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he speaks of those "who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before them."
Christians are in Christ as the branches are in the tree. It matters not how near a branch is to a treeyea, if it lean against it; yea, if it be corded to it, or even nailed, it can neither flourish or live, unless it be in the stock. But when it is in the tree, the very same sap that pervades the one, flows into the other, and sustains and fertilizes it. And says our Saviour, "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me; for without me ye can do nothing."
And to mention nothing more-They are in Christ as the members of the human body are in the head. For he is called "the head of his body the Church :" and believers are said to be "members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." They are real and living parts of him. As the head governs and directs the body, they are under his guidance and authority: and as the body is actuated by the head, and depends upon ligatures with it, and influences from it, so they live by him; and of his fulness they all receive, and grace for grace.-Let us,
II. Consider the IMPORTANCE of this state.
We often, in determining the worth of a thing, appeal to authority: and we are much influenced in our decision by the competency of the judge. Here it must be confessed the multitude are not a safe guide, nor yet many of those who by their rank and attainments may seem entitled to take the lead in society. They rise early and sit up late, and eat the bread of sorrow, and deny themselves, and compass sea and
land, for fortune and for fame. But their urgency in the things of time and sense, forms a deplorable contrast with their insensibility and negligence with regard to the things that belong to their everlasting peace. So that were we to estimate the value of the prize by the zeal of the candidates, we could not deem it worth a moment's thought. But we do not appeal to the blind and the deaf in questions of colour and of sound. How can the votaries of the god of this world appreciate a kingdom that is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost? "The world knew him not" when on earth and it is not wiser now. But the spiritual judgeth all things, though he himself is judged of not man. Let us turn to Paul. Paul was a man of learning and wisdom. He had been the greatest enemy to the cause of the Gospel, and had, from the most irresistible and perfect conviction, become its adherent and advocate. He was not a novice in experience, but had been for many years acquainted with the Saviour, studying him as a minister, as well as believing in him as a Christian, when he wrote to the Philippians. Yet what was his language? "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 all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found IN HIM." Thus he was fully persuaded that a union with Christ was a state infinitely desirable; and that his estimation was well founded will appear
If we survey the state in connexion with the advantages inseparable from it, but never to be enjoyed without it. And here I must make a selection; for
I find myself in a garden abounding with produc tions, all of which I wish to commend; but I have only time to lead you to notice a few of the flowers and the fruits; and in doing this, order is not neces
But it is desirable to be delivered from captivity and bondage-a bondage the most degrading; a captivity the most oppressive? Here you enjoy it. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins."
Is it desirable to be safe from condemnation? Condemnation is to be judged of by the doom to which it consigns us. Now "Cursed is he that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them." And who can appreciate the misery of this curse? Who knoweth the power of his anger? It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But "there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." That is, none that will effect their security. Conscience may condemn ; the world may condemn; Satan, the accuser of the brethren, may condemn; but these are not the Judge. "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."
Is acceptance with God desirable? Here we have it-"This," says God, "is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The complacency extends to us, as well as to himself. "Thou hast loved them," says the Saviour, as thou hast loved me." He hath made us accepted in the Beloved and this is
true both of our persons and our services. gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour ;" and we could not have been originally so dear to God as we now become, through his mediation.
Tell me, ye who delight in communion with God, and are so often constrained to repair to him for mercy and grace to help in time of need, is it good to draw nigh to God? And can you go to him freely as your Father, at all seasons, on all occasions; and in every thing by prayer and supplication make known your requests unto God, with an assurance of success? "In whom we have boldness and access with confidence, by the faith of him."
In him we have all our supplies and endowments. "We are complete in him." Where can I find righteousness? In vain I look even to my duties and to my holy things. These are all defective and polluted; and if they deserve any thing, it is condemnation and if he thus enters into judgment with us, no flesh living can be justified. But Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Thus I appear before him "not having my own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is of faith :" and this not only justifies me from all things, but gives me a title to eternal life.-And where but in him can I find strength? The journey I have to take, the race I have to run, the warfare I have to accomplish, the duties I have to perform, the trials I have to bear; all these are not only above my natural powers, but even above the grace I possess, without fresh and constant supplies of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. But he cries, "My grace is sufficient
for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Surely therefore shall one say, "In the Lord have I righteousness and strength."
Where shall we end? "If children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ." But he is heir of all things; therefore, says the Apostle, "All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours; and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." You are united to him, and he is united to God. You are in him, and he is in God. How secure, then, is the happiness of believers! Their life is hid with Christ in God! How incapable of rupture is the connexion between them and God, unless the medium that unites them can fail! But "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
We may also view the importance of this state in connexion with certain seasons when it must be peculiarly felt. There are four of these.
The first is the hour of conviction. What is the reason that many of you read and hear of this state with such indifference, that you make light of the invitation to enter it, and go your way, one to his farm and another to his merchandise? You do not feel yourselves in the wretchedness and jeopardy it implies and is designed to relieve. One question forced from a wounded spirit-"What must I do to be saved?" would magnify this state more than all the arguments your preachers can ever employ.