DEATH AND LIFE WITH CHRIST.
"For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. " - Col. III. 3.
It is the Christian state that is here described; the state
of the real Christian. And it is described in a twofold aspect; as a state of
death, and a state of life. The paradox is not peculiar to this passage. We
have it in Galatians ii. 19, 20. But it is put here in a very pointed form. Let
us look at both sides.
I. "Ye are dead." This is strong language to be addressed to true believers. But it is very gracious language. It is the reverse or opposite of what the apostle had said before - "Being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh" (ii. 13). Blessed be God! From that death you are delivered. But you are dead still. And it is your being dead still that explains your deliverance from the other death.I say, your being dead still; now and always. For the apostle does not speak of a single event, consummated at once- so as to be past and over; but of a prolonged and continued experience. He says not merely, Ye died or have died, with Christ, as on your first believing in him, and being made partaker. of his death. That would be true. For, in conversion, the sinner does indeed die with Christ, being buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so, we shou1d walk in newness of life.
But the text speaks ot merely of your dying once, but of your continuing to be dead. Ye are dead. The expression is quite indefinite. Ye became dead, and ye are dead still. It would thus appear that there are three stages of this death of believers. In their original state of unconcern and unbelief, they are dead. In their effectual calling by the Holy Ghost, they die. And ever after, so long as they remain on earth, they are to reckon themselves dead indeed (Rom. vi. 11).
But, in another view, it is the same death throughout: the same state of being, only regarded, successively, in different lights. This death is, in other words, a name for your character and condition, as you are in yourselves. That character is enmity against God. That condition is liability to wrath. You are dead, as not naturally loving, or willingly subject to the Holy God, but estranged from him. You are dead, as lying helplessly under his righteous sentence of condemnation. The only difference, at different stages of your experience, lies in your apprehension of this death, this character of enmity, and this condition of condemnation, as really and justly your own!
1. Naturally, and until the Holy Spirit work a decided change upon you, in your effectual calling, you do not feel that such really is your character; you will not admit that such righteously is your condition. You put away from you the charge of enmity. It seems to you that you do, in some tolerable measure, love God, and that you do, to a considerable extent, serve him faithfully. It is true, indeed, as you must confess, that you are occasionally sadly apt to forget God, that you sometimes grow weary of his word and his worship, and that you take some little liberties with the strict letter of his commandments. You acknowledge also that you must plead guilty, at times, to the cherishing of thoughts and the indulgence of passions, the uttering of words and the allowance of practices, which perhaps may not be quite pleasing to him, and no doubt there are things in your temper and conduct which might be otherwise ordered if you were always remembering God.
But all this is not inconsistent with a very fair amount of real reverence and regard for your Maker and his authority; any more than the frequent carelessness or waywardness of a stirring child must necessarily be incompatible with sincere love, at bottom, towards his parent. You cannot be constantly serious and on your guard. Perhaps, indeed, you might be more so than you are. You pretend not to be free from the error and infirmity of a heart, that may, at times, be too thoughtless of God, and too much engrossed with other objects. If that be the charge breught against you, you can understand its meaning and admit its justice. But to say that you have no love to God at all, - nay, that you positively hate God, - is more than you can admit. You are conscious of no such aversion. You can plead guilty to no such enmity.
And in regard to the other element of this death, you put away from you also the sentence of wrath. For not realising your natural character as God's enemies, you cannot realise your condition as condemned. You feel indeed that are not perfectly righteous, or altogether free from sin. You do therefore deserve some punishment at the hands of God, and you may need to be taught, by suffering some of the consequences of your heedlessness and folly, the necessity of greater prudence in future, Of course, also, you acknowledge that if God were to insist on the rigour of law to the utmost he might perhaps sentence you to eternal death. But it seems to you that it would be strange if he did so. He must surely deal with you more leniently, and as you think also, more fairly. And so when you hear of a judgment to come, you cannot imagine, that in your case, it be a very serious or alarming prospect; or if it were, you think it would be just. In this state of mind you are dead. you may be living in pleasure. But you are dead while you live. And your death consists in your being enemies to God and condemned by God. It is not merely your insensibility, or the deep slumber of your soul, or the dream of innocence and security, that constitutes this death. It is not your insensibility, but that to which you are insensible; your guilt and condemnation in the sight of an avenging God.
