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Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him." “ Dead with Christ;" what can that mean? for the apostle speaks to those who had not yet undergone natural death. He explains : “ Reckon yourselves to be dead unto sin ;” that, you hear, is the death he means. “ He, that is dead, is freed from sin;" that is Saint Paul's own exposition of his own words; and then, keeping the sense of the words in his thoughts, he adds; “ if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” Again, still keeping the same sense in view, and no other sense : “ If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” Once more, but still, observe, in the same sense : “ We are buried with him by baptism unto death ; our old man is crucified with him.” The burden of the whole
passage is, that if we hope to resemble what Christ is in heaven, we must resemble what he was upon earth ; and that this resemblance must consist specifically in the radical casting off of our sins. The expressions of the apostle are very strong ; “ that the body of sin may be de
“ stroyed. Let not sin reign in your mortal body; obey it not in the lusts thereof." Not only in its practices, but in its desires, “ Sin shall not have dominion over you.
In another epistle, that to the Colossians, Saint Paul speaks of an emancipation from sin, as a virtual rising from the dead, like as Christ rose from the dead. ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things that are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God: set your affections on things above, not on things of the earth ; for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” In this
way is the comparison carried on. And what is the practical exhortation which it suggests ?
“ Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, evil concupiscence, and covetousness :” which is an equivalent exhortation, and drawn from the same premises, as that of the text, “ Purify yourselves, even as he is pure.”
The Scriptures, then, teach that we are to make ourselves like Christ upon earth, that we may become like him in heaven; and this likeness is to consist in purity.
Now there are a class of Christians, and I am ready to allow, real Christians, to whom this admonition of the text is peculiarly necessary.
They are not those who set aside religion ; they are not those who disregard the will of their Maker, but they are those who endeavour to obey him partially, and in this way-finding it an easier thing to do good than to expel their sins, especially those which cleave to their hearts, their affections, or their imaginations, they set their endeavours more towards beneficence than purity. You say we ought not to speak disparagingly of doing good : by no means; but we affirm, that it is not the whole of our duty, nor the most difficult part of it; in particular, it is not that part of it which is insisted upon in the text, and in those other Scriptures that have been mentioned. The text, enjoining the imitation of Christ upon earth, in order that we may become like him in heaven, does not say, do good even as he went about doing good, but it says, “purify yourselves even as he is pure
:” so saith Saint John. “ Mortify the deeds of the body, let not sin reign in you ; die with Christ unto sin; be baptised unto Jesus Christ, that is, unto his death be buried with him by baptism unto death ; be planted
together in the likeness of his death ; crucify the old man, and destroy the body of sin; as death hath no
l more dominion over him, so let sin no more reign in your mortal bodies :" so Saint Paul. All these strong and significant metaphors are for the purpose of impressing more forcibly upon us this great lesson, that to participate with Christ in his glory, we must participate with him in his humiliation ; and that this participation consists in divesting ourselves of those sins, of the heart especially, and affections, whether they break out into action or not, which are inconsistent with that purity, of which he left us an example ; and to the attainment and preservation of which purity, we are most solemnly enjoined to direct our first, strongest, and our most sincere endeavours.
LICENTIOUSNESS AND DEBAUCHERY.
EPHES. 5, 6.
Let no man deceive you with rain words, for because of these things cometh the wrath of God ироп
the children of disobedience.
These are awful words. They assert most satisfactorily, that there are certain things, which, let men say or think what they will, are sure of bringing down the wrath of God upon those who commit them. They further intimate, that, although this be certainly true, and will be found to be so, yet many mistake, fatally mistake the matter-hold flattering opinions upon the subject, which will prove to be false; thereby overlook
; ing or remaining ignorant of their own danger, and of the end to which they will come; that there are deceivers and deceived ; they who are labouring to deceive
; others, and they who are very willing to be deceived. For when the apostle uses these words of warning, “ let no man deceive you," he knew that such deceptions were abroad, were common, were employed, were listened to, succeeded and prevailed over the minds and consciences of many. Then he apprizes them of the danger, of the necessity of preparing and fortifying themselves against such delusions. He bids them (for this is the meaning and force of his admonition) he bids them look neither to the right hand nor to the left; to listen neither to what one man
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said, nor to what another man said ; neither to this specious persuasion, nor to that plausible argument, but to keep close to this one momentous, this never to be forgotten consideration, that these, however varnished, however coloured over, however extenuated or diminished, however excused or defended, will in the event feel the wrath of God.
“ Because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." Because, you will ask, of what things ? That undoubtedly is the first question to be considered.
to be considered. What were the things which St. Paul had particularly in his mind when he wrote the words of the text; I say particularly, for that he had some particular view, or some particular class and kind of view in his contemplation, cannot be well disputed. Now the context, the words which go before, must show us what he meant by these things, because they were things which he had already mentioned. The term these things, implies that; it is a term of reference. But what he had been speaking of before, to which the text relates, was as follows: “ Fornication and all uncleanness, or covetousness, neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting which is not convenient ; for this ye know, that no whoremonger nor unclean person, nor covetous man who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” And then he goes on : “ Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” Now I say that the class of crimes which the apostle had particularly, and I think had solely in view, were crimes of licentiousness and debauchery. I include all crimes arising from the unlawful and licentious indulgence of men's passions.