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FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF THE ONENESS OR SOULUNION OF THE CHURCH IN CHRIST ;
In a Sermon
BY THE REV. ROBERT PYM.
As a companion to two Sermons preached in London by the Author: the first from
Eph. iv. 11–13; the second from verses 14, 15.
From whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every
joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part,
maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.--Eph. iv. 16. UNION and oneness is an essential property of the church of Christ. In the wisdom of God, while he has chosen and ordained the church in her several members to a state of inconceivable happiness in and from himself, he has made this to be dependant on the union of the various members by one spirit in one body. Any disunion or schism in this body, would mar the design of God in the existence of the church. A manifestation of himself, by means of imparting of his own excellencies and perfections to the individual members of his church, making them partakers of his holiness, and in this uniting them in one body, is God's design. To this end he has founded the church in Christ, he has united each member to Christ, in his choice and appointment of him to form a part of his church. He has made Christ to be the fountain of life to the whole, as he is the source of each one inember's fitness or capacity to fill his appointed place in the one body or building. So Christ says in Song of Solomon, vi. 9, “ My dove, my undefiled is one; she is the one of her mother, she is the choice of her that bare her. The daughters saw her and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.”
This is the subject of the words of the text, as the text is connected with the foregoing part of the chapter, which treats of the union and oneness of the church in Christ, as we endeavoured to show in a former discourse from the two verses which precede that now to be brought under consideration. In the words of the text there is clearly a reference to what goes before in the 15th verse; it reads thus, “ But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; From whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
We have in these words
1. The union and oneness of the church in her members, hy which comes her increase from Christ. “ From whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, maketh increase of the body.”
II. The working of the Holy Ghost in this. According to the effectual working in the measure of every part.”
III. The love which in this way is the edification of the church. “ Unto the edifying of itself in love."
1. The onion and oneness of the church in her members, by which comes her increase from Christ. “ From whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, maketh increase of the body."
The church in her existence, according to God's design, is here evidently made to depend on the union and oneness of the many members of which she is composed. One Head is referred to, as he into whom there is to be a growing up of the several members, in order unto the attainment of union, that they may constitute one body. “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ,” is the language of the foregoing verse; “from whom,” the text sets forth, that the whole body maketh the increase. In order to this, there is to be a supplying from the head by means of the members. This is the way set forth, by which the increase is to be effected: a oneness of interest which each member has in the fellow-members, and in the whole body, is set forth here. The increase of the body is its wel. fare: this cousists, not only in the gathering to it all its members, as it cannot be a perfect body so long as any of its members are wanting ; but also in the growth in grace and in the knowledge of Christ of each of its members. This is essential to the increase and welfare of that part of the church which is on earth; in this way, as a body, she partakes in herself more largely of the privileges and spirit of the church. We may instance this in that spread of the Gospel which comes by its individual members. This is the means both of gathering in the Lord's as yet hidden or uncalled ones; and also of increasing among those callerl, the knowledge of the truth, by which comes the freedom and liberty of the Gospel, so beneficial to the church as a body, as it is enjoyed and experienced in each one of her members. The spiritual growth of the church as a church, not merely the adding to her of her members yet uncalled, is promoted in this way. The church thus makes a greater advance, a greater progress towards the realization of her privileges and the enjoyment of her blessings. Her
very union itself is, in this way, promoted; which is a great thing gained, seeing how much her welfare as a body, and the welfare of her individual members, depends upon this. Disunion among the members of Christ's body, in any age of the church, is a sort of unchurching them, as far as the attainment, realization, and enjoyment of some of their most important privileges, is concerned. The Lord will have his church to realize her chief privileges, in carrying out unity and concord amongst her own members. A church-that is, a portion of the Lord's body, professing to be united together on the principles of church fellowship and cominunion--can never be considered blessed and prospering so long as the meinbers are at variance, and not further. ing among themselves the spread of Gospel truths in their spiritual efficacy and power. There is to be a fitly joining