« הקודםהמשך »
the further instruction connected with own declaration-"No man cometh it, which is conveyed to us in the title unto the Father but by me." given in this passage to the God to The inspired prayer which we are whom we are to pray—“the Father of considering, thus proceeds: "of whom our Lord Jesus Christ.” Of all the the whole family of heaven and earth titles of our God this is the most en- is named.” Whether these words redearing; and it is peculiarly calculated fer to God the Father, or to Christ, is to encourage the suppliant at the not clear from the passage : hence throne of grace, to come to that throne divines are not agreed respecting its with a holy and reverent boldness, application. This point, however, is since it reminds him of God's willing- not very material ; for if we consider ness favourably to hear, and graciously it, according to the opinions of some, to accept him. And although the as relating to Christ, the allusion is to penitent sinner may reason within him- their being named Christians from him; self thus : "I am unworthy of the and in this case they apply to those least of all the mercies of my God: I who are now pursuing their journey am utterly unworthy to come before to Zion, and those who through grace Him: How shall I, a sin-polluted are already there, to believers on earth, creature, appear in the presence of and to the spirits of just men made that exalted Being who is glorious in perfect in heaven.
But if the exholiness?
pressions before us refer to the Father But yet, notwithstanding all this, as they are considered by others), our text encourages even the vilest of they convey a still more extensive sigthe vile to draw nigh to the Great Je- nification, including not only believers hovah ; yea, to take courage and cast on earth and the glorified saints, but himself, in simple faith and humble also the innumerable company of the confidence, before the footstool of Him angels of God. These all constitute who is the Father of our Lord Jesus one grand family, and are said to be Christ. “He that spared not his own named of God, as being his children Son, but delivered him up for us all, and bearing his name, just as the chilhow shall He, not with Him also, dren of earthly parents are called by freely give us all things ?” “ He so their names. What a cheering and loved the world, that he gave his only animating consideration is this for begotten Son” to die upon the cross
those who are true believers in the for its redemption. Surely this is suf- Lord Jesus—who have taken up their ficient to assure us that He will not cross and are following him through spurn from his throne the suppliant evil and through good report. that approaches Him, trusting in the Perhaps there are some here who mediation of his beloved Son. O, yes, answer to this description, and who he will be " accepted in the beloved.” stand in need of consolation and enFor never, my brethren, in our ap- couragement. You see that the Lord's proaches to the mercy-seat of God, let people are but "a little flock” when us lose sight of the important truth, compared with the multitudes of the that between God and man Christ ungodly, and hence you are often disJesus is the great Mediator. We have couraged, and tempted to think yourno right to expect, that any prayer self alone in the house of your pilgrimwhich we offer will be accepted, if it age: but you are not alone, nor are be not offered through his mediation, the children of God so little a flock as and in reliance upon it-it is Christ's you perhaps imagine. There are at
this very moment thousands whose | piness are you losing! Be persuaded, faces you never will behold in the then, to aspire to those privileges, to flesh-their history, their names, their seek that happiness. Pray for the very existence unknown to you—whose spirit of adoption, and pray in faith. hearts are beating in unison with your But to return to our text. The own—who are pursuing the same nar- Apostle thus proceeds to pray in behalf row way in which you are walking, of the Ephesians, “ that he would are waging the same holy warfare in grant you according to the riches of which you are engaged-are influenced his glory ;" that is, in a mann
nner and by the same motives, actuated by the measure corresponding with that rich same principles, pursuing the same fulness of grace, mercy, and power, grand objects, and who have to en- which dwells in him, and constitutes counter the same discouragements, and his glory—“ to be strengthened with difficulties, and trials, with which you might by his Spirit in the inner man." are contending. You may differ from By the “ inner man” is meant the them in clime and complexion-you heart : thus the prophet Jeremiah may be separated from them by an im- speaks, in his thirty-first chapter and measurable distance-mountains may thirty-third verse, “ this shall be the rise and seas may roll between you, covenant that I will make with the but you are members of the same great house of Israel : after those days, family—a family not only of earth, saith the Lord, I will put my law in but also of heaven-a family of which their inward parts, and write it in saints and angels compose a part—and their hearts.” Their hearts, evidently a family named of God. Be en- implying the same as, or, indeed, being couraged, then, and go on your way an explanation of the former expresrejoicing in the anticipation of that sion, “their inward parts"-an exblissful period when all the members pression corresponding to that of our of this family shall meet in the house text, “ the inner man.” We likewise and presence of their Father, and unite find St. Peter, in his first epistle, third in one grand chorus, singing, “Bless- chapter and fourth verse, using this ing, and honour, and glory, and power, expression, “the hidden man of the be unto Him that sitteth upon the heart.” throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever And what prayer should we more and ever.”
frequently, or more fervently offer in But, my brethren, if these things be behalf of ourselves and others, than so, what shall I say to you, whose this? Of what do we stand more in whole course of life and conduct plainly need, than to be strengthened with demonstrates that you are enemies of might by the Spirit of God in the the cross of Christ ? that you are mind- inner man? “ Strait is the gate, and ing earthly things alone, neglecting narrow is the way which leadeth unto your immortal souls, and living with life.” “The kingdom of heaven sufout God in the world? Are you mem- fereth violence, and the violent take it bers of that happy family of which by force.” we have been speaking ?
