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grace and glory; which comprise in them the blessings of both worlds, as the result of their relation to, and interest in him. First, they are united to him, and then made partakers of his benefits. All grace imparted to us here, is the result thereof; as the apostle says, Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, 1 Cor. i. 30. And elsewhere our Saviour says, He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, John xv. 5. And the contrary hereunto is inconsistent with the exercise of any grace: Without me ye can do nothing, bore. · Moreover, that communion which the saints have with Christ in glory, whereby they who are brought to a state of perfection, participate of those graces and comforts which flow from their continued union with him; and the first fruits, or foretastes of glory, which they have in this world, are also founded on it. Thus the apostle calls Christ in his people, The hope of glory, Colos, i. 27. and speaking of his giving eternal life to them, he considers them as being in his hand, from whence none shall pluck them out, John X. 28. or separate them from him. So that they shall enjoy everlasting happiness with him, inasmuch as they shall be found in him, Phil. iii. 9. which leads us more particularly to consider, .
What this union with Christ is.' The scripture often speaks of Christ's being, or abiding in his people, and they in him ; and assigns it as an evidence of their interest in the blessings he has purchased for them : and, indeed, it is from hence that all internal and practical godliness is derived."
This privilege argues infinite condescension in him, and tends to the highest advancement of those who are the subjects thereof. Now that we may understand what is intended thereby, let us take heed that we do not include in it any thing that tends to extenuate it on the one hand; or to exalt those who are made partakers of it above the station or condition into which they are brought thereby, on the other. . . ' • It is not sufficient to suppose that this union contains in it no'more than that his people have the same kind of nature with him, as being made partakers of Aesh and blood; he having himself taken part of the same, Heb. ii. 14. He is indeed allied to us, as having all the essential perfections of our nature : and this was an instance of infinite condescension in him, and abHolutely necessary to our redemption : nevertheless, this similitude of nature, abstracted from other considerations, accompanying or flowing from his incarnation, contains in it no other idea of union, between Christ and his people, than that which they have with one another; nor is it a privilege peculiar to believers, since Christ took on him the same human nature that
all men have, though with a peculiar design of grace to those whom he came to redeem. This I the rather take notice of, because the Socinians, and others, that speak of this privilege, inasmuch as it is often mentioned in scripture, appear to have very low thoughts of it, when they suppose nothing more than this to be intended thereby.
Again, this union includes in it more than what is contained in that mutual love that is between Christ and believers, in that sense in which there is an union of affection between those who love one another; as it is said, The soul of Fonathan was knit with the soul of David; and Jonathan loved him as his own soul, 1 Sam. xviii. 1. In which respect believers are united to one another; or, as the apostle expresseś it, their hearts are knit together in love, Col. ï. 2. being like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind, Phil. ii. 2. or, as he adds, Let this mind, also be in you, which was also in Christ Jesuš, ver. 5. I say it includes more than this, which is rather the fruit and consequence of our union with Christ, than that whereiñ it principally consists.
Moreover we must take heed that we do not, in explaining this union between Christ and believers, include more in it than what belongs to creatures infinitely below him, to whom they are said to be united : therefore we cannot but abhor the blasphemy of those who speak of an essential union of creatures with God; or, as though they had hereby something derived to them in common with Christ the great Mediator. *
But passing by this method of accounting for the union between Christ and believers, there are two senses in which it is taken in scripture; one is, that which results from Christ's being their federal head, representative, or surety; having undertaken to deal with the justice of God in their behalf, so that what he should do, as standing in this relation to them, should be placed to their account, as much as though it had been done by them in their own persons: this is what contains in it their concern in the covenant of grace, made with him in their behalf; of which something has been said under a foregoing answer;* and it is the foundation of their sins being imputed to him, and his righteousness to them ; which will be farther considered, when we treat of the doctrine of justification under a following answer. t
• The first that seems to use this unsavoury mode of speaking, is Gregory Nazi. anzen; who did not consider how inconsistent some of those rhetorical ways of speaking, he seems fond of, are with that doctrine, which, in other parts of his writings, he maintained. Those words XpuoleTroly, and SOUTONIY, which he sometimes uses to express the nature, or consequence of this union between Christ and believers, are very disgustfii. In one place of his writings, (Vid. ejusd. Orat. 41.) exhorting Christians to be like Christ, he says, That because he became like unto us, gevapeta w dr avlov, efficiamur Dii propter ipsum; and elsewhere, (in Orai. 35. de Folio.) he says, Hic bomo Deus effectus postea quam cum Deo coaluit sya gayauas TOP Toy @tos crov sx UVOS
4funtos noon, ut ipse quoque tantum Deus efficiar quantum ipse homo. And some modern writer's have been fond of the same mode of speaking, especially among those who, from their mysterious and unintelligible mode of expressing themselves, have rather exposed than de fended the doctrines of the gospel. We find expressions of the like nature in a book put forth by Luther, which is supposed to be written by Taulerus, before the Reformation, called Theologia Germanica, and some others, since that time, such as Parcelsus, Swenckfelt, Weigelius, and those enthusiasts, that have adhered to their intelligible and blasphemous modes of speaking.
Therefore this union with Christ, which is mentioned in the answer we are now explaining, is of another nature, and, in some respects, may be properly styled a vital union, as all spiritual life is derived from it; or a conjugal union, as it is founded in consent, and said to be by faith. Now there are two things observed concerning it...
