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sume a more fearful disguise. The association with the ungodly, the recognition of men without religion as our friends, the union with atheists, Socinians, and enemies of all religion for the overthrow of ecclesiastical establishments; the pushing of questions of Church government to the extreme of endangering Christianity itself, as well as the form of it which is opposed; the casting the firebrands of discord, tumult, agitation, and anarchy amongst a Christian popula. tion are just as direct methods and snares of the great Adversary to infuse the worst species of a worldly spirit, as any we have before noticed. Chris. tianity ever teaches us to pray for kings, and all in authority ; that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty"this is the fundamental, permanent, unalterable, holy temper of our Religion.
COLOSSIANS II. 8, 9, 10.
Benare lest any man spoil you through philosophy
and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in him.
THE works of God and the works of man differ essentially from each other. The works of God are complete at once, adequate, admitting of no alteration, open to no after-thought nor correction. The works of men, are, like themselves, feeble, imperfect, inadequate, and yielding of necessity to new discoveries as they are made.
This is especially true as to the greatest of all divine works—the Redemption of man.
God has given us in the gospel a revelation of it, which is, as we might expect, complete in all its parts, admits of no additions, alterations, or diminutions; but is entirely adequate for the purposes for which it was designed
Yet man, weak and ignorant as he is, is ever applying to it the rules of human operations; and assuming, that additions and improvements may be made to it, as to the production of a fellow creature. The presumption of man is ever deserting the office of interpretation, and use, and explication, which is the only one assigned to him, and pushing into the province of original disquisition and judgment on the matter of Revelation itself, which is God's exclusive prerogative.
Against this fatal arrogance, the apostle is guarding the Colossian converts in our text; and, indeed, in the whole chapter from which it is taken. He admonishes them to beware lest any of the false teachers should make a spoil and prey of them by a vain, deceitful philosophy, which was not after Christ, but was merely agreeable to the traditions and speculations of heathen philosophers on the one hand, or to the worldly rudiments of Jewish doctors on the other. For all the ends of a divine revelation were, as he proceeds to tell them, completely and exclu. sively to be found in the gospel, and needed no superadditions of human wisdom ; for in Christ “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily;" and they
complete in him.” Our subject, then, is Vain philosophy exposed, when attempting to tamper with the gospel of Christ. In the consideration of which, we must first notice the simple and complete scheme of Christianity as taught by the apostle ; and then the manner in which a vain philosophy presumes to meddle with it.
I. The apostle thus describes The complete scheme of Christianity : “In Christ dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and ye are complete in him.” For in the true religion, you ask, as I have intimated, in a previous discourse for two things ; the first, a manifestation of God, a present Deity, an authoritative communication of the object of worship: the second, sufficient means for obtaining pardon of sin, peace of conscience, an inward principle of holi. ness, the rule of moral duty, and a hope of everlasting life. You want the first, in opposition to the endless speculations of men concerning the Divine nature: you want the second, in opposition to the impotent inventions and unauthorized ceremonies which they impose. In Christ you have both. You have the Deity fully manifested; and you have a supply of all the instruction and grace which man can need for availing himself of the manifestation. Christ is com. pletely qualified for his mediatorial work by all “ the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him bodily;" and his faithful followers are completely supplied with all they want, by their mystical union with him.
For, 1, In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. The apostle probably alludes to the ark of the Covenant, and the visible Shechinah abiding on it, as the symbol of God's immediate presence, of old. This ark, and the glory, and the propitiatory, and the Holy of Holies were but types of Christ. God now dwelleth much more excellently and mani. festly in the person of Christ; in whom he remains and abides permanently, not by a visible and material splendor, but in all the fulness of the Divine perfections. So that God residing there as in a temple, exercises all divine attributes, performs all divine works, and communicates all divine blessings to man, through the mysterious union of the divine and human nature in the one person of Christ.
And thus St. John assures us, “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; and the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us,” tabernacled, abode, resided, “and we beheld his glory,” not the Shechinah a material and visible splendor as of old, but, "the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” There dwells therefore in Christ, not some portion only of divinity, as the gentiles
boast concerning their false gods ; nor some gifts only of divine grace and munificence, as in the case of angels and saints ; nor some figurative and typical adumbration of his presence, as on the Jewish propi. tiatory; but the Aoyos himself, the eternal WORD that was with God and was God;" with all the fulness of divine perfections, with infinite love, infi. nite knowledge, infinite wisdom, infinite power, infinite holiness, righteousness, goodness, and truth; 80 that he that “seeth Christ, seeth the Father also.” And thus, though “no man hath,” nor can, God at any time,” yet,“ the only-begotten Son that is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him ;" being indeed, “the brightness of his Father's glory and the express image of his person.”
Here, then, Christianity begins. She plants her foot on the incarnation of Deity in the person of Christ. She presents the one living and true God in his onlybegotten Son, “The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” She presents “God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself," as the object of divine worship, faith, love, confidence. She presents Christ as 0£ãvopwTOS God-man; the Word dwelling in the human nature, and the human nature being taken into union, per. sonal, essential, hypostatical union with it.
2. Nor is the practical end of this Revelation of indwelling Deity less astonishing than the discovery itself: Ye are complete in him," that is, when you by faith receive him, and are united to him, and incor. porated with him, you are in him filled, completed, adequately and fully furnished with all you can need as guilty, sinful creatures for present and eternal salvation.
This is the effect of the divine plenitude of Christ. Having “all the fulness of the Godhead” in him, he causes us to have, so to speak, a plenitude also : we are completed, consummated, and accomplished in him.