Notes and Reflections on the Epistle to the Ephesians

by Arthur Pridham.

"The entrance of thy words gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple." Psalm 119:180.

Second Edition, Revised.
1862.

London: William Yapp, 70, Welbeck Street, Cavendish Square, W.

The right of translation reserved.

Contents.
Ephesians 1
Ephesians 2
Ephesians 3
Ephesians 4
Ephesians 5
Ephesians 6

Contents.

Preface.

The plan of the present work is, in its general character, very similar to that which has been followed in my earlier volumes on the Epistles to the Romans and the Hebrews.

Like the Epistles just mentioned, that to the Ephesians has its own distinctive peculiarities as an exposition of the doctrine of Christ; and very rich and marvellous are the treasures of Divine wisdom which the Holy Ghost has there laid open to the view of the believer. To set these leading doctrines clearly before the reader has been my principal desire in the preparation of these Notes; while I have not allowed this object to divert me from my original purpose of commenting practically upon each verse of the Epistle in its natural order.

Critical notes have now and then been found necessary to the elucidation of those few passages which contain difficulties of construction, or where varieties of reading may occur. These, however, will not stand in the ordinary reader's way. Other notes there are, and in greater number, which have a bearing more or less direct upon the subjects treated in the text. These last often contain matter which might have been easily incorporated in the general page; but the desire of interrupting as little as possible the natural connexion of the expository remarks, has induced me to resort more frequently to the method of annotation.

A book of this description is valueless to any but a sincere lover of the truth. For such it has been written; and, I am persuaded, not entirely in vain, it is with thankfulness and pleasure that I now send it forth a second time, not without some few additions and corrections, but substantially in its original shape.

A. P. October, 1862.

Ephesians 1.

Verses 1, 2. "Paul, an apostle," etc. The introductory greeting contained in these verses differs but little in its terms from that which prefaces the Epistle to the Colossians, except in its omission of the associate name of Timotheus. In accordance with the general habit of the Apostle, when writing under the direct inspiration of God, both his own name and office, and the descriptive character of those whom he addresses, are expressed. It is, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God," who writes, while they who receive his epistle owe their privilege to the grace which has already made them "saints and faithful brethren in Christ."*

{*I shall assume, in favour of the ordinary reading, the still open question as to the persons originally addressed in this Epistle. It is a point of no practical importance, and its discussion would be here quite out of place.}

The words of an Apostle are the utterance of the Spirit of truth. But the Holy Ghost is the Comforter and Teacher, not of the world, but of the Church of God. This truth, so obvious to the established Christian, is not infrequently lost sight of by the weak believer, who, in ignorance of the finished love of God, is thus induced to seek, by a careful study of the contents of the Epistles, to strengthen his ground of hope in the way of practical attainment, unmindful of the fact that all God's letters are addressed, not to strangers, but to His own children, whom He has already begotten by the word of His truth (Gal. 3:26). Nor is this to be wondered at; for it is one of the Enemy's favourite devices, to endeavour to lay upon men's consciences the burden of Christian responsibility, before the real nature of the Christian standing is perceived. But to serve God acceptably, we must first be established in His grace. We must be brought into the liberty of sons, before we can be yoke-fellows of Christ in the way which glorifies the Father. Until therefore we have come to Jesus in our sins, and received, through faith, His peace into our hearts, the attempt to serve Him is but a delusive snare to our souls. Our first act of real obedience will be, to submit ourselves to the righteousness of God (Rom. 10). When our conscience has been purged from dead works through the blood of Christ, we are both free and willing to serve the living God (Heb. 9:14; Rom. 6:17, 18).

It is by a reference to the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel, that the heart of a sincere believer is enabled to free itself from the mischievous effects of this and other spiritual illusions. What these precious doctrines are, will be examined more at length in the progress of these Notes. At present, it is enough to remark generally with respect to the descriptive expressions employed by the Apostle in this prefatory greeting, that, in the language of Scripture, a "saint" is a sinner saved by grace; and both justified and sanctified through faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:18; 1 Cor. 1:30; Heb. 10:10). Such are God's saints. Men, it is true, confer the saintly title on each other upon very different grounds. But no room is found for these in Scripture. What nature canonizes, God condemns. Nothing is holy in His eyes but Christ, in whom alone His people stand accepted in His sight. Believers, then, are saints. On the other hand, "faithful" (or believing, pistoi) "brethren in Christ," are the same persons when described with reference to the living Object of their faith, just as they are styled "saints" with reference to the mighty efficacy of that work which has been wrought both for them and upon them by the grace of God.

The God of true Christian worship is the God who has reconciled His people to Himself (2 Cor. 5:18; John 4:23, 24). "The will of God," which made Saul of Tarsus an apostle of His Son, had first been fully wrought through the obedience of Jesus, for the perfecting of all who should believe on Him (Heb. 10). The Father's glory thus becomes the rock of sure salvation to all who look upon its brightness in the face of Jesus Christ. His love reveals itself in Him whom He gave up so freely for our sakes. And it is that they may know that love in the new and holy intimacy of filial communion, that the Spirit has been given to believers as the Spirit of adoption. Their worship, their service, their conversation in the present world, are all viewed in. Scripture as the fruit of that new life which has been given them in Christ, and by means of which they know that they are no longer of the world, but of the Father. It is in the recognition of this their new and holy standing, that the Comforter here greets the saints at Ephesus with peace and favour, in the joint names of the Father and the Son.

Verse 3. In conformity with the principle already stated, the Apostle, after his brief but emphatic salutation of his fellow-saints, proceeds at once to open to them, as a helper of their joy, the rich abundance of that treasure which had been committed to him, as a steward of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1). He accordingly enters on the true subject of his epistle by an ascription of adoring praise to the Almighty Blesser of His people. Although at the time of writing he was a prisoner in the hands of those who sought his life, his heart, full fraught with Christ, instead of lamenting his condition, flows over with the pure joy of the Lord. Knowing, too, that they whom he addressed had steadily continued in the grace of God, he is under no necessity of mingling reprehension with instruction, as he was constrained to do in so many other instances. He is able, therefore, in the fullest liberty of the Spirit, to display before them the unsearchable riches of Christ Like a dew of rich spiritual increase (Deut. 32:2), his doctrine flows downward from the primal Fountain of all blessedness. "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" is the paramount Object which the Holy Ghost here presents to the believer's contemplation, that, by a right appreciation of that Name, he may understand the true nature and extent of the blessing which he is called to inherit by the Gospe1 (1 Peter 3:9).

In this characteristic Name, which declares to the Christian the supreme and eternal origin of good, as well as the stability and final rest both of his faith and hope (1 Peter 1:21), two titles have to be distinguished, which indicate respectively the double relation which subsists between the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. He was the God as well as Father of His incarnate Son. Of these titles, the latter is the elder of the two, belonging, as it does, to a relationship which subsisted always in the mystery of Godhead. "The form of God" was alone visible amid the glory which the Son had with the Father before the worlds were made (Phil. 2:6; John 17:5; Heb. 1:3). The Father had a Son before He sent Him into the world. The Word was with God in the beginning, and was God. By Him were all things made. But in due time this eternal relationship became, by the incarnation of the Son, the occasion of the former title. The Father sent the Son; but His arrival among men was in the form of man. It was the Only-begotten of the Father who thus became the Son of man.* The Word was made flesh; and so the personal glory of the Son of God became visible to our eyes.** New titles, therefore, with a corresponding increase of glory, accrued both to the Father and the Son, by the advent of the latter into the world. God, who before had been entirely dishonoured in His fallen image, was perfectly glorified by the obedience of the Man Christ Jesus. That obedience, which extended unto death, received its recompense in resurrection. And so the human name which, to the former Adam and his seed, was become through sin but a stigma of vanity and shame, was made excellent and glorious in Him who carried it triumphantly from earth to heaven, after having merited for man, and in his likeness, all the honour that man ever can receive from God (John 13:31, 32).

{*It is very far from a harmless error, which leads some Christians, through a wrong apprehension of such texts as Gal. 4:4, to date the beginning of Christ's filial relationship from the moment of His incarnation. The relation of the Son to the Father is an essential relationship; and, like everything else pertaining to the Godhead, is both eternal and unchangeable. "The Only-begotten of the Father" has no other connexion with time than as its Creator. He was always known and always loved by the Father, who sent Him, at the time appointed, to be the Saviour of the world (John 17:24). It is plain that He who accepted and undertook such a mission, stood already in the filial relationship described. He who came is the same that was also sent. The passage (often misapplied) from Psalm 2, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee," is addressed to Jesus, not at the hour of his birth into the world, but on his resurrection from among the dead (Acts 13:33; Heb. 5:5). The Old Testament itself might have guarded us from such an error; for the Holy Ghost has intimated there also (though with the dimness characteristic of a yet unfinished revelation), this essential relationship. Christ is the wisdom and the power of God; and, in connexion with both these characters, the mystery of His eternal generation is set forth. Compare Prov. 8:25, with 34:4.

**John 1:14. To the eyes, that is, which God had opened. "We beheld His glory," says the Apostle — while to the natural heart and eye, the Light of life was then, and still is, as a "lamp despised."}

It is only when the import of this twofold title is perceived, that God is known effectually as a Saviour. To confess God apart from Him whom He has sent, is not to know Him truly, but to mock Him. Eternal life is in the knowledge of the Sender and the Sent (John 17:3). To refuse the Son, is to deny the Father. The true God is known only in His Christ (1 John 5:20). The position, therefore, and the standing of the Christian, are to be referred to what that God is, who is the supreme Object of his worship, according to the fulness of His glory as it shines forth on us in this new and perfect Name. It is also evident that two distinct species of blessing, corresponding in their quality and description with the double sense in which Christ is the Heir of blessing, attach to the believer by virtue of his union with Christ. Now Christ is doubly blessed; first, as the natural Inheritor, in love, of all the Father's things; and secondly, as the Receiver, by righteous award, of all that glory and dominion which is the declared recompense of His obedience. And it is into the fellowship of both these blessings that the believer enters by virtue of the grace which makes him a joint heir with Christ (Rom. 8:15-17). Hence, when the Blessed One becomes in person the Herald to His own of His abiding triumph over the power of darkness, as the Captain of their salvation, His words are, "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God" (John 20:17).

We shall find the Apostle distinguishing these names, and the relationships which they imply, in a very striking manner, when we come to examine in their order the two prayers which he offers for his brethren in this chapter and the third. Our present subject is, rather, the certainty of the believer's blessing, and its fulness. Sovereign goodness and Divine affection are shown to be the never-failing source of this. The worship of God's people, in its simplest and purest sense, is nothing but the grateful recognition, by their faith, of this great principle. We bless God, who has first blessed us; even as the believing recognition of His love creates its apt response in our hearts (1 John 4:19). That God should bless, has been from the beginning the natural flow of the Divine goodness. What He creates for the enjoyment of that goodness, He also blesses. He pronounced His blessing upon Adam when He had formed Him at His will. Being made in the image of God, the first man was, so long as he continued in a state of innocence, the pre-eminently fit receiver of his Maker's kindness; but from the time of sin's entrance into the world, that ground of blessing has been entirely removed. God, indeed, whose very name is blessed (1 Tim. 1:11, and 6:15), has not failed to manifest Himself, and has never therefore ceased to bless; but His benediction has descended only on the family of faith. The children of promise thus become the heirs of blessing.

God always has a people upon whom His favour rests. But it is important to remember that His blessing, so far as respects any particular expression of it, has always been in keeping with the names under which He has been pleased, at different periods, to declare Himself to His people, as the Object of their faith. Thus, in the blessing which, as the ALMIGHTY, He pronounced on Abraham, God spake according to the fulness of a promise which reached onward to the future operations of His power. The mystery of godliness, and its results, were comprehended in the general benediction then bestowed upon the friend of God. The name of the Almighty was the sufficient pledge, to His believing worshipper, of an assured fulfilment of the word of promise in His time. That He whom Abraham confessed and honoured as his Portion while a stranger in the land of promise, was the Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth, would be gloriously vindicated in the coming day of Christ. So Abraham, who saw in spirit that which he believed, rejoiced to see that day.* Again, as the God of Israel, the natural seed of Abraham, JEHOVAH blessed His people with a bounteous abundance of earth's choicest treasures, when He glorified His title as "the Lord of all the earth" by redeeming Jacob for Himself among the nations. Having chosen them to be His witness, as a people settled in the earth, He dealt with them in such wise as to make manifest the greatness of His name among the heathen. By His abundant blessing on their obedience, or His desolating curse on their rebellion, He would constrain the nations of the world to hear and speak of Him.

{*The day not only of His gracious humiliation, but also, and more especially, of His reigning power, when, the veil being removed from Israel's heart, the natural seed of Abraham shall share at length their father's joy. Compare John 8:56, with 2 Cor. 3 and Rom. 11:26.}

It is in a manner quite analogous to this that the Christian is now blessed in Christ. Having glorified the rejected Son of David through the resurrection from the dead, and declared Him openly to be His own true Son (Rom. 1:3, 4), God now reveals Himself in the Gospel of His grace under the new and perfect title of "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." His people, therefore, are from thenceforth those and those only whom (through faith in that Name) He has called effectively in grace, and quickened by the Spirit from their natural death in trespasses and sins. As to the calling of that people, it is expressed in Scripture to be distinctively a heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1); while the manner of their blessing is in exact agreement with the order of their vocation. Accordingly, they are said in the present verse to be blessed, (1), "with all spiritual blessings," (2), "in heavenly places," and, (3), "in Christ."

Commencing with the last of these expressions, it is evident that we are to consider it with immediate reference to those which precede it in the same verse. For it is settled firmly, as a fundamental principle in every believer's heart, that out of Christ God's blessing of any kind is unattainable. It is also true that in its essential quality the blessing which belongs, in Christ, to the generation of God's children is always the same, without reference to dispensational variety, or even to distinctions of a more enduring kind. LIFE is the blessing which forms the common portion of the family of faith.* But upon that single basis God has founded, in the riches of His grace and wisdom, diversities of a highly important as well as interesting description. To define the nature and effect of some of these distinctions, and by so doing to bring more readily within the grasp of our faith the peculiar portion of the Church of God, is manifestly one great object of the Spirit in the present epistle.

{*Life, whether as now known to the believer in its Divine hiding-place (Col. 3:3), or when manifested in its outward effects on earth, when the land. of Immanuel will be filled with the united tribes of the resuscitated nation. Compare Ps. 133:3; Ezek. 37, passim.}

It is known to every Christian, that the Christ from whom he has his name, and in whom he is supremely blessed of God, is a rejected Christ. The position of Jesus at the right hand. of the Majesty in the heavens results from His repudiation by mankind, whether Jew or Gentile, upon earth. Had the world acknowledged Him, it would have shown itself capable of knowing and reverencing God. Had Israel received Him, they would have evinced their fitness to enjoy the long-promised blessings of Messiah's reign, and that reign would have at once commenced. But the Scripture was not to be so fulfilled The Stone of Israel must be first rejected, that it might afterwards become the Head-Stone of the corner. The sure promises of God remain indeed unchanged; and, therefore, the seed of Jacob will not fail to enter, at the time appointed, on their father's portion. But while Israel remains in blindness, all such national promises are in suspense. The day is yet to come when "Israel shall rejoice in Him that made him, and the children of Zion shall be joyful in their King."* When that day comes, it will bring with it a rich and exact fulfilment of that sure word of prophecy which places the remotest limits of the earth under the acknowledged sceptre of the King of kings. It will be the day of regeneration, of restitution; the day of the Lord, and of His manifested kingdom; in contrast to the present day of man, and, therefore, of evil and sorrow to all who are the children of the Light.**

{*Ps. 149:2; compare also Ps. 118. The present spiritual application of such Scriptures may be fully admitted, without prejudice to their ultimate prophetic bearing. An attempt has been made to illustrate this principle in my Notes on the Psalms.

**As it is impossible to attempt an argumentative proof from Scripture of the doctrine here affirmed, without an inconvenient departure from the plan of the present work, I may refer the reader who desires such proof to what I have written on the subject, in chapters 9 — 11 of my Notes on the Epistle to the Romans.}

But while the day of the earth's jubilee is still a, prophecy, there is ministered to the believer by the Spirit a yet richer portion as a present truth (2 Peter 1:2). God blesses now in Christ the people whose calling is to suffer for His sake, and that in a manner worthy of His more excellent name as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is with a full and overflowing measure, that the heirs of salvation are already blessed in Christ. As it respects the quality of their blessings, they are distinctively spiritual. They are aptly bestowed, therefore, upon those whose description as partakers of the risen Christ is, that they are no longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit.* The sphere of their enjoyment is not earth, but heaven. We are blessed in heavenly places, because blessed in Christ, who is in heaven. The realization, therefore, of true Christian blessedness belongs only to that faith which joins the believer, in the mystery of spiritual oneness, to Him who is already crowned in heaven as the appointed Heir of all things (1 Cor. 6:17; Heb. 1:2).

{* Rom. 8:9. This seems the proper moment for anticipating a possible misconception on the reader's part of the principle stated in the text. Beyond all question, temporal blessings are to be expected at the Father's hands, as well as spiritual ones. God withholds from them who love Him nothing that is really in the nature of a blessing. But what is or is not such, in our case, must be determined by His wise discretion, who does not withdraw His care from His own children to bestow it on the lily of the field (Luke 12). All things are ours, if we are Christ's. The earth and its fulness are to be enjoyed, in the conscious liberty of redemption, according to the bounty of that grace which gives us all things richly to enjoy. Yet the difference is surely very wide between a grateful use of wayside mercies and the diligent pursuit of temporal objects on their own account. Things which the world seeks after naturally, are shunned by those whom the Spirit of the Father leads. We are called, indeed, to liberty, but warned not to use that liberty as an occasion to the flesh. The wise reader may be left to determine, in his own conscience, how far the Church has, in the course of her strange history, given heed to such warnings of the Spirit.}

The contrast between such an order of blessing, and that to which reference has recently been made, is too complete and striking to be easily overlooked. It has only to be clearly stated, in order to be felt in its full force. While Jesus sits in heaven, the affections of His brethren are directed thither by the Spirit (Col. 3:1-3). When the throne of His dominion is established upon earth, that which is now to be dreaded by the Christian as a snare of destruction, will be to the regenerated Israelite a chief ornament of grace.* The practical importance of the distinctions here briefly noticed will appear more manifestly as we proceed. It may be well, perhaps, before quitting the present verse, to look at it again for a moment in its actual bearing on our faith.

{* Let the inquiring reader compare the Apostle's solemn warning against the minding of earthly things, in Phil. 3:19, with the rich promises of temporal increase as the effect of spiritual blessing, when that blessing is poured upon Jerusalem in the latter day. Isaiah 61 may be cited as a sample of what is indeed the constant burden of Jewish prophecy.}

"All spiritual blessings in Christ." Such is the tenor of that rich endowment with which God is now pleased to bless the believing vessels of His mercy. The chief of all these blessings, and which contains the rest, is, as we have seen, ETERNAL LIFE. Of the moral qualities of that life, together with its glorious destinies, the Spirit speaks at large in this epistle. Here it is only necessary to remember that, as the means of its eventual manifestation and complete enjoyment, a spiritual body is also promised us, which is presently to supersede the natural one, in which we groan. He in whom we are blessed is essentially the Quickening Spirit; while He does not cease to make Himself known to us as the Resurrection and the Life, by retaining for ever the flesh in which He suffered for our sins (Luke 24:39). Spiritual blessings are in their nature eternal also. And, although their Fountain is in heaven, and there also will be enjoyed their fullest realization, yet in their manifested effect the whole creation will participate at the appointed time. That, which now sends up to the ear of God one universal groan, is waiting for "the manifestation of the sons of God" (Rom. 8:19-22). Meanwhile, it is in the Name, and according to the moral comeliness, of Christ, that we are blessed. For the blessing of the righteous God can rest only upon that which is found to be worthy of it in the judgment of His holiness. And this we are in Him, who is our Righteousness. Now, blessing in all possible fulness is the natural ornament of Jesus, as it is written: "Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into Thy lips: therefore God has blessed Thee for ever" (Ps. 45:2). And it is of His fulness that believers have received, and grace for grace. We are blessed in Christ as creatures and as sons. Naturally heirs of wrath because of sin, we are honoured in the Saviour with the rich rewards of righteousness, and accepted in the freeness of paternal love. The God of all grace has found His pleasure in arraying our nakedness in the costly garments of His great salvation. Moreover, being born of God through the effective power of His word, we come to our own in Jesus, as joint heirs with Him. The causes, both immediate and remote, by means of which this consummation is attained, the Apostle opens presently in detail. What has already been affirmed is, the absolute completeness of the believer's blessedness, as the subject of almighty grace and power, independently of all that can operate for good or evil on his natural condition in the world. Our blessings, as our life, are all IN CHRIST.

Verse 4. "According as He has chosen us in Him," etc. The blessings which God bestows upon His creature are in their nature absolute. To think otherwise, would be to imagine in the creature an independent claim on the Creator. This is a clear and necessary principle, irrespective of the doctrine of redemption. But, morally considered, the blessing of God is His sanction of the state of him on whom the blessing is conferred. What God approves He blesses. It is clear that He never can bless what is at variance with Himself. Nor, on the other hand, can the creature occupy an acceptable position in the sight of God, except as the effect of His own will, who formed the creature for Himself. These essential conditions of blessing were found in the first man, Adam, before he sold himself to sin. As an unfallen creature he stood in natural perfection. But from the moment of His fall, not creation, but regenerative grace, has commended man to God as a recipient of blessing. And that grace, being in its nature free and voluntary, becomes the effective expression of the choice of Him who saves His people by its means. God was not man's choice, as we have seen, even while man was wholly free to choose. Having chosen sin he is become sin's slave, until recovered from that bondage by a mightier power than his own. Because, therefore, the will of fallen man is found to be naturally alien from God, the effecting for him of the great work of sacrificial atonement was insufficient in itself to save the objects of Divine mercy. They must be rendered personally willing to acknowledge and obey that sovereign love, which made itself manifest in redeeming grace. Power, therefore, must create effectively the vessels of that mercy which is God's good pleasure; or the gospel, although flowing in its freeness as the full river of eternal life, would invite the lips of man in vain.

To the well-taught Christian, the doctrine of Divine election is as simple as it is necessary. For the moment sin is scripturally understood, the grace which meets it is perceived to be an active decision of the will of God. The love which is God's true nature, is free and sovereign in its operation; and to the believer all things are of God. He calls, He begets, He creates anew, He saves, He opens the blind eyes, and pours on them at will the light of life. It is He who causes that which once was loved to be abhorred, and the Name which once had no real value in our eyes to become the Rock of our salvation, the sole confidence and joy of our hearts. It is God who justifies the sinner by His grace, and who makes him know that he is passed from death to life. Instead, therefore, of finding difficulty in the scriptural assurance, that they were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, those who through grace are simple in the faith find nothing but an increase of their joy. They are well assured that the God with whom they have to do is the Eternal God. That His counsels, therefore, should precede His works, is no strange thought to them. A little reflection is sufficient to establish in the hearts of such the sweet conviction, that long before God suffered them to reach their natural birth of sorrow, He had known them, and provided for them in His purpose of redeeming love. For it is in Christ that God thinks upon His people; and Christ is God's eternal Son. His choice was there. Foreseeing the long drama of sublunary and sinful human life, He devised beforehand the sure means of setting His elect before His face for ever in holiness and peace, when a guilty and unbelieving world should find itself excluded from His presence by the righteous judgment of that truth which it despised.*

{* Rom. 2. The testimonies of Scripture lead us sometimes to the verge of that mystery which all minds wish to penetrate, but which God has hitherto revealed to none. God has His matters, as to which He gives as yet no explanation, even to the children of His love. The origin of evil, the necessity of its introduction and development in His creation, who is only Good — the nature and rationale of the Divine government, etc. These, and many other topics equally beyond the measure of the human understanding, may, indeed, sometimes present themselves to the believer's mind among the numerous methods of distraction, by means of which the Adversary seeks to turn our souls from Christ, and so to spoil us of our peace and glory (Col. 2:8). But it is evident, that a certain degree of ignorance on our parts is essential to our spiritual well-being. The word of God is the true mine of our knowledge; and by faith we draw its treasures to the surface. If we knew all things, in a purely intellectual sense,# we should cease to be morally in that dependent position which now constitutes our distinctive blessing as believers. Doubtless, God's election of His saints is to be numbered among those things which only He as yet can understand. He knows His own mind perfectly. We learn it partially as He is pleased to make it known to us in grace. When we know Him as we are known of Him, it is possible, though by no means certain, that the reason of His conduct may be brought within our comprehension. In the meanwhile, His secret is His people's life and strength.

# In another and far happier sense, we have an unction from the Holy One, and know all things (1 John 10).}

The power of God, not less than His sovereign goodness, is declared in His election of His saints. For it is in opposition to all that is naturally characteristic of man, that He works the work of their salvation. Holiness and blamelessness are declared to be the qualities essential to Divine acceptance. And where should man naturally seek for either of these things, but in himself? He knows well that he ought to be holy; and that if blame attaches to him, it is his reproach. Accordingly, while the heart remains unbroken, self-justification is ever found to be its strongest instinct. But the Spirit of truth, when acting in regenerative power, effectually withers all confidence in the flesh. Bringing the word of God to bear with quickening keenness upon the conscience, He thus reduces the awakened sinner to a just estimate of his intrinsic guiltiness as well as helplessness. Reasonings and querulous debatings are stilled into an uneasy silence, both by the native force of truth, and by the dread of One who cannot be escaped from, and to whom all power belongs. It is then that an opening is found for grace to act. In the hour of man's conscious wretchedness, God speaks to him in friendliness and peace. He makes him understand, that if power be His glory, mercy is also His delight and loudest praise. When we submit ourselves to God, He lets us know that He is purely LOVE. He preaches peace to us by Jesus Christ.

Verse 5. "Having predestinated us," etc. Predestination marks the lot of those who are the objects of election. The love which chose, in Christ, lost sinners for salvation, defined beforehand both the place and title which the saved were to enjoy. God desired to surround Himself with many sons. ONE Son He always had, and never could another naturally share His right. But in the fulness which belongs to the Only-Begotten, there exist the means of manifold impartation and of multiplied resemblance. Sonship, therefore, is the state and quality into which the power of elective love would bring its objects. By Jesus Christ, the Father, who surrendered Him to death for our sakes, would thus accomplish the good pleasure of His will. It is important to remember that the Apostle, in addressing Christians on the subject of their proper standing and its attendant blessings, is strictly confining his view to the Church of God's election. For not one result, but many, were contemplated by the Divine good pleasure, in sending Christ to be the Saviour of the world. We shall have large proof of this a little further on. At present we are dealing exclusively with the origin and calling of "the Church of God." Nor is it the future blessedness of the redeemed that the Apostle here describes, but their conscious position as believers. Glory will adorn hereafter that which grace already has effected. But while walking still by faith and not by sight, the Spirit of adoption is sent forth into our hearts, and thus are we emboldened to cry "Abba, Father," unto Him who, in the finished work of Jesus, has attained the measure of His will. Accordingly it is added, in the verse which follows, that all things are,

Verse 6. "To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us to be accepted* in the Beloved." The grace of God is glorified as the effective means by which the purposes of electing love are compassed. That conscious sinners should be encouraged to assume the place of sons of God, is indeed a triumph of His grace. The language of this verse is most significant. We are viewed with acceptance in the Beloved. But since the Beloved of the Father is also the despised of men, the manifestations of His love to usward are according to the tenor of our calling, as confessors of THE CROSS. We are not, therefore, brought, as a token of the Father's favour, into the fatness of an earthly portion. Instead of riding on the high places of the earth, which is the heritage of Jacob, we are invited by the Gospel to look upwards into heaven; to view there the Pattern of our blessedness in the Person of the ascended Son of man (Acts 7:56). Instead of being spread visibly before us in the multitude of outward blessings, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the power of the Holy Ghost (Rom. 5:6; see the earlier note on Rom. 8:9). Christ glorified is the living assurance to His brethren, that they for whom He suffered in the flesh are loved in Him, as He is loved of God. The Father has bestowed that manner of love on us (1 John 3:1). As, therefore, the Beloved is in heaven, so are we also, in the eyes of God's affection, even in the midst of our conflicts and afflictions in the world (1 John 4:17). The Person of the Beloved becomes thus the all-absorbing Object of true Christian faith. We love Him whom the Father loves; knowing and loving the Father in the Son. On the other hand, we are loved in Him according to the strength of an affection which none but Jesus can yet worthily appreciate. If, therefore, we would learn the manner of our blessedness, we must surrender our hearts to the direction of that Comforter who expounds to God's children the secret of their joy, by declaring to them what the Father knows to be in Jesus. Both what we are and what we have, must be learned by immediate reference to Him in whom we stand.

{* echaritosen. This term appears to express, 1st, our being favoured absolutely in Christ, according to the sovereignty of Divine election, and, 2nd, our subjective investment with the comeliness of Him who alone is acceptable in the Father's sight.}

Grace, then, which gives its efficacy to the sovereign will of God, becomes, for that reason, a theme of glorious praise to Him. But who are to minister this praise? Assuredly, the fulness of creation will consent with gladness to its Maker's glory in the coming day. And in that general anthem the ransomed Church will have pre-eminence, in praises as in place. She will lead, instead. of following, the choir of heaven.* But already grace is glorified in praise wherever faith has tasted that the Lord is gracious. To show forth the praises of Him who has called. us out of darkness into His marvellous light, is the proper occupation of those who already are a royal priesthood through electing grace. By the Spirit, Jesus the First-born moves the celebration of the Father's praise among the brethren of His love (Heb. 2:12). It is the glory of our calling to offer a continual sacrifice of praise to God, by the steadfast confession of Jesus, as the only hope of our souls (Heb. 13:15). True Christian worship dates its beginning from our consciousness, through faith, of our personal acceptance in the Beloved. For they who worship God in the Spirit, "rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3).

{* Rev. 5:8-14; where the gradations of this universal homage are strikingly expressed.}

Verse 7. "In whom we have redemption, through His blood," etc. If grace, in its eventual results, redounds in glory to the God of grace, its riches, on the other hand, become the overflowing cup of our salvation. And it is faith in Christ, as the Propitiation for our sins, that places that cup in our hands. Accordingly the Apostle, after declaring the acceptable standing of the believer to be the effect of Divine election and predestinating mercy, brings forward now the doctrine of redemption, as that which furnishes the door of conscious entrance on our parts into the assured enjoyment of that grace wherein we stand. That believers have received, is no less true than that God has given. And it is in the Name of Him whom God has set before us as the object of our faith that we obtain this gift. In His Beloved, we already HAVE redemption: not completely, as it respects its ultimate effects, for otherwise its power would already have been felt in the transformation of our bodies also, into their predestined likeness to His glorious body (Rom. 8:29; Phil. 3:21; 1 Cor. 15:49); but we have it most really and effectually, so far as it relates to our deliverance from sin and its final consequences. As to the price of this full ransom, it was the Redeemer's sacrificial death. In Him "we have redemption, through His blood, the forgiveness of sins."* The shedding of that precious blood is the complete and necessary remission of our sins.** Such is the present truth enjoyed by the believing sinner. Faith thus becomes the link which binds the receiver of mercy to the God who blesses him; and Jesus crucified is the immediate Object of that faith.

{* ton paraptomaton. A word more usually rendered by "trespasses" or "offences." See further, as to the distinction between trespasses and sins, the explanatory foot-note on Eph. 2:1.

** The dying of the Lamb being the righteous vindication, in triumphant grace, of that solemn oracle of judgment which declares that "without shedding of blood there is no remission." Compare Heb. 9:22 with 10:18.}

The doctrine of sacrificial redemption is a truth which addresses itself to man as he naturally is. For it is the appointed medium through which alone he can become acquainted with God as a Saviour. While, therefore, God reserves the treasures of His wisdom as the especial portion of His children, He publishes the tidings of salvation to the world. Christ is set forth freely, as His unveiled Mercy-seat, accessible to all who will approach. Predestination and election are not the truths which demonstrate the love of God to sinners. Gracious atonement is its standing proof. Redemption by blood speaks intelligibly, though yet marvellously, to a guilty conscience. It is at the Cross that the meeting-point is found, between the sovereign holiness of Him who chose us in His love, and ourselves, when most keenly sensible of our natural unfitness for His presence. The relation in which these several doctrines stand to each other is very plain. A believing knowledge of redemption converts a sinful man into a saint. The worshipper, once purged, has no more conscience of sins. It is after we have bowed our hearts, through grace, to the glad tidings of the Gospel, that we are brought within the Father's house, to learn there, more perfectly, the origin and eternal stability of our joy. Redemption by blood is the sinner's first necessity, even as sounding the depths of the Redeemer's love, is the saint's chief wonder and delight.

Since the Apostle does not now reason on this doctrine, but only states it in its order, as the palpable evidence to the believer of the saving love of God, it cannot be enlarged on here.* It should, however, be well remembered that it is in pointed connexion with the Person of Christ that it is regarded in this passage. It is in Him that we have redemption. He is our redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). By the shedding of His blood He wrought our ransom. By His resurrection from the dead, He proved the completeness of His work. Having resumed His life by the same right by which He laid it down, He abides for ever as the Witness of redemption to His own. But it was by the grace of God that Jesus died. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. The riches of His grace are appreciated by the heart of each believer, in proportion to his personal knowledge of the Saviour. That the Holy One is also rich in grace, could be shown in no way so convincingly as by the surrender of His Son to death, for the redemption of those whom His own righteous sentence against sin had made captive to the power of death. Sin being mortal in its effect, without shedding of blood there could be no remission. And only He who had imposed this hard though just condition, could fulfil it. For sinners could not work their own atonement; nor could an angel pay man's debt to God. Between the guilty and the Judge of sin, there could arise no independent mediator of salvation. And so, when Jehovah saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor, His own arm brought salvation. He spared not His own Son, but gave Him freely up to die, the Just One for the countless multitude of sinners who should be thus brought nigh to Him in love (Isa. 59:16; 1 Peter 3:18). The knowledge of redemption, as a fact accomplished, is the standing proof to the believer that there is nothing, and can be nothing, charged against him on the side of God. It is God who justifies. Having willed the death of Jesus for our sins, He is content with that one Offering. It is the God of judgment who commends His love to sinners in the cross of Jesus. Very abundant, and, to the self-judging spirit, hard to be believed, is that grace which deals with sinners after such a sort. But its rich abundance does but the more compel us to look at Christ as the only explanation of its reality. It is in Him who alone is worthy that we have redemption, even the forgiveness of our sins.

{*The subject has been treated more fully in chap. 9 of my Notes on the Epistle to the Hebrews.}

The weak believer is entreated to remember that forgiveness of sins in Christ is a definitive release from blame.* The things here placed in contrast are our sins and the riches of Divine grace. The comparison is not equal, but unequal. By a rich preponderance, the grace of God overbalances, in Christ, the utmost measure of our guilt. In forgiving us, God glorifies His Son. But partial forgiveness would shed no glory on the name of Jesus. For He is a SAVIOUR. Conditional forgiveness, on the other hand, would be no longer grace, but law. But the Gospel is the ministration, not of sin and condemnation, but of righteousness and life (2 Cor. 3:7-9). God's free forgiveness of our sins is founded on His view of the redemption which was wrought for us by Jesus. All is made to depend exclusively upon His blood. And that precious blood is declared by the Spirit to have in His eyes the value of an eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12).

{*As a man, that is, under the original responsibilities of his birth and position before God. A Christian has new responsibilities which attach to his vocation. Blame may be justly incurred by him in this new character and relationship. Alas! it is so continually. "In many things we all offend." But this does not at all affect the believer's standing in Christ. We are complete in Him. As to the restorative grace and mercy which meet the Christian in the power of Divine faithfulness, their mediate display, and practical application to our need, are in the ministry of the great High Priest of our profession. See Notes on the Hebrews — passim.}

Verse 8. "Wherein He has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence." The free forgiveness of our sins in Christ is far from exhausting the riches of the grace of God. He who saves us is the only wise God, and in the method of His present work, as the Creator of His Church, He makes manifest to faith both the glory of His wisdom and the deep perfection of His counsel. God had a definite intention (phronesis) in the calling of His Church. To know that purpose and enjoy the amazing wealth of blessedness which it contains, is even now the portion of the saints. Wisdom and prudence are exemplified in all God's works: whether in the varied marvels of Creation or in the preparation of a vessel of salvation, He is perfect in his way. But the true knowledge of that way is possessed by those only who have been quickened by His grace, and established in perfection through the faith of Jesus. Natural sagacity is powerless to reach the mysteries of God. They are open only to the spiritual man. There are varying measures, too, of spiritual progress. A babe in Christ may, if humbly walking in the faith, grow rapidly to the strength and stature of a man. On the other hand, a lack of humble-mindedness or diligence may entail a long and discreditable minority upon those who are not the less secure, through grace, in the abiding love of God.3 But undoubtedly the purpose of our calling is to know the God who blesses us. Not only is it given us to be assured that He whose power is almighty is our Shield and ultimate Reward, but, as a present exchange for the vanities which fruitlessly exercise the natural mind, we are invited to seek out our pleasure in the study of His way.

{* Heb. 5:12: compare 1 Cor. 1:5 with 3; 4 of the same Epistle, for a striking instance of the compatibility of rich spiritual endowment with extreme spiritual foolishness. The reader is requested to keep in his remembrance, while reading the observations on the present verse, the whole of 1 Cor. 2.)

Wisdom and prudence, which in truth are attributes of the Divine glory, are also, by wrongful pretension, the crown of human pride. To know, was man's first lust. To raise himself by knowledge to the appointed limit of his pride, will be the fatal fruit of his desire. When he mistakes himself for God, he will be consumed by the Truth he has so long defied (2 Thess. 2; Rev. 13; 16:13, 14; 19:11-21). Between lust's first conception in the garden and the finishing of sin in the coming day of wrath, the cardinal events of human history on which the Holy Ghost has placed some special stigma of Divine disapprobation, have been the deliberate result of human counsel. It is not needful to cite instances to illustrate to the Christian reader the truth of that solemn saying, that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." It is enough to remind him that they who were masters in it showed its value when they crucified the Lord of glory. And now that grace has triumphed through that deed, and God entreats men to be reconciled to Him in Christ, the wise and prudent of this world continue to be those whose hearts are hardest closed against the message of His love.

