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IF ANY MAN BE IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW CREATURE.
“THEREFORE, IF ANY MAN BE IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW CREATURE;
OLD THINGS HAVE PASSED AWAY; BEHOLD, ALL THINGS ARE
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thinking of himself. What a different man he had become since he was a Christian ! I do not wonder that he thought himself a new man, a different creature from what he was before ; almost a new creation by the Almighty Maker. How many old things had passed away ; how many new things had come !. His whole manner of thought had been revolutionized. Before, he was a Pharisee, zealous for the law; a Ritualist, believing in sacraments and ceremonies. Now, he had broadened out so that he could say, “ In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision ; but Faith working by Love.” Before, he was on the highway to position and honor in the Jewish Church ; now, he was hated and reviled as an apostate by all his old friends. He was of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews-blameless in all the righteousness of the law. Now, he was glad to throw away position, influence, honor, worldly hopes, in order to become one with Jesus. It must have seemed to him a thousand years since he was a fierce and bigoted Jew, fighting for ceremonies, arguing about ritual. He had entered a new world of thought and life. The
So he says,
Pharisee, the formalist, the pedant, were far behind ; Jehovah had disappeared ; the Heavenly Father had come. The Jew, narrowed into his own small pride of sect, had gone; all mankind were now his brethren. He had brothers and sisters now among the Ephesians, Galatians, the pleasure-loving people of Corinth, the brilliant Athenians, the strong and grave Romans. He had passed through all the porticos and vestibules of religion, and entered its inmost shrine, and found it to be Love. And so Paul may have well said, “ If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature ; old things have passed away ; behold, all things have become new.”
But notice the stress laid by the apostle, here and elsewhere, on that little preposition, “in.” It is to be in Christ which makes one a new creature.
My wish is that I may be found in him ; and in another place, 6 When God revealed his son in me.”
It is one thing to be with Christ, and another thing to be in him. If we had been with Christ when he was walking the streets of Capernaum or Jerusalem, we might not have cared much about it. Many who were with him grew tired and went back, and “walked no more with him.” We might have done the same. „Nicodemus was with him one evening, and had a long conversation with Jesus, but does not seem to have come again. Judas was with Jesus, during all his ministry, and then betrayed him. We are all of us with Jesus, in a certain sense, by being taught about him from childhood, by growing up in the midst of a Christian society, by hearing Christianity preached from Sunday to Sunday, by enjoying the blessings of a Christian civilization. But we are not necessarily in sympathy or union with him on that account. Our purposes may
different from his. Contiguity is not union. We can be with people all our lives, and never be in them, never know
what is passing in the depths of their souls. How often parents and children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, live together, side by side, for years, in utter ignorance of each other's inmost thoughts, interests, sorrows, experiences and hopes. They do not understand each other at all ; for it is mutual love, not proximity, which leads to mutual knowledge.
Nor is it enough even to be strongly attached to others, and clingingly devoted to them. That does not necessarily produce real union. We may cling to them externally, yet never be in them, never understand them, never get a glimpse of the real secret of their lives. Strong affection is not enough. I have seen such a friendship - as people called it between two boys or two girls. One was so attached to the other, clung to her so, that she could hardly bear to be out of her sight. Yet she had no real union with her, and had no idea of her friend's character, and could not really sympathize with it. It was the sort of feeling with which a snail sticks to the rock, or a barnacle to a ship's bottom — because they need something strong and solid to cling to. But as to the nature of the rock or the ship, or where the ship is going, or what is its use and purpose of this they know nothing. To cling to anothet for our own comfort is not to be in him.
So some persons cling to Jesus for their own salvation. Weak in themselves, they need something to hold them up. They may cling thus to Christ for salvation, and see something of his real character and divine glory, and then they are, so far, really united with him in love. Or they may cling merely for their own sake, only to be saved. Then, when they sing
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
they are only in a cleft of the rock ; still on the outside of it, only superficially connected with it. They know no more, in reality, of the Rock of Ages than the snail knows of the structure of the granite ledge to which he adheres. They have not entered into the mind of Christ, or the heart of Christ, at all.
Nor is it enough to have a great deal to say or to do about Christ in order to be in him. You may spend your life in talking about him, preaching about him, using his name on all occasions, and yet be in no real union with him. During the late Presidential campaign, there were many prominent leaders of the Republican party who went through the States making speeches in its behalf, who yet had not the least sympathy with its ideas. So the Apostle Paul tells us that men may preach with the tongues of men and of angels about Christ, but, because there is no real love for him in their hearts, they are like sounding brass. Men may fight for him, and die for him, and not be in him. The crusaders who went to Palestine to die under the banner of the cross were, many of them, in no sympathy with him. The monks, who gave up all their wealth and went into convents, were not necessarily in sympathy with Christ. Even the martyrs who died in his name may not always have been in real sympathy with him, for Paul assumes this to be possible when he says, “Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing."
To be in Christ, we must love him. But love means much more than blind affectionate instincts, or clinging attachments, or sudden emotions. . It is far more noble than that. It is that flame in the soul, caught by the sight of superior beauty and truth and good, which animates and elevates one's whole being, bringing one into harmony with
the ideas of those we love. It implies some intelligent sympathy, however small, with their best aims and purposes. Love, true love, attaches itself to that which is better, nobler, higher, than what we have in ourselves.
Love looks up to receive a higher influence, to be inspired by a purer life. Love must elevate us, or it is not really love.
If so, you may say, how can there be mutual love ? how can two persons really love each other? since if neither is better than the other, there can be love on neither side ; and if one is better than the other, then only the lower nature can love the higher. Thus it would seem there can be no such thing as mutual love. The answer is, that each
may have some quality higher than the other. God has made us different, to this end, that each may be a revelation of some truth, beauty, good, to another mind. He has made every one of us capable of manifesting some special grace, some peculiar charm of sweetness, or nobleness, or truth. He has made every one of us capable of manifesting something of God's divine beauty to our fellowmen, and when we really love, it is because we see that, and love that. We see and love something of “God. manifest in the flesh."
We read that Jesus “loved Martha, and Mary, and Lazarus," and that having loved his own disciples," he loved them even to the end." This was not merely with the love of pity and compassion, but of personal communion, for he prayed that they might "be in him and he in them,” and so “be made perfect in one." It is the privilege and power of the higher nature to be able to find hidden qualities of good in the lower. The heavenly mind of Jesus could discover seeds of good, elements of beauty, in Peter, James, John, which no one else then saw, and which they did not see themselves. As he was God manifest in the flesh to them, so they, in a lower measure, were