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the union of two friends, in mind and affection. But, as the former union is too gross, so the latter, as we have seen, falls short of the truth. corporeal idea should be carefully excluded, so we must elevate our conceptions higher than the most intimate connexion which can be formed between two individuals, by the operations of intellect and will. The same Spirit lives in our exalted Redeemer, and in his people upon earth ; and hence, although separated from him, and from one another, they are but one. It may seem strange to illustrate a făct by a mere creation of fancy; but if you should conceive a body composed of many parts, and those parts to be disposed of in different and distant places, but to be animated and moved by the same principle of life, you would have some idea of the union of the members of the church to Christ, and to one another, although dispersed over the face of the earth. In this case, the union would not be local, but spiritual, as it is in the other.
I remark again, that this union is without confusion. It is a union of persons, which imports, that the parties concerned in it, continues as much distinct individuals as before. There is no communication of the properties of one to another; they are, in every respect, what they were, except that the Spirit of Christ, who is in the souls of his people, exerts an influence upon them, by which their moral nature is renewed. Incautious language has been sometimes used in speaking upon this subject. Gregory Nazianzen has employed the two terms Bestuur and XSIO TOTUŁY, as if the saints were deified, or christified. What his meaning was, I pretend not to say; perhaps he intended
I only to express strongly the closeness of the relation, and the intimacy of the communion founded upon it; but when we do not rigidly adhere to the words of truth and soberness, they mislead others, and suggest false notions to them, into which they were in no danger of falling themselves. Such language prepared the way for the extravagancies of the mystics, who, in more modern times, have not scrupled to use the phrases of being “ godded in God," and other expressions equally wild. But, although the union is stricter than any human relation, it has its limits, necessarily arising from the nature of the parties. As our Saviour cannot participate in the infirmities of his people, except by sympathy, so they cannot participate in his divine excellencies, which are incommunicable. Christ and they are truly united, but there does not result a unity of essence, or of person ; for it is not effected immediately, but through the intervention of the Spirit, and, consequently, there is no confusion of nature or persons, so that Christ is incarnate in believers, or they are deified in him.
Lastly, this union is indissoluble. We must not imagine that a man may be in Christ to-day, and out of Christ to-morrow. The union could be dissolved only by his act or by ours. There is no reason to apprehend that he will dissolve it; because he is not fickle in his attachments, apt to be disgusted, and easily irritated, but having a gracious design to accomplish, will persevere till it be completed. Those whom he loves, he loves to the end. It will not be dissolved by any act of his people. They, indeed, have inconstant hearts, and, from their own changeableness, or from the influence of external temptations, they might renounce their connexion with him : but, as he prays that their faith may not fail, so the Spirit, dwelling in their hearts, preserves it amidst the dangers to which it is exposed. There may, indeed, be a tempo, rary apostacy from Christ, in consequence of the decline of grace, or the sus. pension of the activity of the spiritual principle. We have an example in Peter, who disowned his Master, and disclaimed, with the most solemn asseverations, the character of his disciple. But even then he had not utterly lost faith; and the impressive look by which he was awakened to repentance, as well as the affectionate treatment which he afterwards experienced, showed VOL. II.-22
that, notwithstanding his unworthy conduct, Jesus had not rejected him. We are borne out by the Scripture in maintaining, that the saints cannot fall totally or fi. ally from grace. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? Shail tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."'* The design of the apostle is not to inform us, that external violence cannot dissolve the union of believers to Christ, for on this point there is no ground of apprehension; but to give an assurance, that it never shall have such influence upon the minds of the saints as to prevail upon them to forsake him. His grace will keep them in the evil hour, and enable them to hold out to the end. “ They shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.”+ Death will break all other ties, and separate the soul from the body; but this union will not be affected by the fatal stroke. The soul will rise to heaven, and enter into the immediate presence of Christ, to enjoy more intimate fellowship with him, than was permitted in this sublunary state. The body, although lifeless, and corrupted, and reduced to dust, will still be a part of his mystical body. It is united to him even in the grave, as his human nature was united to the divine, notwithstanding the temporary separation of his soul and his body. The saints are said to “ die in the Lord,” and to “ sleep in Jesus ;” and ages after their death, God announced himself as the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.I
The sacraments of the new covenant are signs and seals of this union. With respect to baptism, this is evident from the words formerly quoted : “ By one Spirit are we all baptised into one body.''S The subject of which the apostle is speaking, is the union of believers to the body of Christ, and consequently to Christ himself; and while he represents it as effected by the baptism of the Spirit, he unquestionably alludes to the baptism of water as the sign. There is the same reference to this ordinance, when we are said to be “ baptised into Christ.”|| The sprinkling of water in his name and by his authority, imports the application of his blood, and the communication of his spirit to the soul; in other words, it imports that we are brought into such a relation to him, that we have fellowship with him in the benefits of his death ; and of this fellowship union is the basis. We must first be in Christ, before we can be blessed with all spiritual blessings, as the branch must be in the vine, before it can partake of the juice which ascends from the root. The Lord's supper has the same signification. “ We are one body," Paul says to Christians, " for we are all partakers of that one bread." Their joint participation of that bread is an emblem of their union, or shows that they compose one holy society having common feelings and interests. Now, if their fellowship with one another in this ordinance is a token of their union among themselves, it still more clearly demonstrates their union to Christ, as he is exhibited under the sacred symbols, which they take and use. “ The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ ?"'** The acts of taking and using the elements, are expressive of certain acts of the mind. They are expressive of faith, by which Christ is received, and which we have seen is the bond, on the part of the believer, by which he is united to him. The symbols of the incarnate suffering Redeemer are incorporated with our bodies by the process of digestion ; and although this is not an exact representation of the union, in which it has been shown there is no confusion or commixture of the parties, yet it is undoubtedly intended to remind us of the closeness of the connexion, by which those who were originally separate are brought
• Rom. viii. 35, 37.
