RPM, Volume 18, Number 45, October 30 to November 5, 2016

Sermons on John 17

Sermon XLV

By Thomas Manton

And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.—John 17:26.

'And I in them.' This is the next aim of Christ, the mystical union. This is fitly coupled with the former privilege. God's love is the fountain of all mercy, and mystical union is the means of conveyance. The Father's love and the Son's inhabitation are elsewhere conjoined: [Pg. 142] John xiv. 23, 'My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.' God's love cannot he in us unless Christ be in us, nor Christ be in us without the Father's love. God loveth the elect freely in Jesus Christ, and therefore giveth us his Spirit to work faith in our hearts, that Christ may dwell there, and be one with us, and we with him: love is the rise of all. And again, without the perpetual residence of Christ in the heart, we cannot have a sense of God's love. Again, from this conjunction we may learn the presence of the whole Trinity in the heart of a believer, as in a consecrated temple. The love of the Father it is in us, by the Holy Ghost given to us: Rom. v. 5, 'The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.' Now we have not only the Holy Ghost to assure us of the love of God, but we have Christ as the head and fountain of vital influence. Once more, 'I in them.' Christ doth not only communicate gifts of grace to us, but himself.

Observe that the gospel is made known to us to this intent, that Christ may be in us; or, this is one great privilege of the gospel, that Christ may be in us by a perpetual residence, as a principle and fountain of the spiritual life.

First, What is meant by Christ's being in us? How can one man be in another? I shall answer

First, Negatively; how it is not to be understood, that we may remove all false, gross, and unworthy thoughts.

1. It is not contiguity that we speak of, but union. Two pieces of wood lying together are not united. Christ is in heaven, we on earth; there is no contiguity, and if there were, it would not cause a union. There is indeed a union of contact, as when two hands are joined together, which may resemble this union; for there is a mutual or reciprocal apprehension; Christ apprehendeth us, and we him: Phil. iii. 12, 'If that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.' He taketh hold of us by his Spirit, and we take hold of him by faith. But of this by and by.

2. It is not a congregation, as things may be gathered together; as stones in a heap, they are united, or gathered into one heap, but they do not act one upon another. And therefore the Holy Ghost doth not resemble our union with Christ by stones in a heap, but by stones in a building, that afford mutual strength and support to one another, and Christ to the foundation and corner-stone, which beareth up all the rest': 1 Peter ii. 5, 'Ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house;' and Eph. ii. 20-22, 'And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.' Only here is the difference, that is but a union of art, not of nature; and though stones orderly placed do give strength and beauty one to another, yet they do not communicate life and influence; therefore the Holy Ghost saith, 'Ye are as living stones.'

3. It is not representation only, as all persons are in their common person and representation. This is a part of the privilege; we are in Christ as our surety and common person. He impersonated and [Pg. 143] represented us upon the cross, and doth now in heaven, where he appeareth for us as our agent and leiger with God. Thus what is done to him is done to us. This is the judicial union; but this is not all, for thus we may he said to be in Christ, but he cannot be said to be in us, ? in them.' There is influence as well as representation.

4. It is not an objective union, aut unio occupationis; as the object is in the faculty, the star in the eye that seeth it, though at thousands of miles' distance; and what I think of is in my mind, and what I desire is in my heart, as a scholar's mind is in his books; when the mind is occupied and taken up with anything, it is in it So when I fear God, my mind is with him; when I love God, my heart is with him. But this is not all, partly because such an objective union there is between Christ and hypocrites, they may think of him, and know him. But this union is rather subjective; it maketh us to live in Christ, and Christ liveth in us. Partly because then we should be no longer united to Christ than we do actually think of him, whereas Christ's being in us implieth a perpetual residence: Eph. iii. 17, 'That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.' Dwelling doth not note a transient thought, a short visit, but a constant stay and abode: John xiv. 23, \~kai\~ \~monhn\~ \~par\~ \~autw\~ \~poihsomen\~, 'We will come unto him, and we will make our abode with him.' There Christ fixeth his seat and residence.

