« AnteriorContinuar »
Now, that the scope of this difcourfe be not mistaken, let the reader know that I am not here treating of the faints communion, or fellowship with God in his duties, as in prayer, hearing, facraments, &c. but of that intereft which believers have in the good things of Christ, by virtue of the myftical union betwixt them through faith: there is a twofold communion of the faints with Chrift.
The first is an act.
The fecond is a state.
There is an actual fellowship, or communion the faints have with Chrift in holy duties, wherein Chriftians let forth their hearts to God by defires, and God lets forth his comforts and refreshments again into their hearts; they open their mouths wide, and he fills them: this communion with God is the joy and comfort of a believer's life, but I am not to speak of that here. It is not any act of communion, but the state of communion, from which all acts of communion flow, and upon which they all depend, that I am now to treat of; which is nothing elfe but the joint interest that Chrift and the faints have in the fame things: as when a fhip, an house, or eftate, is among many partners, or joints heirs, every one of them hath a right to it, and intereft in it, though fome of them have a greater, and others a leffer part. So it is betwixt Chrift and his people; there is a xovavia, (i. e.) a fellowship or joint intereft betwixt them, upon which ground they are called coheirs with Chrift, Rom viii. 17. This communion or participation in Chrift's benefits, depends upon the hypoftatical union of our nature, and the mystical union of our perfons with the Son of God: in the firft he partakes with us, in the fecond 'we partake with him: the former is the remote, the latter the next cause thereof.
In the explication of this point, I fhall fpeak to these four things:
1. What are those things in which Christ and believers have fellowship.
2. By what means they come to have fuch a fellowship with Christ.
3. How great a dignity this is to have fellowship with Jefus
4. And then apply the whole in divers practical inferences. First, What are those things in which Chrift and believers have fellowship, to which I muft fpeak both negatively and pofitively.
1. Negatively, The faints have no fellowship with Jefus Chrift in those things that belong to him as God; fuch as his
confubftantiality, coequality, and coeternity with the Father: It is the blafphemy of the wicked Familifts to talk of being godded into God, and christed into Christ. Neither men or angels partake in these things; they are the proper and incommunica ble glory of the Lord Jefus.
2. The faints have no communion or fellowship in the ho nour and glory of his mediatory works, viz. his fatisfaction to God, or redemption of the elect. It is true, we have the benefit and fruit of his mediation and fatisfaction; his righteoulnefs alfo is imputed to us for our perfonal juftification, but we fhare not in the least with Christ in the glory of this work: nor have we an inherent righteousness in us as Chrift hath; nor can we justify and fave others as Chrift doth: we have nothing to do with his peculiar honour, and praife in these things. Tho' we have the benefit of being faved, we may not pretend to the honour of being Saviours, as Chrift is to ourselves or others, "Chrift's righteousness is not made ours as to its univerfal "value, but as to our particular neceffity; nor is it imputed to us as to fo many caufes of falvation to others, but as to su many fubjects to be faved by it ourselves."
Secondly, But then there are many glorious and excellent things, which are in common betwixt Christ and believers, tho' in them all he hath the pre-eminence, he fhines in the fulness of them, as the fun, and we with a borrowed and leffer light, but of the fame kind and nature as the stars. Some of these I fhall particularly, and briefly, unfold in the following particulars.
First, Believers have communion with Chrift in his names and titles; they are called Chriftians from Chrift, Eph. iii. 15. from him the whole family in heaven and earth is named: this is that worthy name the apoftle speaks of, James ii. 7. He is the Son of God, and they also, by their union with him, have power or authority to become the Sons of God, John i. 12. He is the heir of all things, and they are joint-heirs with him, Rom. viii. 17. He is both king and priest, and he hath made them kings and priests, Rev. i. 6. But they do not only partake in the names and titles, but this communion confifts in things as well as titles. And therefore,
Secondly, They have communion with him in his righteousnefs, (i. e.) the righteousness of Chrift is made theirs, 2 Cor. v. 21. and he is "the Lord our righteousness," Jer. xxiii. 6. It
Juftitia Chrifti fit noftra, non quoad univerfalem valorem fed particularem neceffitatem, et imputatur nobis non ut caufis falva“ tionis, fed ut fubjectis falvandis. Bradshaw de juftificatione.
is true, the righteousness of Chrift is not inherent in us, as it is in him; but it is ours by imputation, Rom. iv. 5, 11. and our union with him is the ground of the imputation of his righte ousness to us, 2 Cor. v. 21. "We are made the righteousness "of God in him," Phil. iii. 9. for Christ and believers are confidered as one perfon, in conftruction of law; as a man and his wife, a debtor and furety, are one and fo his payment or fatisfaction is in our name, or upon our account.
Now, this is a moft ineftimable privilege, the very ground of all our other bleffings and mercies. O what a benefit is this to a poor finner, that owes to God infinite more than he is ever able to pay, by doing or fuffering; to have fuch a rich treasure of merit as lies in the obedience of Chrift, to discharge, in one entire payment, all his debts to the last farthing? "Surely fhall one say,
in the Lord I have righteoufnefs," Ifa. xlv. 24. even as a poor woman that owes more than she is worth, in one moment is difcharged of all her obligations, by her marriage to a wealthy man.