+ John X. 28.
# Rev. xiv. 13. 1 Thess. iv. 14. Exod. ii. 6.
** 1 Cor. xi. 16.
together, and conjoined in the most intimate bonds. To the eye of a careless spectator, the sacraments of the church may appear mere ceremonies, which are of little use, and have little meaning. But they are emblematic of one of the most important facts in the Christian religion. They are visible signs of an invisible relation, upon which the enjoyment of all spiritual privileges and blessings depend. They attest that, although Jesus Christ is in heaven, and his followers are upon earth, yet distance of place does not divide them: for that he is present with them as he is not present with the world; that he is as near to them as are the elements which are applied or received into their bodies, and that he works as efficaciously in their souls as these do in their bodies.
Among the consequences or effects of this union, we may mention, in the first place, that all who belong to Christ are possessed of spiritual life. He said to his disciples, “ Because I live, ye shall live also,"'* and he fulfils his word by the inhabitation of the Holy Ghost. By nature they “ are dead in sin;" but they are “ quickened together with him,'t that is, in connexion with him, and after the example of his resurrection. As in the natural body the head is the seat of sensation, and feeling and motion are communicated to all the members by means of the nerves, which have their origin in the brain ; so from him flow those influences, by which believers are endowed with moral sensibility, and perform the various functions of the Christian life. “I live,” says Paul, “ and yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, is by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and
gave himself for me.”¥ Observe how careful he is, when he represents himself as living, to put us on our guard against supposing that this state was owing to himself, and to refer his spiritual power and activity to the Saviour, who dwelt in him, and from whom he derived constant assistance by the exercise of faith. Grace in the most eminent state, if it were left alone, would fail, like the water of a stream which is supplied only by occasional showers; but connected as it is with Christ as its source, it is like a stream from a perennial spring which always flows, although it may sometimes swell, and at other times sink. “The water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life."'S
The second effect of their union to Christ, is their communion with him in all the benefits which he purchased. “Ye are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power.”'ll Being united in him, they enjoy an interest in his righteousness, by which he fulfilled the law in their room, and are thus entitled to the blessings of justification. “'There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." Hence Paul “ counted all things but dung that he might win Christ, and be found in him, not having his own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is by the faith of Jesus Christ, even the righteousness which is of God by faith."** They are adopted into the family of heaven, and made heirs of God, and joint-heirs with his Son Jesus Christ. “ To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on his name.”# They are sanctified in soul, body, and spirit, being enabled by his grace to die more and more unto sin, and to live unto righteousness. “Ye are washed, ye are sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and hy the Spirit of our God.”# The outlines of the divine image, which were drawn upon their hearts in regeneration, are gradually filled up, or, in the language of an apostle, they are changed into it from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.”SS Lastly. they are glorified together with him, in whom, as their head, they now sit in
• John xiv. 19.
+ Eph. ï. 5.
Rom. viii. 1. 99 2 Cor. ii, 18.
# Gal. ii. 20.
John iv. 14, tt John i. 12.
heavenly places. Of God he is made to them redemption, which imports deliverance from every evil, and introduction into a state of perfect and eternal felicity.
