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insist upon, and Paul most abundantly; but no where more excellently and fully than in these words.
As that is a great and much commended oracle, γνώθι σεαύτον Know thyself, so, also, there can be nothing more comfortable and profitable for a Christian than this point, to understand his new being, to know himself as out of himself in Christ, to study what he is there. Oh! what joy, what humility, what holiness would it work, were we well seen and much conversant in this subject, viewing ourselves in this light, as here the Apostle represents a believer to himself, of him are ye in Christ Jesús, &c.
If we look back a little, we see his aim is, to vindicate the doctrine of Christ from contempt in that chief point which is the believer's greatest comfort and glory, yet, lies openest to the world's misprision, the doctrine of the cross,'Christ crucified. Him we preach, says he, let men take it as they please: be he a stumbling-block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles, yet, to them that believe among both, he is the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
As, in the person of Christ, glory was wrapt up in meanness, so it was in his sufferings and death. And in the doctrine of it, and in the way of preaching of it, thy are not drest with human wisdom, or excellency of speech : this would be as incongruous as that rich, gaudy attire they cover the image of the Virgin with and her Child lying in a stable. And that all might be suitable, so is it in the persons of those that believe on him. Brethren, you see your calling, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many.noble, are called. And God's purpose in this, is, that no flesh should glory before Him.
This is the grand disease of flesh, to swell in conceit of any little advantages, real or imagined, forgetting itself and Him from whom it receives all, receives its very self, the being it hath, and all superadded good. Now, God is pleased, in justice on some, and in great mercy to others, so to order most things in the world, as to allay this tumour ; often bringing down high things, and raising the low, and so attempering and levelling disparities, as to take men off from self-glorying. Proud undertakings, we see, are commonly most disgracefully broken. Nor is there any surer presage of the speedy ruin of any affairs or persons, than presumptuous boasting. This is God's work amongst men, as even natural men have observed, to abase high things, to exalt low things. He goes from one thing to another, pulling down the crest and blasting the glory of all human excellency, breaking the likeliest projects, and effecting what is least to be expected, withdrawing man from his purpose, to hide pride from his eyes, as Elihu speaks, Job xxxiii. 17, To this purpose, see Job-x. 11, 12; 1 Sam. ü, 4, 5; and the Virgin in her song, Luke i. 51. Whatsoever men bear themselves big upon, and begin to glory in, they call the hand of God to crush it, raising an idol of jealousy in His sight. - All high things have their day: the day of the Lord shall be on all the cedars of Lebanon, and He alone exalted. Isa. ii. 13, 17. If ever this was the case in any time, we may see it is legible in ours, in great letters. This is the very result of His ways, staining the pride of all glory, defeating witty counsels, making counsellors mad, throwing down all plumes and trampling them in the mire, that no party or persons in the kingdom can set out for any triumph of courage, or wit, or any other excellency, but somewhat shall be clearly seen to meet and dash it in pieces, that no flesh may glory before Him. And this, to souls that love God, is the main happiness of the times, and that wherein they will chiefly rejoice.
The particular here spoken of, is eminently suited to this end, the choice and calling of persons to the dignity of Christians: Not many wise, not many mighty, or noble, but the mean things, the foolish things, and the most insignificant, things that are not, non-entia, very nothings, to annul things that seem most to be something. Thus it was in the first times; and though afterwards, by means of these meaner persons, greater were caught and drawn into Christ, philosophers and kings, yet, still, it remains true in all times, that predominantly the choice is of the meaner sort; God testifying how little He esteems those things which men account great. Those endowments of wit and eloquence which men admire in some, alas! how poor are they to Him! He respecteth not any who are wise in heart : they are nothing, and less than nothing in His eyes. He is the author of all these. Will He esteem thy riches ? No, not gold, nor all the forces of strength. Job xxxvi. 19. Even wise men admire how little it is that men know, how small a matter lies under the sound of those popular wonders, a learned man, a great scholar, a great statesman: how much more doth the all-wise God meanly account of these ! He often discovers even to the world, their meanness; He befools them. . So, valour, or birth, or wordly greatness, these He gives, and gives as things He makes no great reckoning of, to such as shall never see His face; and calls to the inheritance of glory poor despised creatures, who are looked on as the offscourings and refuse of the world: these are raised from the dunghill and set with princes, made the sons and daughters of God; entitled each of them to a eroun that fades not. Oh the wonder !
