Page images
PDF
EPUB

17:

the Body of Christ, and Members, in particular. The Bread which webreak, is it not

1 Cor. x. 16, the Communion of the Body of Christ ? For we being many, are one Bread and one Body; for we are all Partakers of that one Bread. God hath put all things under bis (Christ's) feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the Church Eph. i. 22, 23. which is his Body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. That the Gentiles should be Fellow-heirs, and of the same Body, and Partakers of his Promise in Chrift, Chap. iii. 6. by the Gospel. There is one Body, and one

Chap. iv. 4, 5, 6. Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of Jour calling ; one Lord, one Faith, one Biptism, one God aud Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. That we may grow up into him

Ver. 15, 16. in all things, which is the Head, even Christ: from whom the whole Body filly joined together, and compatted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effettual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase in the Body unto the edifying of it self in Love ; for we are Members one of another. The Head of every Man is Cbrit. Christ is the Head of the Church, Ephes. v. 23. and he is the Savicur of the Body. For we are Members of his Body, of his Flesh, and of bis Bones. So again, He is the Head of Coloff. i. 18. the Body, the Church: from whose Do&trine and Unity they, who depart, are Chap. ii. 19. said not to hold the Head, from which all the Body, by joints and bands having nourishment ministred and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

I have chosen to set these several Texts in one view, by reason of the mutual Illustration they give to each other. And, that froin all, thus taken and compared together, the Inferences may more easily be drawn, which are necessary for establishing the Point now in hand.

In

Ver, 24.

1 Cor. xi. 3.

Ver. 30.

In particular, What sort of Union this we are speaking of is, What are the Grounds or Bands of it, and How the Metaphor is answered, by the mutual relation between the several Parts, concerned in the Similitude.

1. As First, No doubt at all can be made, but that This, above all other Allusions, was intended to figure the near, the inseparable, the entire Concern and Intereft we have, in our Blessed Lord, and in one another. When called Fellow-Soldiers, we are represented, as so many engaged in the same common Cause, and listed to serve under the same Leader: When Fellow-Servants, as belonging to the same Family: When Sons, as descended from one Father : When Heirs, as partaking in the Rights and Claims of the same elder Brother: But, when Members of the same Body, this is the closest of all the rest : For it scarce leaves us the liberty, which all the rest do, of considering our selves, any longer as distinct Persons. It presents us with an Image, of every one thus cemented being a part of Christ, and every Christian a part of our own selves; as if He without Us, and We without Them, must want that perfection of Being, which the nature of a Body requires.

2. Secondly, It is very manifest from hence, that this Union is peculiar to Christians. From hence it is, that we find the Church so often mentioned as Christ's Body. Consequently, as They who are not of the Church, are not of the Body: so what Methods foever those be, which have been instituted, as Instruments and Means for grafting Men into, or signifying their continuance and common Rights in, the Congregation of Chriftians; The same make them Members of, and the Denial, or the Want of the fame, exclude them from any part in, this Body.

3. Hence it comes to pass, Thirdly, that in the Pallages above cited, we find such express Mention,

not

not only of the same Principles of Religion, the same Laws, the same Privileges of Grace, the fame Hopes of Glory : But of the fame Sacraments too. For These are necessary Attestations of our confessing, and submitting to the Former, and Instruments, entitling us to a reasonable Expectance of the Latter. Nothing indeed less than this, can be the meaning of those Texts, One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. By one Spirit we are all Baptized into one Body, Ephef. iv. 5. and have been all made to drink into one

1 Cor. xii. 13. Spirit ; and, We being many are one Bread,

Cbap. X. 170 and one Body ; for we are all Partakers of that one Bread. So vain and presumptuous is the Delusion of Those, who, because they call Christ Lord, and profess to believe the Doctrine he hath taught, arrogate to themselves the Name and Privileges of Chriftians, without that initiating Sacrament of Baptism, which he hath ordained, as the Instrument of making them Members of his Visible Body. So profane, so pernicious, is the Neglect of that other confirming Sacrament, the Blessed Supper of our Lord; ordained by him likewise for their Strength and Nourishment, and necessary to preserve them true Members of his Invisible Body.

