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ix. 4. f The righteous God holds himself obliged to vindicate oppressed innocency, though it be in the persons of wicked men, how much more when it is in a member of Christ?" He that "toucheth you, toucheth the apple of mine eye," Zech. ii. 8. And is it to be imagined, that Christ will fit still, and suffer his enemits to hurt or injure the very apples of his eyes: No, no, ** He hath ordained his arrows against the persecutors," Psalm
O it were better thine hand should wither, and thine arm sall from thy shoulder, than ever it should be lifted up against Christ, in the poorest of his members. Believe it, firs, not only your violent actions, but your hard speeches, are all set down upon your doom's-day book; and you shall be brought to au account for them in the great day, Jude 15. Beware what arrows you shoot, and be sure of your mark before you shoot them.
Infer. 7. If there be such a union betwixt Christ and the saints', as hath been described, upon "what comfortable terms then, may believers part with their bodies at death?
Christ your head is risen, therefore you cannot be lost: nay, he is not only risen from the dead himlelf, but is also " become '' the first-fruits of them that slept," 1 Cor. xv. 20. Believers are his members, his fulness, he cannot therefore be complete without you: a part of Christ cannot perish in the grave %, much less burn in hell. Remember, when you feel the natural union dissolving, that this mystical union can never be dissolved: the pangs of death cannot break this tie. And as there is a peculiar excellency in the believer's life, so there is a singular support, and peculiar comfort in his death; " To me to live is '' Christ, and to die is gain," Phil. t. 21.
Infer. 8. If there be such a union betwixt Christ and believers, How doth it concern every man to try and examine his eJtate, whether he is really united with Christ or not, by the natural and proper effects, which always flow from this union? As,
f Agesilaus was wont to say, That he very much wondered, that th6se were not reckoned upin the number of sacrilegious persons, who injured those who made supplication to God, or worshipped him: By which he signified, thai not only those should be reckoned injurious, who robbed the Gods themselves, or their temples, but even these chiefly who affronted their servants or heralds. Æmyl. Prob.
jj; To say that the temple of God, in which the Spirit of the Father dwells, and the members of Christ, shall not partake of salvation, but be brought into perdition, what is it but the greatest blasphemy I ben. lib. 5.
firll, The real communication of Christ's holiness to the foul. We cannot be united with this root, and not partake of the vital sap of fructification from him; all that are plauted into him, are planted into the likeness of his death, and of his resurrection, Rom. ti. 5, 6. viz. by mortification and vivisication.
- Secondly, They that are so nearly united to him, as members to the head, cannot but love him and value him, above their own lives; as we fee in nature, the hand and arm will interpose to save the head. The nearer the union, the stronger always is the affection. .
Thirdly, The members are subject to the head. Dominion in the head must needs infer subjection in the members, Eph. v. 24. In vain do we claim union with Christ as our head, whilst we are governed by our own Wills, and our lusts give us law.
Fourthly, All that are united to Christ, da bear fruit to God, Rom. vii. 4. Fruitfulness is the next end of our union: there are no barren branches growing upon this fruitful root.
Infer. 9. Lastly, How much are believers engaged to walk at the members of Christ, in the vifible exercises of all thofe graces and duties, which the consideration of their near relation to him exacts from them. As,
First, How contented and well pleased mould we be with onr outward lot, however providence hath cast it for us in this world. O do not repine, God hath dealt bountifully with you; upon others he hath bestowed the good things of this world; upon you, himself in Christ.
Secondly, How humble and lowly in spirit should you be under your great ^advancement I It is true, God hath magnified you greatly by this union, but yet do not swell, "You bear not "the root, but the root you," Rom. xi. 18. You shine, but it is as the stars, with a borrowed light. •
Thirdly, How zealous should you be to honour Christ, who hath put so much honour upon you 1 Be willing to give glory to Christ, though his glory should rise out of your shame. Never reckon that glory that goes to Christ, to be lost to you: when you lie at his feet, in the most particular heart-breaking confessions of sin, yet let this please you, that therein you have given him glory.
Fourthly, How exact and circumspect should you be in all your ways, remembring whose you are, and whom you represent! Shall it be said, that a member of Christ was convicted of unrighteousness and unholy actions 1 God forbid. "If we say. <' we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie," 1 John i. 6. "Aud he that saith he abideth in him, ought al-' "so himself to walk even as he also walked," i John ii. 6.
Fifthly, How studious should you be of peace, among yourklves, who are all Ib nearly united to such a Head, and thereby are made fellow-members of the same body ! The Heathen world was never acquainted with such an argument as the apostle urges for unity, in Eph. iv. 3,4.
Sixth/y, and lastly, How joyful and comfortable should you be, to whom Christ, with all his treasures and benefits, is effectually applied in this blessed union of your fouls with him! This brings him into your possession: O how great! how glorious a person do these little, weak arms of your saith embrace! Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.
