« PreviousContinue »
given 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; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” Christ here prayed for all his followers, through the successive ages of the Gospel dispensation, down to the end of time. His prayer was heard and answered. And if
any one doctrine of the Scriptures is capable of the most complete and overwhelming proof, it is this—that all sincere Christians are one; that they are one in God and Christ; one in spirit, even as the Father and the Son are one.
How fully, too, is this truth confirmed and illustrated by the experience of all believers! The humble follower of Jesus, on whom calamity hath brought poverty, and poverty obscurity, cut off from the comforts of this world, draws all his consolations from the resources of Faith. He unfolds the sacred volume, and wonders, with holy delight, at finding the saints of old engrossed with the same objects of confidence, and hope, and love which now cheer and animate his own breast. With Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob, his mind is stayed upon God. He sings with Moses the song of deliverance, and with David the hymns of praise. He enters into all their feelings of devotion. He mingles his soul with theirs. With them, he surrounds their own altar, and offers up the sacrifice of a bro . ken and a contrite heart, and the incense of a pure and spiritual worship. As he approaches the ad
vent of our Saviour, he exclaims with the mother of Jesus, “ My soul doth magnify the Lord; and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” He catches the holy rapture of Zecharias, saying, “ Blessed be the Lord God of Israel ; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” He glows with the gratitude of Simeon, and with him is ready to exclaim, “ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine
eyes have seen thy salvation.” But why need I proceed ? The time would fail me to tell of all the saints of whom the Scriptures speak; of the illustrious martyrs, whose blood was the seed of the church; and of the pious of succeeding ages, in whose steps the follower of Jesus finds himself now walking, and in whose history he sees reflected the experience of his own heart.
And cannot you also, my Christian brethren, testify to the delight which you have often felt in this fellowship of the saints ? Have not your hearts sometimes burned within you while reading the lives of the pious dead, or while holding converse with a fellow-pilgrim to the heavenly Jerusalem ? And have you not then realized, that there is indeed
one body, and one spirit, even as ye are called, in one hope of your calling : one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all ?” It would be pleasant to dwell longer on this delightful themes but it becomes necessary, in the second
place, to consider in what consists the fellowship which Christians have with the Father and his Son, and with each other.
II. Here, my brethren, we approach a subject calculated to fill the soul with wonder and joy. Here, too, we may well feel the darkness of our minds, and realize the narrowness of the circle which confines the extent of our moral vision. Here reason fails, and faith, “ which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen," asserts her undivided empire in the heart. Recal to your minds the emphatical words of our Saviour, in his prayer for all his disciples,—" that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us,”6 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.” What a stupendous thought! The infinite, the eternal, the incomprehensible Jehovah, the high and holy One that inhabiteth the prạises of eternity, and his Son, who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person,"condescend to unite themselves with every believer in Jesus. Man is admitted to communion with his Maker. By faith in Christ," he is joined unto the Lord, and is one spirit with him."
The precise nature of this oneness, which Christians enjoy with their God and Saviour,“ it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive.” It is, however, most real, intimate, imperishable, endearing. To
say, that it involves no mystery, is to oppose the di-rect testimony of Scripture; and to reject this truth, because it is mysterious, is as absurd as to deny that " in God we live, and move, and have our being," because we do not perceive, and cannot comprehend, the mode of our existence in him. We should, indeed, be careful, on the one hand, not to run into unnecessary mysticism and obscurity, in contemplating religious truth ; yet we should as cautiously avoid, on the other, the unhallowed boldness of a rash spirit of inquiry, which will not deign to own that it now sees but “ through a glass darkly;" which pretends to draw aside the veil that conceals the hidden things of God from our view, and already to walk in the brightness of that future world of light, whose inhabitants will know even as they are known.
Let not such, my brethren, be the presumptuous character of our speculations. Let us. remember, that here
we walk by faith and not by sight.” Let us rejoice in the consoling truth, that all the sincere disciples of Jesus have fellowship with each other, and with the Father and with his Son, although the nature of this communion may be too deep a subject for our limited understandings to fathom. And let it be one excitement to our Christian progress--a star like that of Bethlehem, to direct and animate our steps toward heaven—that there, these clouds of obscurity will be for ever dissipated, and a clear light be shed on the present mysteries of providence and grace. Said our Sav
iour to his disciples, “ In that day," referring to the day of resurrection, ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you." Still it may be profitable to push our inquiries a little farther into this interesting subject, which we may do safely if we take for our guide the word of God. There, is disclosed to us the important truth, that “ hereby do believers know that they dwell in God, and he in them, because he hath given them of his Spirit.” By this Spirit they are all created anew in Christ Jesus, and are made partakers of the Divine nature. And this nature is love. 66 God is Love: and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.” Here, then, is no room left for doubt or mistake. Communion with God, although inexplicable in its nature, discovers the reality of its existence by its effect. This effect is a holy love occupying the heart and regulating all its affections and desires. It is opposed to that selfishness which is the natural growth of the human heart, which seeks the gratification of its own sinful propensities and desires at the
expense of the happiness of others, and in direct repugnance to the best good of all the intelligent creation. It holds no fellowship with those who make the enjoyments of this vain and transitory world, its riches, its honours, and its pleasures their chief good. On the contrary, this divine love, which constitutes the oneness of the Christian character, and forms the bond of union between Jehovah and all holy beings, is directed to Him