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fulness are conveyed to them: in like manner all our spiritual life together, with the exercise and increase of grace, depend on our union with, abiding in, and deriving what is necessary thereunto, from him.
(2.) It is also compared to the union there is between the head and members, as the apostle farther illustrates it, when he styles him the head, from which all the body, by joints and bands, having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God, Col. ii. 19. which is a very beautiful similitude, whereby we are given to understand, that as the head is the fountain of life and motion to the whole body, as the nerves and animal spirits take their rise from thence, so that if the communication that there is between them and it, be stopped, the members would be useless, dead, and insignificant so Christ is the fountain of spiritual life and motion, to all those who are united to him.
(3.) This union is farther illustrated, by a similitude taken from that union which there is between the foundation and the building; and accordingly Christ is styled, in scripture, the chief corner stone, Eph. ii. 20. and a sure foundation, Isa. xxviii. 16. And there is something peculiar in that phrase which the apostle uses, which is more than any similitude can express; when he speaks of Christ as the living stone, or rock, on which the church is built; and of believers, as lively stones, 1 Pet. ii. 4, 5. to denote, that they are not only supported and upheld by him, as the building is by the foundation, but enabled to put forth living actions, as those whose life is derived from this union with him.
(4.) There is another similitude taken from that nourishment which the body receives, by the use of food; and therefore our Saviour styles himself the bread of life, or the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die; and proceeds to speak of his giving his flesh for the life of the world; and adds, he that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him, John vi. 48
(5.) There is another similitude, by which our being united to Christ by faith, is more especially illustrated, taken from the union which there is between man and wife; accordingly this is generally styled, a conjugal union, between Christ and believers. Thus the prophet says, Thy Maker is thine Husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the holy One of Israel, Isa. liv. 5. And the apostle, speaking of a man's leaving his father and mother, and being joined unto his wife, and they two being one flesh, Eph. v. 31, 32. applies it, as was before observed, to the union that there is between Christ and the church; and adds, that we are members of his body,
of his flesh, and of his bones, ver. 30. which expression, if not compared with other scriptures, would be very hard to be understood; but it may be explained by the like phraseology, used elsewhere. Thus, when God formed Eve at first, and brought her to Adam, and thereby joined them together in a conjugal relation: he says upon this occasion, This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh, Gen. ii. 23. And we find also, that other relations, which are more remote than this, are expressed by the same mode of speaking. Thus Laban says to Jacob, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh, Gen. xxix. 14. And Abimelech pleading the relation he stood in to the men of Shechem, as a pretence of his right to reign over them, tells them, I am your bone and your flesh, Judges ix. 2. Therefore the apostle makes use of the same expression, agreeably to the common mode of speaking used in scripture, to set forth the conjugal relation which there is between Christ and be
The apostle, indeed, elsewhere alters the phrase, when he says, He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit, 1 Cor. vi. 17. which is so difficult an expression, that some who treat on this subject, though concluding that there is in it something that denotes the intimacy and nearness of this union, and more than what is contained in the other phrase, of their being one flesh, nevertheless, reckon it among those expressions which are inexplicable; though I cannot but give into the sense in which some understand it; namely, that inasmuch as the same Spirit dwells in believers that dwelt in Christ, though with different views and designs, they are hereby wrought up, in their measure, to the same temper and disposition; or as it is expressed elsewhere, The same mind is in them that was in Christ, Phil. ii. 5. which is such an effect of this conjugal relation that there is between him and them, as is not always the result of the same relation amongst men. The reason why I call this our being united to Christ, by faith, is because it is founded in a mutual consent; as the Lord avouches them on the one hand, to be his people, so they, on the other hand, avouch him to be their God, Deut. xxvi. 17, 18. the latter of which is, properly speaking, an act of faith; whereby they give up themselves to be his servants, to all intents and purposes, and that for ever.
It is farther observed in this answer. That union with Christ is a work of God's grace: this it must certainly be, since it is the spring and fountain from whence all acts of grace proceed; and indeed, from the nature of the thing, it cannot be otherwise for if there be a wonderful instance of condescending grace in God's conferring those blessings that accompany salvation; this may much more be deemed so. If Christ be pleased to dwell with, and in his people, and to walk in them, 2
Cor. vi. 16. or as it is said elsewhere, to live in them, Gal. ii. 20. as a pledge and earnest of their being forever with him in heaven; and if, as the result hereof, they be admitted to the greatest intimacy with him; we may from hence take occasion to apply what was spoken by one of Christ's disciples, to him, with becoming humility and admiration; how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? John xiv. 22. Is it not a great instance of grace, that the Son of God should make choice of so mean an habitation, as that of the souls of sinful men; and not only be present with, but united to them in those instances which have been before considered?
2. It is farther observed in this answer, that we are united to Christ in effectual calling; which leads us to consider what is contained in the two following answers.
QUEST. LXVII. What is effectual calling?
ANSW. Effectual calling is the work of God's almighty power and grace; whereby, out of his free and special love to his elect, and from nothing in them moving him thereunto, he doth, in his accepted time, invite and draw them to Jesus Christ by his word and Spirit, savingly enlightening their minds, renewing, and powerfully determining their wills; so as they, although in themselves dead in sin, are hereby made willing and able, freely to answer his call, and to accept and embrace the grace offered and conveyed therein. QUEST. LXVIII. Are the elect effectually called?
ANSW. All the elect, and they only, are effectually called; although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the word, and have some common operations of the Spirit; who, for their wilful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in their unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus Christ.
WE have, in these answers, an account of the first step
that God takes, in applying the redemption purchased by Christ; which is expressed, in general, by the word calling; whereby sinners are invited, commanded, encouraged, and enabled, to come to Christ, in order to their being made partakers of his benefits: the apostle styles it an high, holy, and heavenly calling. Phil. iii. 14. 2 Tim. i. 9. Heb. iii. 1. and a being called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, 1 Cor. i.