Opening the Nature and Use os the Gospel-ministry, as an external Means of applying Christ.
2 Cor. v. 20. Now thm, we are ambassadors for Christ, ar though God did beseech you by us : we pray you in Christ's Jlead, he ye reconciled to God.
TH E effectual application of Christ, principally consists in our union with him, but, ordinarily, there can be no union without a gospel-tender, anvl overture of him to our souls; for, " How shall they believe in him, of whom they have "not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? "and how shall they preach, except they be sent I" Rom. x. 14.
'If God be upon a design of espousing poor sinners to his Son, there must be a treaty in order to it; that treaty requires interlocution betwixt boih the parties concerned in it; but such ra our frailty, that, should God speak immediately to us himself, it would confound and overwhelm us: God therefore graciously condescends, and accomodates himself to our infirmity, in treating with us in order to our union with Christ, by his ambassadors, and these not angels, whose converses we cannot bear, bat men like ourselves, who are commislionated for the effecting of this great business betwixt Christ and us. "Now then, we are amV bassadors for God," dr. Ia which words ycu have,
first, Christ's ambassadors commissionatcd. Secondly, Their commission opened.
First, Christ's ambassadors commissiooated. "Now then, we "are ambassadors for Chist." The Lord Jesus thought it not sufficient to print the law of grace, and blessed terms of our union with him in the scriptures, where men may read his willingness to receive them, and see the just and gracious terms and conditions upon which he offers to become thtirs; but hath also so set up and established a standing office in the church, to expound that law, inculcate the precepts, and urge the promises thereof; to woo and espouse souls to Christ, " I have espoused "you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin! ** to Christ," 2 Cor. xi. 20.; and this not simply from their owtt affections and compassions to miserable sinners, but also by virtue of their office and commission, whereby they are authorized and appointed to that work. "We then are ambassadors for "Christ."
Secondly, Their commission opened: Wherein we find,
1. Their work appointed.
2. Their capacity described.
3. And the manner of their acting in that capacity prescrib' ed.
First, The work whereunto the ministers of the gospel are appointed, is to reconcile the -worldto God; to work these sinful, vairt, rebellious hearts, which ha-ve a strong aversation from God naturally in them; to close with him according to the articles of peace contained in the gospel, that thereby they may be capable to receive the mercies and benefits purchased by the death of Christ, which they cannot receive in the state of enmity and alienation.
Secondly, Their capacity described : They act in Christ's stead, as hir. vicegerents. He is no more in this world to treat personally with sinners, as once he did in the days of his flesh; but yet he still continues the treaty with this lower world, by his officers, requiring men to look upon them, and obey them as they would himself, if he were corporally present, Luke x. 16. " He "that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiscth you, de» "spiseth me."
Thirdly, The manner of their acting in that capacity prescribed; and that is, by humble, sweet, and condescending entreaties and beseechings. This best suits the meek and lamb-lik« Saviour whom they represent: thus he dealt with poor sinners himself, when he conversed among them; he "would not
Vol. II. U I . -,'
break a bruised reed, nor quench the smoaking flax," Isa. xlii. 3. This is the way to allure and win the fouls of sinners to Christ.
From hence the note is,
Doct. That the preaching of the gofpel by Christ's ambassadors, is the means appointed fsr the reconciling and bringing home of finners to Christ.
This is clear from Rom. x. 14., 1 Cor. i. 21. and many other scriptures.
Here we shall take into consideration these three things.
First, What is implied in Christ's treating with sinners by bis ambassadors or ministers.
Secondly, What is the great concernment they are to treat with sinners about.
Thirdly, What, and when is the efficacy of preaching, to bring sinners to Christ.
First, We will open what is implied and imported in Christ's treaty with sinners, by his ambassadors or ministers.
And here v/e sind these six things implied.
1. It necessarily implies the defection and sall of man, from his estate of savour and friendship with God : If no war with heaven, what need of ambassadors of peace? The very office of the ministry, is an argument of the sall. Gospel-ordinances, and officers came in upon the sall, and expire with the Mediator's dispensatory-kingdom, 1 Cor. xv. 24, 25. "Then shall he "deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father:" Thenceforth no more ordinances, no more ministers; What use can there be of them, when the treaty is ended ? They have done and accomplished all they were ever intended and designed for, when they shall have reconciled to God all the number of his elect, that dispersed among the lost and miserable posterity of Adam, and have brought them home to Christ in a perfect state^ Eph. iv. 12, isc.
2. It implies the singular grace and admirable condescension of God to sinful man. That God will admit any treaty with him at all, is wonderful mercy, it is more than he would do for the angels that sell, Jude 6. " They are reserved in everlasting "chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the threat day." Christ took not on him their nature, but suffered myriads of them to perish, and fills up their vacant places in glory, with a number of sinful men and women, to whom the law awarded the same punishment. ^ .. . <