The Method of Grace

by John Flavel


Setting forth the Believer's Fellowship With Christ
 
 
"Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness
above your fellows." Psalm 45:7 
 
    The method of grace in uniting souls with Jesus Christ, has
been opened in the former discourses; thus does the Spirit, (whose
office it is) make application of Christ to God's elect: The result
and next fruit whereof is communion with Christ in his graces and
benefits. Our mystical union is the very ground-work and foundation
of our sweet, soul enriching communion and participation of
spiritual privileges; we are first ingrafted into Christ, and then
suck the sap and fatness of the root: first married to the person of
Christ, then endowed and instated in the privileges and benefits of
Christ. This is my proper work to open at this time, and from this
scripture.
    "The words read, are a part of that excellent song of love,
that "heavenly Epithalamium, wherein the spiritual espousals of
Christ and the church are figuratively and very elegantly celebrated
and shadowed. The subject matter of this psalm is the very same with
the whole book of the Canticles;" and in this psalm, under the
figure of king Solomon, and the daughter of Egypt, whom he espoused,
the spiritual espousals of Christ and the church are set forth and
represented to us. Among many rapturous and elegant expressions in
praise of this glorious bridegroom, Christ, this is one, which you
have before you: "God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of
gladness above your fellows:" I. e. enriched and filled you, in a
singular and peculiar manner, with the fullness of the Spirit,
whereby you are consecrated to your office: and by reason whereof
you out-shine and excel all the saints, who are your fellows
or co-partners in these graces. So that in these words you have two
parts; namely, First, The saints' dignity, and Secondly, Christ's
pre-eminency:
    First, The saints' dignity, which consists in this, that they
are Christ's fellows. The Hebrew word is very full and copious, and
is translated "consorts, companions, co-partners, partakers: or, as
ours read it, fellows:" I. e. such as are partakers with him in the
anointing of the Spirit, who do, in their measure, receive the same
Spirit, every Christian being anointed, modo sibi proportionato,
with the same grace, and dignified with the same titles, 1 John 2:
27. Rev. 1: 6. Christ and the saints are in common one with another:
Does the spirit of holiness dwell in him? so it does in them too. Is
Christ King and Priest? Why, so are they too by the grace of union
with him. He has made us kings and priests to God, and his Father.
This is the saints' dignity to be Christ's fellows, consorts, or co-
partners; so that look, whatever spiritual grace or excellency is in
Christ, it is not appropriated to himself, but they do share with
him: for indeed he was filled with the fullness of the Spirit, for
their sakes and use: as the sun is filled with light, not to shine
to itself, but to others; so is Christ with grace. And therefore,
some translate the text, not prae consortibus, above your fellows;
but propter consortes, for your fellows. Making Christ the first
receptacle of grace, who first and immediately is filled from the
fountain, the Godhead: but it is for his people, who receive and
derive from him, according to their proportion.
    This is a great truth, and the dignity of the saints lies
chiefly in their partnership with Christ, though our translation,
above your fellows, suits best, both with the importance of the word,
and scope of the place.
    Secondly, But then, whatever dignity is ascribed herein to the
saints, there is, and still must be, a pre-eminency acknowledged,
and ascribed to Christ: if they are anointed with the Spirit of
grace, much more abundantly is Christ: "God, your God, has anointed
you with the oil of gladness above your fellows."
    By the oil of gladness understand the Spirit of holiness,
compared here with oil, of which there was a double use under the
law, namely, a civil and a sacred use. It had a sacred and a solemn
use, in the inauguration and consecration of the Jewish kings and
high priests; it had also a civil, and common use, for the anointing
their bodies, to make their limbs more agile, expedite, and nimbler
to make the face shine, for it gave a luster, freshness, and
liveliness to the countenance. It was also used in lamps, to feed
and maintain the fire, and give them light. These were the principal
uses of oil. Now, upon all these accounts, it excellently
expresses, and figuratively, represents to us the Spirit of grace
poured forth upon Christ and his people. For,
    First, By the Spirit poured out upon him, he was prepared for,
and consecrated to his offices, he was anointed with the Holy Spirit
and with power, Acts 10: 38.
