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THE sermon here brought before the cottager will be found it is hoped, under divine teaching, a suited accompaniment to the former. Having briefly called upon him to the contemplation of "the unsearchable riches of Christ," it is but following the steps of the apostle to attend also to what he hath immediately subjoined in the same chapter, namely, the consideration of the church's fellowship both with Him and them. And although it is called, as well it may be called, “the fellowship of the mystery," yet to the spiritual church of Christ, when opened and explained by God the Holy Ghost, it is rendered plain, as far as is needful to all spiritual apprehension, like the prophet's vision on tables, "he may run that readeth it." (Hab. ii. 2.) I would therefore beg of that Almighty God who teacheth his people to profit, to be intimately present with both him that reads and him that hears, that this our gospel may come unto us "not in word only, but also in power."
Gracious Lord! we would look up unto thee at this time, and while adoring the High and Lofty One who inhabiteth eternity, in the unity of thy divine essence and trinity of persons, humbly beg that our minds may be brought under thy divine unction, "to know the things which are freely given unto us of our God." O Lord! let this divine fellowship which the church hath in our glorious Head and Husband, however mysterious and hidden from the world, be unfolded and made known unto us in all its endearments. And let nothing satisfy our awakened souls but the assurance of our own personal interest in it; that under the same Almighty Instructor we may be enabled each for himself, to say, "truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." This will be to realize the promise of our God in our own souls; and not only to hear of the infinite fulness of our most glorious Christ, but to receive of the unsearchable treasures of Christ, as He hath said, yea, durable riches and righteousness. Shine in Lord upon thy holy word, and at the same time shine in our hearts also, to give us "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." For then shall we be like the church of old, in sitting "under thy shadow with great delight, and thy fruit will be sweet to our taste." Lord, we already feel confidence in the expectation of a season of refreshing from thy presence; our hearts are comforted and knit together in love. Our God will give us all riches of the full assurance of understanding, "to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Amen.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE MYSTERY.
EPH. iii. 9.
"And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery."
THE person of our most glorious Christ is the whole mystery of the gospel. For, as the Holy Ghost testifieth by the apostle Paul, "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the GODHEAD bodily." (Colos. ii. 9.) And it is only as far as we have a true, scriptural, and spiritual apprehension of the infinite dignity, and essential being, of the person of Christ, that we can have a right knowledge of the unity of the divine nature in his trinity of persons. Our Lord's own statement of this is most blessed and satisfactory. For when speaking to his disciples Thomas and Philip, on this sublime mystery, the Lord said: "If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. And he that hath seen me hath seen the Father!" (John xiv. 7-9.)
And it may be farther observed, that not only our knowledge of the Holy Three in One must be founded in our knowledge of the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, but also the real knowledge of ourselves; as the church in Christ, can only be discovered by our knowledge of Christ. The church's being, and well being, and everlasting being, is from being bound up in the bundle of life, Christ. Her original state, before the foundation of the world, was from being chosen in Christ: her adoption, was then in Christ:
her acceptation also then in Christ: and all these were eternal acts towards the church in Christ, before all time; and cannot be done away through all the periods and events of time, nor, when time shall be no more. These sovereign decrees had their source in the everlasting love of God, in his trinity of persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost; and being founded in Christ, they are made everlastingly sure in Christ: both in his glorious person and work, "who is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever!"
I am well aware, that these sublime mysteries of the formation of the church, in her glorious head and husband from everlasting, are not so much contemplated and cherished by the Lord's people as they ought. And I think it to be a subject very much to be lamented. For sure I am, the truly redeemed and regenerated child of God loseth much thereby, of soul refreshing consolation. True indeed, when first the Lord is beginning the work of grace upon any of his chosen ones, the awakenings by the Lord the Spirit, to a deep and alarming apprehension of sin, become so distressing to the gutily conscience, that a deliverance from the wrath to come is the sole consideration that then occupies the heart, and the cry of the soul goeth no farther, than in words like the convicted jailor at Philippi: "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts xvi. 30.) And a blessed cry it is, when put into the heart by grace: for it is sure of being answered in mercy. But in the after stages of the life of God in the soul, when having found peace in the blood of the cross the child of God is brought into fuller views of salvation, it is a sad, matter, and which cannot but of necessity induce great leanness in spirit, that any of the Lord's people should sit down satisfied with those attainments, when the Lord opens larger discoveries of the church's interest in Christ. And what rich discoveries the holy Scriptures make, and the
Holy Spirit unfolds and brings home to the heart, when we are led to see, that the very cause, for which we have redemption in Christ, is from our original and eternal relation to Christ; and that all and every blessing coming to the church from Christ, ariseth out of the love and favour of Jehovah in his trinity of persons towards the church in Christ," according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord!"
For my own part I do not blush to say, that when at any time through grace I am enabled to connect present mercies with the Lord's original purposes, and trace up to the fountain head, that my everlasting being in Christ is the source of all my interest and manifestations from Christ; such spiritual and scriptural testimonies, in every renewed instance of divine love, form the sweetest and most delightful seasons of my life. And sure I am, that I should lose the chiefest part of every blessing, were I to lose sight of my Lord's presence and love in that blessing; be the blessing what it may. But when Jesus graciously grants me some renewed love-visit and token of his favour; and with the mercy gives me to see that all these flow from himself, and come from that everlasting covenant "ordered in all things and sure;" the assurance of "the fellowship of this mystery " adds a tenfold blessedness to every enjoyment; and becomes a pledge, and earnest, of what ultimately will follow, of" a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!"
If the savour of his name, which is as the ointment poured forth, be still in its divine fragrancy on your spiritual senses, from what was brought before you last Lord's day morning, both of his glorious person and of his unsearchable riches, I shall feel encouragement to hope, that the subject I desire now to lay before you, and which indeed ariseth out of it, and is part of the same, will not fail, under the unction of
the Spirit, to have the same effect. "The fellowship of the mystery" is among the most precious designs of the gospel; and, taken in all its bearings, includes what the apostle elsewhere terms "the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ!" (Colos. ii. 2.)
In the prosecution of this subject I shall endeavour, under the well-grounded hope of divine instruction, to bring before you from the Scriptures of eternal truth, first, some few outlines of the mystery itself; I say some few outlines only, for the subject taken in all its vast extent, is not the province of any created power to unfold. The mystery of the trinity of persons in the unity of the divine essence; and the mystery of "God manifest in the flesh;" both these divine contemplations are proposed for the spiritual faith of the redeemed and regenerated child of God to receive; but not for natural reason to presume to scan. And, blessed be our most gracious God, we have so many beautiful illustrations of the stupendous doctrine, as, under the Lord's teachings, are enough "to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." When I have finished this first branch of the discourse, I shall beg your attention to the second part included in it, namely," the fellowship of the mystery." And this will from a most interesting contemplation, to call up all the awakened faculties of the spiritual church of Christ; and which, when realized in the soul, by the word, and by the Spirit, to know our own personal interest in it; (as Paul stated it) "to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings;" the consciousness of a fellowship (that is, a partnership) in Christ's merits, and finished salvation, from an union with his person; such an apprehension from the Lord, will induce unceasing praises to the Lord, and give a joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiv