Page images

by whom the mystery of it is in any measure spiritually apprehended.

But yet it will be said, that this mystical conjunction of Christ with his church is consequential unto what he did and suffered for it; for it ensues on the conversion of men unto him. For it is by faith that we are implanted into him. Until that be actually wrought in us, we have no mystical conjunction with him. He is not a head, or a husband unto unregenerate, unsanctified, unbelievers, whilst they continue so to be; and such was the state of the whole church when Christ suffered for us; Rom. v. 8. Eph. ii. 5. There was, therefore, no such mystical conjunction between him and the church, as to render it meet and equal that he should suffer in its stead. Wherefore, the church is the effect of the work of redemption, that which rose out of it, which was made and constituted by it; and cannot be so the object of it, as that which was to be redeemed by virtue of an antecedent conjunction with it. I answer,

1. Although this mystical conjunction is not actually consummate without an actual participation of the Spirit of Christ, yet the church of the elect was designed antecedently unto all his sufferings, to be his spouse and wife, so as that he might love her and suffer for her; so it is said, Hos. xii. 13. Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.' Howbeit, she was not his married wife, until after he had served for her, and thereby purchased her to be his wife; yet as he served for her, she is called his wife, because of his love unto her, and because she was so designed to be upon his service. So was the church designed to be the spouse of Christ in the counsel of God, whereon he loved her, and gave himself for her.

Hence, in the work of redemption the church was the object of it, as designed to be the spouse of Christ; and the effect of it, inasmuch as that thereby it was made meet for the full consummation of that alliance; as the apostle expressly declares, Eph. v. 25-27.

2. Antecedently unto all that the Lord Christ did and suffered for the church, there was a supreme act of the will of God the Father, giving all the elect unto him, intrusting them with him, to be redeemed, sanctified, and saved; as himself declares, John xvii. 6. 9. x. 14-16. And on these grounds

this mystical conjunction between Christ and the church hath its virtue and efficacy before it be actually consummate.

3. There is a federal conjunction between distinct persons; and as this is various, according unto the variety of the interests and ends of them that enter into it; so that is most eminent, where one, by the common consent of all that are concerned, undertakes to be a sponsor or surety for others, to do and answer what on their part is required of them for attaining the ends of the covenant. So did the Lord Christ undertake to be surety of the new covenant in behalf of the church, Heb. vii. 22. and thereon tendered himself unto God to do and suffer for them, in their stead, and on their behalf, whatever was required, that they might be sanctified and saved. These things I have treated of at large elsewhere, as containing a great part of the mystery of the wisdom of God in the salvation of the church. Here, therefore, I do only observe, that this is that whereby the mystical conjunction that was between Christ and the church, whereon it was meet, just, and equal in the sight of God, that what he did and suffered should be imputed unto us, is completed.

These are some of the foundations of that mystery of transmitting the sins of the church, as unto the guilt and punishment of them, from the sinners themselves unto another, every way innocent, pure, and righteous in himself, which is the life, soul, and centre of all Scripture revelations. And herein is he exceedingly glorious, and precious unto them that believe. No heart can conceive, no tongue can express the glory of Christ herein. Now because his infinite condescension and love herein have been spoken to before, I shall here only instance its greatness in some of its effects.

1. It shines forth in the exaltation of the righteousness of God in the forgiveness of sins. There is no more adequate conception of the divine nature, than that of justice in rule and government. Hereunto it belongs to punish sin according unto its desert; and herein consisted the first actings of God as the governor of the rational creation; they did so in the eternal punishment of the angels that sinned, and the casting of Adam out of Paradise, an emblem also of everlasting ruin. Now all the church, all the elect

of God are sinners; they were so in Adam; they have been and are so in themselves. What doth become the justice of God to do thereon? Shall it dismiss them all unpunished? Where then is that justice which spared not the angels who sinned, nor Adam at the first? Would this procedure have any consonancy thereunto, be reconcilable unto it? Wherefore, the establishment of the righteousness of God on the one hand, and the forgiveness of sin on the other, seem so contradictory, as that many stumble and fall at it eternally. See Rom. x. 3, 4.

But in this interposition of Christ, in this translation of punishment from the church unto him, by virtue of his conjunction therewith, there is a blessed harmony between the righteousness of God, and the forgiveness of sins; the exemplification whereof, is his eternal glory. O blessed change! O sweet permutation!' as Justin Martyr speaks.

