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RM ON II.
Wherein the Believer's union with CHRIST is ftated and opened, as a principle Part of Gofpel-Applica
JOHN. Xvii. 23. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.
HE defign and end of the application of Christ to finners is the communication of his benefits to them; but feeing all communications of benefits neceffarily imply communion, and all communion as neceffarily prefuppofes union with his perfon; I fhall therefore, in this place, and from this fcripture, treat of the myftical union betwixt Chrift and believers; this union, being the principle act, wherein the Spirit's application of Christ confifts, of which I fpake (as to its general nature) in the former fermon.
In this verse (omitting the context) we find a threefold union, one betwixt the Father and Chrift, 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 Chrift, in respect of dear affections, as one dear friend is in another, who is as his own foul; nor only effentially, in refpect of the identity and fameness of nature and attributes, in which respect, Chrift is the exprefs 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 fingular 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 effentially, they and I are one myftically 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 refults a third union betwixt believers themfelves; that they may be made perfect 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 needs be a
dear and intimate union betwixt themselves, as fellow-members of the fame body.
Now my bufinefs, at this time, lying in the fecond branch, namely, the union betwixt Chrift and believers, I fhall gather up the substance of it into this doctrinal propofition, to which I fhall apply this discourse,
Doct. That there is a ftrict and dear union betwixt Chrift and all true believers.
The fcriptures have borrowed from the book of nature, four elegant and lively metaphors, to help the nature of this mystical union with Chrift 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 foul, and so becoming one natural body. Every one of thefe is more lively and full than the other, and what is defective in one, is fupplied in the other but yet, neither any of thefe fingly, 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 "is joined to the Lord is one Spirit," zoλausvos, 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 Chrift; for though this union, by glue, be intimate, yet not vital, but fo is that of the foul with Chrift.
Not that of the graff and stock, mentioned Rom. vi. 5. for though it be there faid, that believers are ruuQuro, implanted, or ingraffed by way of incifion, and this union betwixt it and the ftock be vital, for it partakes of the vital fap and juice of it; yet here alfo is a remarkable defect, for the graff is of a more excellent 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 Chrift into whom believers are ingraffed, is infinitely more excellent than they, and they are denominated from him.
Nor yet that conjugal union, by marriage-covenant, betwixt a man and his wife; for though this be exceeding dear and intimate, fo that a man leaves father and mother, and cleaves to his wife, and they two become one flesh; yet this union is not indiffolvable, but may and must be broken by death; and then the relict lives alone without any communion with, or relation
to, the perfon that was once fo dear; but this betwixt Christ and the foul can never be diffolved by death, it abides to eternity.
Nor, laftly, that of the head and members united by one vital fpirit, and fo making one phyfical body, mentioned Eph. iv. 15 16. for though one foul actuates every member, yet it doth not knit every member alike near to the head, but fome are nearer, and others removed farther from it; but here every member is alike nearly united with Chrift the Head, the weak are as near to him as the strong.
Two things are neceffary to be opened in the doctrinal part of this point. 1. The reality. 2. The quality of this union. First, For the reality of it, I shall make it appear, that there is fuch a union betwixt Chrift and belivers; it is no Ens rati onis, empty notion, or cunningly devifed fable, but a moft certain demonftrable truth, which appears,
First, From the communion which is betwixt Chrift and believers; in this the apoftle is exprefs, 1 John i. 3. "Truly our "fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jefus Chrift;" 2. It fignifies fuch fellowship or copartnership, as perfons have by a joint intereft in one and the fame enjoyment, which is in common betwixt them. So Heb. iii. 14. we are μTox partakers of Christ. And Pfal. xlv. 7. here the faints are called the companions, conforts or fellows of Chrift; "and that "not only in refpect of his affumption of our mortality, and invefting us with his immortality, but it hath a fpecial reference and refpect to the unction of the Holy Ghoft, or graces of the Spirit, of which believers are partakers with him and "through him." Now this communion of the faints with Chrift, is entirely and neceffarily 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. "All is yours, " and ye are Chrift's, and Chrift is God's.' Where you fee how all our participation of Chrift's benefits is built upon our union with Chrift's perfon.
