« PreviousContinue »
The EPISTLE for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity.
Rom. vi. 3- 12.
Know ye not, that fo many of us, as were baptized into Jefus Chrift, were baptized into his Death? Therefore we are buried with him by Baptifm into Death; that like as Chrift was raised up. from the Dead by the Glory of the Father, even So we also fhould walk in Newness of Life, &c.
THE Collect for this Day minds us of the good things which God hath prepar'd for them that love him, which are indeed fuch as pafs Man's Understanding; and from thence teaches us to pray to him to pour into our Hearts fuch Love towards him, that we loving him above all things, may obtain his Promifes, which exceed all that we can defire, thro Jefus Chrift our Lord.
Now because these good things are obtain'd for us by the Death of Chrift, and the Promifes of them depend much upon his Refurrection; therefore the Epiftle for the Day mentions our Conformity to both, as the best Means to procure a Title to them, and to fecure an Interest in them which things are reprefented to us in our Baptifm, and the Profeffion made in it obliges us to them.
As for our Conformity to the Death of Chrift, the Apoftle asks the Question in the beginning, Know ye not, that So many of us, as were baptized into Chrift, were baptized into his Death? meaning, that 'twas a thing well known among Chriftians, that the Immersion in Baptifm refer'd to the Death of Chrift: the patting the Perfon baptiz'd into the Water, reprefented and proclaim'd his Death; and the plunging him over head and ears in the Water, according to the Cuftom of thofe Countries, fignify'd their being bu ry'd with Christ. Therefore (faith the Apoftle in the next
Verfe) we are buried with him by Baptifm into Death: Our being dip'd in Water in the Font being a Sacred Figure of his being dip'd in Blood, and laid up in the Grave; which in the next Verfe is ftil'd, our being planted together in the Likeness of his Death, that like as Chrift was fwallow'd up of Death, and bury'd in the Earth, fo we are overwhelm'd in Baptifm, and bury'd in the Water.
This is briefly our Conformity to Chrift's Death, as 'tis reprefented in Baptifm; the End whereof is to mortify and kill Sin in us: and therefore antiently they who were baptiz'd were wont to put off their Garments, as a Sign or Token of their putting off the whole Body of Sin, and being dead to it as we fhall fee after.
As for our Conformity to Chrift's Refurrection, that likewife is here fet forth as represented in Baptifm: for as the being cover'd all over in Water, according to the antient Ceremony, fignify'd the being dead and bury'd with Chrift, fo the rifing up again out of the Water, fignify'd their rifing again with Chrift: that like as he was rais'd from the Dead by the Glory of his Father, even so we also should walk in Newness of Life, and as we are planted in the Likeness of his Death, Jo are we in the Likeness of his Refurrection: the dipping of the Body under the Water, and the rifing of it again out of the Water in Baptifm, being lively Symbols and Figures of both.
But what were the Ends or defign'd Effects of this Likenefs or Conformity to Chrift's Death and Refurrection? Why, that the following Part of this Epiftle will inform us. And,
Firft, The End of our Conformity to Chrift's Death was (as I hinted before), the killing of Sin in us, and the forfaking of it in the whole Courfe of our Converfation: fo the next words fpeak of it as a thing well known and taken for granted; Knowing this (faith the Apoftle) that our old Man is crucified with him, that the Body of Sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not ferve Sin. Where, by the old Man, we are to understand that Corruption of Nature, which we deriv'd from our firft Parents, whereby all the Faculties of the Soul, and the Members of the Body be came the Inftruments and Servants of Sin. This Depravednefs of Nature is in Scripture often call'd the old Man, which is corrupt according to the finful Lufts. Now the End of Chrift's Death was to crucify this old Man; and our conforming to it, is to have it crucify'd with him: fo
St. Paul declares of himfelf, I am crucify'd with Chrift, Gal. 2. 20. Because the World is apt to draw us into the Love and Service of the old Man, he tells us, that the World was crucify'd unto him, and he unto the World; Gal. 6. 14. withal minding us, that they that are Chrift's have crucified the Flesh with the Affections and Lufts; Gal. 5. 24. And all this, that the Body of Sin may be deftroy'd in us. St. Paul complain'd of this Body of Sin as the greatest Burden he groan'd under, and of which he most defir'd to be eas'd, faying, O wretched Man that I am! who shall deliver me from this Body of Sin and Death? Rom. 7. 24. Now Chrift by his Death hath deliver'd us from this Body of Death; and our being baptiz'd into his Death at once reprefents and entitles us to that Deliverance, by which we are fo far made free, that henceforth we should not ferve Sin: which Freedom hath deliver'd us both from the Power and the Guilt of Sin.
As for the Power of Sin, that is destroy'd for us by the Power of Divine Grace; infomuch that Sin fhall no longer reign in our mortal Bodies, that we should obey it in the Lufts thereof. Sin indeed domineers and rules in the Hearts of the Children of Difobedience; it hath fet up its Empire or Kingdom within them, and fo made them Slaves and Vaffals to their vile Affections; but this Kingdom is pull'd down and deftroy'd by the Influence of the Divine Spirit : fo that now if we manfully withstand it, it can have no Dominion over us, and without our own yielding and confent it cannot prevail againft us; its Power is broken, and the Grace of God is fufficient to fortify us against its strongest Temptations which made St. Paul fay, that he could do all things thro Chrift that ftrengthned him.
