Luke 9:23
Then Jesus said to all of them, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
Bearing the CrossAbbe Bautain.Luke 9:23
Christians Must Expect AfflictionsT. Manton, D. D.Luke 9:23
Christ's Terms of DiscipleshipA. F. Barfield.Luke 9:23
Cross-BearingBishop Woodford.Luke 9:23
Erroneous Ideas Respecting Self-DenialA. H. K. Boyd D. D.Luke 9:23
Following ChristW. Page Roberts, M. A.Luke 9:23
Increasing Need of Self-DenialW. Gurnall.Luke 9:23
Joy from Self-DenialH. W. Beecher.Luke 9:23
Of Self-DenialJ. Edwards, D. D.Luke 9:23
Of Taking Up the CrossJ. Edwards, D. D.Luke 9:23
Personal Cross-BearingG. S. Barrett, B. A.Luke 9:23
Self-DenialW. H. Hay Aitken, M. A.Luke 9:23
Self-DenialT. L. Cuyler, D. D.Luke 9:23
Self-DenialJ. H. Thom.Luke 9:23
Self-DenialJohn Wesley Luke 9:23
Self-DenialGeorge MacDonaldLuke 9:23
Self-Denial is the First Law of GraceLuke 9:23
Self-Denial is the Sign of a ChristianC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 9:23
Self-Denial the Test of Religious EarnestnessCanon Liddell.Luke 9:23
Self-Denial Versus Self-AssertionJ. Hudson TaylorLuke 9:23
Self-RepressionArchbishop Seeker.Luke 9:23
Self-SacrificeH. Macmillan, D. D.Luke 9:23
Shirking the CrossE. Paxton Hood.Luke 9:23
Taking Up One's CrossW. Page Roberts, M. A.Luke 9:23
The Christian Law of Self-SacrificeS. Harris, D. D.Luke 9:23
The Conditions of ServiceNew Outlines on New Testament.Luke 9:23
The Cross is Near At HandG. S. Barrett, B. A.Luke 9:23
The Crucial TestLuke 9:23
The Daily CrossEssex Congregational RemembrancerLuke 9:23
The Dignity of Cross-BearingA. P. Foster.Luke 9:23
The Duty of Taking Up the CrossBishop Horne.Luke 9:23
The Law of Daily Christian LifeR. Tuck, B ALuke 9:23
The Necessity of Self-DenialT. Boston, D. D.Luke 9:23
Various Forms of Self-DisciplineJ. Vaughan, M. A.Luke 9:23
Various Particulars in Which Self-Denial Must be PractisedJ. Foote, M. A.Luke 9:23
The Saviour's Secret RevelationsR.M. Edgar Luke 9:18-36
Life Gained by Losing itW. Clarkson Luke 9:23, 24

These strong and sententious words may teach us three truths which are of vital importance to us.

I. THAT THE VOLUNTARY SURRENDER OF OUR LIFE TO GOD IS OUR ENTRANCE UPON LIFE INDEED, What is it for a man to live? We speak truly but superficially when we say that any one is a living man from whom the breath of life has not yet departed. But there is deep truth in the objection of our English poet, "As though to breathe were life." Human life, as its Divine Author regards it, means very much more than this. And, taught of Christ, we understand that we then attain to our true life when we live unto God, in his holy service, and for the good of those whom he has committed to our care. The thoughts of sinful men concerning life are utterly false; they are the exact contrary of the truth. Men imagine that just as they gain that which will minister to their own enjoyment, and keep that which, if parted with, would benefit other people, they make much of their life. This is not even a caricature of the truth; it is its contradiction. The fact is that just as we lose ourselves in the love of God, and just as we expend our powers and possessions in the cause of mankind, we enter upon and enjoy that which is the "life indeed." For all that is best and highest lives, not to gain, but to give. As we pass from the lowest of the brute creation up an ascending line until we reach the Divine Father himself, we find that the nobler being exists, not to appropriate to himself, but to minister to others; when in our thought we reach the Divine, we see that God himself is receiving the least and is giving the most. He finds his heavenly life in giving freely and constantly of his resources to all beings in his universe. This is the supreme point that we can attain; we surrender ourselves entirely to God, to be possessed and employed by him; we enter upon and we realize the noble, the angelic, the true life. Whosoever will save his life by retaining his own will and withholding his powers from his Redeemer, by that very act loses it; but whosoever will freely surrender his life to God and man will, by that very act, find it. To live is not to get and to keep; it is to love and to lose ourselves in loving service.


1. It means the abandonment of all that is vicious; i.e. of all that is positively hurtful to ourselves or others, and treat, as such, is condemned of God as sinful.

2. It means the avoidance of that which is not unlawful in itself, but which would be a hindrance to usefulness and the service of love (see Romans 14.). Of the rightness and desirableness of this, every man must be a judge for himself, and no man may "judge his brother." That life must be a narrow one which does not afford scope for the frequent forfeiture of good which might lawfully be taken, but which, for Christ's sake, is declined.

3. It involves struggle and sacrifice at the first, but the sense of personal loss is continually declining, and the consciousness of Divine approval is a counterbalancing gain.

III. THAT TO SECURE ETERNAL BLESSEDNESS IT MAY BE NECESSARY TO LAY DOWN OUR MORTAL LIFE. Many are they who have been called upon to put the most literal interpretation on the twenty-fourth verse; who have had to choose between parting with everything human and earthly on the one hand, and sacrificing their fidelity to Christ and their eternal hopes on the other hand. For that hour of solemn crisis the Lord has granted abounding grace, and from every land and age a noble army of martyrs have made the better choice, and now wear the crown of life in the better land. - C.

If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself.
What is self-denial? A very interesting and very important inquiry to us who are already the subjects of Divine grace. Perhaps we have not got too much of it in modern Christianity. I cannot help thinking that our Christianity in these days would be considerably improved if we had a little more of it infused into our daily lives. What is it? It is just when we begin to yearn for the likeness of Christ, and long to be conformed to His image — when we begin to see clearly that the path which the Master trod was one of humiliation and reproach, and that there are plenty of sorrows to be borne, and plenty of difficulties to be battled with — it is just then that Satan will, if he can, prevent even this new-born light arising within our soul, and endeavour to turn that very light into darkness. And he has succeeded only too well in former ages in diverting these religious instincts into a wrong and a mischievous channel. There are two false theories about self-denial which I want to guard you against. First, there have been some who have fallen into the error of thinking that, in some way or another, self-denial has to do with the expiation of our guilt; that the offering of a life of self-denial is a kind of satisfaction to be made to God for all the sins and all the imperfections of human nature. You cannot accept a theory of this kind without its producing at once its natural effect upon your own experience, which will become then and there intensely legal. For your very self-denial will be submitted to in the spirit of bondage; it will be the sufferings of a slave, and of a felon, and not the willing undergoing of hardship on the part of a reconciled and rejoicing child. Yet again; there is another false form of self-denial which is based upon a misconception of our relation to the pleasurable. It is assumed that we are not intended to enjoy pleasure here. Now observe, this is simply a new edition of the ancient lie which was suggested by the great tempter to our first parents in Paradise. "Hath God indeed said that ye shall not eat of the trees of the garden? He has placed you in Eden, surrounded you with delights, amid all these varied trees, and all these delicious and charming fruits: and does that God whom you call "your Father" exhibit any fatherly tenderness towards you in precluding you from the natural gratification of an appetite He has Himself created. How hard must that Father be! How little sympathy there can he in His nature! Can you serve, love, confide in such a God?" This was the venom which was first of all infused into the soul of our first parents. And when such a conception is received, even though it may seem to produce the effect of an austere or self-denying life, it will necessarily have the effect of interfering with our relationships with God. When our views of the character of God are in any way interfered with, and we begin to entertain a false ideal of Him, our whole religious life must suffer from it, because the knowledge of God is the great source both of power and of enjoyment throughout the whole course of our spiritual experience. There is nothing wrong in pleasure in itself; on the contrary. God has "given us all things richly to enjoy"; and yet there may be a great deal of harm in the indulgence of pleasure; and unquestionably a large proportion — perhaps far the largest proportion — of the sins that are committed in human history are committed because men deliberately make up their minds to pursue the pleasurable. Having indicated to you these two false forms of self-denial, let us endeavour to consider, if we really can, what it is that our blessed Lord does teach. First of all, let us take hold of the word, and see if we can learn a lesson from it. The meaning would be more accurately conveyed to our minds, as English people, if we use the word "ignore" instead of "deny." The word used in the original indicates such a process all would take place where a man would refuse to admit his own identity. Supposing one of us had a property left to us, and we were brought before the magistrate in order that our personal identity might be ascertained; and supposing that we swore before competent authority that we were not the persons we were supposed to be, and that we actually were; such a process would be a denying of ourselves, and in the act of denial we should be ignoring our own natural right, and thus precluding ourselves from the enjoyment of it. The first step, then, in a really Christian life, or rather, shall I say, in the life of a disciple — for I am not speaking now of first principles — of what takes place, for the most part, at conversion: I am speaking of what takes places in point of time subsequently to conversion: at any rate it comes second in order — if we are really willing to be disciples, Jesus says to every one of us, "If any man will come after Me." Before we go any further, let us ask ourselves, "Is that what we wish to do?" How many a believer, if he were just to speak the honest truth, would say, "Well, my wish is to go to heaven." Well, that is a right wish; but it is not the highest wish. "My wish is to escape condemnation." Well, it is a right wish; but it is not the highest wish. Is your heart set upon going after Christ? If our minds are really made up to follow Him, then He points out to us the condition of such a relation: and the first is, "Let him deny himself." You cannot follow Jesus unless you deny yourself. Why? Because He took the way of self-denial. How did He do it? Was He an ascetic? No. "John the Baptist came neither eating nor drinking: the Son of Man came eating and drinking." Did He ever fast? Yes. And when, and why? When He had a very definite object in doing so: when He did so in pursuance of the Divine direction. Did He ever exclude Himself from society. Yes: but why? Sometimes to spend a short season in prayer: sometimes a whole night, so that He might prepare for some serious conflict with the forces of hell, or that He might fit Himself for doing some special work, as when He named His twelve disciples. There was an object in these outward acts of self-denial. He presented to the view of all a body that was under the control of the mind, and a mind that was under the control of God. Had He no sufferings? A great many. Had He no pain? Greater than ever was borne. How was this? He bore pain with an object. He suffered because He had a purpose in view. How was it inflicted? Did He bring it upon Himself? Nay, verily: as I have already said, He never courted pain. How did it come? It came in the fulfilment of the Father's will. It came because He would cleave to the path which the Father had laid down for Him. The cross lay in His way, and He took it up: He didn't go to look for one: He did not manufacture one for Himself: but there it lay in His way, and He raised it. It was a heavier cross than ever you or I will be called upon to bear — a cross so heavy, that His frail, human nature sank beneath its load: even the tender-hearted women who saw Him toiling up to Golgotha with that terrible burden, burst into tears as they saw the Man of Sorrows pass by, as they watched His tottering steps, and beheld Him sinking under the fearful burden. But although the load may not be so heavy, there is a cross for every one of us. We shall not escape it if we follow Him. Have you made up your minds to escape the cross, dear friends? If that is the determination with which you set out on your spiritual pilgrimage, then you must also make up your mind to lose the society of Jesus. He does not say, " If any man will go to heaven, let him take up his cross": but He says, "If any man will come after Me. I am going forth on My journey: before Me lie the shadows of Gethsemane, and My vision finds its horizon crowned with the Cross of Calvary. There it stands before Me in all its grim horror. I am going on step by step towards it. Every pulsation of My blood brings Me nearer to it; and I have made up My mind; My will is fixed, My face is set like a flint; the will which reigns within My bosom is the will of the Everlasting God Himself. I am content, My God, to do Thy will. And now this is the course I take: and if any of you want to follow Me, you must go the same road. You can only maintain fellowship with Me by placing your steps where Mine have fallen. 'If any man,' — whether he be the highest saint, or whether he be only a newborn babe in Christ — 'if any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'"

