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ix. 4. The righteous God holds himself obliged to vindicate oppreffed innocency, though it be in the perfons of wicked men, how much more when it is in a member of Chrift?" He that
toucheth you, toucheth the apple of mine eye," Zech. ii. 8. And is it to be imagined, that Christ will fit ftill, and fuffer his enemies to hurt or injure the very apples of his eyes: No, no, "He hath ordained his arrows against the perfecutors," Pfalm vii. 13.
O it were better thine hand should wither, and thine arm fall from thy fhoulder, than ever it fhould be lifted up against Christ, in the pooreft of his members. Believe it, firs, not on Jy your violent actions, but your hard speeches, are all fet down upon your doom's-day book; and you shall be brought to an account for them in the great day, Jude 15. Beware what ar rows you shoot, and be fure of your mark before you shoot them.
Infer. 7. If there be fuch a union betwixt Chrift and the faints, as bath been defcribed, upon what comfortable terms then, may believers part with their bodies at death?
Chrift your head is risen, therefore you cannot be loft: nay, he is not only rifen from the dead himself, but is alfo " become "the firft-fruits of them that flept," I Cor. xv. 20. Believers are his members, his fulness, he cannot therefore be complete without you a part of Chrift cannot perifh in the grave ‡, much less burn in hell. Remember, when you feel the natural union diffolving, that this myftical union can never be diffolv ed: the pangs of death cannot break this tie. And as there is a peculiar excellency in the believer's life, fo there is a fingular fupport, and peculiar comfort in his death; "To me to live is
Chrift, and to die is gain," Phil. i. 21.
Infer. 8. If there be fuch a union betwixt Chrift and believ ers, How doth it concern every man to try and examine his eftate, whether he is really united with Christ or not, by the natural and proper effects, which always flow from this union? As,
† Agefilaus was wont to fay, That he very much wondered, that those were not reckoned up in the number of facrilegious perfons, who injured thofe who made fupplication to God, or worshipped him: By which he fignified, that not only those should be reckoned injurious, who robbed the Gods themselves, or their temples, but even these chiefly who affronted their fervants or heralds. Emyl. Prob.
To fay that the temple of God, in which the Spirit of the Fa ther dwells, and the members of Christ, shall not partake of falvation, but be brought into perdition, what is it but the greatest blafphemy? Iren. lib. 5.
Firft, The real communication of Chrift's holiness to the foul. We cannot be united with this root, and not partake of the vital fap of fanctification from him; all that are planted into him, are planted into the likenefs of his death, and of his refurrection, Rom. vi. 5, 6. viz. by mortification and vivification.
Secondly, They that are fo nearly united to him, as members to the head, cannot but love him and value him, above their own lives; as we fee in nature, the hand and arm will interpose to fave the head. The nearer the union, the ftronger always is
Thirdly, The members are fubject to the head. Dominion in the head muft needs infer fubjection in the members, Eph. v. 24. In vain do we claim union with Chrift as our head, whilft we are governed by our own wills, and our lufts give us law.
Fourthly, "All that are united to Christ, de bear fruit to God, Rom. vii. 4. Fruitfulness is the next end of our union: there are no barren branches growing upon this fruitful root.
Infer. 9. Laftly, How much are believers engaged to walk as the members of Chrift, in the visible exercises of all thofe graces and duties, which the confideration of their near relation to him exacts from them. As,
First, How contented and well pleased should we be with our outward lot, however providence hath caft it for us in this world. O do not repine, God hath dealt bountifully with you; upon others he hath beftowed the good things of this world; upon you, himself in Christ.
Secondly, How humble and lowly in spirit should you be under your great advancement! It is true, God hath magnified you greatly by this union, but yet do not fwell, "the root, but the root you," Rom. xi. 18. it is as the stars, with a borrowed light.
"You bear not You shine, but
Thirdly, How zealous fhould you be to honour Chrift, who hath put fo much honour upon you! Be willing to give glory to Chrift, though his glory fhould rife out of your fhame. Never reckon that glory that goes to Christ, to be lost to you: when you lie at his feet, in the most particular heart-breaking confesfions of fin, yet let this please you, that therein you have given him glory.
Fourthly, How exact and circumspect should you be in all your ways, remembring whose you are, and whom you reprefent! Shall it be faid, that a member of Chrift was convicted of unrighteousness and unholy actions! God forbid. "If we say,
"we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie," 1 John i. 6. "And he that faith he abideth in him, ought al-' "fo himfelf to walk even as he alfo walked," I John ii. 6.
Fifthly, How ftudious fhould you be of peace, among your felves, who are all fo nearly united to fuch a Head, and thereby are made fellow-members of the fame body! The Heathen world was never acquainted with fuch an argument as the apostle urges for unity, in Eph. iv. 3, 4.
Sixthly, and laftly, How joyful and comfortable should you be, to whom Chrift, with all his treafures and benefits, is effectually applied in this bleffed union of your fouls with him! This brings him into your poffeffion: O how great! how glorious a perfon do thefe little, weak arms of your faith embrace! Thanks be to God for Jefus Chrift.
