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while they rejoice in them only on the general principles of piety and benevolence.
All that is done in the prosecution of the glorious design of our redemption now, is the result of those counsels of peace which God from eternal ages formed in his own compassionate mind. To that source, after the example of the apostle, let us frequently trace all with the most exalted gratitude ; recollecting that we receive this adoption in Christ, who is the great Mediator of our access unto God. Let us therefore, on the one hand, take all our encouragements in prayer from views to him.; and on the other, having such a foundation for it, let us come with an holy boldness to the divine throne, that so we may sbtain the mercy and grace which we daily and hourly need.
He represents his earnest prayers for their establishment, as the proof of his
fervent affection. Ch. iii. 13, &c.
13 QUCH are the privileges to which the gospel raises us : Where
fore I desire that ye faint not at my affliction for you, which 14 is your glory. For this cause I bend my knees to the Father of 15 our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and 16 on earth is named.; that he would grant you according to the
riches of his glory, to be mightily strengthened by his Spirit in 17 the inner man ; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ; 18 and, being rooted and grounded in love, that ye may be enabled,
with all saints, to apprehend what is the breadth, and length, and 19 depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which sur
passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of 20 God. Now to him, that is able to do all things for us, abundant
ly exceeding all that we can ask or conceive, according to the 21 power which worketh in us; to him be glory in the church by
Christ Jesus, throughout-all generations forever and ever. Amen.
REFLECTIONS. Let our eyes be frequently directed to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our knees be frequently bowed before him, invoking him under this amiable and delightful character as the great Father of that one family which he hath been pleased in infinite mercy to form to himself ; a family consisting not only of those who were originally the inhabitants of heaven, who were born in his house, and have never offended him, but of many who have been, and many who are, the inhabitants of earth, once the children of the curse, and the heirs of death and destruction. Let us all remember it is now the family of Christ, our great elder Brother, who, though Lord of heaven, disdains not to own that humble relation while the angels are adoring him as standing at the head of the society, and esteem it their honour to be related to him. Let us be more affected with the grace extended to us, and consider our relation to him as a bond of union among oursayes. While we are of this family, let not the different garbs we
wear, or the different apartments in which we are lodged, alienate our affections from each other; but let us often be thinking of that blessed day when the whole family shall meet above, and let us in the mean time endeavour to behave as worthy members of it, and have its common interests at heart.
And from that eminently faithful and honourable branch of the family, the blessed apostle, whose words we have been reading, let us Icarn what to wish for ourselves and our brethren ; even that God, according to the riches of his grace, would strengthen us with might by his Spirit in the inner man ; that we may attain great degrees of vigour and confirmation in religion, by the vital and powerful operations of the Holy Spirit of God upon our hearts ; that we may be strong to discharge every duty, to resist temptations, to conquer our enemies, to assist our brethren, and to glorify our Father and our Saviour. Let us earnestly desire, that Christ may not only now and then visit our hearts, but by the habitual and lively exercises of faith may even dwell in them; that we may thus be continually conversant with him as our most honoured and beloved Guest ; and that love may take deep root in our hearts, and be solidly grounded there. Let us earnestly pray, that, under divine illuminations, we may be enabled to form more exalted and suitable conceptions than we have ever yet attained of the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, of this unfathomeble, this inconceivable love of Christ, which surpasses the perfect knowledge even of saints in glory. And O, that by these contemplations we may find ourselves daily filled with all the fulness of God, so that our hearts may even overflow with the abundant communication of his gifts and graces! What shall we say in return for the knowledge he hath already given us, for the love which he hath already wrought in our hearts, if we are so happy as to know the grace of God in truth? What! but that believing his power to out-do all it hath already wrought for us, yea to do for us exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think, we will still confide in him and call upon him; and will humbly endeavour to bear our part with the whole church, in ascribing to our Redeemer, our Sanctificr, and our Father, glory throughout all ages, and even world without end. Amen.
The apostle pathetically exhorts them to mutual love, and to steadiness in
religion, representing the glorious foundation laid for it by Christ the Head of the Church. Ch. iv. 1-16.
1 T THEREFORE, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that
1 ye walk worthy of the high and holy calling wherewith ye are. 2 called ; with all humility and meekness, with long-suffering for3 bear one another in love ; endeavouring to keep the unity of the
Spirit in the bond of peace. To this union there are the strongest 4 motives. There is one body, the church; and one Spirit, which
actuates it : as ye are also called in one hope of your calling. 5 There is also one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Fa
ther of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But grace is given to every one of us according to the measure of 8 the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, “ When he ascended on 9 high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men*.” Now
this expression, he ascended, what is implied in it but that he also 10 descended first into the lower parts of the earth? And he who de
scended, is also the same who ascended far above all heavens, that 11 he might fill all things. And from his triumphal seat he gave
some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some 12 pastors, and teacherst; for the perfection of saints who should be
destined to the work of the ministry, for go the edifying of the 13. body of Christ : till we all arrive at the unity of the faith, and of
the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, even to the 14 measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. That we may
be no longer children, tossed to and fro, and borne about with
every wind of doctrine, by the cheating sleight of ment, and by 15 subtily in every method of deceit ; but maintaining the truth in
love, may grow up in all things into him who is ihe head, even 16 Christ ; from whom the whole body, being harmoniously joined
and cemented together, by the supply of every joint, according to the energy proportionable to every part, maketh an increase of the body, to the edifying of itself in love.
