Therefore we were buried (not are, as in the Authorized Version ) with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life . The mention here of burial as welt as death does not appear to be meant as a further carrying out of the idea of a fulfilment in us of the whole of Christ's experience, in the sense—As he died and was buried, so we die and are even buried too. Such a conception of burial being in our case a further process subsequent to our death in baptism, is indeed well expressed in our Collect for Easter Eve: but the form of expression, "buried into death," does not suit it here. The reference rather is to the form of baptism, viz. by immersion, which was understood to signify burial, and therefore death. So Chrysostom, on John 3:1-36 ., καθάπερ γὰρ ἐν τινι τάφῳ τῷ ὕδατι καταδύοντων ἡμῶν τᾶς κεφαλὰς ὁ παλαὶος ἄνθρωπος θάπτεται καὶ καταδὺς κάτω κρύπτεται ὅλος καθάπαξ . The main intention of the verse is to bring out the idea of resurrection following death in our case as in Christ's. The sense, therefore, is—As our burial (or total immersion) in the baptismal water was followed by entire emergence, so our death with Christ to sin, which that immersion symbolized, is to be followed by our resurrection with him to a new life. As to the δόξα τοῦ πατρὸς , through which Christ is here said to have been raised, see what was said under Romans 3:23 . " δόξα est gloria divinae vitae, incorruptiblitatis, potentiae, et virtutis, per quam et Christus resuscitatus est, et nos vitae novas restituimur, Deoque conformamur. Ephesians 1:19 , seqq. " (Bengel). In some passages our Lord is regarded as having been raised from the dead in virtue of the Divine life that was in himself, whereby it was impossible that he should be holden of death. (see under Romans 1:4 ). And he said of his own ψυχή , "I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again" ( John 10:18 ). But here as most commonly elsewhere, his resurrection is attributed to the operation of the glory of the Father—the same Divine power that regenerates us in him (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:14 ; 2 Corinthians 13:4 ; Ephesians 1:19 , etc.; Colossians 2:12 ; also our Lord's own prayers to the Father previously to his suffering, as given by St. John). The two views are not inconsistent, and may serve to show Christ's oneness with the Father as touching his Godhead. The marked association here and elsewhere of union with Christ, so as to die and rise again with him, with the rite of baptism, supports the orthodox view of that sacrament being not only a signum significans , but a signum efficax; as not only representing, but being "a means whereby we receive" regeneration. The beginning of the new life of believers, with the power as well as the obligation to lead such a life, is ever regarded as dating from their baptism (cf. Galatians 3:27 ; Colossians 2:12 ). It is true, however, that in all such passages in the New Testament the baptism of ,adults is referred to; that is, of persons who at the time of baptism were capable of actual repentance and faith, and hence of actual moral regeneration, and they are supposed to have understood the significance of the rite, and to have been sincere in seeking it. Hence what is said or implied cannot fairly be pressed as applicable in all respects to infant baptism. This, however, is not the place for discussing the propriety of infant baptism, or the sense in which all baptized persons are regarded by the Church as in their very baptism regenerate.
The meaning of Christ's resurrection.
The prominent position occupied by the resurrection of our Lord in the apostolic writings and preaching need occasion no surprise; an event in itself so wonderful, and in its consequences so momentous, could not but be constantly in the minds and upon the lips of those to whom it was the supreme revelation of God. It may be well to gather up in a few sentences the import and significance of this central fact of Christianity.
I. AS A FACT , THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST HAS A GENERAL AND WORLD - WIDE INTEREST . The historian of humanity, the philosopher reflecting upon the most important factors in human life, is constrained to acknowledge the central and universal interest of our Lord's rising from the dead.
1. It was a fulfilment of predictions, and a realization of hopes sometimes dim and sometimes bright.
2. It was the starting-point of the Christian religion. The existence of the Church of Christ is only to be explained by remembering how firmly the first promulgators of the new faith held the belief that their Lord had risen from the dead.
3. It was, in the view of the Christian community, the pledge of the general resurrection of all men to another life; it gave definiteness and power to the belief in personal immortality.
