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said in Scripture to be in Christ or joined to him, as redeemed saints are. None of these kinds of union, then, come up to the idea of the union with Christ that is intended in the text; for,
In the 1st place, It is a real union.-Believers are united to Christ as really as the members of the natural body are to the head. Hence the apostle says, “We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones,” Eph. v. 30. Though this union be not an object of sense, yet nothing is more real. The union between soul and body is such as can neither be seen by our eyes nor truly represented by our imagination, like things which are objects of sense; and yet we cannot doubt of its reality. In like manner, the union between Christ and believers, though not the object either of sight or of feeling, is notwithstanding so real, that there is nothing which they who enjoy it are more firmly persuaded of. The reality of vital union with the Saviour is clearly revealed, and the happy effects of it sensibly experienced by believers. Is it true that you who are saints of the Most High are now sitting in your seats, or see the light of the sun ? it is as true, as real, that you are united to Him who is the Sun of righteousness, the Light of the world.
2ndly, it is an intimate union; so inexpressibly intimate, that believers are said to be one in the Father and in the Son; as the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father, John xiv. 20. and xvii. 21.
" That they all may be one, as thou Father art in me aud I in thee; that they also may be one in us." How intimate, how inexpressibly intimate, is the union, the oneness, between the Father and his only begotten Son! No less intimate, however, is the union that is between Christ and the true Christian, though it be an union of another nature. So near, so close is it, that Christ is said to be formed in the believer, to dwell in him, and to walk in him. Though Jesus Christ and believers are not essentially one, yet they are mystically one. The stock and graff are not so near, soul and body are not so near, husband and wife are not so near, as Jesus and the believing soul. They are incorporated into one, so that the Church is represented as Christ's body. Though it does not make the believer one person with Christ, yet it is a most intimate union of his person with the Person of Christ.
3dly, It is an immediate union.—Though it is not so immediate as to exclude means, yet it is so immediate as to exclude higher and lower degrees of nearness to Christ among
believers. In the natural body, every member is noti equally near to the head, the foot is not so near it as the hand; but in Christ's mystical body, every member is alike near to him who is the glorious Head : the lowest believer, as to his state, is as near to Christ as the highest. Some of the saints are much nearer to him than others, in their spiritual attainments and exercises ; but not as to their state. Those in the church at Corinth, who said they were of Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, were as closely united to the living Head as those who said they were of Christ.
4thly, It is a spiritual union, an union by which, when joined to the Lord, we are one spirit with him.-As one soul enlivens and actuates both the head and the members of the natural body, so one Spirit, the self same Spirit, resides both in Christ and in the believer. “If any man,” says Paul, “ have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his,” Rom. viii. 9. If, in virtue of the marriage-union, husband and wife become one flesh, much more do Jesus and the believer, when thus united, become one Spirit. Is the Holy Spirit, as he dwelleth in Christ, a Spirit of grace ? he is poured out upon the believer as a Spirit of grace also: for out of Christ's fulness does he receive, and grace
The believer by his union with Christ, partakes of the same influences. and operations with Christ as to kind, though not as to degree. This is the reason of its being called a vital union.
5thly, It is a fundamental union ; for it is in some sense the foundation of a believer's other privileges. “All things are yours, for ye are Christ's” by vital union with
him. It is the foundation of all acceptable obedience. “ As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me,” the foundation of all spirtual comfort. The saint, while in this valley of tears, is in the midst of devouring enemies, and of great tribulations ; but since he is united to the Consolation of Israel, he shall be comforted. He is one with Jesus Christ; and were this compassionate Saviour to cease for a moment caring for him, he would cease to take care of himself. Christ is the foundation of life to the believer : “ Because I live, ye shall live also," John xiv. 19. Are
desti. tute of the spirit of life? it is because you are not united to the living Head. It is the foundation of the believer's hope, “ Christ in you the hope of glory," and the foundation of his honour and elevation. The highest honour that can be conferred on a soul is to unite it to Christ, the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of his person. How high the dignity of the true believer!
6th, It is union in the eye of the law. Though it is not a mere legal union, such as hath subsisted between Christ and the elect from all eternity, yet it is an union which stands, or which is sustained in law. No sooner does this union begin in the day of first believing, than all that Christ did and suffered for the believer is rec. koned in law as if he had done and suffered it himself. Hence he is said to be crucified with Christ; to be buried with him, being buried with him by baptism ; and to be raised up together with him, wherein also ye are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God: He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ ; intimating, that, in the eye of the law, the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the believer's Surety, are placed as properly and fully to his account as if he had been cruci. fied, dead, and buried, in his own person. By this union, Christ and believers are one in law : being thus found
in him, they have not their own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ.
7th, It is a mysterious or mystical union.--" This is a great mystery,” Eph. v. 32. Is any of you desirous of hearing mysteries? O what ineffable, what amazing mysteries are here! Christ in heaven far above all things ; and yet in the believer on earth, who is less than the least of all God's mercies! Christ, an infinite Person, infinitely distant from the finite nature of the believer, and yet closely united to him! Christ living in the believer, and the believer living by him ; walking in the believer, and the believer walking with him ; dwelling in his heart, and he at the same time dwelling in God; Christ receiving the believer as one of his jewels, and the believer putting on Christ ; Christ always the same without any alteration, and yet the believer eating his flesh and drinking his blood; Christ in heaven, and the Christian on earth, and yet intimately united together! Are there mysteries in the essential union between the Father and the Son, and in the personal union between the Divine and human natures in the person of Christ ? there are ineffable mysteries in the union between Christ and the believing soul,-mysteries which angels desire to look into. A greater mystery than this has never been exhibited unto the children of men,
mystery to be believed, and yet never to be fully comprehended.
8th, It is an indissolvable union. It is infinitely strong and durable. The saint shall be separated from his nearest relations, from his most intimate friends, from his dearest earthly enjoyments, and his soul ere long shall be separated from his body; but it shall never for a moment be parted from the Lord Jesus. Supposing the believer's body were burned, and every particle of its ashes removed as far from each other as the east is from the west, they would still be united, indissolvably united, to Jesus Christ, Rom. viii. 35–39. As death did not dissolve the hypostatical union in the person of Christ, so neither will it ever dissolve the mystical union between him and his saints. Their bodies when dissolved in the grave are as intimately united to the Lord Jesus as their souls dwelling in the mansions of glory. They sleep in Jesus : he keepeth all their bones. This union can never be dissolved : no creature can dissolve it, and the Lord Jesus himself will not. The creature cannot do it, “neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” He, the compassionate Redeemer, will not. “ He will not turn away from them to do them good.” O the safety, and honour, and glory of the true believer! His union with Christ shall continue throughout all eternity