Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus told His disciples, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.
Christian DiscipleshipJohn Millar.Matthew 16:24
Contentment a Great Part of Self-DenialT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Duty of Self-DenialBishop Horne.Matthew 16:24
Expectations in HeavenT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Following ChristMatthew Hale.Matthew 16:24
God Co-Operates with the Self-Sacrificing Effort of ManDavid Thomas, B. A.Matthew 16:24
Growth of AppetitesW. E. Channing.Matthew 16:24
His CrossLapide.Matthew 16:24
Honour Put on the Self-DenyingW. E. Channing.Matthew 16:24
Instances of Self-Denial Apart from Religious MotivesBishop Horne., H. W. Beecher.Matthew 16:24
Seek Glory in GodT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Seeking God in Himself, not in His Creatures, Aids Self-DT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Self-Abnegation in the Prosecution of Christ's WorkDavid Thomas, B. A.Matthew 16:24
Self-DenialJ. W. Reeve, M. A.Matthew 16:24
Self-DenialL. O. Thompson.Matthew 16:24
Self-DenialMatthew 16:24
Self-Denial Aided by a Moderate Esteem of Worldly ThingsT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial Consistent in a Follower of ChristT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial in Things NecessaryH. W. Beecher.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial More Possible in Christ than in ChristiansT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial Must not be Constrained by ProvidenceT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial Must not be SelfishT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial not Expected by Carnal FancyT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial not PartialT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial not TemporaryT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial One Aspect of ReligionH. W. Beecher.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial Really AcquisitionH. W. Beecher.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial Regulated by Service Rather than by PleasureT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial Richer for Love than for LustT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial Seen Most in the Best ChristiansT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial the a B C of ReligionT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Self-Denial to be Expected on the Road to HeavenT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
The Call to Follow ChristJ. D. Graves.Matthew 16:24
The Cross and the CrownJ. Vaughan, M. A.Matthew 16:24
The Duty and Difficulty of Self-DenialNicholas Brady.Matthew 16:24
The Future Good an Argument for Self-RestraintH. W. Beecher.Matthew 16:24
The Great ConditionW.F. Adeney Matthew 16:24
The Self-Denial Christ RequiresJ. Jortin.Matthew 16:24
The Threefold Cord of Jesus' LifeS. D. (Samuel Dickey) GordonMatthew 16:24
The Wide Meaning of the Word SelfT. Manton, D. D.Matthew 16:24
Utility Through RestraintH. W. Beecher.Matthew 16:24
Victory Through Self-DenialH. W. Beecher.Matthew 16:24
What Self is to be DeniedW. E. Channing.Matthew 16:24
Words with a Freshly Honed Razor-EdgeS. D. (Samuel Dickey) GordonMatthew 16:24
Necessity of the CrossMarcus Dods Matthew 16:20-28
Christian Self-DenialJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 16:21-24
The heart-searching truths of this verse are too often neglected in popular presentations of the gospel. We have a Christianity made easy as an accommodation to an age which loves personal comfort. Not only is this unfaithful to the truth, no part of which we have any right to keep back; it is most foolish and shortsighted. It prepares for a surprising disappointment when the inevitable facts are discovered; and it does not really attract. A religion of sweetmeats is sickening. There is that in the better nature of man which responds to the doctrine of the cross; it is the mistake of the lower method that it only appeals to the selfish desire of personal safety, and therefore does not awaken the better nature at all. Christ sets the example of the higher and truer method; he does not shun to set before us the dangers and difficulties of the Christian course. If we meet with them we cannot say we have not been warned.

I. CHRISTIANITY IS FOLLOWING CHRIST. It is not merely receiving certain blessings from him. If we think we are to enjoy the fruits of his work while we remain just as we were, we are profoundly mistaken. He does give us grace, the result of his life work and atoning death. But the object of this grace is just that we may have strength to follow him. It is all wasted upon us and received quite in vain if we do not put it to this use. Now, the following of Christ implies three things.