But, to the justified believer, Christ is Light as well as Life. Knowledge of all things is bestowed (according to the measure of their faith and diligence) on those who have the mind of Christ (1 John 2:20; 1 Cor. 2:12-16); and all have that mind who have Him as their Life. We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we may know the things that are freely given to us of God. Christ is the wisdom of God; and they who are saved in Him are called to know Him in His fulness. Now that wisdom touches all that is of God. Things present or to come, in earth or heaven, stand each in its appointed relation to the Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2); but the nature of that relation, though published as a truth to the whole world, is at present only understood by the believer. To the world, God's wisdom is a hidden thing; it is in a mystery (1 Cor. 2:7), and therefore accessible to none but the initiated. The things of Christ can be known and appreciated only by those who by faith have knowledge of Himself. Not only therefore is the Christian nourished by the Comforter upon the flesh and blood of Jesus, as his daily spiritual sustenance, and in the strength of that meat led onward, by the same gracious Conductor, to nearer and richer views of the heavenly inheritance, but he is also enabled to form right ideas as to all that is already visible. The friends of Jesus are admitted into the fellowship of all His purposes (John 15:15). The true character and end of the course of this world is intelligible only to the spiritual man, for the Spirit of God is wiser than the spirit of the age. Gospel light shows plainly to the child of God things hidden from the wariest eye of sense. Where statesmen and philosophers can only calculate or theorize, the Christian judges with a full knowledge of results. He has been lifted up upon the Rock of life, not only to know that he is safe, but that, from the holy summit of the mount of God, he might look both backward and forward upon the works and ways of God. Rich and wide indeed is the view thence commanded into the fields of time and of eternity.

Verse 9. One great example of this abounding of grace in wisdom is now stated: "Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself." Things hidden from the wise and prudent, are revealed in Christ to the Father's little ones.* It may be necessary, in the first place, to remark, that the language of this verse by no means refers exclusively to the Apostle and his fellow-labourers, but is the common portion of the saints. We have been renewed for such knowledge after the image of Him that created us (eis epignosin Col. 3:10). God, who refuses to impart to His children the knowledge of many a mystery, their ignorance of which is an intended bridle upon natural high-mindedness, has freely disclosed to them all that pertains to life and godliness. To know His will is the privilege of those whom He has chosen (Acts 22:14). They are called to make their pilgrimage towards the promised rest, in the clear shining of a light which makes plain the way of their feet. By the sure word of prophetic testimony, they are enabled to speak of things, yet future and unseen, with holy confidence and full assurance; for the Spirit witnesses of things to come (2 Peter 1:19-21; John 16:13).

{* Matt. 11:25. This passage exhibits, in a deeply interesting manner, the moral connexion which subsists between the fellowship of Christ's sufferings and initiation into the mysteries of God.}

The particular mystery to which reference is here made is described in the ensuing verse. But before proceeding further, it will be useful to observe in what respects the believer, in this present dispensation, differs, in regard to his knowledge of the things of God, from a saint of old. In a general sense, the mysteries of God have always been the property of God's elect; for to be in His secret has, from the beginning, been the privilege of faith. To Enoch, to Noah, to Abraham, as well as, later, to the Jewish prophets, God revealed, not only the great promise of salvation, but the certainties of His future administrative dealings as the Governor of the nations, whether in judgment or in grace. The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 19:10) In gracious suffering or in reigning power, Messiah was constantly before the vision of the holy men of old. Faith lived and suffered hopefully through its appropriation of the word of God, while an unbelieving people was growing in blindness and obduracy of heart by the neglect of the same word. When the vision of all was become as a sealed book to the rebellious house (Isa. 29:11, 12), its open page still cheered the patience of God's prisoners of hope. With respect to the limits within which their knowledge was confined, it may be stated generally that, while the Incarnation was a futurity, the Light which lightens every man had not yet risen, though it dawned with a constantly increasing clearness, through the prophetic Scripture, as it drew toward the horizon. The birth of Jesus was the welcome rising of that Light upon those who waited for redemption in Israel. But it is certain that the prophets, whose words were the depositary of God's hidden wisdom, although fully conscious of the paramount subject of their testimony, were unable to receive, as "present truth," the things to which the Spirit testified (1 Peter 1:11, 12). He who moved them to a true utterance of the Divine counsel, was not bestowed on them as the indwelling power of Divine communion. The Spirit acted but was not yet given. He could be no seal of an unfinished work. Until Messiah came and had fulfilled the Scripture, neither His sufferings nor the glories which should follow, could be otherwise apprehended than by a faith which kept the eye of God's true seers fixed upon them as their covenanted hope.

But Israel's Hope is now become the Portion of the Church. The fulfilment of the one great mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16) has brought the partakers of the heavenly calling into the fellowship of other mysteries, some of which were hidden entirely from them of old.* The disappointment of proper Jewish expectation, is the beginning of true Christian hope. We receive a kingdom now through faith in Him who is the King of kings Instead of such a present revelation of Messiah's sceptre, as must fill all earth as well as heaven with His praise, the true discernment of the kingdom and its destinies is the exclusive portion of those who are companions of Christ's patience until the day of His appearing. The mysteries of the kingdom are their present study (Matt. 13:11), even as its manifested glory is their promised hope. Neither the mystery of Christ (Col. 4:3) nor the mystery of iniquity (2 Thess. 2:7; Rev. 17:5) was presented to the contemplation of the Jewish saint. The long and yet unfinished interval which divides, in the New Testament, the ascension of Jesus into heaven from His re-appearance in the glory of His power, was hidden, there is every reason to believe, from all who waited for Him as the Nation's hope. With them the redemption of Israel and their prosperous enjoyment of the kingdom upon earth, were always viewed together as inseparable truths. How the Lord's disciples felt and hoped with reference to these things, even after He had given them a right understanding of the Jewish Scriptures, is well known to the attentive reader of the Word (Acts 1:6). That redemption was an anterior purpose to creation — that Christ stood from eternity before the mind of God as the pre-eminent and all-containing object of His counsel — that in Christ the Church of His election was the anticipative receiver of His promise — these and similar truths, which form now the very fatness of the Christian's portion, were none of them distinctly seen, and some of them concealed entirely from the view of faith, until the Holy Ghost came down from heaven to announce, as the Witness of a glorified Christ (1 John 2:8), the passing away of the time of darkness, and to become Himself, to the blood-cleansed believer in Jesus, the indwelling Light of life and knowledge. It is, therefore, in the fact of the communication of the Spirit of adoption to the latter, that the true cause is to be found of the difference, in point of realized Divine knowledge, between the Jewish and the Christian saint. The Spirit, who spake by the former, and who often cheered their hearts with comfortable words, never took possession of them as God's living temples, nor made them understand that they and the Lord they worshipped were mystically one. But, as we have seen, to the Christian the entire field of truth is open. The Holy Ghost is not sent only to clear up to our minds some prophecies of difficult interpretation, but to guide the brethren of Jesus into all the truth. What we are called by faith to inherit, we are already taught to understand. The mystery of the will of God is now made known to us, as a consequence of the new and filial relationship in which, through grace, we stand to Him in Christ.

{* Infra, chap. In Rom. 11:25 we are shown a mystery of inversion; i.e., the postponing of Israel's hope to the incoming of the fulness of the Gentiles, such as no Jewish prophet ever contemplated.}

Verse 10. The specific declaration of Divine purpose is now stated: "That in (or, with a view to, eis) the dispensation of the fulness of times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him." Although the language of this verse is not in itself ambiguous, it is likely that some difficulty may be experienced by the reader in determining the nature of the epoch here contemplated by the Apostle, and characterized as the "dispensation of the fulness of times." As, therefore, it is of importance to endeavour to define with precision the meaning of this expression, it will be well to devote a little space to its consideration.

There is only one other passage in the New Testament where a somewhat similar expression occurs. But in turning to Gal. 4:4, it will be presently seen that, while they bear to each other a certain verbal resemblance, the two passages do not otherwise coincide. They are, in fact, of widely different signification. The Apostle, in the passage just referred to, is speaking of the incarnation and its effects, so far as they relate to the redemption of those who were naturally under law. The Son of God was sent forth for their redemption "when the fulness of the time* was come," an expression having obvious reference both to the antecedent legal dispensation and to the original promise, which the giving of the law could not deprive of its effect.6 In the present verse, however, both the term employed and the nature of the general argument are materially different. As to the former, it is not the arrival of an epoch in the ordinary flow of time that is described, but the completion of that series of distinctive periods, which in popular language we call dispensations. The expressions themselves, then, although for the English reader they resemble each other, are by no means identical; while the present argument relates not, like the former, to the moral effect of the work of redemption in bringing the believer into spiritual liberty, but to its eventual and manifested triumph through the establishment, in all-prevailing power, of the universal sovereignty of Christ.

{* to pleroma tou chronou.

** Compare the whole reasoning of the Apostle in the previous chapter.

*** eis oikonomian tou pleromatos ton kairon. A comparison of this with the former quotation will convince the reader that their verbal difference is much more than imaginary. It is not, however, upon literal criticism, but on the general tenor of the Spirit's testimony, that the view given in the text is based.}

Quite independently, however, of the meaning of any isolated passage, a mature consideration of the Apostle's general testimony will, it is believed, show conclusively that he does not here refer to the existing dispensation, but to one to come. For nothing less is contemplated in this verse, than a consummation of God's dispensational government, by bringing under the acknowledged headship of Christ, both things in heaven and things in earth. It has, no doubt, been thought by many Christians, that the Gospel dispensation is the final one. But that this is an erroneous impression has been partly shown already in what has been remarked as to the distinctive position of the Church. In further proof of this, the Christian reader may he now reminded, that the constant burden of the Spirit's testimonies to the Church describes the existing dispensation as one, both of uncertain duration and of ceaseless trial to the faithful disciple. The opposing powers of flesh and spirit, of light and darkness, of Christ and Belial, stand arrayed against each other until its close. An essential difference must surely be recognized between a period, during which SATAN is the acknowledged prince and god of this world, and one in which CHRIST reigns not more supremely and effectively in heaven than on earth. It is a promise to the saints, that God will shortly bruise Satan under their feet (Rom. 16:20). The hour of his bondage, and of the creature's liberty, is declared to be at hand. But in the meanwhile, the course of the professing world is affirmed to be one of steady deterioration, until what once owned ostensible subjection, at least, to the name of Jesus, is found arrayed for the last conflict under the banners of the Beast (Rev. 19:19). In a word, the present dispensation, which in one sense may be said to have begun at the moment of our Saviour's disappearance from the eyes of His disciples, is necessarily one of patient expectation and desire to those to whom it has been promised, that He shall again return in like manner as He went (Acts 1:9-11).

It has already been remarked, that among the things which, in the present dispensation, the Spirit of God sets in opposition to each other, earth and heaven stand in very conspicuous contrast. To set one's heart now upon earthly things is to be following the way of destruction. Few things are placed more frequently and vividly before the Christian in the word of truth, than the great principle that the believer has done with present things, except as he can use them to the Lord. It is in heaven that our life is hid with Christ in God. It is there also that we know that our inheritance is laid up. We are citizens in heaven but strangers upon earth. Our home is there, while we are pilgrims here. Moreover, the house which we are to abide in everlastingly is not only prepared for us in heaven, but we are taught to await the moment, not when we shall rise to enter it, but when it shall descend upon us from above; that instead of being unclothed we may be clothed upon, and that mortality may be swallowed up of life (2 Cor. 5:1-4). And both to comfort us in our tribulation, and to warn us amid the unceasing temptations to which both faith and patience are exposed, we are constantly reminded that the Lord is near to come, and that the end of all things is at hand (1 Peter 4:7).

But the dispensation* of the fulness of times, instead of separating earth from heaven, and making the name of Jesus the effective barrier which divides them, is destined to unite them in the closest bonds. Instead of tribulation following as its shadow all true confession of the Cross, the only name then honoured and exalted among men will be the Name of Jesus. The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day (Isa. 2:17)! The heavens shall declare His righteousness, and all the nations shall behold His glory. The place allotted to the Church in the coming dispensation, will appear more distinctly in the sequel. The verse now under consideration is confined to a general statement of the Divine purpose, so far as it relates to the setting up, by the God of heaven, of a kingdom, which is to reduce under the immediate sway of His anointed, both things in heaven and things on earth. Grace and judgment will be united in the sceptre of that King; His administration will be the reign of righteousness, while its effect will be to change the present groaning of creation into the joyful utterance of Jehovah's praise (Ps. 96; 83:18).

{* The word thus translated is not of very frequent use in the New Testament. In four instances of the eight# in which it occurs, it is so rendered. Thrice, in Luke 16, it is translated "stewardship," and once, in 1 Tim. 1:4 (though by no means exactly) "edifying;" the translators seeming to have followed in the latter passage, the inferior reading, oikodomen. There is no real difficulty about the word. It means simply the administration of a household, of which meaning Luke 16 affords a perfect example. Its application, by extension, to the government of God, is both obvious and natural. It is also plain that, having this general signification, the word may be used with reference either to the Supreme Source of power, to the subject about which it is exercised, or to the person to whom it is entrusted. Thus, when Paul says (1 Cor. 9:17) that a dispensation of the gospel is committed to him, we feel no difficulty in understanding this expression in its manifest reference to his labour as an apostle of Christ. Again, in Col 1:25, he speaks of a dispensation of God; thus indicating, in addition to the object of his ministry, the source from whence his power was derived. The word, in short, has a fixed and steady meaning, and when used in immediate relation to God, it signifies the ordered administration of His will, whether in grace or power, or both.

#Or nine, if the reading now generally adopted at chap. 3:9 of this Epistle be preferred.}

And now, lest it should suggest itself to any mind, that this prospective dispensation of general blessedness is no other than the everlasting state, wherein the new heavens and the new earth will be the acceptable rest of their Creator, and God's tabernacle will abide eternally with men, it is needful to repeat, that it is in Christ that the future government of peace is to be established. And, if some sound-hearted believer hasten to object, that the Son is to be equalled in honour to the Father, and that if God dwells with His people in that changeless state, He will not cease to be the same true God and eternal Life, as He is now known and worshipped by the true worshippers, who confess Him in His Son (1 John 5:20), it will be sufficient, in order to clear up the seeming difficulty, to refer such an objector to what is written in 1 Cor. 15. For in verses 23-28 of that chapter, there is announced distinctly, among other things, the double truth — first, that at the coming of Christ, His people will be raised to meet Him; and, secondly, that at the subsequent conclusion of His reign, He will Himself be subject to the Father.* Nothing can establish more convincingly than that passage does, the important fact, that between the expected coming of the Saviour and the final state, when God is all in all, an interval occurs, which is occupied by a terminable kingdom, under the immediate sway of the Lord Christ. The expression, "Then comes the end," excites a natural inquiry as to the time appointed for the commencement of that kingdom; and this question not only receives in verse 23 of the same chapter a distinct and obvious reply, but the corroborative testimony of the other scriptures is as clear as it is abundant (e.g., Matt. 19:28; 1 Cor. 6:2, 3; Lev. 3:21).

{*The care taken by the Apostle in this passage, to express, by appropriate particles of temporal sequence, the gradations in the order of resurrection, has often been noticed, but may again be stated. It runs thus: "Every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at His coming: then (eita) comes the end," etc., etc.}

Much has already been advanced in proof that the hour of the kingdom is not yet come. To go at full length into the evidence of Scripture on this subject would be unsuitable, as the doctrine in question, important as it is, receives a passing notice only in this Epistle. Mention may, however, be made of the well-known parable of postponement in Luke 19, which was spoken by the Lord to those who looked for an immediate appearing of the kingdom; a passage, not only of the simplest meaning to the believer, but of the most momentous import in a moral point of view. Rev. 19 has been already quoted in illustration of the time and manner of Christ's assumption of the kingdom in the glory of His power; while in Rev. 20, the order, duration, and effect of that kingdom, are expressly stated and described in immediate connexion with the doctrine of the first resurrection; the chapter closing with a description of the final act of Christ's judicial power, which immediately precedes His surrender of the kingdom to the Father, as expressed in 1 Cor. 15:24, 28. The prophecy of Daniel, quoted as it was by the Lord in the presence of the high priest (Dan. 7:14; Matt. 26:54. "Hereafter ye shall see," etc.), His own good confession before Pontius Pilate (John 18:36. "Now is my kingdom not from hence."), and more especially, His words of prophetic consolation to the first who discovered and confessed the true glory of His Person as the Son of God, the King of Israel,* all tend directly to the same conclusion. Until Christ returns from heaven, to receive His waiting people, He acts for them as their great High Priest in heaven, repelling, moreover, as their righteous Advocate, the charges of the Accuser, and saving to the uttermost, in faithfulness and mercy, all who come to God by Him. But neither He nor they whose calling is to share His throne, are reigning yet over the kingdoms of this present world.

{* John 1:49-51. "Hereafter ye shall see the heaven open," etc. Compare with this, as to its bearing on the national hope of Israel, Hosea 2:21, 22.}

Enough, it is hoped, has now been said to justify the previous assertion, that the Apostle is here leading us to contemplate a future dispensation, of which the existing earth and heaven are the subject. And if such be the mystery of the Father's will, it is assuredly made known to us for our practical guidance, as well as our consolation. It is hardly necessary to point out the important bearing of such a doctrine on the subject of Christian testimony; since it must be evident that we are in danger of becoming false witnesses for God, if our views on such questions are at variance with the recorded mystery of His will. And now, bearing this in mind, let us examine the moral relation in which this doctrine stands, to what has been hitherto manifested of the administrative government of God.

On a retrospective survey of the dispensational history of the earth, it must at once appear, to an attentive observer, that sovereign supremacy, vested in an individual, has been the form in which God has been pleased, from the beginning, to delegate His own authority. Between the first Adam and the second — the figure of human perfection and its glorious Reality — the principle of headship, or paramount lordship, has been formally sanctioned in many striking instances Adam in the garden was its primal type. He becomes, therefore, a figure of Christ, not only in respect to his generative headship, as the beginning of humankind (Rom. 5:14-19), but also as the receiver of a kingdom from His Creator.* In a less perfect sense, Noah was also constituted the sovereign of the earth. Without dwelling on the terms of the Abrahamic promise, or noticing what relates exclusively to the internal government of Israel, we may come at once to Solomon, who swayed his sceptre over the full breadth of Abraham's promised portion, and received a ready homage from all the adjacent kingdoms. In his person, we are presented with a new and remarkably perfect type of the Messianic glory of Jesus. He was the beloved of Jehovah, as well as David's son. Having been especially designated to the kingdom, as the anointed ruler of Israel, he sat as Jehovah's delegate upon His throne (1 Chron. 29:23). Short-lived and transient, indeed, was this figure of royal excellency. Dust and ashes cannot worthily sustain the weight of human government. A second Child (Ecc. 4:15) must first be born, and stand up in the stead of him who, in the midst of his glory, was the slave of sin and death.

{*Gen. 1:26; Ps. 8; Heb. 2:5-9. The deeply interesting fact that the woman was already in association with the man, when this dominion was conferred, will be noticed more fully in its place, as to its typical import, in connexion with that other and great mystery described in chap. 5.}

The lamp of David was not, indeed, extinguished by the sin of Solomon, but upon the demonstrated failure of his natural house to keep the ordinance of God (2 Kings 21:11, seq.), a transfer of the earth's dominion was solemnly made to the head of Gentile power, in the person of Nebuchadnezzar. Other potentates had lived and been renowned before this mighty one; but it was he whom God acknowledged (after having first employed him as His rod of chastisement against the house of David), as the supreme monarch of the nations. A striking proof of this change of the seat of divinely recognized earthly supremacy, is given in Daniel 2, where a quasi-Adamic extent of dominion is expressly granted to Nebuchadnezzar by the God of heaven, whose prophet was then sharing His people's captivity in Babylon. In the same chapter, a very clear prophetic description is afforded, both of the progressive alterations in point of form and quality, which this newly-delegated power was to undergo, as well as of its eventual result. Israel's sin had been the occasion of its establishment, and Israel's repentance will be the signal of its overthrow. When that hour comes, it will be found, that by their abuse of the trust committed to them, the heads of Gentile power have ripened for the long-threatened judgment of Him who, as the Avenger of His ancient people, will be but asserting the glory of his own most holy Name (Ps. 74:22, 23). It is, meanwhile, the part of Christian faith to acknowledge with alacrity that the powers now existing are ordained of God (Rom 13).

Dispersion and moral confusion have attended each of these successive delegations of Divine authority. For while God has permitted the sanction of His name to each of them in turn, He has found in none of them a just reflection of Himself. God cannot be duly represented by mortality, and is not satisfied by sin. The throne of His approval has yet to be set up. He that rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of the Lord (2 Sam. 23:3). Until such an one appear, God ceases not to overturn all dynasties of human structure. The rise and fall of kingdoms are phenomena which men of the world acknowledge, rather than account for. It is in the word of God alone that their true causes are to be discovered. God sifts the nations with the sieve of vanity, and shakes with violence the throne of kingdoms, until He come whose right it is, and who has received, by a sure decree, the heathen for His inheritance, and the utmost bounds of the earth as His possession (Ps. 2). He will rule the nations with a rod of iron; while His gracious hand is open to fill to overflowing every obedient vessel of His will (Rev. 3:26, 27; Ps. 145).

The expression chosen by the Spirit to describe in this verse the coming supremacy of God's Anointed, is perfectly expressive of the grand idea which it represents.* To regather all dispersions, and to place the creature, both in its higher and its lower spheres,

{* anakephalaiosasthai. "Ut recolligeret," as Calvin justly renders. "Wiederzusammenzufassen." — De Wette.}

in a new condition of stability and tranquil blessedness, is God's design. The times of restitution will have come. What had bloomed for a moment, only to be withered (because sin had entered) by the holy truth of God, will revive at His presence, and put on a new and more enduring comeliness. The Repairer of the breach of Zion will dispel the darkness of that cloud, which must, alas! first spread even yet more thickly over the professing nations of the world (Isa. 25:7, 8; 1 Cor. 15:54). The brightness of His coming will destroy the yoke of the Oppressor, and consume the great Corrupter of the earth (2 Thess. 2). Holding and combining in Himself the several rights of Adam, of Abraham, and of David, He will exercise them all in the paramount title of Divine Sonship. In the dispensation of commencing time, man held for God, as well as from Him, a full terrestrial supremacy. In the dispensation of time's fulness, God in man will claim and exercise a sovereignty commensurate with the whole creation which His hands have made (Col. 1:16).

Verse 11. "In whom we also have obtained an inheritance."* Having now stated generally that part of the mystery of the Divine will which is presently to receive its accomplishment in the universal monarchy of Christ, the Apostle goes on in the present verse to speak of the same mystery in its exclusive application to the Church. Accordingly, we are here shown the place allotted to the believer, as an heir of salvation, according to the wisdom and prudence of Him, whose grace abounds towards us in His Son. It is in this glorious Head of Creation that we have obtained an inheritance. That the Ruler of the nations is the Portion of His saints, has, indeed, been a standing truth for faith from the time that God. owned a people upon earth. But the Gospel puts this truth in a new and widely different light. In the language of the Old Testament, to join oneself to the Lord implied that union of dependence which attaches the believer to the Divine Object of His faith. But the fulfilment of the mystery of godliness has established for the Christian a new and far more intimate union with the Saviour. The Sanctifier is now of one nature with the sanctified. The glory which now shines forth from the Person of the Lord, reveals Him to our faith as the First-born among many brethren. He that is joined to the Lord is thus one spirit. The Church has been so united to the Object of its worship as to become mystically His own body; and enters, as a consequence of that union, into a prospective participation of His sovereign rights. This doctrine is more fully stated at the close of the present chapter. What we are taught in the verse before us is, that the predestinating will of God has formed the believer in Jesus for the fellowship of Christ's own blessedness and honour. His inheritance is also ours. What He receives in righteousness, we have obtained through grace. We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. The Christian, as a partaker of Christ, becomes thus distinguished from those things, whether in heaven or in earth, which constitute the wide and varied realm of His dominion. It is because of this mystic union with the Lord of all, that the believer can hear without wonder that the Church is called to judge both angels and the world (1 Cor. 6:2, 3).

{* eklerothemen. More exactly, perhaps, "have been taken as an inheritance." (See the following note.)}

The present verse stands in a close moral connexion with verse 5. The effect of Divine predestination was there shown to be our filial adoption. Here, the same truth is viewed rather with reference to what we are to inherit as a consequence of that adoption. In the former, we are contemplated as partakers of the Divine nature; in the latter, we are regarded as sharers of the Father's things, which He has given to His Son. The effective operation of God is also here brought into clearer distinctness as the alone security for the accomplishing of His purpose; a doctrine hereafter more fully stated (Eph. 2:5, seq.), and which must always lie at the bottom of the true believer's confidence. The same power which presently will gather all things in subjection to His Christ, already gives us an inheritance in Him. He was willing to bless us, and is competent to work His own intent.*

{*The remarks in the text are founded on the E.V. If, as suggested in the previous note, we take the verb in its passive rather than its middle sense, the doctrine of this verse will contemplate, not the joint-heirship of the believer with Christ (as in Rom. 8:17), but the assumption of the Church as an inheritance of God, a view of the subject quite in harmony both with earlier Scriptural analogies, and with the same apostle's doctrine in Titus 2:2, 14. Compare Deut. 32:9; Ps. 135:4. See also infra, verse 18.}

Verse 12. "That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ." Nothing glorifies God but the fulfilment of His will; and, as we have already seen, He is Himself the Pledge of its fulfilment. The elevation of the Church to the position which sovereign grace has bestowed on her, will be purely and simply to the praise of His glory. But a characteristic description is found attaching in this verse to those vessels of mercy, who are thus prepared unto glory. They are described as having first trusted (or hoped, tous proelpikotas) in Christ. It can scarcely be admitted, that the Apostle means only by this expression to distinguish himself, and his fellow-Israelites in the faith, from the Gentiles who afterwards were grafted in. The general predicate, "That we should be to the praise of His glory," refers to the saints without any reference to Jew or Gentile. They who are here spoken of are the same who are, from the beginning of the chapter, kept before us as the chosen objects of blessing. We shall find him, in the verse which follows, addressing himself more pointedly to the Ephesian saints; and, in the progress of the Epistle, the effect of Gospel truth upon the Gentile, viewed comparatively with the Jew, is very fully shown. But he is thus far dealing with the doctrine of grace, and its effects, as they relate to the heirs of salvation generally, according to the mystery of the will of God.

God's saints are, in the present dispensation, said to have fore-hoped in Christ, because their faith in a rejected and invisible Saviour is in anticipation of the day of His manifested glory. Israel in that day will see and believe. The Church, believing without sight, rejoices in the power of a hope that makes not ashamed, the hope of glory. One of the titles of the Church in Scripture is, that it consists of firstborn sons (ekklesia prototokon (Heb. 12:23). The children of God, during this dispensation, are also said to be a kind of first fruits of His creatures (James 1:18). Both these expressions, like the one now before us, have clearly a relative force; and as clearly, their relation is to something distinct from what is so described, and that follows it in the order of its manifestation. As, then, it is evident, from the foregoing verse, that there is a dispensation yet to come, which, relatively to the one now present, is one of Christ's manifest triumph and prevalent dominion, there can be no difficulty in our recognizing the propriety and significance of such a descriptive epithet as is here applied to the expectant Church. Hope is the standing character of our position till the Saviour comes. We are saved by hope. But the Hope we wait for is the coming Light of Israel and the nations. When He appears in His glory to rebuild the wastes of Zion (Ps. 102:16), and to make His name terrible among the heathen (Micah 4:3; 2 Thess. 1:10), His fellows will be with Him: "When Christ who is our Life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory" (Col. 3:4). While, therefore, the veil remains on Israel's heart, and the more abundant tide of Gentile blessing which is to flow mediately through their restoration (Rom. 11:12), is restrained by reason of their unbelief, the remnant according to the election of grace are blessed in Christ with a heavenly inheritance. What that inheritance is, in its unsearchable richness, will be presently more fully shown. It is only needful here to bear in mind, that it is all in Him. The love of Christ, which passes knowledge, is a richer endowment to the quickened. soul than even the unbounded glory of His kingdom. But they are inseparable; and both are compassed in the breadth of that rich expectation which belongs to those who trust beforehand in the hidden Christ.

Verse 13. "In whom ye, also," etc.* The practical bearing of this verse, first upon those immediately addressed, and secondly upon all who are partakers of like precious faith, is very obvious. The true Christian's position and attitude having been characteristically described in the foregoing verses, such an application of the doctrine to the special case was only to be expected, and is quite after the general manner of the Spirit in His teaching. In stating the great truths of Christian doctrine, the Apostle knew that he was speaking to those who could appreciate his words. As wise men, they could judge the truth of what he said. For they, too, had trusted in this heavenly Christ, and were partakers of that better portion which the wisdom and prudence of the God of grace had allotted to His saints. They were ready, therefore, to respond to this appeal. And here let the doubting Christian notice carefully the plain and simple manner in which their possession of an interest in such a portion is recognized by the Apostle.

{*The reader will not fail to notice that the word "trusted" in the E.V. has no equivalent in the original, which is simply en hoi kai humeis in whom also are ye." The Apostle's object seems to be not simply to acknowledge them as believers, but to include them specifically (as an, effect of their faith) in the fellowship of the blessings already stated generally as the heritage of God's elect. They also were in Christ.}

They were in Christ, through having heard the word of truth, the Gospel of their salvation. By a justifying faith, they had received the glad tidings of the grace of God. And upon that faith the seal of God. had been effectually set. They had, as believers, received the Holy Spirit of promise, as the seal of their adoption. In Christ they trusted, and in Christ they were sealed. The single tie which connected them experimentally with all their blessings, was their faith in Jesus as the Righteousness of God. With respect to the sealing here described, it is of importance to distinguish accurately the operations of the Spirit in relation to the believer. It is a fundamental doctrine of Divine truth, that every real believer is born of the Spirit. "It is the Spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing." But the quickening of a dead sinner must not be confounded with the sealing of a living saint. The latter is a second act of God, confirmatory of the former, and attesting its efficacy. The grace that saves us make us sons in Christ, and because we are sons, the Spirit of adoption is sent forth into our hearts (Gal. 4:6). We were, moreover, a part of Satan's goods; but are now become the property of Him who has redeemed us. God. seals His own, to distinguish them from the world, which He disowns. He separates His people for Himself, by Himself becoming their indwelling Occupant (1 John 4:15).

The completeness of the believer's identification with Christ, in point of moral standing before God, is shown in the most emphatic manner by this doctrine of the sealing of the Spirit. For it was even thus that the true Sonship of Immanuel was attested. The Holy Ghost descended as a dove, to certify the Holy One of God, while the Father's voice from heaven declared the true meaning of that sign. The Branch of Jesse was thus shown to be the Son of God (Matt. 3:15-17; Isaiah 11:1). And such is now the effect of faith, in joining the believer to the Lord, that the same Spirit now finds rest in the purged vessels of God's grace, thus testifying to the virtue of that precious blood of Christ, which has changed what was naturally but a leprous chamber of pollution, into an acceptable temple of the living God.

It is in Christ that we are sealed. What the Holy Ghost attests and ratifies, is God's triumphant attainment, in the person of the Saviour, of the predestinating purpose of His love. Hence, this doctrine is of universal application to the Church. It cannot be scripturally questioned that every believer is thus sealed in Christ. As it is elsewhere written, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Rom. 8:9). On the other hand, it can no doubt be testified by many a Christian, that his conscious appreciation of this truth has been separated by a wide interval from the beginning of his faith in Christ. To affirm that such an interval must needs occur, would be to contradict the plainest testimonies of Scripture. Yet it is probable that, in the majority of instances, Christians awaken but gradually to a complete assurance of the grace in which they stand. It is indeed a sad reflection, and proves but too evidently the feebleness and indistinctness, with which the fundamental doctrines of grace are handled in much of the teaching of the day. For the reception of the Spirit of promise* is, in Scripture, connected immediately with our apprehension of the work of Jesus on the cross. That believing sinners might receive that Spirit, Christ became a curse for their transgressions (Gal. 3:13, 14). It is as the Glorifier of Jesus that the Holy Ghost becomes the seal of God.**

{* The expression, "Spirit of promise," has probably a double meaning. 1st. He is the promised Comforter, of whom Jesus spake to His disciples, but whose presence could not be enjoyed until the Son had returned to the Father, even as the promise of His future outpouring had been primarily part of the prophetic testimony. 2nd. In His office, the Spirit is the Revealer and Minister of all the promises of God which are secured to us in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20-22).

** Sealing by the Spirit stands, as a doctrine, in close connexion with baptism by the Spirit. The idea of fitness and power for acceptable service seems rather to be associated with the latter (Acts 1:45), while the former relates more especially to the absolute property which the Redeemer enjoys in His own, and implies a responsive ability on our part to enjoy the grace in which we stand.}

Verse 14. "Which is the earnest of our inheritance," etc. The Spirit is a seal to God, an earnest to the believer. His presence, therefore, is the new and eternal spring of life and joy within the soul. It is as a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:14). Among men, the earnest of anything is commonly some portion of the thing promised. With God it is much more than this; He is Himself the Earnest of His promise. If glory be the hope of our calling, it is also Christ Himself who is the power of that hope. He is in us as the Hope of glory (Col. 1:27). It is He who has returned to be His people's Comforter in the person of the Spirit. The Lord is that Spirit. Liberty of conscience, in the sight of God, is the sweet effect of His presence in us, when ungrieved by our carelessness or unbelief. Shedding the love of God abroad in our hearts, He fills us with that peace which passes knowledge. Through His sustaining power the believer is enabled to seek patiently the attainment of that for which he knows himself to have been apprehended in Christ Jesus. Salvation is our inheritance; the living Saviour is its earnest. If it be a fervent aspiration of believing desire to be set as a seal upon the heart and arm of Jesus (Cant. 8:6), such desire is produced within us by the energy of that indwelling Spirit who reveals to us the boundless riches of His love. It is a reciprocation of that mightier and firmer seal by which the Lord knows them that are His own (2 Tim. 2:19, 20).

With respect to the continuance of the Spirit in this character, it is declared to be "until the redemption of the purchased possession."* A further distinction may here be noticed between the seal and the earnest. God's seal abides eternally upon His children; but the Holy Ghost will of course no longer act as an earnest when the time of full possession is arrived. Known then in His all-pervading energy, He will be the strength and very nature of those who shall enjoy in spiritual bodies the unclouded glory of God and of the Lamb. He will abide according to the promise of the Lord, for ever (John 14:16).

{* eis apolutrosin, t.p., "unto" or "with reference to the redemption," etc.; i.e., the presence of the Spirit is the pledge of that promise of eternal life, which is to be completely realized in the day of Christ's appearing. Compare, for a fuller elucidation of the doctrine of this verse, Rom. 8:11-23.}

"The purchased possession"* embraces, in its widest sense, all that will eventually result from the one ransom of the Cross. It has plainly, however, a more limited signification in this verse. For it is a correlative to the seal of God already set upon the saints. That seal, as we have seen, is the witness to us both of forgiveness of sins through the redemption already wrought for us in Christ, and of our personal acceptance in Him. The Church is thus effectually, and by triumphant grace, what Israel was conditionally under the former covenant (Ex. 19:5). For it was to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto Himself a peculiar people, that Jesus gave Himself for our sins. What the fleshly nation could not be, because the flesh can never be acceptable to God, believers now are, because born of God (1 Peter 2:9). Finished redemption already places the believer, in spirit, in God's tabernacles of peace and praise (Ps. 84:4; Heb. 10:19-22). But although predestined to be conformed to the image of the risen Christ, we still bear outwardly the image of the earthy. The body is dead because of sin, though the spirit is life because of righteousness. We shall receive the image of the Heavenly when that power shall have been applied to our bodies which belongs to the Redeemer of our souls (Phil. 3:21; 1 Cor. 15:49).

{* Peripoiesis. The proper meaning of this word is "acquisition." This, its original idea, may easily be traced in all the differences of signification which it has received from our translators. It may be remarked that this term stands in a direct relation to eklerothemen in verse 11, and will be modified in its meaning according to the sense in which the latter word is taken. See the note on v.11.}

A few additional remarks of a practical kind may here be made, before quitting the present subject. It is as the seal of God that the Holy Ghost becomes, in a practical sense, the Sanctifier of the believer. A believer and a saint are, as has been shown already, convertible expressions (ante, vv. 1, 2). Sanctification of the Spirit, therefore, in its primary and vital sense, is identical with regeneration. It is through such sanctification that the elect of God are brought to the obedience of faith (1 Peter 2; 2 Thess. 2:13). But it is as the Spirit of promise — the Spirit both of the Father and the Son — that He separates to that new fellowship (1 John 1:3; 3:24) those whom Jesus has delivered from the wrath to come. But in doing this He works no change in our flesh, though He is of almighty power to subdue it while we yield ourselves to His control. For He leads us straight to Jesus, where the flesh is dumb and powerless. What Scripture calls the flesh, as the opposing principle of evil in us, is no other than our natural will It lusts against the Spirit. It is by leading us through faith into the fulness of Christ, as our assured portion, and reminding us that already we are risen with Him, that the Spirit arms us with a new and stronger energy by which the natural will is disallowed. The Spirit lusts against the flesh. Most plainly, then, the fond idea of such a gradual assimilation of our nature to the moral perfectness of Christ, as may make the prospect of personal perfection a stimulus to a more complete attainment of such an end, involves an erroneous estimate both of the true nature of sin in the flesh, and (as a necessary consequence) of the work of redemption which delivers from it

Perfection and shortcoming are true of the same person, and at the self-same time. In Christ the believer has, by one Offering, been perfected for ever by the grace of God (Heb. 10:14). To stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made him free, and, by walking by faith, to hold fast that which they have heard from the beginning (Gal. 5:1), is to be characteristically "perfect," as distinguished from one less established in the grace of God (1 Cor. 2:6). On the other hand, although it be true that "he that saith he abides in Him, ought himself also so to walk even as He walked" (1 John 2:6); yet the attempt to follow Jesus as our example, and to run, without stumbling, in the way of God's commandments, never fails to reveal to us the faultiness and defectiveness of our best endeavours. The Apostle — who gloried in the cross of Christ, and gave thanks to God, who led him in continued triumph as a minister of His grace (1 Cor. 2:14) — confesses that in this latter sense he had come to no perfection.* Yet he did not joy the less in Jesus. Knowing whose battle he was fighting, and reposing confidently in the love of Him who had saved him from his sins, he is anxious for nothing but that his walk might be worthy of the grace in which he stood (Phil. 1:19, 20).

