RPM, Volume 18, Number 39, September 18 to September 24, 2016

Sermons on John 17


By Thomas Manton

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.—John 17:23.

Christ's request for union is again repeated, with the advantage of another expression, to declare the nature of it. So that in this verse we have—

1. The nature of the mystical union.

2. The end of it; with respect to believers and the world; their conviction of Christ's mission, and the Father's love to the disciples.

First, The nature of this union further declared, 'I in them, and thou in me.'

Here first observe, that one union is the ground of another. Christ and the Father are one, and then Christ and we are one, and then we are one, one with another. The assumed nature is united to the divine essence in Christ's person; and so he, as mediator, is one with the Father; and then we by the communion of the Spirit are not only united to the head, but to our fellow-members.

There are two unions spoken of in this verse.

1. With God, that is implied; the Father is a believer's as well as Christ: John xiv. 23, 'My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him.' Why then doth Christ say, 'I in them'? Not to exclude the Father; for he presently addeth, 'Thou in me.' Christ speaketh as mediator, to show that he is the cause, way, and means. He is the Jacob's ladder: John i. 51 'Verily I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.'

2. There is a union with Christ immediately; that is formally expressed, 'I in them.' And then between us and others of the same body, 'That they may be made perfect in one;' all drawn up into [Pg. 63] unity with God in Christ. First, God descendeth in the person of Christ, and then we all ascend by Christ, and come up to God again. Thus the personal union maketh way for the mystical, and the mystical for our joint communion with God in the same body. This is the great mystery that hath been driving on from all eternity, the Father is the beginning and ending, and Christ the means. All influence cometh from God through Christ, and our tendency is to him through Christ: 1 Cor. viii. 6, 'To ns there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.' All mercies come to us, and our services and respects go to God, through Christ The reason is, we are departed from God by sin; so that God is removed from us, and God is against us, at a distance, and at an enmity; and we are fugitives and exiles, as Adam ran away from God before he was banished out of his presence. Therefore Christ is not only a meritorious cause of the union that is between us and God, but also the bond and tie of it. To satisfy God offended, this he might do as a Saviour without us; but to be a means of influence on God's part, and respect and service on ours, to convey grace, and return service, he must be in us: 'I in them.' As exiles, we are taken into grace and favour by the merit of Christ; and as fugitives, we are brought into unity again by his Spirit working in us. Therefore it is said: Eph. i. 10, 'That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.' There God descendeth, and we ascend. All the scattered elect are brought into a body, to receive influences of grace from God as a fountain, through Christ as a conveyance. So Eph. ii. 18, 'For through him we have an access by one Spirit unto the Father.' All believers are united into a body by the communion of Christ's Spirit, that by Christ they may perform service to God, and receive grace from him.

Use. Is to prize Christ as mediator, and to make use of him in your addresses to God. Heathens had many ultimate objects of worship, and many mediators; we have but one.

1. If you perform anything to God, do it in and through Christ, 'in whom he is well pleased,' Mat. iii. 17. A holy God will accept nothing, but as tendered in Christ's name. We cannot endure the majesty of his presence: Col. iii. 17, 'And whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him;' by the assistance of his grace and dependence upon his merit, that is to do all in Christ's name. We are made amiable to God in Christ; out of Christ we are odious to God: Ps. xiv. 2, 3, 'The Lord looketh down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.' Once God looked on the creatures all good, but that was in innocency; after the fall he looked on the creatures, and all are become filthy; it is not meant of any particular sort of men, but all in their natural condition. The apostle bringeth that place to prove the universal corruption of nature, Rom. iii. 10, that is, out of Christ. But as he looketh on us in Christ, so we are amiable; he is well-pleased [Pg. 64] in him: it is proclaimed from heaven, that we might not be afraid to go to God.