(W. H. Hay Aitken, M. A.)


1. The Christian law of self-sacrifice is involved in the supreme and universal moral law. Love is, in its essential character, sacrificial. The law of self-sacrifice is only the law of love seen on the reverse. So holy love ascends, from sin and weakness, to Christ the Deliverer, complete in perfection and mighty to save. Thus manifested, it is faith receiving redeeming grace from His willing hand. But this ascending love is in its very nature, an act of self-abandonment and self-devotement. In it the soul accepts its Master, yielding its whole being to the plastic hand of the Perfect One, to receive the impress of His thought and will. It is trust in Him as Saviour: it is complacency in His character, adoration of His perfections, aspiration to be with Him and like Him, submission to His authority, loyalty to His person; but, in every manifestation, it is an act of self-surrender to the mighty and gracious One who is drawing the heart to Himself. The same is the characteristic of love descending and imparting love active in works of beneficence and justice. This needs no argument. I proceed to consider the condition of man under this law.

2. The second ground of the requirement of self-renunciation is the fact that sin is essentially egoism or self-ism. As love is essentially self-abnegation, sin is essentially self-assertion: a practical affirmation of the absurdity that a created being is sufficient for himself; therefore a repudiation, by the sinner, of his condition as a creature, and an arrogating to self of the Creator's place. It has four principal manifestations, in each of which this essential character appears. It is self-sufficiency, the opposite of Christian faith. It is self-will, the opposite of Christian submission. It is self-seeking, the opposite of Christian benevolence. It is self-righteousness, the opposite of Christian humility and reverence, the reflex act of sin; putting self in God's place as the object of praise and homage.

3. The third ground of the law of self-sacrifice is the fact that redemption — the Divine method of delivering man from sin and realizing the law of love — is sacrificial. The substance of Christianity is redemption. Its central fact is the historical sacrifice of the Incarnation and the Cross. Christianity, therefore, as a fact, as a doctrine, and as a life, is a sacrificial religion. Thus the law of self-renunciation is grounded in the essential character of Christianity.

4. We may find a fourth ground of the law of self-renunciation in the constitution of the created universe; for this is an expression of the same eternal love which manifests its sacrificial character in Christ. Here our ignorance does not permit us to construct a complete argument; but glimpses of the law we can trace. It appears in the natural laws of society: a child is brought into the world by its mother's anguish, and nurtured by parents' toil and suffering. In turn the child grown up, wears out life, perhaps, in nursing a parent through a long sickness, or in the infirmities of age. It is shadowed even in physical arrange-merits: the dew-drop, which sparkles on a summer's morning, exhales its whole being while refreshing the leaf on which it hangs. When, in the early spring, the crocus lifts its pure whiteness from beneath the reeking mould, when the iris puts on its sapphire crown, when the rose unfolds its queenly splendour, it is as if each graceful form said: "This is all I have, and all I am; this fragile grace and sweetness — I unfold it all for you." The wild berries nestle in the grass, or droop, inviting, from the vine, as if saying: "This lusciousness is all my wealth; it is for you." The apples, golden and red, glowing amid the green leaves, seem to be thoughtfully whispering God's own words: "A good tree bringeth forth good fruit." The field submits, without complaint, to be sheared of its yearly harvest mutely waiting the return of blessing at the good pleasure of Him that dresseth it; symbolizing the patient faith of him who does good, hoping for nothing again, except from the good pleasure of God, who is not forgetful to reward the patience of faith and the labour of love; on the contrary, the land which bears thorns and thistles, though it is allowed to keep its own harvest to enrich itself, yet (emblem of all covetousness) is rejected and nigh unto cursing. The sun walks regally through the heavens, pouring abroad day; and the stars shining all night, seemingly say: "We are suns; yet even our opulence of glory we give to others; our very nature is to shine." Do not say that this is all fanciful. The creation was cast in the mould of God's love; and each thing bears some impress of the same.

II. THE PRINCIPLE OR SPRING OF SELF-SACRIFICE IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. This is love itself; a new affection, controlling the life and making the acts of self-denial easy. Happiness is not bottled up in outward objects — the same definite quantity to be secured by every man who obtains the object. A man's affections determine the sources of his happiness: he finds his joy in what he loves; and is incapable of enjoying its opposite. Whether, then, any course of action is to be a source of happiness or the contrary, depends on what the man loves. The upspringing of a new affection, as the love of a first-born child, opens on the soul a new world of joy. But religion is an affection. It is not a sense of duty, under whose lash the soul creeps through its daily stint of service. While sinful affection rules the heart, religion comes to the sinner an outward law, bristling all over with prohibitions, and every touch draws blood; it goes against the grain of every desire and purpose; every object which it presents, and every duty which it requires, is repulsive; it is self-denial from beginning to end. Then the sinner is incapable of finding enjoyment in religion; and to bid him enjoy it, is, to use an illustration from South, as if Moses had bidden the Israelites to quench their thirst at the dry rock, before he had brought any water out of it. But when the new affection wells up in the heart, all this is changed. A new world of action and joy opens to the man. Religion is no longer an outward law, commanding him against his will; but an inward affection, drawing him in the way of his own inclination. This new affection, which is the principle of Christian self-renunciation, is specifically love to Christ, whether existing as faith in Him or devotedness to Him. It is evident, therefore, that Christian self-denial is primarily that first great act of renouncing self in self-devoting love to Christ. It is the surrender of self to Christ in the act of faith. You are liable to think Christian self-denial less than it is: for you think it is giving some of your property, relinquishing some pleasures, drudging through some duties; whereas, it is immeasurably more than this; it is giving your heart; it is giving yourself. It also appears, as to the method of self-denial, that sin is not torn off by force, but drops off through the growth of the new affection; as a man drops his childish plays, not by a self-denying struggle, but because he has outgrown his interest in them. So always self-denial is accomplished, not by a dead lift, but by the spontaneous energy of love. It further appears that self-denial, in the very act of exercising it, is strangely transfigured into self-indulgence; the Cross, in the very act of taking it up, is transfigured into a crown. It is a false charge that Christianity, by the severity of its self-denial, crushes human joy. Had you emancipated a slave, who had touched the deepest abasement incident to that system of iniquity, and had become contented with his slavery; had you educated him and opened to him opportunity of remunerative industry, so that he is now incapable of being happy in slavery, and shudders at his former contentment, would you feel guilty of crushing his happiness, or pity him for the sacrifice which he has made? But he did sacrifice the joys of slavery; yes, and gained the joys of freedom. An emblem this of the sacrifice which Christianity requires. The joys of sin are sacrificed, the joys of holiness are gained: the snow-birds are gone, but the summer songsters are tuneful on every spray within the soul as it bursts into leaf and blossom beneath the returning sun. All religious services once repulsive, prayer and praise formerly frozen words rattling like hail around the wintry heart, all works of beneficence once chafing to the selfish soul, all are now transfigured into joy. Under the power of the new affection, what was once self-denial accords with the inclination; the soul has become incapable of enjoying its former sins, and regards it as self-denial to return to them, shuddering at them as an emancipated slave at his contentment in slavery, as a reformed drunkard, in the enjoyment of virtue, of home, and plenty, at his former hilarious carousals. Only so far as sin yet "dwelleth in us" is the service of Christ felt to be a self-denial or recognized as a conflict. But it will be objected that the innocent, natural desires must be denied in Christ's service. Here, in justice, it should be said, that self-denial of this kind is incidental to all worldly business, not less than to the service of Christ. Can you attain any great object without sacrifices? Is the enterprising merchant, the successful lawyer, or physician, a man of luxurious ease? It follows, from the foregoing views, that they who enter deepest into the spirit of Christian self-renunciation, are least aware of sacrificing anything for Christ. The more intense the love, the less account of service rendered to the beloved; as Jacob heeded not the years of toil for Rachel through his love for her. Be so full of love that you will take no note of the sacrifices to which love inspires you. Love to Christ, then, is the spring of all acts of self-denial. Love much, serve much. When the tide is out, no human power can lift the great ships that lie bedded in the mud. But when you see the leathery bladders of the sea-weed swinging round, and bubbles and chips float past you upwards, then you know that the tide is turned, and the great ocean is coming to pour its floods into the harbour, to make the ships rise ,, like a thing of life," to fill every bay and creek and rocky fissure with its inexhaustible fulness. So you may see toils and sacrifices of Christian service seeming too great for your strength; yet if your affections are beginning to flow to Christ, and your thoughts and aspirations are turning to Him, these are indications that love is rising in your hearts, with the fulness of God's grace behind it, to fill every susceptibility of your being within its Divine fulness, and lift every burden buoyant on its breast. Here we see the fundamental difference between asceticism and Christian self-renunciation. Asceticism is a suppression and denial of the soul's affections; Christian self-renunciation is the introduction of a new affection displacing the old. The former is a negation of the soul's life; the latter a development of a new and higher life. The former produces a constrained performance of duty, a restraint of desires which do not cease to burn, a sad resignation to necessary evils; the latter produces a new affection which makes duty coincide with inclination, quenches contrary desires, and quickens to positive joy in the accomplishment of God's will.

