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all men have, though with a peculiar design of grace to those whom he came to redeem. This I the rather take notice of, because the Socinians, and others, that speak of this privilege, inasmuch as it is often mentioned in scripture, appear to have very low thoughts of it, when they supposé nothing more than this to be intended thereby.
Again, this union includes in it more than what is contained in that mutual love that is between Christ and believers, in that sense in which there is an union of affection between those who love one another; as it is said, The soul of Yonathan was knit with the soul of David; and Jonathan loved him as his own soul, 1 Sam. xviii. 1. In which respect believers are united to one another; or, as the apostle expresseś it, their hearts are knit together in love, Col. ii. 2. being like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one
mind, Phil. ií. 2. or, as he adds, Let this mind also be in you, which was also in Christ Fesus, ver. 5. I say it includes more than this, which is rather the fruit and consequence of our union with Christ, than that wherein it principally consists.
Moreover we must take heed that we do not, in explaining this union between Christ and believers, include more in it than what belongs to creatures infinitely below him, to whom they are said to be united : therefore we cannot but abhor the blasphemy of those who speak of an essential union of creatures with God; or, as though they had hereby something derived to them in common with Christ the great Mediator.
But passing by this method of accounting for the union between Christ and believers, there are two senses in which it is taken in scripture; one is, that which results from Christ's being their federal head, representative, or surety; having undertaken to deal with the justice of God in their behalf, so that what he should do, as standing in this relation to them, should be placed to their account, as much as though it had been done
• The first that seems to use this unsavoury mode of speaking, is Gregory Nazianzen; who did not consider how inconsistent some of those rhetorical ways of speak. ing, he seems fond of, are with that doctrine, which, in other parts of his writings, he maintained. Those words XpoleTOM, and Surrouy, which he sometimes uses to ex. press the nature, or consequence of this union between Christ and believers, are very disgustfid. In one place of his writings, (Vid. ejusd. Orat. 41.) exhorting Christians to be like Christ, he says, That because he became like unto us, gerapeta w dr avlov, efficiamur Dii propter ipsum; and elsewhere, (in Orat. 35. de Folio.) he says, Hic homo Deus efectus postea quam cum Deo coalit ιγα γνωμαι τοσκτον θεος οσον εκείνος siffwtos rara@n, ut ipse quoque tantum Deus efficiar quantum ipse homo. And some modern writers have been fond of the same mode of speaking, especially among those who, from their mysterious and unintelligible mode of expressing themselves, have rather exposed than defended the doctrines of the gospel
. We find expressions of the like nature in a book put forth by Luther, which is supposed to be written by Taulerus, before the Reformation, called Theologia Germanica, and some othere, since that times such as Parcelsus, Szenckfelt, Weigelius, and those enthusiasta, that have ndhered to their ieintelligible and blasphemous modes of speaking.
by them in their own persons : this is what contains in it their concern in the covenant of grace,, made with him in their behalf; of which something has been said under a foregoing answer;
* and it is the foundation of their sins being imputed to him, and his righteousness to them ; which will be farther considered, when we treat of the doctrine of justification under a following answer. +
Therefore this union with Christ, which is mentioned in the answer we are now explaining, is of another nature, and, in some respects, may be properly styled a vital union, as all spiritual life is derived from it; or a conjugal union, as it is founded in consent, and said to be by faith. Now there are two things observed concerning it.
1. It is expressed by our being spiritually and mystically joined to Christ: it is styled a spiritual union, in opposition to those gross and carnal conceptions which persons may entertain concerning things being joined together in a natural way; and, indeed, whatever respects salvation is of a spiritual nature.
It is moreover called a mystical union, which is the word most used by those who treat on this subject; and the reason is, because the apostle calls it a great mystery, Eph. V. 32. by which we are not to understand the union there is between man and wife, as contained in the similitude by which he had before illustrated this doctrine, as the Papists pretend, but the union that there is between Christ and his church. And it is probably styled a mystery, because it could never have been known without divine revelation : and as Christ's condescension, expressed herein, can never be sufficiently admired; so it cannot be fully comprehended by us. This is such a nearness to him, and such a display of love in him as passeth knowledge. However, there are some similitudes used in scripture to illustrate it. As,
(1.) The union that there is between the vine and the branches, John xv. 1, 2, 5. whereby life, nourishment, growth and fruit
See Vol. II. Quest. 31. page 167. + Quest. 70.
This is the principal, if not the only scripture, from which they pretend to prove marriage to be a sacrament, and they argue this. The Greek church had no other word to express what was afterwards called a sacrament by the Latin church, but puusupov, a mystery: therefore since the apostle calls marriage, as they suppose, a mystery, they conclude that it is a sacrament; which is a very weak foundation for inserting it among those sacraments which they have added to them that Christ had instituted; for the sacraments are no where called mysteries in scripture : and there. fore we are not to explain doctrines by words orhich were not used till some ages after the apostles' time : and if there were any thing in their argument, viz. that that which is called a mystery in scripture, must needs be a sacrament, it does not appear that she apostle calls marriage a great mystery, but the union that there is between Christ and his church; as he expressly xuys in the following words ; I speak concerning Christ and the church.
fulness are conveyed to them: in like manner all our spiritual life together, with the exercise and increase of grace, depend on our union with, abiding in, and deriving what is necessary thereunto, from him.
