Here is the second portion of section I in dear Ryle’s The Cross.
And now, reader, mark what I say. If the apostle Paul never gloried in any of these things, who in all the world, from one end to the other, has any right to glory in them in our day? If Paul said, “God forbid that I should glory in anything whatever except the cross,” who shall dare to say, “I have something to glory of; I am a better man than Paul?”
Who is there among the readers of this tract, that trusts in any goodness of his own? Who is there that is resting on his own amendments, his own morality, his own performances of any kind whatever? Who is there that is leaning the weight of his soul on anything whatever of his own in the smallest possible degree? Learn, I say, that you are very unlike the Apostle Paul. Learn that your religion is not apostolical religion.
Who is there among the readers of this tract that trusts in his churchmanship for salvation? Who is there that is valuing himself on his baptism, or his attendance at the Lord’s Table–his church-going on Sundays, or his daily services during the week–and saying to himself, what lack I yet? Learn, I say, this day, that you are very unlike Paul. Your Christianity is not the Christianity of the New Testament. Paul would not glory in anything but the cross. Neither ought you.
Oh! Reader, beware of self-righteousness. Open sin kills its thousands of souls. Self-righteousness kills its tens of thousands. Go and study humility with the great apostle of the Gentiles. Go and sit with Paul at the foot of the cross. Give up your secret pride. Cast away your vain ideas of your own goodness. Be thankful if you have grace, but never glory in it for a moment. Work for God and Christ with heart and soul, and mind and strength, but never dream for a second of placing confidence in any work of your own.
Think, you who take comfort in some fancied ideas of your own goodness –think, you who wrap up yourselves in the notion, “all must be right, if I keep to my church,” –think for a moment what a sandy foundation you are building upon! Think for a moment how miserably defective your hopes and pleas will look in the hour of death, and in the Day of Judgment! Whatever men may say of their own goodness while they are strong and healthy, they will find but little to say of it, when they are sick and dying. Whatever merit they may see in their own works here in this world, they will discover none in them when they stand before the bar of Christ. The light of that great day of assize will make a wonderful difference in the appearance of all their doings It will strip off the tinsel, shrivel up the complexion, expose the rottenness, of many a deed that is now called good. Their wheat will prove nothing but chaff. Their gold will be found nothing but dross. Millions of so-called Christian actions will turn out to have been utterly defective and graceless. They passed current, and were valued among men. They will prove light and worthless in the balance of God. They will be found to have been like the whitened sepulchers of old, fair and beautiful without, but full of corruption within. Alas! For the man who can look forward to the Day of Judgment, and lean his soul in the smallest degree on anything of his own!
Reader, once more I say, beware of self-righteousness in every possible shape and form. Some people get as much harm from their fancied virtues as others do from their sins. Take heed, lest you be one. Rest not; rest not till your heart beats in tune with St. Paul’s. Rest not till you can say with him, “God forbid that I should glory it, anything but the cross.”