II. AS A DOCTRINE , THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST HAS A SPECIAL CHRISTIAN INTEREST .
1. It is the chief external evidence of the Messiahship and Divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. It was in fulfilment of his own express declarations that, after enduring a death of violence, he rose victorious from the grave. His resurrection is in harmony with his claim to a nature and character altogether unique.
2. It is the seal of the efficacy of his mediatorial sufferings. However the humiliation and sacrifice of the Redeemer were related to the forgiveness and justification of men, it is certain that Christ's rising from the dead was the completion of his redemptive undertaking on man's behalf.
III. AS A POWER , THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST HAS A PERSONAL AND SPIRITUAL INTEREST . This is the aspect of this great fact which is insisted upon most strenuously in this passage, and its practical importance to every individual Christian is manifest. The true believer in Christ shares in his Lord's resurrection.
1. Our sins were crucified in Christ's death upon the cross, and in his resurrection we were delivered from their power.
2. Our past sinful life became dead to us as Christ died; and our newness of life began in his rising from the tomb. We have the sign of this, the apostle teaches us, in baptism, with its teaching regarding renewal and consecration.
3. By our faith in the resurrection of our Saviour, we are raised above trial, doubt, temptation, darkness, and fear. The cross tells us that it may consist with the wisdom and the goodness of God that for a season we should endure trouble, disappointment, and seeming failure. But the empty tomb assures us that for every good man and for every good work there is a resurrection appointed. Death is for a season; God's people cannot be "holden of it." The corn of wheat dies, but it dies to live, and to bring forth much fruit.
4. In Christ's resurrection the Christian is begotten to a living hope of an immortal inheritance, His people are appointed to share his triumph and his glory.
"Newness of life:" a New Year's sermon.
Things new and old make up the sum of human experiences. All that is new becomes old, and the old disappears to come before us again in new combinations, in new shapes. The mind of man seems to have a natural leaning in both directions; we like the old because it is old, and the new because it is new. This is one of the contradictions inseparable from human nature. There is some truth in the common saying that the young prefer novelty and the aged cling to "use and wont." It is easy to see how, to the youthful, change should be welcome, for their knowledge is yet very limited, and new experiences are the appointed means of furnishing and equipping the mind. It is less easy to explain the conservatism of age and its dread of innovation, for experience must have taught the old how imperfect is everything that concerns man's culture and condition; this trait of character may be largely owing to the increasing feebleness which indisposes to the unwonted exertion of the faculties, or to accommodation to new circumstances. True religion takes advantage of both these tendencies of human nature. It appeals to the natural attachment we feel to what is ancient and sanctioned by prolonged existence; and it appeals also to the yearning for progress and for fresh experiences, which we all either have felt in the past or feel today. But observe in what way revelation makes use of these natural tendencies, and remark the harmony there is between the moral necessities of man and the Divine communications of Scripture. Broadly speaking, whatever concerns God is commended by its antiquity and unchangeableness; whilst that which refers to man approaches us with the charm and the allurement of novelty. A moment's reflection will show us why this should be so with true religion. Man, in his brief life, with his feeble purposes and his petty achievements, looks away from himself for the eternal and the unchanging. This he knows is not in himself or in his race; and he seeks it in the unseen God. And herein he is right. He does not seek these attributes in vain. For, knowing God, he knows that in him there is absolute being, unaffected by the changes to which all creation is subject. Man can find his true stability and his true peace only when he rests in the care and love of "the Father of lights, who is without variableness and shadow of turning." But, on the other hand, man, when he knows himself, is aware that his past has been a past unsatisfactory to himself, and blamable by his Creator and Judge. His changes have often been from evil to evil; and he looks forward, rather than behind him, for relief. His only hope is in his future. The old he can regard only with pain, with regret, with distress. If there is improvement, it must be in what is new—in a new condition, new impulses, new principles of the soul, in new associations and new help. Accordingly, Christianity comes to man with gifts of heavenly newness in her hand. Christianity establishes with man a "new covenant," and gives to him a "new commandment;" makes of him a "new creation," transforms him into a "new man." It opens up to him a "new way" unto the Father by the Mediator of a "new testament," gives him a "new name," and teaches him a "new song," and inspires him with the hope of a "new heaven anti a new earth." In short, it enables him to serve in "newness of spirit," and to walk in "newness of life." "Life" is, in the New Testament, used as equivalent to the history of the spiritual nature. The Lord Jesus professed to be "the Life," "the Life of men;" he came that "we might have life, and that more abundantly," and the acceptance of him as the Divine Saviour is designated the "passing from death unto life." This being understood, it will not be supposed that by "newness of life" the Apostle Paul refers to the life of the body, or to the outward circumstances in which physical life may be passed. And yet