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CHAPTER III. 3, 4.
THE HIDDEN LIFE AND HAPPY HOPE.
“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.”
“Ye are dead”—the condition of the Christian ; “your life”—dead though you be, the privilege of the Christian—“is hid with Christ in God;" and your hope, “when Christ shall appear”—a hope that shall never be disappointed—“then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” What is meant by the expression, applied to a Christian, “Ye are dead”? How can a Christian be said to be dead, and yet it be said that “ your life is hid with Christ in God” ? The expression “dead” is unquestionably figurative; "ye”-speaking to living Christians—“ are dead.” They were in the flesh; they were men in this world, numbered with its people ; and yet he says, “ Ye are dead.” He employs it, therefore, figuratively; and unless we so explain it, it is absolutely unintelligible. Look at it, then, in this light. What does death do in a man that dies ? It does not extinguish him; he does not cease to be when he dies; he only ceases to be seen, that is all. Death does not destroy life ; it only lifts it to a happier, a higher, and a sunnier level. Well, using this expression figuratively, the apostle says, “ Christians are now dead” —that is to say, as death does not destroy life, but simply lifts it to a higher level, so this figurative death does not destroy a man's present existence; it lifts his thoughts, his sympathies, his hopes, his affections, his heart, to a higher and a brighter level. In the same sense in which death lifts the soul literally to a higher level, this figurative death lifts the heart, though beating in the body upon earth, yet that which truly constitutes the heart—its sympathies, its hopes, its objects,
—to a high and a holy table-land. It is explained by the expression of our blessed Redeemer, “ In the world, but not of the world.” A Christian mixes with men, is taxed like other men,—is a soldier, a sailor, a lawyer, a physician, and he minds the duties and responsibilities of each of these callings; but thoughts leap like shafts of sunshine from his heart, and rest only when they reach the presence of God and of the Lamb. Whilst the hand is busy in the duties that he owes to the world, the heart is drinking in happiness, refreshment, everlasting joy, from communion and fellowship with God, from the bright things and the great things that are above; literally, his treasure, that is, the source from which he draws his wealth, and his heart, that is, what is the receptacle of happiness or of woe, is where Christ his Saviour is.
There is an expression sometimes used of persons with whom you meet and mingle in this world. You meet with a person in the street; you talk with him on a subject that is interesting to you; but you can see in the face a vacancy, in the interjected replies an absence, that makes you say, “He is an absent person.” What is meant by an absent person ? He is literally and personally present—he is looking to you; but he is strictly
asil forts thoughts, and sympathies, and feelings are eisenbare Son, that is the nearest picture of what a Christinis: a Christian is bere present, breathing this was a draag of its streams, paying taxes, doing tis daties to si tis earthly superiors, and yet that
ch is the three-quarters of the man, that which is the man is soaring upward amid brighter realms, is unforeg a mysterious wing, and stretching into a futurity whose limit is all space, whose duration is without end; and whilst here a sufferer, he is there rejoicing with jor unspeakable and full of glory. Do you recollect having read in the poems of one illustrious for his genius, but, alas! alas ! depraved by much that unhappily shaded that genius—I mean, Byron—that magnificent passage where he speaks of the dying gladiator, brought to please and propitiate the patricians of Rome :
- The arena swims around him-he is gone,
Ere ceased the inhuman shout which
18 far away.
Christian : he is dead; those things that once interested him, do not so interest him now. Once he entered into politics—he was a mere politician; but now he enters into politics, if it be his duty in the providence of God; but he is the Christian, inspiring, sustaining, giving tone, elevation, direction to all the acts of the politician. Once he was a physician, and he was an enthusiastic one—very properly so; a successful one, and very thankful he should be for being so; but it was his all. But now he is a physician, an equally skilful, equally talented one ; but something better
-he is also a Christian. In the same manner, you are a tradesman ; you mind your business, whatever that business may be; you are the best tradesman in the village, in the parish, in the city; and you are quite right in being so, for whatever is worth being at all, is worth our being ripe and perfect in. But you are now something better; the counting-house cannot restrain the soaring thought; the toil and the traffic, the losses and the profits of the world, cannot exclude your anticipations of a day when toil shall be pleasure, -when the gains and the losses, and the crosses and disputes, of this world, like the waves of a sea working self to rest, shall be laid for ever, and you shall be here, through grace, you hope to be—where there is more crying, nor tears, nor trouble, nor sorrow, but e all former things are passed away is this that explains the idea of the apostle, when in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “ Ye are come
n, and unto the city of the living God, salem, and to an innumerable comthe general assembly and church of the Judge of all.” He does not say, “ Ye will come,” but, “Ye are come”-that is to say, your feelings, your sympathies are there ; you are dead to interests to which you were exclusively allied once, and you are alive to interests to which you were dead once. Once you were alive to the things of this world, and dead to the things of heaven; now you are dead to the things of this world, and you are alive to the things of heaven. In other words, a mighty transformation has taken place; and it is true of you, “ In the world, but not of the world ;" for your heart is where Christ, your treasure and your hope, is.
are written in heaven, and to God
While he speaks of being dead in Christ, be adds, “Your life is hid with Christ in God”—not hid to you, not hid to Christ, but hid to the world. The world sees you act with an honesty that cannot be diverted by the most tempting bribes ; but it cannot see the spring, the motive-power, that sustains you through it all. The world can see you give with a profusion that seems never to fail in every good and Christian cause ; it thinks such is a crotchet of that good man, or a fancy of that other man, that it very much admires, but can neither understand the aim, nor the object, nor the cause of it; it cannot understand the spring of it—that is not visible to the world, it is hid with Christ in God. Once, the lust of the eye, the pride of life, the love of this present world, were the only living forces that impelled you ; but now the love of God, the love of a Saviour, desire to honour him and to serve him, are the most forcible. You do the same duties you did before, but they are inspired by new motives, elevated by a new force, directed upwards, instead of being directed downwards; the world cannot see the spring