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“ God with us?;" even “ God manifest in the flesh,” yea, “ God over all blessed for everh.” Nothing can be more clear than this fundamental point. Indeed the very name, " Son of God," so far from militating against his equality with the Father, was in the apprehension of the Jews themselves an assertion of that equality'.] 2. His official character
[Christ, as God, has life in himself essentiallyk: but he is also “ the Author of eternal salvation" to all his followers!. As there is no other God but he, so is there no other Saviour". It was he who purchased eternal life for us: none can claim any part of his glory in this respect : “ his life was the ransom paid for us ;” and by his obedience unto death we obtain righteousness and life. Moreover it is he who imparts eternal life to us: we receive it from him, who " is exalted to give it,” and from “ whose fulness alone it can be received." As we cannot merit it, so neither can we obtain it, by any efforts of our own: it is purely the gift of God through Christ": and Christ, as “Head over all things to the Church," bestows it on whomsoever he willo. We know from Christ's own express assertion (and stronger evidence than that we cannot have), that he is “the way, the truth, and the lifeP;" and to all eternity shall we ascribe our salvation " to him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood 9."]
But it is yet further the privilege of all Christ's followers to know, III. Their interest in him
The knowledge which his people have of him is not a mere speculative acquaintance with his history, but an intimate connexion, or rather, a oneness with him". They are “ in Christ," 1. By a federal relation
[As Adam was a head and representative to all his descendants, so is Christ to all his spiritual seed. They have communion with him in all his transactions upon earth, and in heaven: they are circumcised in him, baptized in him, dead with him, quickened with him, risen with him, seated in heaven with nt. We cannot indeed be said to have done or suffered the same things as Christ, (for to assert that we had fulfilled the law, or made atonement for sin, would be blasphemy,) yet by virtue of our relation to him as our Head and Representative, every thing which he either did or suffered, is, as far as respects the beneficial effects of it, considered as though we had done or suffered it: and on this account we may claim, on the footing of justice as well as of mercy, all that he purchased for us, and merited on our behalf u.”] 2. By a vital union
f Matt. i. 23.
8 1 Tim. iii. 16. h Rom. ix. 5.
o John v, 21. and x. 28. 9 Rev. i. 5, 6.
r John xvii. 21. * Rom. vi. 4, 8. Col. ii. 12, 13. Eph. ii. 5, 6.
[The union of a member with the head, or of a branch with the viney, justly characterizes our union with Christ. Separate from him, we can do nothing?: we can perform no one act of the spiritual life, nor bring forth any spiritual fruit. The body and the soul are not more closely united than Christ and his people: he lives in thema; he is their very lifeb; they are one spirit with him.
Now this, no less than their federal relation to Christ, is known to all true Christians. They do not indeed at all times equally enjoy a sense of it in their minds; but, in proportion as they live nigh to God in the exercise of faith and love, they “ have the witness of these things within themselvesa.” Temptation or sin may so weaken the assurance, that it shall be scarcely discerned: but when these obstructions are removed, and the believer is walking closely with God, a holy confidence will almost invariably crown his labours, and fill his soul with peace.] We shall conclude this subject with answering two
QUESTIONS : 1. How do Christians obtain this knowledge ?
[The text informs us: It is not from human teaching, or the power of reason, that this light springs up in the soul: it is Christ who " gives us an understanding to know him:" He, who opened the heart of Lydia', and the understandings of his own Apostless, enlightens the minds of believers at this day, and “ reveals unto babes and sucklings the things that are hid from the wise and prudenth.” If then we would obtain this knowledge, let us not lean to our own understanding, but pray to him to open our eyes, and to “guide us into all truth" ---]
2. What benefit do they derive from it?
u Rom. iii. 25, 26. 1 John i. 9. y John xv. 1.
z John xv. 5. b Col. ii. 4.
c 1 Cor. vi, 17. e 1 John iii. 21. e Acts xvi. 14. h Matt. xi. 25,
x Col. ii. 19.
[A merely speculative knowledge of Christianity expands the mind, and leads it to high and heavenly contemplations. But no tongue can utter the benefits arising from an experimental acquaintance with Christ: What just views does it give us of every thing in the world! What peace does it bring into the conscience! How does it disarm death of its sting! And what bright prospects does it open to us in the eternal world! O let a desire after the full blessings of salvation animate us in our inquiries after truth! Let us seek to have more enlarged views of Christ, and of our interest in him ; and thus shall we be prepared for that complete vision of his glory, in comparison of which our present knowledge is but as a taper before the sun.]
A MINISTER's Chief JOY.
3 John, 4. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children
walk in truth.
THERE subsists between a minister and his people a relation which may not unfitly be compared with that of a father and his children. The metaphorical expression of a father is more strictly applicable to those whom a minister“ has begotten through the Gospela:" but it needs not to be restricted to this sense : it may be used with greater latitude in reference to those over whom a minister watches, and for whose benefit he labours, with parental anxiety, especially where the person to whom the paternal relation is ascribed is somewhat advanced in years. It should seem that Gaius, to whom St. John wrote this epistle, was converted to the faith by the ministry of Paulo: yet St. John properly includes him amongst his children, because he felt the same regard for him as for those who were the more immediate seals of his own ministry ; the whole body of his people being in his different epistles frequently designated by that favourite appellation
Respecting the state of Gaius' soul, the Apostle had heard the most satisfactory account; so that he could not shew his anxiety for the bodily health of Gaius more strongly, than by wishing it to prosper in every respecto, “even as his soul prospered.” Having declared the joy which this information had afforded him, he states, in general, that he had no greater joy than what arose from such tidings as these.
a 1 Cor. iv. 15.
bi Cor. i. 14.
c 1 John ii. 1. and ii. 18.
From hence we shall take occasion to shew, I. What is the great object of a minister's desire in
behalf of his people To bring men to the acknowledgment of the trut? is the first labour of a minister : and, till that has been effected, no other relation exists between him and them than that which he has by nature, or that which he has in common with all mankind. But when they have embraced the truth, and are become members of the family of Christ, then the minister seeks their advancement in the divine life
[Christianity, as experienced in the soul, is not a sentiment, but a habit : it not merely informs the mind, but regulates the life : and, whilst it introduces "men from darkness unto light, it turns them also from the power of Satan unto God.” Having brought souls to an enjoyment of Christ, and to a conformity to his mind and will, the minister desires to see them walk in the truth,] 1. Consistently
[He longs to behold in them a holy consistency; a high state of heavenly affections, and a careful attention to the duties of morality. Morality however will not satisfy him if detached from fellowship with God: nor will the most sublime intercourse with God in prayer and praise approve itself to him, if it be not accompanied with a conscientious discharge of every personal and relative duty---] 2. Steadily
[In them he expects to find a steadiness that bids defiance to temptation, and cannot be diverted from its purpose, either by the allurements of sense or the terrors of persecution : he would have his converts to be “steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lorde.” A fixedness of mind he regards as absolutely essential to the Christian character; and he is never satisfied with the state of his people unless he
Ο περί πάντων, ver. 2.
e 1 Cor. xv. 58.