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thing to give for so great a benefit! Only just suffer yourself to be dipped, only just do this or that little thing! What heart will refuse? And oft he so succeeds, and draws the very hearts which were full of mercy and grace, in their folly and simplicity, to allow all the impulse which mercy and grace had to their hearts to be turned round against the Giver. Such a little thing ! such a nothing! Yes: but it is man's little thing,—it is a nothing of this world which is at enmity with God. God will not give His glory to another; and if you substitute anything for mercy as the fountain, if you give anything in exchange for Christ, man, and not God, is glorified. The energy that raises my foot to go into the water, or leads me to forbear touching a dog, is quite as bad in this place, little as it be, as the energy which would compass sea and land to make one prose

lyte. The gift to God of a prayer, even, would be as ! great an insult, if it were in exchange for Christ, as a

bag of gold. The Spirit's severity in meeting both cases is awfully stern: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed(Gal. i. 8, 9).

And though the rebuke be couched in softer words in Colossians, yet is the judgment of the apostle quite as clear. Such things are tantamount to “ not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God” (Col. ii. 19).

See who and what the Christ is, in whom we are complete; and then, as a man, say whether we can add anything to Him, and whether it is not worse than madness to think of doing so. " The Father hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; - hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son, in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Such is our blessing; and who is He in whom it is?

VOL.X. PT.I.

2

He is, 1st, the Son of God's love (Col. i. 13); and He is, 2ndly, the image of the invisible God; 3rdly, born pre-eminent to every creature; (necessarily so, because) 4thly, all things were created by and for Him; who is, 5thly, the one by whom all is upheld; 6thly, He is the Head of the body, the church; the beginning; the first-born from the dead; and in Him, too, it was pleasing that all fulness should dwell - Redeemer, for heaven and for earth. He being such, and the one in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and we complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power,

how can we add to or take from him as foundation? If quickened together with Him, no ordinance, no rite, can possibly be necessary in order that we be blessed; for we are blessed in Him. And to say otherwise was, according to Paul, to give up Christ as the Head, and to compromise the faith.

There is this difference in the two contexts, Ephesians ii. and Colossians ii. In the first, the quickening comes in as the starting-point of all the vast range of blessing attendant

upon faith. In Colossians, it comes in as showing that law and ordinance had no hold of a Christian, because they had no hold upon Christ when He took His life anew — we were quickened together with Him. And the life so communicated is given without ordinances or rites; and it leads us to walk as they could not give us power to do.

Note.--If any have, or make, any difficulty as to the meaning of quickening in Scripture, the following texts will serve them:

“ That which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die; ... the last Adam was made a quickening (or lifegiving] spirit” (1 Cor. xv. 36, 45).

“ If there had been a law which could have given life" (Gal. iii. 21).

27

No. III.

EPHESIANS.

The Epistle to the Ephesians gives us the richest exposition of the blessings of the Church, and of the saints who compose it, setting forth at the same time the counsels of God with regard to the glory of Christ; Christ Himself is viewed as holding all things united in one under His hand, as Head of the Church. We see the Church placed in the most intimate relationship with Him, as those who compose it are with the Father Him self

, and in the heavenly position dispensed to her by the sovereign grace of God. Now these ways of grace to her, reveal God Himself, and in two distinct characters; as well in connection with Christ as with Christians. He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the God of Christ, when Christ is looked at as the glorious man; the Father of Christ, when Christ is looked at as the Son of His love. In the first character, the nature of God is revealed; in the second, we see the intimate relationship which we enjoy to Him who bears this character of Father, and that, according to the excellence of Christ's own relationship to Him. It is this relationship to the Father, as well as that in which we stand to Christ as His Bride, that is the source of blessing to the Church of God, of which grace has made us members. The form even of the Epistle, shows how much the Apostle's mind was filled with the sense of the blessing that belongs to the Church. After having wished grace and peace to the saints and the faithful

• The word translated “faithful,” might be rendered, "believers.” It is used as a term of superscription both here and in the Epistle to the Colossians. We must remember that the Apostle was now in prison, and that Christianity had been established for some years, and was exposed to all kinds of attack. To say that one was a believer as at the beginning, was to say

state.

as

Yes,

at Ephesus, from God, the Father of true Christians, and from Jesus Christ their Lord, he begins at once to speak of the blessings in which all the members of Christ participate. His heart was full of the immensity of grace; and nothing in the state of the Ephesian Christians required any particular remarks adapted to that

It is nearness of heart to God that produces simplicity, and that enables us in simplicity to enjoy the blessings of God, as God Himself bestows them, they flow from His heart, in all their own excellence; to enjoy them in connection with Him who imparts them, and not merely in a mode adapted to the state of those to whom they are imparted; or through a communication that only reveals a part of these blessings, because the soul would not be able to receive more. when near to God, we are in simplicity, and the whole extent of His grace and of our blessings unfolds itself as it is found in Him.

It is important to remark two things here in passing: 1st. That moral nearness to God, and communion with Him, is the only means of any true enlargement in the knowledge of His ways and of the blessings which He imparts to His children, because it is the only position in which we can perceive them, or be morally capable of so doing. And, also, that all conduct which is not suitable to this nearness to God, all levity of thought, which His

presence does not admit of, makes us lose these communications from Him and renders us incapable of receiving them (compare John, xiv. 21-23). 2ndly. It is not that the Lord forsakes us on account of these faults or this carelessness; He intercedes for us, and we experience His grace, but it is no longer communion, or intelligent progress in the riches of the revelation of Himself, of the fulness which is in Christ. It is grace adapted to our wants, an answer to our misery; Jesus stretches out His hand to us according to the need that we feel, need

that he was faithful. The word, then, does not merely express that they believed, nor that each individual walked faithfully, but that the Apostle addressed himself to those who by grace faithfully maintained the faith they had received.

produced in our hearts by the operation of the Holy Ghost. This is infinitely precious grace, a sweet experience of His faithfulness and love; we learn by this means to discern good and evil, by judging self; but the grace had to be adapted to our wants, and to receive a character according to those wants, as an answer made to them: we have had to think of ourselves. In a case like this, the Holy Ghost occupies us with ourselves (in grace, no doubt), and when we have lost communion with God, we cannot neglect this turning back upon ourselves without deceiving and hardening ourselves. Alas, the dealings of many souls with Christ hardly go beyond this character. It is with all, too often the case. In a word, when this happens, the thought of sin having been admitted into the heart, our dealings with the Lord, to be true, must be on the ground of this sad admission of sin, in thought at least. It is grace alone which allows us again to have to do with God. The fact that He restores us, enhances His grace

in our eyes; but this is not communion. When we walk with God, when we walk after the Spirit without grieving Him, He maintains us in communion, in the enjoyment of God, the positive source of joy, of an everlasting joy. This is a position in which He can occupy us as being ourselves interested in all that interests Him - with ali the development of His counsels, His glory, and His goodness, in the person of Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Son of His love; and the heart is enlarged in the measure of the objects that occupy it. This is our normal condition. This, in the main, was the case with the Ephesians.

We have already remarked, that Paul was specially gifted of God to communicate His counsels and His ways in Christ; as John was gifted to reveal His character and life as it was manifested in Jesus. The result of this particular gift in our Apostle, is naturally found in the Epistle we are considering. Nevertheless

, we, as being ourselves in Christ, find in it a remarkable development of our relationship with God, of the intimacy of those relationships, and of the effect of that intimacy. Christ is the foundation on which our blessings are built. It is as being in Him, that we enjoy them. We thus

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