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that the eyes of our understandings may be enlightened more and more, that so we may more clearly and affectionately know what is the great and glorious hope which our Christian calling sets before us. Alas, as yet we know but little of it! but little of that great and glorious inheritance which God will divide among his saints, and in the enjoyment of which he will for ever unite them all. But adored be his grace if we so know it as deliberately to make choice of it, as to give up every interest and hope inconsistent with it, and determinately to say, This is our rest, we have desired it. He who hath wrought us to the self-same thing, is God. It is indeed an exertion of a divine power, that quickened these dead souls of ours; the same, that quickened the dead body of our Redeemer ; quickened, exalted, and glorified him. Let our souls, like that of the apostle, presently take the hint, and soar upward, as with an eagle's, or rather an angels wing ; soar to those glorious abodes, where he sits at the right-hand of God, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named. There he reigns, not only as the sovereign guardian of the universe, but in the more endearing character of the Head of the church, bearing the same tender affection to it, exerting the same care over it, as the head over the members ; calling the church, narrow as its boundaries seem, his fulness, though he fills all in all, Blessed Lord ! Fill our souls more and more with all the graces of thy Spirit, and extend the boundaries of the church all abroad! Unite us in these dearest bonds; and give us always to act worthy of that honour which thou conferrest upon us, when thou callest us thy body, thy flesh, and thy bones!
Yo excite their gratitude, the apostle reminds them of that state of moral death in which the gospel found them, and how entirely they were saved by grace. Ch. ii. 1-10.
I A ND you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and 2 m sins, in which ye formerly walked according to the course
of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air*,
of the spirit that now operateth powerfully in the children of dis3 obedience. Amongst whom also we [Jews] all had formerly our
conversation, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the dictates of the
flesh, and of the passions; and were by nature the children of 4 wrath, even as others. But God being rich in mercy, according to 5 his great love wherewith he hath loved us, even when we were dead
in trespasses, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace 6 ye are saved) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit to7 gether in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that he might shew, in
the ages to come, the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kind8 ness towards us in Christ Jesus. For by grace ye are saved, 9 through faith; and this not of yourselves, it ie the gift of God: not
* Referring to a Jewish tradition, that the air was inhabited by evil spirits.
10 by works, lest any one should boast : for we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works, (for) which God hath before prepared us that we should walk in them.
REFLECTIONS. Let us behold with a becoming attention, and with all those emotions of heart which an attentive review of it is capable of exciting, the amazing diversity of these states as represented by the apostle ; and remember that they are states, in the one or the other of which we all are. We see what nature and the first Adam have made us; and we see what grace and an interest in the second would make us.
Daily observation, and, in too many instances, our own experience, may have convinced us, that it is not the character of the Gentiles alone to be dead in trespasses and sins. It shews us, that to walk according to the general course of this apostate world, is to walk according to the prince of the power of the air ; who, when he is most set on our ruin, is most importunate in persuading us to fulfil the desires of the flesh and of the mind.-Still, alas! till the gospel reaches and renews the heart, doth the same evil spirit, by means of the corrupt and vicious spirit dwelling in them, work in the children of disobedience and wrath; in which number we must acknowledge ourselves by nature to have been. But, blessed be God, that grace has its superior triumph over depraved nature ; and where sin hath abounded, grace doth much more abound.
