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pleasure. And the apostle declares that the whole constitution of church order, is suited as an external instrument to promote these divine communications, unto all the members of the church itself; Eph. iv. 13-16.
This in general is the order of divine communications, which is for the substance of it continued in heaven, and shall be so unto eternity; for God is, and ever will be, all and in all. But at present, it is invisible unto eyes of Aesh, yea, the reason of men. Hence it is by the most despised ; they see no glory in it. But let us consider the prayer of the apostle, that it may be otherwise with us; Eph. i. 16–23. For the revelation made of the glory of God in the old creation, is exceeding inferior to that which he makes of himself in the new.
Having premised these things in general, concerning the glory of divine communications, I shall proceed to declare in particular, the grounds and way whereby the Lord Christ communicates himself, and therewithal all the benefits of his mediation, unto them that do believe, as it was before proposed.
We on our part are said herein to receive him, and that by faith; John i. 11, 12. Now where he is received by us, he must be tendered, given, granted, or communicated unto us. And this he is by some divine acts of the Father, and some of his own.
The foundation of the whole is laid in a sovereign act of the will, the pleasure, the grace of the Father. And this is the order and method of all divine operations in the way and work of grace. They originally proceed all from him; and having effected their ends, do return, rest, and centre in him again. See Eph. i. 4-6: Wherefore, that Christ is made ours, that he is communicated unto us, is originally from the free act, grant and donation, of the Father; 1 Cor. i. 30. Rom. v. 15.-17. And hereunto sundry things do concur. As, 1. His eternal purpose, which he purposed in himself to glorify his grace in all his elect, by this communication of Christ, and the benefits of his mediation unto them, which the apostle declares at large, Eph.i. 2. His granting all the elect unto Christ to be his own, so to do and suffer for them what was antecedaneously necessary unto the actual communication of himself unto them. * Thine they were, and thou gavest them to me;' John xvii. 6. 3. The giving of the promise, or the constitution of the rule and law of the gospel, whereby a participation of Christ, an interest in him and all that he is, is made over and assured unto believers; John i. 12. 1 John i. 1–3. 4. An act of Almighty power, working and creating faith in the souls of the elect, enabling them to receive Christ so exhibited and communicated unto them by the gospel; Eph. i. 19, 20. ii, 5-8.
These things which I have but named, have an influence into the glory of Christ herein ; for this communication of him unto the church, is an effect of the eternal counsel, wisdom, grace, and power of the Father.
But they are the acts of Christ himself herein, which principally we inquire into, as those which manifest the glory of his wisdom, love, and condescension.
And, 1. He gives and communicates unto them his Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit as peculiarly his, as granted unto him of the Father, as inhabiting in him in all fulness. This Spirit abiding originally as to his person, and immeasurably as unto his effects and operations in himself, he gives unto all believers to inhabit and abide in them also; John xiv. 14. 20. 1 Cor. vi. 16, 17. Rom. viii. 8. Hence follows an ineffable union between him and them. For as in his incarnation he took our nature into personal union with his own; so herein he takes our persons into a mystical union with himself. Hereby he becomes ours, and we are his.
And herein he is unspeakably glorious. For this mystery of the inhabitation of the same Spirit in him as the head, and the church as his body, animating the whole, is a transcendent effect of divine wisdom. There is nothing of this nature in the whole creation besides; no such union, no such mutual communication. The strictest unions and relations in nature are but shadows of it; Eph. v. 25–32. Herein also is the Lord Christ precious unto them that do believe, but a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence unto the disobedient. This glorious, ineffable effect of his wisdom and grace; this rare, peculiar, singular way of the communication of himself unto the church, is by many despised. They know, it may be, some of them, what it is to be joined unto a harlot so as to become one Aesh, but what it is to be
joined unto the Lord so as to become one spirit, they know not. But this principle and spring of the spiritual life of the church, and of all vital spiritual motions towards God, and things heavenly, wherein, and whereby,'our life is hid with Christ in God,' is the glory, the exaltation, the honour, the security of the church, unto the praise of the grace of God. The understanding of it in its causes, effects, operations, and privileges, wherewith it is accompanied, is to be preferred above all the wisdom in and of the world.