1. Imitating him.

2. Seeing him.

3. Obeying him. He whose experience comprises these three things is a Christian; no one else is one.

II. FOLLOWING CHRIST IS CONDITIONED BY SELF-SURRENDER TO HIM. This is what be means by self-denial. He was not an ascetic, and he never required asceticism in his disciples; those who did not understand him accused him of encouraging an opposite mode of life. There is no merit in putting ourselves to pain for the mere sake of enduring the suffering. Christ will not be pleased if we approach him in agony because we have affixed a thumb screw to our own person. It is possible to be very hard on one's body and yet to remain terribly self-willed. What Jesus requires is the surrender of our will to him - that we may not seek to have our own will, but submit to his will.

III. SELF-SURRENDER TO CHRIST LEANS TO BEARING THE CROSS FOR HIM. It is impossible to give ourselves up to Christ without suffering some loss or trouble. In early days the consequence might be martyrdom; in our own day it always involves some sacrifice. Now, the cross which the Christian has to bear is not inevitable trouble, such as poverty, sickness, or the loss of friends by death. These things would have been in our lot if we had not been Christians. They are our burdens, our thorns in the flesh. They are sent to us, not taken by us. But the cross is something additional. This is taken up voluntarily; it is in our power to refuse to touch it. We bear it, not because we cannot escape, but because it is a consequence of our following Christ; and the good of bearing it is that we cannot otherwise closely follow him. He, then, is the true Christian who will bear any cross and endure any hardship that is involved in loyally following his Lord and Master. - W.F.A.

If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself.
I. WHAT IS THE PRINCIPLE OF SELF-DENIAL? It may be said to be in renouncing whatever comes in competition with the love and service of Christ, your turning from things lawful when they become occasions of spiritual injury either to ourselves or others. Self-denial proceeds on high consideration.

1. Love to Christ, which involves obedience to His word.

2. Living not unto ourselves but unto God and for the welfare of others. These two must be combined. It is not self-denial to give our goods to feed the poor; but apart from the principle of love it is not self-denial. Nor is it self-denial for a man to refuse temporal honours for which God has qualified him, and which are given in a providential way. No self-denial in Joseph refusing to be governor over Egypt. Nor is it self-denial to reject a lawful use of God's creatures, or to deprive himself of that necessary to health.

II. How SELF-DENIAL IS EXHIBITED. It is the offspring of faith in Christ.

1. It shows itself in the lowest forms; first, in denying sin, things which the world allows, but which the Word of God condemns.

2. In denying what may be called righteous self. "Count all loss for Christ."

3. In things lawful but not expedient on account of their influence on others.

4. In being true to the Word of God.

5. In things agreeable but questionable.

(J. W. Reeve, M. A.)

It is a proof of the truth and Divine origin of our religion that it gives such a distinct notice of the difficulties which its followers will have to encounter. What other religion could afford to speak thus.

1. It is no wonder that Christ laid clown self-denial as requisite in His followers, as He emptied Himself, and we cannot in His whole life detect a point where we can see self.

2. The selfishness of one man is not the selfishness of another; every one knows the individualities of his own character. There is one man whose self lies in his intellect. Another man's self is pleasure. Another man's self takes the aspect of religion, he wants to be saved in a way he has marked out,

3. The believer takes up his cross, not another person's.

4. He is to take it up, not to go out of his way to seek it.

5. This he is to do by cheerful act, not waiting for compulsion. "Dragged crosses are very heavy, but carried crosses are very light."

6. What is the cross? not some great thing to come-by-and-by. There is some cross to-day, another to-morrow — "daily." The cross is a trial which has something humiliating in it. and which is painfal to the old nature.

7. We must follow Christ, for what is it worth to "deny one's self," or to take up a "cross," if it be not clone with an express intention towards Christ?

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Christianity can never be made popular. It always calls for self-denial and self-sacrifice (Galatians 5:24).

I. THERE ARE THINGS EASY IN RELIGION — those in which the recipients are passive.

1. Redemption has been fully accomplished for us by the Saviour.

2. Christ is offered to all as the Saviour from sin.

3. The acceptance of Christ is made a matter of choice.


1. The renunciation of the world and worldly delights.

2. Self-denial. We must renounce our own wisdom, will. mind, pleasure, etc.

3. Self-sacrifice. Even life itself when duty demands.


1. When we look at their nature and duration (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18).

2. "When we rely upon God's promise and accept His strengthening grace (Deuteronomy 33:25; 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10; Philippians 4:13).