the context shows that he is not treating of the future and blessed life in the nearer presence of God. Accordingly, we understand by "newness of life" that which contrasts with the spiritual deadness which hung as a cloud of darkness over heathen humanity, and which contrasts also with the earlier and imperfect developments of spiritual vitality. It is a newness of life which is peculiar to the Christian dispensation, but is yet found wherever Christ is known, trusted, and loved. We greet the new year with gladness and with hope, because it seems to offer us the opportunity to begin life anew. We are thankful for the relief of leaving the past behind, and we cherish the hope that each new year will be one of greater spiritual progress and happiness than the years that are past. Christians wish to forget the things that are behind, and to reach forth to those things that are before. Some who have been undecided as to their course have resolved with the new year to make a fresh beginning in life, and henceforth to live by the faith of the Son of God, and to his service and glory. The subject ought, therefore, to be appropriate and welcome to such as are hopefully and prayerfully aspiring unto "newness of life."
I. The newness of the Christian life will appear from the consideration that it is A LIFE IS CHRIST . This very language must be at first unintelligible to a person unacquainted with the gospel. That life should be in a person seems monstrous and meaningless. Yet Christ himself has said, "Abide in me, and I in you;" and his Apostle Paul has taught us that "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation." Christ is the Basis upon which the Christian builds, the Foundation of the edifice of his new and higher life. Christ is the Vine-stem into which the Christian is grafted, and from which he draws all his vitality, his vigour, and his fruitfulness. Christ is the Head, in dependence upon whom the Christian is a living, active, and obedient member. The signs and evidences of this life are these:
1. The renewed man learns who Christ is, and what Christ has done and suffered for him.
2. The renewed man admits the claim Christ has upon his gratitude, his faith, his love; and trusts in him.
3. The renewed man consciously accepts life as the gift of God in Christ.
4. The renewed man, by maintaining fellowship with Christ, advances in the new and higher life.
II. The newness of the Christian life is manifest from THE AGENCY BY WHICH IT IS EFFECTED .
1. A spiritual agency.
2. A Divine agency.
3. A freely acting and gracious agency.
4. A transforming agency.
5. A ceaseless and progressive agency.
III. The newness of the Christian life is displayed in THE MOTIVES AND PRINCIPLES BY WHICH IT IS GOVERNED .
1. The love of Christ revealed and responded to is the motive power of this life.
2. The law of Christ becomes a law of friendship.
3. The approval of Christ is an animating and cheering power in the heart.
4. Thus self and the world, the common motives to action, fall into their proper place, or are banished from the Christian's soul.
IV. NEW ASSOCIATIONS are a feature of the Christian's new life.
V. The Christian life tends and points to A FURTHER AND HIGHER REGENERATION IN THE FUTURE .
APPLICATION . Newness of life depends comparatively little upon outward circumstances. There is nothing in the colour of a man's skin, the climate of a man's birthplace, the nature of a man's occupation, his condition whether of poverty or wealth, his education whether scanty or liberal, his age or his station,—there is nothing in all these things which can interfere with or hinder him from becoming a new man in Christ. Does it seem to any one that for him this is an impossibility, because of the unfavorable circumstances in which he finds himself? Disabuse yourself of this illusion, for illusion it is. It may not be within your power to become a learned man, or an eloquent man, a rich man, or a powerful man; but the circumstances which may prevent you from becoming learned or wealthy, mighty or persuasive, have no force to hinder you from becoming "a new man." The obstacles to this renewal are to be sought within, not without; they are to be found in the will, which is often resolved to resist the authority, to reject the truth, and to ignore the love of God. If you take a savage from his native woods, clothe him in civilized attire, place him in a lordly palace, surround him with books and with music, with paintings and with flowers, does he cease to be a savage? Not until the mind is changed. The man himself may remain the same, whilst all his surroundings are altered. These external changes do not make of him a new man, and his life has not in virtue of them become a new life. So is it with man in relation to the kingdom of Christ. Deprive a human being of the liberty which he has abused, remove him from his evil companionships, shut out from him the temptations to which he has been wont to yield, introduce him into Christian society, constrain him to frequent the means of religious instruction; yet his life has not thereby become a new life. The old nature is still there. The Ethiopian has not changed his skin, nor the leopard his spots. The man's true life lies in the bent of his thoughts, the affections of his heart, the bias of his will; and whilst all these are toward evil, the old nature is supreme, and the new life is not yet. Love is the one only potentate at whose master-bidding old things will pass away. Before's Love's wizard wand alone, the ancient shadows will depart from the gloomy cave of the unregenerated soul, and that cave will become a temple peopled with the forms of the holy, and echoing with the songs of heaven. Divine love can make the wilderness a paradise, can change each thorn into a flower, and all the thistles into fruits. When Love smites the rock, the spring of health and of refreshing will gush forth. He who hears Love's voice shall forget the weakness and the weariness of the pilgrimage; and his footstep, erst so heavy and so dull, shall bound elastic onwards.
