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debt is satisfied. Now says the apostle, your debt of sin is paid to the justice of God, by the death of Christ; and seeing the obligation is cancelled, it would be madness and impiety to renew it again, as those do, who plead for circumcision, and practise the legal ceremonies. Note here, There was an obligation upon every man to undergo the curse of the law ; for violating the commands of the law, there was an hand-writing against us. The obligation must be cancelled, before the condemning power of the law can be abolished, and sin pardoned: none but Christ could cancel this obligation; and not he neither without paying the full sum payable from us: Christ, when hanging on the cross, did nail this hand-writing to his cross, which shall never be produced in judgment against the penitent believer; but this obligation remains upon the hie uncancelled, with respect to all sinners who live and die in their sins, and they shall always lie in prison, ever satisfying, but never able fully to satisfy, this obligation. Observe, 3. That Christ hath not only by his death cancelled this hand-writing, and nailed it to his cross, but has vanquished and triumphed over all our spiritual enemies; Satan, and all the powers of hell, are led as so many pinioned captives before the triumphant chariot of his cross, making them a spectacle of scorn and shame in the eyes of God, angels and men: Having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, ire. Note here, 1. Christ's bloody cross was a chariot of triumph unto him. Lord I whilst thou wert bleeding and racking upon the gibbet for is, thou wert then rejoicing and triumphing for the benefits redounding to us. Note, 2. That Satan, that great conqueror, was conquered by Christ, and led in triumph before the chariot of the cross. O Satan, thou wert never thus baffled, befooled, and disappointed, before! When thou and thy agents were spoiling Christ, even then was he spoiling principalities and powers, and triumphing over them, when they were insulting over him. The serpent now bruised our Lord's heel, but had his own head and power for ever broken; triumphing over them in it, that is, in and by his cross.
16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the newmoon, or of the sabbath-days; 17
Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Here we have an inference or conclusion drawn by our apostle from the foregoing argument, that seeing the ceremonial law was now abolished, therefore none should take upon them to judge or condemn another for not observing any of the legal ceremonies, either thosethat related to meats, that is.thedifference to be observed in meats, or those relating to the difference to be observed in days. Here note, That the days observed amongst the Jews, were of three sorts: anniversary, which returned every year, called here an holy-day: lunary, which returned every month, the first day of every new moon; weekly, which returned every week, and on the seventh day of the week. All which are abrogated, even the Jewish seventh-daysabbath ; and the Lord's day, or the christian's first-day-sabbath, substituted in its place, 1 Cor. xvi. 2. Observe here, 1. That there is both a sinful and a lawful abstinence from meats: that abstinence is sinful, when men abstain from some meats, upon pretence of holiness and conscience, as if some meats were unclean, or less holy in their own nature than others, 1 Tim. iv. 4. or as if simple abstinence at any time were a thing acceptable to God in itself, without respect had to the end for which it is sometimes required. But there is a threefold abstinence from meats, which is lawful: political, enjoined by the magistrate for civil ends; medicinal, prescribed by the physician for health's preservation; ecclesiastical, when God by his providence, and the voice of his church, calls his people to fasting. Observe, 2. The reason alleged by the apostle, why christians should not judge one another, with respect to meats and drinks, times and seasons, namely, because those legal ceremonies were but dark shadows of things to come; but the body and substance, represented by those shadows, is Christ come in the flesh. And, consequently, to observe these ceremonies, and regard these shadows, under the gospel, is in effect to say, That Christ the body is not yet come. Here note, 1. The title given to the ceremonial worship -. it is styled a shadow, because it was a dark and imperfect representation of the truth. What is a shadow, but the coming of a thick body between us and the sun? The legal ceremonies were interposed between Christ, the true light, and us, and 2 c
so cast a shadow of him. Note, 2. The title given to Christ with respect to the shadows of the ceremonial law: he is the body and the substance of them. Now as the shadow vanishes when the substance is come, so these ceremonial ordinances were to cease upon the coming of Christ; and to observe them now, under the gospel, is in effect to say, that Christ is not yet come in the flesh. Note, 3. That the Jewish sabbath was a ceremonial ordinance, and part of that hand-writing of ordinances which was to be blotted out by Christ; and consequently the christian is not obliged to observe it. As the distinction of meats and drinks, and the observation of the new moons, were confessedly ceremonial; so was also the Jewish sabbath, which with the rest was equally cancelled by Christ, as a part of the hand-writing of ordinances; so that to observe the Jewish sabbath, or to condemn the christian for not observing it, is as much a denial that Christ is come in the flesh, as to observe circumcision, or any other part of the ceremonial law.
