Page images
PDF
EPUB

nor the members of his body as instruments of iniquity thereto, is accounted dead to sin.

3. The Apostle requires that we should duly hold the mystery of our baptism, and transfer it to the use of piety and holiness. For he derives this most beautiful exhortation, Seek not the things that are on earth, because ye are dead, from the consideration of baptism, as it will appear to those who look back to the 12th verse of the foregoing Chapter. So in Rom. vi. 3, Know ye not that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? as though he had said, It is shameful and unworthy of a Christian not to know this.

4. They grievously sin who suffer their baptism to be rooted from their memory, as a transient ceremony : for this sacred mystery, although once performed, should be perpetually revolved in mind, and expressed in conduct.

Let us proceed to the next clause.

And your life is hid with Christ in God.] It has been said that there is an implied occupation contained in these words, whereby he meets a twofold objection.

1. It is objected, That the Apostle contradicts himself: he had just now said that the Colossians were risen ; but those who are risen again are alive: now in almost the same breath he affirms that they are dead; but the dead are not alive.

This difficulty is solved by distinguishing, They are dead to the world, to sin, and the flesh, as was before shewn; but they live to God and Christ. The same Spirit who mortifies the carnal life within us, quickens us to a new and spiritual life. And this is that life which all those live by Christ who are dead to sin.

2. It might be said that Paul opposes common experience. For all the pious perceive themselves as yet infested by the remains of sin, oppressed by various sorrows, and at length fall under death : How, therefore, can it be true, that they are risen with Christ and follow a new life?

The Apostle answers, that this new life is, in fact, only begun, and is imperfect and obscure in the faithful themselves : but in Christ their Head it is completed, perfected,

VOL. II.

glorious; yet hidden. Therefore, Paul would anticipate these objections in saying, Your life is hid with Christ in God. Let us now examine the words themselves respectively.

Your life.] The word life is taken for that supernatural life whereby we live to God under a state of grace, and whereby we are to live with God in a state of glory : For the life of grace is nothing else (so to speak) than the childhood of glory. And both these are called your life by way of eminence; in comparison of which a carnal and bodily life is considered as death : for a carnal life leads to death, and that eternal. Whence in the holy Scriptures they are accounted dead who live after the flesh; Let the dead bury their dead: and 1 Tim. v. 6, She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. Moreover, he who lives the life of grace according as he is led by the Spirit, he day by day ripens for eternity, Rom. viii. 13. And as the carnal life of sinners is death, if it be compared to the spiritual life of the faithful; so the natural life of man is death, if it is compared to the supernatural life of the blessed. For this whole bodily life passes away and vanishes any moment, nor has it any permanency; but that whole supernatural life stands in the perpetuity of its solidity, and hath nothing transient. Therefore, the Apostle intending this spiritual and supernatural life, rightly and emphatically says, Your life.

Is hid.] This may be applied as well to the life of grace as to the life of glory. The spiritual life of the saints is hid, First, as to the wicked. For the world does not discover any thing spiritual in the children of God; but accounts them the most despicable, foolish, and miserable beings. So says the Apostle, Heb. xi. 36–38, They had trials of mockings and scourgings, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy. Neither is it to be wondered at, since this spiritual life consists in those things which meet not the eye or sense; namely, in adoption, in regeneration, in union with Christ, in faith and love, and the other gifts of the Holy Spirit. Hence that tardy confession of the ungodly, Wisdom v. 3, &c. These

are they whom we had sometime in derision and a proverb of reproach. We fools accounted their life madness, and their end to be without honour. How are they numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints !

Secondly, as to the saints and faithful themselves, their spiritual life is hid; but partly, not entirely. I say it is in some measure hid, because they themselves do not always clearly perceive the life of grace in them; but sometimes, being assaulted by the temptations of the devil and the flesh, they are half in doubt that they themselves are indeed slain, and destitute of the Spirit of God. Hence that word of the Psalmist li. 10, Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Moreover, when they perceive in themselves this spiritual life, they nevertheless acknowledge it to be very weak, languid, and obscure on account of that perpetual resistance and rebellion of the flesh. So Paul felt that he delighted in the law of God after the inner man; Here we see his spiritual life! yet the same Paul sees another law in his members warring against the law of his mind; Here we see the same life hidden and obscured! Rom. vij. 22, 23.