2. If you expect anything from him, you must expect it in Christ. Christ is not only the meritorious cause, hut the means. All we look for is not only from him, hut in him. As God first loveth Christ, then loveth ns; he is the primum amabile, the first beloved of all; so he is first in Christ, and then in us; he is primum recipiens, the first object of blessing and grace: 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23, 'All are yours, for you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.' We have it at second-hand, Christ cometh between God and us, to convey the influences and bounty of heaven to us. Therefore it is said: 2 Cor. i. 20, 'All the promises of God in him are Yea, and in him Amen.' God doth whatever we desire him, in him. God doth not bless us as persons distinct from Christ, but as members of his body. There is as much need of the union of our persons to the person of Christ, as there was of the union of the human nature to the divine nature. Christ must be in us, as well as God in Christ; we must be Christ's as well as Christ is God's. The mediator hath an interest in God, and you must have an interest in the mediator. Look, as by the personal union, Christ merited all for us; so, by the union of persons, he conveyeth all to us. Christ could not suffer till he had united our flesh to his godhead; and we cannot receive the virtue of his sufferings till he unites our person to his person.

Secondly, Observe, Christ is in us, as God is in Christ. The two unions are often compared in this chapter; and here it is said, 'I in them, and thou in me.' How is God in Christ? By unity of essence, and by constant influence; and so is Christ in us. (1.) God is in Christ by unity of essence, or co-essential existency; Christ and He communicates in the same nature: 'The fulness of the godhead dwelt in him bodily,' Col. ii. 9. Now there is something which answereth to this in the mystical union; there is a communion of spirit between us and Christ, though not the same nature. The same Spirit dwelleth in Christ \~swmatikwv\~, bodily, that is, essentially; in us \~pneumatikwv\~, spiritually; we partake of the divine nature in some gifts and qualities. (2.) By constant influence. God is in Christ by a communication of life, virtue, and operation.

1. The Father is the perpetual beginning, foundation, and root of life to Christ as mediator: John vi. 57, 'As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.' So is Christ to us: Gal. ii. 20, 'Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.'

2. The divine essence sustained the person of Christ as mediator. The humanity could not subsist of itself, but by constant influence from the godhead: Isa. xlii. 1, 'Behold my servant, whom I uphold.' Christ had constant sustentation from the Father; he upheld him, and carried him through the work. So are we 'preserved in Jesus Christ,' Jude 1. We have not only the beginning and principle of life from Christ, but constant support. We can no more Keep ourselves than make ourselves; all things depend upon their first cause. [Pg. 65]

3. The Father concurreth to all the operations and actions of Christ, and so the Father is in Christ as he worketh in him: John xiv. 10, 'Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself; but the Father, that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.' The divine power was interested in Christ's works as mediator, especially in the miracles that he wrought to confirm the truth of his person. So is Christ in believers, as he worketh in them all their works for them: John xv. 5, 'I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.' He doth not say, nihil magnum, no great thing; but, nihil, nothing at all. Thinking is the most sudden and transient act; sure the new nature there may get the start of corruption. But, 2 Cor. iii. 5, 'Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.' Actions are more deliberate, there is more scope for the interposition of corrupt nature; but of ourselves we cannot think a good thought.

What use shall we make of this?

Use 1. If Christ be in us, as God was in Christ, let us manifest it as Christ did. Christ manifested the Father to be in him by his works: John x. 37, 38, 'If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works, that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him.' Works and miracles exceeding the power and force of nature showed that Christ was a divine person; sure the Father is in him, or else he could not do these works. So St James puts hypocrites upon the trial, 'Show me thy faith by thy works,' James ii. 18. Do we do any works exceeding the power of corrupt nature? That would be a proof of Christ's working in you. When Jacob counterfeited Esau, Isaac felt his hands. So what are your works? If you walk as men, do no more than an ordinary man, that hath not the Spirit of God, where is the proof of Christ's working in you? Many boast of Christ in them; if Christ were in them, he would be there, as the Father was in Christ; they would bewray it by their operations. You may know what is within by what cometh out; if Christ be within thee, there will come out prayer, sighs, and groans for heaven, fruitful discourses, heavenly walking, a mortified conversation; all this cometh out, because Christ is within. But now, when ye belch out filthy discourses, rotten communication, there is nothing cometh out but vanity and sin, how dwelleth Christ in you? are these the fruits of his presence?

