaching and practical exhortations. He seems to
think that the most advanced Christian can never hear too much about
This is what he lived all his life, from the time of his conversion. He
tells the Galatians, "The life that I now live in the flesh I live by
the faith of the son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
(Gal. ii. 20.) What made him so strong to labour? What made him so
willing to work? What made him so unwearied in endeavouring to save
some? What made him so persevering and patient? I will tell you the
secret of it all. He was always feeding by faith on Christ's body and
Christ's blood. Jesus crucified was the meat and drink of his soul.
And, reader, you may rest assured that Paul was right. Depend upon it,
the cross of Christ,--the death of Christ on the cross to make
atonement for sinners,--is the centre truth in the whole Bible. This is
the truth we begin with when we open Genesis. The seed of the woman
bruising the serpent's head is nothing else but a prophecy of Christ
crucified. This is the truth that shines out, though veiled, all
through the law of Moses, and the history of the Jews. The daily
sacrifice, the passover lamb, the continual shedding of blood in the
tabernacle and temple,--all these were emblems of Christ crucified.
This is the truth that we see honoured in the vision of heaven before
we close the book of Revelation. "In the midst of the throne and of the
four beasts," we are told, "and in the midst of the elders, stood a
Lamb as it had been slain." (Rev. v. 6.) Even in the midst of heavenly
glory we get a view of Christ crucified. Take away the cross of Christ,
and the Bible is a dark book. It is like the Egyptian hieroglyphics
without the key that interprets their meaning,--curious and wonderful,
but of no real use.
Reader, mark what I say. You may know a good deal about the Bible; you
may know the outlines of the histories it contains, and the dates of
the events described, just as a man knows the history of England; you
may know the names of the men and women mentioned in it, just as a man
knows Caesar, Alexander the Great, or Napoleon; you may know the
several precepts of the Bible, and admire them, just as a man admires
Plato, Aristotle, or Seneca: but if you have not yet found out that
Christ crucified is the foundation of the whole volume, you have read
your Bible hitherto to very little profit. Your religion is a heaven
without a sun, an arch without a key-stone, a compass without a needle,
a clock without spring or weights, a lamp without oil It will not
comfort you. It will not deliver your soul from hell.
Reader, mark what I say again. You may know a good deal about Christ,
by a kind of head knowledge. You may know who He was, and where He was
born, and what He did; you may know His miracles, His sayings, His
prophecies, and His ordinances; you may know how He lived, and how He
suffered, and how He died: but unless you know the power of Christ's
cross by experience,--unless you know and feel within that the blood
shed on that cross has washed away your own particular sins,--unless
you are willing to confess that your salvation depends entirely on the
work that Christ did upon the cross,--unless this be the case, Christ
will profit you nothing. The mere knowing Christ's name will never save
you. You must know His cross, and His blood, or else you will die in
Reader, as long as you live, beware of a religion in which there are
not much of the cross. You live in times when the warning is sadly
needful. Beware, I say again, of a religion without the cross.
There are hundreds of places of worship, in this day, in which there is
everything almost except the cross. There is carved oak, and sculptured
stone: there is stained glass, and brilliant painting: there are solemn
services, and a constant round of ordinances: but the real cross of
Christ is not there. Jesus crucified is not proclaimed in the pulpit.
The Lamb of God is not lifted up, and salvation by faith in Him is not
freely proclaimed. And hence all is wrong. Reader, beware of such
places of worship. They are not apostolical. They would not have
satisfied St. Paul.
There are thousands of religious books published in our times, in which
there is everything except the cross. They are full of directions about
sacraments, and praises of the church; they abound in exhortations
about holy living, and rules for the attainment of perfection; they
have plenty of fonts and crosses both inside and outside: but the real
cross of Christ is left out. The Saviour, and His dying love, are
either not mentioned, or mentioned in an unscriptural way. And hence
they are worse than useless. Reader, beware of such books. They are not
apostolic. They would never have satisfied St. Paul.
