“I am the vine, ye are the branches.” John xv. 5.
The Saviour laid open the most sublime mysteries in the simplest language. What words can be more simple than these, “I am the vine, ye are the branches!” yet what can be more profound than the truth they reveal! – The oneness of Christ and the church, this is that mystery of mercy weary and God’s Glory shines brightest, and from whence the eternal security and happiness of the church springs. It must, therefore be of the highest importance for the believer to have a scriptural knowledge of the subject this truth is one of the rocks around which faith entwines her arms, – from which she sucks honey, and in which she finds shelter.
1. There is a seminal union of the church to Christ. The plant is in the seed – the stately oak was wrapped up in the little acorn. The whole human family lay concealed in Adam – in him they stood, and in him may fail, and by him they would all have been eternally ruined, but for the fact that Christ was before Adam. Though he were the “child born,” he was not less “the everlasting Father,” and had the elect were wrapped up in him before the fully mystic, but real seminal union. This gives rise,
2. To a vital oneness with him. The branch springs out of the vine – is produced by it, through the peculiar and very mysterious working of life. Every believer, as such, is the offspring of Christ, and a “member of his body, of his flesh and of his bones,” and herein is our interest in all he was, did, and suffered here below, as also in what he is doing now. The benefits of his death and mediation can never reach beyond the members of his mystic body, nor fail to reach them all. Harmony, consistency, and absolute certainty are to be found in the scheme of redemption. The churches loved, chosen and adopted in Christ, and on that ground redeemed by him, and for the same cause quickened by the Holy Ghost and brought to him, in grafted upon him, and made experimentally one with him. Regeneration is an infallible proof of an interest in all that he is as the salvation of his people. He did not say you must have much knowledge, great gifts, mighty faith, splendid talents, and the like; but he did say, “Ye must be born again;” and all who are born again have every fundamental grace, in some degree, and are the children of God, and as sure of heaven as that Christ is there. While he lives they can never die, for he is their life; and when he appears they shall appear to be for ever with him and like him. Tried, and tossed, and tempted they may – nay, to some extent, they must be; for it is through much tribulation that the kingdom is entered, but lost they can not be. But we observe,
3. This vital union gives rise to a strong sympathic union between Christ and the church. If a branch be wounded, the vine feels it. “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” “In all their afflictions he was afflicted.” He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” What precious truths are these to the real Christian! Our salvation does not only stand in union to Jesus, but our consolation flows from it. “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Behold the vine! every branch, every little tendril, receives a constant and sufficient supply from the parent stem and hidden root. If the whole be in health, there is no redundancy, and no lack. Each branch receives just so much sap as it needs – no more. So with the church – the branches of the tree of life – he that gathereth much hath nothing over, and he that gathereth little hath no lack. There is a blessed suitability and adaption in the outflowings of life and comfort from Jesus to his people. These come through the word, by the Holy Spirit, and can never fail. The root of the righteous shall not be moved. You may be tempted to fear that you have no interest in Christ, but what his honour be touched – his name blasphemed – his truth denied, and your soul will be stirred within you. No real Christian can hear his Lord attacked without feeling it, and none but such as are one with him do so feel.
4. The union is eternal. – We can fix no date to its origin. It was before the foundation of the world, and shall have no end – “Once in Christ in him forever.” Not all the powers of hell and earth combined can divide any member of the church from a glorious Head.
Reader, are you one with him? Have you, as a penitent sinner, come to him for mercy? Be assured that “there is no other name given under heaven among men whereby we can be saved,” but the name of Jesus, to whom be Glory, majesty, and dominion for ever. Amen.
J. S. ANDERSON.
THE VOICE OF TRUTH; OR, BAPTIST RECORD.