« EelmineJätka »
agency concerned in this stupendous event, and that agency was God's. The apostle Peter ascribes it to the agency of the Omnipotent : "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death." The fact that the resurrection of Christ is sometimes ascribed to the power of God the Father, and sometimes to himself, shows that there is such unity between the Father and the Son, that the power of the one is identical with the power of the other.
The spiritual resurrection of the believer is an effect for which we must seek an adequate and appropriate cause. There is an efficient agency, and an appropriate instrumentality. The nature of the effect produced and the manner in which it is described by the sacred writers, clearly indicate a superhuman agency. No one rises from the death of sin to the life of religion by any efforts of his own, except as such efforts are made effectual by the co-operating agency of the Holy Spirit. Reference to one or two passages will be sufficient to determine the nature of the agency concerned in the spiritual resurrection of the believer. Addressing Christians of Ephesus, Paul says, "You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins." The agent here spoken of is expressly mentioned in the following passage :-" 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." The fact is here noticed, that it is the agency of God which is exerted as the efficient cause of the new life imparted to the believer. He hath quickened us together with Christ. The resurrection of Christ is treated by the apostle as having an intimate relation to the restoration of spiritual life to the believer-the latter event being dependent. on, or connected with, the former. "As Christ was dead," says a popular commentator, "but was made alive by God's power, and awakened and set on God's throne, so has God with Christ made alive, awakened and transferred to the heavenly state, those who were dead through their sins." "He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." The apostle in another place refers to "the exceeding greatness of God's power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead." The main thing which Paul illustrates in the first and second chapters of his epistle to the Ephesians, is the power which God has manifested in renewing and saving his people. The leading idea is, that the same power is evinced in the work, which was required to raise up the Lord Jesus from the dead.
From these explicit statements it is evident, that in the spiritual resurrection of the believer a Divine agency is em
ployed, and that no other agency is competent to such a work. The work of spiritual resurrection by a Divine agency was recognized under the ancient dispensation. The vision of dry bones as represented by Ezekiel, may be viewed as symbolizing the manner of the believer's restoration to the higher life of religion. The prophet proclaimed the word of God, and there followed a movement among the dry bones. They came together, bone to his bone. The sinews and flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them. But there was as yet. no breath in them. Then, in answer to prayer, the Spirit's life-giving breath came into them, and they lived. Here there is recognized a preliminary instrumentality, as being connected with the event. There was the prophet's dispensation of God's message, and this was followed with prayer. "Come, O breath, and breathe upon the dead." Human and Divine agency were both concerned in this symbolic resurrection. So are the same agencies recognized in the Gospel, as exerted in the spiritual resurrection of which Christians are subjects. An instrumentality has been provided, adapted to the work, the use of which is as necessary as is the agency of the Divine Spirit. The Spirit does not effectually operate except in connection with the appropriate instrumentality; and the use of the instrumentality will avail nothing without the Spirit. This instrumentality is found in religious truth as revealed in the Scriptures; and the ministry is one of the agencies constituted for applying it to the work to be accomplished.
Nor is this all the agency that is concerned in the work. In addition to the Spirit's influence, and the application of truth by the ministry, there is man's own activity. He is not so acted upon in being raised from spiritual death as to supersede the appropriate exertions, of which, as a free moral agent, he is capable, and for which he is held responsible.
III. The susceptibility to the attraction of heaven of which the new-born soul is conscious.
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above." The idea is clearly implied that such conduct will follow as the result of a resurrection to the higher life of religion. When one is by birth introduced into this world, he soon begins to feel the attractive power of its objects. This is true of infancy, which has its little world of attractions. It is so with childhood, and with youth, and with manhood. In the transition from one condition to another, new objects are presented, and new attractive forces are experienced in view of them.
When the dead spirit is made a subject of the spiritual resurrection, being raised with Christ, new objects are brought
into the field of moral vision possessed of peculiar and powerful attractions, which appeal to the renovated soul with resistless charms. These things above, are what the Gospel reveals as blessed verities pertaining to the heavenly state. It is sufficient to remark in respect to them, that they include whatever is essential to a condition of perfect happiness. In specifying some of these things we mention perfect freedom from sin, and its guilty stains. Sin is the curse that blights humanity, and the cause of our fears and calamities.
Eternal freedom from sin and guilt, and the enjoyment of the peace with which it is connected, is one of the attractive things for which the Christian waits and longs. There is no deliverance from the storms of suffering and trial, which so often darken and disturb the scenes of our earthly pilgrimage. No barriers we may erect by the aid of our fortunes, our friendships, or our virtues, can protect us from those evils which a wise God visits upon his children, as the needful discipline of the spirit that it may be purified for its heavenly condition. The peace of this condition shall be as a river, whose calm surface shall never be lashed with the tempestits onward flow never obstructed by adverse obstacle.