Reader, St Paul gloried in nothing but the cross. Strive to be like
him. Set Jesus crucified fully before the eyes of your soul. Listen not
to any teaching which would interpose anything between you and Him. Do
not fall into the old Galatian error: think not that any one in this
day is a better guide than the apostles. Do not be ashamed of the old
paths, in which men walked who were inspired by the Holy Ghost. Let not
the vague talk of men, who speak great swelling words about
catholicity, and the church, and the ministry, disturb your peace, and
make you loose your hands from the cross. Churches, ministers, and
sacraments, are all useful in their way, but they are not Christ
crucified. Do not give Christ's honour to another. "He that glorieth,
let him glory in the Lord."
III. Let me show you why all Christians ought to glory in the
cross of Christ.
I feel that I must say something on this point, because of the
ignorance that prevails about it. I suspect that many see no peculiar
glory and beauty in the subject of Christ's cross. On the contrary,
they think it painful, humbling, and degrading. They do not see much
profit in the story of His death and sufferings. They rather turn from
it as an unpleasant thing.
Now I believe that such persons are quite wrong. I cannot hold with
them. I believe it is an excellent thing for us all to be continually
dwelling on the cross of Christ. It is a good thing to be often
reminded how Jesus was betrayed into the hands of wicked men,--how they
condemned Him with most unjust judgment,--how they spit on Him,
scourged Him, beat Him, and crowned Him with thorns,--now they led Him
forth as a lamb to the slaughter, without His murmuring or
resisting,--how they drove the nails through His hands and feet, and
set Him up on Calvary between two thieves,--how they pierced His side
with a spear, mocked Him in His suffering, and let Him hang there naked
and bleeding till He died. Of all these things, I say, it is good to be
reminded. It is not for nothing that the crucifixion is described four
times over in the New Testament. There are very few things that all the
four writers of the Gospel describe. Generally speaking, if Matthew,
Mark, and Luke tell a thing in our Lord's history, John does not tell
it. But there is one thing that all the four give us most fully, and
that one thing is the story of the cross. This is a telling fact, and
not to be overlooked.
People seem to me to forget that all Christ's sufferings on the cross
were fore-ordained. They did not come on Him by chance or accident:
they were all planned, counselled, and determined from all eternity.
The cross was foreseen in all the provisions of the everlasting
Trinity, for the salvation of sinners. In the purposes of God the cross
was set up from everlasting. Not one throb of pain did Jesus feel, not
one precious drop of blood did Jesus shed, which had not been appointed
long ago. Infinite wisdom planned that redemption should be by the
cross. Infinite wisdom brought Jesus to the cross in due time. He was
crucified by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.
People seem to me to forget that all Christ's sufferings on the cross
were only necessary for man's salvation. He had to bear our sins, if
ever they were to be borne at all. With His stripes alone could we be
healed. This was the one payment of our debt that God would accept:
this was the great sacrifice on which our eternal life depended. If
Christ had not gone to the cross and suffered in our stead, the just
for the unjust, there would not have been a spark of hope for us. There
would have been a mighty gulf between ourselves and God, which no man
ever could have passed.
People seem to me to forget that all Christ's sufferings were endured
voluntarily, and of His own free will. He was under no compulsion. Of
His own choice He laid down His life: of His own choice He went to the
cross to finish the work He came to do. He might easily have summoned
legions of angels with a word, and scattered Pilate and Herod, and all
their armies, like chaff before the wind. But He was a willing
sufferer. His heart was set on the salvation of sinners. He was
resolved to open a fountain for all sin and uncleanness, by shedding
His own blood.
Reader, when I think of all this, I see nothing painful or disagreeable
in the subject of Christ's cross. On the contrary, I see in it wisdom
and power, peace and hope, joy and gladness, comfort and consolation.
