« PreviousContinue »
Again : Do you cordially approve of attaining eternal life only on the ground of this righteousness? Are you pleased with having Christ and his righteousness exalted, yourself and your works debased, in the affair of justification ? Are you well pleased with this transcendently excellent righteousness, and content to be eternally indebted to it for all your title to complete salvation? I do not ask if you be sensible of no disapprobation of it in your heart; but, if you so cordially approve of it as your ground of title to life, that your remaining dislike to it is ground of self-loathing and godly sorrow to you ? If this be the habitual frame of your heart, it is a favourable sign.
But further : Do you believe on the ground of God's faithfulness in his Record, that he makes a free grant or offer of Christ, and of his surety-righteousness to you, as a lost sinner of Adam's race? Do you call the Lord Jesus Jebovah your Righteousness, not on the ground of your attainments and works, but upon the warrant of the indefinite offers and promises of the Gospel ? Do you cordially believe that these gracious offers are directed to you, not because you imagine yourself to be better than many others, but because God, who cannot lie, has addressed them to you as a sinner of mankind ? You can easily believe that they are to others, but that they should be addressed to you, when you see your heart exceedingly depraved, and find iniquities prevailing against you, you find it hard to believe. Indeed nothing but Omnipotent Power is sufficient to make you believe it. Now, do you often find it very
difficult to call the Lord Jesus Jehovah your Righteousness ? and are you resolved notwithstanding, in the strength of promised grace, to do so ? Are you urged to attempt this, not only by a sense of need, but by a conviction of duty ; God having commanded you to believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ?
In fine: Do you cordially trust in Christ for all his salvation, and rely on his righteousness as offered to you, for all your title to salvation ? This is a question which requires your deepest attention. I say, do you cordially trust in Christ as Jehovah your Righteousness alone, for complete salvation ? The most of people trust that they shall at last be happy. Now, what is your trust that you shall be happy founded on? Is it on the righteousness of Jesus Christ offered to you in the Gospel, or
on your own performances ? If you say, on the righteousness of Christ, then the question is, Is it grounded on that glorious righteousness alone, and on nothing done by yourself in conjunction with it? Do you add neither your attainments nor your duties to it, as grounds of confidence and of comfort ? This is what no hypocrite can do. He knows not what it is to build his confidence for salvation on the righteousness of the Saviour, independ. ently of his own doings. Do you, then, resolve to rely for a complete title to eternal life only on the obedience unto death of the incarnate Redeemer? And whilst you are as careful to maintain good works, as though you depended on them for life, do you trust as little on them
you had never performed them? Besides, do you rely on Jesus Christ as Jehovah your righteousness, for the whole of his great salvation ; for deliverance, not only from suffering but from sinning, and exaltation not merely to happiness but to holiness ? Many pretend to believe in Christ for salvation, who do not trust in him for complete salvation. Every unregenerate man, how high soever his profession be, retains some idol with which he cannot endure to part. His conscience can bear witness that it is the real desire of his soul to be allowed to take it even to heaven with him. He does not see how heaven itself could make him happy without it. Now such a man may properly enough be said to fear that Christ may come and deprive him of it ; but he can with no propriety be said to trust that he will deprive him of it, or save him from it: because trust implies desire that he should do so. But it is absurd to say, that a man desires to be saved from that which he desires at the same time to retain. It is, therefore, the distinguishing character of a true believer, to trust in Jesus Christ and on his righteousness for his whole sal. vation. Is it then the unfeigned desire of your
heart that the Lord Jesus may save you from the love and practice, as well as from the guilt of all sin, and exalt you to the love and practice of universal holiness ? If it be
so, it is well.
5. To you who have good ground to conclude that you have vital union with Christ, and spiritual communion with him in his righteousness, I would offer these advices: 1st, Study, in the strength of promised grace, to appropriate Christ and his surety-righteousness, as offered in the Gospel to you; saying, “Surely he hath borne my griefs, and carried my sorrows." Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.” 2d, Endeavour to bring his consummate righteousness along with you, in all your approaches to God on the throne of grace. Never plead for the smallest blessing either of mercy or grace, either to yourselves or others, without presenting this glorious righteousness as the only ground of your plea. And when you be sure that you devise liberally of an infinitely gracious God, and expect abundance of grace, as well as of the gift of righteousness from Him. The true art of praying successfully is, to bring this spotless righteousness in the hand of an appropriating faith to God, as a God of grace; and not only to pray for grace on the ground of it, but to trust that he will give you sufficient grace to help you in every time of need. “What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them.” 3d, Be very thankful that the Lord Jesus offers himself to you as Jehovah your Righteousness; and express your thankfulness by studying universal conformity to Him in your heart and life. Seeing he obeyed the law as a covenant, by fulfilling all righteousness for your justification, endeavour, in the faith of the promise, to yield universal obedience to the law as a rule for his glory, by bringing forth the fruits of righteousness, which are by him to the glory and the praise of God.
UNION WITH CHRIST.
“He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”—1 Cor. vi. 17.
In the 15th and 16th verses of this chapter, the apostle exhorts the believers at Corinth to guard against such unclean practices as were very common in that city; and he enforces his exhortation by two considerations. He informs them, that if they were to be guilty of such sins, their bodies, which being constituent parts of their persons, were united as members to the Lord Jesus Christ, should in that case become the members of an harlot. “Know ye not,” says he," that your
bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot ? God forbid.” He also represents it to them as a selfevident principle, that he who is joined in affection and criminal conversation to an harlot, is one body with her. “ What! know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two (saith he) shall be one flesh.” But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. He who is joined to an harlot is degraded so low as to be one body with her ; but he who is joined to the Lord is advanced so high as to be one spirit with him. To be joined to the Lord, is to be vitally united to the Lord Jesus, who is not only of the same essence with his eternal Father ; but in virtue of his mediatorial office, is Lord and “Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting." It is the exalted privilege of every true believer to be joined to Him, or, according to the import of the original word, to be com- pactly cemented to him,--so compactly cemented to him,
as to be actuated by the same Spirit, who, in immeasurable fulness, resides in him as the Head of the body.
In further discoursing on this subject, it is proposed, through Divine aid, I. To offer some remarks upon
the union of believers with Christ ; II. To inquire into the nature and properties of this union ; III. To consider the bonds of it; IV. The representations of it in Scripture; and, V. The immediate effect of it as expressed in the text.
I. I am then, in the first place, to offer some remarks on the union of believers with Christ.
1. True believers had a federal union with Christ from eternity.-We cannot call this an actual and formal union, because believers had then no actual existence : but it may be styled an intentional union, an union in the eternal purpose of God; “according as he hath chosen us in him,” says an apostle, “ before the foundation of the world.” In the making of the everlasting covenant, a certain number of mankind lost was given to Christ, as the Head of the election; and upon his accepting of them, and consenting to be their CovenantHead and public Representative, an union between him and them was formed. It is called a federal union, for the bond of it was the covenant of grace. It was an union in covenant, and an union in law. By this union Christ stood in the relations of a Representative and Surety to God's elect; and the Father legally, as well as federally, laid upon him the iniquities of them all, Isa. liii. 6.
2. They begin to have vital union with Christ at the moment they begin cordially to believe in him. This union proceeds from spiritual life imparted to the soul at regeneration ; and it is in consequence of it that vital influence and spiritual nourishment continue to be communicated in sanctification. It is in consequence of it that the believer is one spirit with Christ, or, that the same Divine Spirit who resides in Christ, dwells also ini every member of his mystical body. Although this differs from the former, yet it necessarily depends on it.