Page images

the Body of Chrift, and Members, in particular. The Bread which we break, is it not the Communion of the Body of Christ? For we being many, are one Bread and one Body; for we are all Partakers of that one Bread. God hath put all things under his (Chrift's) fect, and gave him to

Chap. iv. 4, 5, 6.

Ver. 15, 16.

be the bead over all things to the Church Eph. i. 22, 23. which is his Body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. That the Gentiles fhould be Fellow-beirs, and of the fame Body, and Partakers of his Promife in Chrift, Chap. iii. 6. by the Gospel. There is one Body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one Faith, one Baptifm, one God aud Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. That we may grow up into him in all things, which is the Head, even Chrift: from whom the whole Body filly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint fupplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase in the Body unto the edifying of it felf in Love; for we are Members one of another. The Head of every Man is Christ. Chrift is the Head of the Church, Ephef. v. 23. and be is the Savicur of the Body. For we are Members of his Body, of his Flesh, and of his Bones. So again, He is the Head of Coloff. i. 13. the Body, the Church: from whofe Do&trine and Unity they, who depart, are faid not to hold the Head, from which all the Body, by joints and bands having nourishment miniftred and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

Ver. 24.

1 Cor. xi. 3.

Ver. 30.

Chap. ii. 19.

I have chofen to fet these feveral Texts in one view, by reason of the mutual Illustration they give to each other. And, that from all, thus taken and compared together, the Inferences may more eafily be drawn, which are neceffary for establishing the Point now in hand.


1 Cor. x. 16,


In particular, What fort of Union this we are speaking of is, What are the Grounds or Bands of it, and How the Metaphor is answered, by the mutual relation between the feveral Parts, concerned in the Similitude.

1. As First, No doubt at all can be made, but that This, above all other Allufions, was intended to figure the near, the infeparable, the entire Concern and Intereft we have, in our Bleffed Lord, and in one another. When called Fellow-Soldiers, we are reprefented, as fo many engaged in the fame common Cause, and lifted to ferve under the fame Leader: When Fellow-Servants, as belonging to the fame Family: When Sons, as defcended from one Father: When Heirs, as partaking in the Rights and Claims of the fame elder Brother: But, when Members of the fame Body, this is the closeft of all the reft: For it scarce leaves us the liberty, which all the reft do, of confidering our felves, any longer as diftin&t Perfons. It prefents us with an Image, of every one thus cemented being a part of Chrift, and every Christian a part of our own felves; as if He without Us, and We without Them, must want that perfection of Being, which the nature of a Body requires.

2. Secondly, It is very manifeft from hence, that this Union is peculiar to Chriftians. From hence it is, that we find the Church fo often mentioned as Chrift's Body. Confequently, as They who are not of the Church, are not of the Body: fo what Methods foever those be, which have been inftituted, as Inftruments and Means for grafting Men into, or fignifying their continuance and common Rights in, the Congregation of Chriftians; The fame make them Members of, and the Denial, or the Want of the fame, exclude them from any part in, this Body.

3. Hence it comes to pafs, Thirdly, that in the Paffages above cited, we find fuch exprefs Mention,


Chap. x. 17.

not only of the fame Principles of Religion, the fame Laws, the fame Privileges of Grace, the fame Hopes of Glory : But of the fame Sacraments too. For Thefe are neceffary Atteftations of our confeffing, and submitting to the Former, and Inftruments, entitling us to a reasonable Expectance of the Latter. Nothing indeed lefs than this, can be the meaning of thofe Texts, One Lord, one Faith, one Baptifm. By one Spirit we are all Baptized into one Body, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit; and, We being many are one Bread, and one Body; for we are all Partakers of that one Bread. So vain and prefumptuous is the Delufion of Thofe, who, because they call Chrift Lord, and profess to believe the Doctrine he hath taught, arrogate to themselves the Name and Privileges of Chriftians, without that initiating Sacrament of Baptism, which he hath ordained, as the Inftrument of making them Members of his Visible Body. So profane, fo pernicious, is the Neglect of that other confirming Sacrament, the Bleffed Supper of our Lord; ordained by him likewife for their Strength and Nourishment, and neceffary to preferve them true Members of his Invifible Body.