The more I keep the cross in my mind's eye, the more fulness I seem to
discern in it. The longer I dwell on the cross in my thoughts, the more
I am satisfied that there is more to be learned at the foot of the
cross than anywhere else in the world.
Would I know the length and breadth of God the Father's love towards a
sinful world? Where shall I see it most displayed? Shall I look at His
glorious sun, shining down daily on the unthankful and evil? Shall I
look at seed-time and harvest, returning in regular yearly succession?
Oh, no! I can find a stronger proof of love than anything of this sort.
I look at the cross of Christ. I see in it not the cause of the
Father's love, but the effect. There I see that God so loved this
wicked world, that He gave His only begotten Son,--gave Him to suffer
and die,--that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have
eternal life. I know that the Father loves us, because He did not
withhold from us His Son, His only Son. Ah, reader, I might sometimes
fancy that God the Father is too high and holy to care for such
miserable, corrupt creatures as we are! But I cannot, must not, dare
not think it, when I look at the cross of Christ. Would I know how
exceedingly sinful and abominable sin is in the sight of God? Where
shall I see that most fully brought out? Shall I turn to the history of
the flood, and read how sin drowned the world? Shall I go to the shore
of the Dead Sea, and mark what sin brought on Sodom and Gomorrah? Shall
I turn to the wandering Jews, and observe how sin has scattered them
over the face of the earth? No: I can find a clearer proof still! I
look at the cross of Christ. There I see that sin is so black and
damnable, that nothing but the blood of God's own Son can wash it away.
There I see that sin has so separated me from my holy Maker, that all
the angels in heaven could never have made peace between us. Nothing
could reconcile us, short of the death of Christ. Ah, if I listened to
the wretched talk of proud men, I might sometimes fancy sin was not so
very sinful! But I cannot think little of sin, when I look at the cross
Would I know the fulness and completeness of the salvation God has
provided for sinners? Where shall I see it most distinctly? Shall I go
to the general declarations in the Bible about God's mercy? Shall I
rest in the general truth that God is a God of love? Oh, no! I will
look at the cross of Christ. I find no evidence like that. I find no
balm for a sore conscience, and a troubled heart, like the sight of
Jesus dying for me on the accursed tree. There I see that a full
payment has been made for all my enormous debts. The curse of that law
which I have broken has come down on One who there suffered in my
stead. The demands of that law are all satisfied. Payment has been made
for me, even to the uttermost farthing. It will not be required twice
over. Ah, I might sometimes imagine I was too bad to be forgiven! My
own heart sometimes whispers that I am too wicked to be saved. But I
know in my better moments this is all my foolish unbelief. I read an
answer to my doubts in the blood shed on Calvary. I feel sure that
there is a way to heaven for the very vilest of men, when I look at the
Would I find strong reasons for being a holy man? Whither shall I turn
for them? Shall I listen to the ten commandments merely? Shall I study
the examples given me in the Bible of what grace can do? Shall I
meditate on the rewards of heaven, and the punishments of hell? Is
there no stronger motive still? Yes! I will look at the cross of
Christ. There I see the love of Christ constraining me to live not unto
myself, but unto Him; there I see that I am not my own now: I am bought
with a price. I am bound by the most solemn obligations to glorify
Jesus with body and spirit, which are His. There I see that Jesus gave
Himself for me, not only to redeem me from all iniquity, but also to
purify me and make me one of a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
He bore my sins in His own body on the tree, that I being dead unto sin
should live unto righteousness. Ah, reader, there is nothing so
sanctifying as a clear view of the cross of Christ! It crucifies the
world unto us, and us unto the world. How can we love sin, when we
remember that because of our sins Jesus died? Surely none ought to be
so holy as the disciples of a crucified Lord.