    Secondly, As this precious oil runs down from Christ, the head,
to the borders of his garments, I mean, as it is shed upon
believers, so it exceedingly beautifies their faces, and makes them
shine with glory.
    Thirdly, It renders them apt, expedite, and ready to every good
deed
    Fourthly, It kindles and maintains the flame of divine love in
their souls, and, like a lamp, enlightens their minds in the
knowledge of spiritual things; the anointing teaches them.
    "And this oil is here called the oil of gladness, because it is
the cause of all joy and gladness to them that are anointed with
it": Oil was used (as you heard before) at the installment of
sovereign princes, which was the day of the gladness of their
hearts; and, among the common people, it was liberally used at all
their festivals, but never upon their days of mourning. Whence it
becomes excellently expressive of the nature and use of the Spirit
of grace, who is the cause and author of all joy in believers, John
17: 13.
    And with this oil of gladness is Christ said to be anointed
above his fellows, I. e. to have a far greater share of the Spirit
of grace than they: "For to everyone of the saints is given grace
according to the measure of the gift of Christ," Eph. 4: 7. But to
him the Spirit is not given by measure, John 3: 34. "It has pleased
the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell", Col. 1: 19. and
"of his fullness we all receive grace for grace," John 1: 16. The
saints partake with him, and through him in the same Spirit of
grace, for which reason they are his fellows; but all the grace
poured out upon believers comes exceeding short of that which God
has poured out upon Jesus Christ. The words being thus opened, give
us this note,
     
    Doctrine. That all true believers have a real communion or
    fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
     
    From the saints' union with Christ, there does naturally and
immediately result a most sweet and blessed communion and fellowship
with him in graces and spiritual privileges, Eph. 1: 3. "Blessed be
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with
all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (or things) in Christ: in
giving us his Son, he freely gives us all things," Romans 8: 32. So in
1 Cor. 1: 30. "Of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made
unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption." And
once more, 1 Cor. 3: 22, 23. "All are yours, and you are Christ's."
What Christ is and has is theirs by communication to them, or
improvement for them, and this is very evidently implied in all
those excellent scripture metaphors, by which our union with Christ
is figured and shadowed out to us, as the marriage-union between a
man and his wife, Eph. 5: 31,32. You know that this marital union
gives the wife interest in the estate and honors of the husband, be
she never so meanly descended in herself. The natural union between
the head and members of the body, by which also the mystical union
of Christ and believers is set forth, 1 Cor. 12: 12. excellently
illustrates this fellowship or communion between them, for from
Christ "the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that
which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in
the measure of every part, makes increase of the body," as the
apostle speaks, Eph. 4: 16. The union between the graft and the
stock, which is another emblem of our union with Christ, John 15: 1.
imports, in like manner, this communion or partnership between
Christ and the saints; for no sooner does the graft take hold of the
stock, but the vital sap of the stock is communicated to the graft,
and both live by one and the same juice.
    Now, that the scope of this discourse be not mistaken, let the
reader know that I am not here treating of the saint's communion or
fellowship with God in his duties, as in prayer, hearing,
sacraments, &c. but of that interest which believers have in the
good things of Christ, by virtue of the mystical union between then
through faith: there is a twofold communion of the saints with
Christ.
    The first is an act.
    The second is a state.
    There is an actual fellowship or communion the saints have with
Christ in holy duties, wherein Christians let forth their hearts to
God by desires, and God lets forth his comforts and refreshments
again into their hearts; they open their mouths wide, and he fills
them: this communion with God is the joy and comfort of a believer's
life, but I am not to speak of that here. It is not any act of
communion, but the state of communion, from which all acts of
communion flow, and upon which they all depend, that I am now to
treat of; which is nothing else but the joint interest that Christ
and the saints have in the same things; as when a ship, an house, or
estate, is among many partners, or joint heirs, everyone of them
has a right to it, and interest in it, though some of them have a
greater, and others a lesser part. So it is between Christ and his
people; there is a "koinonia", i.e. a fellowship or joint interest
between them, upon which ground they are called co-heirs with
Christ, Romans 8: 17. This communion or participation in Christ's
benefits, depends upon the hypostatic union of our nature, and the
mystical union of our persons with the Son of God; in the first he
partakes with us, in the second we partake with him; the former is
the remote, the latter the next cause thereof.