(2.) It is also compared to the union there is between the head and members, as the apostle farther illustrates it, when he styles him the head, from which all the body, by joints and bands, having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God, Col. ii. 19. which is a very beautiful similitude, whereby we are given to understand, that as the head is the fountain of life and motion to the whole body, as the nerves and animal spirits take their rise from thence, so that if the communication that there is between them and it, be stopped, the members would be useless, dead, and insignificant: so Christ is the fountain of spiritual life and motion, to all those who are united to him.
(3.) This union is farther illustrated, by a similitude taken from that union which there is between the foundation and the building; and accordingly Christ is styled, in scripture, the chief corner stone, Eph. ii. 20. and a sure foundation, Isa. xxviii. 16. And there is something peculiar in that phrase which the apostle uses, which is more than any similitude can express; when he speaks cf Christ as the living stone, or rock, on which the church is built; and of believers, as lively stones, 1 Pet. ij. 4, 5. to denote, that they are not only supported and upheld by him, as the building is by the foundation, but enabled to put forth living actions, as those whose life is derived from this union with him.
(4.) There is another similitude taken from that nourishment which the body receives, by the use of food; and therefore our Saviour styles himself the bread of life, or the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die; and proceeds to speak of his giving his flesh for the life of the world; and adds, he that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him, John vi. 48— 56.
(5.) There is another similitude, by which our heing united to Christ by faith, is more especially illustrated, taken from the union which there is between man and wife; accordingly this is generally styled, a conjugal union, between Christ and believers. Thus the prophet says, Thy Maker is thine Husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the holy One of Israel, Isa. liv. 5. And the apostle, speaking of a man's leaving his father and mother, and being joined unto his wife, and they two being one fesh, Eph. v. 31, 32. applies it, as was before observed, to the union that there is between Christ and the church; and adds, that we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, ver. 30. which expression, if not compared with other scriptures, would be very hard to be understood; but it may be explained by the like phraseology, used elsewhere. Thus, when God formed Cve at first, and brought her to Adam, and thereby joined them together in a conjugal relation: he says upon this occasion, This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh, Gen. ii. 23. And we find also, that other relations, which are more remote thañ this, are expressed by the same mode of speaking. Thus Lában says to Jacob, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh, Gen. xxix. 14. And Abimelech pleading the relation he stood in to the men of Shechem, as a pretence of his right to reign over them, tells them, I am your bone and your flesh, Judges ix. 2. Therefore the apostle makes use of the same expression, agreeably to the common mode of speaking used in scripture, to set forth the conjugal relation which there is between Christ and believers.
The apostle, indeed, elsewhere alters the phrase, when he says, Ile that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit, 1 Cor. vi. 17. which is so difficult an expression, that some who treat on this subject, though concluding that there is in it something that denotes the intimacy and nearness of this union, and more than what is contained in the other phrase, of their being one flesh, nevertheless, reckon it among those expressions which are inexplicable; though I cannot but give into the sense in which some understand it; namely, that inasmuch as the same Spirit dwells in believers that dwelt in Christ, though with different views and designs, they are hereby wrought up, in their measure, to the same temper and disposition ; or as it is expressed elsewhere, The same mind is in them that was in Christ, Phil. ii. 5. which is such an effect of this conjugal relation that there is between him and them, as is not always the result of the same relation amongst men. The reason why I call this our being united to Christ, by faith, is because it is founded in a mutual consent; as the Lord avouches them on the one hand, to be his people, so they, on the other hand, avouch him to be their God, Deut. xxvi. 17, 18. the latter of which is, properly speaking, an act of faith ; whereby they give up themselves to be his servants, to all intents and purposes, and that for ever.
It is farther observed in this answer. That union with Christ is a work of God's grace : this it must certainly be, since it is the spring and fountain from whence all acts of grace proceed; and indeed, from the nature of the thing, it cannot be otherwise : for if there be a wonderful instance of condescending grace in God's conferring those blessings that accompany salvation; this may much more be deemed so. If Christ be pleased to dwell with, and in his people, and to talk in them, 2
Lor. vi. 10. or as it is said elsewhere, to live in them, Gal. ii. 20. as a pledge and earnest of their being forever with him in beaven ; and if, as the result hereof, they be admitted to the greatest intimacy with him; we may from hence take occasion to apply what was spoken by one of Christ's disciples, to him, with becoming humility and admiration; how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? John xiv. 22. Is it not a great instance of grace, that the Son of God should make choice of so mean an habitation, as that of the souls of sinful men; and not only be present with, but united to them in those instances which have been before considered?
2. It is farther observed in this answer, that we are united to Christ in effectual calling; which leads us to consider what is contained in the two following answers.
Quest. LXVII. What is effectual calling ?
and grace; whereby, out of his free and special love to his elect, and from nothing in them moving him thereunto, he doth, in his accepted time, invite and draw them to Jesus Christ by his word and Spirit, savingly enlightening their minds, renewing, and powerfully determining their wills; so as they, although in themselves dead in sin, are hereby made willing and able, freely to answer his call, and to ac
cept and embrace the grace offered and conveyed therein. Quest. LXVIII. Are the elect effectually called ? Answ. All the elect, and they only, are effectually called ; al
though others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the word, and have some common operations of the Spirit ; who, for their wilful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in thcir unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus Christ. W VE have, in these answers, an account of the first step
that God takes, in applying the redemption purchased by Christ; which is expressed, in general, by the word culling; whereby sinners are invited, commanded, encouraged, and enabled, to come to Christ, in order to their being made partakers of his benefits: the apostle styles it an high, holy, and heavenly calling, Phil. iii. 14. 2 Țim, i. 9. Heb. ii. 1. and a being called unto the fellow'ship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, 1 Cor. i.