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2. Let patience have her perfect work. The husbandman waits for the return of his seed, the sea-merchant for the return of his ships, the store-master for what he calls year-time, when he draws in the produce of his flocks. All these have long patience, and why should not the Christian too have patience, and patiently wait the time appointed for his lifting up?
Ye have heard much of the crook in the lot, the excellency of humbleness of spirit in a low lot, beyond pride of spirit, though joined with a high one: ye have been called to humble yourselves in your humbling circumstances, and assured in that case of a lifting up. To conclude, we may assure ourselves, God will at length break in pieces the proud, be they never so high; and he will triumphantly lift up the humble, be they never so low.
UNITY OF THE BODY OF CHRIST,
AND THE DUTIES
THE MEMBERS OWE ONE TO ANOTHER.
THE SUBSTANCE OF SEVERAL SERMONS
1 COR. X. 17.
For we being many are one bread and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
ONE great reason why communions do so little good, is, that communicants are so little concerned in one another for their spiritual welfare. And this hath its rise from their not discerning, and seriously laying to heart the spiritual relation there is among them, by them avouched and publicly testified by their partaking of one bread at the communion-table. People readily have some notion that it is a communion with Christ; but few consider that it is a communion of saints, and what duties flow from it as such. I would therefore lay this matter before you, in order to pursue the benefit of our late solemn occasion.
The scope of these words is to show, That those who partaked of idolatrous feasts were by that action declared one body with idolaters. This is proven by a parity of reason, viz. that those who partake of the Lord's table declare themselves one body with the saints. In the preceding verse he shews the nature of the sacrament of the supper; it is the communion of the body and blood of Christ; a sign, seal, and appointed means of our joint feeding on a slain Saviour, like so many eagles on the slain body. Here he shows the nature of the society of saints, for whom it is appointed, viz. that they are one body, viz. the body of Christ; and therefore being united to him, they have certainly communion in his body and
blood. For we being many are one bread and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
In the words are two things.
1. The spiritual conjunction and communion of saints among themselves asserted; We, many, &c. He speaks of the whole multitude of believers. They being many particular saints, some men, some women, teachers, taught, weak, strong, are yet so joined, and have such intimate union and communion one with another, that they are one bread, i. e. one body represented by the one sacramental bread. If ye ask whose is that body? or who is the head of it? It is Christ's 1 Cor. xii. 27. "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." Not his natural body, but his mystical body and therefore the many are not such as meet at one communion-table in one congregation, but all the members of Christ's mystical body through the world, for Christ has but one body: and as many grains do make up but one sacramental bread, so they being many do make up but one body.
2. This spiritual conjunction and communion of saints among themselves, inferred from their all pertaking of that one bread; For we being many are one bread, &c. By that one bread is meant, that bread which is exhibited in the sacrament, viz. both the invisible bread, which is Christ himself, and the visible bread which we take into our mouths, the latter the sign of the former. Believing communicants partake of both: they partake of that bread, which is the Lord; so are all united to, and hold communion with the head as members, and therefore are one body among themselves: they partake of the sacramental bread, which is an instituted sign of the other, and thereby profess their communion with Christ the head, and consequently their communion with the saints, as members of the same body with them. And in this last, hypocritical communicants join with them, by their partaking, declaring, and avouching themselves to be of the communion of saints of the mystical body of Christ, and binding themselves to the duty of that communion; although in reality they are not so, as not partaking of the invisible bread, which is Christ the Lord. The case is the same as to baptism. "For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles." 1 Cor. xii. 13.
The point to be handled is this doctrine.
DocT. There is a communion of saints among themselves, as being conjoined into one mystical body of Christ, declared and avouched by partakers of the sacraments, especially that of the Lord's supper, every one for themselves.
There are two parts of this doctrine. One is, That there is such a
strait and intimate communion and conjunction among the saints, that they are really and truly one body mystically, however many they be. The other is, That one's partaking of the sacrament is a declaring and avouching himself to be of that communion. By a communion I mean a society having a common interest in things.