Use 2. Learn dependence upon Christ. All the power we have to work is from Christ. Whence hath the body the vigour it hath to work, and to move from place to place, but from the soul? And whence hath a Christian his power but from Christ? We derive all our strength from Christ. We are as glasses without a bottom; they cannot stand of themselves, but they are broken in pieces. Christ can do all things without us, but we can do nothing without him, as the soul can subsist apart from the body; Christ hath no need of us, but we cannot live and act without him. Sine te nihil, in te totum possumus Phil. iv. 13, Ƈ can do all things through Christ, which strengthened me.' The apostle doth not speak it to boast of his power, but to [Pg. 66] profees his dependence. It was never seen that a father would cast away the child that hangeth on him.

Thirdly, I shall now speak of Christ's being in believers apart, that I may a little enforce this argument. How is Christ in believers? We most not go too high, nor too low. It is not to be understood essentially, so he is everywhere, and cannot be more peculiarly in one than in another: 'Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 'Ps. cxxxix. 7. He is here, and there, and everywhere, in heaven, in earth, in hell. Personally he is not in us; that cannot be without a personal union; if the Spirit were personally in us, that would make us to become one person with the Holy Ghost, as the divine and human nature make but one person; but mystically, with respect to some peculiar operations which he worketh in us, and not in others, Christ is in us as the head is in the members, by influence of life and motion; not such influence as tendeth to life natural—so natural men live in him, move in him, and have their being in him; there is a union of dependence between God and all his creatures;—but influence with respect to life spiritual In short, Christ is not only in us as in a temple or house—that is one way of his being in us, therefore he is said 'to dwell in our hearts by faith.' Eph. iii. 17,—but he is in us as the head in the members, and as the vine in the branches, John xv. 1, where there is not only a presence, but an influence. Once more, he is not only in us in a moral way, in affections; his heart is with us, and our heart is with him, and his love and his joy is in and towards us: Prov. viii. 31, 'Rejoicing always in the habitable parts of the earth, and my delights were with the sons of men;' but he is in us in a mystical and gracious way: John xvii. 26, 'That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.' He is in us as the soul is in the body, to give us life, sense, vigour, and operation.

Use 1. To press us to labour after an interest in this privilege, that Christ may be in us. It is the saddest mark if Christ be not in us: 1 Cor. xiii. 5, 'Know ye not that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? 'reprobates disallowed of God.

Let me press it:

1. If Christ be not in us, the devil is: Eph. ii. 2, 'Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.' Man's heart is not a waste; it is occupied by Christ or Satan. The children of disobedience are acted by the devil and governed by the devil. Those that are cast out of the church, which is a figure of cutting off from communion with Christ, were given up to Satan, to show that he reigneth there where Christ doth not take possession; the devil entereth into them, and sendeth them headlong to their own destruction.

2. Where Christ is, there all the Trinity are: John xiv. 23, 'We will come unto him, and make our abode with him;' there is Father, Son, and Spirit. Such an one is a consecrated temple, wherein God taketh up his residence. They do not only come as guests, to tarry with us for a night, as the angels came to Abraham, Gen. xviii. 2; or as friends come to visit, and away, and so leave more sorrow on their [Pg. 67] departure than joy in their presence; but they will abide with us for ever. Heaven is where God is; this heaven we have upon earth, that all the persons take up their abode in our hearts. God knocketh at the door of a wicked man's heart, but doth not enter, much less have his abode and residence there. Here is the Father as a fountain of grace, Christ as mediator, and the Spirit as Christ's deputy, to work all in us. This is his second heaven, one above the clouds» and another in our hearts. Oh I what a condescension is it, that God should not only pardon us, and admit us into his presence hereafter, be familiar with us, when we have put on our robes of glory, but dwell in us here 1 When Christ was about to go to heaven, and his disciples were troubled at it, then he leaveth us this promise. We cannot go to God, but God will come to us, not only give us a visit, but take up his abode in us.