3. When we fully accept self-denial and cross-bearing as the rule of our life (Matthew 11:28-30).

4. When we obtain Divine comfort and Christian consolation (2 Corinthians 1:4, 5).


1. Let us, in the active duties of religion, "Work out," etc.

2. Let us seek out the things which require of us self-denial. This will help us in advance to give them up cheerfully and readily.

3. Let us always look to Jesus and consider His example (Hebrews 12:1-3).

(L. O. Thompson.)

That it is the duty of all that would be Christ's disciples to deny themselves.

I. THIS DOCTRINE IN GENERAL. The extent of this duty.

1. For the object — a man's own self; it is a bundle of idols. It seems contrary to reason to deny self, since nature teaches man to love himself; grace doth not disallow it. Therefore(1) you must know when respects to self are culpable. There is a lawful self-love. The self we are to deny stands in opposition to God. Self is sinfully respected when dues are paid to the creature which only belong to God. These are four: —

1. As God is the First Cause He would keep up the respect of the world to His majesty by dependence and trust.

2. As God is the chiefest good, so He must have the highest esteem.

3. As God is the highest Lord, it is His peculiar prerogative to give laws to the creature. Self is not to interpose and give laws to us.

4. As God is the last end of our beings and actions, the supreme cause is to be the utmost end (Proverbs 16:4).

2. The subject. See the extent of the duty; it reaches all sorts of men — "If any man," etc. No calling, sex, age, duty, condition of life, is excluded. All men are to practise it; in all things; always; with all our heart.

(1)We cannot else be conformed to our great Master; Jesus Christ came from heaven on purpose to teach us the lesson of self-denial.

(2)It is practised by all the fellows in the same school. Christ set the copy, and all the saints have written after it.

(3)Jesus Christ may justly require it; all the idols of the world expect it from their votaries.

(4)Because self is the greatest enemy both to God and man.

(5)Because those that are Christ's disciples are not their own men (Romans 14:6).

(6)Because it is the most gainful project in the world. Self-denial is the true way of self-advancing.

(7)Because otherwise a man can be nothing in religion, neither do, nor suffer, therefore we must resolve either to deny self or Christ.

(8)Self-denial is a special part of faith.

3. The signs of self-denial.(1) Exclusive. It. is a sign that self is exalted.

(1)When a man did never set himself to thwart his own desires.

(2)By an impatiency in our natures when we are crossed by others.

(3)When a man is loth to be a loser by religion.

(4)When the heart is grieved at the good of others.

(5)When men care not how it goeth with the public so they may promote their private interest.

2. Inclusive signs of self-denial.

(1)When a man is swayed by reasons of conscience rather than by reasons of interest, when he is content to be anything so he may be sensible to God's glory.

(2)By an humble submission to God's will. It is a great conquest over ourselves when we conquer our will.

(3)When a man is vile in his own eyes, and reflects with indignation upon his own sins.

4. The means of self-denial, whereby it may be made more easy.

(1)Lessen your esteem for earthly things.

(2)Seek self in God, this is an innocent diversion. When we cannot weaken the affection let us change the object.

(3)Resolve upon the worst to please God, though it be with the displeasure of self and the world.

(4)Take heed of confining thy welfare to outward means, as if thou couldest not be happy without the creature.

(5)Often act faith, and look within the veil. Send thy thoughts as messengers into the Land of Promise.

(6)In all debates between conscience and interest observe God's special providence to thyself.

(7)Consider the right God has in all that is thine.If you would deny self: —(1) Everyone must observe the temper and particular constitution of his own soul.(2) Many may deny themselves in purpose that yet fail when they come to act.(3) There is nothing in religion that cannot deny pleasure and delicacy of life.(4) We must deny ourselves in desire as well as in enjoyments.(5) Vainglory is as sordid a piece of self, and as much to be denied, as riches and worldly greatness.(6) We must deny ourselves, not only in ease of temptation to direct sin, but also for the general advantage of a holy life.(7) In self-denial regard must be had to the seasons wherein we live —

(1)Times of judgment;

(2)not to put stumbling-blocks in the way of new converts;

(3)in prosperous times.

II. THE KINDS OF SELF-DENIAL. Self must be denied so far, as 'tis opposite to God, or put in the place of God. And therefore we may judge of the kinds of self-denial, according to the distinct privileges of the Godhead.

