The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
by John Flavel
File 3
(... continued from file 2)

Sermon 2. 
Wherein the Union of the Believer with Christ, as a principal Part 
of effectual Application, is stated and practically improved. 
John 17: 23. 
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one. 
    The design and end of the application of Christ to sinners is 
the communication of his benefits to them; but seeing all 
communications of benefits necessarily imply communion, and all 
communion as necessarily presupposes union with his person: I shall 
therefore, in this place, and from this scripture, treat of the 
mystical union betwixt Christ and believers; this union being the 
principal act, wherein the Spirit's application of Christ consists, 
of which I spake (as to its general nature) in the former sermon. 
    In this verse (omitting the context) we find a threefold union, 
one betwixt the Father and Christ, a second betwixt Christ and 
believers, a third betwixt believers themselves. 
    First, Thou in me: This is a glorious ineffable union, and is 
fundamental to the other two. The Father is not only in Christ, in 
respect of dear affections, as one dear friend is in another, who is 
as his own soul; nor only essentially, in respect of the identity 
and sameness of nature and attributes, in which respect Christ is 
the express image of his person, Heb. 1: 8. But he is in Christ also 
as Mediator, by communicating the fulness of the Godhead, which 
dwells in him as God-man, in a transcendent and singular manner, so 
as it never dwelt, nor call dwell in any other, Col. 2:9. 
    Secondly, I in them. There is the mystical union betwixt Christ 
and the saints, q. d. Thou and I are one essentially, they and I are 
one mystically: and thou and I are one by communication at the 
Godhead, and singular fulness of the Spirit to me as Mediator; and 
they and I are one, by my communication of the Spirit to them in 
    Thirdly, From hence results a third union betwixt believers 
themselves; that they may be made perfect in one; the same Spirit 
dwelling in them all, and equally uniting them all to me, as living 
members to their Head of influence, there must needs be a dear and 
intimate union betwixt themselves, as fellow-members of the same 
    Now my business, at this time, lying in the second branch, 
namely the union betwixt Christ and believers, I shall gather up the 
substance of it into this doctrinal proposition, to which I shall 
apply this discourse. 
    Doct. That there is a strict and dear union betwixt Christ and 
    all true believers. 
    The scriptures have borrowed from the book at nature four 
elegant and lively metaphors, to help the nature of this mystical 
union with Christ into our understandings; namely, that of pieces of 
timber united by glue, that of a graff taking hold of its stock, and 
making one tree; that of the husband and wife, by the 
marriage-covenant, becoming one flesh; and that of the members and 
head animated by one soul, and so becoming one natural body. Every 
one of these is more lively and full than the other: and what is 
defective in one, is supplied in the other; but yet neither any of 
these singly, or all at them jointly, can give us a full and 
complete account of this mystery. 
    Not that of two pieces united by glue, 1 Cor 5: 17 "He that is 
joined to the Lord is one spirit," "kollamenos", glued to the Lord 
For though this cements, and strongly joins them in one, yet this is 
but a faint and imperfect shadow of our union with Christ; for 
though this union by glue be intimate, yet not vital, but so is that 
of the soul with Christ. 
    Nor that of the graft and stock, mentioned Rom. 6: 5. for 
though it be there said, that believers are "sumfutoi", implanted, 
or ingrafted by way of incision, and this union betwixt it and the 
stock be vital, for it partakes of the vital sap and juice of it; 
yet here also is a remarkable defect, for the graft is of a more 
excellent kind and nature them the stock, and, upon that account, 
the tree receives its denomination from it, as from the more noble 
and excellent part, but Christ, into whom believers are ingrafted, 
is infinitely more excellent than they, and they are denominated 
from him. 
    Nor yet that conjugal union, by marriage-covenant, betwixt a 
man and his wife; for though this be exceeding dear and intimate, so 
that a man leaves father and mother, and cleaves to his wife, and 
they two become one flesh; yet this union is not indissolvable, but 
may and must be broken by death; and then the relict lives alone 
without any communion with, or relation to, the person that was once 
so dear; but this betwixt Christ and the soul can never be dissolved 
by death, it abides to eternity. 
