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the Church if it should be separated from Christ. There is no state of society more analogous to the putrefaction of a dead body than that in which a form of religion prevails-in which there is the name of a church remaining, but in which all connection with Christ and all regard for a spiritual Christianity have ceased. There are about the forms of a ceremonial religion, from which all that is Christlike has departed, an unsightliness like dead men's bones, and a savor like the charnelhouse. The life of the Church is in its union with Christ the head.
Nor merely existence, but all vigor, all that we call life, in distinction from inactivity and uselessness, depends upon Christ. The head gives motion to the whole frame-when it reposes in slumber, the whole frame is in repose. From the head are sent out the messages which put in action the entire system, and im-' pel each member to its appropriate work. Such is the energiz ing influence of Jesus Christ, the head, upon the Church-upon each individual member. When in any period the Church has been peculiarly alive and active in its appointed sphere of labor, engaging as with one spirit in the great cause of benevolence, in building up the Redeemer's kingdom, and in doing good to men, then has Christ, the head, been sending forth throughout the whole body his invigorating influences; impelling his people forward in their holy calling; and whenever, on the contrary, the Church has been sleeping, languid, and stupid, it has been when she has separated herself from Christ, giving herself up to some other motive, and not being constrained in all things by the love of her Lord. And as it is a controlling influence that the head exerts in the human system, so is it with Christ and his Church. He, as the Head, controls and regulates all her movements, when she indeed submits to him. There are states of the human system when the determinations of the mind are not carried into execution; when the hand, for example, refuses to obey the commands of the will-when paralysis has removed from some member the power of motion. Such paralysis then, is in the Church, Christ's body, when it does not move in every limb according to the directions of its Head. This is the established connection between the Church and Christ-he controls, she submits; so it must ever be in a healthy state. She is not safe or prosperous, if she follow any other leader, or if she refuse or neglect to follow him.
This relation of Christ to his Church gives him all authority. Let his people ever inquire what Christ has said, what is Christ's will as made known in his word, rather than to yield to the dictation of the whole body, or of any earthly head. Christ Jesus is the only head of the Church. That which is not subordinate to him, which does not rule in accordance with his directions, should receive no respect from the faithful members of Christ's
body. Let the Head control, or else confusion and disaster are
sure to ensue.
There is another connection of Christ with his Church here presented to our view, more impressive and interesting than any that has been mentioned. It is the connection of sympathy. How complete is the union of the whole human frame with the head. Here, because the brain is located-here because it is the centre of the nervous system-here, because it is the seat of sensation-here, is every thing felt, most acutely, that gives pleasure or pain to the remotest members. So are we taught that, in a manner to us incomprehensible, but yet real, Christ suffers with his suffering people. He is complete in his blessedness, as he sits upon the throne of Heaven. He has finished his work of atonement, yet are there trials to be endured in promoting his cause in an ungodly world-yet are there enemies to be met in this spiritual warfare-yet are there groans and sighs and tears, from which those cannot hope to escape who engage in his service; "for through much tribulation we enter into the Kingdom of God," and, "in all these afflictions he is afflicted"
so perfectly does he sympathize with his Church below. "Why persecutest thou me?" cried Jesus from the skies to him who was dragging the saints to prison. "Whoso shall offend one of these little ones, it were better for him that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck and that he were cast into the depths of the sea." He that wounds one of the true believers of Christ, strikes a blow at the very person of the Redeemer, and this not merely in intention; he feels it who is on the highest throne of heaven. Surely the enemies of God's people know not what they do. Is not this the meaning of the Apostle when he says, in language of solemn warning, From henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Did he not mean to have his foes understand that Christ would consider himself wounded in the person of his own accepted disciple? Still more plainly may he be considered as speaking on this point when he says, "I, Paul, rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, in my flesh, for his body's sake, which is the Church." It is not necessary that Christ should suffer more than he has done to complete the glorious work of redemption, but there are afflictions for his body to endure in the final conflict with Satan upon the earth-these are the afflictions of Christ, Paul, and every suffering child of God who is called to tribulation for Christ's sake, each one is filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ. He regards them as his own, so complete is the union between the head and the body. And how sweet and comforting the language of the Bible to those who are thus wounded for him. It is declared by the prophet, "In all their afflictions he was afflicted"-" for he that toucheth you, touch
eth the apple of his eye." How unspeakably precious does this view make the blessed Redeemer to those who can thus by faith behold him sharing with them in all their trials and pains as one with them; as the head sympathizes with the pains of every limb. Will not Christ assuredly, for his own sake, bring all this suffering to an end, and when these afflictions are filled up, according to the eternal purpose of God, make every member of his body happy and glorious with his own glory and joy in his Father's kingdom?