1. As God is the First Cause, upon whom all things depend in their being and operation, and so we are to deny self, that is, self-dependence.

2. God is the chiefest good and therefore to be valued above all beings, interests, and concernments in the world, and so we are to deny self, that is, self-love.

3. God is (and He alone) the highest Lord, and most absolute Sovereign, who swayeth all things by His laws and providence, and so we are to deny self, that is, self-will, by a willing and full obedience to His laws, and by an absolute subjection to the dominion of His providence; the one is holiness, and the other is patience. The one relateth to His governing, the other to His disposing, will.

4. God is the last end, in which all things do at length terminate, and so we are to deny self, that is, self-seeking.

(T. Manton, D. D.)



1. Think the thoughts of Christ.

2. To feel the feeling of Christ.

3. To work out the will of Christ.


1. Voluntariness.

2. Renunciation of the old life of sin and self.

3. Entire submission to Christ in all things.

4. Perseverance.

(John Millar.)


1. By the voice of conscience.

2. By sickness.

3. By the death of friends.

4. By His Word.

5. By His ordinances, ministers, etc. And thus He is now speaking to us. Be not deaf to these calls.

III. THE CHARACTER REQUIRED OF THOSE WHO HAVE MADE UP THEIR MINDS TO FOLLOW CHRIST. They must be self-denying, and, if need be, a suffering people (Titus 2:11, 12). Here we have an unerring standard to try ourselves by.

(J. D. Graves.)

Carnal fancy imagineth a path strewed with lilies and roses; we are too tender-footed to think of briars and thorns.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

A capacious word, that doth not only involve our persons, but whatever is ours, so far as it standeth in opposition to God, or cometh in competition with Him. A man and all his lusts, a man and all his relations; a man and all his interests; life, and all the appendages of life, is one aggregate thing which in Scripture is called self. In short, whatsoever is of himself, in himself, belonging to himself, as a corrupt, or carnal, man; all that is to be denied. And indeed, every man hath many a self within himself; his lusts are himself; his life is himself; his name is himself; his wealth, liberty, ease, favour, lands, father, mother, and all relations, they are comprised within the term of self (Luke 14:26).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

As Saul slew some of the cattle, but spared the fat, and Agag. Many can deny themselves in many things, but they are loth to give up all to God, without bounds and reservations.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

If a man were told that his way to such a place is encumbered with briars and thorns, and that he must ride through many dirty lanes, and must look for scratching brambles, and many miry places; now when he seeth nothing but a green and pleasant path, he would think he had mistaken and lost his way: so, when you are told your way to heaven is a strait way, and that religion will put you upon self-denial of your pleasure, profit, and carnal desires; and yet you never wrestled with your lusts, nor quitted anything for Christ; and meet with nothing but pleasure, profit, and delight in the profession of religion, you may well think that you are mistaken in the way; and it is a great sign you are yet to seek in the duty, which Christ's scholars must practise.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

We shall never digest the inconveniences of a spiritual life, till we resolve upon it. We must make over our interests in our lives, and whatever is dear to us, reckon the charges (Luke 14:26). A builder spends cheerfully, as long as his charges are within his allowance, but when that's exceeded, and he goes beyond what he hath reckoned upon, then every penny is disbursed with grudging. Most resolve upon little or no trouble in religion, and from thence it comes to pass, that when they are crossed, they prove faint-hearted. Therefore, put your life in your hand, and resolve to follow Christ, wheresoever He goeth.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

Seek honour in God. Do but change vainglory for eternal glory. That's a lawful seeking of self, when we seek it in God (John 5:44).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

We may hang the head for a day like a bulrush.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

As a traveller, when two ways are proposed to him, one pleasant, the other very craggy and dangerous, he doth not look which way is most pleasant, but which way conduceth to his journey's end: so a child of God doth not look to what's most grateful to the flesh, but how he may do most work and service, and glorify God upon earth.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

Not as a mariner, in a storm, casts away his goods by force, but as a bride leaves her father's house (Psalm 45:10). It must be out of a principle of grace, and out of love to Christ.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

The devil disguiseth himself into all forms and shapes. As Jacob put on Esau's clothes, that he might appear rough and hairy, and so get the blessing; so, many seem to deny themselves of the comforts of life, but it is but for their own praise.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

