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of God; but by reason of his native divinity, in which his personality is founded, his humanity being united to his unbegotten person, he, as the Son of God, Immanuel, was by the Father appointed to this office. Moreover, we may say that no one but he who is truly divine and human in one person, is a proper person to be the centre of union to the election of grace. There is no reason to fear that the church will be divided, so long as she stands in and is divinely supported by her holy Lord. That church which is in danger from the convulsions of time, can never belong to Christ, although there may be in such a church some of the members of his mystical body. It does not appear a possible thing to bring together a host of sinners so as to make their interest vitally one, but upon this highly important principle, "Ye are all one in Christ Jesus." The apostle Paul informs us, that "we are the body of Christ, and members in particular." In the assemblies of the saints we discern this principle, for the holy rites of the house of God are spiritually connected with the Lord Jesus, who is the fountain of life to his seed, and when they wait in his earthly courts they partake of his heavenly fulness. Hundreds of men and women meet together in one place; some of them are favoured to commune with God in his ordinances, while the remainder are unconscious of the worth of such a privilege; those who are spiritually benefited feel an increasing attachment to their brethren, while the rest hug the chain of their captivity, and they fancy that they never were in bondage to sin and Satan. That which knits the heart in attachment to the Saviour, will through him bind the affections to his brethren. This sacred principle is greatly neglected by many persons who are travelling from earth to heaven. I heartily wish that every one who professes attachment to the person and interest of Messiah would look into the bible, and examine whether this statement is true; if it is true, it demands the attention of all those who are ordained to live in the presence of God for ever.
The whole family of God is named in Christ, and every individual member thereof is related to each other in him. It is true, that all the holy brethren have not attained to the same stature, nor have they alike grown up into Christ in all things. The babe in grace is as truly related to him as the venerable christian is, who has borne the heat of the day for a long time. It is good and seemly in the sight of God when the ties of grace bind the saints together, so that his children are openly distinguished from the rest of mankind. Great benefit will result from such conduct. The tender babes in the household of faith will be encouraged to declare what they know of the gospel of salvation; and those who have been privileged to travel many years in the road to Zion, will know how to speak "a word in season to those who are weary." Wherever we discern the unfolding of grace in the day of spiritual sensibility, it will ever afford the real christian true delight; and it is his duty and his interest to take such persons by the hand, and encourage them to proceed in the use of those means that God has wisely chosen to nurture the hope of his new-born family. To cheer them in the path of duty when they go to the house of God, the ministry of the word will open to them the state of spirituality into which they were appointed by God before the world began; also the mystery of redemption, with which every sermon should be plentifully filled, will encourage the young convert to hope in God. The prayers of the godly will be to him as refreshing as the showers are to the new-mown grass. Affinities so holy as these are, and so heavenly in their tendency, bring men together upon a foundation that will promote the good of the whole family of God. Besides this, the influence which is shed upon, and the life which is diffused amongst the brethren of the Lamb, elevates the tone of feeling in the mind, so that men who are by nature very ignorant, in them we behold in a peculiarly striking manner what grace can do. However refined the taste and chaste the manners of a learned man may be, prior to his spiritual birth, the holy influence of truth, when it is experienced, will expand his heart, so that he will affectionately embrace all who love the Saviour's name. While Saul of Tarsus remained under the power of Jewish prejudice, he opposed every thing which bare any resemblance to the image and will of God; but so soon as his great mind was sanctified to embrace Jesus as the Messiah promised to his forefathers, we discern in his change the wonders which grace can achieve. That great man drank so deeply into the spirit of the gospel, and he felt so interested for the welfare of the church, that on one occasion he said, "I could impart my own soul," to promote its welfare. The spirit of the Redeemer is imparted to his brethren, and wherever it exists it will be openly developed in their conduct, by their observance of his commandments.