I. I shall enquire into the nature of the communion of saints as one body. And,
1. Who are the members of this communion-of this happy society the body of Christ? There are two sorts of members of it, some in shew only, some in reality. As to the former I offer two things.
(1.) The openly wicked and profane, amongst whom must be reckoned the grossly ignorant, and all such as have no form of godliness, are not so much as visible or apparent members of the communion of saints. They are excluded from the communion of the the saints above, Gal. v. 19-21. "Now the works of the flesh are manifest adultery, fornication, &c.—of which I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." From the communion of saints below, Acts xxvi. 18. "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light-that they may receive inheritance among them that are sanctified"—and visibly belong to the devil's family, John viii. 44. What though they have been baptized, and are yet in the visible church, they have in effect renounced it, Rom. ii. 25. "But if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision." For though they were baptized into this one body, 1 Cor. xii. 13. yet they will have no communion with that body, nor the head of it. Though they got on Christ's mark of baptism in their infancy, they have now got the devil's mark on above it. So Rom. ii. 25. therefore not to be admitted to the Lord's table, Matth. vii. 6. "Give not that which is holy unto dogs."
(2.) Masked hypocrites are seeming visible members of this communion, but not real members of it. They are brethren of the saints, but only half brothers, Can. i. 6. false brethren, Gal. ii. 4. They are among them, and communicate among them, but they are not of them, 1 John ii. 19. They want the wedding-garment; and though the servants cannot but admit them as visible saints, the Master will throw them out, as none of that communion in his sight, Matth. xxii. 12.
Hypocrites belong to the mystical body, as a branch bound up, but not knitting with the stock belongs to the tree, or as a tree-leg belongs to the body; but not otherwise. See the case of these members in these three things.
1. They are useful for the mystical body of Christ with their gifts as the tree-leg with its strength to the natural body. So was Judas and Damas, &c. Graceless well-gifted ministers and professors, they may have a mouth to speak for truth, ay and hands to act for it too, and the profit redound to the saints, not themselves, who have no heart to embrace it in reality; and to adorn the communion as long as they keep green, as such branches do the tree, by which God is honoured before the world, Psal, lxxxi. 15.
They are under the particular care of the body, as the tree-legand the branch under the gardener's inspection. Hence they get their gifts increased for the good of the body, are preserved from many snares they would otherways fall into if they had nothing at all to do with the communion of saints, as may appear from the way they go when they turn apostates. They fare the better they are in good company. But,
3. They are laid aside at length, as the branch, John xv. 2. and the tree-leg, if not before, yet at the time when the body goes to rest, Psal. cxxv. 5. Though the living leg be broken, so crazed that for the time it can be of no discernible use for the head, nor for the other members of the body, it is not cast by, nor separate from the body, but its weakness borne with, and it healed at length. But the tree-leg goes for altogether.
As to the latter, there are three sorts of these real members.
1. Real members in God's design, but not yet formed. These are all the elect, who are yet to be born, or yet to be born again, and we cannot have a full view of the body without eying them, Eph. i. 10. "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ. They shall all of them be formed at length, all conjoined unto the body, and they all belong to the perfection of the body, for carrying on of which the ministry is appointed, Eph. iv. 11-13. For the body of Christ is all the elect knit to him as the head, Eph. v. 23. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church."
2. Real members already perfected, at least as to their souls. These are the saints triumphant, who are with us members, fellowmembers of the body of Christ, though glorified ones. Therefore, Heb. xii. 22, 23. "But you are come-to the general assembly and church of the first-born-and to the spirits of just men made perfect." Even they, as high as they are, are of this communion of saints, of the same family of heaven with us militant on earth, though they are in the upper rooms, and we in the lower, Eph. iii.
3. Real members formed, but not perfected yet. These are the