Suppose that under some strange hallucination the doomed felon, with the very halter fixed round his neck, should make his escape for an hour from the inevitable scaffold, and assume his place in some hall of commerce, or around some festive board; he is dead, as a rebel, a convicted and sentenced criminal. But what is it that constitutes his death! Not the fitful madness which shocks his old companions as he thrusts his ill-omened presence among them; but the fact of his crime and the certainty of his doom. Let his drunken idiocy pass away. Let him once more realise his position. It is death still.
This, then, is God's word to the unconverted. Ye are dead. As God's enemies, and as doomed criminals, ye are dead. You may be alive in your own opinion, but it is as Paul says he once was alive. It is without the law. "I was alive, righteous enough, safe enough, - aye I was even a favourite of heaven. Sin in me was dormant and dead. It seemed to me that all was right. Alas it was a delusion altogether. I was alive without the law. The instant the commandment came; the instant I was made to see and feel the full extent of God's claims upon me, the searching spirituality and holiness of his law, the law of perfect purity, the law of perfect love; sin revived, it got strength and power, to convict, to condemn me, sin revived and I died. Yes, I died."
2. This is the second stage. In your effectual calling by the Holy Ghost you are made to recognise this death as real, and to acquiesce in it as just. Your enmity against God, and your condemnation by God, become sensible to your souls; and in a way which makes you feel the enmity to be inexcusable and the condemnation to be righteous. When the commandment came, I died; I lost all the life I thought I had, all the rights, all the strength, I once relied on. I died, a lost and guilty sinner, no longer justifying myself, accepting, owning, the sentence of death as justly mine.
Ah! it is good thus to die, - to die thus now. Better that your sin should find you out, better that the commandment should come, and you should die now, than that the terrible discovery of what you are, the shock of the awakening to the reality of your death, should be reserved till the hour of doon. For your sin shall find you out. The commandment mutt come.
Behold the awakened sinner, out of Christ, by himself, alone, meeting his offended God, and seeing him as he is, in the hour of awakening, in the day of judgment. No fond persuasion has he now that he has loved or served that God sufficiently. Instinctively he feels at last that it was in a very different spirit, and after a very different manner, that he ought to have honoured and obeyed that holy loving God. it is all in vain now to call to mind decencies and charities, forms of devotion and deeds of humanity. The truth now bursts on him; that the Eternal is a Sovereign; that he is a Father; and that to give less than what a sovereign may claim and a father ask, with whatever phrase of compliment or duty, is but to cover over real disaffection and radical estrangement of heart from him. At any rate, there now he stands, before the sinner's startled eye, inflexible, uncompromising, terrible in his wrath. In the hands of an angry God, the arrested convict is held fast. He may affect to be angry too. Fain would he accuse the Just One of unfairness. Fain would he charge the God of love with harshness. But his own heart condemns him, proud and stubborn as it is. There he stands, resisting God, yet relentlessly doomed by him for ever.
Were it not better far that your eyes should now be opened to that scene of holiness and of wrath, of unbending law and unrelenting judgment which one day, either now or hereafter, you have to face? Were it not every way better to have the bitterness of this death over? And may it not be so to you? Was it not so to Paul when he said - " I died"? "I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ" (Gal. ii. 19, 20). When the law kills, it may be by a severe stroke. It may be a sharp, a stinging, death. The humiliation, the shame, the grief of it, may be trying to flesh and blood, to heart and conscience. There will be solemn awe and tenor in your awakening to the apprehension of your being indeed dead.
