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never witnessed in the midst of the congregation; sponsors admitted of whom the church knows nothing, and who may be themselves unbaptized, infidels and scoffers; or if these are extreme cases, they are, at least, persons who are wholly uninstructed in the duties which they so readily undertake; the child left to grow up in utter ignorance of the solemn vow and profession which that child has made : when we consider this, I say, is it to be wondered at, that an impression should be conveyed to many, derogatory to the sacredness and efficacy of this divine ordinance ? Truly we have ourselves to blame for it. Is it wonderful that men seeing the church dealing with baptism, as if it were a thing of nought, should imbibe the notion that it is merely for a sign of admission into the church, and for the giving a Christian name! Let the church, at whatever sacrifice-for, indeed, is it not worth any sacrifice ?-let her restore baptism to its proper place in the congregation ; let her aim be to maintain among her members a godly discipline, and this will tend, assuredly, more than any thing else, to bring back the primitive belief in the efficacy of baptism.
An impression has sometimes prevailed, extensively prevailed, that this belief has a tendency to produce formality. It is imagined, that if persons are taught that they are made Christians in baptism, it would encourage them to rest in that ordinance, instead of giving all diligence to make their calling and election sure. That the doctrine may be so abused, and has been so abused, must be admitted. That some have taught baptismal regeneration in a manner calculated to injure vital, inward, practical godliness, may be, and, I fear, is most true. But assuredly our church has no sympathy with such teaching : she teaches the efficacy of baptism, not in order to supersede the daily renewing of our souls by the Holy Ghost, but as the source, the spring, the great incentive to such renewal. The substance of her teaching is, not “ Ye are made Christians in your baptism, therefore it is well with you," but it is,“ Ye are made Christians in your baptism, therefore live and walk as Christians. Then God gave you a new and spiritual life; see that ye cherish it, nourish and treasure it, by prayer, by reading of the Scriptures, by the means of grace. Then God gave you a covenant, and pledged himself to be your God; he received you into his family as his own child, and gave you the richest tokens of his love. Live, then, and walk as sons of God; walk worthy of the vocation whereunto ye are called, continually mortifying all your evil and corrupt affections, daily progressing in all godliness and love." So far from the efficacy of baptism having any tendency to lull men into a false security, it is, when rightly viewed, the most heart-stirring and heart-searching of all doctrines. It exhibits the slothful and the worldly, amid the pleasures of life, not as a mere ordinary sinner, but as one who is throwing away the most glorious privileges, breaking the most solemn and blessed covenant, treading under foot the Son of God, and counting the blood of the covenant wherewith he had been sanctified an unholy thing, and casting despite on the Spirit of grace. My brethren, it is the very ground-work of all Christian repentance. Those who have been baptized cannot be mere rejecters of the Gospel; they cannot be as the heathen; O, it would be better far for them if they could! They stand on a pinnacle of privilege; they stand between the highest blessings and the deepest curse. They must be either dwellers with God, sharers of his bosom, co-heirs with Christ, or they must be apostates, reprobates, twice dead, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. And is this, then, a condition in which a
him to cry
man can go to sleep? Is this a condition in which he can sit down at his ease, and say, “ Because I am baptized I am saved ?” Is it any encouragement to
“ Peace, peace," to the soul, when there is no peace ? On the other hand, the doctrines of grace are in the efficacy of baptism most strikingly and powerfully illustrated. I am aware that here again an opposite impression has been received. It has been thought that such views of baptism, are cold and lifeless, and minister to what is termed a spirit of legality. But unquestionably this is not the case. The efficacy of baptism bears the strongest possible testimony to the weakness and helplessness, and sinfulness of human nature. It exhibits in the most forcible light the truth, that “ By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast." It sets forth how entirely the work of God is above and beyond all co-operation on the part of man; how impossible it is to draw life out of the corruption of human nature, until God shall first implant it there. It shews how necessarily all Christian duty is founded on Christian privilege. It says not, “Work in order to obtain God's favour;" but
“God worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” It says not “Strive to please God, and then he will forgive you your sins ;” but it says, washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God, therefore walk as becomes partakers of these great and blessed privileges.” It says not “Work for your life ;" but it says,
« God hath planted life in you, nourish it and cherish it. Ye are grafted to the risen Saviour through baptism; ye are risen with him; if ye then be risen with Christ seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth; for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
“ Ye are 249
THE BELIEVER RISEN WITH CHRIST.
