Colossians 1:18
And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and firstborn from among the dead, so that in all things He may have preeminence.
Sermons
Christ and His ChurchJ. Morison, D. D.Colossians 1:18
Christ in All Things the Pre-EminentJ. Stoughton, D. D.Colossians 1:18
Christ is Pre-EminentR. Thomas, D. D.Colossians 1:18
Christ Pre-EminentH. G. Guinness.Colossians 1:18
Christ Pre-Eminent in All ThingsW. P. Appelbe, LL. D.Colossians 1:18
Christ the BeginningT. Manton, D. D.Colossians 1:18
Christ the Head of the ChurchBp. Davenant.Colossians 1:18
Christ's Headship of the ChurchT. Croskery Colossians 1:18
Church AuthorityH. Allon, D. D.Colossians 1:18
One with ChristLuther.Colossians 1:18
The BeginningT. Guthrie, D. D.Colossians 1:18
The Body and its HeadA. Roberts, M. A.Colossians 1:18
The Divine HarbingerT. Guthrie, D. D.Colossians 1:18
The FirstbornT. Guthrie, D. D.Colossians 1:18
The Firstborn from the DeadT. Manton, D. D.Colossians 1:18
The Firstborn from the DeadW.F. Adneney Colossians 1:18
The HeadT. Guthrie, D. D.Colossians 1:18
The Head of the ChurchC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 1:18
The Holy Catholic ChurchG. Clayton, M. A.Colossians 1:18
The Pre-Eminent OneJ. Sherman.Colossians 1:18
Who is the BeginningColossians 1:18
Prayer Leading Up to the Person of ChristR. Finlayson Colossians 1:9-23
Christ FirstProfessor Reuss.Colossians 1:14-20
Forgiveness and Remission of SinsJ. Morison, D. D.Colossians 1:14-20
Jesus Christ the End of the CreationC. P. Jennings.Colossians 1:14-20
Pardon, not Justice, WantedColossians 1:14-20
Plan of RedemptionChristmas Evans.Colossians 1:14-20
RedemptionT. Guthrie, D. D.Colossians 1:14-20
Redemption Atonement for and Remission of SinT. Guthrie, D. D.Colossians 1:14-20
Redemption God's Forgiveness as King and FatherG. Calthrop, M. A.Colossians 1:14-20
Redemption Incomplete Until Accepted by Faith in ChristP. Bayne, B. D.Colossians 1:14-20
Redemption Partial and CompleteBishop Davenant.Colossians 1:14-20
The Deity of ChristB. W. Noel, M. A.Colossians 1:14-20
The Greatness of RedemptionP. Bayne, B. D.Colossians 1:14-20
The Value of PardonH. W. Taylor.Colossians 1:14-20
The Witness of Creation to the GospelJ. O. Dykes, D. D.Colossians 1:14-20
We have Redemption Through His BloodColossians 1:14-20
The Dignity of ChristA. J. F. Behrends, D. D.Colossians 1:15-19
The Divine Pre-Eminence of ChristU. R. Thomas.Colossians 1:15-19
The Glory of the SonA. Maclaren, D. D.Colossians 1:15-19
The Person of ChristT. Watson, B. A.Colossians 1:15-19
The Glories of King JesusR.M. Edgar Colossians 1:15-20
Christ All in AllU.R. Thomas Colossians 1:15-29
The Supremacy of Christ in the Moral UniverseE.S. Prout Colossians 1:18-20
He is the head of the new creation as well as of the natural creation. "And he is the Head of the body, the Church: who is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence."

I. CONSIDER WHAT IS INVOLVED IN THIS HEADSHIP OF THE CHURCH. There is a real essential union of the Head and the members.

1. Christ is the Centre of the Church's life. He is its Life. "Because I live ye shall live also" (John 14:19). The union is strictly vital. "The second Adam is a quickening spirit" (1 Corinthians 15:45).

2. He is the Centre of its unity. Believers are all one in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 12:12). We are baptized by the Spirit into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13).

3. He is the Source of all its blessings and comforts.

(1) He loves it (Ephesians 5:27).

(2) He sympathizes with its distresses (Matthew 18:5).

(3) He supplies it with abundant grace. "Of his fulness have we all received, even grace for grace" (John 1:16).

3. He is the Maid, spring of all its holy activity. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13); "Without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).

II. CONSIDER WHAT IS INVOLVED IN THE SUBJECTION OF THE BODY TO THE HEAD.

1. The Church must own no other Head than Christ. There are undercurrents of priestly domination in our day subversive of this headship. The Pope is not and cannot be the head of the Church in any sense. We can be in subjection to no other than Christ.

2. We must do nothing to dishonour our Head either in flesh or spirit. (2 Corinthians 6:15-18.)

3. We must use all means to grow up into our Head in all things, that "there may be increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:16).

4. We must dwell with our fellow members in love and humility. "Keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3). The members must sympathize with one another (1 Corinthians 10:24).

III. THE ORIGIN OF THE HEADSHIP OF CHRIST. "Who is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead."

1. Christ is the Beginning of the new creation. Two ideas are implied in the expression.

(1) Priority in time. He is "the Firstfruits of them that have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:20).

(2) The origination of spiritual life. As he is "the Beginning of the creation of God" (Revelation 3:14), he is the Beginning of the new creation. He is the "Prince of life" (Acts 3:14), the "Author of salvation" (Hebrews 2:10).

2. Christ is Head through his resurrection. He is "the First-begotten from the dead." Consider:

(1) That he was among the dead. Thus he made expiation for our sins.

(2) That he was begotten from among the dead, because he was raised from death to life "for our justification" (Romans 4:23, 24).

(3) That he was the first so begotten.

(a) Others were translated or died again.

(b) He rose to die no more (Romans 6:9).

(c) His resurrection involves the resurrection of all his saints.

(4) His resurrection is his title to headship (Ephesians 1:20-23).

(5) Let us realize "the power of his resurrection" (Philippians 3:10) in a holy life.

IV. THE DESIGN OF THE FATHER WAS THAT ALIKE IN THE SPIRITUAL AND THE NATURAL ORDER CHRIST MIGHT HAVE THE PRE-EMINENCE. "That in all things he might have the pre-eminence." Both in nature and in the Church he is pre-eminent; and the Father's design will be yet more fully accomplished when all things are put under his feet and "the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ" (Revelation 11:15). Thus our Divine Redeemer is "Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, the First and the Last" (Revelation 1:8, 11, 17, 18). - T. C.







And He is the Head of the body, the Church.
I. THE CHURCH.