    Nor, lastly, that of the head and members united by one vital 
spirit, and so making one physical body, mentioned Eph. 4: 15, 16. 
for though one soul actuates every member, yet it does not knit 
every member alike near to the head, but some are nearer, and others 
removed farther from it; but here every member is alike nearly 
united with Christ the Head; the weak are as near to him as the 
    Two things are necessary to be opened in the doctrinal part of 
this point. 1. The reality. 2. The quality of this union. 
    First, For the reality of it, I shall make it appear, that 
there is such a union betwixt Christ and believers; it is no Ens 
rationis, empty notion, or cunningly devised fable, but a most 
certain demonstrable truth, which appears, 
    First, From the communion which is betwixt Christ and 
believers, in this the apostle is express, 1 John 1: 3 "Truly our 
fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ;" 
"koinonia". It signifies such fellowship or copartnership, as 
persons have by a joint interest in one and the same enjoyment, 
which is in common betwixt them. So Heb. 3: 14. we are "metochoi", 
partakers of Christ. And Psal. 45: 7, "mechaverecha", here the 
saints are called the companions, consorts or fellows of Christ; 
"and that not only in respect of his assumption of our mortality, 
and investing us with his immortality, but it has a special 
reference and respect to the unction of the Holy Ghost, or graces of 
the Spirit, of which believers are partakers with him and through 
him." Now this communion of the saints with Christ is entirely and 
necessarily dependent upon their union with him, even as much as the 
branch's participation of the sap and juice depends upon its union 
and coalition with the stock: take away union, and there can be no 
communion, or communications, which is clear from 1 Cor. 3: 22, 23. 
"All is yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." When you 
see how all our participation of Christ's benefits is built upon our 
union with Christ's person. 
    Secondly, The reality of the believer's union with Christ, is 
evident from the imputation of Christ's righteousness to him for his 
justification. That a believer is justified before God by a 
righteousness without himself; is undeniable from Rom. 3: 24. "Being 
justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in 
Christ Jesus." And that Christ's righteousness becomes ours by 
imputation is as clear from Rom. 4: 23, 24. but it can never be 
imputed to us, except we be united to him, and become one with him: 
which is also plainly asserted in 1 Cor. 1: 30. "But of him are ye 
(in Christ Jesus) who of God is made unto us wisdom and 
righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." He communicates his 
merits unto none but those that are in him. Hence all those vain 
cavils of the Papists, disputing against our justification by the 
righteousness of Christ, and asserting it to be by inherent 
righteousness, are solidly answered. 
    When they demand, How can we be justified by the righteousness 
of another? Can I be rich with another man's money, or preferred by 
another man's honours? Our answer is, yes, if that other be my 
surety or husband. Indeed Peter can not be justified by the 
righteousness of Paul; but both may be justified by the 
righteousness of Christ imputed to them; they being members, jointly 
knit to one common Head. Principal and surety are one in obligations 
and constructions of law. Head and members are one body, branch and 
stock are one tree; and it is no strange things to see a graff live 
by the sap of another stock, when once it is ingrafted into it. 
    Thirdly, The sympathy that is betwixt Christ and believers, 
proves a union betwixt them; Christ and the saints smile and sigh 
together. St. Paul in Col. 1: 24. tells us, that he did "fill up 
that which was behind, 'ta ustermata' - the remainders of the 
sufferings of Christ in his flesh:" or not as if Christ's sufferings 
were imperfect, ("for by one offering he has perfected for ever them 
that are sanctified," Heb. 10: 14.) but in these two scriptures, 
Christ is considered in a twofold capacity; he suffered once in 
corpore proprio, in his own person, as Mediator; these sufferings 
are complete and full, and in that sense he suffers no more: he 
suffers also in corpore mystico, in his church and members, thus he 
still suffers in the sufferings of every saint for his sake, and 
though these sufferings in his mystical body are not equal to the 
other, either pondere et mensuria, in their weight and value, not 
yet designed ex officio, for the same use and purpose, to satisfy by 
their proper merit, offended justice; nevertheless they are truly 
reckoned the sufferings of Christ, because the head suffers when the 
members do; and without this supposition, that place, Acts 9:. 5. is 
never to be understood, when Christ, the Head in heaven, cries out, 
"Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" when the foot was trod upon 
earth: How does Christ sensibly feel our sufferings, or we his, if 
there be not a mystical union betwixt him and us? 