But there will be no resistance, no resentment; no resistance to the holy sovereignty which you now feel you have slighted; no resentment against the righteous sentence of condemnation which you would now no longer, even if you could, evade. For when you thus die, do you not die in and with Christ "I through the law am dead to the law." The law kills, condemns, slays me, empties me of all conceit of life, inflicts and executes on me the grievous sentence of penal death. But lo! near me, making himself one with me, making me one with himself, in this very death, the Son of the very God whose law condemns me, the living Saviour! let me make his death mine, as he made my death his. If die I must let me die in Christ. let me be crucified with Christ. Oh! the blessedness, of thus perceiving, for the first time, what this death really is, in the cross of your dying Redeeme; and feeling yourselves to be dead indeed only when you die with him. Not that you have less seriousness or sadness, in this way of becoming acquainted with this death, than in the other way, of having trial of it by yourself alone without Christ. No! There is more, incalculably more. There is a deeper insight into the claims of God's holy supremacy, and the corresponding inexcusable guilt of all your attempts towards a compromise with him. There is a livelier alarm at the thought of your prolonged estrangement from him. There is shame to which the unbroken heart is a stranger, and sorrow such as a sense of God's love alone can cause. But along with all this, there is unquestioning submission, so that you justify God, even in that death to which he condemns you. How, indeed, can it be otherwise? You are crucified with Christ. You are dead in him.
3. As in your effectual calling, so in all your subsequent life on earth, you continue to be thus dead with Christ. In fact, you become so in your own esteem more and more. Your growing acquaintance with the character of God, with the excellency of his law, the reasonableness of its requirements, the fulneas of his grace, the riches of his salvation, discovers more and more your natural enmity against him. And then, is not your condemnation under the righteous sentence of the law more and more thoroughly realised! Your very union with Christ, by which you become interested in all the efficacy of his death, gives you a more searching insight into the meaning, the reality, the righteousness of that death, as endured by substitution for you, and as now, in all its actual import, made really, personally, consciously your own. Always you bear about with you the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in your mortal bodies.
Ye are dead. In and with Christ ye are habitually, constantly, dead. Your sin is ever before you. And the sentence of your sin is ever acknowledged, recognised, embraced by you, as really and justly yours. Ye are dead, and this very death is, in truth, your life. For who, or what shall slay you now, seeing ye are dead already? He who is low fears no fall. He who is already and always dead, what fear can he have of any farther death? What fear now of anything that may inflict death? Does the law again point against me the thunders of its deadly threatenings of wrath? What harm can they do me, since I am dead already? Are carnal ordinances and rudiments of the world, ceremonial rites and observances, brought up in formidable array to condemn me for for their neglect? How can they reach one who independently of them is otherwise, and by a prior right, confessedly and justly condemned before? I am dead, and against the dead no charge can be brought. I am dead, and over the dead no enemy has power. I am dead, and to the dead there is no more fear of death.
This is my safety. This alone is my liberty to be always, in myself, dead. To cease for a moment to be so is to aspire to a life which I cannot sustain. It is to provoke the adversary to a new trial of strength with me, and to brave anew the judgment of God's law. It is only as one dead that I am freed from sin, from its terrors, its temptations, its triumphs; and the more I die with Christ, entering into the meaning of his cross, reckoning myself to be condemned with him, the more am I able to defy every attempt to subject me anew, in any other way, to condemnation. To every challenge at any time which would require me now to answer for myself as a criminal or as a rebel doomed to death, my reply is that I am dead already. Or rather, it is Christ's reply for me. "He is dead in me. My death is his." And I, believing through grace, acquiesce: "Yea; Lord, I am dead in thee. I live no more myself. It is thou who art my life. I live; yet not I: thou livest in me."