{* Phil. 3:12. In verse 15 of the same chapter, he invites those who considered themselves perfect to run with him towards the mark of his desire. There is a similar tone in Rom. 15:1: "We that are strong," etc. Spiritual feebleness and inactivity are often the effect of mere doctrinal progress. We are called to know Him, and the power of His resurrection.}

True practical sanctification can only be attained by complete subjection to the will of God. Its basis must be truth, as that truth is both seen and loved in Jesus. Its immediate instrument is the name of the Father, by the confession of which alone can we be fully reminded of the nature and completeness of our disconnection from the world. The true effect of this sanctification is an uncompromising separation from all that denies either the Father or the Son. In the power of redemption, a Christian may use, with holy liberty, the earth and all its fulness. But spiritual filthiness begins to defile him the moment he allows himself to acquiesce, in willing association, with anything with which he dare not readily connect the name of Christ.

A holy walk must needs be a contradiction of our natural wills. On the other hand, the new nature has to suffer many a weariness while traversing the way of pilgrimage. Sweet it is to remember, that to the Spirit, who is the Leader of God's ransomed children, there are ascribed in Scripture, among His varied attributes, these three, which, more than all, we find to be needful for our comfort. He is the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of grace, and the Spirit of glory. In the first of these characters, He is the Light of the believer, and the Helper of his joy, as the rich Revealer of Jesus and His things (John 16). He is, moreover (while we humbly own His mastery), our mighty Guardian from the snares of the Deceiver (1 John 4:4). In the second, He sustains the weakness of God's people, and confirms their feeble knees, making perfect intercession for them in their conflicts, and groaning in sympathy with all their grief (Rom. 15:13; 8:26, 27). In the third, He rests, in cheering and reanimating power, upon those who in any way are counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus (1 Peter 4:13,14). The Lord is that Spirit; and with Him it is that we are called to suffer. He suffers in us as He once has suffered for us (Acts 9:4). The afflictions of the Gospel are endured according to the power of God (2 Tim. 1:8).

Returning now to our chapter, we find, in verse 15, the Apostle, who for a while had been hidden from view by the magnitude of his subject, coming forth again into the happy prominence which belongs to him, as an active helper of his brethren's joy. To comfort and encourage them, he tells them the effect upon his own spirit of their obedience to the truth. His own faith and love are strengthened by the good report of theirs. He had heard of their "faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints." We may remark here how inseparably these things are joined together in the mind of the Spirit. For faith is but an empty name unless it fructifies in love. Love is of God; and is, therefore, the natural effect of that faith which finds, through Christ, its rest in God. Love in the Spirit, then, must ever wax or wane with faith. Joy in the Lord is its true fountain of supply. The abundance of that joy makes poor saints rich in love (2 Cor. 8:2). It is thus that the genuine energy of the Spirit in the heart may be distinguished from that operose [industrious] activity, which often yields so barren a return, because the zeal which stimulates it is not moved by the constraining love of Christ. But if faith really works, it works by love. This is a standing principle, which nothing can weaken or displace. It is, moreover, one of seasonable remembrance in the present day of much spiritual affliction. The lowest imaginable condition of the Church here below can never frustrate the working of a faith which is kept pure and fresh by the habitual maintenance of Divine communion. Nor can any multiplication of sectarian dissensions, nor any sad experience of the judicial hand of God in winnowing His people, deprive the heart that still abides in Jesus of the holy and joyful privilege of praying for all saints. Faith sees them all in Him, who is their common Life; and loves them with a fervency in exact proportion to its own enjoyment of His love.

Verse 16. In the Apostle's case, the joy which he experienced at hearing of his brethren's faith and love found its first vent in thanksgiving to God. That they were what they wore, he joyfully ascribes to Him who had called them by His Gospel. He was bound to thank God for such (2 Thess. 2:13, 14), finding large increase to his own joy, as a labourer in God's vineyard, at every fresh proof of the effectual working of His power. To thanksgiving succeeded prayer, as is wont when joy is in the Spirit. For faith cannot rest satisfied with any present measure of blessing, nor can it cease to cleave, with increase of desire, to the God whose power to bless is thus acknowledged. He prayed for the furtherance of their spiritual progress, in the confidence of one who both knew the real secret of such progress to consist in unfeigned dependence upon God, and could reckon on the faithfulness of Him, who, having begun a good work in them, was both able and resolved to perfect it until the day of Christ (Phil. 1:6). How he prayed we shall have presently to consider. It is worth noticing, first, as an important general principle, that prayer in the Epistles always presupposes conversion to God on the part of him who offers it. It belongs to those who know Him, and confide in Him, to make known to Him their requests. The beginning and sustaining power of such prayer, is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.*

{* Hence the serious injury often inflicted upon souls, as well as the dishonour done to the Lord, by those who exhort unconverted people to pray as a duty, instead of leading them to Christ crucified alone for the remission of their sins. God's ear is quick to listen to the faintest cry of a really contrite heart, and Jesus is His ready answer of peace. Before they cry His answer is prepared. But prayer as a duty, while faith in the Lamb is postponed, is only a methodical continuance in sin.}

We come now to consider, in the remaining verses of this chapter, the several topics which formed the subject of the Apostle's intercession for the saints. Before examining them in their order, it should be remarked, that God is addressed in this prayer under the first of the two specific titles which have already been ascribed to Him as the Supreme Object of spiritual worship. Or it may, perhaps, be more correct to say, that prominence is given to that title, than that it is exclusively mentioned. For when we find "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ" invoked by the additional title of "Father of glory," the heart of every believer is able to recognize, beneath this altered style of address, the self-same fulness of Divine majesty that has already been set forth. The Father of glory is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For Christ is the Glory of God. Glory belongs to God; and was from eternity the reflection of His essence. And He, who is the brightness of that glory, is also the express image of His Person (Heb. 1:3). The peculiar fitness of the titles here addressed to God is readily perceived, when we consider that the Object contemplated by the Spirit throughout this prayer is, the revealed display of the Divine glory in and through Christ. What HE is, declares the Father's glory; whether in the saving of a sinner now through grace (Phil. 2:11), or in the day of His enthronement in the promised kingdom. Jesus while on earth ascribed, and taught His disciples to ascribe, "the glory" to the Father. He will openly display the honour and glory which He has received from God the Father, and in which faith sees Him even now arrayed, when the vision on the mount shall be forgotten in its realization at the coming day (2 Peter 1:16-18). But in the kingdom, not less than in the day of His temptations, He will both confess and make it evident that "power belongs unto God."

The brightness of the "excellent glory" is now become the temple of inquiry for Christian faith. To know God in His perfections, as He declares Himself in Jesus, is the portion of His children; while the means of that knowledge is the active power of the Holy Ghost. Accordingly, we find that both in this prayer, and in that which follows in chapter 3, the Spirit, in His Divine operations, is the primary Object of the Apostle's desire for the saints. This is a fact of much practical interest; and which the Christian will do well to ponder. Spiritual blessings can only be apprehended by the Spirit. Nor does our being definitively sealed by that Spirit, as the earnest of our inheritance, set us above the necessity of seeking, through prayer, the several manifestations of His gracious energy. Such prayer, instead of ceasing with our knowledge of complete acceptance in the Beloved, properly commences then. For all true prayer is in the Spirit, and with the enlightened understanding. The natural tendency of the renewed mind is towards the God who has created it.

Seven Spirits are before the throne of God; and all are in the power of the Lamb (Rev. 4:5; 5:6). It is according to the varied perfection of Divine energy, thus symbolized, that the Holy Ghost now works His blessed work as the Comforter and Teacher of the saints. Accordingly, the Apostle, whose present aim is the advancement of His brethren in the truth, desires, as his first request on their behalf, that God would give them "the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" (verse 16). He had before spoken of the wisdom and prudence in which God has abounded in the manifestation of His grace towards the Church. The Spirit of wisdom is now sought for, that those treasures may be more completely made our own.

While Jesus, tarried upon earth with His disciples, they received from Him the blessing of His doctrine, chiefly by means of question and reply. Yet He dwelt among them, and His presence with them was their security and their delight. And it is in a manner somewhat analogous to this that the Lord, who now dwells in His chosen by the Spirit, has still to be inquired for and sought, that the varied and blessed activities of His grace may be practically apprehended and enjoyed. It is with reference to this that the Lord appears to speak when, in Luke 11:13, He assures His disciples of the Father's readiness to give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.* Thus, prayer in the Spirit, may also be praying for the Spirit; for those special operations of His power, which we feel to be needful for the progress of our souls in the knowledge and service of the God with whom we have to do. As to the particular manifestations of the Spirit here desired, it is well to remember, that a saint is a learner from the date of his conversion. Disciples must, in order to become such, have been first summoned, by the voice of Jesus, from their previous condition of spiritual darkness. Ignorance of God being characteristically our state by nature, we begin to know only when we taste the sincere milk of the word. And it becomes us to desire that word, that we may grow thereby. It would fare but ill with that Christian, who, under the delusive idea that, because he has all in Christ, he therefore knows all that he is called to learn, should cease to sit lowly at the feet of Jesus. It is because we are called to know God, and not the letter of His doctrine only, that we need these manifestations of the Spirit. He only can reveal Himself. Our knowledge at the best is but inceptive here below; and the more wisely we have appreciated the riches of the grace in which we stand, the more conscious we shall be of the deficiency of our knowledge, and the more eager in our desire for its increase. Nothing, indeed, is a stronger proof of spiritual dulness, and practical distance from God, than when we flatter ourselves that we have yet learned anything as we ought to know (1 Cor. 8:2).

{*In Matt. 7, it is for "good things" that the disciples are encouraged to ask the Father. The believer is characteristically spiritual, and prays in the Spirit for spiritual things. Temporal blessings are rather to be reckoned on as surely-following mercies, than earnestly desired. Our Heavenly Father knows we have need of such. The Holy Ghost, as the full Revealer of Christ, is the sum and completeness of those good things which the Father, who has already given Jesus, has now to bestow upon His children.}

Verse 18. "The eyes of your understanding* being enlightened," etc. The effects which were to be looked for, from the fuller measure of the Spirit, are now described. The first of these is an increase of their power of Divine communion. Neither knowledge, nor power, is inherent in man, even when born of God. Capacities are conferred on us, but they must be filled and exercised by Him who gave them. What we have we receive from God, who does not fail to give to those who ask. There are things which it behoves the saints to know, and which the Spirit is ever ready to impart. Chief among these is, the knowledge of the "hope of His calling," who has called us into the fellowship of His Son. Now He who has called us is the Father of glory. The hope of His calling, then, is glory. The God of all grace has called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus (1 Peter 5:10). The power and verification of this calling is, "Christ in us the Hope of glory." The expectation of those who are partakers of this grace, being according to their standing as accepted in the Beloved, is nothing less than to share in all that has been awarded to the First-born as the appointed Heir of all things. We shall see His glory, and partake His joy (John 17:24, 13). The aspirations, therefore, of the Christian are not limited, for he hopes for that which is not measurable by the heart of man The Spirit of revelation must be given, to enable us to know our hope. On the other hand, the Spirit of wisdom is also requisite, that we may rightly use the knowledge we receive. Had the Corinthians been possessed of the Spirit of wisdom, they would not have been subjected to the Apostle's penetrating censure, which they drew upon themselves by foolishly desiring to reign now as kings, instead of waiting patiently for Christ (1 Cor. 4). If we do not know the time, as well as the event, of our calling, we shall not walk worthy of it (Rom. 13:11). To be like Christ, in person, in affection, and in place, is the sure and precious promise that sustains our hope. And, because that expectation can be realized only by the glorious appearing of the Saviour, it is to that, as to our "blessed hope," that we are taught to look by the grace which has already brought salvation to our souls (Titus 2:13).

{* Or, perhaps, "heart;" tes kardias being the reading generally preferred.}

It is not, therefore, temporal prosperity that is to be desired, nor need temporal affliction be an object of our dread. Both one and the other are to be met by the believer in the power of a faith which makes him, as the object of Divine affection, independent of the creature under all its forms (Rom. 8:31-39). Instead of the fallacious prospects of a natural hope, we behold as in a glass the glory of the God of truth. Earth and its delights are no longer our care; for Christ is in heaven, not on earth (Col. 3:1-3). The glory of Jehovah has removed its seat from the earthly to the heavenly Jerusalem. It is there that His honour dwells now; and thither has His grace already brought our hearts (Heb. 12:22, seq.). The spiritual circumcision have their access to a temple, which the Lord pitched, and not man (Heb. 8:1, 2). The sanctifying effect of a true knowledge of our calling is abundantly insisted on in Scripture. It is, indeed, in exact proportion to the fervency of our hope that conformity to the will of God is produced: "He that has this hope in Him, purifies himself even as He is pure" (1 John 3:3).

In close connexion with the hope of God's calling, we are exhorted, also, to seek the knowledge of "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." We have seen already after what manner, and in what overflowing measure, the cup of salvation has been filled for us in Christ. According to the opulent abundance of a love which has no limits, we are blessed in Him with all spiritual blessings. But God has His heritage as well as we. In verse 11, the subject treated is our own inheritance in Him (See however the note at v.11.); its converse is here presented to our prayerful study. That God should inherit a people, is a familiar idea in Scripture. He always had a people.; and in grace He called His chosen His inheritance (Deut. 32:9). It is by this expression that the true position of God's elect people, in the midst of a repudiated world, is made evident to faith. All souls are His. But He is ashamed of all, save those only which He has fashioned by His power as vessels of elective mercy for Himself. The application, in a dispensational sense, of the same expression to the fleshly nation of Israel, as distinguished from its vital appropriation to the family of faith, creates no difficulty for the Christian mind But it is quite clear that the Apostle is speaking in this verse of the relation in which God stands to those whom His Spirit now addresses, as "saints and faithful brethren in Christ."* To such it is made known that God has now an inheritance in His saints, and that this inheritance is one of more abundant glory.

{*If the reader prefer to give a wider meaning to the word "saints," in the verse now under consideration, so as to comprise within its intention all the foregone family of faith, I shall not question his conclusion. See Notes on the Hebrews 11:ad fin., and 12:23, and the remarks at the close of the present chapter.}

It was a glory to Jehovah that He made Himself a name as the Deliverer of Israel out of Egypt. He divided the sea to make Himself a glorious Name (Isa. 63:12-14). As Israel's God, He inhabited the praises of His nation until Israel would:none of Him, and He turned to be their Enemy. He gave them up to their own lusts, that in judgment His name might still be glorified among them, though their own perverseness might have turned the full river of His kindness into the bitter portion of His sore displeasure (Isa. 63:10; Ps. 81:11, 12; 60:3). He will again have mercy upon Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, as His own peculiar praise among the nations, when the once rejected Stone of Israel shall have become, for the regenerate people, the Head-Stone of the corner (Isa. 14:1; 61:7-9). But, in the meantime, He has marked out for Himself the lines of a new and fairer heritage. In the many sons whom He is bringing to glory, by the faith of His rejected Son, He takes a richer and deeper interest, than in those for whom He once searched out the pleasant land of Canaan. What He now assumes as His inheritance, is both new in kind and paramount in title and appointment. Neither Jew nor Gentile is found among the people whom He now claims as His own. God glories in the saints as His inheritance according to the pleasure which He takes in Jesus. For it is as members of His body that we are sanctified in Him It is this which distinguishes the Church, on the one hand, from angels; and, on the other, from the generation which shall yet be born (Ps. 22:31). Yet both these] last are holy. But as it respects the angels, their holiness is by original creation, though election only kept them in their first estate (1 Tim. 5:21). Now to be created holy, and upheld in holiness by the unfailing word of Divine power, is a state very different from being personally of one nature with the Sanctifier. But this last is true of all redeemed men. In this respect, all the redeemed stand on one common ground before the God of their redemption. Yet it is certain, that the Sovereign good pleasure has established orders and gradations in the one great family of redemption.* It is not needful to enlarge here further on what has been already stated, at an earlier page, respecting the distinctive calling of the Church, especially as the subject has to be examined again, and under new aspects, in the chapters which follow. It is enough now to remind ourselves, for our comfort, that the Father of glory will openly possess this heritage in the soon-coming day, when He will receive, at the hands of Jesus and in Him, the multitude of those who are to be presented faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24).

{*Race and kin are not identical. The Redeemer of a lost race must be of like nature to those for whom He gives Himself as a ransom. This condition is fulfilled in the mystery of Godliness. But Jesus is, after the flesh, of kin to Israel, but not to other men. Salvation is of the Jews. His title, Son of David, will hereafter be glorified according to its proper signification and appropriate glory. But in the meanwhile, we know not Christ after the flesh, but after the Spirit. We do not participate in the mystery of Jewish kinship, nor are we only interested in Him as the one Life and Righteousness of all who taste redemption. By another mystery, the Church is become the body and fulness of Him, who wears all crowns upon His head.}

Verse 19. "And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe," etc. It is the power of God that executes His counsel. Hence, to the excellency of the knowledge of Christ and His fulness, as the glory of the Divine inheritance now revealed to us by the Spirit of promise, is to be added a remembrance of that which is presently to crown our hope. The power of God has always been the confidence and glory of His saints. That He has a mighty arm, is the security of their salvation. His power is their praise, whether in heaven or in earth (Rev. 4:8; Ps. 21:13).That power belongs to Him alone, while man is less than vanity, is the standing confession of their lips (Ps. 62:9-11). They whom the Spirit leads go only in that strength (Ps. 71:16). The power of God is in exact proportion with His promise. "Exceeding great and precious" are the things which He has promised us (2 Peter 1:4); and we are taught to reckon on the exceeding greatness of His power for their sure attainment in due time. What He has promised, He is able also to perform.

The power of God is to us-ward who believe. Two things are taught us here. First, that this power is in present operation, as well as in readiness to be signalized at the coming day of the redemption of our bodies; and, secondly, that it is to be known and realized in proportion to our faith. There is a day at hand when the mighty power of the Saviour will subdue all things unto Himself. But, in the meanwhile, the self-same power now works by the Spirit in the hearts of those who walk by faith, and it is by means of truth that this effective energy proceeds. The word of God is quick and powerful. Doctrine alone is weak; when mixed with faith, it is the power of God. Faith holds nothing in the abstract. All its knowledge is connected immediately with the Person of Christ; and is warm and living with the true perception of His love. God's purposes are not so near to us as God Himself, who dwells in His believing people. It is in the remembrance of this that faith finds its needed strength for everything. Power, being acknowledged to belong to God alone, is already known to be on our side. The simple Christian walks in strength and joy, because he walks in God. It is thus that the really spiritual man is distinguished from one whose secret confidence is in the flesh.

But it is not only the inward energy of this power, in maturing us from day to day, that is here contemplated, but, in close and inseparable connexion with it, we are led to look onward to the day which is to put it openly to the proof. Christian faith has always a double aspiration: "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection," was the daily longing of the Apostle's heart. It was because he was by faith conformed already to the death of Christ, through a practical confession of the cross, that the attainment of the resurrection from the dead became the near aim and all-absorbing desire of his soul (Phil. 3). Dying daily by the faith of Him who died for him, he tasted a daily joy both in the present power of the risen life, and in the bright anticipation of the surely-coming day of glory. While he lived securely, in the solemn but happy consciousness of the almighty power of the God in whom he trusted, he would have his fellow-saints to seek quiet resting-places for their souls beneath the same secure shadow. They had been taught to expect that God would shortly act in power. The support of their patience, in the meanwhile, was to be sought for in the recollection of what He had already done. It is in remembering the power of His hand, that weakness and readiness to faint are changed to new confidence and joy (Ps. 77:10-12). The power of God to us-ward is the same that has already given proof of saving omnipotence for our sakes. It is "according to the working of His mighty power," which

Verse 20. "He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places." The resurrection of Christ is here regarded exclusively as the act of God. He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father (Rom 6:4). It is the God of our Lord. Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that is the Object of adoration throughout this prayer. The intrinsic Divinity of Him who was thus raised, is not here the prominent consideration. Christ is viewed only as the Receiver of blessing and glory, and is thus placed in immediate moral connexion with those who are by grace His fellows. The power which is to us-ward has wrought its decisive work of triumph in raising Jesus from the dead. We receive, therefore, from the present passage, impressions of a materially different kind from those which are produced by other passages which respect more immediately the proper majesty of His Deity. In the latter, the power of resurrection is referred to Him who vindicates His claim to it by rising from the dead.* In the course of this Epistle, we shall find the Apostle bringing into more distinctness the personal glory of Jesus in connexion with the work of redemption.** At present it is the operation of God who raised Him from the dead, that is in question. This is stated first absolutely, by a reference to the fact of His resurrection, and then Christ, so raised, becomes, in His awarded glory, both the triumphant Witness of the victory of Divine power over the power of darkness, and also the new Standard of comparison to which all orders and degrees must be referred.

{*The number of such passages, as well as their inestimable value, is well known to the diligent lover of the word, who finds the well-springs of salvation, the marrow and fatness of his portion, in the mystery of the Saviour's Person (John 2:19).

** Infra, 2:14, etc.; 3:8-10; 5:26, etc. For a view of the counterpart of the doctrine of Christ's resurrection, vide infra, chap. 4:8-10.}

The act of God in raising Jesus was the answer of the "righteous Father" to the dying appeal of His rejected Son. He committed Himself to Him that judges righteously (1 Peter 2:23). As the great Umpire in the controversy between His own Anointed and the world which had disowned Him, God has awarded glory to the Just One. He has declared openly, by means of His resurrection from the dead, that all that Jesus said was true, and all that contradicts His power or disallows His claims, is false. The resurrection, therefore, condemns the world by justifying Jesus. The Man whom Jew and Gentile agreed to disallow is now at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. The resurrection of Jesus was then, in a sense (since triumphant redemption constitutes the only foundation of an indestructible creation), the beginning of God's work. Accordingly, the Lord, who Himself created all things, is called the Beginning, the First-born from the dead; the reason being added: "that in all things He might have the pre-eminence" (Col. 1:18). He who is the faithful and true Witness, is also "the Beginning of the Creation of God" (Rev. 3:14). In a similar sense, He is the second Adam; the previous creation having fulfilled its purpose, and being already superseded, for the believer, by the new. We date all things, not from God who has created us, but who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:17, 18). By the assumption into glory of the Man Christ Jesus, God now reveals Him from His heavenly exaltation, as the sole Pattern of human worthiness, as well as the only rightful Lord and Heir of all things.

It is because the new work of redemption was earlier in purpose, and is more abiding in result, than original creation, that the power of God is here said to be pre-eminently signalised in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Power produced creation. Power also, of a mightier kind, has brought forth from the ultimate extreme of ruin, the beginning of a new and faultless work. To create originally was glorious, and displayed the power and Godhead of the Creator. To be able so to work, as out of the acknowledged wreck of that creation to produce a more excellent result, was much more glorious. But physical results of an outward and ocular demonstration, such as will hereafter be exhibited, inasmuch as they will flow from the moral triumph of redemption, are in Scripture placed in subordination to it. The great and decisive token, therefore, of Divine power, is justly affirmed to be the resurrection of Him who will administer all power, and fulfil all purpose, as the manifested Head and Saviour of His Church.

A curse has thus become the cradle of a never-ending blessing. For Christ was made a curse for us, whom we now see made of God, "most blessed for ever" (Ps. 21:6). Down to the grave, the power which prevails is that of death. It is thus that the universal empire of sin has been attested. "Sin reigned in death" (Rom. 5:21, en toi thanatoi). Resurrection proves the more excellent power of righteousness by the triumphant re-entrance of the once slain "Just One" into life — He lives unto God. He who is the Righteousness of God, having tasted death by the grace of God for all, has now risen in His native strength from that last sleep. Christ being raised from the dead, dies no more; death has no more dominion over Him. And it is with His liberty that we are freed. Man, who naturally obeys the pressure of that resistless power which bows him into the dust, now finds himself, through faith, upraised in Christ from that last dissolution, to abide in life and light for ever. The power which destroyed him was sin. The power which revives him is righteousness. Grace is indeed the mode of its administration, but righteousness is the triumphant necessity which makes life eternal to be the certain portion of the believer in the Son of God. Christ was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God. in Him. Now God's righteousness is not the spoil of death, but the essence and power of eternal life.

Nothing could more emphatically declare to the whole intelligent creation, both the majesty of the power of God, and the sovereign supremacy of His will, than this elevation of the Man Christ Jesus to the throne of heaven. For the natural place of man is earth. The first man was not heavenly. He was of the earth, earthy (ek ges choikos, 1 Cor. 15:47). He was formed out of the dust, for the possession and enjoyment of sublunary things. He stood upon a level essentially different, as well as comparatively below, the heavenly intelligences. Angels are greater in power and might than man (2 Peter 2:11). But Jesus is now made higher than the heavens (Heb. 7:26). Not only supremacy of place, but of name also, is conferred on Him. For the Name of Jesus is now named in Heaven as well as in the Church below, with the worship due to God alone. The Son is there honoured as the Father. He is acknowledged, under His new form of manhood, to be the same who was always over all, God, blessed for ever (Rom. 9:5). Angels, who saw and ministered to the Son of man in the day of His humiliation, have only partly learnt as yet the meaning of the mystery of godliness. Meanwhile they worship, rendering glad homage to the Name which, though it be none of theirs, belongs to Him who is above all envy or comparison, as the only Lord of all (Heb. 1:11). This excellent supremacy is more fully expressed in what follows.

Verse 21. "Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." The Lord had passed by those principalities and powers, when in love He hastened downwards through the spheres of heavenly glory and dominion, to assume the lowly form and name which He had chosen for our sakes. Jesus of Nazareth was a lowly name on earth. In heaven it is one of the designations of that Light whose brightness is above the brightness of the sun (Acts 22:8). God has glorified His Servant,* as well as openly confessed His Son. When "received up into heaven," the Son of Man was reinstated in His former place (John 6:62), amid the adoring welcome of the heavenly powers. It is most important to remember that the supremacy of Christ is not here affirmed with reference only to the coming manifestation of His power, but is in active operation as a present truth. His Name is exalted above every name in this world (or age, toi aioni toutoi), as well as in that which is to come, Men, it is true, may now, with a present impunity, dispute His title, and deride His glory; but the Gospel still proclaims Him as the only Lord of all, with a distinctness which leaves the gainsayer without excuse.

{* Acts 3:13. ton paidia autou. The expression is exactly equivalent to that which, when quoted in Matt. 12:18, from the prophet Isaiah, is justly rendered, in our version, "Behold my Servant," etc.}

It is at this point that the practical force of this verse becomes felt. For the present world is full of names; there are high and reverend titles among men. Flattering distinctions are not the least conspicuous among the "evil things," of which fallen man is the inventor. But true honour comes from God alone, and He has given all to Jesus. It is His own solemn testimony, that, while men consent to receive honour one from another, they cannot believe.* The proud variety of titular distinctions, which are the coveted prize of natural ambition, is just one of the means by which the prince of this world seeks, by dazzling the eyes of men, to blind them to the light of God's true glory, in the face of Jesus Christ. The question now, with respect to the powers and respectabilities of this world, is very simple. Do they bow the knee to Jesus in believing confession that He alone is Lord? In other words, are the kingdoms of this world already become the kingdoms of Jehovah and His Christ? It is idle to address such an inquiry to any one who knows the Lord. Yet they will assuredly become such; but it will be, as we have seen, in a dispensation entirely distinct from the present one. What is now a warning claim, will then be a victorious truth, a proved and experienced reality. The bearing of such a verse as this upon the actual state of nominal Christendom is both obvious and solemn. For the duty of obedience must ever accompany a professed knowledge of the will of God. With the assumption of the Christian name, the rulers and nations of the civilized world have received the obligations which belong to Christ's professing people.

{* John 5:44. The reader will not mistake the true drift of this paragraph. Orders and degrees exist, and are recognized of God in the world. The powers that be are ordained of God. The Christian, therefore, is to honour all men in their place. Nay, even in the Church of God this is to be observed. "Most excellent Theophilus," is the greeting of the Holy Ghost to one of rank, who loved the Lord; while an epistle is addressed by Him to an elect Lady in the faith (Luke 1:3; 2 John). The grace of God deranges nothing violently in the outward structure of human society, though the rich Christian who discerns his calling, will rejoice in that he is made low, since it was by the discovery that flesh is grass that he awoke to the knowledge of a better heritage (James 1). It is when honour is given and received by men, on the score of personal merit that it becomes a badge of sinful pride, and is in its principle a rivalry of Him who alone is worthy.}

The distinction taken in this verse between the present age and that which is to come, is very marked, and in strict keeping with the doctrine stated in verse 10. It is not a comparison of time with eternity, but of one limited period with another. Hereafter, we shall find him speaking of "ages to come," but in a different connexion, and with another meaning (Infra, chap. 7). His subject now is the appointed supremacy of Christ, and this relates in a peculiar sense to the present age, and that which is immediately to succeed it. As to the character of the present age, its moral condition, and the springs which regulate its course, they are depicted by the Spirit with a distinctness and power which belong only to the word of God. In the chapter which follows, we shall find these things set in their appropriate contrast to the things of Christ. The truth enforced upon our minds by the present description of Christ's position at the right hand of the Father, is, that God has bestowed on Him a name and place of such universal pre-eminence, as to give to every assumption of independent power or action, the definite character of rebellious enmity against God. Whether confessed or denied, He is "the Head of all principality and power."

Verse 22. "And has put all things under His feet," etc. The correlative truth to the elevation of Jesus, is the subjection of all created things to Him as Lord of all. This is accordingly now stated by means of a quotation from Psalm 8, a passage mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament for a similar purpose (1 Cor. 15:27; Heb. 2:8). The subjection here spoken of, is by the same hand that raised up Jesus from the dead. It has been already shown that this subjection of all things, though complete in promise and secure in title, is during the present age but partially realized in fact. "We see not yet all things put under Him," says the Apostle, "but we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour." And if we see not yet with our eyes the manifest submission of creation to its Lord, we have, nevertheless, full entrance by faith into the kingdom, which in Him we already have received (Heb. 12:28). For Christian faith, which calls things by the names which God has given them, can bring together by anticipation the ultimate results of promise. He who has awarded glory and dominion to His Beloved, is the God of hope to those who wait the day of "His appearing." This spiritual realization of the kingdom is accordingly intimated in the words which follow:

"And gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church." He has received Him into glory, and now bestows Him, with the glory which adorns Him, on the Church of His election as her Head. It is evident that the passage now before us may be looked at from two different points of view. First, we learn from it what the practical effect should be upon the faith of a Christian individually, of his knowledge that Christ is thus Supreme; but, secondly, and more especially, what Christ really is to the Church, with the effects which flow from the establishment of the mystic union here described. With respect to the first of these, little further need be said, than to remind the believer that his faith confers upon him the inestimable privilege of seeing and dealing with everything in Christ. Things which are not yet, are present things to faith. In that sense, therefore, those Christians are quite right who comfort one another by the assurance that the Lord already reigns; though doubtless this expression is often the exponent of inaccurate ideas as to the dispensational wisdom and purpose of God. It is in the consciousness that the Head of the Church is likewise the Lord of creation, and the actual Possessor of all power, both in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18), that the believer is enabled to walk here below, not only in the sure hope of the glory which is ready to be revealed, but in the confidence of being perpetually in the vigilant and tender keeping of the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. The light and glory of redemption fill all space for the believing eye. We walk as strangers, and are called upon to suffer; but we walk in Christ. The Lamb's blood has been shed for us, and the Lamb Himself is now upon the throne. He views from thence in silence the progress of this present world, though the time is coming when, as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, He will arise and seize upon the prey (Zeph. 3:8; Joel 3:16; Jer. 25:30, seq.). Meanwhile He is the active Preserver of His saints, and rules according to the fulness of His power, within the house which is His own (Heb. 3:6). While the Church longs earnestly for the expected moment, when He shall appear, to take openly His great power and to reign, — knowing well her promised place and share in that dominion, — she is called to submit, for His sake, to every ordinance of man, expecting Him in patient well-doing, while He tarries yet the moment of the Father's will (Heb. 10:13; Acts 1:7).

The second point now claims our attention. It is declared to be an object of the Divine counsel, that Christ should be not only the Head over all things, but also, in a more especial and appropriative sense, the Head of the Church. This counsel has already been accomplished, though its demonstrative effects remain to be discovered in the coming day of glory. But already God, who raised Christ from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand, has given Him to the Church, as her appointed Head. The doctrine stated here and in the following verse, is one which is intended to bear on the heart of a believer not as a prophetic hope only, but with the effective power of a finished truth. That the great principle of the union of the Saviour and the saved, is one of peculiar interest to the Spirit of God, may be inferred from the frequency as well as variety of its mention in the word of God. In the present epistle, we have it presented under several aspects, which we should be careful not to confound with one another. We have already seen what Christ is representatively for His saints — that we are accepted in Him, blessed in Him, and endowed in Him with the fulness of that inheritance, which the Father of lights has purposed to bestow upon His Son. Hereafter we shall see the same truths exhibited, first, under the figure of the Foundation and its superstructure, and secondly, under that of the Husband and His wife. But in this passage (the doctrine of which is more fully explained in chap. we have presented to us, the mystic unity of Christ and His Church, each being first viewed. separately, that the perfection of the whole might more strikingly appear.

The announcement that God has given Christ as a Head to the Church, makes it necessary that the Church should be so described as to render clearly intelligible the sense in which this Headship is to be taken. This is, accordingly, done in verse 23, where it is said of the Church that it is "His body, the fulness of Him that fills all in all." Let us first remark, that our attention is now, for the first time, called to the Church as a specific object of Divine counsel. What Christ is to the Church has been already shown. But the Church, also, stands in a definite relation to Christ. When, therefore, it is said to be "His body," the expression implies, in the strongest manner possible, the inseparable nature of that mystic union which subsists between the First-born and the many brethren. For to obtain the idea of completeness, the Head and the body must be united in our minds. Either may be contemplated separately, and reasoned on, but as path only of a truth, which in its completeness is but one. It must be admitted, that the language of this passage, wonderful as it surely is, presents no difficulty in point of distinctness. It is both definite and precise. In its meaning it amounts to this: that although other results may and do flow from the one work of redemption, there is a body called the Church, which stands in such a relation to Christ as to be mystically identified with Him, who is its Head. Accordingly, we find the same Apostle applying elsewhere the Name of "Christ" to the Church in its essential unity (1 Cor. 12:12)! The constituent elements of this unity, and the mode in which the mystic body is formed to the stature of perfection, will be shown further on. The doctrine is here broadly and briefly stated at the close of this striking intercessional summary of those great articles of Christian faith, a right apprehension of which on our parts renders necessary the special operation of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God.

The Church is, 1, the body, and, 2, the fulness, of Christ. Neither of these mystical expressions is comprehensible by our understandings; while both are received, with a joyful assurance of their reality and preciousness, by our faith. The Christian has to do with truth, not visibly, but through the word of God. The mystic oneness of Christ and His living members is a truth, which, by the faith of its present accomplishment in Him, is a principal source of the believer's joy. To hold the Head is the distinctive mark of a genuine and intelligent faith (Col. 2:18, seq.). But the counterpart of our confession, that in Him all fulness dwells, is that we are ourselves complete in Him.* Christ is our fulness as the Lord of life and grace. He is All and in all. He is for His saints both Life and all that appertains to life. The Church is, on the other hand, His fulness, as it is by means of the glory which His grace has put on her, that what He is will be hereafter manifested.

{* Col. 2:10. Kai este en autoi pepleromenoi. This is more than an assurance of the believer's individual acceptance in the Beloved. It describes, in addition, the filling to its predestined measure, of that which is mystically His body. Compare Col. 1:24.}

The Church in its fulness is as impalpable to our natural sense as Christ its glorified Head. But the nature and destinies of that one body are revealed to us by the same Divine Witness, who declares to us the pre-eminence of the First-born. The same faith that casts the weight of our sins on Jesus, and emboldens us to say, "of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace," can also bear, without staggering, the addition of that exceeding weight of glory, which is made to rest upon the Church by virtue of its mystical identity with Christ. It is obvious that a close connexion subsists between the doctrine of this verse and that already stated at verse 10. When the time is come for finishing the mystery of God (Rev. 10:7), and for the revelation of the kingdom which is over all, the fulness and perfection of the Lord of glory will be demonstrated irresistibly by the order and accompaniments of His appearing. The eyes that see Him will also see His glory. But the radiance of that glory will be manifested in the Church. He will come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (2 Thess. 1:10). This is one sense, though not the only one, in which the Church may be said to be the fulness of an all-filling Christ. It will then be fully known, both who He is and what He is, when the truth of the Gospel, which is now but a fable to the natural man, will be glorified in power in that day.

Let it be remembered that our subject is still the wisdom and power of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has purposed that Christ should be supremely glorified. It is as a part of this purpose, that His actual work of calling the elect Church, or making it ready for the day of glory, is being carried on. The world has not yet seen the risen Christ. Faith only can behold that sight. Testimony has been borne to Him from heaven by the Holy Ghost sent down from thence The first effect of that testimony has been to quicken those whom God has not appointed unto wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:9). Its second consequence has been to form a living testimony to the Lord, through the common confession of believers. The true body of Christ consists of these. But from almost the commencement of this work of God, that body has been lost to every eye but that of faith. The world saw it for a moment when it stood as a monument both of the grace and power of Him who is its Head. But that lamp has long since waned, through the original neglect of those who should have tended it with jealous care. Instead of Christ reflected from the living and heavenly Church in its undivided spiritual unity and power, the world sees Christianity. It has an eye for that, though blind to Christ. For Christianity, in its popular sense, is no true child of God. It is a thing of words, and ordinances, and opinions. Under its spreading shadow, God's true saints indeed are found, but its existence and flourishing estate have no necessary connexion with living faith in Christ. Its name in Scripture is not Jerusalem, but Babylon — its description, not that of a chaste virgin, but a harlot. It is a thing of earth (Matt. 13:38; Jude 4); but our mother is above, where our hope and our treasure are.