5. It is not merely a relation between us and Christ. He is not only ours, and we are his; but he is in us, and we in him. The resemblance of head and members doth not relate to a political body, but to a natural body. I am sure the case is clear in root and branches, John xv. 1-3. And relations do not need such bands and ties as constitute this union. There the Spirit and faith, and then secondarily other graces.

6. It is not only a consent or agreement; Christ agreeth to love us, and we to love him: 'My love in them,' and 'I in them;' they are propounded as distinct. Confederation maketh way for union.

7. It is not a union of dependence merely, such as is between the cause and effect. The effect dependeth on the cause, and is in the cause, and the cause is in the effect. This is general to all creatures; for it is said, Acts xvii. 28, 'In him we live, and move, and have our being.' Such a union there is between God and all creatures. And not merely a dependence in regard of special and gracious influences. That doth much open the privilege; but that is not all, for then our union would be immediately with God the Father and the Spirit on whom we depend. And so a union there is between God and the holy angels. And Christ is in an especial manner the head of the church; it is a notion consecrated for our conjunction with him.

8. It is not merely a communion in the same nature. So he is Immanuel, God with us. But he saith, 'I in them' He not only came into our natures, but he must come into our hearts. This union is common to all, though I confess it is only reckoned and imputed to the sanctified: Heb. ii. 11, 'For both he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.' And to the children of God: Heb. ii. 14, 'Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same.' [Pg. 144]

9. It is not a mixture, as if Christ and we were confounded, and mingled our substances together. That is a gross thought, and suiteth with the carnal fancies of a corporeal eating his flesh and drinking his blood. We are not mixed, his substance with ours, and ours with his; he remaining still a distinct person, and we distinct persona

10. It is not a personal union, as of the two natures in the person of Christ. We are not united to Christ so as to make one person, but one mystical body: 1 Cor. xii. 12, 'For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ' The whole is Christ mystical, but every believer is not Christ

Thus I have endeavoured to remove all gross and unworthy thoughts.

But now

Secondly, Positively. What it is. I answer—We cannot fully tell till we come to heaven; then we shall have perfect knowledge of it; then Christ is all in all: John xiv. 20, 'At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and you in me, and I in you.' Then our union is at the height. But for the present we may call it a union of concretion and coalition, for we are \~sumfutoi\~ 'planted into him,' Rom. vi. 5, and \~kollqmenoi\~, 'joined to the Lord,' 1 Cor. vi. 17. It is immediately with Christ; we are united to Father and Spirit, but by Christ, as the foot is united to the head, but by the intervention of other members; so we are united to the Father and the Spirit, but by Christ; as an arm or foot of the Son belongeth to the Father, but as the Son belongeth to the Father. The love of the Father is the moving cause of it, the Spirit is the efficient cause of it, but it is with Christ And it is by way of coalition, as things are united so as they may grow and live in another, as the branches grow in the vine, and the members, being animated and quickened by the soul, grow in the body; so are we united with Christ as our vital principle, that we may live and grow in him, that we might live in him: Gal. ii. 20, 'I live, yet not I, put Christ liveth in me; and grow in him: Eph. iv. 15, 16, 'But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ From whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint snpplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love.' So that this is enough in general to call it a union of concretion and coalition, such a union whereby Christ remaineth and liveth and dwelleth in us as a vital principle. As the soul is \~tou\~ \~zentov\~ \~swmatov\~ \~aitia\~ \~kai\~ \~arch\~, a cause and principle of life to the body, so is Christ to us. Before God breathed the soul into Adam, his body, though otherwise organised and formed, lay but as a dead lump, without breath and life; but no sooner was the soul put into him, but he began to live. So Christ being mystically united, enableth us to live, to act to grow, and increase more and more. More particularly to open it to you is hard, because it is a great mystery. Life natural is a mystery not sufficiently explained, much, more life spiritual. But now