18 Let no man beguile you of your reward, in a voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind; 19 And not holding the head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
Our apostle, having warned the Colossians against the errors of the judaizing teachers, comes next to warn them against the practice of the paganizing christians, who were directed by their guides to worship the angels, covering their error with a plausible show of humility, pretending it was presumptuous to go to God immediately, without the mediation of those excellent creatures; but this the apostle tells them was a bold intruding into things they knew nothing of, God having neither revealed nor taught any such thing; and argued, that they were vainly puffed up with the foolish imagination of their own fleshly minds. Next he shows, that these angelworshippers do not acknowledge Christ for the head of the church, while they apply themselves to angels as mediators; whereas he alone discharges the office of the head,
completely giving life and growth to hia whole church, and to every member thereof; which members being furnished with spiritual life from him, and knit to liius and one another by the joints and bands of charity and other graces, they grow and increase with such an increase of holiness as is from God, and tends to his glory. Note here, 1. That the nature of man is prone, extremely prone, to idolatry and false worship. 2. That it is as really idolatry to worship an angel, as it is to worship a worm; for divine worship is only due to a divine person. Note, 3. That it is a renouncing of Christ, to make use of angels, or any other mediator, besides Christ, unto the Father: not holding the head. It was a notion that early, and indeed universally, possessed the mmds of mankind, that God was not to be immediately approached to by sinful men; but that their prayers were to be presented by certain mediators and intercessors, who were to procure for them the favour of God, and the acceptance of their prayers. Hence they worshipped angels, and the souls departed of their heroes, whom they canonized, and translated into the number of their inferior gods, by whom they addressed their supplications to their superior gods. With this notion Almighty God was pleased to comply so far, as under the Jewish institution to appoint Moses a mediator betwixt him and them; and now under the christian dispensation to appoint Jesus Christ to be the only Mediator betwixt God and man. Note, 4. That it is usual for idolaters, and false worshippers, to cover themselves with a more than ordinary show of humility; Let none heguile you in a voluntary humility. True it is, that all duties of worship ought to be voluntary, as voluntary is opposed to constramed; but they must not be voluntary, as voluntary is opposed to instituted or appointed; God doth no more approve of that worship we give him according to our will, than he doth approve of our neglect of that which is according to his own will. But man, vain man, likes any way of worshipping God which is of his own framing, much better than that which is of God's own appointing.
20 Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 23 Which all are to perish with the using,) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
Oar apostle being now in the close of this chapter, returns to expostulate, and argues the case with those who were willing to subject themselves to the observation of the old Jewish rites and ceremonies. He argues thus: "If, says he, you profess yourselves in your baptism to be spiritually dead with Christ, and to be freed by his death from the Levitical ordinances, why are ye subject to those ordinances? such are, touch not, taste not, handle not; touch not any unclean thing, taste not any forbidden meat, handle not any consecrated vessel; all which observances were to perish necessarily with the very using: and whereas they were set off with a specious show of wisdom, as if they were voluntary services, and free-will offerings to God; he acknowledges that they had indeed a show of wisdom, a show of humility, and a show of mortification and austerity to the body, and not seeming to give any honour to the satisfying of the flesh ; but all this had nothing of spiritual devotion and piety in it."—Learn hence, I. That such as do by baptism profess themselves to be dead with Christ to the ceremonial law, may certainly conclude that the Jewish ceremonies have no more any power over them, or that they ought to yield themselves to the observation of them. If ye be dead with Christ, why are ye subject to ordtmsaces? Learn, 2. That though God approveth and accepteth willing worship, yet not will-worship, what fair show soever it may seem to have either of wisdom, humility, or mortification; whatever is the product of our fancies, is a very fornication in religion, and an abomination in the sight of God, how pleasing soever it may be in the sight of man ; and yet men are most forward to that service of God which is of man's finding out and settmg up; man likes it better to worship a god of his own making, than to worship the God that made him, and likes any way of worshipping God, which is his own framing, more than that which is of God's appointing. Ah, wretched heart of man! which whilst it teems very zealous to worship
and honour God, hath not zeal to do it in any other way than in that which reflects the highest dishonour upon him.