Down to the present moment, though God has saved His people and has many a time revived His work in faithfulness and mercy, during the progress of the evil day, the Name of Jesus has quite failed to establish its supremacy in the earth. Social blessings and advantages have flowed in rich abundance from the diffusion of His doctrine. For God's blessed truth, even when most disregarded in its vital meaning, bears Him witness still. The Lord will feed the multitude with loaves and fishes, even though they may despise the better Bread of life. But as, in the days of His patience, He refused to be the people's King, because He had come into the world to do the will of God (John 6), so now the false flattery of a world which lauds the blessings of Christianity as a means of civilization, while it stops its ears against the only doctrine which reveals God truly — the doctrine of the Cross — instead of deferring the day of vengeance, does but hasten it. A form of godliness, while its power is denied, is the last phase (2 Tim. 3:3-5) under which the Spirit presents apostate Christianity when ripe for the advent of the Antichrist. It was so in the Saviour's day of sorrow. Never was Jerusalem so outwardly religious as when they said, "Not this man, but Barabbas." Synagogues and teachers overspread the land. But the untiring energy (Matt. 23:15) which moved all that machinery of outward godliness, was the unbroken spirit of a mind which God had already blinded in His righteous judgment.

His delusions are coming also on the present age. They have indeed been partially sent already. Symptoms of spiritual blindness present themselves on every side. Great swelling words of vanity have already been accepted to a large extent in preference to the sober testimonies of the Holy Ghost. But the sheep of Christ, dazzled as they often are for a moment by the sparks which men are kindling for themselves, shall never lose sight utterly of Him who is the bright and Morning Star. The work of God is perfect, and will stand. And it is as a faultless vessel of Divine perfection, that the Church will show forth in the coming day the full glory of the King of kings. The world will then know that the brethren of Jesus share equally with Him the Father's love (John 17:23). Angels know it now, and marvel, whilst delighting, at this mystery of gracious love (Eph. 3:10). The careless world rolls on, seeking a portion more to its liking in the things which perish in the using; dreaming of peace and safety, while judgment lingers not, and sudden destruction is at hand. By such the rich pearls of the treasury of God are contemptuously cast aside, or ignorantly trampled in the mire (Jude 10, 15, 16).

The Church is then to reign with Christ. Her position and appointed destinies are indissolubly bound up with His own. This subject will receive some further treatment when presented again in Ephesians 5, under the new figure of the marriage state. It may be as well to notice, before closing this chapter, an interesting and not altogether unimportant question* which has been raised, and to which some slight allusion has already been made at an earlier page; the question, namely, as to whether, in strictness of scriptural language, the saints who lived and died before the foundation of the Church was laid by the death and resurrection of the Saviour, can properly be comprehended in the above description. The reader to whom this question may be entirely new, need feel no alarm at its being raised. For it is one which affects in no degree the doctrine of the common justification or glorifying of believers. What is really involved is the sovereignty of the Divine good pleasure as exemplified in the modes in which the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may be pleased to distribute or display the riches both of His wisdom and His grace. We have already seen that dispensational diversities of an important kind are made known to us in the mystery of the Divine will. There is, then, room for inquiry at least, how far the distinctive limits of the Church in the existing dispensation are to be regarded as permanently exclusive. It is clearly a subject of secondary, though real interest; it is therefore one as to which, so long as we forbear to dogmatize, we may safely and profitably search the word of God. We shall have fuller teaching from the Apostle on the subject of the Church, in the chapters which follow, the effect of which may be, under God's blessing, to set this question in a clearer light. It is enough for the present to have had it brought thus plainly before our minds Let us, however, while suspending our judgment upon doubtful disputations, rejoice in the assured possession of a doctrine which sets the Church of God's election (define its limits as we may), in so strict a union with its living Head, as that He who fills all things in the fulness of His Godhead,** yet makes, in another sense, His own completeness to consist in union with His chosen. We are complete in Him; His fulness is completed in His Church. Such is the work of God, whose grace now abounds towards us in all wisdom and prudence, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory.

{*No question capable of godly discussion, in the light of Scripture, can be such. We cannot possibly know too much of what God has taught us in His word. The warning caution of His Spirit is to "prove all things."

** That the Eternal God is everywhere present, and can neither be contained in space nor known by natural sense, is a fundamental principle of truth. But He is to be fully known in Christ. The day of glory will declare this; and the diffusive brightness of that glory will not only in the millennial ago be discovered mediately through the Church, which is His body, but (as I infer from Rev. 21:3), the same Church will be eternally a tabernacle of expression by means of which the otherwise "Invisible" (1 Tim. 1:17, and 6:16) will have His dwelling among men, and be their God.}

Ephesians 2.

The prayer of the Apostle, in the foregoing chapter, was closed by a celebration of the mighty triumph of Divine power, as it is now displayed to the believer through the glorified supremacy of Christ. As Head over all things to the Church, He is recognized and worshipped by our faith, according to the fulness of that glory with which He is already crowned in heaven, and which is presently to be revealed. In the present chapter the same subject (the power of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory) is continued. But as it is in immediate relation to the Church that the active power of God has now to be considered, it is no longer regarded absolutely, but in subordination to the grace which exerts it for our sakes. The general assertion already made, of the distinctive position of the Church as the mystic body of Christ, leads naturally to a description, in more minuteness of detail, of the positive operation of God in the creation of the constituent members of that body. The prime origin of the Church has been referred, in the preceding chapter, to the purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of His own will. We are now to view the Builder at His work; to note the quarry out of which the grace of the only wise God has chosen its materials, and to have expounded to us more abundantly the manner and intent of that Almighty Love which is preparing for itself an everlasting habitation, through the patient operation of its own creative energy. It is a chapter overflowing with both grace and truth.

Verse 1. "And you has He quickened,* who were dead in trespasses and sins." These words stand in a close and evident connexion with the end of the previous chapter. The Ephesian saints were a part of that Church whose relation to its glorified Head had been there described. And as time and place have no modifying effect upon God's truth, which is eternal, it is plain that what we here read is of universal application to the Church of God.** We have, then, an account of the origin of the Church (and, by consequence, of each believer) when considered with reference to the efficient power of Divine mercy, just as in the first chapter its blessings are referred to the sovereignty of Divine good pleasure. Death in sins being declared to be man's natural condition since the fall, the existence and standing of the Christian as an acceptable man in Christ, is affirmed to be the result of a decisive act of God, by means of which he has become fitted for associations and destinies altogether new in their character, and with which he naturally could have no concern. The power of God, which raised Christ from the dead, and set Him far above comparison in heaven, has also created for the believer a new standing and relationship, entirely distinct from all that ever belonged to him as a man in the flesh.

{*There is an incompleteness in the expression here supplied by our translators, which, indeed, was hardly to be avoided. For the absence of the verb in the original conveys to our minds, much more forcibly than any single expression could have done, the fulness of the Spirit's meaning. The verse is a condensed assertion of the completeness of the Saints in Christ. Resurrection, therefore, with the glory and blessing which belong to it, is clearly included in the Apostle's thought (compare chap. 1:3). When, after describing in the intervening verses the saints in their unconverted state, he returns to the original subject, and the doctrine of salvation is opened more at large, the several operations of God are stated in their order ( verses 4, seq.).

** This is evident both from the nature of the doctrines stated, and also from the change to the first person in verse 3. "We all," etc. It is not until verse 11, that the case of the Gentile believer begins to be examined in comparison with that of his Jewish brother in the faith.}

The work of God is the confidence of faith. It is, therefore, of the utmost practical importance, that the fundamental doctrine, here laid down by the Apostle, should be distinctly apprehended. For it is certain that just views of Christ and of His blessed work are incompatible with a faulty perception of what the. Spirit teaches as to the natural man. Now with respect to this, the testimony of Scripture has been the same from the beginning; declaring the heart of man to be completely evil, his practical sinfulness is its constant theme, relieved, indeed, by a more than compensating testimony to the goodness of God. Thus much is evident upon the surface of the Scriptures even to the natural understanding, and conscience does not fail to ratify to every mind that thinks at all, a conviction of personal imperfection. But sinfulness, which most men are ready to admit in general terms, is a very different thing from death in sins. The one expression acknowledges a habit, and by its very confession half implies, at least, the possibility of its correction on our parts. The other describes a state or condition, any change of which (except by the immediate power of God) is seen to be impossible from the terms of its description. If dead men live, it is by the power of Him who quickens the dead. In the language which God uses, sin and death are but different names for the same truth. For the things are themselves inseparable. What sin begins death ends. But with the seed of Adam sin begins with life; rather, it produces it. The woman's conception is both in sin and because of it (Ps. 51:5; Jer. 3:16). We were shapen in iniquity, though God be our Creator still.

Life in its activity produces conduct, and conduct must be governed. by some principle by which its quality may be determined; moreover, what is good or bad, must be ascertained by reference to some decisive standard. In the language of the present verse, action and conduct are comprehended in the Spirit's definition of man's natural estate. The master-spring which governs these, is disclosed a little further on; as the resulting effect, he is found to be dead in trespasses and sins. These are the names by which God calls whatever is not wrought in Him.* He is Judge Himself, and by Him actions are weighed. But, on looking at the hearts of men, His brief but conclusive decision is, that "there is none righteous, there is none that does good." The source of evil conduct is exposed in the same passage, by a declaration of the natural ignorance and alienation of our hearts — "there is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God" (Ps. 14; Rom. 3:11). Ignorance and enmity are thus found to form the basis of natural human character. That "trespasses" and "sins" should be a just summary of human conduct, when estimated in the sanctuary of God, is therefore but an obvious result.

{* John 3:21. paraptomata kai hamartiai. The first of these terms appears to relate to the actions of an offender; the second, rather to his will. Thus in 1 John 3:4, we have the general and convertible proposition, he hamartia estin he anomia "sin is lawlessness," or "lawlessness is sin;" while in Rom. 5:15, where the fact of Adam's sin and its consequences is the subject treated, paraptoma is the word employed. See also the closing verse of that chapter where the same word has a meaning equivalent to parabasis, a transgression. But inasmuch as actions take their quality from the motives which produce them, it is not surprising that the above expressions should be sometimes used interchangeably by the Spirit of truth. Accordingly, in chap. 1:7, of this epistle, we find the former, and in Col. 1:14, the latter of the above terms, in the same connexion and with a perfect identity of signification. Their combination in the passage now under consideration, is forcibly expressive of the completeness of the moral ruin of the natural man.}

The will of God is the true standard of His creature's way. Infractions of that will are trespasses and sins. Perfect obedience to it is righteousness, partial obedience, or neglect, is disobedience and sin. A just measure is God's delight; He can accept no other. Now the will of God may be suggested to us by natural conscience, or may be especially revealed. In both these ways it has been unceasingly declared to man, and in every ease has been violated by the natural will. It was a Stranger's voice that said, on coming into the world, "I come to do Thy will, O God" (Heb. 10). He said it, and He kept His word.

Ignorance can excuse no sin. Man is bound to inquire and to know his Maker's mind. But spiritual ignorance is viewed in Scripture as God's judicial stigma upon an alien will (Rom. 1:21, 28). When men plainly showed dislike of God, He suffered them to run, at the bidding of a reprobate mind, far out of the sphere of real light and knowledge. Darkness became man's portion, when he willingly refused the Light. If, therefore, the state of fallen humanity be examined, it is found to be one of universal reprobation. Physical mortality is but the seal and consequence of that deeper and all-pervading spiritual death, which sin has brought into the soul. The fulness of natural intelligence and feeling is still but an utter destitution of life to God. But this truth, although among the plainest of the oracles of God (Isa. 40:6, 7; John 6:63), is invariably rejected by the world. It is known, indeed, by all, that natural existence is circumscribed by natural death, a cloud which lowers, more or less threateningly, each day of our life, and may spend its fatal bolt at any moment. But men do not care to ask themselves the cause of this. Scripture alone expounds the mystery. God only can account for death, or show the way of life, and He does both in His blessed word of grace. He lets us know that sinful existence is no life at all to Him, and that the bodily decease, which naturally closes it, leads the despisers of His goodness to a more bitter and eternal death (Heb.9:27). But he shows, meanwhile, to those who will receive His word, another and a better way.

To be just with God is to be obedient to His will. But the nature of such obedience must depend upon the special revelation of that will. Law and grace are its two great expressions. Under the former, to do righteousness by fulfilment of the law, was to be obedient. Man wrought for life as the reward of his own work. To fail in this was to incur a hopeless curse. But this obedience was never rendered, save by One who had no need of it for Himself. The law, therefore, which was ordained to life, brought death. Condemnation, and not justification, was its effect upon its subjects; for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But that ministry of death is passed, and now God speaks to us in the Gospel of His grace. His will is still the standard, but its requirements are wholly changed. To confess sin as our natural condition is now the beginning of an acceptable obedience; coupled as such confession always is, when genuine, with faith in Him who is set forth as the Propitiation for our sins. By the obedience of faith, we become possessors of the Righteousness of God. Prior, therefore, to such confession and justifying faith in Jesus, human life, when passed within the sound of the Gospel, is, whether grossly licentious or religiously precise, no better than an aggregate of sins. Without faith it is impossible to please God, and the truth which now declares to us His will is the saving Gospel of His Son.

The sweeping condemnation which the word of God. pronounces upon all human conduct that is not "of faith," is the necessary result of its viewing man, not as we naturally do, from his own level, and in comparison with himself, but from the side of God, and as the creature of His power. The effect of natural conscience, as a regulator of human conduct, is not overlooked in such an estimate. Practical consequences of an important kind arise among men from a recognition or neglect of this general monitor of God. But natural conscience never rises in its warnings to the measure of Divine requirement; for, as we have seen, ignorance is a family characteristic of a fallen race. Moreover, God's great question is with the natural bent of the human mind and will, which His word declares to be constitutionally at variance with Himself (Rom. 8:7). The existing proof of this is the natural insubjection of the heart of man to the doctrine of the Cross. It is to them that perish foolishness. If to any other it be, instead of foolishness, both the wisdom and power of God, it is to them only whom He has called effectually by His grace (1 Cor. 1:18, 24).

Natural human life being intrinsically reprobate, particular instances of sin augment, indeed, but do not originally procure, the sinner's condemnation. Man should be sinless. Failing in this, he is judged as a sinner. Worse, therefore, than vain is the attempt, on man's part, to draw meritorious distinctions in his estimation of a nature which its outraged Creator and Judge has pronounced to be only evil (Gen. 6:5; 8:21). But it is to be remembered, that although death in sins is the natural condition of the world, and private iniquities do all but add weight to a verdict already damnatory, yet the one great issue on which the hearers of Gospel testimony must ultimately stand or fall, is their obedience or disobedience to the faith of Christ. "This is the condemnation, that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light" (John 3:18, 19). The world, because it has rejected Jesus, lies already under that just condemnation. To escape from its effects, there is but one door of refuge — "He that believes on the Son has everlasting life, and he that believes not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36).

It is a low level to which the testimony of the Holy Ghost reduces man. But it is the needful preliminary to his attainment of true moral elevation as a new creature in Christ. Ignorance of God, and hatred of Him who is Goodness itself, are not the marks of a noble nature. And these, as we have seen, are found lying at the bottom of natural human character. But if the Spirit of truth convinces the world of sin and judgment, as its existing state in the eye of God, He does so that the glory of that great salvation may appear the more brightly and attractively, which He now declares as the witness of the ascended Son of man. He convinces of righteousness, by testifying to Jesus, whom the world has numbered with transgressors. If therefore, as it is, all wilfulness is sin, and submission to the truth the only way of righteousness, most surely the form of sin which, next to positive atheism, offends most proudly against the truth and holiness of God, is the attempt to establish our own righteousness. For it is the setting up of a lie against the only Truth. We make God a liar if we believe Him not. Yet this aggravation of iniquity is naturally man's religious trust. For not only does the pride of nature refuse to accept God's testimony against itself, but the sincerest intentions of an unrenewed mind are formed upon an entirely false estimate of God, not less than of itself. Thus ignorance of God conspires with natural enmity to keep men at a distance from the way of peace. What God is, and what is due to Him, are considerations which lie beyond the compass of an unawakened conscience; while the glory of His infinite perfections, as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, are discoverable only through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Nature, while conscious of much that is faulty in the building as it stands, never doubts the soundness of her own foundation. Men will own that they are guilty, but not that they are lost; that they are sinners, but not that they are dead in sins. In their eyes, such a phrase is but a mischievous extravagance of speech; a style of language tending to weaken virtue, rather than encourage it. For it is a crowning token of the madness which is in man's heart, that virtue should still occupy the highest pedestal in the chambers of his imagery; while the God who made him has declared him to be dead in trespasses and sins. He lives in sin, as a worshipper of virtue, until his eyes are opened to perceive that imperfection makes the case of a responsible being desperate in the presence of One, who judges the secrets of all hearts according to the inflexible severity of Divine holiness. But for the believer virtue takes another place. It is found in the happy train of those effects which follow living faith in Jesus (2 Peter 1:6; Phil. 4:8). It is this radical inadequacy of all merely natural conceptions of God, coupled as it is, in the sight of God, with the intrinsic weakness and unprofitableness of a sin-ruined nature, that renders necessary that second birth, without which none can see or enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5). The first effect, therefore, of regeneration, and a decisive proof that it has taken place, is the rectification of our previous notions both of God and of ourselves. When we can accept unfeignedly those testimonies of God, which (like the present verse) condemn without reserve the natural condition of man, we can willingly submit ourselves to the righteousness of God in Christ.*

{*If the remarks on this opening verse seem to any to have been disproportionately extended, the importance of the subject must serve as my apology.}

Verse 2. "Wherein in time passed ye walked," etc. They walked in that in which they were already dead. Sin leading irresistibly to death, destruction and misery are in the sinner's ways. The former verse affirmed the universality of the sinful state of man. In the present, we have a picture of the activities of sinful life. "The course of this world" stands opposed in Scripture to "the way of life;" and expresses, in a manner plainly intelligible to faith, the ordinary flow of natural human life, in contradistinction to the way of those who, as partakers of the risen Christ, have ceased to be of the world, though, as strangers and pilgrims, in it still. Reference has been made, in the former chapter, to the present world or age (Kata ton aiona tou kosmou toutou), in connexion with the supremacy which the Spirit claims for Christ, as the appointed Heir of all things (Chap. 1:21). We are now instructed as to the true character of the present world, by a disclosure of the governing energies which regulate its course. That there is corruption in the world through lust, is confessed by all who know the difference between holiness and sin; but the present verse reminds us of a power superior to the human will, and which acts on it tyrannically, though with subtlety, by means of sensible objects or by spiritual hallucinations, in such a manner as to keep it in its natural condition of ignorance and sin. The doctrine of this verse deserves much more attention than it usually receives in the current evangelical teaching of the day.

The first thing to be noticed is the broad statement of the Apostle, that the course of the present world is under the immediate control of a power which is not of God. We have already been reminded, that all power belongs to God; and that in its fulness, it has been assigned to the glorified Man, Christ Jesus. But the certainty of that blessed truth does not alter the fact, that there is, during the absence of the Lord in heaven, another power, who is variously recognized in Scripture as "the prince (John 14:30) of this world," "the god (2 Cor. 4:4) of this world," and, in the passage now before us, as "the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience."* We shall find the same power again mentioned, at the close of the Epistle (Chap. 6:10, seq.), under a somewhat different description, as the enemy with whom the Christian has to urge a ceaseless warfare. Here we have to view him as the source and energetic wielder of an all-pervading influence in the world, by means of which the progress of human affairs is governed, though (thanks be to God) in necessary subjection to Him, who is the alone true Governor of the nations. In assigning to him the distinctive title of "prince of the power of the air," it seems evidently intended, that our ideas of his presence and activity should be coextensive with those which we form as to the limits of natural human existence. Where man breathes the spirit of evil works, exerting, without cessation, his baleful influence on the natural heart of man.

{* kata ton archonta tes ex. t. a., tou pneumatos tou nun energ. k. l. The language of this verse is peculiar, and seems to convey the doctrine of Satan's supremacy over the world of darkness, the powers of evil, inferior spirits, etc., which are here expressed collectively, as "a power" and "a spirit." In chap 6:12, we have "powers" and "spirits." Infra in loc.}

The doctrine of Satanic existence and power is gradually unfolded in the word of God, and with a certain analogy, in point of progressive development, to that of Christ. The serpent appears from the beginning as man's tempter, and the enemy of God; while, in the same chapter (Gen. 3), Christ is, as the Deliverer and Avenger, revealed in promise. That old serpent is the devil and Satan (Rev. 12:9). But, subsequently to the record of his first great work of destruction, he is but rarely mentioned in connexion with the general course of the world, though the effect of his influence, as the fountain of iniquity and the father of lies, is everywhere manifest, in the overspreading of wickedness and idolatry which the word of God describes. As the god of this world he is recognized, if not yet distinctly as its prime. The way of the nations was to do sacrifice unto devils (Ps. 106:36, 37). It is in the book of Job that we have the clearest view afforded us of Satan's general influence and power over sublunary things. In most of the remaining instances in which he is distinctly mentioned in the Old. Testament, he appears, in an exclusive relation to the people of God, as their watchful tempter and adversary. But the fulness of truth, on this point as on every other, is to be found only in the New Testament. There, as we read: "The darkness is passed, and the true light now shines" (1 John 2:8). It is a light in which the great principles both of good and evil are revealed to the believer. In that sense, facts in the Old Testament become doctrines in the New (cp. 1 Cor. 10:11). Thus Cain, in the former, is the murderer of his brother; but it is in the latter that the deed is referred to its ultimate source: "he was of that Wicked One" (1 John 3:12). With respect to the specific titles of prince and god of the present world, they stand in an obvious relation to Him, to whom both titles rightfully belong. The first of these was applied to Satan by the Lord Jesus, when His own rejection, on the world's part, was on the eve of its consummation (John 12:31). The second title was assigned to him by the Holy Ghost, when, as the Witness of the glory of Jesus, He thus placed the seal of an emphatic reprobation, upon a world which had rejected its true God (2 Cor. 4:4). The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ thus disowns the world, by refusing to be called its God. Since the world would. none of Him when He came to it in the Person of His Son, He makes it over — judicially — to another god. Man is thus the willing slave of his destroyer, until the power of elective mercy brings him out of darkness into light (Acts 26:18).

The application of this solemn doctrine to the existing course of things is easily seen. "The children of disobedience" are opposed, in the present description, to those who, through the obedience of faith, have been manifested as the children of God. As the Holy Ghost dwells and works in. the latter, so the spirit of evil works in and governs the former. Man is not recognized, in the light of the Gospel, as an independent agent. Whatever is done here below, is wrought at the instigation either of the Spirit of God, or some spirit which is not of God. Many such are in the world (1 John 4); but there is one to whom an evil pre-eminence is given. It is he, therefore, who is here said to work all evil through his ministers, who are numerous and active. The mysteries of darkness are as little comprehensible by our present capacities, as the opposite mysteries of light and glory. While ourselves in the body, we are not competent to measure spiritual things. But we know them when revealed to us as truths. And well it is that Christians should remember, that the testimony of the Holy Ghost as to the existence and power of Satan, as the ruler of this present world, is not less distinct and positive than that which He renders to the Anointed Captain of Salvation, who has destroyed, for the believer, both the devil and his works (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8).

Verse 3. "Among whom we all had our conversation," etc. If Satan be the prince of this world, the lusts of men are the bars by which the strong man keeps his goods in peace. By acting on the already alien hearts of men, he impels them to disobey the will of God. The means employed are as various as the changes of the human fancy or desire. They are here classed, generally, under the two-fold description of the lusts of the flesh and the desires of the mind.* Of these desires, the most destructive, because the least suspected, as to its genuine quality; is religious emulation, or, what is elsewhere called, the desire of making a fair show in the flesh (Gal. 6:12). The Apostle could bear competent testimony on this point. He had run, as few else ran before or since, in the race of religious enthusiasm. In point of natural fervour and conscientious devotedness, he had, as a Pharisee of the strictest sect, but few to emulate his zeal. But he knew not what master he was serving when he thought that he ought to do many things contrary to Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 26:9). And now, in the happy enjoyment of a better righteousness than that which he had vainly gone about to establish, and in pursuit of which he had found only self conviction as the "chief of sinners," he confesses that his natural course had nothing to exempt it from the common judgment of the world. The precious blood of Christ was no less needed to redeem him and his Jewish brethren, from the vain conversation received by tradition from their fathers (1 Peter 1:18, 19), than to purge the conscience of a sinner of the Gentiles.

{*More strictly, "the lusts of the flesh," comprise, generically, what is presently after distributed under the separate heads of desires (or wills, thelemata), of the flesh and of the mind.}

As to the general drift of the verse, little further need be said. Men may be, and are by themselves distinguished, as being characteristically sensuous or intellectual. But in the eye of the Spirit, the higher and lower qualities of nature are brought to a common moral level. Intellectual pride (which is also spiritual ignorance), is no less offensive to God than licentious wickedness. So long as the bias of human inclination leads men, as it does, away from God, the particular direction followed is, in one sense, immaterial. Taste, or the power of association or example, leads men in a vast variety of ways. But the common stamp borne by all natural action, is that of a presumed independency of will. Men please themselves, and by so doing displease God, who calls for every man's obedience, both of. heart and hand. Accordingly, the first articulate confession of the new-born people of God is a recognition of this truth: "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way" (Isa. 53:6). To determine, therefore, what is comprehended under the opprobrious term, "children of disobedience," we have only to ask ourselves, what is obedience? And seeing, that to work the work of God is to believe in Him whom He has sent (John 6:29), it is plain that no other obedience is real but that of saving faith in Jesus. The moral excellencies, therefore, and fair-showing comeliness, which nature many times puts on, are not less certainly comprised in the picture here presented of the course of this world, than the outward depravity, which is so abundantly visible upon the general surface of society. And because a course of conduct, which results from the acting of Satanic influence upon a naturally alien will, must be a standing provocation of the Divine judgment, the conclusion at which the Apostle arrives, that all men are by nature "children of wrath," is as obvious and irresistible as it is terrible in its bearing on a Christless world.*

{* When all are guilty, to make distinctions is, in one sense superfluous. Not so, however, in another. To guard us against the power of Satan as a deceiver, is the great aim of the Spirit of Truth. That maxim of Divine wisdom, so unpalatable to our natural pride, "that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:18), receives in Scripture every variety of illustration. And it may be useful to recall the fact, that it is one class of sinners in particular that the Lord so designates as to place them in emphatic assimilation to the maker of all sin. "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers," is His denunciation, not of publicans and harlots, but of pharisees and scribes (Matt. 23:33). "Ye are of your father the devil," was said to those who fully claimed to be "of God," while refusing to know Him whom God had sent (John 8:44). And It is on the same principle that "children of the devil" is become a generic description of all who now reject the righteousness of God (1 John 3:10).}

Verses 4, 5. "But God, who is rich in mercy," etc. Man, and his natural condition, having been described, we are called now to consider Him who made him, and whose testimony declares him to be dead in trespasses and sins. The fact of man's moral ruin becomes the occasion for displaying the perfection of the Divine character. Helpless sin is the opportunity of rich and saving mercy. But it is necessary to remark in the first place, that Divine mercy is here spoken of, not with reference to its aspect in the Gospel message, but as an operative thing. It is with the kingdom of God, which is in power and not in word, that we have now to do, in contrast to the world, which lies in the wicked one. The power of God to show mercy and to bless in spite of all resistance, is the subject of His people's praise for ever. Accordingly, the great proof here alleged that He is rich in mercy, is that He loved His people in their natural condition, when dead in trespasses and in sins. And because He loved them, He did not leave them as they were, but quickened them, and gave them everlasting life. It is elective mercy that is here described. As it was the sovereign good pleasure of God, that chose the Church in Christ before the foundation of the world, so it is the active power of His mercy that calls us forth from death to life by the Gospel of His grace.

In the former chapter, when the resurrection of Christ was the principal subject, the greatness of the power of God was the prominent consideration. Now, as it is our participation in the blessings of the First-born that is in question, the Apostle dwells upon the greatness of His love. We have been described already as accepted in the Beloved. We are now made to know with how great a love we were ourselves beloved, even in the midst of our natural wretchedness. These truths are not to be sundered from each other, seeing that the love of God to us-ward is evermore in Christ; but they may be, and are in Scripture, presented to our contemplation separately, as well as in their blessed combination. The greatness of this love of God is evinced by the magnitude of the obstacles it has surmounted, as well as by the value of the grace bestowed. A. thoroughly rebellious will on our parts could not discourage a. love, the energy of which was creative of its own results. Finding us in sin, it created us anew in holiness, removing at its touch all blame from its objects, by the effectual power of atonement. Thus the greatness of Divine love abounded in the form of rich and overflowing mercy; a mercy rich enough to pay the price of our redemption in the life of God's own Son. For "God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). He loves us, and then teaches us His love:

He has quickened us together with Christ. If love wrought actively on those who were already dead, its first effect must be to give them life. It will be remembered that the Apostle's present subject is the love of God to the Church as the body of Christ. It is not, therefore, the quickening of the individual by the power of the Holy Ghost that is here contemplated, but the coming to life, in Christ, of the entire body. All His members received life in Him when He revived. The love of Jesus had reduced Him, in the fulness of His sacrificial grace, to the fellowship of our natural estate. He was numbered with the transgressors when He gave Himself for our sins. And thus the Father, who had predestinated us to the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ unto Himself, received all His many sons to life, when he quickened the First-born. Hence, although Christ is Himself our Life, and our All, yet, inasmuch as what He is as the Filler of all things, is to be diffusively expressed in that which is His fulness (Chap. 1:23), so we are said here to have been quickened, not in Him, but with Him; the present sentence being a verification to the faith of the Church of His own promise: "Because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19). Thus while the first approach of the regenerate sinner to the throne of grace is from below, to praise the abundant mercy which has sprinkled his heart from an evil conscience, by the precious blood of Christ; yet, when the eyes of his faith gather strength enough to see things steadily in the new and marvellous light into which he has been brought, he is enabled to understand that the grace which he has now only begun to taste in Jesus, was finished for him unto life eternal when the Lord revived. And this appears to be the special force of the parenthetic sentence, "by grace are ye saved," which is here thrown in between the statement of our being quickened. with Christ, and what is presently said of our fellowship in His resurrection. It is the Apostle's evident desire to exclude entirely from our minds all ideas of merit or even demerit* of a personal kind, when considering the origin and quality of our life as saints. What we were, has been judged of God, and dismissed from His remembrance;** what we are, we are solely by His grace. Salvation describes the manner of its operation, but the life conferred is absolutely new, and of the free power of Him who gave it us in Christ. The gift of God is life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:23).

{*Demerit, and that to the uttermost degree, is the standing quality of those who are dead in trespasses and sins, and by nature heirs of wrath. But our question in the text is with the saint, as a participator in that life of which Christ is the source and fulness. Considerations of a personal kind can have no place in such a question. A word may be added as to the attributes ascribed in this passage to the God of our salvation. They are principally three: love, mercy, and grace. Of these, the first, as it describes His nature, is the parent of the rest. Mercy is the leaning of that love towards an object naturally unworthy of it; while grace or favour (charis) expresses rather the decisive choice, which mercy acts effectually on its objects, including also, in its meaning, the ever blessed effects of that salvation which it brings. Grace acts thus towards us in the gift of Jesus for our sins. It was confirmed to us triumphantly by His being brought back from the dead. God favours whom He knows in love.

** Heb. 10:15-17. From His, but not from ours. Verse 11, seq.}

Verse 6. "And has raised us up together," etc. In all points the believer, as a vessel of Divine mercy, is identified with Him who is the full River of God. to our faith. Thus life, resurrection, and heavenly glory, which properly reside only in the Person of Him who is the First-fruits of them that slept, are severally imputed to the saints in Him. But, as in the preceding verses, association, rather than union, continues to be the prominent idea. We are called into the fellowship of the Son of God. What God has done to us is the main point of the Spirit's teaching here. It is shown that His love has not only triumphed by totally undoing the effect of sin, but that it has originated for us in the risen Christ an entirely new security of life and blessing. Grace has abounded over sin. That from which sin degraded man, was the fellowship of his Creator upon earth. That to which grace has brought the believing sinner, through Christ, is the fellowship of God in heaven. We lost in Adam a life which had originally its conditions of endurance, and those of a most precarious description. Probationary life can never be secure. We have found in Christ a new and different life, unconnected in any way with that which sin had forfeited. For our Redeemer is Himself our Life. That life is held on no condition, but is ours by the free gift of Him who sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins. God has raised us up, in raising Christ. He has made us sit together in heavenly places, by enthroning Jesus there.

Thus the blasphemous raving of Anti-christian ambition, which aims to be "as God," is but Satan's effort to attain wrongfully for fallen man that which grace confers freely upon the objects of redeeming love.* To claim Divine honour is the culmination of human madness, when urged by Satan to its crisis: To acknowledge that man's natural estate is one of irrecoverable degradation, is the first-fruit of true spiritual conviction. God reduces man to his just level, as a born apostate, and then sets him, by the faith of Jesus, in a new and altogether excellent place. Man, while refusing grace, exalts himself, building a tower of vain confidence which must ultimately crush him in its fall. God, by His truths begets those who were once lost sinners as children to Himself in love. When we submit ourselves to God, He exalts us in His Son. He has nothing less for us than Christ. His gifts are according to His Own perfections. He proves what He is, as the God of all grace, by loving such as we are shown to be, and making us His heirs.

{* Isa. 14; 2 Thess. 2. "Ye shall be as gods," was the original lie of the Deceiver. "Ye shall be my sons and my daughters," is the promise of the Lord Almighty, confirmed already to the faith of those who know Him in His Son (2 Cor. 6:18; 1:20). Grace raises its objects into adoring fellowship with that which sinful pride would fain supplant.}

Verse 7. The glory of God has been already shown (Chap. 1:12) to be the paramount end of His grace to a sinner, in His Son. How that glory, which is eternal, stands related to ourselves, as the conscious receivers of His grace, is now declared. What God has wrought us for in Christ is, "that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in. His kindness to us-ward, through(Or in, en, X.I.) Christ Jesus." The eternal God has an eternal kindness for His children. The exceeding riches of His grace are not to be realized all at once by those who are its objects. Knowledge and enjoyment will grow on, with life, in an interminable progression. Careful attention should be paid to the expression here used by the Apostle. "Ages to come" conveys a different meaning from the same expression in the singular. We have seen that there is a coming age, in which Christ will be paramount in the manifested power of His kingdom. We have seen, further, that a precise limitation is assigned to that coming kingdom (ante, note re Eph. 1:10). The place also of the Church, in that long day of joy and triumph, has been shown. Having already received, by faith, a kingdom, we shall reign in its manifested glory with Him, who is Head over all things to the Church (ante, note re Eph. 1:11). Dating, as we must, the commencement of the series of ages mentioned in the present verse, from the second advent of the Lord, we have here afforded to us, by the Spirit, a prophetic hint of just sufficient strength to enable our minds to add to the single and uniform idea of "eternity" the still consistent one of a serial continuity. Post-millennial blessedness, although an everlasting state, is not therefore monotonous. Other ages are to follow, when the closing* dispensation shall have run its course. Of these we know but little, or rather nothing, beyond the fact here recorded of their future existence, together with the blessed assurance, that they will witness, in their never-ending revolution, the unbroken peace and blessedness of the new heaven and the new earth.

{*I feel that this statement is in its terms paradoxical. But such must sometimes be the effect of an attempt to convey Divine realities through the medium of finite ideas and language. Where God has not spoken, they who fear Him will not venture to conjecture. The use of the word here rightly translated "ages," is rather frequent in the New Testament, though generally rendered as an indefinite expression of futurity. But there is a precision in the words here used (en tois aiosin tois eperchomenois), which seems to forbid our construing it in so loose and general a way.}

One thing is at least kept clearly before our hearts, and is indeed the emphatic point of the Apostle's doctrine in this verse: namely, that amid the varied and ever new manifestations of the Divine fulness, which may hereafter be witnessed by a reconciled and thoroughly-renewed creation, His kindness to us-ward who now believe, will perpetuate the rich savour of His grace. Received up into heaven by the Lord, who will in person come to fetch her, His Church will begin her life of glory as the married wife of the Lamb. And after sharing with her Lord the throne of His millennial dominion, she will continue to receive, as the everlasting partner of his joys, increasing and ineffable assurance of the love of God. The Scripture is reserved in its communications as to that which lies quite beyond the limits of our present apprehension. Perhaps the passage now before us goes as far as any in the glimpse which it affords us into the mystery of post-dispensational eternity.*

{*In 1 Cor. 15, we have the post-millennial state described by the single expression, "the end." In Rev. 21:1-8, the definite futurity of a now creation is declared. In both the above passages GOD, in His paramount glory, is the Object kept before us, the idea of mediation being less distinctly marked. But in the text, this truth has its place emphatically maintained. His kindness towards us is in Christ Jesus.}

Verse 8. "For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of of God." Having thus opened on the soul of the believer a vista into an eternity of blessedness, the Apostle now recalls us to a fresh consideration of the means by which alone our wished-for inheritance must be attained. Accordingly we have in the present verse an amplified repetition of the doctrine stated parenthetically at the close of verse 5. Grace and salvation stand to one another in the relation of cause and effect. Grace saves. But if so, it may still be asked, in what manner does it save? Does it work in us some interior subjective change, by virtue of which we are afterwards considered acceptable on our own account, or is its blessed result arrived at in some other way? In the solution, or rather the complication, of this question, both the subtlety of Satan, and the perverseness of the human understanding, have been exercised from the time when the doctrine was first announced. And yet nothing can possibly be more simple and precise than the reply which is here furnished by the Holy Ghost. It is "through faith."* Now the nature of faith is, that it seeks for, and finds, an object of trust external to itself. It can have no existence but as the reflection of that which has called it into action. If, therefore, God be the Object of faith, it is because He has revealed Himself. In default of this, there might indeed be a longing of the soul after something, the need of which it might more or less deeply understand — a feeling after God — as it is elsewhere expressed. But there could be no true faith, because, until an intelligible revelation has been made, there is no light by which the Object of faith can be discerned, nor any way by which it may be reached. If, then, grace saves through faith, it is manifest that its immediately exciting cause must be the testimony which makes known this saving grace. In other words, it is by a believing reception of the word of truth, the Gospel of our salvation, that the Christian knows the grace of God in truth (Col. 1:6).

