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in this life, are enlightened by his wisdom, justified by his merits, sanctified by his grace, are yet conflicting with manifold temptations, and struggling with varieties of miseries and dangers ; till, upon their happy death and glorious resurrection, they shall be fully freed, by their ever-blessed and victorious Redeemer.
He, therefore, who, by virtue of that heavenly union, is made unto us of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification; is also, upon the same ground, made unto us our full Redemption.
Redemption implies a captivity. We are naturally under the woeful bondage of the Law, of Sin, of Miseries, of Death.
The Law is a cruel exactor: for it requires of us what we cannot now do, and whips us for not doing it : For the Law worketh wrath; Rom. iv. 15: and, as many as are of the works of the Law, are under the curse ; Gal. iii. 10. Sin is a worse tyrant than he; and takes advantage to exercise his cruelty, by the law: For, when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the Law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death; Rom. vii. 5. Upon sin necessarily follows Misery, the forerunner of death; and Death, the upshot of all miseries: By one man, sin entered into the world and death, by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned ; Rom. v. 12.
From all these, is Christ our Redemption. From the Law: for, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us; Gal. iii. 13. From Sin: for, we are dead to sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord; Rom. vi. 11: Sin shall not have dominion over you ; for ye are not under the Law, but under Grace ; v. 14. From Death; and, therein, from all Miseries: 0 death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory ? The sting of death is sin ; and the strength of sin is the Law: bul, thanks be to God, which giveth us victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ; 1 Cor. XV. 55, 56, 57.
Now, then, let the Law do his worst: we are not under the Law, but under Grace ; Rom. vi. 14. The case therefore is altered, betwist the Law and us. It is not now a cruel task-master; to beat us to, and for our work: it is our school-master; to direct, and to whip us unto Christ. It is not a severe judge; to condemn us: it is a friendly guide; to set us the way towards heaven.
Let Sin join his forces together with the law : they cannot prevail to our hurt: For, what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, condeinned sin in the fiesh, that the righteousness of the Law mnight be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit; Rom. viii. 3, 4.
Let Death join his forces with them both: we are yet safe: For the law of the Spirit of Life hath freed us from the law of sin and of death ; Rom. viii. 2.
What can we therefore fear, what can we suffer, while Christ is made our Redemption ?
Finally, as thus Christ is made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption; so, whatsoever else he either is, or hath, or doth, by virtue of this blessed union, becomes ours. He is our Riches; Eph. j. 7: our Strength; Ps. xxvii. 1. xxviii. 7: our Glory; Eph. i. 18: our Salvation ; 1 Thes. v. 9. Is. xii. 2: our All; Col. iii. 11. He is all to us; and all is ours in him.
The Erlernal Privileges of this Union, a Right to the Blessings of
Earth and Heaven.
From these primary and intrinsical privileges therefore, flow all those secondary and external, wherewith we are blessed: and, therein, A RIGHT TO ALL TILE BLESSINGS OF GOD, BOTH OF THE RIGHTHAND AND OF THE LEFT; AND INTEREST IN ALL THE GOOD THINGS, BOTH OF EARTII AND HEAVEN.
Hereupon it is, that the glorious angels of heaven become our guardlians; keeping us in all our ways; and working secretly for our gooi, upon all occasions: that all God's creatures are at our service: that we have a true spiritual title to them; All things are yours, saith the Apostle; and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's; 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23.
But, take heed, my son, of mislaying thy claim to what, and in what manner, thou oughtest not. There is a civil right, that must regulate our propriety to these earthly things: our spiritual right neither gives us possession of them, nor takes away the right and propriety of others. Every man hath and must have what, by the just laws of purchase, gift, or inheritance, is derived to him: otherwise, there would follow an infinite confusion in the world: we could neither enjoy nor give our own; and only will and might must be the arbiters of all men's estates; which how unequal it would be, both reason and experience can sufliciently evince.
