For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free, and we were all given one Spirit to drink.
I. IN WHAT RESPECTS CHRIST AND HIS MEMBERS ARE ONE. The expression used by the apostle is remarkable: "So also is Christ." He says, "Christ;" yet he means Christ's people; from which it appears that, in the view or the apostle, as in the view of the Lord himself, all who are his are identified with and comprehended in his own Divine personality.
1. This is a fact which is exhibited in various manners and especially by various metaphors, Not only are Christ and his people the Head and the body; they are the Vine and the branches, the Foundation and the stones, the organism and the Soul.
2. The union as spiritual is formed and sustained by faith. There are sacramental symbols of the union, but the real and vital connection is of spirit with spirit, i.e. is of faith. As mutual, it is depicted by the Lord himself, when he says, "I in you, and you in me."
3. The character and the aim of the Head and the members are identical. "As he is, so are we in this world."
II. IN WHAT RESPECTS CHRIST'S MEMBERS ARE SUBORDINATE TO HIM.
1. He is the Giver of the life which his people have in common with him.
2. He is the Source of authority, issuing the commands which govern their activity.
3. He is the Centre of harmony; they who are his revolve around him as planets round the sun; and their orbits resemble one another, because all are drawn by the same attractive force.
4. He confers upon them the glory which is their prerogative - the moral glory which is conferred here and now, and the glory to be revealed hereafter.
III. IN WHAT RESPECTS CHRIST'S MEMBERS ARE RELATED ONE TO ANOTHER. All are "one body."
1. Their dependence upon the one Head is the same. The unity is not simply in the organization; it is in the life.
2. They are bound by Christian law and drawn by Christian impulse to mutual affection and confidence. Love is the law of Christian social life, as in the following chapter is so exquisitely shown.
3. They have each his several service to render to the one Master; the gifts are alike consecrated, the ministrations are alike devoted, to the Divine Lord.
4. They have mutual ability and obligation to help. As in the body each member, each sense, supplies the other's lack of service, so in the Church it is not simply the case that the gifted and the powerful render help to others less favourably endowed, but the feeblest and the most obscure may render some service for which his brethren may have reason to be for ever grateful.
5. In the blessings conferred by the Church upon the world around, each may be said to supply the other's deficiency; and the work of evangelization, in which each performs his proper part, is advanced by the cordial cooperation of all whom Providence has qualified and grace has inclined for the work. - T.
For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.
I. HOW CHRIST'S REDEMPTION IS APPLIED TO A SINNER. By uniting the sinner to Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). Men must not think to stand afar from Christ, but must unite with Christ, and so partake of the redemption purchased by Him, as the poor widow drowned in debt, by marrying the rich man, is interested in his substance.
II. THERE IS A REAL UNION BETWIXT CHRIST AND BELIEVERS. Consider —
1. The terms by which this union is expressed. Christ is said to be in believers (Colossians 1:27; Romans 8:10), and they in Him (1 Corinthians 1:30). He is said to dwell in them, and they in Him (John 6:54). They are said to abide in one another (John 15:4). Believers have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). They are so joined as to be one Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17).
2. The several real and proper unions which it is resembled to. The vine and the branches (John 15:5); the head and the body (Ephesians 1:22, 23); merit eaten and the eater (John 6:56); yea, to that betwixt Father and Christ (John 17:21).
3. If this union be not a true and real one, the sacrament of the supper is but a bare sign, and not a sea1.
III. WHAT IS THAT UNION. There are three mysterious unions in our religion — the substantial union of the three persons in one Godhead; the personal union of the Divine and human natures in Jesus Christ; the mystical union betwixt Christ and believers, which is that wherein Christ and believers are so joined that They are one Spirit and one mystical body (1 Corinthians 6:17 and text). In this union the whole man is united to a whole Christ. The believing soul is united to Him (Ephesians 3:17). His body also is united to Him (1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:14). They are united to Him in His Divine nature (Colossians 1:27), and in His human nature (Ephesians 5:30), and so through the Mediator unto God (2 Corinthians 6:16).
IV. THE BONDS OF THIS UNION. All corporal union is made by contact; but Christ is in heaven, and we on earth, and so we can have no such union with Him; and if we had, what would it profit? (John 6:63.) But this union is spiritual (1 Corinthians 6:17), and so are the bonds of it. And they are two.