Now, they are not puffed up with this, but the more assurance they have, and the clearer their view is of the state they are called to, the more humble they are; still laying these to gether, What was I in myself? and, What am I in Christ P And, in comparing these, they are swallowed up with amazement at that love which made this change ; and for this very end doth the Apostle express thus their estate, Ye are of Him in Christ Jesus.
This is a new being, a creation ; for, in relation to this being, we are nothing in our state of nature ; and then, considering that in relation to others, the meanest are often chosen and made partakers of this being, such as have nothing naturally great of nobility, or morality, or high intellectuals; the most nothings are often chosen and made partakers of this being, to illustrate the power of Him who makes them exist.
In kings, somewhat may be observed of this in their choice of favourites, and raising men who are not of highest deserving, as affecting to shew their freedom in choice, and their power in making out of nothing, and so they love to have them called their creatures. But these are but shadows: both are poor creatures, both are easily thrown down. But God doth indeed shew, in His choice, His freedom and power in his new creature: He draws them out of the lowest bottom of nothing, and raises them to the most excellent kind of being that creatures are capable of, to be the sons of God, and so heirs, joint heirs with Christ Jesus. Rom. viii. 17.
Ye are of Him in Christ Jesus.] This must be taken in an eminent sense. All the creatures are of God; but Man, even in his first creation, for the dignity of his being, and the slow way of forming him, was accounted to be of God, in a peculiar manner ; formed to His own likeness, and therefore called the son of God, called His offspring. Acts xvii. 28. But in this new being, much more are we so: we are of Him as His children, partakers of the Divine nature, and that so fastened, that it abideth. And the medium of this excellent and permanent being, is primarily to be considered ; för in him it becomes so. It is both high and firm, being in the essential Son, as the foundation of it; therefore here expressed, as bearing the whole weight of this happy fabric.
Of Him ye are in Christ Jesus. The life which believers derive from God, is through Him. He is that eternal Word, by which all things were made in their first creation, and do still subsist. Heb. i. John i. And he is made the basis of the second creation, in a wonderful way, becoming himself a creature; and so, the root of the new progeny is from Heaven, the sons of God: so it follows in both these cited scriptures. John i. 12-14. The Word was made flesh, and so, they that receive Him are made the sons of God. And so, Heb. ii. 10, 11, amply and excellently is that mystery unfolded. The first frame of man, at least the excellency and beauty of it, was broken by his fall; therefore, a new model is framed of a selected number, to be a new world, more firm than the former, united unto God so close, as never to be severed again. Man, though he was made holy and God-like, continued not in that honour. Now, God Himself becomes a man, to make all sure: that is the foundation of an indissoluble union. Man is knit to God in the person of Christ so close, that there is no possibility of dividing them any more; and this union of our nature in his person, is made the ground of the union of our persons with God.
We find our own flesh catch hold in Christ of a man, and in that man may find God, and are made one with Him by faith in Christ. And this all the powers of hell cannot dissolve. Our life none can cut off from His, more than a man can cut a beam from off the sun. We are and subsist of God in Christ. This is an unknown mystery, but, were it known, it would prove a depth of rich, inexhaustible consolation. The world doth not know what Christians are. This is no wonder ; for truly they know not themselves, or but very little. How would it elevate their spirits, but not in pride ! Oh! nothing is more humbling than this, as the Apostle here implies. But it would raise them above the world, and suit their desires and their actions to their condition, having all under foot that the world accounts great, walking as heirs of Heaven, led and moved by the Spirit of Christ in them; thinking, when solicited to any base way, How doth this become the sons of God ? Shall one who lives in Christ, degrade Him so much, as to borrow comfort or pleasure from any sin, for the killing and destruction whereof He laid down His precious life?
Oh, my brethren, that this Divine ambition were kindled in your breasts, to partake of this high and happy being, and leave all your pursuits to follow this, restless till you be in Christ! For solid, abiding rest, sure I am, out of him there
And then, being in him, remember where you are, and what
Walk in Christ, and live like him, as one with him indeed : let his thoughts and desires be yours. What was his work, yea, what his refreshment, his meat and