By virtue of his union with the church, which of his own accord he entered into, and his undertaking therein to answer for it in the sight of God, it was a righteous thing with God, to lay the punishment of all our sins upon him, so as that he might freely and graciously pardon them all, to the honour and exaltation of his justice, as well as of his grace and mercy; Rom. iii. 24-26.


Herein is he glorious in the sight of God, angels, and In him there is at the same time, in the same divine actings, a glorious resplendency of justice and mercy; of the one in punishing, of the other in pardoning. The appearing inconsistency between the righteousness of God and the salvation of sinners, wherewith the consciences of convinced persons are exercised and terrified, and which is the rock at which most of them split themselves into eternal ruin, is herein removed and taken away. In his cross were divine holiness and vindictive justice exercised and manifested; and through his triumph, grace and mercy, are exerted to the utmost. This is that glory which ravisheth the hearts, and satiates the souls of them that believe. For what can they desire more, what is farther needful unto the rest and composure of their souls, than at one view to behold. God eternally well pleased in the declaration of his righte ousness, and the exercise of his mercy, in order unto their salvation? In due apprehensions hereof, let my soul live;

in the faith hereof let me die, and let present admiration of this glory make way for the eternal enjoyment of it in its beauty and fulness.

He is glorious in that the law of God in its preceptive part, or as unto the obedience which it required, was perfectly fulfilled and accomplished. That it should be so, was absolutely necessary from the wisdom, holiness, and righteousness of him, by whom it was given. For what could be more remote from those divine perfections, than to give a law, which never was to be fulfilled in them unto whom it was given, and who were to have the advantages of it? This could not be done by us; but through the obedience of Christ, by virtue of this his mystical conjunction with the church, the law was so fulfilled in us by being fulfilled for us, as that the glory of God in the giving of it, and annexing eternal rewards unto it, is exceedingly exalted. See Rom. viii. 3, 4,

This is that glory of Christ whereof one view by faith, will scatter all the fears, answer all the objections, and give relief against all the despondencies of poor, tempted, doubting souls; and an anchor it will be unto all believers, which they may cast within the veil, to hold them firm and steadfast, in all trials, storms, and temptations in life and death.


The glory of Christ in the communication of himself unto believers.

ANOTHER instance of the glory of Christ, which we are to behold here by faith, and hope that we shall do so by sight hereafter, consists in the mysterious communication of himself and all the benefits of his mediation, unto the souls of them that do believe, to their present happiness and future eternal blessedness.

Hereby he becomes theirs as they are his; which is the life, the glory, and consolation of the church; Cant. vi. 3. ii. 16. iii. 10. He and all that he is being appropriated unto them

of God are sinners; they were so in Adam; they
and are so in themselves. What doth becor
of God to do thereon? Shall it dismiss
ed? Where then is that justice which
who sinned, nor Adam at the first? W
have any consonancy thereunto, be
Wherefore, the establishment of th
on the one hand, and the forgive
seem so contradictory, as that
eternally. See Rom. x. 3, 4.

But in this interposition
punishment from the chur
junction therewith, ther
righteousness of God.
emplification where
change! O sweet;
By virtue of
accord he ent
swer for it ir
God, to la
that he


[ocr errors]




Christ ch doth i speak,'

v. 32.

ways, and reby he is and all the

us. For, as was

as communicate himy, as the sun gives light ; nor is he present with all by nature; nor, as some dream, by a onal soul into all; nor doth he become al eating of him in the sacrament; but this from, and depends on, other reasons and shall briefly declare.

before I proceed to declare the way and manner Christ communicateth himself unto the church, I

st premise something of divine communications in general, and their glory. And I shall do this by touching a httle on the harmony and correspondency that is between

1. All being, power, goodness, and wisdom, were ori

ginally, essentially, infinitely in God. And in them, with

other perfections of his nature, consisted his essential


2. The old creation was a communication of being and goodness by almighty power, directed by infinite wisdom, unto all things that were created for the manifestation of that glory. This was the first communication of God unto any thing without himself, and it was exceeding glorious. See Psal. xix. 1. Rom. i. 21. And it was a curious machine, `framed in the subordination and dependency of one thing on another; without which they could not subsist, nor have a continuance of their beings. All creatures below live on the earth, and the products of it; the earth for its whole

« PreviousContinue »