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and lives after his law: but even an angelic knowledge of all things profits nothing to one who lives impurely, and knows not Christ: for in Christ there is neither Barbarian nor Scythian,
Bond nor free.] All these expressions have the same import, and signify, that a high or low station in the world is not to be considered by a Christian as if the one were nearer, the other farther from salvation. The condition of slaves among the antients was most unjust and wretched : they esteemed slaves as only animated tools, which their master could use as he pleased; yea, they claimed to themselves the power of life and death over them as over their cattle. Notwithstanding this vile and abject condition, the Apostle says there is no difference between the slave and his master as far as concerns salvation : For the slave, if he be renewed after the image of God, is acknowledged as a son ; his master, if he remain wicked and impure, is rejected as a spurious offspring.* Now what is said of slavery and freedom is applicable to the noble and the ignoble, the rich and the poor; in one word, to all the different conditions of mortals in this world. For truly says Jerome, Our Religion knows nothing of the persons and conditions of men, but regards their souls. And Lactantius, Instit. lib. 6. cap. 15, No one is poor in the eye of God, but he who lacks righteousness ; no one rich unless he abound in virtues ; no one, lastly, great, unless he be good and innocent, &c. But we must here beware lest we consider the Christian Religion as confounding political order, and the various ranks of men. The Apostle does not say that bond and free are not to exist in this world: but that these dis
• Is this representation of Slavery under heathenism centuries ago, more remarkable than in this age of the extension of prosessed Christianity ? Will it not be a matter of greater surprise to the world a few centuries hence, that it was upheld in a corresponding existence, if not worse in regard to the treatment of the Slave, by Christian Britain in the nineteenth Century? Is the reasoning applied to the case in reference to the soul and eternity less applicable now than it was formerly? Let any one peruse but half the Reports of the condition of things in our West Indian possessions elicited by Parliamentary investigations, and the Reports of the Mission. aries, say for the last ten years, and then judge.
tinctions are not found in Christ, or in a spiritual state of salvation. He who here affirms, that in the new man there is neither bond nor free, in 1 Tim. vi. 1, commands servants who are under the yoke, to count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. This also Augustine teaches in these words, Expos. in Epist. ad Rom. propos. 72, It behoves us as far as this life is concerned, to be subject to powers ; but as to our believing in God and being called to his kingdom, we need not be subject to any man who would divert us from it.
Thus far it has been shewn, in opposition to this false and vain presumption of many, that external circumstances of any kind can avail nothing without this internal renewing of the heart: and that no condition, however vile and abject, forms an objection, if the Spirit of God be present regenerating and purifying the heart from sin. To this error the Apostle again opposes a true judgment, which he expresses more affirmatively in these concluding words, BUT CHRIST IS ALL AND IN ALL.] What the Jews hoped for from the privilege of their nation and the sign of the covenant, the Greeks from their philosophy, princes and great men from their dignity; all these things, and others far more excellent, the man that is born again enjoys in Christ. On the other hand; whatever blemish there may be thought, in being sprung from Gentile or Barbarian, in being born in uncircumcision, or in any low condition or mean station; all these things are divested of all disgrace and dishonour through Christ living in the renewed; and, consequently, this renewed state is of the utmost value. For Christ (regenerating them and uniting himself with the renewed) is all that which is necessary to salvation; in all, namely, in all the faithful who are thus santtified and united to Christ. He is all things to them, meritoriously : for since they become one mystical person with Christ, he imparts to them the merit of his passion, death, obedience, and righteousness; and thus he is made to them of God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 1 Cor. i. 30. He is all things to them efficaciously; for whatever they possess or can do, as regards
spiritual life and obtaining salvation, they possess from Christ and can do by him. And I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, Gal. ii. 20; and I Cor. xv. 10, But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain ; but I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. It can, therefore, want no more explanation, but stands plainly before us, that Christ is all things in all the regenerate.
Corollaries. 1. Christ and his Spirit renewing us is not esteemed of sufficient value by us, unless we esteem this new man of such great value, that we consider all other things, which men generally think make them honourable or despicable, as nothing in comparison.
2. Here the pride and vanity of those who glory in any earthly dignity is put down; since any one of the regenerate is more noble and more free than they; and is more nearly allied to God, and like him who is the fountain of honour.
Thus far on that part of the Apostle's admonition which respects the laying aside our vices: the other, which refers to the exercise of virtues, remains to be treated; to this be had fortified and paved the way by shewing that they had not only put off the old man, but had put on the new.
Verses 12, 13. Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bow
els of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness,
long-suffering. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any
man have a quarrel against any : even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
In the former part of the general exhortation, the Apostle advised the putting off and casting away of all vices, as members of the old Adam. We now come to the second part of the exhortation; in which he exhorts the Colossians to put on and exercise all virtues; and this part is extended as far as verse 18.
This last division of the Apostle's exhortation consists of three parts. In the first he excites to those virtues which immediately regard our neighbours; and whether they be miserable and need our aid ; or wicked and injurious to us; or in any other case, as expressed in vers. 12, 13, 14, 15. In the second he calls them to the study, knowledge, and use of the Divine word; by the ministry of which we are instructed and taught in the above virtues : see vers. 16. Thirdly, and lastly, he prescribes to the Colossians an universal rule to be observed on all occasions, in vers, 17.
With respect to the verse which we have in hand, three things are to be considered : the agreement of this exhortation with what went before; the preliminaries to the exhortation, and the exhortation itself.
1. First, it is proper to observe the agreement or dependence which the illative particle therefore intimates to us. This word requires us to look back to the 10th verse, where the Apostle states that they had put on the new man ; whence he here infers, therefore put on bowels of mercies, &c. As if he had said, They who have put on the new
man, ought to put on all his members, and all his properties : but these virtues are as the members and properties of the new man; therefore, are to be put on by you who have put him on. He uses the same argument before, when from the circumstance of their having put off the old man, he inferred, Mortify therefore its members, fornication, uncleanness, &c.
Corollaries from this inference. l. We must seek to make the new man entire and perfect in all his members : for as the natural body appears deformed if deprived of an eye, a hand, or a foot, or any other of its members; so it is with the spiritual man, if he lack any of his parts.
2. They have little or no sense of spiritual life, who do not perceive, or perceiving do not grieve for, or grieving for do not endeavour with all their might to amend and supply, this mutilation of the new man.
3. Scarcely will an individual be found who, as far as respects this new man, is not a monster either from deficiency or superabundance of limbs : I mean wanting in the members he ought to have, or supplied with those he should be without. But if we would attend to the Apostle, we shall understand, that from the fact of our having put off the old Adam, and put on the new man, we are bound to suffer any inconvenience which may occur in either respect. Thus much of the illative particle therefore.
2. As elect of God holy and beloved.] We here come, secondly, to the preliminaries, or the reason on which the exhortation is grounded, why these virtues should be adopted by the Colossians. This is drawn from what is fit and honourable : for these three attributes by which their condition is described, prove them to be bound to these virtues and to holiness of life. Let us consider them apart.
As elect of God.] This may be understood either of an eternal or temporal election, by which Christians are separated from the filth of the world to serve God according to the precepts of the Gospel. And I consider the Aposlle means this latter election ; which yet, if it be effica