On The Exaltation of the Cross
Consider first, that on this day, upon occasion of the recovery of the cross of Christ out of the hands of infidels, and the triumphant setting it up again in its place in the church of Mount Calvary, the church of God celebrates the exaltation of him that died for us upon the cross, and his glorious triumph over sin and death, and over all the powers of hell and in consequence thereof the establishment of his kingdom, by which he reigns by grace at present in the souls of all his servants throughout the world, and shall reign in them for all eternity hereafter in glory. according to that of St. John xii. 31, 32, spoken with relation to his victory on the cross, 'Now is the judgment' (that is, the condemnation,) 'of the world, now shall the prince of this world' (the devil) 'be cast out.' 'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.' Rejoice, O my soul, in the triumph of thy crucified king, and beg that he would establish his reign in thee, and draw up thy heart from this wretched earth and unite it for ever to himself.
Consider 2ndly, that the dispositions of a Christian, in order to celebrate in a proper manner the feast of the exaltation of the cross, ought to be suitable to the maxims of the cross, and to the dispositions of Christ crucified. Dispositions of standing off from the pride, ambition, avarice, and vanity of the world, condemned by the poverty and humility of the cross; as also from the love of sensual and worldly pleasures, condemned by the mortification of the cross. Dispositions of taking up our crosses and following our crucified king, even to the death of the cross. Dispositions of waging a perpetual war against that triple concupiscence, which separates worldlings from the cross of Christ, viz., the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; till dying to the world and to ourselves, we be lifted up with Christ from the earth; crucified to the world, and the world to us; and thus being entitled to a share in his exaltation and triumphs. But, O my soul, how unfit are we to celebrate the victories of our crucified king over death, sin, and hell; whilst we by pride, self-love, and the love of the world wilfully remain slaves to those same enemies, whose usurpation he sought to abolish by his death!
Consider 3rdly, the sentiments of St. Paul with relation to the cross of Christ, Gal. ii. 19, 20, 'With Christ I am nailed to the cross.' 'And I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me; who loved me and delivered himself for me.' Chap. vi. 14: 'God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world!' He tells the Corinthians, 1 Cor. ii. 2, 'that he judged not himself to know anything among them but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.' and chap. i. 23, 24, that he preached nothing but 'Christ crucified a stumbling-block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles; but to the true believers the power of God, and the wisdom of God.' He proposes his own conduct as a model to the Philippians, Philip. iii. 17, 18, and warns them with tears, against all sensual and earthly-minded Christians, whom he calls enemies of the cross of Christ. Oh, how high was the cross of Christ exalted in the heart of the apostle! It reigned there without control. And as it was exalted in him by love and esteem, so it exalted him here to the glorious fellowship of the sufferings of Christ crucified; and hereafter to that eternal kingdom which our Lord has purchased by his cross, for all the true friends and followers of the cross. O how happy are all they, that, like the apostle, are sincere lovers of the cross of Christ!
Conclude for thy own practice to honour the triumphs of thy crucified king, by planting thyself at the foot of his cross, and there constantly attend to him, and study well the lessons he teaches thee from his cross, and enter into all his sentiments. He will teach thee to submit to thy crosses with patience, to undergo them with cheerfulness, yea, to embrace them with joy. He will undeceive thee, with regard to the false maxims of worldly pride, of the love of riches, and of sensual pleasures; and from his cross will preach to thee his truths, and discover to thee the lovely charms that are found in humility, poverty of spirit, contempt of the world, and mortification of the flesh. His cross is the school in which he will teach thee all good, and from which he will not cease to communicate to thee all grace, till at length he draws thee to himself, and makes thee his own for ever.