1. I shall show how it is wrought and brought about, and in what order; for there is a difficulty there to be cleared. For since union is said to be by faith: Eph. iii. 17, 'That Christ may dwell in your [Pg. 145] hearts by faith,' and faith is an act of spiritual life, it seemeth there is life before our onion with Christ; so that this union seemeth to be the effect rather than the cause of the spiritual life; and some say it is the effect of the beginning, and the cause of the continuance and increase of it, and conceive the order thus: That Christ is offered in the gospel, and by receiving Christ we come to be united to him, and then to be possessed of his righteousness, and receive further influences of grace; and that the first beginning of spiritual life is not from union, but regeneration, by virtue of which faith is given to us, that we may be united to Christ. But I suppose this method is not right Briefly, then, for the manner and order now it is wrought, take it thus: Union it is by the Spirit on Christ's part, and faith on ours; he beginneth with us as the most worthy, as having a quickening and life-making power in himself: 1 Cor. xv. 45, 'The last Adam was made \~pneuma\~ \~zwopoioun\~, a quickening spirit.' By the Spirit he infuseth spiritual life, the first act of which is faith; that is the first grace that acteth upon Christ, and maketh the union reciprocal, that so in him we may have righteousness and grace: Phil. iii. 9, '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.' All graces flow from union with Christ, so doth faith. Believing is an act of the spiritual life, but it is at the same instant of time, and not before. The first band of union is the Spirit, for the gift of the Spirit is the cause of faith, and every cause is before the effect in nature, though not in time; for, posita causa in actu, ponitur effectus. But the Spirit is not given us in the least moment of time before the being of faith; for the Spirit being infused, immediately excites faith to take hold of Christ.

2. What is that act of faith by which we close with Christ? I answer—The apprehending, embracing, taking hold of Christ: 'To as many as received him,' &c., John i. 12, trusting him with our souls; that is the faith that gives us an interest in gospel privileges. But what is this receiving Christ? I answer—Receiving presupposeth offering; it is a consent to what is offered, an accepting of what is given. Receiving is a word used in contracts, and noteth the consent of one part to the terms which the other offereth. The scripture chiefly delighteth in the similitude of the matrimonial contract As a woman accepteth a man for her husband, so do we receive Christ When a man's affections are set upon a woman, he sendeth spokesmen to tell her of his love, and that he is ready to give her an interest in himself, and all that is his, if she will accept him for an husband. So Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the heir of all things, sendeth messengers to treat and deal with us about a spiritual marriage, to tell us how he loved us, gave his life for us, established an everlasting righteousness, whereby we may be accepted with God, and that he is ready to bestow it upon us, if we will receive, and honour, and obey him as Lord and husband; which if we do, then we are interested in this great privilege. Yea, Lord, I give up myself, body and soul, to thee, and I take thee for Lord and husband. For these are the terms: Hosea iii. 3, 'Thou shalt not be for another man, so will I also be for thee.' You will think this is easy, because you do not understand what it is to receive [Pg. 146] Christ. Alas t Christ stretcheth forth his hands to many that never take him by the hand again: Isa. lxv. 2, 'I have spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that is not good, after their own thoughts.' He inviteth, clucketh, spreads his wings, but to no purpose, till he puts his fingers upon the handles of the lock: Cant v. 4, 'My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.' Herein he differeth from ordinary suitors, that he doth not only woo and invite, but draw by the secret and prevailing power of his Spirit; he must enlarge the heart and open the hand, or else we shall not receive him. Why! what is there in this receiving? A renouncing of all others: 'Thou shalt not be for another.' Christ findeth us entangled with a former love of the world, addicted to carnal pleasures, in covenant with death and hell; this must be renounced, for God is jealous, and cannot endure a rival; it is spiritual adultery to have any thought of other lovers; as when the ark was brought into the house, Dagon was thrown to the ground. Christ will be entertained alone; you must not only renounce your former loves, but hate them. In ordinary marriages, if a woman loved one, and afterwards marry another man. it is enough that she withdraw her former love, though she be not an enemy to him whom before she loved. In some covenants, if you come off from such a side, it is enough. But here is a league offensive and defensive: when we receive Christ as our captain, his enemies must be our enemies; if as dear as a right hand, or a right eye, it must be cut off and plucked out And again, Christ himself is to be received, not his gifts and benefits; you must not come to him as to a physician, to give ease to the conscience, but as a husband; not marry the estate, but the man; otherwise you do not take what God offereth. He hath given us his Son, and all things with him: 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?' The father doth not offer the portion merely, but his daughter, and the portion with his daughter; as you cannot have life without the Son, so you cannot have the Son without life, and you must receive him gladly. Marriage importeth not a forced, but a free consent; you do not receive Christ as a land receiveth a conqueror for prince and king against their will, but as a woman for husband, as being convinced her state will be much bettered by him. So doth the soul receive Christ, as knowing in whom we believe, and what we enjoy by him: Ps. lxxiii. 25, 'Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.' Neither angels in heaven, nor any creatures upon earth are so lovely, and fit for the soul's love and trust. Thou cannot live without him. If a woman can live without a husband, she doth well if she marrieth not, saith the apostle, 1 Cor. vii. 8; but you cannot, you are undone for ever if you have him not And you must receive him sincerely to obey him, and serve him as Lord and husband, and not be ashamed to own him: Acts ii. 41, 'Then they that gladly received his word were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.' When articles are agreed and sealed, and the marriage completed, a woman is content to go into her husband's house, and leave her kindred, and father's house; so must you profess [Pg. 147] Christ openly, and then live in constant communion with him. This is to receive Christ; and is this easy? Can all this be done till God enlarge the heart? O my Lord t I am willing to receive thee; do thou open and enlarge my heart so to do.