1. The English word is formed from κυριακή — belonging to the Lord.(1) Sometimes a distinction is draw between Church and congregation. Although Christ is Lord of all, yet He bears a peculiarly endearing relationship to the company within the congregation who constitute the Church proper. They are His "peculiar" possession, people, servants, and friends.(2) Sometimes we call the edifice in which the disciples assemble a church, and properly, because it belongs to the Lord.

2. The word is a translation of ἐκκλησία, and is peculiarly applicable to the people as distinguished from the place. It was borrowed from those Greeks who had free municipal institutions. Slaves were not permitted to form part of the company, and were not eligible to municipal offices and honours, and had no voice or vote. A church, therefore, is a company of free men.

3. The two meanings in combination reach the idea that the Church of Christ is the company of free men whose privilege it is to belong to the Lord.

4. Christians are a "body," an organized community, in which all the members, however humble, find a place and do a work, and not a mere heterogeneous mob. Each member can be helpful to the others.

II. THE HEAD. This implies —

1. That Christ belongs to the body, the Church. He is not outside and merely over it. He is within it as its principal member. He partakes of its moral nature, and then of the moral nature of all its members. He is free as they are, only more gloriously; it is His joy also to be useful, only His devotion is far more sublime.

2. The representation is incomplete. He is Heart too — both head and heart in one; even as He is corner-stone at every corner, and all round the Temple of God. As the Heart, He is the centre of all the vitalizing influences that build the whole body into the fulness of health and vigour; the fountain of the love which is the sweetest outcome of manhood.

3. As the Head, He thinks for the whole body, and plans and guides. The hands cannot think for themselves, though they are noble workers; the feet do not know where to go, but beautiful are they when running errands at the bidding of the love that is in the heart, or of the life that emanates from the head.

III. THE BEGINNING. Of what? Jesus was "the beginning of the creation of God." Here He is at once —

1. The beginning of the resurrection life, being Himself "the firstborn from among the dead," and thus —

2. The beginning of the Church of the living God; the Head of that body in which, even as it exists on earth, there is a spring-seed of that higher life that has been brought within the reach of all.

IV. Christ is consequently eminently qualified to have in all things THE PRE-EMINENCE. It was the Father's pleasure that he should have it. He has it now as His right, and will continue so to have it, until all opposition to its rule be swept away for ever.

(J. Morison, D. D.)

I. CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH IN EACH OF HIS NATURES. For here He is called the Head of the Church, who had before been called the image of the invisible God. But that image was the eternal Son of God, the incarnate Word: therefore Christ, the God-man, is the Head of the Church. For the Church ought to possess such a head as might have a natural conformity with the rest of the members to be incorporated in it. Now this conformity suits Christ according to His human nature; whence Christ and the Church are called one flesh (Ephesians 5:31). But it was also necessary that the Church should have such a head as could infuse into it spiritual life. This is the province of God alone; whence God is plainly called the husband and the Head of the Church (Psalm 14:10). Hence many observations arise:

1. Whereas the Head of the Church is God, we infer(1) that the Church will abide for ever, neither shall the gates of hell prevail against it; for if God be with us, who shall be against us? A less than God would have been incompetent to the protection of the Church; for the devil, and almost the whole world, wage constant war against it.(2) That the members of the Church ought to obey their Head in all things. For there is an infinite obligation which binds every creature to obey its God; but that obligation, if possible, surpasses infinite, whereby the Church, redeemed and sanctified, is bound to be subject to its, God, its mystical and life-giving Head.(3) That the ascension of Christ into heaven has not deprived the Church of its Head: nay, He is present, and will be always present, with His whole Church, by the power of His Divinity, although He may not appear to our eyes by His bodily presence.

2. Inasmuch as our Head is a man, we infer two things:(1) On account of His alliance of nature, He must of necessity intimately love us, and have such a keen sense of our miseries as to be most ready to succour us (Judges 10:16; Hebrews 2:17, 18).(2) We have this comfort, that every ground of triumphing over us is taken from the devil. He overcame the first Adam, the head of the race; but the Second Adam, the Head of the Church, overcame him. Nay, in Christ, we who are His members conquer, just as in Adam we were conquered.

II. IN WHAT RESPECTS CHRIST IS CALLED THE HEAD.

1. The head differs from its members —(1)In eminence or dignity. The head possesses more perfectly all the senses than the subordinate members; so Christ, the mystical Head, possesses all spiritual grace more abundantly than men and angels put together (John 3:34).(2) In way of direction or government. The head regulates and directs; the members are ruled and directed. So Christ has the absolute government of the Church (Ephesians 5:22, 23).(3) In way of causality or influence. For the head communicates sense and motion to all its members. So Christ sends forth spiritual life and the motion of grace into His members which are otherwise insensible, dead, and destitute of all spiritual motion (John 15:5; Philippians 4:13).

2. Those things in which the agreement of the head and the members is perceived.(1) The natural head hath a natural conformity with the rest of the members; for as Horace hath rightly said, it would be monstrous and ridiculous "if a painter should form a design of uniting a horse's neck to a human head." Thus monstrous would it be if the Head of the Church had not a natural conformity with the Church. But Christ hath this, as is shown (Hebrews 2.).(2) The head and the members have a conformity in their destination to the same end, viz., the preservation and safety of the whole person: thus Christ, and His members, which are one person, are ordained to the attainment of eternal glory and happiness; and to the accomplishment of this end both head and members assiduously co-operate. This is the care of the Head, to lead its members to final blessedness (John 17:12). Hence He is called the Saviour of the body (Ephesians 5:23).(3) They agree in the circumstance of their having a continuous union with each other, and all of them deriving their motion and intellectuality from the same soul. So this mystical Head, and all the members of it, have a certain mutual continuity, and have their spiritual intellectuality and vivifying principle from the same source. For there is between Christ and His members an uninterrupted union by means of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:16).

III. WHO AND WHAT ARE THEY OUT OF WHOM THE BODY OF CHRIST IS COMPOSED?

1. The term Church is derived from a word signifying "to call out"; it is therefore an assembly of those called out. And this calling is effected by the ministry of the gospel, and other means which God has appointed.

2. This external vocation and profession constitutes the visible Church. But there is also another more effectual vocation joined to this in some persons, namely, by grace implanted through the power of the Spirit in the hearts of the called.

