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faithful brethren in Christ." It is, indeed, by this expression that the apostle describes the state of a Christian: "I knew a man in Christ," &c., he says. And it is also by this that he marks the period of conversion; for when he desires his salutation to some individuals in the church at Rome, he adds this, as a token of respect and distinction to them, that they were "in Christ," that is, converted and united to the Lord before himself. The apostle John also describes the state of believers in the same way, when he thus writes, "We are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ." We are not to pass over this expression as a mere form of speech, denoting a believer, but we are rather called to consider why it was so used; and in this inquiry we shall find that in this short and simple expression are contained or implied all the essential doctrines of the gospel. "If any man be in Christ," leads us to consider what it is not to be in Christ. to be in Adam, in that natural state in which we were born, connected with our first great federal head. In him all his posterity fell: he was the great covenant head of his race, and in his fall all that belonged to him were implicated; so that every being that is naturally engendered of Adam is born into this world as a child of wrath, and the imputation of his guilt descended to all that sprung from him. I know that many start from this truth, which, notwithstanding is one of
5 Col. i. 1.
7 Rom. xvi. 7.
6 2 Cor. xii. 2.
8 1 John v.20.
the first truths which our church teaches in her catechism. In Adam, however, they fell in another sense, by the inheritance of his nature. In his fall moral and natural corruption were introduced, sin and sickness and death; and these descended to all his posterity. No one could receive a nature higher or better than that which produced it. "That which is born of the flesh is (and must be) flesh." In this state then are all mankind in and by Adam, guilty by birth and corrupt by nature, and, when life is continued, sinners by practice.
On the other hand, as opposed to Adam and all his posterity in the natural state, stands Christ, the other great covenant head, and all that are united to him partake, through him, in the same manner as the natural descendants of Adam partake through Adam. As the sin of Adam is made the sin of his descendants, so is the righteousness of Christ made the righteousness of those that are Christ's; and as the connexion with Adam entailed corruption, spiritually and bodily, so that with Christ provides the remedy, in the renewal of the mind here, and in the restoration of the body hereafter. In every respect they stand opposed to each other: Adam's sin involving others in guilt, and subjecting them to condemnation; the righteousness of Christ, applied to the account of believers, giving them a title to glory and blessedness: Adam transmitting to all in relation to him corruption; Jesus conveying to those who are in him life and health. I would only observe
9 John iii. 6.
to you, that while these two great heads stand as the representatives of the two great classes, all mankind are by birth included under the one; but as all mankind are not born again, all are not included under the other. Indeed the very expression, "If any man be in Christ," shows that there are many who are not in him. The question then arises, how are any in Christ? We can only refer this to the choice and purposes of God; as the apostle, writing to the Ephesians, says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." But the manner in which any are brought into union with Christ, is by believing on him. It is when the Holy Spirit brings home, through the word, conviction to the mind of a sinner, and shows him his lost estate, and leads him to flee for refuge to Christ, and to lay hold of his salvation. And what great and precious things are implied in this union with Christ! What is there not conveyed to our minds in these words, "If any man be in Christ!" In Christ he has pardon, he has "redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins."2 "There is no longer any condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." In Christ he has "righteousness," a righteousness which will bear the searching eye of a holy God, who is too pure to 1 Ephes. i. 3, 4. 2 Ephes. i 7.
3 Rom. viii. 1.
look upon iniquity; therefore the apostle prays that he may "be found in him, not having his own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." In Christ he has life, "he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit;" united to him he partakes of the eternal life of Christ, and "because Christ lives he shall live also;" "his life is hid with Christ in God." In Christ he has sympathy; as the head feels the pain of the smallest of its members, so the Lord Jesus Christ will sympathize in feeling with the weakest Christian; "in all our afflictions he is afflicted." In Christ he has protection, for "no man shall pluck him out of his hand." And in Christ he has nourishment and strength; the abiding branch shall be supplied from the root, ❝he can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth him." The Lord's strength shall be made perfect in his weakness, and out of his inexhaustible fulness he shall draw grace for grace unto his soul. My dear brethren, it is my duty and my privilege to set before you the great blessedness of being "in Christ;" to contrast it with the miserable condition of those who are still in their sins, and upon whom the wrath of God abideth. If there are any present who are still in their old state, who have not received the Lord Jesus Christ, may God the Holy Ghost awaken you; may he lead you to ask yourselves the question, how you shall stand before God here
4 Phil. iii. 9. 7 Col. iii. 3.
5 1 Cor. vi. 17. 8 Isa. lxiii. 9.
6 John xiv. 19.
9 Phil. iv. 13.
after, when there will be the two great divisions only of mankind, they that are in Christ and they that are not. May he incline your heart to turn to him while it is yet day, graft you into him, make you "one with him and he with you," so that you may rejoice in the Lord; rejoice now in your present privileges, and be enabled to look forward to your future glory.
Let me proceed, then, in the SECOND place, to point out THE CHANGE WHICH TAKES PLACE WHEN
ANY CHILD OF ADAM IS BROUGHT INTO THIS NEW
RELATION. HE IS MADE A NEW CREATURE. "If any man be in Christ," says the apostle, "he is a new creature.' This is a necessary point for our consideration after dwelling upon the privileges of being in Christ.
It signifies that a change has been wrought in the person. The man that is in Christ is not what he was before. He is a new creature. Now in what respects is he a new creature? We know that there is no change in the outward man here. A glorious one indeed there will be in that day when Christ shall appear, and when we shall be like him; when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality, and when, as we have borne the image of our earthly, we shall also bear the image of our heavenly head. But in this respect there is no change now. The believer in Christ is not delivered from the bondage of corruption here; he is still as liable as the unconverted man to all the diseases to which the flesh is heir; no change whatever takes place in the outer man.