Owen, Of Communion With God, File 17
    (... continued from File 16)

    Chapter 9. Of communion with Christ in holiness - The several
               acts ascribed unto the Lord Christ herein: 1. His
               intercession; 2. Sending of the Spirit; 3. Bestows
               habitual grace - What that is, and wherein it
               consists - This purchased by Christ; bestowed by 
               him - Of actual grace - How the saints hold
               communion with Christ in these things; manifested
               in sundry particulars. 
        II. Our communion with the Lord Jesus as to that grace of
    sanctification and purification whereof we have made mention,
    in the several distinctions and degrees thereof, formerly, is
    neatly to be considered. And herein the former method must be
    observed; and we must show, - 1. What are the peculiar actings
    of the Lord Christ as to this communion; and, 2. What is the
    duty of the saints herein. The sum is, - How we hold communion
    with Christ in holiness, as well as in righteousness; and that
    very briefly: -  
        1. There are several acts ascribed unto the Lord Jesus in
    reference to this particular; as, -  
        (1.) His interceding with the Father, by virtue of his
    oblation in the behalf of his, that he would bestow the Holy
    Spirit on them. Here I choose to enter, because of the
    oblation of Christ itself I have spoken before; otherwise,
    every thing is to be run up to that head, that source and
    spring. There lies the foundation of all spiritual mercies
    whatever; as afterward also shall be manifested. Now the
    Spirit. as unto us a Spirit of grace, holiness, and
    consolation, is of the purchase of Christ. It is upon the
    matter, the great promise of the new covenant, Ezek. 11: 19,
    "I will put a new spirit within you;" so also, chap. 36: 27;
    Jer. 32: 39, 40; and in sundry other places, whereof
    afterward. Christ is the mediator and "surety of this new
    covenant." Heb. 7: 22, "Jesus was made surety of a better
    testament," or rather covenant; - a testament needs no surety.
    He is the undertaker on the part of God and man also: of man,
    to give satisfaction; of God, to bestow the whole grace of the
    promise; as chap. 9: 15, "For this cause he is the mediator of
    the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption
    of transgressions that were under the first testament, they
    which are called might receive the promise of eternal
    inheritance." He both satisfied for sin and procured the
    promise. He procures all the love and kindness which are the
    fruits of the covenant, being himself the original promise
    thereof, Gen. 3: 15; the whole being so "ordered in all
    things, and made sure," 2 Sam. 23: 5, that the residue of its
    effects should all be derived from him, depend upon him, and
    be procured by him, - "that he in all things might have the
    pre-eminence," Col. 1: 18; according to the compact and
    agreement made with him, Isa. 53: 12. They are all the
    purchase of his blood; and therefore the Spirit also, as
    promised in that covenant, 1 Cor. 1: 30. Now, the whole fruit
    and purchase of his death is made out from the Father upon his
    intercession. This (John 14: 16-18) he promiseth his
    disciples, that he will pursue the work which he has in hand
    in their behalf, and intercede with the Father for the Spirit,
    as a fruit of his purchase. Therefore he tells them that he
    will not pray the Father for his love unto them, because the
    eternal love of the Father is not the fruit but the fountain
    of his purchase: but the Spirit, that is a fruit; "That,"
    saith he, "I will pray the Father for," etc. And what Christ
    asketh the Father as mediator to bestow on us, that is part of
    his purchase, being promised unto him, upon his undertaking to
    do the will of God. And this is the first thing that is to be
    considered in the Lord Jesus, as to the communication of the
    Spirit of sanctification and purification, the first thing to
    be considered in this our communion with him, - he intercedes
    with his Father, that he may be bestowed on us as a fruit of
    his death and blood shed in our behalf. This is the relation
    of the Spirit of holiness, as bestowed on us, unto the
    mediation of Christ. He is the great foundation of the
    covenant of grace; being himself everlastingly destinated and
    freely given to make a purchase of all the good things
    thereof. Receiving, according to promise, the Holy Ghost, Acts
    2: 33, he sheds him abroad on his own. This faith considers,
    fixes on, dwells upon. For, -  
        (2.) His prayer being granted, as the Father "hears him
    always," he actually sends his Spirit into the hearts of his
    saints, there to dwell in his stead, and to do all things for
    them and in them which he himself has to do. This, secondly,
    is the Lord Christ by faith to be eyed in; and that not only
    in respect of the first enduing of our hearts with his Holy
    Spirit, but also of the continual supplies of it, drawing
    forth and exciting more effectual operations and acting of
    that indwelling Spirit. Hence, though (John 14: 16) he says
    the Father will give them the Comforter, because the original
    and sovereign dispensation is in his hand, and it is by him
    made out, upon the intercession of Christ; yet, not being
    bestowed immediately on us, but, as it were, given into the
    hand of Christ for us, he affirms that (as to actual collation
    or bestowing) he sends him himself; chap. 15: 26, "I will send
    the Comforter to you, from the Father." He receives him from
    his Father, and actually sends him unto his saints. So, chap.