The practical power of the Resurrection.
Here the apostle enlarges still more fully upon the truth that the Christian's faith leads not merely to the pardon of sin, but also to deliverance from its power. Because grace has abounded over sin, and our unrighteousness has commended the righteousness of God, it does not therefore follow that we are to continue in sin. If we have a real union with Christ, we have been baptized into his death. We are buried with him by baptism into death; "that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" ( Romans 6:4 ).
I. THE FACT OF THE RESURRECTION . That the resurrection of Christ is surrounded with mystery, no one will deny. But the evidence by which the great central fact itself is established is so strong, so clear, so decisive, that even scepticism has sometimes to admit itself convinced. The effect of the most able and adverse criticism has only been to establish more and more certainly the fact of the Resurrection, and thus to confirm more strongly the Christian's faith. It is remarkable that two of the greatest rationalists of the present century, who doubted almost every fact of the New Testament history, admitted that the Resurrection was a fact which they could not doubt. Ewald, who deals destructively with most of the gospel incidents, "regarding some as mythical, some as admitting of a rationalistic interpretation, and some as combining the elements of both," is unable to destroy or explain away the Resurrection. "Rejecting all attempts to explain it, he accepts the great fact of the Resurrection on the evidence of history, and declares that nothing can be more historical." The testimony of De Wette is even more remarkable. He was more sceptical than Ewald; so much so that he was called "The Universal Doubter." Nevertheless, such is the force of the evidence, that this great rationalistic critic, in his last work, published in 1848, said that the fact of the Resurrection, although a darkness which cannot be dissipated rests on the way and manner of it, cannot itself be called in question any more than the historical certainty of the assassination of Julius Caesar.
1. The fact of the Resurrection is attested by the four evangelists. The four Gospels were written by men widely separated both in time and place. Their very variations are a proof of their substantial truth. They give varying accounts of the Resurrection, as would naturally be expected from men whom so great an event impressed in different ways, but they all agree in testifying that the event occurred.
2. The narrative of the Resurrection was accepted by the early Christians who lived at the time when the event took place. It is spoken of constantly in the Epistles to the various Churches as an event with which they were all familiar, and about which there was not the slightest doubt. When Peter is proposing the appointment of a successor to Judas, he speaks of the Resurrection as one of the great subjects of apostolic preaching. Indeed, it would appear that he regarded the preaching of the Resurrection as the great subject for which the apostle should be chosen. His words were, "Wherefore of these men who have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out amongst us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection."
3. The conversion of St. Paul, and his subsequent advocacy of the doctrine of the Resurrection, are perhaps the strongest proofs of its truth. Paul was a persecutor and a bigoted Pharisee. He suddenly became a member of the sect that was so hated and despised. The explanation that he himself gave of this change was that Jesus Christ had appeared unto him. It was not likely that Paul, a clear-headed man, accustomed to weigh evidence, would be deceived as to Christ's appearance. He could not be lightly led to take a step of such immense importance to his whole life. Something more than a mere dream or hallucination must be found to account for his whole subsequent career. He was not likely to undertake those missionary journeys through Asia Minor, through Macedonia, and through Greece, and to persevere in them, in the face of much opposition, ridicule, persecution, and many hardships and dangers, for the sake of a mere fancy. He was not a mere visionary or fanatic. His Epistles show him to have been a man of robust mind, great reasoning power, and soberness of judgment. And yet, in every instance in which a public speech of his is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles; in his address at Antioch in Pisidia, in his address at Athens, in his address to the multitude when he was taken prisoner at Jerusalem; whether he is in the presence of the high priest, of Felix, or of Festus and Agrippa, he most distinctly proclaims the fact of the resurrection of Christ.