The mercy of God is rich, and his love is great ; and his powerful grace to which we must ascribe all our hope of salvation, bath quickened us when we were dead in sins, and hath enlivened us with Christ, to whom by faith we are united, and so incorporated with him, that in consequence of it we may not only consider his resurrection and ascension to glory as an emblem, but in some degree as an anticipation, of our own, and may think and speak of ourselves as raised, and exalted, and glorified, with him.- how blessed and joyful a view is this ! and how powerfully ought it to operate upon us, to elevate our minds above this low world, and to animate us to every great and generous sentiment and pursuit! Surely this must illustrate, if any thing can do it, the riches and freedom of that grace by which we are saved, and must engage the generations to come to celebrate his exceeding kindness towards us. Let all boasting in ourselves therefore be entirely given up : let salvation by faith be acknowledged to be of grace ; and that faith itself be acknowledged as the gift of God, whose workmanahip we are, and by whom we are created to that noble and only acceptable principle of good works. Let not this grace be received in vain ; but let us answer the purposes of this new nature and new life which God hath graciously given us, and shew forth the praises of him from whom it is derived, and in whom, in a spiritual as well as a natural sense, we live, and move, and exist.
The happy slate into which they were now brought, as united to the church
of God, the middle wall of partition being removed. Ch. ii. 11, &c.
11 U HEREFORE remember that ye were formerly Gentiles
V in the flesh, who were called the uncircumcision, by that body of men which is called the circumcision, having received that 12 rite performed with hands in the flesh: that ye were at that time
without Christ, alicns from the commonwealth of Israel, and
strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope, and being 13 atheists in the world. But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who were 14 formerly afar aff, are brought near by the blood of Christ. For
he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath thrown down 15 the middle wall of separation : having abolished by his sufferings
in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained
in the Mosaic ordinances, that he might form the two in himself, 16 into one new man, so making peace ; and that he might reconcile
both, in one body, unto God by the cross, having slain the enmity 17 by it ; and by having prucured this reconciliation by his death, he
came, and preached peace, by his ambassadors, to you that were 18 afar off, and to them that were near. For by him we both have 19 access to the Father, by r one Spirit. Now therefore you are no
more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, 20 and domestics of God; being built on the foundation of the apos
tles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner21 stone: in whom the whole building, harmoniously cemented, 22 groweth into an holy temple in the Lord : in whom you also are
built up together for an habitation of God by the Spirit.
REFLECTIONS. Let the apostle's remonstrance to these Ephesians remind us of our obligations to the divine goodness, that we are not left in the sad state of our heathen ancestors ; that we are not without the knowledge of Christ, in all the darkness of the Gentile world ; that we are not alicns from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise ; that we are not destitute of any well-grounded foundation of future hope, and without God in the world. But how unhappy is the case of many, who, though they are called Christians, yet have no saving interest in that Fedeemer whose name they bear, in consequence of their being strangers to the obedience of faith, and a vital subjection of heart to his gospel! Let all that name the name of Christ, all that profess to know him, acknowledge, with a view to his atoning sacrifice, that if they are brought near to God it is by his blood. To this we owe the external privilege of a people nigh unto God; and to the effectual application of it we owe the blessings of that ncarness which the heart feels as the earnest of its eternal happiness.
If Christ, according to the principles of the apostle's reasoning, hath made peace by the blood of his cross between Jews and Gentiles,
whose manner of living was so widely different from each other; if he hath broken down the middle wall of partition between them, and of two made one new man; how much more apparently reasonable is it that smaller differences should give way to the engagements of so endearing a band! Have we not all one Father? And have we not all access to him through one Saviour, by one Spirit ? Let us then con- . sider ourselves as fellow-citizens with the saints, and maintain that most cordial affection to all of this household, which becomes those that are of one family, and are named from one Lord. And, as a great security of this union, let us be concerned to maintain a due regard to the apostles and prophets on whom we are built ; whose writings, if perused with diligence and attention, subserve so much to the purposes of Christian edification. But, above all, let us fix our regards upon Christ, as the chief Corner-stone ; by a union with whom we are united to each other, and the whole stress of our eternal hopes is supported. In him the whole building is fitly framed together; and it is by his operative influence that it groweth up to a holy temple in the Lord. Let us consider ourselves as designed for this use, to be an habitation of God through the Spirit ; and be concerned to cultivate that purity and sanctity which suits so excellent a relation and so high a dignity. Let us lift up the everlasting gates of our souls to admit that blessed Inhabitant, that he may come and dwell in us, and consecrate us more and more unto himself.
