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The prayer which we found on a consideration of our sacramental death with Christ in baptism, consists of two petitions. We implore a conformity to Christ-in His burial, and in His resurrection.
The burial of our Lord Jesus Christ was ne. cessary for the purpose of demonstrating the reality of His death. With a view to this the malice of the Jews was providentially overruled. Their anxiety to detect a supposed imposture, by rolling a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, by adding to its security the seal of office and a guard of soldiers, effectually proved that the victim of their fury was indeed dead. In like manner the truth of our conformity to Christ in a death unto sin must be demonstrated by the burial of all our lusts,
That which is buried is put away in disgust. A dead body has lost all its charms, and if retained would corrupt and be offensive. By the awful change which death produces we are constrained to remove from our embrace and sight the dearest objects of our love. (Gen, xxviii. 4.) Thus must sin be dealt with. And however dear it may have been to us in the days of our guilty association with it, so soon as our old man is crucified with Christ, we become anxious to be separated for ever from it. Such was the solicitude of St. Paul, which is elegantly expressed by an allusion to the circumstance we have described. (Rom, vii. 24.) “O wretched man « that I am! who shall deliver me from the ” body of this death?” He felt like a criminal chained to a dead and putrid carcase, and longed for deliverance from it. His sinful nature was loathsome to him, and he anxiously wished for a separation from so hateful a
companion. Reader, do your sensibilities correspond with his ? Surely if you are dead with Christ, you must be earnestly solicitous for a complete deliverance from sin.
The body that is buried is removed out of sight. We have nothing more to do with it. All our delight in it and satisfaction from it are at an end; all concern about its gratification and preservation ceases for ever. Thus should the believer feel towards the body of sin. He is to « reckon himself to be dead indeed unto sin.” He is to consider the connection between him and sin to be entirely dissolved. Sin is no more to have dominion over him, for he is not under the law but under grace.
The body of Christ lost in the grave all its earthly properties. It became on its resurrection spiritual and immortal. It needed no longer the same kind of aliment by which it was before sustained. It was no longer governed by the same laws, nor subject to the same restraints. It felt no longer the same wants, nor was liable to the same injuries and sufferings as before. And in like manner those who are buried with Christ leave in the grave of nature their earthly and carnal properties. They become new creatures. Old things pass away, and all things become new.
The identity of Christ's body before and after His resurrection is to be maintained. It was essentially the same body and its members were the same.
So also the newborn soul is not a new creation in the strict sense of the word as it means a production from nothing. But it is newly formed.* It is capable
* Kriols evidently means formation and not creation as it is used in Heb. ix. 11. And the verb Krisw signifies to produce from pre-existent matter in i Cor. xi. 9. Comp. Eph,
of new exertions, lives on different food, and for ends and purposes opposite to those of its natural state. Though it possesses the same faculties, yet these are endued with new qualifications, and are employed on objects totally distinct from its former pursuits.
It may be asked, How is this mystic burial* with Christ eflected ? The
The agency which produces it is Divine; but the regenerate soul is, by Divine agency, rendered active in the work. By a continual mortification of corrupt affections, by a watchful opposition to every desire of 'the flesh, the body of sin is gradually destroyed, and at length finally separated from the redeemed spirit. To this our sacramental engagements bind us; and it becomes us seriously to inquire, Whether we are mindful of them. For unless we are conformed to Christ in His burial, we have no reason to expect conformity to Him in His resurrection.
When Christ expired, the heavens were clad in deep mourning, and the bosom of the earth beneath was rent asunder. But these tokens of distress were preparatory to the brightness of returning day, and enhanced the gladness of that morning when Christ arose.
In like manner those who are mortifying their corrupt affections wear the mourning garb of penitence, but that will soon be exchanged for the garments of salvation. God will “ appoint unto them “ that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty “ for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the
garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."
* Whether baptism be performed by aspersion or immersion, the allusion to sepulture will be maintained. For when a dead body is interred, dust is first sprinkled orer it, and then it is covered with earth.
(Isa. Ixi. 3.) The promises of God warrant this expectation, and therefore the members of our church are instructed to implore a conformity to Christ in His resurrection.
There is a twofold conformity to Christ in His death and resurrection, which His redeemed experience by virtue of their union with Him. First, a spiritual conformity: for, through faith in His name, they “ die to sin and rise again “ unto righteousness."
66 Their old man is “ crucified with Christ, that the body of sin “ might be destroyed, that thenceforth they "s should not serve sin.” Of this spiritual conformity to the death and resurrection of Christ we have already spoken.
But, secondly, believers are outwardly conformed to their adorable head in His death and resurrection. For as Christ died, so must they also in a natural sense. As His body lay in the grave, so likewise must their bodies. And as His body arose from the grave, so also shall theirs. For this literal resurrection we taught to pray in the conclusion of our collect, where we beseech God “that, through the grave “ and gate of death, we may pass to our joyful
resurrection, for His merits, who died, and “ was buried, and rose again for us, His Son " Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“ It is appointed unto men once to die." “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," was part of the original sentence pronounced on Adam as the representative of all his posterity. This sentence has been fulfilling from the time of the fall to the present hour, and will continue to be fulfilled to the consummation of all things. Believers as well as others must experience a dissolution of nature, a separation of
soul and body. But their death is no part of the punishment due to sin, for that has been borne by Christ in their stead; but it is the abolition of sin, and a passage to life eternal.
It is certain that the separation of the believer's body and soul is not death, in the strict and penal sense of the word, as a part of the curse. For both our Lord and His Apostles have assured us, that believers do not, and cannot die. The cause of death being taken away with respect to them, the effect ceases. The crime being pardoned, the punishment due to it cannot justly be inflicted. Christ their surety having died for them, they are redeemed from death. This is plain from many declarations and promises of Scripture. « Verily, verily, I say unto
you, he that heareth my word, and believeth
on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, " and shall not come into condemnation, but is “ passed from death unto life.” (John v. 24.)
Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep
my saying, he shall never see death.” (John viii. 51.) « Jesus said unto her, I am the resur" rection and the life: he that believeth on me, “though he were dead, yet shall he live, and " whosoever liveth and believeth on me, shall “ never die.” (John xi. 25, 26.) “The wages “ of sin is death: but the gift of God is eternal “ life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. vi. 23.) “ The grace which was given us in “ Christ before the world began, is now made “ manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus
Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath
brought life and immortality to light by the “ Gospel.” (2 Tim. i. 10.) « We know that “we are passed from death unto life.” (1 John iii. 14;)