4. For it is fit we be put in mind, Fourthly, that it is one thing to have the Appearance and external Privileges, and another to discharge the part, and attain all the Benefits, of this Union. As the Apostle says, in a like case, all are not Ifrael that are of Israel; so our Saviour fupposes, that many who call bim Lord, 'Luke vi. 46, will not do the things which he commands. Now Matters are in some proportion with this Myítical, as with our Natural Body. An Arm or a Leg may be stupified with a Palsie or a Lethargy; an Eye may be out, or an Ear deaf ; and these still keep their Place, though not their Use, in the Body. And

thus

Rom. ix. 6.

A4

thus a number of careless, or prophane, or hypocritical Professors. Ihall retain the Name, and fill up the room of Members, by virtue of those outward Signs and Sacraments, which placed them in the Body of Christ ; while yet they want that inward Holiness, which those Sacraments are Emblems of, and Engagements to ; and which alone can render them of a piece with the Head, and wherein not only the Health, but the very Life, of the Body, and of each Member of it, confifts. Now because this Holiness depends chiefly upon the Disposition of the Mind ; and consequently may be sometimes greater than appears, and at other times may, by a false and pompous shew, be made to appear where it really is not : Hence it must needs follow, that many may, and ought to enjoy the Privileges, and the common Estimation of Members, who ftri&tly are not such. Because the Persons, , intrusted with the Power of admitting into, and cutting off from this Body, may be imposed upon by such Dissimulation, and can proceed upon outward

Appearances only. But then it follows 2 Tim. ii. 19.

too, That since the Lord knoweth them that are his ; these presumptive Members shall certainly be disowned by, as in truth they are not united to, Him. Hence so many pressing Exhortations to Men, acknowledged for Saints, and Brethren, and Members, to walk worthy of those Titles; to be in Truth, what they are in Profession, and Shew, and general Repute. Hence that very substantial Distinction of the Visible, and Invisible, Members and Body of Christ, and the Difference of those Qualifications neceffary for each. A Distinction founded in the nature of things ; Which cannot be otherwise, while this Body upon Earth is composed of, and govern'd by, Men, capable of deceiving, and of being deceived: While this Field pers come, which are appointed to make the final Separation.

must be content to hold Tares with the Matt. xiii. 3o. Wheat, till that Harvest, and those Rea

pers upon

5. From hence it is evident, Fifthly, that a very considerable Difference is to be made, between the several Instances of Union, mentioned, and recommended in Scripture. Some of these are absolutely necessary to the Being, Others enjoined, as expedient to the Growth, and Well-being, of this Body. Of the Former sort are, Submitting to the fame Lord, Agreeing in the Fundamentals of the same Faith, and, as a mark of this Submission and Agreement, Administration of the same Saeraments. Of the Latter, that Holiness of Life, that Exemplariness of Practice, that mutual Charity and Concord, that Peaceableness and Order, that Consent in Discipline, that ready Compliance in all lawful Matters, which, though not Essential, shall yet (by the Constitution of particular Churches, and the Judgment of Persons, thought proper to give Rules in such Cafes, ) be enjoined, as proper for Decency and Edification. And This Authority, being derived from our Lord upon his Apostles, and from Them upon their Successors, in the Government of this Society fo incorporated; the Contempt of It is a Contempt of Him: A Breach of that Union, which every Christian is bound to preserve, under all the Penalty, those Declarations of our Mafter can be supposed to involve every wilful Violater of it in: As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you: and, He that despiseth John xx, 21. you despiseth me; and be that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.

6. But that part of this Union, which we are in a more especial manner concerned to observe, is, Sixthly, that between All these Members and Christ: Whom we find, in the Texts above cited, to be represented as their common Head. And this resemblance is made good, with Allusion to our Natural Body, as he took

« PreviousContinue »