Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

ged, regenerated, and really united to Christ passively, in so far as the Spirit is Christ's Spirit.

2. That quickening Spirit now entered into the elect soul works faith in it; and thus only true faith is wrought, not from our natural powers, Eph. ii. 8. Col. ii. 12. Hereby the soul lays hold on Christ, and actually unites with him. Being quickened and actuated by the Spirit, it acts in be.

lieving.

active 'cause of the rants, who,

The whole may be illustrated by the case of Lazarus rising from the dead. With the voice of Christ, “Lazarus, come forth,' his soul re-entered into his body, so he was alive again ; and being alive and quickened, he moved and came forth unto Christ. So the dead soul, being quickened by the Spirit coming into it, moves and comes into Christ. And thus ye may see,

That there is a twofold receiving of Christ. (1.) A passive receiving of him, wherein Christ comes in by his Spirit into the dead soul, quickening it, and joins himself unto that soul. Here the soul does nothing, but is inhabited by Christ, through the Spirit, which disposeth the sinner to believe. And this is the case of gracious infants, who are truly united to Christ. though because of their infancy they cannot act faith. (2.) An active receiving of him, when the soul having faith wrought in it by the spirit actually believes, and receives Christ, putting forth the hand of the soul to embrace him, and so actively joins itself unto the Lord.

VI. I proceed to show the properties of this union. I have anticipated some of these, under other heads already, and shown you that it is,

1. A true, real, and proper union, not a mere relative one.

2. A spiritual union, 1 Cor. vi. 17. . . He that is joined unto the Lord, is one Spirit. Though it is an union of bodies as well as of spirits, yet the union is not corporal, for the bodies do not touch one another ; but spiritual, being joined by spiritual bands. I add, that it is,

3. A mysterious union. The apostle calls it a great mystery,' Eph. V. 32; "a glorious mystery,' Col. i. 27.And therefore, by the by, it is not a mere relative union, but a true and real one; for a relative union betwixt Christ and believers, is no mystery, but a plain truth easily acknowledged by all, and perceived. But there is need of a true, lively, humble faith to believe this, which is so far above the

reach of our natural capacities, and which natural reason is so ready to object against; but faith will believe it over all these impediments.

4. A most close and intimate union. They are joined as those things that are glued together, 1 Cor. vi. 17. The believer has Christ in him, and he is in Christ; and they are united as the meat with the body, which is incorporated into it, John vi. 56. See Eph. v. 30.

5. An indissoluble union. Once in Christ, ever in him, John x. 28, 29. What man will lose a member of his body, if he can help it? Who then can imagine that Christ will lose a member of his? The apostle bids a defiance to all things for separating the saints from the love of Christ, and consequently from union with him, that is the ground of the love of complacency, Rom. viii. 35, &c. This union abides uninterrupted by death: for sleeping saints sleep in Christ, while in the grave, i Thess. iv. 14.

6. Lastly, It is the leading, comprehensive, fundamental privilege of believers, 1 Cor. iii. 23. “Ye are Christ's.'. All their other privileges are derived from and grafted upon this, their justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification. All these grow on this root; and where that is wanting, none of these can be. All acceptable obedience comes from the soul's union with Christ, John xv. 4. Hence faith is the principal grace, as uniting us to Christ.

I proceed now to the application of this subject. I shall press out the juice of this pomegranate unto you in uses of information, trial, and exhortation. Use I. Of information. It informs us,

1. Concerning the saints in general, that they are highly dignified beyond all the rest of the world. They are all members of Christ, of the blood royal of heaven, even those of them that some would disdain to rub shoulders with, Eph. V. 30. And thus we have these lessons.

(1.) Wo to those that maltreat, oppress, or persecute any of the saints; for what they do against them, they do against Christ, as doing it to the members of Christ's body, Acts ix. 4. And he will resent it, and plead the cause as his own cause, accurately and exactly, so as to make men accountable for omissions of duty to them, far more for commissions of evil against them, Matth xxv. 42-45. So that the Saints

VOL. II.

R

have good reason to lay aside all thoughts of revenge; for their Redeemer is mighty.

(2.) They are the best bestowed good turns that are done to the godly for Christ's sake. For as they are done to them, they are done to Christ, since they are one with him. And our Lord will take it so, and 'graciously reward it, Mat. xv. 35—40. Therefore the apostle gives that exhortation Gal. vi. 10. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Have ye any love to Christ? love is communicative; ye cannot reach the Head, but the members ye have always with you. Say not then ye want occasion to testify your love to him. It is the best seedness ye can make, and will bring the most plentiful harvest.

