« PreviousContinue »
SERMON ON COLOSSIANS I. 18, 19.
"And he is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first-born from
the dead ; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence: for it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell."
In meditating on this chapter, we body—the church. Here, 'as in are struck with the richness and various other cases, individual variety of the descriptions given us, Christians are considered as memconcerning our Lord Jesus Christ. bers of a mystical body, of wbich He is the image of the invisible our Lord Jesus Christ is the Head. God--the first-born of every crea. For as the body is one, and hath ture-the Creator, and former, and many members, and all the memproprietor of all things--the Head bers of that one body, being many, of the body, &c.
are one body; so also is Christ. Now, why, we may ask, did the “ For by one Spirit are we all bapApostle accumulate so many and tized into one body, whether we be such exalted expressions ? Was it Jews or Gentiles, whether we be from mere warmth of feeling? or bond or free ; and have been all is there in them any thing peculi. made to drink into one Spirit.” arly proper and appropriate, any Now of this mystical body the thing instructive or consoling, any church, even the people of God thing which will repay our dwelling throughout the world, the Lord on his words, and taking them as Jesus Christ is the Head. He has the repeated subject of our medita the pre-eminence in that he is their tions ? Such, my brethren, is in- ruler, their representative, the deed the case with the children source and support of their existof God. To them that believe · ence; apart from whom they have Christ is precious; His name is as nothing, are nothing, and can do ointment poured out; and they nothing; but by virtue of union experience, in dwelling on his with whom they can do all things, glories and perfections, a degree and shall be more than conquerors. of peace, and consolation, and holy The Lord Jesus Christ is the joy, with which a stranger inter. Head of the body-the church, in meddleth not. May such be our that he loved the church, and gave privilege, while dwelling on these himself for it. When the plan words which I have quoted.
of redemption was formed in the The Apostle had just spoken counsels of eternity, the Saviour of the antecedent dignity of Christ, said, “ Lo! I come to do thy as born before the whole creation, will, O God.” A body was in due as in truth the Creator himself; time prepared; the Redeemer and he here proceeds to point out, emptied himself of that glory which in various particulars, what he now he had before the world was, and is to his church-as the Head of became obedient to death, even the the body, the beginning, the first death of the cross. There he bare born from the dead; and sums up our sins in his own body on the the whole by declaring the purpose tree. “ All we like sheep had of this, namely, that in all things gone astray, we turned every one to he might have the pre-eminence, his own way, and the Lord laid for that " it pleased the Father that upon bim the iniquity of us all.” in him should all fulness dwell.” It is therefore by his stripes, his Observe then that Christ has the sorrows, his sufferings, we are preeminence,
healed; and our eyes must be conI. In that he is the Head of the tinually directed unto and looking
to Him, that we may obtain wis- thou gavest me before the world dom, righteousness, and sanctifica- was." tion, as the result and consequence Christ is Head of the church, as its of his atonement.
Sovereign Ruler—as King in Zion. Again: He is the Head of the “ All power,” says he, “ is given to body, as the one Mediator and me in heaven and in earth : go ye representative; as the means, the therefore, and teach all nations, way of access to a holy God. The baptizing them in the name of the High Priest, under the law, having Father, and of the Son, and of the offered sacrifice, entered into the Holy Ghost; and lo! I am with holy place, to make intercession for you alway, even to the end of the the people; so Christ, after the world." His rule, however, is not completion of his sacrifice, entered the bare exercise of power, much not into the holy places made with less any arbitrary manifestation of hands, but into heaven itself, there it: it is the rule of a Shepherd to appear before God for us. He rather than of a Sovereign. There is therefore an ever living Mediator, is a rod of iron, which shall break Advocate, Intercessor. Our own and dash in pieces the ungodly ; sins and unworthiness, the iniqui- but in the church there is the golden ties of early days, the forgetfulness sceptre of mercy. There may be of later years, the imperfections at times the chastising rod, but our of holy duties might well cover us Sovereign afflicteth not willingly, with shame and confusion of face, nor grieveth the children of men. and constrain us to keep at a dis- His commands are most gracious, tance from a holy God: but there reasonable, considerate; they exis one who on earth came to seek ceed, indeed, mere natural ability, and to save that which was lost; the spirit may be willing while the who in heaven is interested on flesh is weak; but in the moment behalf of all who are tempted and of difficulty the Lord will appear, afflicted, who presents, on the communicating strength and grace golden censer of his intercession, to his people, assisting them in the unworthy services of his people, the performance of duty, or in oband causes them to arise up before taining victory over temptation; God continually, as an offering so that they who have been con. and sacrifice, well pleasing in his strained at one season to declare sight. “ Hitherto,” said he to his “ When I would do good, evil is disciples, “ have you asked nothing present with me,” are enabled, at in my name; ask, and ye sball others, to rejoice and say, “ I can receive, that your joy may be full.” do all things through Christ which Not only look upon Christ as a strengtheneth me.” If holy Job Redeemer, who by his sacrifice could ask, in the dispensation hath atoned for sin, but as your under which he lived, “Will he Mediator, your Advocate, your plead against me with his great Representative, who is constituted power ? No, but he would put Head of the church; that, as in a strength in me;" how much more well-ordered government, the re- may we rejoice under those clearer turns from all the inferior officers discoveries of grace and mercy with should pass through the office, and which we are favoured, in the bear the counter-signature of the assurance of the compassion and principal, so all the petitions of all grace of our Redeemer, Advocate, his people should pass through his and King, who knoweth whereof hands who is authorized to say, we are made, who remembereth “ Father, I will that those whom that we are but dust, who can be thou hast given me be with me touched with the feeling of our where I am, to see my glory which infirmities, having been in all points AUGUST 1829.
