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THE NEW CREATURE.
2 Cor. v. 14-17.
Because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then we are 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.
THERE are many sentences in the holy Scriptures resembling meteors, which, when we take in pieces, such a countless multitude of fiery flames and sparks of every variety of colour proceed from them, as almost to blind our eyes with their glittering brightness. Such a sentence is our text, and it furnishes us with a whole myriad of the most glorious and self-enlivening thoughts; and the more it opens to our gaze, the more does the inexhaustible richness of its contents strike us with astonishment. Indeed we cannot express what glorious and enrapturing things the great apostle describes in those few and simple words! He seems to speak directly out of the holy of holies of the New Testament; and truths are poured into our hearts, which, if realized by sinners, might transform this vale of tears into a paradise. Paul tells us what he beholds in the person of a real Christian ; let us, therefore, consider the point from which he regards the Christian ; the light in which the Christian appears to him; and the influence which this contemplation had upon his own life.
I. We inquire, first, concerning the point from which Paul contemplates and judges the Christian ; for we must know it or else his verdict remains to us inexplicable. There are many points of view in which one can behold the followers of Jesus ; but people generally mistake, and do not choose the right one ; hence it follows that the glory of the children of God is rarely visible to men. For example, let me contemplate thy early life, my brother, and from it decide upon thy character. I see thee a wicked man, worse than a thousand others, and am therefore compelled to form a low estimate with regard to thee. If on the contrary I value thee according to the opinion formed by the world now, my idea of thee is not raised; for the world perhaps describes thee as gloomy and ascetic, a proud pharisee, or an hypocritical despiser of thy brethren. If in furtherance of my object I direct my attention to thy daily words and actions, I probably find thee what is generally considered an honest and respectable member of society ; but this is not enough; for thousands of others are so who yet are not Christians. If I look into thy spiritual life, into thy heart, in order to form some opinion concerning thee; perhaps I enter at a wrong time, whilst the storm of temptation is raging; a wild host of doubts and fears are troubling thy soul, and the dim twilight of thy feeble
faith barely serves to discover the aspect of things. What then should I say? " I sought to find a silent and holy temple, full of the incense of prayer and praise, and found a raging scene of combat, the gloomy dwelling place of misery and woe!" Should I judge from thine own words, then I behold thee as the chief of sinners, for as such thou hast declared thyself. Let me glide into thy private apartment, in hopes that there perhaps a faint glimmer of splendour may surround thee. Alas ! in all probability it is here that the last ray of light disappears; for what proofs of thy weakness and unfaithfulness to God do I hear out of thine own lips, and above all, what lifeless, broken, and stammering prayers! You thus see, my brethren, how easily it might happen that even a believing Christian might appear to me in an ordinary and contemptible light, according to the point of view in which I regarded him.
How then did the Apostle contemplate the follower of Jesus? And according to what did he judge the worshipper of the Lamb? Not according to that which he once had been; not according to that which he is at present; not according to the opinion of the world; nor yet to that which the Christian entertains of himself; not according to what he is personally ; and much less that which he is to outward eyes. Paul judges the Christian according to what he is in Christ Jesus; and viewing him in this aspect, he beholds a being who inspires him with the deepest astonishment, and at the same time with the most lively joy. In him he discerns the merits of the great pledge, and views him as being represented by the Lord Jesus.
You know what is meant by Jesus standing as his representative. It is the most blessed and glorious thing announced to us in the whole gospel : indeed, without it there would be no gospel, for it is the gospel itself. Christ, in our stead, performed all that was necessary to deliver his people from sin and condemnation. In our name he fulfilled all that was required for our justification and happiness; and that so perfectly and fully, that nothing more was necessary to reconcile us with God. We have nothing more to do than to enjoy the fruit of that which he has done, and with a conscience void of offence, avail ourselves of his merits. In Christ, being our representative, we behold the great article which is unspeakably precious to those who, perceiving their own accursed condition, desire to find a bridge over the abyss, strong enough to resist the shock of all the mountains of ice which may float against it. I am aware there are many among you to whom the glorious doctrine that Christ has performed all that is necessary to our justification, is a cause of offence; because a few cast-aways have perverted it to their own condemnation. On this account
you have added so many clauses and explanations, as to say the least, have encumbered and weakened, if not completely altered its meaning. Ye resemble that foolish master of a family, who, in the confusion caused by thieves breaking into his house, threw his most precious furniture out of the window. Ye fools, do what ye please in order to justify your
selves-as for us, we will hold fast this glorious doctrine, and never let it go while we live!
But where does it stand in Scripture ? Before your eyes, my brethren. Read! “Because we thus judge,” writes Paul,“ that if one died for all, then were all dead." This is a most important sentence, though at first it may not appear so; and is a strong pillar among the most consoling truths in the whole Bible. “Because we thus judge,” says Paul, “ We”—for he speaks in the name of the solemn conclave of the apostles; and truly with Moses and the prophets they constitute here a glorious assembly. The word “we,” as Paul makes use of it, betokens more than when it is uttered by the mouth of the most powerful king or emperor. “We thus judge,” or in other words, we declare our conviction-of what? that if one died for all, then were all dead.” But how can this be ? Is it really so ? Supposing a warrior dies for us in the field of combat, must we therefore all die ? If my friend cast himself into my burning house, to save my most precious treasure, and perish in the flames, he dies for me; but do I necessarily die also ? Assuredly not. Then does not St. Paul speak unintelligibly? No, my brethren, that which he says is full of meaning, and contains a deep and mysterious truth. The difficulty can be explained simply and easily. The word which has been translated in our text “ for,” has also another meaning, “instead of,” which it appears to me ought to have been taken in this case. Translating it therefore, “if one died instead of all," we have surely ground for saying, that together with him, or in him, all died. They no