    In the explication of this point, I shall speak to these four
things:
    1. What are those things in which Christ and believers have
fellowship.
    2. By what means they come to have such a fellowship with
Christ.
    3. How great a dignity this is to have fellowship with Jesus
Christ.
    4. And then apply the whole in divers practical inferences.
    First, What are those things in which Christ and believers have
fellowship, to which I must speak both negatively and positively.
    1. Negatively, The saints have no fellowship with Jesus Christ
in those things that belong to him as God; such as his
consubstantiality, co-equality, and co-eternity with the Father. It
is the blasphemy of the wicked Familists to talk of being godded
into God, and christed into Christ. Neither men nor angels partake
in these things; they are the proper and incommunicable glory of the
Lord Jesus.
    2. The saints have no communion or fellowship in the honor and
glory of his mediatory works, namely, his satisfaction to God, or
redemption of the elect. It is true, we have the benefit and fruit
of his mediation and satisfaction: his righteousness also is imputed
to us for our personal justification, but we share not in the least
with Christ in the glory of this work; nor have we an inherent
righteousness in us as Christ has; nor can we justify and save
others as Christ does: we have nothing to do with his peculiar
honor and praise in these things. Though we have the benefit of
being saved, we may not pretend to the honor of being Saviors, as
Christ is to ourselves or others. "Christ's righteousness is not
made ours as to its universal value, but as to our particular
necessity; nor is it imputed to us as to so many causes of salvation
to others, but as to so many subjects to be saved by it ourselves."
    Secondly, But then there are many glorious and excellent things
which are in common between Christ and believers, though in them all
he has the pre-eminence; he shines in the fullness of them, as the
sun, and we with a borrowed and lesser light, but of the same kind
and nature as the stars. Some of these I shall particularly, and
briefly unfold in the following particulars.
    First, Believers have communion with Christ in his names and
titles; they are called Christians from Christ, Eph. 3: 15. from him
the whole family in heaven and earth is named: this is that worthy
name the apostle speaks of, James 2: 7. He is the Son of God, and
they also, by their union with him, have power or authority to
become the sons of God, John 1: 12. He is the heir of ail things,
and they are joint-heirs with him, Romans 8: 17. He is both King and
Priest, and he has made them kings and priests, Rev. 1: 6. But they
do not only partake in the names and titles, but this communion
consists in things as well as titles. And therefore,
    Secondly, They have communion with him in his righteousness,
that is the righteousness of Christ is made theirs, 2 Cor. 5: 21. and
he is "the Lord our righteousness," Jer. 23: 6. It is true, the
righteousness of Christ is not inherent in us, as it is in him; but
it is ours by imputation, Rev. 4: 5, 11. and our union with him is
the ground of the imputation of his righteousness to us, 2 Cor. 5:
21. "We are made the righteousness of God in him," Phil. 3: 9. for
Christ and believers are considered as one person, in construction
of law; as a man and his wife, a debtor and surety, are one: and so
his payment or satisfaction is in our name, or upon our account.
    Now, this is a most inestimable privilege, the very ground of
all our other blessings and mercies. O, what a benefit is this to a
poor sinner, that owes to God infinitely more than he is ever able
to pay, by doing or suffering; to have such a rich treasure of merit
as lies in the obedience of Christ, to discharge, in one entire
payment, all his debts to the last farthing? "Surely shall one say,
in the Lord have I righteousness," Isaiah 45: 24. even as a poor woman
that owes more than she is worth, in one moment is discharged of all
her obligations, by her marriage to a wealthy man.
