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In which censure I think, I am no tyrant, which the philosopher names the worst of wild beasts: and I am sure I am no flatterer, which he calls, as justly, the worst of tame beasts. kal raura uèv 8 ravra."
Let the simple souls (the “paucissimae lectionis mancipia') who take the doctrine of distinct communion with the Divine Persons, to be a new fangled one, and uncouth ; observe the words of the Reverend Mr. Sam. Clark (the annotator on the Bible), in his sermon on 1 John i. 7. It is to be noted, that there is a distinct fellowship with each of the persons of the blessed Trinity. Let them attend what is said by Mr. Lewis Stucley, in his preface to Mr. Polwheil's book of quenching the Spirit; it is a most glorious truth, though considered but by few, that believers have, or may have, distinct communion with the three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit. This is attested by the finger of God, and solemnly owned by the first and best age of Christianity. To name no more, let them read heedfully but the second chapter of this treatise, and it is hoped that then they shall no longer ‘contra antidotum insanire; no longer rage against God's holy medicinal truth, as St. Austin saith he did, while he was a Manichee; testifying in so many words his error was his very God.
Reader, I am
Thy servant in Christ Jesus,
COMMUNION WITH GOD.
That the saints have communion with God. 1 John i. 3. considered to that
purpose. Somewhat of the nature of communion in general.
In the first epistle of John, chap. i. ver. 3. the apostle assures them to whom he wrote, that the fellowship of believers ‘is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ:'a and this he doth with such an unusual kind of expression as bears the force of an asseveration, whence we have rendered it, ‘Truly our fellowship,' &c.
The outward appearance and condition of the saints in those days being very mean and contemptible, their leaders being accounted as the filth of this world, and as the offscouring of all things, the inviting others unto fellowship with them, and a participation of the precious things which they did enjoy, seems to be exposed to many contrary reasonings and objections. What benefit is there in communion with them? Is it any thing else but to be sharers in troubles, reproaches, scorns, and all manner of evils ? To prevent or remove these and the like exceptions, the apostle gives them to whom he wrote to know (and that with some earnestness of expression), that notwithstanding all the disadvantages their fellowship lay under, unto a carnal view, yet in truth it was and would be found to be in reference to some with whom they held it), very honourable, glorious,
and desirable. “For truly,' saith he, our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.'
This being so earnestly and directly asserted by the apostle, we may boldly follow him with our affirmation, viz.
That the saints of God have communion with him. And a holy and spiritual communion it is, as shall be declared. How this is spoken distinctly in reference to the Father and the Son, must afterward be fully opened and carried on.
By nature, since the entrance of sin, no man hath any communion with God. He is light, we darkness; and what communion hath light with darkness? He is life, we are dead. He is love, and we are enmity; and what agreement can there be between us? Men in such a condition, have neither Christ, nor hope, nor God in the world ; Eph. ii. 12. “ being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them.' chap. iv. 18. Now, 'two cannot walk together unless they be agreed ;' Amos iii. 3. Whilst there is this distance between God and man, there is no walking together for them in any fellowship, or communion. Our first interest in God, was so lost by sin,e as that there was left unto us (in ourselves) no possibility of a recovery. As we had deprived ourselves of all power for a returnal, so God had not revealed any way of access unto himself, or that he could under any consideration be approached unto by sinners, in peace. Not any work that God had made, not any attribute that he had revealed, could give the least light into such a dispensation.