Secondly, The reality of the believers union with Chrift, is e
Ipfe venit in fortem noftræ mortalitatis, ut in fortem nos adduceret fue immortalitatis: clarum autem eft, hic agi de confortibus unitionis: quales funt omnes fideles qui unctionis participes fi unt. Rivet.
vident from the imputation of Chrift's righteousness to him for his juftification. That a believer is juftified before God by a righteoufnels without himfelf, is undeniable from Rom. iii. 24. "Being juftified freely by his grace, through the redemption "that is in Chrift Jefus." And that Chrift's righteousness 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 alfo plainly afferted in 1 Cor. i. 30. "But of him are ye (in Chrift Jefus) who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteoufnefs, fanctification and redemp "tion." He communicates his merits unto none but thofe that are in him. Hence all those vain cavils of the Papift's, difputing against our juftification by the righteoufuefs of Chrift; and af ferting it to be by inherent righteoufnefs, are folidly answered.
When they demand, How can we be juftified by the righte oufnefs of another? Can I be rich with another man's money, or preferred by another's honours? Our anfwer is, Yes, if that other be my furety or hufband. Indeed Peter cannot be justi fied by the righteoufnefs of Paul; but both may be juftified by the righteoufnefs of Chrift imputed to them; they being mem bers, jointly knit to one common Head. Principal and furety are one in obligation and conftruction of law. Head and members are one body, branch and stock are one tree; and it is no ftrange 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 Chrift and believers, proves a union betwixt them; Chrift and the faints fmile and figh together. St. Paul in Col. i. 24. tells us, that he did "fill 66 up that which is behind,” τα υπερήματα, -the remainders of the " fufferings of Chrift in his flesh" not as if Chrift'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 scriptures, Chrift is confidered in a twofold capacity; he suffered once in corpore proprio, in his own perfon, as Mediator; these fufferings are complete and full, and in that fenfe he fuffers no more; he fuffers alfo in corpore myftico, in his church and members; thus he ftill fuffers in the fufferings of every faint for his fake; and though these fufferings in his myftical body are not equal to the other, either pondere et menfura, in their weight and value, nor yet defigned ex officio, for the fame use and purpose, to fatisfy by their proper merit, offended juftice; nevertheless they are truly reckoned the fufferings of Chrift, because the head fuffers when the members do; and without this fupposition, that place, Acts ix. 5. is never to be underftood, when
Christ, the Head in heaven, cries out, "Saul, Saul, why perfe "cuteft thou me?" when the foot was trod upon on earth; How doth Chrift fenfibly feel our fufferings, or we his, if there be not a mystical union betwixt him and us?
Fourthly, and laftly, The way and manner in which the faints 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 naked power of God without them, but by the virtue of Chrift's refurrection as their Head, fending forth vital quickening influences into their dead bodies, which are united to him as well as their fouls. For fo we find it, Rom. viii. 11. "But if the "Spirit of him that raised up Jefus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Chrift from the dead, fhall alfo quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you;" even as it is in our awaking out of natural fleep, first the animal-fpirits in the head begin to rouze and play there, and then the fenfes and members are loofed throughout the whole body,
Now it is impoffible the faints should be raised in the last refurrection, by the Spirit of Chrift dwelling in them, if that Spirit did not knit and unite them to him, as members to their head. So then by all this, it is proved, that there is a real union of the faints with Chrift.
Next, I fhall endeavour to open the quality and nature of this union, and fhew you what it is, according to the weak apprehenfions we have of fo fublime 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 Chrift, by the imparting of his Spirit to them, whereby 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 autoon,--a quickening,, enαυτοζωή,livening 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 Chrift Jefus, hath made 66 me free from the law of fin and death."
The Spirit must therefore firft take hold of us, before we can live in Chrift, and when he doth fo, then we are enabled to exert that vital act of faith, whereby we receive Chrift; all this lies plain in that one Scripture, John vi. 57. " As the living Fa"ther hath fent me, and I live by the Father, fo he that eat"eth me (that is, by faith applies me) even he fhall live by me." So that these two, namely, the Spirit, on Chrift's part, and faith,