Again, it is expressed by apprehending Christ: Phil. iii. 12, 'If that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus;' by taking hold of him, leaning upon him: Ps. xxii. 8, 'He trusted in the Lord,' or rolled himself upon the Lord; by running for refuge: Heb. vi. 18, 'Who have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before them;' as Joab laid hold on the horns of the altar, or the man that casually killed another ran to the city of refuge; by a being found in him as in an ark, when the flood came upon the world: all which expressions imply a sense of danger. This effect of faith is sensible in a time of trouble, bodily or spiritual, as things are more sensible one time than another. Horses draw the coach, but down the hill apace. The strength of an anchor is seen in a storm, the courage of a soldier in a fight .The child runneth and claspeth about the mother when anything affrighteth it.

Sometimes it is expressed by coming to Christ, and coming to God by him: Heb. vii. 25, 'Wherefore be is able to save unto the uttermost all those that come to God by him;' by choosing Christ as mediator, owning him, and consenting to God's eternal decrees, that he is alone a sufficient mediator. This was represented by laying hand on the head of the sacrifice: Lev. i. 4, 'He,' that is, he that brought the sacrifice, 'shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering, and it shall be accepted for him, to make an atonement for him, q. d. This is me, I deserve to die, but here is my sacrifice. All prayers were to be made in or towards the temple: 1 Kings viii., Deut. xii. 13, 14, 'Take heed that thou offer not thy burnt-offerings in every place that thou seest; but in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt-offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.' Daniel his windows being open towards Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks to God, Dan. vi. 10; he would not omit that circumstance. In all our addressee to God we must make use of Christ.

Sometimes it is expressed by committing ourselves to him: 2 Tim. i. 12, 'For 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.' It is an advised act, it is fit the soul should be in safe hands. We are sensible that as long as this life lasts we are subject to many trials and changes; therefore we put our souls into Christ's hands, in a confidence of his all-sufficiency. It is a knowing trust

Use 1. To press us to mind this great privilege, 'Christ in us.' This should be our chief care. We cannot mortify sin till we be in Christ; he is our sanctification. We can have no security against God's wrath till then: Acts iv. 12, 'Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.' Whatever shifts they made against the flood, it would not serve, nothing but the ark could save them. Make this the business of your lives; wait upon the word and other ordinances with this aim: improve providences to this end, to draw you the nearer [Pg. 148] to God by Christ Let this be the constant breathing of your souls: 'Yea, doubtless, and 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 an things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ.' Phil. iii. 8. Measure all the business and employment of your lives by this. A tender mother that nurseth her child, she hath other work to do, but still she remembereth her child; when she awaketh, she thinketh of her child; when she is abroad, when employed in the affaire of her family, her mind is on her child: God is pleased to resemble his love to us by this. So a true Christian saith, My work is to get into Christ When he is about business of the world, he still remembereth that this is his great care, and it must be minded every day; when he riseth, when he goeth to sleep, this should run in his mind. This is \~to\~ \~ergon\~, his work: John vi. 29, 'This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.' All other business is \~parergon\~, his by-work, that he may get or lose it Make more room for Christ in the soul.