1. The Spirit on Christ's part, whereby He taketh and keepeth hold of us (1 John 3. ult.). And the distance betwixt Christ and believers, as great as is betwixt heaven and earth, cannot hinder the joining of our souls and bodies to His, since the Spirit is an infinite Spirit, everywhere present.
2. Faith on the believer's part (Ephesians 3:17). Thereby the believer apprehends, takes, and keeps hold of Christ. It is by that we receive Christ (John 1:12), come unto Him (John 6:35), and feed on Him (ver. 56). And its fitness for this.
V. THE AUTHOR AND EFFICIENT CAUSE OF THIS UNION.
1. The Spirit of Christ comes in the Word, and enters into the heart of the elect sinner dead in sin (Galatians 3:2).
VI. THE. PROPERTIES OF THIS UNION.
1. A true, real, and proper union, not a mere relative one.
2. A spiritual union (1 Corinthians 6:17).
5. An indissoluble union (John 10:28, 29).
6. It is the leading, comprehensive, fundamental privilege of believers (1 Corinthians 3:23). All their other privileges are-derived from and grafted upon this — their justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification.
(T. Boston, D.D.)
I. ELSEWHERE, AS WELL AS AT THE COMMUNION TABLE, COMMUNION WITH CHRIST MAKES CHRISTIANS ONE, AND SO FEEDS THEIR SPIRITS. This oneness is food to man's spirit, and is to be found in Christ alone, so that it is the secret of true Christians. All men in their spirits are seeking this oneness, more or less conscious that it is the food of their spirits, the secret of happiness; in fact, eternal life. Without faith in Christ this oneness is not attained at all, and therefore man's spirit, starved, stinted of its appropriate nourishment, remains unsatisfied, and is tormented. with unquenchable longings, and disappointment in all the broken cisterns to which he resorts. Faith it is that gives friendship its substance, its strength, its eternal life; that alone keeps man from hungering and thirsting after some better nourishment suited to his spirit's immortal nature and eternal longings. Faith alone binds the bond of perfectness between master and servant, between buyer and seller, between ruler and subject, between the citizens of one community or the members of one Christian Church. In all these, and the other channels of intercourse between man and man, without faith love is awanting, or is impure and imperfect. The parties, therefore, do not become one. For love is unity. Man's delusion is to expect unity without love, and love without faith. Men know that they cannot be happy till they become one; but they believe that they can become one without drinking into Christ's one spirit, without being rooted and grounded in the love of God, without becoming one as the Father and the Son are one, through faith beholding in the Son the revelation of the Father, claiming sonship in Christ, and, therefore, brotherhood in the Lord, and thus coming to reconciliation in the Redeemer. Communion with Christ alone feeds man's spirit; and it is food in proportion to his faith, and love, or charity. It is food by bringing him in spirit and in truth into God's presence, into the secret of the Lord, into the revelation of God's grace and glory in the covenant, and in the kingdom, into conscious fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ, in all his fellowship with his fellow-Christians and fellow-men.
II. SACRAMENTAL COMMUNION BRINGS "ALL INTO ONE," AND, SO FAR AS IT DOES SO, IS A COMMUNION FEAST — FAITH DISCERNING THE LORD'S BODY — BELIEVERS THERE AND THUS BECOMING ONE IN SPIRIT.
1. They feast by coming, through Christ's body and blood discerned by faith, all to one Father. Saw you ever the child that was long away from home in the moment of his glad return, rushing into his mother's arms, pressed to his father's bursting heart, welcomed back into the bosom of the family that have been counting the years of his absence, and watching for the blessed hour when they shall see him again, one of their circle in everything? Did not the soldier thus returning, from this or that battle-field and long campaign, find it food to his drooping heart to feel himself one again, and still one as ever, or more than ever, with those whom he loved and left behind sorrowing? Still more did not the prodigal, received back to forgiveness, live again, breathe freely, return to life and renew his strength, as he heard his father's lips once more pronounce, "My son," and knew that there was a father's heart still welcoming him upon earth, however unworthy he had proved himself by his misconduct? So it is to the communicant in the bread and wine of the communion. They point to the body broken for him, to the blood of the new covenant shed for the remission of his sins, and thus to the bond of perfectness between him and the living God his Father in heaven. They bring him near consciously, and ill spirit, to that Father.