4. As the life of the Apostle Paul was changed, so the lives of all the apostles were changed from the moment that the risen Christ appeared to them. Before that they were timid and frightened. The boldest of them became so cowardly as to deny that he knew Christ at all. They had all forsaken him and fled when the time of crucifixion drew near. After the crucifixion they became disheartened and depressed. We can easily see what would have become of Christianity had there been no resurrection, as we study the conduct and words of the disciples when they knew that their Master was so soon to be taken from them, and when they thought he was still in the grave. But the Resurrection altered everything. The change that occurred can only be explained by the actual reappearance of Christ to them. The timid became brave again. They cannot but speak the things which they have seen and heard. They endure persecution and suffering and martyrdom now, for the grave is no longer dark, and the crown of life is beyond the struggle and the pain.
II. THE DOCTRINES WHICH IT TEACHES .
1. That there shall be a general resurrection of the dead. "Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" ( Acts 17:31 ).
2. That those who believe on the Lord Jesus shall live with him for ever. "I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" ( John 11:25 ). And here the apostle says, "Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him" (verse 8). Christ has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. He has satisfied the yearning of the human heart for a life beyond the present—a yearning so strong that one of the greatest thinkers of our own time, though the logical conclusion of his system is universal death, nevertheless tries to avoid or overcome this dreary prospect by the suggestion that out of this death another life may spring. Our poet-laureate has expressed that yearning thus. Speaking of love, he says—
"He seeks at last
Upon the last and sharpest height
Before the spirits fade away,
Some landing-place, to clasp and say,
'Farewell! We lose ourselves in light!'"
Yes, it is when the grave is near, it is when our loved ones are suddenly taken from us by death, that we learn what a precious truth the resurrection of Jesus is to rest on.
III. THE PRACTICAL LESSONS WHICH IT CONVEYS . "That like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (verse 4); "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof" (verse 12). Elsewhere the apostle expresses the same truth. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God" ( Colossians 3:1 ). This is the practical power of the fact and doctrine of the Resurrection. If we have in our hearts the hope of being with Christ, what a transforming influence that hope should exercise upon our lives! We should " yield ourselves unto Cod, as those that are alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (verse 13). Thus the risen life of Christ enters into and becomes part of the present life of his people. Thus their life enters into and becomes part of his. "Our life is hid with Christ in God."—C.H.I.
Buried and risen with Christ.
Attaching to almost all privileges and blessings there are dangerous possibilities of abuse. So with the blessed doctrine of justification by faith, which has been so largely dwelt on hitherto. So especially with that aspect of it just referred to ( Romans 5:20 ). How readily the question might spring to the lip, "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" But how readily, from every Christian heart, would spring the response, "God forbid! How shall we?" This answer amplified in the following verses: The relation of the believer, through the death and resurrection of Christ, to sin and holiness.
I. THE DEATH .
1. The relation of the death of Christ to sin. Two elements entering into the atoning work of Christ, each of which, in its bearings, must be distinguished from the other—the Divine, and the human.
(a) Divinely: condemnation for ever;
(b) humanly: expiation for ever.
(a) Divinely: stamp of condemnation; the thing which has brought guilt that must be expiated by death, is by that very death a branded thing;
(b) humanly: renunciation and conflict; the thing which is branded, in the atonement, on the part of God, is forsworn on the part of man.
2. Our relation through the death of Christ to sin. A natural identification of Christ with us, as federal Head of the race; and a spiritual—this latter of voluntary, sympathetic oneness. So a corresponding identification of ourselves with Christ: natural and spiritual. This latter, by faith; the spiritual analogue corresponding with the historical fact, or, in other words, our voluntary spiritual sympathy with Christ's own work.
