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S E RM ON II.
Wherein the Believer's union with Christ is stated
and opened, as a principle Part of Gospel-Application.
JOHN. xvii. 23. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be
made perfect in one.
HĘ design and end of the application of Christ to finners
is the communication of his benefits to them; but seeing all communications of benefits accessarily imply communion, and all communion as necessarily presupposes union with his perfon ; I shall therefore, in this place, and from this scripture, treat of the mystical union betwixt Christ and believers; this union, being the principle act, wherein the Spirit's application of Christ consists, of which I spake (as to its general nature) in the former sermon.
In this verse (omitting the context) we find a threefold union, one betwixt the Father and Christ, a fecond betwixt Christ and believers, a third betwixt believers themselves.
First, Thou in me : This is a glorious ineffable union, and is fundamental to the other two. The Father is not only in Christ, in respect of dear affections, as one dear friend is in another, who is as his own foul ; nor only essentially, ia respect of the identity and fámeness of nature and attributes, in which respect, Christ is the express image of his perfon, Heb. i. 3. But he is in Christ also as Mediator, by communicating the fulness of the Godhead, which dwells in him as God-man, in a transcendent and singular manner, so as it never dwelt, nor can dwell in any other, Col. ii. 9.
Secondly, I in them: Here is the mystical union betwixt Chrift and the faints, q. d. thou and I are one essentially, they and I are one mystically: and thou and I are one by communication of the Godhead, and fingular fulness of the Spirit to me as Mediator ; and they and I are one, by my communication of the Spirit to them in measure.
Thirdly, From hence results a third union betwixt believers themselves; that they may be made perfeet in one ; the fame Spi. rit dwelling in them all, and equally uniting them all to me, as living members to their Head of influence, there must needo be a dear and intimate union betwixt themselves, as fellow-members of the same body.
Now my business, at this time, lying in the second branch, namely, the union betwixt Christ and believers, I Mall gather up the substance of it into this doctrinal proposition, to which I shall apply this discourse.
Doct. That there is a strict and dear union betwixt Christ and
all true believers.
The scriptures have borrowed from the book of nature, four elegant and lively metaphors, to help the nature of this mysti. cal union with Christ into our understandings; namely, that of pieces of timber united by glue ; that of a graff taking hold of its stock, and making one tree; that of the husband and wife, by the marriage-covenant, becoming one flesh; and that of the members and
head animated by one soul, and so becoming one natural body. Every one of these is more lively and full than the other, and what is defective in one, is supplied in the other : but yet, neither any of these singly, or all of them jointly, can give us a full, and complete account of this mystery
Not that of two pieces united by glue, 1 Cor. v. 17. "He that F is joined to the Lord is one Spirit,” xod dwusvos, glewed to the Lord. For though this cementeth, and strongly joins them in one, yet this is but a faint and imperfect shadow of our union with Christ; for though this union, by glue, be intimate, yec not vital, but so is that of the soul with Christ.
Not that of the graff and stock, mentioned Rom. vi. 5. for though it be there faid, that believers are oupe Qutos, implanted, or ingraffed by way of incision, and this union betwixt it and the stock be vital, for it partakes of the vital sap and juice of it; yet here also is a remarkable defect, for the graff is of a more excelleat kind and nature than the stock, and, upon that account, the tree receives its denomination from it, as from the more noble and excellent part ; but Christ into whom believers are ingraffed, is infinitely more excellent than they, and they are deno minated from him.
Nor yet that conjugal union, by marriage-covenant, betwixt a man and his wife; for though this be exceeding dear and intimate, so that a man leaves father and mother, and cleaves to his wife, and they two become one flesh; yet this union is not indissolvable, but may and mult be broken by death; and then the reliet lives alone without any communion with, or relation
to, the person that was once so dear; but this betwixt Christ and the soul can never be dissolved by death, it abides to eternity.
Nor, lastly, that of the head and members united by one vital spirit, and so making one physical body, mentioned Eph. iv. 15, 16. for though one foul actuates every member, yet it dath not knit every member alike near to the head, but some are nearer, and others removed farther from it; but here every member is alike nearly united with Christ the Head, the weak are as near to him as the strong.
Two things are necessary to be opened in the doctrinal part of this point. 1. The reality. 2. The quality of this union.
Firf, For the reality of it, I shall make it appear, that there is such a union betwixt Christ and belivers; it is no Ens ratio onis, empty notion, or cundingly devised fable, but a most certain demonstrable truth, which appears,
Fird, From the communion which is betwixt Christ and believers; in this the apostle is express, i John i. 3. “Truly our “ fellow hip is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Chrift;" Xol@vc. Le signifies such fellowship or copartnership, as persons have by a joint interest in one and the fame enjoyment, which is in common betwixt them. So Heb. jii. 14. we are pesto Xos; partakers of Christ. And Pfal. xlv. 7.772 here the faints are called the companions, conforts or fellows of Christ; “and that
not only in respect of his * assumption of our mortality, and investing us with his immortality, but it hạth a special refe
rence and respect to the unction of the Holy Gholt, or graces " of the Spirit, of which believers are partakers with him and
through him.” Now this communion of the saints with Chrift, is entirely and necessarily dependent upon their union with him, even as much as the branch's participation of the fap and juice, depends upon its union and coalition with the stock; take away'union, and there can be no communion, or communications, which is clear from 1 Cor. iii, 22, 23. “ and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's. Where you fee how all our participation of Christ's benefits is built upon our uuion with Christ's person.