III. THE PRACTICAL IMPORTANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN LAW OF SELF-RENUNCIATION IN INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT AND SOCIAL PROGRESS. I affirm that individual development and social progress depend on the Christian law of self-renunciation. Recurring again to the two phases of a right character, the receptive and the imparting, or faith and works, compare, as to their practical efficacy in developing each of these, the Christian scheme of self-abnegation and redemption, and the infidel scheme of self-assertion and self-sufficiency.

1. As to the receptive phase of character, or faith. Here the aim must be to realize a character marked by reverence for superior power, wisdom, and goodness, and trust in the same; humility, in the consciousness of sin and need; aspirations for the true, the beautiful, and the good; loyalty to superior authority; and that peculiar courage in the vindication of truth and right which springs from loyal confidence in a leader powerful in their defence. This side of a holy character necessarily receives immediate and large development in the Christian scheme of redemption by Christ's sacrifice and salvation by faith in Him. It presents the objects of trust, reverence, aspiration, and loyalty, not as abstractions, but concrete in the personal Christ; and thus introduces the peculiar and overpowering motive of Christianity, affectionate trust in Christ as a personal Saviour. The philosophy of self-assertion has no legitimate place for this class of virtues. Consequently, carried out it cannot recognize them as virtues, but must leave them to be despised as weaknesses or defects; like those ancient languages which give no name to humility and its family of virtues, and name virtue itself not godliness but manliness. It has given us the pregnant maxim that work is worship, in which it expresses its inherent destitution of the element of faith, and declares that the only availing prayer is our own endeavour. But the impossibility of realizing a perfect character, without this class of virtues, is too apparent to admit of their total exclusion.

2. I proceed to consider the practical efficacy of these contrasted schemes in the sphere of works; in the development of active and imparting love, of the energies of a wise philanthropy. Here it is unnecessary to add to what has already been adduced to show that Christianity is effective in this direction. But leaving these considerations I confine myself to this single suggestion: the self-abnegation involved in the sacrificial character of Christianity is the only effectual preservative of the personal rights of the individual in his devotement to the service of the race. How grandly, in contrast, Christianity develops universal love, in its Divine activity, and yet upholds the individual in his Divine dignity. The Christian surrenders himself, without reserve, to God his Creator and Redeemer; and, in love to Him, freely devotes himself to the service of his fellow-men, a worker, together with God, in the sublime work of renovating the world; a worker, with God, in designs so vast, that the very conception of them ennobles; in enterprises so godlike that labouring in them lifts to a participation in the Divine. He is no longer the tool of society, but its Christ-like benefactor. The very fact that he kneels in entire self-surrender to God, forbids abjectness to man. He will not kneel to man, but he will die for him.

3. Besides the efficiency of these schemes in developing the different phases of character, I must consider their efficacy in developing the natural powers of thought, action, and enjoyment. Here we meet the objection that man cannot be developed by negation and suppression; and that self-denial, being a suppression of the soul's life, cannot develop it. But this objection is already sufficiently answered; for it has been shown that self-denial is not a negation, but the reverse side of a positive affection. Its power to develop is continually exemplified. The Church and the world are, as the Scriptures represent, antagonistic, not co-ordinate. Each develops the natural powers; but the development which Christianity effects in self-abnegation, is the normal, harmonious, and complete development of man.Here, then, I must contrast the two types, of progress and of civilization, which the two are fitted, respectively, to produce.

1. In the sphere of intellect, the one gives us rationalism and scepticism; the other, faith and stability.

2. In the sphere of social life, the one develops the outward activity, the other the inward resources. The one stimulates grasping and self. aggrandizement; the other, the spiritual life. The one is concerned with what a man gets; the other, with what he is. The one is adequate to make man develop a continent; the other, to develop himself and the continent.

3. In the sphere of political life, the one insists on freedom, the other on justice, mercy, and reverence for God.

(S. Harris, D. D.)

I. First, I am to show you the NATURE of this duty. Soul and body make up ourselves, and consequently, the powers, inclinations, and appetites, of both are to be restrained; and because the mind and outward man are influenced upon by external objects, these also must in their due measure be denied and renounced. The operations of the soul are to be looked after in the first place; and amongst them the understanding is the leading and principal faculty; and, therefore, if this be taken care of, the rest will be more easily governed. But what is it to deny or renounce our understandings?

1. Such things as are unprofitable and useless to us. Those nice and fond speculations, trifling and impertinent, wanton and curious disquisitions, in ranging after which, the mind is diverted from the more solemn employment of religion, are no ways worthy of a Christian.

2. Much more doth it become us to check ourselves in our inquiring after things that are unlawful for us to pry into; and those are either diabolical arts or Divine secrets. But sanctified minds decline the studying of these impious and diabolical mysteries, following the example of the Ephesian converts, who condemned the volumes of their black art to the flames. No excuse can legitimate our inquisitive search into these hellish intrigues, and our familiar conversing with them. And the latter (I mean Divine secrets) are to be admired and adored, not wantonly pried into. These abstruse and profound intricacies are not arrogantly to be ransacked, lest they confound us with their mighty depth, and quite overwhelm us with their glory. We must not think to bring down these lofty things to the level of our shallow capacities; we must not criticize here, but believe. It is true, reason is the first-born, the eldest and noblest of the faculties; and yet you must not refuse to offer up this darling, to sacrifice this Isaac. Let not reason persuade you to search with boldness into those mysteries which are inscrutable, and which ought to be entertained with silence and veneration. We renounce all modesty and humility when we attempt to fathom this abyss. This being rectified, the will (which is the next considerable operation of the mind) will follow its conduct, and become regular and orderly. This self-denial, as it respects the will, is comprehended in these two things, namely, our submitting to what God doth, and to what He commands. In the next place then, the affections are to be denied, for these are part of a man's self. But indeed, all of them ought to be tutored and kept in order; their extravagancies must be allayed and charmed, for it is not fit the superior faculties should truckle to these inferior ones; it is absurd and ridiculous that the beast should ride the man, and the slave domineer over the master, and the brutish part have dominion over the rational and Divine. Which leads me to the second main ingredient of the duty of self-denial, viz., the restraining and moderating the bodily and sensual desires. And this discipline consists in setting a strict guard and watch over the bodily senses; for these are so many doors that open to life or death, as the Jewish masters say well. The sight is generally the inlet to all vice. If the motions of intemperance be urgent and solicitous with us, the wise man hath furnished us with an antidote, "Look not upon the wine," &c. (Proverbs 23:31). The sense of hearing also must be mortified and restrained, for this is another door at which sin and death do enter. We read that used to stop his ears at the wicked speeches of heretics. Stop up all the passages and avenues of vice, especially block up these cinque ports by which the adversary uses to make his entrance. Third thing I proposed, in order to the explaining of the nature of selfdenial, viz., that we must give a repulse to all external invitations whatsoever, whereby we are wont to be drawn off from our duty. And of this sort are.

1. Those which our Saviour takes particular notice of and warns us against (Luke 14:26). The bonds of nature oblige us to love our relations, but the injunctions of the gospel engage us to love our souls, and Christ much more (Matthew 10:37). Who sees not that persons are apt to be perverted by their near relatives? The first and early deceit was by this means. Adam, through the enticement of his wife, violated the Divine command. Solomon was corrupted by his wives (1 Kings 11:4), and Jehoram was misled by his (2 Kings 8:18). So it is particularly recorded of Ahab, who sold himself to work wickedness, that "his wife stirred him up" (1 Kings 21:25). the Great, in his latter days, by the instigation of his sister Constantia, who favoured the Arians, banished good , and sent for out of exile, and favoured his party. The Emperor , by the impulse and artifice of his mother, Justinia, was harsh to the orthodox Christians, and countenanced the Arians. was corrupted by his lady, who was an Arian, and made him such a one as herself. Justinian the emperor was wrought upon by his Queen Theodora, who had a kindness for the Eutychian heresy. , who was empress with her son, another Constantine, caused him to favour the worship of images, she being for it herself; and then the second Nicene council was held, which decreed the adoration of images. And there are almost innumerable other instances to prove that persons are apt to be biassed and led away from their duty by the powerful enchantments of their beloved relations. But he that hath attained to that part of self-denial which I am now treating of will not listen to these charmers, though they charm never so cunningly.