Would I learn how to be contented and cheerful under all the cares and
anxieties of life? What school shall I go to? How shall I attain this
state of mind most easily? Shall I look at the sovereignty of God, the
wisdom of God, the providence of God, the love of God? It is well to do
so. But I have a better argument still. I will look at the cross of
Christ. I feel that He who spared not His only begotten Son, but
delivered Him up to die for me, will surely with Him give me all things
that I really need. He that endured that pain for my soul, will surely
not withhold from me anything that is really good. He that has done the
greater things for me, will doubtless do the lesser things also. He
that gave His own blood to procure me a home, will unquestionably
supply me with all that is really profitable for me by the way. Ah,
reader, there is no school for learning contentment than can be
compared with the foot of the cross.
Would I gather arguments for hoping that I shall never be cast away?
Where shall I go to find them? Shall I look at my own graces and gifts?
Shall I take comfort in my own faith, and love, and penitence, and
zeal, and prayer? Shall I turn to my own heart, and say, "this same
heart will never be false and cold?" Oh, no! God forbid! I will look at
the cross of Christ. This is my grand argument. This is my mainstay. I
cannot think that He who went through such sufferings to redeem my
soul, will let that soul perish after all, when it has once cast itself
on Him. Oh, no! what Jesus paid for, Jesus will surely keep. He paid
dearly for it. He will not let it easily be lost. He died for me when I
was yet a dark sinner: He will never forsake me after I have believed.
Ah, reader, when Satan tempts you to doubt whether Christ's people will
be kept from falling, you should tell Satan to look at the cross.
And now, reader, will you marvel that I said all Christians ought to
glory in the cross? Will you not rather wonder that any can hear of the
cross and remain unmoved? I declare I know no greater proof of man's
depravity, than the fact that thousands of so-called Christians see
nothing in the cross. Well may our hearts be called stony,--well may
the eyes of our mind be called blind,--well may our whole nature be
called diseased,--well may we all be called dead, when the cross of
Christ is heard of and yet neglected. Surely we may take up the words
of the prophet, and say, Hear, on heavens, and be astonished on earth ;
a wonderful and a horrible thing is done,"--Christ was crucified for
sinners, and yet many Christians live as if He was never crucified at
Reader, the cross is the grand peculiarity of the Christian religion.
Other religions have laws and moral precepts,--forms and
ceremonies,--rewards and punishments. But other religions cannot tell
us of a dying Saviour. They cannot show us the cross This is the crown
and glory of the Gospel. This is that special comfort which belongs to
it alone. Miserable indeed is that religious teaching which calls
itself Christian, and yet contains nothing of the cross. A man who
teaches in this way, might as well profess to explain the solar system,
and yet tell his hearers nothing about the sun.
The cross is the strength of a minister. I for one would not be without
it for all the world. I should feel like a soldier without arms,--like
an artist without his pencil,--like a pilot without his compass,--like
a labourer without his tools. Let others, if they will, preach the law
and morality; let others hold forth the terrors of hell, and the joys
of heaven; let others drench their congregations with teachings about
the sacraments and the church; give me the cross of Christ! This is the
only lever which has ever turned the world upside down hitherto, and
made men forsake their sins. And if this will not, nothing will. A man
may begin preaching with a perfect knowledge of Latin, Greek, and
Hebrew; but he will do little or no good among his hearers unless he
knows something of the cross. Never was there a minister who did much
for the conversion of souls who did not dwell much on Christ crucified.
Luther, Rutherford, Whitefield, M'Cheyne, were all most eminently
preachers of the cross. This is the preaching that the Holy Ghost
delights to bless. He loves to honour those who honour the cross.
