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necessary in order to communion with him: he saves all those, and those only, who thus stand related to him.
According to the illustrations of scripture, the believer is in Christ, as the stone is in the building. God is preparing a spiritual temple, in which he may dwell and be glorified for ever. The person of Christ is the precious foundation and cornerstone of this temple, and believers "come to him, "and as living stones are built up a spiritual house," "a habitation of God through the Spirit." But this emblem, taken from things wholly inanimate, only represents our dependence on Christ, and consecration to God through him : we therefore learn more fully the nature of this mystical union, by the parable of the vine and its branches. Mere nominal Christians continue unfruitful; and at length are taken away, withered, and gathered to be burned: but true believers are vitally united to him, and abide in him, by the quickening and fructifying influences of the Holy Spirit.2-Yet even this illustration falls short of fully elucidating the subject: nay, the nearest of all relative unions does not entirely answer to it; for believers are in Christ, as the members are in the human body. He is the Head of the church, and every Christian is a part of his mystical body, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh; and the Holy Spirit dwells in all believers, as the life and soul of this mystical body. They live spiritually by virtue of this union with their Head; they are placed under his guidance and authority; have one
1 Pet. ii. 4-8. Eph. ii. 20-22
2 John xv. 1-8.
common interest, and fill up their stations in the church for the benefit of the whole. According
to the remarkable words of the apostle, "I am "crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet "not I, but Christ liveth in me." "Your life is "hid with Christ in God; when Christ, who is our "life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with " him in glory."
There is, however, another method of illustrating the subject, which may help us to explain the way in which sinners attain to so high an honour, and so blessed a distinction. The believer is in Christ, as Noah was in the ark. "By faith Noah being "warned of God, moved with fear, prepared an "ark." He believed the sure testimony of God, both respecting the deluge and the appointed method of preservation; he feared the impending judgment, and revered the justice and power of God; and thus he was moved to follow his directions. To prepare the ark was a vast undertaking : his labour and expense must have been exceedingly great, and his perseverance, amidst the scorn and hatred of an unbelieving world, most exemplary. But when the deluge came, he was found in the ark, and preserved to be the progenitor of a new race of men and even of the promised Redeemer, on whom doubtless his faith had ultimately been placed: while all the rest of the human species, however distinguished, or to whatever refuges they fled, were swept away with one common desolation. But had he bestowed as much pains and
1 1 Cor. xii. 12-31.
'Heb. xi. 7. 1 Pet. iii. 20.
2 Gal. ii. 20. Col. iii. 3, 4.
expense in building a lofty tower on a high mountain, following the dictates of his own wisdom; he would have shared the common doom; as they will, who "go about to establish their own righte"ousness," instead of diligently seeking the salvation of God. For, like Noah, the sinner hearing of " the wrath of God revealed from heaven against "all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men," believing the divine record " is moved with fear," and takes warning "to flee from the wrath to "come." He hears also of Christ, the true ark, which God himself hath provided; and renouncing all other confidences, by faith he betakes himself to this sure refuge, applies for admission, and endures the self-denial, contempt, and persecution to which this may expose him. And whatever difficulties he may now encounter; his wisdom will be acknowledged and his felicity envied, when no unbeliever shall find any shelter from the overwhelming deluge of divine vengeance, which perhaps he now despises or blasphemes.
Under the Mosaic dispensation, the guiltless manslayer was exposed to the sword of the avenger of blood: but cities of refuge were provided, to which he might flee for shelter. Yet in this perilous situation an Israelite had no choice: he must scarcely turn back to take his clothes, and by no means go home to bid farewell to his dearest relatives: he must leave all his outward comforts, employments, and interests: he must flee without delay, and hardly stop for necessary refreshment: he must not yield to indolence, or sit down when weary; and could never think of loitering, to interfere with other men's business, to examine curiosities, or to
join in vain diversions. With all speed he must urge his course to the city of refuge; as if he had seen the avenger of blood with a drawn sword close behind, and heard him uttering most dreadful menaces. When he had gained the appointed asylum, he was required to abide there, at a distance from all his connexions, those excepted who chose to follow him; and this restriction continued, till the death of the high-priest set him at liberty from his confinement.
Thus the sinner, perceiving himself exposed to the wrath of God and the curse of his violated law, must "flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set "before him " in the gospel. Without delay he must diligently use all the means of grace, and separate from the vain pursuits and pleasures of an unbelieving world. He must not give "sleep to his "eyes or slumber to his eyelids; but flee as a bird "from the snare of the fowler, and as a roe from "the hand of the hunter." He must "work out "his own salvation with fear and trembling," and earnestly apply for an interest in the great atonement; knowing that if death should previously overtake him, the avenging justice of God would prove the ruin of his immortal soul. And, when he has obtained a good hope of his acceptance, he must still keep close to this refuge; renouncing the society of all those that refuse to join with him in his new course of life; remembering that, "if any man love father, or mother, wife, or children, "more than Christ, he cannot be his disciple."
Thus the true believer is in Christ, as in the city of refuge and, if we do not wish to deceive ourselves, we may know whether our experience,
conduct, and confidence bear any resemblance to this representation; and whether we desire to join the apostle in saying, " Yea, doubtless, I count all "things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord :-I count them "but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found "in him, not having mine own righteousness which "is of the law, but that which is through the faith " of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by "faith."1
He that is thus in Christ is finally delivered from condemnation; all his sins are blotted out and buried in the depths of the sea; "being justified by faith, he hath peace with God;" to whom being reconciled when an enemy "by the death of "his Son, he shall be saved by his life." He is admitted into a covenant of friendship with the everlasting God, and adopted into his family as a son and heir. "All things work together for his "good," and "nothing shall separate him from the "love of Christ." All the promises without exception belong to him, and shall be fulfilled in due season and order; "for," says the apostle, "all things are your's, and ye are Christ's, and "Christ is God's."-We consider, then,
II. The inward change, which every real Christian has experienced: "He is a new creature."
Whether any one were previously a Jew or a gentile: whether he were moral, civil, learned, ingenious, devout, zealous, or superstitious and enthusiastical, a sceptical reasoner, or a scoffing infidel; when he becomes a Christian," he is a new
1 Phil. iii. 8, 9.