There is nothing superfluous in the order of the divine government. No one of the saints is unnecessary, but every one of them is of very great importance in the spiritual world. Even those who are frequently troubling of their brethren by their unreasonable conduct, we are not at liberty to exclude them from the family of God. We cannot tell for what purpose they are suffered to be like dead weights hanging about us, to hinder our progress in usefulness; but this we do know, that their persons are chosen by God to inherit eternal life, and their sins are atoned for by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a day coming when God will unfold his design, and when that period shall arrive, we, shall be perfectly prepared to form a just judgment of his ways, and that which is now dark and mysterious to us, will then be as clearly revealed as though it were written with a sun-beam. It has often occurred that a Diotrephes in the house of mercy, has been used by God as a rod to rebuke the vanity of some of his brethren. There will be some saved, "though it be as by fire."
Where there is a union of interest existing, there will be similar feeling pervading the mind of the people jointly interested. This is true concerning Christ and his church; the residue of the Spirit is with him, and he sheds it upon his brethren according to the will of God. When the great Head of his church sends his Spirit into the hearts of his people, we partake of the same influence which he has without measure; so that the sensibility present in our bosoms is maintained by our vital union with the source of life. The quality of this influence is the same as that is which our great Redeemer has received, by the anointing which was poured upon him from the beginning. This destroys the reign of sin, and by it the unity of the Spirit is maintained, the prejudices of the mind and the enmity of the heart are slain, cordiality and good-will exist, friendship that shall continue for ever in existence is begun, together with every other virtue and excellency of which we read in the scriptures of truth; these publicly form our christian character, and the developement of it flashes conviction of the goodness of it upon the minds of those who oppose the gospel of God our Saviour. By this means the church is united, and the Redeemer glorified. The power of truth inwardly felt, unites the heart affectionately to the whole family of God on earth and in heaven. The church of God is described as a spiritual house, and every member of it is a priest in the house of God, offering to him holy and acceptable services by Jesus Christ. To be kept in the daily performance of duty, God has promised to his children a perpetual supply of the Spirit, that we should not faint nor tire in the path of righteousness. When we say that there will be a perpetual supply of the Spirit, we do not mean that the feelings of the mind will alway be undisturbed; no: but that where there is a change of state produced, there the Holy Spirit ever dwells; and therefore our spiritual state of being is immortal. "There are diversities of operations, but the same Spirit;" and as he is given to the whole body of Christ as a teacher, he leads all his members to him in whom they are all holy and free. The method which God has adopted to make and keep his people one, is very different to that which reason has conceived; and hereby he is pleased to make the recipients of his favour truly sensible of the worth of his friendship, and duly concerned for the happiness of their brethren.
If we consider the honorable distinction by which the followers of the Lamb are distinguished among men, we cannot be unconscious that they are chosen in him to possess a perfection suited to the kingdom of which they are the heirs. It is the privilege of all the saints of God to be " complete in Christ," and as yet no where else. In the day of their deliverance from sin, by death, they will be made perfect with Christ. This perfection is not confined to some of the household of faith, but it is extended to the whole family of God, so that great and small in this royal establishment are clothed with the robe of righteousness that Immanuel wrought for their endless justification. It may be truly said of them, " Each of them resembles the son of a king;" and there is something connected with this estate of perfection that renders it invaluable. He who is once planted in it can never die. When we cast our eyes around us in the house of God, the thought strikes the mind with admiration and pleasure at the sight of so many of the holy brethren of the Lord collected to worship Jehovah, and not one of them who are present but what is clothed in the robe of righteousness, and the image of Christ is engraven upon the fleshly tablets of their hearts. Talk we of grandeur ? why if there is any thing beneath the skies deserving of such a name, this is the true sublime and beautiful. It is true, that some of the holy brethren evince their perfection in Christ in a clearer light than others do; but every one of the heirs of life quickened by the Holy Ghost, are alike complete in the Lord their head. It would, if the churches of the saints, when they meet for the worship of the true God, or attend to the internal management of their spiritual concerns, would keep this fact in sight, viz. my brother is as perfect in Christ as I am, if he is not quite so well informed. If the children of God look at one another any where else but in Christ Jesus, they will be sure to see each other's imperfection ; but as soon as their eyes are turned to him, they view each other in him without spot or blemish. Many things occur to hinder the fellowship of the saints in this life; no doubt it is arranged wisely by God to reprove the pride of his people. If the true worshippers of God laid these things to heart, and they were found in the daily practice of humbling themselves before him on account of them, the church would bear a nearer resemblance to Jerusalem in olden times, " the perfection of beauty and the joy of the whole earth."
