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Chapter XII.

The True Christian Dies Unto Himself And The World, And Lives In Christ.

Christ died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.—2 Cor. 5:15.

“Christ,” says the apostle, “died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” Besides that this sentence is replete with divine consolation, declaring that Jesus died for all, it inculcates a lesson of the most salutary nature, namely, that we should live not unto ourselves, but unto him who died for us. To live to him, however, before we are dead to ourselves, is impossible. If, therefore, thy resolution be to live to Christ, thou must certainly die to the world and to thyself; but if thou rather inclinest to live to the world and to thyself, it follows that thou must renounce thy communion with the Saviour. For what communion hath light with darkness, Christ with the world, or the Spirit with the flesh? 2 Cor. 6:14, 15.

2. There are three kinds of death: the one spiritual, the second natural, and the third eternal. The first occurs when a man dies daily to himself; that is, to his own carnal desires, to his avarice, pride, lust, and wrath, and such other sins and passions as have their rise in a corrupt nature.

3. It is of the second kind of death that the apostle speaks, where he says, “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Phil. 1:21. As if he had said, Christ is the life and death, the gain and advantage of the believer, even when he passes through natural death, for, by it, he exchanges a short and miserable life for an eternal and blessed one; and earthly objects for possessions that are eternal and divine: an exchange which cannot but prove in the highest degree gainful to himself.

4. If, however, any think that the apostle's language is also to be understood of the spiritual death of sin, they will not commit an error. For thrice happy is the soul to whom, in this 35 sense, “to live is Christ:” thrice happy the soul in which Jesus lives by faith, and that imitates the graces which manifested themselves in him, especially those of humility and meekness. But alas! by far the greater part of men have put on the life of the devil rather than the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, by yielding to avarice, pride, anger, and other unholy passions.

5. Awake, therefore, O man! and consider who it is that liveth in thee. If thou canst truly affirm, “to me, to live is Christ,” happy art thou, as it respects both this world and the world to come. Here, even on earth, let Christ be thy life, that he may be thy life to all eternity: and in order to this, account it the greatest of gain, when thou art enabled to die to the world and to thy own corruptions. Then, in both senses, for thee, to live is Christ, and to die, gain. What, indeed, can be more profitable or advantageous, than to die, in this respect, to all thy sinful desires and affections? Go on, then, in the Lord, and never faint, allowing Christ to live in thee now, that thou mayest also live with him hereafter.

6. No man is capable of settled peace and tranquillity, who is distracted and disturbed with earthly desires and designs; therefore, before thou canst live unto Christ, thou must die to the flesh and to the world. This dying to self and living to Christ, may be illustrated by a reference to several types and histories in the Old Testament.

7. Thus, as the promise relative to Christ, and the seal of it by circumcision, were not given to Abraham, until he had quitted his father's house and relinquished his earthly inheritance (Gen. 12:1, and 17:10), so man, as long as his affections cleave to the world, is unprepared to receive the promise which is by the Saviour; and as long as he refuses to die to it, and deny himself, so long it is impossible that he should enjoy Christ, or the things which are His.

8. Jesus can never live in thy soul, until thou art dead to the affections of carnal nature. St. Paul was thus dead; and hence he could say, “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20); and writing to the church at Colosse, he says, “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Col. 3:3.

9. A man may be considered as dead to sin, when sin dies in him, and he ceases from the commission of it. The same apostle says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Gal. 5:25. If we live in Christ, we must walk even as he walked; for it is not sufficient to boast of the Spirit in words, while our words are not confirmed by our works; or of faith, while this is not evidenced by its fruits. Indeed it is said unto all,—“If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Rom. 8:13.

10. Multitudes, however, may be compared to Saul, who, instead of slaying Agag (1 Sam. 15:8), according to the commandment of God, only cast him into prison. They do not destroy their lusts and sinful desires; but are contented to conceal, and as it were imprison them, that at a future opportunity, they may indulge them with the greater secrecy. But let us carefully avoid this trifling; and instead of subjecting our corrupt propensities to a temporary restraint, let us lay the axe of mortification to the very root: for unless this be effected, 36 we shall, like Saul, be cast out from the kingdom, and lose the crown of everlasting life.

11. Some professed friends of religion resemble trees, the leaves of which fall off when winter approaches, but their foliage appears again when the season becomes more favorable and mild; for in the winter of adversity, they conceal their lusts, and restrain their sinful propensities; but when prosperity smiles upon them, they break out again, as at the first, and return to their evil ways. This is an evidence of hypocrisy; whereas a true Christian is in all circumstances, and under every vicissitude, whether public or private, always the same, and remains unalterably fixed in his God. He is the same both in prosperity and adversity, in poverty and in affluence, steadily cleaving to God, and meeting with resignation every affliction that Providence lays upon him.

12. The history of Ahab (1 Kings 20:42) furnishes us with another instance, not much unlike the case of Saul; for, in opposition to the command of God, he spared the life of the king of Syria; and, in consequence, sentence went forth against him, and his life was required for that of the captive king. They who nourish in their breasts those lusts which are the enemies of God and of themselves, and which are appointed to destruction, voluntarily draw upon themselves everlasting death and damnation.

13. Neither prayer nor a devout spirit can ever be perfected in man, without the mortification of the flesh. Thus God appointed that every beast which approached the holy mount of Sinai should be destroyed. Exod. 19:12, 13. How much more does it behoove us to slay our unholy lusts and affections, if we would ever ascend the mountain of the Lord's house (Isaiah 2:2, 3; Mic. 4:2), offer up the incense of prayer, or meditate upon the Word of God! If we neglect to do this, we are already judged, and shall be banished forever from the presence of the Lord.

14. Jacob (Gen. ch. 29) served for his beloved Rachel twice seven years; and love so alleviated his toil, that the years seemed but as so many days: thus, for the salvation of our souls, did Christ Jesus undergo thirty and three years' service, and what Jacob said of himself is, in an eminent degree, applicable to Him: “In the day, the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes” (Gen. 31:40): “for the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matt. 20:28. Shall we, then, scruple to love Christ again, and to fight under his banner against his enemy, the world?

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