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thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.
That they may be one, even as we are one. I in them, and thou iny me, that they may be made perfect in one.”
This union is sometimes represented in Scripture by lively metaphors and resemblances.
It is compared to the union of a vine and its branches. Thus, John xv. 4, 5. “ 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. I am the vine, and ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing."
It is compared to the union of our meat and drink with our bodies. Thus, John vi. 56, 57. “ He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.”
It is frequently compared to the union of the body to the head. Thus, Eph. iv. 15, 16. speaking the truth in love, 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."
It is sometimes compared to the conjugal union. Thus, Eph. v. 23, 30. " For the husband is the
head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the Saviour of the body. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” Rom. vii. 4. “ Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”
It is likewise compared to the union of a building, whereof Christ is considered as the foundation, or chief corner-stone. Thus, 1 Pet. ii. 4, 5, 6. “ To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner-stone, elect, precious.”
I might add, that this union is sometimes represented in Scripture by an identity or sameness of spirit. Thus, 1 Cor. vi. 17. “ He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”
It is sometimes represented by an identity of body. Thus, 1 Cor. xii. 12, 27. “ For as the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of that body being many, are one body; so also is Christ. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
It is also represented by an identity of interest. Matt. xxv. 40. “ Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Christ and
believers have one common Father.
John xx. 17. “ I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” They have one common inheritance, Rom. viii. 17.
6 Heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” And they have one common place of eternal residence. John xiv. 3. “ And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.”
From this brief and general view of the scriptural representations of our union with Christ, I now proceed to consider something distinctly, what is the special nature of this union, and what we are to understand by it. Now it may not be improper, in the first place, to consider it negatively, and say what it is not, before I enter upon an affirmative explication and illustration of it.
I need not take any pains to convince you that this union is not an essential or personal union. The union of the Trinity in the Godhead is essential: the union of the divine and human nature in Christ is personal. But it were blasphemy to suppose either of these kinds of unions in the case be
Should we suppose the former, we should attribute divine perfection to ourselves.
Should we suppose the latter, we should make ourselves jointmediators of the covenant, with the glorious Redeemer; either of which are too horribly profane to find any admission into our minds. . Though Christ and believers are one, as he and the Father are one, this is to be understood with respect to the resemblance there is, in point of reality and nearness of union, and not with respect to the nature and kind of it.
It is likewise unnecessary to endeavour to prove
that this union is not of the same kind with those natural and local unions with which we are acquainted. Though the word union is apt to carry our minds into an imagination of a contract, mixture, inhesion, or the like, we are to remember, that these are too gross and low conceptions of this astonishing mystery, to be entertained by us.
We are to remember, that our union is to him, who " is by the right hand of God exalted,” and who is " set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
These things need not be insisted upon; the mere proposing of them compels your assent. But it seems there is another thing requires more particular consideration, which is, that the union I am treating of is not to be considered as a mere civil or political union.
It is through want of a right view of this Gospel-mystery that you tell me, “ you can understand no more by our being united to Christ, than a near relation to him as our Lord and Saviour;” and “ if there be any more implied in it than a relative and political union (you confess) you have no idea of it.”
I hope, Sir, your internal experience has in this case gone beyond your speculation : your state (I think) must otherwise be most dangerous and miserable. If you will view the scriptural representations, which I have already given of this matter, you must see, that there is much more than a mere relative, civil, or political union, implied in those emphatical expressions-of being one with Christ, as he is one with the Father ; of abiding in him, and he in us; of being united as the vine and the branches; of being so joined to the
Lord, as to be one spirit with him; of being the body of Christ, and members in particular; with others of the like nature : it is impossible to give any rational construction of these and the like
passages of Scripture, upon the supposition of a mere political union; and you must acknowledge, that a political or relative union is not peculiar to believers. power is given to Christ, both in heaven and earth.” Angels, men, and devils, are in this sense united under the kingdom and government of the Lord Jesus Christ, and shall accordingly be all accountable to him in the day of retribution. This, therefore, cannot be the meaning of the union in question.
I shall now proceed to consider affirmatively, (according to the light given us in the Scripture,) what the nature of this union is. And here, 1. It must be considered as a mystical union.
the Apostle, is a great mystery, Ephes.
So great, as to admit of no clear and full illustration, at least in this imperfect state. From whence we have a further evidence, that it is not a mere relative and political union, in which there is nothing mysterious, nothing but what is familiar and easy enough to be understood, while the union under consideration is altogether incomprehensible. The reality and certainty of this union is clearly revealed, and the blessed effects of it are experienced by all the children of God; but the manner of it (like the divine person, God incarnate, to whom we are united) is not only above our knowledge, but above our search and inquiry. This may perhaps be matter of prejudice in the minds of some, against the doctrine before us, that it is inscrutable and un