3. Wherever the Trinity are, there is a blessing left behind. The presence of earthly princes is costly and burdensome, because of their train and the charges of entertainment; but the Trinity are blessed guests; they never come but bring their welcome with them, and a blessing in their hands. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost do not come empty-handed. The Son of God came to Abraham with two angels, but he came not without a gift, a promise of a child, though their bodies were dry and dead, Gen. xviii. Wheresoever Christ came in the days of his flesh, he left some mercy behind. While in the womb of the virgin, he came into the house of Zacharias, and Zacharias and Elizabeth his wife were both filled with the Holy Ghost, Luke i. 41. He came into Peter's house, and brought deliverance for Peter's wife's mother from a fever, Mat viii. 15. He came to Capernaum, and brought with him to the man sick of the palsy health for his body and a pardon for his soul, Mat ix. 2. He came to the house of Jairus, and raised his daughter, ver. 23. He came to the house of Zaccheus, and brought salvation with him, Luke xix. 9. Everywhere wherever he went, trace him, you will find he left a blessing behind him. Laban thrived better for Jacob, the house of. Obed-Edom for the ark. In these short visits Christ left a blessing, but in a gracious soul they have a perpetual residence; it is fit these blessed guests should have good entertainment.

4. It is a pledge that we shall have more: 'Christ in us the hope of glory,' Col. i. 29. He dwelleth in us to fit us for heaven. It is heaven begun; it makes our exile a paradise. It is still growing, till it cometh to a complete presence in heaven. Where he is once in truth, there he is for ever. Temples built may stand forsaken, but God never forsaketh his spiritual temples.

Use 2. Direction. What must we do that Christ may be in us ? 1. Make way for him. Empty the heart of all self-confidence. When the heart is full of self, there is no room for Christ: Phil iii. 8, 9, 'Yea doubtless I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.' First, there must be a cutting off from [Pg. 68] the wild olive-tree by ,1 sound conviction; we must know what strangers we are to the life of God. Was there a time when we were convinced of this? Eph. iv. 18, 'Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.' How can a man that was never convinced of the sadness of his estate say, Not I, but Christ?

2. Wait for him in the ordinances. Where should a man meet with Christ, but in his ordinances, in the shepherds' tents? All the ordinances have an aspect upon our union with Christ, either to begin or continue it God offereth him to us in the word: 1 Cor i. 9, 'God is faithful, by whom ye are called to the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.' We are entreated to take him. As long as they see nothing but man in it, it cometh to nothing; but many times, in hearing, they see God in the offer: the matter is of the Lord, as Rebekah yielded out of an overruling instinct So for the religious use of the seals. We are 'baptized into Christ.' Gal. iii. 27. It is the pledge of our admission into that body whereof Christ is the head. God is aforehand with us; we were engaged to make a profession of this union, before we had liberty to choose our own way. Let us not retract our vows, and make baptism only a memorial of our hypocrisy, to profess union when there is no such matter: I profess to be planted into Christ by baptism, but I feel no such matter. Oh! you should groan for this! Then for the supper of the Lord: 1 Cor. x. 16, 'The cup of blessing which we bless, ???? ???????a, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 'Under the law the people could not cat of the sin-offering, but only the priest; for the same reason they were forbidden to eat sacrifice and drink blood: Lev. xvii. 11,12, 'For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that innketh an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood;' compared with Mat xxvi. 26, 'This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.' The priest was to become one with the sacrifice, to figure Christ's person; but now atonement being made, another union is necessary, of sinners with the sacrifice. Nothing is so one with us as that we eat and drink; it becometh a part of our substance; it resembleth that strait and near conjunction between us mid Christ. This is a means appointed to engage us to look after this union; here we come to profess it, to promote it; it is a means under u blessing.

3. Receive him thankfully. Oh! what am I, and 'whence is it to lue that the mother of my Lord should come to me?' Luke i. 43; that Christ should come to me, and dwell in my heart I

4. Entertain him kindly; be careful to preserve the motions, quickenings, comforts of his Spirit. This is the respect we should show, to be sensible of accesses and recesses, and accordingly suit our carriage. Rejoice in his presence; such a precious guest must be observed. Grieve when you do not feel the comforts of it: Cant v. 4, 'My beloved put in his hand at the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.' [Pg. 69]

Use 3. Examine whether Christ be in you or no. You may know it:

1. By his manner of entrance, Christ is not wont to come into the heart without opposition. The devil is loath to be dispossessed: Luke xi. 21, 'When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace.' Christ came into the temple with a whip to drive out the money-changers. He cometh to rule alone.

2. By the fruits of his abode—life, fruitfulness, tendency.

(1.) Life. It will stir and quicken you to good duties: Gal. iii. 20, 'I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.' He is a living fountain of vital union.