2. Self-denial must show itself in renouncing of vainglory, and all inordinate desires of honours and preferments. was preparing for flying, when he was like to be chosen Bishop of Milan. hid himself; declined it as much as he could. Gregory Nazianzen, when he was preferred to the bishopric of Constantinople, soon resigned it and retired to a solitary life at Nazianzum. Eusebius refused to be Bishop of Antioch. Ammonius Perota (mentioned by Socrates) cut off one of his ears, that by that means he might avoid the being preferred to a bishopric; for voluntary maiming themselves in those days made them incapable of that office. Nay, we are told, that a good father died with fear as they were bearing him to his episcopal throne. He died for dread of that which others so long for, and are like to die because they miss of it.

3. The sinful pleasures and delights of the flesh are to be abstained from by all the true practisers of self-denial. An eminent instance of this was Joseph, the modest, the chaste Joseph, who repulsed the solicitations of his mistress.

4. Wealth and riches: when you begin to desire and covet them inordinately; when your hearts are set upon them, when by plain experience you perceive that they damp your zeal for religion, and when the ways you make use of for acquiring them are prejudicial unto, and inconsistent with the keeping of a good conscience, you have no more to do in this case than to quit them with a resolved mind, to part with the unrighteous Mammon for durable and heavenly riches.

5. and lastly, To mention several things together, your self-denial ought to discover itself, in renouncing whatever it is that administers to pride, or lust, or revenge. Thus you see your task in all the several parts and divisions of it. Every Christian for Christ's sake is to deny his personal self (i.e., his soul, the undue exertments of the understanding, will, and affections; his body, i.e., all its carnal and sensual appetites, so far as they are hindrances to virtue); his relative self, his father, mother, wife, friends, and acquaintance, when they tempt him to vice; his worldly self (if I may so call it), houses, lands, goods, possessions, honours, pleasures, and whatever we are wont to set a high value upon; about all these this grace is commendably exercised.

II. Secondly, it remains now that I convince you of the REASONABLENESS of this doctrine, which will appear from these ensuing particulars.

1. It might be said that there is restraint and hardship in all religions that ever were on foot in the world, and so it ought not to be thought strange in the Christian religion. Concerning the Jews it is notoriously known that their lives commenced with an uneasy and bloody circumcision; and by their Mosaic Law they were tied up to an unspeakable strictness all their lives long. They were forbid some meats which were wholesome enough, and very palatable. And afterwards they stinted themselves as to some drinks, and would by no means taste of the wine of idolatrous nations. They were religiously confined as to their garb and apparel, and to their converse and behaviour, their rites and ceremonies, which rendered their condition very uneasy, and almost insupportable. Should we look into the religion of the Gentiles, that will be found to be clogged with very great severities; and though one would think they should have made it as pleasant and enticing as possibly they could, yet he that takes a survey of some of its rites and laws shall discover inhumane and bloody usages, austere and cruel practices prescribed by them. And even among their wisest and soberest philosophers, restraint and self-denial were ever reputed laudable and virtuous. Some of them refused the richest offers of princes, and others of them voluntarily quitted their estates and revenues, and embraced poverty, and reckoned their greatest wealth to be the contempt of it (of which I shall give you some instances afterwards). At this day the people of Africa, on the coasts of Guinea, do all of them abstain from one thing or other, in honour of their fetishes, their little portable gods. Need ] take notice of the deluded sect of Mahomet, to whom is granted a shameful indulgence in most things, yet their prophet would not give them their freedom as to all things, but peremptorily denied them the pleasure of the grapes and of swine's flesh. I will not insist here on the superstitious austerities and unreasonable restraints which another sort of men enjoin in their Church, and which are so readily submitted to by great numbers among them.

2. I offer this to your consideration, that there is not any man, sui juris, at his own disposal. If we acknowledge God for our Creator we have upon that very score all the reason in the world to own His right of commanding us. If we received our being from Him, it is but just that all our actions should be governed by Him. Seneca excellently speaks: God is our King and Governor, and it is our freedom to obey Him. On this account it is reasonable that we should not follow our own fancies and humours, and do what we will. But if we consider likewise that we are bought with a price, we may infer thence that we are not our own, but are for ever at the pleasure of Him that ransomed us. A Christian must not do what he would, that is, what his sinful inclinations prompt him to. He must be confined within bounds; he is a person pre-engaged, and must not, cannot be at the beck of every foolish lust. Third consideration, which will evince both the necessity and equity of this Christian duty. To be kept in and confined, to be limited and curbed by holy and just laws, to be commanded to walk by rules, and not to be suffered to be licentious, and to do what we please; this is the most safe, and therefore the most happy condition that can be imagined. It is undoubtedly the greatest kindness that God could confer upon us, to fence us in with laws, and to deny us many things which we eagerly desire; for He sees that what we so exorbitantly crave would be our ruin. How dangerous and mischievous to the world would an unrestrained liberty prove? For as 'tis a true aphorism of Hippocrates: The more you nourish morbid bodies, the more hurt you do them; so the more you fasten this inordinate desire in your souls, the more you. harm and mischief yourselves. You think it may be to stint and satisfy your desires by giving them what they crave; but that is the way rather to increase them. One pleasure doth but make way for another. And besides, the pleasures which some luxurious persons entertain themselves with now will not be pleasures afterwards. The present delights will in time grow out of date, and some others must be sought for.

4. Still by way of reason consider, that to deny ourselves is the fairest and most convincing evidence of the sincerity of our hearts. By this we give an undeniable experiment of the free and plenary consent of our wills. We give a demonstration of the uprightness of our souls by refraining from whatever is forbidden us by the Divine laws. But Abraham was an instance of the contrary temper; very hard things were commanded him, and he obeyed them without disputing; whence there was a full trial made of his sincerity, and that he loved and feared God in the truth of his heart.

5. Natural reason, common prudence, and every day's practice commend unto us this Divine grace of self-denial Wise men in a tempest are persuaded to throw their richest lading overboard, and commit it to the devouring element; that is, they are willing to part with their goods to save their lives. It is reckoned by us as wisdom, to deprive ourselves of some good and ease for a while; to make sure of a greater and more lasting one afterwards. We expose ourselves to danger that we may be safe. To recover health we submit to unpleasant potions; though the physic proves as hateful as the disease, yet we are reconciled to it, by considering that it will be profitable to our bodies afterwards; by the loss of a limb we are content to secure the whole. Prudence and reason justify all this, and shall they not much more reconcile us to the painful remedies which our great and good Physician prescribes?

6. Let me set before you some great and eminent examples to justify the reasonableness of this duty of self-denial First, let me propound to you the example of Christ Jesus, our blessed Lord and Master. "He pleased not Himself," saith the apostle (Romans 15:3). And then, what a signal demonstration of self-denial was His Passion and Death. But, besides this, there are other examples, viz., of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and divers holy men, who have been noted for their self-denial. Let me now provoke you to a godly emulation by some instances even of heathen men. If some pagans could arrive to some measure of self-denial by their natural light and reason, surely you, who profess higher principles, will be ashamed to come short of them. Plato tells us of his master, Socrates, that when his friends and relatives, and those who bore a great affection to him, came to him in prison, and wished him by all means to submit to the Senate of Athens, and thereby to save his life; his answer was: "Oh, my Athenians, I must needs profess to you, that I greatly respect and love you; but I tell you plainly, I am resolved to obey God rather than you." Most divinely spoken, and like a true denier of himself. That was a gallant action which is recorded of Care the younger, a notable Roman captain, who, marching through the hot sands of Lybia, grew extremely thirsty; and when one of his soldiers brought him some water in his helmet, which he had got with great difficulty and pains, he poured it out upon the ground, as a testimony that he could boar thirst as well as his soldiers. Xenophon relates of Cyrus, the King of Persia, that he would not so much as see the fair Panthea, the wife of King Abradaras, who was taken in battle, and reserved on purpose for him by one of his captains. And when one told Cyrus that her beauty was worth the beholding, he answered, that therefore it was much more necessary to abstain from seeing it. And truly this Cyrus is propounded by Xenophon as one of the greatest instances of self-denial and moderation in all particulars, many of which you'll find distinctly set down by that excellent historian, who also acquaints us that his soldiers and followers were trained up to severity and abstinence, and the exactest self-denial.

7. and lastly: If we would seriously consider that heaven shall be the reward of self-denial, this would make the performance of this duty easy.

III. Now, in the third and last place, I will offer those MEANS AND HELPS whereby we may attain to this grace and duty which I have been treating of. If, then, thou wouldest effectually practise this evangelical duty of self-denial which is so excellent and yet so difficult, thou mayest be assisted by such proper helps as these:

1. By daily flying unto God for succour, by praying to be rescued and delivered from thyself, according to that good Father's devout Litany, "O Lord, deliver me from myself; shield me from my own depraved nature; defend me from my own wild desires and affections; teach me to moderate my passions."

2. Prayer must be backed with endeavours, and your endeavours must begin within. You must strike at the root, the original cause of all the disorders in your life, viz., your inward lusts and desires. Democritus, who, it is said, put out his eyes as a remedy against lust, did, perhaps, doubly enhance their inveiglement by imagination. Your first business therefore is to correct it within, to regulate your desires and inclinations, and then you may safely look abroad, and not fear any actual or outward exorbitances in your lives.

