"And Truly Our Fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And These Things Write we unto You, that Your Joy May Be
1 John i.3, 4. -- "And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full."

It was sin that did first break off that fellowship that was between God and man, and cut off that blessed society in which the honour and happiness of man consisted. But that fundamental bond being loosed, it hath likewise untied all the links of society of men among themselves, and made such a general dispersion and dissipation of mankind, that they are almost like wild beasts, ranging up and down, and in this wilder than beasts, that they devour one another, which beasts do not in their own kind, and they are like fishes of the sea, without rule and government. Though there be some remnants of a sociable inclination in all men, that shows itself in their combinings in societies, and erecting governments, yet generally that which is the true bond and ligament of men, which alone can truly knit them together, is broken, -- that is, love, the love of God and our neighbours. And therefore, notwithstanding of all the means used to reduce, and to contain mankind in order and harmony by government, yet there is nothing but continual rents, distractions, dissipations, divisions, and dissolutions in commonwealths amongst themselves and between nations, so that all men may be represented as lions, tigers, wolves, serpents, and such like unsociable creatures, till the gospel come to tame them and subdue them, as it is often holden out in the prophets, Isa. ii.4, xi.6-8, lxv.25.

Now indeed, you have here the express end and purpose of the gospel, to make up these two great breaches in the creature, between God and men, and between men and men. It is a gospel of peace. Wherever it takes hold of men's spirits, it reduceth all to a peaceable temper, joins them to God, and one to another. For the very sum and substance of it is the love of God to mankind, and proposed for this end, to engage the love of man again, and love is the glue, the cement that alone will conjoin hearts unto this fellowship. It is a strange thing, and much to be lamented, that Christendom should be a field of blood, an aceldama, beyond other places of the world, that where the gospel is pretended to be received, that men have so far put off even humanity, as thus to bite and devour one another. Certainly it is, because where it is preached, it is not believed. Therefore, sin taketh occasion by it to become the more sinful. Always let us take heed to this, that it is the great purpose and grand design of the gospel preached to us, to restore us to a blessed society and fellowship with the Father, and withal, to a sweet fellowship among ourselves, for both you see are here.

We are called to fellowship with the Father, and what is that but to have the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ thy Father, and thou to be his son by adoption of grace? It is certainly the very marrow and extract of the whole covenant, and all the promises thereof, "I will be your Father, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty," 2 Cor. vi.18. "I go," saith Christ, "to your Father and my Father, and to your God and my God," John xx.17. O what a sweet complication and interchange of relations!

"I will be your God, and ye shall be my people." Here is the epitome of all happiness and felicity. In this word all is enclosed, and without this nothing is to be found that deserves the desires of an immortal spirit. For hence it follows, that a soul is filled with the all fulness of God (Eph. iii.19), for that is made over to thee who believest the gospel, and thou hast as real a right and title to it as men have to their father's inheritance. Then to have fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ is another branch of this dignity, and this is that which introduceth the other. Christ is the middle person, the Mediator between God and man, given for this end, -- to recover men from their woeful dispersion and separation from God, and reduce them again to that blessed society. And, therefore, our acquaintance, as it were, first begins with him, and by him we are led to the Father. No man can come to the Father but by the Son, therefore, if you have his friendship, you have done the business, for he and his Father are one.

Now this fellowship, to branch it forth more particularly, is either real or personal. Real, I mean {GREEK SMALL LETTER KAPPA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA} {GREEK SMALL LETTER OMEGA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER TAU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA} bonorum, a communion of all good things, a communion with him in his nature, offices, and benefits, -- and this must be laid down as the foundation stone of this fellowship. He came near us, to partake of flesh and blood with us, that we might have a way, a new and living way, consecrated, -- even the vail of his flesh, to come to God by, for certainly this gives boldness to a soul to draw near to God with some expectation of success and acceptation, when it is seriously considered that our nature is so nearly conjoined already to God. By this step a soul climbs up to the majesty of God, and by means of this we become partakers of the divine nature, as God of human nature, 2 Pet. i.4. So by the same degrees we ascend to God, that God hath descended to us. He drew near us by our nature, and we, by the intervention of that same, ascend to him, and receive his image and stamp on our souls for the Lord did stamp his own image upon Christ's human nature to make it a pattern to us, and to represent to us, as in a visible symbol and pledge, what impression he would put upon us. Then we have fellowship with him in his offices. I need not branch them out severally. You know what he was anointed for, -- to be a Priest, to offer sacrifice, and to reconcile us to God, and to make intercession for us, -- to be a King, to rule us by his word and Spirit, and defend us against our enemies, -- to be a Prophet, to reveal the will of God to us, and instruct us in the same. Here is a large field of fellowship. We have admittance, by faith in Jesus Christ, to the real advantage and benefit of all these. There is nothing in them but it relates to us, and redounds to us. The living virtue of that sacrifice is as fresh and recent this day, to send up a savour of rest to heaven and to pacify a troubled conscience, as the first day it was offered. That perfect sacrifice is as available to thy soul as if thou hadst offered it thyself, and this day ye have the benefit of his prayers in heaven. We partake of the strong cries and tears in the days of his flesh, and of his intercession since, more than of our own supplications. What shall I say? Ye have one to teach you all things that are needful for you, one to subdue your sins under you, and, by virtue of fellowship with Jesus Christ in these offices there is something derived from it, and communicated to us by it, that we should be kings and priests to God our Father, kings, to rule over our own spirits and lusts in as far as grace reigns in us to eternal life, and that is truly an heroic royal spirit that overcomes himself and the world, and priests, to offer unto God continually the sacrifice of prayer and praise (1 Pet. ii.5, 9), which are sweet-smelling and pleasant in his sight. Yea, we should offer up our own bodies as a reasonable service, Rom. xii.1, and this is a holy and living sacrifice, when we dedicate and consecrate all our faculties, members, and abilities to his will and service, and do not spare to kill our lusts, which are his and our enemies.