    Thirdly, Believers have communion with Christ in his holiness
or sanctification, for of God he is made unto them, not only
righteousness, but sanctification also; and as in the former
privilege, they have a stock of merit in the blood of Christ to
justify them; so here, they have the Spirit of Christ to sanctify
them, 1 Cor. 1: 30. and therefore we are said of his fullness to
receive "grace for grace," John 1: 16, that is say some, grace upon
grace, manifold graces, or abundance of grace; or grace for grace,
that is, grace answerable to grace: as in the seal and wax, there is
line for line, and cut for cut, exactly answerable to each other; or
grace for grace, that is, say others, the free grace of God in
Christ, for the sanctification or filling of our souls with grace:
be it in which sense it will, it shows the communion believers have
with Jesus Christ in grace and holiness. Now, holiness is the most
precious thing in the world, it is the image of God, and chief
excellency at man: it is our evidence for glory, yes, and the first
fruits of glory. In Christ dwells the fullness of grace, and from
him, our head, it is derived and communicated to us; thus he who
sanctifies, and they that are sanctified, are all of one, Heb. 2:
11. You would think it no small privilege to have bags of gold to go
to, and enrich yourselves with, and yet that were but a very trifle
in comparison to have Christ's righteousness and holiness to go to
for your justification and sanctification. More particularly,
    Fourthly, Believers have communion with Christ in his death;
they die with him, Gal. 2: 20. "I am crucified with Christ," that is
the death of Christ has a real killing and mortifying influence upon
the lusts and corruptions of my heart and nature: true it is, he
died for sin one way, and we die to sin another way: he died to
expiate it, we die to it, when we mortify it: the death of Christ is
the death of sin in believers; and this is a very glorious
privilege; for the death of sin is the life of your souls; if sin do
not die in you by mortification, you must die for sin by eternal
damnation. If Christ had not died, the Spirit of God, by which you
now mortify the deeds of the body, could not have been given unto
you: then you must have lived vassals to your sins, and died at last
in your sins; but the fruit, efficacy, and benefit of Christ's death
is yours for the killing those sins in you, which else have been
your ruin.
    Fifthly, Believers have communion with Christ in his life and
resurrection from the dead; as he rose from the dead, so do they;
and that by the power and influence of his vivification and
resurrection. It is the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus that
makes us free from the law of sin and death, Romans 8: 2. Our
spiritual life is from Christ, Eph. 2: 1. "And you has he quickened
who were dead in trespasses and sins:" and hence Christ is said to
live in the believer, Gal. 2: 20. "Now I live, yet not I, but Christ
lives in me:" and it is no small privilege to partake of the very
life of Christ, which is the most excellent life that ever any
creature can live; yet such is the happiness of all the saints, the
life of Christ is manifest in them, and such a life as shall never
see death.
    Sixthly, To conclude, believers have fellowship with Jesus
Christ in his glory, which they shall enjoy in heaven with him: they
shall be ever with the Lord," 1 Thes. 4: 17. and that is not all,
(though, as one says, it were a kind of heaven but to look through
the key-hole, and have but a glimpse of Christ's blessed face) but
they shall partake of the glory which the Father has given him; for
so he speaks, John 17: 22, 24. and more particularly, they shall sit
with him in his throne, Rev. 3: 21. And when he comes to judge the
world, he will come to be glorified in the saints, 2 Thes. 1: 10. So
that you may see what glorious and inestimable things are, and will
be in common between Christ and the saints. His titles, his
righteousness, his holiness, his death, his life, his glory. I do
not say that Christ will make any saint equal with him in glory;
that is impossible, he will be known from all the saints in heaven,
as the sun is distinguished from the stars; but they shall partake
of his glory, and be filled with his joy there; and thus you see
what those things are that the saints have fellowship with Christ
in.
    Secondly, Next I would open the way and means by which we come
to have fellowship with Jesus Christ in these excellent privileges;
and this I shall do briefly in the following positions.
                             Position 1.
    First, No man has fellowship with Christ in any special saving
privilege by nature, howsoever it be cultivated or improved; but
only by faith uniting him to the Lord Jesus Christ; It is not the
privilege of our first, but second birth. This is plain from John 1:
12,13, "But to as many as received him, to them gave he power to
become the sons of God, even as many as believe on his name, who are
born not of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, but of
God." We are by nature children of wrath, Eph. 2: 3. we have
fellowship with Satan in sin and misery: the wild branch has no
communication of the sweetness and fatness of a more noble and
excellent root until it be ingrafted upon it, and have immediate
unions and coalition with it, John 15: 1, 2.
                             Position 2.
    Believers themselves have not an equal share one with another,
in all the benefits and privileges of their union with Christ, but
in some there is an equality, and in others an inequality; according
to the measure and gift of Christ, to everyone.
