« AnteriorContinuar »
Yet look not merely to the Lord Jesus, as considered in the notion of his own eternal being, as the Son of God, co-equal and co-essential to God the Father : but look upon him, as he stands in reference to the sons of men. And, herein also, look not to him so much, as a Lawgiver and a Judge; there is terror in such apprehension : but look upon him, as a gracious Saviour and Advocate *. And, lastly, look not upon him, as m the generality of his mercy, the common Saviour of Mankind : what comfort were it to thee, that all the world except thyself were saved ? but look upon him, as the dear Redeemer of thy soul; as thine Advocate, at the right-hand of Majesty; as one, with whom thou art, through his wonderful mercy, inseparably united.
Thus look upon him, firmly and fixedly; so as he may never be out of thine eyes : and, whatever secular objects interpose themselves betwixt thee and him, look through them, as some slight mists ; and terminate thy sight still in this blessed prospect. Let neither earth nor heaven bide them from thee, in whatsoever condition.
SECT. 2. The honour and happiness of being united to Christ. AND, while thou art thus taken up, see if thou canst, without wonder and a kind of ecstatical amazement, behold the infinite goodness of thy God, that hath exalted thy wretchedness to no less than a blessed and indivisible union with the Lord of Glory : so as thou, who, in the sense of thy miserable mortality, mayest say to corruption, thou art my father; and to the worm, thou art my mother and my sister ; Job xvii. 14. canst now, through the privilege of thy faith, hear the Son of God say unto thee, Thou art bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; Gen. ii. 23. Eph. v. 30.
Surely, as we are too much subject to pride ourselves, in these earthly glories; so we are too apt, through ignorance or pusillanimity, to undervalue ourselves in respect of our spiritual condition : we are far more noble and excellent than we account ourselves.
It is our faith, that must raise our thoughts to a due estimation of our greatness; and must shew us how highly we are descended, how royally we are allied, how gloriously estated. That only is it, that must advance us to heaven, and bring heaven down to us : through the want of the exercise whereof it comes to pass, that, to the great prejudice of our souls, we are ready to think of Christ Jesus as a stranger to us; as one, aloof off in another world, apprehended only by fits in a kind of ineffectual speculation, without any lively feeling of our own interest in him ; whereas, we ought, by the powerful operation of this grace in our hearts, to find so heavenly an appropriation of Christ to our souls, as that every be. liever may truly say, “ I am one with Christ : Christ is one with me."
* Luther. in Gal.
Had we not good warrant for so high a challenge, it could be no less than a blasphemous arrogance, to lay claim to the royal blood of heaven : but, since it hath pleased the God of Heaven so far to dignify our unworthiness, as, in the multitude of his mercies, to admit and allow us to be partakers of the divine nature, (2 Pet. i. 4.) it were no other than an unthankful stupidity, not to lay hold on so glorious a privilege, and to go for less than God hath made us.
THE KIND AND MANNER OF THIS UNION WITH CHRIST. Know now, my son, that thou art upon the ground of all consolation to thy soul; which consists in this beatifical union with thy God and Saviour.
Think not, therefore, to pass over this important mystery, with some transient and perfunctory glances: but let thy heart dwell upon it; as that, which must stick by thee in all extremities, and cheer thee up when thou art forsaken of all worldly comforts.
Do not then conceive of this union, as some imaginary thing, that hath no other being but in the brain; whose faculties have power to apprehend and bring home to itself far remote substances; possessing itself, in a sort, of whatsoever it conceives. Do not think it an union merely virtual, by the participation of those spiritual gifts and graces which God worketh in the soul, as the comfortable effects of our happy conjunction with Christ. Do not think it an accidental union, in respect of some circumstances and qualities, wherein we communicate with him, who is God and Man: nor yet a metaphorical union, by way of figurative resemblance.
But know, that this is a true, real, essential, substantial union, whereby the person of the believer is indissolubly united to the glorious person of the Son of God. Know, that this union is not more mystical than certain; that in natural unions there may be more evidence, there cannot be more, truth. Neither is there so firm and close an union betwixt the soul and body, as there is betwist Christ and the believing soul; forasmuch as that may be severed by death, but this never.
Away yet with all gross carnality of conceit. This union is true, and really existent; but yet spiritual. And, if some of the ancients have termed it natural and bodily, it hath been in respect to the subject united ; our Humanity to the two blessed natures of the Son of God, met in one most glorious person : not in respect of the manner of the uniting.
Neither is it the less real, because spiritual. Spiritual agents neither have nor put forth any whit less virtue, because sense cannot discern their manner of working. Even the loadstone, though an
earthen substance, yet, when it is out of sight, whether under the table or behind a solid partition, stirreth the needle as effectually as if it were within view: shall not he contradict his senses, that will say, “ It cannot work, because I see it not ?"
O Saviour, thou art more mine, than my body is mine. My sense feels that present; but so, that I must lose it: my faith sees and feels thee so present with me, that I shall never be parted from thee,
THE RESEMBLANCES OF THIS UNION.
SECT. 1. The resemblance of this union, by the Head and Body. There is no resemblance, whereby the Spirit of God more delights to set forth the heavenly union betwixt Christ and the believer, than that of THE HEAD AND THE BODY.
The head gives sense and motion to all the members of the body : and the body is one, not only by the continuity of all the parts held together with the same natural ligaments, and covered with one and the same skin; but much more by the animation of the same soul quickening that whole frame.
In the acting whereof, it is not the large extent of the stature, and distance of the limbs from each other, that can make any difference. The body of a child, that is but a span long, cannot be said to be more united, than the vast body of a giantly son of Anak, whose height is as the cedars; and, if we could suppose such a body as high as heaven itself, that one soul, which dwells in it and is diffused through all the parts of it, would make it but one entire body.