3. Consider seriously the high calling whereunto God hath called you, and wherein you ought so to behave yourselves, that you do nothing which may disgrace and dishonour your profession.

4. Let us weigh our condition well, and often urge it upon our thoughts, that we are but strangers and pilgrims, and being upon our journey, it would be unreasonable to expect that we should have everything according to our mind.

5. It is requisite that you entertain right notions concerning the things of this world. Lastly, act by a principle of evangelical faith, and you will find that that doth wonderfully facilitate the exercise of self-denial. With a steadfast eye look beyond this present life; pierce through this horizon to another world, and you will easily restrain your sinful appetites and desires, you will overcome all the blandishments, suavities, and allurements of this life. Besides, this is that which promotes and facilitates all our duties, and reconciles us to all difficulties, and renders all estates and conditions welcome, and makes Christians yoke easy and pleasant. It is the most excellent, and it is the most useful grace, and that which renders us masters of ourselves.

(J. Edwards, D. D.)

Be prepared for afflictions. To this end would Christ have us reckon upon the cross, that we may be forewarned. He that builds a house does not take care that the rain should not descend upon it, or the storm should not beat upon it, or the wind blow upon it; there is no fencing against these things, they cannot be prevented by any care of ours; but that the house may be able to endure all this without prejudice. And he that builds a ship, does not make this his work, that it should never meet with waves and billows, that is impossible; but that it may be light and staunch, and able to endure all weathers. A man that takes care for his body does not care for this, that he meet with no change of weather, hot and cold, but how his body may bear all this. Thus should Christians do; not so much to take care how to shift and avoid afflictions, but how to bear them with an even quiet mind. As we cannot hinder the rain from falling upon the house, nor the waves from beating upon the ship, nor change of weather and seasons from affecting the body, so it is not in our power to hinder the falling out of afflictions and tribulations; all that lies upon us, is to make provision for such an hour, that we be not overwhelmed by it.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

It is not what a man takes up, but what he gives up, that makes him "rich towards God." Now what ought a follower of Jesus to give up for his Master's sake?

1. Of course every man who would become a Christ's man must renounce everything that God's Word and a healthy conscience set down as wrong. All sins are "contraband" at the gateway of entrance to the Christian life. The sentinel at the gate challenges us with the command — "Lay down that sin!"

2. We must give up whatever, by its direct influence, tends to injure ourselves or others. Here comes in the law of brotherly love. The safe side of all questionable amusements is the outside.

3. Give up whatever tends to pamper the passions, or to kindle unholy desires. Paul's noble determination to "keep his body under," implies that there was something or other in Paul's fleshly nature which ought to be kept under. It is also true of almost every Christian that somewhere in his nature lies a weak point, a besetting tendency to sin; and just there must be applied the check-rein of self-denial Even eminent Christians have had to wage constant battle with fleshly lusts. Others have had sore conflict with irritable, violent tempers. When a servant of Christ is willing to take a back seat, or to yield the pre-eminence to others, he is making a surrender which is well-pleasing to his meek and lowly Master. One of the hardest things to many a Christian is to serve his Saviour as a "private," when his pride tells him that he ought to wear a "shoulder-strap" in Christ's army.

4. Another very hard thing for most persons to give up, is to give up having their own way. But the very essence of true spiritual obedience lies just here. It is just here that self-sufficiency, and vanity, and waywardness, and obstinacy are to be met. Here they must be sacrificed to that demand of the Master's, that He shall rule, and not we.

5. The last rule of giving up which we have room for in this brief article is, that time, ease, and money must all be held tributary to Christ. In these days of stylish equipage and social extravagance, how few Christians are willing to give up to Jesus the key to their purses and bank-safes I Too many go through the solemn farce of writing "Holiness to the Lord" on their property, and then using it for their own gratification.

(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

I. ONE'S COMING AFTER CHRIST. This is the thing which some do aim at, and all should.

1. Christ in the world was in the way to His kingdom, the kingdom of heaven (Luke 19:12).

2. Accordingly He was in the world, not as a native thereof, but as a stranger travelling through it, with His face always away-ward from it, home to His Father's house.

3. Our Lord Jesus made His way to His kingdom through many bitter storms blowing on His face in the world, and is now entered into it (Hebrews 12:2).

4. There is no coming into that kingdom, for a sinner, but at His back, in fellowship with Him (John 14:6).

5. There is no coming in at His back into the kingdom, without following Him in the way (Psalm 125:5; John 15:6).


1. Implies two things.(1) That Christ and self are contraries, leading contrary ways.(2) That the self to be denied is our corrupt self, the old man, the unrenewed part.

2. Wherein it consists. In a holy refusal to please ourselves, that we may please God in Christ. Hence, in self-denial there is(1) Faith and hope, as the necessary springs thereof.(2) A practical setting up of God as our chief end, and a bringing down ourselves to lie at His feet.(3) An unlimited resignation of ourselves unto God in Christ — "first gave their ownselves to the Lord" (2 Corinthians 8:5). Faith taking hold of God as our God, according to the measure of faith, the whole man is swallowed up in Him; God is all, and we become nothing in our own eyes: the whole soul, the whole man, the whole lot, is resigned to Him.(4) A refusing to please ourselves in anything in competition with God; but denying the cravings of self, as they are contrary to what God craves of us (Titus 2:12).


1. God will lay down the cross for every one who seeks heaven, that they shall have nothing ado but to take it up. "In the world ye shall have tribulation" (John 16:33). They shall not need to make crosses to themselves, nor to go out of their way to seek a cross: God will lay it down at every one's door. He had one Son without sin, but no son without the cross (Hebrews 12:8).

2. He will lay it down daily to the followers of Christ, that they may have a daily exercise in taking it up, and hearing the cross of the day. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matthew 6:34). A change of crosses may be got, but there will be no end of them as long as we are here.

3. We must not be choosers of crosses. Every one must take up his own, allotted to him by sovereign wisdom.

4. We must not trample on the cross, and step over it, but take it up (Hebrews 12:5). The sullen manliness and Roman courage wherewith some bear their crosses is the produce of self-will, not of self-denial, and speaks contempt of God, not submission to Him. When heaven is our party, it becomes us to stoop, and not to make our faces like flint, lest God be provoked to dash us in pieces,

5. Yet neither must we faint at the sight of the cross; for at that rate we will not be able to take it up (Hebrews 12:5).

6. As we must not go off the road of duty to shift the cross, so we must not stand still till it be rolled out of our way, but take it up, and go forward. It is easy going off the way, but not easy coming on again. There are quagmires of sin and sorrow on every side of the cross, where the shifters of it may come to stick (1 Timothy 6:9).

7. We must take up no more for our cross than what God lays down; not what Satan and our own corruptions lay to it: it will be our wisdom to shovel that off in the first place, and we will take up the cross the easier.

8. But however heavy the cross be, we are not to refuse it. Our very life, which of all worldly things is dearest to us, must be laid at the Lord's feet, and we ready to part with it for Christ.

9. We must yoke with the cross willingly and submissively: God can lay it on us, whether we will or not; but He will have us to stoop, and take it up on us (James 1:2).

10. We must bear it, going evenly under it, till the Lord take it down. It is what belongs to the Lord to take it off; it is our part to take it up. There must be an exercise of patience in our coming after Christ (Luke 21:19).

11. We must follow Christ with the cross on our back.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

There is a current idea that it is a fine thing to go through self-imposed trials — to do what is disagreeable just because it is disagreeable: it is noble to climb Alpine heights — not because the slightest good is to come of your doing so — not because you have the faintest idea of what you are to do when you reach their summit; — but just because it is difficult and dangerous to climb them, and most men would rather not. Some people now-a-days appear to think that when our blessed Lord uttered the sublime words which form the text, He meant that we are to be always seeking out a tribe of petty disagreeables — constantly finding out something we don't like to do, and then doing it: some people, I do believe, have a vague impression in their minds which they have never put into shape, but which really comes to this, that God would be angry if He saw His creatures cheerful and happy. Oh, the wicked delusion! God is love! When will men believe that grand foundation-truth I You may see something like God's feeling in the kindly smile with which the kind parent looks on at the merry sports of his children, delighted to see them innocently happy. But believe it, brethren, there is nothing the least like God, in the sour, morose look of the gloomy fanatic, as he turns with sulky indignation from the sight of people who venture to be harmlessly cheerful.

(A. H. K. Boyd D. D.)

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 would set up ourselves, our own wills, as the rivals of God — that we are to be denied to everything which would, in any way, interfere with our submission and fidelity to Jesus Christ.

1. 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.

2. We must be denied to our own righteousness. 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.

3. 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.

4. We must be 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."

5. 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.

6. we must be denied to our friends. 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.

7. 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.

(J. Foote, M. A.)

They who climb lofty mountains find it safest, the higher they ascend, the more to bow and stoop with their bodies; and so does the Spirit of Christ teach the saints, as they get higher in their victories over self-corruption, to bow lowest in self-denial.

(W. Gurnall.)

It is reported of Agrippina, "the mother of Nero, who" being told "that if ever her son came to be an emperor he would be her murderer," she made this reply: "I am content to perish, if he may be emperor." What she expressed vaingloriously, we should do religiously. "Let us perish, so our neighbours, our relations, and our country, be bettered."

(Archbishop Seeker.)

