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this great love.” They were in their sins. It was He who loved them, not they who loved Him. Yea, they were
" dead in sins," they could take no step toward Him; but He came down to them. The first movement was on his part. And hence the security of the believer. God loves him not for any goodness seen in him; this is not the ground of the divine procedure; were it so, who of us is there but would have constant cause to fear the loss of the love of God? for, O, what sin is there cleaving to us all; what coldness, forgetfulness, ingratitude, rebellion, does every Christian man detect within himself at times, and alas too often; and if the love of God for him, were to be governed by what the eye of God sees in him, how must he often tremble lest that love would leave him, dealing with him after his sins, and rewarding him according to his iniquities. And as to ever seeing God in glory, as to ever gaining heaven, as to ever sharing the blessedness and glory of that eternal kingdom, alas, how could any Christian man entertain the hope ? No, ‘let God measure his love to me, by what He sees in me,' says every saint, and I am lost : I shall never see that good land : I shall never enter into his rest.
But, Christian, it is not so that God proceeds. See in our text what his method is. See what it is that moves Him, and governs Him.
“God, who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith He loved us.” There is the secret spring of all his acts in your salvation.
O let me call on all of you who know what it is to rejoice, as Christians ought to do, in hope of the glory of God, often to look back and think upon the state in which you were, when his mercy visited you. How does it set forth the riches of his grace! Yes, “ye that now follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord, look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye were digged.” Consider what you were by nature before God: none of you righteous, no not one: all gone out of the way, all, in the sight of infinite holiness, become abominable ; but then it was that God took mercy on you; and, by a scheme of wondrous grace, and power, and wisdom, secured to you life and glory everlasting. Surely you will thankfully subscribe to the Apostle's acknowledgment :-“He hath saved us, and called us, with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace. And again, and again, will you repeat the blessed truth, which the text so pointedly exhibits, “ By grace, by grace, are we saved.”
Self-righteous sinners, ye who yet will cling to the notion of goodness in yourselves as the ground of your hope, (there are thousands such,) see you not that your plan of salvation and God's, are just exactly opposed ? His is all of grace: Yours of your own merit. Be warned: you are fundamentally, fatally wrong. Build your hope on such a foundation, and you perish. Eternal life and glory are gifts of God to men, purposed and secured to them, even when they were dead
in sins, granted to them, not for their merit, but for his mercy. May you so receive them, or they will never be yours.
III. We learn in our text, How, AND IN WHAT WAY, IT WAS, THAT THE MERCY OF GOD ACCOMPLISHED FOR HIS PEOPLE, THAT WORK OF WHICH WE HAVE SPOKEN. Obviously it has not as yet been literally accomplished. The actual resurrection and glorification of God's people is yet to come.
We ask then, how was it? And our text answers us : it was in Christ.
" When we were dead in sins, He hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
Here, my brethren, we have before us, one of the most important, most consoling, and most sanctifying truths of the Gospel. It is the very key to the whole doctrine of that Gospel, as regards the Church of God. The union of believers to Christ; their oneness with Him ; their identity with Him in the sight of God: this is that grand fundamental truth, on the right understanding of which our apprehension and experience of the whole Gospel depends.
Let us state the matter in few words. God foresaw the fall of man. His mercy decreed salvation. His wisdom devised the plan of that salvation. Jesus the eternal and coequal Son of God undertook to be, and was constituted the Saviour of the Church. · The Father looked
on Him, and dealt with Him, as the representative of the Church. Jesus pledged Himself to be so. The Church, in God's eye, stood identified with Christ, and the salvation of that Church was to be wrought in Christ. It has been so; and if any ask, how ? Briefly we reply, it is thus :—The Church had sin upon her; that sin must be atoned for; it is atoned for; not by the Church, but by Christ her representative. Again, the Church must stand righteous before God: she does stand righteous before Him: not by her own obedience, but by the obedience of Christ which is accounted her's. Thus what Christ did is accounted the doing of the Church. But more than this. All that was then wrought in the person of Christ was but a foreshewing, a representation beforehand, of what is to be wrought in the Church. Christ was raised up from the dead by the power of God: so shall his people be. Christ is now glorified at God's right hand : his people shall be glorified too.
Thus you behold, in the first place, all the work that was needful for the salvation of the Church done by Christ; and then, all the blessings which that salvation shall bring to the Church already exhibited in Christ. Christ glorified in heaven is virtually the Church glorified. For they are inseparable. God has joined them together from all eternity in his own purposes ; He joins them together in time by the work of his Spirit, uniting his people to their Saviour ; and now we have only to look up by faith, and contemplate Jesus as He is in heaven, and we
see precisely what his Church shall be. Virtually, as we have said, the Church is already there, because Christ the representative is there. And here is the triumph of faith, to feel and to realize our oneness to a risen and glorified Redeemer; a Redeemer in whom God hath viewed his people from eternity; in whom He views them now; a Redeemer in whom they too are to view themselves, and to see in all his work of obedience, their righteousness, in all His sufferings, their atonement, in his death their death, in his resurrection their resurrection, in his ascension into heaven, and in all his glory there, that very exaltation to which they shall themselves ere long be brought.
Christian, you believe this ; you believe that what Christ is, that you are to be: and where God is, there you are to dwell. What then should be the effect of this upon you ?
Let me ask, ought it not to promote, does it not in every true Christian eminently promote, a heavenly frame of mind. “If,” saith St. Paul to the Colossians, “ If ye be risen with Christ,” mark the words “risen with Christ,” united to Him, one with Him, and therefore “risen with Him,” if so,“ seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” There, where Jesus is, your hearts should be ; and there they must be, if indeed you do know Him, and love Him, and rejoice in Him, as your Redeemer. And to use the language of our Church, so simple and expressive,“ like as you believe your Saviour to have risen, and ascended