That the Lord Jesus Christ should have a people, in whom he should be eternally glorified, was the original promise made by the Father to the Son. "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession" (Psalm 2:8). This was "the joy that was set before him, for which he endured the cross, despising the shame." This was "the purchased possession," "the travail of his soul," and the reward of his humiliation and sufferings (Phil. 2:9, 10). This people form the members of his mystical body, all of which were written in his book, the book of life, when as yet, as regards their actual existence, there was none of them (Psalm 139:16). All these were given to him in eternity, when he was constituted their covenant Head in the everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure. They thus became, in prospect of his incarnation, "members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." How touchingly did the blessed Redeemer remind his Father of those covenant transactions, when he said in his memorable prayer, "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them." Being thus given to Christ, and constituted members of his mystical body, they can no more perish than Christ himself. He is their Head; and as he is possessed of all power, full of all love, filled with all wisdom, and replete with all mercy, grace, and truth, how can he, how will he, suffer any of his members to fall out of his body, and be lost to him as well as to themselves? Will any man willingly suffer his eye, or his hand, or his foot, or even the tip of his little finger, to be taken out or cut off? If any member of our body perish, if we lose an arm or a leg, it is because we have not power to prevent it. But all power belongs to Christ, in heaven and in earth; and therefore no one member of his mystical body can perish for want of power in him to save it.
But however truly blessed this doctrine is, it is only when we are quickened and made alive unto God by a spiritual birth that we savingly and experimentally know and realise it; and we are, for the most part, led into it thus. We are first made to feel our need of Christ as a Saviour from the wrath to come, from the fear of death, the curse of the law, and the accusations of a guilty conscience.
When enabled, by the blessed Spirit's operations, to receive him into our heart, by faith, as the Christ of God, and to realise in some measure an interest in him, we are then taught to feel our need of continual supplies of grace and strength out of his fulness. For we have to learn something of the depths of the fall, of the evils of our heart, of the temptations of Satan, of the strength of sin, of our own weakness and worthlessness; and as every fresh discovery of our helplessness and wretchedness makes a way for looking to and hanging upon him, we become more and more dependent on him as of God made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.