(2.) Fruitfulness of soul: John xv. 2, 'Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruity he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit;' and ver. 4, 'Abide in me, and I in you: as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can you, except you abide in me.'

(3.) Tendency—(1.) To heaven. Heaven is the place of our full enjoyment of him. They do not admire worldly excellences: Luke xix. 8, 'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.' The woman left her pitcher, John iv. 28; Matthew followed Christ (2.) To God's glory as our last aim; their aim is according to their principle.

Secondly, I come to the end of this union.

1. With respect to believers, 'That they may be made perfect,' &c.

2. With respect to the world, and their conviction, 'That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thon hast loved me.'

First, With respect to believers, 'That they may be made perfect in one,' \~tetleiwmenoi\~ \~eiv\~ \~en\~. This oneness is either with God or with one another. Both are included in the mystical union; we cannot be united to the head, but we must also be united to the members. The golden cherubims did so look to the ark and mercy-seat, that they did also look one towards another, Exod. xxv. 20. So in this union, as we respect God and Christ, so we must also look to our fellow-members: 'Let them be perfect in one;' let them all centre in God, which is the creature's perfection.

Observe, our perfect happiness lieth in oneness, in being one with God through Christ. I shall evidence it to you in a few particulars.

1. Since the fall man's affections and thoughts are scattered: Eccles. vii. 29, 'God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.' When man lost his happiness, he sought out many inventions. A sinner is full of wanderings, as a wayfaring man that hath lost his direction turneth up and down, and knows not where to pitch; or the needle in the compass, when it is jogged, shaketh and wavereth, and knoweth not where to rest, till it turueth to the pole again. There is a restlessness in our desires; still we have new projects, and know not where to-pitch; are not content with what we do lessees; this is not the pole where we rest Quaerunt in vanitate creaturarum quod amisserunt in unitate Creatoris. A river, the further it runneth from the fountain, the more it is dispersed into several [Pg. 70] streams. Blindness maketh us grope and feel about for happiness, as the Sodomites did for Lot's door. We change objects, striving to meet with that in one thing which we cannot find in another, as bees fly and go from flower to flower; we seek to patch up things as well as we can.

2. In all this chase and distraction of thoughts there is no contentment in the vast world, nothing that can satiate the heart of man. Transitory things may divert the soul, but they cannot content, it. After Solomon's survey, Eccles. i. 2, 'Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; vanity of vanities, all is vanity.' He had made many experiments, but still found himself disappointed, and disappointment is the worst vexation.

3. This distraction continueth till we return to God again: 1 Peter ii. 25, 'Ye were as sheep going astray, but are now returned unto the shepherd and bishop of your souls. There is no safety but in the fold. God, who is the principle of our being, is the only object of our contentment. We began in a monad or unity, and there we end. God is the boundary of all things: Rom. xi. 36, 'For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever, Amen.' In him, or nowhere, the soul findeth content. He is our first cause and our last end. There are some scrictures and rays of goodness in the creature, but they cannot satisfy, because there we have happiness by parcels; it is dispersed. Nothing is dispersed in the creature but what is re-collected in the creator; there is all in him, because all came out from him.

4. The great work of grace is to return us to God again, that we may pitch upon him as the chief object and centre of our rest: Jer. xxxii. 39, 'I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever.' It is the great blessing of the covenant; this one heart is to pitch upon God as the chief object and centre of our rest, otherwise we are troubled with divers cares, fears, and desires. Thus grace worketh upon us. But the distance lieth not only on our part, but God's. Before God and the creature can be brought together, justice must be satisfied. Christ came to restore us to our primitive condition: 2 Cor. v. 19, 'God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.' The merit of Christ bringeth God to us, and the Spirit of Christ bringeth us to God. It is as necessary Christ should be united to us, as we to God.

