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1, that he was not proving that all men will be sinless the moment they die, but that Christians should be holy here; and 2, that the fact asserted on this hypothesis is itself a most remarkable one, not to be thrown in as it were by accident in the course of an argument introduced for quite another purpose, but demanding no little proof for its own support. I doubt if we attach any very definite meaning to our words, when we talk of a sinner's being freed from sin by natural death; of millions of our race being purified in a moment, by some kind of mechanical means, we know not what, but entirely without any moral action of their own souls, repentance or faith, and by simply crossing the mysterious line that separates the present from the future.
T. J. S.
The Resurrection as a Figure.
THERE is, in the New Testament, a class of passages in which the life of the true Christian is figuratively represented by the state of men beyond the resurrection. Such passages, we are accustomed to say, speak of a moral resurrection. It would be more proper, perhaps, to say that they speak of a figurative resurrection. The change denoted is indeed moral; but it is figuratively expressed; and the figure is derived from the immortal state. The resurrection is the figure; the Christian life is the thing represented. When, for example, men are said to pass from death unto life, applied as this language often is to a moral change in this world, the language employed is not such as literally expresses the change referred to. It is evidently figurative; and the figure is taken from the change men undergo in passing from this to the immortal world. This fact must be perceived, or the sentiment, as well as force and beauty, of many passages, will be lost. The most important passages of
this kind, we propose to bring before the reader in this article. And at the same time that we illustrate their phraseology and sentiment, we shall be able to infer some important facts pertaining to man's final state.
(Rom. vi. 1-13.) "What shall we say, then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life, [or a new life.] For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin [or sinful body] might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead, is freed from sin. Now, if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. Knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members, as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God."
This passage, otherwise obscure and almost unintelligible, becomes plain, and is seen to convey a consistent and rational sentiment, when we understand the figure here employed. The apostle regards all Christians as having, with Christ, been crucified and introduced into the resurrection state. Their baptism, while it bore an analogy to the death and resurrection of Christ, was an emblem of their own death and resurrection. Being, therefore, now in the spirit world, the body of sin, or sinful body, having been destroyed, they should not henceforth serve sin. They should walk in the new life on
which they had entered. They should imitate Christ, and with him, live unto God. They should yield themselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead. In other words, they should imitate those that had literally passed into the resurrection state; or, as the language may be construed, they should yield to God, as being themselves in the state of the blessed.
Such is the figure. But though a life of purity in the other world is here made the emblem of Christian character, it is not assumed that Christians, as they are, come up to this high position. Hence they are admonished not to yield themselves unto sin, or allow sin to reign in their mortal bodies.
From this passage it will be seen, first, that baptism is made an emblem of the resurrection. Several other instances of the same usage, will be introduced as we advance. The phraseology associated with baptism, is suggested by the nature of the comparison. "Buried with him by baptism." Baptism is a kind of burial. "Planted together," is a different figure, and is taken from the seed that is planted in the ground, and grows up into a new life. The resurrection is analogous to this; and the meaning is, that as Christians had been planted together with Christ, so their new life should be like his. Again, it is obvious that this passage regards the resurrection state as one of freedom from sin. He that is dead, is freed from sin. They that are alive from the dead, yield themselves unto God. With such, the body of sin is destroyed. "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" takes all its force from this sentiment. Christians are dead to sin. They have passed into the resurrection state. How then shall they live any longer in sin? Their condition shuts out all T is the idea thus figuratively expressed. Of course it is the condition assumed by the figure, and not the real condition of Christians, that is had in view. This is only one of many instances where the phraseology, connected with this subject, can be explained only by considering the figure that suggests it; and without this consideration, it would be extravagant and absurd. The apostle's illustration is fitted to impress this salutary truth, that, if the state of the blessed in heaven is a desirable one, the purity of
character on which their happiness depends, should be no less an object of earnest pursuit by Christians on earth.
The figure we are now considering, is of frequent occurrence in the writings of Paul, and not uncommon with the other New Testament writers. Another example occurs in Rom. vii. 1-6. After alluding to the marriage bond, as being destroyed by the death of either of the parties in the marriage contract, the apostle proceeds thus: "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit, [the fruit of this marriage,] unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sin, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit, [the fruit of the former marriage,] unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter."
The meaning of this passage will not be likely to be mistaken. The Jews who had embraced Christianity, were as much freed from their obligations to the law of Moses, as the husband and wife were free from each other, by the death of either. To express this idea, in one part of the passage the law is said to be dead, and in another, Christians are said to be dead to the law, so that, in either case, all obligation to the law was at an end. Farther than this, the sentiment is plain, that, though men, before the dissolution of the body, bring forth fruit unto death; after death, they may be expected to bring forth fruit unto God.
In the same chapter, the figure is resumed for another purpose, and is continued into chapter eighth. Here Paul describes the conflict between the flesh and the spirit, and proceeds thus: (Rom. vii. 24, 25; viii. 1-13.) "0 wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? [or this dead body?] I thank God [for deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, with the mind, I myself serve the law of God; but, with the flesh, the law of sin. There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. For the law
of the spirit of life, in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. For they that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit, the things of the spirit. For to be carnally minded, is death; but to be spiritually minded, is life and peace, Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit; if so be that the spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ, be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life, because of righteousness. But if the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the spirit, do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
The resurrection state, as an emblem of the true Christian life, is obvious throughout this passage; and much of its language can be accounted for and explained, only by keeping in view this figure. Christians are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, or spirit-world. They are, therefore, free from the law of sin and death. There is now no more condemnation to them. They are delivered from the body of death. They do not walk after the flesh, but after the spirit. At the same time, however, that such language is used, the apostle does not forget that he and his brethren are yet really in the body, and exposed to the temptations of the flesh. Hence his frequent admonitions not to yield to the solicitations of earthly passion; hence, too, the admirable description he gives us of the warfare of flesh and spirit, which no one will fail to appreciate, who has ever tried to live a true Christian life.
Much of the apostle's language is suggested by the