3. Then it follows —(1) That those who stand related to the Church as evil humours to the human body are not true members of the Church; for each sound body desires the preservation of its members; but it does not preserve evil humours, but expels them.(2) That those who stand related to the Church as dead men to humanity are not true members of the Church; such as wicked men and infidels.(3) That those whom the Church itself would not acknowledge as members or its parts, if it knew what they are, Christ, who knows all things, does not acknowledge.(4) That the Church, which is the body of Christ, hath no member which doth not receive a vital influx from the Head: for the same Spirit is diffused from the Head to all the members (Romans 8:9). But infidels and the wicked have not this vitality of grace flowing from the Head.(5) That the same man is not at the same time a member of Christ and of the devil; but the wicked men are numbered amongst the servants and the children of the devil (John 8:38, 44), therefore they are not to be reckoned among the members of Christ.

4. We conclude, therefore, that this body of the Church, of which Christ Himself is the Head, does not consist of any unfaithful and wicked members, but of the pious and holy alone; whom God delivers from the power of darkness, and translates into the kingdom of His dear Son.

5. Hence we may learn —(1) It is not sufficient for salvation to be a member of any visible Church by an outward profession of faith, unless you are a member of the Catholic Church by a true faith and the Spirit dwelling in the heart.(2) It is not befitting Christians to envy those who are endowed with the more excellent girls; because they are members of the same body: what, therefore, is conferred on one, that should be esteemed as given to all.(3) Since godly members are of the same body, it behoves them to be ready to assist each other; and they ought to feel equally affected with the good or evil which fall to others as with their own (1 Corinthians 12:26).

(Bp. Davenant.)

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY OUR LORD'S HEADSHIP?

1. His representation of the Church as a body. At the first creation God dealt with the race as represented in Adam — hence original sin. In order to salvation, which was only possible, perhaps, because we did not fall singly, God instituted a second federation, of which Christ is the Head, the second Adam. Christians are chosen, accepted, and preserved in Him.

2. Our Lord is Head in a mystical sense (Colossians 2:19).(1) The head is indispensable to life; so Jesus is the vitalizing Head of all His people. "He is our life." Separation from Him is spiritual death.(2) The head is the throne of supreme government. It is from the brain that the mandate issues which uplifts the hand, etc. Thus in the Church Christ is the great directing Head; from Him the only binding commands go forth; to Him the spiritual yield a cheerful homage.(3) The head is the glory of the body. There the chief beauty of manhood dwells. Christ is fairer than the children of men, and in Him the beauty of the Church is summed up.

3. Christ's Headship is conjugal. He is the Bridegroom, the Church is His Bride. As the husband exercises headship in the house, not at all tyrannical or magisterial, but founded upon the rule of nature and endorsed by the consent of love, so Christ rules in His Church, not as a despot compelling His subject bride against her will, but as a husband well beloved, obtaining obedience from the heart.

4. Christ is Head as King in Zion. "One is your Master," etc. To no other do we render spiritual obeisance. Martyrs have bled for this truth. Some Churches have not learned it.

II. WHAT IT IMPLIES. Since Christ is Head of the Church-

1. He alone can determine doctrines for her. It is nothing that a doctrine comes down with gray antiquity to make it venerable. All the fathers, divines, and confessors put together cannot add a word to the faith once delivered to the saints. Nothing is doctrine to the Church but what is contained in the Scriptures.

2. He only can legislate for the Church. In a state, if a knot of persons should profess to make laws for the kingdom they would be laughed at; if they should attempt to enforce them they would be amenable to punishment. So the Church has no power to make laws for herself since she is not her own head; and no one has any right to make laws for her but Christ.

3. He is the living administrator in the Church; but as monarchs often administer through lieutenants, so Christ ad ministers through His Spirit who dwells in the hearts of His people. When we search the Law Book He is their guide.

4. This sole authority must be maintained rigorously.(1) Some would have us guided by results. It has been discussed whether missions should continue since there are so few converts. But how can the question be raised when He has said, "Go ye into all she world," etc.(2) We are not to be guided by the times. Our King and laws are the same, and let the times be scientific or barbaric, our duty is the same.

III. ON WHAT DOES IT REST?

1. On the natural supremacy of Christ's nature. He is perfect man and God over all blessed for ever.

2. On His redemption.

3. On His conquest.

4. On the Divine decree (Psalm 2.).

IV. WHAT DOES IT TEACH?

1. Does it not make each inquire, "If the entire Church is to yield this obedience, am I yielding it"?

2. Am I in the habit of judging according to my wishes or according to the Statute Book of the King?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

What striking figures are employed to describe the union between Christ and His Church!

1. They are the flock, He is the Shepherd (John 10:11-14). They are the bride, He is the Bridegroom (Revelation 21:2-6).

3. They are the branches, He is the Stem.

4. Here, and elsewhere, they are the body, He the Head.

I. How CLOSE the connection between the head and the body. Yet as close is that between Christ and His Church. Not only is it near and dear to Him, it is identified with Him (Ephesians 1:23). His human body was not less necessary to His completeness as a man than His Church is to the completeness of His glory. It was much for Christ to notice, more to pity, more still to die for sinners, but to draw so near to them as this — well may Paul call it a great mystery.

II. What a FELLOW FEELING there is between the body and the head! Is a man's body in pain, and does not the head know and feel, and the tongue complain? So when the Church suffers the Saviour feels.(Hebrews 4:15; Matthew 25:40).

III. What a beautiful CONFORMITY; how exactly is the head proportioned to the body, and how precisely is it suited in its make to the body's wants! Suppose the head of a brute were affixed, not only would the sight be monstrous, but that which the body's fashion renders necessary could never be supplied. And is not the Head of this Church exactly what it wants? Christians need Almighty succour and support, such as could be given by no merely human head.

IV. What an EMINENT STATION does the head occupy, when by its various senses and faculties it is capable of regulating and directing all our movements! So Jesus is made "Head over all things to His Church," that He may preside over all its concerns, and order the whole course of its events. He sees, hears, speaks, and thinks for it. It is guided by His eye, directed by His wisdom, recommended by His intercession.

V. The human head MAY BE SEPARATED from the body. Hence the body in that case dies. But the Church cannot die because no separation can take place between it and its Head (Romans 8:35-39). Conclusion —

1. Is the Head gone up into heaven? Then the members will follow.

2. Are we members of this body? not members of the visible Church, nor professors of Christianity.

3. This union is effected by faith, cemented by love, and exhibited in obedience.

(A. Roberts, M. A.)

The importance of a military position may be always estimated by the determination with which it is on the one hand assailed, and on the other defended. According to this rule we should conclude that the Church has regarded the Headship of her Lord as the very key of the position. For Christ's crown, and His sole right to rule His own house without Caesar's interference, her costliest and most powerful sacrifices have been made. Peter and John were the first to publicly maintain this doctrine (Acts 4:19; Acts 5:29).