5. Our happiness in God is completed by degrees. In this life, the foundation is laid: we are reconciled to him upon earth; but the complete fruition we have in heaven; there we are fully made perfect in one. Here there is weakness in our reconciliation: we do not cleave to him without distraction; there are many goings a-whoring and wandering from God after our return to him. And here, on God's part, our punishment is continued in part. God helpeth us by means, at second and third hand. We need many creatures, and cannot be happy without them; we need light, meat, clothes, house. Our life is patched up by supplies from the creature. But there 'God is all, and in all,' 1 Cor. xv. 28. We find in God whatever is necessary for us without means and outward helps. There' God is all, and in all;' he is our house, clothes, meat, ordinances. We have all [Pg. 71] immediately from God, and 'in all;' all are made perfect in one. We cannot possess any thing in the world except we encroach upon one another's happiness. Worldly things cannot be divided ? without lessening; and we take that from others which we possess ourselves. Envy showeth the narrowness of our comforts. But there the happiness of one is no hindrance to another, all are gratified, and none miserable; as the sun is a common privilege, none have less because others have more. All possess God as their happiness without want and jealousy.

Use. If to be drawn into unity and oneness with God be our happiness and perfection, then take heed of two things — (1.) Of sin, which divides God from you; (2.) Of doting upon the creatures, which withdraweth you from God.

1. Of sin, which maketh God stand at a distance from you: Isa. lix. 2, 'Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you.' As long as sin remaineth in full power, there cannot be any union at all. 'What communion hath light with darkness? 'And the more it is allowed, the more it hindereth the perfection of the union. What is the reason we do not fully grow up to be one with God in this life, that our communion with him is so small? Sin is in the way; the less holy you are, the less you have of this happiness, such unspeakable joys, lively influences of grace, and immediate supplies from heaven. In bitter afflictions, we have most communion with God many times; that is nothing so evil as sin; as afflictions abound, so do our comforts.

2. Of doting upon the creatures, which withdraweth your heart from God. The more the heart is withdrawn from God, the more miserable. Let the object be never so pleasing, it is an act of spiritual whoredom. Sin is poison, creatures are not bread: Isa. lv. 2, 'Why do you spend your money upon that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? 'It cannot yield any solid contentment to the soul. These things are short uncertain things, beneath the dignity of the soul. There is a restlessness within ourselves, and envy towards others; they are not enough for us and them too. Not for us; if enough for the heart, not for the conscience. If God do but arm our own thoughts against us, as usually he doth when the affections are satisfied with the world, he will show you that the whole soul is not satisfied; therefore he awakeneth conscience; as children catch at butterflies, the gawdy wings melt away in their fingers, and there remaineth nothing but an ugly worm. Desertion is occasioned by nothing so much as carnal complacency. Many times the object of our desires is blasted; but if not, God awakeneth conscience, and all the world will not allay one pang.

You may understand this oneness with respect to our fellow-members; and so you may understand it jointly of the completeness of the whole mystical body, or singly of the strength of that brotherly affection each member hath to another. There is a double imperfection for the present in the church; every member is not gathered, and those that are gathered are not come to their perfect growth. So that' let them be perfect in one,' is that the whole body may attain to the integrity of parts aim degrees. [Pg. 72]

First, Let us take it collectively; that they may all be gathered into a perfect body, and no joints lacking.

Observe, that all the saints of all places and all ages make but one perfect body. In this sense the glorified saints are not perfect without us: Heb. xi. 40, 'God having promised some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect' It is no derogation, for Christ is not perfect without us. The church is called 'The fulness of him that filleth all in all,' Eph. i. 23. They are, as to their persons, perfect, free from sin and misery, made perfect in holiness ana glory; but not as to their church relation. So Eph. iv. 13, 'Till we all come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.' All the body must be made up that Christ mystical may be complete. Now there are some joints lacking; all the elect are not gathered.

Use 1. See the honour that is put upon the saints; the saints on earth, and the saints in heaven make but one family: Eph. iii. 15, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.' In a great house there are many rooms and lodgings, some above, some below, but they make but one house; so of saints, some are militant, some triumphant, and yet all make but one assembly and congregation: Heb. xii. 23, 'We are come to the general assembly, and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven;' we upon earth are come to them. Our Christ is the same, we are acted by the same Spirit, governed by the same head, and shall be conducted to the same glory. As in the state of grace some are before us in Christ, so some are in heaven before us, their faces once as black as yours. We have the same ground to expect heaven, only they are already entered.