    In justification they are all equal: the weak and the strong
believer are alike justified, because it is one and the same perfect
righteousness of Christ, which is applied to the one and to the
other, so that there are no different degrees of justification, but
all that believe are justified from all things, Act. 13: 39 and
"there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," Rom 8:
1, be they never so weak in faith, or defective in degrees of grace.
But there is apparent difference in the measures of their
sanctification, some are strong men, and other's are babes in
Christ, 1 Cor. 3: 1. The faith of some flourishes and grows
exceedingly, 2 Thess. 1: 3 the things that are in others are ready
to die, Rev 3: 2. It is a plain case, that there is great variety
found in the degrees of grace, and comfort among them that are
jointly interested in Christ, and equally justified by him.
                             Position 3.
    The saints have not fellowship and communion with Christ, in
the fore-mentioned benefits and privileges by one and the same
medium, but by various mediums and ways, according to the nature of
the benefits, in which they participate.
    For instance, they have partnership and communion with Christ,
as has been said, in his righteousness, holiness, and glory, but
they receive these distinct blessings by divers mediums of
communion: we have communion with Christ in his righteousness, by
the way of imputation; we partake of his holiness, by the way of
infusion; and of his glory in heaven, by the beatifical vision. Our
justification is a relative change, our sanctification a real
change, our glorification a perfect change, by redemption from all
the remains both of sin and misery.
    Thus has the Lord appointed several blessings for believers in
Christ, and several channels of conveying them from him to us; by
imputed righteousness, we are freed from the guilt of sin: by
imparted holiness, we are freed from the dominion of sin, and by our
glorification with Christ, we are freed from all the relics and
remains both of sin and misery let in by sin upon our natures.
                             Position 4.
    That Jesus Christ imparts to all believers, all the spiritual
blessings that he is filled with, and withholds none from any that
have union with him, be these blessings never so great, or they that
receive them never so weak, mean, and contemptible in outward
respects, Gal 3: 27 "You are the children of God by faith in Jesus
Christ." The salvation that comes by Jesus Christ is stiled the
common salvation, Jude 3. and heaven the inheritance of the saints
in light, Col 1: 12. "There is neither Greek nor Jew, (says the
apostle), circumcision, nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian,
bond nor free, hut Christ is all, and in all," Col. 3: 11. He means,
there is no privilege in the one to commend them to God, and no want
of anything, in the other to debar them from God; let men have or
want outward excellencies, as beauty, honor, riches, nobility,
gifts of the mind. sweetness of nature, and all such like ornaments,
what is that to God? He looks not at these things, but respects
them, and communicates his favor to them as they are in Christ: He
is all and in all. The gifts and blessings of the Spirit are given
to men as they are in Christ, and without respect to any external
differences made in this world among men: hence we find excellent
treasures of grace in mean and contemptible persons in the world,
poor in the world and rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom; and
as all believers, without difference, receive from Christ, so they
are not debarred from any blessing that is in Christ: "All is yours,
for you are Christ's, 1 Cor. 3: ult. With Christ God freely gives us
all things," Romans 8: 32.
                             Position 5.
    The communion believers have with Christ, in spiritual
benefits, is a very great mystery, far above the understandings of
natural men. There are no footsteps of this thing in all the works
of creation; therefore the apostle calls it "The unsearchable riches
of Christ," Eph. 3: 8, "aneksichniaston plouton tou Christou": The
word signifies, that which has no footsteps to trace it by: yes, it
is so deep a mystery, that the angels themselves stoop down to look
into it, 1 Pet. 1: 12. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither
have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared
for them that love him: but God has revealed them unto us by his
Spirit," 1 Cor. 2: 9, 10.
    Thirdly, and lastly, I shall, in a few particulars, spell the
dignity and excellency of this fruit of our union with Christ, and
show you, that a greater glory and honor cannot be put upon man,
than to be thus in fellowship with Jesus Christ, John 17: 22. "The
glory which you gave me, I have given them, that they may be one,
as we are one:" And therefore, more particularly, let it be
considered,
    First, With whom we are associated, even the Son of God; with
him that is over all, God blessed forever. Our association with
angels is an high advancement, for angels and saints are
fellow servants in the same family, Rev. 19: 10. and through Christ
we are come to an innumerable company of angels, Heb. 12: 22. But
what is all this to our fellowship with Jesus Christ himself; and
that in another manner than angels have? Nor though Christ be to
then an head of dominion, yet not an head of vital influences, as he
is to his mystical body the church; this therefore is to them a
great mystery, which they greatly affect to study and pry into.