    16: 7, "I will send him." And, verses 14,15, he manifests how
    he will send him. He will furnish him with that which is his
    to bestow upon them: "He shall take of mine (of that which is
    properly and peculiarly so, - mine, as mediator, - the fruit
    of my life and death unto holiness), and give it unto you."
    But of these things more afterward. This, then, is the second
    thing that the Lord Christ does, and which is to be eyed in
    him: - He sends his Holy Spirit into our hearts; which is the
    efficient cause of all holiness and sanctification, -
    quickening, enlightening, purifying the souls of his saints.
    How our union with him, with all the benefit thereon
    depending, floweth from this his communication of the Spirit
    unto us, to abide with us, and to dwell in us, I have at large
    elsewhere declared; where also this whole matter is more fully
    opened. And this is to be considered in him by faith, in
    reference to the Spirit itself.  
        (3.) There is that which we call habitual grace; that is,
    the fruits of the Spirit, - the spirit which is born of the
    Spirit, John 3: 6. That which is born of, or produced by, the
    Holy Ghost, in the heart or soul of a man when he is
    regenerate, that which makes him so, is spirit; in opposition
    to the flesh, or that enmity which is in us by nature against
    God. It is faith, love, joy, hope, and the rest of the graces
    of the gospel, in their root or common principle, concerning
    which these two things are to be observed: -  
        [1.] That though many particular graces are mentioned, yet
    there are not different habits or qualities in us, - not
    several or distinct principles to answer them; but only the
    same habit or spiritual principle putting forth itself in
    various operations or ways of working, according to the
    variety of the objects which it goes forth unto, is their
    common principle: so that it is called and distinguished, as
    above, rather in respect of actual exercise, with relation to
    its objects, than habitual inherence; it being one root which
    has these many branches.  
        [2.] This is that which I intend by this habit of grace, -
    a new, gracious, spiritual life, or principle, created, and
    bestowed on the soul, whereby it is changed in all its
    faculties and affections, fitted and enabled to go forth in
    the way of obedience unto every divine object that is proposed
    unto it, according to the mind of God. For instance, the mind
    can discern of spiritual things in a spiritual manner; and
    therein it is light, illumination. The whole soul closes with
    Christ, as held forth in the promises of the gospel for
    righteousness and salvation: that is faith; which being the
    main and principal work of it, it often gives denomination
    unto the whole. So when it rests in God, in Christ, with
    delight, desire, and complacency, it is called love; being,
    indeed, the principle suiting all the faculties of our souls
    for spiritual and living operations, according to their
    natural use. Now it differs, -  
        1st. From the Spirit dwelling in the saints; for it is a
    created quality. The Spirit dwells in us as a free agent in a
    holy habitation. This grace, as a quality, remains in us, as
    in its own proper subject, that has not any subsistence but
    therein, and is capable of being intended or restrained under
    great variety of degrees.  
