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this is that communion which in their measure saints enjoy upon earth: a resemblance of Deity is drawn upon their hearts; a resemblance which, though infinitely far from being full and perfect, is yet true and real: lineament answers to lineament, feature corresponds to feature; and they can see God, not only in the works of his hands, not only in the word that he has inspired, but also in their own souls, where his likeness is portrayed : according to the expression of the apostle, “ Christ, the express image of the Father's person,
is formed in them ;" an infant Christ who has all the features, though not the size and perfection of the original. With respect to the communicable attributes of God, there is a real likeness of participation; the soul of the believer is a mirror which receives the impression, and reflects the form of the divine righteousness, purity, truth, wisdom, mercy; and, in general, of all those perfections of which creatures may in some measure partake. With respect to the incommunicable attributes of God, those which are peculiar and appropriate to him, there cannot be this likeness of participation, but there is a likeness of correspondency; such a likeness as is formed by the seal
the seal upon the wax, where there is a resemblance, although the parts which in the one are elevated, in the other are depressed. Thus, though believers do not partake of the attribute of all-sufficiency, yet they nevertheless, have communion with this attribute by having that frame which is the proper impression of it; by an unreserved dependence, an entire going out of themselves and living upon God; by a wish and an endeavour to diminish, to shrivel, to decrease, that “God may be all in all;" to vanish, that his glory might shine the brighter.
Thus also, though believers do not partake of the attributes of sovereignty and supremacy, yet they nevertheless have communion with these attributes by having that frame which is the proper impression of them; by an entire subjection and a total self-dedication; by being enabled to consecrate themselves to God, and to exclaim from the very centre of their souls, “ Lord, I yield myself to thee! thou art my owner! possess thine own right! I give myself up entirely to thee!" The case is the same with the other incommunicable attributes of God. Believers, then, hold communion with God by having a real participation of his communicable, and a real impression of his incommunicable attributes.
2. Believers hold communion with God by having a common aim with him, and thereby becoming, in the apostolic phrase, “ fellow-workers with him.” What are the aims, the ends which God proposes to himself? His own glory, and the happiness of his creatures. What are the aims, the ends which believers propose to themselves ? The glory of God, and the happiness of man. Once they could act solely from selfish ends and motives; but enlightened from above, so as to perceive the infinite interval between the self-sufficient Jehovah and worms of the dust, between the fountain of excellence and this corrupted mortal; penetrated with admiration of his matchless perfections, and attracted by gratitude for his boundless love, they have now no wish more fervent, no aim more constant, than that God may be glorified and worthily exalted by all the works of his hands. And in consistence with this ultimate aim at the glory of God, they desire, they labour to do good to the family of God, to advance the felicity of their fellow-men, to save them from
those miseries which sin hath brought into the world, to save them from eternal despair!
3. Believers hold communion with God by having a common will with him.
By nature we are disinclined to the directing and disposing will of God; we desire to be our own rulers and to regulate our own affairs; our hearts rise against the unlimited authority and sovereignty of the Lord. But the grace which has renewed believers, has given them different views; and though the remains of corruption sometimes make them murmur or struggle, yet in the general bent of their minds and course of their lives, they acquiesce in the will of God; and they are never so happy as when they can rest in the divine will with full complacency, with perfect approbation : the habitual language of their souls is, • Worthy art thou, O Lord, to rule! command me what thou willest; dispose of me as thou willest: thy will be done!'
4. Believers hold communion with God because they have common affections with him. God has the chief place in their hearts, and it is therefore impossible that their affections should run in a different channel : the same holy objects which God loves, are loved by Christians; the same sinful courses which God hates, are hated by Christians: not conformed to the world, they are united to God by the powerful ties of love, which causes their affections to mingle together, and cements the communion between them.
5. Finally: believers hold communion with God because they have common interests with him. The interests of God are considered by Christians, as those of a Father, a Benefactor, a tender Friend, and are, therefore, most dear to their souls. Does the cause of God flourish, and do his interests advance
among men ? Christians are exulting, even though this reformation may have no effect upon
personal aggrandizement and pleasure. Does the cause of God decline, and are his interests neglected ? Christians are unhappy ; and as they have no separate interests from the Lord, they cannot be satisfied, even though their own “corn and wine increaseth."
This then is the first way in which believers hold communion with God; they have certain things in common with God.
We have said that communion with God implies,
II. An intimate intercourse with him. To give a proper
illustration of this intercourse in all its various branches, would require more time than the limits prescribed to these exercises will allow. I can only give you a few brief hints which it would be delightful to develop. This intercourse is carried on by giving and receiving favours: God showers down the blessings of nature and of grace on the believer : the believer carefully observes them, and pours
forth his grateful acknowledgments.
This intercourse is carried on in the works of creation. God enstamps his perfections on the visible frame of nature : the believer views the traces of these perfections, and is moulded into a temper correspondent to them.
This intercourse is carried on in the works of Providence. Whatever are the dealings of God, the believer diligently regards them, strives to acquire that frame and perform those duties which these dealings call for: in afflictive providences, he is submissive; in humbling providences, he is abased ; in joyful providences, he is elevated; in gracious providences, he is grateful : in short, he labours to preserve an in
tercourse with God by exercising those graces which the several divine dispensations may respectively require.
This intercourse is carried on with God in his word. The believer does not read it with haste, irreverence, and languor; but by exercising those acts and graces which its several parts require, he really and intimately converses with God. At a threatening, he exercises holy fear and reverence; at a promise, he exercises gratitude and trust; at a command, he exercises submission and forms pious resolutions to obey it: and so in other cases.
Finally: this intercourse is carried on with God in his ordinances. The believer is not satisfied with a mere outward attendance, unless he can meet with God and converse with him : he says therefore to the Lord, •Show me thy glory;' the Lord reveals to him his excellency: he says, • Lord, strengthen my graces;' the Lord fortifies and increases them: he says, · Lord, nourish me by the bread of life; poison my corruptions by the blood of the Lamb: the Lord listens to his petition, and complies with his request. Thus an intercourse is preserved on their part by the formation of holy desires, and on the part of God by the fulfilment of them.
This is the second way in which believers have communion with God by an holy intercourse with him : “ Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his son Jesus Christ."
Such is true fellowship and communion with God. It consists not in a round of heartless duties; in : crying, “ Lord, Lord;" in talking much of divine truths; in naming the name of Christ; or in warmly advocating the orthodox creed. All this may be done while the soul is unsanctified, and without true