(a) Acquiescence in the condemnation: every mouth stopped;
(b) acquiescence in the. expiation: for me!
(a) A thing condemned of God: so we regard it henceforth, as bearing a stigma of evil;
(b) a thing forsworn by us: so we regard it henceforth; perpetual war.
Therefore our faith in Christ not merely gives us pardon and peace with God, but commits us too a stern and uncompromising battle with all that is opposed to God. "Ye see your calling, brethren!" Your very baptism is your pledge to wage such warfare.
II. THE LIFE .
1. The relation of the life of Christ to God. Two elements entering into the resurrection-life of Christ: raised by God, raised as Man.
(a) Divinely: the accepted sacrifice; "through the glory of the Father;"
(b) humanly: from darkness into light; "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" ( Luke 24:26 ).
(a) Divinely: God could not suffer his Holy One to see corruption; "having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost" ( Acts 2:33 );
(b) humanly: "he liveth unto God;" for us.
2. Our relation through the life of Christ to God. Identification as before—potential for all, actual through faith.
(a) Acquiescence in the approval: gratitude;
(b) acquiescence in the joy: for me!
(a) A life claimed by God: henceforth we bear these "marks;"
(b) a life yielded to God: "the likeness of his resurrection."
So our faith in Christ has regard, not only negatively to sin, but positively to God. We are his; freemen in Christ; risen ones!
"Reckon ye" this! The potential fact will but aggravate our condemnation and our woe, if it be not actualized through faith. Enter into spiritual sympathy with the work of the Redeemer; be dead to the past, be alive to all the glorious future of an immortality in God.—T.F.L.
The significance of baptism.
To suppose that the acceptance of the grace of God in Christ renders us careless about the further committal of sin is to misapprehend the nature of redemption. We cannot dissociate the external results of Christ's work from a consideration of its inward effects upon the mind and heart of the man who profits by it. For a practical refutation of the supposition, the apostle points to the acknowledged meaning of the ceremony wherein each believer indicates his close relationship to the Saviour.
I. BAPTISM THE SYMBOL OF AN ALTERED LIFE . What can more forcibly set forth an abandonment of former feelings and, behaviour than being "dead and buried"? The allusion here to immersion is questioned by none, and a water grave speaks eloquently of a changed attitude to sin and the world. We are so constituted that this appeal to the senses powerfully impresses both the actual participator in the act and the spectators of the living picture.
II. A SYMBOL OF COMPLETE FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST . The follower of Christ repeats in his inward experience the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Christ. These were necessitated by the presence and enormity of sin, and to "put on Christ" as our Redeemer is to adopt his crucifixion and subsequent triumph as our expression of hatred against all that perverts the moral order of the world. To be immersed into the death of Christ is to be completely surrendered to the claims of the Son of God, and to share his hostility to evil, rejoicing in his conquest over death and the grave, and the adversary of mankind. By compliance with his commandment does the disciple signify his entire dedication to his Master's service.
III. CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS NEW LIFE . Emerging from the Burial, the candidate rises with Christ as his Example and Companion. His is to be an active life, "a walk," not a dreamy repose of self-absorption into the bliss of Nirvana. The contrast to the old career was exemplified in the resurrection gladness and glory of the Lord. No more was sin to exert its baleful influence; the body of the risen Lord no longer could be tortured with hunger and thirst and suffering. The Saviour was limited no longer by material barriers; he was endowed with full authority from on high, and crowned with ever-increasing splendour. When the Apostle Paul saw his Lord, the Brightness excelled the noonday sun. These triumphs are in their degree repeated in the spiritual life of the baptized believer. He casts off the works of darkness and puts on the armour of light. He keeps his body under, so that the spirit rules. The voice from heaven proclaims him God's beloved son. Instead of anguish there is peace and joy. He sits in heavenly places, and God causeth him always to triumph in Christ Jesus. Such is the ideal life of fellowship with Christ in his resurrection, shadowed forth By the ascent from the baptismal waters.—S.R.A.
Justification securing sanctification.
St. Paul has been speaking in the previous paragraph of "grace abounding," and a very natural insinuation might be made that continuance, permanent abiding, in sin would be the condition of the most abounding grace. If, therefore, our pardon and acceptance are secured through Christ's obedience unto death, what motive can the justified have in warring with sin? Why not sin up to our bent, that grace may abound? It is this immoral insinuation that the apostle combats, and combats successfully, in the present section. He does so by bringing out the full significance of Christ's death to the believer. Now, the peculiar beauty of our Lord's history lies in this, that, as Pascal long ago pointed out, it may have, and is intended to have, its reproduction in the experience of the soul. The salient facts of Christ's history—for example, his death, burial, and resurrection—get copied into the experience of the regenerated soul. The apostle had experienced this himself. At Damascus he had experienced
This he believes to be the normal experience of the believer in Jesus. Let us see how these facts of Christ's history, death, burial, and resurrection, get duplicated in our experience.
I. OUR BAPTISM INTO CHRIST IMPLIES A BAPTISM INTO HIS DEATH . The apostle speaks to the baptized Roman Christians in these terms: "Are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death" (Revised Version). What we have got first to determine here is the exact meaning of being baptized in or into the name of a Person. In a remarkable essay on ' Baptism and the Third Commandment,' a thoughtful writer says, "There is an evident connection between these two. We are baptized in the Name of the Lord our God. And that is the Name which we are commanded not to take in vain It is to tell that we are the Lord's, claimed by him for his service, called to be followers of him 'as dear children' ( Ephesians 5:1 ). This is the real meaning of a phrase, much used but little reflected on—a Christian name. Such are the names, John, James, Thomas, among men; Jane, Mary, Elizabeth, among women. They tell that the bearers belong to Christ. We have two names. The latter of these, our surname, distinguishes us as the children of our earthly father; the former avouches us as the children of a Father in heaven. And let us mark well what comes out of this solemn verity. If we have upon us the name of the God of gentleness while we ourselves are men of strife, or the name of the God of purity while our own lives are impure, or the name of the God of truth while we are given to lying, we are taking that name in vain." £ Following out this clue, let us notice that baptism into Christ implies a baptism into his death. For Jesus "died unto sin once;" "he died for the ungodly;" "he died for us;" that is, he passed through the experience of crucifixion to save the lost. Now, the counterpart of this death for sin is found in us if we believe upon him. We realize that we have died in him unto or for sin. "If One died for all, then all died" ( 2 Corinthians 5:14 ). Accordingly, we are to "reckon ourselves to be dead" in Jesus Christ "unto sin." Coleridge has rightly remarked, in his 'Literary Remains,' that "in the imagination of man exist the seeds of all moral and scientific improvement;" and it is by placing ourselves imaginatively on the cross with Christ, and realizing in his atoning sacrifice our death for sin, that we come to appreciate our individual justification before God. We are thus baptized into his death.
II. OUR BAPTISM INTO DEATH IMPLIES A BURIAL WITH JESUS . For our blessed Lord not only died upon the cross; he was also buried in the tomb. Friends begged the body, took it down tenderly from the accursed tree, wrapped it in spices, and laid it in Joseph's well-known sepulchre. Now, in burial one thought overpowers all others; it is the putting of the dead out of sight, out of all relation to the struggling world around. As long as a man's body remains in the tomb
"He has no share in all that's done
Beneath the circuit of the sun."