Now as to the life of future glory, that is much more hidden: For although we have the seeds of this life within us, yet they are trodden down under this mortal body, neither are they brought into full light before the day of Christ's coming. In the meanwhile, as it is in 1 John iii. 2, We are now the children of God, but it doth not yet appear what we shall be : nay, we are not indeed able to take in even in imagination this hidden life, 1 Cor. ii. 9.

With Christ in God.] This also fitly accords both to the spiritual life to which we are now raised, as well as to that glorious life to which we are to be raised; for each is hidden in Christ, as in the fountain, the root, or original. But these words in God, are added, because Christ himself, as man, hath withdrawn himself from the earth, and ascended to God the Father. Therefore, God is invisible and hidden from the world, and Christ with God, and our life with Christ. As to spiritual life, it is certain that whatever small streams are derived to us, the fountain itself VOL. II.

C2

lies hid in Christ; nay, the streams of spiritual life are not derived to us, except so far as we are joined to Christ, in whom this life is laid up. I live, says the Apostle, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, Gal. ij. 20. Hence is that declaration John xv. 5, 6, If a man abide not in Christ and Christ in him, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered. But our life of glory is also hid in Christ. For as the life of the branches is not extinct in the season of winter, but is hidden in the root of the vine itself: so the blessed and glorious life of the faithful is hidden and reserved in Christ, the spiritual vine, in this season of their earthly pilgrimage. Nay, and we also are said, in this sense, to be already put into possession of this celestial life, namely, as we are already raised to heaven in Christ the Head, and endued with eternal life and immortality. This is what the Apostle would have us to understand in Ephes. ii. 6, He hath ruised us up together with him, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. In Christ, therefore, as man, our celestial life is hid, as in the modelling cause : for he shall change our humble body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body, Phil. iii. 21.* It is also hidden as in the material and meritorious cause : for be hath expiated our sins by his death in the flesh, and merited for us this life. In the Son, therefore, is that eternal life which God hath bestowed on us, I John v. 11. It is hidden, lastly, in the man Christ, as in the efficient, that is to say, the secondary and instrumental cause. Moreover all supernatural life is hidden in God, as in the principal cause and

. Our translation of this fine passage is not very happy. Bishop Hors. ley gives the following; which is here copied for the sake of the impressive remark subjoined to it, and its suitability to the tenor of our Expositor's observations :-" Who shall cause the fashion of our body of humiliation to be made like unto his body of glory, according to the energy of his power of subdning all things to himself. This transformation of the bodies of the faithful, by the power of our Lord, requires a previous transforination of the mind to a resemblance of him, by faith in his word, by reliance on his atonement, by conformity to his precepts, and imitation of his example. For he that hath this hope in him, of being transformed into the likeness of his Lord, of seeing him as he now is, and of standing for ever in his presence; he that hath this hope • purifieth himself even as He is pure.'”

chief fountain. The Apostle unites each cause, both primary and instrumental, in Rom. vi. 23, The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In conclusion,

1. We are hence taught, as often as we perceive spiritual grace languish within us, to seek a fresh supply from Christ, in whom is hid the fountain of spiritual life.

2. Hence it is seen how necessary it is to be united with Christ by faith and the Spirit: for if we are separated from him, we are not Christians, but the dead carcases of Christians; because in him is hidden all our life.

3. Here we have relief under our infirmity and imperfection; because, although all spiritual things in us are weak and imperfect, as faith, love, and holiness; yet, through Christ, we have spiritual life perfected in all things. This is the consideration whereby St. Paul sustained himself, Phil. iii. 8, 9, I count all things but dung, that I may win Christ; and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, &c.

4. Here we have most suitable consolation, and the firmest anchor to our hope in all external miseries. For our life is laid up in God; but God will not deny the deposit: it is hid with Christ; but it is impossible that Christ and life be separated; it is no less impossible that they should perish whose life is hid with Christ. Let us conclude, therefore, that heavenly things are to be sought by us, earthly things to be trodden under foot; because we are both dead to these earthly things, and have a supernatural life as well of grace as of glory hidden with Christ in God.

Vers. 4. When Christ who is our life shall appear, then

shall ye also appear with him in glory.

The Apostle proceeds still further to shew that earthly things are not to be sought or savoured by Christians, but heavenly ones. He derives his argument from the expectation of the glory destined for us. We shall consider

« PreviousContinue »