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daily exercised towards an ungodly world. He continues to send out his word and his truth, and to make known his great salvation; and will do till all the members of his chosen church “come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." The uniting of the body, the church, in its various members, is God's work; the nature of the union precludes man from any power in effecting this. So in the text we read, that it is “ according to the effectual working in the measure of every part;" which sets forth the Holy Ghost as the efficient power by which this union is accomplished.
This is the second subject for our consideration; the work of the Holy Ghost in the increase froin Christ of 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," is the language of the text: ascribing to the Holy Ghost this increase from Christ of the body, by means of the supply from every joint, being fitly joined together and compacted as a whole.
The church is a measured building, or a body well proportioned in all its various parts. The framing of its various parts according to the measure of God's design in its erection or existence, is assigned to the Holy Ghost. All and everything wherewith it is to be adorned, and beautified, and rendered efficient for its designed end and purpose, is in Christ; God having blessed it with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in him : the discovery and application of these blessings to the church in her various members, is of the Holy Ghost. There can be no effectual working in the measure of every part, but from the Holy Ghost; divine knowledge, wisdom, skill, and power, are needful for this. All that is merely human, is far, very far from being sufficient. What great, yea, supernatural things must be accomplished, to fit for their appointed end, materials so unfitted, that they should become the habitation of God, the piace where he delighteth to dwell. “Hearken unto me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord. Look unto the rock whence ye are lewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that_bare you; for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. For the Lord will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desurt like the garden of the Lord ; joy and gladness shall be fouud therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody” (Isaiah, li. 1-3).
Man, in the fall, is reduced to a state of the utmost unfitness in himself for forming God's temple, or for manifesting him in any of his excellencies and perfections. The provisions of God in the Lord Jesus Christ, wherewith he blessed the church in him before the foundation of the world, adorned and beautified it as a people chosen in him unto eternal life; these are the only ineans whereby God's designs respecting the church can be accomplished. These means are far, very far beyond any power, wisdom, or skill that man possesses to make any right use of them. He only with whom they originated, who devised and provided them, as in his wisdom suited to their appointed end, can employ them. In his hands they are effectual; but in the hands of no one else; the effectual working in the measure of every part is of and by their
God the Holy Ghost draws the sinner to Christ, of whom, in his natural state, it is said, “ Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.” He only can so open their blind eyes to their state by nature, as to make them sensible of their need of such a salvation as is in the Lord Jesus Christ; and when they do see, and discern, and feel their need, can enable them to believe that such a salvation is the free, sovereign gift of God to such as they are. It is God the Holy Ghost only, who can show the redeeming love of Christ to a poor, sensibly-helpless, hell-deserving, hell-fitted sinner, so as to cause that sinner to come to Christ, confiding in his pure mercy, and trusting him for
all he is of God unto his people, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption - to believe in his sympathizing love, under all the provocations of our carnal heart's discovery of its enmity against God by wicked works. Who, but the Holy Ghost, can so work in the hearts of the Lord's effectually called ones, by means of the truths of the Gospel; proclaiming sovereign, free, unmerited pardon and forgiveness for sinners, justly exposed and liable unto God's wrath and vengeance, as that by which one sinner is drawn to another sinner in the communion and fellowship of the saints in Christ, and, being made partakers of common blessings, common mercies, and common love, are united and cemented together in one body, as having one common interest in these things, one common hope as the hope of the Gospel ? Being alike sons of God by adoption and grace ; alike indebted to one sovereign act of electing love and predestination for all wherein they are made to differ from an ungodly world around them. Who, but the Holy Ghost, can make any of the fallen sons of Adam so to realize these things through faith in the Gospel, the belief of God's word respecting them ; that they are drawn one to another as members of one and the same family; as those who have one and the same interest in the truth and reality of divine things, in the spread of the Gospel, the increase and growth of the church as one body; on whose happiness, and blessedness, and glory God has made the manifestation of his own glory to depend? While God the Father purposed and designed the church as one body to be thus to his glory; he chose, ordained, and secured it to this end in and by Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the church was thus chosen and ordained, has accomplished, in and of himself, all and everything needful to the fulfilment of these, God the Father's designs. The effectual working of this in the measure of every part, or members of the church; or, in other words, the perfecting of the saints, the edifying of the body of Christ, is left to God the Holy Ghost. The means by which he thus effectually works in the numerous members of his body, are those of the Gospel; those of Jesus Christ and him crucified; those by which God is so pre-eminently glorified, as the God of all grace, mercy, love, holiness, righteousness, wisdom, and power. They are mighty means, worthy of him from whom they proceed; which is manifested and made known in the "effectual working" of the Holy Ghost in the measure of every part of the church, by these means. What a work is that which, when accomplished by these means, out of the belly of him once dead in trespasses and sins, is made to flow rivers of living water; refreshing to those members of the church among whom he is called to have communion and fellowship in appointed ordinances and means of grace, and in the exercise of those Christian graces by which this living water flows in its various and appointed channels. This very living water that thus flows through the church from one member to another, is, in him from whom it is thus made to flow, a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. Here is something of that effectual working in the measure of every part spoken of in the text, a sweet effect of the union of the members of the church to Christ. “ A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters ” (Jer. xvii. 12, 13); to this is added the following important prayer (ver. 14).“ Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved ; for thou art my praise.” This can only be by means of the effectual working in the measure of every part; or, in other words, of the work of the Holy Ghost in the discovery and application of Christ and the truth in him to the individual members of the church. These flowing streams from Lebanon, which make glad the city of God, are the very life of the church's union. “ 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 now to speak, thirdly, of that love which is thus set forth in the text as the church's edification. “ Unto the edifying of itself in love."