{* dia tes pisteos. Perhaps we should rather say, "through the faith;" the faith, that is, of God's elect — the faith of the Gospel.}

But a further question yet remains. For faith may be allowed to be the instrumental means of salvation, and room still be left for a wholly false opinion as to the true nature and origin of such faith. Is saving faith, then, as is often asserted, a natural and independent effort of the human will? or, to put the question in another way, Is the record. which God has given of His Son, a communication credible to the natural man? A clear and explicit negative to both these inquiries is given in the latter clause of the verse before us: "and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." It is scarcely needful to remind the Christian reader that none can really have faith in God who have not first been born of God. For it is a standing axiom of Scripture that the natural man perceives not the things of the Spirit of God. Accordingly, when the true origin of the believer is inquired for, it is discovered in such expressions as refer us immediately either to the electing love of God, His calling, or His quickening grace and power. While, therefore, faith on the sinner's part is the sole means by which salvation can be reached, both the Lord Himself in the days of His flesh, and His Spirit afterwards by the testimony of the Apostles, have expressly referred that saving faith to the immediate gift of God.*

{* John 1:12, 13. Compare, for a further confirmation of the Apostle's doctrine, that faith is the gift of God, John 6:65; Acts 28:27; Phil. 1:29; and 1 Cor. 4:7.}

To assert, therefore, as is sometimes done, that saving faith is something natural to man, is both to oppose the plainest words of Scripture, and to falsify the testimony which God has borne to the entire helplessness as well as sinfulness of man. That which is naturally dead in sins, cannot arouse itself to spiritual life. And if, while reflecting on these things, we find ourselves tempted to echo the half-despairing question of the disciples, "Who then can be saved?" the answer they received may well suffice for us: "With men this is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible" (Mark 10:26, 27). Salvation is of the Lord (Ps. 3:8), to whom power alone belongs, whether to save or to destroy. And if it again be asked, Why, then, is the Gospel preached, and that by the command of God, to every nation that is under heaven? there is a double answer: 1st., the Gospel is the instrument by means of which God works His saving work; and 2nd., God is chargeable with no injustice (for He is the God of grace towards the people of His choice) in yet more completely demonstrating the native enmity of the heart of man towards Himself, by leaving His blessed Gospel to be accepted or rejected, as men list, while He entreats them to receive salvation in His Son. All, therefore, who are willing, may take freely of the waters of salvation. But who among us all was willing, until made so by the pressure of that thirst which the Holy Ghost alone produces in our souls?

Verse 9. That salvation is "not of works," results inevitably from the doctrine already stated. Instead of being won by his own effort, salvation is received by the believer as the end of his faith (1 Peter 1:9). But the reason elsewhere given is here also added it is not of works, "lest any man should boast." God, who is seeking the glory of his Christ, will still all human boasting. He does so now with His elect by the power of His saving grace. He will do so in the coming day of judgment, when the haughtiness of man shall bow before the fearful presence of His holiness. It is evident that boasting is excluded where salvation is of grace. Believers are not boasters but worshippers, adoring with a wise and understanding heart the God whom they have learned to know and love, through His manifestation of His own rich grace in Jesus. The doctrine of this verse, and of the entire passage of which it forms a part, may be easily paralleled by the attentive reader of Scripture; for it is the fundamental doctrine of the Gospel. Happy are they who, in a clear perception of the mystery of saving grace, are kept from glorying in anything but the cross of Him through whose sore travail all this great salvation is their own.

Verse 10. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained (or prepared) that we should walk in them." Instead of working, we ourselves are wrought of God. Two words occur in the verse, which it is proper to distinguish. First, the saints collectively are styled "the workmanship" (poiema) of God. The force of this expression is to show the completeness, whether of the Church in its unity, or of the believer as a particular member of the body of Christ. A Christian, when considered as a vessel of saving mercy, is not in process of formation, but completely made. But we are said also to have been "created (ktisthentes) in Christ Jesus." We cannot hesitate as to the intention of the Holy Ghost in his selection of such a word. It is, beyond doubt, that the absolute originality of this work of God might be forcibly impressed on our minds. It is not an adaptation of something that previously existed, but a new creation. A believer carries nothing of himself into Christ; he is another and a new man. The old nature having been set aside judicially in the cross of Christ, we receive in Him, and from Him, another nature, a new and altogether different life. Hence the perfect propriety of describing the conversion of a soul to God by an expression which conveys nothing less than the idea of primary and absolute creation. Identity is not destroyed, fin• it is we who are thus said to be new made. On the other hand, it is no longer we, but Christ. Being naturally lost, we are found in Him. If we are really alive to God, our life is by the faith of Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us (Gal. 2:20).

But this creation of God is also described in its intended results. If God creates His people anew, it is that they may glorify Him by their obedience. For they who are truly sons obey the Father that begat them. His children must bear some resemblance to Himself in their desires and their ways. And God has perfectly provided for this end. The good works in which believers are to walk have been prepared beforehand by Himself.* This is accordingly expressed with much distinctness in the verse before us. We are created "unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them." The intention of the Apostle in the previous verses is very manifest. Nothing could be more important, in the eye of the Spirit of God, than that Christians should be preserved from the danger of confounding the practical effects of grace in themselves, with the completed work of God by which He had definitively stablished them in Christ as living members of His Body. Having, however, declared thus emphatically the great doctrine of sovereign grace, he does not fail to state, with equal clearness, the moral results of God's saving power, as they exhibit themselves, in a greater or less abundance, in the conduct of His people.

{* proetoimasen. The English margin gives the right translation. The reader should be reminded that the expression here employed is precisely similar to that which is found in Rom. 9:23; vessels of mercy which He had "afore prepared unto glory."

God is the only Doer of good works. He both is good, and does good (Ps. 119:68). If fruits of righteousness are produced in His people, it is by the operation of His Spirit. Hence, though good works are looked for in the believer, there is nothing legal in their nature. A Christian does not work to live, but lives to work. His works are works of faith. Works wrought in nature's energy are dead and evil works. Active obedience is assuredly the rule of living faith; but the energy which moves a Christian in the way of obedience is not his own will, but the will of God. For God works in His saints, no less than for them. It is He who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. He not only enables but directs. (Ps. 32:8; Rom. 8:14). We work out our own salvation by adorning the doctrine of Him who already is our Saviour. But to suppose that our own works add to our security in Christ, is not to adorn that doctrine, but utterly to frustrate it (Gal. 2:21). Christian goodness means devotedness to Christ. It is a fruit of the Spirit, not a trait of natural character (Chap. 5:9 Compare Gal. 5:22; Acts 11:24). To be full of goodness, is to be full of that which is the fruit of light and not of darkness (Infra, chap. 5:9, note). As wicked works are the mark of an alien mind, so good works can come only of a faith that rejoices in the rich abundance of God's saving mercy (Rom. 12:1) — a faith which works by love. Being reconciled to God, we seek to please Him. "Teach me to do Thy will," has always been the natural language of a quickened soul; and, in the joy of God's salvation, strength is found to keep His way. It is He who performs all things for His people (Ps. 57:2). He will fulfil the good pleasure of His goodness in His saints (2 Thess. 1:11, 12).

The doctrine of good works is a correlative of that which declares the creative power of God to be the origin of Christian life. Union with Christ is as truly the effective cause of acceptable works, as it is the security of the believer's life. The Lord has very plainly taught us this. That apart from Him we can do nothing, is affirmed not less emphatically than that without faith in Him we are destitute of life (John 15:5). But, in the language of the Spirit, to abide in Christ is to bear fruit to God. Faith without works is dead; for true faith binds us to the Living Vine, in whom our fruit as well as our life is found. Thus the quantity of our fruit will be in proportion to our faith; for faith is the working arm of our strength. It is also by that leading string that the sons of God are conducted by the Spirit in the way of peace. As to the Pattern of our imitation, it is JESUS; who has not only saved us, but has left us an example that we should follow His steps. Flesh will not cease to lust in a believer against the spirit; but the desires of the new and inner man are wholly towards God. That which is born of God still cleaves to Him in love, preserving its natural bias amid all the oppositions of an alien will, which never changes. Moreover, the Spirit lusts against the flesh; and, being God, will ultimately conquer, though the struggle may be long. The assertion of good works as the necessary, because Divinely-prepared, consequence of saving faith, is intended not only to act in warning power on the conscience of the real believer, but to frustrate by anticipation the device of Satan, who endeavours to lead sinners to destruction by separating holiness from grace.

The walk of God's saints begins on earth, but will be perfected in heaven. It commences amid the trials of the evil day, and under the heavy burden of the flesh. We that are in the body do groan being burdened. It will continue when all grief shall be forgotten, and nothing remain but an eternity of joy. If here we seem (sometimes to others, oftener still to ourselves) to stagger rather than to walk, it will not be always thus. There are no feeble knees in heaven. To walk with Christ in white (Rev. 3:4), is a sure promise of sustainment to the soul that now seems ready to faint because of the length and roughness of the present way. To please God must be the wish of all who know Him; and in heaven they will have that joy. The rest we look for will be realized in full communion. But happy obedience is an essential element of the creature's fellowship with his Creator. If we are to sit on thrones for ever, it is in adoring subjection to Him who placed us there. Order and gradation are things which do not cease with time. They will have their perfect and harmonious illustration in that everlasting rest. The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be there, and His servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His Name shall be in their foreheads (Rev. 22:3-5). The work of God is perfect; and they whom He has created for obedience will serve the end of their creation to His lasting praise.*

{*In the text the believer is regarded as the completed workmanship of God, fitted perfectly to its intended purpose, and fulfilling the good pleasure of its Maker. As the passage is purely doctrinal, no allusion is made in it to the practical obstructions which, whether arising from his natural corruption, or from external temptation, so often darken and sadden the believer's personal walk. Rich and merciful provision is made for every failure of which we are susceptible while in the body, by the consecration of the Son of God as the great High Priest of our profession. But in the present Epistle, the object of which is to show what the believer ought to be in his walk, by making known what he already is in Christ, as an object of the sovereign grace of God, the perfection of His work in all its parts is kept in view, rather than the opposite picture of our own failure.}

Verses 11, 12. "Wherefore remember that ye being in times past Gentiles," etc. To the general exposition of the doctrine of saving grace and its effects, there now succeeds a more particular application of it to the case of the Gentile, as distinguished from the Jewish believer. And this is quite in the manner of one who, in the exercise of his peculiar ministry, as the Apostle of the Gentiles, never lost sight of the pre-eminence of the Jew, as touching the flesh. The Gentiles were partakers of their spiritual things (Rom. 15:27; 1:16), although when the oracles of God gave utterance to the perfect truth in Christ, the distinctive superiority of the Jew was wholly lost in the unity of the one new man.

It was indeed most meet, that they whom he addressed, should be taught to measure with a steady eye the moral distance from which grace had fetched them, that they might become constituent members of that one flock, for which the Son of God had died. Accordingly, the present passage sets in a strong and vivid light, the condition of the nations of the world, and the relation in which they stood, both to God and to the people whom He had taken into covenant with Himself. For by His election of one man to be the father of his own acknowledged people, God had implicitly disowned the world. He left the Gentiles to their own imaginations. We shall soon indeed be reminded of the fundamental truth already treated at the commencement of this chapter; that morally, no difference exists between man and man, and that a closer approach on the part of the Jew to the holiness of God, served only to render more glaringly conspicuous the deep corruption of his nature. But the first object of the comparison here made, is to show that the natural condition of the entire Gentile world is one of unblest dissociation from God.

The all-important distinction between the Circumcision and the Uncircumcision was, that while God did not cease to assert in many ways the power of His sovereignty as the Governor of the nations, He confined His declared favour and all His covenant promises to the Circumcision alone. The commonwealth of Israel was the acknowledged heritage of God. Within that limit only was He known and worshipped according to His own prescribed ordinances. Outside it all was strange. The wings of Israel's God were, it is true, ever ready to give shelter to the stranger who might come to put his trust there in the believing recognition of His glory. But this only made more strikingly apparent the reality of that strong wall of partition which separated the Gentiles from the chosen people of Jehovah. Undoubtedly the covenants of promise contained the security of future blessing to the Gentiles. But while Israel after the flesh continued to be acknowledged as God's people, the Uncircumcision were regarded as an alien and undesired race. Kind and merciful enactments respecting their treatment of the stranger did not fail to remind Jehovah's people that the God who had exalted them to be His own among the nations, was a gracious God. The glory of that Name was also ever and anon displayed with a new and peculiar lustre when God distinguished here and there, by his effectual calling, some Gentile vessel of His mercy, and thus put to shame the pride and blindness of heart of a stiff-necked and self-righteous generation. But He was still the Rock of Israel. Jehovah knew but one among the families of the earth (Amos 3:2).

The alienation of the Gentiles from the commonwealth of Israel was, at the same time, their severance from Christ; since it was from Israel that He was to arise. On the other hand, their being strangers from the covenants of promise deprived them of all ground of future hope. They were thus both apart from Christ and without God in the world. Of the former they had no prospective expectation, and of the latter no present knowledge. Abandoned to themselves, they served such gods as Satan taught them to invent under the opposite incentives of the lusts of a degraded nature or of the dark surmisings of a sinful conscience. Hence the diverse character and colouring of their idolatrous mysteries exemplified the conflict and alternate ascendancy of both these motive principles of human conduct. Having no solid hope on which to stay their souls, because no knowledge of the God who made them, they yielded to their own delusions. In guilty ignorance of Him whose power and Godhead appealed to their consciences from almost every object they beheld, they were carried away to these dumb idols, even as they were led (1 Cor. 12:2) (through the action of their natural propensities) by the strong hand of the ruler of the darkness of this world (Chap. 4:18, and remarks there).

Out of this depth of moral darkness and hopeless alienation, the believing Gentile is now brought, by the Gospel, into a nearness to which the natural Israel never could pretend. But before examining the Apostle's testimony on this subject, it may not be unnecessary to remind the reader that neither in the present passage, nor elsewhere in the word of God, is any countenance given to the popular idea that the death of Christ has altered for the better the natural relation of the Gentile world to God. It is indeed most true that in a dispensational sense the casting away of Israel has been the reconciling of the world, inasmuch as it was through their unbelief that the full tide of gracious testimony was turned immediately toward the nations (Rom. 11:15, seq.). But, as has been shown already, it is saving faith alone that constitutes the difference between God's people and His foes. The prince of this world still rules every heart that is not brought by the Spirit into the liberty of Christ. The friendship of the world is still enmity against God, because the world itself has undergone no regenerative change. That temporal blessings, in a large abundance, have resulted to the world through the diffusion of Christian doctrine, even in its most adulterated forms, may be easily allowed.* But human civilization is not the end of Gospel truth, but the salvation of them that believe. The mission of the Holy Ghost is not to purify and elevate man's moral nature, but to reveal to him, in Christ, a new and better life. He gathers from among the nations a people for the name (Acts 15:14) of God, first quickening from their death in sin those whom He joins to the living by the faith of Jesus. It is indeed in the possession of doctrinal light that the main distinction consists between the world as it now is, and what it was in the preceding dispensation. It is that also which will add an overwhelming weight to its judgment in the coming day. The former times were "times of ignorance." These times God winked at; but now He has commanded all men to repent and to believe (Acts 17:30). The preaching of the Gospel by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, leaves men entirely without excuse within the actual field of that new testimony. Meanwhile, God has a people as surely as when Israel was owned as such. There is a heavenly commonwealth, as there has been an earthly one. And it is the quickening grace of God, and not external knowledge, that entitles us to the blessed immunities of that new and better hope. This is very clearly shown in what next follows.

{* This is not the place to point out the immense practical effect of the external recognition of Christian truth as the rule of society. Scoffers cannot deny this. The believer owns it thankfully, while he is not the less painfully alive to the essential difference which exists between a nominally Christianized civilization, and the Church of the living God.}

Verse 13. "But now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." It is plain that an appeal is here made to which none but a regenerate heart could furnish a response. For if we are brought nigh in Jesus, it is from that "far-off" place of judicial repudiation which the Son of God first reached in grace, that He might bring us nigh. For it is in Him that we are said to be brought nigh — not by external ordinances, but by His blood, the virtue of which faith only can discern. They to whom he wrote could well remember when it was not so with them. They knew, through grace, the difference between being in Christ and being in their sins. But the natural man has no right sense of either distance or nearness, as they relate to God. He is ignorant, until quickened by the word of truth, of the real nature both of holiness and sin; while grace, as the effective ministration of Divine righteousness, is but foolishness to all who are not yet called of God.

But personal faith in Jesus brings the outcast sinner in to where He is, who, for His people's sake, had once been found outside. For if Jesus has gone into heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us, it is by His own blood, which He shed once for all, for the eternal redemption of our souls. By the same blood, therefore, we are ourselves brought nigh, through faith in Him. In the present verse, both the grace in which - the believer stands, and the means of his access into that grace, are alike described. Union with Christ determines the position of the saint as thus brought nigh. We are accepted in the Beloved. On the other hand, it is by the blood of Christ that this nearness has been attained. Faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, abolishes the moral distance to which sin had driven us from God. But it is evident, that the fact of a Divine atonement having been thus wrought, makes no other alteration in the previous condition of an unconverted world, than to crown its natural impiety with the damning sin of unbelief. The purged conscience of a Christian responds to the verities of God, as they are shown to us in Christ; and it is the habitual discernment, through faith, of the blood of reconciliation, that can alone maintain the conscience in this place of nearness. Truth has no vital power, when viewed as an abstraction. Since it is in Christ that we really are brought nigh by blood, we enjoy that nearness only while, in the spirit of our minds, we still abide in Him.

Verse 14. "For HE is our Peace," etc. Faith is essentially appropriative in its operation; the truth which it acknowledges, it also seizes and holds fast. Faith therefore possesses Christ in all His fulness. His acts are understood and gloried in, as we are enabled to consider Him. The Person of the Lord, as the true Rest of the believing soul, continues to be kept distinctly before our view in this verse, and those which follow; in which the nature and completeness of the work of reconciliation are shown in immediate connexion with the doctrine of spiritual unity, as exemplified in the mystery of the Church. If, in the finished work of Jesus, we see with an adoring joy a fulfilment of the just conditions of our peace with God, it is to the personal perfection of Him who wrought it that such a work owes all its efficacy. On the other hand, it is by meditating on His matchless work that the grace and glory of His Person are revealed experimentally to our hearts. That work is now described in some of its more prominent results. The first of these is the re-union, in the power of redemption, of that which God had previously sundered and kept separate. He who is our Peace, "has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us."

Unity was the original condition of mankind. The Abrahamic covenant had effected a division of the mass into two very unequal parts. By the preaching of the Cross, a new* and heavenly election has reunited them in Christ; the members of His mystic body being gathered, by the sovereign grace of God, from both indifferently. Presenting Himself to the faith of Jew and Gentile alike, the Son of God becomes, in every sense, His people's peace. He unites them to each other, by first reconciling both to God. The Jew, who has fled for refuge to the cross, finds there, as the partaker both of his confession and his hope, the believing sinner of the Gentiles. The necessities of an awakened conscience are mightier and more imperative than the antipathies of race, or the traditional pride of a religious superiority.** For to be convinced by the law as a transgressor, changed the bond of national confidence into a new and double condemnation, since such conviction not only reduced the legal worshipper to the level of those who had sinned without law, but sunk him far below it. To the exposure of his moral nakedness as a man, there was super-added the curse of a violated covenant. When, therefore, the middle wall of partition*** was dissolved, it was not done in order to admit the Greeks, who would see Jesus, into the fellowship of a privilege which was already the natural inheritance of the Jew. That barrier, which recognized distinctions of clean and unclean, according to the letter of a carnal commandment, was taken quite away, by the power of a truth which declared the whole world guilty before God, and knew no longer any difference, where all had sinned (Rom. 3:9, seq.). The true worshippers are now united in another and a heavenly court.

{*New, that is, in point of declared testimony, though, in purpose and promise, it was older than the worlds.

**Alas, that a heart, once freed from its intolerable burden, and brought into the liberty of Christ, should yet show itself capable of maintaining invidious claims, which, when rightly judged, are no better than a thankless lie against the Saviour's glory (Gal. 2:14, seq.). But such is the flesh in its lustings against the Spirit. We need not only to be brought down, but kept down also. One who had proved experimentally what is written in Rom. 7, would be hard to take in such a snare. But we are safe from nothing that is hateful, if not kept abidingly in Christ.

*** Besides the obvious application of the words mesotoichon tou phragmou, to the law and its manifold ordinances, there may be, as observed by Doddridge, an allusion to the partition which severed the court of the Gentiles from that of the hereditary worshippers at Jerusalem.}

Verse 15. The general statement of the foregoing verse is now further expanded in detail. If the middle wall has been removed, it is because Christ has "abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances." It is necessary to distinguish between the obedience of Christ in life, and His suffering in the flesh, for sins, upon the cross. The latter doctrine is the subject of the verse which follows. What is here described is not the act of sacrificial atonement and its effects, but rather the personal sufficiency of Him who is our Peace; as that sufficiency is proved by His complete assumption of all human responsibilities, with a view to the founding, in His own Person, of a totally new order of things. The moral end of man's creation was the glory of God through his obedience. Sin having entered and corrupted the first man, the Lord from heaven came to be the second Man, as the Successor, and not the Restorer, of the first. But to effect this, not only must He acknowledge what already existed as a witness of man's actual condition in the sight of God, but also deal with it in such a way, as that the Divine glory might be perfectly asserted and displayed. But the law existed; witnessing in all its parts to the solemn truth, that fallen man, into what nearness soever he might be brought by means of carnal ordinances, was in heart an alien from God. Hence a name is here given to the law of commandments, which properly belongs to that adverse will of nature, which refuses submission to the will of God. "The carnal mind is enmity against God" (Rom. 8:7). The law, therefore, in its just bearing and effect, must be inimical to the natural man. To remove that enmity, it was necessary that one should be found, who, while verily Man in the flesh, should be a lover of Him whom fallen man naturally hates (Rom. 1:30), willingly and perfectly fulfilling the Divine good pleasure to the uttermost limits of requirement. And this Jesus was, who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners (Heb. 7:26). Proceeding forth from God, He was a Stranger, by an essential dissimilarity, to all that was characteristically "of man" (Matt. 16:2), although, in loving mercy, His delights had been ever with the sons of men, for whose ransom He had bound Himself from the beginning (1 Tim. 2:5, 6). When, therefore, the Son of God came, as Man, into the world, he took, by His very birth, the place of professed subjection to the law. He was made of a woman, made under the law (Gal. 4:4). And having thus assumed the Servant's place, He magnified the law, by His complete obedience to the will of Him who gave it. For that which, to the natural man, is the ministration of condemnation, was to the perfect One the witness of Jehovah's favour and delight (Isa. 42).

What Jesus did, He did for man and in his stead. But so long as He remained alive, although he bore in His sacred Person the security of peace to all who should believe on Him, the enmity was not yet done away. For, that the God of judgment might be glorified, the law of commandments must not only find a worthy fulfiller of its righteousness, but a victim of its curse long since incurred by men. If, therefore, the Just One took in love the place of the transgressor's Friend, He must not only be his Surety, but his Ransom. He must accept the penalty already due, as well as give a new security, which should make blame no longer possible in the presence of the Righteous Judge. And this Jesus did when He gave Himself, in death, for the unjust. Death was His work;, resurrection was His purpose and reward. He would "make* in Himself of twain, one new man." Let it be noted, that the creative power by which the twain (both Jew and Gentile) are formed anew as members of His mystic Body, is here attributed immediately to Christ. In verse 10, we have already had the believer presented to us as the workmanship of God. The glory of that new creation is now referred to Him who is its Life and Head, as well as its Producer. The doctrine here distinctly enounced had been shown before parabolically by the Lord Himself (John 12:24). Falling by a voluntary consignment into the dust of death, the solitary Grain of righteousness should yet reappear in the freshness of eternal life, and with rich and multitudinous increase. But it is a new thing that He has created in Himself Neither Jew nor Gentile is heard of on the other side of death. Both disappear, together with the enmity which sundered them, not from one another only, but from God. He has so made peace.

{*More properly "create."}

Verse 16. "And that He might reconcile both unto God," etc. The positive work of reconciliation and its effect upon its objects is now stated. Reconciliation is more frequently in the Scripture referred immediately to the Father, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:18. Comp. Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:20). God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. But here, since it is viewed as the practical effect of atonement, it is referred to Him in whose Person the atoning sacrifice was made. There is a perfect harmony in these rich diversities of the Spirit's testimony to the truth. He is here expounding to us Christ as our Peace. What entitles Him to that blessed name must therefore be distinctly shown. In one body He has reconciled both Jew and Gentile unto God. by the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby. By suffering the Law's last penalty, He has changed enmity to reconciliation. They, therefore, who by birth and circumcision had been under the law, were now dead to the law by the body of Christ (Rom. 7:4); while they who had sinned without law through the natural enmity of an alien mind, were also reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, that both one and the other might be presented holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable, in the sight of God.* The Law's dominion terminates in death. In death, also, must expire all that is of the nature of human enmity Peace, therefore, is to be found in the new man only, who succeeds the old; even as reconciliation is effected only by the extinction of the old man, in both his varieties, and with all his deeds, at the cross of Him who took the sinner's place. The question here is not with sin, but sinful nature. Sin is put off, not from the old man, but with it (Compare, for the general doctrine, Col. 2:11-15.) It is by means of death alone that we are freed from sin, because it is in death only (the death of Jesus as our Substitute, and therefore our death in Him) that the judicial righteousness of God has been completely glorified.

{* Col. 1:21, 22. The use of the rare compound, apokatallattein, both in this passage and the verse now under consideration, is in strict accordance with the doctrine meant to be conveyed. Reconciliation through Christ is not the return of a once alienated mind from its guilty aberration to its normal state of uprightness and purity, but the introduction of a new and essentially perfect principle of life. "The flesh," which is the Scriptural designation of the alien nature, is never reconciled. The fountain of reconciliation is the precious blood of Him who, having given life for life, becomes in His own Person, as alive from the dead, the beginning of a oneness between God and man, which can never more be followed by estrangement. The only remaining instance in which the same word occurs is in Col. 1:20, where the same doctrine is stated with reference to its ultimate results, Christ the Reconciler being also the Beginning of the creation of God.}

All, therefore, that as between God and man can bear the name of enmity, has now been definitively cancelled and set aside, for the believer, in the cross. Hatred is dead, and now love only lives and triumphs in an endless peace. He who is our Peace is now the only Mediator between God and men. And Jesus is Himself the Herald of the peace which He has made. And so this blessed testimony to His love is closed by reminding us that He who rests in glory from the work of our redemption is still among us by His Spirit, as the Minister of the peace which He has wrought. "He came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh" (verse 17). Jew and Gentile are again compared here as alike the objects of the Gospel message. The difference between nearness and distance is acknowledged, but in such a manner as to show that both stood in equal need of this message of reconciling grace. This subject has already been sufficiently discussed. It is only necessary to remark in addition, that this publication of the Gospel of peace is the effective means by which the union of the twain above described is practically accomplished. The Jew in the flesh was a servant of God. The Gentile was a stranger. The former was under the curse of a broken law; the latter was amenable to the righteous sentence of the Judge of all the world. Both alike were by nature heirs of wrath, and both through saving faith receive, with the message of peace, a new and complete title of filial blessing in Christ. He who creates the fruit of the lips (Isa. 57:19; Heb. 13:15) is become the Object of their common praise.

Verse 18. "For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." Worship in the Spirit is the exercise, on the part of those who are at peace with God, of the first of their new privileges as brought nigh in Christ. It is the ready response of our hearts to the love of Him who has begotten us, when by faith we are able to behold His glory in the face of Jesus. The one Spirit is the Spirit of the Son which is given to all them that believe. Acting in our hearts according to His own gracious energy, He leads both Jew and Gentile to the Father, through faith in Christ crucified, the new and living Way. They joy together in the work of God, finding in Christ the eternal sabbath of their souls (Ps. 92:4; Col. 2:17). Both have access, but neither of them in his own name or on his own account. Jewish supremacy has no place in the Father's house, while Gentile alienation is no more remembered in the peace and gladness of Divine adoption. Christ alone is naturally welcome there, and by Him all who through faith are emboldened to draw nigh.

The preceding verses (14-18) have expounded to us by what means the Son of God is become definitively the believer's Peace. The practical effect, also, of His gracious work in the bringing of those who are thus reconciled, by the one Spirit, into the Father's presence, has been described. This last point serves as an introduction to some further mention of the special work of the Spirit in the saints, as the necessary sequel to the finished work of Christ. Some parts of this doctrine have already been noticed in the former chapter (ante, notes on 1:13, seq.; 1:22, seq.), and we have just now had to speak of the Holy Ghost as the active Minister of the grace of the Gospel and the indwelling power of worship in the saints. The subject is continued to the end of the present chapter, in connexion with the edification of the Church; the gradual accomplishment of the Divine will, through the effectual operation of the Spirit in the members of the one body, being viewed in distinction from that which has been once for all finished and abides for ever in that completeness, in the Person of the glorified Christ.

Verse 19. "Now, therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners," etc. The first point taken up is the communion of saints. Gentile believers are affirmed to be no longer of a distant and unacknowledged race, but "fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God." We have an obvious reference here to what has been said at verse 12. They who had once been excluded from the earthly Jerusalem are come with gracious welcome to the heavenly, to find their names enrolled there among the first-born sons of God (Heb. 12:22, 23). But in that city which is the mother of the heirs of promise, the children of her who is in bondage (Gal. 4:25) are as little at home naturally as the outcast alien. When, therefore, believing Gentiles are said to have become fellow-citizens with the saints, it is manifest that the basis of the fellowship into which they have been called is not to be sought for in natural Jewish privilege, but in the Person of Him who is Himself the Peace, in the way of saving grace, of Jew and Gentile alike. The saints are they who are sanctified by faith in Jesus, and no other.* As it was to the Jew first that Gospel grace was preached, and so in the strictest sense of the expression, they who "first trusted in Christ" (Chap. 1. 12) were a remnant of that nation, the subsequent reception of like precious faith by Gentiles might well be described in the language of the present verse. But its full meaning is both wider and deeper than this, consistently with the general drift of the Apostle's teaching, which is to refer everything in the Church to its new original in the crucified and risen Son of God. Having been sanctified by faith in Him, they are become the associates of all who stand by the same faith. This new fellowship is, moreover, in the Spirit, which was not given until Jesus had been glorified. It is in the power of that Spirit that we severally apprehend our interest in Christ, and walk together in the enjoyment of a common life and hope. It is by Him that we are enabled to walk in the light into which we have been brought by faith, and as a consequence of that, to have fellowship with one another in the sight of God (1 John 1:7). As partakers of Christ, we are of His household who built all things, and who makes us sharers of His own inheritance.**

{*God's true people have also been His saints from the beginning. Both holy men and holy women have obtained a good report from Him. But since the manifestation of God's true "Holy One," saintship has acquired an especial meaning which it had not in the olden time. Christians are holy because Christ is their declared sanctification. It is clear that until the completion of His blessed work, this definite signification of the term saint could not exist, "We are sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." While, therefore, in the aggregate, all saints are of the same assembly, all held in His hand and sitting at His feet (Deut. 33:3), yet it is not at all less evident that we have a better lot than they of old. We are come to that which they could see but from a distance; and by that nearer view we are enabled to discriminate between diversities of name and place, which, though established in the purposes of God, were not made manifest until these latter times (Heb. 11:40; 12:22, seq.).

** Heb. 3:4, 6. God's household is a large one. The phrase oikeioi tou Theou is not very definite. It brings those to whom it is applied within the house, but does not assign them their position in it. That we learn from a consideration of Him in whose Name and Title we are brought nigh. Fellow-citizenship with the saints places us side by side upon the streets of gold with all who have right to enter there. We shall walk with them in the brightness of that glory which fills the city with its light (Rev. 21:23). On the other hand, we have fellowship with God in Christ, according to the near affection of that kindness which a Father shows towards His sons.}

In verse 20, the same truth is taught us, under a change of figure and expression: "And are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Corner-stone." While each forgiven sinner may enjoy the freedom of the heavenly city, and is a member of the household of God, we are all built severally and unitedly, as living stones, upon the truth of God, to be displayed, in the coming day of glory, as the perfection of His workmanship. The point here insisted on is the building of each believer on the foundation. Communion, as the necessary effect of our appreciation of this doctrine, is further treated in verse 22. It is to be noticed, that what is now prominently before the Apostle's mind is not the primary salvation of the soul. Were it so, he would have made Christ Himself the alone Foundation, as he elsewhere does, and which is the alone true teaching of the Spirit (1 Cor. 3:4; 1 Peter 2:4-6). For as the reason of a sinner's hope, Christ can be associated with no other name. A living stone is a soul already saved, and it is such only that are built on the foundation here described. Our present subject is the structure of the Church collectively as God's building, through the active energy of the Spirit in the saints; His regenerative operation being necessarily assumed, as a precedent condition. Four things are contemplated: a Builder, His work, His materials, and the chosen means of its stability. As to the first and second of these, the Church is God's building (1 Cor. 3:9), and it is by the power of the Spirit that He works. His materials, as we have seen, are the elect vessels of His mercy. The eventual result of the work will be considered in connexion with the following verse. We have first to examine the foundation of the building. This is said to be "the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Corner-stone."

On reading such a description, the interesting question can hardly fail to arise: Are the prophets, here mentioned those of the Old Testament or of the New, or are both classes to be contemplated, under this general designation? In answer to such an inquiry, it must be at once acknowledged, that, as it respects the prophets of the Old Testament, there is an important sense in which they must be regarded as the ministers of fundamental doctrine. Their testimony to the sufferings of Christ, and to the power and glory of His future kingdom, formed a principal element in the testimony of those whom the Holy Ghost employed as the founders of the Church of Christ. Continually they were appealed to by those who opened and alleged to all who looked professedly for the Hope of Israel, that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Christ of God.* Yet it can hardly be allowed to be in keeping with the general doctrine of this Epistle, that we should restrict the term in the present passage to the Jewish prophets. Rather, it may be doubted whether they are even comprehended in it at all. In examining this point, it is quite to the purpose to remark, that apostles are placed first in the order of description, as is the case, likewise, in verse 5 of the following chapter, where no room exists for the supposition that Jewish prophets are intended. Again, in chapter 4:11, prophets are expressed by name, as recognized and well-known ministers of Gospel truth; and both in that passage and in 1 Cor. 12, where, likewise, spiritual gifts and ministries are enumerated, the same order is observed — the prophet follows the apostle.

{*Compare Rom. 1:2, and perhaps also 16:25, 26, in further proof of the intended purpose which Jewish prophecy was to serve as an instrument of Gospel testimony to the nations. As to the importance and value of the Scriptures of the Prophets, as a part of the oracles of God, and the large use that is made of them by the Apostles (and by none more than Paul himself), in laying the foundations of genuine Christian doctrine, no question can arise among those who have any knowledge of the truth.}

There is, then, a certain primâ facie evidence afforded by the facts just noticed, which tends to favour the conclusion, that the prophets here found in association with the apostles are not Jewish but Christian. And the presumption thus raised becomes almost a certainty, when it is remembered that the doctrine upon which God builds His spiritual house is nothing lees than Christ, our finished Peace (verse 17). The testimony upon which the Church was to be based had been begun by the Lord in Person (Heb. 2:3). It was, however, spoken by Him prophetically, and in anticipation of the great event which was to roll away the cloud of darkness which still rested on all minds, and which rendered indistinct (even to His disciples), the meaning of His plainest words (Luke 9:45). The giving of the Holy Ghost was, to the believer, the outshining of the Sun of Righteousness in the full glory of His strength. Christ became thenceforth the single Subject of true spiritual ministry. The Holy Ghost convinced the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, by an immediate reference to Him whom the heavens had received. But more especially, the structure was now manifestly commenced (through the pre-ordained acceptance of the Gospel testimony), of that Church which the Lord had said that He would build. Peace having been made by the blood of His cross, the Holy Ghost, who had come to publish salvation in His Name, distributed His gifts with reference to the double work which He had come to do. Apostolic wisdom and power were conferred on those whom the Lord had already nominated and commissioned as the first planters in His vineyard.* Prophetic ministry, the scope of which was rather within the Church than outside it in testimony to the world, was added in a much larger distribution, in order that what had been planted by apostles might not die, but live and flourish under the fostering husbandry of God. But while a broad distinction may be seen between the office of an apostle and the ministry of a prophet, yet, as it respects the source of their power, as well as the subject matter of their testimony, they were alike the Spirit's gifts. Teaching and preaching Jesus Christ, their doctrine was the basis upon which God's building found. its rest.

{*The reader will remark, that in this general description of spiritual ministry, the particular apostleship of Paul is not included, though in reality it was to him, and not to those who were apostles before him, that the special grace was given of expounding perfectly the doctrine of the Church.}

It has been shown at large, in the preceding chapter, that the calling of the Church is peculiar to the existing dispensation. The preaching of the Name of Jesus being the means by which that Church was created and brought into its distinctive form and position, the ministers of God, to whom that testimony was entrusted, may be fitly styled the foundation of the building. When, therefore, the apostles and prophets are so designated in the present passage, it seems but reasonable to regard the latter as a generic description of spiritual ministry, exclusive of the apostolate.* The following chapter will more largely open the doctrine of the Church as the mystery of Christ, and the reasons for this conclusion will then probably be still more evident. The point now under discussion, although not one of vital moment, is yet of not a little practical interest. For it is partly through an indiscriminate mingling of Jewish prophecy with Apostolic teaching, that the true nature and character of the Church, as the body of Christ, has been, and is, so indistinctly apprehended in the minds of those who are most interested in such knowledge. Our views, indeed, on so important a subject, must, if sound, be drawn from the general teaching of the word of God, and not be suffered to rest for support on words of doubtful meaning. The great principles of Divine doctrine, on the other hand, afford a standing light by which we may often assign confidently, to an expression otherwise equivocal, its proper and specific interpretation. Decide, however, as we may, in the present instance, one clear and paramount truth remains, as to which no difficulty will be felt by those who know the grace of God. The entire efficacy of such testimony, whether of apostles or of prophets, is in the Name to which they witnessed. The Stone which held all together7 was Jesus Christ Himself. It is He who is the Life of the entire building — its Foundation, its Subsistence, and its Strength. And so he proceeds.