    Fourthly, and lastly, The way and manner in which the saints 
shall be raised at the last day, proves this mystical union betwixt 
Christ and them; for they are not to be raised as others, by the 
naked power of God without them, but by the virtue of Christ's 
resurrection as their Head, sending forth vital, quickening 
influences into their dead bodies, which are united to him as well 
as their souls. For so we find it, Rom. 8: 11. "But if the Spirit of 
him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised 
up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by 
his Spirit that dwelleth in you;" even as it is in our awaking, out 
of natural sleep, first the animal-spirits in the head begin to 
rouse and play there, and then the senses and members are loosed 
throughout the whole body. 
    Now it is impossible the saints should be raised in the last 
resurrection, by the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them, if that 
Spirit did not knit and unite them to him, as members to their head. 
So then by all this, it is proved, that there is a real union of the 
saints with Christ. 
    Next, I shall endeavour to open the quality and nature of this 
union, and show you what it is, according to the weak apprehensions 
we have of so sublime a mystery; and this I shall do in a general 
and particular account of it. 
    First, More generally, it is an intimate conjunction of 
believers to Christ, by the imparting of his Spirit to them, whereby 
they are enabled to believe and live in him. 
    All divine and spiritual life is originally in the Father, and 
comes not to us, but by and through the Son, John 5: 26. to him has 
the Father given to have an "autodzoe", - a quickening enlivening 
power in himself; but the Son communicates this life which is in him 
to none but by and through the Spirit, Rom. 8:2. So. "The Spirit of 
life which is in Christ Jesus, has made me free from the law of sin 
and death." 
    The Spirit must therefore first take hold of us, before we can 
live in Christ; and when he does so, then we are enabled to exert 
that vital act of faith, whereby we receive Christ; all this lies 
plain in that one scripture, John 6: 57. "As the living Father has 
sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, (that is by 
faith applies me) even he shall live by me." So that these two, 
namely, the Spirit on Christ's part, and faith, his work on our 
part, are the two ligaments by which we are knit to Christ. 
    So that the Spirit's work in uniting or ingrafting a soul in 
Christ, is like the cutting off the graff from its native stock 
(which he does by his illuminations and convictions) and closing it 
with the living, when it is thus prepared, and so enabling it (by 
the infusion of faith) to such and draw the vital sap, and thus it 
becomes one with him. Or as the many members in the natural body, 
being all quickened and animated by the same vital spirit, become 
one body with the head, which is the principal member, Eph. 4: 4. 
"There is one body and one spirit." 
    More particularly, we shall consider the properties of this 
union, that so we may the better understand the nature of it. And 
here I shall open the nature of it both negatively and 
    First, Negatively, by removing all false notions and 
misapprehensions of it. And we say, 
    First, The saints union with Christ is not a mere mental union 
only in conceit or notion, but really exists extra mentem, whether 
we conceit it or not. I know the atheistical world censures all 
these things as fancies and idle imaginations, but believers know 
the reality of them, Johns 14: 20. "At that day you shall know that 
I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you." This doctrine is 
not fantastical, but scientifical. 
    Secondly, The saints union with Christ is not a physical union, 
such as is between the members of a natural body and the head; our 
nature indeed is assumed into union with the person of Christ, but 
it is the singular honour of that blessed and holy flesh of Christ, 
to be so united as to make one person with him; that union is 
hypostatical, this only mystical. 
    Thirdly, Nor is it an essential union, or unions with the 
divine nature, so as our beings are thereby swallowed up and lost in 
the Divine being. 
    Some there be indeed that talk at that wild rate, of being 
godded into God, and christed into Christ; and those unwary 
expressions of Greg. Naz. "Theopoiein", and "Chrisopoiein". but do 
much countenance those daring spirits; but oh, there is an infinite 
distance betwixt us and Christ, in respect of nature and excellency, 
notwithstanding this union. 
    Fourthly, The union I here speak of, is not a foederal union, 
or an union by covenant only: such an union indeed there is betwixt 
Christ and believers, but that is consequential to and wholly 
dependant upon this. 
    Fifthly, and lastly, It is not a mere moral union by love and 
affection; thus we say, one soul is in two bodies, a friend is 
another self; the lover is in the person beloved; such an union of 
hearts and affections there is also betwixt Christ and the saints, 
but this is of another nature; that we call a moral, this is a 
mystical union; that only knits our affections, but this our persons 
to Christ. 