When the church attains to the fall realization and enjoyment of her preordained state of perfection in Christ, it will then be found that love is the spirit of union and oneness in which she exists; and by means of which she is enabled to realize those privileges which constitute her own peculiar blessed
In the present imperfect state of the church, faith and hope are very important distinguishing graces which she has of God; in the profession and exercise of these she, in some measure, realizes that union and oneness which should characterize the church on earth. But her unity of faith and oneness of hope, do not promote the real spirit of union and concord in the body, unless it is producing love. Faith and hope are graces needed by the church only in her present state, when she sees through a glass darkly (1 Cor. xiii. 12, 13), “For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” “Follow after charity," is therefore the exhortation. Thus, the more there is of charity or love among the members of the church in their intercourse and communion one with another, the nearer must the church so united come to that state to which she is ordained of God for eternity. The furthering and promoting of love among the members of the church, is that which is to be the means of her edification; this is clearly what the text sets forth. The apostle, speaking of oneness and union in the church, by means of a supply of grace from Christ to each member, and from one member to another, as the Holy Ghost effectually worketh in each, says, that in this way the church “maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." We consider the union of the church to be very similar to that of the members of an earthly family; love is that which properly cements together the members of the same family; if love be wanting, then disunion and discord are found to proclaim its absence. The members of the church chosen of God the Father, and given by him to the Lord Jesus Christ to be his children, form one family. “ Behold I and the children which God hath given me,” is the language put by the Holy Ghost, in the word of God, into the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is laid the foundation for that union and oneness which is to characterize the church; it is to arise and grow out of each member of the church being alike of the one family given of God the Father to the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ's love to this his family is to be traced to God the Father having given each one of them to him to be his; the same as our love to our children is because God has given them to us. Parental affection is only towards those of whom God has made us the parents ; it cannot be exercised towards any others. We can sympathize with parents in the loss of their children, particularly if parents ourselves, and knowing what it is to be bereaved of our children; but we cannot feel for another person's child in its death, as for our own. So Christ's love to those God has given him, constitutes the tie which binds hiin to them; and which also binds them to him, when his union to them, manifested in his dying to redeem them, is discovered to their souls through faith in the word of God, which reveals it. Thus we read that, when Christ came to the Jews, as his nationally, they received him not; but as many as did receive him, even those who believed on his name, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, who were born not of the will of man, nor of the flesh, but of God. When thus manifested to be the sons of God by adoption and grace, then commences the work of the Spirit in producing union and oneness among the members of the church ; and thus there is an
increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Love one towards another being thus, through faith and hope, produced and cherished. soever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God; and every one that loveth bim that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him” (1 John, v. 1). God the Holy Ghost in the soul, is the Author of love to the brethren in the hearts of the Lord's people. There is no edification of the church by our faith or any other grace, if it does not produce and further love. Our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Head of his family, and loving each one alike-for no man has greater love than this, that he lay down his life for another--says to his disciples, “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another." This was to distinguish the love which was to characterize his church as the members of one family, from that love to our fellow-creatures, which the law commands. It is not superseded by this, but this is a grace peculiar to members of the one family arising out of the oneness of interest in, and relationship to, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the privilege of the Lord's people, above all others, that a capacity is bestowed on them through union to Christ for the exercise of this love; and this in the realization of God's love to them, as manifested and experienced through Christ's redeeming them, and their reaping all the fruits of that redemption. Edifying itself in love is spoken of in the text as the effect or result of a cause which had been set forth; to this end God provided a standing ministry in his church. So “ he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ;" which was to be con. tinued till all should “come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” The end here is the edification of the church in love; this is opposed to continuing children, tossed to and fro. Continuing thus children, would hinder God's design of perfecting the church. The church could not, her members continuing children, make increase unto the edifying of itself in love. On the contrary, speaking the truth in love, she is to grow up into Christ in all things, which will greatly further this end. Thus the whole body fitly joined together, maketh increase of itself out of Christ's fulness, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part.
