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upon him our human Nature, and so became One with us, and Head over us, in a sense different from that, in which he is said to be the Head over the Angels, or any other Creature. It is yet more especially made good, in regard of that Order and Preeminence, that Perfection and Power of influencing, that Care of directing, that Right of Governing, that constant Protection of, and perpetual Presence with, the feveral Parts of this Mystical Body; which answer to the Dignity and Excellence, the Communications and continual Distributions, the Command, the Contrivance, and intimate Conjunction of the Head, in the Frame of our Natural. These are Particulars, which require the greater Attention, by reason of that Usefulness they are of, towards making Men sensible, what Duties this Relation obliges to. And therefore it may be convenient to take notice, whatCare the Holy Ghost hath bestowed, to explain and illustrate them to us in Scripture.
1. As First. Our Saviour is very fitly termed our Head, as that implies Dignity of Station, Superiority of Place, and Preeminence over the rest of the Body. How great Honour we think due to This, above any Other part of our Natural Composition, no one needs be told. How deservedly we think so, is very obvious to any, who at all consider the Nobleness of its Contexture, the Richness of its Treasures, and the Variety of its Operations. Insomuch, that all our highest Faculties are seated here; All the Senses exercised, and all but One, (the meanest of the number) exercised here alone. Upon which, and many other Accounts, it seems to claim the Situation Nature gives it, a Preference before, and Presidence over, the whole Body.
Such, and much more wonderful, are the Perfections of our Mystical Head; Resplendent and glorious above all imagination; fo exquisite, that the utmost
Happiness, in reserve for the best and most beloved of his Members, is, to be wrought up to such Refemblance of him, as the infinite Distance between God and Man will admit. And in this respect the Apostle seems to have intended that noble Description of his Excellencies; when calling him the Image of the Invisible God, the First. Col. i, 15, 18, born of every Creature, the Head of the Body, the Church; the Beginning, and the First-born from the Dead, that in all things he might bave the preeminence : because it pleased the Father, that in bim should all Fullness dwell.
2. This Union between Christ and the Church is justified, Secondly, by the saving Influences, and perpetual Communications, derived down upon the Body. The Head, in our Natural Frame, is the Store-house, the Workhouse, in which are formed every moment, and laid up for use, those animal Spirits, that maintain Life, and Motion, and Sense. And the constant regular Distribution of these is so neceffary, that if the Passages to any Part happen to be intercepted, that Part becomes presently useless and dead. And, if those Stores run low, there follow immediately Faintings and Swoonings, A State of Inactivity for the time ; and without seasonable Recruits, the Death of the Man.
In like manner, with regard to the Principles of our Spiritual Life, Christ is (if I may so speak) the common Magazine of all our Powers. The Head, says St. Paul, from which all the Body, by joints and bands, having nourishment ministred and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. The plain importance whereof is thus much; That, as the natural Body owes its Growth and Vigor, to . the continual Supplies of Spirits from the Head ; and as the Ligatures of Arteries and Veins, Muscles and Joints, are so many Pipes. laid each in proper Posi
Col. ii. 19.'
tion, to convey these into the Limbs, for Strength and Motion, and mutual Ease and Help, and for diffusing of Nourishment throughout the whole Mass of Flesh and Blood, according to the Capacity of each Vessel and Part: So the Church's Health and Increase proceed from the kindly Influences, which Christ is pleased to shed down upon it; and the Piety and Charity of Christians are vital Operations, corresponding to, and naturally resulting from, such In
Auences duly received. Hence S. John, John i. 16.
Of bis Fulness have we all received Grace: Phil. iv, 13.
and S. Paul, I can do all things through
Christ that strengtheneth me. And, how entirely our Living or Dying, in a Religious Sense, depends upon such Communications, or the withdrawing of them; our Bleffed Lord himself hath fully acquainted us, in another figurative Illustration, ex
actly parallel to the Point we are now upJohn xv. 4, 5.
on. As the Branch, says he, cannot bear fruit of it self, except it abide in the Vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the Vine, je are the Branches. He that abideth in me, and I in bim, the same bringeth forth much fruit. For without me ye can do nothing. What can possibly be a more express Proof of the niutual Union, the constant Communication between Christ and his Church, and consequently the exceeding fitness of this Similitude, proceeding from our Natural, to his Mystical, Body? Thus do the Life, and Health, and Strength, and Sense, and Motion of a Christian, as Such, require his benign Influences; as absolutely needful for their Support and respective Functions. Thus are all these, as certainly interrupted, as effectually destroyed, upon the Obstruction or with-holding of those Influences ; as the Man acts and moves, when his Spirits are liberally and regularly dispensed; but falls into a Pally or an Apoplexy, faints away and dies, when their
Course is intercepted and disturbed, or their Stock spent and quite drawn off.
3. The Analogy between Christ's Mystical, and Our Natural Body, holds, with regard to his Right of directing and governing. The Business of the Head is to Advise and Command ; This is the Seat of the Soul, and the several Faculties of the other Parts are determined by its Appointment. Such is the Authority of our Lord too, manifest, as from sundry other Texts, fo particularly from that to the Ephesians: The Hufband is the Head of the Wife, even as
Eph. V, 23, 24. Christ is the Head of the Church; therefore as the Church is subje&t unto Christ, so let the Wives be to their own Husbands in every thing. But of the Significance of the Figure in this respect, no Enlargement can be needful; Since it is so universally acknowledged, that no Scheme of Speech is either more familiarly used, or more perfectly understood, than that, whereby supreme Governors, in any kind, are stiled the Heads of them, who submit to their respective Jurisdictions.
4. Once more. The Metaphor is answered by his Care for, Protection of, and inseparable Conjunction with, his Members. For such is the Case of our Natural Head. It contrives for, consults the Safety of, and lives with, the Body. And such is the case of our Mystical Head, who is therefore term’d the Saviour of the Body, the Nou- Eph. v. 23, 30. risher and Cherisher of the Church. Hence Saul, who persecuted the Church, is accused of persecuting Him; hence we are said to be made alive in Christ; hence that most comfortable Declaration to his Dirciples, Because I live, je shall live alo ; and that other to his Father, The glory John xiv. 19, which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them, and, thou in me, that they may be made perfeet in one : In a word, As the Sufferings and the Benefits, the Safety and the Dangers, in Our Persons, are common to Head and Trunk both ; and, as the severing of these two infers the Death of the whole : So our Lord permits us to believe all our Interests and all our Calamities, all our Comforts and all our Sorrows, His: To promise our selves Immortality and Glory, because He is already possess’d of Both ; not only in his own, but in the right of every actual and true Member of his ; And to look upon Him, and his Bliss, as in some fenfe imperfect, without the Participation of that Church, which is his Body; bis Fulness, and consequently not to be parted from him, that filleth all in all.
Acts ix. 40
1 Cor. xv. 22.
The Sum is this. The Allusion now before us is designed to insinuate the closest Union to Christ, and to One another, that can be. The Latter, by calling us one Body, the Former, by calling us one Body in Him. Thus we are made, by the Profession of One Faith, by partaking of One Spirit, by the Regeneration of One Baptism, and by submitting to One Lord. All These are neceffary, to the very Being of this Body, and giving Men any place in it: But, to the well-being of it, a great deal more is neceffary : viz. The discharging those Duties, which that Lord commands, which that Baptism engages for, which that Spirit is ready to assist them in, which that Faith expećts, as agreeable Fruits of its Principles. As many as fail in this, are but outwardly and imperfectly, but They, who do the part and office of Members, are spiritually, actually, and favingly united, in the Body of the Saints, to Christ their common Head. Deservedly stiled our Head, for his excellent Dignity above, for his constant and liberal Influences upon, for his commanding Power over, and for his tender Care of, and Presence with,