together and compacting of each member from Christ; and this by means of what each is receiving from the fulness of Christ, as the appointed Head, and supplying, as he receives it, to the fellowmembers. In this way, each individual member, as joined to the Head, is made the channel of communication from the Head to the whole body; while in this way each one glorifies Christ. There is a similarity here to the constitution of the human frame, and the dependence of one member upon another; and of the whole, both individually and collectively, upon the head. The fitly framing together, or compacting of the members, depends, in the first instance, upon their individual union to Christ. Where there is no union, in the first in. stance, to Christ, there can be none to the members of his mystical body. So the text, “ From whom the whole body fitly joined together is compacted.” So again, while the members are individually united to the Head, there is no sensible union of them one to another, but as there is a communicating of grace from one to another, according to the measure of the gift of Christ which is in us; as we read in the 7th verse, “ But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ;" agreeably to this the text speaks of the whole body being fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth. The church, thus united in one body, is the field wherein is to be exercised the graces of the Spirit; wherein is to be made manifest the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in each member; that he that is
joined to the Lord is one spirit with the Lord. The exercise of these things cannot be but as the church is one; whose unity of interest demands a unity of love and affection, of subserviency and submission one to the other. “The kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; he that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable" to God and approved of men."
Christ is served, when his members are one beneficial to another; the church being his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. So the exhortation runs, “ Let us, therefore, follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another” (Rom. xiv. 17–19). We may here see how the union of the church in her members, and the benefit which the whole derives from the supply of each, call for a due regard on the part of each to his own conduct and carrying on as a member of the whole body. Thus members of Christ's church have, in the word of God, exhortation upon exhortation as to the necessity of care and watchfulness respecting their own spiritual state and condition. The conduct of the members of the church towards those who are not manifestedly of the Lord's own family in Christ, will greatly affect the church as a body, in the world. The misconduct of one, though it may not directly affect any member of the church, yet will be to the church's injury in the world; the church will be wounded by it; the truth will be evil spoken of, a handle obtained against her. Thus we find the treating of this subject, the union of the church, in this chapter, is immediately followed by exhortations addressed to the members of the church, and founded upon their privilege of being united to Christ, and forming part of his mystical body. At the 17th verse we read, “ This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that benceforth ye walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts." The conduct here reproved in the Geotile world, would be greatly injurious to the church as a body, when found among them. The doctrines of election and predestination, &c., are called, in these days, doctrines of licentiousness; but while the unity and oneness of the church has its foundation in God's choice of a people in Christ to eternal life, whose names are all written in the Lamb's book of life; it is evident that to God's election and predestination of a people in Christ for himself, is to be ascribed all the real holiness that is to be found in the world. The exercise of Christian principles and conduct ove towards another, among the members of the church, greatly tends to a walk and conversation in the world on their part, far, very far exceeding that of any others in holiness. Union to Christ realized, and spiritual privileges derived from that union availed of by the members of the church in their intercourse one with another as a church, will surely have no little influence upon their conduct as it regards their carrying on in the world at large. Real, true Christianity is holiness; though, while we are carrying about with us a body of sin and death, its manifestation is very greatly hindered. But it is holiness from a source and by means little known and understood hy the great mass who are called Christian in these days. It is a holiness founded upon and wrought by the despised and much maligned truths of the Gospel, experimentally known and believed in the hearts of those who are members of the mystical body of Christ. Wherever the truths of the Gospel in their divine and spiritual influences on the souls of the members of the mystical body of Christ, are found expanding and spreading, there the church as a body, may be said to increase; more of its real influence, its benefits and advantages, are experienced both in the world as well as in and amongst its own members. The world may despise, and hate, and oppose the church, but this is in ignorance. The church is the salt of the earth. God's love towards, and purposes and designs concerning the church, is one cause and end of his patience, forbearance, and longsuffering