Our apostle in this epistle (as his manner is in all the rest) having laid the doctrine of the gospel for a foundation, and rectified some errors both in doctrine and practice amongst the Colnssians, he comes now to the practical part of this epistle, exhorting them to a conversation in all things answerable to the doctrine of Christ; and the first duty he excites them to the practice of, is, that of an heavenly conversation, expressed by seeking of, and setting their affections upon, things above, and not on things below.
TF ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Observe here, 1. The nature of the duty to which we are exhorted; this is expressed both affirmatively, and negatively; affirmatively, seek the things above, and set your affections on them; negatively, not on the thmgs here on earth; it being impossible to seek and set our affections on both in an intense degree. Quest. But what is it to seek those things that are above, and to set our affections upon them r Arts. In these two words four things are comprehended. 1. An act of our understanding, that we know the worth of these things. 2. An act of the will, to choose these things, and with the ardour and vehemency of our affections to love them. 3. An act of industry and endeavour in the pursuit of these thmgs, if by any means we may attain them. Our affections are so many springs of motion to set our endeavours on work, for the obtaining of what we love and desire. 4. It implies a clear preference of the things above to things below, when they come in competition; set your affections more on things above than on the thmgs below, and show it by your readiness to part with these things. Observe, 2. What is the object of this act, or what it is that we are to seek and set our affections upon, namely, the things which are above: God the rather, Son, and Holy Spirit, together with the blessed state and condition of heaven, and the happiness above; as also those dispositions and qualifications which are requisite for the obtaining of the happiness, and bringing us to the fruition of it; all these are comprehended in the latitude of the object, The things which are above. Ob
serve, 3. The argument which our apostle uses to excite us to this duty: 1. If ye be risen with Christ; that is, if ye believe that Christ is risen, and if ye will bear a conformity and resemblance to him in his resurrection, and be made partakers of the power and virtue of it; for Christ's resurrection is not only a pattern, but a principle; it has a power and efficacy in it to raise us up to a spiritual life: If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above. 2. A second argument is drawn from Christ's exaltation in heaven, He silteth at the right hand of God; which words declare the exaltation of his human nature, and his being advanced to be the supreme King and governor of his church. Now the force of this argument lies in the relation that is between the head and the members, between Christ and Christians: as the head has an influence upon the members, so the members have an affection for the head, which makes them aspire heavenwards, where their head is; because their glorified Saviour, sitting at the right hand of God, by the power of his Spirit, draws out their affection towards him. If ye be risen with Christ, seek the things above; as if St. Paul had said, " Is Christ our head risen, and ascended into heaven i let us in our hearts and affections follow him thither, and patiently wait till he receive our souls, and raise our bodies, and take us wholly to himself, that we may be for ever with the Lord."
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Here we have a fresh argument to enforce the foregoing exhortation, Seek the things above: For ye are dead; that is, dead to sin, dead to the world, therefore be not over eager in the pursuit of the things below. How affrighting a sight would it be to see a dead man rise out of his grave, and converse with the world, and follow the things here below } As affecting is it to see christians, who by baptismal profession do own themselves to be dead to the world, yet buried in the world, and, instead of setting their affections on things above, pursuing with the full bent of their desires the things below. Ye are dead, —it follows,— your life is hid with Christ in God;—your life, that is, your spiritual life of grace, and your eternal life of glory, they are both hid with Christ, now with God in heaven. Hid in Christ, 1, As the
effect is in the cause; as the life of the branches is bid in the root, so is the life of a christian hid in Christ; he is our root. Again, Hid in Christ, that is, 2. Deposited and laid up with Christ, committed to his care and custody, securely put into his hands. 3. Hid with Christ, that is, dispensed by him, and derived from him, at his pleasure: of his fulness we receive, when and in what manner he pleaseth. Note here, 1. Our life of grace only deserves the name of life, our natural life, short and uncertain in itself, and common to us with the brutes, deserves not, comparatively, the name of life. Notes 2. That Christ is the believer's life, he is both the author and efficient cause of it, the meritorious cause of it, and the exemplary cause and pattern of it . Note, 3. That the christian's life is hid with Christ. The phrase imports, 1. Its security and safety; what is hidden in Christ, and with him, must be safe, and out of the reach of danger: grace is incorruptible seed, that shall never die. The world, Satan, and sin, may assault, but shall not overcome j neither lust within, nor the devil, nor the world, shall be able to vanquish that life which is hid in Christ . 2. It imports obscurity; what is hidden, is concealed: the life of grace is totally hidden from the wicked, and hid, in some sort, from the believer himself, under spiritual desertion, under the winnowiogs of temptations, under the prevalency of corruption; much more is the life of glory hidden, it doth not yet appear; we can no more conceive of it by all we have heard, than we can conceive what thtrsua is by seeing a glow-worm. 3. Our life being hid with Christ, it imports plenty and abundance: I am come that ye may have life more abundantly, John x. 10,