{*On reviewing the Apostle's words, however, I find myself unable to draw this distinction so sharply. Ton apostolon kai propheton may, with propriety, be rendered: "Of those who are both apostles and prophets." That the apostles had likewise prophetic power is quite evident from their writings. As to the question of construction, compare infra, chap. 4:11, note.

**He is the Corner-stone of every building that endures, even as He is the original Former of all things by His power. Especially He is revealed under this description, 1st., to the Church, which is the heavenly building of God, and, 2nd., to Israel, which is yet to be built, for enduring blessing and honour upon earth, by the same Hand that has once pulled down and rooted up the stubborn and rebellious nation. The comprehension of earth and heaven within the future kingdom of Messiah, will not confound them together, nor render less distinct the difference between them. Heaven and heavenly things are always such, and differ in kind, as well as in description, from things earthly; even when the latter have been freed from the effects of sin, and established in the full enjoyment of Divine favour. There is, therefore, no difficulty in reconciling the ancient testimony to Messiah, as the destined Head-stone (Ps. 118) of Israel's covenanted blessings, with the new revelation of Him as the Elect Foundation of God's heavenly building. If God has established His living Truth in heaven, and reveals Him now to our faith as the Foundation of His Church, He will not the less surely bring to pass the sure promises of His faithfulness to the Zion which still sits, in her desolation, on the ground.}

Verse 21. "In whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple in the Lord." The process of spiritual edification, above referred to, is brought, in the present verse, to its ultimate result. The whole building is here seen in its unity; being watched through its progress to the point of final completion in Him in whom it was begun. It is then named according to its glorious and eternal destination, "an holy temple in the Lord." The Church in its completeness is the temple of Him, who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. On Christ it has been founded, and in Christ the entire building holds together, and consists, as the workmanship of Him "who stablishes us in Christ, and has anointed us "as living members of His body. The multitudinous parts which will find each its suited place in that one building, are all fitly framed together by the cunning workmanship of the same Spirit, who once filled the men whom God selected for the work of the typical building (Ex. 31:3). The instrumental ministries through which the Spirit carries on His work have been already alluded to in general terms, but are more fully described in chap. 4. As this building is the work of God and not of man, it is appreciable only by the spiritual understanding. It advances steadily towards its completion, yet it makes no outward show. It is by a noiseless preparation that God's living stones are severally brought into readiness to fill their destined places at the appointed time. Sinners are changed to saints according to the working of Divine grace and power. They awake from spiritual death, and struggle through their pilgrimage of hope, and fall asleep in Jesus; none but they who are partakers of like precious faith knowing either whose they are or whither they are going. But all are marked and tallied for their station in the house of God. It is indeed a sweet and heart-rejoicing thought, that no failure in the Church below can interrupt the progress of this work of God. The building grows on still in spite of all that sets itself in opposition to its growth. The gates of hell cannot prevail against it. Nor can the ignorance of man mislay a single stone. For it is God's building, who grows not weary of His purpose and faints not in His work. And though He uses labourers, whom in His grace He deigns to call His fellow-workers (1 Cor. 3:9), yet is the structure all His own. The faith which joins us to that building is His gift; and it is by His unfailing grace that we are still "preserved in Christ," and kept for salvation at the coming day. While everything visible may be desolate, and in a confusion not to be rectified by human instrumentality, His work goes on. He will complete the building at His own set time. When finished to His mind, it will be openly displayed in its magnificent proportions, as the chosen sanctuary of His glory.

In Solomon's temple we have, no doubt, a type of God's heavenly building. "Howbeit the most High dwells not in temples made with hands" (Acts 7:48). The cloudy majesty of Jehovah might fill, for a moment, the palace which the king had built, and in the coming day of restitution that glory will again return, to shine with brighter lustre in the place which He has chosen for His footstool;* but the God of truth can dwell permanently in nothing that has not been wrought, in Christ, to the similitude of His own holiness. The living God will have a living temple. Being a Spirit, He will occupy a spiritual house. As the triumph of redeeming grace and power, the Church of His election will surround Him everlastingly with monuments of His own glory. Filled with the undying fragrance of that sweet savour which He loves, the temple of His holiness will never cease to be the place where His chief honour dwells. While all creation will share, in its manifold gradations, the blessings of His goodness, and show forth the excellency of His power, His secret and His joy will be the peculiar treasure of the children whom He has begotten for Himself. He will be at home within His house. Every whit of that which He is building for His rest will utter the perfection of His praise.**

{*In proof of the certainty of the re-establishment of the material temple, as the shrine of Jehovah's glory, in the coming dispensation, see Ezek. 40 — 47 spec. 43:7; and Zech. 14:16-21.

** Ps. 29:9, margin. In further testimony to the everlasting continuance of this chosen temple of the Divine glory, see chap. 3:21.}

Verse 22. "In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God by the Spirit." We return, in this closing verse, to the actual condition of the Church below. God, who is unknown in the world and who disowns the world, has yet a habitation in the united assemblies of His worshippers. The living members of Christ's body form, in each passing generation of the present age, the spiritual house of God, while the day of glory must be waited for in order that the perfect temple may be seen.* But God inhabits, by the Spirit, the genuine assemblies of His saints. In verse 20 it was shown how each believer has been built (epoikodomethentes) by faith upon the true foundation. Now, it is the joining of the living stones together in the power of Divine communion that is in question. "Ye are builded together" (sunoikodomeisthe). These two things constitute the unity of the Church. For individual faith, which joins the believer to the Lord, fits him also for fellowship in the one Spirit, who dwells in each member of the body, and is the vital bond of union by which alone the Church can be held together in practical separation from the world.

{*The word of God designates by the name "temple," both the individual Christian and the collective assembly of the saints (1 Cor. 6:19; 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16). In both cases it is in immediate connexion with the doctrine of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, that this description is applied. It is easy to distinguish between the partial and much hindered manifestation of this wonderful truth, through faith, here below, and its eventual and triumphant realization in the power of resurrection.}

The doctrine of this verse is as important as it is clear. God, who is One, dwells in a single habitation. If we confess the unity of His nature, we must acknowledge also the unity of the Church, which is His house. While, therefore, each assembly of saints, who walked in any place according to the truth of the Gospel, was a "church of God" (Gal. 1. 2, 22) in that same place, the idea thus expressed is not, that God owned many different churches which stood each on its own independent basis, but that His Church was everywhere present where His name was truly worshipped. Local diversity does not destroy the unity of the Church, so long as the Spirit is recognized, by faith, as the ever-present Source of life and order, and His truth is accepted as the only rule of walk. When the same Apostle besought Timothy to prolong his stay at Ephesus, that he might watch against and counteract the work of evil by which Satan was endeavouring to undermine the faith, he gave him both counsel and warning as to his behaviour in the house of God, which, he adds, "is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." Most clearly such expressions have no local limitation of meaning. The living God is found at Ephesus, if His living saints are there.

It is the presence of Christ, by the Spirit, that forms an assembly of believers into the house of God. Number has no influence on such a definition. If living faith existed only in the hearts of two or three, God's building would be there. As God was in Christ when Jesus of Nazareth was His living temple upon earth, so He now dwells in that Church which is the mystic body of His Christ. Christian communion is not a matter of intellectual agreement but of spiritual obedience. God dwells among His people, and His Spirit is the animating principle of every vital function of the body or its parts. It is thus most evident that the true security for the order and well-being of the Church below is not to be sought for in the presence of certain specific ministries (though, as we shall hereafter see (Chap. 4:10-13), the faithfulness of God is pledged to furnish to the end such gifts as are needed for the edification of the body of Christ), but of Him who is the sovereign Originator of all ministry and the Distributor of every real gift. Still less can the ordinances of men be recognized by one who owns Christ as the Head over His own house. The will of man can only act in such a house as a disturber of God's true order. God's Church is risen with His Christ, after having died in Him to the rudiments of the world (Col. 2:20; 3:14). Godly edification is in faith (1 Tim. 1:4), and faith must have to do with God Himself. It is further evident, as a consequent of this doctrine of the unity of the body, that the spirit which leads men to glory in sectarian distinctions is not the Spirit of Christ. An act of separation is either a sin or a protest against a sin.* Carnal wilfulness may lead those who, as another apostle has said (1 John 2:19), "are not of us," to disunite themselves from the living body of Christ, to which, for a season, they had been wrongfully attached. On the other hand, fidelity to Christ may force those who desire to walk godly, from an assembly which is no longer subject to the word of God. In the latter case the effect of separation is not the creation of a sect or party, but an obedient protest, in the power of the Holy Ghost, against the prevalent apostasy of the professing body. For if man fails, God does not, and is still the refuge and the glory of those who cleave to Him. The changeless word of truth will not cease to be to the obedient believer a sanctuary and defence, affording him both light and a firm footing on his pilgrimage, until the day when it shall receive its glad and glorious fulfilment in the revelation of the Lord Himself (1 Thess. 3:13).

{*It may, indeed, be both. It is so whenever, in seceding from any special form of evil, we adopt some basis of communion narrower than that which is already laid in Scripture for the obedience of faith. The obvious bearing of this principle upon the notion of "particular membership" is easily seen. The assumption of men's names, as distinctive badges, in certain cases, only serves to exhibit the principle of sectarianism in a more striking and pointed opposition to the truth of God. Compare 1 Cor. 1:10-15.}

It should be remembered that the doctrine of the unity of the body is a part of the doctrine of Christ. It cannot be contemplated, therefore, by a right-minded believer, as a theoretical abstraction. He will rather confess it, and endeavour to obey it as a portion of the truth of God. If we would contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, we have here a part of it, and an important one. Next to his denial of the saving doctrine of the Cross, the chief object of the Adversary has been to mar the growth of God's building in its unity. That he should desire this is very intelligible to the Christian, who remembers that in an unbroken unity of the body consists the strongest testimony to the world (John 17:21). A divided church offends the world. For there is no longer any power in a testimony that is at variance with itself. The power of God indeed does not cease to carry on the work of grace in saving still the vessels of His mercy, but that does not make the spectacle of a broken and self-antagonistic church less a scandal to the world, or a grief to the Holy Ghost, whose presence is thus practically forgotten. Nor does the fact that these things were foretold as things which needs must be, diminish either the gravity of the evil itself or the blame of those by whose unfaithfulness to God the Enemy has so prevailed (Jude 4; 2 Thess. 2:7). The existing condition of the Church on earth, and the sorrowful contrast which it presents to the description given in this chapter of God's spiritual habitation, need not be further impressed upon the thoughtful Christian. But they who mourn the desolations of the sanctuary, in a day of still increasing spiritual wickedness, are not without a Comforter. The God of patience and of hope, who keeps His children for the promised kingdom, knows how to fill their hearts meanwhile with joy and peace in believing, making hope abound in them over all the heaviness of their affliction, by the effectual power of the Holy Ghost.*

{* Rom. 15:13; 1 Peter 1:6-8. As an appendix to this chapter, it may be well, since some reference has been made to the evil of the sectarian spirit, to remind the Christian reader that what is generally understood by sectarianism is not the only mode by which the unity of the body is denied. A deeper and more fatal contradiction of it is exemplified by those systems, which, while holding with more or less precision the theory of unity, deny the very foundation upon which, in Scripture, it is made to rest, by changing the conditions of membership. Thus, where baptismal regeneration is assumed as the title to Christian communion, it is clear that the sole ground of spiritual fellowship is wanting. For life in Christ, through faith, is the scriptural basis of true fellowship. The Spirit, who animates each living stone in the building of God, is given to those who believe, and to none other. Now, it is with the heart that man believes unto salvation. External ordinances are of no avail to such an end. Here, then, we see a fundamental lie warping the place of a fundamental truth. Flesh is set in the place of the Spirit, and the building, which is thus raised upon a strange foundation, is not God's building. Living stones there are in it of whom God does not lose sight, and who will be found in their places in the holy temple, when complete. But what the disciple, who may be connected with such systems, has to ask himself in the meanwhile is, how far he can in faithfulness to Christ, and without spiritual loss and dishonour, continue to acknowledge the validity of pretensions which his conscience clearly sees to be in plain opposition to the truth of God.}

Ephesians 3.

Verse 1. "For this cause, I Paul," etc. The closing verse of the foregoing chapter completes also a principal division of the Epistle. This is indicated by the repetition of the Apostle's name in the verse now before us. It may be remarked, that such repetitions are not frequent in his Epistles, and that wherever they occur, they always carry with them an especial emphasis.* In the present instance, there is something solemnly affecting, as well as peculiar, in this second mention of his name, coupled as it is with so pointed an allusion to his imprisonment. Yet nothing could be more appropriate or seasonable than that he should thus revert to himself, and to the afflictions of the Gospel, which he was so joyfully enduring, in the midst of his enunciation of a doctrine which forms the crowning glory of that wisdom and prudence of God, of which he was, in so large a measure, the chosen expounder to the saints. Feeling himself led onwards,** by the Spirit, to open still more abundantly the special doctrine of the Church as the mystery of Christ, he first reminds his Gentile brethren of the near interest which they had in all that befell him as an apostle of the faith. If he was a prisoner of Jesus Christ, it was for their sakes that he suffered.

{*The reader who may wish a confirmation of this general statement, will find his pains amply rewarded from considering the passages in which his usual custom is departed from. They are 1 Cor. 1:12, 13; 3:4, 5, 22; 2 Cor. 10:1; Gal. 5:2; Col. 1:23; Philemon 19.

**The peculiar structure of the present chapter, and of its opening sentences in particular, can hardly fail to strike the attentive reader. It almost seems as if the Apostle had written the first verse with the intention of giving utterance immediately after to the prayer which commences at verse 14. The mention, however, of his bonds may have been the means of awakening (the Holy Ghost providing thus, as was His wont, a channel for His precious revelations in the conscious workings of the minds which He employed), a fresh train of ideas, which presently expands itself into the rich and wonderful digression which is continued to the end of verse 13. A comparison of this last with verse 1, will render very plain the relation in which they stand to each other. Having reminded them that he was in bondage for their sakes, he shows them the moral connexion subsisting between his tribulation and their glory as partakers of the mystery of Christ. At verse 14, the return of his thoughts, to what appears to have been their original channel, is implied by a repetition of the identical expression (toutou charin) with which he had begun the chapter.}

The force of this appeal will be appreciated by the reader in proportion to the clearness with which he apprehends the characteristic doctrine of this Epistle. Historically, it was as the victim of Jewish malice that he lay in bonds. But the exciting cause of that malice was the clearness and boldness with which he, who had once been the zealous and impassioned champion of Jewish orthodoxy, had declared the Gospel of salvation and the doctrine of Divine righteousness, in the Name of the rejected Jesus. It was his distinct assertion of the utter worthlessness of all works of human merit, and the reduction, consequently, of the privileged and favoured Jew to the base level of the outcast Gentile; in order that the Divine righteousness, of which both stood equally in need, might be rendered accessible to each alike by faith in the Son of God, that armed his brethren after the flesh with the weapons of an unrelenting enmity. They pronounced him to be unfit to live from the moment that the gracious message of the world's mercy had escaped his lips.* Hating the truth, even while its testimony was confined to themselves, their hatred lashed itself to fury, when they found themselves provoked to jealousy by the publication of Jehovah's glory to the Gentiles, in the Name of that Jesus whom they had themselves refused (Acts 23:12, 13).

{* Acts 22: 22. With what feelings he must have listened to these ravings of his blinded but beloved brethren after the flesh, we may judge from his previous pleading with the Lord in verses 19, 20, of the same chapter.}

There was, therefore, a meaning in this allusion to his bonds which must have far more sensibly affected those to whom he was then writing than it does ourselves, who are accustomed to a relation of Jew and Gentile of so widely different a character from what then existed. Yet, as respects his situation as a prisoner of Jesus Christ, it is well to remember that the afflictions of the Gospel remain to the end of the dispensation the certain accompaniment of true devotion to its cause. Effectively, the truth of God continues to occupy the same dishonoured. place in the eyes of the world as it then did, although, under manifold forms, of corruption, it is nominally reverenced. The mystery of iniquity stands in irreconcilable opposition to the mystery of Christ, though no eye that is not lightened with the light of Life can clearly discern the living Church of God from that which is "twice dead."

Verse 2. "If ye have heard," etc. This verse has presented a difficulty to some minds, from its appearing to contradict the supposition that this Epistle was addressed originally to the saints at Ephesus. The objection is more plausible than sound. The difficulty, so far as it arises from the literal expression* of the Apostle, seems only imaginary, since such language might with entire propriety have been used by him even when addressing those whom he had already known and begun to instruct in the way of the Lord. But as the object of these Notes is not critical investigation, but exposition of doctrine, it is enough to have noticed cursorily this objection. It is of far more importance to observe here the intimate connexion which subsists between this assertion of Paul's apostolate to the Gentiles, and that "mystery of Christ," of which he is about to speak. For it serves to show, in a distinct and emphatic manner, how entirely separate a thing the present calling of the Church is from all that was distinctively Jewish, or which had previously been the subject of national hope or promise.

{* "If," or, more properly, "since you have heard," etc. All that such language proves is that he was writing to those who already acknowledged his claim to their regard as the Apostle to the Gentiles.}

Verses 3, 4. "How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery," etc. The first thing to be noticed in this passage is the fact that the doctrine which the Apostle is here treating was communicated to him by a special revelation. The next is that what was so communicated is distinctively "the mystery of Christ," an expression which occurs only in the writings of this Apostle. With respect to the occasion on which this revelation was imparted, it is difficult to speak with confidence, as the Scripture is not explicit on the point. That it was identical with the heavenly vision which taught him his first lesson of obedience to the faith of Jesus (Acts. 26:19), is not probable.

For, although it is quite true (as has been often noticed) that a fundamental doctrine of what he elsewhere calls his Gospel, namely, the oneness of Christ and His saints, is involved in the words then addressed to him from heaven,* it is evident that personal conviction of sin was the intention of that first revelation. Its effect upon his soul was darkness and not light, until the word of grace was newly ministered to his faith in the name of Him whose glory he had seen. Nor is it much more probable that what he here announces with respect to the mystery of Christ is but another mode of expressing what he has elsewhere said, when exhibiting his credentials as an evangelist, and challenging all gainsaying as a chosen apostle of the Lord (Gal. 1:11, seq.; 1 Cor. 15:3, etc.). The language here employed seems rather to imply, that at some period after his conversion and the commencement of his ministry, he received this further revelation: a supposition quite consistent with the words spoken by the Lord when He first arrested him in the midst of the way of destruction. He was to be a minister and a witness "both of those things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee." We have certainly here a promise and warning of future revelations.** It is also evident that the mystery of which Paul speaks so fully and so clearly had not been spoken with the same distinctness by the elder apostles at the beginning of the Gospel. On the contrary, his own words in verses 8, 9, of the present chapter will prove incontrovertibly that it was to Paul that the mystery of Christ was first completely unfolded, even as it is in his writings that the doctrine of the Church receives it full development. A power was, then, conferred on this apostle of declaring, with an amplitude and precision which his predecessors do not appear to have possessed, the origin, the nature, and destiny of the Church of God, considered in its separate relation to Christ in heaven, and as a distinct object of God's eternal counsels.

{* "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" was the protest uttered from the midst of the Divine glory in the ear of this conscientious ravener of the flock of God (Acts 26:9, 14).

** That such after revelations were accordingly made is evident from what is said in 1 Cor. 11:23; 1 These. 4:15. In 2 Cor. 12, we have revelations distinguished from visions. That the former were abundant as well as bright, is shown from verse 7 of the same chapter.}

But to infer from this fact that any diversity existed in the testimony borne by the several apostles, as it respects the essentials of Gospel truth, would be preposterous. God's Holy Spirit is never at variance with Himself in His testimony to the truth, though He may mete out more abundantly to some than to others the gifts of His own grace (1 Cor. 15:10). It is, moreover, well known to the attentive reader of the Word that the apostles had not all the same work, though all serving the same Lord and engaged alike in the husbandry of God. They were more than an echo of each other, though all taught the same and only Christ. The full counsel of God was not declared by the Spirit at the beginning of His testimony. He had more of Christ's fulness to unfold than the Church was, at the moment of its baptism, ready to receive. He was, moreover, doing for a season a special work of grace in Israel, and shaped His testimony accordingly. Not until Jerusalem had made her cup of bitterness run over by slaying the messengers of reconciliation, did God take into His hand the forechosen instrument which He would use to lead the Church definitely forth from all traditional entanglements into the full and clear apprehension of her proper heavenly calling. And it was not to Peter, the Apostle of the circumcision, nor to James or John, who were pillars in the Church of God while Saul was wasting it, that this charge was intrusted, but to him who, while he justly describes himself as the chief among sinners, had yet been separated from his mother's womb to become in due season a wise master-builder in the work of God.

In the reference which is made in. these verses to that which he had previously written on the subject of the mystery, it is not so much that part of it which relates to the future manifestation of the glory of Christ (Eph. 1:10) that is intended, as the particular and abiding relation in which Christ and the Church stand to each other, according to what has been stated generally at the close of chap. 1, and more fully treated in the latter half of chap. 2. The mystery of the will of God comprises, as we have already seen, both the preparation and uniting to Christ its Head of the mystic body which He confesses as His own, and the subsequent manifestation of the sons of God when the hour of the kingdom shall have come. When, therefore, they read what he had written, they would perceive clearly that he was no novice in the things of God. If Paul the prisoner of Jesus Christ was personally unknown to some among them, there was, nevertheless, that in his doctrine which must both engage their sympathy and command their eager interest. He had been addressing to their spiritual understanding truths which he felt to be such as must make their hearts burn within them as they read. For it was indeed a new and marvellous light wherein these once dark and godless Gentiles now found themselves established. Thus, while his own profiting was made manifest to all, it was for the rich increase of their common blessing. And so, after this characteristic mention of himself, he returns presently to that better matter of which his heart was full — the mystery of Christ.

Verse 5. "Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets. by the Spirit." The first thing declared respecting this mystery is that it had been wholly unknown in the preceding ages of the world, even to the family of faith. The language in which this is intimated is remarkably comprehensive. It was not made known unto the sons of men. Jewish prophets, and still earlier witnesses of the truth of God, are plainly included in this description. It was, as he shortly afterwards (verse 9) adds, "hid in God," and therefore not among the secrets confided even to Abraham His friend. And here it may be remarked that, considering the emphatic language which the Apostle uses in relation to this subject, it is not a little to be wondered at that it should have been so common a habit among godly men to think and speak of the Church as if it had been continually not only (as it surely was) before the mind of God in purpose, but also in the intelligent view of His believing people from the first. Yet nothing can be clearer than that a very marked distinction is here intentionally made between the old things and the new. The mystery of Christ is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. It is quite manifest that Christ's apostles and prophets are here exclusively meant. They also had their special ministry, as media of Divine revelation, not less than the holy men by whom His Spirit spake of old. And the scope and sphere within which their ministration is effectual is, as we have seen, the living Church of God (Ante, p. 144, seq.).

Verse 6. We come now to a statement of the mystery itself. It is, "That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel." In the previous chapter, the origin and nature of the fellow-heirship, here mentioned, have been examined at some length. It is in the risen Christ that Jew and Gentile, dead alike naturally in trespasses and sins, are found, through faith, under the unction of filial adoption. Abundant grace has made them both joint-heirs with Christ. It is also as partakers of the heavenly calling, that this parity of blessing is enjoyed by both. For no Gentile, how much soever blessed on earth, can attain a perfect equality with the Jew. Throughout the coming dispensation, as well as in the former one, this supremacy of Jacob is maintained in the prophetic testimonies. Even in the passage which, more, perhaps, than any other, draws together, in the bonds of common blessedness, God's regenerated nation and the favoured Gentiles who enjoy the light which is to radiate from the earthly Zion as its centre, Israel is still distinguished as being, in an especial sense, the inheritance of God (Isa. 19:24, 25. Cp., also, Zech. 2:10-12; 8:20-23.).

That Gentiles should one day be raised, through grace, to a subordinate participation in Israel's inheritance, was, as has been fully shown, no mystery. It was, on the contrary, a promise of the, amplest and most distinct expression. On the other hand, that they, as well as Israel's believing remnant, should be called to the fellowship of the Son of God, was a thing both unimagined and untold in former ages. The same remark applies with not less force to the words which next follow, "of the same body." No such idea is enounced in ancient prophecy;* and it is certain, on the authority of the chapter now before us, that no such conception was ever formed in any human mind until the true Light shone in the Person of the risen Christ. Messiah's kingdom was the prophet's theme, together with His personal sufferings and after glories. But the mystery of that new Man, which bears collectively the name of CHRIST, was certainly withheld from their inquiring gaze. True it is that the Spirit, who spake by them, so conceived the language of Messianic prophecy as to furnish most abundant authentication of the future teachings both of the Lord Himself, and of His apostles, when endued with power from on high; yet we may assure ourselves that, as their words did not express, so neither did their thoughts embrace, the idea of a new and distinctly heavenly calling, by means of which the all-wise God should form a people whose relation to Himself should be, through grace, exactly that of His rejected, but exalted Son.**

{* Isa. 26:19, may, perhaps, suggest itself to the reader as a contradiction of this statement. But it is plain, from the context of that passage, that the prophet's subject is the elect nation. "Thy dead men shall live." The Spirit of grace, appropriating the fallen people as still His own (seeing that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance), adds immediately, "My dead body shall they arise." Compare Ezek. 37, passim.

**Compare the acknowledgment of prophetic darkness in Isa. 64:4, with the assertion of full Christian light and knowledge. through the indwelling of the Spirit, in 1 Cor. 2:10; "God has revealed them unto us," etc.}

They spoke of the same Christ, but in another strain. Jehovah-Jesus, reigning before His ancients gloriously, filling the land of His adoption with the brightness of His presence, and elevating Jerusalem to be the admiration and acknowledged mistress of the Gentiles, the praise of the whole earth, is the crowning theme of Jewish prophecy. It describes a time of sublunary peace and blessedness, when the Desire of all nations shall be openly established in His rights. The abatement of all lawlessness, and the reduction of all beneath the heavens to an implicit obedience by the righteous exercise of an irresistible dominion, are hopes kept continually before the minds of those whom the prophets taught to look for the establishment of David's throne. They spake, while personally suffering for righteousness, of a coming day when goodness only should be strong, and wickedness should fade away and be consumed; when Leviathan, that great and crooked serpent, should no more vex the sea of nations, wherein as yet he sports himself at will (Isa. 27:1; Job. 41:34), because the Lord will punish in that day both the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth (Isa. 24:21). Instead of the thick darkness which lay like a pall upon the nations, the Light of Israel should soon arise (Isa. 60). The Sun of Righteousness would shed His all-pervading beams, with quickening and purifying power, into the dark places of cruelty and rapine. Watching together, or in succession, through the long night of patience, they passed from hand to hand, as each fell asleep in the hope of a better resurrection (Heb. 11:35), the Divine testimonies which spoke so distinctly and so cheeringly of Israel's coming Peace.* And when the voice of prophecy had long been mute, and God ceased to send messengers of warning to a nation which was fast filling up the measure of its sins, the words which the prophets had once spoken continued still to nourish the hope of all who looked for Israel's redemption. The prophetic greetings which welcomed the nativity of Christ, whether from the lips of Jewish faith, or from the host of heaven, which bare record of the advent of Him who is the Hope of all the earth (Luke 1:67, seq.; 2:11, 14), gave back a living echo to the ancient oracles of promise. The sequel is known to every Christian, and has already been sufficiently described (Supra, pp. 11, 20, 32, seq.).

{* Isa. 9:6, 7; Zech. 9:10; Micah 5:5-7. This last passage (in which the Hope of Israel is seen, not as the Pacificator of the troubled conscience of His people only, but as the Avenger of His land against the haughtiness of Gentile oppression), may be usefully compared with the Apostle's doctrine, in chap. 2:14, of this Epistle, by those who find it hard to discriminate between the old things and the new.}

The prophets, then, have spoken of such things. But in no part of the rich and elaborate picture which they spread before us of the prospective blessings of Messiah's reign, do we find anything resembling the apostolic doctrine of the unity of the body of Christ. And now it must be asked, Are these emphatic and varied predictions to be regarded by the Christian as nothing more than a highly-wrought figure of the existing spiritual dispensation? The true answer to such an inquiry is that God has spoken plainly to the contrary; that all doubt upon the subject ought to be excluded from the mind of one who trembles at His word, by the language of the passage now before us, even if no other proof existed in the Scripture. For it is affirmed in the plainest terms, that the mystery of Christ was not made known in earlier times. But we have, moreover, to remember, as it respects the ancient prophets, that their writings are the word of God, which can suffer no jot of diminution; and that, how much soever figurative language may have been employed by the Holy Ghost, to embellish and present more vividly to our minds the great prophetic verities of God, those verities remain, and will be certainly fulfilled. God's facts are as real as His promises are sure. If time long past has ratified the threat that Zion should be "plowed as a field" (Micah 3:12), a coming time will not less surely witness the fulfilment of the promise which will build again the waste places of Jerusalem, and turn the land of desolation into the garden of the Lord (Isa. 61:4; Jer. 31, passim.). What God has given to His own Anointed under heaven, will be as openly asserted and enjoyed as the glory of His everlasting rest in heaven. Where Satan's seat is now, Messiah's throne will shortly be established. The days of heaven shall be enjoyed on earth, according to the ancient promise (Deut. 11:21) when He who joins both together in the bonds of a triumphant mercy (Ps. 89:2) shall assume the power of His kingdom, and receive from every lip His glory as the God of the whole earth.

But He is not yet so confessed. And it is in the meanwhile that the development of the mystery of Christ takes place. The Despised and Rejected of men is gone back into heaven; and it is there that Christian faith now sees Him, in the brightness of His glory, and is taught to hold to Him as to the Head of that living but still growing body which is being gradually formed to its completeness by the power of the Holy Ghost. That Gentiles should have a part in that one body as constituent members of it, was a mystery which none could know, until the Holy Ghost came forth to declare it as the Witness of the finished love of God.*

{*The reader will not fail to see the force of this exclusive mention of the Gentiles. As it respects natural fitness, it is not a whit less astonishing that a Jew should be of this body than a Gentile. This has been shown fully in the previous chapter. It is in Himself that he has made of twain one new man. Still, the difference was wide between the base alien and the natural heir of the covenants. Supra, Eph. 2:11, seq.}

It is in a similar sense, also, that the last clause of this verse should be taken: "partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel." The Gentiles had been, mediately, the objects of Divine promise from the beginning. In Abraham's seed all nations should be blessed.* But for the date of the promise which gave life to the Church in Christ, we must ascend to a far higher antiquity. It was before the world that the Son of God received His Church in promise.** While, therefore, it is the blood of the cross that alone speaks peace to the believing sinner, we are, when reconciled, instructed in the secret of that everlasting covenant which held us fast in Christ from the beginning of God's way. We have and hold our titles and expectations by virtue of our oneness with the Heir of all things. The promise which we wait for is the revelation of His glory. And so it is, that when the present testimony of the Spirit is described in full, it is called "the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God" (1 Tim. 1:11). As the subject of the Christian's distinctive calling and hope has been examined at length in the preceding chapters, it is needless to dwell further on it here.

{* Gen. 22:18. The full and direct application of this promise to the Church as the household of faith, is made quite clear by the use made of such testimonies by the Apostle himself. Rom. 4 and Gal. 3 are abundantly conclusive on this point. But it is to be remarked that the question treated in those chapters is rather the attainment by the uncircumcision of Divine blessing at all, than the special character of the blessing to which the Church is called. The doctrine of justification is the leading subject there. At the close of the latter chapter, however, we have a clearer view of the essential origin of Christian privilege, the inheritance of Abrahamic promise being there assigned derivatively to the believer as a result of his union with the risen Christ. The children of God are the true heirs of His promise (verses 26-29).

** Titus 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:9. It is a fact not without significance that it is in these Epistles that the eternal promise is most distinctly recorded. Titus was a Greek. Timothy, though of a Jewish mother, was likewise the son of a Gentile. It is, in fact, only when writing to Gentiles that we find the Spirit speaking of the mystery kept secret since the world began. The pre-ordaining of the Lamb (1 Peter 1:20), and the eternal Covenant (Heb. 13:20), are mentioned in Epistles addressed to believing Israelites, in order that their weak faith might be strengthened by a deeper view of the foundation of their trust. They would thus be the more effectually severed from the fleshly nation which still sought salvation through a carnal ordinance (Heb. passim). But while the heavenly Church had its first beginning and its early growth beneath the shadow of the house which God had left (Acts 3:1), it was to one whose apostolic mission was far off from Jerusalem that God's full counsel was revealed (Acts 22:21).}

Verses 7, 8. "Whereof I was made a minister," etc. In these verses the Apostle speaks of his personal ministry in immediate connexion with the mystery of Christ. He is a minister of the eternal promise which God now makes manifest by the word of preaching (Titus 1:3). That testimony had, in an especial manner, been committed to his trust. On this subject enough has been already said. It is only necessary now to notice the relation in which his consciousness of personal unworthiness stands to the excellent glory of the ministry which he had received. It was a just and profound appreciation of what was contained in "the unsearchable riches of Christ" that produced in him so deep a feeling of the mercy which had chosen him of all men to become its special minister. Exceeding great and effectual indeed was the grace which not only turned the waster of the faith to be its zealous preacher, but made the bitterest persecutor of God's Church the expounder of its more abundant consolation. To God, therefore, he gives all the glory. It was by the gift of His grace, and through the effectual working of His power, that the Spirit of glory now rested on him as a prisoner of Jesus Christ.

In the expression "unsearchable riches of Christ," we have something more than the warm and grateful utterance of a newly-forgiven sinner. Doubtless, such language became him, as it has been heartily adopted since by thousands, as an apt expression of what passes in a sinner's mind when tasting for the first time the riches of abundant grace. But here we are listening to one who, in the ripeness of his knowledge of the mystery of Christ, is expressing not the vague though truthful emotions of a spiritual babe, but the measured words of an Apostle of the faith, who well knew what manner of ministry was committed to his trust. They are words, therefore, the meaning of which we gradually learn as we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and Saviour. It is, indeed, in its experimental application, a phrase full of comfort to the exercised believer when led by the Spirit of grace to cease from self-dissection, and to behold the glory of God's great salvation. Searching of heart, when carried to its utmost limit, leads only to the confession of our natural emptiness and sin. Christ fills that emptiness, and takes away that sin. But He does much more than this. For, after the soul's "great bitterness" has been replaced by God's full peace, and the knowledge of Divine righteousness has put away the blame of our sin, there remains to be enjoyed, according to the capacities of the new nature, the fulness of His joy who is our Life. Redemption makes us capable of knowing Him who has redeemed us, in an ever-growing appreciation of His excellency. The treasures of wisdom, and knowledge, and of all perfection, are in Him in whom all fulness dwells. But God's treasures are not only inexhaustible, but are also inaccessible to human search. And here it is that we may see the peculiar force of the Apostle's language in this verse. That which the ancient prophets had been unable to trace out, although they sought it diligently in the light of their own testimonies, had been made fully known to Paul. God measures out His revelations as He will. Until His time arrives, investigation is of no avail for the discovery of His counsel. To faith He now reveals Himself in Jesus, according to the rich abundance of His love. Fitly, therefore, does the Apostle thus express himself, when, in the consciousness that he was speaking, as God's mouth, things heretofore unknown even to His chosen servants, he thinks on the mysterious wisdom of that mercy that had commissioned him to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.*

{*The word here used (anexichniastos) occurs in one other place only in the New Testament. At the close of his exposition of the mystery of the dispensational government of God, in Rom. 11, it is used by the same Apostle when, filled with wonder at the rich perfection of Divine wisdom, he declares the way of God to be "past finding out."}

Verse 9. "And to make all men see what is the fellowship (or dispensation*) of the mystery which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God," etc. The claim already preferred by this Apostle to be, in a peculiar sense, the minister of the mystery of Christ, is still more emphatically pressed on us in this verse. Through his ministry, all who received his testimony might now know what had up to that time been declared to none. It was committed to him as a dispensation. A steady light was now shed, for the first time since the creation of the world, upon that new work which God is now proving in Christ for His own glory. Until communicated to His chosen messenger, it had been hidden in God. Jesus, who was God manifest in the flesh, had divulged it prophetically to the ears of His disciples when, in the retirement of Galilee (Matt. 16:13-18), He had received from Peter's lips a full confession of His Person as "the Christ, the Son of the living God." He would build His Church upon that Rock, when its Divine stability should first have been declared with power by His resurrection from the dead. But this fundamental truth, like many other things which the disciples were then unable to receive, could not be perfectly revealed but by the Comforter from heaven. Jesus had spoken sparingly, and, as it were, in parables, of those deep things, which His own were to enjoy as their portion after He was gone away (John 16:26); but He would send One who should guide them into all the truth.

{* It is now generally acknowledged that oikonomia is the true reading in this passage, and not koinonia. Compare, as to the idea conveyed by the expression, "dispensation of the mystery," the same Apostle's language in 1 Cor. 9:17. It should also be remembered that the term, "mystery," which in this Epistle is applied to the Church itself, is used in Col. 1:25, 26, to describe the announcement of the heavenly calling: "to fulfil the word of God, the mystery," etc. Speaking of himself as a minister of the Church, he there also affirms that the dispensation which was given him was a previously hidden thing. The rich glory of that mystery, when, through faith, they saw its brightness, was Christ in them the Hope of glory. God would make such manifestation to His saints. In this last expression, we may find a fresh moral presumption in support of the altered reading of the text. A doctrinal dispensation publishes to all men the truth which is its subject. And this seems to be the force of the phrase, photisai pantas, in the text. The mystery of the Gospel is now openly published in the world. Its deepest doctrines are more or less familiar to the ears of men. The mystery of Christ may be theoretically apprehended, and abused, like all other truth. On the other hand, it is made known of God only to the faith of His elect. Hence, gnorisai is the word in Col. 1:27. Ante, Eph. 1:9.}

But this change in the Divine manifestation would leave the disciples still in their dependent place. If the Holy Ghost became their Comforter and Teacher, He is the Lord, and would act according to the sovereignty of that counsel, which He only could make known. Like the Son, also, whom He came to glorify, He would speak only as He heard (Compare John 16:13 with 8:26). Accordingly, as has been already mentioned, the knowledge of this mystery was not imparted at the beginning of the Gospel, and to the first ambassadors of grace.* It was when Jerusalem had, by her rejection of that testimony, drawn upon herself and her children the wrathful sentence under which she still remains, that the fitting season came for the heavenly Church to be declared, in its original completeness, through the revelation of the mystery of Christ.

