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making way for the blackness of darkness for ever! The face-covering is upon you already, as condemned persons; so near are ye to everlasting darkness. It is only Jesus Christ who can stop the execution, pull the napkin off the face of the condemned malefactor, and put a pardon in his hand, Isa. xxv. 7. “ And he will.destroy in this mountain, the face of the covering cast over all people,” i. e. The face-covering cast over the condemned, as in Haman's case, Esther vii. 8. “ As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face.” Lastly, The chains of darkness ye are bound with in the prison of your depraved state, Isa. Ixi. 1. fits you to be cast into the burning fiery furnace. Ah miserable men!. Sometimes their consciences stir within them, and they begin to think of amending their ways. But, alas! they are in chains, they cannot do it. They are chained by the heart; their lusts Cleave so fast to them, that they cannot, nay, they will not shake them off. · Thus you see what affinity there is be. twixt an unregenerate state, and the state of the damned, the state of absolute and irretrievable misery : Be convineed then, that ye must be born again ; put a high value on the new birth, and eagerly desire it.
The text tells you, that the word is the seed, whereof the new creature is formed; therefore, take heed to it and entertain it, for it is your life. Apply yourselves to the reading of the scripture. Ye that cannot read, cause others read it to you. Wait diligently on the preaching of the word, as by divine appointment, the special mean of conversion : “ For it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe,” i Cor. i. 21. Wherefore cast not yourselves out of Christ's way ; reject not the means of gracé, lest ye be found to judge your. selves unworthy of eternal life. Attend carefully to the word preached. Hear every sermon, as if you were hearing for eternity; and take heed the fowls of the air pick not up this seed from you as it is sown. Give thyself wholly to it, 1 Tim. iv. 15. « Receive it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God," 1 Thess. ii. 13. Ard hear it with application, looking on it as a message pent from heaven, to you in particular, though not to you only, Rev. iii. 22. “ He that hath an ear let him hear, what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Lay it up in your hearts, meditate upon it; and be not as the unclean beasts, that chew not the cud, but by earnest prayer beg the dew of heaven may fall on thy heart, that the seed may spring up there.
More particularly, (1.) Receive the testimony of the word of God, concerning the misery of an unregenerate state, the sinfulness thereof, and the absolute necessity of regeneration. (2.) Receive its testimony concerning God, what a holy and just one he is. (3.) Examine thy ways by it; namely, the thoughts of thy heart, the expressions of thy lips, and the tenor of thy life. Look back through the several periods of thy life, and see thy sins from the precepts of the word ; and learn from its threatenings, what thou art liable to, on the account of these sins. (4.) View the corruption of thy nature, by the help of the same word of God; as a glass which represents our ugly face in a lively manner. Were these things deeply rooted in the heart, they might be the seed of that fear and sorrow, on account of thy soul's state, which are necessary to prepare and stir thee up to look after a Saviour. Fix your thoughts upon him offered to thee in the gospel, as fully suited to thy case ; having, by his obedience to the death, perfectly satisfied the justice of God, and brought in everlasting righteousness. This may prove the seed of humiliation, desire, hope, and faith; and put thee on to stretch out the withered hand unto him at his command. .
Let these things sink deeply into your hearts, and improve them diligently. Remember, whatever ye be, ye must be born again ; else it had been better for you ye had never been born. Wherefore, if any of you shall live and die in an unregenerate state, ye will be inexcusable, having been fairly warned of your hazard.
THE MYSTICAL UNION BETWIXT CHRIST AND BELIEYERS.
John xv. 5.
I am the Vine, ye are the Branches.
HAVING spoken of the change, made by regeneraI tion, on all those that shall inherit eternal life, in opposition to their natural state, the state of degeneracy; I proceed to speak of the change made upon them, in their union with the Lord Jesus Christ, in opposition to their natural relative state, the state of misery. The doctrine of the saints union with Christ is very plainly and fully insisted on, from the beginning of the 12th verse of this chapter ; which is a part of our Lord's farewell sermon to his disciples. Sorrow had now filled their hearts; they were apt to say, Alas! what will be come of us, when our Master is taken from our head ? Who will then instruct us? Who will solve our doubts ? How will we be supported under our difficulties and discouragements? How will we be able to live, without our wonted communications with him ? Wherefore, our Lord Jesus Christ seasonably teaches them the mystery of their union with him, comparing himself to the vinea stock, and them to the branches.