    Secondly, What we are that are dignified with this title, the
fellows or co-partners with Jesus Christ: not only dust by nature,
(Dust you are), but sinful dust; such wretched sinners, as, by
nature, and the sentence of the law, ought to be associated with
devils, and partakers with them of the wrath the Almighty God to all
eternity.
    Thirdly, The benefits we are partakers of, in and with the Lord
Jesus Christ; and, indeed, they are wonderful and astonishing
things, so far as they do already appear, but yet we see but little
of them comparatively, to what we shall see, 1 John 3: 1, 2. "Now
are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be,
but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we
shall see him as he is." O, what will that be! to see him as he is,
and to be transformed into his likeness!
    Fourthly, The way and manner in which we are brought into this
fellowship with Christ; which is yet more admirable. The apostle
gives us a strange account of it in 2 Cor. 8: 9. "For you know the
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for
your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be
rich:" he empties himself of his glory, that we might be filled; he
is made a curse, that we might enjoy the blessing, he submits to be
crowned with thorns, that us might be crowned with glory and honor;
he puts himself into the number of worms, Psalm. 22: 6. that we might
be made equal to the angels. O, the inconceivable grace of Christ!
    Fifthly, The reciprocal nature of that communion which is
between Christ and believers; we do not only partake of what is his,
but he partakes of what is ours: he has fellowship with us in all
our wants, sorrows, miseries and afflictions; and we have communion
with him in his righteousness, grace, sonship and glory: he takes
part of our misery, and we take part of his blessedness; our
sufferings are his sufferings, Col. 1: 24. O, what an honor is it
to you, poor wretch, to whom a great many would not turn aside to
ask how you do; to have a King, yes, the Prince of all the kings
of the earth, to pity, relieve, sympathize, groan and bleed with
you, to sit by you in all your troubles, and give you his
cordials; to say your troubles are my troubles, and your afflictions
are my afflictions: whatever touches you, touches me also. O what
name shall we give unto such grace as this is!
    Sixthly, and lastly, Consider the perpetuity of this privilege:
Your fellowship with Christ is interminable, and abides for ever.
Christ and the saints shall be glorified together, Romans 8: 17. While
he has any glory they shall partake with him. It is said indeed, 1
Cor. 15: 24. that there shall be a time when Christ will deliver up
the kingdom to his Father but the meaning is not that ever he will
cease to be the Head of his saints, or they from being his members:
No, the relation never ceases; justification, sanctification and
adoptions are everlasting things, and we can never be divested of
them.
    Inference 1. Are the saints Christ's fellows? What honorable
persons then are they! And how should they be esteemed and valued in
the world! If a king, who is the fountain of honor, do but raise a
man by his favor, and dignify him by bestowing some honorable
title upon him, what respect and observance is presently paid him by
all persons? But what are all the vain and empty titles of honor,
to the glorious and substantial privileges with which believers are
dignified, and raised above all other men by Jesus Christ? He is the
Son of God, and they are the sons of God also: he is the Heir of all
things, and they are joint heirs with Christ; he reigns in glory,
and they shall retort with him: he sits upon the throne, and they
shall sit with him in his throne. O that this vile world did but
know the dignity of believers, they would never slight, hate, abuse,
and persecute them as they do! And O that believers did but
understand their own happiness and privileges by Christ, they would
never droop and sink under every small trouble at that rate they do!
    Inference. 2. How abundantly has God provided for all the necessities
and wants of believers! Christ is a storehouse filled with blessings
and mercies, and it is all for them: from him they "receive
abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness<" Rom 5: 17.
