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respects. To angels he is an head of dominion and government, but to saints he is both an head of dominion, and vital influence too: They are his chief and most honourable subjects, but not his mystical members: They are as the Barons and Nobles ia his kingdom, but the saints as the dear spouse and wife of his bosom. This dignifies the believer above the greatest angel. And as the nobles of the kingdom think it a preferment and. honour to serve the queen, so the glorious angels think It no degradation or dishonour to them to serve the saints; for to this honourable office they are appointed, Heb. r. 14. to be ministring, or serviceable spirits, for the good of them that shall be heirs of salvation. The chiefest servant disdains not to honour and serve the heir.
Some imperious grandees would frown, should some of these persons but presume to approach their presence; but God sets them before his sace with delight, and angels delight-to serve them. *
Infer, a. If there be such a stritl and inseparable union betwixt Christ and believers, then the graces of believers can never totally fail: Immortality is the privilege of grace, because sanctified persons are inseparably united to Chrifi the fountain of life i "Your life is hid with Christ in God," Col. iii. 3. Whilst the sap of life is in the root, the branches live by it. Thus it is betwixt Christ and believers, John xiv. 10. "Because I live, "ye shall live also." See how Christ binds up their life in one bundle with his own, plainly intimating, it is as impossible for them to die, as it is for himself, he cannot live without them.
True it is, the spiritual life of believers is encountred by many strong and fierce oppositions: It is also brought-to a low ebb la some, but we are always to remember, there are some things which pertain to the essence of that life, in which the very being of it lies, and some things that pertain only to its well-being. All thole things which belong to the well-being of the new creature, as manifestations, joys, spiritual comforts, oc. may-, fora time, sail, yea, and grace itself may suffer great losses and ^missions in its degrees, notwithstanding our union with Christ; hut still the essence of it is immortal, which is no small relief to gracious souls: When the means of grace sall, as it is threatned, Amos viii. 1 r. When temporary, formal professors drop away from Christ like withered leaves from the trees in a windy day, 2 Tim. ii. 18. And when the natural union of their souls and bodies is suffering a (Mbiution from each other by death, whest
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that filver cord is looted, this golden chain holds firm, 1 Cor. iii. 13.
Infer. 3. Is the union so intimate betwixt Christ and believers t Hew great and powerful a motive then is this, to make us openhanded and liberal in relieving the necessities and wants of every gracious person! tor in relieving them we relieve Christ himjelf.
Christ personal is not the object of our pity and charity, he is at the fountain-head of all the riches in glory, Eph. iv. iov but Christ mystical is exposed to necessities, and wants, he feels hunger and thirst, cold and pains, in his body the church *; and he is refreshed, relieved, and comforted, in their refreshments and comforts. Christ the Lord of heaven and earth, in this consideration, is sometimes in need of a penny; he tells us his wants and poverty, and how he is relieved, Mat. xxv. 3 5, 40. A text -believed and understood by very few. "I was an "hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me
drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in. Then shall the "righteous answer, Lord, when sew we thee an hungred, isc. "And the King shall answer, and say unto them, verily I say "unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least "of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
It was the laying of a great divine, that he thought scarce any man on earth did fully understand, and believe this truth, and he conceives so much hinted in the very text, where the righteous themselves reply, "Lord, when saw we thee sick," &c. intimating in the question, that they did not thoroughly understand the nearness, yea, oneness of thole persons with Christ, for whom they did these things. And, indeed, it is incredible, that a Christian can be hard-hearted, and clole-handed, to that necessitous Christian, in refreshing and relieving of whom, he verily believes, that he ministers refreshment to Christ himself.
O think again and again, upon this scripture, consider what forcible and mighty arguments are here laid together, to engage relief to the wants of Christians.
Here you fee their near relation to Christ; they are mystically one person; what you did to them, you did to me. Here you fee also how kindly Christ takes it at our hands: acknow
* He who is not moved with the condition of a brother in the church, let him be moved with the contemplation of Christ: and he who does not regard his fellow servant in straits and want, let him regard the Lord, dwelling in that man whom he despises* Cypria* en Works and Charity.
ledging ail those kindnesses that were bestowed upon him, even to a bit of bread: He is, you fee, content to take it as a courtesy, who might demand it by authority, and bereave you of all immediately upon refusal.
Yea, here you see one single branch or act of obedience, (outcharity to the saints) is singled out from among all the duties of obedience, and made the test and evidence of our sincerity in that great day, and men blessed or cursed according to the love they have manifested this way to the saints.
0 then, henceforth, let none that understand the relation the saints have to Christ, as the members to the head, or the relation they have to each other thereby, as fellow-members of the same body, from henceforth suffer Christ to hunger, if they have bread to relieve him, or Christ to be thirsty, if they have wherewith to refresh htm: this union betwixt Christ and the faints, affords an argument beyond all other arguments in the world to prevail with us. Methinks, a little rhetoric might persuade a Christian to part with any thing he hath for Christ who parted with the glory of heaven, yea, and his own blood for his sake.
Infer. 4. Do Christ and believers make hut one mystical person? How unnatural and absurd then are all thofe ails of unkindne/s, 'whereby believers wound and grieve Jejus Christ'' This is as if the hand should wound his own head, from which it receives /ife, sense, motion, and strength. . . r:a s. ' 1 ..'-.<.
