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contradict or renounce it. So we read of whole churches being in Christ. We are not to suppose that every one in them was vitally united to Christ; but that they all took upon them the Christian profession. So we read of branches in Christ that were barren ; as some boughs of a tree have sap enough only to bring forth leaves, and sometimes blossoms, but never produce any fruit. Some call themselves Christians, and profess themselves disciples; but while they have a name to live, they are dead. As Christ is a governing head to the whole Christian community, in this sense we are all of us in Christ. But what is there in this to give us any satisfaction? Try it: “ So many years ago I was baptised. So many years ago I first partook of the Lord's Supper. So many years I have been acquainted with Christians, and have passed upon the world for a Chris. tian myself. But all this while I have never known any thing of real religion." Alas! we may be in Christ after this manner twice fourteen years, and yet be no more Christians, than a man who all his life personates a king upon the stage, is really a monarch.
Secondly, there is a being in Christ by spiritual implantation, when persons are joined to the Lord by faith, and partaking of his sanctifying Spirit, are made alive by a new and heavenly principle.
As the union of the soul to the body implies a natural, so does union with Christ a spiritual life.“ He that hath the Son, hath life. I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Great, indeed, is this mystery of godliness, that such a pure and glorious head as Christ, should admit of union with creatures so mean and impure; but it is an experienced and indisputable truth. Christ, by his Spirit, takes believers into himself; and they are enabled by faith to receive him into their hearts : so that there is a mutual in-dwelling. “ At that day, ye shall know that I am in the Father, and you in me, and I in you.” I could with ease and pleasure enlarge on the properties of this sacred and wonderful union. I will now only say, that it will never be dissolved. The strongest building may be shaken from its foundation; the most fruitful branch may be separated from its stock; buț, “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, por any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Such is the union between Christ and believers : and this is that being in Christ, which the Apostle, in the text, referred to, and reflected on, with so much satisfaction. But this leads us,
II. To show how comfortable it must be to believ. ers of some standing, to consider how many years they have been in Christ.
It is the most blessed part of their lives : it is, indeed, the only period that deserves the name of existence, Unrenewed sinners are said to be dead in trespasses and sins: and all the time spent in that state, is to be considered as wasted. But they who are in Christ, may compute the days, the months, the years, since a change in their condition took place, with great satisfaction: for this part of their life has
First, more innocent.
Before conversion, sin reigned in their body, and their souls were full of iniquity. Every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually, and their lives were one-continued series of disobedience and rebellion. But though union to Christ does not immediately destroy the being of sin, it always dethrones it, and erects a principle of grace in its stead. Dagon must fall before the ark of the Lord. Sin cannot rule in the heart where Christ is received and acknowledged. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, and all things are become new." Can any thing then be more comfortable, than to reflect? “ So many years have I been delivered from the galling yoke of iniquity, and enjoyed the liberty of the children of God. So many years ago, I declared war against sin; and frequent and furious have been the struggles for victory. But the great Captain of my salvation has given me such glorious success, that notwithstanding the hardships of so many campaigns I reflect with pleasure on the day when I first enlisted into his service. All my life before, I was going on after the hardness and impenitence of my heart, adding iniquity to iniquity: but now, for so many years, I have been following after holiness, and longing and striving for a nearer resemblance to my dear, my adorable Master. With thankfulness I review the time when I first washed in the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness : and though I have not been so careful as I ought, to keep my garments clean, yet I bless God that it has been my serious and sincere endeavour to perfect holiness, in the fear of God.”
Secondly, your life has been more acceptable to God. Those who are out of Christ, are offensive to God. Nothing which they can say, or do, or bring, can procure the least mark of his favour. Even their incense is an abomination; and their best duties are beheld with abhorrence. But all who are united to Christ, have an interest in his atonement and righteousness. He undertakes to answer for their sins and present their petitions; and he procures for them those blessings which their condition requires. He " makes reconciliation by the blood of his cross ;" so that from exiles and enemies, they become friends and children of God: and since that blessed alteration took place, their time has been spent in his love, and devoted to his glory.“ It is now so many years,” will the happy soul say, “ that I have enjoyed the smiles and endearments of the Father of mercies. It was so long ago that he first lifted up the light of his countenance upon me, and said, Be of good cheer: thy sins are forgiven thee. Till that time I never knew what it was to engage in any of the duties of religion with delight. I was a stranger to that peace of God which passes all understanding. I knew nothing of those joys of the Holy Ghost, which are unspeakable and full of glory. But now, for so many years,
I have found favour in his sight. I have experienced, indeed, paternal frowns and chastisements; but, nevertheless, his loving kindness he has not taken from me, nor in any instance suffered his faithfulness to fail.”
Thirdly, your life has been more serviceable to the world.
Every member of the body of Christ is useful. For the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee; nor the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Where is any one so poor, but he can give a cup of cold water to a fellow disciple? What widow is so straitened that she has not two mites to bestow? Were it nothing else, but offering up a prayer, the whole church might be benefited by it: for “ he regardeth the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their prayer.
If, therefore, you can do nothing more, Pray for the peace of Jerusalem ; they shall prosper that love thee.” Christ has not one unprofitable servant belonging to his family. This also affords matter of comfortable reflection. “Before God was pleased to reveal his Son in me, (may the Christian say,) I was a nuisance in the world; at least my conduct, my conversation, my example, were trifling and pernicious. I sought my own things, my own interest, and ease, with eagerness; but cared not what became of the honour and kingdom of Christ. But now for so many years I have been concerned for the salvation of others; and though I have not always been successful, it gives me pleasure to think that I have been so long a sincere well-wisher to mankind. If I have not adorned the doctrine of God my Saviour so well as I ought, yet I rejoice that I have not proved a snare or a stumblingblock to others. So many years I have borne my testimony against sin, and been an advocate for Christ and Christianity. As far as my influence reached, I have warned men to flee from the wrath to come; and by cords of love, have endeavoured to draw them