They that caress themselves in all the delights of the world, seem to profess another master than Christ. We are of a base condition, but two or three degrees distant from dust and nothing. The sun can go back ten degrees. Christ, the Lord of Glory, might go back ten degrees, but we have not so much to lose.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

They that are the best scholars in this school, most abhor self-conceit and self-seeking. As the leaden boughs hang the head, and bend downward, so do the children of God, that have been most fruitful in the Christian course; as the sun, the higher it is, doth cast the least shadows. So for self-seeking.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

Many a covetous man doth shame many a godly man. Religion is a better thing. Shall lust do more with them, than the love of Christ with thee?

(T. Manton, D. D.)

When men can remit nothing of their vanity and luxury, they make Christianity to be but a notion, and an empty pretence; they are men and women of pleasure, when Jesus Christ was a man of sorrows.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

When an earthern pitcher is broken, a man is not troubled at it, because he hath not set his esteem and heart upon it, being but a trifle.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

enial: — The men of the world have only a candle, which is soon blown out, an estate that may easily be blasted; but the children of God have the sun, which can stead them without a candle (Hosea 2:11, 12). All the wicked man's happiness is bound up with the vine, and fig-tree, with his estate. Consider, your happiness doth not lie within yourselves, nor in any other creature, but in God alone. God in Himself is much better than God in the creature. Now, carnal men they prize God in the creature, but not God in Himself. And therefore, the first thing we must depend upon, is, that God is an all-sufficient God in Himself; not God in friends, not God in wealth, but God in Himself. We cannot see how it can be well without friends, and wealth, and liberty; therefore our hearts are glued to them. Oh, take heed of this. All these things are but several pipes, to deliver, and convey to us, the influence of the Supreme cause; therefore still prize God in Himself, before God in the creature.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

To desire more, it is but to desire more snares. If I had more, I should have more trouble, more snares, more duty. Greater gates do but open to more care. I should have more to account for, more time, and more opportunity; and alas, I cannot answer for what I have already. If a plant be starved in the valleys, it will never thrive on the mountains. So, if, in a low condition, we are not able to conquer the temptation of it, what shall we do, if we had more, if we cannot be responsible to God for what we have?

(T. Manton, D. D.)

A man will better quit that he hath upon earth, when he hath strong expectations of heaven (Romans 8:18).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. IN THE WAY OF SELF-INDULGENCE. This appears when in the promotion of God's work we choose to do what is easy and pleasant and leave others to do what is not in accordance with our tastes or which requires sacrifice of any kind.

1. The moral unseemliness of it must strike us at once; when we refuse self-indulgence in ordinary pursuits.

2. This self-indulgence shows that we lack a genuine interest in God and in His work.

3. It hinders our own progress and success in the Christian service.

II. SELF-DEPENDENCE IS ANOTHER FORM OF THE EVIL. In the former case too little was made of human agency; in this, too much. We do God's work without His help.

1. The aggravated ungodliness which this self-dependence involves. In worldly affairs our agency is little compared with God's agency.

2. It hinders the action within us of the Holy Spirit.


1. Look at the shocking incongruity which self-seeking in connection with God's work involves. Never more out of place than in working for God's glory.

2. Look at what the self-seeking man suffers who indulges it. The pain of envy as he looks at those working on a higher plane; failure.

3. How much the cause of Christ suffers for his self-seeking; because of it he cannot see what is right and best for the cause.

4. Then the loss which the self-seeker sustains should be considered. He loses influence, honour, praise. It is when we seek the things of others that we find our own. On these grounds self-abnegation should be exercised in God's work.

(David Thomas, B. A.)

He cooperates with the husbandman, and gives him the precious fruit of harvest time, but not with the husbandman who consults only his own repose and quiet and convenience, and will do nothing toilsome and irksome in obedience to the ordinances of nature- No; God does not reward anywhere, that we can see, sloth, and indolence, and pleasure-loving, and disregard to His own ordinances, with His co-operation and with His success; and He will do it least of all where the work is greatest, and where the service is most glorious.

(David Thomas, B. A.)