Ephef. iv. 5.

1 Cor. xii. 13.

4. For it is fit we be put in mind, Fourthly, that it is one thing to have the Appearance and external Privileges, and another to discharge the part, and attain all the Benefits, of this Union. As the Apoftle fays, in a like cafe, all are not Ifrael that are of Ifrael; fo our Saviour fuppofes, that many who call him Lord, will not do the things which he commands. Now Matters are in fome proportion with this Myftical, as with our Natural Body. An Arm or a Leg may be stupified with a Palfie or a Lethargy; an Eye may be out, or an Ear deaf; and these still keep their Place, though not their Ufe, in the Body. And A 4 thus

Rom. ix. 6.

Luke vi. 46.

thus a number of careless, or prophane, or hypocritical Profeffors. fhall retain the Name, and fill up the room of Members, by virtue of thofe outward Signs and Sacraments, which placed them in the Body of Chrift; while yet they want that inward Holinefs, which thofe Sacraments are Emblems of, and Engagements to; and which alone can render them of a piece with the Head, and wherein not only the Health, but the very Life, of the Body. and of each Member of it, confifts. Now because this Holiness depends chiefly upon the Difpofition of the Mind; and confequently may be fometimes greater than appears, and at other times may, by a falfe and pompous fhew, be made to appear where it really is not: Hence it muft needs follow, that many may, and ought to enjoy the Privileges, and the common Eftimation of Members, who ftrictly are not fuch. Because the Perfons, intrufted with the Power of admitting into, and cutting off from this Body, may be impofed upon by fuch Diffimulation, and can proceed upon outward Appearances only. But then it follows 2 Tim. ii. 19. too, That fince the Lord knoweth them that are his; these prefumptive Members fhall certainly be difowned by, as in truth they are not united to, Him. Hence fo many preffing Exhortations to Men, acknowledged for Saints, and Brethren, and Members, to walk worthy of those Titles; to be in Truth, what they are in Profeffion, and Shew, and general Repute. Hence that very fubftantial Distinction of the Visible, and Invifible, Members and Body of Christ, and the Difference of thofe Qualifications neceffary for each. A Diftinction founded in the nature of things; Which cannot be otherwife, while this Body upon Earth is compofed of, and govern'd by, Men, capable of deceiving, and of being deceived: While this Field must be content to hold Tares with the Wheat, till that Harveft, and thofe Rea

Matt. xiii. 39.


pers come, which are appointed to make the final Separation.

5. From hence it is evident, Fifthly, that a very confiderable Difference is to be made, between the feveral Inftances of Union, mentioned, and recommended in Scripture. Some of these are abfolutely neceffary to the Being, Others enjoined, as expedient to the Growth, and Well-being, of this Body. Of the Former fort are, Submitting to the fame Lord, Agreeing in the Fundamentals of the fame Faith, and, as a mark of this Submiffion and Agreement, Adminiftration of the fame Saeraments. Of the Latter, that Holiness of Life, that Exemplarinefs of Practice, that mutual Charity and Concord, that Peaceablenefs and Order, that Confent in Discipline, that ready Compliance in all lawful Matters, which, though not Effential, fhall yet (by the Conftitution of particular Churches, and the Judgment of Perfons, thought proper to give Rules in fuch Cafes,) be enjoined, as proper for Decency and Edification. And This Authority, being derived from our Lord upon his Apoftles, and from Them upon their Succeffors, in the Government of this Society fo incorporated; the Contempt of It is a Contempt of Him: A Breach of that Union, which every Chriftian is bound to preferve, under all the Penalty, thofe Declarations of our Mafter can be supposed to involve every wilful Violater of it in: As my Father bath fent me, even fo fend I you: and, He that defpifeth you defpifeth me; and he that defpifeth me, defpifeth him that fent me.

6. But that part of this Union, which we are in a more especial manner concerned to obferve, is, Sixthly, that between All these Members and Chrift: Whom we find, in the Texts above cited, to be represented as their common Head. And this refemblance is made good, with Allufion to our Natural Body, as he took


John xx. 21.

Luke x. 16.

« PreviousContinue »