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fore is, not only earnestly to pray to God, that he would draw you to Christ; but you must endeavour to look to this precious Saviour, as to a fufficient fountain of all grace, trusting your soul in his hands, with encouraging hope of justification by his righteousness, and sanctisica. tion by his spirit. If your faith be sincere, you thereby lay a foundation of spiritual and acceptable obedience : but if not, the beit works that you can perform, will be only external, hypocritical, legal, and llavish perfornian.
You must therefore be brought to act faith in Christ for holiness, as the beginning of that falvation which you hope to obtain from him. You are not to look upon a life of holiness and spiritual obedience, as the condition of your falvation, but as the salvation it. self, which you hope for, actually begun in your soul; and you have as much warrant from the invitations and promises of the gospel, to trust in the Lord Jesus Chriit for this renovation of your nature by his Spirit, as for the justification of your person by his blood, or for an eternal inheritance with the saints in light. And you must accordingly depend upon him for it, and ask it of him in faith, or never obtain it.
I have proposed these things to you, upon the suppo. sition that you have not satisfying evidences of a converted state. Let us now then-suppose the case to be otherwise, and you comfortably persuaded, that you have experienced the happy change. An bumble and chearful dependance upon Christ for new supplies of grace, must still be the source of your persevering obedience. Go on then to trust in him ; and you'il find that he will not fail your expectations. You will find that his grace is sufficient for you.
But do not deceive yourself with an imagination of your trusting in Christ, amidst a course of linful negligence and inactivity. Remember, that good works are of indispensable obligation, and of absolute necefity in the respects before mentioned. You must not oulr trust in Christ to full his good pleasure in you: but you must live to him, in the exercise of that grace and strength, which
derive from him. In an humble confidence in his fanctifying and quickening influences, you muit
take heed to yourself, and keep your soul with all diligence; you must see to it, that your heart be right with God; that you delight in the law of the Lord after the in ward man ;
maintain a strict watch over your affections, as well as conversation; that you neglect no known duty, toward God or man ; that you carefully improve your time, and other talents committed to your trust; and endeavour, in a constant course, to maintain a holy, humble, fruitful, thankful life. And remember, that one instance of good works, which God requires of you, is a daily repentance of your finful defects; and a daily mourning after a further progress in holiness. After an espousal to Christ by faith, this is the way, and the only way of comfort here and happinefs hereafter.
That I might set this important point in as clear a light as possible, I have laboured to represent it in different views; and thereby have necessarily run into fome repetitions, for which I depend upon your candour : now, that the Lord would bless my endeavours for your best good, is the prayer of,
. LETTER XVII. Therein the NATURE of the
Believer's Union to Christ is briefly explained, and the Necessity of it aserted and defended.
you mean no more by your ignorance of the na.
ture of that union to Christ, which I so often mentioned, but that you cannot form any adequate idea of this incomprehensible mystery, it is nothing wonder. ful. There are multitudes of things, whose existence you are most intimately acquainted with, yet of whose fpeciał manner of existence you can have no idea. You have no reason therefore to doubt of the believer's uni. on to Christ, because you do not understand the mode of it, any more than you have to doubt of the union of your foul and body, because you do not understand the anode of it. It is a sufficient confirmation of the truth
of this doctrine, that it is revealed in the word of God, It is sufficient for our present imperfect state, to know so much of the nature of this union as God has been pleased to reveal in the blessed oracles of truth. It is your mistake, to suppose, that our divines do but oc
casionally mention this doctrine; but do not pretend
to explain it.' Numbers of divines have written well upon the delightful subject : though, I confess, it is too little considered by many of our practical writers (as it ought to be considered) as being the foundation of both our practice and hope. Were it more distinctly considered, more particularly explained, and more frequent. ly infifted upon, improved and applied, both from the pulpit and the press than it is, it would be a probable means to check the growth of those dangerous errors, which prevail among us; and to give men a deeper sense of the neceflity of experimental vital piety, in order to a well grounded hope of the favour of God. You have therefore reason to desire 'a just, plain, and fami. " liar view of this doctrine.' And I Mall endeavour, "according to your desire, in as plain and easy a manner as I can, to give a brief and distinct answer to your seve. ral questions.
Your firit question is, 'what is the nature of that union to Christ, which the scriptures speak of; and what are we to understand by it?
In answer to this question, it may be proper in the first place, to give you a brief view of the various repre. fentations of this union, in the word of God; and from thence proceed to take some notice of the special na. ture of it, as it is represented in the scriptures.
It is sometimes represented in fcripture, by the strongest exprellions that human language can admit, and even compared to the union between God the Father and God the Son. Thus, John xvii. 11, 21, 22, 23. • Ho
ly Father, keep through thine own name those whona • thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. (That they all may be one, as thou Father art in Me, « and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us. That
be one, even as we are one. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one."
" they may
This union is sometimes represented in fcripture by lively metaphors and resemblances.
It is compared to the union of a vine and its branches. Thus, John xv. 4, 5. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of it felf, except it abide in the vine : no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, and ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth fortb much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
It is compared to the union of our meat and drink with our bodies. Thus, John vi. 56, 57. He that
eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in ine, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father : so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.'
It is frequently compared to the union of the body to the head. Thus, Eph. iv. 15, 16.
< But fpeaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, r which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole
body fitly joined together, and compacted by that ' which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual
working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying itself in love.'
It is sometimes compared to the conjugal union. Thus, Eph. v. 23, 30. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the Saviour of the body. For we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones, Rom. vii. 4. · Wherefore my brethren,
become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye fhould be married to ano. I ther, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we • fhould bring forth fruit unto God.' . It is likewise compared to the union of a building, whereof Christ is considered as the foundation or chief corner-stone. Thus, i Pet. ii. 4, 5, 6. To whom
coming as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of • men, but chosen of God and precious, ye also are built
up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up • fpiritual facrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. · Whereföre also it is contained in the scripture. Be. • hold, I lay in Sion a chief corner-stone, elect, precious.'
I might add, that this union is sometimes represen
ted in scripture by an identity or fameness of spirit. Thus, i Cor. vi. 17. • He that is joined unto the Lord
is one spirit.'
It is sometimes represented by an identity of body, Thus, 1 Cor. xii. 12. 27. For as the body is one, and • hath many members; and all the members of that • body being many, are one body; so also is Christ. • Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in par. 6 ticular
It is also represented by an identity of interest. Mat. XXV. 40. "Verily I say unto you, inasınuch as ye have • done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, < ye have done it unto me. Christ and believers have one common Father. John xx. 17. • I afcend unto my • Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your o God.'
They have one common inheritance, Rom. viii. 17. •Heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.' And they have one common place of eternal residence. John xiv. 3. ' And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will
come again, and receive you unto myself, that where • I am, there ye may be also.'
From this brief and general view of the scriptural representations of our union with Christ, I now proceed to consider something distinctly, what is the special nature of this union, and what we are to understand by it. Now it may not be improper, in the first place, to consider it negatively, and say what it is not, before I enter upon an affirmative explication and illustration of it.
I need not take any pains to convince you, that this union is not an effential or personal union. The union of the Trinity in the Godhead, is essential : the union of the divine and human nature in Chrift, is perfonal. But it were blafphemy to suppose either of these kinds of unions in the case before us. Should we suppose the former, we should attribute divine perfection to ourfelves. Should we suppose the latter, we should make ourselves joint-mediators of the covenant, with the glorious Redeemer. Either of which are too horribly profane to find any admiffion into our minds. Though Christ and believers are one, as he and the Father are one, this is to be understood with respect to the resemblance there is, in point of reality and nearnefs of union ; and not with respect to the nature and kind of it.