Thirdly, Believers have communion with Chrift in his holiness or fanctification, for of God he is made unto them, not only righteousness, but fanctification alfo; and as in the former privilege they have a stock of merit in the blood of Chrift to justify them, fo here they have the Spirit of Chrift to fanctify them, I Cor. i. 30. and therefore we are said of his fulness to receive "grace for grace," John i. 16. (i. e.) fay fome, grace upon grace, manifold graces, or abundance of grace; or grace for grace, that is, grace answerable to grace as in the feal and wax, there is line for line, and cut for cut, exactly answerable to each other; or grace for grace, that is, fay others, the free grace of God in Chrift, for the fanctification or filling of our fouls with grace; be it in which sense it will, it fhews the communion believers have with Jefus Chrift in grace and holiness. Now, holiness is the moft precious thing in the world, it is the image of God, and chief excellency of man: it is our evidence for glory, yea, and the first-fruits of glory. In Chrift dwells the fulnefs of grace, and from him, our head, it is derived and com. municated to us: thus he that fanctifieth, and they that are fanctified, are all of one, Heb. ii. 11. You would think it no fmall privilege to have bags of gold to go to, and enrich yourfelves with, and yet that were but a very trifle in comparison to have Chrift's righteoufnefs and holiness to go to for your juftification, and fanctification. More particularly,
Fourthly, Believers have communion with Chrift in his death;
SERM. VIII. (i. e.) the death of Chrift hath a real killing and mortifying influence upon the lufts, and corruptions of my heart and nature : true it is, he died for fin one way, and we die to fin another way : he died to expiate it, we die to it, when we mortify it: the death of Christ is the death of fin in believers: and this is a very glorious privilege; for the death of fin is the lite of your fouls: if fin do not die in you by mortification, you must die for fin by eternal damnation: if Chrift had not died, the Spirit of God, by which you now mortify the deeds of the body, could not have been given unto you; then you must have lived vaffals to your fins, and died at laft in your fins; but the fruit, efficacy, and benefit of Chrift's death is your's for the killing those fins in you, which elie had been your ruin.
Fifthly, Believers have communion with Chrift in his life, and refurrection from the dead: as he rofe from the dead, fo do they; and that by the power and influence of his vivification and refurrection: it is the Spirit of life which is in Chrift Jefus that makes us free from the law of fin and death, Rom. viii. 2. our fpiritual life is from Chrift, Eph. ii. 1. "And you hath he
quickned who were dead in trefpaffes and fins :" and hence Chrift is faid to live in the believer, Gal. ii. 20. "Now, I live, "yet not I; but Chrift liveth in me :" and it is no fmall privilege to partake of the very life of Chrift, which is the most excellent life that ever any creature can live; yet fuch is the happiness of all the faints, the life of Chrift is manifeft in them, and fuch a life as (hall never fee death.
Sixthly, To conclude, believers have fellowship with Jefus Christ in his glory, which they shall enjoy in heaven with him : they "fhall be ever with the Lord," 1 Thef. iv. 17. and that is not all, (though, as one faith, it were a kind of heaven but to look through the key-hole, and have but a glimpse of Christ's bleffed face) but they fhall partake of the glory which the Father hath given him; for fo he fpeaks, John xvii. 22, 24. and more particularly, they fhall fit with him in his throne, Rev. iii. 21. and when he comes to judge the world, he will come to be glorified in the faints, 2 Thef. i. 10. So that you fee what glorious and inestimable things are, and will be in common betwixt Chrift and the faints. His titles, his righteoufnefs, his holiness, his death, his life, his glory. I do not fay that Chrift will make any faint equal with him in glory; that is impoffible, he will be known from all the faints in heaven, as the fun is diftinguithed from the ftars; but they fhall partake of his glory, and be filled with his joy there; and thus you fee what those things are that the faints have fellowship with Chrift in.
Secondly, Next I would open the way and means by which we come to have fellowship with Jefus Chrift, in thefe excellent privileges; and this I fhall do, briefly, in the following pofitions.
First, No man hath fellowship with Christ in any special faving privilege by nature, howsoever it be cultivated or improved;" but only by faith uniting him to the Lord Jefus Chrift: It is not the privilege of our first, but fecond birth, *This is plain from John i. 12, 13. "But to as many as received him, to them gave "he power to become the fons of God, even to as many as be"lieved on his name, who are born not of flesh, nor of blood, "6 nor of the will of man, but of God." We are by nature children of wrath, Eph. ii. 3. we have fellowship with Satan in fin and mifery: the wild branch hath no communication of the fweetness and fatness of a more noble and excellent root, until it be ingrafted upon it, and have immediate union and coalition with it, John xv. I, 2.
Believer's themfelves have not an equal share, one with another, in all the benefits and privileges of their union with Chrift, buť in fome there is an equality, and in others an inequality; according to the measure and gift of Chrift, to every one.
In juftification they are all equal: the weak and the ftrong believer are alike juftified, because it is one and the fame per-. fect righteoufnefs of Chrift, which is applied to the one and to the other, fo that there are no different degrees of juftification, but all that believe are juftified from all things, Acts xiii. 39. and "there is no condemnation to them that are in Chrift Je“fus," Rom. viii. 1. be they never fo weak in faith, or defec tive in degrees of grace. But there is apparent difference in the measures of their fanctification, fome are ftrong men, and others are babes in Chrift, 1 Cor. iii. 1. The faith of fome flourishes and grows exceedingly, 2 Thef. i. 3. the things that are in others are ready to die, Rev. iii. 2. It is a plain cafe, that there is great variety found in the degrees of grace, and comfort among them that are jointly interested in Chrift, and equally juftified by him.
* The truly faithful only are members of Chrift, not as they are men, but as they are Chriftians; not by their firft, but fecond birth. Polan. Syntag, book 6. chap. 35.