When satan smites Christ by a wicked man, he then wounds him with the hand of an enemy; but when his temptations prevail upon the saints to sin, he wounds him, as it were with his own hand: As the eagle and tree in the sable complained, the one that he was wounded by au arrow winged with his own fear triers; the other, that it was cleaved asunder by a wedge hewa out of its own limbs.
Now the evil and disingenuity of such sins, are to be measured, not only by the near relation Christ sustains to believers as their Head ; but more particularly, from the several benefits they receive from him as such; for in wounding Christ by their sins,'
First, They wound their head of injluence, through whom they live, and without whom they had still remained in the state of sin and death, Eph. iv. 16. Shall Christ fend life to us, aud we return that which is death to him! O how absurd, how disigenuous is this; . ;
Secondly, They wound their head of government. Christ is a T z'
guiding, as well as a quickening head, Col. i. i9. He is your wisdom, he guides you by his counsels to glory : but must he be thus requited for all his taithiul conduct! What do you, when you sin, but rebel against his government, refusing to follow his counsels, and obeying, in the mean time, a deceiver, rather than him.
Thirdly, They wound their consulting head, who cares, prorides, and projects, for the welsare and safety of the body. Christians, you know your affairs below have not been steered and managed by your own wisdom, but that orders have been given from heaven for your security and supply from day to day. "I "know, O Lord, (saith the prophet) that the way of man is not "in himself, neither is it in him that walks to direct his own "steps," Jcr. x. 23.
It is true, Christ is out of your sight, and you fee him not: but he lees you, and orders every thing that concerns you. And is this a due requital of all that care he hath takeu for you? Da you thus requite the Lord for all tits benefits? What, recompense evil for good! O let shame cover you.
Fourthly, and lastly, They wound their head of honour. Christ your Head, is the fountain of honour to you: This is your glory that you relate to him as your head: You are, on this account, (as before was noted) exalted above angels.
Now then consider, how vile a thing it is to reflect the least; 'dishonour upon him, from whom you derive all your glory. O consider and bewail it.
Infer. 5. Is there so striil and intimate a. relation and unioit betwixt Christ and the saints f Then Jurcly they can never want what is goodfor their fouls or bodies.
Every one naturally cares and provides for his own, especially for his own body; yet we can more easily violate the law of nature, and be cruel to our own flesh, than Christ can be so to his mystical body *. I know ir is hard to reft upon, and rejoice in a promise, when necessities pinch, and we fee not from whence relief should arise; but O! what sweet satissaction and comfort, might a necessitous believer sind in these considerations, would he but keep them upon his heart in such a day of strait.
First, Whatever my distresses are for quaiity, number, or degree, they are all known even to the least circumstance, by Christ my Head: He looks down from heaven upon all my af
* Qui tnifit filium, immifit spiritum, promijit vultum, quid tan* dem denegabit? i. e. He who hath sent his Son, put the Spirit with? in us, aad promised his countenance, What will he deny us }
factions, and understands them more fully than I that feel them, Psal. xxxviii 9. "Lord, all mydesiieis before thee, and my "groaning is not hid from thee."
Secondly, He not only knows them, but feels them, as well as knows them; " We have not an High-priest that cannot be "touched with the feeling of our iufirmittes," Heb. iv. 15, In all your afflictions he is afflicted; tender lympathy cannot but flow from such intimate union; therefore, in Matth. xxv, 35. be saith, I was an hungred, and I was a-th'u'it, and I was caked. For indeed his sympathy, and tender compassion, gava him as quick a resentment, a»d as tender a sense of their wants, as if they had been his own. Yea, "' . ,
Thirdly, He not only knows and feels my wants, but hath enough in his hand, and much more than enough to supply them all; for all things are delivered to him by the Father, Luke x. 22. All the storehouses in heaven and earth are his, Phil. iv. t$, '"'
Fourthly, He bestows all earthly good things, even to superfluity and redundance, upon his very enemies, " They have "more tban heart can with," Pial. lxxiii. 7. He is bountiful to strangers; he loads very enemies with these things, and caa it be supposed he will in the mean while srarve his own, and neglect those whom he loves as his own flesh i It cannot be, Moreover, -'
Fifthly, Hitherto he hath not suffered me to perish in any former straits; when, and where was it, that he forsook me? This is not the first plunge of trouble I have been in; have I not found him a God at hand! How oft have I seen him in the mount of difficulties!
Sixth/y, and Lastly, I have his promise and engagement that he will never leave me nor fotsake me, Heb. xiii. 5. and John xiv. 18. a promise which hath never sailed, since the hour it was first made. If then the Lord Jesus knows and feels all my wants, hath enough, and more than enough to. supply them, if he gives even to redundance unto his enemies, hath not hitherto forsaken me, and hath promised he never will? Why then is my soul thus disquieted in me! Surely there is no cause it should be so.
Infer. 6. If the saints are so nearly united to Christ, as the members to the head: 0 then how great a fin, and full of danger is it for any to -wrong and persecute the faints'' For in so d)ing, they must needs persecute Christ himself.
"Saul, Saul, (saith Christ) why persecutest thou me?" Acts