The cross is the secret of the missionary success. Nothing but this has
ever moved the hearts of the heathen. Just according as this has been
lifted up missions have prospered. This is the weapon that has won
victories over hearts of every kind, in every quarter of the globe:
Greenlanders, Africans, South-Sea Islanders, Hindoos, Chinese, all have
alike felt its power. Just as that huge, iron tube which crosses the
Menai Straits, is more affected and bent by half an hour's sunshine
than by all the dead weight that can be placed in it, so in like manner
the hearts of savages have melted before the cross, when every other
argument seemed to move them no more than stones. "Brethren," said a
North-American Indian after his conversion, "I have been a heathen. I
know how heathens think. Once a preacher came and began to explain to
us that there was a God; but we told him to return to the place from
whence he came. Another preacher came and told us not to lie, nor
steal, nor drink; but we did not heed him. At last another came into my
hut one day and said, 'I am come to you in the name of the Lord of
heaven and earth. He sends to let you know that He will make you happy,
and deliver you from misery. For this end He became a man, gave His
life a ransom, and shed His blood for sinners.' I could not forget his
words. I told them to the other Indians, and an awakening begun among
us. I say, therefore, preach the sufferings and death of Christ, our
Saviour, if you wish your words to gain entrance among the heathen."
Never indeed did the devil triumph so thoroughly, as when he persuaded
the Jesuit missionaries in China to keep back the story of the cross.
The cross is the foundation of a Church's prosperity. No Church will
ever be honoured in which Christ crucified is not continually lifted up
: nothing whatever can make up for the want of the cross. Without it
all things may be done decently and in order; without it there may he
splendid ceremonies, beautiful music, gorgeous churches, learned
ministers, crowded communion tables, huge collections for the poor but
without the cross no good will be done; dark hearts will not be
enlightened, proud hearts will not be humbled, mourning hearts will not
be comforted, fainting hearts will not be cheered. Sermons about the
Catholic Church and an apostolic ministry,--sermons about baptism and
the Lord's supper,--sermons about unity and schism,--sermons about
fasts and communion,--sermons about fathers and saints,--such sermons
will never make up for the absence of sermons about the cross of
Christ. They may amuse some: they will feed none. A gorgeous banqueting
room, and splendid gold plate on the table, will never make up to a
hungry man for the want of food. Christ crucified is God's grand
ordinance for good to men. Whenever a Church keeps back Christ
crucified, or puts anything whatever in that foremost place which
Christ crucified should always have, from that moment a Church ceases
to be useful. Without Christ crucified in her pulpits, a Church is
little better than a cumberer of the ground, a dead carcase, a well
without water, a barren fig tree, a sleeping watchman, a silent
trumpet, a dumb witness, an ambassador without terms of peace, a
messenger without tidings, a lighthouse without fire, a stumbling-block
to weak believers, a comfort to infidels, a hot-bed for formalism, a
joy to the devil, and an offence to God.
The cross is the grand centre of union among true Christians. Our
outward differences are many, without doubt. One man is an
Episcopalian, another is a Presbyterian,--one is an Independent,
another a Baptist,--one is a Calvinist, another an Arminian,--one is a
Lutheran, another a Plymouth Brother,--one is a friend to
establishments, another a friend to the voluntary system,--one is a
friend to liturgies, another a friend to extempore prayer. But, after
all, what shall we hear about most of these differences in heaven?
Nothing, most probably: nothing at all. Does a man really and sincerely
glory in the cross of Christ? That is the grand question. If he does,
he is my brother: we are travelling on the same road; we are journeying
towards a home where Christ is all, and everything outward in religion
will be forgotten. But if he does not glory in the cross of Christ, I
cannot feel comfort about him. Union on outward points only is union
only for a time: union about the cross is union for eternity. Error on
outward points is only a skin-deep disease: error about the cross is
disease at the heart. Union about outward points is a mere man-made
union : union about the cross of Christ can only be produced by the
Reader, I know not what you think of all this. I feel as if I had said
nothing compared to what might be said. I feel as if the half of what I
desire to tell you about the cross were left untold. But I do hope that
I have given you something to think about. I do trust that I have shown
you that I have reason for the question with which I began this tract:
"What do you think and feel about the cross of Christ?" Listen to me
now for a few moments, while I say something to apply the whole subject
to your conscience.
