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CHRISTIANS NEW CREATURES.
2 COR. v. 17.
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
SUCH is the change which passes upon Christians through the power of Christ their Lord: they are made new creatures. And this deep mystery of our own renewed being flows out of the mystery of Christ's incarnation. He took our manhood and made it new in Himself, that we might be made new in Him. He hallowed our manhood, and carried it up into the presence of His Father as the first sheaf of the coming harvest, and the first-fruits of a new creation. And we shall be made new creatures through the same power by which He was made man-by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost. He was born in the flesh, we in the Spirit: His birth is the symbol of our regenera→ tion, and we shall therefore be conformed to His likeness. "Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we
know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." In the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of His kingdom, that is, at the resurrection of the dead and the restitution of all things, we shall be born again of the earth, as Adam in the beginning. In the day-spring of the resurrection the dew of our birth shall be of the womb of the morning. So much we know generally, and of the future. But St. Paul says, "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature." There is, therefore, a parti
cular and a present sense in which this is true; and this it concerns us most of all to know. We will see, then, how it is that we may be said to be new creatures now; and afterwards we may learn some great lessons from it.
1. And, first, we are made new creatures by a present change working in our moral nature; that is to say, through our regeneration in holy baptism. By the love of God electing us to a new birth of the Spirit, and by the Holy Ghost working through that visible sacrament, we are translated from wrath to grace, from the power of darkness to the kingdom of His dear Son. Old things pass away, and all things become new around the regenerate man. We look upward to a new heaven; we stand upon a new earth. Both are reconciled: the heaven,
1 1 John iii. 1.
through the blood-shedding of Christ, opened to all believers; the earth, healed of the original curse, and pledged to restore its dead. We are brought under the shadow of the Cross, within whose dominion the powers of sin are bound. We receive that thing which by nature we cannot have-a baptism not of water only, but of the Holy Ghost. It does not more become us to search into God's secret manner of working in holy baptism, than in the holy eucharist; both are sacraments, both mysteries, both symbols to the eye, both gifts of grace to the soul of man. In baptism we are made new creatures, so that we may grow daily to the sanctity of angels, or so that we may fall, and hold our regeneration in unrighteousness,-as angels that kept not their first estate hold their angelic nature still in anguish and in warfare against God.
2. But further; Christians are new creatures by present, ever-growing holiness of life-by the renewing of their very inmost soul. They are absolutely new creatures-new in the truth of moral reality: new altogether, but still the same. I will pass by the grosser kinds of sin, for instance, profligacy of life, mockery of religion, or unbelief, and take for example two men of opposite characters;-a pure man, whose heart and imagination is hallowed by the Spirit of Christ; and an impure man, whose
thoughts and associations are sullied and defiled. Or take a watchful, self-denying man, who brings under his body, and keeps it in subjection, so as to be ever keen and vigilant, instant in prayer, thoughtful, fond of solitude and of lonely converse with God in secret; and compare him with the heavy, surfeited man-not the gross wine-bibber or glutton alone, but the man that gives himself a full range and measure in all things lawful, and of common life, so as to over-burden his soul with the cloying of the sated body, and deaden the keen tact of conscience, and smother the struggling pulses of his spiritual being. This is a very common character among those that are not religious. What can be more contrary, more altogether several and distinct, than two such men? Or, to take another instance. We see some men large-hearted and generous, denying themselves, almost above measure, that they may give to the poor and to the work of Christ. They kindle with every man's joy, rejoice in his good, make festival with him for the abounding of his happiness; they have tears for the broken in heart, and seem to pass into the place of departed friends as if they were the same loved spirit in another guise they live, as we say, in other men. And let us compare with such the man who is greedy of gain; who has an evil eye when his neighbour prospers, is busy and blithe when another is stripped
and smitten. Such men are often seen. They are men shrewd in the world's cunning; men of skill in doubling all the changes of life, and in meeting its emergencies. They have a sail for every wind; they are far-sighted and practical; careful of money, but not hard; not absolutely refusing to give, but giving scantily, as buying themselves off cheaply, yet always strictly within the constituted laws of right and honour. Or, to take a last and all-comprehending contrast, look at the penitent sinner, calm and self-collected, of a gentle bearing and a gentler spirit; shrinking from the approaches of sin by an unerring and almost unconscious instinct; weeping for the sins of other men; mourning in spirit at the recollection of past falls; hating the passing thoughts of evil which overcloud his soul; not only confessing before His Father in secret the sins of every day, but condemning himself as guilty for the very susceptibility of temptation. And then look at a man of no great grossness of life - a sinner of the common sort-hardy, self-trusting, venturous in the midst of evil, unconscious of its dominion. Evil words and thoughts do not grieve him; they are unreal. After he has sinned greatly, he is a little grieved; for a passing moment he is angry and irritable: but he shrinks the more from God-turns to business-tries to fill his thoughts and wait for to-morrow, remembering how often a