The apostle expresses his sense of the divine goodness in committing the gospel
to his trust, though he sacrificed his liberty in its defence. Ch. iii, 1–12.
I TOR this cause*, I Paul am the prisoner of Jesus Christ for the 2 T sake of you Gentiles; (as you cannot but know,] since you
have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which hath 3 been given to me in your behalf: that he made known to me by 4 revelation the mystery (as I have briefly written before ; by which,
when you read it, you may observe my understanding in the mys. 5 tery of Christ) which in other generations was not made known
to the sons of men, as it is now revealed by the Spirit to his holy 6 apostles and prophets; that the Gentiles should be joint-heirs and
of the same body, and partakers together of his promise in Christ 7 by the gospel: of which I was made a minister, according to the
gift of the grace of God, which was given to me by the energy of 8 his power. Unto me, who am less than the leastf of all saints,
this grace was given, to preach among the Gentiles the unsearch9 able riches of Christ ; and to make all men see what is the fel.
* “For the sake of this doctrine" (the admission of the Gentiles to those privileges.) M.
+ The apostle here makes a new word en xisolsgw, (the comparative of the superlative) which no translation can fully equal, or very happily expresse VOL. II.
lowship of the mystery, which from eternal ages was hid in God, 10 who created all things by Jesus Christ : that the manifold wisdom
of God might now be made known to the principalities and pow. Il ers in heavenly places, by means of the church ; according to the 12 eternal purpose which he formed in Christ Jesus our Lord, through
whom we have freedoni of speech, in our approaches to the throne of grace, and access with confidence, by the faith of him.
REFLECTIONS. St. Paul's understanding in the mystery of Christ is just matter of perpetual joy to the whole Christian world, and especially to the Gentile churches, which have derived from thence so much of their knowledge and of their hope. Let us congratulate ourselves and each other on the propagation of so glorious a system of divine truth, which had so long been concealed from ages and generations. The apostles and prophets were raised up by God to receive and reveal it ; and we are entered on the blessed fruit of their labours. Let us learn from them to set a due value on our participation in that inheritance, on our union to that body to which by the gospel we are called.May it particularly teach us that humiliy which was so conspicuous, so amiable, so admirable in St. Paul. This excellent man, this distinguished favourite of heaven, who stood in the foremost rank of Christians, of ministers, of apostles, yet labours for words to express the sense he had of his own meanness and unworthiness, and conimits a kind of solecism in lan-guage, that he might lay himself as low as possible; using the most diminutive term that could be, to describe himself as one who in his own esteem was less than the least of all saints ! And shall we then cxalt ourselves, and be proud of the trifling distinctions that raise our obscure heads a little above some of our brethren?
Let those in particular, who have the honour of being called to the sacred office of the ministry ; consider how reasonable it is, that instead of being puffed up with it they should rather be humbled, whenthey reflect how unworthy the best of men are of it, and in how de. fective a manner the most faithful discharge it ; while yet the grace is given them to preach the riches of Christ, his unsearchable riches. Let these be made the frequent subject of thcir preaching ; and let all the course of it be directed, in a proper manner, to the illustration of that subject. Let the well-chosen phrase which the apostle uses here, teach them and all Christians to scarch more and more into this unfathoinable aby88 ; as still sure to discover new wonders in the variety and fulness of its inexhaustible contents beyond what they have known before, and to find new pleasures in tracing again those already known. This glorious theme is worthy of the contemplation of angels; and we are elsewhere told, that these celestial spirits desire to look into it, and to learn new displays of the divine attributes from the church. Let us then hear and worship, as under their inspection; and let not our hearts be cold to these sacred truths which are our own salvation,
* D. “ communication." The word is the same as in Ch. v, 11. It refers to the fellowship of the heathen in their religious rites and mysteries. M. from Chandler.