Are you living in any kind of sin? Are you following the course of this
world, and neglecting your soul? Hear, I beseech you, what I say to you
this day: "Behold the cross of Christ." See there how Jesus loved you!
See there what Jesus suffered to prepare for you a way of salvation!
Yes: careless men and women, for you that blood was shed! For you those
hands and feet were pierced with nails. For you that body hung in agony
on the cross! You are those whom Jesus loved, and for whom He died!
Surely that love ought to melt you. Surely the thought of the cross
should draw you to repentance. Oh, that it might be so this very day!
Oh, that you would come at once to that Saviour who died for you, and
is willing to save! Come, and cry to Him with the prayer of faith, and
I know that He will listen. Come, and lay hold upon the cross, and I
know that He will not cast you out. Come, and believe on Him who died
on the cross, and this very day you shall have eternal life. How will
you ever escape if you neglect so great salvation? None surely will be
so deep in hell as those who despise the cross.
Are you inquiring the way toward heaven. "Are you seeking salvation,
but doubtful whether you can find it? Are you desiring to have an
interest in Christ, but doubting whether Christ will receive you? To
you also I say this day, "Behold the cross of Christ." Here is
encouragement if you really want it. Draw near to the Lord Jesus with
boldness, for nothing need keep you back. His arms are open to receive
you: His heart is full of love towards you. He has made a way by which
you may approach Him with confidence. Think of the cross. Draw near,
and fear not.
Are you an unlearned man? Are you desirous to get to heaven, and
perplexed and brought to a stand-still by difficulties in the Bible
which you cannot explain? To you also I say this day, "Behold the cross
of Christ." Read there the Father's love and the Son's compassion.
Surely they are written in great plain letters, which none can well
mistake. What though you are now perplexed by the doctrine of election?
What though at present you cannot reconcile your own utter corruption
and your own responsibility? Look, I say, at the cross. Does not that
cross tell you that Jesus is a mighty, loving, ready Saviour? Does it
not make one thing plain, and that is that if not saved it is all your
own fault? Oh, get hold of that truth, and hold it fast!
Are you a distressed believer? Is your heart pressed down with
sickness, tried with disappointments, over-burdened with cares? To you
also I say this day, "behold the cross of Christ." Think whose hand it
is that chastens you: think whose hand is measuring to you the cup of
bitterness which you are now drinking. It is the hand of Him that was
crucified. It is the same hand that in love to your soul was nailed to
the accursed tree. Surely that thought should comfort and hearten you.
Surely you should say to yourself, "A crucified Saviour will never lay
upon me anything that is not good for me. There is a needs be. It must
Are you a believer that longs to be more holy? Are you one that finds
his heart too ready to love earthly things? To you also I say, "Behold
the cross of Christ." Look at the cross; think of the cross; meditate
on the cross, and then go and set your affections on the world if you
can. I believe that holiness is nowhere learned so well as on Calvary;
I believe you cannot look much at the cross without feeling your will
sanctified, and your tastes made more spiritual. As the sun gazed upon
makes everything else look dark and dim, so does the cross darken the
false splendour of this world. As honey tasted makes all other things
seem to have no taste at all, so does the cross seen by faith take all
the sweetness out of the pleasures of the world. Keep on every day
steadily looking at the cross of Christ, and you will soon say of the
world, as the poet does,--
Its pleasures now no longer please,
No more content afford;
Far from my heart be joys like these,
Now I have seen the Lord.
As by the light of opening day
The stars are concealed,
So earthly pleasures fade away
When Jesus is revealed.
Are you a dying believer? Have you gone to that bed from which
something within tells you you will never come down alive? Are you
drawing near to that solemn hour, when soul and body must part for a
season, and you must launch into a world unknown? Oh, look steadily at
the cross of Christ, and you shall be kept in peace! Fix the eyes of
your mind firmly on Jesus crucified, and He shall deliver you from all
your fears. Though you walk through dark places He will be with you. He
will never leave you,--never forsake you. Sit under the shadow of the
cross to the very last, and its fruit shall be sweet to your taste.
