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On the Application of Redemption in general.
THE first Adam was united to all his posterity as their father, head, and constituted representative and substitute; and all mankind were united to him, as such. This may be considered, both as a natural and constituted union; by which all his children were to have the benefit of his obedience, as much as if it were their own personal obedience, should he obey through the time of his trial; so that his holiness should insure perfect, everlasting holiness and happiness to them: And, on the other hand, his disobedience should descend to them, and make them sinners, and entail sin and ruin on all his posterity; so that their sin, guilt and ruin, were connected with his rebellion, and, in this sense, his sin, was their sin.
The second Adam has no such natural union with mankind, as their natural father and head, and they have 448no union to him in this way: But they must, in some way and manner, be united to him, and he to them, in order to his becoming their head and representative, so as to share in the saving benefits of his atonement and righteousness. He is constituted by God a public head and representative, as the first Adam was, and is substituted to obey and suffer for man; but in order to their being actually interested in the benefit of his atonement and righteousness, they must be united to him, and he to them, so as to be in a sense one, as the head and members of the natural body are one. This union, by divine constitution and appointment, is to take place and consist in a mutual voluntary consent; the Redeemer offering himself to them, and they consenting and complying with his proposal and offer, and accepting of him, and trusting in him as their Redeemer. This lays the foundation for a treaty with mankind; in the prosecution of which, redemption is actually applied; not to all mankind, but to those who cordially embrace the offer, and accept of Christ, and salvation by him. This is particularly stated in the scripture. Christ says, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”491491 John iii. 16. These words suppose, and implicitly assert, that none but believers are to be saved by the Redeemer, as no others have that relation to him, and union with him, which is necessary, in order to give them an interest in redemption by him. This Christ expressly asserted, when he commissioned the apostles to go forth and treat with men, in order to effect the application of his redemption; without which no man could be saved. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth, and is baptised, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.”492492 Mark xvi. 15, 16.
As all mankind are united to Adam, as his posterity, his seed; so Christ has a seed, a posterity, who are by their union to him, made the children of God, and joint heirs with him, to whom the promise of salvation is made. These are not all mankind, but believers in him. For thus saith the scripture. “The children of the 449promise are counted for the seed. Know ye, therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. For ye are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. And if ye be Christ’s, then ye are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise.”493493 Rom. viii. 17. ix. 8. Gal. iii. 7, 26, 27, 29. iv. 28.
The Redeemer has made an atonement sufficient to expiate for the sins of the whole world; and, in this sense, has tasted death for every man, has taken away the sin of the world, has given himself a ransom for all, and is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, so that whosoever believeth in him may be saved, and God can now be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Therefore, the gospel is ordered to be preached to the whole world, to all nations, to every human creature: And the offer of salvation by Christ is to be made to every one, with this declaration, that whosoever believeth, is willing to accept of it, shall be delivered from the curse of the law, and have eternal life.
But as all mankind are totally depraved, and are become enemies to God, his law and government, and consequently equal enemies to the Redeemer, and salvation by him, they are all prepared and disposed to refuse to accept of the offered salvation, and reject it with their whole hearts, whatever motives are set before them, and methods taken to persuade them to comply. This lays the foundation of the necessity of the renovation of the hearts of men by the holy Spirit, in order to their believing and embracing the gospel; of which the scripture speaks abundantly. Christ taught, that except a man be born of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God, or so much as see it. St. Paul says, that all believers are the subjects of the mighty power of God, operating upon them, by which they have been brought to believe: That they, being naturally dead in trespasses and sins, have been made alive by God; and that faith is the gift of God; that they are saved not by 450any works of righteousness which they have done, but by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; so that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God who sheweth mercy, and worketh in them by his Spirit, to will and to run, &c. &c.
By this renovation, men are said in scripture to be made new creatures, and to be created in Christ, unto good works; and believers are said to be in Christ, and to put on Christ. This union of the believer to Christ may be considered as consisting in two things, viz. 1. In Christ’s uniting himself to him by his Spirit, by which he takes possession of him, is formed in him, and dwells in him: And by the Spirit of God, the believer is drawn to him. “No man cometh unto me, says Christ, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him.” 2. In the believer’s uniting himself to Christ, by actually cleaving to him, trusting in him, and loving him; all which is implied in saying faith, or believing on Christ; and which is also implied in Christ’s uniting himself to the believer, mentioned in the foregoing particular. This union is begun in regeneration and conversion, by which Christ, by his Spirit, takes possession of the heart, produces faith and christian holiness; in the exercise of which, the believer cleaves to Christ in holy love. But of these it is proposed to treat more particularly in some following sections.
This union between Christ and believers in him, is represented by a variety of similitudes in scripture. It is represented by a building composed of stones, all resting on a chief corner stone, which bears up the whole. By the natural body, consisting of head and members, all united to the head; the life and every function of the body, and each of the members depending upon their union with the head, and being derived from that: It is compared to the union of the food and drink, to the stomach and body, being taken into that, and digested, and thereby spreading life and spirit through the whole, for its constant support. “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whosoever eateth my flesh, 451and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life.”494494 John vi. 53, 54. It is illustrated by the union of the branch with the vine, by which the former derives life, sap and nourishment from the latter. “I am the vine, ye are the branches.”495495 John xv. 5. To mention no more, it is frequently represented by the union between the husband and the wife, which is a voluntary or a moral union, and by which the wife shares in the dignity, goods and possessions of her husband, and receives protection and support from him. The church is therefore called “the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” Believers, by their union to Christ, receive the benefit of his sufferings and obedience, and are made rich, partaking in all his fulness; and become joint heirs with him of eternal inheritance.
The union between Christ and believers is a moral and spiritual union: In this respect, “He who is joined to the Lord, is one spirit.”496496 1 Cor. vi. 17. It is an imperfect union in the beginning of it: It is therefore a growing union, until it shall be made perfect; it being a lasting union, which shall continue forever. And when this becomes perfect, which it will not, in its most complete state, till the resurrection, there will be a full and perfect participation of redemption by Christ; and that prayer of Christ will then be completely answered. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us. And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given unto them; that they may be one, even as we are one. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one. That the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them.”497497 John xvii.
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