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2 CORINTHIANS, v. 17.
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old
things are passed away, behold, all things are be
The dangers, to which the church at Corinth was exposed from plausible false teachers, obliged the apostle to use such methods of re-establishing his au. thority, as he apprehended might be misunderstood and censured: he therefore says, “Whether we be “ beside ourselves it is to God, or whether we be
sober it is for your cause.”—The zealous servants of God have constantly been slighted and despised, as “ beside themselves;” nay the Son of God, the perfection of wisdom and excellency, was involved in the same charge, even by his friends and relations, as well as by his enemies. * The apostle therefore would not be greatly disquieted, when, not only Festus said, “ Paul thou art beside thyself, much learning doth “ make thee mad," but when his Corinthian converts. concurred in the same sentiment.
2 Kings, ix, 11. Jer. xxix, 26, 27. Hos. ix, 7. Mark, iii, 217
John, x, 20.
* But,' says the apostle, '' Both the ardour that gives occasion to such imputations, and the wisdom which * regulates its effects, spring from regard to the glory • of God, and affectionate longing after your souls:' “ For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we “ thus. judge, that if one died for all, then were all “ dead; and that he died for all, that they which live, “ should not henceforth live unto themselves, but un“ to him which died for them and rose again. Where. " fore henceforth know we no man after the flesh;
yca, though we have known Christ after the flesh; “ yet now henceforth know we him no more.” Even the brethren or nearest friends of Christ himself, according to the flesh, might not be regarded by the apostles, in dispensing instructions, reproofs, cen: sures, or encouragements; but they were constrained by love to him who had died for them, to do all things with unbiassed impartiality. In like manner, no ties of blood, friendship, or even gratitude, must influence the servant of Christ, in the discharge of his pastoral office. In this respect even relations, benefactors, and patrons, must be disregarded, if we would approve ourselves to be indeed the genuine successors of the apostles in the sacred ministry. “Therefore,” saith St. Paul, “if any man be in Christ he is a new
creature; old things are passed away; behold all
things are become new; and all things are of God “ who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.”
The text suggests the following subjects to our consideration.
1. The apostle's description of a real Christian; “If any man be in Christ.”
II. The change, which every real Christian has experienced, “He is a new creature."
III. The effects of this change, “Old things are passed away; behold all things are becoine new." I. Then we consider the apostle's description of a
real Christian, “ If any man be in Christ.” This expression may appear singular to many who are called Christians, but it is the uniform language of the new Testament: and“ if any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” New terms imperceptibly introduce new doctrines; nor has any subtility of Satan or his servants better succeeded, in “privily bringing in damnable heresies,” than that of modernizing the language of divinity.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them is that are in Christ Jesus.” “I knew a man in Christ " fourteen years ago.”
“ He was also in Christ be. "fore me.” Of whom are ye in Christ “ Jesus, who
of God is made unto us, wisdom and righteousness, " and sanctification, and redemption."* "might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Many of the epistles also are addressed “to the saints " in Christ Jesus," " or to the church-in God the
Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ.”-Which accords to the language of the prophet, “ Israel shall " be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation.”
Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteous.
" That we
* Rom. viii, 1, xyi, 7. I Cor. i. 30,' 2 Cor. xii. 3',
“ness and strength.” “In the LORD shall all the “ seed of Israel be justified and shall glory."'*
The apostle John also employs similar expressions, * Ind now, little children, abide in him." “ are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.”+ But the words of our Lord himself are most decisive; “ He that cateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, “ dwelleth in me and I in bimt.” Accordingly when we administer the Lord's supper, that outward sign of this inward life of faith in a crucified Saviour, we pray
that we may so eat the flesh of Christ, and drink his · blood;—that we may dwell in him and he in us.'
Neither,” saith our divine Redeemer, when interceding for his disciples, “pray I for these alone, but " for them also which shall believe, on me through “their word; that they all may be one, as thou, Fa. “ ther, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be "one in us."
But we must explain this language and shew its propriety and energy'; lest it should be thought, that the whole argument rests upon our translation of the original particles. St. Paul says, “ The wages of sin " is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through,” or in “ Christ Jesus our Lord:” And St. John, “ This is the record that God hath given to us eter“ nal life, and this life is in his Son: he that hath the " Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God " hath not life.”| The salvation of Christ is completed, as far as his mediatory work is concerned: but
* Is. xlv. 17. 24, 25. 9 John xvii. 20—23.
† 1 John ii. 28. v. 20. John vi. 56.
! Rom. vi. 23. 1 John F. il, 12.
who are they that shall eventually be “ saved from “ wrath by him?” To this question the scripture answers with the most decided precision; "they that re“ ceive him,” “they that believe in him,” “ they that " are found in him." _Union with Christ is necessary in order to communion with him: he saves all those, and those only, who thus stand related to him.
According to the illustrations of scripture, the believer is in Christ, as the stone is in the building, God is preparing a spiritual temple, in which he may dwell and be glorified for ever. The person of Christ is the precious Foundation and Corner-stone of this temple,and believers “come to him, and as living stones “are built up a spiritual house," "and habitation of “God through the Spirit*.” But this emblem, taken from things wholly inanimate, only represents our dependence on Christ, and consecration to God through him: we therefore learn more fully the nature of this mystical union, by the parable of the vine and its branches. Mere nominal Christians continue unfruitful; and at length are taken away, withered, and gathered to be burned: but true believers are vitally united to him, and abide in him by the quickening and fructifying influences of the Holy Spirit.f Yet even this illustration falls short of fully elucidating the subject; nay, the nearest of all relative unions does not entirely answer to it; for believers are in Christ, as the members are in the human body. He is the Head of the church, and every
Christian is a part of his mys. tical body, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh,
1 Pet. ij. 4-8. Eph. ii. 20-22.
of John xv. 1-..