Among the things above whose attractions appeal to the renewed soul, is a mansion in that temple, whose worshippers will serve God day and night before his throne-whence there shall beam on them the radiance of a Father's love. "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them nor any heat. For the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." O what a contrast between the things above, which attract the affections of him who has experienced the power of a spiritual resurrection; and the things on earth, which attract with such fatal fascination the worldly-minded. There, the communion and fellowship of redeemed spirits will not be disturbed by the outbursts of jealousy and unkindness, or by the lamentable inconsistencies so often witnessed in the church below. There, certainty of knowledge will preclude all error, delusion and doubt. Here we know only in part; but there shall we know as we are known. There shall be solved the mysteries which pained and perplexed us during the pilgrimage of life.
Raised with Christ to the privileges and honors of such a resurrection, it is manifest how believers are exalted to heavenly places, where they may have a clear and ravishing vision of those things above, whose matchless attractions must appeal with power to every pious heart. These things which mortal eye hath not seen, may be so contemplated with the eye of faith, that the soul shall be absorbed with their spiritual beauties, and supernal glories. How reasonable the counsel of our text,-" if ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above"-open your heart to the full power of their attractions-let them withdraw you wholly from the treacherous vanities of earth.
"Thrice happy world, where gilded toys
No more disturb our thoughts, no more pollute our joys!
And truth forever shines, and love forever burns."
Does any one ask,-in what consist those attractions, which draw the regenerate spirit upward with such power and pleasure? The answer is obvious :-the attracting elements of that world are purity and charity. There will be experienced no annoying consciousness of imperfection, no hankering after forbidden pleasures-no repinings awakened by the painful mysteries of providence. Every heart is pure; and in its purity it can enjoy God. There, too, is the reign of heaven-born charity,-that charity which the apostle has described with a spirit bathed in unearthly elements, -with a pen dipped in the tints of the rainbow which hangs its arch of glory over the throne of the Lamb. No germ of selfishness. opens there its lurid and offensive blossoms; no petty rivalries and jealousies create discordant tones in the heavenly anthem; no pride sets up its narrow-souled pretensions; no breath of scandal taints the air of paradise; no unkind breezes create a ripple in the river of pleasure, which waters and refreshes the heavenly fields-All is love, joy, peace, unalloyed-uninterrupted-unending.
From the foregoing remarks it follows that a conscious susceptibility to the attraction of things above, is a distinct element of Christian character. The new-born spirit, having risen with Christ, naturally seeks heavenly objects, attracted by their transcendent worth and loveliness. They offer to the mind objects fitted to satisfy its largest cravings and loftiest aspirations. Worldly minds feel and obey the force of a downward gravitation. But it is not so-so it cannot be with the spiritual mind. If risen with Christ, its aspirations will
be heavenward. Impeded the Christian may be by the counteracting tendencies of indwelling sin, and the allurements of the world, in his efforts to maintain his upward way, and keep his affections on things above. But risen with Christ, he will feel the impulses of a heavenward tendency, bearing his soul upward as on the eagle's wing, where it may enjoy communion with the unrivalled objects of the New Jerusalem.
Whoever is conscious of being uninterested in those things above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God; or conscious of being more strongly interested by worldly objects, amusements and pleasures than by the attractions of heaven, may conclude that he has never experienced the power of a spiritual resurrection. I submit the solemn question to your common sense whether the man who has risen with Christ to the possession of that higher life which the Holy Spirit breathes into the soul, will be captivated with the ephemeral, delusive, ensnaring attractions of worldly objects, or worldly amusements? Will such a man seek his pleasure on the enchanted ground of sin and Satan? Will he relish the absorbing excitements and brilliant follies of the ball-room; or the theatre with its imposing exhibitions, or the sporting saloon with its revelry and perilous indulgences?
Tell me not that a soul which has experienced the power of a spirtual resurrection can be charmed with the attraction of such things, instead of being captivated with the sublime realities and glories which Jesus has revealed. No-its aspirations must be heavenward, and kindling with the heavenly fires of its original constitution, it will seek its native realm above the skies. It cannot relish the pleasures of sin, after having tasted the joys of that higher sphere to which it is introduced by its spiritual birth. Risen with Christ, you will set your affections on things above, and hold sweet communion with heavenly realities.
The subject is commended to your earnest attention, Christian brethren, as one whose faithful application will furnish a searching test of character. Can you bear the application, and come forth from the trial of your experience and your hopes, rejoicing in the assurance that you have indeed risen with Christ to the undying activities and elevated pleasures of the new and higher life of faith and charity? If so, then are you dead to sin, its pleasures, friendships and pursuits. And more you are alive unto God, his service, his honor and his kingdom. The standard which the text proposes is elevated; but you must walk by it or renounce the hope that you have risen with Christ. He must live in you-in you his spirit must dwell, or you cannot be his disciple.