1. It is expressed by our being spiritually and mystically joined to Christ: it is styled a spiritual union, in opposition to those gross and carnal conceptions which persons may entertain concerning things being joined together in a natural way; and, indeed, whatever respects salvation is of a spiritual nature. - It is moreover called a mystical union, which is the word most used by those who treat on this subject; and the reason is, because the apostle calls it a great mystery, Eph. V. 32. by which we are not to understand the union there is between man and wife, as contained in the similitude by which he had before illustrated this doctrine, as the Papists pretend, but the union that there is between Christ and his church. And it is probably styled a mystery, because it could never have been known without divine revelation : and as Christ's condescension, expressed herein, can never be sufficiently admired; so it cannot be fully comprehended by us. This is such a nearness to him, and such a display of love in him as passeth knowledge. However, there are some similitudes used in scripture to illustrate it. As
(1.) The union that there is between the vine and the branches, John xv. 1, 2, 5. whereby life, nourishment, growth and fruit".. See Vol. II. Quest. 31. page 167.
t Quest. 70.
This is the principal, if not the only scripture, from which they pretend to prove marriage to be a sacrament, and they argue thiu. The Greek church had no other word to express what was afterwards called a sacrament by the Latin church, but puusupov, a mystery: therefore since the apostle caus marriage, as they suppose, a mystery, they conclude that it is a sacrament; which is a very weak foundation for inserting it among those sacraments which they have added to them that Christ had instituted; for the sacraments are no where called mysteries in scripture : and there. fore we are not to explıun doctrines by words arhich were not used till come ages after the apostles' time: and if there were any thing in their argument, viz. that that which is called a mystery in scripture, must needs be a sacrament, it does not appear that the apostle calls marriage a great mystery, but the imion that there is between
Christ and his church; as he expressly Krys in the folloruing words ; I speak con: cerning Christ and the church.
fulness are conveyed to them: in like manner all our spiritual life together, with the exercise and increase of grace, depend on our union with, abiding in, and deriving what is necessary thereunto, from him.
(2.) It is also compared to the union there is between the head and members, as the apostle farther illustrates it, when he styles him the head, from which all the body, by joints and bands, having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God, Col. ii. 19. which is a very beautiful similitude, whereby we are given to understand, that as the head is the fountain of life and motion to the whole body, as the nerves and animal spirits take their rise from thence, so that if the communication that there is between them and it, be stopped, the members would be useless, dead, and insignificant: so Christ is the fountain of spiritual life and motion, to all those who are united to him.
(3.) This union is farther illustrated, by a similitude taken from that union which there is between the foundation and the building; and accordingly Christ is styled, in scripture, the chief corner stone, Eph. ii. 20. and a sure foundation, Isa. xxviii. 16. And there is something peculiar in that phrase which the apostle uses, which is more than any similitude can express; when he speaks cf Christ as the living stone, or rock, on which the church is built; and of believers, as lively stones, 1 Pet. ii. 4,5. to denote, that they are not only supported and upheld by him, as the building is by the foundation, but enabled to put forth living actions, as those whose life is derived from this union with him.
(4.) There is another similitude taken from that nourishment which the body receives, by the use of food; and therefore our Saviour styles himself the bread of life, or the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die; and proceeds to speak of his giving his flesh for the life of the world; and adds, he that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him, John vi. 48– 56.
(5.) There is another similitude, by which our being united to Christ by faith, is more especially illustrated, taken from the union which there is between man and wife; accordingly this is generally styled, a conjugal union, between Christ and believers. Thus the prophet says, Thy Maker is thine Husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the holy One of Israel, Isa. liv. 5. And the apostle, speaking of a man's leaving his father and mother, and being joined unto his wife, and they two being one flesh, Eph. v. 31, 32. applies it, as was before observed, to the union that there is between Christ and the church; and adds, that we are members of his body,
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ught hehere. Thus, wheplained by the Sy hard to be
of his flesh, and of his bones, ver. 30. which expression, if not compared with other scriptures, would be very hard to be un derstood; but it may be explained by the like phraseology, used elsewhere. Thus, when God formed Cve at first, and brought her to Adam, and thereby joined them together in a conjugal relation: he says upon this occasion, This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh, Gen. ii. 23. And we find also, that other relations, which are more remote than this, are expressed by the same mode of speaking. Thus Laban says to Jacob, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh, Gen. xxix. 14. And Abimelech pleading the relation he stood in to the men of Shechem, as a pretence of his right to reign over them, tells them, I am your bone and your flesh, Judges ix. 2. Therefore the apostle makes use of the same expression, agreeably to the common mode of speaking used in scripture, to set forth the conjugal relation which there is between Christ and be. lievers.
The apostle, indeed, elsewhere alters the phrase, when he says, He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit, 1 Cor. vi. 17. which is so difficult an expression, that some who treat on this subject, though concluding that there is in it something that denotes the intimacy and nearness of this union, and more than what is contained in the other phrase, of their being one flesh, nevertheless, reckon it among those expressions which are inexplicable; though I cannot but give into the sense in which some understand it; namely, that inasmuch as the same Spirit dwells in believers that dwelt in Christ, though with different views and designs, they are hereby wrought up, in their measure, to the same temper and disposition ; or as it is expressed elsewhere, The same mind is in them that was in Christ, Phil. ii. 5. which is such an effect of this conjugal relation that there is between him and them, as is not always the result of the same relation amongst men. The reason why I call this our being united to Christ, by faith, is because it is founded in a mutual consent; as the Lord avouches them on the one hand, to be his people, so they, on the other hand, avouch him to be their God, Deut. xxvi. 17, 18. the latter of which is, properly speaking, an act of faith ; whereby they give up themselves to be his servants, to all intents and purposes, and that for ever.
It is farther observed in this answer. That union with Christ is a work of God's grace : this it must certainly be, since it is the spring and fountain from whence all acts of grace proceed; and indeed, from the nature of the thing, it cannot be otherwise : for if there be a wonderful instance of condescending grace in God's conferring those blessings that accompany sal. ration; this may much more be deemed so. If Christ be pleased to dwell with, and in his people, and to talk in them, 2.