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Ist. The parties united : on the one hand, we all; viz. who believe in Christ, as distinguished from unbelievers. On the other hand, Jesus Christ, whom he had just before mentioned, and who is here understood as implied in the one body, whereof he is the head, or principal part.
2dly, The uniting or joining of the parties, which is expressed by being baptized into one body, the sacramental sign being put for the thing signified: as if he had said, we are united into one body with Christ, which is signified and sealed by our baptism.
Sdly, The efficient cause of the union, or the party uniting us to Christ, one Spirit, the one Spirit of Christ. It is by him we are baptised, and are joined to Christ. He casts the indissoluble knot; as Christ brings us to the Father, the Holy Spirit brings us to Christ, by faith which he works in us, and makes the marriage-tie between the King of saints and the daughter of Zion. This Spirit must needs be the infinite Spirit of God, since it is but one Spirit that knits all, not only as the author, but the bond of the union.
4thly, The result of this union, one body. Hence it comes to pass, that Christ and all believers are one mystical body; they are all joined to Christ and among themselves, as the head and members.
5thly, The character of the parties whom the Spirit unites to Christ. He confines not himself to any one party of sin. ners in the world, but takes them indifferently out of all sorts, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, whether they be bond or free men. He goes to unbelieving Jews that had rejected Christ for some time, and to unbelieving Gentiles that had pot heard of him. And he unites them to Christ by working faith in them; for he deals with them that have reason, not as with stocks, knitting them without any action of their own, but as rational creatures, apprehending them, and working faith in them, whereby they apprehend Christ.
2. From the sacrament of the Lord's supper, where he shews us the blessed fruit of this union, and have been all made 10 drink into one Spirit. Here consider,
1st. The common benefit, the purchase of Christ's redemption; one Spirit, the leading comprehensive purchase of Christ's death. This is that Spirit poured on Christ without measure, to be communicated for life, and supplies of life, to all that come to him,
2dly, The participation of that benefit, which is expressed by being made to drink into one Spirit, the sacramental sign for the thing signified: As if he had said, We all partake of Christ's Spirit more and more to our spiritual nourishment and growth in grace, which is as necessary to us as drink to strengthen our bodies, which is signified and sealed by the sacrament of the Lord's supper. 3dly, The parties made partakers thereof, we all
, who are .united to Christ. As life
As life goes before eating or drinking, so the union with Christ goes before communion in and partaking of the benefits of his redemption; and the former is the cause of the latter.
Hence we may see, That the Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.'
The great subject to be handled here, is the union betwixt Christ and believers. And here let us consider,
I. How Christ's redemption is applied to a sinner.
II. Shew that there is a real union betwixt Christ and be. lievers.
III. What is that union.
I. Let us consider how Christ's redemption is applied to a sinner. It is done by way of uniting the sinner to Christ, as a plaister is applied to a sore, by laying the one upon the other. A sinner is interested in, and put in possession of Christ's redemption through union with him, 1 Cor. i. 30. . Of him are ye in Christ Jesus.' Men must not think to stand afar from Christ, and partake of the benefits of his death, upon their praying to him for it, as the beggar on his crying gets of the rich man's money thrown to him ; which I observe is the soul ruining notion many have of this matter. But he must unite with Christ, and so partake of the redemption purchased by Christ, as the poor widow drowned in debt, by marrying the rich man, is interested in his substance. It is with Christ himself that all saving benefits are given, Rom. viii. 32; and without him none such are received. Believe it, Sirs, that as Adam's sin could never have hurt you, unless ye had been in him, so Christ's redemption shall never sa
vingly profit you, unless ye be in him, Eph. i. 7. “In whom we have redemption through his blood. I shall next shew,
II. That there is a real union betwixt Christ and believers. Some, to advance their legal scheme of doctrine, acknowledge no other union but a relative one betwixt Christ and believers, such as may be betwixt persons and things wholly separated. But that there is a real, true, and proper union beş twixt Christ and believers, is evident if ye consider,
1. The several equivalent terms by which this union is expressed in scripture. Christ is said to be in believers, Col. i. 27. Rom. viii. 10. and they in him, I Cor. i. 30. He is said to dwell in them, and they in him, John vi. 56. They are said to abide in one another, John. xv. 4. Believers have put on Christ, Gal. iii. 27. They are so joined, or agglutinated, as to be one Spirit, 1 Cor. vi. 17. To expound these of a mere relative union, such as is betwixt a king and his subjects, a master and his servants, is but to wrest scripture, and these phrases applied to such relatives would be extremely harsh, though they never so much agreed ip judgment and affection.