REV. D. WILSON, A.M.
ST. MARY'S, ISLINGTON, EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 3, 1836.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth
on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."-COLOSSIANS, iii. 1, 2.
The glorious event which we this day celebrate, forms the distinguishing triumph of Christianity : it exhibits the most stupendous act of divine power that man ever beheld. All the hopes and expectations of the church in every age have been centred and reposed on it. “If Christ," says the Apostle to the Corinthians, “ If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and is also vain." The whole scheme of man's salvation then falls to the ground Satan triumphs, sin reigns supreme, the powers of darkness are.
re.victorious, the enemies of Christianity conquer, all the believer's hopes lie buried in the tomb of the Saviour, and he is of all men the most miserable.
But we rejoice to be assured that the reverse of this is the case. “ Now," exclaims the same Apostle, in holy triumph and exultation, “ Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept." The rising Saviour bursts the chains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it, resumes again that life which he had voluntarily laid aside, and opens the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
Now it is not wonder and joy alone that this great event calls for; it admits of solemn inquiry and application. It reminds professing Christians at once of their privileges and duties; it summons them to act consistently with their high and holy calling; to rise and ascend with their now risen and triumphant Saviour, from a state of spiritual death, darkness, and degradation, to one of life, hope, activity, and joy. Let us view the subject of our Lord's resurrection in this light, and regard it as furnishing ample motives for renewed holiness.
The Apostle, in the words before us, first describes the new state into which the Colossian converts were now brought; he, secondly, urges the important duty to which they were consequently called; and he, lastly, supplies a powerful motive for the diligent improvement of these means. And now may the presence of God be with us; may our risen and ascended Saviour vouchsafe his grace and his blessing
The Apostle directs our attention, in the first place, to THE NEW STATE OR CONDITION INTO WHICH THE COLOSSIAN CONVERTS WERE NOW BROUGHT. They were “risen with Christ." The expression is remarkable ; it is more fully explained by the Apostle in the preceding chapter, in which he speaks of them
“ buried with him in baptism, wherein also," he adds, 'ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you," he continues, “ being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of the flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” For man, my beloved brethren, in his natural state is dead, lifeless, torpid, destitute of spiritual life or spiritual vigour. The buried and lifeless corpse, entombed in the grave, is thus no unsuitable type or representation of the spiritual death of every unrenewed heart. So it is also a most remarkable illustration of that spiritual death unto sin, that crucifixion to the world, that deadness to the things of time and sense, which is at once the duty and the privilege of every renewed soul. But man in his natural and unrenewed state is thus morally dead. He lies prostrate, inactive, lifeless. It is not a sleep merely; it is not the mere being deprived of sensation for a time, by the temporary suspension of the faculties. He is dead; dead to God; dead to any suitable or adequate views of religion ; dead to any just conceptions of sin, dead to any aspirations after holiness; dead to any love to God, to desires after heaven, to any longing after pardon, acceptance, and grace. A moral death prevails; the bones lie scattered, as represented in Ezekiel's vision, “ very many and very dry."
From this lifeless and hopeless condition, then, the Spirit of God quickens the renewed and awakened heart. The voice of mercy echoes, as it were, through the dark recesses of his moral tomb. That same divine power which recalled to life the entombed Saviour, which restored the natural vigour of the mangled corpse of the crucified Redeemer, which caused again the pulse to beat and the lungs to play, which put new life into the languid eye, and nerved with wonted power the torpid limbs—that same divine power, and that alone, calls up the dead and lifeless soul to a newness of life. He then, for the first time, begins to pray, he begins to feel, he begins to think, he begins to inquire; ' and the energies of the new and spiritual life are put upon him; he throws off, as it were, the grave clothes of his former state of ignorance ; begins to live for God, to live for eternity; to cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light. All is new, all is altered, all is changed; old things are passed away, all things are become new, Then, further, he is risen with Christ.
