Page images
PDF
EPUB

suppose that this means, the emerging or rising out from the baptismal font, is to nullify the passage altogether; and yet if we take the first step in this way, consistency demands that we should take this also. This, however, cannot be admitted; for a participation in the likeness of Christ's resurrection is promised here, as a reward to those who will consent to partake in the likeness of his death ; but surely to suppose that the mere emerging from the baptismal font, should be held out as a reward to those who would consent to be submerged, seems not very reasonable. Partaking in the likeness of Christ's resurrection, cannot mean any thing short of partaking with Him in his true resurrection ; and thus we are constrained to interpret the partaking in the likeness of his death, as a partaking in his true death. Every act of selfdenial, in the spirit of faith, is a real conformity to his death; and every such act will be followed by a real rising out from the power of sin and death. Such voluntary acts of death, and such rewards of resurrection, are of the same nature with the ultimate acts and rewards, and truly preparatory to them; and therefore the language which belongs pro

perly to the one class, is also applicable to the other.

Ver. 5—10, “ For if we be planted or united with him, in the likeness of his death, or by dying the same death, we shall be also united with him in the likeness of his resurrection, or by rising as he did. Understanding this, (by the likeness of his death,) that our old man is crucified, (with him, or,) as it was in him, in order that the body or power of sin should be destroyed, so that we should no longer serve sin—for he who thus dies is delivered from sin, But if we die with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, understanding this, (concerning his life,) that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over bim ; for in that he died, he died unto sin (or under the condemnation of sin,) oncebut in that he liveth, he liveth unto God, or by the life of God.”

Our old man," in verse 6th, evidently means, the human nature, (as distinct from the individuals planted in it,) animated by the selfish principle—that nature into which Jesus came, that he might shed out its evil life-blood. And the purport of the verse seems to me, to define what is meant by a

8th verse.

likeness to Christ's death, showing it to be no forensic thing, but a real substantial personal thing. I have sometimes thought that the 7th verse refers to Jesus, and shows the consequences of his death to himself, thus indicating what consequences we might expect from a similar death. The words will bear it perfectly,—the : (the article) standing for avtos—and this would agree well with the

The 9th and 10th verses define the likeness of his life, just as verse 6th defined the likeness of his death. And then verses 11th, 12th, and 13th, contain an ex. hortation founded on these foregoing definitions.

The interpretation which I have given of this passage, may disappoint those who have been accustomed to regard it as a description of forensic, or imputed righteousness ; and yet I think, that if they will compare

it with the passages, 2 Tim. ii. 11, “ If ye die with Him, ye shall live with Him;"John xii. 24, “ Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone;”1 Peter iv. 1, 2, “ For as much then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves therefore with the same mind, for he - that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased

from sin ;" they will feel constrained, in can.dour to admit, that it belongs to the same class with them,—so great is the similarity of the form of thought and expression through them all. They must also see how exactly it coincides with the principle declared in the parable of the Potter; and how consistent it is with the uniform tenor of the views contained in this epistle, on the subject of “ the righteousness of faith,”—and especially with that definition of it, which is given in chap. iii. 21, 25, where it is said, that the Father set forth Jesus to make “ propitia. tion through faith and with his own blood, to declare His righteousness,” or as a pattern of the righteousness which He required in man, and which He would acknowledge in .

man.

The broswpia, the likeness, in the one passage, agrees exactly with the is evdušiv —as a specimen, (as the phrase might well be translated,) in the other. He who crucifies the old man in himself, manifests a likeness to the specimen or model of righteousness, which the Father hath set before us in Jesus.

To the list of parallel passages given above, I ought to add Philip. ii. 5–12; “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ

Jesus,” &c. Christ's yielding up of himself to the Father's will, in perfect confiding love, although he knew that that will was to bruise him and slay him, was his righteousness; and this righteousness was the propitiation for the human race, inasmuch as it was rewarded by the favour of God, and by his being made the fountain-head of the Spirit of God, to the whole race, so that within the limits of their own nature, all men might have that same Spirit by which Jesus was righteous, to enable them also to return to God and be righteous, even as he was. And thus the righteousness of Christ which was the propitiation for the race, is the mould and model of all the righteousness of the race; and the same Spirit of loving confidence wbich produced it in him, is still stored up for us in him, as a fountain out of which streams ever run, which produce it in all those who will accept it.

And as in him, we have the abundance of “ the gift,” so have we also in him the abundance of “the grace,” which gave the gift; for he is to us the continual objective manifestation of that original, central, love of God, from which the whole scheme of salvation emanated, and which is indeed the true

« PreviousContinue »