Use 2. It is a ground of hope, we shall all meet together in one assembly: Ps. i. 5, 'The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.' Now the saints are scattered up and down, where they may be most useful; then all shall be gathered together; then shall be that great rendezvous, when the four winds shall give up their dead; then the wicked shall be herded, they shall be bound up in bundles, as straws and sticks bound up together in a bundle serve to set one another on fire, Mat xiii. 40-42; adulterers together, and drunkards together, and thieves together, and so increase one another's torment So all the godly shall meet in a congregation, and never be separated more. You do not only groan and wait for it, but the departed saints also: Rev. vi. 9, 10, 'I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God. and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, 0 Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 'As in a wreck, those that get first to shore are longing for and looking for their companions. This is the communion between us and saints departed; they long for our company, as we for theirs; we praise God for them, they groan for us; we long and wait, by joint desires, for that happy day.

Use 3. It is an engagement to the churches of all parts to maintain a common intercourse one with another. All maketh but one body. We should pray for them whom we have not seen in the flesh, [Pg. 73] Col. ii. 2, and send relief to them, as the church at Antioch to Jerusalem when the famine was foretold, Acts xi., latter end; and, as God giveth opportunities, meet and consult for one another's welfare. But the world is not ripe for this yet

Use 4. It giveth you assurance of the continuance of the ministry as long as the world continueth. As long as the world continueth there are elect to be gathered: 2 Peter iii. 9, 'The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering to n8*ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.' The ship tarrieth till all the passengers be taken in, and then they launch out into the deep. The great aim of Christ in keeping up the world is to make his body complete; and as long as the elect are to be gathered, the ministry is to continue: Eph. iv. 11, 12, 'He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.' The workmen are not dismissed till the house be built.

Secondly, Understand it singly and severally, 'That they may be made perfect in one;' that is, that there may be a perfect oneness between member and member of Christ's body, or a brotherly affection which one member hath to another.

Observe, no less union will content Christ but what is perfect This was the aim of his prayers; then strive for it, wait for it

1. Strive for it: 1 Cor. i. 10, 'Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment' We should all strive together, as if we had but one scope, one interest one heart We should grow up to this perfection more and more. Oh! what conscience should we make of keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace! If we are not one in opinion, yet we should have one aim and scope. Let us concur in one object and rule, and as far as we have attained to the knowledge of it, let us walk together.

2. Wait for it The perfection of our communion is in life eternal. Here it is begun, we are growing to the perfect day: Prov. iv. 18, 'The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.' Ibt Lutherus et Zuinglius optime conveniunt. We are going thither where Hooper and Kidley, Luther and Zuinglius, shall be of a mind. In heaven they are all of one mind, one heart, one employment; there is neither pride, nor ignorance, nor factions to divide us, but all agree in one concert.

Secondly, The end as to the world, their conviction, 'That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.' When is the world convinced, and how? I shall answer both together—In part here, and fully hereafter.

1. In part here, by Christ's being and working in them, by the life of Christ appearing in their conversations.

2. Fully and finally at the last judgment, by the glory put upon them. The reprobate world shall know, to their cost, when they shall see them invested with such glory, that they were the darlings of God. [Pg. 74]

But of what shall the world be convinced? Of Christ's mission and the saints' privileges, that Christ was authorised by God as the doctor of the church, and the saints are dearly beloved of God.

Observe, there are two things God is tender of, and two things the world is ignorant of—his truth, and his saints.

1. God prizeth these above all things.

[1.] His gospel; and therefore would have the world convinced that Christ was sent as a messenger from the bosom of God,

[2.] His saints; and therefore he would have them convinced of his love to them, and that he hath taken them into his protection, as he did the person of Christ What should people regard but these two, especially since God hath put his little ones to nurse, and bid them be wise to learn his truths?

2. The world is most ignorant of these two; of the divine authority of the gospel, and therefore they slight it, and refuse it as much as they do; and of the dearness of his saints, therefore they persecute and molest them, and use them hardly. The world may be well called 'darkness,' Eph. v. 8, because they are ignorant of two things which do most concern them.

But let us speak more particularly of that wonderful and mysterious expression, 'That thon hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Observe three things—(1.) That God loveth Christ; (2.) That God loveth the saints as he loved Christ; (3.) That Christ would have the world know so much, and be convinced of it

Observe, first, that God loveth Christ as the first object of his love: 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,' Mat. iii. 17. He is his dear Son: Col. i. 13, 'Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.' God saw all the works of his hands that they were good. He de-lighteth in the creatures, much more in his Son. He loveth Christ as God, and as mediator, as God-man.