tempted like as we are, yet without quickeneth whom he will." Having sin. O let us come boldly to the purchased spiritual life, he imparts throne of grace, that we may obtain it in rich abundance: when he rose mercy, and find grace to help, in from the dead, he breathed on his every time of need.
disciples, and said, “ Receive ye the II. Christ has the pre-eminence, Holy Ghost;” when he ascended not only as the Head of the body— on bigh, he poured the Spirit down; the church, but also as the begin- and in each succeeding age of the ning, the first-born from the dead. church, he, by the same Spirit, has Christ is the beginning, as the been present to heal; enlightening, Creator and Former of all things. quickening, sanctifying; turning, “ By him were all things created,” by the instrumentality of bis word ver. 16. He was the first-born of and ministers, the slaves of sin the whole creation; had an exis from darkness to light, and from tence antecedent to his appearance the power of Satan unto God; on earth, nay, was the very Creator making men willing in the day of the earth itself-a position ut- of his power, and subduing the terly irreconcileable with the So heathen to the obedience of faith. cinian scheme: but we conceive O my brethren, if indeed we differ the Apostle bere would call our from what we once were ; if instead attention, not so much to Christ as of being careless, negligent, forthe Creator, as to what Christ is to getful hearers, we are now serious, and in his church; and it is in this inquiring, praying, obedient people; latter connexion that he speaks of it is to Christ, the great Head of him as the beginning. Now the the church, the beginning of this death of Christ was in fact the work is to be ascribed. It is he commencement of the New Tes. who hath made us to differ; it is tament church. Under the old from his grace that we have redispensation there had been a ceived, and to him be the praise church and people of God, but they and the glory for ever. This were accepted only on the ground spiritual life, of which Christ is of the Redeemer's foreseen merits the Author— the beginning—shall and atonement, and that church eventually issue and be completed was limited and burdened in various in eternal life. “My sheep,” says ways. But when Christ died, the Christ, “ hear my voice, and I price was actually paid, the sacrifice know them, and they follow me; was truly offered, the door of access and I give unto them eternal life, was opened, and the proclamation and they shall never perish, neither went forth to all the earth. “God shall any man pluck them out of can be just, and the justifier of my hands. Where, then, the work him that believeth in Jesus." A of grace is begun, where the singer church of spiritual worshippers then has embraced the atonement, is commenced, distinguished not by seeking for mercy through Christ, place, nor by outward rite, but by is devoting himself unto God in the worshipping the Father in spirit bonds of the covenant, and desirous and in truth; by every where lifting of being Christ's faithful soldier up holy bands and presenting fer and servant unto his life's end, he vent supplications, through the shall experience the blessings for atonement of the great Mediator. which he prays, and the Redeemer's He is however the beginning, not mercy shall be magnified in ripenonly of the Christian church in ing and completing the work of general, but of spiritual life in every grace to its final issue, even everindividual believer. “ As the Fa. lasting glory. ther raiseth up the dead, and quick- For Christ is also the first-born eneth them, even so the Son from the dead, Enoch and Elijah alone were exempt from the pains our salvation entered into heaven; of death, and experienced, we con- and who has rendered the last clude, that change which 'those enemy the believer's reluctant who are alive upon earth, at the friend-the gate of everlasting life, Redeemer's second coming shail I II. That Christ hath the prealso experience, when they shall eminence in all worlds. “ He was be caught up to meet the Lord in in the world, and the world was the air, and so shall ever be with made by him, and the world knew the Lord.