    Secondly, Positively. And, First, Though this union neither 
makes us one person nor essence with Christ, yet it knits our 
persons most intimately and nearly to the person of Christ. The 
church is Christ's body, Col. 1: 24. not his natural, but his 
mystical body; that is to say, his body is a mystery, because it is 
to him as his natural body. The saints stand to Christ in the same 
relation that the natural members of the body stand to the head, and 
he stands in the same relation to them, that the head stands in to 
the natural members; and consequently they stand related to one 
another, as the members of a natural body do to each other. 
    Christ and the saints are not one, as the oak and the ivy that 
clasps it are one, but as the graff and stock are one; it is not an 
union by adhesion, but incorporation. Husband and wife are not so 
dear, soul and body are not so near, as Christ and the believing 
soul are near to each other. 
    Secondly, The mystical union is wholly supernatural, wrought 
the alone power of God. So it is said, 1 Cor. 1: 30. But of him are 
ye in Christ Jesus." We can no more unite ourselves to Christ, than 
a branch can incorporate itself into another stock; it is of him, 
i.e. of God, his proper and alone work. 
    There are only two ligaments, or bands of union betwixt Christ 
and the soul, viz. the Spirit on his part, and faith on ours. But 
when we say faith is the band of union on our part, the meaning is 
not, that it is so our own act, as that it springs naturally from 
us, or is educed from the power of our own wills; no, for the 
apostle expressly contradicts it, Eph. 2: 8. "It is not of 
yourselves, it is the gift of God." But we are the subjects of it, 
and though the act on that account be ours, yet the power enabling 
us to believe is God's, Eph. 1: 19, 20. 
    Thirdly, The mystical union is an immediate union; immediate I 
say, not as excluding means and instruments, for several means and 
many instruments are employed for the effecting of it; but 
immediate, as excluding degrees of nearness among the members of 
Christ's mystical body. 
    Every member in the natural body stands not as near to the head 
as another, but so do all the mystical members of Christ's body to 
him: every member, the smallest as well as the greatest, has an 
immediate coalition with Christ, 1 Cor. 1: 2. "To the church of God, 
which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, 
called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name 
of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." 
    Among the factions in this church at Corinth, those that said, 
I am of Christ, as arrogating Christ to themselves, were as much a 
faction, as those that said I am of Paul, 1 Cor. 1: 30. To cure this 
he tells them, he is both theirs and ours. Such enclosures are 
against law. 
    Fourthly, The saints mystical union with Christ is a 
fundamental union; it is fundamental by way of sustentation; all our 
fruits of obedience depend upon it, John 15: 4. "As the branch 
cannot bear fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, 
except ye abide in me." It is fundamental to all our privileges and 
comfortable claims, 1 Cor. 3: 23. All is yours, for ye are 
Christ's." And it is fundamental to all our hopes and expectations 
of glory; for it is "Christ in you the hope of glory," Col. 1: 27. 
So then, destroy this union, and with it you destroy all our fruits, 
privileges, and eternal hopes, at one stroke. 
    Fifthly, The mystical union is a most efficacious union, for 
through this union the divine power flows into our outs, both to 
quicken us with the life of Christ, and to conserve and secure that 
life in us after it is so infused. 
    Without the union of the soul to Christ, which is to be 
conceived efficiently as the Spirit's act, there can be no union 
formally considered; and, without these, no communications of life 
from Christ to us, Eph. 4: 16. And as there is that "energeia", or 
effectual working of the spirit of life in every part, which he 
there speaks of, (as though you should say, the first appearances of 
a new life, a spiritual vitality diffused through the soul, which 
ere while was dead in sin) yet still this union with Christ is as 
necessary to the maintaining, as before it was to the producing of 
    For why is it that this life is not again extinguished, and 
wholly suffocated in us, by so many deadly wounds as are given it by 
temptations and corruptions? Surely no reason can be assigned more 
satisfying than that which Christ himself gives us, in John 14: 19. 
"because I live, ye shall live also:" q d. whilst there is vital sap 
in me the root, you that are branches in me cannot wither and die. 
