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formity to the mind of Christ, and consecrated to works of faith and labours of love. Such is living Christianity; and let young men especially consider attentively what is its true source, or its hidden root, and let them not stop short of realising a personal possession of it in themselves; taking Paul as their Model, and striving faithfully to copy it.
When the apostle says, “To me to live is Christ," he means to tell us that Christ was his LIFE, his true life. This true life he plainly distinguishes from his life in the flesh, or his mortal life here : for in the next verse he refers to his "living in the flesh," that is, his remaining on earth. Here, however, he speaks of a far higher life than this-a life which had its source or root in Christ himself, and which was manifested by his living and labouring for Christ, in the face of difficulties and dangers, and even death itself. He does not speak merely of life in general, or bare existence, but he speaks of that higher, purer, nobler life, which every Christian has in his soul, and which is truly the life of Christ himself ; so that, as a living power in him, it moves and constrains him to think of Christ highly, to love Christ fervently, and to serve Him devotedly and unweariedly. Life, in the widest sense of the word, is of various kinds; and though it is a mysterious principle, yet wherever life of any kind exists, it always implies activity, or the power of producing certain results. For instance, vegetable life, in a plant or tree, is manifested by the unfolding buds, and the luxuriant blossoms of spring, and the rich and ripe fruits of summer. Then, animal life is manifested by the circulation of the blood, by the breathing of the lungs, and the other movements and activities of the body. Further, intellectual life is manifested by a wide and profound acquaintance with the mysteries of science, or the speculations of philosophy, or the letter of orthodoxy. Then, also, the natural life of fallen humanity is manifested by the love of the world, and the lusts of the flesh, and the practice of sin.
It is not, however, of any of these kinds of life that we are called at present to speak : but it is of life in the soul, or spiritual life, that "new life" which every true Christian has, and which he manifests more or less, by living not for time but for eternity, not to himself but to God; a life productive of all those fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God. This life, therefore, is an inner life, a “life hid with Christ in God ;” but still, just as the living tree, which is full of sap within, sends forth branches, and yields fruits, which are patent to the senses, so the living Christian, who has the new life in his soul within, abounds in holy fruits—that is, in pure affections, and generous deeds. He is “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season : his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Or, like a well of living water, this new life springs up in the soul, and sends forth copious streams of right feeling and right action, and so makes us holy in ourselves, and blessings to others. “He that believeth on me,” said Christ, “out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” What then is the nature, the source, and the aim of that new life, which is possessed by all who have a living faith in Christ, but by them alone ? TO me (said the apostle), not to every one, but to all who like me have found Christ, to them to live is Christ. What then does this mean?
1. First it means that the Christian's life is from Christ. That is to say, Christ is the source and giver of this new life. This was very plainly taught by our Lord himself, when He said to the unbelieving Jews, “I am that Bread of Life;" that is, I am that bread from which life comes to the dead soul; “ for the Bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” Common bread sustains the life of our bodies. Not only, however, does Christ sustain the life of the soul, but He originates that life in souls, which are naturally “dead in trespasses and sins.” In short, He is the giver of all spiritual life, and the only Author of eternal salvation. And then He plainly tells us, that all the life which He gives to sinners, comes from His atoning death ; for He said, “The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." All this evidently means that, as Christ came to save the world, so the way in which He saves the world is by giving His life for our life, or by devoting Himself to death as a propitiatory sacrifice, and substitutionary victim, in the room of the guilty. “The wages of sin is death.” That is the penalty which we have all incurred by transgressing the law of God. This penalty, however, has been inflicted, not as yet upon the sinner himself, but upon the sinner's substitute; and hence it is that “the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Thus, our new life comes from Christ's atoning death ; and it comes to us individually by a personal trust in His great sacrifice, and a vital union to Him who is pre-eminently “THE LIFE," as well as "the Way, and the Truth.” Through this union, the believer dwells in Christ by faith; and he is so completely identified with Christ, that all his sins are imputed to the Saviour, and the Saviour's righteousness is imputed to him. For, as Christ identified Himself with His people, in paying their debts, bearing their punishment, and dying their death, so His people by faith, are identified with Christ; and thus they are treated by God, not as they deserve but as He deserved, and as if they had personally done and suffered what Christ did and suffered for them, “the Just for the unjust." What less than this can be meant by such utterances
as these of the great apostle, “ If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him;" “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
Such then is the beginning of that new life, which is the root and source of living Christianity. It begins in a personal union to Christ, and in the consequent enjoyment of complete pardon, and of true peace with God. And then the power, which unites the believer to Christ, is the quickening energy of His Spirit, which is put forth to rouse the torpid conscience, to subdue the proud will, to enlighten the dark mind, and to incline the perverse heart to receive and rest upon Christ alone for salvation. “You hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Once the believer was dead, under the curse of the broken law; but now he is alive in Christ, and therefore is freed from the curse, and reconciled to God; so that death has no more dominion over him, because his sins are fully atoned for, and all the penalties due to sin are for ever taken away by the shedding and sprinkling of Christ's atoning blood. Thus the Christian's life is from Christ, in its source.
2. But again, we remark that the Christian's life is by Christ. That is to say, his new life is sustained by the Saviour's grace continually imparted to him.