(Owen. The Glory of Christ, Part 1. File 9)

(... continued from File 8)

Chapter 9. The Glory of Christ in his intimate Conjunction with the  
 What concerns the glory of Christ in the mission of the Holy Ghost  
unto the church, with all the divine truths that are branched from  
it, I have at large declared in my discourse concerning the whole  
dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Here, therefore, it must have no  
place amongst those many other things which offer themselves unto  
our contemplation as part of this glory, or intimately belonging  
thereunto. I shall insist briefly on three only, which cannot be  
reduced directly unto the former heads.  
 And the first of these is, - That intimate conjunction that is  
between Christ and the church; whence it is just and equal in the  
sight of God, according unto the rules of his eternal righteousness,  
that what he did and suffered in the discharge of his office, should  
be esteemed, reckoned, and imputed unto us, as unto all the fruits  
and benefits of it, as if we had done and suffered the same things  
ourselves. For this conjunction of his with us was an act of his own  
mind and will, wherein he is ineffably glorious.  
 The enemies of the glory of Christ and of his cross do take this  
for granted, that there ought to be such a conjunction between the  
guilty person and him that suffers for him, as that in him the  
guilty person may be said, in some sense, to undergo the punishment  
himself. But then they affirm, on the other hand, that there was no  
such conjunction between Christ and sinners, - none at all; but that  
he was a man, as they were men; and otherwise, that he was at the  
greatest distance from them all as it is possible for one man to be  
from another, Socin. de Servant. lib. 3 cap. 3. The falseness of  
this latter assertion, and the gross ignorance of the Scripture,  
under a pretence of subtlety, in them that make it, will evidently  
appear in our ensuing Discourse.  
 The apostle tells us, 1 Peter 2: 24, that in "his own self he bare  
our sins in his own body on the tree;" and, chap. 3: 18, that he  
"suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us  
to God." But this seems somewhat strange unto reason. Where is the  
justice, where is the equity, that the just should suffer for the  
unjust? Where is divine righteousness herein? For it was an act of  
God: "The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all," Isa. 53: 6.  
The equity hereof, with the grounds of it, must be here a little  
inquired into. First of all, it is certain that all the elect, the  
whole church of God, fell in Adam under the curse due to the  
transgression of the law. It is so also, that in this curse death,  
both temporal and eternal, was contained. This curse none could  
undergo and be saved. Nor was it consistent with the righteousness,  
or holiness, or truth of God, that sin should go unpunished.  
Wherefore there was a necessity, upon a supposition of God's decree  
to save his church, of a translator of punishment, - namely, from  
them who had deserved it, and could not bear it, unto one who had  
not deserved it, but could bear it.  
 A supposition of this translation of punishment by divine  
dispensation is the foundation of Christian religion, yea, of all  
supernatural revelation contained in the Scripture. This was first  
intimated in the first promise; and afterward explained and  
confirmed in all the institutions of the Old Testament. For although  
in the sacrifices of the law, there was a revival of the greatest  
and most fundamental principle of the law of nature, - name]y, that  
God is to be worshipped with our best, - yet the principal end and  
use of them was to represent this translation of punishment from the  
offender unto another, who was to be a sacrifice in his stead.  
 The reasons of the equity hereof, and the unspeakable glory of  
Christ herein, is what we now inquire into. And I shall reduce what  
ought to be spoken hereunto to the ensuing heads: -  
 I. It is not contrary unto the nature of divine justice, it does  
not interfere with the principles of natural light in man, that in  
sundry cases some persons should suffer punishment for the sins and,  
offences of others.  
 I shall at present give this assertion no other confirmation, but  
only that God has often done so, who will, who can, do no iniquity.  
 So he affirms that he will do, Exod. 20: 5, "Visiting the iniquity  
of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth  
generation." It is no exception of weight, that they also are  
sinners, continuing in their fathers' sins; for the worst of sinners  
must not be dealt unjustly withal: but they must be so if they are  
punished for their fathers' sins, and it be absolutely unlawful that  
any one should be punished for the sin of another.  
 So the church affirms, "Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and  
we have borne their iniquities," Lam. 5: 7. And so it was; for in  
the Babylonish captivity God punished the sins of their forefathers,  
especially those committed in the days of Manasseh, 2 Kings 23: 26,  
27; as afterward, in the final destruction of that church and  
nation, God punished in them the guilt of all bloody persecutions  
from the beginning of the world, Luke 11: 50, 51.  
 So Canaan was cursed for the sin of his father, Gen. 9: 25. Saul's  
seven sons were put to death for their father's bloody cruelty, 2  
Sam. 21:9, 14. For the sin of David, seventy thousand of the people  
were destroyed by an angel, concerning whom he said, "It is I that  
have sinned and done evil; these sheep, what have they done" 2 Sam.  
24: 15-17. See also 1 Kings 21: 29. So was it with all the children  
or infantry that perished in the flood, or in the conflagration of  
Sodom and Gomorrah. And other instances of the like nature may be  
 It is therefore evident that there is no inconsistency with the  
nature of divine justice, nor the rules of reason among men, that in  
sundry cases the sins of some may be punished on others.  
 II. It is to be observed, that this administration of justice is  
not promiscuous, - that any whatever may be punished for the sins of  
any others. There is always a special cause and reason of it; and  
this is a peculiar conjunction between them who sin and those who  
are punished for their sins. And two things belong unto this  
conjunction 1. Especial relation; 2. Especial mutual interest.  
 1. There is an especial relation required unto this translation of  
punishment; such as that between parents and children, as in most of  
the instances before given; or between a king and subjects, as in  
the case of David. Hereby the persons sinning and those suffering  
are constituted one body, wherein if one member offend, another may  
justly suffer: the back may answer for what the hand takes away.  
 2. It consists in mutual interest. Those whose sins are punished  
in others have such an interest in them, as that their being so is a  
punishment unto themselves. Therefore are such sinners threatened  
with the punishment and evils that shall befall their posterity or  
children for their sakes; which is highly penal unto themselves,  
Numb. 14: 33, "Your children shall wander in the wilderness forty  
years, and bear your whoredoms." The punishment due to their sins is  
in part transferred unto their children; and therein did the sting  
of heir own punishment also consist.  
 III. There is a greater, a more intimate conjunction, a nearer  
relation, a higher mutual interest, between Christ and the church,  
than ever was or can be between any other persons or relations in  
the world, whereon it became just and equal in the sight of God that  
he should suffer for us, and that what he did and suffered would be  
imputed unto us; which is farther to be cleared.  
 There neither is nor can be any more than a threefold conjunction  
between divers distinct persons. The first is natural; the second is  
moral, whereunto I refer that which is spiritual or mystical; and  
the third federal, by virtue of mutual compact. In all thee ways is  
Christ in conjunction with his church, and in every one of them in a  
way singular and peculiar.  
 1. The first conjunction of distinct periods is natural. God has  
made all mankind "of one blood," Acts 17: 26, - whereby there is a  
cognation and alliance between them all. Hence every man is every  
man's brother or neighbour, unto whom loving-kindness is to be  
showed, Luke 10: 36. And this conjunction was between Christ and the  
church, as the apostle declares, Heb. 2: 14, 15, "Forasmuch then as  
the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself  
likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy  
him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver  
them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to  
bondage." Hence "both he that sanctifieth and they who are  
sanctified are all of one," verse 11. His infinite condescension, in  
coming into this communion and conjunction of nature with us, was  
before declared; but it is not common, like that between all other  
men, partakers of the same nature. There are two things wherein it  
was peculiar and eminent.  
 (1.) This conjunction between him and the church did not arise  
from a necessity of nature, but from a voluntary act of his will.  
The conjunction that is between all others is necessary. Every man  
is every man's brother, Whether he will or no, by being a man.  
Natural generation, communicating to every one his subsistence in  
the same nature, prevent all acts of their own will and choice. With  
the Lord Christ it was otherwise, as the text affirms. For such  
reasons as are there expressed, he did, by an act of his own will,  
partake of flesh and blood, or came into this conjunction with us.  
He did it of his own choice, because the children did partake of the  
same. He would be what the children were. Wherefore the conjunction  
of Christ in human nature with the church is ineffably distinct from  
that common conjunction which is amongst all others in the same  
nature. And, therefore, although it should not be meet amongst mere  
men, that one should act and suffer in the stead of others, because  
they are all thus related to one another, as it were, whether they  
will or no; yet this could not reach the Lord Christ, who, in a  
strange and wonderful manner, came into this conjunction by a mere  
act of his own.  
 (2.) He came into it on this design, and for this only end, -  
namely, that in our nature, taken to be his own, he might do and  
suffer what was to be done and suffered for the church: so it is  
added in the text, "That by death he might destroy him who had the  
power of death; and deliver them who through fear of death were  
subject to bondage." This was the only end of his conjunction in  
nature with the church; and this puts the case between him and it at  
a vast distance from what is or may be between other men.  
 It is a foolish thing to argue, that because a mere participation  
of the same nature among men is not sufficient to warrant the  
righteousness of punishing one for another, - therefore the  
conjunction in the same nature betwixt Christ and the church is not  
a sufficient and just foundation of his suffering for us, and in our  
stead. For, by an act of his own will and choice, he did partake of  
our nature, and that for this very end, that therein he might suffer  
for us; as the Holy Ghost expressly declares. Amongst others, there  
neither is nor can be any thing of this nature, and so no objection  
from what is equal or unequal amongst them can arise against what is  
equal between Christ and the church. And herein is he glorious and  
precious unto them that believe, as we shall see immediately.  
 2. There is a mystical conjunction between Christ and the church,  
which answers all the most strict, real, or moral unions or  
conjunctions between other persons or things. Such is the  
conjunction between the head of a body and its members, or the tree  
of the vine and its branches, which are real; or between a husband  
and wife, which is moral and real also. That there is such a  
conjunction between Christ and his church the Scripture plentifully  
declares, as also that it is the foundation of the equity of his  
suffering in its stead. So speaks the apostle, Eph 5: 25-32,  
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church," -  
that is, his wife, the bride, the Lamb's wife, - "and gave himself  
for it," &c. Being the head and husband of the church, which was to  
be sanctified and saved, and could be so no otherwise but by his  
blood and sufferings, he was both meet so to suffer, and it was  
righteous also that what he did and suffered should be imputed unto  
them for whom he both did it and suffered. Let the adversaries of  
the glory of Christ assign any one instance of such a conjunction,  
union, and relation between any amongst mankind, as is between  
Christ and the church, and they may give some countenance unto their  
cavils against his obedience and sufferings in our stead, with the  
imputation of what he did and suffered unto us. But the glory of  
Christ is singular herein, and as such it appears unto them by whom  
the mystery of it is, in any measure, spiritually apprehended.  
 But yet it will be said, that this mystical conjunction of Christ  
with his church is consequential unto what he did and suffered for  
it; for it ensues on the conversion of men unto him. For it is by  
faith that we are implanted into him. Until that be actually wrought  
in us, we have no mystical conjunction with him. He is not a head or  
a husband unto unregenerate, unsanctified unbelievers, whilst they  
continue so to be; and such was the state of the whole church when  
Christ suffered for us, Rom. 5: 8; Eph 2: 6. There was, therefore,  
no such mystical conjunction between him and the church as to render  
it meet and equal that he should suffer in its stead. Wherefore the  
church is the effect of the work of redemption, - that which rose  
out of it, which was made and constituted by it; and cannot be so  
the object of it as that which was to be redeemed by virtue of an  
antecedent conjunction with it. I answer, -  
 (1.) although this mystical conjunction is not actually consummate  
without an actual participation of the Spirit of Christ, yet the  
church of the elect was designed antecedently unto all his  
sufferings to be his spouse and wife, so as that he might love her  
and suffer for her; so it is said, Hos. 12: 12, "Israel served for a  
wife, and for a wife he kept sheep." Howbeit she was not his married  
wife until after he had served for her, and thereby purchased her to  
be his wife; yet as he served for her she is called his wife,  
because of his love unto her, and because she was so designed to be,  
upon his service. So was the church designed to be the spouse of  
Christ in the counsel of God; whereon he loved her and gave himself  
for her.  
 Hence, in the work of redemption the church was the object of it,  
as designed to be the spouse of Christ; and the effect of it,  
inasmuch as that thereby it was made meet for the full consummation  
of that alliance; as the apostle expressly declares, Eph. 5: 25-27.  
 (2.) Antecedently unto all that the Lord Christ did and suffered  
for the church, there was a supreme act of the will of God the  
Father, giving all the elect unto him, intrusting them with him, to  
be redeemed, sanctified, and saved; as himself declares, John 17:  
6, 9; 10: 14-16. And on these grounds this mystical conjunction  
between Christ and the church has its virtue and efficacy before it  
be actually consummate.  
 3. There is a federal conjunction between distinct persons: and as  
this is various, according unto the variety of the interests and  
ends of them that enter into it; so that is most eminent, where one,  
by the common consent of all that are concerned, undertakes to be a  
sponsor or surety for others, to do and answer what on their part is  
required of them for attaining the ends of the covenant. So did the  
Lord Christ undertake to be surety of the new covenant in behalf of  
the church, Heb. 7: 22, and thereon tendered himself unto God, to do  
and suffer for them, in their stead, and on their behalf, whatever  
was required, that they might be sanctified and saved. These things  
I have treated of at large elsewhere, as containing a great part of  
the mystery of the wisdom of God in the salvation of the church  
Here, therefore, I do only observe, that this is that whereby the  
mystical conjunction that was between Christ and the church, whereon  
it was meet, just, and equal in the sight of God, that what he did  
and suffered should be imputed unto us, is completed.  
 These are some of the foundations of that mystery of transmitting  
the sins of the church, as to the guilt and punishment of them, from  
the sinners themselves unto another, every way innocent, pure, and  
righteous in himself, - which is the life, soul, and centre of all  
Scripture revelations. And herein is he exceedingly glorious and  
precious unto them that believe. No heart can conceive, no tongue  
can express the glory of Christ herein. Now, because his infinite  
condescension and love herein have been spoken to before, I shall  
here only instance its greatness in some of its effects.  
 1. It shines forth in the exaltation of the righteousness of God  
in the forgiveness of sins. There is no more adequate conception of  
the divine nature, than that of justice in rule and government.  
Hereunto it belongs to punish sin according unto its desert; and  
herein consisted the first actings of God as the governor of the  
rational creation. They did so in the eternal punishment of the  
angels that sinned, and the casting of Adam out of Paradise, - an  
emblem also of everlasting ruin. Now, all the church, all the elect  
of God, are sinners; - they were so in Adam, - they have been and  
are so in themselves. What does become the justice of God to do  
thereon? Shall it dismiss then all unpunished? Where, then, is that  
justice which spared not the angels who sinned, nor Adam at the  
first? Would this procedure have any consonance thereunto, - be  
reconcilable unto it? Wherefore the establishment of the  
righteousness of God on the one hand, and the forgiveness of sin on  
the other, seem so contradictory, as that many stumble and fall at  
it eternally. See Rom. 10: 3, 4.  
 But in this interposition of Christ, in this translation of  
punishment from the church unto him, by virtue of his conjunction  
therewith, there is a blessed harmony between the righteousness of  
God and the forgiveness of sins; - the exemplification whereof is  
his eternal glory. "O blessed change! 0 sweet permutation!" as  
Justin Martyr speaks.  
 By virtue of his union with the church, which of his own accord he  
entered into, and his undertaking therein to answer for it in the  
sight of God, it was a righteous thing with God to lay the  
punishment of all our sins upon him, so as that he might freely and  
graciously pardon them all, to the honour and exaltation of his  
justice, as well as of his grace and mercy, Rom. 3: 24-26.  
 Herein is he glorious in the sight of God, angels, and men. In him  
there is at the same time, in the same divine acting, a glorious  
resplendence of justice and mercy; - of the one in punishing, of the  
other in pardoning. The appearing inconsistency between the  
righteousness of God and the salvation of sinners, wherewith the  
consciences of convinced persons are exercised and terrified, and  
which is the rock on which most of them split themselves into  
eternal ruin, is herein removed and taken away. In his cross were  
divine holiness and vindictive justice exercised and manifested; and  
through his triumph, grace and mercy are exerted to the utmost. This  
is that glory which ravisheth the hearts and satiates the souls of  
them that believe. For what can they desire more, what is farther  
needful unto the rest and composure of their souls, than at one view  
to behold God eternally well pleased in the declaration of his  
righteousness and the exercise of his mercy, in order unto their  
salvation? In due apprehensions hereof let my soul live; - in the  
faith hereof let me die, and let present admiration of this glory  
make way for the eternal enjoyment of it in its beauty and fulness.  
 2. He is glorious in that the law of God in its receptive part, or  
as to the obedience which it required, was perfectly fulfilled and  
accomplished. That it should be so, was absolutely necessary, from  
the wisdom, holiness, and righteousness of him by whom it was given.  
For what could be more remote from those divine perfections, than to  
give a law which never was to be fulfilled in them unto whom it was  
given, and who were to have the advantages of it? This could not be  
done by us; but through the obedience of Christ, by virtue of this  
his mystical conjunction with the church, the law was so fulfilled  
in us by being fulfilled for us, as that the glory of God in the  
giving of it, and annexing eternal rewards unto it, is exceedingly  
exalted. See Rom. 8: 3, 4.  
 This is that glory of Christ whereof one view by faith will  
scatter all the fear, answer all the objections, and give relief  
against all the despondencies, of poor, tempted, doubting souls; and  
an anchor it will be unto all believers, which they may cast within  
the veil, to hold them firm and steadfast in all trials, storms, and  
temptations in life and death. 

(continued in file 10... )

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