The last effect of their union to Christ which I shall mention, is their union to one another. They are one body, because they are partakers of that one Spirit. They compose a society closer and more compact than can be formed by civil institutions, or a community of interests, or the endearments of friendship. They were born in different countries, they speak different languages, they are engaged in different temporal pursuits, and are distinguished from each other by natural temper, education, condition, and other particulars; but they are like the parts of a complicated machine, which are not only externally joined together, but are acted upon by one mainspring, and perform one harmonious movement. They are united in their views of divine truth. They all believe the depravity of human nature, the divine character and atonement of the Saviour, the necessity of supernatural grace to renew and sanctify the soul. Their modes of expression on certain points may be different, but their faith is substantially the same. If there are some particulars in which they do not agree, they are inferior matters, (although unenlightened zeal may magnify their importance,) of which a man may be ignorant, and not only be safe, but enjoy uninterrupted communion with God. As they have one baptism, so they have also one faith. They are united in love. We sometimes see, it must be acknowledged, persons of whom we entertain a favourable opinion, keeping at a distance from, and even opposing one another. In certain cases there may be good reasons for this conduct, because one of the parties is not walking according to the gospel ; but it does not always admit of this apology. Being imperfect, even saints sometimes fall out by the way without any sufficient cause, and sometimes their disputes originate in mistake. They do not know one another; they contend in the dark; they suppose the friends to be the enemies of truth. But one saint never hates another knowing him to be a saint. He loves the image of Christ wherever he perceives it, and loves every man in whom it appears. So far as the disciples of Christ do know one another, they dwell together as brethren in unity, overlooking minor differences for the sake of great points on which they are agreed, and their common relation to the Saviour. In a word, they are united in design. Animated by one Spirit, they have the same end in view, the glory of their Saviour, who died that they should not live to themselves, but to him. Hence we see their zeal awakened, and their powers called into action, by any object which will conduce to accomplish this design. If a spark be struck out, it increases into a flame, which spreads with rapidity from breast to breast, and from country to country, till the whole Christian world is illuminated and warmed by it. We have an example in the schemes which are at present carried on for the circulation of the Scriptures, and the propagation of the gospel; and in which Christians of all denominations, laying aside party feelings, most cordially combine their counsels and their efforts. Thus, the prayer of Christ is answered, that his disciples may be one; and we look forward to the time when the union will be more complete, and more widely extended; when “ there shall be one Lord, and his name shall be one," and when this prophecy shall be fulfilled," Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice, with the voice together shall they sing, when the Lord shall bring again Zion."
The honour to which believers have been admitted by their union to Christ should excite their gratitude and their admiration of his condescension and grace. 6. What is man that thou art mindful of him ? and the son of man that thou visitest him?''4 Will God in very deed dwell with man upon the earth ?''I
They should firmly and constantly adhere to him by faith, for he is their life and strength; and their peace, comfort, and progressive sanctification depend upon the continuance of their relation, and the assiduity of this fellowship with him. “Be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus.' In a word, they should walk worthily of their high privilege, and guard against everything which has a tendency to separate them from him, and impede their intercourse with him. Sin is infinitely offensive to him, and is contrary to the design with which he has united them to himself. As he who hath called them is holy, so they should be holy in all manner of conversation. " What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own: For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit which are God's.”+
Faith the Bond of Union to Christ-Different kinds of Faith—Saving Faith; its nature
and qualities Justifying Faith defined and explained-Is Assurance of the Essence of Faith?
In illustrating union to Christ, I have shown that the bond on our part, by which we are connected with him, is faith. It is a fruit of the spirit of regeneration ; and although the soul which he has quickened begins immediately to exert itself in all the acts of spiritual life, yet faith is eminently entitled to attention, because it receives Christ, and has a direct and powerful influence upon our peace, and comfort, and sanctification. · Much as it is undervalued by many, it is of indispensable necessity in religion; and while the question has been foolishly proposed, whether faith or morality is preferable, the truth is, that the idea of separating them should not be admitted for a moment; and that, as faith without morality is a mere pretence, so morality without faith is worth nothing.
Different kinds of faith are enumerated by theological writers, and are mentioned in Scripture. The first is called historical faith, which is a simple assent to the truths of revelation, and may be found in unregenerated men, who are sometimes said to believe. It receives this denomination, not because its object is limited to the histories of Scripture, for it comprehends also the doctrines, but because it is an assent of the same kind which we give to any credible history, and is a simple act of the understanding. This is the only faith which is produced by a rational demonstration of the truth of revelation : and hence we may observe by the way, that those ministers who dwell much upon the evidences of religion, are chargeable with misspending their time; because, in the first place, those whom they usually labour to convince, entertain no doubt of Christianity; and, in the second place, although they should succeed in establishing conviction in the minds of their sceptical hearers, they would make them only such believers as were Simon Magus and many others, who perished in their sins. The second, which is called temporary faith, consists in such a persuasion of the truths of religion as is accompanied with some impression upon the conscience and affections. Of this kind is the faith
• 2 Tim. ii. 1.
t 1 Pet. i. 15. i Cor. vi. 19, 20.