    Sixthly, The mystical union is an indissoluble union: there is 
an everlasting tye betwixt Christ and the believer; and herein also 
it is beyond all other unions in the world; death dissolves the dear 
union betwixt the husband and wife, friend and friend, yea, betwixt 
soul and body, but not betwixt Christ and the soul, the bands of 
this union rot not in the grave. "What shall separate us from the 
love of Christ?" saith the apostle, Rom. 8: 35, 38, 39. He bids 
defiance to all his enemies, and triumphs in the firmness of his 
union over all hazards that seem to threaten it. It is with Christ 
and us, in respect of the mystical union, as it is with Christ 
himself, in respect of the hypostatical union; that was not 
dissolved by his death, when the natural union betwixt his soul and 
body was, nor can this mystical union of our souls and bodies with 
Christ be dissolved, when the union betwixt us and our dearest 
relations, yea, betwixt the soul and body, is dissolved by death. 
God calls himself the God of Abraham, long after his body was turned 
into dust. 
    Seventhly, It is an honourable union, yea, the highest honour 
that can be done unto men; the greatest honour that was ever done to 
our common nature, was by its assumption into union with the second 
person hypostatically, and the highest honour that was ever done to 
our single persons, was their union with Christ hypostatically. To 
be a servant of Christ is a dignity transcendent to the highest 
advancement among men; but to be a member of Christ, how matchless 
and singular is the glory thereof! And yet, such honour have all the 
saints, Eph. 5: 30. "We are members of his body, of his flesh, and 
of his bones." 
    Eighthly, It is a most comfortable union: yea, the ground of 
all solid comfort, both in life and death. Whatever troubles, wants, 
or distresses befal such, in this is abundant relief and support, 
Christ is mine, and I am his; what may not a good soul make out of 
that! If I am Christ's, then let him take care for me, and, indeed, 
in so doing, he does but take care for his own. He is my head, and 
to him it belongs to consult the safety and welfare of his own 
members, Eph 1: 22, 23. He is not only an head to his owns by way of 
influence, but to all things else, by way of dominion, for their 
good. How comfortably may we repose ourselves, under that cheering 
consideration, upon him at all times and in all difficult cases! 
    Ninthly, It is a fruitful union; the immediate end of it is 
fruit, Rom. 7: 4. "We are married to Christ, that we should bring 
forth fruit to God." All the fruit we bear before our ingrafture 
into Christ is worse than none; till the person be in Christ, the 
work cannot be evangelically good and acceptable to God: "We are 
made accepted in the beloved," Eph. 1: 6. Christ is a fruitful root, 
and makes all the branches that live in him so too, John 15: 8. 
    Tenth1y, and lastly, It is an enriching union; for, by our 
union with his person, we are immediately interested in all his 
riches, 1 Cor. 1: 30. How rich and great a person do the little arms 
of faith clasp and embrace! "All is yours," 1 Cor; 3: 22. All that 
Christ has becomes ours, either by communication to us, or 
improvement for us: His Father, John 20: 17. His promises, ,2 Cor. 
1: 20. His providence, Rom. 8: 28. His glory, John 17: 24. It is all 
ours by virtue of our union with him. 
    Thus you see briefly what the mystical union is. Next we shall 
improve it. 
    Inference 1. If there be such, a union betwixt Christ and 
believers, Oh then what transcendent dignity has God put upon 
    Well might Constantine prefer the honour of being a member of 
the church, before that of being head of the empire; for it is not 
only above all earthly dignities and honours, but, in some respect, 
above that honour which God has put upon the angels of glory. 
    Great is the dignity of the angelical nature: the angels are 
the highest and most honourable species of creatures; they also have 
the honour continually to behold the face of God in heaven, and yet, 
in this one respect the saints are preferred to them, they have a 
mystical union with Christ, as their head of influence, by whom they 
are quickened with spiritual life, which the angels have not. 
    It is true, there is an "anakefalaiosis", or gathering together 
of all in heaven and earth under Christ as a common head, Eph. 1: 
10. He is the Head of angels as well as saints, but in different 
respects. To angels he is an head of dominion and government, but to 
saints he is both an head of dominion, and of vital influence too; 
they are his chief and most honourable subjects, but not his 
mystical members: they are as the Barons and Nobles in 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. 1: 14. to be ministering 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 face with delight, and angels delight to serve them. 
