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figure he employs, and not by facts; and by the figure, and not by facts, it must be explained. The careful reader will not mistake the sentiment. One clause that seems to conflict with the rest, may receive an additional word of comment. What are we to understand by “ quickening our mortal bodies ?” Does Paul mean that the body that is dead because of sin, the flesh in which he confesses there is no good thing, the body of death from which he desires to be delivered, whose deeds he exhorts his brethren to mortify, or put to death-does he mean that this body is to be quickened, and brought into the immortal state? Such an idea is clearly opposed to the general tenor of his
reasoning, both here, and in numerous other places. The most consistent view we can take of this passage is, that, though the apostle had used im. mortality as a figure of the Christian life, and, by virtue of that figure, had regarded all Christians as no longer in the flesh; yet he immediately turns his attention to their real condition, as being still in the body, which he says should be quickened by the spirit that dwells in them; that is, they should not let sin reign in their mortal bodies, nor yield their members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield themselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead, and their members as instruments of righteousness unto God. There is a passage in 2 Cor. iv. 10, 11, that may illustrate the subject. “ Always bearing about in the body, the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live, are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh."
It is obvious, from the writings of the New Testament, that the resurrection of the dead, whether spoken of as a fact or a figure, will consist in laying aside the flesh, or earthly body, and assuming one that is new and spiritual, entirely distinct from the former. And though, in the passages we are explaining, the resurrection is used only as a figure, its true character as a reality may be as correctly inferred, as it could from any statements that may be adduced, where our introduction to the immortal state is distinctly had in view.
(2 Cor. v. 14-17.) “For the love of Christ constrain- . eth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore, henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away ; behold all things are become new.”
The language of this passage becomes more intelligible than it otherwise could be, when we perceive the figure on which it is based. All true believers have gone with Christ into the resurrection state. They should, therefore, no longer live unto themselves, but unto him that died for them and rose again. They know no man after the flesh; because they are not in the flesh; and though they may have known Christ after the flesh, yet now they know him no more; that is, they know him no more after the flesh. They are new creatures-old things are passed away-all things are become new. Now, all this language is fit and becoming, when it is understood that the immortal life is had in view ; but it would be very extravagant, if understood as describing the real state of Christians on earth.
(Gal. iii. 27, 28.) “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female ; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
Baptism is here made the emblem of death and the resurrection, as in other instances. Christians, by baptism, have passed into the other world. They have put on Christ, or the spirital nature. And in that state, all distinction of sex, or nation, is destroyed.
(Gal. v. 16, 17, 24, 25.) “ Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the last of the flesh. For the Aesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary, the one to the other; so that ye can not do the things that ye would, .
And they that are Christ's, have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit.”
Christians have crucified the flesh, and have thus passed into the spirit-world ; and being in the spirit, they should walk in the spirit. In the immediate connection, Paul gives us a long list of what he calls “ the works of the flesh ;” and what sin there is, that is not here expresseed or implied, it would be difficult to conjecture; and the plain inference is, that when the flesh is laid aside, these sins will be laid aside with it. We know not how the existence of sin in the other world, can be reconciled with the apostle's reasoning.
(Eph. ii. 1-6.) “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past, ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that
how worketh in the children of disobedience; among whom, also, we all had our conversation in times past, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love, wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ; (by grace ye are saved ;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
Christians have passed into the spirit-world with the Saviour. They now sit in heavenly places with Christ. They are new creatures, having been created unto good works, wherein it is ordained of God that they shall walk. They once walked according to the course of this world—they now walk according to the course of a higher and better state. They were by nature, (the earthly nature,) children of wrath, even as others. That nature is now laid aside, and they are no longer children of wrath.
This language does not well apply to the real condition of Christians on earth. It is obviously figurative, and borrowed from the state of the blessed, beyond the sins and imperfections of earth. It places before us a high position of spiritual excellence, at which it is our privilege to aim; but which we can hope fully to reach, only after we have passed the resurrection change.
(Eph. iv. 22–24.) “That ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts : and be renewed in the spirit of your minds; and that ye put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
(Col. ii. 10–13, 20.) “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power. In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ. Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.
Therefore, if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances ?"
The use of baptism, as an emblem, here again makes its appearance, in the same manner as in other passages. Christians are quickened or raised from the dead with Christ. They have, therefore, put off the old man which is corrupt, and have put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness. They are forgiven all trespasses. They have put off the body of the sins of the flesh. They are complete in Christ.
This is doubtless true of Christians, and all men, in the resurrection state ; and for this reason such language is used; but much must be abated from the literal sense, to make it suit the real condition of the best men in this lower world.
(Col. iii. 1-11.) “If ye then be rigen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth. 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. Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth.
Lie not, one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of Him that created him ;
where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but Christ is all, and in all.”
Christians should act in harmony with their position. Having entered on the spiritual state, they should seek those things which belong to that state. So far as this present world is concerned, they are dead, and their life is hid, from the observation of men on earth, with Christ in God. When therefore Christ, who is our life, shall appear-when the veil that separates between this world and the next shall be removed then shall we be seen with him in glory.
This passage that has greatly embarrassed interpreters, is very clear, when the ture of the figure is once under: stood, by which its peculiar phraseology is suggested. Without this understanding, it must remain forever in obscurity
(Phil. iii. 10–16.) " That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings ; being made conformable unto his death, if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded; and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereunto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing."
In view of the passages already quoted, and the remarks made upon them, no one can fail to perceive the train of thought that occupied the mind of Paul when he penned this language. How much better then to explain it by common usage, by which it is made to teach a beautiful and consistent sentiment, than to put upon it a construction that has no usage to support it, and one, besides, which charges upon the apostle the greatest inconsistency: For where, in the Bible, is a literal resurrection placed