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ir delightful to himself, with the concurring act of his own will, and with his free consent and choice.
I now proceed to your third question, “ Of what necessity or usefulness to practical godliness is it, that we should have a just acquaintance with this doctrine of our union to Jesus Christ ?”:
In answer to this, I must observe, that I have already somewhat anticipated this inquiry. You may perceive, by what has been already said upon this subject, that it is not a point of mere unnecessary speculation, of no use or influence upon practical and vital religion. And I would now endeavour to show you that this is the foundation of all practical godliness; and that it is from ignorance of, or inattention to, this foundation of our practice and hope, that so many dangerous errors have obtained in the Christian church. This may be represented to you, in the first place, by considering this matter with a special application to the subject upon which I have lately written so particularly and largely to you.
I am first, then, to show you that our justification before God does necessarily and immediately depend upon our vital union to Jesus Christ. It must be confessed by all men who know any thing of human nature, and have any belief of a divine revelation, that we have all sinned, and that we are all become guilty before God.
And which way shall guilty sinners be reconciled to God? This, Sir, is the most important concern in the world. Consider the question with an attention worthy of its infinite consequence. Can you quiet your conscience with hopes of appeasing the divine justice by your reformations,
good endeavours, or duties? Alas ! they are all so defective and sinful, that the iniquity of your holy things will greatly increase the score, and add to the weight of your guilt. Will you flatter your hopes, from the mercy and goodness of the divine nature ? But what claim can you have to ercy, when open to the inexorable demands of justice ? expect acceptance with God upon Christ's account? This is indeed a sure foundation of hope for all who are interested in Christ and united to him. But what pretence can you make to the righteousness of Christ and the benefits of his redemption, if you have no interest in him, or in any of his saving benefits? If
have an interest in him, you are united to him, as I have already demonstrated. If you have not an interest in him, you have no plea to make for justification and acceptance with God upon his account. Our Lord Jesus Christ has indeed made a sufficient atonement for sin, He has wrought out a perfect righteousness for sinners, whereby they may be acquitted from guilt, reconciled to God, and freely justified in his sight. But what is this to impenitent unbelievers, who have never been drawn to Christ by the powerful influences of his Holy Spirit, who have never received him by faith, so have never belonged to him, and therefore could never have any part in either his active or passive obedience ? 66 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” This, therefore, is a sufficient evidence of the truth of what I have before written to you upon the doctrine of justification.
We cannot be justified by works. We cannot be justified by a conformity to any imaginary law of grace, without a vital union to Christ by faith. For “ he that believeth not is condemned already;" and " he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” But then, on the other hand, being united to his person, we are united to his benefits, and partake with him in all the merits of his obedience, in his righteousness, victories, graces, and inheritance. This, then, shows you what necessity there is of your acquaintance with the doctrine of our union to Christ. There is a necessity for it, that you may know what is the foundation of your eternal hope, how you may find acceptance with God, and how “ you may know Christ, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, and be made conformable to his death."
Moreover, our sanctification does likewise immediately and necessarily depend upon a vital union unto the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scriptures do indeed exhort us to be holy, as our Father which is in heaven is holy; and to that end exhort us to watch and pray, to crucify our flesh with its affections and lusts, to mortify our members which are upon earth, and to place our affections upon things that are above, and to the like exercises of religious duty. But they no where exhort us to attempt these in our own strength, or to expect a renewed nature by any performance of them within our power. To attempt our sanctification merely by our endeavours, were to press
oil out of a flint. For “ in the Lord, shall men say, we have righteousness and strength ;" his grace, and that only, is sufficient for us; and without
him we can do nothing. I have shown you, that all supplies of grace are treasured up in Christ for us, and that we are to receive them all out of his fulness. How then can we partake of them, whilst estranged and disunited from him ? Can a branch cut off from the vine bring forth fruit? No more can we except we abide in him. Can the branches of an olive tree flourish without the root ? Surely we cannot bear the root, but the root must bear us; and we must therefore be grafted in, if we would partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree. Can we live and act, when separated from our life? Christ is our life; and until he quicken us, we are dead in trespasses and sins.
In a word, our carnal minds are enmity to God; we are altogether as an unclean thing; and when love to God can be the production of enmity itself, and purity and holiness of nothing but defilement and uncleanness, then, but not till then, can we be holy without a union to Jesus Christ. If, therefore, you would obtain that holiness without which no man can see the Lord, you must, with active diligence, repair to him for it. You must by faith depend upon him as the fountain
You must receive all from him, and give him the glory of all you receive. .
Our communion with God does likewise wholly depend upon our union to Jesus Christ. I have already shown you, that all sanctifying grace is derived from our union to Jesus Christ; and I think I need not use arguments to prove that we cannot exercise grace before we have it.
All quickening, comforting, strengthening grace, must derive from the same source, as converting and sanctifying grace
of all grace.
does. Would you be humbled and abased before God, you must learn of Christ to be meek and lowly of heart. Would
you have your affections placed upon things above, you must remember, that “
you are dead, and that your life is hid with Christ in God.” Would you have enlargement of soul, and cheerful hope in God's mercy, when you approach his presence, “ Christ in you is your hope of glory.” “ In whom you may have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. And be accepted in the Beloved.” Would you enjoy the earnest of your future inheritance, it must be “ upon your believing in him, that you are sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of your inheritance.” Would you have joy and peace in believing, you must " rejoice in Christ Jesus, without confidence in the flesh.” Would
have the communications of the divine love to your soul, it must be from Christ's loving you, and manifesting himself to you.—To conclude, certain it is, that without union there can be no communion; and it therefore concerns you, not only to consider whether you are indeed united to Christ, and have access to God through faith in him; but also, whether your deadness, formality, and distractions in duty, which you so often complain of, are not owing to the want of a cheerful dependence upon Christ, as the head of influences; or else to your vain attempts to quicken your soul by some endeavours of your own, without looking to him for the incomes of his Spirit and grace.
I may add once more, our perseverance in grace here, and our perfection of grace in glory, do neces