{*It is a remarkable fact, though one likely to be overlooked by the English reader, that the first time that Jesus receives the title of Son of God (huios tou Theou) in the Acts, is at chap. 9:20. The testimony borne by Peter and John in Jerusalem, which declared Him to be both Lord and Christ, describes Him still as the exalted Servant (pais) of Jehovah; the reference being to Isa. 42:1, seq. In Matt. 12:18, this word is rendered in E.V. according to its usual signification.}

The important place which this deeply-hidden secret held in the Divine counsels is made strikingly apparent in what follows. It was hidden in God, "who created all things,* to the intent (v. 10) that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom** of God." In dividing this passage, it is not very material whether, by pausing at the end of verse 9, we read this allusion to creation absolutely, or whether, by the insertion of a comma only, we connect it more emphatically with what immediately follows. The really important point to be kept in view is, that such was the place which the Church held in the purposes of God, that the perfect glory of His wisdom could only be discovered through her means. The old creation was in this sense a necessary preliminary to the new. He who created all things had the Church in His thoughts when He began the work. That the believer is a new creation has been already shown; and such, also, is the collective body of Christ. It is by means of that new work of God that the heavenly powers, who (themselves bright witnesses of His creative glory) always lauded the display of the Divine omnipotency, now learn a new variety of that wisdom which originated their own being. Never had it entered their conception to suppose that their Creator (Col. 1:16) would stoop so far below themselves to find fit companions of His joys. They now acknowledge, in the calling of the elect Church into the fellowship of the Son of God, a proof, both newer** and more astonishing than any other, of the wisdom and prudence of their Maker. To perceive that He, who upholds them by the word of His own power, takes pleasure in confessing in their presence His kinship and oneness with forgiven sinners here below, displaying to them as He does the tokens both of their natural alienation, and of their eternal reconciliation in the wounded but now glorified body in which He bore their sins upon the tree, is to receive initiation into a deeper mystery than that of their own glorious existence.

{*The words "by Jesus, Christ," which follow in E.V., are not to be found in any of the more perfect recensions of the original. They seem, indeed, almost superfluous in their present context, when we remember that the Apostle's subject in this passage is not the assertion of Christ's perfect Divinity and creative power (a doctrine clearly and fully taught elsewhere), but the perfection of that Divine counsel, which viewed Him from eternity as the Head of His body the Church.}

** he polupoikilos sophia, t. Th. "Very varied" is a more exact translation than "manifold."

** "Now unto the principalities," etc. This is a remarkable testimony both to the limited intelligence of even the highest angelic orders, and also to the mysterious relation which subsists between the work of God among men upon earth, and the progress of ideas in the spiritual world.}

Already they are learning this. For as in the case of Israel, Jehovah taught mankind the holiness of His way through the medium of the nation which He chose to bear His Name, so now the Church, being celled with a heavenly calling, and mystically joined. to Christ, in whom she sits enthroned in heavenly places, becomes the fit medium for making manifest to those in heaven the perfect way of the only wise God. The world can learn nothing through the real Church of God, because the world has no cognizance of spiritual things. Through the corruption of the nominal profession, it may, alas, learn, as it does, a fresh and still. deepening lesson of human weakness and depravity. But heavenly things are foreign to its sphere of thought and observation. It is far otherwise above. The angels both desire to look into the things of Christ, and, as: we here see, are learning them in their appointed measure. And surely, if anything in addition to the marvel of the Incarnation and its effects, as they now behold them in the Person of the exalted Christ, could excite their admiration, it must be their consideration of the weakness and unworthiness of those whom God has chosen as the trophies of redeeming love. God, indeed, who is both their Teacher and our own, alone knows what ability He has conferred on them to estimate the secret springs of human conduct; but external actions they can doubtless weigh. Great, therefore, must their amazement be, when pondering the spectacle of practical failure and inconsistency, so constantly afforded by the Church, at the wisdom of Him who has provided in His Son for the enthronement of such a Church in heaven. Hereafter, when the Lamb's wife shall have been arrayed in His own brightness, and been presented in the faultless comeliness which He has put upon her, they will learn and wonder still. They will find an increase of their original. blessedness, in. honouring, in her appointed place, the chosen companion of their Lord (Rev. 19:6-9).

Verse 11. "According to the eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Creation then was a means to an ulterior purpose. That purpose was eternal; not only in its origin, but likewise in its aim. Its ripe effect will show itself, as we have seen, through coming ages of unending joy (Eph. 2:7). All things were made for Christ, as well as by Him. Before He could, receive the name by which He is now to be confessed among men, God framed a purpose which would attain its completion only through the manifestation of His own once humbled Son as the exalted Head and Bridegroom of His Church. And as it is the presence of her Lord in heaven that is the alone security to that Church of the eventual attainment of the Hope of glory, this remarkable exposition of the mystery of Christ is closed by a recital of the present privilege of access enjoyed by the believer here below.

Verse 12. "In whom we have boldness and access with confidence, by the faith of Him." A. faith which sees in. the glorified Saviour the fulfilment of such. a purpose may well be bold. And when faith is real, desire of practical communion must grow with the increase of doctrinal knowledge. The question of our safety being set at rest for ever, through the knowledge of Him who is our everlasting Righteousness, we are encouraged to draw nigh. It is by the faith of Him that we have access. Carnal presumption is thus effectually checked. It is because the precious blood of Christ has purged completely the believer's conscience, that his fear is changed to trustful peace. God's throne is to all such the throne of grace. We come thither with a holy confidence, because Jesus has preceded us, and is Himself become our new and living Way. Lofty, and to the natural mind incredible, as is the destiny of the Church, the faith which sees Jesus as the Forerunner of our hope, can follow Him within the veil. Our boldness is in Him.

Verse 13. "Wherefore I desire that ye faint not," etc. The connexion in which this verse stands with the preceding doctrine is most interesting, as well as plain. By a consideration of the true nature of their calling, they would be enabled to comprehend and rightly estimate the afflictions of the Gospel. For as fellow-heirs with Christ, they were called to share also His reproach. They belonged to a rejected though a glorious Head. If the world hated them, they should not marvel. Their portion was exclusively a heavenly one. That the Apostle, therefore, of their faith should also be a prisoner of Jesus Christ, ought not to surprise them, and should cause them no alarm. For what he sought, as an ambassador of Christ, was not to please men, but to prove the power of God in rescuing from the world the chosen vessels of His mercy. They should not infer disaster from such afflictions, but rather a more abundant fruit.* His tribulation was their glory, not their shame Instead of fainting, it behoved them rather to rejoice, both that he should be counted worthy to suffer for the Name of Christ, and that they were bound with him as partakers of his hope and of his grace.

{*Compare his exhortation to the same effect in Phil. 1:12-14.}

Verse 14. "For this cause I bow my knees," etc. Having opened, as it were, digressively (ante, Eph. 3:1, note 2), in the former part of this chapter a fuller view of the mystery of Christ, the Apostle, with a deep appreciation of the glory of that mystery, and bowed low under the exceeding weight of the mercy which he had himself obtained, and which is likewise the sole title of the Church to her marvellous inheritance, turns again towards the throne of grace as an intercessor for his brethren, directing his prayer this time to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In its structure, this prayer resembles its predecessor in Ephesians 1, being rather a recital of the habitual desires of his heart on their behalf, than a direct address to its Divine Object.

As to the change of title under which God is here described, its peculiar fitness is felt by us in proportion as we apprehend the previous statement of doctrine out of which this prayer arises. In Ephesians 1 he had desired for his brethren both light and knowledge, that, as the conscious subjects of Almighty power and grace, they might understand the manner of their calling. He now desires for them an ability to taste, with a fuller and more sensible perception of its blessedness, the communion of that love which had been so unreservedly lavished on them as partakers of the unsearchable riches of Christ. GOD, in the majesty of His omnipotence, is perfectly glorified to the eye of faith as the just Awarder of all honour to His exalted Christ. His will, His wisdom, and His power, have each its special vindication in the assigning of pre-eminence to Jesus. But He who glorifies His holiness, by giving honour to the only worthy One, is also the FATHER of His Son from everlasting; and now also, in Him, of those whom He confesses as His brethren. Thus the enjoyment of Divine love is become the believer's privilege, by virtue of this new relationship, even as the hope of Divine glory is his righteous expectation as a justified heir of salvation (Rom. 5:2; 1 Peter 1:10). It is therefore with reference to this doctrine of our special relationship to Him who has begotten us, that the language of this prayer has been conceived.

Verse 15. "Of whom," etc. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is also the Head of every family* in heaven and on earth. Much more is contained in this expression than a general assertion that God is the common Father of His creatures. It is used here for the evident purpose (consistently with the whole teaching of this Apostle on the subject of the Church) of habituating our minds to those distinctions which sovereign love and power have established in the varied manifestations of Divine wisdom (ante, Eph. 1:12 seq.). God is the Father of His First-born and of the many sons whom He has made joint-heirs with Christ. Paternal relationship in its narrower sense ends there. In its perfect and essential signification, indeed, it is confined to the only-begotten Son. It is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has adopted us according to the riches of His grace. But that name, now made so glorious in. the Church, by means of the Incarnation and its effects, stands in a supreme relation to all, both in heaven and on earth, that are acknowledged by Him as His creatures.

{* pasa patria. Few, perhaps, will dispute that such is the most natural rendering of these words, and not "the whole family," as in the Authorized version. This alteration, however, although desirable, is not essential to the doctrine stated in the text.}

Scripture presents us with diverse families which stand, in a nearer or more remote sense, within this general parentage of God. Not to speak now of angels under this description, there is a heavenly and an earthly house of God. He is a Father to Israel, though Abraham should not acknowledge them; and by this title He will be known and invoked, when the veil shall have been taken from the nation's heart (Jer. 3:19). In that day, also, when the full title of Jesus, as Son of God and King of Israel, is celebrated throughout the earth, the Gentiles who make haste to worship at Jehovah's footstool will know the glory of His name; for while passing by all other families, that He might make of Abraham a people for Himself, He blessed them all prospectively in Christ (Gen. 12:3). And when in the coming day of His dominion the kings and judges of the earth shall sing wisely in His ways, because the glory of the Lord is great, and He has taught them by His word (Ps. 2:10-12 , 138:4, 5), the many and far-divided families of the nations will confess the excellent glory of His name. But in that day the children who already call upon the Father by the Spirit of adoption will occupy the mansions which the First-born is gone to make ready for His friends. Thus, even in the coming dispensation, there will be a large illustration of that graduated diversity which makes the total harmony of God's creation. In its perfect realization, however, we must await the day when dispensations shall have run their course and God shall be all in all.

Verse 16. "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man" We have now the first of the special requests contained in this new prayer. But let us observe, in the first place, according to what standard it is that the flow of Divine favour now proceeds within the house of God. It is according to the riches of His own glory that the Father provides for the supply of every want that can be felt by those who are begotten of Himself. It is the inner man that is contemplated here. The Father of glory makes no provision for the flesh, though in merciful kindness He considers our need as in the body. But the point to which the Spirit always leads us is the steady consideration of our portion, as united by faith to Him who is in heaven. God seeks to wean our hearts from the world, by setting His own glory in our view. He would have our minds already familiarized to the idea of that which is presently to be revealed. But Divine glory is too bright a thing for dust and ashes to endure. And although the new nature is in its essence as pure as the God from whom it is derived, and looks earnestly towards that glory as its promised rest, yet it lives here in weakness and incessant conflict with the evil which hems it in on every side. Believers are weak babes, though children of the Lord Almighty. Their strength is never in themselves. It comes to them from Him in whom they trust, in greater or less measure as they know the secret of their weakness, and lean implicitly upon the Lord. An unfeigned confession of dependence never fails to bring, as its response, His strength into the soul (Ps. 138:3; 2 Cor. 12:9, 10).

That they might abound in that strength, is, therefore, the Apostle's first desire. But the connexion in which this request is found is worthy of all attention. The strength here sought is desired not with a view to the performance of outward acts of service, but in order that the believing soul may be empowered to grasp and hold firmly fast the Divine treasure placed within its reach. It is, perhaps, not sufficiently remembered by us, that securely as we are preserved in Christ, who is Himself our hidden Life, we are, nevertheless, cast entirely upon the active operation of the Spirit in our hearts for an adequate enjoyment of our portion. We have already seen that, in his former prayer, the sum of the Apostle's desire was the Spirit in His active and unhindered energy. It is the same in the present instance, the form of manifestation only being changed. Instead of wisdom and revelation, the desired effect of His operation is an increase of hidden strength, with a view to personal communion with God. It is, indeed, most important to remember that, while conscience helps us often to a knowledge of our duties, we need, for the right understanding and enjoyment of our privileges, the immediate operation of the Holy Ghost.

{*In Col. 1:11, we find a somewhat similar request; but there the subject of practical walk is more immediately in hand.}

Verse 17. "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith," &e. This, his second request, expresses what would be an effect of their attainment of the former. For if the Spirit confers strength upon the inner man, it is by filling the heart more abundantly with Christ, and so shedding abroad in it the love of God. The desire here expressed is equivalent to what the Lord had already promised to the disciples as the chief fruit of the advent of the Comforter. They should know in that day not only their spiritual oneness with the Lord, but His indwelling presence in themselves (John 14:20). The Lord dwells in His people's hearts by faith. Occasional visitings of mercy are the experience of all believers. Abiding enjoyment of Christ belongs to those only who give diligence to make their calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:5-10). He who holds us all with equal firmness in the strong hand of His salvation is willing to be held by us in the secret chambers of our hearts. If we make no effort to detain Him there, He presently withdraws from that sanctuary, though ever ready to return at our cry. His detention is well worth the effort of a little watchfulness, as we find to our cost when, through carelessness, we lose for a season the conscious enjoyment of His presence.

Christ cannot dwell in a divided heart. If He enters it, He claims to be the undisputed Lord of its affections. He will abide in that dwelling-place alone. When received with honour, in the simplicity of our faith, He willingly remains there in the fulness of His peace. If we treat Him as a spy, He will afflict us in His jealousy. He will be as a moth, to eat away our carnal confidences and to disappoint our selfish hopes. He will rebuke us in His love (Rev. 3:19). If we delight in Him, He will delight in us, giving us, in the intelligent enjoyment of Himself, far more than the desires of our hearts (Ps. 37:4). A single eye is needed to discern Him, and a single heart to hold Him fast. Most Christians know something of the difference between the rich and happy fulness of a heart which, in simple and unclouded faith, must speak of blessedness, because the Blessed One Himself is there (Gal. 4:15), and the comparative and sometimes (for a while) entire destitution of that sense of blessedness, because some barrier has been suffered to grow up between the heart and the gracious Object of its trust. Faith must be kept in exercise, or truth will lose its power, and spiritual deadness be the result. Nothing is more necessary than to keep this principle in mind. For it is a fixed law of spiritual life, which, whether observed or neglected on our parts, never fails of its effects.

That Christ should dwell in our hearts by faith, is assuredly the will of Him who has sent forth the Comforter in His Name. It may be well to add a word as to the mode of recovering the joy of His fellowship, when we are conscious of having lost it. We must seek Him if we would regain His peace. But let us look for Him only where He is to be found, which is always in the word of His own grace. The short road to peace is a direct return to the Cross. By wandering thence in the spirit of our minds we lose our joy. To regain it, we must hasten back to the place where we tasted first that He is gracious. To seek Him there and not to find Him, is impossible. To look for Him elsewhere as the Healer of our souls, is to prolong our misery, and weary our hearts in vain. The broken ties of practical fellowship can only be re-united where they first were formed. The love that gave itself for our sins alone has tenderness enough to heal our backslidings, and is of power to subdue our hearts.

Verse 18. The effect of faith is to establish our souls in love. Two expressions of the strongest kind are here used in order to describe that effect. Believers are said to be rooted and grounded in love. Each of these words has its own peculiar force and beauty. We are rooted in love from the moment that we know Jesus, He being our Root who is the Lord of love. The Lamb who is the Root of David, is the Tree of life to our souls. On that Root the Church already grew in God's purposes before the worlds. But our Foundation is likewise Christ, God's elect and precious Stone. We have been built there by the hand of Him who quickened us by His power. Christ crucified is the palpable demonstration to our hearts of that great love which is now, through grace, become the rest of our souls.

The essential connexion between a radical establishment of the heart in the love of God, and real progress in the knowledge of Him in whom all fulness dwells, is rendered very apparent in this verse. He asks for his brethren that, "being (errizomenoi) rooted and having been* grounded in love, they may be able to comprehend," etc. The force of this is very clear. Until settled in the grace of God, the soul has neither power nor encouragement to venture on a search into the infiniteness of a God who is not known. A doubting spirit comprehends nothing but the fact of its own wretchedness. A purged conscience is the first lesson that the Spirit of grace imparts to our souls as the Revealer of Jesus. Then, and not earlier, are we enabled (by the power of the same Spirit) to enter, with all saints, on the study of that which is the children's portion.

{* (tethemeliomenoi) These perfect participles are full of happy significance. The root has taken; the foundation has been firmly laid.}

The action of the spiritual understanding is always in sympathy with the affections of the heart. If, in one sense, we know before we truly love, yet love thus awakened becomes in turn the fountain of desires which nothing can satisfy but perfect knowledge. It may, perhaps, be doubted, whether the subjects of this verse and the following one are identical.9 One thing is, however, abundantly and most blessedly evident; that the believing sinner is here invited by the Holy Ghost to cease from all mournful retrospections, and to lose himself with an abiding confidence in the infinity of Christ. The terms employed are, by their very indefiniteness, expressive, in the strongest manner, of the disparity that exists between our present powers of apprehension and the inconceivable range of Divine knowledge for which, with all saints, we have already been renewed in Christ. The treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him. Perfection and immensity are the two ideas which usually strike our minds when thinking of the works of God; and these ideas are conveyed exactly by the Apostle's language in this place. Length and breadth, and depth and height, are indeed terms of measurement and limitation; but they are here employed for the double purpose of reminding us that order and perfection are in all the works of God, and of confessing their utter inadequacy to bring within the mastery of our definite conception the richness of that portion which is freely given us in Christ.

{*Whether, that is, we have not rather in the one an expression of the vastness of Christ's omnipotency, as distinguished from the other, which describes His boundless love. It is a happy perplexity from which we need desire no hasty extrication.}

And if creation and its fulness be to our thoughts a thing of infinite perfection and extent, more perfect still, and infinite in a yet stronger sense, must be the almighty and all-effecting love and wisdom that produced it. God is greater than His work; and it is He whom we are born, in Christ, to know. A certain indefiniteness belongs thus, of necessity, to the expression of true spiritual desire, inasmuch as that which is infinite cannot be mentally conceived, much less expressed by words. But although ignorant of the full extent of our blessedness, we are sure, upon the faith of Him who cannot lie, that all is ours; we are thus enabled, in the holy confidence of that assurance, to send up true aspirations of desire for a still increasing measure of that spiritual strength by which alone our faith can bear, without staggering, the exceeding weight of that rich blessing which we are called to inherit in the Beloved. If, through grace, we rest in Him as "all our Salvation," we shall not slack to seek for Him as "all our Desire" (2 Sam. 23:5).

Verse 19. "And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge," etc. This final petition stands in closest connexion with what precedes it. If spiritual comprehension is a faculty common to all saints, by virtue of which the renewed mind may expatiate safely and at large, amidst the boundless fields of Divine knowledge, spiritual affections also appertain to them, by means of which they are enabled to appreciate the love of Christ. But that love, though known and rested in, surpasses knowledge. Its outward tokens are, indeed, most evident; and are the proofs to which the Spirit ceases not to appeal when cheering and strengthening the fainting heart. But proofs, though infallible, are but pledges of the love they prove. By their means we are brought into acquaintance with it, and, by a steady contemplation of such tokens, we are gradually certified of that which our hearts desire. But it is the nature of all love to be superior to its own demonstration. It is known by use. Occasion quickens and enlarges its practical effect. Thus, in measures as different as the uncounted varieties of spiritual growth and capacity, that which is the common life and solace of all saints, is tasted and enjoyed. Vessels of every description hang upon that Nail (Isa. 22:23, 24). Every believer knows the love of Christ; for the Cross is its eternal monument. We love Him in the persuasion of His love. And as that mighty evidence of love is pondered in our hearts, and we think of it not only as the cure of our natural miseries, but as the door of access, likewise, to the sure and never-ending blessedness of the kingdom which we have received by faith, and which is ready even now to be revealed, we perceive that we are held in the embraces of an affection which we shall perfectly enjoy, indeed, but which will be greater than our knowledge to the end.

Doubtless, when our eyes behold the Saviour, and the mysteries of sin and grace are understood, not as they now are, in a feeble and at best inadequate appreciation, but with a perfect knowledge of them both, the hearts which even now flow over at the memory of Him who bore our sins in His own body on the tree, will be satiated to the fulness of their deep desire, by beholding all His glory, and participating in His likeness and His joys. Yet blessedness, though in one sense consummated, will still be a progressive thing. For not even will glory, in its ages of untiring enjoyment, exhaust the fulness of that God whose name is Love. And it is unto that fulness that we are to be filled.

The last clause of this verse requires some further notice, as it has not been exactly rendered in our Version.* The Apostle never meant to say that we should be filled with all the fulness of God. For that would be to deify the Church. All fulness dwells in Christ, but not in us. His words are to be regarded rather as a statement of the limit and measure of spiritual knowledge when considered absolutely. God will be fully known (so far as He is communicable to His creatures) by those whom He has formed for the enjoyment of Himself. We are, in that sense, to seek to be filled to the measure of His fulness. For He will hide no secret but that of His own Being from His children His Spirit is already given to us, that we may know what things He has freely given us in Christ. That Spirit reveals all things, even the deep things of God. His fulness, therefore, is the only limit of true spiritual progress. Prayer in the Spirit aims at nothing less than this. For God is our Standard, whether of present truth or of surely coming life. What He has is our safe inheritance laid up for us with Christ in heaven. What He is to us, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be still learning to eternity.

{*It is obvious that the E.V. does not literally render this passage. If, on the other hand, it be thought that the idea is correctly represented; viz., that we might be filled with a perfect knowledge of God, it may be admitted that such is no doubt the destiny of the believer. We are born, that is, to know God, and if so, to know Him to satiety — to be filled with Him. Still it remains true, that no created capacity can hold His fulness. He is Himself the Container of all things, and can be measured only by Himself. Hence, when, in his Epistle to the Colossians, the Apostle is developing the glory of Christ's Person, we find him declaring (in order to help us to a right conception of the mystery of godliness) that all fulness dwells in Him We, on our parts, are complete in Him (Col. 1:19; 2:9). Out of His fulness all we have received, and grace for grace. It is plain that the indwelling of God diffusively by the Holy Ghost in each believer, conveys a different idea from our being filled with His fulness.}

Verses 20, 21. "Now unto Him that is able," etc. The remarkable doxology with which this chapter closes, is a fit as well as natural sequel to the prayer to which it is appended. Having expressed, in the preceding verse, the ultimate aim of all spiritual desire, the heart of the Apostle gives back, as it were, a reverberation of believing praise to Him whose excellent power and majesty are seen to be, in Christ, the pledged security of all our hope. Faith, which sustains prayer, and truth, which gives to it its right direction, are the essential elements, also, of spiritual praise.

The love of Christ has been declared to be beyond our knowledge, even as His glory is above our thoughts. But both have been set before our hearts as objects of desire; for we are called into the fellowship of both. That we may enjoy, even now, a more abundant entrance into our portion, we have been taught to seek from Him who has bestowed it on us, a fuller measure of the Spirit. And now, to encourage our feeble minds, and to stimulate the activity of our desires, we are reminded both of the watchful readiness of the Almighty Father to listen to our prayers, and that the power whose aid we are directed to invoke, is already working in us the good pleasure of His will.

That the mighty power of God has wrought in Christ, has been triumphantly asserted in Ephesians 1. That power was there said to be to us-ward who believe (ante, Eph. 1:19 seq.). What it will shortly accomplish on us, is the joyful expectation of our hearts. He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken our mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in us (Rom. 8:11). We are taught, meanwhile, to reckon on the inward energy of the Holy Ghost as the power by which all godly affections are fostered and sustained, and all acceptable works are wrought. His Divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who has called us to glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:3).

It is because the revelation of the mystery of Christ brings into our view things so transcending our thoughts, that we are here recalled to a remembrance of the power of God. A sense of personal weakness is the certain effect of growth in Divine knowledge. To meet this, we are constantly reminded by the Spirit of the power of Him who loves us. To insist upon His willingness to bless us, is superfluous in the presence of a testimony whose first announcement is that He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in His Son. But we need continually to be reminded that no gift of God can be worthily known or enjoyed, but by His Spirit's power and in communion with Himself.

Very precious is the assurance here afforded us of the interest with which the faintest aspirations of desire, as well as the most fervent and importunate requests, are considered by our God. One thing, indeed, we do well to remember: His power, ever to us-ward as it is in grace, can only work His will. Hence the important moral relation which subsists between the habitual state of our hearts, and our confidence and liberty in prayer. For "this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to his will, He hears us; and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him" (John 5:14, 15). There is no guile in the spirit of one who leans on grace alone; while all true desires are known thoroughly to Him who in love inquires into the mind of the Spirit that is in us (Rom. 8:27). It is the will of God that we should know Him in the riches of His love. We can make no progress in this knowledge while we trust in ourselves; but it flows in upon us as a full river of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3, 4, 9, 10) when we abandon ourselves in faith to Him whose power is beyond our utmost wish, and who teaches us to fear Him, through the knowledge of His saving grace (Titus 2:11, 12; Rom. 12:1. Compare Ps. 130:4).

Glory will be to Him by Jesus Christ for ever, in the Church which He has grounded on His love. We have already seen that praise is the natural language of God's saints (ante, Eph. 1:6, 2:18). They praise Him whom they know. The Spirit of revelation is the power of their worship. That the destination of the Church is to be a holy temple in the Lord has been shown by the Apostle in the previous chapter (ante, Eph. 2:21, seq.). We seem to have here a further intimation of the abiding continuance of that specific title which now belongs to the confessors of the Cross. Not only is the Church the only place wherein God's honour dwells upon earth in the present dispensation (broken and dishonoured as the visible building is), but we find that same description still attaching to God's everlasting worshippers. It is in the Church that glory is to be rendered always* to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.**

{*With respect to the expressions of perpetuity which the Apostle here employs, it is not easy to speak precisely. "unto all the generations of the age of ages" — is intelligible enough as a strong and emphatic designation of a cycle of never-ending but still changing time. Vide supra, Eph. 2:7 note.

**The reader who has perused attentively the foregoing pages, will now be better able to estimate at its real worth the question stated at the end of Ephesians 1. As the object of these Notes is not the establishment of particular "views," but the hope of common profit, by an untrained exposition of God's truth, I shall dwell no further on this point, remarking here only that it seems difficult to comprehend within the Apostle's meaning in the text anything which has not been already described in Eph. 2:19-22.}

Ephesians 4.

As we have now reached the close of the Apostle's main doctrinal thesis, it may be useful, before advancing further, to recapitulate briefly what has been already stated. The Church has been presented to us under names and descriptions differing, indeed, from one another, but equally distinctive of the nature of her calling and the end of her creation. Viewed in Christ as a special object of Divine love before the world, she has been brought into conscious spiritual existence by the word of saving grace. Through the blood of Christ, we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. Being taught thus to know our acceptance in the Beloved, the glorified Christ is set full in our view as the reason and measure of the hope which fills our hearts; the rich mercy of God, who quickened us when dead in sins, having been signalized conclusively to our faith, by the demonstration of the exceeding greatness of His power, when He raised Christ from the dead, and gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church. Christ and His mystic body are seen to be inseparably ONE. As to the constituent members of that body, they are alike new; both Jew and Gentile disappearing, with all that respectively characterized them, in the glorious light of the new and risen Man. Their names are, consequently, disallowed in favour of the new and abiding name of CHRIST. Moreover, the Holy Ghost assumes His place, as the living Seal of this new work of God, sealing each several member of the body, and also occupying, as its Divine Inhabitant, the collective assembly, which is God's spiritual house. That building, which is still in progress, is continued by the ceaseless operation of His power. No longer displaying as of old external tokens of His favour, as the patron and Preserver of an earthly nation, God now receives His people into heavenly places, and seats them there in Christ. His presence with them here below is, meanwhile, as a Comforter and Guide, until the day of their translation to His rest. Knowledge and love are seen to be the twofold effect of the indwelling of the Spirit. By the former, we are enabled to apprehend the nature of our calling, and to estimate aright the tribulation which is attached, as a necessary consequence, to a spiritual walk. On the other hand, an entrance, according to the proportion of our faith, is opened for us into the boundless riches of the love of Christ. It is as fellow-heirs with Him that we are initiated into the mysteries of the Divine will. The dispensational government of the only wise God is set before our minds as a worthy subject of our study, because of our association with Him who is the central Object of all God's counsels. The truth, which creates and vivifies the Church, declares it to be of a heavenly origin and place. In the ages to come, she will celebrate, as the full vessel of the Divine kindness, the perfect praise of God by Jesus Christ.

In opening thus the doctrine of the Church and its calling, the Apostle, although imparting what was in fact a new and special revelation, was but expanding and defining, in the power of the Spirit, truth already spoken by the Son of God, when, in His intercessory commendation of His own to the Father, He claimed for them a participation in His joys (John 17. See also notes on Eph. 3:9). Because of the completeness with which they had been separated from the world and joined, through grace, to Him who is the Lord from heaven, they could no longer have a place in that which He was going to leave, except as strangers and confessors of His name. The world would hate them because He had given them the word of God. They would occupy His place in testimony (by the Spirit) until He should return to take them to Himself. By the brightness of that glory, the world would be convinced that they were no vain pretenders when, by the confession of the name of Jesus, they claimed to be the sons of God. Meanwhile the exact though wonderful description of their position is, that they are not of the world, even as He was not of the world. The descent of the Holy Ghost was the Father's answer to that intercession. As the Comforter, He makes known the meaning of the Saviour's words. And it is by warning every man, and teaching every man, that He preserves from the snares of destruction the flock of God, which He has purchased with His blood. Accordingly, we find the Apostle, whose words are at the dictation of that Spirit, after setting forth so marvellously the unsearchable riches of Christ, now turning to exhort his brethren to a walk which might adorn their faith.

Verses 1-3. "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord," etc. This fresh mention of his bonds is quite in the manner of one who, in his deep knowledge and abundant enjoyment of the grace of God, took pleasure in persecutions and distresses for the sake of Christ (2 Cor. 12:10. Ante, Eph. 3:13). Human fetters could not gall a spirit which the Son of God had freed. If both heart and flesh were often weary because of multiplied afflictions, the consolations by Christ were in a more than compensating measure (Phil. 1:22-25). He was the Lord's prisoner, and not man's What he suffered was for the glory of His name, and for the profit of His saints. Caring only for the things of Christ, his heart is engrossed not by the danger and discomfort of his own position, but by the interests of those who were dear to him in the fellowship of Christ. That they should walk worthy of their calling, was far more to him than that the days of his affliction should be shortened (2 Cor. 1:5, 6).

God had called them by His grace into the fellowship of His Son, and they had received His Spirit as the Earnest of their inheritance. To walk, therefore, as He walked, was the true order of their way (1 John 2:6). But Jesus was meek and lowly in heart. These qualities, which were parts of His natural perfection, are learned by us, against nature, as we walk in Him. The mind which was in Him will also show itself in us if we are habitually joying in His love. Lowliness and meekness are, surely, fitting ornaments for those who know that they have been quickened from a death in sins to sit with Christ in heaven. The Father's majesty hides pride from our eyes, while the rich abundance of His mercy humbles every bosom that it fills. The love which casts out fear, leaves reverence in its place. If we know our calling, according to the power of the Gospel, we shall be small in our own esteem. For the believer, all glorying is in the Lord. And if humble in the sight of Him who has forgiven us, we shall not behave with impatience or unseemliness towards our fellow-saints. No man is petulant or exclusive who is living upon mercy. Forbearance belongs to those who, as common partakers of redeeming love, are called to extol unitedly the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:5, 6).

But among the many motives which should operate continually to promote the flow of active charity among God's children, one is here placed prominently before us, which stands in an especial relation to the "mystery of Christ." They are exhorted to endeavour "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond. of peace." The force of this is very obvious. It is the presence of the Spirit that makes the Church what it is as the acceptable dwelling-place of God. This fact confers on Christian walk a new and peculiar character. The ancient remonstrance, "Sirs, ye are brethren" (Acts 7:26), recalled the parties addressed to a remembrance of their common ancestry as Abraham's seed. But, since the indwelling Spirit of adoption has become the seal of each member of the body of Christ, we are admonished, with reference to that paramount truth, which makes us know that we are no longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit; and reduces, therefore, all interests of a personal kind into subordination to the new relationship which grace has formed for us in Christ. It was in the clear recognition of the unity to which the Spirit witnessed, and of which He is Himself the Power, that they were to labour for its practical observance in their daily walk and conversation.

The endeavour to keep this unity in the bond of peace would call for the constant and patient exercise of lowliness, and meekness, and forbearance. Love confesses and exemplifies the truth which power has established. Unity exists. The Church is one in Christ. Its practical realization can only be in the energy of a love which seeks to emulate the Master in His ways. Now Jesus descended, in His love, beneath the level of His people. That He might save them, He would serve them; and by the manner of His service He instructs us in the way of our walk. He who washes our feet is the Pattern of our love to one another (John 13). The new and unspeakable dignity to which the love of Christ has raised the Church is the motive of true Christian lowliness. Being raised in Him above the wildest flight of natural ambition, we are allowed an opportunity of walking as he walked, in the confession of His name.

It will be seen that the subject here treated is essentially a practical one. Human endeavour can add no stability to that which God has wrought. Truth is settled in its place in heaven, though subject to disturbance and corruption upon earth. Historically, as is too well known to all who love the Lord, this unity has long since ceased. The present exhortation remains, therefore, as a fresh record of man's unfaithfulness to every trust committed to his hands. But this is not its only use. It remains still as a clear expression of the mind of Christ for the guidance and encouragement of all who desire to keep the way of simple obedience to Him. For nothing can impair the truth of God. When extricated from the overlying rubbish of human tradition, it shines still in its own undying brightness, and re-asserts its rightful claims on our obedience. Christian faith can own no standard of conformity but Christ's own word. If therefore, the existing condition of the Church on earth is found to vary from that standard, truth is none the less to be confessed, though the effect of such confession may be to sever those who seek to own its claims from that which still bears professedly the name of Christ. Hence the endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace will be best made by those who, while they steadily refuse to impute to human failure the sanction of Divine approval, by acquiescing in any order of things of which the Holy Spirit is not the acknowledged Regulator and Support, still put their trust in Him who is Himself the living Truth, and stay themselves in well-doing upon the standing promise of His grace (notes on Eph. 3:22, seq.).

Verses 4-6. In close connexion with the exhortation just delivered, we have now an enumeration of the seven doctrinal unities which constitute the leading points of Christian confession in its stricter sense. For while there is much of God's truth to be found lying outside this seven-fold revelation, it is to the Christian in the present dispensation alone that the things here recapitulated properly belong. The order in which these unities are placed is also noticeable. They are not arranged according to their intrinsic) magnitude and excellence, but with reference rather to the special subject of the Apostle's teaching in this Epistle. The Church and its relations being his leading theme, there is an entire fitness in his commencing with the unity of the body. Let us briefly follow him through the series.

1. "There is one body." In the preceding chapter we have been reminded that there is more than one family. But the heavenly Church is the body of Christ, and in that relation is found quite alone. Other and manifold objects are owned of Him who is the Lord of all, and will enjoy His favour, and be brought into subjection to His sceptre, in the day of His manifested power. But His mystic body, being as Himself, is not confounded in the Spirit's language with the subjects of His dominion, albeit He is to His Church for ever the Lord both of her destinies and her affections. This point has been already treated in the notes on Ephesians 1:11 seq., 22, seq., and remains to be further examined in the following chapter, where, as the spouse of Christ, the Church is presented under a somewhat different aspect.

2. "And one Spirit." Of the general doctrine of the Spirit it is unnecessary now to speak.* The name is introduced here as a correlative to the foregoing truth. The Spirit of the Son is the animating principle which forms and energizes the body in its unity. As Christ in heaven is our hidden Life, so the Holy Ghost is the communication of that life to the believer, and its active manifestation in the Church, which is His building. With a rich variety of characteristic energy,** the fulness of that Spirit is comprehended in the single expression, "Spirit of adoption." For what we have received is not the spirit of bondage again to fear, but that which enables us to cry Abbe, Father, in the steadfast assurance of our acceptance in the Beloved.

{*It has been noticed, in some of its points, at Eph. 1:13 seq.; 2:18, seq.}

**Compare Isa. 11:1; 2 Tim. 1:7. Ante, Eph. 1:15, 16, seq.}

3. The hope of our calling is also one. Without distinction in our sins, we are equals also in blessing, through the grace that saves us. By the same word of truth we are called of God unto the fellowship of His Son. The Gentile who was once without hope, and the Jew who hoped in vain, joy now together in the hope of glory, as partakers of the righteousness of God. Christ is Himself the Hope of our calling. Its realization will be at the moment of His glorious appearing. Salvation also is another name for our hope. We are saved by hope. Receiving already the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls, we still wait to inherit salvation in the day when the Saviour whom we look for shall appear (1 Peter 1:9; Heb. 1:14; Phil. 3:20, 22). It is a hope which makes not ashamed. It purifies the heart in which it dwells. May we abound in it by the power of the Holy Ghost! (Rom. 15:13).

