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COLOSSUNS, II. 15!.
RELIGION is the beft inheritance of man. It fills the heart with peace, and hope, and joy. Religion affifts man to direct his own powevsj and to govern his own paffions; to fee God in all events, to acquiefce in fevereft trials; to endure forrows, and enjoy profperity. The fhafts of mifery are broken; their poifon reaches not the heart, wanned with chriftian love. The gathering clouds of anxiety, which obftruct every profpect of delight, are fbattered by the rays, beaming from the fun of righteoufnefs. The breaft throbbing with guilt and remorfe is foothed and cheered by a view of'Calvary, and the Saviour bleeding on the crofs. The prefent world affumes a new complexion, and. futurity opens with undefendable fplendor. The gofpel appears excellent; its doctrines reafonable, and confifteut; its duties practicable, and pleafant ;, its promifeSj fatisfying and glorious..
The adamantine heart is diffolved by the pervading influence of the gofpel; lions and lambs are united; and hoftile fpirits become friends and brothers. They are allied to angels; they are in union with God. They are one with Chrift, as he is one with the father. They are the fons of God, are entitled to thrones of glory, and enjoy heaven, while on earth. Gofpel truth is the fountain of this felicity. But errors dangerous, often mingle with truth; the effefts are deplorable; the profpecT: is melancholy.
Many errors incorporated with the chriftian fyftem, many abfurdities, which bewilder the minds of men, have their origin in figurative expreffions. Giving thefe a literal interpretation, or fuppofing them to mean more than the author defigned, equally diverts the reader from truth and fafety. A mifapplication of fcripture figures has, frequently, been the occafion of opinions, abfurd; of rites, fnperftitious and injurious; of doctrines, wicked and impious. The moft irrational parts of the papal religion, the moft ridiculous rites, adopted by fanatics, have been the offspring of figures, mifunderftood.
In the text and context is a fucceffion of figures,, defigned in different ways, to illufirate and enforce the fame fact. Verfe 11. "In whom alfo ye are circumcifed •with the circurncifion, made without hands, in putting off the body of the fins of the flefh by the circumcifion of Chrift." That is, in, putting off the old man, you are circumcifed without hands; the work is effected by the Holy Spirit.—You are born again, which is fpiritual circumcifion. "Circumcifion is that of the heart" This renewing of the Holy Spirit confifts in putting off the body of fin, in renouncing fin, and reforming the life. Or, we are "buried with him in baptifm." As the burial of Jefus Chrift gave evidence, that he had really died, the juft for the unjuft; that he had yielded himfelf a facrifice for fin; fo we in our fpiritual circumcifion or baptifm, the figure now ufed, fhow ourfelves to be really dead to fin, crucified in the lufts of our minds. As Chrift, when buried, was dead and feparated from the world; fo in regeneration we become feparate from, fin. We are new creatures, having put off the old man. We are buried from the wicked indulgences and purfuits of the world.
The death, burial, and refurre&ion of Chrift, are, not only caufes, but types and fymbols ta reprefent the death of our fins, our putting off the old man, and becoming new creatures.*
No reference is made in the text to the water of baptifm, any more than to the knife of circumcifion in the preceding verfe. The Writer is fpeaking of that baptifm, and of that alone, in which we "are rifen with Chrift, through the faith, which is the operation of God." This certainly can be nothing lefs than fpiritua! baptifm, or regeneration; for the moft violent advocate for dipping, or plunging, or burying, will not pretend, that this, neceffarily, is connected with " faith;" he will allow it may be pojjtble for a man. to be plunged and buried in water, and yet not have " the faith, which is the operation of God." If he allow this, and allow this he muft and will, then our text is no fupport of his caufe. It cannot be watef baptifm, which is mentioned.
* See Pool's Synopfls on the text, Henry, Edwards, Cleaveland, Guife, Watts, &c.
Were not this the fad, nothing could be inferred refpe&ing the mode of baptifm. It would then only fignify that, as Chrift was buried and feparated from the world; fo we in baptifm are buried and feparated from a world of fm. The zeal for the literal conftruction of this figure may, perhaps, be extinguifhed by indulging it in other inftances. St. Paul fays, " I am crucified with Chrift." Would any perfon fuppofe from this, that he had been led to Calvary, nailed to the crofs, and pierced by the foldier's fpear? Chriftians are faid to be "circumcifed in Chrift." Does any one infer from this that all chriftians experience the bloody rite of die Jews? Or, becaufe chriftians "are partakers of Chrift's fufferings," are all chriftians, therefore, betrayed by Judas, fpit upon, buffeted, and crowned with thorns? Or, becaufe St. Paul fays the Phillippians were his " crown,'" were they, therefore, formed into a crown of honor, and worn as a badge of future glory? Or, becaufe the facrament reprefents the fufferings and death of Chrift, are all worthy communicants crucified? Were our Baptift brethren confident with themfelves, fuch would be their explanation of thefe paflages of fcripture.
It immediately follows our text; "wherein alfo you were rifen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raifed him from the dead." Wherein, or in which baptifm "we are rifen," actually "rifen with Chrift by the faith" which God gives to the new creature. You, who have this fpiritual baptifm, rife like Chrift above the felfifh motives, and fenfual purfuits of a fallen world. You feek the kingdom, of God; you afpire after divine good.
Perfons, born again, like Jefus Chrift, feparate their hearts from the world, and rife to a divine life. That this is the only true conftru&ion of the text * may be inferred from a correfponding paflage. Rom vi. 4. "Therefore we are buried with him by baptiftn into death, that like as Chrift Was raifed from the dead by the glory of the father^ even fo we a.lfo mould walk in newnefs of life." By fpiritual baptifm we partake the privileges of Chrift's death. By dying to fin ourfelves, as we do in the new birth, we refemble Jefus Chrift in his death, who died "to make an end of fin." As Chrift was raifed from the grave; fo we, not in water baptifm, but in regeneration or fpiritual baptifm, are' "raifed" to walk in newnefs of life. Old things are done away; all things are become new. If we have experienced this fpiritual baptifm, we mall have the fpirit of Chrift. We fhall he feparate from the world of fin, as Chrift was in the grave, and we mall like him rife to a holy, a new life. We obey a new mafter, feek a new way of falvation, act from new motives, to accomplifh new defigns; we choofe new companions, experience new forrows, and new joys. As if buried, we are feparate from our former lives.
Doftrine. In regeneration we are new creatures. In attending to this, we mail fhow in a few particulars that chriftians are new creatures, and then the reafonablenefs of this change.
1. Chriftians are new creatures.
Thofe, who experience the change, mentioned in the text, have a new temper of heart.
Before regeneration, they fought worldly pleafure; they are now mortified to the world; they were before, lovers of the world, they are now