He compares, I say, (1.) himself to a vine-stock: I am the vine. He had been celebrating, with his disciples, the sacrament of his supper, that sign and seal of his people's union with himself; and had told them, he would drink no more of the fruit of the vine, till he should drink it new with them in his Father's kingdom : And now he shews himself to be the vine, from whence the wine of their consolation should come. The vine hath less beauty than many other trees, but is exceeding
fruitful ; fitly representing the low condition our Lord was then in, yet bringing many sons to glory. But that which is chiefly aimed at, in his comparing himself to a vine, is to represent himself as the supporter and nourisher of his people, in whom they live, and bring forth fruit. (2.) He compares them to the branches: Ye are the Òranches of that vine. Ye are the branches, knit to, and growing on this stock; drawing all your life and sap from it. It is a beautiful comparison : As if he had said, I am as a vine ; ye are as the branches of that vine. Now there are two sorts of branches, (1.) Natural branches, which at first spring out of the stock : These are the branches that are in the tree, and were never out of it. (2.) There are ingrafted branches, which are branches broken off from the tree that first gave their life ; and put into another to grow upon it. Thus branches come to be on a tree, which originally were not on it. The branches mentioned in the text are of the latter sort ; branches broken off, (as the word, in the original language, denotes, namely, from the tree that first gave them life. None of the children of men are natural branches of the second Adam, viz. Jesus Christ, the true Vine; they are all the natural branches of the first Adam, that degenerate vine : But the elect are, all of them, sooner or later, broken off from the natural stock, and ingrafted into Christ, the true Vine.
DOCTRINE. They who are in the state of grace are ingrafted in, and united to, the Lord Jesus Christ. They are taken out of their natural stock, cut off from it; and are now ingrafted into Christ, as the new stock. In handling of this, I shall speak to the mystical union, (1.) More generally. (2.) More particularly.
A general View of the Mystical Union.
First, In the general, for understanding the union ber twixt the Lord Jesus Christ, and his elect, who believe in him, and on him;
1. It is a spiritual union. Man and wife, by their mar , riage-union, become one flesh : Christ and true believers, by this union, become one spirit, 2 Cor vi. 17. As one soul or spirit actuates both the head and the members in the
natural body, so the one Spirit of God dwells in Christ and the Christian ; for, “ If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his," Rom. viii. 9. Corporal union is made by contract; so the stones in a building are united; but this is an union of another nature. Were it possible we could eat the flesh, and drink the blood of Christ, in a corporal and carnal manner, it would profit nothing, John vi. 63. It was not Mary's bearing him in her womb, but her believing on him, that made her a saint, Luke xi. 27, 28. “ A certain woman-said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”
2. It is a real union. Such is our weakness in our present state, so much are we immersed in sin, that we are prone to form in our fancy an image of every thing proposed to us ; and as to whatsoever is denied us, we are apt to suspect it to be but a fiction, or what has no reality. But nothing is more real, than what is spiritual ; as approaching nearest to the nature of him who is the fountain of all reality, namely, God himself. We do not see with our cyes, the union betwixt our own soul and body ; neither can we represent it to ourselves truly, by imagination, as we do sensible things ; yet the reality of it is not to be doubted. Faith is no fancy, but the substance of things hoped for, Heb. xi. 1. Neither is the union thereby made betwixt Christ and believers imaginary, but most real, “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones," Eph. v. 30. .
3. It is a most close and intimate union. Believers, regenerate persons, who fiduciously credit him, and rely on him, have put on Christ, Gal. iii. 27. If that be not enough, he is in them, John xyii. 23. formed in them, as the child in the mother's belly, Gal. iv. 19. He is the foundation, I Cor. ii. 11. They are the lively stones built upon him, 1 Pet. ii. 5. He is the head, and they the body, Eph. i. 22, 23. Nay, he liveth in them, as their very souls in their bodies, Gal. ii. 30. And, what is more than all this, they are one in the Father and the Son, as the Father is in Christ, and Christ in the Father, John xyii. 21. 6 That they all may be one, as thou,