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OF UNION AND FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST AND HIS
MEMBERS, WHEREIN IS CONSIDERED THE MYSTICAL OR INVISIBLE CHURCH.
HITHERTO the increase of the regenerate has been considered in its relation to the Father alone. We are now to consider that increase which has reference to the Father and Son conjointly.
This consists in our union and fellowship with the Father through Christ the Son, and our glorification after the image of Christ.
Of this union and fellowship mention is made John xiv. 20. at that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.' v. 23. if a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. xvii. 21-23. that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us......and the glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.' 1 Cor. vi. 17. 'he that is joined to the Lord, is one spirit.' 1 John ü. 23. · whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father ; but he that acknowledgeth the Son, bath
the Father also. iii. 24. he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him: and hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.' i. 3, 6, 7. truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ : if we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.' iv. 13, 15, 16. “hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit: whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God : and we have known and believed the love that God hath to us : God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.'
The fellowship arising from this union consists in a participation, through the Spirit, of the various gifts and merits of Christ. John vi. 56. he that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.' Rom. viii. 9. if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his.' v. 32. how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" 1 Cor. i. 9. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.' Eph. iii. 17. that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. Rev. iii. 20. “if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me.' 2 Cor. xiii. 14. the communion of the Holy Ghost.'
From this our fellowship with Christ arises the mutual fellowship of the members of Christ's body among themselves, called in the Apostles' Creed The
Communion of Saints. Rom. xii.
Saints. Rom. xii. 4, 5. • for as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one' members one of another.' 1 Cor. xii. 12, 13. 'as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ : for by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free ; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.' v. 27.'ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.'
Lastly, from this union and fellowship of the regenerate with the Father and Christ, and of the members of Christ's body among themselves, results the mystical body called The Invisible Church, whereof Christ is the head. 1 Thess. i. 1. 'unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ.' See also 2 Thess. i. 1. John xi. 52. not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.' 2 Cor. vi. 16.'ye are the temple of the living God.' Gal. iv. 26. • Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.' Eph. j. 22, 23. he gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.' iv. 13, 15, 16. till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ ; that we may grow up into him in all things, 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 of itself in love.' v. 23, • Christ is the head of the church, and he is the Saviour of the body. Col. i. 18, 19. he is the head of the body, the church.' ï. 19. not holding the head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.' i. 24. for his body's sake, which is the church.' Heb. iii. 6. Christ as a son over his own house, whose house are we.' xii. 22, 23. 'ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.?
Seeing then that the body of Christ is mystically one, it follows that the fellowship of his members must also be mystical, and not confined to place or time, inasmuch as it is composed of individuals of widely separated countries, and of all ages from the foundation of the world. Rom. ii. 29. he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. Eph. ii. 19–22. ' now therefore ye are no more strangers
and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone ; in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord : in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.' Col. ii. 5. “though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with
you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.'
The love of Christ towards his invisible and spotless Church is described by the appropriate figure of conjugal love.* Rev. xix. 7. "the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.'
Christ is also called the Shepherd, by reason of his protecting and teaching the church. John x. 14. 'I am the good shepherd.' v. 16. there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.' Heb. xiii. 20. now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant—.'
1 Pet. v. 4. when the chief shepherd shall appear—.'
* • Marriage, which is the nearest resemblance of our union with Christ- Tetrachordon. Prose Works, II. 138. Marriage, which is the dearest league of love, and the dearest resemblance of that love which in Christ is dearest to his Church.' Reply to an Answer against the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. Ibid. 255.