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madman, not only by the prejudiced Jews, but judged to be so likewise by his own friends : who when they heard of his preaching to the multitude, and of his ordaining twelve Apostles, they went out to lay hold of him, for they said he is beside himself.
The explanation of all this consists in putting together and reflecting on several distinct considerations-namely, the intrinsic nature of Christian doctrine itself, in all respects utterly unlike any human inventions; the indisposition of mankind to receive it; and the absolute necessity of enforcing it with zeal, and ardour, and perseverance.
First, The intrinsic nature of Christian doctrine. “ If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away,” says St. Paul; and to the same effect, “Ye must be born again,” says our Saviour to Nicodemus.
Second, The indisposition of mankind, who are described as “fools, and slow of heart” in believing the important truths of the Scriptures. “ How can these things be?” said Nicodemus, though à master of Israel : the thing seems impossible. To be in Christ, and to become a new creature,
was “ foolishness to the Greeks, and to the Jews a stumbling-block.” These difficulties, however, must be fairly met by every faithful minister of Christ: they must be encountered; they must be surmounted. And the two circumstances which enable the Christian instructor to obtain victory in this contest, are, an awful reverence in his own mind for the Divine character, and a deep sense of the importance of the duties he has to discharge. The glory of God is the main spring of all his actions; and he knows that the glory of God is most signally displayed in the salvation of sinners.
Then his ardent love for the souls of his fellowcreatures gives a practical energy to his sense of duty, and impels him to an habitual diligence in the discharge of it. Like St. Paul, he feels even “a necessity laid upon him :" woe unto him if he does not preach the Gospel with vigour! For this matter must not be done by halves; neither must the essential doctrines of salvation be tampered with. Mark the conduct of the great Apostle, St. Paul: No man was ever more completely free from bigotry of every species : he“ became all things to all men, that he might save some"that is, he laid not the smallest stress on things
that were not essential ;-yet this very Apostle, the most candid and liberal among men, tells his Galatian converts, that he “ did not give place by subjection, no, not for an hour,” to the insinua. tions of false brethren, who were likely to injure the pure doctrines of the Gospel of Christ. Such is the character of the Apostle, who, in the words of my text, assures us, that " if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature;” that “old things are passed away, and all things become new.”
So very great things are constantly ascribed, especially in the New Testament, to our being in Christ, that it becomes an inquiry of the utmost importance to settle the meaning of the expression. Not only the man who is in Christ, is called “ a new creature," but it is declared, with the most marked precision, that “ there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” Then, to be in Christ Jesus, is a matter of so much importance, that those who are already in him are particularly exhorted to take especial care that they abide in him: “And now, little children,” says St. John, “abide in him.” Moreover, the connection between Christ and his true disciples is so close, that, in a spiritual
sense, they are said to "eat his flesh and drink his blood ;" and that, in so doing, “they dwell in him and he in them :” and to this end, when we receive the holy communion we solemnly pray that we may, in a spiritual sense, become “partakers of the body and blood of Christ,” and “that we may so eat his flesh and drink his blood, that we may dwell in him, and he in us.”—Such expressions are doubtless metaphorical in a high degree, and it may be difficult to ascertain their precise meaning; yet it is very evident they are a great deal too strong to be confined to the mere name and outward profession of Christianity. No considerate and sensible man, I ain persuaded, will contend that such expressions and descriptions of being “ in Christ,” imply no more than that we happen to be born in a country where Christianity is professed; or that we are enrolled among real Christians by “the outward and visible sign, or form, in baptisın,” without any necessity for “the inward and spiritual grace, It is very true, that the conversion of heathens, in the primitive times, to the religion of Christ, was attended with external circumstances more obvious and striking to the senses than those which now mark
the conduct of believers in countries where Christianity is supported by the laws and government of the community; and on this very account there is too much reason to fear that many persons content themselves with very low notions of being "in Christ,” and of “the new creature in Christ Jesus." They are born in a Christian country; they live among those who profess the name of Christ; they have been baptized in a manner agreeable to the express mandate of Christ ; they support the character of decent, and even useful citizens; they are free from the imputation of gross vices; they prosecute their daily occupations with a laudable industry; and they communicate occasionally, among others, at the Lord's Supper :- who shall undertake to say that such persons are not in Christ, when in fact they never belonged to any other religion than that of Jesus? Admit that they possess not the characteristic mark of being in Christ laid down by St. Paul, of being new creatures ; yet this is because they have from their birth been uniformly the same, and never belonged to any other sector denomination but that of Christians: they have therefore had no opportunity of becoming new men, or new characters.