2. The several real and proper unions which it is resembled to. It is resembled unto that betwixt the vine and the branches, John xv. 5. the head and the body, Eph. i. 22, 23. meat eaten and the eater, John vi. 56. yea, to that betwixt the Father and Christ, John xvii. 21. These are real proper unions, and so is this. · 3. Lastly, If this union be not a true and real
but mere relative 'one, the sacrament of the supper is but a bare sign, and not a seal, exhibiting and applying Christ to believers. For without this real union, the feeding on Christ's body and blood truly and really in the sacrament cannot be; which
is the doctrine of the scriptures, and of our Larger Catechism, proved from the words of institution, · Take, eat, this is my body. For if there be a true and real feed ing, there must be a true and real union, as there is betwixt the food and our bodies into which it is incorporated.
II!. I proceed to shew what is that union that takes place betwixt Christ and believers. There are three mysterious unions in our religion.' (1.) The substantial union of the three persons in one Godhead. (2.) The personal union of the divine and human natures in Jesus Christ. (3.) The mystical union betwixt Christ and believers, which is that
wherein Christ and believers, are so joined, that they are one Spirit, and one mystical body, 1 Cor. vi. 17. and xii. 13.
In this union the whole man is united to a whole Christ. The believing soul is united to him, Eph. iii. 17. His body also is united to him, 1 Cor. vi. 19. i Thess. iv, 14. They are united to him in his divine nature, Col. i. 27. and in his human nature, Eph. v, 30. and so through the Mediator unto God, 2 Cor. vi. 16.
IV. I go on to shew what are the bonds of this union, whereby Christ and believers become one. All corporal union is made by contact; but Christ is in heaven, and we on earth, and so we can have no such union with him; and if we had, what would it profit? John vi. 63. But this union is spiritual, 1 Cor. vi, 17, and so are the bonds of it. And they are two,
1, The Spirit on Christ's part, whereby he apprehendeth, taketh and keepeth hold of us, 1 John iii. ult. The same infinite Spirit that dwells in Christ, he communicates to his elect in their effectual calling, Ezek. xxxvi. 27. So that one Spirit living and acting in both, in Christ as the head, and in believers as the members, they truly become one by that means. And the distance betwixt Christ and believers, as great as is betwixt heaven and earth, cannot hinder the join. ing of our souls and bodies to his, since the Spirit is an infinite Spirit, every where present. And seeing the same Spirit is in both, they are thereby made really one, notwithstanding of the distance; even as if there were a man who, standing on the earth his head should reach the stars; yet since one soul animates his head and feet, notwithstanding of the distance betwixt them, as well as those of the lowest dwarf), they do still make but one body. And as in the case of a tree-leg fixed to the body, and touching upon it, it is not for all that a part of the body, because it is not ani. mated by the soul : so, on the other hand, where one spirit is in two, there is a real union, although these two do not touch one another, as in the case of Ezekiel's wheels, Ezek, i. 21. All which shews that there is nothing contrary to reason in this union.
2. Faith on the believer's part, Eph, iii. 17. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. Thereby the believer apprehends, takes, and keeps hold of Christ. It is by that we receive "Chrisț, John i 12. come unto him, John vie 35. and feed on him, ver. 56. This faith is that true one, whereby a sinner heartily receives and rests on Christ for all his salvation. And no distance can hinder it to ascend unto the Mediator.
Now, since Christ cannot be seen with our eyes, nor touched with our hands, while he is in heaven and we are on earth, and that he is not known to us but by his word of the gospel, what other way can we unite with him, but believing on this unseen Christ ? So that faith is the only mean on our part. And its fitness for this work appears, if ye consider,
(1.) That faith is a self-emptying an creature-emptying grace, throwing off and putting away all those things that might keep the soul at a distance from Christ, Phil. iii. 8. And,
(2.) It is as much fitted to receive an unseen Christ and salvation, which appears to us only in the word, as the hand to receive what can be received into it. For in the word Christ offers himself and all his salvation to us, which we cannot lay hold of by any bodily action whatsoever ; but faith crediting the testimony, consenting to, and resting on the offered Christ, with his salvation, does actually get the same, as sure as there is truth in the word of the gospel.
V. The next head is to shew who is the author and efficient cause of this union. The party that makes this blessed union is the Holy Spirit of Christ, and none other, as the text tells us. As our Lord Jesus Christ took his own human nature into personal union with him, in the womb of the virgin Mary, by the agency of the Spirit, the Holy Ghost coming upon her, and the power of the Highest overshadowing her, Luke i. 35. so he takes sinners into mystical union with him, by the agency of this same Spirit. We may take it up thus :
1. The Spirit of Christ comes in the word, and enters into the heart of the elect sinner dead in sin. The word is the great vehicle of divine appointment, wherein the Spirit is given, Gal. iii. 2. And in that he comes and makes room for himself, and takes it up, 1 Thess. i. 5. John vi. 63. And the Spirit is a Spirit of life, a Spirit of faith, and one with Christ, as he is one of the three persons in the one Godhead. So that when he is come into the soul, it is quickened, chan