« PreviousContinue »
One may be federally united to the Saviour, and yet not be vitally united to him, as is the case of the elect before regeneration. One may be federally united to Christ, and at the same time continue to be dead in sin ; but none can be vitally or spiritually united to him, without being a partaker of his quickening Spirit.. And yet no man is vitally united to Christ in time but he who was federally and legally connected with him from eternity.
3. The foundation of this vital union between the Person of the Son of God and the persons of believers, is the personal union between his Divine nature and their nature.—That union of persons depends on this union of natures. If the Son of God had not graciously consented to unite the human nature to the Divine in his adorable person at his incarnation, none of the sons of Adam could ever have been united to him at regeneration. Are any of the children of men exalted to be sons of God in union with him who is the First-born among many brethren? it is because He who is the Son of God became the son of man,-became an infant of days, a child born, a son given. If he had not engaged to unite natures infinitely distant from each other, the Divine and human, he could not consistently with his transcendent glory unite persons to himself who are so distant from him as the persons of sinners
If he had not been made flesh, none of us had ever been so united to him as to be one spirit with him. His having a mystical body depends upon his having consented to have a human body, Psalm. xl. 6.
4. Before a sinner be vitally united to Christ, he is united to the first Adam, Rom. v. 12. All the children of men, in their natural estate, are united to the first Adam as their moral representative. The bond by which they are joined to him is the bond of the first covenant." He who was their natural, became their moral root, bearing them as their representative in that - covenant, Rom. v. 19.
By one man's disobedience many were made sinners." " In Adam all die.” There was a moral bond between Adam and his posterity, by
which they were joined together, namely, the bond of the covenant of works. Elect sinners, though in their natural state they are federally united to the second Adam, yet they are still, by virtue of the covenant of works, really united to the first. This union between the first Adam and the elect sinner is never dissolved, till the latter be vitally united to the second Adam ; or, as the apostle Paul expresses it, “ till he be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead,” Rom. vii. 4. As union with the second Adam dissolves union with the first, so none are united to the second Adam but such as were united to the first.
5. Although the union between Christ and believers is mutual, yet it begins first on his side. It commences by unition, which is before mutual union. By unition is meant Christ's uniting himself by his Spirit to the dead sinner, according to this gracious promise, “I will put my Spirit within you.” The Holy Spirit unites himself to the sinner, by coming into his soul at the time of love, at the happy moment designed for his spiritual marriage with the heavenly Bridegroom of the Church ; and he so quickens it, that it is no more spiritually dead, but alive. - Even when we were dead in sin,” says the apostle, “ he hath quickened us.” As communion flows from union, so vital union arises from unition ; from Christ's approaching in the day of his power, and uniting himself by his Spirit to the poor sinner dead in sin. Though it be not completed till the sinner trust in the Lord Jesus by saving faith, yet it begins on his side.
6. The instruments, or means of this union, are the law and the Gospel. Accordingly we read, “I will never forget thy precepts, for with them thou hast quickened me.” “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” “I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” - That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ by the Gospel.” The law, by discovering to the sinner his sinfulness and wretchedness, leads him to the Saviour indirectly, while the Gospel, by exhibiting Jesus in his glory, fulness, and ability to save, leads him to Him directly. The law in the hand of the Spirit, set home to the conscience, lets him see that he is united to the first Adam, and that he has communion with him, in imputed and inherent sin; and the Gospel, when it comes in demonstration of the Spirit, powerfully persuades him that he may be united to the second Adam, and have communion with him, in imputed righteousness and inherent holiness. It is by believing the Gospel, as it testifies of Christ, and by confiding in him as therein exhibited, that the sinner becomes vitally united to him. Then it is that the poor trembling soul meets the compassionate Saviour eye to eye and heart to heart.
7. The sacraments of baptism and the Lord's-supper are the external seals of this union with Christ.They not only signify, but seal it. Baptism seals the believer's spiritual ingraftment into Christ, or begun union with him : the Lord's-supper seals his continued union with him, and communion in his body and blood, or in his Person, righteousness, and fulness.
8. Though the union between Christ and the believer be very mysterious, yet it is far from being contrary to right reason.-It is far, indeed, above reason, but it is not in the smallest degree contrary to sanctified reason. Were our incarnate Redeemer no more than a man, it would be contrary to reason to suppose that he, at such an immense distance as the third heaven, could be intimately united to a believer upon earth. But, seeing he is God and man in one Person, there is nothing inconsistent in supposing and believing it. Though his human nature is in heaven, his Person is everywhere.
I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” If
any should inquire, where Christ may be found on earth, in order to his uniting with him? it might be replied, that he is to be found in the word of truth, which is always near to us. “ The word is nigh thee, even in thy heart, and in thy mouth, the word of faith which we preach,” Rom. x. 8.
II. I proceed now to the second general head,- To inquire more particularly into the nature and properties of union with Christ. And,
In the first place, it is not an essential union. The union of the Father and Holy Spirit to the Person of the Son is an essential union; but the union of believers to the Son is not so. The Person of the eternal Father and that of the adorable Spirit are so united to the Person of Christ as to be one with him, by an essential union, or an union of substance or essence. sons of believers are so united to him as also to be one with him ; but it is not by an essential union, else they should be gods, possessed of every divine attribute of which he is possessed. Although Christ and believers are one, and he and the Father are one, yet this is not to be understood with respect to the kind of union, but with regard only to the resemblance between the one kind and the other.
2. Neither is it a personal union. It is indeed an union of persons, but it is not a personal union. The union of the Divine and human natures in Christ is personal, his Person still continues to be but one ; whereas believers, though they are united to Christ, make not one person with him; they only constitute one mystical body, of which he is the head. An apostle says to the believers at Corinth, “ Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular,” 1 Cor. xii. 27. If the union of Christ with believers were personal, if they and he together made but one person, they might, in that case, consider themselves as joint mediators with him, and as equally entitled to the honour of meriting eternal life. This sublime expression, which he uttered in ancient prophecy, would be no longer true: “I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with me.” But to suppose this, would be blasphemous.
3. It is not merely a political union.—To be one with Christ, or to be joined to him as represented in the text, is much more than to be subjected to him as a political head. Were it no more, it would follow, that all the
unregenerate among men, yea, that the devils themselves would be united to him ; for they are all under his sovereign dominion as King of Zion. - Thou hast led captivity captive.” “ Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." "Having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” The prince and power of darkness are under his controul, and all the children of men are under his all powerful restraint. He has them all in his hand, all under his dominion, as Governor among the nations. Were the union between Christ and believers, then, no more than a political union, their privilege would be no more than that of the most miserable in the creation of God.
4. Nor is it merely a relative union, or union by profession.—To be connected with Christ, as professors of the true religion, is the privilege of all the members of the visible church. They are all visibly united to him, and receive from him spiritual gifts and restraining influences. Hence they are represented as persons
who are in Christ, as the branch is in the vine. “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit shall be taken away.” “ If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch and is withered.” This is to be understood not of true saints, for they shall never be totally or finally separated from Christ; but only of nominal Christians, who are visibly in Christ, united to him by the bands of common influence and temporary faith. They who are united to Christ in this sense may be taken away, and cast forth into everlasting burnings ; while such as are joined to him in the sense of the text shall be secured from eternal misery.
5. It is not merely to be united to Christ in sentiment and disposition. In this sense holy angels are one with him. In so far as they can penetrate the amazing mysteries of redeeming grace and Divine Providence, their views coincide with his ; and in proportion as their limited faculties are capable of it, they are holy as he is holy, perfect as he is perfect ; and yet they are never