2. They feast by coming, through Christ's body and blood discerned by faith, to one another, and nearer all to one another. It is a family feast, one Father's board spread for all the members of His one family, without respect of persons. All are brethren, who are to sit side by side at one table, eat one common bread, and drink one cup of communion, the cup of brotherhood. Without the spirit of brotherhood we have nothing better than the shadow. Our feast is a counterfeit, a work of the flesh. Nay, it is worse, a substitution of the lust of the flesh for the love of the Spirit. "Little children, love one another." This is the feast. It is a feast of love; and those only who love one another in the Lord are communicants here; those only have communion in the body and blood. The "new commandment" is the law of the communion table, the bond of perfectness in the new covenant.
3. They feast by coming near, or nearer, through the body and blood discerned by faith, to that kingdom of God in which all are one. In that body and blood we are to discern written the new covenant in Christ, the kingdom of God and of heaven brought near, so near that we can claim the place of citizens, and enter into a blessed fellowship with all, whether on earth or in heaven, who bow the knee to Jesus, and call Him Lord, taking on them His yoke. In the name of Jesus we are to receive and use all, calling nothing "common or unclean," which He hath sanctified. This is the liberty of the children of God, a liberty which we are to guard with the utmost jealous, but which we are also to beware of abusing. Our life in this kingdom is to be a life of God — heavenly, holy, Christ-like — "not of the world, as He was not of the world."
I. AS TO THAT DIVERSITY OF NATURAL AND EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH ATTENDS THE PROFESSION OF RELIGION, it will be necessary to take a general view of it, in order to set the contrast in the stronger light, and especially as the apostle himself directs us to it in the very text.
1. It is obvious to every one, that there is a wide difference among those who fear God, in respect of their outward and worldly circumstances. Religion is not confined to any particular nation or age of the world, nor to any particular rank or condition of men.
2. There is a remarkable difference among good men as to their intellectual capacities and their natural tempers. These, be they what they may, are not the tests by which the characters of the disciples of Jesus are to be decisively determined.
3. The difference may be considerable, in respect of the particular dispensations, forms, and means of religion they may be under. The same degree of light hath not been enjoyed, nor hath the same mode of worship obtained from the beginning.
4. The diversity there is of spiritual gifts infers no real diversity as to religion itself.
5. There may be, and often is, a difference as to the degree of religion, though it still retains the. same nature. There are, in the language of Scripture, babes, young men, and fathers in Christ; some weak, and others strong in faith.
II. WHEREIN CONSISTS THAT UNIFORMITY IN RELIGION WHICH OUR TEXT MENTIONS AS A PECULIAR COMMENDATION OF ITS REAL AND INTRINSIC EXCELLENCY.
1. By the sameness of religion is here meant, the exact similarity there is in the spirit and temper of all good men. As the several individuals of mankind are all made of one blood, and as the same faculty of reason in a greater or less degree is common to each of the human species, so what the Scripture calls "a new creature" is one Divine or spiritual nature common to all the people of God.
2. The main expressions of inward religion may be comprised in this short account of it. It first humbles the heart of man — then inspires it with Divine hopes and joys — by this means refines and sanctifies it — and so makes it capable of a pure love and exalted friendship. And in respect of each of these particulars there is an exact uniformity, at least in a degree, among all the people of God. They have all been made to drink into the same spirit.
III. THE GROUNDS OR REASONS OF THIS UNIFORMITY.
1. They are all of the same nature. It is acknowledged indeed that there is a strength of genius, and a softness of natural temper in some, which renders them more amiable than others; yet the principal outlines of human apostacy are much the same in all. This inference is likewise with the same force of reason to be drawn from a contemplation —
2. Of the one grand source or origin whence religion is derived. It is from above, the offspring of God, and the genuine fruit of the influence and operation of His Spirit. Now as no fountain can send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter, so we may be very sure that what is the effect of a Divine influence on the souls of men must be of the same pure and spiritual nature and tendency. And for the like reason we may safely conclude in the general, that however the circumstances of particular persons may in some respects differ, yet the manner of the Divine operation on the hearts of men is much the same. Religion will begin then in our humiliation, and advance through various degrees of sanctification, till it rises to a perfection of happiness and glory in the heavenly world.