A man takes a musical instrument, and undertakes to bring up one part of it so that it shall sound louder than any other part. The moment he brings it up so that it sounds a little louder than the others, people say, "Yes, I think I do hear that upper note," but it is so faint that a person has to put his hand to his ear to hear it. But by and by the man works the instrument so that out rolls this upper note so clearly that, although the under notes are there, everybody says, "Ah, now it has come out, now I hear it; it is all right now." And a man that denies himself in the truest Christian way does it so that the joy of the upper feelings rolls clear over the pain and suffering of the lower feelings. Where this does not take place, the self-denial is very imperfect.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Now, it is evident that the selfishness of one man is not the same as the selfishness of another. There is a man whose self lies in his intellect. He makes much of his own intellect. He is always leaning upon it. Now, that man has much to do, to become a very little child — to become a fool — to submit his own intellect absolutely to the teaching of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God — to receive the deept mind-confounding mysteries of the gospel with a perfect simplicity, and to let Christ be all his wisdom. Another man's self is pleasure. That pleasure may take different forms. It may be in the form of the mere indulgence of his bodily appetites; or it may be in worldly amusements; or it may be in the pride of life; or it may be in money; or it may be in business; or it may be in ambition. Now, if that man think that he can take those things, and the spirit of those things along with him; if he think he can enjoy them and religion, he will find the gate too strait for him to pass, and the road too narrow for him to go. That is the man who must be continually learning to say "No" to himself. He must put the strongest rein upon the neck of his own desires. And even supposing that the pleasures which make that man's selfishness are of a very quiet, and, you may say, innocent, character, still that man must remember that self-renunciation in this life must not be confined to those things which are sinful, but much more he must practise it in innocent things — for it is a true thing, that most men perish through the unlawful use of lawful things. Therefore that man must deny himself, even, for instance, in his legitimate business — or in his best domestic affection — or in his holiest or purest of all engagements. But there is another form of self, and the more dangerous, because it takes the aspect of religion. When a man has laid down for himself a certain way of salvation, and begins in his own strength, goes on in his own wisdom, and ends in his own glory, turning his self-complacent virtues into saviours. Oh! how that self must be unloved! He denies self at the foundation, because he will have no other foundation but grace: he denies self in the work, because he will know no other but the finished work of his Saviour: he denies self in the end, because he will have no other end but the glory of God.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Rev. E. Paxton Hood in a sermon, "Crucifixion and Coronation," said, life means discipline to all of us in some way or other, and if we attempt to shirk our cross, we shall find that God fits one presently somehow or other to our shoulders, the meaning of which we shall find by and by. I am tempted sometimes to throw down the cross; I have said, "No, I won't have it;" but lo! I have found that although I have thrown it behind me and thought I had eluded and escaped it, there was one which still had to be fitted to the shoulders further on, whether I would or would not.

(E. Paxton Hood.)

-A number of ministers were once dining together after an ordination, and when one of them seemed unduly attentive to the good things before him, he met with the approval of the host, who said, "That's right! To take care of Self is the first law of naturThe devil once met a Christian man, and said, "Thou sayest, 'I am a servant of God.' What doest thou more than I do? You say that you fast; so do I. I neither eat nor drink." He went through a whole list of sins, of which he said he was clear; but at last the Christian said, "I do one thing thou never didst, I deny myself." There was the point in which the Christian came out.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The mortar with which the swallow builds is the mud from cart-wheels, sides of wells, and such-like places. This it makes more adhesive by moistening it with its own saliva. As the bird parts with a portion of its own substance to cement its nest, so should we be prepared to give up, not that which costs us nothing, but which may involve much self-denial and self-sacrifice on our part, that which we love and cherish most, as Abraham was prepared to offer up Isaac at the bidding of God.

(H. Macmillan, D. D.)

That the faith of Christ does in sober truth involve a daily cross-bearing; and that it is agreeable to reason and the Divine nature that thus it should be — this is the proposition which we have to establish.

I. The words of Christ are of a nature which, it is probable, the disciples by no means appreciated to the full at the time when they were uttered. Since the crucifixion of the Son of God, the Cross has to us associations of the most affecting kind. We cannot hear of taking up a cross without having our thoughts drawn back to the scenes of the last Passover — the street of grief — the fainting Redeemer — Simon the Cyrenian — the hill of Calvary. To take up a cross is to fulfil the spirit of His sacred life in the lowest depth of His humiliation. Let us consider how it fares with man's intellect when he adopts the religion of the Crucified. It is sometimes the custom to assert that everything is easy and plain in the gospel system; that the heart and the conscience respond at once to its revelations and commandments; that the words of Christ do so awake an echo in the human soul that he who has heard can no more doubt than he can doubt his own existence. We believe all this to be quite wrong. Rather do we believe that there are vast difficulties in the way of a thorough and complete adoption of the truth in Jesus. The Bible represents that such would be the case. This is the meaning of all those passages which speak of the Cross of Christ as "being to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness." This is the explanation of the fact, again and again dwelt on by St. Paul, that "not many wise men after the flesh are called." This is the ground of that mysterious confession of the Saviour himself — "I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes." The fact is, the deeper we reflect upon the revelation of God, the more shall we find to baffle and confound. Be ye well assured, that if in your system of religion there is nothing out of your grasp; if everything is according to reason, and nothing beyond it; if you are never called upon to accept upon trust, to believe without sight, then is your system not that of God. It is against reason that this should be. Reason herself cries out that she ought to be baffled in measuring God, that she ought to be shipwrecked on the ocean of His perfection, lost in the profundity of His counsels. It is against revelation, for revelation ever speaks of mortification and self-denial, as requisite in those who accept her. Let Christ be God, acknowledge Him, with St. Peter, to be the Son of the Blessed, and reason echoes His answer, and sets to her seal that it is true. "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

II. But we turn for a brief moment to other illustrations of the text. Vie consider it indeed, as a verse calculated in an especial degree for the age in which we live: viewed not only with reference to matters of faith, but of practice. This is not peculiarly an age of cruelty, or rapine, or licentiousness; but it is, we think, preeminently an age when men dream only of pleasing themselves. To be prosperous is to win applause. "So long as thou doest well unto thyself, men will speak good unto thee," was the proverb of the Psalmist, and it has met with a complete fulfilment in our generation. And very expedient therefore do we reckon it, that we should occasionally turn aside to contemplate a severer model; and remember that it is not the highest law of our being to please ourselves; that even when it involves no positive crime, self-pleasing is not the noblest or safest rule of man. Who are they who stand forth in the dimness of vanished years — landmarks in the wilderness of time, giant rocks by which we cross the ocean of the past? They are not the men who looked to themselves alone, and followed the impulse of the moment, alike in their serious pursuits and in their sports. These selfish ones have no record among posterity; there is none that remembereth, nor any that regardeth. The living men; they who being dead yet speak, are the men who thought first of others and last of themselves; who were ready to abandon country, and kinsfolk, and friends, to help the poor out of the dust and the feeble out of the mire. But why, amongst Christian people, linger here upon the threshold? deeper and holier thoughts lie beyond. If we are not falsely called, if our whole profession is not a lie, we are followers of Christ. And what of Him our Master and Example, says the apostle? "Even Christ also pleased not Himself." And if in other things, then in this let us walk according as He walked. We cannot be like Him if we are always in pleasure and never in pain: not like Him if we indulge ourselves in every wish that rises within, in every taste and fancy. More. over, to leave undone that which we cannot do, this is not self-denial; not to buy what we cannot pay for, this is not self-denial; not to labour when otherwise we must starve, is not self-denial. These are crosses laid upon us by God's providence, not crosses which we ourselves take up. Of our own free will we must forego pleasant things, and perform disagreeable tasks, leaving undone for His sake what we might have done, and doing in His name what none could make us do, if we would be like Him who bowed the heavens and came down. So act, young and old, and we tell you not that thus acting ye become shadows in the world of the Son of God Himself; that ye perpetuate His life upon earth; nay, more, we tell you that without so acting, without this self-restraint and selfdiscipline, it is but a false confidence of peace here and hereafter on which ye build.

(Bishop Woodford.)


1. Self-denial.

2. Endurance — Take up his cross daily.

3. Perseverance — "And follow Me."


1. Because selfishness brings ultimate loss.

2. Because sacrifice brings ultimate salvation.


(A. F. Barfield.)

What is this cross, and how are we to bear it?

I. THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST IS THE INSTRUMENT AND THE SIGN OF SALVATION Are we, then, to understand this literally? No. We must follow the spirit and not the letter. Everywhere the cross is before us, beside us, in us.

II. THERE ARE THREE WAYS OF BEARING- THE CROSS, OR THE CONTRADICTIONS AND SORROWS WHICH AFFLICT US. I do not here speak of those frivolous spirits which shake off the cross when it presents itself, and seek to escape it by diversions.

1. There are those who carry their cross with anger, with indignation, in revolt against providence or destiny.

2. Others, more reasonable, carry their cross with stoicism, in bearing up against it by a violent reaction of pride or of false dignity.

3. The only way to make suffering profitable is to accept it Christianly, that is, with patience and resignation.

(Abbe Bautain.)

If we mean to be disciples of Christ indeed, we shall have every day —

1. Something to put away for Christ's sake — "Let him deny himself."

2. Something to take up and bear for Christ — "Take up his cross."

3. Something actively to do for Christ's sake — "And follow Me"

(R. Tuck, B A)

Jesus told His disciples that they were not worthy of being His disciples unless they bore the cross for His sake.

1. To us Christians the cross is the symbol of salvation, self-devotion, obedience to our Father, loyalty to our Saviour. But to those who heard Jesus it was a symbol

(1)of terrible pain;

(2)of shame unspeakable;

(3)of the burden of guilt. It is, then, in this light that we must look at what our Lord says of the cross.

2. All this is summed up in the one word self-denial. It is self that makes us shrink from the cross.

3. To guard against mistake let us remember that while we deny ourselves we must follow Jesus. There is a self-denial which is not a following of Jesus.(1) Men often deny themselves in one respect in order to indulge themselves in another.(2) Self-denial for its own sake is not a following of Jesus. The way of the cross is the way to heaven, and the crown of thorns prepares for the crown of glory.

(Canon Liddell.)

Penalties accompany prizes. The more holy, resolute, defined the life, the greater the antagonism. f religion that lays hold of the deepest depths of thought, that is real, boundless, and inexhaustible, is only to be had on three conditions.

1. "Let him deny himself" — not cripple or degrade self, but govern it.

2. "Take up the cross." Not your neighbour's, but your own cross. Take it up; do not walk round it and admit it only, but take it up, every muscle strained; honestly on your shoulders carry it.

3. "Follow Me." Take the consequences of open avowal. The path is plain. It leads not to the monastery. No more social, loving man ever lived than the Master. Keep in touch with Him; grasp His hand; listen to His voice.

(New Outlines on New Testament.)

Those who companied with Jesus while He lived were scarcely in danger of losing their lives. After His death persecution threatened the lives of Christians, and, while the Christian life became more dangerous, the real and Christian living grew more rigid, and the denying of self, which was required by the circumstances of our Lord's day, grew and expanded until it was made to mean that all bodily delights and joys of the senses and affections were either positively wrong or infirmities which should be discouraged. The ascetic life, not because for the passing moment it might be more prudent or more useful — as, for instance, when the soldier in campaign patiently undergoes privation, eats mouldy bread, and drinks polluted water, not because it is a fine thing to eat such bread and drink such water, but because the circumstances of the campaign demand it — the ascetic life for its own sake was enforced in the Early Church. There is an asceticism for the sake of e higher good which at times may be necessary and most laudable, but the difference is between the mother who goes without food that she may still the hunger of her little ones, and the monk or hermit who reduces himself to an unlovely skeleton because self-denial is intrinsically good. Yes, the spirit of Christianity in this respect became pagan; it was but a new Stoicism without its philosophy.

(W. Page Roberts, M. A.)

What is self-denial in its Christian sense? For clearly when we deny ourselves we are the deniers; it is one self denying another self, the real self, clothed with Divine authority, denying the lower and usurping self. It is our soul's denial of the selfish part of us. It is the supremacy of our sense of right among the multitude of our prompters, or against the resistance of our inclinations. It is the starving and binding up of ungenerous desires, that nobler desires may have free course and be glorified. It is a command over the sensual passions of anger, fear, envy, jealousy, and irritable impatience, that other powers, which bring only strength and joy and love, maybe the masters of our being. If it mortifies a lower self-love, it is that a nobler self-knowledge may lift a meek and strong heart to God. If there were no higher demands of our nature, there would be no reason that the lower ones should be restrained. For self-denial is no monkish virtue; no recluse's safety; no ascetic's way of recommending himself to God; no pale, timid shadow shrinking from the light, and denying itself the natural joys of man; no self-inflicted pain, the price paid here for escape from pain hereafter; no abject creeping on the earth that a Power to whom abjectness is pleasing may deign to cast His eye upon us — it is the upward life of a child of God, loving what God loves, refusing to be in bondage to anything that would remove him from the light of his Father's face.

(J. H. Thom.)

And take up his cross daily.
There are two great hindrances and impediments of Christianity, the one inward, the other outward.

I. Ourselves, the second is the afflictions and crosses of the world. The former must be denied, the latter taken up. First, I shall consider the words more generally, and show that it is our duty and concern to entertain with patience and submission the afflictions and crosses of what kind soever which are our allotment in this world. As to the first, namely, the nature of that patience which is required of us under our crosses and afflictions, it contains in it these following things: — First: Christian patience imports a quiet and sedate temper of mind, and shuts out all inward repining and murmuring. Secondly: There is not only a silence of the soul, but of the tongue, which is another ingredient of this duty. This excludes all repining words, all desponding language. Thirdly: In a humble confession and acknowledgment, which is the next exertment of the duty in the text. Fourthly: This duty speaks not only a religious confession and humiliation, but likewise faith and hope, and waiting upon God; a depending on Him for strength to be enabled to bear the cross, and for a happy issue out of it. Fifthly: This virtue is accompanied with cheerfulness and rejoicing, with praising and blessing of God for His fatherly love in afflicting.

II. I undertook to offer such reasons and arguments as I apprehend may be of force to excite you to the practice of this important duty.

1. Consider, that impatience and fretting are no ease at all to us in our calamities, but, on the contrary, they render our grievances heavier and more intolerable. They do but nail us faster to the cross, and put us to greater and more exquisite pain. The silly bird entangles and hampers itself by its struggling to free itself from the snare wherein 'tis catched. We never find ourselves bettered by our reluctancy: all that we purchase by it is a more grievous durance. It is observable that the Israelites never found any mitigation of their punishments and judgments by their murmuring against God, but they rather lay the longer under the lash for it.

2. We are to consider on the other side that submission and holy silence are the best way to put a happy period to our afflictions. It is so certainly in the nature of the thing itself, for patience lightens our burden; but it is much more so by the order and appointment of Providence. God is pleased to think thoughts of mercy and deliverance when He beholds our spirits wrought into a humble frame.

3. The serious consideration and persuasion that God is the author and disposer of all our afflictions is another prevalent argument to excite us to a humble submission and resignation.

4. Another is this, that we have provoked God, by our ill behaviour, to inflict these temporal evils upon us.

5. It should be a great support and stay to our minds to consider the vast advantages which accrue to us by the bodily and temporal crosses which are our allotment in this life. Every good man is a gainer by his crosses and distresses. The refiner casts the gold into the fire, not to make it worse, but better, namely, by purifying it.

6. A steady view of future happiness will effectually promote this. Some objections which may be raised in defence, or at least in excuse, of impatience. I begin with the first plea, and that is this: Nobody's case is so bad as mine; so great are my troubles, so heavy is my burden. I see that many have no afflictions, but I can't see that any one is visited in that degree that I am.To which I answer —

1. All persons are generally inclined to think that their own troubles are the greatest, and that none have the like. It is, as it were, natural to men in distress to imagine that none are so miserable as themselves; but they do not know what pressures others lie under and are tormented with. But —

2. Suppose that thy distresses and grievances far exceed those of some others, yet there is no room for impatience if thou considerest these following particulars:(1) It may be thou hast great and strong lusts, and these must be extirpated by afflictions of that quality. The remedy must be proportioned to the disease. Lesser afflictions would not awaken and rouse thee out of thy security, would not stir thee up to fly to God, and to beg mercy and pardon; even as men do not repair to a physician for a small indisposition, or to a surgeon for a scratch.(2) Perhaps thou art one on whom God hath bestowed great and vigorous graces, and 'tis His pleasure that these should be exercised, and the degrees of them manifested. Strong faith and love will endure strong trials. The greater ability and strength thou hast, the greater is the burthen which thou mayest expect to be laid upon thee.(3) Great afflictions make way for great temporal blessings. When men intend to build high, they lay the foundation very low.(4) Great afflictions make way for great spiritual blessings; that is, the increase of grace and holiness, and the manifesting them to the world. Abraham's faith was enhanced by the greatness of his trial, and he became the pattern of belief to all succeeding ages.(5) It is to be considered that no affliction is so great but God can deliver thee out of it; and 'tis His usual method to magnify His power and wisdom by delivering His servants out of the greatest. Another complaint is this: My afflictions are many and various, and heaped upon me in great numbers, and this is it that shocks my patience, and even destroys it.I shall answer —

1. Are not thy sins many, and often repeated? And then 'tis no wonder that thy crosses are so too. Thou canst not justly complain of the variety of thy grievances, when thou reflectest on the multitude of thy offences.

2. There is sometimes a necessity of the multiplicity of afflictions, because what one cloth not effect another must.

3. If we were used to one sort of affliction only, it would become familiar to us, so that we should not mind it, and consequently it would not be serviceable to us; as sometimes physic of one sort, if often taken, loses its virtue.

4. Let us not immoderately lament and bemoan our condition, as if we were the only persons that had many afflictions heaped upon us. If we look into the sacred records, we shall find that the best and holiest men have been treated after this manner. Their calamities and distresses have been many, and of divers kinds.

5. Are the afflictions of good men many and various? So are their comforts: as the fore-mentioned apostle testifies, "As our sufferings abound, so our consolation also aboundeth" (2 Corinthians 1:5).

6. God is able to rescue us out of many evils and distresses as well as out of a single one. "He delivereth in six troubles, yea, in seven"; that is, in sundry and various troubles (Job 5:5). But the complaint rises yet higher: My afflictions are not only great and many, but long and tedious; insomuch that my patience will be tired out before they leave me,But consider —

1. Whether they are not short in comparison of the many days and years of ease, health, and plenty that thou hast had.

2. It may be thy sins have been a long time indulged by thee, and then thou hast no reason to repine at the length of thy afflictions.

3. Think of this, that thy afflictions are long, that they may accomplish the work for which they were sent. Thy lusts and evil habits have been long growing, and are now rooted and fastened in thee: wherefore there is need of some lasting cross to root them out.

4. Art not thou conscious to thyself that God hath a long time called thee to repentance, and yet thou hast not been obsequious to that merciful call?

5. Complain not of the length of thy afflictions, seeing they may be serviceable to prevent the eternal and never-failing torments of hell.

6. Thy afflictions are of more than ordinary duration, that they. may sufficiently exercise thy faith and all other graces, and make them conspicuous and renowned.

