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relation is then constituted, the conjugal bond is fastened between him and thy soul. “As many as received him, to them gave he power,” right or privilege, “to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." John 1:12. You neither need nor may expect an extraordinary messenger or voice from heaven, to tell you that Christ is yours and you are his ; you have a better foundation in this word and work of faith. For my part, if God will give me the clear and satisfying experience of this work upon my heart, I would never desire more satisfaction on this side heaven. I know not but the devil may counterfeit an extraordinary voice, and cheat the soul by a lying oracle; but if I really feel my heart and will sincerely opening to Christ upon gospel terms, I am sure there is no deceit in that.
3. The opening of thy heart to Christ by faith is a good assurance that heaven shall be opened to thy soul hereafter. Heaven is shut against none but those who shut their hearts against Christ by unbelief. Will you bar Christ out of your souls by ignorance and unbelief, and then cry, Lord, open to us? God will open to none but them that open to Christ. Eternity itself shall but suffice to bless God for this opening act of faith. “He that believeth shall be saved.” Mark 16:16.
4. The opening of thy soul to Christ by faith makes it Christ's habitation for ever : in that hour out go sin and Satan, and in come Christ and grace. “If any man open unto me, I will come in to him," saith the text. Of such a soul Christ saith, as it was said of the temple, “The Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it.” Psa. 132:13, 14. The soul now becomes a hallowed temple to the Lord; as he hath said, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” 2 Cor. 6:16. O what a heaven on earth is here! Christ dwelling in the soul is the glory of the soul, as God's dwelling in the temple was the glory of the temple.
5. In a word, the opening of the heart to Christ is the work which answers the great design of the gospel. Wherefore has God set up ordinances and ministers, yea, wherefore is the Spirit sent forth, but to open the hearts of sinners to Christ by faith? When this is done, the main intention of the gospel is attained; the union is effected between Christ and the soul ; it is now put out of hazard. The whole work of the gospel after that, is but to build up, confirm, and comfort the soul, ripen its implanted graces, and make it meet for glory.
CHRIST'S EARNEST ENTREATY FOR UNION AND
COMMUNION WITH SINNERS.
“BEHOLD, I STAND AT THE DOOR AND KNOCK.” Rev. 3:20.
HERE are pains and patience, all means used by Christ to gain entrance into the souls of sinners. The language speaks the earnestness of his suit, and the vehemenoy of his desire to be in union with the souls of men... The sixth doctrine, therefore, will be,
Jesus Christ is an earnest suitor for union and communion with the souls of sinners.
This doctrine lies directly and fully in the intention of the text. In opening it, two things must be spoken to, in the doctrinal part: the demonstration of this truth, that he is so; and the marvellous grace and condescension of Christ, that he should be so.
The DEMONSTRATION of this truth, that Christ is an earnest suitor for union and communion with the souls of sin. ners, I shall draw from a view and consideration of the dispositions and actions of the Lord Jesus towards sinners from first to last. And when you have compared them all together, and by them seen the temper of his heart, how great and clear a light will shine upon this point. That his heart hath still inclined towards union and communion with sinful man, will appear by considering him before his incarnation; in the days of his flesh; at his death ; and since his ascension into heaven.
I. Consider him BEFORE HIS INCARNATION, and you will find two things in that state which plainly speak his desire after union with us.
1. In the covenant of redemption he made with God concerning us before this world had a being; for such a covenant and promise did really pass between him and the Father before all time, or else I know not how to understand this scripture : "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” Titus 1:2. To whom could that promise be made, which bears date before the creation, but unto Christ? What else can this inean but the covenant of redemption made between the Father and the Son ? the terms whereof are set down in Isa. 53:10, 11, where you find what Christ was to do, namely, “to make his soul an offering for sin ”—and what should be his reward for pouring out his soul unto death, namely, “To see his seed; to see the travail of his soul,” even a church purchased with his own blood. Whether this be not a great demonstration of the inclination of Christ's heart towards union and communion with sinners, let all men judge. O what a value did Christ set upon our souls, that upon such costly terms he would consent to redeem them! Unto this agreement God the Father held him : "God spared not his own Son.” Rom. 8:32. And this very covenant Christ pleaded with the Father: “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world : thine they were, and thou gavest them me." John 17:6. This plainly shows the vehement desire of Christ's heart to be in union with men; according to Prov. 8:31: “Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and my delights were with the sons of men.” Blessed Jesus, nothing but the strength of thine own desire
and love could have drawn thee out of that bosom of de· lights to suffer so many things for the sake of sinners.
II. Let us consider Christ's disposition towards union and communion with sinners, IN THE DAYS OF HIS FLESH ; and every thing done by Christ carries and confirms this conclusion.
1. Christ's assumption of our nature manifested his desire after union with us. Herein he gave two incomparable proofs of his transcendent love to us, and desire after us
(1.) In passing by a superior and more excellent nature. “ Verily he took not on him the nature of angels.” Heb. 2:16. Angels were excellent creatures, but behold those vessels of gold cast into the fire, and earthen potsherds fitted for glory. It is true, the angels who kept their first estate are members of Christ's kingdom; he is a head to them by way of dominion, but unto us by way of vital union. Christ takes the believer into a nearer union with himself than any angel in heaven. For the multitudes of apostate angels he never designed recovery, but left them as they were before, bound in chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Jude 6.
(2.) In uniting our nature to himself, and that after sin had blasted its beauty, and let in so many direful calamities upon it. He was found in the likeness of sinful flesh, Rom. 8:3; that is, he was subject to weariness, pains, and death, which, though there is no sin in them, are the effects and consequences of sin : such a nature he took into personal union with himself, not to experience any new pleasure in it, but to enable him to suffer and satisfy for us; and thus to give a convincing proof of the strength of his love, and the vehemency of his desire to us. His personal union with our nature shows his desire after a mystical union with our persons. He would never have been the Son of man, but to make us the sons and daughters of the living God; he came in our likeness, that we, by sanctification, might be conformed to his likeness. Behold how near Christ comes to us by his incarnation. O what a stoop did he make therein to recover us. Rather than lose us, he was contented to lose his manifested glory for a time; for his incarnation made him “of no reputation.” Phil. 2:7. Behold the desire of the Saviour after union with sinners.
2. The whole life of Christ upon earth was an evident proof and demonstration of the desire of his heart to be in union and communion with us : “For their sakes I sanctify