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munion betwist Christ and believers. His active and passive obedience is theirs for their justification, as if they had done it themselves. His Spirit, word, and providences, are theirs for their sanctification. His power in heaven is theirs for their glorification. In a word, his broad covenant, with all the precious promises in it, is theirs to make them happy here and hereafter, 2 Pet. i. 4, (3.) They are perfectly safe from the wrath of God, Rom.
• There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.' Their sins are still very displeasing in the sight of God, and deserve condemnation as well as those of others. But being in Christ, they are beyond the reach of the curse of the law; they are got into the city of refuge, where the avenger of blood cannot attack them. They are under the mild government of the covenant of grace, which threatens fatherly anger and temporal chastisements in case of transgression, but no more, Psal. Ixxxix. 30.---33.
(4.) The Lord takes pleasure in and accepts their persons, graces and duties, though attended with manifold imperfections. Their persons are accepted, though a body of death hangs about them, Eph. i. 6. Their graces, though there is much dross in them, yet because the image of Christ is on them, they are accepted, Cant. v. 1. Their duties, though far from the perfection which the law requires, are accepted, Cant. ii. 14. Their will is accepted for the deed, and their grief for the want of will, for the will itself, 2 Cor. viii. 12.
(5.) All their wants lie upon Christ, Col. ii. 10. As the union gives him a communion with him in what is his, so he has a communion with them in what is theirs; so that Christ is to answer for all their debt, poverty, and wants, as he that marries the widow in debt, Psal. lv. 22. look and may look to him for all, for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
Use II. Ye may try by this, whether the Spirit has applied to you the redemption purchased by Christ. If so be, then ye are united to Christ. If men only apply that redemption to themselves, it will be found presumption, and not faith, and no union with Christ; and the plaister thus applied will not stick. But where the right application is made, there the sinner is united to Jesus Christ. Ye
may try whether ye be united to Christ or not by these marks. The general,
Mark is, If ye be disjointed from what ye were formerly knit to, and carried to Christ for all. It is with the soul united to Christ as with an ingrafted branch, which is broken from off the tree it naturally grew on, and is joined to another, from which it draws all its sap. If ye be united to Christ, ye are disjoined and broken off from the natural stock, and ingrafted into Christ. Ye may take up this in these three things.
1. Ye have given up with the law as a covenant of works, and betaken yourselves wholly to the grace of Christ in the second covenant. That is to be dead to the law, and married to Christ,' Rom. vii. 4. Ye are broken off from all your natural confidences before the Lord, founded in any thing whatsoever that is not Christ or in Christ, and lay your whole confidence before the Lord on him. So that he is your all in point of confidence before the throne, Phil. iii. 8. This is a sure evidence, Phil. iii. 3. Matth. v. 3. Blessed are the poor in spirit;' where it is observable, that this leads the van, and is to be carried through all the rest of the duties and graces following. This is the very nature of faith as it unites to Christ.
2. Your hearts are separated and disjoined from sin, and labouring to take up their everlasting rest in Christ, as the centre of your desires, Psalm cxix. 128. and lxxiii. 25. Men's desires naturally go out after the world and their lusts; and if they have any desires after Christ, it is but a desire of him together with their lusts. But grace turns the heart against these, and kindles desires of Christ, instead of lusts, Matth. xiii. 45, 46. This is a sure evidence, Matth. v. 6. It is true, while here the saints are not separated from sin in action, Psal. Ixv. 3. But in affection they are, Rom. vii
. 24. and in that respect Christ has the crown, and lusts the cross, Gal. v. 24. And thus God judges of them, 2 Cor. viii. 12. • For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man bath, and not according to that he hath not.'
3. Ye are carried out of yourselves into Jesus Christ, Matth. xvi. 24. To a natural man his sweet self is his all; but grace turns self off the throne, and sets up Christ in its stead. While the man is separated from Christ, he has sepa. rate interests from him: but when united to Christ, these are all swallowed up in Christ's interest, as the rivers, when they go into the sea, have no more their separate channels. Ye know the difference betwixt a married and an unmarried woman. The unmarried woman lives upon her own, and pleases herself; the married lives on her husband's, and pleases him. Such is the difference betwixt one separated from, and one united to Christ, Psal. xlv. 10.
(1.) The soul in a state of separation from Christ lives on its own, acts from itself as the highest principle, stands on its own legs, as it were, and takes its own weight to bear (Prov. xxviii. 26.) in point of sanctification. It is like that nominal marriage, Isa. iv. 1. And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach. And therefore such a one is called « sensual, having not the spirit, Jude, ver. 19. one that has no higher principle than his own soul.