And as the Power of Sin is deftroy'd, fo is the Guilt of it remov'd by the Death of Chrift; the Sting of it is pluckt out, and it can now do us no more harm than a dead Lion or a painted Serpent; the Cry of it is filenc'd by the Blood of Chrift, and its Obligation to Punishment wholly taken off by his pardoning Grace: for there is now no Condemnation to them that are in Chrift Jefus, who walk not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit. Rom. 8. 1.
These things are all confirm'd to us in the next words For he that is dead is freed from Sin. As a Man that is dead is free from the Dominion of any, that before had power over him, so he that is dead to Sin, is deliver'd from the Dominion and Power of it; all human Slavery ends with
Death; for then, as Job fpeaks, the Servant is free from his Mafter, Job 3. 19. So all fpiritual Slavery and Thraldom to our ghoftly Enemies is ended with this fpiritual Death: He that is dead and buried with Chrift by Baptifm, is no more to lead or continue in any finful Courfe, than a dead Man can live again his former Life. So St. Peter tells us, that as Chrift fuffer'd in the Flesh for Sin, fo we that suffer and are dead with him are to ceafe from Sin, that we should no longer live the reft of our time in the Flesh, to the Lufts of Men, but to the Will of God; 1 Pet. 4. 1,2. By all which it manifeftly appears, that as the Defign of Chrift's Death was to deftroy Sin, fo the End of our being baptiz'd into his Death, is to kill Sin in us, to take away the Power and Dominion of it, that it may no longer reign in our Bodies, or bring Damnation to the Soul. This is briefly our Conformity to Chrift's Death, by dying unto Sin, for which he died, and burying our Iniquities in the fame Grave in which he was laid.
Secondly, As for our Conformity to Chrift's Refurrection, and the End of that, both thofe confift in living unto God, and in walking before him in Newnefs of Life. The proving and clearing of this is indeed the main Design of the Epistle for this Day: for as the Belief of Chrift's Death, into which we are baptiz'd, implies our being dead unto Sin, for which he died; fo the Belief of his Refurrection, which is likewife declar'd and profefs'd in Baptifm, implies our living unto Righteoufnefs, of which his rifing again from the Dead was both a Sign and Seal. So the words already difcours'd of, and thofe that follow, manifeftly import. The Newness of Life before mention'd, ver. 4. implies fuch a new regenerate Life, answerable to Chrift's Refurrection, as confifts in a Courfe of Sanctity and religious Walking with God. The being planted in the Likeness of his Refurrection, mention'd ver. 5. fignifies our Obligation to imitate and anfwer that in the Fruits of a new and holy Life, of which his Refurrection was a lively Image or Refemblance: for as the Corruption of our Nature, that we receiv'd from Adam, is call'd the old Man, which we are requir'd to put off; fo the Regeneration of it, that we have by Chrift, is call'd the new Creature, which we are commanded to put on. As in Adam all die, both a natural and fpiritual Death, fo in Chrift fhall all be made alive, by a Life of Grace here, and of Glory hereafter. This is the Apostle's Reasoning
Reafoning in the next words, Now if we be dead with Chrift, we believe that we shall alfo live with him; that is, if we truly and fincerely perform our part in imitating of Chrift's Death, by dying unto Sin, and tranfcribe his Refurrection by rifing to a new and holy Life, we fhall toge ther with him have a joyful Refurrection to eternal Life: if the Death of Chrift have that good effect upon us, as to weaken the Strength, and extinguish the Life of Sin in us, nothing can hinder us from living unto God here, and with him for ever hereafter.
But left any fhould mistake here, and think that the leaving of Sin for a while would fufficiently answer the End of Chrift's Death, or prefume that a few Acts of a holy Life perform'd now and then, would intitle them to all the Benefits and Privileges of his Refurrection; the Apoftle would have them know other and better things: and to that end acquaints them in the next Verfe, That Chrift being rais'd from the Dead, dieth no more; Death hath no more Dominion over him: meaning, that the Copy of Chrift's Death, which we are to follow and write after, teaches us fo to die unto Sin, as to live no longer therein, nor to fuffer any Sin to have any more Dominion over us, and the Copy of his Refurrection, which we are to transcribe and imitate, directs us fo to lead a Life of Grace, as not to come under the Power of fpiritual Death any more for in that he dy'd, he dy'd unto Sin once, but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. The Senfe whereof is, that when Chrift dy'd for our Sin, he did it but once for all, and never underwent that Death again: Even fo we who are baptiz'd into his Death, fhould bid a total and final Adieu to all Sin, and never more be brought into Bondage to any. But when he rofe from the Dead, he rofe not to one fingle Act of Life and no more, or fo as to live a while, and then to ceafe from it again; but he rose to an eternal, immortal, endless Life, that fadeth not away: fo our rifing with Chrift, and living unto God, betokens our rifing to a fpiritual Life of Grace, that never ends, but flows into an eternal Life of Glory, perfevering here in all vertuous and godly Living, according to the Precept and Example of our Saviour Chrift, who rofe again never to die more, on purpose to quicken us to everlafting Life. In fhort, the Example of Chrift's Death and Refurrection, to which we are here bid to conform, teaches us two very excellent and useful Leffons.