II. As it is said of those who live in pleasure, that they are dead while they live, so it may be said of you who believe in Jesus, that you live while you are dead. And your life is hid with Christ in God. Follow Christ now, from earth to heaven; from the scene of his agony here below, to the scene of his blessed joy in the presence of the Father above. Enter within the veil, into the holiest of all, the very inmost recess of the sanctuary above, into which your Saviour has passed. What is the nature of this most sacred retreat? and what the Saviour's manner of life there? In the bosom of the Father, in most intimate fellowship with the Father, he who liveth and was dead is now alive for evermore. And there, where he is, your life now is. It is with him, for he is your life. it is where he is, and as his, in God. And it is hid there.
1. ,Your life is with Christ. It is in fact identifed with him. He is your life, and ho is so in two respects.
(i) You live with Christ, as partakers of his right to live. And oh! how ample is that right. For who is he with whom your life is now bound up He has life in himself In his own nature he is originally and eternally the living one. For you, who are dead, to be attached to him, ensures your life; since then all his right and prerogative of life becomes yours. Your life with Christ is thus the counterpart of his death for you; and as he was willing to make your death his own, so you need not scruple or hesitate to make his life yours. For he has store of life enough for himself and for you; and you need have no fear of drawing too largely on that store. Even his dying with you and for you did not exhaust it. Neither will his taking you to live with him.
If I am struggling desperately and ready to sink in the billows of an angry sea, and if a friend cast himself in to save me, I may, by hanging upon him and clinging to him with the gripe of death, merely drag him down along with me to the depths of a watery grave. Or if he undertake to answer for me in the judgment, my miserable case may but serve to overwhelm him in the participation of my shame and guilt. He may merely succeed in destroying himself, by involving himself in the responsibility of my offence. But Christ, having life in himself, has power to lay down his own life, and has power to take it again. When I cleave to him, a wretched perishing sinner, the billows of wrath go over his head, and he tastes the death to which I am doomed. But nevertheless he lives still, he rises from the midst of the waves, he walks on the waters once more, and I, grasping his outstretched hand, nay, rather grasped by him in his strong arm, am forthwith in safety, with him, on the shore. He makes himself indeed answerable for my sin; and for any man, or angel, for any creature, however high, or however holy, to do this, could not but entail on him everlasting destruction, eternal death. But he is no creature. He is the ever-living Son, righteous and holy. And the burden which must have weighed down any other substitute or surety to hell, and that for ever, he can sustain and yet live. What a privilege to have my life with him!
And may this indeed be my privilege? asks some poor trembling soul. Wherefore should it not? On what terms is it to become yours? In what character are you to appropriate it? In the character simply and exclusively of one dead. For what do you read as your warrant? "Ye are dead, and your life is with Christ." To be dead is the only requisite preliminary to your life being with Christ. And is not this your case? Are you not dead, as an enemy to God, righteously condemned by him? Then rejoice to know and believe that your life is with Christ. Ah! do you still hesitate? Are you waiting anxiously and impatiently until you find in you some symptom of a new-born spiritual life before you lay hold of Christ, or let him lay hold of you! Nay, nay, have done with this longing after a righteousness or life of your own. You feel that you have none. Be content that you should have none. Remember that it is not as one living, but as one dead, that you have your life in Christ. Yes, there is life in him for you, even for you who are dead. "When I am weak, then am I strong." When I am dead, then I live.
(2.) As you live with Christ, in respect of your new right to live, so you live with Christ in respect of the new spirit of your life. For not only must you who are dead receive a title to live. You must besides receive power to take advantage of your title, to avail yourselves of it, and actually to live. And for both alike you must be indebted to Christ. Your right to live, and your power to live, are both with Christ. Your right to live is with him, as having life in himself. Your power to live is with him, as quickening he will. He has the residue of the Spirit. The Holy Ghost is given through him, in respect of that very righteousness of his through which he liveth, as just and justifying many. If you would have this life, then have it with Christ, with him altogether, and with him alone. He alone has it in himself; and he alone can make it yours.
And still, once more, remember, it is as those who are dead, that you have this life with Christ, this right and this power to live. Say not, then, that you cannot live; that you have not life enough even to lay hold of the life which is with Christ for you. Neither the right to live, nor the power, is with you. Both are with Christ. "When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. v. 6). While ye are yet without strength, you are raised from death to life, by the mighty working of the same power which brought Christ again from the grave. "Awake, then, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Eph. v. 14). Say not that you cannot comply with this invitation, or accept this offer. who calls you is the same who commanded the sick man to rise and walk, who said to the dead man in his tomb, "Lazarus, come forth." You are dead. But your life is with Christ. His very word to you, when he says, Believe and live, is itself life; and dead as you are, he makes you hear his voice. And in hearing it, you have power to obey his call, to embrace the Saviour, and to be saved.
2. Further, this your life, being with Christ, must be where he is. It must therefore be in God. He is your life. And where he is, there is your life. But he is in the bosom of the Father. Thence he came to accomplish the purposes of humiliation. Thither he returned when these purposes were fulfilled, when the Father's holy name was glorified, and the Father's work of redeeming mercy finished. Youi life with Christ, therefore, is in God. For in his favour is life, and his loving-kindness is better than life.
It is in God as its source and fountain. For all life, especially all spiritual life, is from the Father. "As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself" (John v. 26). The Father raised him from the dead. He "brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant" (}Heb. xiii. 20). It is true that Christ had power to lay down his life, and he had power to take it again; and his own divine power was manifested in his resurrection, by which he was declared to be the Son of God with power. It is true also that the Eternal Spirit, the Spirit of holiness, was the immediate agent in this transaction. Still, the life which Christ condescended, as the risen Saviour, to receive on your behalf was from the Father, as its fountain. It had its source in the Father. And so also your life, with Christ, is in God, as its source. It is God that justifieth. It is he who reconciles you to himself. The grace, the favour, the love, the free forgiveness and full acceptance, in which this life consists, all flow from the Father; they are all his gifts to you, and for them all, you are continually, at every instant, dependent upon him.
And as your life with Christ is in God as its source and fountain, so it is in God also, as its seat and centre and home. The life which the Father imparts finds its dwelling-place in himself. It consists in his favour, and it is exercised in his fellowship. The love, flowing from him, returns, and rests in him. We love him who first loved us. "Return unto thy rest, 0 my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee" (Psalm cxvi. 7). "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. v. 1).
Again, your life with Christ is in God, as its model, or type, or pattern. "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (lst John iv. 16). Beholding his glory, we are changed into the same image. Living in God, we are conformed to his likeness. "He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love" (lb. iv. 8). So, on other hand, your life with Christ being in God, you know and dwell in him. And, knowing him, you love. It becomes your very nature to love, even as it is his nature to love. Dwelling in him, you dwell in love; loving him because he first loved you, and for his sake loving your brother also. And your love in a measure is like that of God himself; pure, holy, disinterested, free, as his is; self-sacrificing, too, and self-denying; being that love which "suffereth long, and is kind; which envieth not; which vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (1 Cor. xiii. 4-7). Thus imbibing his own spirit of love, and being kind even to the evil and to the unthankful, ye are the children of your heavenly Father, and are perfect, even as he is perfect.
Once more, your life with Christ is in God, as its great end and aim - its motive and object. It is to him now that you live, for his glory, for his will, for his pleasure. Believing in Jesus, you are to the praise of his glory, to whose grave you are debtors. And your main concern now is, that God may be glorified in you still. This indeed is your very life, to glorify God. You live, then, only when you are seeking, desiring, longing for the advancement of his glory, and are willing that in you lie should be glorified, whether by life or by death. Such is your life in God, if it be life in Christ. For such was, and such is, his life in the Father.
3. Finally, this life with Christ in God is hid. It must needs be so, since it enters in within the veil. There is, of course, a sense in which it is not, and cannot be hid. Its fruits and symptoms are manifest. But its principle is hid. For as the movements of the living body are sensible and palpable, while the mystery of that unseen vital energy which sets the head and the heart in motion, baffles all inquiry: so while the outward walk is patent to all on earth, the life of the soul with Christ is hid in God in heaven. Your life is hid. It is an affecting characteristic of this life that it is hidden. It suggests several touching ideas of security, of spirituality, of privacy, and of seclusion.
Your life is hid, for security. It is hid with Christ, in God, where no coarse eye can reach, and no rude hand can touch it. It is hid from the storm and the tempest. It is hid from the relentless accuser of the brethren. It is hid from the secret counsel of the wicked and the strife of tongues. It is hid from the unwise and flattering friend. It is hid from the spoiler and the foe. It is hid in God's pavilion, in the secret of his tabernacle, in the hollow of his hand, where your name is engraven on his palms. It is not hidden so that it can ever be overlooked or forgotten by But it is hidden so that sin and Satan and the world seek in vain to come nigh to it.
What blessed confidence may this impart even to you whose life may seem to be but as a quivering spark. Feeble, flickering, unsteady as it may be, such as the slightest breath might extinguish, God takes it into his keeping, hides it, cherishes and fosters it, until it be revived. Have you life at all, with Christ, be it ever so precarious, as if scarce a pulse were beating? Is there but the faintest sigh, - the quivering of but a limb, to show that the weary and wounded soldier on Satan's dreary battle-field is not quite dead? Left to languish on the plain, with the keen and cutting night breeze chilling his stagnant blood, and the a charger trampling him in the dust, and the swords of hostile bands flashing over him - how soon would be extinct! But your life is not liable to such exposure, fallen and sore stricken as you are. It is hid with Christ in God. You are his hidden ones; safe in the hollow of the rock in which he shelters you, safe under the shadow of his wing.. Your life is hid with Christ in God. It stands not in the opinion of men, who, judging according to outward appearance, may condemn those whom God hath judged. It depends not upon your being able to meet Saran's charges or even your own accusations of yourselves. It is not in human approbation, or in a tampering with Satan's soothing wiles, or in the complacency of a formal self-righteousness, that now you live. As to all these, you are dead. With them all you can now dispense. For your life is hid with Christ in God, where he will care for it well,if only you leave it entirely to him.
Your life in hid, as a life that is no longer carnal and earthy but spiritual and heavenly. It is not an outward profession merely, or of ceremonial observances. It is the hidden man of the heart, life itself hid with Christ in God. Hence it is altogether independent of what the apostle calls the rudiments of this world. It is quite inconsistent with subjection to ordinances (ii. 20); you need not now concern yourselves about such a life, or such a notion of life, as these could sustain. You are no more striving to make good a poor and precarious life for yourselves, based upon any outward and formal righteousness. As to any such life, or any such title to life, you are dead. And you are contented and thankful to be dead; your life now is inward and spiritual. It is a real life of inward and conscious reconciliation to God; inward and conscious walking with God. it is life in God; life therefore hid in God.
Hence it is a life of intimacy; and as it were of confidential fellowship. You are the men of God's secret (Job xix. 19). You are his friends, to whom he makes known what he does. " The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant" (Ps. xxv. 14). "His secret is with the righteous" (Prov. iii. 32). To men generally it is only the outward aspect of the works and ways of God which is revealed; and that they are at a loss to understand. In the things he has made, they see little more than what furnishes matter for vacant wonder or curious speculation. And in his providential dealings how much is there that is dark! "How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !" How hard a thing do the ungodly and the worldly find it to be even to imagine an explanation of his procedure, to conjecture what may possibly be the meaning of his actings. To them the whole is a mighty maze, without a p1an. Things good and evil, pleasant and painful, terrible and joyful, are mingled and jumbled together in inextricable confusion. What can they do but live at random, and as if by chance; receiving whatever comes as best they may; letting the world pass, and taking things as easily as they can
But if your life is hid with Christ in God, you stand in his counsel. You are in his secret, as it were, behind the scenes. You have the key to all the mysteries of his government. To you now all is not a chaos or a blank, a confused pageant or a troubled dream. You are, as it were, admitted into God's chamber; you have an insight into his plan and purpose as the God of grace and of judgment. The present chequered scene is no longer a mere enigma to you. You know what it means. God's long-suffering patience with the wicked, whom he would fain win to himself; his dispensations of fatherly love towards his own people, whom he corrects and chastens; his warnings of wrath; his tokens for good; the benefits with which he loads his enemies; the trials, with which he visits his children; the whole scheme of his adinistration; however incomprehensible to others, is not now all dark and hard to you. Hence you can stand serene in life's shifting vicissitudes and death's dread terrors; amid the war of elements and the crash of worlds. You know that all is well; that all the Lord's ways are just and true. You are not apt to be taken by surprise. It is yours to see, in the ceaseless march of all things here below, the unfolding of the plan of redeeming love. And in the very dissolution of universal nature, you can hail the advent of the new heavens and the new earth.
