On the gospel being an object of faith, not of sight:
The matter of a report is something unseen to them to whom the report is made. And so is the matter of the gospel-report. It is an unseen God, John i. 18; an unseen Saviour, 1 Pet. i. 8; and unseen things, 2 Cor. iv. 18, that are preached unto you by the gospel. So the gospel is an object of faith, not of sight; Heb. xi. 1. We receive it by hearing, not by seeing; Isa. lv. 3. It is not what we credit on our eye-sight, but upon the testimony of another, viz. of God. Hence the carnal world are fond on seen objects; Psalm iv. 6. but slow to believe the gospel.
IV. I go on to shew what are the bonds of this union, whereby Christ and believers become one. 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 vi. 63. But this union is spiritual, 1 Cor. vi. 17. and so are the bonds of it. And they are two.
1 . The Spirit on Christ's part, whereby he apprehendeth, taketh and keepeth hold of us, 1 John iii. ult. The same infinite Spirit that dwells in Christ, he communicates to his elect in their effectual calling, Ezek. xxxvi. 27. So that one Spirit living and acting in both, in Christ as the head, and in believers as the members, they truly become one by that means. 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, every where present. And seeing the same Spirit is in both, they are thereby made really one, notwithstanding of the distance; even as if there were a man, who, standing on the earth his head should reach the stars ; yet since one soul animates his head and feet, notwithstanding df the distance betwixt them, (as well as those of the lowest dwarf), they do still make but one body. And as in the case of a tree-leg fixed to the body, and touching upon it, it is not for all that a part of the body, because it is not animated by the soul : so, on the other hand, where one spirit is in two, there is a real union, although these two do not touch one another, as in the case of Ezekiel's wheels, Ezek. i. 21. All which shews that there is nothing contrary to reason in this union.
2. Faith on the believer's part, Eph, iii. 17. 'That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.' Thereby the believer apprehends, takes, and keeps hold of Christ. It is by that we receive Christ, John i. 12. come unto him, John vi. 35. and feed on him, ver. 56. This faith is that true one, whereby a sinner heartily receives and rests on Christ for all his salvation. And no distance can hinder it to ascend unto the Mediator.
Now, since Christ cannot be seen with our eyes, nor touched with our hands, while he is in heaven and we are on earth, and that he is not known to us but by his word of the gospel, what other way can we unite with him, but believing on this unseen Christ? So that faith is the only mean on our part. And its fitness for this work appears, if ye consider,
(1.) That faith is a self-emptying an creature-emptying grace, throwing off and putting away all those things that might keep the soul at a distance from Christ, Phil. iii. 8. And,
(2.) It is as much fitted to receive an unseen Christ and salvation, which appears to us only in the word, as the hand to receive what can be received into it. For in the word Christ offers himself and all his salvation to us, which we cannot lay hold of by any bodily action whatsoever ; but faith crediting the testimony, consenting to, and resting on the offered Christ, with his salvation, does actually get the same, as sure as there is truth in the word of the gospel.