Right so it is with Christ and his Church. That one Spirit of his, which dwells in and enlivens every believer, unites all those fardistant members, both to each other and to their head; and makes them up into one true mystical body: so as now, every true believer may, without presumption, but with all holy reverence and humble thankfulness, say to his God and Saviour, “ Behold, Lord, I am, how unworthy soever, one of the limbs of thy body; and therefore have a right to all that thou hast, to all that thou dvest : thine eyes see for me : thine ears hear for me : thy hand acts for me: thy life, thy grace, thy happiness is mine."
Oh, the wonder of the two blessed unions! In the personal union, it pleased God to assume and unite our human nature to the Deity : in the spiritual and mystical, it pleases God to unite
the person of every believer to the person of the Son of God. Our souls are too narrow to bless God enough for these incomprehensible mercies; mercies, wherein he hath preferred us, be it spoken with all godly lowliness, to the blessed angels of heaven : For, verily, he took not upon him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham ; Heb. ii. 10. Neither hath he made those glorious spirits members of his mystical body ; but his Saints, whom he hath, as it were, so incorporated, that they are become his body and he theirs, according to that of the. divine Apostle, For, as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body being many are one body, so also is Christ; i Cor. xii. 12.
SECT. 2. This union set forth, by the resemblance of the Husband and Wife. Next hereunto, there is no resemblance of this mystery, either more frequent or more full of lively expression, than that of THE CONJUGAL UNION BETWIXT THE HUSBAND AND WIFE.
Christ is, as the Head, so the Husband of the Church : the Church and every believing soul is the Spouse of this Heavenly Bridegroom; whom he marrieth unto himself for ever, in righteous. ness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies ; Isa. Isii. 5. Hos. ii. 19.
And this match, thus made up, fulfils that decretive word of the Almighty, They twain shall be one flesh ; Eph. v. 31. Gen. Ü. 24.
Oh, happy conjunction of the Second Adam, with her, which was taken out of his most precious side! Oh, heavenly and complete marriage! wherein God, the Father, brings and gives the Bride; Gen. ii. 22. All, that the Father giveth me, shall come to ine, saith Christ; John vi. 37: wherein God, the Son, receives the Bride, as mutually partaking of the same nature; and can say, This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh ; John i. 14. Gen. ii. 23: wherein God, the Holy Ghost, knits our wills in a full and glad consent, to the full consummation of this blessed wedlock.
And those, whom God hath thus joined together, let no man (no devil can) put asunder,
What is there then, which an affectionate husband can withhold from a dear wife? He, that hath given himself to her, what can he deny to impart? He, that hath made himself one with her, how can he be divided from his other self? Some wild fancies there are, that have framed the links of marriage of so brittle stuff, as that they may be snapt in sunder upon every slight occasion ; but he, that ordained it in paradise for an earthly representation of this heavenly union betwixt Christ and his Church, hath made that and his owni indissoluble.
Here is no contract in the future, which, upon some intervenient accidents, may be remitted; but, I am my well-beloved's, and my well-beloved is mine ; Cant. vi. 3. ii. 16: and, therefore, each is so other's, that neither of them is their own.
Oh, the comfortable mystery of our uniting to the Son of God! The wife hath not the power of her own body, but the husband ; 1 Cor. vii. 4. We are at thy disposing, O Saviour: we are not our own. Neither art thou so absolutely thine, as that we may not, through thine infinite mercy, claim an interest in thee. Thou hast given us such a right in thyself, as that we are bold to lay challenge to all that is thine; to thy love, to thy merits, to thy blessings, to thy glory. It was wont of old, to be the plea of the Roman wives to their husbands, “ Where thou art Caius, I am Caia :” and now, in our present marriages, we have not stuck to say, “With all my worldly goods I thee endow.” And, if it be thus in our imperfect conjunctions bere upon earth, how much more in that exquisite Oneness, which is betwixt thee, O Blessed Saviour, and thy dearest Spouse the Church!
"What is it then, that can hinder us from a sweet and heavenly fruition of thee?
Is it the loathsome condition of our nature? thou sawest this before; and yet couldst say, when we were yet in our blood, Live ; Ezek, xvi. 6. Had we not been so vile, thy mercy had not been so glorious. Thy free grace did all for us : Thou washedst us wilh water, and anointedst us with oil, and clothedst us with broidered work, and girdedst us about with fine linen, and coveredst us with silk, and deckedst us with ornaments"; and didst put bracelels upon our hands, and a chain on our neck, and jewels on our foreheads, and earrings on our ears, a beautiful crozen on our heads ; Ezek. svi. 9—12. What we had not, thou gavest; what thou didst not find, thou madest; that we might be a not-unmeet match for the Lord of Life.
Is it want of beauty? Behold, I am black, but comely ; Cant. i. 5. Whatever our hue be in our own or others' eyes, it is enough, that we are lovely in thine. Behold, thou ar fair, my beloved : behold, thou art fair, yea pleasant ; Cant. i. 16. Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah ; comely, as Jerusalem ; vi. 4. How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights ! vii. 6. But, O Saviour, if thou take contentment in this poor unperfect beauty of thy Spouse the Church, how infinite pleasure should thy Spouse take in that absolute perfection that is in thee, who art all loveliness and glory! and, if she have ravished thy heart with one of her eyes ; Cant. v. 16. iv. 9: how much more reason hath her heart to be wholly ravished with both thine, which are so full of grace and amiableness! and, in this mutual fruition, what can there be, other than perfect blessedness?