These are the declaration of Holy heirs of God, and joint heirs with Writ; and do not these and similar Christ? You must know that you are passages clearly shew that the salvanot. Your conscience, if yet unseared, tion of the soul is not a matter so will tell you this. Ah, brethren, what easily accomplished, that the glory of privileges are you slighting, what hap- heaven is not an object so easily at
tained as many appear to imagine ? | and to suffer the whole will of God, On the 'contrary, there are great and and, in a course of vital piety, to enformidable difficulties to be encoun
dure unto the end." tered, obstacles to be surmounted, and Here, then, we discover a principal enemies to be subdued by those who cause of the slow progress made in would “sit down with Abraham, and the divine life by many, who appear Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of desirous of being the Lord's, and of God. Experience accords with these whose sincerity we are unwilling to representations ; for where is the per- doubt. Here we may learn whence son who has ever seriously entered it arises that the resistance they offer upon the paths of real religion, that to their spiritual adversaries is so will not bear his testimony to their slight and ineffectual, and that they truth? Where is the genuine Chris- are so easily overcome, they overlook tian that will not tell us of the great the work of the Spirit in the great and manifold difficulties with which plan of man's salvation. Instead of he has to contend with-in common placing their dependance on his grace with all who would live godly in Christ and power, instead of seeking strength Jesus—in the pursuit of this great ob- from him, they are trusting to their own ject? He has enemies within, and strength, their own resolutions, and enemies without; enemies that are their own efforts. No wonder, then, subtle and strong, while he, in him- that so many are unstable, so many self, is weak. The world, and Satan, halting and lingering—so many sinkand the flesh, are in active opposition ing into cold and listless formality. to him—temptations and trials are For none can walk in the paths of continually assailing him-snares in- safety, none can glorify their God and numerable beset his path in every Saviour, but through the grace and direction. Who, then, it may be asked, strength of the Holy Spirit ; and this can be saved? Who, of the weak and grace, and this strength, is freely ofsinful race of man, can overcome the fered without money, and without snares, and enemies, and countless price. “ If ye,” said the Lord Jesus, difficulties opposed to his progress in “ know how to give good gifts unto the way which leadeth unto life ? For your children, how much more shall your encouragement and mine, the your heavenly Father give the Holy Holy Scriptures declare, that the Spirit to them that ask him?" weakest believer in Jesus may—and Be encouraged, then, ye who feel you may, my brethren-weak, though and lament your weakness and mani. you are in yourselves, if “strength- fold infirmities. You are not comened with might by the Spirit of God manded to go forth to the fight of in the inner man”-you may go forth faith in your own strength-you are to encounter the enemies and the ob
even expressly and repeatedly warned stacles to your salvation," conquer- against it in the Holy Scriptures. ing, and to conquer.” It is that seek, then, strength from above, and blessed Spirit, who is the author and expect the aid of the Holy Spirit only source of all spiritual strength in the in answer to believing prayer, and in hearts of the people of God-it is he the persevering use of all the appointed alone, my brethren, that can strengthen means of grace. For though in youryou against the corruptions of your selves you can do nothing, what can own hearts, the temptations of Satan, you not do, if strengthened with might and the snares of the world. It is he by the Spirit of God in the inner man? alone that can strengthen you to do My brethren, thus strengthened you
in grace, overcome every and prayer, and you will be convinced obstacle, and vanquish every foe to of this important truth. If, therefore, your salvation; trample under foot when tried by this test, you find with a holy disdain the vanities of the yourselves wanting, I beseech you to world—crucify the flesh with its af- seek this faith of God—it is his giftfections and lusts—obtain peace in it is of his operation—but it is a gist life, joy in death, and bliss in eternity. which he is willing to bestow. Ask,
The next petition offered by the then, and receive, that your joy may Apostle, for his beloved Ephesians, be full. is thus expressed—" That Christ may The
of St. Paul is thus condwell in your hearts by faith. This tinued : “That ye being rooted and is the glorious privilege of the esta- grounded in love,” (that is deeply blished believer. Of him, who with a fixed and firmly established in love to deep sense of his own guilt and misery, the Lord, and to his people for his and ruin, as a sinner, and his conse- sake,).“may be able to comprehend quent need of Christ as the only and with all the saints what is the breadth, all-sufficien: Saviour, has fled to him and length, and depth, and height, and from the wrath to come, and thus he to know the love of Christ which enjoys a spiritual union with Christ passeth knowledge, that ye may be by faith. By faith he is grafted into filled with all the fulness of God. him, as a branch of the true vine. The term “ Saints” is frequently By faith he is built up in him, as a applied by the ungodly to the true and living stone in the sure and tried foun- faithful servants of God, as a term of dation. By faith he abides in him as ridicule and reproach ; but it is applied the strong tower, in which alone he to them in the Scriptures in a very difcan be safe ; and as he thus abides in ferent sense. There it is given to them Christ, so on the other hand Christ as a title of honour, and there their abides in him. Hence St. Paul tells happiness and privileges are displayed the Colossians that “ Christ is in them in the most glowing and attractive cothe hope of glory."