1. As God; so he is primum amabile, the first object of his love, as his own express image, that represents his attributes exactly. He is the first Son, the natural Son, as we are adopted ones; and so his soul taketh an infinite contentment in Christ, before hill or mountain were brought forth: Prov. viii. 30, 31, 'Then was I with him, as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing alway before him, rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth.' &c. As two that are bred up together take delight in one another.

2. As mediator; he loveth the human nature of Christ freely. The first object of election was the flesh of Christ assumed into the divine person: Col. i. 19, 'It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;' it deserved not to be united to the divine person. When it was united, the dignity and holiness of his person deserved love. There was the fulness of the godhead in him bodily, the Spirit without measure, all that is lovely. And then, besides the excellency of his person, there was the merit of his obedience; he deserved to be loved by the Father for doing his work: John x. 17, 'Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again;' that was a new ground of love. Christ's love to us was a further cause of God's love to him. Thus you see how God loveth Christ. [Pg. 75]

Use 1. It giveth us confidence in both parts of Christ's priestly office—his oblation and intercession. His oblation: Mat. iii. 17, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' God hath proclaimed it from heaven that he is well pleased with Christ standing in our room, though so highly offended with us, and with him for our sake: Eph. i. 6, 'To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.' All that come under his shadow will be accepted with God. He is beloved, and will be accepted in all that he doeth; his being beloved answereth our being unworthy of love. Surely he will love us for his sake, who hath purchased love for us. His intercession: if the Father loveth Christ, we may be confident of those petitions we put up in his name: John xvi. 23, 'Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.' Our advocate is beloved of God. When we pray in the name of Christ, according to the will of God, our prayer is in effect Christ's prayer. If yon send a child or servant to a friend for anything in your name, the request is yours; and he that denieth the child or servant denieth you. When we come in a sense of our own unworthiness, on the score and account of being Christ's disciples, and with a high estimation of Christ's worth and credit with the Father, and that he will own us, that prayer will get a good answer.

Use 2. It is a pledge of the Father's love to us; and if God gave Christ, that was so dear to him, what can he withhold? Rom. viii. 32, 'He that spared not his own Son, but gave him up to the death for us all, how will he not with him also freely give us all things?' He spared him not; the Son of his love was forsaken and under wrath; and will he then stick at anything? God's love is like himself, infinite; it is not to be measured by the affection of a carnal parent. Yet he gave up Christ Love goeth to the utmost; had he a greater gift, he would have given it. How could he show us love more than m giving such a gift as Christ? John xvi. 22, 'The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from God.' God bath a respect for those that believe in Christ, and receive him as the Son of God.

Use 3. It is an engagement to us to love the Lord Jesus: 1 Cor. xvi. 22, 'If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema maranatha.' Shall we undervalue Christ, who is so dear and precious with God? Let us love him as God loved him.

1. God loved him so as to put all things into his hands: John iii. 35, 'The Father loveth the Son, and hath put all things into his hand.' Let us own him in his person and office, and trust him with our souls. He is intrusted with a charge concerning the elect, in whose hands are your souls: 2 Tim. L 12, 'I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day.'

2. God hath loved him, so as to make him the great mediator to end all differences between God and man. God hath owned him from heaven: Mat. Hi. 17, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' Do you love him so as to make use of him in your communion with God? Heb. vii. 25, 'Wherefore is he able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God through him, seeing he [Pg. 76] ever liveth to make intercession for us.' That is the sum of all religion.

3. God loveth him so as to glorify him in the eyes of the world: John v. 22, 23, 'The Father judgeth no man; hut hath committed all judgment to the Son, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father that hath sent him.' Do you honour him? Phil. i. 21, \~emoi\~ \~to\~ \~zhn\~ \~Cristov\~, 'To me to live is Christ,' should be every Christian's motto. This is love, and not an empty profession. Christ will take notice of it, and report it in heaven; it is an endearing argument when the Father's ends are complied with: John xvii. 10, 'And all thine are mine, and mine are thine, and I am glorified ill them.'

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