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unto him, is only for this end, that he may be the more perfect and glorious head to the church. He is that head on which the whole body hath its orderly and regular dependance, Eph. iv. 15, 16. “The head of the body, the church,” Col. i. 18. “ The head of every man,” that is, of every believer, I Cor. xi. 3. Eph. v. 23. And this is every where proposed, both as our great honour, and our great advantage. To be united unto him, subjected unto him as our head, gives us both honour and safety. What greater honour can we have, than to be freemen of that corporation whereof he is the head, than to be subjects of his kingdom? What greater safety than to be united unto him inseparably, who is in glory, invested with all power and authority over the whole creation of God, every thing that may do us good or evil ?
2. That he is our only head. The church is so put in subjection unto the Lord Christ, as not to be subject unto any other. It is true, the members of the church, as men on the earth, have other relations, in respect whereof they are, or may be subject one to another; children unto parents, servants unto masters, people unto rulers; but as they are members of the church, they are subject unto Christ and none other; if any other were or might be a head unto them, they must be angels or men. As for angels, we have it here plainly testified, that the church is not made subject in any thing unto them. And amongst men, the apostles of all others might seem to lay the justest claim to this privilege and honour. But they openly disclaim any pretence thereunto. So doth Paul, 2 Cor. i. 24. “ We have no dominion, rule, lordship, headship over your faith,” any thing that concerns your obedience to God, and your worship, “ but are helpers of your joy." And again, saith he, “ We preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ, the Lord, the only Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake,” 2 Cor. iv. 5. And Peter, as it should seem, fore-seeing that some who should come after would pretend unto such pre-eminence, warns the elders that they should not think themselves “ lords over God's heritage,” i Pet. v. 3. And this they did in pursuit of the instructions and charge which their Lord and Master gave them, Matt. xx. 25–27. where he warns them, that they should neither think of dignity nor dominion over the church, but apply themselves with all humility unto the service of it, for which he elsewhere adds his reason, namely, that all his « disciples have one Lord and Master, and no more," John xii. 13. Matt. xxiii. 9, 10. And it is a woful confusion that the Papists run themselves into in this matter. For first, they put the whole church into subjection to a man, whom they call the Pope, the common father and master of Christians, the head of the church ; and then subject both him and it to angels, in the ado
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ration and invocation of them, the greatest subjection possible; when the Scripture assigneth one only Head of the church expressly, even the Lord Jesus, and fully declares that it is not put in subjection to angels at all. But to pass them by, the Lord Christ is not only thus the only Head in general to the whole church, but also to every individual believer in the church. • The head of every man is Christ,” 1 Cor. xi. 3. He is so to every believer respectively and severally, and that in both those senses wherein he is a Ilead, that is according to the natural and metaphorical use of the word. For,
1. He is the only Head of vital influence to the whole church, and every member thereof. As from the natural head all influences of life, for subsistence, motion, acting, guidance and direction are communicated to the whole body, and to every member thereof; so, from the Lord Christ alone, as he is the spiritually vital Head of the church, in whom are the springs of life and all quickening grace, there are communicated to the whole church, and to every believer therein, both the first quickening vital principle of life itself, and all succeeding supplies and influences of grace, for the enlivening, strengthening, acting, guiding and directing of them. This he himseli declares, by comparing the relations of all believers to him, to that of branches to the vine, John xv. 2. 4. which have no life but by virtue of their union to the vine, nor sap for fruitfulness but what is derived therefrom, which he teacheth expressly, ver. 5. “ Without me," saith he,“ ye can do nothing." And this the apostle in a lively manner, sets out to us in the similitude of the natural body, Col. ii. 19. And this placing of all fulness in the Lord Christ as the Head of the church, that thence the whole and every member of it might derive needful supplies to themselves, is fully taught us in the gospel. IIence the church is called “ the fulness of Christ,” Eph. i. 23. or that whereunto Christ communicates of his all-fulness of grace, till it comes to the measure or degree of growth and perfection, which he hath graciously assigned to it. And none I suppose will contend, but that the Lord Christ is the alone and only head of the church in this sense. It hath not a spiritual dependance on any other for grace. There is indeed I know not what monster lies in the opinion of them, who take on themselves to confer grace to others by virtue of such things as they do to them, or, for them, but this we do not now consider. If any man think he may have grace from any but Christ alone, be they angels or men, let him turn himself to them, but withal know assuredly, that he forsakes " the Fountain of living waters," för “ broken cisterns,” which will yield him no relief.
2. He is the only Head of rule and government to the whole .church, and every member thereof. This rule or government
of the church concerneth all that obedience which it yields to God in his worship. And to a Head herein it is required, that he give perfect rules and laws for all things necessarily belonging thereto, and to take care that they be observed. And here a great contest ariseth in the world. The Papists in behalf of their Pope and others under him, contend to be sharers with the Lord Christ in this his headship, and fain they would persuade us that he himself hath appointed that so it should be. The Scripture tells us, that he was faithful in the whole house of God, as was Moses,” and that as a “ Lord over his own house,” to erect, rule and establish it; and he himself when he gives commission to his apostles, bids them “ teach men to do and observe all that he had commanded them." And accordingly they tell us, that they “ delivered unto us what they received from the Lord," and command us not to be “ wise above what is written.” But I know not how it is come to pass, that these men think, that the Lord Christ is not a complete head in this matter, that he hath not instituted all rules and laws that are need. ful and convenient for the right discharge of the worship of God, and obedience of the church therein, at least that somewhat may be added to what he hath appointed, that may be much to the advantage of the church. And this they take to be their work, by virtue of I know not what unsealed warrant, unwritten commission. But to add any thing in the worship of God to the laws of the church, is to exercise authority over it, dominion over its faith; and to pretend that this “ world to come,” this blessed gospel church-state, is put in subjection to them, although it be not so to angels : a vain and proud pretence, as at the last day it will appear. But you will say Christ gives his laws only to his whole church, and not to individual believers, who receive them from the church, and so he is not an immediate Head to every one in particular. I answer, That the Lord Christ commits his laws to the church's ministry to teach them to believers, but his own authority immediately affects the soul and conscience of every believer. He that subjects himself aright to them, doth it not upon the authority of the church by whom they are taught and declared, but on the authority of Christ by whom they are given and enacted.