lours. In the passage before us, they Hence, he prays in our text for the are said to comprehend and know, Ephesians, “that Christ may dwell in what no others can comprehend and their hearts by faith.” For it is by faith know, namely, the redeeming love of that this exalted privilege is enjoyed Jesus. They survey it in its breadth, it is faith enthrones the Redeemer in as commensurate with the very boundthe affections of his people—it is faith aries of the earth, extending to sinners that seats him in their hearts—it is of every nation and character. They faith that renders him precious to them dwell with delight on its length, as -as it is written, "unto you that be- reaching from everlasting to everlastlieve he is precious.”
ing. They contemplate it in its depth My brethren, is this your privilege? as bringing him who thought it not Is this your religion? Have you that robbery to be equal with God—Jeholively, realizing faith, by the exercise vah’s fellow—the everlasting Son—of of which the believer has Christ dwell- the everlasting Father, to the deepest ing in his heart? If not, truth com- state of humiliation and suffering, to pels me to say, that your religion is of the ignominous death of the cross, for no value. It is a form without the the salvation of a ruined world. And power-a body withoutsoul-a shadow they meditate on its height, as viewed without substance. Only search the in the lofty privileges to which it adScriptures with diligence, impartiality, vances them in the present world, as
inscribed on the thrones of glory, on this as the chief end of your existence which it will assuredly place them in here? Is it your supreme desire and the next, and as manifested in his be- | aim to be filled with all the fulness of ing still mindful of them in his exalted God? Alas! it is to be feared that state at the right hand of the Father, many of my hearers are actuated by where he ever liveth to make interces- far other desires, and are pursuing sion for them. Thus, to comprehend other objects. And what are the and know the redeeming love of Christ, objects which they are pursuing ? is an unspeakable blessing. For what Things which perish with the using, can be so efficacious in sweetening life, vain and delusive trifles, which cannot ministering consolation amidst its mul- enable them to meet with comfort the tiplied trials, and supplying a never fail- hour of death and the day of judgment ing source of peace and joy.
-objects which even now, when they Fully, indeed, to comprehend and are most successful in their aim at know this love, we never shall be able them, continually disappoint the hopes on this side of the grave. For, saith and expectations which they have chethe Apostle, “it passeth knowledge;" rished respecting them. To such I but it should be our hearts desire and would say, be wise in time-pursue prayer to know more and more of it; the one thing needful which the Bible to have more enlarged and comprehen- most clearly sets before you-seek the sive views of it; and to experience honour which cometh of God-lay up more of its sanctifying influence and treasures in heaven—repent and be energy, in constraining us to live no converted that your sins may be longer unto ourselves, but unto him blotted out-forsake your iniquities who died for us and rose again. And and flee to the Redeemer-pray that what was the great object which in you may be strengthened with might breathing these fervent supplications by the spirit of God in the inner manfor the Ephesians, St. Paul proposed ? pray that you may have Christ dwellIt was, that they “might be filled ing in your hearts by faith—pray that with all the fulness of God"—that you may not only know, but feel the they might have his image reflected in efficacy of his redeeming love, nor them—that they might exhibit a con- rest satisfied till through the mighty formity to his moral perfections—that power of his grace, you “be filled they might have a fulness of light and with all the fulness of God.” And grace—and holiness, and joy, and now brethren, I commend you to God, peace in the present life; and at length and to the word of his grace, which is arrive at the most perfect vision and able to build you up, and give you an enjoyment of him, and conformity to inheritance among all them which are him in his immediate presence.
sanctified. That this may be the happy My brethren, is this the grand ob- portion of you all, may God of his inject which yon are proposing to your finite mercy grant for Christ's sake. selves? Do you view and consider | Amen.