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resurrection, and not his death, that has real efficacy; and this efficacy consists in producing repentance and reformation on the part of a degenerate world, and thus reconciling man to his Maker. Thus it is that Paul speaks of the power of his resurrection, but no where of the power or efficacy of his death : see Phil. iii. 10. And the Apostle Peter says, that we are begotten unto a lively hope not by the death, but by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead : 1 Pet. i. 3. Paul, after saying that Christ died for our sins, 1 Cor. xv.3., goes on to prove his resurrection : this being done, he points out the proper influence, which the last was calculated to produce : “ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast and immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Had our Lord only died and not risen, the Apostle, it is clear, would have allowed that their labour in the Lord would have been in vain. And this of itself is sufficient to show, that it is the resurrection, and not the death of Christ, which gives to the Gospel all its value and importance. So far was the Apostle Paul from ascribing any vital effect to the death of Jesus, that he copied this as a figure of speech to express the mortification of evil habits in those who sincerely believed in him ; whereas the new life of virtue which they adopted, he imputes solely to his resurrection. “ Are you ignorant, that as many as have been baptized in Christ Jesus, they were baptized unto his death? We are buried, therefore, with him through his baptism unto death, that as Christ rose from the dead through the glory of his Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.” Rom. vi. 3, 4. Again, “ You have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you should hetrothe yourselves to another husband, namely, to him, who is risen from the dead, that we may bring forth fruit to God.” vii. 4. It is true that the efficacy which is here ascribed
to the resurrection of Christ might be imputed to his death; but this is, because the former is founded on the latter, and derives its validity from it. The impostors were enemies to the cross of Christ, because in setting aside his crucifixion they also set aside his resurrection, with all its divine power in reforming the lives of mankind.
By deducing the efficacy of the death of Christ from his resurrection, we render the New Testament throughout consistent and rational; while the doctrine of infinite satisfaction for sin turns the glorious scheme of redemption into a system repugnant to reason, offensive to the best feelings of the human heart, and derogatory to the Almighty. John the Baptist preached to the Jews repentance and reformation, as the only means of avoiding the wrath to come. Our blessed Lord throughout his ministry holds forth the keeping of the moral law, the use of the talents intrusted to us, and the exercise of humanity in our several relations, as the only terms of salvation ; and he has himself solemnly assured us, that he will in the great day of retribution render to every man according to his works. Mat. x. 27. And Paul says that all must stand before the tribunal of Christ, and each must receive the things done in the body, whether they be good or evil. 1 Cor. v. 10. The Apostle Peter says, “I perceive in truth, that God is no respector of persons, but that in every nation he who feareth him and doeth righteousness is accepted of him.” Acts x. 34. The same Apostle supposes that good men purify their own souls by obeying the truth. 1 Pet. i. 22. And Paul calls upon us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Phil. ii. 12. Finally, John writes, “ Children, let no one deceive you; he who doeth righteousness is righteous, as he was righteous.” 1 John iii. 7. The antichristian deceiver taught his followers that he was to deliver them from the restraints of virtue, imposed by the Creator and his prophets; and soothed
them with the assurance, that salvation was not to be obtained by virtuous actions, but by free grace. John flatly contradicts this doctrine; and says, that he who does righteousness, alone is righteous. Hence it follows that, as salvation is the reward of virtue, it must be obtained only by virtuous actions. The term graće in the apostolic sense, means the Gospel as a free gift, in opposition to the burdensome rites of the law, which the impostors endeavoured to impose on the converts as the means of propitiating sin. This also John sets aside in the following verse : “And he is a propitiation for our sins.” 1 John ii. 2. The spirit of this saying is not that the death of Jesus was a propitiation for sin, but that submission to his will, and imitation of his example, superseded all propitiation, all the sacrifices, for sin, prescribed by the law, as null and void. Thus Paul-“I exhort you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to render your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.” Rom. xii. 1. Here the object of the Apostle is to set aside the sacrifices of the law, by substituting a holy life as a sacrifice more rational and acceptable to God.
7. “Giving thanks to the Father that hath made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light, and that hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his beloved son, in whom we have our purification through his blood, the dismission of our sins, and who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of the whole creation : for by him are appointed all the things that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things are appointed by him, and for him, and he is before all, and by him all subsist.” Col. i. 12–18. Though the Gospel dispensation might be called the kingdom of Christ, yet the reign of Christ commenced after his resurrection. Then it was, as he
himself says, that all power was given to him in heaven and on earth. All power being at that time given him, his kingdom must have begun at that time. The creation of things spoken of in this passage, is the creation of things under the kingdom of Christ, which began with his resurrection and ascension to heaven, and of which he was himself the first-born. That the creation here spoken of is a spiritual and not a material creation, is further manifest, because the things created visible and invisible are thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, and not the earth, the air, the sun, moon, and stars.
The term arodut gwois, purification, was much used in the Gnostic school, and meant nothing else than a studied system of the grossest impurities, merely to ridicule and burlesque that purification which is through Christ. Hear the words of Theodoret Hær. Fal. lib. i. 5. “ These men use magic, and employ the name of demons; and to such a pitch of madness are they advanced, that they conceal not their lewdness, but reduce it to a regular system. For, says Carpocrates, some things are deemed evil and others good, from opinion and not from truth. While I am on this subject, I shall not pass in silence over the legislative sanction which they give to their impurities. They admit the transmigrations of the soul, but not on the principle upon which it was taught by Pythagoras ; for he said that the souls which have sinned, are sent into bodies to be duly punished and purified. But these say that the cause of their being embodied is directly opposite to that assigned by Pythagoras; for human souls affirm they are sent into bodies, in order to practise all manner of impurities ; therefore those souls which fulfil this end, on being once immersed in a body, do not need a second immersion, but that those who have sinned in a small degree must be sent twice, thrice, or often times, until they have completed all sorts of baseness.” The Apostle, being aware of the use which the impostors made of this word, adds the true sense, in which it should be considered by the sincere disciples of Jesus : “In whom we have our purification through his blood, THE DISMISSION OF OUR sins;” by which is meant that purification which Christ, by shedding his blood, wished to produce in us, namely, repentance and reformation. Paul alludes to the language of Jesus, Matt. xxvi. 26., as it has been explained above. There is in the context an intimation that by this sort of purification, namely, by becoming holy, and parting with our sins, we conform to the image of our Saviour, and thus recover the image of our Maker.
A passage already quoted from Philo remarkably illustrates this of the Apostle Paul. “God," says he, “ the author of divine virtue, was willing from compassion on our race to send his Image, that he might wash away the impurities which fill this life with guilt and misery, and thus secure to us a better inheritance.” The antichristian doctrine, which represented the Almighty as a cruel and evil Being, flourished mostly in Egypt: and the language of Philo is directly opposed to it in this place. “God is the author of divine virtue, is the righteous Lord loving righteousness; and, so far from being indifferent or cruel towards his children, he has compassion on them and sends his Image into the world to redeem them from sin and misery.” Philo does not name the person who was thus invested with the image of God. Those for whom he wrote did not need the information : for the men, whom Jesus of Nazareth had commissioned to convert and reform the world, were already known in every country. “ This society," says he, “now prevails throughout the habitable globe, the members thinking it their duty to share with Greeks and Barbarians the consummate blessings which they themselves enjoy.” In another place he writes, “ This word, according to the promises of God, spreads to every corner of the universe, and renders him who