3. It appears from hence, that as he is our only Head, so he is our immediate Head. We have our immediate dependance on him, and our immediate access to him. He hath indeed appointed means for the communicating of his grace to us, and for the exercising of his rule and authority over us. Such are all his ordinances with the offices and officers that he hath appointed in his church ; the first whereof he requires us to be constant in the use of, the latter he requires our obedience and submission to. But these belong only to the way of our depen
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dance, and hinder not but that our dependance is immediate on himself, he being the immediate object of our faith and love. The soul of a believer rests not in any of these things, but only makes use of them to confirm his faith in subjection to Christ. For all these things are ours, are appointed for our use; and we are Christ's as he is God's, 1 Cor. ii. 21-23. And so have we our immediate access to him, and not as some foolishly imagine by saints and angels, and by him to God, even to the throne of grace.
4. This privilege is greatly augmented, in that the church being made subject to Christ alone, and cast into a dependance on him, he will assuredly take care of all its concernments, seeing to him only doth it betake itself. The church made it of' old part of her plea, that she was as one fatherless, Hos. xiv. 3. that is, every way helpless, that had none to relieve or succour her. And the Lord Christ giveth this as a reason why he stirreth up himself to the assistance of his people, because there was “no man that appeared for their help, no intercessor to interpose for them," Isa. lix. 16. Now God having placed the church in this condition, as to be oft-times altogther orphans in this world, to have none to give them the least countenance or assistance, and the church itself chusing this condition, to renounce all liopes and expectations from any else beside, betaking itself to the power, grace and faithfulness of the Lord Christ alone, it cannot, as it were, but be a great obligation on him to take care of it, and to provide for it at all times. They are members of his body, and he alone is their Head; they are subjects of his kingdom, and he alone is their King ; they are children and servants in his family, and he alone is their Father, Lord and Master, and can he forget them, can he disregard them? Had they been cominitted to the care of men, it may be some of them would have fought and contended for them, though their faithfulness is always to be suspected, and their strength is a thing of nought. Had they been put into subjection to angels, they would have watched for their good, though their wisdom and ability be both finite and limited, so that they could never have secured their safety; and shall not the Lord Jesus Christ, now they are made his special care, as his power and faithfulness is infinitely above those of any mere creature, excel them also in care and watchfulness for our good ? And all these things do sufficiently set out the greatness of that privilege of the church which we insist on. And there are iwo things that make this liberty and exaltation of the church necessary and reasonable.
I. That God having exalted our nature in the person of his Son, into a condition of honour and glory, so as to be worshipped and adored by all the angels of heaven, it was not meet
nor convenient that it should in our persons, when united unto Christ as our head, be made subject unto them. God would not allow, that whereas there is the strictest union between the head and the members, there should be such an interposition between them, as that the angels should depend on their head, and the members should depend on angels, which indeed would utterly destroy the union and immediate intercourse that is and ought to be between them.
2. God is pleased by Jesus Christ to take us into a holy communion with himself, without any other medium or means of communication, but only that of our nature, personally and inseparably united unto his own nature in his Son. And this also our subjection unto angels is inconsistent withal. This order of dependance the apostle declares, 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. “ All things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.” As there is no interposition between God and Christ, no more is there between Christ and us; and in and by him alone do we relate unto God himself. And this should teach us,
1. The equity and necessity of our universal obedience unto God in Christ. He hath freed us from subjection unto men and angels, that we might serve him, and live unto him. lle hath taken us to be his peculiar ones, his lot and portion, from wbom he expects all his reverence (revenue) of glory out of tbis world. And he liath left us no pretence, no excuse for the neglect of any duties of obedience that he requireth of us. We cannot plead that we had other work to do, other lords and masters to serve: be hath set us free from them all, that we might be his. If a king take a servant into his family, and thereby free and discharge bim from being liable unto any other duty or service whatever, may he not justly expect that such a one will be diligent in the observance of all his commands, especially considering also the honour and advantage that he hath by being taken near unto his person, employed in his affairs ? And shall not God much more expect the like from us, considering how exceedingly the privilege we have by this relation unto him surpasseth all that men can attain by the favour of earthly princes. And if we will choose other lords of our own to serve, if we are so regardless of ourselves as that we will serve our lusts and the world, when God hath had such respect unto us, as that he would not suffer us to be subject unto the angels of heaven, how inexcusable shall we be in our sin and folly ? . You shall be for me,' saith God, and not for any other whatever.' And are we not miserable if we like not this agreement?
2. For the manner of our obedience, how ought we to endeavour that it be performed with all holiness and reverence! Moses makes this his great argument with the people for boliness in all their worship and services, because no people had