I. CHRIST'S BODY IS THE CHURCH. While all other bodies shall die, this is deathless. "Because I live," etc. This body, paradox as it sounds, is ever changing and yet unchangeable; one undying whole formed of dying parts. Yet not more strange than things in nature. You are not the same person you were a year ago. Look at a river. The exile returns to the haunt of his early years, and there the river flows as it did when he was young; yet the liquidations have undergone perpetual change. And so the stream of time bears on to eternity, and the stream of grace on to glory, successive generations, while the Church herself, like a river fed by perennial fountains, remains unchangeable in Christ's immutability, in His immortality immortal.

II. CHRIST'S BODY, WHICH IS NOT IDENTICAL WITH ANY ONE CHURCH, IS FORMED OF ALL TRULY-BELIEVERS, TO WHATEVER DENOMINATION THEY MAY BELONG. Mothers are prone to think their own daughters loveliest, and nothing is more natural than to say of our own denomination, "Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all." But to foster a spirit of sectarianism is an offence as great as to sin against His truth. In some respects bigotry is worse than heresy; and most hateful of all in God's sight is the haughty Churchism which says, "Stand by, I am holier than thou."

III. CHRIST'S BODY, IN A SENSE, EMBRACES ALL THOSE CHURCHES WHICH HOLD THE ESSENTIAL TRUTHS OF THE GOSPEL. There is a broad line between the essentials and the circumstantials of the faith. Yet what unnatural attempts at uniformity have men made, as if uniformity were a law of God! On no such model has God constructed our world. God, while He preserves unity, delights in variety. Why then insist on all men observing a uniform style of worship, or thinking alike on matters non-essential to salvation? You might as well insist on all men wearing the same expression, or speaking in the same tone. How tolerant was Paul of differences! His Church has not followed her Lord's example. Christ drove thieves from the temple, but His followers have cast out their brethren. Divisions are bad things. I have no sympathy with those who, confounding charity with indifference, regard matters of religion as not worth disputing about. Such a state of death is worse than war. Yet divisions are bad things. Therefore we ought to aim to heal them, and where we cannot do that to soften their asperities. "Blessed are the peacemakers." Let us recognize a common brotherhood, and love one another as Christ has loved us. Branches of a tree which is still one in root, stem, sap, flower, and fruit; members of the same family, travellers to the same home, see that ye fall not out by the way.

IV. AS HEAD OF THE CHURCH CHRIST IS THE LIFE OF THE MEMBERS.

1. By means of the connection which grace establishes between Him and the believer, He maintains our spiritual life. "Without Me ye can do nothing." All our wishes, words, and works, however expressed in looks, sounds, and movements, are born in the brain, and there is not a good wish, word, or work but Christ was its fountain-head.

2. He is the source of our spiritual life. We must not confound the means of life with its first cause. The life which Christ gave you was His own. If any heavenly fire burns in you Christ kindled it. The spirit life is not hereditary, "not of blood or of the will of the flesh." By His life He now maintains us.

V. AS HEAD OF THE CHURCH CHRIST RULES ITS MEMBERS. It is not pain that makes the insect go spinning round and round to the entertainment of the thoughtless boy who has beheaded it. It has lost in the head that which preserves harmony among the members, and prevents such anarchy as there was in the body politic when there was no king in Israel, and every man did what was right to his own eyes. Seated as becomes a king, in the highest place, the head gives law to all beneath it. Its subjects never mutiny. Patterns of the obedience we should yield to Christ, the members hesitate not to obey the head even to their own loss and suffering. How happy we should be were our hearts, minds, bodies, as obedient to Christ as the hand and tongue to the head that rules them I What else but this is needed to preserve the purity and peace of our souls, and restore the same to distracted churches? There is no essential difference between the evangelical denominations, and what should hinder them from being as ready to love and help one the other as my foot is ready to run in the service of my hand?

VI. AS HEAD OF THE CHURCH CHRIST SYMPATHIZES WITH HIS MEMBERS. "All the rivers run into the sea;" all the nerves run into the brain, and through them mind corresponds with matter, looking through the eyes, etc. Let the foot but touch a thorn, and it is instantly withdrawn. How? Pain thrilling along the nerves flashes the danger upward to the head, which, by another set of nerves, flashes back an immediate order, so that before the thorn is buried in the flesh the foot is withdrawn. Such is the sympathy between Christ and His people. He is in closest communication with them, and by means of lines which pass from earth to heaven the meanest cottage is joined to the throne of God. No accident breaks that telegraph. The lines of Providence radiate out, and the lines of prayer radiate in.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

The moment I make of myself and Christ two, I am all wrong. But when I see that we are one, all is rest and peace.

(Luther.)

I. ITS NATURE AND CHARACTERISTICS. "A congregation of faithful men," etc. (Acts 19.).

1. The members of which it is composed.(1) Their privileges. They are believers — faithful men, chosen, redeemed, regenerated, sanctified.(2) You must view them as brought together in the bonds of a common profession; for they are faithful men assembled. Solitary individuals, however eminent for piety, cannot form a church (Matthew 18:15).(3) They must be brought together for religious purposes. A company of believers brought together for secular ends would not be a church. They must assemble to worship God, hear His Word, communicate, etc.(4) These thus congregated are distinguished by the general consistency of their outward behaviour. Hypocrites and evil persons may be found in the Church, but they are not of it.

2. Its characteristics.(1) Unity. The Church is one in

(a)The foundation on which it rests. "Other foundation can no man lay."

(b)Its worship. "Through Him we all have access."

(c)Its sympathy and spirit, which is much to be preferred to uniformity of opinion.(2) Sanctity. This does not refer to external and ritual holiness, but to real and internal. "Be ye holy."(3) Catholicity, diffusiveness, generality. We may each of us have our denominational preferences, but we must not unchurch one another. The Church is catholic in the following particulars:

(a)It is the true Church wherever it may be, as to country or clime.

(b)It is found equally among all denominations who are in connection with the Head.

II. THE RELATION IN WHICH CHRIST STANDS TO IT.

1. He is the teaching Head. From Him as the great Prophet of the Church flows all the light by which it is illumined and cheered. "In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom," etc.

2. He is the Head of influence.

3. The Head of government — both legislative and executive.

4. The only Head.

(1)Appointed as such.

(2)Necessarily so. There can be but one head of the body.

(3)All-sufficient.

III. THE DUTIES WE OWE TO THIS HALLOWED CONFEDERACY.

1. To try the spirits, whether they be of God — the pretensions of those who offer themselves to our notice as assumed members of the Church.

2. To admire the goodness of Christ in undertaking this government.

3. To inquire whether we belong to the Holy Catholic Church.

4. To exult in its prospective triumphs.

5. To look forward to the glorious consummation when this one Church shall be presented in its full numbers before the throne.