This right is not for the direption or usurpation of that, which civil titles have legally put over to others: there were no theft, no robbery, no oppression in the world, if any man's goods might be every man's: But for the warrantable and comfortable enjoying of those earthly commodities in regard of God their original owner, which are, by human conveyances, justly become ours. The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness of it: in his right whatever parcels do lawfully descend unto us, we may justly possess, as we have them legally made over to us, from the secondary and immediate owners.
There is a generation of men, who have vainly fancied the founding of temporal dominion in grace; and have, upon this mistaking, outed the true heirs as intruders, and scoffed the just and godly in the possession of wicked inheritors : which, whether they be worse Commonwealth's men or Christians, is to me utterly uncertain. Sure I am, they are enemies to both : while, on the one side, they destroy all civil propriety and commerce; and, on the other, reach the extent of the power of Christianity so far, as to render it inju
rious and destructive, both to reason and to the laws of all well-ordered humanity.
Nothing is ours, by injury and injustice: all things are so ours, that we may, with a good conscience, enjoy them as from the hand of a munificent God, when they are rightfully estated upon us by the lawful convention or bequest of men.
In this regard it is, that a Christian man is the Lord of the whole Universe; and hath a right to the whole creation of God. How can he challenge less ? he is a son; and, in that, an heir; and, according to the high expression of the Holy Ghost, a co-heir with Christ.
As, therefore, we may not be high-minded, but fear; so we may not be too low-hearted, in the under-valuing of our condition : in God, we are great; how mean soever, in ourselves. In his right, the world is curs; whatever pittance we enjoy, in our own. How can we go less, when we are one with him, who is the possessor of heaven and earth ?
It were but a poor comfort to us, if, by virtue of this union, we could only lay claim to all earthly things: alas, how rain and transitory are the best of these; perishing under our hand, in the very use of them! and, in the mean while, how unsatisfying in the fruition ! All this were nothing, if we had not hereby an interest in the best of all God's favours; in the heaven of heavens; and the eternity of that glory, which is there laid up for his Saints; far above the reach of all human expressions or conceits. It was the word of him, who is the Eternal Word of his father; Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am ; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me ; Jolin xvii. 24: and not only to be mere spectators, but even partners of all this celestial bliss, together with himself; The glory, which thou gavest me, I have given then ; that they may be one, even as we are one ; John xvii. 22. Oh, the transcendent and incomprehensible blessedness of believers, which, even when they enjoy, they cannot be able to utter; for measure infinite, for duration eternal! Oh, the inexplicable joy of the full and everlasting accomplishment of the happy union of Christ and the believing soul; more fit for thankful won. der and ravishment of spirit, than for any finite apprehension !
THE MEANS, BY WHICH THIS UNION IS WROUGHT. Now, that we may look a little further into the Means by which this union is wrought, know, my son, that, as there are two persons, belwist whom this union is made, Christ and the believer; so each of them concurs to the happy effecting of it: Christ, by his Spirit diffused through the hearts of all the regenerate, giving life and activity to them; the believer, laying hold by faith upon Christ, so working in him: and these do so re-act upon each other, that, from their mutual operation, results this gracious union whereof we treat.
Here is a spiritual marriage betwixt Christ and the soul. The liking of one part doth not make up the match; but the consent of both. To this purpose, Christ gives his Spirit; the soul plights her faith : what interest have we in Christ, but by his Spirit? what interest hath Christ in us, but by our faith?
