Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ. In a similar manner, according to other passages,* we are buried with him in his baptism-crucified with him; or die with him in his death-rise with him in his resurrectionand sit with him in heaven: that is, we undergo in our hearts a change similar and equal to that wbich took place in Christ's bodily condition, when, after a death and burial upon earth, he ascended to another world.

This is one sense of those numerous passages of the New Testament in which we are joined with Christ in the several parts of his covenant transactions, but it is by no means the most important sense. The principal signification of them is undoubtedly this, that we are spiritually circumcised, crucified, buried, risen from sin unto righteousness, by virtue and power derived from his meritorious crucifixion and resurrection. We cannot at this time examine all the passages at length, but it will be proper for us to observe the one which introduces the text. In the preceding chapter, St. Paul

prays that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead; the rest of the chapter may be considered as only the continuation of this idea, or a digression. He hath raised him from the dead, and you too, who were dead in trespasses

Col. ü, and Rom. iv.

and sins: for the words, hath he quickened, are not in the original. The terms of this proposition are brought together in the 5th verse, where the same idea is represented, even when we were dead in sins, he hath quickened us together with Christ. The words contain a delineation of the state of man: first, as it is by nature; secondly, as it is by practice.

I. Ye were dead in trespasses and sins. We are in our natural state compared to the dead. Let us contemplate that mournful residue of human nature, a dead body. Among the useful lessons to be read from it there is one not to be forgotten, that it is a picture of the natural condition of the human soul. This body has eyes, and feet, and the organs of a body, but it neither sees, nor hears, nor acts, nor speaks; though it is surnished with the proper instruments of action and of suffering, it wants the vital principle to make those instruments perform their functions. So is the soul of man: it comes into the world endued with all those faculties which are comprehended under the names of understanding, memory, and affections. Man has an understanding that can soar to unknown heights in science, and fathom the deepest mysteries of nature-powers of reasoning that can penetrate the most secret recesses of knowledge, and develope the greatest intricacies-comprehension of mind to embrace at once an almost endless variety of important subjects. He is possessed of a memory, which can preserve the record of past experience,

and former acquisitions in knowledge, to an extent of which we know not the limits. Man has a heart too: a heart that can flame with love, or rankle with hatred-that can burn with anger, or smile with complacency--a heart which can be elevated with hope, or distressed with fear--exulting with joy, or agonized with sorrow. When all these passions and powers of the soul are called into exercise, by those occasions wbich were intended by God io excite them, it is in its right state, it lives. This will be allowed, but how does it appear that we are dead! Can any one be at a loss to know what those occasions are? what is the appropriate object of all the faculties of the soul? Can any one doubt whether the p!'oper and peculiar employment of the understanding be not to meditate on the glories of that God whose power and goodness called us into being, and gave us a reasonable soul? whether it is not appropriately exercised when it adores, in the works of the creation, the band of the great Architect, or when it refers every event of providence to the immediate agency of that wise Governor, who sits at the helm? Will any one besitate to allow that every passion of the soul should point to God? whether we should not love him most, who is indeed the most amiable; and fear him most, who is the most terrible in his anger? Whether we ought not to hate that most, which most he hates, and rejoice in that most which most he approves; and whether though we may admire, love, fear,

and rejoice in certain created things, we are not in all seasons to have all our thoughts ultimately converging to God? That this is the reasonable condition of the soul, and these its appropriate employments, is perfectly obvious to any one who will reflect that God is, in fact, the all in all of the universe: that nothing exists without him—that nothing is good or beautiful without him—that nothing can give us pleasure without his agency. He pervades the universe, he surrounds it, he upholds it, he fills it; it is all his own, he does every thing in it. Is the human soul then, designed to do any thing but for God? The scripture, however, summarily confirms the conclusions of our reason, for it says, The Lord hath made all things for himself,

But does the soul of man naturally thus embrace the Deity as the only suitable object of his affections. Do we not know that God is in none of his thoughts, instead of being in all of them? He has passions, indeed, and the sensibility of them is sometimes vivid; but the exercise of them is invariably confined to the things of this world, and never voluntarily and naturally ascends to God. Set the Deity before him as an amiable, faithful, and gracious being; such an exhibition excites no emotion in his breast, no love, no joy, no confidence. Array Jehovah in his terrors before the sinner, he will shrink, but he does not relent; he fears punishment, but he does not fear God. Change the theme, and tell him of the wonders of redeeming love; here is employment for his understanding to trace the wisdom of God in the plan of redemption, and scope for the exercise of his affection in the consideration of the love of Christ, and his own interest in it. But no! nothing of this sort can gain his attention. It possesses no interest for him. He is deaf to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. Strike what string you will, there is no chord in his heart that sounds in unison. What must we say of the state of that soul? Why, that it is dead: for it performs no one function of spiritual life: all in it is torpid, inanimate, dead!

There is a further propriety in calling the natural state of the soul by the name of death. There is in the dead body no power to return to life; neither is there in the soul

any

ability to attain to spiritual life, or the exercise of holy affections towards God. Nay, more; there is no will to this end. A paralytic person may have no power to use his limbs, but he may possess the desire; whereas a dead person has not even the desire: so the natural soul has no will to live again unto God. There is in the dead body no spark of life that time or care may fan into a flame; it will remain a corpse; nothing but the power of God can raise it from the dead. In like manner there is in the natural man no latent principle of spiritual life; without a divine intercesșor he must ever remain as he is

; no good education, or good resolutions, as they are called, will ever make him a good man, except there be a superadded

« ПредишнаНапред »