Opening the Nature and Ufe of the Gospel-ministry, as an external Means of applying CHRIST.
2 COR. V. 20. Now then, we are ambaffadors for Chrift, as though God did befeech you by us: we pray you in Chrift's ftead, be ye reconciled to God."
HE effectual application of Chrift, principally confifts in our union with him, but, ordinarily, there can be no union without a gospel-tender, and overture of him to our fouls; for, "How fhall they believe in him, of whom they have
not heard? and how fhall they hear without a preacher? "and how fhall they preach, except they be fent?" Rom. x.
If God be upon a defign of efpoufing poor finners to his Son, there must be a treaty in order to it; that treaty requires interlocution betwixt both the parties concerned in it; but such is our frailty, that, fhould God fpeak immediately to us himself, it would confound and overwhelm us: God therefore graciously condefcends, and accomodates himfelf to our infirmity, in treating with us in order to our union with Chrift, by his ambassadors, and thefe not angels, whofe converfes we cannot bear, but men like ourselves, who are commiffionated for the effecting of this great business betwixt Chrift and us. "Now then, we are am baffadors for God," &c. In which words you have,
Firft, Chrift's ambassadors commissionated.
First, Chrift's ambaffadors commiffionated. "Now then, we "are ambaffadors for Chift." The Lord Jefus thought it not fufficient to print the law of grace, and blessed terms of our union with him in the fcriptures, where men may read his willingness to receive them, and see the just and gracious terms and conditions upon which he offers to become theirs; but hath also fo fet up and established a ftanding office in the church, to expound that law, inculcate the precepts, and urge the promises thereof; to woo and espouse fouls to Chrift, "I have espoused you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Chrift," 2 Cor. xi. 20.; and this not fimply from their own affections and compaffious to miferable finners, but also by virtue of their office and commiffion, whereby they are authorized and appointed to that work. "We then are ambassadors for "Chrift."
Secondly, Their commiffion opened: Wherein we find, 1. Their work appointed.
2. Their capacity described.
3. And the manner of their acting in that capacity prefcrib
First, The work whereunto the ministers of the gospel are appointed, is to reconcile the world to God; to work thefe finful, vain, rebellious hearts, which have a strong averfation from God naturally in them; to clofe with him according to the articles of peace contained in the gospel, that thereby they may be capable to receive the mercies and benefits purchased by the death of Chrift, which they cannot receive in the ftate of enmity and alienation.
Secondly, Their capacity defcribed: They act in Chrift's ftead, as his vicegerents. He is no more in this world to treat perfonally with finners, as once he did in the days of his flesh; but yet he ftill continues the treaty with this lower world, by his officers, requiring men to look upon them, and obey them as they would himself, if he were corporally prefent, Luke x. 16. “He "that heareth you, heareth me; and he that defpifeth you, de
Thirdly, The manner of their acting in that capacity prescribed; and that is, by humble, fweet, and condefcending entreaties and befeechings. This beft fuits the meek and lamb-like Saviour whom they reprefent: thus he dealt with poor finners himfelf, when he converfed among them; he would not VOL. II.
"break a bruifed reed, nor quench the fmoaking flax," Ifa. xlii. 3. This is the way to allure and win the fouls of finners to Christ.
From hence the note is,
Doct. That the preaching of the gospel by Christ's ambassadors, is the means appointed for the reconciling and bringing home of finners to Chrift.
This is clear from Rom. x. 14., 1 Cor. i. 21. and many other fcriptures.
Here we fhall take into confideration these three things. First, What is implied in Chrift's treating with finners by his ambaffadors or minifters.
Secondly, What is the great concernment they are to treat with finners about.
Thirdly, What, and when is the efficacy of preaching, to bring finners to Christ.
First, We will open what is implied and imported in Christ's treaty with finners, by his ambaffadors or minifters.
And here we find these fix things implied.
1. It neceffarily implies the defection and fall of man, from his eftate of favour and friendship with God: If no war with heaven, what need of ambaffadors of peace? The very office of the ministry, is an argument of the fall. Gospel-ordinances, and officers came in upon the fall, and expire with the Mediator's difpenfatory-kingdom, 1 Cor. xv. 24, 25. "Then fhall he "deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father :" Thenceforth no more ordinances, no more minifters; What use can there be of them, when the treaty is ended? They have done and accomplished all they were ever intended and defigned for, when they shall have reconciled to God all the number of his elect, that dispersed among the loft and miferable pofterity of Adam, and have brought them home to Chrift in a perfect ftate, Eph. iv. 12, &c.
2. It implies the fingular grace and admirable condefcenfion of God to finful man. That God will admit any treaty with him at all, is wonderful mercy, it is more than he would do for the angels that fell, Jude 6. " They are referved in everlasting "chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day." Christ took not on him their nature, but fuffered myriads of them to perish, and fills up their vacant places in glory, with a number of finful men and women, to whom the law awarded the fame punishment.