To the Editor of the Gospel Magazine. DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD JESUS,
What amazing favour has the God of our salvation conferred on those of his beloved and chosen people, whom he has blessed with the knowledge of their own personal interest in the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Head of the church of God! so that they can joyfully and confidently say, “My beloved is mine and I am his." This knowledge, however, will always, where it is real, be accompanied with deeply humbling views of ourselves, when, under the teachings of the Holy Spirit, we reflect on our awfully-fallen, depraved, and ruined state by nature, and what we now feel we so unworthily are by his sovereign, discriminating grace,
Far be it from me for a moment to say, that ther is no evidence of sonship until the soul is brought to apprehend its safety in Christ Jesus, through vital union to him. Who that has been brought to realize the spiritual knowledge of his election of God, cannot but trace the Lord's dealings with his soul in times past, when under the convicting power of the Holy Ghost in showing him his sinful, lost, and undone state by nature, but must confess that then he must have been born of God, or he could not have felt the burden, and guilt, and danger of sin, as he then did ?
With the word of God in our hand, we trace back our natural origin to Adam the first, the father of us all, who was made upright, good in the sight of God, though he was entirely destitute of that principle which accompanies the regeneration of the soul of those who were by nature the children of wrath even as others. It is well to be reminded that our standing in Adam was merely a creature one; that is, he was not the same as the children of God are when they are born again. Adam did not, in his state of uprightness, need this ; neither was Christ Jesus formed in his soul the hope of glory, as he is in the children of God, because he did not need a Saviour. In fact, we have good reason to conclude that Adam, before he fell, knew nothing of a Triune God, the covenant of grace, or the design the eternal God had in view by his creation. These truths were to be revealed by the Holy Ghost to the church in her fallen state.
Adam fell, alas! from the state of happiness and purity in which he was originally created by God; this we prove to be the fact by the state and condition in which we find ourselves, when the Spirit of God has breathed upon us, and said to our dead souls, “ Live!” when he has enlightened the eyes of our understanding to know, and given us a heart to feel, that we are sinners against a God of love. Oh, what amazing condescension and longsuffering forbearance have been manifested by the Lord-God to Adam and Eve after they had eaten of the forbidden tree, and to their posterity from that day until now! Why? we might ask; why were they not immediately sent to hell? Amazing display of love and grace! the purposes which God had in his heart towards them and his chosen in Christ, must in this way be accomplished. It was the design and intention of our covenant God before he made the world, that the church should be delivered from all the accursed consequences of the fall, and redeemed from all iniquity by the personal appearance, obedience, sufferings, and death of the eternal Son of the Father in pure human nature. He is called the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. He had covenanted to become the Surety, Head, and Husband of his body the church; therefore it is that such forbearance, gentleness, and longsuffering, were manifested by the Lord to Adam and Eve after their awful sin and departure from God, whereby sin and death entered into the world. By what other means, we might ask, could it become absolutely necessary that the eternal Son of God should be manifested in the flesh; for it would not have been needful, had Adam continued in his original state of uprightness ?
My dear brethren in the it becomes us to consider how the amazing purposes which were in the mind of God from everlasting have been brought to pass. We, the chosen of God, have a deep interest therein; and if the angels desire to look into the mysteries of redeeming love and grace, which they never will be interested in as the church of the living God are, oh! let not us for whom all this was brought about be slow to learn, to come to a knowledge of what the Lord our God has done for our precious and immortal souls; and may we not break forth in admiring wonder and adoring thankfulness in the language of the apostle, and say, “Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”
The design of the Triune Jehovah to put the beloved church of God into possession of that glorious inheritance which was prepared for her before the world began, must be accomplished; for, “what his soul desireth, even that he doeth." Yes, she must personally, in every individual member which