The manifestation of grace and pardoning mercy, which is the only door of entrance into any such communion, is not committed unto any but unto him alone, in whom it is, by whom that grace and mercy was purchased, through whom it is dispensed, who reveals it from the bosom of the Father, Hence this communion and fellowship with God is not in express terms mentioned in the Old Testament. The thing itself is found there; but the clear light of it, and the boldness of faith in it, is discovered in the gospel, and by the Spirit administered therein. By that Spirit, we have this liberty; 2 Cor. iii. 17, 18. Abraham was the friend of God; Isa. xli. 8. David, a man after his own heart; Enoch walked with him; Gen. v. 24. all enjoying this communion and fellowship for the substance of it. But the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest, whilst the first tabernacle was standing; Heb. ix. 8. Though they had communion with God, yet they had not traßmatav, a boldness and confidence in that communion. This follows the entrance of our high-priest into the most holy place; Heb. iv. 16. x.9. The veil also was upon them, that they had not #Asv0sptav, freedom and liberty in their access to God; 2 Cor. iii. 15, 16, &c. But now in Christ we have 8boldness and access with confidence to God; Eph. iii. 12. This boldness and access with confidence, the saints of old were not acquainted with. By Jesus Christ alone, then, on all considerations as to being, and full manifestation, is this distance taken away. “He hath consecrated for us a new and living way (the old being quite shut up) through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; Heb. x. 20. and through him we have an access by one Spirit unto the Father; Eph. ii. 18. “We who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ, for he is our peace,’ &c. ver. 13, 14. Of this foundation of all our communion with God, more afterward, and at large. Upon this new bottom and foundation, by this new and living way, are sinners admitted unto communion with God, and have fellowship with him. And truly for sinners to have fellowship with God, the infinitely holy God, is an astonishing dispensation." To speak a little of it in general; communion relates to things and persons. A joint participation in any thing whatever, good or evil,' duty or enjoyment, nature or actions, gives this denomination to them so partaking of it, A common interest in the same nature gives all men a fellowship or communion therein. Of the elect it is said, rā trauðta kekow&vnks (or had fellowship in with the rest of the world) 'flesh and blood;' the same common nature with the rest of mankind; and therefore Christ also came into the same fellowship: kaì avròç mapaniniwc uerboXe twv aŭrūv. There is also a communion as to state and condition, whether it be good or evil; and this either in things internal and spiritual, such as is the communion of saints among themselves; or in respect of outward things; so was it with Christ and the two thieves, as to one condition, and to one of them in respect of another. They were ¿v Tio avrò vpiuati, under the same sentence to the cross; Luke xxxii. 40. 'ejusdem doloris socii. They had communion as to that evil condition whereunto they were adjudged. And one of them requested, which be also obtained, a participation in that blessed condition whereupon our Saviour was immediately to enter. There is also a communion or fellowship in actions, whether good or evil. In good, is that communion and fellowship in the gospel, or in the performance and celebration of that worship of God, which in the gospel is instituted, which the saints do enjoy; Phil. i. 5. which as to the general kind of it, David so rejoices in, Psal. xlii. 4. In evil, was that, wherein Simeon and Levi were brethren; Gen. xlix. 5. They had communion in that cruel act of revenge and murder. Our communion with God is not comprised in any one of these kinds; of some of them it is exclusive. It cannot be natural. It must be voluntary and by consent. It cannot be of state and conditions, but in actions. It cannot be in the same actions upon a third party, but in a return from one to another. The infinite disparity that is between God and man, made the great philosopher conclude, that there could be no friendship between them. Some distance in the persons holding friendship he could allow; nor could exactly determine the bounds and extent thereof; but that between God and man, in his apprehension left no place for it. Another says, indeed, that there is communitas homini cum Deo,' a certain fellowship between God and man; but the general intercourse of providence is all he apprehended. Some arose to higher expressions, but they
< 1 John i. 5. 2 Cor. vi. 14. Eph. v. 8. John v. 16. Matt. xxii. 32. Eph. ii. 1. 1 John iv. 8. Rom. viii. 7.
Magna hominis miseria est cum illo non esse, sine quo non potest esse. August. • Eccles. vii. 29. Jer. xiji. 23. Acts. iv. 12. Isa. xxxij. 14, 15.
1 John i. 18. Heb. X. 19--21. Unus verusque Mediator per sacrificium pacis reconcilians nos Deo ; unum cum illo manebat cui offerebat, unum in se fecit, pro quibus offerebat, unus ipse fuit, qui offerebat: et quod offerebat. August de Trinit. 4. g IIaşna‘law xal row orporayayy ivorero Shati. h 1 John iii. 1. plaawaiv Švray ovov of Bikatoovno, Aizalo 3; wors; wporošovral pixiac. Arist. Eth, lib.8. cap. 1. i Quemadmodum nobis arrhabonem spiritus reliquit, ita et a nobis arrhabonem carnis accepit, et vexitin coelum, pignus totius summa illucredigendae. Tertul. Resur.