“ risen," says my text, “ with Christ.” For, apart from the resurrection of the Saviour, there could be no quickening of the dead and lifeless soul of man. Had the tomb retained in eternal triumph the buried Saviour, man had never been restored either from natural or moral death. Satan had then retained it in bondage: sin had held him in its adamantine chain; nay, that chain had only been rivetted upon him with increased force. But Christ rose triumphantly from the tomb, and the powers of darkness are confounded; the Saviour rose and burst the bands of death and the prisoner's chains drop: he is quickened by his triumphant Redeemer; sin is forgiven; pardon is found; divine justice is satisfied; he rises with him to newness of life. For if Christ be thus risen from the dead, then is the prisoner set free; then is Satan vanquished; then is death despoiled of its sting, and the grave of its victory. Then shall the Holy Ghost be poured out in large measure; then shall the church send forth her acclamations to her now risen and ascended Saviour; the last enemy of man shall be vanquished, and the last lingering opponent to the triumph of the Redeemer shall be trampled
under his feet. Hell trembles ! heaven rejoices ! and a new shout of praise and exultation bursts from the throng of celestial worshippers, “ Now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast down which accused them before our God day and night."
But it is not sufficient to be merely acquainted with these our privileges; urgent and important DUTIES are closely connected with them. The Apostle does not remind the Colossians of these their present hopes and present feelings, merely as a topic of joy and triumph; he employs them as a stimulus to renewed diligence, activity, and vigour. He summonses them to act consistently with their high and holy calling. This was the second topic for our consideration. “ If ye, then,” says the Apostle Paul, “ be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” It was the sad and affecting complaint of St. Paul to the Philippian Church, “ All seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ's :" and the same complaint may be again and again repeated in our own day. In temporal, earthly concerns, the mind of man will readily expand as his talents and opportunities enlarge. His character becomes, in a great measure, altered and adapted to his new condition. The man of enlarged powers and of high attainments, whose rank in society is distinguished, and his condition known, will disdain to mingle with the common crowd of citizens, but will seek for companions adapted to his distinguished place in society. In religion, alas, it is otherwise : exalted privileges and lofty attainments do not find accompanying feelings or principles. The great mass of professing Christians live vastly below their high privileges. The world, with all its trifles, its vanities, its pursuits, and its engagements, will entangle him, will engross him, will divert his heart and affections from his God. He is a Christian only in profession. He has a name to live but is dead. Look, my beloved brethren, for proof of this to the great body of professing Christians: they are indeed bearing on their foreheads the name of Christ, they profess to belong to him who is dwelling above; they would have others to believe that they are religious, they adhere to the outward forms of Christianity, and mingle with those who belong to Christ. But amid all this external form of Christianity, where, I ask, are their hearts? Where are their affections centred? What is the natural bent, and bias, and inclination, of the mind? You must not form any opinion respecting them, from their occasional acts of forced devotion ; you must not judge them from their conduct in the house of prayer when, under the impression of a momentary excitement, the tear of penitence may drop, and their minds may be excited by some topic of temporal interest. Follow them into the ordinary routine of daily life, and mark now the tendency and bias of their minds, how will you find it? Are they seeking after those things which are above ? Are their affections, I ask, “set on things above, not on things on the earth ?" Do the things of this world, and the engagements of time and sense, only occupy that necessary attention which they require, while they revert with joy, and pleasure, and delight, to spiritual and everlasting things? Or is not precisely the opposite the case? Are they not still, with all their religion, and all their profession—are they not still carnally minded? Are they not engrossed with the world, and is it not the