    Infer. 2. If there be such a strict and inseparable union 
betwixt Christ and believers, then the grace of believers can never 
totally fail; Immortality is the privilege of grace, because 
sanctified persons are inseparably united to Christ the Fountain of 
life: "Your life is hid with Christ in God," Col. 3: 3. Whilst the 
sap of life is in the root, the branches live by it. Thus it is 
betwixt Christ and believers, John 14: 19. "Because I live, ye shall 
live also." See how Christ binds up their life in one bundle with 
his own, plainly intimating, that 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 encountered by 
many strong and fierce oppositions: It is also brought to a low ebb 
in some, but we are always to remember, that 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 
those things which belong to the well being of the new-creature, as 
manifestations, joys, spiritual comforts, &c. may, for a time, fail, 
yea, and grace itself may suffer great losses and remissions in its 
degrees, notwithstanding our union with Christ; but still the 
essence of it is immortal, which is no small relief to gracious 
souls. When the means of grace fail, as it is threatened, Amos 8: 
11. when temporary formal professors drop away from Christ like 
withered leaves from the trees in a windy day, 2 Tim. 2: 18. and 
when the natural union of their souls and bodies is suffering, a 
dissolution from each other by death, when that silver cord is 
loosed, this golden chain holds firm, 1 Cor. 3: 23. 
    Inf. 3. Is the union so intimate betwixt Christ and believers? 
How great and powerful a motive then is this, to make us open-handed 
and liberal in relieving the necessities and wants of every gracious 
person! For in relieving them, we relieve Christ himself: 
    Christ personal is not the object of our pity and charity, he 
is as the fountain-head of all the riches in glory, Eph. 4: 10. 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, Matt. 25: 35, 40. A text believed and 
understood by very few, "I was an hungered, 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 saw we thee an 
hungered, &c. 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 saying 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 those persons with Christ, for whom they did these 
things. And, indeed, it is incredible that a Christian can be 
hard-hearted and close-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 see their near relation to Christ; they are mystically 
one person; what you did to them, you did to me. Here you see also 
how kindly Christ takes it at our hands, acknowledging all those 
kindnesses that were bestowed upon him, even to a bit of bread: He 
is, you see, 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, (our 
charity 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. 
    O then, 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 hence 
forth suffer Christ to hunger, if they have bread to relieve him, or 
Christ to be thirsty, if they have wherewith to refresh him: this 
union betwixt Christ and the saints 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 has 
for Christ, who parted with the glory of heaven, yea, and his own 
blood for his sake. 
    Inf. 4. Do Christ and believers make but one mystical person? 
How unnatural and absurd then are all those acts of unkindness, 
whereby believers wound and grieve Jesus Christ! This is as if the 
hand should wound its own head, from which it receives life, sense, 
motion, and strength. 
    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 fable complained, the one that he was wounded 
by an arrow winged with his own feathers; the other, that it was 
cleaved asunder by a wedge hewn 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 influence, through whom they 
live, and without whom they had still remained in the state of sin 
and death, Eph. 4: 16. Shall Christ send life to us, and we return 
that which is death to him! O how absurd, how disingenuous is this! 
    Secondly, They wound their Head of government. Christ is a 
guiding, as well as a quickening Head, Col. 1: 18. He is your 
wisdom, he guides you by his counsels to glory: but must he be thus 
requited for all his faithful 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, provides, 
and projects, for the welfare 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," Jer. 10: 23. 
    It is true, Christ is out of your sight, and you see him not: 
but he sees you, and orders every thing that concerns you. And is 
this a due requital of all that care he has taken for you? Do you 
thus requite the Lord for all his 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 are related 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. 
    Inf. 5. Is there so strict and intimate a relation and union 
betwixt Christ and the saints? Then surely they can never want what 
is good for their souls 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 it is hard to rest upon, and rejoice in a promise, when 
necessities pinch, and we see not from whence relief should arise; 
but O! what sweet satisfaction and comfort might a necessitous 
believer find in these considerations, would he but keep them upon 
his heart in such a day of straits. 
    First, Whatever my distresses are for quality, number, or 
degree, they are all known even to the least circumstance, by Christ 
my Head: He looks down from heaven upon all my afflictions, and 
understands them more fully than I that feel them, Psal. 38: 9. 
"Lord all my desire is before thee, and my groaning is not hid from 
    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 infirmities," Heb. 4: 15. In all your afflictions 
he is afflicted; tender sympathy cannot but flow from such intimate 
union; therefore in Matt. 25: 35. he saith, I was an hungered, and I 
was athirst, and I was naked. For indeed his sympathy and tender 
compassion gave him as quick a resentment, and 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 has enough 
in his hand, and much more than enough to supply them all; for all 
things are delivered to him by the Father, Luke 10: 22. All the 
storehouses in heaven and earth are his, Phil. 4: 19. 