The soul united to Christ lives on his, or by him, John vi. 57. Being sensible of its utter impotency for good, it flees to him, his Spirit and grace, and relies on him for strength, Jer. xxxi. 18. This is the life of faith. The one, like Goliah, goes forth in confidence of his strength, sword, and spear; the other, like the stripling David, goes forth in the name of the Lord. This is a sure evidence, Phil. iii. 3. Cant. viii. 5.
(2.) The man in a state of separation lives for himself, as his chief end, in point of sanctification too, Hos. x. 1. In what good he does, his great end is to serve and please himself, not to serve and please the Lord. And it can be no otherwise with the natural man; for as the mouth of a river can be no higher than its spring, so he that acts from himself can never but act for self. And thus God regards not their service.
But the man united to Christ lives to the Lord, Roin. xiv. 7, 8. Phil. i. 21. The gracious soul, like the married woman, cares how to please her husband, would fain be holy, and endeavours to be so, that she may be like him. The soul united to Christ is not barren of good works, John xv. 5; but brings them forth to him, Rom. vii. 4; the great end of their duties being not to content themselves, but to walk before him in all well-pleasing. This also is a sure evidence, Phil. i. 21. To me to live is Christ.'
Use ult. Of exhortation. Obe exhorted,
1. To be deeply concerned for union with Christ. O, sinner, take no rest till thou be in him. Seek to unite with him, and live no longer in a state of separation from him. To press this, consider,
Mot. 1. Thou may be doing, but thou canst do nothing to purpose, while not united to Christ, John xv. 5. None of thy duties will be accepted of God, however great they be in thy own eyes, or those of others, Eph. i. 6. An ox offered on the altar of Beth-el would have been rejected, when two young doves were accepted on the altar of Jerusalem. They want the inworking of Christ's Spirit, James v. 16. the incense of Christ's intercession, and therefore cannot be accepted of the Father.
Mot. 2. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter, the redemption purchased by Christ, till thou be united with him, Eph. ii. 12. It is not thine till it be applied to thee; and it is not applied but in the way of union with him. The ark, doubtless, could have saved more than it did; but what availed it to many that there was an ark, since they were not in it? Though there be a remedy that would cure thee, what does it avail thee, while it is not applied to thee?
Mot. 3. Miserable and dangerous beyond expression is thy state while thou art not united to Christ, Eph. ii. 12. Poor soul, thou art sitting in the region and shadow of death, in the suburbs of hell. The wrath of God is hovering over thy head, though thou perceivest it not, John iii. ult. " He that believeth not,—the wrath of God abideth on him.' Thou art secure but far from safety. The deluge of wrath is at hand, but thou hast no ark. The avenger of blood is at thy heels, and thou art not got into the city of refuge; the destroying angel is coming through, and thy door-posts are not sprinkled with blood yet; and fire and brimstone are ready to be rained down upon thee, but thou hast no Zoar to flee to.
Mot. ult. Christ offers to unite with you, Rev. iii. 20. even with the worst and vilest of you all. He sends out his ambassadors to gain your consent to this union, and win your hearts. Behold the former of all things making suit to his own clay, Matth. xxii. 4. · All things are ready; come unto the marriage. Will ye slight and despise this union, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life?
2. Labour to get the Spirit, who casts the inviolable knota If ye have not the Spirit of Christ, ye can be none of his.
3. Lastly, Believe. Christ and all his redemption are in your offer. Believe his word, embrace him in it, let your whole soul say amen to the blessed bargain. Consent to the gospel-offer, saying, Henceforth then he is mine, and I am his. Christ does not apprehend a soul by his Spirit, as a man takes a tree in his arms, but as one friend another, who mutually clasp about one another. Do not delay this work; do not say, Ye dare not do it, since without it ye cannot be united to Christ.
OF EFFECTUAL CALLING.
2 Tim. i. 9.--Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy
calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
THE mystical union betwixt Christ and a sinner is
brought to pass in the effectual calling of a sinner, which I come now to explain, and we have in the text. The apostle had exhorted Timothy to a confident adhering to the doctrine of the gospel, over the belly of afflictions for the cause of God; and in the text shews a good reason that both he himself and Timothy had to do so, taken from what God had done for them.
1. What the Lord had done for them. (1.) Saved them; namely, from sin and wrath; i. e. had brought them into a state of salvation out of a state of sin and misery, applied Christ's salvation to them, which is so effectual that never one dies of the disease after it is applied, and therefore may be said thereupon to be saved. (2.) Called therr., namely, by his Spirit, when they were at a distance from him; he called them to himself, saved and called ; not that he first saved, and then called them; but he saved them by calling them; which shews this call to be an effectual call. Therefore also it is called an holy calling, not only as proceeding from an holy God, but as making the called holy too.
2, The cause of the Lord's doing this for thein. (1.) Negatively; not for any merit of theirs, they had done noVol. II.