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SERMON VIII.

CONCLUSION.

Ephes. iv, 15. But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up

into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.

THE unity of the Christian Church, and the means and motives of that unity, the divine constitution of its ministry, the design and perpetuity of a settled order and economy, and the fixed principles and methodical enlargement of the Church until the end of time, are the subjects of the Apostle's discourse in the first part of this chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians. Himself the founder of the Church at Ephesus, he watched over its concerns with the most affectionate anxiety, and embraced every opportunity of preventing the

evil which threatened to disturb its peace, and corrupt the purity of its religious profession. For two years he exercised his personal ministry among the Ephesians, and recommended the things which concerned the kingdom of God with such zeal and efficacy, that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus; and the fame of his preaching and of his miracles was such, that many confessed the sins of their past lives, and that they who used curious arts burned their books in the presence of all men. “ So mightily grew the "s word of God, and prevailed.” The workmen who made silver images of Diana were alarmed by the Apostle's success, and, under pretence that the temple of the great goddess would be despised, and her magnificence destroyed, at the instigation of the interested Demetrius, they joined in a persecution against the Apostle, who, after taking an affectionate leave of the disciples, departed into Macedoniaa.

It was not long before he had another

a Acts xix. 1.--xx. 1.

opportunity of conferring with the pastors of his favourite flock, whom he summoned to meet him at Miletus. At this interview, he reminded them of his behaviour among them “at all seasons," of his constant and unreserved communication with them in public and in private, of which the substance had been “repentance toward God, 6 and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” He acquainted them, that this would be the last time of their meeting upon earth, and he earnestly exhorted them to “ take heed “ to themselves, and to all the flock, over - which the Holy Ghost had made them “ overseers, to feed the Church of God, " which he had purchased with his own “ blood.” He warned them of the imminent dangers which threatened their peace, and the purity of their faith, exhorted them to corresponding vigilance, and commended them “ to God, and to the word of his “ grace, which was able to build them up, 6. and to give them inheritance among them " that are sanctified.” The final separation of a father and his family is always painful; and the pain is increased, when the parent is aware of the dangers of his offspring, and the children are conscious of their weakness and infirmity. When Paul, therefore parted from his Ephesian elders, it was but natural that they should all weep, and fall upon his neck, and kiss him, “ sorrowing “ most of all for the words which he bad “ spoken, that they should see his face no “ moreb.

In his personal absence from them, the Apostle still cared for the disciples at Ephesus, and used every precaution to counteract the evil which he anticipated and foretold. He left Timothy among them, to prevent the progress of strange and unauthorized doctrines"; and, besides the two Epistles which he addressed to him concerning his conduct " in the house of God," and the difficulties which he was likely to encounter in the execution of his high office, he wrote to them also a letter, in which he seems to refer to some of the evils which he had foretold. Among the various arguments which he uses to restrain the ravages

b Acts xx. 17–38.

c I Tim. i. 3.

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