Secondly, The reality of the believers union with Christ, is e
" All is yours,
* Ipfe venit in fortem noftræ mortalitatis, ut in fortem nos ad. duceret fuæ immortalitatis : clarum autem eft, hic agi de conforti. bus unttionis : quales funt omnes fideles qui unctionis participes for unt. River, VOL.JI.
vident from the imputation of Christ's righteousness to him for his justification. That a believer is justified before God by a righteousnels without himself, is undeniable from Rom. iii. 24.
Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption " that is in Christ Jesus." And that Christ's righteoufness becomes ours by imputation, is as clear from Rom. iv, 23, 24. but it can never be imputed to us, except we be united to him, and become one with him : which is also plainly asserted in i Cor. i. 30.“ But of him are ye (in Christ Jesus) who of God is made
unto us wisdom and righteousness, fanctification and redemp“ tion." He communicates his merits unto none but those that are in him. Hence all those vain cavils of the Papift's, difputing against our justification by the righteousoess of Christ; and al. serting it to be by inherent righteousness, are folidly answered.
When they demand, How can we be justified by the righte. ousness of another ? Can I be rich with another man's money, or preferred by another's honours ? Our answer is, Yes, if that other be my surety or husband. Indeed Peter cannot be justified by the righteousness of Paul; but both may be justified by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them ; they being members, jointly koit to one common Head. Principal and furety are one in obligation and construction of law. Head and members are one body, branch and stock are one tree; and it is no strange thing, to fee a graff live by the fap of another stock, when once it is engraffed into it.
Thirdly, The fympathy that is betwixt Christ and believers, proves a union betwixt them; Christ and the faints smile and ligh together. St. Paul in Col. i. 24. tells us, that he did "fill up that which is behind," To Usipnyata,
-the remainders of the “sufferings of Christ in his flesh :” not as if Christ's fufferings were imperfect, ("for by one offering he hath per“ fected for ever them that are fanctified," Heb. x. 14.) but in these two fcriptures, Christ is considered in a twofold capacity; he suffered once in corpore proprio, in his own person, as Mediator; these sufferings are complete and full, and in that sense he suffers no more ; he suffers allo in corpore mystico, in his church and members; thus he still suffers in the fufferings of every faint for his fake; and though these sufferings in his mystical body are not equal to the other, either pondere et mensura, in their weight and value, nor yet designed ex officio, for the fame use and purpose, to satisfy by their proper merit, offended justice ; never.. theless they are truly reckoned the sufferings of Christ, because the head fuffers when the members do; and without this fup. position, that place, Acts ix. ši is never to be underfood, when
Christ, the Head in heaven, cries out, “Saul, Saul, why perse“ cutest thou me?” when the foot was trod upon on earth ; How doth Christ fenfibly feel our sufferings, or we his, if there be not a mystical union betwixt him and us?
Fourthly, and lastly, The way and manner in which the saints shall be raised at the last day, proves this mystical union betwixt Christ and them; for they are not to be raised as others, by the
of God without them, but by the virtue of Christ's resurrection as their Head, sending forth vital quickening influences into their dead bodies, which are united to him as well as their souls. For so we find it, Rom. viii. 'II. “ But if the “ Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in
you, he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quick“ en your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you;" even as it is in our awaking out of natural sleep, first the animal-spirits in the head begin to rouze and play there, and then the senses and members are loosed throughout the whole body.
Now it is impossible the faints should be raised in the last resurrection, by the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them, if that Spirit did not knit and unite them to him, as members to their head. Su then by all this, it is proved, that there is a real union of the saints with Christ.
Next, I shall endeavour to open the quality and nature of this union, and shew you what it is, according to the weak apprehensions we have of so sublimne a mystery; and this I shall do in a general and particular account of it.
First, More generally, it is an intimate conjunction of believers to Christ, by the imparting of his Spirit to them, where-, by they are enabled to believe and live in him.
All divine fpiritual life is originally in the Father, and cometh not to us, but by, and through the Son, John v. 26. to him hath the Father given to have an avrolun--a quickening, enlivening power in himself; but the Son communicates this life which is in him to none, but by, and through the Spirit, Rom. viii. 2. " The Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus, hath made
free from the law of fin and death." The Spirit must therefore first take hold of us, before we can live in Christ, and when he doth so, then we are enabled to exert that vital act of faith, whereby we receive Christ; all this lies plain in that one Scripture, John vi. 57. “ As the living Fa" ther hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eat“ eth me (that is, by faith applies me) even he shall live by me." So that these two, namely, the Spirit, on Christ's part, and faith,