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
That is," When Christ, who is the author, and purchaser, and preserver of our life, shall appear to judge the world, at the great day, then shall all believers who have received spiritual life from him be sharers in glory with him." Here note, 1. That Jesus Christ, by whom believers live a life of grace, and from whom they expect a life of glory, shall certainly appear, yea, and have a very glorious appearing; he shall be glorious in his person, glorious in his attendants, glorious in his authority, &c. Note, 2. That when Christ appears in glory to judge the world, then it is that all believers shall enjoy a full glorification with him. Note, 3. That the faith of approaching glory, at Christ's second appearance, is a strong argument to take off our affections from things below, and place them on things above. St. Paul's argument is, to press the Colossians to set their affections on things above, because Christ is above, and, when he appears, they shall appear with him in glory.
5 Mortify therefore your memhen which are upon the earth; Fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Note here, 1. That although the apostle told them in the third verse, that they were dead to sin, yet here in the fifth verse, he bids them mortify sin; intimating, that the work of mortification, at the best, is but imperfect, and must be carried on daily and progressively; they were mortified but in part; the old man has a strong heart, and is a long time a-dying; after it has received its deadly wound, sin lives a dying life, and die a lingering death. Mortify therefore, Src. What it is they are called upon to mortify: their members upon earth; where, by members, we are to understand all the lusts and corruptions of our hearts and natures, all the relics and remains of sin unsubdued and unpurged out of the soul; he instances in fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affections and desires, and covetousness, which loveth the world above God, and is therefore no better than idolatry. But why are these called members, and members upon earth? Ans. They are called members, in allusion to what St. Paul called sin before, chap. ii. verse 11. namely, a body of sin; therefore he calls particular lusts members of that body, and also because they inquire and call for the members of the body, as instruments to bring them into act; likewise, because these lusts are naturally as dear to men as their bodily members, they can as soon part with a right hand or a right eye, as with a bosom and beloved lust; they are also called members upon the earth, because they are conversant about earthly things, because they will cleave to us as long as we live upon earth ; and to intimate, that none of these must be carried to hea
ven with us, but be mortified on the earth. But what is it to mortify these members i Ans. To mortify sin, is to deny our consent to the solicitations of sin, to suppress the first motions of sin, to enervate the power and activity of sin. Learn hence, 1. That in the holiest and best of God's children and servants, there are relics and remains of sin, to be daily mortified, and gradually subdued. Learn, 2. That after God has brought a person into a state of grace, it is his duty, and ought to be his endeavour, daily to mortify sin, and all the remains of unsubdued corruption. A caution; Take heed of concluding sin is mortified, because it is restrained, because the acts of sin are intermitted, because some particular sins are subdued. Is all sin hated of thee, loathed, and left by thee f Tis more to loathe a sin, than it is to leave a sin; sin may be left, and yet be loved; but no man can loathe a sin, and love it at the same time. Learn, 3. That covetousness is a sin, which, above others, a christian should set himself against, and endeavour to mortify and subdue, it having a sort of idolatry in it, drawing our love, our trust, our fear, our joy, from God, and placing the supremacy of our affections in and upon the creatures. True, the covetous man does not believe his money to be God; but by his inordinate loving of it, and fiducial trusting in it, he is as truly guilty of idolatry as if he bowed his knee unto it; for God more regards the internal acts of the mind, than he doth the external acts of the body. In like manner, the papists do not believe their saints and angels to be gods; but by praying to them, and trusting in them for relief and help, they give them the inward worship of the soul, and consequently they are as guilty of idolatry as if they did believe them to be God.
6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
Here our apostle backs his exhortation to mortify sin with strong arguments and motives: the first is taken from the wrath of God, which, in its dismal effects, falls upon those who continue in and under the power of those sins. For which things" sake, that is, for the committing of which things, and for continuing impenitent after the commission of them, the wrath of