There is not one saint in the whole enclosure of grace but what is dependant upon Christ for grace to sanctify them to perform the duties of life, and to enable them to stand in the evil day. He who knows most of his own heart will be the least disposed to trust in it, and he will be most anxiously concerned that he may not cast a shade upon the honorable character with which he is clothed. The arm of Christ alone can sustain his feeble friends, and that is their support in the most distressing circumstances. To be truly acquainted with the perfect weakness to which we are reduced by sin is a great favour; for he that knows but little of it, and guesses at a great deal, will not be disposed to bear the burdens of the heavy laden, nor to sympathize with the distressed; but he who understands what is meant by " trusting to the Lord, and not leaning to his own understanding," is a fitting person to compassionate the case of the sorrowful and the downcast spirit. In the family of God there are many to be found who are very weak, but they are our brethren, and it is not left to our temper and convenience whether we will sympathize with them; they are so many parts of the mystical body of Christ, and they are members with us in particular, and as there is no schism in the body of the church, it would be a flagrant neglect of duty, and a breach of the love of Christ, if when we see our weak brother we speak not to him, nor shew unto him that kindness his condition demands, and which our common Saviour has commanded his disciples to cherish towards each other. The Lord never turned away any case of distress in the days of his flesh; he ever shewed the greatest willingness to redress the wrongs of his creatures, and to administer to their various necessities. In the scriptures, the several parts of the body are said to be indissolubly united to and dependent upon each other, so that no one member can do without the other; and in the spiritual frame of things, the parts of the whole are so united and dependent upon the centre, where they all meet, that not one of these parts can be separated, but the whole is incorporated in one. Shall we then, through pride or ignorance, because some of the parts discover their native weakness more than some others do, pass them with scorn, and look upon them with disdain? Let it never be said, that any one possessing the faith of Christ is guilty of such evil practices. Our Saviour left his native kingdom to ransom us from the perdition that we had merited, and he also has left us an example that we should follow his steps. The more extensive our knowledge of Christ is, the more readily shall we obey his commandment, " Him that is weak receive ye." Let every one please his neighbour for his good to edification.
We have said above, that the several parts of the spiritual frame of grace are so united, that they cannot be separated nor divided. Let us look at the position again. What the Saviour said on one occasion will be very instructive on this point; " I am the vine, ye are the branches." Now we know very well that vine and branches are but one comprehensively; we can distinguish them in our thought and conversation, but we never mean to say that the branches exist apart from the root, but the whole is one beautiful vine, deriving its sap and nourishment from it. If the above words have any spiritual meaning, it must be to prove the indivisibility of Christ and the church. Farther, he says, " without me ye can do nothing." This is conclusive evidence, that by vital union to him we are related to his mystical fulness and body. The same interest that has elevated Paul, and a vast number of other sinners to heaven, is that upon which the great part that are not yet born into our world will be raised into a spiritual conformity to Christ; and it is that by which they will be made meet by the Holy Ghost to enjoy his friendship in the world of unclouded vision. We cannot now approach the spirits of just men made perfect, but upon this principle. In the person of Jesus they meet, and they are perfectly sanctified with him, and they are for ever blessed. In the same divine person we meet them, and although they have the advantage over us in point of sanctification, yet they are not divided from us. A man has a large family, some of his children have perfected their education, and they daily take their places with him at the family board, whilst the other children are yet at school; although the whole of his children are not beneath the paternal roof, the good man has not two separate families, but he has one family in two different places: so although the followers of Jesus in this world have not finished their education, to prepare them to enter into their Father's house above, they are united to the Lord who is the head of the whole body. None but God could put a family together in the person of his Son; so that while a great part of that family is in