Once more, your life with Christ in God is hid, as being a life of seclusion from the world's eye, and separation from the world's sympathy. The world cannot discern or appreciate it. They cannot believe in its reality. They have no apprehension of its spirit. Yes; you have a rank that is concealed from the carnal mind. "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not" (1 John iii. 1). You have riches of which the world cannot conceive, the unsearchable riches of Christ. The pearl of great price is yours, though none but you recognise it. You carefully hide and keep it. Almost all things about your life are hidden. It has its hidden source and spring; Christ living in you; Christ in you the hope of glory, It has its hidden motive, for which the world will give you no credit; to you to live is Christ. It has its hidden food; you have meat to eat that the world knoweth not of; the hidden manna; the word of Christ dwelling in you richly. It has its hidden joys, and its hidden sorrows too, with which a stranger may not intermeddle; its hidden history and exercise of soul in the privacy of your secret closet; in deep experiences of the heart, known only to your Father and your God.
But though your life, as believers, is hid, its outward workings and movements, its fruits and effects, are and must be, visible and palpable. It is a life which manifests itself. The natural life is in large measure hid. Its principle, its manner of being, its sustenance, growth, decay, revival, much about it is hid. But it acts outwardly in word and deed, in speech and behaviour. So also the spiritual life, however hid it may be in many aspects of it, must come, out in unmistakable proofs of its reality. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Gal. v. 22, 23). "Add to your faith, virtue ; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance ; and to temperance, patience ; and to patience, godliness ; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity" (2 Peter i. 5-7). "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. v. 16). Out of the abundance of the heart let the mouth speak. From within, from the Spirit in you, let rivers of living waters flow. Then your life is not to be always hidden. "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" (Col. iii. 4). Its being hidden is, in one view, an advantage meanwhile to this life; as a hiding-place from the tempest's fury, or from war's alarm, be it ever so lonely and so dreary, is welcome to the traveller or the patriot. "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself as it were for a little moment." Yes ; for a little moment. But only until the indignation be overpast" (Isa. xxvi. 20). But the traveller rejoices to walk abroad when the blast is over. The patriot is glad when persecution yields to peace; and he in free to quit his close retreat. For it is, on the whole, a drawback on the enjoyment of this life with Christ in God that it is hid. The believer often feels the lack of sympathy, the pain of being misinterpreted and misunderstood. He looks forward to the day when clouds and shadows shall flee away and all shall be open fellowship and joy.
Finally, for unbelievers as well as believers, for all of us alike, it is a solemn question - What is your hidden life? every man has a hidden life; a life that he lives apart from even his dearest bosom friend; a life that he lives alone; in his lonely musings; in his solitary closet; in the deep receases of his inmost heart. What, 0 my brother! is your hidden life, your real life! For your hidden life is your real life. Your life outwardly, before men; in the sight of the world and the church; maybe all that could well be desired. But what of your inner hidden life; your real life, I repeat? it life with Cbrist in God, the life of love? Be very sure that, whatever it is, the day will declare it. "For there nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hid, shall not be known" (Lukexii. 2).
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