"Ah," said a dying missionary, "there is but one thing needful on a
death-bed, and that is to feel one's arms around the cross!"
Reader, I lay these thoughts before your mind. What you think now about
the cross of Christ, I cannot tell; but I can wish you nothing better
than this,--that you may be able to say with the apostle Paul, before
you die or meet the Lord, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the
cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
 "Howsoever men when they sit at ease, do vainly tickle their own
hearts with the wanton conceit of I know not what proportionable
correspondence between their merits and their rewards, which in the
trance of their high speculations, they dream that God hath measured
and laid up as it were in bundles for them;--we see notwithstanding by
daily experience in a number even of them, that when the hour of death
approacheth, when they secretly hear themselves summoned to appear and
stand at the bar of that Judge, whose brightness causeth the eyes of
angels themselves to dazzle, all those idle imaginations do then begin
to hide their faces. To name merits then is to lay their Souls upon the
rack. The memory of their own deeds is loathsome unto them. They
forsake all things wherein they have put any trust and confidence. No
staff to lean upon, no rest, no ease, no comfort then, but only in
Christ Jesus"--Richard Hooker. 1585.
 "By the cross of Christ the apostle understandeth the
all-sufficient, expiatory, and satisfactory sacrifice of Christ upon
the cross, with the whole work of our redemption; in the saving
knowledge of whereof, he professeth he will glory and
boasts."--Cudworth on Galatians. 1613.
"Touching these words, I do not find that any expositor, either ancient
or modern, Popish or Protestant, writing on this place, doth expound
the cross here mentioned of the sign of the cross, but of the
profession of faith in Him that was hanged on the cross."--Mayer's
"This is rather to be understood of the cross which Christ suffered for
us, than of that we suffer for Him"--Leigh's Annotations. 1650.
 "Christ crucified is the sum of the Gospel, and contains all the
riches of it. Paul was so much taken with Christ, that nothing sweeter
than Jesus could drop from his pen and lips. It is observed that he
hath the word "Jesus" five hundred times in his Epistles."--Charnock.
 "If our faith stop in Christ's life, and do not fasten upon His
blood, it will not be justifying faith. His miracles, which prepared
the world for His doctrines; His holiness, which fitted Himself for His
sufferings, had been inefficient for us without fitted addition of the
cross." --Charnock. 1684.
 "Paul determined to know nothing else but Jesus Christ and Him
crucified. But many manage the ministry as if they had taken up a
contrary determination,--even to know any thing save Jesus Christ and
Him crucified."--Traill. 1690.
 "In Christ's humiliation stands our exaltation; in His weakness
stands our strength; in His ignominy our glory; in His death our
 "The eye of faith regards Christ sitting on the summit of the
cross, as in a triumphal chariot; the devil bound to the lowest part of
the same cross, and trodden under the feet of Christ." --Bishop
Davenant on Colossians. 1627.
 "The world we live in had fallen upon our heads, had it not been
upheld by the pillar of the cross; had not Christ stepped in and
promised a satisfaction for the sin of man. By this all things consist;
not a blessing we enjoy but may put us in mind of it; they were ill
forfeited by sin, but merited by His blood. If we study it well we
shall be sensible how God hated sin end loved a world."--Charnock.
 If God hateth sin so much that He would allow neither man nor angel
for the redemption thereof, but only the death of His only and
well-beloved Son, who will not stand in fear thereof?" --Church of
England Homily for Good Friday. 1560.
 "The believer is so freed from eternal wrath, that if Satan and
conscience say, 'Thou art a sinner, and under the curse of the law,' he
can say, It is true, I am a sinner; but I was hanged on a tree and
died, and was made a curse in my Head and Lawgiver Christ, and his
payment and suffering is my payment and suffering." --Rutherford's
Christ Dying. 1647.