IV. One other distinct lesson is taught us in this passage, viz.: the nature of the connection between the members of the Church. It is the connection of the members of the same body. How frequently and distinctly the sacred writers present this truth: "Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular;" e., each one is a member of that body. "There should be no schism in the body, but the members should have the same care one for another, and whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it, or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." What an intimate union must there necessarily be among those who are held together by such bonds, members of the same body, and that the body of Christ! How can there be any schism, any essential disagreement, any other separation than that which is the result of remote locality, or varying language, or climate, or habit? Will not the same life-blood pervade every limb and every member? Will not the same thought of the common and exalted head thrill each nerve? Does not the remotest member
feel the power of that central will? Does not any thing, that differs from the most perfect agreement, show at least a partial separation from the body of Christ? How evident the duty, that if one member suffer, all the members shall suffer with it, or if one member be honored, all the members shall rejoice with it. Let us, as members of this body of Christ, sympathize with every suffering brother who is afflicted for righteousness' sake; let us rejoice in the spiritual prosperity and increasing holiness of every one who is advancing in the divine life, and we prove most effectually that, as members, we are joined to the one body of Christ here below, and that we are holding to "the head from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God."
There are two obvious reflections from this subject. 1st. It is the duty of every member of this body to yield to the instructions of the exalted Head with which it is united. It is only as one can perceive the existence, and yield to the power of a sym
pathy with the Head, that there can be any assurance of that change which must take place in each child of earth, to fit him for the skies.
If there be not an identity of feeling and of interest-if the will of Christ be not the will of the professed believer, there is but little evidence that the union with the Head, which is necessary to constitute us members of the body of Christ, has been effected. There may be a wart or a wen upon the body which is yet no part of the body; it clings to it, but is not subject to the laws of life and health. So are there such excrescences upon the body of Christ; those who have a name to live and are dead, having no vital union with Christ-no sympathy to the Lord of glory; no correspondence of will or purpose with him who died for sinners, and who seeks to make the polluted holy; these are not members of his body, though they may cling to it to mar its beauty and impede its growth. Christ must be considered as the Head, and honored as such, by all that would have evidence of their acceptance with him. Christ must be, will be all and in all to those who are members of his mystical body; they will regard him as entirely adapted to all their wants: as such they will ever recommend him unto others.
"He is a path, if any be misled;
If any chance to hunger, he is bread;
If any be but weak, how strong is he;
To dead men, life he is; to sick men health;
To blind men, sight; and to the needy, wealth.
A pleasure without loss-a treasure without stealth."
The humble believer cannot find terms to express his love for Christ-his gratitude-his reverential homage; Christ is the Head. In him each saint rejoices; to him he commits his soul as unto a faithful Creator. How plain is this duty to every believer. At the same time there must be a suitable view of the dignity and honor of being a member of Christ's body. How can any one, with this thought in mind, yield to unrighteousness? "I am a member of Christ's body, of his flesh, and of his bones; my body is a temple of the Holy Ghost; I am not my own, but bought with a price, even with the precious blood of the Son of God; joined to the glorious Head, how can I consent to any thing which would cause a blush upon that cheek once given to the smiter, or a throb in those temples once pierced by the thorns. Let each disciple of Christ be mindful of his own high calling, of his exaltation, while also mindful of the superior exaltation of Christ. Let the body be cherished, while the Head is adored.
2. The other reflection has respect to the impenitent. They may learn from this subject where to look to obtain a correct view
of religion, the religion of Jesus. It is a system, like the complete framework of the human body, the dwelling-place of the soul. But as we do not look at one's hands or feet, at his limbs or chest, to obtain a view of his character, but at his head-his brow, where mind holds its throne-his face, where moral traits are shown as in a mirror-so must those who would obtain a correct view of the system of religion, look, not at the body, but at the head. This is a great mistake into which mankind are prone to fall; they look at the body of Christ, and because they detect some blemishes-for even true Christians are not yet perfect-they pronounce against it, and strengthen themselves in their unbelief and impiety. Oh, they should look on the Head! How many there are who will not admit the excellence of those who are consistent members of Christ's body, because they have occupied their field of vision with some flagrant offender--perhaps a wolf in sheep's clothing, whom they declare not to be a Christian, and yet they allow themselves to be prejudiced on this account against Christianity! But nowhere can the true view be obtained, so long as any part of the body is regarded. Even that which is most healthful and vigorous, is still imperfect, and but faintly reflects the glory of the Head. Look to Christ, ye that would know what religion is; ye that would not remain wilfully blinded against all perception of the truth. Judge not of its character and its claims upon you, by the sight of the members of Christ's body; look at the Head, and here you may see such excellence, such beauty, such perfection, that you cannot choose but love and admire. Let the world contemplate Christ, in his native glory, in his assumed humanity, in his wonderful works, in his heavenly instructions, in his unparalleled sufferings, in his resurrection and ascension to glory, in his present character as Intercessor, and in his future appearance as Judge of the world; let the world thus look at the Head instead of the body; let the Cross be seen as the central point among the habitations of sinful men, and salvation by grace through the blood of Christ be counted the great doctrine to engage the intellect and the heart; let the world thus look at the Head, instead of the body, and at once a multitude of objections to the gospel would be swept away, and the strongest hopes might be indulged that speedily the triumphs of the Cross would be celebrated, and all men be brought to bow in subjection at Jesus' feet.
But, Christian brethren, because the enemies of Christ will look at the body instead of the head, and for the very purpose of finding fault, see to it that ye do all in your power to make the body agree with the head. See that the vital union is preserved most carefully between every member and the divine Head. Let all see that each member yields in all things to the will of the invisible Head. Constrain the world to take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus. Live by faith in the Son of God.