3. The great and important ends which religion proposes, clearly evince the simplicity and uniformity of it. The glory of God, our own happiness, and the welfare of society are acknowledged to be the principal objects of this great concern.
(S. Stennett, D.D.)I. WHAT IS THIS BODY OF CHRIST, which the Spirit of God doth ingraft His people into? First, it is the Church of God; as the apostle saith (Colossians 1:18), "He is the head of the body, the Church." So that the Church is the body of Christ, that same peculiar company of men and women, as St. Peter calls them, "You are a chosen generation, a peculiar people, a royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9). The author to the Hebrews calls them, "the assembly of the firstborn" (Hebrews 12:23). Now I call this invisible, for though their persons, and courses, and manner of life be seen and known, and they may be known who they are, yet all of them were never known, nor ever will be (2 Timothy 2:39). Secondly, it is such a company as is gathered out of all nations under heaven; as St. John speaks (Revelation 7:9). Thirdly, this same godly company are a company of predestinated men unto eternal life. Fourthly, it is such a godly company as is gathered by the Word of God. The Word of God gathers them together. Fifthly, they are such a company as are made one, knit and combined together in Christ, though themselves are never so many, and never so remote and distant from one another. It is true, you are different among yourselves: one is a master, another a servant, one is a rich man, another a poor man — so there is a difference; but they are all one in Christ Jesus, they have all one and the selfsame faith, they have all one and the selfsame Father, there is but one Lord, and one Spirit to quicken and unite them all. Thus we see what this body of Christ is.
II. Now in the second place, WHAT IS IT TO BE PUT INTO THIS BODY; to be implanted into it? I answer — First, it is a part of a man's ingrafting into Christ; for the ingrafting of a man into Christ, and into the body of Christ, are not two things, but God doth them by one and the selfsame act, as you may see (Romans 12:5). It must needs be the same work, for the putting a man into Christ in whom are the other members, that very act makes a man to have fellowship with Christ, together with all the other members. Secondly, this likewise is done by faith. Then in the third place, it makes a man have a common life with all the rest of the members of Jesus Christ. As you may see (Colossians 3:4), "When Christ which is our life shall appear, ye also shall appear with Him in glory." Christ who is our life. In the fourth place, it makes a man to be of one consent with all the people of God everywhere (Zephaniah 3:9). Fifthly, all this is for mutual profit, and help, and care, and sympathy.
III. In the third place we must show, THAT THE SPIRIT DOTH THIS, AND WHY HE DOTH IT. First, that it is the Spirit that unites and tieth all these members together. This makes them hang together, therefore it is called the "unity of the Spirit" (Ephesians 4:3). Now the reason why the Spirit of God doth do this, is — first, because none else besides the Spirit is able to do it. For by nature we are woefully different from the body of Christ, we are of another nature, of another kind, of another life; nay, we are contrary to it. Secondly, there is none so fit as the Spirit of God to do it. Thirdly, how the Spirit of God doth this; and that is two ways, as the Scripture reveals to us. The one is, by being one and the same Spirit in all the members of Christ. He comes into them, and dwells in them as one and the selfsame Spirit, and so makes up this union. The same Spirit that was in Paul was in Peter; and so all the rest of the members of Christ one and the selfsame Spirit is in them (1 Corinthians 3:16). Secondly, the Spirit doth this by uniting and tying a knot between these members. He doth unite them, and make them hang together in one; He makes them to be of one heart.
IV. Now I come to the USES. First, is it so that the Spirit of God doth unite all the saints of God together in one body? Then here we may see the reason of the difference of men in the world. Some companies have a different spirit; but all the saints of God have the Spirit of God which makes them hang together. Secondly, doth the Spirit of God join all the saints of God together in one body? Then that which God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. Thirdly, here we may see how to try our acquaintance, and whether the company we join ourselves unto be good or no. If our company be right, the Spirit of God tieth the knot. The last use is this: is it so that the Spirit of God joins all the saints of God together in one body? Then we should have a fellow-feeling with all the members of Christ. But how shall we have a fellow-feeling with the members of Christ? First, we must inform ourselves as much as we can concerning one another. Secondly, we should visit our fellow-members. As it is said of Moses, though he were a great courtier in Pharaoh's court, yet he went out to look upon his brethren's burdens (Exodus 2:11). Thirdly, we should lay to heart their afflictions.