        2dly. From actual grace, which is transient; this making
    its residence in the soul. Actual grace is an illapse of
    divine influence and assistance, working in and by the soul
    any spiritual act or duty whatsoever, without any
    pre-existence unto that act or continuance after it, "God
    working in us, both to will and to do." But this habitual
    grace is always resident in us, causing the soul to be a meet
    principle for all those holy and spiritual operations which by
    actual grace are to be performed. And, -  
        3dly. It is capable of augmentation and diminution, as was
    said. In some it is more large and more effectual than in
    others; yea, in some persons, more at one time than another.
    Hence are those dyings, decays, ruins, recoveries, complaints,
    and rejoicings, whereof so frequent mention is made in the
        These things being premised as to the nature of it, let us
    now consider what we are to eye in the Lord Jesus in reference
    thereunto, to make an entrance into our communion with him
    therein, as things by him or on his part performed: -  
        As I said of the Spirit, so, in the first place, I say of
    this, it is of the purchase of Christ, and is so to be looked
    on. "It is given unto us for his sake to believe on him,"
    Phil. 1: 29. The Lord, on the behalf of Christ, for his sake,
    because it is purchased and procured by him for us, bestows
    faith, and (by same rule) all grace upon us. "We are blessed
    with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in him," Eph.
    1: 3. "In him;" that is, in and through his mediation for us.
    His oblation and intercession lie at the bottom of this
    dispensation. Were not grace by them procured, it would never
    by any one soul be enjoyed. All grace is from this fountain.
    In our receiving it from Christ, we must still consider what
    it cost him. Want of this weakens faith in its proper
    workings. His whole intercession is founded on his oblation, 1
    John 2: 1, 2. What he purchased by his death, that - nor more
    nor less, as has been often said - he intercedeth may be
    bestowed. And he prays that all his saints may have this grace
    whereof we speak, John 17: 17. Did we continually consider all
    grace as the fruit of the purchase of Christ, it would be an
    exceeding endearment on our spirits: nor can we without this
    consideration, according to the tenor of the gospel, ask or
    expect any grace. It is no prejudice to the free grace of the
    Father, to look on any thing as the purchase of the Son; it
    was from that grace that he made that purchase: and in the
    receiving of grace from God, we have not communion with
    Christ, who is yet the treasury and storehouse of it, unless
    we look upon it as his purchase. He has obtained that we
    should be sanctified throughout, have life in us, be humble,
    holy, believing, dividing the spoil with the mighty, by
    destroying the works of the devil in us.  
        Secondly. The Lord Christ does actually communicate this
    grace unto his saints, and bestows it on them: "Of his fulness
    have all we received, and grace for grace," John 1: 16. For, -

        (1st.) The Father actually invests him with all the grace
    whereof, by compact and agreement, he has made a purchase (as
    he received the promise of the Spirit); which is all that is
    of use for the bringing his many sons to glory. "It pleased
    the Father that in him should all fulness dwell," Col. 1: 19,
    - that he should be invested with a fulness of that grace
    which is needful for his people. This himself calls the "power
    of giving eternal life to his elect," John 17: 2; which power
    is not only his ability to do it, but also his right to do it.
    Hence this delivering of all things unto him by his Father, he
    lays as the bottom of his inviting sinners unto him for
    refreshment: "All things are delivered unto me of my Father,"
    Matt. 11: 27. "Come unto me, all that labour and are heavy
    laden, and I will give you rest," verse 28. This being the
    covenant of the Father with him, and his promise unto him,
    that upon the making "his soul an offering for sin, he should
    see his seed, and the pleasure of the LORD should prosper in
    his hand," Isa. 53: 10, in the verses following, the "pouring
    out of his soul unto death, and bearing the sins of many," is
    laid as the bottom and procuring cause of these things: - 1.
    Of justification: "By his knowledge he shall justify many." 2.
    Of sanctification; in "destroying the works of the devil,"
    verses 11, 12. Thus comes our merciful high priest to be the
    great possessor of all grace, that he may give out to us
    according to his own pleasure, quickening whom he will. He has
    it in him really as our head, in that he received not that
    Spirit by measure (John 3: 34) which is the bond of union
    between him and us, 1 Cor. 6: 17; whereby holding him, the
    head, we are filled with his fulness, Eph. 1: 22, 23; Col. 1:
    19. He has it as a common person, intrusted with it in our
    behalf, Rom. 5: 14-17. "The last Adam is made" unto us "a
    quickening Spirit," 1 Cor. 15: 45. He is also a treasury of
    this grace in a moral and law sense: not only as "it pleased
    the Father that in him should all fulness dwell," Col. 1: 19;
    but also because in his mediation, as has been declared, is
    founded the whole dispensation of grace.  
        (2dly.) Being thus actually vested with this power, and
    privilege, and fulness, he designs the Spirit to take of this
    fulness, and to give it unto us: "He shall take of mine, and
    shall show it unto you," John 16: 15. The Spirit takes of that
    fulness that is in Christ, and in the name of the Lord Jesus
    bestows it actually on them for whose sanctification he is
    sent. Concerning the manner and almighty efficacy of the
    Spirit of grace whereby this is done (I mean this actual
    collation of grace upon his peculiar ones), more will be
    spoken afterward.  
        (3dly.) For actual grace, or that influence or power
    whereby the saints are enabled to perform particular duties
    according to the mind of God, there is not any need of farther
    enlargement about it. What concerns our communion with the
    Lord Christ therein, holds proportion with what was spoken
        There remaineth only one thing more to be observed
    concerning those things whereof mention has been made, and I
    proceed to the way whereby we carry on communion with the Lord
    Jesus in all these; and that is, that these things may be
    considered two ways: - 1. In respect of their first collation,
    or bestowing on the soul. 2. In respect of their continuance
    and increase, as unto the degrees of them.  
        In the first sense, as to the real communicating of the
    Spirit of grace unto the soul, so raising it from death unto
    life, the saints have no kind of communion with Christ therein
    but only what consists in a passive reception of that
    life-giving, quickening Spirit and power. They are but as the
    dead bones in the prophet; the wind blows on them, and they
    live; - as Lazarus in the grave; Christ calls, and they come
    forth, the call being accompanied with life and power. This,
    then, is not that whereof particularly I speak; but it is the
    second, in respect of farther efficacy of the Spirit and
    increase of grace, both habitual and actual, whereby we become
    more holy, and to be more powerful in walking with God, - have
    more fruit in obedience and success against temptations. And
    in this, -  
        2. They hold communion with the Lord Christ. And wherein
    and how they do it, shall now be declared.  
        They continually eye the Lord Jesus as the great Joseph,
    that has the disposal of all the granaries of the kingdom of
    heaven committed unto him; as one in whom it has pleased the
    Father to gather all things unto a head, Eph. 1: 10, that from
    him all things might be dispensed unto them. All treasures,
    all fulness, the Spirit not by measure, are in him. And this
    fulness in this Joseph, in reference to their condition, they
    eye in these three particulars: -  
        (1.) In the preparation unto the dispensation mentioned,
    in the expiating, purging, purifying efficacy of his blood. It
    was a sacrifice not only of atonement, as offered, but also of
    purification, as poured out. This the apostle eminently sets
    forth, Heb. 9: 13, 14, "For if the blood of bulls and of
    goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean,
    sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall
    the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered
    himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead
    works to serve the living God?" This blood of his is that
    which answers all typical institutions for carnal
    purification; and therefore has a spiritually- purifying,
    cleansing, sanctifying virtue in itself, as offered and poured
    out. Hence it is called, "A fountain for sin and for
    uncleanness," Zech. 13: l; that is, for their washing and
    taking away; - "A fountain opened;" ready prepared, virtuous,
    efficacious in itself, before any be put into it; because
    poured out, instituted, appointed to that purpose. The saints
    see that in themselves they are still exceedingly defiled;
    and, indeed, to have a sight of the defilements of sin is a
    more spiritual discovery than to have only a sense of the
    guilt of sin. This follows every conviction, and is
    commensurate unto it; that, usually only such as reveal the
    purity and holiness of God and all his ways. Hereupon they cry
    with shame, within themselves, "Unclean, unclean," unclean in
    their natures, unclean in their persons, unclean in their
    conversations; all rolled in the blood of their defilements;
    their hearts by nature a very sink, and their lives a dung
    hill. They know, also, that no unclean thing shall enter into
    the kingdom of God, or have place in the new Jerusalem; that
    God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. They cannot
    endure to look on themselves; and how shall they dare to
    appear in his presence? What remedies shall they now use?
    "Though they wash themselves with nitre, and take them much
    soap, yet their iniquity will continue marked," Jer. 2: 22.
    Wherewith, then, shall they come before the Lord? For the
    removal of this, I say, they look, in the first place, to the
    purifying virtue of the blood of Christ, which is able to
    cleanse. them from all their sins, 1 John 1: 7; being the
    spring from whence floweth all the purifying virtue, which in
    the issue will take away all their spots and stains, "make
    them holy and without blemish, and in the end present them
    glorious unto himself," Eph. 5: 26, 27. This they dwell upon
    with thoughts of faith; they roll it in their minds and
    spirits. Here faith obtains new life, new vigour, when a sense
    of vileness has even overwhelmed it. Here is a fountain
    opened: draw nigh, and see its beauty, purity, and efficacy.
    Here is a foundation laid of that work whose accomplishment we
    long for. One moment's communion with Christ by faith herein
    is more effectual to the purging of the soul, to the
    increasing of grace, than the utmost self-endeavours of a
    thousand ages.  
        (2.) They eye the blood of Christ as the blood of
    sprinkling. Coming to "Jesus, the mediator of the new
    covenant," they come to the "blood of sprinkling," Heb. 12:
    24. The dyeing of the blood of Christ as shed will not of
    itself take away pollution. There is not only
    "haimatekchusia", - a "shedding of blood," without which there
    is no remission, Heb. 9: 22; but there is also "haimatos
    rantismos", - a " sprinkling of blood," without which there is
    no actual purification. This the apostle largely describes,
    Heb. 9: 19, "When Moses," saith he, "had spoken every precept
    to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of
    calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop,
    and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, This
    is the blood of the testament which God has enjoined unto you.
    Moreover he sprinkled likewise with blood both the tabernacle,
    and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are
    by the law purged with blood. It was therefore necessary that
    the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with
    these; but the heavenly things themselves with better
    sacrifices than these," verses 19-23. He had formerly compared
    the blood of Christ to the blood of sacrifices, as offered, in
    respect of the impetration and the purchase it made; now he
    does it unto that blood as sprinkled, in respect of its
    application unto purification and holiness. And he tells us
    how this sprinkling was performed: it was by dipping hyssop in
    the blood of the sacrifice, and so dashing it out upon the
    things and persons to be purified; as the institution also was
    with the Paschal lamb, Exod. 12: 7. Hence, David, in a sense
    of the pollution of sin, prays that he may be "purged with
    hyssop," Ps. 51: 7. For that this peculiarly respected the
    uncleanness and defilement of sin, is evident, because there
    is no mention made, in the institution of any sacrifice (after
    that of the lamb before mentioned), of sprinkling blood with
    hyssop, but only in those which respected purification of
    uncleanness; as in the case of leprosy, Lev. 14: 6; and all
    other defilements, Numb. 19: 18: which latter, indeed, is not
    of blood, but of the water of separation; this also being
    eminently typical of the blood of Christ, which is the
    fountain for separation for uncleanness, Zech. 13: 1. Now,
    this bunch of hyssop, wherein the blood of purification was
    prepared for the sprinkling of the unclean, is (unto us) the
    free promises of Christ. The cleansing virtue of the blood of
    Christ lies in the promises, as the blood of sacrifices in the
    hyssop, ready to pass out unto them that draw nigh thereunto.
    Therefore the apostle argueth from receiving of the promise
    unto universal holiness and purity: "Having therefore these
    promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all
    filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the
    fear of God," 2 Cor. 7: 1. This, then, the saints do: - they
    eye the blood of Christ as it is in the promise, ready to
    issue out upon the soul, for the purification thereof; and
    thence is purging and cleansing virtue to be communicated unto
    them, and by the blood of Christ are they to be purged from
    all their sins, 1 John 1: 7. Thus far, as it were, this
    purifying blood, thus prepared and made ready, is at some
    distance to the soul. Though it be shed to this purpose, that
    it might purge, cleanse, and sanctify, though it be taken up
    with the bunch of hyssop in the promises, yet the soul may not
    partake of it. Wherefore, -  
        (3.) They look upon him as, in his own Spirit, he is the
    only dispenser of the Spirit and of all grace of
    sanctification and holiness. They consider that upon his
    intercession it is granted to him that he shall make effectual
    all the fruits of his purchase, to the sanctification, the
    purifying and making glorious in holiness, of his whole
    people. They know that this is actually to be accomplished by
    the Spirit, according to the innumerable promises given to
    that purpose. He is to sprinkle that blood upon their souls;
    he is to create the holiness in them that they long after; he
    is to be himself in them a well of water springing up to
    everlasting life. In this state they look to Jesus: here faith
    fixes itself, in expectation of his giving out the Spirit for
    all these ends and purposes; mixing the promises with faith,
    and so becoming actual partaker of all this grace. This is
    their way, this their communion with Christ; this is the life
    of faith, as to grace and holiness. Blessed is the soul that
    is exercised therein: "He shall be as a tree planted by the
    waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and
    shall not see when heat comes, but her leaf shall be green;
    and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall
    cease from yielding fruit," Jer. 17: 8. Convinced persons who
    know not Christ, nor the fellowship of his sufferings, would
    spin a holiness out of their own bowels; they would work it
    out in their own strength. They begin it with trying
    endeavours; and follow it with vows, duties, resolutions,
    engagements, sweating at it all the day long. Thus they
    continue for a season, - their hypocrisy, for the most part,
    ending in apostasy. The saints of God do, in the very entrance
    of their walking with him, reckon upon it that they have a
    threefold want: - [1.] Of the Spirit of holiness to dwell in
    them. [2.] Of a habit of holiness to be infused into them.
    [3.] Of actual assistance to work all their works for them;
    and that if these should continue to be wanting, they can
    never, with all their might, power, and endeavours, perform
    any one act of holiness before the Lord. They know that of
    themselves they have no sufficiency, - that, without Christ
    they can do nothing: therefore they look to him, who is
    intrusted with a fulness of all these in their behalf; and
    thereupon by faith derive from him an increase of that whereof
    they stand in need. Thus, I say, have the saints communion
    with Christ, as to their sanctification and holiness. From him
    do they receive the Spirit to dwell in them; from him the new
    principle of life, which is the root of all their obedience;
    from him have they actual assistance for every duty they are
    called unto. In waiting for, expectation and receiving of
    these blessings, on the accounts before mentioned, do they
    spend their lives and time with him. In vain is help looked
    for from other mountains; in vain do men spend their strength
    in following after righteousness, if this be wanting. Fix thy
    soul here; thou shalt not tarry until thou be ashamed. This is
    the way, the only way, to obtain full, effectual
    manifestations of the Spirit's dwelling in us; to have our
    hearts purified, our consciences purged, our sins mortified,
    our graces increased, our souls made humble, holy, zealous,
    believing, - like to him; to have our lives fruitful, our
    deaths comfortable. Let us herein abide, dyeing Christ by
    faith, to attain that measure of conformity to him which is
    allotted unto us in this world, that when we shall see him as
    he is, we may be like unto him.

    Owen, Of Communion With God
    (continued in File 19...)

    file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owcom-17.txt