    Fourthly, He bestows all earthly good things, even to 
superfluity and redundance upon his very enemies, "They have more 
than heart can wish," Psal. 73: 7. He is bountiful to strangers; he 
loads very enemies with these things, and can it be supposed he will 
in the mean time starve his own, and neglect those whom he loves as 
his own flesh? It cannot be. Moreover, 
    Fifthly, Hitherto he has 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! 
    Sixthly, and lastly, I have his promise and engagement that he 
will never leave me nor forsake me, Heb. 13: 5. and John 14: 18. a 
promise which has never failed since the hour it was first made. If 
then the Lord Jesus knows and feels all my wants, has enough, and 
more than enough to supply them, if he gives even to redundance unto 
his enemies, has not hitherto forsaken me, and has promised he never 
will? Why then is my soul thus disquieted in me! Surely there is no 
cause it should be so. 
    Inf. 6. If the saints be so nearly united to Christ, as the 
members to the head: 0 then, how great a sin, and full of danger is 
it for any to wrong and persecute the saints! For in so doing, they 
must needs persecute Christ himself. 
    "Saul, Saul, (saith Christ) why persecutes thou me?" Acts 9: 4. 
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. 2: 8. And is it to be imagined that Christ 
will sit still, and suffer his enemies to hurt or injure the very 
apples of his eyes? No, "He has ordained his arrows against the 
persecutors," Psalm 7: 13. 
    O it were better thine hand should wither, and thine arm fall 
from thy shoulder, than ever it should be lifted up against Christ, 
in the poorest of his members. Believe it, sirs, 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 an account for them in 
the great day, Jude 15. Beware what arrows you shoot, and be sure of 
your mark before you shoot them. 
    Inf. 7. If there be such an union betwixt Christ and the 
saints, as has 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 himself, but is also "become the 
first-fruits of them that slept," 1 Cor. 15: 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 tye. 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 1: 21. 
    Inf. 8. If there be such an union betwixt Christ and believers, 
how does it concern every man to try and examine his state, whether 
he is really united with Christ or not, by the natural and proper 
effects which always flow from this union?, As, 
    First, The real communication of Christs holiness to the soul. 
We cannot be united with this root, and not partake of the vital sap 
of sanctification from him; all that are planted into him, are 
planted into the likeness of his death, and of his resurrection, 
Rom. 6: 5, 6. viz. by mortification and vivification. 
    Secondly, They that are so neatly united to him, as members to 
the head, cannot but love him and value him above their own lives; 
as we see 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. 5: 24. In vain 
do we claim union with Christ as our head, whilst we are governed by 
our own sins, and our lusts give us law. 
    Fourthly, All that are united to Christ do bear fruit to God, 
Rom. 7: 4. Fruitfulness is the next end of our union; there are no 
barren branches growing upon this fruitful root. 
    Inf. 9. Lastly, How much are believers engaged to walk as the 
members of Christ, in the visible exercises of all those graces and 
duties, which the consideration of their near relation to him exacts 
from them. As, 
    First, How contented and well pleased should we be with our 
outward lot, however providence has cast it for us in this world? O 
do not repine, God has dealt bountifully with you; upon others he 
has bestowed the good things of this world; upon you, himself in 
    Secondly, How humble and lowly in spirit should you be under 
your great advancement! It is true, God has magnified you greatly by 
this union, but yet do not swell. "You bear not the root, but the 
root you," Rom. 11: 18. You shine, but it is as the stars, with a 
borrowed light. 
    Thirdly, How zealous should you be to honour Christ, who has 
put so much honour up you! 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, remembering whose you are, and whom you represent! Shall it be 
said, that a member of Christ was convicted of unrighteousness and 
unholy actions! God forbid. "If we say, we have fellowship with him, 
and walk in darkness, we lie", 1 John 1: 6. "And he that saith he 
abideth in him, ought also himself to walk even as he also walked," 
1 John 2: 6. 
    Fifthly, How studious should you be of peace among yourselves, 
who are so 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. 4: 3, 4. 
    Sixthly, 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 souls with him! This brings 
him into your possession: O how great! how glorious a person do 
these little weak arms of your faith embrace! 
                  Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ

The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
(continued in file 4...)

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