(W. Fenner.)I. IS SPIRITUAL.
1. In its nature.
2. In its origin.
II. SURMOUNTS ALL EARTHLY DISTINCTIONS.
1. Of nationality.
3. Of condition.
(J. Lyth, D.D.)
For the body is not one member, but many
1. We can trace it in all the stages of man's development. What is there so dependent as a babe? What do we not all owe to mother-love and father-love? How many eyes saw for us, how many feet ran for us, etc., when we were young. Furthermore, when the babe has become a man he is more dependent than ever. For man is dependent to the extent of his wants; and as a man grows, a great crop of wants grow up with him.
2. Indeed, society is only a partnership, and is more a confession of weakness than a proof of strength. Society is only a polite system of borrowing and lending. We talk of men being the architects of their own fortunes, of being self-made. But how? Because in them was the power of absorption. Their minds had in them that imperial quality which enabled them to tax the sources of all knowledge, and compel the universe of matter and of thought to bring tribute to the feet of .their growth. But plant any man or woman rightly, i.e., give them favourable connections, and they will grow. Plant them wrongly, and their growth will be checked.
3. Consider the favourable connections in which men to-day, in this country, stand. Formerly, everything was against the individual. Government, religion, wealth robbed him. indeed, the old civilisations were organised robbery of the individual. To-day government is nothing, religion is nothing, unless they assist man. The world, in all its combinations of law and love, has become his friend. If he is ignorant, it helps him to knowledge; if rude, it teaches him the lesson of refinement; if poor, it pushes him up toward riches; if blind, it teaches him to see with his fingers; if dumb, it instructs his lips to talk without sound. The whole drift of modern civilisation is to make man's connections benevolent and helpful. Under such conditions it is a shame for one not to succeed. Knowledge, virtue, manliness, and womanliness, piety, to-day are possible to all.
4. It is through the connections which the civilisation of his age weaves around a man that he ministers benevolence unto men, rather than by any self-created channels. There is a conscious benevolence, but what a man gives by his hand is nothing compared to what he gives through his activities. It is only as we apprehend how closely we are connected with people that we become sympathetic with them. Love demands contact, and is grown by it. If you desire to love men, go among them. Why do men call so fine an instrument as human nature base, when it is only loosened in its strings and weakened in its frame? Cannot the frame be rebraced and the strings strung anew? And when this has been done, and the hand of the Maker sweeps it again, and the latent harmonies roll forth, shall it be base then? And it is only as you live in close connection with men that you can ever know how splendid they are in their possibilities. Christ took human nature in order to know it. He loved men because they were brethren. And so to-day the saviours of men are the lovers of men. To help a man's body out of a slough you must take hold of it with your hands and lift, and so to help a man's mind and soul up your mind and soul must take hold of his and lift.
5. There is no other way by which society can be held together save by the principle of mutual benevolence, ministering to mutual dependence. The strong must bear the infirmities of the weak, or the universal order of creation would become chaotic and destructive. For the universe is peopled with weakness. Look at the natural kingdom. How few are the oaks, and how many are the rushes! Yet there is not a spire of grass, a bird, nor a worm, so low and weak as to be beneath God's care. And if the strong should ignore the principle of love, the world would be swept backward and downward to the depth in which it lay when Christianity was born. Not only, however, do the strong help the weak, but the weak help the strong. The grasses give protection to the roots of the oak. And so, through all the orders of life, from trees to men, you will find that the humble things are needed by the proud and the lofty. The millionaire needs the tailor more than the tailor needs the millionaire. The branches of the tree need the soil more than the soil needs the branches. Therefore, if any of you who are poor, and have few talents, have been saying, We are of no use; if we only had talents, or money, or knowledge, or power, we might help people; say so no more, for however small and weak and lacking, you are not lacking, you are not useless. If you cannot be great trees, be grasses only, and know that grasses beautify the world.
6. The author of our religion, above all other men, recognised the responsibility of His human connections. He lived amid the weakness of the world, and did what He could to make it strength. The people were not slow to apprehend His goodness nor to love Him for it. They followed Him in throngs; and as they followed He continued to do them good. All this was done for our example.
(W. H. H. Murray.)
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