(3.) Believers are members one of another, Eph. iv. 25.There is a true and real sibness betwixt all the godly, as there is betwixt the legs and arms of one body, or one leg and another. For since they are all united to Christ, it necessarily follows that they are all united among themselves, 1 Cor. xii. 12. And therefore they are called one bread, having an union and communion among themselves, sealed by the sacrament. O! if this great truth were believed, what love, what sympathy, what care for one another's temporal and spiritual welfare would there be among the godly! There would not be such strangeness, alienation of affecttions, nor such a Cain like unconcernedness about one another among them.

(4.) It is a thankless office to rend and divide the church of Christ, to tear Christ's seamless coat. Many make no bones of separating from, but place religion in, casting off, communion with those, who, their consciences must acknowledge, do yet remain united to Christ. They say, they can have no communion with them without sin. I grant, that if one leg go into a mire and be defiled, the other ought not to follow, nor one saint communicate with another in sin; ay, but no man in his wits would cut off either of the legs in that case. But the body of Christ is not so tenderly handled, though we owe more tenderness to it than to our own natural bodies. Nay, but let men abhor communion with such as much as they will, they shall either have the most close and intimate communion with them, or they shall have none with Christ, forasınuch as there are not two Christ's to head the separate bodies; and if they be both united to one Christ, they have the most intimate union and communion one with another.

2. It informs us concerning some great and weighty prin. ciples of our holy religion, clearly deducible from this grand point.

(1.) The saints shall persevere in grace, and can never to, tally nor finally fall away from it. For there is an indissoluble union betwixt Christ and them. This secures the believer's life, that it can never be lost, Col. iii. 3. The Spirit, the bond of this union, never leaves his habitation, John xiv, 16. and iv. 14. This keeps a seed always in him for God, 1 John ïïi. 9. And Christ will lose none of his members, John xvii. 12. It is true, if the firmness of this union depended entirely on the hold the sinner has of Christ by faith, it might be broke; but it depends on the hold that Christ has of the sinner by his Spirit, as the nurse has of the babe in her arms.

(2.) Faith in Christ is the great comprehensive gospel-duty, Many have mean thoughts of faith, in comparison of other duties. But the scripture gives it the preference, John vi. 29. 1 John üi. 23. When we bid you believe, we bid you get all privileges, and do all duties; for believing is the way to both, in so far as it unites the soul to Christ, which is the fundamental privilege of the saints. If ye believe, ye do all in effect, as he who takes hold of the first link of a chain, has hold of all the links. If ye believe not, ye do no, thing; for without faith, ye are without Christ, and without Christ ye can do nothing, John xv. 5. compare Heb. xi. 6.

(3.) There is a solid rational ground for the doctrine of our justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ. Let profane men deride it as a putative or imaginary righteous. ness and justification, to make way for their own works; and let the corrupters of the Protestant doctrine set up faith, répentance, and new obedience, as our evangelical righteousness, upon which we are justified, as the fulfilling of the gos. pel-law; we need no other righteousness for justification but Christ's. For a believer is by faith united to Christ. Having this union with him, we have a communion with him in his righteousness, which is ours, since we are one with him, and being ours must be imputed to us, or reckoned ours on the most solid ground. Christ is the believer's Surety by his own

voluntary act, the debtor's consent by faith, the Judge's approbation in the word. What then is more rational than that this righteousness be imputed to the believer, and he thereupon justified ?

(4.) The way to obtain true repentance and sanctification, is to believe. For these are the benefits of Christ's redemption, Acts v. 31. Matth. i. 21. and these are applied by the Spirit working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling. How can one think to repent truly, or to be holy, when he is not united to Christ, John xv. 5. or to be united without faith? As soon shall the falling dew pierce through the rock, as one shall be able to do any of these out of Christ, whom the Father has constituted the head of influences, and on whom all our fruitfulness depends.

(5.) Lastly, The bodies of believers shall have a glorious resurrection, Rom. viii. 11. There is an union betwixt Christ and the bodies of believers, which death does not break off, i Thess. iv. 14. and therefore they shall not always lie in the dust; nor will Christ lose any of his members. The Lord says to a dying saint as to Jacob, Gen. xlvi. 3, 4. • I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt [the grave.]—I 'will go down with thee into Egypt (the grave]; and I will also surely bring thee up

again.'

3. This doctrine informs us concerning the happiness of the saints. To be united with Christ is the foundation of all happiness, and the richest privileges.

(1.) Christ is theirs, Cant. ii. 16. My Beloved is mine,' says the spouse. They have an interest in his person. He is their Lord, their Elder Brother, their Husband, yea, their Head. Whatsoever he is, or is in him, they may reckon úpon it as theirs, for to make them happy. The fulness of the Godhead dwells in him, and so God is their God and their Father, John xx. 17. His mercy is theirs to pity them, his power to protect them, his all-seeing eye to direct them, &c. Thus they have a fountain to go to that never runs dry, a treasure that is never exhausted, a table that will never be drawii, &c.

(2.) What Christ has is theirs, and he is the heir of all things, so all is theirs, 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. He has all that has him to whom all things belong. Union infers a com.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »