This union is a real union. Love is as a uniting affection; it makes the lover and the beloved one, as if two persons had but one soul between them. Thus Christ loves the saints (Revelation 1:5), and the saints love Christ (1 Pet. 1:8). Christ’s love to them is the cause; their love to Christ is the effect (1 John 4:19). Yet this union is rather a fruit of that union we are now speaking of than the union itself; as in marriage, the conjugal bond and conjugal love are two distinct things. None of all these reach the nature of this union. The Scripture describes it to be a real and solid union, as real as between head and members, root and branches; for, although it be a Spiritual union, yet does it not therefore cease to be real. Things are, therefore, not less real because they are Spiritual; yea, they are therefore more real. God, who is the absolute and real Being, a Being who gives being to everything which has a being, is most Spiritual. God is a Spirit (John 4:24); and the nearer any being or excellence approximates unto God, the more real it is, the more itself; as we see in angels and the souls of men.
Thus is it with this union. It is Spiritual, but yet so true and real that, in comparison with it, all unions and conjunctions in nature are nothing else but so many figures and shadows. It is real as the believer himself, as real as Chris himself. Christ and the believer are not more really one in themselves than they are in and with one another Spiritually (1 Cor. 6:16). Yea, our Lord carries us one step higher. It is a union as real as that essential union between the Father and the Son: “As thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us” (John 17:21). That is, as truly, as verily, though not substantially. It denotes, I say, the reality of the union, though not the kind and manner of it.
This union is an operative union. Christ is in the believer as the soul is in the body,—a principle of life and operation. “I live,” saith the apostle; but, as if he had said too much, he recalls what he had said, “yet not I; but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:4). It is not so much I that live as Christ in me. Christ is my life; it is He who animates me. It is he who does all His work in me and my works for me. Though the act be mine, the strength is His. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). I am but the instrument only, which His hand manageth. It is His finger that toucheth me, His skill that makes the music. It is such a union as from whence the believer, by faith, draws life and virtue from Jesus Christ to all Spiritual and saving intents and purposes; yea, whereby all the offices of the holy life become sweet, easy, and delightful. Those duties and employments which, unto the man not Spiritually born, are hard and grievous, and even so many impossibilities, by faith improving* its union with Christ, are made light and easy, even as the operations of another nature (1 John 5:4). (* This is, realizing it; for this is what the good old man meant.) All this the apostle would have us to understand when he says, “His commandments are not grievous.”
This union is a soul-enriching union. By virtue of this blessed union, the saints are invested into all the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ; as, by virtue of the marriage-knot, the wife is instated into all the revenues and privileges of her husband. “Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Observe, Christians! In Christ Jesus there is the union; and thence flows communion and fellowship with him in all his, privileges, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Here you have the very epitome and sum total of the gospel; the whole Christ in four words; the benefit and fruit of all His offices, suitable and sufficient to supply all the defects and indigences of the creature. For, behold! Here is wisdom for our folly; righteousness for our guilt; sanctification for our impure natures; and redemption for our every way lost and undone condition. Wisdom to make us wise to salvation; there is the fruit of His prophetical office. Righteousness for our justification: “Christ is the end,” or complement, “of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth;” there is, the fruit of His priestly office. Sanctification to impart holiness where it is wanting, and to increase it where it is begun. Christ is a fountain of holiness as well as a fountain of happiness; there is the fruit of His kingly office. Redemption fully and finally to deliver us from the power of darkness, from wrath to come, from all sin and misery, and to translate us into the kingdom of grace and glory; there is the joint fruit of all his offices.
Behold, Christians! This is the rich and precious fruit which grows upon the offices of Jesus Christ, and all made ours by means of this glorious union. First, in Christ; then follows wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, ad redemption.
Yea, one step higher yet. By virtue of this union with Christ, believers are not only made partakers of the fruit of Christ’s offices, but are in a subordinate sense invested into the very offices themselves. Was He anointed to be a King? So are they: “He hath made us kings,” &c. (Rev. 1:6). Was Christ anointed to be a Prophet? Believers also partake of the same unction: “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things” (John 2:20.) Was Christ anointed to be a Priest? So are they: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). Here are two offices twisted together,—royal, there is their kingly office;priesthood, there is their sacerdotal: “A kingdom of priests” (Exod. 19:6), as Moses phrases it; priests as they stand in relation to God, “To offer up Spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ “(1 Pet. 2:5); and kings, in respect of men, to rule over others and themselves too.
This is much, and yet this is not all. By virtue of this union, believers share with Christ in all His communicable titles and dignities. Is he a Son? So are they; Christ the Son of God by nature; they the sons of God by adoption (Gal. 4:5). Was Christ the Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2)? Believers are heirs also in Him and with Him: “If children, then heirs; heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Though they are not joint-purchasers by their good works, as the Papist would make them; yet they are joint-heirs by grace, as God hath made them, by virtue of their union with Jesus Christ.
Does Christ call God His Father and his God? Behold! He, being not ashamed to call them brethren, lets them know that He is their God and Father (Hebrews 2:11). “Go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend to my father and your Father, and to my God and your God” (John 20:17).
Once more. Hath the Father appointed Him a kingdom? So doth he appoint unto them a kingdom (Luke 22:29). Hath the Father assigned Him a throne? So does Christ assign unto His saints a throne also: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in My throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with My Father in His throne.” (Rev. 3:21).
My brethren, what a soul-enriching, beatifically union is this! There are unions in nature which convey nothing, communicate nothing but empty and insignificant titles, which make the person admitted into them not a whit the richer, the better; not a jot the more noble or happy; but this union introduces the belier into the full enjoyment of Christ, with all His riches and all His glory; insomuch as the spouse gives in the whole account in this vast and invaluable sum: “My Beloved is mine, and I am his.” (Song 2:16). He is mine; the whole Christ is mine in His natures, offices, excellences, prerogatives, and inheritance; in all He is and in all He has; it is all mine, for my good, and for my glory. This is the voice of her faith; and then this is the voice of her love: “I am His;” in all I am, in all I have, in all I can make by my interest in the world; and if it were a thousand times more, he should have it all, and all would be too little for Him who hath loved me, and washed me in his own blood, and hath taken me into so rich and glorious a union with His own self.
To Him be glory forever.
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