7. Our longest pressures and troubles are but short in comparison of future glory.This being so hard a work, I will offer to you those means and helps in the use of which, by the Divine assistance, you may be effectually enabled to discharge this difficult duty, if ever the providence of God shall exact it of you.

1. That you may take up the cross, see that you deny yourselves. This makes way for chat, and that can never be done without this. Most rationally, therefore, is self-denial enjoined here by Christ in the first place.

2. That you may suffer death for Christ, prepare yourselves beforehand by your other lesser sufferings.

3. That you may not shrink and fall back in that day when you are called to lay down your lives for Christ. consider the absolute necessity of professing His name and owning His cause. Weigh our Saviour's peremptory words, namely, that if you confess Him before men, He will confess you before His Father; but if you deny Him before men, He will deny you before His Father (Matthew 10:32, 33).

(J. Edwards, D. D.)

It may appear difficult, at first sight, to comprehend the goodness of God in afflicting us, or commanding us to afflict ourselves. Could not He render us holy, without rendering us miserable, by way of preparative? Doubtless He could have done it; and He could have produced all men as He created the first man, at their full growth; but His wisdom has seen it fit that we should pass through the pains and hazards of infancy and youth, in the latter instance; and, in the former, that through tribulation and affliction we should enter into His heavenly kingdom. It is His will; and therefore, though no reason could be assigned, silence and submission would best become us. But there are many.

1. It is obvious to remark that Christianity did not bring afflictions into the world with it; it found them already there. The world is full of them. Men are disquieted, either by the tempers of others, or their own; by their sins, or by their follies; by sickness of body, or sorrow of heart.

2. Let us reflect how it came to be so, and we shall find still less cause of complaint. The misery of man proceeded not originally from God; he brought it upon himself.

3. From what we feel in ourselves, and what we see and hear of others, every person who has thought at all upon the subject must have been convinced that, circumstanced as we are, "it is good for us to be afflicted." Naturally, man is inclined to pride and wrath, to intemperance and impurity, to selfishness and worldly-mindedness; desirous to acquire more, and unwilling to part with anything. Before he can enter into the kingdom of heaven he must become humble and meek, temperate and pure, disinterested and charitable, resigned, and prepared to part with all. The great instrument employed by heaven to bring about this change in him is the cross.

(Bishop Horne.)

Essex Congregational Remembrancer.
I. It is an INSTRUCTIVE command. Divine commands teach as well as prescribe; and this command teaches —

1. That the Christian's path in this life is one of continued trial.

2. This command teaches that continued trial arises from the opposition of self to the will of God. The Saviour's words evidently imply this; showing that the daily bearing of the cross chiefly consists in the daily denying of self.

3. We are taught by this command that the daily trial must not be passively endured merely, but readily borne. Heathen philosophers of old could declaim on the folly of repining under troubles which could neither be prevented nor escaped.

4. This command teaches us that the taking up the daily cross is one eminent and distinguishing mark of true discipleship. "Follow Me," He saith; "not in speaking with the tongues of men and of angels, not in the gift of prophecy, not in the understanding of all mysteries and all knowledge, not in the faith that could remove mountains; but in the denying thyself in the daily bearing of the cross." This likens to Christ; this gives a just title to the name of "Christian," and is a distinguishing mark of true discipleship.

II. It is a PLAIN command. Surely if any man refuses to follow Christ in the path of self-denial it cannot be because the meaning of the command to do so is hard to be understood; but because he abhors the sacrifice that is required.

III. It is a WISE command. True wisdom is evidenced by selecting the most suitable means for effecting important ends.

1. One great end of this command is the spiritual and everlasting good of individual men.

2. Another important end of this command is the purity of the universal Church.

IV. It is a GRACIOUS command.

1. It was dictated by faithful kindness.

2. It prescribes the way to real happiness.

3. It calls disciples to tread the same glorious path which Himself had trodden before.Concluding observations:

1. No man belongs to Christ who is destitute of the spirit required by this command.

2. The meekly bearing of daily crosses is the best preparation for heavier trials.

3. Daily grace is necessary for bearing the daily cross.

(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)

I. EACH MAN HAS HIS OWN CROSS. Are there, then, any principles which will guide us in answering the question, "What is my cross?"

1. Anything that hinders your highest life in God must be given up, and to give it up may be your cross.

2. Anything than hinders your largest and fullest service for Christ. One of the most distinguished oculists living in London to-day was a great cricketer in his early years, and after he commenced practice he used to seek in that noble game a relief from the anxiety and pressure of his professional work. He found out, however, very soon, that the game interfered with the steadiness of hand so imperative in a man touching one of the most delicate organs of the human body; he found out, in a word, that he could not be a great oculist and a great cricketer at the same time, and he at once resolved to give up the cricket — it interfered with the serious business of his life. In a higher sense this may be true of us.

II. EVERY MAN MUST TAKE UP HIS CROSS. Our Lord is not speaking in the text of those crosses which come to us whether we like or not; but of voluntary crosses — self-denials which the soul inflicts on itself. Such crosses we may either take up, or may shut our eyes to them and not see them, or may see them and pass them by. Christ does not compel us to take up our cross. We are free to refuse it. But remember, no man can go to heaven unless he feels the cross somewhere. There must be the cross in us as well as the cross for us. And it is a daily cross, a daily surrender of self. It is easy to make a great sacrifice once; but it is hard to make a little sacrifice every day — and that is what is required. It is the test of our discipleship. If we fail here we fail everywhere. I remember reading — I think it was in the Indian Mutiny — of a siege which the British army conducted; how they captured, after long fighting, the walls of the city they had besieged; but the native garrison within only slowly and stubbornly retreated, fighting their way step by step, until at last they entrenched themselves in the citadel, and there defied the British troops. So it is with us. Who has not known this experience? Self may be beaten by Christ in the outworks of life; it may retreat from Christ; it may yield one point after another; or, to vary the metaphor, you may throw open room after room in the soul to Christ until all the soul is open save one little room: into it self has retreated; there it has entrenched itself. Until Christ is master of that room, He is not master of you. Hold one thing back, you hold all; yield one thing, you yield all. Yes, a man's cross is just that which he finds it most difficult to yield.

(G. S. Barrett, B. A.)

This has become a phrase, because it just hits the facts of life. One would like to trace the history of that phrase. But here are samples of crosses which some of you have to take up. A feeble and ailing body which ties you to one place and robs you of many joys — that is a cross. The peevishness or perversity or jealousy of a dweller in your house you cannot escape — that is a cross. To be denied the rank, preferment, or place to which you are entitled, by the mischance of fortune or the arrogance of powerful caprice — that is a cross. The unfaithfulness of friends and the infidelity of those you have done your best to serve — that is a cross. To be childless for some is a cross. Unrequited affection is a cross. The ill deeds of those who are dear to you is a cross. To be misunderstood, maligned, or hindered is a cross. To have your home made so desolate by death that each day stares cold and lonely upon you — that is a cross; and if I were to go on for an hour I should not complete the long sum of the world's crosses. What are we to do with them all? "Take them up," says Christ; that is, recognize them as your portion, and bear them uncomplainingly. "Take them up daily," mark the word! just as you put on your dress. They may chafe you at first, but as you think of Him whose servant you are, and whose eye is your guiding-star, and who Himself set you an example in bearing His cross, the burden will grow lighter until you scarcely feel its pressure.

(W. Page Roberts, M. A.)

An old mystic once said a true word: "Never run after a cross, and never run away from one." No, you need not run after it. The cross is near you, with you, in you, if you will only see it.

(G. S. Barrett, B. A.)

Lord Bacon, in his great work, speaks of the supreme value of testing our hypotheses in natural science by what he calls the experi-mentum crucis — the experiment of the cross, or, as we should say, a crucial test. There is a crucial test in the kingdom of Christ.

Till Christ spoke of bearing the cross, the phrase had no special meaning. Under His use it has become proverbial. Cross-bearing is now understood to mean self-denial. A remarkable change of feeling has come about regarding the symbol itself. The cross in those days was a mark of shame. To the apostles it was as abhorrent as are the gallows to-day. But now the cross is honourable. The Crusaders wore the emblem on their clothing; orders of knighthood distinguished themselves by it; churches lift up the symbol as their conspicuous designation; it is even regarded as one of the choicest ornaments of jewellery. This change of sentiment is due to the fact that Christ "endured the cross, despising the shame." The symbol is honourable; so ought to be that which is symbolized. In fact, self-denial has come to be considered an essential quality of nobility in character. Recently, a company of unbelievers followed one of their number to the grave, bearing over his body the emblem of the cross. The fact was noticed as inconsistent, but they stoutly defended their action, saying that the cross, with that which it symbolized, was worthy to be the distinguishing characteristic of manhood. Christ, the first and great cross-bearer, taught them, no less than all the world beside, this fact. It is heroic. We are thrilled with interest at the effort made to rescue six men imprisoned in a coal-mine. Twelve thousand feet of earth are pierced to reach them; a great body of men are busy, at a great expenditure of money and at risk of life, toiling for five days and nights. At last they are saved, and the land rejoices. Just what was then done to save earthly life the Church must do to save spiritual life. And yet the temptation remains to avoid self-denial. Cross-bearing we love to commend in speech, but shrink from in action.

(A. P. Foster.)

Luke 9:23 NIV
Luke 9:23 NLT
Luke 9:23 ESV
Luke 9:23 NASB
Luke 9:23 KJV

Luke 9:23 Bible Apps
Luke 9:23 Parallel
Luke 9:23 Biblia Paralela
Luke 9:23 Chinese Bible
Luke 9:23 French Bible
Luke 9:23 German Bible

Luke 9:23 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Luke 9:22
Top of Page
Top of Page