This is only one meaning of religion. If I should say of a garden, "It is a place fenced in," what idea would you have of its clusters of roses, and pyramids of honeysuckles, and beds of odorous flowers, and rows of blossoming shrubs and fruit-bearing trees? If I should say of a cathedral, "It is built of stone, cold stone," what idea would you have of its wondrous carvings, and its gorgeous openings for door and window, and its evanescing spire? Now, if you regard religion merely as self-denial, you stop at the fence, and see nothing of the beauty of the garden; you think only of the stone, and not of the marvellous beauty into which it is fashioned.

(H. W. Beecher.)

If you would acquire skill in the handling of tools you can only get it by earning it. Nobody can acquire it for you. Nor can you acquire it by seeing others handle tools. Though you know how skilled workmen bring results to pass, you cannot bring the same results to pass unless you have yourself had experience in handling tools. I know precisely how an adept musician rolls out magnificent harmonies on the organ; but when I take his seat I cannot roll out those harmonies. If I choose to go through suffering enough, if I am willing to give the necessary time that I might more pleasantly spend in some other way, I may accomplish it, but not otherwise.

(H. W. Beecher.)

You may take the finest messenger colt that ever lived, and he never will be valuable unless he goes into the trainer's hands. Pass by the yard. See him with the surcingle tight about him. See him with martingales on, and with his head brought down by them. See him with bit in mouth, and guiding-reins behind. See how fractious he is. He has lost his liberty; but he is on the way to find it. He never would know what he is if it were not for that harness — for a harness is not an instrument for hindering an animal's strength, but an instrument for developing his strength. And as by breaking you keep a colt whole, and have every part of him unwasted, not lost, so it is being broken in, by having their wildness of nature restrained, that men come to their real selves in skill and power.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Then Christianity did more, it carried up the whole ideal life. It not only gave a higher conception of character, and a higher conception of the qualities that constitute a true character; but it introduced another world lying over against this, and bearing a relation to this, just as childhood bears a relation to manhood, making this a prelude and instrument of the other. As we begin in childhood to deny the body for the sake of attaining a higher nature in manhood, so the whole life on earth is a childhood in which we deny ourselves, not for the sake of lacking pleasure, but for the sake of reaping glory and immortality in the heavenly land.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Men think, "Oh! to be a Christian I have got to give up everything." Good heavens! Give up everything? Suppose that Newton, talking with a blubber-eating Nootka Sound Indian, should say, "Come with me to England as my servant, and I will educate you, and make an astronomer of you;" and suppose the Indian should say, "No, I will not; I am not going to give up this delicious blubber and this comfortable wigwam of mine." But what would he give up compared with that which he would inherit? And at every step in the Christian life we have treasures that are infinitely greater than those which we lose. We lose only such things as we are a great deal better without than with.

(H. W. Beecher.)


1. Negatively.(a) It cannot mean, to renounce our senses and our reason;(b) nor to renounce our desire and hope of salvation, to be perfectly disinterested, resigned, and annihilated, as the mystical writers call it;(c) nor to renounce our free agency and our acts of obedience;(d) nor to reject the comforts and conveniences of life, and to afflict and torment ourselves when nothing requires such a sacrifice.

2. Positively.(a) To deny ourselves is to renounce every evil affection and every evil work, and to put off the corrupted man, in order to follow Christ;(b) to deny or renounce our own good works, our own righteousness, to renounce them so far as not to be proud of them, not to rely upon them as perfect and meritorious;(c) to renounce all those things which concern our worldly interests and our present situation, such as ease and quiet, popularity, riches, inheritances, preferments, dignities, which we possess or pursue. There is a way of renouncing or denying these things, in a moral sense, without forsaking them; and that is, to entertain moderate affections for them, to possess them, according to the apostle's expression, as though we possessed them not; never to prefer them to our known duty in any instance, and to be ready actually to part with them, if God should require it.

(J. Jortin.)

To row against the tide of one's inclinations, to stem the rapid current of one's appetites and affections, to struggle against the violent motions of our will, and to wrestle with the opposition of our contending faculties; this is an employment that is laborious and uneasy, this is a performance that we pay dearly for; and the reward of such a warfare will certainly be proportionable to the hardships and difficulties with which we have encountered.