He thus communicates himself unto us, by the formation of a new nature, his own nature in us; so as that the very same spiritual nature is in him, and in the church. Only it is so with this difference, that in him it is in the absolute perfection of all those glorious graces wherein it doth consist; in the church it is in various measures and degrees, according as he is pleased to communicate it. But the same divine nature it is, that is in him and us; for through the precious promises of the gospel, we are made partakers of his divine nature. It is not enough for us, that he hath taken our nature to be his, unless he gives us also his nature to be ours; that is, implants in our souls all those gracious qualifications, as unto the essence and substance of them, wherewith he himself in his human nature is endued. This is that new man, that new creature, that divine nature, that spirit, which is born of the Spirit, that transformation into the image of Christ, that putting of him on, that workmanship of God, whereunto in him we are created, that the Scripture so fully testifieth unto, John iii. 6. Rom. vi. 3—8. 2 Cor. iii. 18. v. 17. Eph. iv. 20. 24. 2 Pet. i. 4.
And that new heavenly nature which is thus formed in believers, as the first vital act of that union which is between Christ and them by the inhabitation of the same Spirit, is peculiarly his nature. For both is it so as it is in him the idea and the exemplar of it in us, inasmuch as we are predestinated to be conformed unto his image ; and as it is wrought or produced in our souls by an emanation of power, virtue, and efficiency from him.
This is a most heavenly way of the communication of himself unto us, wherein of God he is made unto us wisdom and sanctification.' Hereon he says of his church, This now is bone of my bone, and Aesh of my flesh ;' I see myself, my
own nature in them, whence they are comely and desirable. Hereby he makes way to present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but holy and without blemish. On this communication of Christ unto us by the forming of his own nature in us, depends all the purity, the beauty, the holiness, the inward glory of the church. Hereby is it really, substantially, internally separated from the world, and distinguished from all others, who, in the outward forms of things, in the profession and duties of religion, seem to be the same with them. Hereby it becomes the first-fruits of the creation unto God, bearing forth the renovation of his image in the world; herein the Lord Christ is, and will be glorious unto all eternity. I only mention these things, which deserve to be far more largely insisted on.
He doth the same by that actual insition or implantation into himself, which he gives us by faith, which is of his own operation. For hereon two things do ensue; one by the grace or power, the other by the law or constitution of the gospel, which have a great influence into this mystical communication of Christ unto the church.
And the first of these is, that hereby there is communicated unto us, and we do derive supplies of spiritual life, sustenation, motion, strength in grace, and perseverance, from him continually. This is that which himself so divinely teacheth in the parable of the vine and its branches, John xv. 1-5. Hereby is there a continual communication from his all-fulness of grace unto the whole church and all the members of it, unto all the ends and duties of spiritual life. "They live, nevertheless not they, but Christ liveth in them; and the life which they lead in the flesh, is by the faith of the Son of God.' And the other, by virtue of the law and constitution of the gospel, is, that hereon his righteousness and all the fruits of his mediation, are imputed unto us; the glory of which mystery the apostle unfolds, Rom. iii-v.
I might add hereunto the mutual inbeing that is between him and believers by love; for the way of the communication of his love unto them, being by the shedding of it abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and their returns of love unto them, being wrought in them by an almighty efficiency of the same Spirit, there is that which is deeply mysterious and glorious in it. I might mention also the continuation of his discharge of all his offices towards us, whereon all our receptions from him, or all the benefits of his mediation, whereof we are made partakers, do depend. But the few instances that have been given of the glory of Christ in this mysterious communication of himself unto his church, may suffice to give us such a view of it, as to fill our hearts with holy admiration and thanksgiving.
The glory of Christ in the recapitulation of all things in him.
In the last place, the Lord Christ is peculiarly and eminently glorious in the recapitulation of all things in him, after they had been scattered and disordered by sin. This the apostle proposeth as the most signal effect of divine wisdom, and the sovereign pleasure of God.
• He hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will according unto his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself. That in the dispensation of the fulness of time he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in the heavens, and which are on earth, even in him ;' Eph. i. 8-10.
For the discovery of the mind of the Holy Ghost in these words, so far as I am at present concerned, namely, as unto the representation of the glory of Christ in them, sundry brief observations must be premised ; and in them it will be necessary that we briefly declare the original of all these things in heaven and earth, their primitive order, the confusion that ensued thereon, with their restitution in Christ, and his glory thereby.
God alone hath all being in him. Hence he gives himself that name, 'I Am, Exod. iii. 14. He was eternally all; when all things else that ever were, or now are, or shall be, were nothing. And when they are, they are no otherwise, but as they are of him, and from him, and to him;' Rom. xi. 36.