Let us sum up all in this, -- whatsoever grace or gift is in Christ Jesus, whatsoever pre-eminence he hath above angels and men, whatsoever he purchased, he purchased by his obedient life and patience in death. There is nothing of all that but the soul may be admitted to fellowship in it, by its union with him by faith. Have him, and have all that he hath. Faith makes him yours, and all that he hath is a consequential appendix to himself. The word of the gospel offers him freely to you, with all his benefits, interests, and advantages. O that our hearts may be induced to open to him!

Now being thus united to Jesus Christ, that which I would persuade next to is a personal communion, that is, a suitable entertainment of him, a conjunction of your soul to him by love, and a conspiracy of all your endeavours henceforth to please him. It is certain, that true friendship is founded on a conjunction and harmony of souls by affection, by which they cease to be two, and become in a manner one; for love makes a kind of transport of the soul into another, and then all particular and proper interests are drowned in oblivion, -- no more mine and thine, but he makes an interchange, mine thine, and thine mine, my heart thine, and thy honour mine. Now, certain it is, that in this God hath given us a rare pattern, and leads the way; for he declares his love to the world in the rarest effects of it, which give the clearest demonstrations possible, -- "God so loved the world that he sent his Son." And you have the most infallible argument of the Son's love, -- "Greater love hath no man than this, to lay down his life for his friends," -- but he for his enemies. Now, then, you see how the heart of God and his Son Jesus Christ is fixed from everlasting on the sons of men, so unalterably, and so fully set towards them, that it hath transported the Son out of his own glory, and brought him down in the state of a servant. But it is not yet known what particular persons are thus fixed upon, until that everlasting love break out from underground, in the engagement of thy soul's love to him, and till he have fastened this chain, and set this seal on thy heart, which makes thee impatient to want him. Thou knowest not the seal that was on his heart from eternity. But now the love of a believer being the result of his love, -- this is it that is the source and spring of constant communion, and it vents itself in converse with God, and daily entertainment of him in our spirits and ways. There is a keeping of company with him in prayer and meditation, and all the ordinances. There is a communication and familiar conference of the heart with him, either in thinking on him or pouring out our requests to him. There is a mutual and daily intercourse and correspondence of that soul with God, in answering his word by obedience, in praying to him, and receiving answers from him, and then returning answer again with a letter of thanks and praise, as it were. These are the ways to increase that love of God, and kindle it up to a higher flame, and it being thus increased, it gathers in all the endeavours and abilities of the soul, and sets all on fire, as a sweet smelling sacrifice to please him. It is henceforth the great study of the soul to remove all things that are offensive to him, for the entertaining of sin, his enemy, is most inconsistent with this true fellowship and friendship. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me," Psal. lxvi.18. This will mar that sweet correspondence in prayer and praise, for it is a breach of peace and covenant to regard and maintain his enemies. Therefore the soul that loves God will study to compose itself in all things to his good pleasure, as well as his love, that is strong as death, puts him upon a careful watching, to do all things for our profit, and so this takes in our whole carriage and walking, in religious approaches, or in common businesses, to have this as our great design -- conversing with God and walking to all well pleasing.

Now, if we were once enrolled in this blessed fellowship with the Father and the Son then it follows, as a fruit and result of this, that we should have fellowship one with another. And truly the more unity with God, the more unity among ourselves: for he is the uniting, cementing principle, he is the centre of all Christians, and as lines, the farther they are from the centre, the farther distant they are from one another, so the distance and elongation of souls from God sets them at further distance amongst themselves. The nearer we come every one to Jesus Christ, the nearer we join in affection one to another, and this is imported in that of Christ's prayer, "That they may be one in us," John xvii.21, 22. No unity but in that one Lord, and no perfect unity but in a perfect union with him. I would exhort to study this more, -- to have fellowship one with another, as members of the same body, by sympathy, by mutual helping one another in spiritual and temporal things. Even amongst Christians that live obscurely in a city, or in a village, there is not that harmonious agreement and consent of hearts, that contention and plea of love, of gentleness and forbearance, who shall exercise most of that, but there are many jealousies, heart burnings, grudgings, strifes, evil speakings, &c., to the stumbling of others, and the weakening of yourselves, which certainly argue that ye are much carnal, and walk as men, and that the love of God and fellowship with him is waxed cold, and is languished and dead, &c.

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