I. EXPLAIN AND STATE RIGHTLY THE GREAT DUTY OF SELF-DENIAL, and show wherein the exercise of it does properly consist.

1. It does not consist in utterly refusing, without distinction, all such things as we are inclined to.

2. Neither does the exercise of self-denial at present consist in such a constant and entire withdrawing from worldly enjoyments, as was necessarily practised by the first converts of Christianity.

3. The exercise of self-denial does indispensably consist in a total forbearance of unlawful enjoyments, however fondly we may be inclined or addicted to them.

4. The exercise of self-denial does further consist in weaning ourselves from all such entertainments, as may withhold or divert us from the service of God.

5. Also in avoiding such things as are neither unlawful nor inconvenient for us, if by using them we give just offence to our brethren.

6. Also in being habitually prepared to renounce all things, even our most dear and most lawful enjoyments, whenever God or religion shall require it at our hands.

II. LAY DOWN SOME POWERFUL MOTIVES which may forcibly persuade us to the practice of this duty.

1. The example of our blessed Saviour.

2. The immediate happy consequences of such a performance, and the advantages that will attend it in this present life.

3. The vast reward which is annexed to this performance, and the benefit which will redound to us from it in another world.

(Nicholas Brady.)


1. Let him deny himself.(a) Deny our natural selves, that is, our reason, will, and affections, when they oppose the revealed truths and will of God.(b) Deny our sinful and sensual selves (Titus 2:12).(c) Deny our worldly selves, that is, all earthly possessions, relations, and even life itself, at His call and in His cause.(d) Deny our righteous selves, that is, we must renounce all righteousness of our own, and desire to be found only in Christ's righteousness.

2. Let him take up his cross.

3. Let him follow Christ, which includes(a) to follow His doctrine;(b) to follow His example.

(Matthew Hale.)

He whom we love, whose honour we most covet, is he who has most denied and subdued himself; who has made the most entire sacrifice of appetites and passions and private interest to God, and virtue and mankind; who has walked in a rugged path, and clung to good and great ends in persecution and pain; who, amidst the solicitations of ambition, ease, and private friendship, and the menaces of tyranny and malice, has listened to the voice of conscience, and found a recompense for blighted hopes and protracted suffering, in conscious uprightness and the favour of God. Who is it that is most lovely in domestic life? It is the martyr to domestic affection, the mother forgetting herself, and ready to toil, suffer, and die for the happiness and virtue of her children. Who is it that we honour in public life? It is the martyr to his country; he who serves her, not when she has honours for his brow and wealth for his coffers, but who clings to her in her danger and falling glories, and thinks life a cheap sacrifice to her safety and freedom.

(W. E. Channing.)

? — Man has various appetites, passions, desires, resting on present gratification, and on outward objects; some of which we possess in common with inferior animals, such as sensual appetites and anger; and others belong more to the mind, such as love of power, love of honour, love of property, love of amuse-yacht, or a taste for literature and elegant arts; but all referring to our present being, and terminating chiefly on ourselves, or on a few beings who are identified with ourselves. These are to be denied or renounced; by which I mean not exterminated, but renounced as masters, guides, lords, and brought into strict and entire subordination to our moral and intellectual powers. It is a false idea that religion requires the extermination of any principle, desire, appetite, or passion, which our Creator has implanted. Our nature is a whole, a beautiful whole, and no part can be spared. You might as properly and innocently lop off a limb from a body as eradicate any natural desire from the mind. All our appetites are in themselves innocent and useful, ministering to the general weal of the soul. They are like the elements of the natural world, parts of a wise and beneficent system; but, like those elements, are beneficent only when restrained.

(W. E. Channing.)

Our appetites and desires carry with them a principle of growth or tendency to enlargement. They expand by indulgence and, if not restrained, they fill and exhaust the soul, and hence are to be strictly watched over and denied. Nature has set bounds to the desires of the brute, but not to human desire, which partakes of the illimitableness of the soul to which it belongs. In brutes, for example, the animal appetites impel to a certain round of simple gratifications, beyond which they never pass. But man, having imagination and invention, is able by these noble faculties to whet his sensual desires indefinitely.

(W. E. Channing.)

The Divine wisdom nowhere shines forth more clearly than in this precept.