REFLECTIONS. If divine grace have taught us to know the hope of our calling, it will surely add great weight to these pathetic exhortations of this faithful servant and prisoner of Jesus Christ, to walk worthy of it ; to walk as it becomes those to do who have been favoured with a call from God, who have received the honour of a call to the blessings of his gospel, to the privileges and hopes of his children. It will teach us that humility, meekness, and long-suffering, of which our divine Saviour was so glorious an example, which will engage us to the exercise of mutual forbearance, and which so well suits those whom he hath brought into so happy a state.-May we all experimentally know the sweetness which attends a constant care to keep the unity of the shirit in the bond of peace ; that we may labour earnestly to maintain it, and with the utmost diligence may guard against those things which might lead us in any degree to violate it!
To engage us to this, let those arguments which the apostle suggests be familiar to our mind. Do we not all indeed belong to one body, however called by different denominations? Have we not all, so far as we are truly Christians, received one spirit ? Is there not one hope of our common calling, even that of dwelling together in one and the same blissful world, with God, and with each other? Have
* The apostle beautifully accommodates the words of David (Ps. Ixviii. 18.) in celebrating a late victory, to the triumph of an ascending Saviour. Here is an allusion to the custom of conquerors, who used to give largesses to their soldiers after a triumph.
☆ It is observable that diocesan bishops are not mentioned. † The word signifies, the artifice of infamous gamesters.
we not one. Lord, even Jesus Christ, to whom we all equally profess subjection? who hath taught us one faith, who hath instituted one baptism, and who hath introduced and consecrated us to one God and Father of all ? And what are the considerations which should prevail so far as to divide us when compared with such bonds of union as these? Let us all therefore, in the name of this God, who is over alt who operates through all, and in us all, in the name of this one Savjour, and one Spirit (awful and endearing names, into which we were all baptized) charge it upon our own souls, that we not only do nothing by a factious and uncharitable temper to divide his church, but that we study what we can do to heal its breaches, and to promote its growth and edification. And let us pray, that God would guide and succeed our endeavours for that purpose, and preserve our hearts in such a situation and temper, that we may stand continually willing to give up every temporal interest that may interfere with such a design; yea, and even to make our own blood, if such were the will of God, the cement of those wounds, at which a body so intimately united to Christ has so long been bleeding almost to death.-Were we actually to give such a proof of our regard to it, we could but very imperfectly repay the condescension and love of that Saviour, who for us descended to these low regions of the earth, and dwelt for a while among the dead; and then triumphantly rising, and ascending on high, led those enemies, that had before held us in captivity, themselves captive, as at his chariot-wheels; and having received gifts for men, scattered them down with such royal munificence, that he might fill all things, and fit his ministers for the offices to which he had destined them.
These his ministers we are taught by this passage to regard as the special gift of his love to the church, and as such let us adore him for them ; not only for apostles, prophets, and evangelists, but also for pastors and teachers. And let us earnestly pray, that through the continued influences of that Spirit which he hath sent down from on high, holy men may in every succeeding age be so perfectly and completely fitted for the work of the ministry, that the body of Christ may de edified ; that by this means we may all come to that union, to that strength, to that full maturity, to which by calling us into the fellow. ship of the gospel he intended to raise us. In the mean time, while we are advancing towards it, may we rise above that childish weakness which would make us the sport of every wind of doctrine, and a prey to every artifice of designing men. Let us ever maintain a due regard to the united interests of truth and love, that our union with Christ may be secured, and our growth in him more happily and abundantly advanced.
SECTION VIII. The apostle urges them to distinguish themselves from the Gentiles, by the
holiness of their behaviour, and particularly pressce upon them veracity, meekness, and prurity. Ch. iv. 17--30. 17 THIS I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no long
T er walk as the rest of the Gentiles, walk, in the vanity of 18 their mind; having the understanding darkened, being alienated
from the life of God, by reason of the ignorance that is in them, 19 because of the blindness of their heart : who being grown insen
sible, have abandoned themselves to lewdness, to work all unclean20 ness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ, seeing 21 ye have heard him speaking in his word, and have been instructed 22 by * him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off, with respect to the
former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to 23 deceitful lusts; and to be renewed in the spirit of your mind : 24 and to put on the new man, which is created according to the image
of God in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away every kind of lie, speak every one 26 truth to his neighbour ; for we are members one of another. Be
angryf, and sin not : let not the sun go down upon your wrath ; 27 neither give place to the devil who would enflame your spirits with 28 mutual enmity. Let him that stole, steal no more ; but rather let
him labour, working with his hands that which is good, that he 29 may have something to impart to the necessitous. Let no corrupt
discourse proceed out of your mouth, but any thing that is good to 30 useful edification, that it may minister grace to the hearers. And
do not grieve that Holy Spirit of God, by whom ye are sealed as his own unto the day of redemption.
REFLECTIONS. That we are all naturally so much alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in us, that our minds are naturally so dark and our hearts so hard, is indeed matter of the justest lamentation. But since zve have learned Christ, since the light of his blessed gospel hath been imparted to us, and we are no longer numbered among the heathen nations, let us not abandon ourselves to those irregularities of tenper and life, for which even their ignorance will not be a sufficient excuse ; since even natural light might teach them to condemn and to abhor such courses.-Tbere are deceitful lusts, according to which the old man is corrupt : let us be always on our guard against them, and labour after such a renovation as becomes our profession ; and, in order to its being effectual, let us be earnestly solicitous to obtain je in the spirit of our mind ; that we may shew its influence upon us, not merely by ccasing to do evil, but by learning to the utmost of our power to do good. Thus let it be our care to put on the new man, to be * * Ja him.” D. “ Concerning him.” M. “By him.” C.T. † This is not a comniand to be angry, but only a concession with a caution.