"Of his fullness they all receive grace for grace," John 1: 16. All
the fullness of Christ is made over to them for the supply of their
wants: "My God shall supply all your needs, (says the apostle)
according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ," Phil. 4: 19. If
all the riches of God can supply your needs, then they shall be
supplied. Say not, Christ is in the possession of consummate glory,
and I am a poor creature, struggling with many difficulties, and
toiling in the midst of many cares and fears in the world; for care
is taken for all your wants, and orders given from heaven for their
supply: My God shall supply all your need. O say with a melting
heart, I have a full Christ, and he is filled for me: I have his
pure and perfect righteousness to justify me, his holiness to
sanctify me, his wisdom to guide me, his comforts to refresh me, his
power to protect me, and his all-sufficiency to supply me. O be
cheerful, be thankful, you have all your hearts can wish; and yet be
humble; it is all from free-grace to empty and unworthy creatures
    Inference. 3. How absurd, disingenuous, and unworthy of a Christian,
is it to deny, or withhold from Christ anything he has, or by which
he may be served or honored? Does Christ communicate all he has to
you, and can you withhold anything from Christ? On Christ's part it
is not mine, and your, but ours, or mine and yours; John 20: 17 "I
ascend to my Father, and your Father; to my God, and your God." But
O this cursed idol self! which appropriates all to its own designs
and uses. How liberal is Christ! and how penurious are we to him!
Some will not part with their credit for Christ, when yet Christ
abased himself unspeakably for them. Some will not part with a drop
of blood for Christ, when Christ spent the whole treasure of his
blood freely for us; yes, how loth are we to part with a shilling
for Christ, to relieve him in his distressed members, when as yet
"we know the grace of out Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was
rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty
might be rich!" O ungrateful return! O base and disingenuous
spirits!" The things Christ gives us are great, and the things we
deny to him are small: he parts with the greatest, and yet is denied
the least. The things he communicates to us are none of ours, we
have no right nor title by nature, or any desert of ours to them;
the things we deny or grudge to Christ are by all titles his own,
and he has the fullest and most unquestionable title to them all;
what he gives to us, he gives to them that never deserved it; what
we withhold from him, we withhold from one that has deserved that,
and infinitely more from us than we have or are.
    He interested you freely in all his riches when you were
enemies; you stand upon trifles with him, and yet call him your best
and dearest friend: he gave himself and all he has to you, when you
could claim nothing from him; you deny to part with these thing to
Christ, who may not only claim them upon the highest title, his own
sovereignty, and absolute property, but by your own act, who profess
to have given all in covenant to him: what he gives you return no
profit to him, but what you give or part with for him is your
greatest advantage. O that the consideration of these things might
shame and humble your souls!
    Inference. 4. Then certainly no man is or can be supposed to be a
loser by conversion, seeing from that day, whatever Christ is or has
becomes his.
    O what an inheritance are men possessed of by their new birth!
Some men cry out, Religion will undo you; but with what eyes do
these men see? Surely, you could never so reckon, except your souls
were so incarnated, as to reckons pardon. Peace, adoption, holiness,
and heaven, for nothing; that invisibles a non-entities, and
temporals the only realities. It is true, the converted soul may
lose his estate, his liberty, yes, his life for Christ but what
then? Are they losers that exchange brass for gold? or part with
their present comforts for an hundred-fold advantage? Mark 10: 29.
So that none need be frightened at religion, for the losses that
attend it, while Christ and heaven are gained by it: they that
count religion their loss have their portion in this life.
    Inference. 5. How securely is the saints inheritance settled upon
them, seeing they are in common with Jesus Christ? Christ and his
saints are joint-heirs, and the inheritance cannot be alienated but
by his consent: he must lose his interest, if you lose yours. Indeed
Adam's inheritance was by a single title, and moreover, it was in
his own hand, and so he might, (as indeed he soon did) divest
himself and his posterity of it; but it is not so between Christ and
believers; we are secured in our inheritance by Christ our co-heir,
who will never alienate it: and therefore it was truly observed by
the father, Faelicior Job in sterquilinio, quam Adamus in paradiso:
Job was happier upon the ash-heap, than Adam was in paradise. The
covenant of grace is certainly the best tenure; as it has the best
mercies, so it gives the fullest security top enjoy them.
    Inference. 6. How rich and full is Jesus Christ, who communicates
abundantly to all the saints, and yet has infinitely still more in
himself, than has ever been received by them all.