(G. Clayton, M. A.)

It is indispensable to every society to have a central person or idea round which it may revolve; a supreme government to which it must refer and submit, The will of the person, the essence of the idea, is the reason and law of its existence. Such in the Church is Christ. Accordingly He combines in Himself all the elements of which the Church is to consist. The idea of Christian life is that the qualities of spiritual and visible worlds should be brought together. It recognizes, therefore, as its appropriate Head the God-man who combines the Divine nature to be communicated, and the human capacity for its communication, and who embodied in His incarnate life the model of what human nature should be. Around the Mediator, then, all believing men are gathered. He is the central figure around whom the Church is grouped, the essential bond and reason of its existence. As Head of the Church Christ is —

I. THE SOURCE OF THE PECULIAR TRUTHS WHEREBY IT IS FOUNDED. That which constitutes a society is not the truth it has in common with others, but that which is peculiar to itself. A literary society may have a morality common to themselves and hundreds about them; but it is their peculiar element of literature which constitutes them a literary society. So the Church may have a great deal of the morality common to them and unregenerate men, and so with theological ideas. Hence the name Christian cannot be accorded to those who deny the Deity and atonement of Christ, and the personality and regenerating influence of the Holy Ghost, because these are the characteristic revelations of the New Testament. Of these truths Christ is the source, and all His work concerns itself with them. As the great Prophet of the Church He announces them, as its Priest He realizes them, as its King He reigns to enforce them.

II. THE SOURCE OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE WHEREIN IT CONSISTS. The idea o! a society is the reception by its members, and their practical embodiment of its peculiar truths. The Church is, therefore, more than an association of theoretic believers in the atonement and regeneration; it lives under their power and for their promulgation. Common theories only bring men into juxtaposition; common experiences knit them together. The truth which Christ has given the Church becomes a quickening thing.

1. This supposes that previously men were dead. Moral death is the most lamentable of all deaths.

2. In this condition Christ finds him. "You hath He quickened." Restoration to moral life is effected —(1) By His atonement, by which He rescues men from legal death, and procures a reversal of the sentence of condemnation.(2) By His Spirit the soul is quickened, and men having the Spirit of Christ are born again.(3) This moral life is a right state of the heart towards God, and is sustained by these truths. They constrain to holy obedience.

III. THE SOURCE OF ALL THE AUTHORITY OR LAW WHEREWITH IT IS REGULATED. He determines the precise, direction and shape which spiritual feeling should assume, but such direction need not interfere with the spontaneousness of the feeling. And so the Christian precept prompts the desire for duty and directs it, but is nowhere arbitrary. Thus is it also in the associated life of the Church. Whatever law Christ has given He has given in accordance with the spontaneous prompting of Church life; the prompting might be vague, the precept enlightens it. At the same time, when institutions are needed Christ alone has authority to enjoin them as laws. This we see e.g., in the sacraments. Christ is the sole legislator, and for any individual to interpose an authority between Christ and the Church is open rebellion.

IV. CHRIST ADMINISTERS THE PROVIDENCES WHICH CONSTITUTE ITS EXPERIENCE. This is part of His mediatorial right in pursuance of His purpose of world restoration.

1. Within the Church He orders the succession and distinctions of its ministry, the accession or removal of its members, their spiritual birth or translation, their trials and privileges.

2. Without the Church He determines or permits the experiences that shall visit it; the waves that shall beat upon the ark; the assaults upon the fortress.Lessons —

1. If Christ be the source of all spiritual truth and life, our constant temper should be practical gratitude for our participation of it.

2. If Christ be the source of all authority, our constant habit should be holy obedience.

3. If Christ provides, then we may safely leave all things in His hands.

4. Let us assure ourselves of its final and glorious triumph.

(H. Allon, D. D.)

Names and titles among men are generally insignificant, and not characteristic of the persons who wear them; but Christ's are both descriptive and recommendatory. He is the beginning.

I. AS TO HIS DIVINE NATURE. It implies His eternity and self-existence. He is not God by derivation and commission. He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. He is therefore the beginning and fountain of created existence. He who received life from none communicates life to all. Not only our being but our intellectual and moral excellencies are from Him. By His power we are what we are as men; by His grace we are what we are as Christians.

II. AS MEDIATOR.

1. He is the origin of the Church of God. It is He that has raised it out of the ruins of the fall. Is it a temple? He builds it. Is it a garden? He plants it.

2. He is the beginning to individual saints. Our life is from His death, and all the streams of blessedness flow from His fulness. More particularly(1) He is the source of reconciliation and the beginning of our peace with God. Our prayers and tears have no influence; neither our own work nor that of the Holy Spirit. There is no admission to Divine favour without satisfaction to Divine justice; and Christ alone has made that by the Cross.(2) He is the beginning in reference to the change wrought in us by regeneration. This change is wrought by the Holy Spirit, but as the Spirit of Christ "He shall receive of Mine." Christ within us is the hope of glory. He is our Life.

3. With respect to the resurrection. His own was the pattern and pledge of that of His saints. The same Spirit who quickened Him shall also quicken us.Learn —

1. The honour that is due to Christ.

2. As Christ is the beginning of all spiritual blessings, so those blessings can belong to none but those who are in Him.

3. He who is the beginning is also the end; and this secures the happiness of all the saints. He who has begun will also finish (Hebrews 12:2).

The same place and dignity that Christ has in the order of nature He has in the order of grace; He is the beginning of the new as He was also of the old creation.

I. IN THE WAY OF ORDER AS FIRST AND CHIEF OF THE RENEWED STATE.

1. AS Founder and Builder of the Church (Matthew 16:18; Hebrews 3:3-5). One of the noblest of God's works is His Church of the firstborn; none could constitute it but the God-man. For the materials are sinful and guilty men. Neither men nor angels could raise them into a holy temple to God.

2. As the Lord of the Church (Hebrews 2:7).

II. IN THE WAY OF CAUSALITY.

1. As a moral, meritorious cause (1 John 4:9, 10).

2. As an efficient cause by His Spirit who works in the members of His mystical body (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10). The influence we have from our Head is —(1) Life (Galatians 2:20; John 6:57).(2) Likeness (Galatians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 3:18). It is for the honour of Christ that His image should be upon His members, to distinguish them from others. As to life, He is the root (John 15:1, 2); as to likeness, He is the pattern (Romans 8:29).