Such a separation took place through burial between the once-living Christ and the bustling world. The throngs might seethe around the temple court and settle down to selfishness again, but the Master-spirit who had been among them is now withdrawn, and sleeping for a season in his tomb. Now, the apostle implies in this passage that a similar sharp separation is experienced by the truly Christian soul from the world. In casting in his lot with Christ, he is buried out of sight, so to speak, and becomes a stranger in the world. His reception by baptism into the Christian community implies his withdrawal from the previous worldly relations in which he stood to other men. And here it is only right to guard against the superficial use made of the burial reference, as if it implied a mode in baptism. "This word ( συνετάφημεν ), 'we were entombed,' contrary to the opinion of many commentators," says Dr. Shedd, "has no reference to the rite of baptism, because the burial spoken of is not in water, but in a sepulchre Burial and baptism are totally diverse ideas, and have nothing in common. In order to baptism, the element of water must come into contact with the body baptized; but in a burial, the surrounding element of earth comes into no contact at all with the body buried. The corpse is carefully protected from the earth in which it is laid. Entombment, consequently, is not the emblem of baptism, but of death." Consequently, the idea of the apostle is that we are spiritually separated from the world by our reception into the Christian community by baptism, just as Jesus was physically separated through his burial in the tomb. Godet, in a note to his comment upon this passage, gives a beautiful illustration of the truth from what a Bechuana convert said to the missionary Casalis some years ago. The convert was a shepherd, and thus expressed himself: "Very soon I shall be dead, and they will bury me in my field. My sheep will come and pasture above me. But I shall no more attend to them, nor go out of my tomb to seize them and carry them back with me into the sepulchre. They will be strange to me and I to them. Behold the image of my life in the midst of the world, from the time that I have believed in Christ." The idea, therefore, is that by our baptism, i.e. by our union with the Christian Church, we are buried out of the world. The Church proves, so to speak, the cemetery where, in holy peace and blissful fellowship, God's people rest. And so, as we manfully throw in our lot with Christ, we pass into the grave-like peace of the Christian Church, and enjoy therein fellowship with Christ and his peaceful people. It is to this burial out of the world and into the kingdom of God we are called.
III. ALONG WITH THIS DEATH AND BURIAL WITH CHRIST THERE IS EXPERIENCED A CRUCIFIXION OF OUR OLD NATURE . Historically the crucifixion precedes the death, but experimentally we shall find that, as the apostle here puts it, it succeeds it (verse 6). It is when we have realized our death in Jesus for sin, and our burial with Jesus out of the world, that the crucifixion and mortification of our old nature begin. A counterpart of the crucifixion is realized within us. The "body of sin," elsewhere called "the flesh" ( σάρξ ), must be destroyed, and we nail it to the cross, so to speak, with as much alacrity as the Roman soldiers crucified Christ. We "crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts;" we "mortify our members which are upon the earth" ( Galatians 5:24 ; Colossians 3:5 ). We feel that "our old man" is incapable of amendment; that the only way in which to improve him is to improve him off the face of the earth and out of existence. This is, consequently, the steady effort of the regenerate soul to kill, by patient crucifixion, the old nature within. As the Saviour was several hours on the cross, as crucifixion, though in his case comparatively speedy, is yet a tardy ordeal, not a momentary execution; so the death of our old nature takes time for its accomplishment, and must be patiently passed through. We must be crucified with Christ, as well as feel that we have died in Christ for sin ( Galatians 2:20 ).
IV. OUR BURIAL WITH JESUS IS WITH A VIEW TO OUR RESURRECTION WITH HIM INTO NEWNESS OF LIFE . After death and burial there came to Jesus, as the Father's glorious gift, resurrection to a new life. Let us consider what resurrection as an experience brought to Jesus. From the cradle to the cross Christ had been the "Man of sorrows." The weary weight of all this sinful, sorrow-stricken world lay on him; the Father had laid on his strong and willing shoulders the iniquity of us all. It was not wonderful, then, that his life was one long burden, taking end only on the cross. But the first glimpse we get of the risen Saviour conveys the notion of sturdy, stalwart strength, for the Magdalene mistakes him for the gardener. And all that we can gather from subsequent interviews with his disciples goes to show that life has ceased to be the burden it was once, and is now free, joyous, triumphant. All sense of sin-bearing is gone like a dream of the night; he is out in the glad morning of the resurrection with everlasting joy upon his head. Now, such a joyful experience should be the possession of every regenerate soul. We should feel not only that guilt is cancelled through the death of Jesus for us, and that we are "accepted in the Beloved," but also that a new life is ours—a life of fellowship with God. For just as Jesus during "the great forty days" was more in the unseen with the Father than in the seen with the disciples, so in our new life we shall largely cultivate fellowship with the Father.
V. THE NEW LIFE WE LEAD WILL BE LIKE OUR LORD 'S, ONE OF ENTIRE CONSECRATION TO GOD . Now, of the risen Saviour it may well be said that he lived unto God. All his faculties and powers were instruments of righteousness unto God. So it is in the Christian life. It is one of entire consecration. In this way it will be seen that justification leads necessarily to sanctification. The leading facts of our Lord's history get duplicated in our experience, and death, burial, resurrection, and consecration become ours.—R.M.E.