Imágenes de página

ing? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular; and God hath set some in the church, first apostles; secondarily prophets; thirdly teachers; after that, miracles; then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues,” &c. 1 Cor. xii. Here Paul shews that every member hath his particular grace and gifts. One is an apostle, to lay the foundation; another a prophet, which is an eye, to see what is coming on in the world; then teachers, to coinmunicate what they have received; then miracles, which are wonders performed by the Saviour in answer to prayer; then gifts of healing, which is stretching forth the Lord's hand when the prayer of the righteous prevails; then helps; every member, by his walk, by his conversation, by his experience, by his sympathy with the afflicted, by his prayers, or by his liberality, is a help in this mystical body; then governments; mothers in Israel are governesses to the young female converts, to teach the young women to be sober, chaste, keepers at home. The fathers in the church give their cautions and counsels to the young men in faith. · Deacons are over the poor; the minister, he rules by the word and doctrine; while each living member of the whole body, by the hand of faith, holds the head, which influences and directs the whole body; from which head all the body, by being of one

mind, of one judgment, one faith, one hope, and one spirit, are joined together; and, by the bands of mutual affection, spiritual unity, and of gospel peace, having nourishment ministered from the head to each member, and from one member to another through the compacting joints, that knit all the members of the body together, the whole body increases in number, and in strength, with the increase of God, Col. ii. 19. The neck, with its joints and sinews, that hold this glorious head and mystical body together, are the selfmoving love of God, his eternal decree, and the bond of the covenant; which for ever keep this body and the head in union; while the divine veracity, brought to light by the gospel, lays a solid foundation for the fullest assurance of faith. " Whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate, and whom he did predestinate them he also called, and whom he called them he also justified, and whom he justified them he also glorified.” This is the good will of God in Christ Jesus, revealed to us, and by the Spirit of God wrought in us: and this is Zion's only security, which makes the glorious inheritance sure to all the seed; and the church that has an experimental knowledge of these things, that has experienced the application and power of them, and tasted the sweetness and felt the enjoyment of them, and who by the eye of faith sees them, and in love holds them fast, is the Lord's delightful spouse indeed. « Thou hast

ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck," Song iv. 9. This union is further set forth by

The union that subsists between the vine and its branches. “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” There is nothing more fruitful than a vine. There is nothing that can be called wood, that is so weak, and yet there is no root in the earth that contains so much life, sap, and nourishment as the root of a vine; nor is there any plant that is productive of so much generous liquor, nor any thing that can produce any thing stronger, if it be distilled. Witness spirits of wine. And so in this union. Who could ever have thought that such great things should have been accomplished by the Saviour, when he appeared in the world a poor and needy man, a worm, and no man, the despised of the people, and crucified through weakness? This was David's offspring; but David's root was hid in David's branch; and in that ever blessed root is the natural life of all mankind, the life of angels, and the eternal life of all the chosen millions. "In him we all live, and move, and have our being;” and from him the blessing of eternal life is received by all that believe; and from him the new wine of the kingdom is poured forth, the wine of eternal love, which is strong as death; and whoever drinks thereof forgets his poverty, and remembers his misery no more. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except

it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” To abide sensibly in him, is to stand by faith in his strength, to have the mind swaddled with his truth, to shine in his light, to enjoy his countenance, to feel his power, to find the heart enlarged by a sense of his love, to observe his goings and comings, to bemoan his absence, to be entertained with his visits, and to stand fast in the liberty wherewith he has made us free; and not to be entangled in the traps of error, in the servitude of sin, nor with the yoke of legal bondage. Sometimes the branches of a vine are without leaves, and without fruit; but the branch that is in the vine still has life in its root, in which life lies both the leaves and the fruit, and nothing is wanted but the sun to bring them forth. So the child of God, through slips and falls, often loses the external verdure of his profession; at which tinies faith is languid, love cold, patience in a decaying state, hope at a low ebb, zeal abated, and all joy apparently gone. But Christ shines, and revives his work, communicates refreshings from his presence, the wind blows afresh upon the garden, and the beloved is once more invited to eat his own pleasant fruits. But, “ If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered, and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” A man may be in Christ professionally, but not spiritually. There are Christians in name and shew, and there are Christians in spirit and prin

[ocr errors]


ciple. He that is in Christ only by profession and confession, by head knowledge, by gifts, by zeal, by flushes of joy, springing up from the stirrings and motions of natural affections, is sure never to abide, for want of deepness of earth, or a broken heart; for want of moisture, or the well-spring of divine life; and for the want of root in themselves, which is the love of God shed abroad in the heart. Such are cast forth by the church, either for their open profanity, or else for their damnable heresies which they embrace, and by which they are discovered, and for which they are cast forth, as a branch is pruned or cut off; and soon they are withered. Their joy, zeal, and first knowledge, all wither together, and men gather them; impostors, heretics, apostates, hypocrites, or worldlings, gather them into their company, and unto their assembly; and the end of them is to be burned, body and soul, in hell fire. This union is set forth by

The union that subsists between the husband and the wife; which union exhibits the oneness of nature between Christ and his church. The human nature of Christ, which was Abraham's seed, the fruit of David's loins, the fruit of his body, the seed of the virgin, which was made of a woman, made and prepared of the substance of her body, and which is a part of the children's flesh and blood, which the Lord took, and of the same flesh and blood, for the scriptures say he took part of the same, Heb. ii. 14. This assump

« AnteriorContinuar »