    Take all the faith of Abraham all the meekness of Moses, all
the patience of Job, all the wisdom of Solomon, all the zeal of
David, all the industry of Paul, and all the tender-heartedness of
Josiah; and to this all the grace that is poured (though in lesser
measure) into all the elect vessels. in the world, yet still it is
short of that which remains in Christ; "He is anointed with oil of
gladness above his fellows:" And in all things he has and must ever
have the pre-eminence. There are many thousand stars glittering
above your head, and one star differs from another star in glory,
yet there is more light and glory in one sun, than in many thousand
stars. Grace beautifies the children of men exceedingly, but still
that is true of Christ, Psalm. 45: 2. "You are fairer than the
children of men, grace is poured into your lips". Yet all grace is
secondarily, and derivatively in the saints, but it is primitively
and originally in Christ, John 5: 16. Grace is imperfect and
defective in them, but in him it is in its most absolute perfection
and fullness, Col 1: 19. In the saint. it is mixed with abundance of
corruption, but in Christ it is altogether unmixed, and exclusive of
its opposite, Heb. 7: 26. So that as the Heathen said of moral
virtue, I may much more say of Christ, That were he to be such with
mortal eyes, he would compel love and admiration from all men, for
"he is altogether lovely," Cant. 5: l6.
    Inference. 7. What delight and singular advantage must needs be in
the communion of the saints, who have communion with Jesus Christ in
all his races and benefits.
    "That which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you, that
you also may have fellowship with us: And truly our fellowship is
with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ", 1 John 1: 3. O it
is sweet to have fellowship with those that have fellowship with God
in Jesus Christ. Christ has communicated to the saints varieties of
graces, in different measures and degrees; And as they all receive
from Christ the fountain, so it is sweet and most delightful to be
improving themselves by spiritual communion one with another: Yes,
for that end one is furnished with one grace more eminently than
another, that the weak may be assisted by the strong, as a modern
divine well observes. Athanasius was prudent and active, Basil of an
heavenly, sweet temper, Chrysostom laborious, without affection,
Ambrose resolved and grave, Luther courageous, and Calvin acute and
judicious. Thus everyone has his proper gift from Christ, the
fountain of gifts and graces, 1 Cor 7: 7. One has quickness of
parts, another solidity of judgement, but not ready and presential;
one is zealous, but ungrounded; another well principled, but
timorous; one is wary and prudent; another open and plain; one is
trembling and melting; another cheerful and joyous; one must impart
his light, another his heat: The eye, the knowing man, cannot say to
the hand, the active man, I have no need of you. And O how sweet
would it be, if gifts, graces, and experiences were frequently and
humbly imparted: But idle notions earthly mindedness, self-
interests, and want of more communion with Christ, have almost
destroyed the comfort of Christian fellowship everywhere in the
world.
    Inference. 8. In a word, those only have ground to claim interest in
Christ, who do really participate of his graces, and in whom are
found the effects and fruits of their union and communion with him.
    If you have interest in Christ, you have communion in his
graces and benefits; and if you have such communion, it will appear
in your maintaining daily actual communion with God in duties;
whereby will be produced,
    First, The increase of your sanctification, by fresh
participations from the fountain; as cloth which is often dipped into
the vat receives the deeper dye, and livelier tincture; so will your
souls by assiduous communion with God. It will also be discerned,
    Secondly, In your deeper humiliation, and spiritual sense of
your own vileness: The more any man partakes of God, and is
acquainted with him, and assimilated to him, the more base and vile
in his own sight he still grows, Job 42: 5, 6. Isaiah 6: 5.
    Thirdly, It will appear in your more vehement longings after
the full enjoyment of God in heaven, 1 Pet 1: 8. and Romans 8: 23. You
that have the first fruits will groan within yourselves after the
full harvest, and satisfying fruition; you will not be so taken with
things below, as to be content with the best lot on earth for your
everlasting, portion. O! if these communicated drops be so sweet,
what is there in Christ the fountain?
    And thus I have opened the method of grace in bringing home
Christ and his benefits to God's elect by union, in order to
communion with him.
                 Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.
 




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