For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
This verse introduces us to some of the very central and most sacred doctrines of the gospel. It tells us what our condition is, — we who have been baptized into Christ; — and, telling us what our condition is, it opens to us so wide and wonderful a view of the duties, burthens, hopes, and helps that belong to that condition, as may well astonish us, and fill us with fear and trembling, with fearful hope, and with trembling joy. I need not linger much in explaining the first words of the verse of the text, "as many of you as have been baptized"; however many of the Galatians St. Paul may have comprehended under this description, there is no question that it comprehends all of us. We have all been baptized, have all been carried, in the faith of the Church, represented by our godfathers and godmothers, to the life-giving font, and have received the promises of God made to us in that sacrament. Again, he says, "have been baptized into Christ." On this point, too, there is no need to dwell at present; suffice it for the present purpose to say, that to be baptized into Christ signifies(1) to be baptized into the body of Christ; to be made by baptism a member of that sacred immortal body, whose head is the Lord in heaven, and whose bond of life and union is the blessed Spirit of God; and(2) to be baptized into the Holy Trinity, into that name, into that belief and profession, into that holy keeping, and into that mysterious communion. These points I will not enlarge upon at present; I will rather assume that we are acquainted with all the great things which are signified by the expression, "being baptized into Christ"; and, turning your attention to the remaining words, consider how it is said, that they who have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.
1. First, then, we may regard the words as metaphorical, and understand them to mean, that we have put on, or assumed, the Christian profession of belief, or the Christian character, or the Christian duties, or the Christian hopes. "Consider, therefore," we may suppose the apostle to go on, "how far your life really tallies with all this great profession which you have made."
2. But this is not enough To interpret words like these merely metaphorically, is to interpret them very inadequately. To put on Christ can hardly be a less real phrase than to be baptized into Christ, or to be in Christ; and these phrases, as we know from many parts of Holy Scripture, express the wonderful and mysterious connexion which subsists between baptized men and their Redeemer, whereby they are living stones of a spiritual house or temple; living members of a sacred spiritual body; living branches of a holy spiritual vine; partakers of the death, and so of the life of Christ; already immortal in estate; and in right, title, and privilege, already assured of everlasting bliss, unless they forfeit it by impenitent and unholy living. To put on Christ seems to be correlative to being in Christ; it is the duty, while the other is the privilege. God has, of His great mercy, put us in Christ, made us to be baptized into Christ; — now let us pray for His Spirit, and work with His Spirit, and yield ourselves up to His Spirit, that we may put on Christ. In our baptisms we were planted into Christ, into His body, which is the Church; and there took place, by God's Divine power, the birth of the Spirit in our hearts, — the germinating of the little seed of Divine, spiritual life, the kindling of the little spark of holy immortal fire, which, unless it be smothered by sin unrepented, should be our earnest, and inalienable title to glory and salvation. This was the great baptismal blessing. But there is something else after this. Then Christ has to be formed in us. Then our own souls, in which, even after baptism, the infection of nature remaineth, have to grow up in Christ's likeness, to grow to the stature of a perfect man in Christ. to become filled with the fulness of God. This is the work of our life after baptism; this is the reason why we live so many years after baptism; this is the reason why baptism is early, and death often late, why baptism is not the end, but the beginning of our lives. Our life after baptism should not be a falling back, but a rising and growing; not a declension from baptismal innocence, but a strengthening in Christ-like virtues. Herein then is the precise duty, stated in the lofty and mysterious terms of Holy Scripture, which we are living now to discharge; the putting on Christ, — the forming of Christ in our own separate souls, the growing up to the "perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." For this cause, our bodies grow from the infant feebleness in which they received the regenerating washing of holy baptism, through their vigorous and lively youth, to the confirmed strength of manhood; for this cause, our minds naturally widen and grow strong, our imaginations vivid and inventive, our thought strong and deep, our memory firm and tenacious, and our judgment considerate and sound; for this cause, we are placed under training and discipline; for this cause, God has given us kind and loving friends; for this cause He allows us to see and know, in the examples of others, the aspect of sin, and the aspect of obedience, that we may be the rather helped to right, and deterred from wrong, by learning to love and hate them respectively, when exhibited in others; for this cause, He sends us joy or sorrow, takes us from those we love, or takes those we love from us; for this cause, He allows the various events of life to go on in their tangled, inscrutable order, trying us, testing us, proving us in ten thousand ways st every time; for this cause, He gives us His Holy Spirit, bids us pray, sets hopes and bright encouragements before us, leaves us alone, yet not alone, for He is with us, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. For this cause, that, being in Christ by baptism, we may by degrees put on Christ; that we may copy Him, pray to Him, represent Him, love to be near Him, love His house, His people, His little ones; that we may believe in Him, have the thought of Him ever before our minds, read of Him, talk of Him, love His words; that we may think who and how great He is, ascend with Him, love to retire from other thoughts to be with Him, love His Church the place where His honour dwelleth, love His sacraments wherein He is nearest, His baptism wherein He giveth Himself first, His blessed Communion wherein He permits us more and more to be one with Him, to be of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. The Christian estate is glory, it is liberty, it is royal, it is priestly; nothing is too high for it, as the apostle sees it. A baptized Christian is reborn of the Spirit, sits in heavenly places, is companion of angels, has his citizenship in heaven, has his life in Christ. Living on in the flesh, he grows in grace, puts on Christ, Christ is formed in him, he grows to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. No; we must not lower our teaching, or our holding, below the lofty but most real sayings, the wonderful words, but words of most faithful truth and soberness, in which the inspired apostles have been taught to speak them. No; we must raise our lives. We must not speak lower, but we must live higher. The labour and the struggle is, to bring these high truths into the very midst of our daily lives and habits, to remember them when we lie down, and when we rise up, to remember them in our work and our play; to remember them and act upon them all through that endless diversity of little things, which, defying statement or description, make up our weekly, daily, and hourly lives. If your life be destined to be spent in the midst of secular business, let it accompany you, and your secular business will become sanctified to you; if you are hereafter to minister in the sanctuary, let it go with you to the sanctuary, and it will waken up a deeper devotion; if you are to remain among the homes of your fathers, or to do God's service in distant lands, wheresoever you be, and howsoever occupied, let the remembrance of this thought, the formation of Christ within you, the growing up to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, be, by God's grace, never absent from your Christian minds!
Parallel VersesKJV: For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.