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the law of sin."6 He had rebelling corruptions remaining within him, and had grace within him striving against them. There are, doubtless, many who find it so with, them, and are perplexed to ascertain whether there be any work of God's Spirit at all in them. For the removal then of such persons' fears, we would say, if this opposition or this failure in duty produces shame and sorrow in you; if you are afraid of it, and angry with yourselves on account of it; and are most pleased when your obedience is greatest, and most grieved when sin prevails, this is a good sign. For a simple-hearted Christian enjoys most peace and happiness when sin is weakest, and is most rejoiced when his enemies are under his feet, and most pained when he feels that he has been in subjection to them. It is then by your joy when you feel most victorious, and your sorrow when you are most harassed, that we would whether there has been a work of grace argue in your hearts; whether the Spirit of holiness has been at work within you. The heart must love holiness, and hate sin, "hate the garment spotted by the flesh," the indwelling corruption which, at times, obtains the mastery, although the enlightened mind will have so clear a view of the extent and spirituality of God's law, that nothing which it thinks, or says, or does, can ever afford it satisfaction. If then there is this godly jealousy about the law and the precepts of God, this unwillingness to tamper with them, this earnest desire after confor6 Rom. vii. 25.
7 Jude 23.
mity to God's image; not as though you expected salvation from your deeds, but because you know your obligations, and know that you were purchased as with a price, "even the precious blood of Christ," and therefore are called upon "to glorify him both with your bodies and with your spirits, which are his :"9-if your sense of remissness and sin lead you continually to return to the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, on that to rest your hope; and if the perception of your interest in that blessed sprinkling lead you again to renewed desires after holiness,--then may you indeed be of good cheer, and know assuredly, that, weak as you are, you are sanctified by the Spirit; that, guilty as you have been, you are sprinkled by the blood of Jesus; and, undeserving as you have been of the least of his mercies, that you are elect in the eternal purposes of God the Father, and that hereafter you will enter into his joy. "For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son; moreover, whom he did predestinate them he also called, and whom he called them he also justified, and whom he justified them he also glorified."1
81 Peter i. 19.
9 1 Cor. vi. 20.
1 Rom. viii. 29, 30.
THEREFORE IF ANY MAN BE IN CHRIST HE IS A NEW CREATURE; OLD THINGS ARE PASSED AWAY, BEHOLD, ALL THINGS ARE BECOME NEW.
It is always of importance to ascertain the primary meaning of any passage, however plain and simple it may appear to be; nor indeed are we at liberty to make an application of the words of any sentence of holy writ without first showing how that sentence was introduced, and what was the immediate intention of the Spirit in it. It is for this reason that I generally prefer opening a subject with a brief review of the words with which it stands connected. The chapter from which my text is taken is one with which we are familiar, as we have often, doubtless, had recourse to it in those seasons when our mind has been led, by the removal of some christian friend from this world, to consider the difference between their past and their present state; between that condition which is described by the apostle as being present in the body and absent from the Lord, and that on which the believer enters when he puts
off his earthly tabernacle, and is delivered from the burden of the flesh, and is present with the Lord. It is on this distinction between the Christian's state here and hereafter, that the apostle grounds the exhortation that whether absent or present, we should labour to be accepted of him; and to bear in mind that there is a future day of judgment, when al should stand before his tribunal. Impressed with the importance of this, and knowing the terrors of the Lord, the apostle declares his anxiety to persuade men, and his indifference to the, imputations that were cast upon him for his zeal in these matters; for that in all which he did, whether in the energy of zeal or in the more sober manner of argument and persuasion, he was actuated by no other motives than the glory of God and their welfare; and that knowing what Christ had done in dying for them that they might live to him, he was only constrained by a sense of his love. "Wherefore," he says, "henceforth know we no man after the flesh, for though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more."1 There might have been a time when earthly distinctions were regarded by him, nay, when his views even of Christ were not altogether free from national prejudices and prepossessions; but now every consideration was swallowed up in the superior contemplation of spiritual privileges. It is this declaration that introduces my text, and shows what the immediate signification of it is, that the believer in 12 Cor. v. 16.
Christ was, as it were, in a new state of existence,
I. THE DEScription of a believer.
He is "in
II. WE HAVE THE CHANGE HE HAS UNDERGONE. He is a new creature." And we have,
III. THE EFFECT OF THAT CHANGE IN THE ALTERED POSITION IN WHICH HE STANDS TO EVERY THING WITH
WHICH HE WAS BEFORE CONNECTED; "Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new."
I. We have here, in the FIRST place, THE DESCRIPTION OF A BELIEVER in these words, "If any man be in Christ."
tion of a
The expression to be "in Christ," is one of constant occurrence. We find the Christians continually addressed in these words. Thus the apostle writes to the Ephesians, as the "faithful in Christ Jesus;" to the Philippians, "to all the saints in Christ Jesus ;" and to the Colossians, "to the 3 Ephes. i. 1.
Col. iii. 11.
4 Phil. i. 1.