III. THE REASON OF THIS.

1. It is for the honour of the Son to be the Head of the new world. In the kingdom of Christ all thing are new; a new covenant, paradise, ministry, ordinances, members, and so a new Head or Second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). It is suited to our lost estate.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. THIS TERM EXPRESSES CHRIST'S DIVINE NATURE. He must be Divine who is "almighty," and "who is, and was, and is to come"; and since "the beginning" is a title applied in the same passage (Revelation 1:8), Paul pronounces Him Divine.

II. IT EXPRESSES CHRIST'S RELATION TO HIS CHURCH.

1. The beginning of a tree is the seed it springs from. The giant oak had its origin in the acorn. Now as a seed Christ was apparently of little promise, "a root out of a dry ground," yet out of Him has grown that Church which shall bear the blessings of salvation to the ends of the earth.

2. A house, again, begins at the foundation. The first stone laid is the foundation-stone. Christ is this, a tried stone, a firm and immovable basis for the believer.

4. The Author of our faith, the Founder of the Church, began it, ere sun or stars shone in heaven. He provided for the fall before it happened. He had the lifeboat on the beach before the bark was stranded, or launched, or even built. He was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."

III. HE IS THE BEGINNING OF SALVATION TO EVERY INDIVIDUAL BELIEVER.

1. Whatever was the instrument employed it was His grace that began what had a beginning. The preacher was a man but drawing a bow at a venture, It was Christ's eye that aimed the shaft, and His strength that bent the bow. When our sins were carrying us out to burial He stopped the bier and imparted life.

2. As Christ is the beginner, so is He the finisher of our faith. He does no half work, half saving, or half sanctifying a man. Trust Him that when He has begun a good work He will carry it on to the end.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

I. OPEN THE TERMS. "Firstborn." If the grave was as a womb to Christ, and His resurrection as a birth, then Christ was in a manner born when He rose. Only He hath the precedency; surely others will follow Him (Acts 26:23; 1 Corinthians 15:20). As in the consecration of the firstfruits the whole harvest was consecrated, so Christ by rising raises all.

II. VINDICATE THE NOTION. Two objections lie against it.

1. Many were raised before Him or by Him (1 Kings 17.; 2 Kings 4., 13:21; Luke 7:15; Luke 8:55; John 11:44; Matthew 27:52).(1) We must distinguish between a proper and improper resurrection. He arose by a proper, which is to rise to a life immortal; they only to a mortal estate, and so the great disease was rather removed than cured (Acts 13:34).(2) Others were raised by the power and virtue of His resurrection, but He by His own power (John 8:18). Thus Christ is said not only to be raised again, but to rise (Romans 4:25).(3) All those who rose before, rose only by special dispensation to lay down their bodies again when God should see fit, and rose only as private persons. But Christ rose as a public Person, and once for all.

2. Concerning the raising of the wicked. Christ cannot be the firstborn to them who belong not to His mystical body. The firstborn implies a relation to the rest of the family. The offering of the firstfruits did not sanctify the tares and weeds.(1) Certainly the wicked shall rise again (Acts 24:15; John 5:28, 29); but(2) they will be raised by Christ as a Judge, not as a Redeemer. The one sort are raised by the power[of His vindictive justice, the other by the Holy Ghost by virtue of His covenant (Romans 8:11); the one by Christ's power from without as Judge of dead and living, the other by an inward quickening influence flowing from Him as their proper Head.(3) The wicked are forced to appear to receive their sentence, the other go joyfully to meet the Bridegroom and enter into eternal life.

III. How is THIS AN EVIDENCE AND ASSURANCE TO ALL CHRISTIANS OF THEIR HAPPY AND GLORIOUS RESURRECTION .9

1. There shall be a resurrection. It is necessary to prove that —(1) Because it is the foundation of all godliness (2 Corinthians 15:32).(2) Because it is not easy of belief. The great and public evidence thereof is Christ's which makes ours —(a) Possible. That is the least we can gather from it (1 Corinthians 15:13).(b) Easy. By rising Christ has conquered death (1 Corinthians 15:57; Hebrews 2:14).(c) Certain and necessary from — First, our relation to Christ as Head. He cannot live gloriously in heaven and leave His members under the power of death (Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 4:13), otherwise He would be a maimed Christ. Second, the charge and office of Christ (John 6:39). Third, the mercy of God through the merits of Christ to the faithful who have hazarded their lives for His sake (1 Thessalonians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14).

2. The resurrection to the faithful will be happy and glorious.(1) Because Christ's is not only a cause, but pattern. The members were appointed to be conformed to their Head (Romans 8:19; 1 Peter 1:21).(2) By the grant of God. They have a right and title to it. Being admitted to His family they may expect to be admitted into His presence; and they have the Holy Spirit as an earnest till it be accomplished (Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 4:30; Romans 8:28).

IV. THE USE IS TO PERSUADE YOU TO THE RELIEF OF THESE TWO GRAND ARTICLES OF FAITH.

1. The resurrection of Christ. That is the great foundation of faith (1 Corinthians 15:14). All the apostles' preaching was built on this supposition.(1) Partly because this is the great evidence of the truth of Christianity (Acts 23. 31, 13:33).(2) Partly to show that He is in a capacity to convey spiritual and eternal life to others; which, if He had continued in the state of death, He could not be (John 14:19; 1 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 1:20-21).

2. Your own resurrection.(1) Consider it as a work of omnipotency. To an infinite power there can be no difficulty (Philippians 3:21; Zechariah 8:6).(2) We have relief from the justice of God. He is the rewarder of good and bad, but He does not dispense His rewards in this life (1 Corinthians 15:29).(3) God's unchangeable love, which inclines Him to seek the dust of His confederates; therefore Christ proves the resurrection from God's covenant title (Matthew 22:31).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

Christ is the firstborn from the dead.

I. IN THE DIGNITY OF HIS PERSON. He is the greatest who ever entered or shall ever leave the gates of death. Isaiah in one of his boldest flights of fancy sets forth the destruction of the Babylonian monarchy. He sees a mighty king descending into the grave, breaking its awful silence and entering alone the dark domain of a monarch mightier than himself. On his ear fall the voices of kings long buried, muttering, "Art thou become as we?" When we die we sink into the grave as snowflakes on the water, but Christ being the Lord of glory, the fountain of life, His descent into the tomb was an event which may well be set forth by the prophet's imagery. I can fancy all the dead astonished at His coming. Fancy some great, good monarch thrust into the common jail; and were such a reverse of fortune borne out of love to His subjects, how would it move their love and admiration as well as their wonder and pity! Yet what were such an event compared with what, unnoticed by the world, took place in the garden? Christ's descent into the tomb awoke death from its deepest apathy. That awoke those who are heedless of the shock of earthquakes. The graves were opened. Waiting for Him to lead the way, many dead saints left the tomb.