I. HUMAN NATURE IS IN A STATE OF DEPRAVITY AND CORRUPTION. Man is not upright. His passions and affections are disposed to rebel, instead of remaining subordinate to the higher principle. Consequently, self-denial is necessary, and so far as we practise it we advance in virtue. We are so far humble, e.g., as we deny ourselves in the matter of pride; so far heavenly-minded, as we deny our earthly inclinations; so far charitable, as we deny our tempers of self-love and envy; so far temperate and pure, as we restrain our lower passions and lusts.

II. THE DESIGN OF RELIGION IS TO HEAL AND RESTORE OUR CORRUPT NATURE. If the disease is to be cured, we must abstain from everything that tends to feed or aggravate it. Even in things lawful, we may have to practise self-denial; as he who wishes to avoid a fall from a precipice, if he be prudent, will not venture too near its edge. The Christian soldier, like all others, must submit to the discipline of war in the time of peace; otherwise, when the hour of actual service arrives, he will be found wanting. He who has accustomed himself to govern his thoughts and words, will easily govern his actions; and he who has learned at proper seasons to abstain, will find no difficulty in being temperate at all times.

III. Another reason for self-denial is, THE INFLUENCE WHICH THE BODY EXERTS UPON THE SOUL. The fall of man seems to have consisted greatly in the subjection of the soul to the power and dominion of the body. It is Christ's work to reverse this, and subordinate the body to the soul. The body presses down the soul: it is the business of religion, by means of self-denial, to remove this weight.

IV. TAKE EXAMPLE BY THE WORLDLY. There is not a votary of wealth, pleasure, power, or fame, who cannot, and does not, when necessary, practise self-denial, — though in so much less worthy a cause. And shall we be out-done by such as these?


1. In the present life. Lightness of spirits, cheerfulness of heart, serenity of temper, alacrity of mind, vigour of understanding, freedom from bad desires, etc.

2. Heaven, forever.

(Bishop Horne.)

For the sake of collecting what is never to be used, and addling to his beloved heap, the miser will forego the comforts, the conveniences, and almost the necessaries of existence, and voluntarily submit, all his days, to the penances and austerities of a mendicant. The discipline of a life of fashion is by no means of the mildest kind; and it is common to meet with those who complain of being worn down, and ready to sink under it. At the call of honour, a young man of family and fortune, accustomed to a life of ease and luxury, breaks off all home ties, and submits at once to all the painful duties and hard fare of a camp in an enemy's country. He travels through dreary swamps and inhospitable forests, guided only by the track of savages. He traverses mountains, he crosses rivers, he marches hundreds of miles, with scarcely bread to eat, or change of raiment to put on. When night comes, he sleeps on the ground, or perhaps sleeps not at all; and at the dawn of day, resumes his labour. At length he is so fortunate as to find his enemy. He braves death, amid all the horrors of the field. He sees his companions fall around him, — he is wounded, and carried into a tent, or laid in a waggon, where he is left to suffer pain and anguish, with the noise of battle sounding in his ears. After some weeks he recovers, and enters afresh upon duty. And does the Captain of thy salvation, O thou who stylest thyself the soldier and servant of Jesus Christ — does He require anything like this at thy hands? Or canst thou deem Him an austere Master, because thou art enjoined to live in sobriety and purity, to subdue a turbulent passion, to watch an hour sometimes unto prayer, or to miss a meal now and then, during the season of repentance and humiliation? Blush for shame, and hide thy face in the dust.

(Bishop Horne.)Religion, in one sense, is a life of self-denial; just as husbandry, in one sense, is a work of death. You go and bury a seed, and that is husbandry; but you bury one, that you may reap a hundredfold. Self-denial does not belong to religion as characteristic of it: it belongs to human life. The lower nature must always be denied, when you are trying to rise to a higher sphere. It is no more necessary to be self-denying to be a Christian, than it is to be an artist, or to be an honest man, or to be a man at all in distinction from a brute.

(H. W. Beecher.)

A great many persons deny themselves with the most superfluous self-denial. They seek for things of which they can deny themselves. But you need not do that. Let your opportunities for self-denial come to you; but when they do come, do not flinch. God will send you occasions enough for denying yourself. There is wood enough in every man's forest to build all the crosses he will need to carry.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Every one has his peculiar cross: one has it from his wife, or children, or relations; another from character; a third from rivals; a fourth from misfortunes; a fifth from poverty; a sixth from exile, bonds, and so on.


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