On the one part : He hath given us his Holy Spirit, saith the Apostle; 1 Thess. iv. 8: and, in a way of correlation, We have received, not the spirit of the world, but ihe Spirit which is of God; i Cor. ii. 12. And this Spirit we have so received, as that he dwells in us; Rom. viii. 11: and so dwells in us, as that we are joined to the Lord ; and he, that is joined to the Lord, is one spirit'; 1 Cor. vi. 17. On the other part : we have access by Faith into this grace
wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. So as now, The life, that we live in the flesh, we live by the faith of the Son of God; Gal. ii. 20: who dwells in our hearts by faith ; Eph. iii. 17. Oh, the grace of faith! according to St. Peter's style (2 Pet i. 1.), truly precious : justly recommended to us by St. Paul (Eph. vi. 16.), above all other graces incident into the soul; as that, which, if not alone, yet chiefly transacts all the main affairs tending to salvation. For Faith is the quickening grace; Gal. ii. 20. Rom. i. 17: the directing grace; 2 Cor. v. 7: the protecting grace ; Eph. vi. 16 : the establishing grace; Rom. xi. 20. 2 Cor. i. 24: the justifying grace; Rom. v. 1: the sanctifying and purifying grace; Acts xv. 9. Faith is the grace, that assents to, apprehends, applies, appropriates Christ ; Heb. xi. 1 : and, hereupon, the uniting grace; and, which comprehends all, the saving grace.
If ever, therefore, we look for any consolation in Christ, or to have any part in this beatifical union, it must be the main care of our hearts to make sure of a lively Faith in the Lord Jesus ; to lay fast hold upon him; to clasp him close to us; yea, to receive him inwardly into our bosoms : and, so to make him ours and ourselves his, that we may be joined to him, as our Head; espoused to him, as our Husband; incorporated into him, as our Nourish. ment; engrafted in him, as our Stock; and laid upon him, as a sure Foundation.
THE UNION OF CHRIST'S MEMBERS WITH THEMSELVES. HITHERTO, we have treated of this blessed union, as in relation to Christ, the Head. It remains that we now consider of it, as it stands in relation to the members of his mystical body, one towards another.
For, as the body is united to the head; so must the members be united to themselves, to make the body truly complete. Thus the Holy Ghost, by his Apostle : As the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so is Christ ; I Cor. xii. 12.
From this entire conjunction of the members with each other, arises that happy communion of Saints, which we profess both to believe and to partake of.
This mystical body of Christ is a large one; extending itself both to heaven and earth. There is a real union betwixt all those far-spread limbs; between the Saints in heaven, between the Saints on earth, between the Saints in heaven and earth.
The union of Christ's Members in Heaven. We have reason to begin at HEAVEN. Thence is the original of our union and blessedness.
There was never place for discord in that region of glory, since the rebellious angels were cast out thence. The spirits of just men made perfect, (Heb. xii
. 23.) must needs agree in a perfect unity. Neither can it be otherwise : for. there is but one will in heaven; one scope of the desires of blessed souls, which is the glory of their God: all the whole choir sing one song; and in that one harmonious tune of Hallelujah. We, poor parcel-sainted souls here on earth, profess to bend our eyes directly upon the same holy end, the honour of our Maker and Redeemer; but, alas, at our best we are drawn to look asquint at our own aims of profit or pleasure: we profess to sing loud praises unto God; but it is with many harsh and jarring notes. Above, there is a perfect accordance, in an unanimous glorifying of him, that sits upon the throne for ever. Oh,
Oh, how ye love the Lord, all ye his saints; Ps. xxxi. 23. Oh, how joyful ye are in glory; Ps. cxiis. 5. The heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord ; thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the Saints ; Ps. Ixxxix. 5.
Oh, what a blessed commonwealth is that above! The city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem ; (ever at unily with itself; Ps. cxxii. 3.) and, therein, an innumerable company of angels, and the general assembly and Church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven; the spirits of just men made perfect, and, whom they all adore, God the Judge of all, and Jesus the Mediator of the New Testament ; Heb. xii. 22, 23, 24. All these as one, as holy. Those twenty thousand chariots of heaven (Ps. Ixviii. 17.) move all one way. When those four beasts full of eyes, round about the throne, give glory, and honour, and thanks to him that sits upon the throne, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come ; then the four and twenty elders fall down before him, and cast their crowns before the throne ; Rev. iv. 6-10.
No one wears his crown, while the rest cast down theirs : all accord in one