II. BECAUSE HE ROSE BY HIS OWN POWER. There is no sensibility, passion, or power in the dead. They can do nothing to help themselves. In all cases but Christ's, life was given, not taken back.

III. BECAUSE HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO NEVER RISE TO DIE AGAIN. The others twice drank the bitter cup.

IV. BECAUSE HE HAS TAKEN PRECEDENCE OF HIS PEOPLE. It is better for me, if I am a poor man standing in need of royal favours, to have a friend at court than in my own humble cottage; and it is better for us that Christ is with the Father in heaven than with us on earth. But apart from that, precedence was His right. ']: he King precedes His train; the Head was first out of the grave, afterwards the body and its members. It is as the prelude to our own resurrection that Christ's is to us the object of the greatest satisfaction and joy. Henceforth the grave holds but a lease of the saints. Because He rose we shall rise. If we are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ what reconciling views of death does this open to us!

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

Sweeter to our ear than the full chorus of bright skies and green wood are the first notes of the warbler that pipes away the winter, and breaks in on its long, drear silence! And more welcome to our eye than the flush of summer's gayest flowers is the simple snowdrop that hangs its pure white bell above the dead, bare ground. And why? These are the firstborn of the year, the forerunners of a crowd to follow. In that group of silver bells that ring in the spring with its joys and loves and singing birds, my fancy's eye sees the naked earth clothed with beauty, the streams, like children let loose, dancing and laughing, and rejoicing in their freedom, bleak winter gone, and nature's annual resurrection. And in that solitary simple note my fancy hears the carol of larks, wide moor, hillside, and woodlands full of song and ringing with all music. And in Christ, the Firstborn, I see the grave giving up its dead: from the depths of the sea, from lonely wilderness and crowded churchyard they come, like the dew of the grass, an innumerable multitude. Risen Lord! we rejoice in Thy resurrection. We hail it as the harbinger and blessed pledge of our own. The first to come forth, Thou art the Elder Brother of a family whose countless numbers the patriarch saw in the dust of the desert, whose holy beauty he saw shining in the bright stars of heaven.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

That in all things He might have the pre-eminence
It is the ordination of providence that in every society or profession there should be a head — some one who should have the pre-eminence. The father ought to be the chief of his house. Israel was governed by God, yet He chose Moses as His vice-gerent, and when the nation was afterwards divided into tens, hundreds, etc., still Moses retained the preeminence. No society could hang together without this. The same ordination holds good in the Church. From its members some are made eminent pastors, etc., yet there is but one to whom the pre-eminence belongs. And we are told the reason of it. Among men we see eminence variously displayed: one is eminent for wisdom, another for power, and so on; but Christ is pre-eminent in all things. Therefore Christ is reserved for this honour; and that not simply as God, but as Mediator. Christ has pre-eminence.

I. IN THE ESTIMATION OF DEITY.

1. On whom does the Father concentrate His love and delight? Jehovah calls Him His own Son, His dear Son, His beloved Son. Christ is the only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father, and He speaks of the glory He had before the world was. Thrice did the Father glorify Him — at His baptism, transfiguration, and lust before His passion. At His incarnation the Father said, "Let all the angels of God worship Him," and after His burial sent angels to roll away the stone.

2. The same pre-eminence is given by the Holy Spirit. He anointed Him with the oil of gladness above His fellows — descended on Him at His baptism, glorifies Him, and receives of His.

II. IN THE TESTIMONY OF THE SCRIPTURES. "They wrote of Me." "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Every metaphor that the glowing glories of earth or heaven have offered is selected to put honour on His brow.

1. Consider His titles — Foundation, Door, Captain, Advocate, Judge, etc.

2. His offices — Prophet, Priest, King, Shepherd, etc.

III. AS EXHIBITED IN THE GLORY OF HIS WORKS.

1. Creation. Angels have done wonders, and men; but whoever saw anything equal to the works of Christ?

2. Providence. "The government is on His shoulders."

3. Redemption.

IV. IN THE OPINION OF RELIEVERS. There are many who are very dear to us on earth and in heaven; but who has the pre-eminence? "Unto you that believe He is precious." "He is the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely."

V. IN THE HAPPINESS OF HEAVEN. TO be with Christ, apart from the consideration of its other glories, that is heaven. Conclusion. Give Christ the pre-eminence.

1. In your hearts.

2. In your houses.

3. Labour that He may have it in the whole world.

(J. Sherman.)

I. HE IS THE FIRST.

1. He is pre-eminent in age (ver. 15). "Before Abraham was I am."

2. In the work of redemption, "firstborn from the dead."

II. HE IS THE MIGHTIEST.

1. As Creator (ver. 16).

2. As Preserver (ver. 17).

3. As Destroyer. We cannot destroy the tiniest piece of matter. He can desolate a world.

III. HE IS THE RICHEST. He owns —

1. All the treasures of creation (ver. 10).

2. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).

3. All the treasures of grace (ver. 19).

IV. HE IS THE HIGHEST.

1. He now occupies the throne of mercy.

2. He will leave this for the throne of judgment.

3. He will finally sit on the throne of glory and reign for ever and ever.

V. HE IS THE LOVLIEST. "The altogether lovely."

1. As the brightness of His Father's glory.

2. As the fairest of the children of men.

VI. HE IS THE LAST as He is the First. He only hath immortality; ours is derived from Him.

(H. G. Guinness.)

Some are eminent for one thing, some for another. Some are distinguished for vast wealth, some are ennobled by intellectual resources, some obtain a name for personal bravery, but none has pre-eminence in all things. But in whatever light we look at Christ He is pre-eminent.

I. IN HIS DIVINE AND MYSTERIOUS NATURE. "God manifest in the flesh," "mighty God," etc.

II. IN THE UNRIVALLED GLORY OF HIS PERFECTIONS. He has every attribute of Deity, and "Whatever things the Father doeth, these doeth the Son likewise."

III. IN THE STUPENDOUS CHARACTER OF HIS WORKS.

1. All creation is His handiwork.

2. In the work of Providence governing and sustaining the universe.

IV. IN THE ILLUSTRIOUS DIGNITY OF HIS OFFICES. Shepherd and Bishop of souls; His throne is for ever and ever; He is the Mediator of a better covenant; in Him, as Prophet, are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

V. IN THE CONSISTENT TESTIMONY OF SCRIPTURE. Take any doctrine you choose, it must have some connection with Christ. Promises send us to Christ to fulfil them; precepts send us to Christ, by whose strength alone we can perform them; threatenings send us to Christ, by whose atonement and intercession alone they can be averted. Take Christ from the Bible and you its life; its promises have no reality, its prophecies are empty words, its laws lose their power, and its hopes their animation and realization.