Use 2. Examination.

1. Is Christ in you? Who liveth there, and worketh, Christ or Satan? These two divide the world between them, the strong man, and the stronger than he. The heart of man is not a waste. Christ ruleth in the church, and the devil in the world; and yet all that are hi the church are not in Christ: John xv. 2, 'Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away.' They that are where Christ is in honour will make a general profession. The devil hath a great party in the church. Therefore, who is in you, Christ or Satan? Satan is in all carnal men; their hearts are his forge or work-house: Eph. ii. 2, 'According to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience;' 2 Cor. iv. 4, 'The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.' He blindeth them, and hardeneth them, and leadeth them captive by their own lusts. Consider there is no neutrality. We are under Christ or the devil. The devil is a spirit; he possesseth men when they do not feel him. He is called 'the prince of the power of the air;' and infected air is drawn in without pain, and we get a disease before we feel it, and die of a pestilent air. Were you never changed? Conversion is a dispossession. The devil is in all the children of disobedience. Did you ever consent to choose Christ for your mediator and Lord and king? When you refuse Christ offered, the devil is most ready to entertain you, and to enter into you, and possess you the more securely. There is a tradition upon your refusal; God giveth you then up to Satan, to be blinded and hardened. Therefore consider this, observe your course. Some are Satan's slaves, they that walk in the ways of their own hearts, and according to the lusts of the world: John viii. 44, 'Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.' Satan's mark and brand is upon them that live in malice and envy against God and good men. Satan was a murderer from the beginning; in filthiness and uncleanness, he is an unclean spirit; in railing, swearing, cursing, whose tongues are set on fire of hell; tempting, seducing, lying. Satan is a liar, and a tempter, enticing to drink and gaming. [Pg. 149] Again, is Christ in you? A great deal of bran will remain, if we use too coarse a bolter. Doth Christ dwell in your hearts? You will know it by the effects of his presence.

[1.] Doth Christ fill the heart? So great a guest is enough; the believer desireth no more to his peace of conscience, joy, and complete blessedness. There is a full acquiescency of the soul in Christ; he desireth above all things to enjoy him. There is \~autapkeia\~: 1 Tim. vi. 6, 'Godliness with contentment is great gain.' There is nothing in heaven or earth that can fill the hungry soul of man but Jesus Christ. He that hath his heart full of Christ, all things seem base and vile to him; a little portion of the world serveth his turn. They are cheap things to Jesus Christ after which the world runs a-whoring: 1 Sam. xix. 30, 'And Mephibosheth said. Nay, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his house.' Mephibosheth is contented to see the king's face in peace. They have the pearl of great price; there is little room for other things. Christ filleth every corner of the heart: Phil. iv. 12, 13,'I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; everywhere and in all things I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.'

[2.] He ruleth, and acteth, and swayeth all these. He doth not dwell as a stranger or guest in another's man's house, or as an inmate, but as a lord in his possession; therefore he still directeth, counselleth, quickeneth, destroyeth the kingdom of Satan, reneweth us more and more, dwelleth in us as the king of glory. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty, light, joy, strength, peace.

2. What entertainment do you give him? The more faith is enlarged, the more room hath Christ in thy heart. With great cheerfulness should you receive him, not always frowning; he looketh for reverence, not constant mourning. Do not grieve him by sin, by such things by which the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience. If an earthly king lie but a night in a house, what care is there taken that nothing be offensive to him, but that all things be neat, clean, and sweet. How much more ought you to be careful to get and keep your hearts clean, to perform service acceptably to him; to be in the exercise of faith, love, and other graces, that you may entertain, as you ought, your heavenly King, who comes to take up his continual abode and residence in your hearts?

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