him not; he came unto his own, The widow's son was raised by and his own received him not; but Elijah, Lazarus was called forth to as many as received him, to from his tomb, and the power of them gave he power to become the Christ was thus again and again sons of God.” Having, however, displayed, in raising the dead; but stooped to this low estate of humisuch resurrections were only tem- liation, he is now exalted, and reporary deliverances from the last ceives the homage of angels, of enemy—they who were thus raised men, of all created intelligences. for a season, appear afterwards to When he appeared on earth, the have returned to the tomb; “ but holy angels ministered unto him, Christ being raised from the dead, they sung their Maker's praise, dieth no more, death hath no more they attended him in the hour of dominion over him ; in that he bis temptation, they strengthened died, he died unto sin once; in that him in his agony in the garden, he liveth, he liveth unto God.” they witnessed his resurrection, The believer now, through faith in accompanied bis heaven-ward flight, his Redeemer, may exclaim, “O and are all ministering spirits sent death, where is thy sting? O grave forth at his command, to minister where is thy victory ?” may joy. unto them who shall be heirs of salfully sing, “Thanks be to God who vation,-delighting to contemplate giveth us the victory." But the and to assist in the work of grace Redeemer alone triumphed over and mercy. Among them, Christ death, saying, “O death, I will be has indeed the pre-eminence, they thy death!” He, and he only, made adore him with boly and disintera show of the weakness of this all- ested love and affection, and partisubduing enemy, when he broke the cipate in the progress of his spiritual bonds in which he was held, and kingdom; for there is joy in the appearing again, showed himself presence of the angels of God over alive by many indubitable proofs, one sinner that repenteth. and ascended on high to his Father In that glorious and blissful and our Father, to his God and our place there are also other holy and God.
exalted beings; even the spirits of With what holy joy, my brethren, just men made perfect. They also should we contemplate this risen bow with glad " homage and joyful and triumphant Lord! Because he affection and reverence to their lives, we shall live also. As he risen Lord and Master." They rose, so shall we rise; his power sing a new song, saying, “ Thou shall quicken our mortal bodies, art worthy, for thou wast slain, and and though we descend to the hast redeemed us to God by thy grave, death shall not have do- blood, out of every kindred, and minion over us. O when our fears tongue, and people, and nation, arise, and when the last solemn and hast made us unto our God scene presents itself to our thoughts, kings and priests. Blessing, and let us daily renew our devotion of honour, and glory, and power, be ourselves to Christ, lay hold afresh unto him that sitteth upon the on Him who hath for us men and throne, and unto the Lamb forever."
Sermon on Colossians I. 18, 19. As yet, indeed, we see not all holiness ; if you desire to honour things put under him. A conflict Christ and be conformed to his is still going on; and while Satan image, if you are ashamed of your like lightning fell from heaven, short-comings and unprofitableand ungodly men are reserved in ness; if you are grieved that you chains of torment, unto the judg. love him no more and serve him ment of the great day, and looking no better. O then, Christ has the forwards, with fearful anticipations, pre-eminence in you, and you shall to the season of awful and irre, find him a Prophet, a Priest, a mediable destruction, when Christ King, a very present help in time shall have the pre-eminence, as the of trouble, an all-sufficient friend Judge of quick and dead ; there are and benefactor, able and willing to many who are treasuring up wrath cause all grace always to abound against the day of wrath, and re- towards you, that having sufficiency velation of the righteous judgment in all things you may glorify his of God. O that such may indeed name. remember that in all things Christ For, lastly, he hath the preJesus shall have the pre-eminence. eminence, in that it pleased the Already, in one, and another, and Father that in him should all fulness another exalted character, he is dwell. “ In him . dwelt all the first; and he will be supreme over fulness of the godhead bodily.” Of all. The enemy may cry, Over his fulness all his people receive, turn, overturn! the ungodly may even grace for grace; the abunsay, “ We will not have this man dance of his merit and righteousto rule over us; ” “ but he shall ness atones for, and justifies the reign"-"he will come whose right most guilty and unworthy; the it is ;” and in that day he will dis- fulness of his grace and truth, play his judicial pre-eminence, by enlightens, sanctifies, and keeps saying, “ Those mine enemies, those who in themselves are ignothat would not that I should reign rant, polluted and helpless; the over them, bring hither, and slay fulness of his wisdom, power, them before me.” “ Cast ye the tenderness, compassion and love, unprofitable servant into outer directs, supports, and provides for darkness, there shall be weeping all his people ; the fulness of his and gnashing of teeth." o, my glory shall ravish and satisfy every brethren, let us bow to the sceptre beholder, when they awake up after of his grace, and seek to participate his likeness they shall be satisfied in his mercy, that we may be therewith; and this fulness dwells saved in that day when he shall arise in Christ; there is a fountain to judge fearfully the world.
opened in him for sin and uncleanDo any say, O that we may be ness; a fountain of grace and saved in that day? To such we holiness. It is not the mountain reply, Seek that Christ may now torrent ; 'not the hasty brook ; but have the pre-eminence in your the abiding, permanent, ever abunhearts and affections. “ Kiss the dant, ever fresh and continuing Son lest he be angry and ye perish supply: not as Bethesda's pool, from the right way. If his wrath into which one wretched object be kindled, yea but a little, Blessed may once, at long and rare interare all they that put their trust in vals, step and be made whole, but him." O, if he has the pre-eminence an ever open, ever healing fountain in your hearts, all shall be well; for the supply of all our spiritual if his name is to you as ointment wants ; no scanty, no restricted poured out ; if there are goings measure ; no exclusive narrow sysforth of the soul after him; if you tem; no limitation as to Jew or long for pardon, for grace, for Greek, to nation, tribe, or tongue.