VI. IN THE STUPENDOUS WORK OF HUMAN REDEMPTION. For this He alone was competent. Salvation begins and ends with Him.

VII. IN CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE. The Christian's faith is faith in Christ; his joy, joy in Christ; his strength, strength in Christ; his life, life in Christ. Think of what is necessary to a perfect Christian and you will find it all in Christ. All worship is to be offered in His name, and all obedience rendered Him.

VIII. IN CHRISTIAN PREACHING AND TESTIMONY. To bear witness to Christ and to secure Him homage is the end of our creation.

IX. Christ will yet have pre-eminence IN THE WORLD.

(W. P. Appelbe, LL. D.)

Nature and the Bible are alike in this respect — that you find in each two kinds of objects: the one simple, quiet, beautiful; the other grand, majestic, overpowering. In this chapter we get amongst the Highlands of Revelation.

I. THE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST.

1. As extending over two spheres, the realms of nature and grace, the universe and the Church.(1) He is the "firstborn of every creature." We cannot suppose Him to be a creature, because "He is before all things," dec. In Rabbinical literature Jehovah is styled the firstborn of creation, by which is meant that He is supreme over the universe; for the birthright carried with it supremacy. In like manner the phrase must be taken in reference to Christ. His dominion extends to all things in heaven: sun, moon, stars, dec., and angels who never fell; to things on earth: the globe and its inhabitants, all mineral, vegetable, animal, and human existence.(2) He is Head of the Church. Lord of the Church's mind — in their religious thinking believers are to think under Him. Lord of the Church's heart — in their affections believers are to be guided by Him. Lord of the Church's life — for His Word is law.

2. This supremacy has been obtained in two different ways.(1) Christ's birthright of authority and power over the universe is by creation.(2) In His redemptive work He is the firstborn of the dead. He is the firstborn in both, but creation is by life; redemption is through death.

3. There is a distinction between the relations in which the created universe and the redeemed Church stands to Him. He made the one; He is the Head of the other. The universe is a grand collection of things made by His power and for His use. Thus we are led to separate between the universe and Christ. He is no part of it. But in relation to the Church the distinction is dropped, and an idea of most intimate union introduced — it is His body, which is nowhere attributed of nature.

4. This pre-eminence issues in the union of the two realms. Ver. 20 should be read in connection with this. The reconciliation goes further than persons and laws and governments. Thus much appears.(1) That Christ, in His mediatorial reign, through His death, becomes the Lord and Guardian of the entire universe of holy beings, redeemed and unfallen; that He gathers all in one unto God, and is equally King of earth and heaven.(2) That the sin of man has disturbed the relation between Him and angels; that man getting out of place, throws into disorder the whole sphere of existence to which he belongs, as a wandering star would the solar system, and that Christ, by putting men right, reconciles them to angels and angels to them.(3) That without an atonement it was an unbefitting thing that heaven should receive depraved mortals; but that with an atonement it is quite befitting that men redeemed and sanctified should enter the ranks of the glorified; and that in the end such will be the number of the saved, and the relation in which they stand to the rest of the universe, that in some sense a reconciliation of all things will be accomplished.

5. Let me ask whether in correspondence with these views of Christ's supremacy He has pre eminence in our hearts and lives?

II. THE PLENITUDE (ver. 19).

1. The fulness of the Father exists in Christ as it nowhere else does. In nature there are streams of the Divine glory, yet the ocean fulness is not there. In the reason of man there are Divine sparks; in the history of the world Divine footprints; in the souls of believers and the united virtues of the Church there is much Divine light and goodness; but the fulness nowhere, not even in the Bible, only in Christ. And wherever else in any measure it is, it is from Him. He is the Creator and Upholder of the world; Light and Lord of human reason; Sovereign of the ages; Giver of gracious power; Inspirer and Subject of the Book of books.

2. This plenitude must be taken in connection with the supremacy of Christ.(1) In creation He has the pre-eminence, because in Him all fulness dwells of infinite power, wisdom, goodness.(2) How could He be Head over all things to His Church if He were a man? A created Saviour could not supply all our need; but in the Divine Christ there is all fulness of pardoning mercy, renewing power, supporting love, strength for a day of trouble, a dying hour.

3. The pre-eminence and fulness of Christ constitute the leading object of our blessed faith. Agencies are needed to bring men to Him, but nothing can add to the completeness of those who are in Him.

(J. Stoughton, D. D.)

I. AS TO HIS PERSONALITY. He stands unique. All the elements in His make up to which the term human can be applied show Him to be pre-eminently human. He came into the world by the gateway of the Hebrew nation, but He is not a Jew. He belonged to 1800 years ago, and yet He is of no age. He spent His days and nights under the Eastern skies, but He is of no clime. He gathers up into Himself all the best elements in Jewish, Greek, and Roman life. tie was pre-eminently moral and devotional; He was in sympathy with everything beautiful; He glorified the moral law, was loyal to the national, and had worldwide ambitions, only, unlike those of Rome, they were benevolent.

II. AS TO HIS IDEAS OF GOD AND MAN. The test of pre-eminence of nature is largeness of idea on these themes.

1. The idea Christ gave us of God was pre-eminent. No one ever approached it. There had been many attempts to put the nature of God into a word, but all had failed till He said "Father."

2. So with His idea of the nature of man. The noblest man among the Jews was the chief of the Pharisees or Sadducees; among the Greeks the most physically beautiful; among the Romans the strong man able to trample every one who was in His path into the dust. Under the influence of Jesus the noblest man is the gentlest, humanest, chastest, and most charitable. This is a new idea.

3. Other ideas help us to see how pre-eminently Jesus was the world's greatest thinker, such as the brotherhood of man; the idea that love of God is best expressed in the service of man, the idea that the worst man may be saved.

III. AS TO HIS MISSION IN THE WORLD. NO other man ever carried on such a mission or was capable of entertaining the idea of it. It was to bring a revolted world back into such an allegiance as is worthy of God to accept and man to give; not forced, but based on love. The accomplishment of such a mission seems to us impossible, but in individuals it has been accomplished, and will yet be in the whole world.

IV. AS TO UNBIASSED HUMAN OPINION OF HIM. Only one conspicuous man in the world of literature has been blind to His excellency — Voltaire; but Rousseau, another great sceptic, wrote, "If the life and death of Socrates be those of a saint, the life and death of Jesus are those of a God." Napoleon I., the old Roman, back again in the Christian centuries, said, "I know men, Jesus was not a man."

(R. Thomas, D. D.)

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