4. "One Lord." His name is always One. From the moment when creation first disclosed Him, to eternity, He is the same Jehovah's unity was the watchword of Israel's profession (Deut. 6:4). But that Jesus of Nazareth is that one Jehovah is a mystery of truth known only, in its power, to those who have received the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3). "To us," says the same Apostle (1 Cor. 8:6) to his brethren, "there is one Lord Jesus Christ." An unfeigned confession of that Name, is salvation to him that makes it (Rom. 10:6-13); for the Lord is the Saviour of His people. It is by faithfully acknowledging that Jesus Christ is Lord, that the living Church is separated from that which is twice dead (Jude 4, 12). To own His title in obedience is the part of those who know the power of His grace. To deny Him, whether in the glory of His Person, or in the perfection of His work, is to turn the Gospel of His grace into a sentence of perdition. To profess to serve Him while we still refuse to trust Him, is to mock Him, and deceive ourselves. That they who know and love this name should suffer for its sake, is to be expected while they continue in a world which serves another lord. But the time is coming when He who is now truly worshipped only in the Church of His election, will be universally acknowledged among men. In that day, there shall be one Lord, and His name One. (Zech. 14:9)

5. "One faith." As the Lord is one so also must that faith be which knows and confesses Him as such. The supreme Object of this faith is the God. and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; while its nearer refuge and abiding confidence is the name of the "one Lord," who is also the sole Mediator between God and man. The Holy Ghost, while in one sense equally an object of faith (for He is the Lord), is not usually so presented in the word of God. His gracious office being rather to reveal to the Church the true Hope of her calling, He hides Himself in the testimony which witnesses of Jesus. He directs our worship rather than receives it. By Him we have access to the Father by the faith of Jesus. Of the nature and origin of this faith enough has been already said (Eph. 2:8, seq.). To describe it in its effects would be to write another volume. We shall find the Apostle, in the course of the present chapter (v. 13), again insisting on the "unity of the faith," as a standing characteristic of the body of Christ. It is enough now to remind the believer of the reason of his name. By faith he has been justified, and lives. By it, moreover, he both stands (2 Cor. 1:24) and walks (2 Cor. 5:7). According to its measure, he is either weak or strong. It is the sole means of communion with the Lord, in whom he trusts. While it is possessed by many, it must be enjoyed alone. It is the mark of each true child of God; while, as a special gift, it may abound far more in some believers than in others. Without it there may be knowledge, but neither life nor love. Faith alone gives meaning to the words of God.*

{*Besides its more usual meaning as an active principle, the word "faith" here appears also to involve the notion of doctrine, as that by which living faith is nourished, In this sense the Apostle's words would be tantamount to "one confession of faith."}

6. "One baptism." The Lord's commands respecting baptism are known to all. But it is not likely that the external ordinance is contemplated in this place. We must bear in mind, that the Church in its unity is the subject still occupying the Apostle's attention. Now the Church, as a body, has been once for all baptized by the Holy Ghost. That baptism took place at Pentecost, when God openly adopted as His own the purged worshippers who trusted in the name of Jesus (Acts 2). The Church, thus formed, grows on under the same unction, which can never be withdrawn. Nor does it ever need renewal; for by that act the one Spirit then assumed definitive possession of the one new body. To be received from that time into the Church was to become a participator in that one baptism. This is clearly intimated in 1 Cor. 12:13, where, after describing at length the symmetrical structure of the body of Christ, and dwelling on the varied manifestations of the Spirit as the vital energy of that one body, he adds: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jew or Gentile, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." It is never said that if a man is not outwardly baptized, he is none of Christ's; but it is said that none who are destitute of the Spirit are owned of Him. There is, therefore, as a necessary truth, one baptism, as well as one body and one Spirit.*

{*Such appears to my own mind to be the Apostle's meaning in this place. The reader will judge for himself on a review of the entire passage. Of course, this conclusion leaves the other truth untouched, i.e., that there is a baptism by water, of Divine institution, and of necessary recognition by those who would obey the words of Christ.}

7. "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you* all." This, which is the paramount truth of sound doctrine, is placed last in the order of enumeration. As a descriptive revelation of Divine supremacy, this testimony is partly old and partly new. To be above all and through all, is the natural prerogative of the God-head, and has been confessed wherever the Creator has been owned. That God is also the common Parent of mankind, is a truth which even heathen poets celebrated without blame (Acts 17:28), though vaguely, and in ignorance of His true nature whom they praised. It is, moreover, of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ that every family in heaven and earth is named (notes on Eph. 3:15, seq.). But that He is in all His believing people is newly declared in the descent of the Holy Ghost from heaven, as the triumphant proof of the completeness of that work of redemption, by virtue of which saved sinners are become the tabernacle of His holiness. This doctrine states the climax of the believer's security and blessedness. God was in in Christ. He is in the man who now, by faith, confesses to that Name. Nothing so perfectly exhibits the nearness of the Church to God as this doctrine. When Jesus was on earth, His question to the disciples was: "Believest thou that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?" And now, that all His blessed work is done, and He has sanctified Himself for our sakes as our Intercessor with the Father, it is given us to know, that He who dwelt in Him dwells now in us. Well may we be called upon to glorify God with our bodies, which are His (1 Cor. 6:20).

{*Or, "us;" hemin being the preferable reading.}

Verse 7. "But unto every one of us is given grace," etc. All the above-named points of doctrine are established, each in its own completeness, as absolute and unvarying truths, to which the Spirit bears His witness in the Gospel. Taken together, they form, in its more limited and special sense, "the faith once delivered to the saints," for which we are elsewhere exhorted to contend (Jude 3). But while the unity and completeness of the body in Christ is distinctly presented to our faith, provision has been likewise made for the growth and increase of the Church until the appointed measure of its fulness is attained. This subject, in the treatment of which the doctrine of the unity of the Spirit receives a certain amount of practical development, is now taken in hand by the Apostle, and continued to the close of verse 16.

And first, the general principle is clearly laid down that to every believer there has been allotted his own proper measure of grace as a member of the one body. It is that the functions of the several members may be adequately performed, that this distribution has been made to each "according to the measure of the gift of Christ." This principle stands in a very evident relation to the admonition already delivered to us in verse 3. As it was by the worthy walk of all that the endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit could alone be effectual, so also in the building up and nourishing of the body, each believer has his part. The grace of Christ is given to us with the life of God. Of His fulness all we have received, and grace for grace. A fuller development of the doctrine here laid down, both as it respects the effective organization of the body of Christ, and the active exercise of its functions, will be found in another Epistle, to which reference has already been made.* In the passage now before us, we have a more general view of the constructive energy of the Spirit, as He works through the common faith of the saints, according to the measure of grace bestowed on each — the result being the edification of the body in its unbroken unity in love.

{* 1 Cor. 12 — 14. The order of the Apostle's teaching in these chapters is most instructive, as well as interesting. First (1 Cor. 12) there is a large enunciation of the doctrine of the unity of the body and of the inter-dependence of its constituent members. Then, after distinguishing between the all-pervading Spirit, and the special gifts which He bestows according to His sovereign good pleasure, he says with reference to these: "God has set some in the Church," etc. (verse 28). Thus we perceive that the particular ministries there enumerated did not disturb, but were, on the contrary, designed to further and maintain the general harmony of the members. And so the question, "Are all apostles?" is not asked until the deeper and wider principle of mutual sympathy and care has been first asserted (verse 25). 1 Cor. 13, rising upward from the gifts to the love which gave them, and which alone could teach their worthy use, shows us, in the most striking way, how the real burden of the Master's service is to be borne, and what sort of strength is needful for that work. Finally, in 1 Cor. 14 we have a view of the manner and operation of Divine order in the Church. Gifts were not enough. God must Himself be acknowledged as personally present by the Spirit. His gifts and ministries were to be exercised with reference to this paramount consideration, lest the human will should become the regulating spring of Christian worship. God's true order can only be maintained by a faith which sees Him who is invisible.}

Verse 8. "wherefore he saith," etc. The doctrine of the preceding verse is now corroborated by a quotation from Psalm 68, which, in its direct application to the glorified Christ, presents Him to us very vividly as the active Source of supply from whence the whole blessing of the Church proceeds. This will account for the departure which the Apostle here makes from the original language of the Psalm.* It is as the Lord and Head of His Church that Christ is manifested in this passage. What He bestows, therefore, and not what He receives,** is the present question. We have already had Him set before us as the Receiver of all glory, the just reward of His obedience unto death. The doctrine of His resurrection and ascension has been treated fully under this point of view in the latter verses of chap. 1. The same doctrine, as we shall presently see, is here exhibited in quite another form, being made to illustrate the essential glory of His Person, and the perfection of His gracious love.

{*In the Psalm it is: "Thou hast received gifts for (or in) man, en anthropoi LXX. Here it is: "He has given gifts to men, tois anthropois. In the former Scripture, the prominent object before the mind of the Spirit seems to be the mystery of the incarnation and its effects, as the prospective fountain of mercy to the blinded and rebellious nation. Compare John 11:51. For a still more striking example of the manner in which the Holy Spirit, in bringing forth the "new things" of the Gospel, can modify His earlier testimonies in their application to the existing dispensation, while in their original intent they remain yet unfulfilled, see the remarks on v. 14.

**Yet although this side of the truth is the one kept distinctly before us in these verses, it cannot be separated in the believer's mind from its blessed counterpart. What Jesus distributes to His people, He delights to acknowledge as the Father's gift to Him. Having taken part of flesh and blood for the children's sake whom God has given Him, He imparts freely to His own all that He has received as Man.}

The victory of redemption, and the first-fruits of realized spiritual blessing, form the subject of this quotation. It involves, therefore, a truth deeper than itself. For the ascension of the risen Saviour into heaven, and His present action towards His Church from thence, are but the declared expression to our faith of what He personally is. John could describe Him while He walked before Him on the earth, as "He which baptizes with the Holy Ghost" (John 1:33). This characterized Him as the incarnate Son of God. Again, when risen from the dead, and before His ascension up on high, to receive of the Father the promise of the Spirit (Acts 2:33), we see Him as Himself the second Adam, the quickening Spirit, communicating the Holy Ghost to the disciples (John 21:22). It is thus that we are taught to distinguish between what was inherent in Him as essentially Divine, and that which He became capable of receiving through His incarnation.

Verses 9, 10. The present Epistle sets forth Jesus under manifold and glorious titles, and in wonderful relations with His people. But descriptions of His titles, His position, or His work, are incomplete without continual reference to the glory of His Person. For that is the bread on which a Christian feeds. Accordingly, the Spirit is not satisfied by a citation of His earlier testimony, but, as the Teacher of the Church, He adds in these verses a parenthetic commentary quite characteristic of the Glorifier of Jesus. The ascension of Christ is the fact which stablishes the Church in her inheritance. It is a glorified Head to which the body belongs. But who was this that had ascended? His presence here below must be accounted for. Was the ascension of Jesus the translation of a man from His native sphere into a higher one? or was it the return of one who had been absent* for a while from His original position! The reply to these questions is furnished by the Apostle's language in these verses. He had descended first in grace, in order to ascend in triumph. The Divine love of Him who took flesh for our sakes, and has now carried our likeness into heaven, is ever presented by the Spirit as the chief point of attraction to our faith.

{*In regard, that is, to His assumption in grace of the human name and position. For as it respects His essential Godhead, He filled all things still: "the Son of man which is in heaven" (John 3:13).}

That He might fulfil all righteousness by His obedience, and then fill all things* with the power of triumphant redemption, was the purpose for which the Son of God came down from heaven. In the present passage no detailed description is given of His work. Its perfection is involved in the mention which is made of the limits which He reached in its accomplishment, and of the triumphant results which are now displayed to our faith. To fulfil what was written, He must pass from the eternal seat of glory to the lower parts of the earth, changing for that end His form of Godhead to the likeness of our sinful flesh (Phil. 2:7, 8; Rom. 8:3). To work for His people an effectual deliverance, He would take personal possession of the realms of death. Where sin once reigned with all-subduing power, the Lord of life and righteousness would display the banners of a lawful conquest. Captivity became itself a spoil, when He who, as our gracious Substitute, had bowed and yielded to the stroke of death (confessing thus its power over sinful man to be resistless), rose up as if from sleep, and left His empty grave to be a witness that death could not hold the sinner's Friend in bondage one moment longer than the set time that He had named Himself (John 2:19; 10:18). The demonstration of His power, as the Resurrection and the Life, is also the assertion of His title, now no longer disputable, to the perfect ownership of those for whom He died. The believer is the happy prize of Jesus. Once, by his own confession, the lawful captive of the Destroyer, he is now become, by a superior right, sharer of that victory which has been gotten for his sake. Man never is his own. He remains through unbelief the slave of Satan and the hopeless victim of sin and death, or joyfully confesses to the Name of Him who has redeemed His people for Himself.**

{*Such appears to be the double force of the expression — hina plerosei ta panta — at the end of verse 10. It is with a just appreciation of the entire passage that our translators have placed in their text the stronger and more comprehensive word; while, by giving "fulfil," in the margin, they show clearly that they did not overlook the further meaning conveyed by the original expression.

**As the love of Christ to the Church is the Apostle's present subject, the victory of Christ is viewed here only in that relation. For a fuller statement of its general effects, see Notes on the Romans, 14:9-12.}

All that contributed to make death terrible to the human conscience, and every power which ministered to its eventual mastery over God's dishonoured likeness, fell at once as lawful spoil to Him who had prevailed in this great struggle between light and darkness. Sin, and the law which is its strength, are set aside. The first He has abolished by the sacrifice of Himself (Heb. 9:26). The latter having been fulfilled to its utmost tittle by the life of Jesus, and disarmed of its vindictive power by His having

borne its curse, has lost its validity and yielded to a higher claim. As a yoke of bondage it is broken, and departs for ever from the necks of those who by faith in Jesus are made free indeed. By graving Christ upon the fleshy tables of our hearts, the Spirit makes us know the power of another law (2 Cor. 3:3; Rom. 8:2). The world, also, is His conquest, and, with all else that the Conqueror holds dear, has been bestowed in promise on His Church (John 16:33; 1 Cor. 3:22). Meanwhile He is her Shield against its present enmity, and the Detector, by His holy light, of the snares by which its prince endeavours to entice our feet. He has, moreover, spoiled those principalities and powers which, although against us still, are powerless to harm the sheep of Christ, so long as they abide by faith in Him who has triumphed over them in open show (Col. 2:15). He is gone into heaven. Rather, He has passed through all heavens, displaying as He went the trophies of His victory, and has ascended far above them all, re-ascending to that high and holy place (Isa. 57:15) which neither thought can reach nor human speech describe.

That Christ has ascended "far above all heavens" is a truth of quite a different order from the testimony elsewhere given, that He was set at the right hand of God. by the mighty power of the Father of glory. We have seen Him compared with principalities and powers, as the honoured Object of God's righteous favour and delight (Eph. 1). We see him here rising in the living majesty of His Person to that elevation above the highest heaven, which must be occupied by the Creator with respect to His own work. The Man Christ Jesus is doubtless, locally in heaven, where the angels see Him and adore Him. It is as having gone up thither, that He has become the Receiver of those gifts which He bestows on men. But that is not the point of the Apostle's teaching in these verses. He desires rather to remind us of that mystery of godliness which constitutes the truth which is the foundation and glory of the Church. For the Church which Christ owns is the Church of the living God. Divine life, in its inextinguishable energy and almighty sufficiency, is the object of our contemplation here. Accordingly, the death and burial of Christ, facts of such vital import, and so carefully recorded in their place (1 Cor. 15:3, 4), are not now mentioned. The descent into the lower parts of the earth is viewed as an act of the same Living One, who presently returns again to the accustomed throne of His dominion. Personal supremacy and essential Divinity are the ideas here kept before our minds. For His is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and the earth is His. His is the kingdom, and He is exalted as Head above all (1 Chron. 29:11). It is not as a Receiver, but a Giver, that we see Him. He who as God contained His own creation has entered it, and in mystery become a part of it. Having entered it, He fills it everlastingly, while He ceases not to excel it and look down upon it (though now through human eyes) as the work of His own hands.

Thus the ancient challenge of Jehovah, Do not I fill heaven and earth? receives from the heart of Christian faith a new and joyfully-intelligent response. That the earth is full of His goodness, and that the high throne of His holy heaven is the refuge of His people, have been the thankful confession of those who trusted in Him from the first. Mercy has always cheered with hope the souls of God's afflicted people. But now finished mercy teaches us new songs of victory (1 Cor. 15:57; Rom. 8:37-39). The fear of death is gone from our hearts, because the God of our life has descended into our grave, changing it, by that ever-blessed visitation, from a dungeon of terror to a welcome couch. Faith walks in the clear sunshine of an all-pervading Christ. If Satan be still the prince of the power of the air, the watchful adversary of the saints, who tempts them and vexes them without cessation, Christ is also with them in their conflicts, to sustain them, and to observe them as a shepherd heeds his flock. Never can they be for a moment either out of His regard or severed from Himself. For, as we have been already taught, the Church, which lives upon His grace and is kept solely by His faithfulness and power, is itself the body and fulness of this ever-present Christ.*

{*And thus the truth, which is the daily nourishment of Christian faith, surpasses in its depth and richness any special revelation which might be made of the prospective blessedness of heaven. Paul, in the third heaven, saw and heard what could not be revealed to men, while in a lower sphere. The tendency of this was to exalt his flesh (2 Cor. 12). On the other hand, faith leads us to the throne which is above all heavens, to make us there know things which God alone can teach, whose lessons, while they fill us with amazement, never fail to humble our hearts.}

Verse 11. "And He gave some, apostles," etc. We come now to consider the particular gifts which Christ has bestowed, in His love, upon the Church. And first, it is well to make the general remark that it is the position of the Giver that determines the quality of the gift. Now it is Christ victorious and glorified that is the source of all true Christian ministry. The Spirit is sent forth in His name. It follows, therefore, that no ministry which falls short of the grace of God is really of the Spirit. If doctrines are promulgated in the name of Christ, which do not lead the soul immediately to Him as God's great and sure Salvation, they are false doctrines, and deceptions of the enemy. All true teaching sets forth the personal glory of the Saviour through the demonstration of His gracious work. Perfect peace of conscience and a present interest in the heavenly inheritance, are the just effects of such a ministry. For the Spirit's testimony is as the voice of Christ Himself (notes: Eph. 2:16), both revealing to us who He is, and reminding us of what He has wrought and suffered for our sakes. To the heart of the believer, Christ's gifts taste freshly of the Giver, and derive all their value from their being His, and from their bringing us, by their effectual operation, into a more abundant knowledge of Himself.

When the Apostle elsewhere opens to us the doctrine of the Spirit in His distributive energy, he distinguishes the gifts from those on whom they are bestowed (1 Cor. 12:7, seq.). As his present subject is the active manifestation of the love of Christ in His ascended glory towards the Church whilst here below, the ministers of His appointment are themselves designated as His gifts. It is by the one indwelling Spirit that these ministers are fitted for their work, but the Spirit, in this distributive character, is subordinated here to the exalted Head of the Church in whose name He is come forth. In this enumeration of ministries, it will be seen that those only are described which are essentially necessary to the forming and nourishing of the Church in its unity. With the exception of "apostles," none of them necessarily involved the exercise of miraculous powers, in the common acceptation of the term.* Recurring again to the chapter to which reference has more than once been made (1 Cor. 12), it is easy to distinguish between the Church when viewed (as it there is) in relation to its standing and position as God's witness in the world, and the same Church when considered as the elect object of Christ's nurturing grace, united mystically to Him who is above the heavens, and growing onwards under the action of those means which He prescribes, to the promised measure of His own fulness. In the one case, the Church is treated not only as the recipient of Christ's fulness and the perfect workmanship of God, but also and principally with reference to the world which lies outside it. In the other, the special interests of the one body, as the mystery of Christ, are the exclusive subject of contemplation.

{*The Christian reader will joyfully acknowledge that, in a deeper and far more important sense, all spiritual energies are miraculous. The marvellous power of God is not, indeed, always forced upon men's notice by an outward demonstration; but in quickening dead souls and guiding them in safety to the city of His rest, He works far greater things than any that the outward senses can perceive (John 14:12).}

Of the four orders of ministry here specified, enough has been already said as to the place and functions of the apostles and prophets (ante, Eph. 2:20, seq.). To the Church, once founded as God's building, continual additions are made by means of the Gospel, which separates, according to the power of God, the vessels of His mercy from the world which lies in the wicked one. It is in that connexion that the "evangelist" is numbered among those gifts which the love of Christ has given to His Church. For while, in the sphere of its active exercise, this ministry lies properly without the body, in its effect it is the means of its richest increase. The list is closed by the junction together of "pastors and teachers" in such a manner as to intimate that these ministries, though not to be confounded with each other, are to be looked for in their combination in the same individual.* Among the latter day promises to Israel is that of "pastors who shall feed them with knowledge and understanding" (Jer. 3:15) Such pastors are characterised as being after God's "own heart"; words which we may well compare with the valedictory charge delivered by the Great Shepherd of the sheep to the once fallen but now "converted" son of Jonas (John 21:15-17; Luke 22:32); and further, with the admonitions afterwards delivered by the same Peter in the ripe maturity of his apostolate to his fellow elders in the Church (1 Peter 5:1-4). The Spirit seems thus to remind us that travail of soul for the well-being of the flock of God is inseparable from the exercise of genuine spiritual teaching. Christ's sheep are fed upon the knowledge of His love. To impart such knowledge, the pastor must himself be in the personal enjoyment of it. Didactic precision may suffice to impart the doctrines and traditions of men; but God's truth, if ministered in the power of His Spirit, begins its work by both trying and comforting the hearts of those through whom it flows for the instruction of the flock. Ambition, or mere restless mental activity, has often led men to assume the teacher's place, but to be a pastor one must have a pastor's heart. Moreover, true teaching can come only from one who continues still to occupy the learner's place. The Apostle everywhere exemplifies this maxim, besides commending it to the attention of his fellow-workers (1 Tim. 4:15; 2 Tim. 2:15). Communicative truth, even when uttered by the Master's lips, delights to acknowledge a source superior to itself (John 5:30; 14:34; cp. Isa. 50:4). Finally, love lies at the bottom of all spiritual ministry. In love Christ nourishes the Church for which He died. If we are not therefore walking in that love we can be no true helpers in His work.

{* This is, I think, clear, from the language of the Apostle: tous de poimenas kai didaskalous. Had his intention been to separate these ministries, he would no doubt have repeated the article before the latter noun. As Bengel says, "Pastores et doctores hic junguntur; nam pascunt docendo maxime," etc. — Beng. Gnomon, in loc.}

Verse 12. The scope and final object of these gifts are now stated in terms which provide for the permanent continuance of those among them which are necessary to that purpose, until the structure of the Church is advanced to its completion. The meaning of this verse will best appear on a consideration of its three clauses in their order. First, we have a statement in general terms of the intent with which these gifts have been bestowed. It was "with a view to the perfection of the saints." The operation of spiritual ministry is first viewed in its most important practical bearing; in its effect, that is, upon the individual. Then follows a distributive explanation in two parts of this general thesis; the former of these describing the means, and the latter the end of this perfection. It was, then, first, "for the work of the ministry" that ministers were sent. Now the manner and practical aim of such ministry is elsewhere affirmed to be the warning and teaching of every man with a view to the perfecting of each in Christ (Col. 1:28; cp. 1 Peter 5:10; Heb. 13:21). The eventual result is lastly expressed to be "the edifying of the body of Christ." This work of corporate edification attains its completion, as we have already seen, and as we are again reminded at verse 16, from the effectual working of the grace bestowed on each.*

{* By distinguishing the clauses of this verse, the influence upon its meaning which is effected by the change of prepositions, becomes more easily discernible:
1. pros ton kartismon ton hagion.
2. eis ergon diakonias.
3. eis oikodomen tou somatos tou Christou.
The reader will not fail to notice the peculiar force of the word here rendered "perfecting." But although it might aptly describe the fitting together of the parts of the one body, its primary application is rather to the binding of the individual soul to Christ by faith. If we are perfectly joined to Him in the spirit of our mind, we shall not be willingly disjoined from one another. The substantive occurs here only. For a good example of the bearing of its meaning on the individual case in the use of the kindred verb, see Luke 6:40.}

Verse 13. The special as well as aggregate perfection of the saints is the prescribed end of the Spirit's energy as the effective Builder of the Church. That this result will be attained, we are sure from a consideration that it is the work of God. That it will be brought to pass by the continued operation of some at least* of the ministries described in the preceding verse, is also certified to our faith in the following terms. These manifestations of Christ's love to His Church continue until "we all come in (or into) the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." By the last clause of this verse, our thoughts are carried back to the doctrinal statement made at the close of chap. 1. In the counsel of God, the Church is the fulness of Him that fills all in all. This wondrous truth attains its effective realization gradually, through the progressive edification of the body. The "perfect man," when openly revealed, will consist of a glorified Head united to a glorified body; a consummation which will be instantaneously effected when the last of those members, which are written in the book of God, has been quickened and made ready for its place. The preparation of the body for that manifested union, is described in the former part of this verse, which possesses on that account the utmost practical value, since it recapitulates, with much distinctness, the standing conditions of living membership in that one body.

{*Apostles are, perhaps, the only exception. For, although, in the higher meaning of the word, "prophets" may be said to have ceased with the apostolate, with which they were so closely associated in laying the foundation of the Church, yet there is a secondary sense in which they may be regarded as existing still. "He that prophesies speaks unto men, to edification, and exhortation, and comfort" (1 Cor. 14:3). It may be remarked here, also, how entirely the notion of successional tradition is excluded from the doctrine of spiritual ministry, as it is exhibited in this passage. Everything is referred immediately to the Head of the Church Himself. Paul might exhort Timothy to commit what he had received to faithful men. But what if they who once seemed faithful proved unfaithful? Grievous wolves were soon to enter in among that portion of the flock to which this Epistle is addressed, and which the Apostle had watched over with tearful and devoted interest (Acts 20:29, 30). What, then, was to secure the progressive edification of the spiritual house? The true answer is, that the Church, being the work of God, can never be destroyed; while the sheep of Christ, who are the objects of His gracious care, can never fail to find at His hand what is essential to their spiritual well-being. They who enter in by Him are saved, and go in and out and find pasture. If men are faithless, He abides faithful. He cannot deny Himself. Now the Lord loves His body as Himself. Hence, even though we should have to witness and confess a still more striking contrariety to the declared mind of Christ than is already presented by the chaotic state of the professing body, we have no reason to despair; but, rather, to rejoice (while mourning, unfeignedly, the ruinous effects of human sin) that the Lord still works, and that the day when He will crown His work is nigh.}

When, in the previous chapter, the Apostle bowed his knees in prayer to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the chief aim of his desire for his brethren was, that they might be enabled, with all saints, to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge. But now that he is describing the necessary and certain effects of the ministry which Christ supplies for the building and preserving of His Church, he employs an expression full enough, indeed, to comprehend the object of his earlier desire, but capable, on the other hand, of being satisfied by the smallest measure of true spiritual consciousness. It is predicated universally of Christ's living members, that they attain, first, to the unity of the faith; and, secondly to the knowledge of the Son of God. This last expression is one which represents, with equal truth, the lowest and the highest degrees of spiritual attainment. Not to know the Son is to abide in death. To know Him fully, is t9 reach the ultimate completion of our hope. The Apostle, who could boast his knowledge 9f the mystery of Christ, was but a learner still of that truth which he declared to others. He knew in part; and, therefore, he pressed on unsatisfied until he should attain perfection. And so he takes care to include himself (until we all come) in this descriptive picture of spiritual progress.

But, although the language of this verse has a ready bearing on the question of personal growth in Christ, its first intention seems rather to define, by a reference to their essential qualities, the living stones of God's building from those who only live in name. The one faith confesses the one Lord, and knows Him to be, indeed, the Son of God. That confession both brings salvation to the soul, and is the chief of its accompanying ornaments. Saints labour and suffer for the name of Him in whom they trust (Heb. 6:10; 3 John 7). Jesus, who knows His own, is also known of them. There are many antichrists, but only one true Son of God. And all who know Him thus, in the believing confession of His Person, are joined to Him in the unity of the Spirit. Ministry is the ordinary means of this. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). But no ministry which is of God stops short of the testimony that Jesus is the Son of God; and where that testimony is effectual, through the grace of Him who sends it, it brings the scattered sheep of Christ to the unity of this saving faith and knowledge. It is thus that the edification of the body of Christ grows on, from age to age, in its gradual though most sure advancement, to the predestined fulness of the perfect man.

Verse 14. "That we be no more children," etc. Having described the purpose and ultimate result of spiritual ministry, he turns again to speak of what should be the just moral effect upon the saints of their participation in this common faith and knowledge. Stability of soul is first insisted on, as a proper attribute of every believer, in consequence of his acquaintance with the living Truth. Winds of doctrine cannot drive from its steady course a soul whose sails are filled by the pure Spirit of grace. The Christian is no longer at the discretion of a naturally wayward mind, but under the firm though gentle tutelage of God. Knowledge is the effect of that unction from the Holy One, which has been bestowed on every believer. It is expected from us that we should act worthily of such an unction. A credulous reception of doctrinal novelties, instead of proving all things by the word of God, would show that we were babes yet in knowledge when we should be men. It becomes those who are initiated into God's mysteries to be proof against the lying sophistries of men. Caution, too, is necessary to the Christian, since he knows himself to be exposed continually to the action of influences which tend to draw his heart away from the goodly heritage of God's providing, in the vain pursuit of that which satisfies not. But truth is the believer's fortress, and his light. Being thus furnished, he is no longer at the mercy of Satan's emissaries, who are ever on the watch for prey. While we walk in the truth, the snare of the deceiver has no power.

It is a dreary picture that the present verse affords us of the moral condition of the world. Outside the sphere of active spiritual energy, man is both the victim and the worker of delusion. Not having Christ, and, therefore, having neither light nor truth, he is adrift upon the billows of his own unstable fancies. "The sleight of men"* is opposed in this passage to the wisdom of God, and "the method of deceit" to the counsel of saving truth in Christ. Men are, indeed, the actors in this intricate plot of craft and falsehood; but Satan is its first inventor, and the ruling mover of its action (notes on Eph. 2:2, seq.). They to whom this Epistle was at first addressed could well appreciate the Apostle's exhortation. They had suffered from these tossings to and fro. Neither in the temple of Diana, nor in the schools of the Sophists, had they found rest for their weary souls. The curious arts of the magicians, who beguiled them in the days of their ignorance, had served only to bewilder their imaginations and degrade their conscience. Nor is the world essentially changed since then. Under new and more specious forms and names, the old iniquity remains. The power of Satan is not less active and prevalent in what is now called Christendom, than it was among the votaries of Jupiter. Man is still himself under what guise soever he appears; and in his natural condition he is the obsequious slave of Satan. He may be groveling in the dust of an idolatrous superstition, or cushioned, proudly and complacently, upon the vain illusions of philosophy, or trusting in the no less empty shadow of his own religious orthodoxy; but, in either and in any ease, he remains in the congregation of the dead until the voice of God has wakened him with power, and taught him that to flee to Jesus is his only refuge from the wrath to come.

{* kureia "dice playing." This word well expresses the self-destructive recklessness of those who elsewhere are described as "by feigned words making merchandise" of God's unwary children. 2 Peter 2:3.}

But besides the snares of an alluring world, and the specious oppositions of false science, the believer has to guard against the secret work of Satan within the bosom of the professing body. Under the disguise of shepherds, there were thieves and spoilers to be watched against and shunned. Liers-in-wait are always ready to deceive and entrap the souls of the unwary. To cast down the believer from his excellency is the unwearied endeavour of the adversary, through the arts of men. Hence to "beware of men" is the chief caution of the Great Shepherd of the sheep. A Christian can learn nothing but evil from the natural man. True light and knowledge are of God alone. It is by disturbing or impeding the growth of the individual soul in Christ that Satan mars the general progress of God's building. Hence the connexion in which the present exhortation stands to the main subject of the Apostle's teaching in this chapter.

Verse 15. "But being truthful in love,"* etc. Agitation and unrest are the effects of human doctrines. Wisdom and truth are not in man; and a lie can give no safe resting-place for conscience. Nor can man teach love to his neighbour; for love also is of God, and must be learned of Him. But the believer has been grounded in the love of God, through the knowledge of Jesus as the Truth, And He who has thus saved him is become both the Light of his way and the Mark of his attainment. Truth and love are the distinctive qualities of the new nature, because that nature is immediately of God. As to our experimental consciousness of truth and love, it is by faith. God being Love, we taste that love in Christ, who is the Truth. The Spirit, working as He does by Divine energies and ministrations, always leads to Christ. If saints are making spiritual progress, they are growing up into Him who is the Head. We are thus furnished with the surest antidote against the evils noticed in the previous verse. It is by the active exercise of faith that we are kept out of danger from the wiles of the deceiver.

{* "Veritatem sectantes in caritate," as Calvin well expresses it.}

It is important to observe the close union in which truth and love are found in this verse. One of Satan's objects is to separate them, and keep them practically asunder in the minds of Christians. Love as a sentiment may often be extolled and pursued at the expense of truth. But such love is not of God, though godly men may be sometimes enthralled by it. It is a spurious counterfeit of that which is the bond of perfectness (Col. 3:14). On the other hand, truth may be held theoretically, and very firmly held, while love is cold and dead, because faith is not really engaged with Jesus. The effect of this will be, either a hard and frigid legalism, or a not less hard though careless antinomianism. It is the living Christ that is alone tie satisfying portion of a living faith, and as a consequence, the active source of truth and love which overflows the heart in which He dwells. When the Divine glory of the Head is the object of our steady contemplation, we are changed morally into the same image (2 Cor. 3:18). Godly sincerity belongs to those who walk with God. It is in the peace and liberty of that holy light that we have fellowship with one another. Forgetting ourselves and our selfish interests in the consideration of the new man and his glorious inheritance, we are enabled, in a right estimate of our true position, to count earthly things but loss, for the excellency of that better calling which unites us to our living Head in heaven.

Verse 16, in which the general doctrine is recapitulated, presents a complete view of the unity of the body, as it subsists and is held together by living faith in Him from whom all its life and comeliness proceed. The edification of the body from its foundation has been already treated. We have been exhorted to grow up into Him who is the Head. There is a contrasted order in the teaching of the present verse: the expansion of the body to its fulness is traced downwards from its origin in the risen and ascended Christ. Viewed in this light, the Church is the development of what He is. And truly it is the joyful boast of the believer to be able to say, "Not I, but Christ," in the believing recognition that He is all and in all (Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:11). From Him the increase comes. Every augmentation of the body here below, as well as every addition made through grace to the faith of its constituent members, is a fuller expression of the grace and power of Him who is our Life. But if the body, being of God's workmanship, is "fitly joined together, and compacted," the instrumental means of this is also stated. It is "by that which every joint supplies."* Each member has its relation, not only to the Head, but also to the rest of the body. We are members one of another, as well as of the Lord. This is a truth not in any way dependent for its establishment on our will or consent, but settled everlastingly in Christ. It is the determinate effect of the power by which the living Church is formed in its unity, as God's own building. But it is in a practical and obedient acknowledgment of this truth that we are called to adorn this holy doctrine of the mystery of Christ.

{*"Through every joint of supply." Compare the corresponding passage in Col. 2:19.}

Considered as the workmanship of God (Eph. 2:10), every Christian is a living and efficient link of connexion, by means of which the perfection of the body is maintained. And although the early corruption of the professing body destroyed, almost from the moment of its birth, the original purity and soundness of the visible Church, yet the blessed assurance remains to us, that God is not frustrated. in His work, and that each poor vessel of His mercy does, in its place and vocation, serve the original intent of its creation. A Christian cannot be and live without effect. Even where spiritual ignorance may be at the lowest pitch compatible with life in Christ, true godliness must work as an extinguishable principle, and by its means the general increase of the Church is furthered, together with the well-being of the individual soul. For where Christ lives He also loves; and love is the power of edification in the Church of God. The latter part of this verbs is less an exhortation than a description of the moral process of spiritual increase, which, spite of every obstacle, goes on until the end. There is an energy at work in every part of the body, varying almost infinitely in degree, but everywhere of God. And it is through this progressive miracle of Divine constitution that all that is really Christ's is united both to Him, and, in Him, to its fellow-members, while the all-pervading energy of His Spirit "makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."

As we have now reached the close of this branch of the Apostle's doctrine, it may be useful to subjoin a few remarks, in addition to what has been already said at an earlier page (ante, Eph. 1:22, seq., Eph. 2:22, seq.), as to the existing state of professing Christendom, that we may judge how far the truth here taught, respecting the nature and constitution of the one body of Christ, has been and is reflected by that which bears His name before the world. It should be remembered, in the first place, that Popery, which has changed the truth of God into a lie, by depriving Christ of His peculiar glory as the alone Life and Righteousness of the believer, has, nevertheless, maintained a true theory with respect to the unity of the Church. The awful difference between that system, and the true bride of the Lamb, being, that, instead of a unity of life and power, through the Spirit, it is founded on an empty form, and built up and held together by lifeless and unhallowed ordinances.

Protestantism, on the other hand, is, as its name implies, a negation of certain forms of evil, rather than a confession of the entire truth. It is, therefore, simply mischievous when used as a term of description to distinguish the true Church of God from the Apostasy. It is mischievous, because delusive. Every real Christian is but too well aware, that not less denial of sound doctrine is to be found under the general mark of Protestantism than in Popery itself: And if it were not so, what need is there of such a watchword of human invention, for those whose aim is the simplicity of Christ? God's things receive their fitting names from God. He gave the Church to Jesus; and His Spirit describes it, in the word of truth, by its own appropriate titles. To add to these, or, by force of circumstances, to consent to change them and adopt new symbols of distinction, is to give place, unwittingly, to Satan, whose chief aim is to obliterate, as far as possible, that testimony to the world, which nothing could perfectly afford hut the Church, as the one unsullied epistle of Christ, and the erect and living pillar of the truth. That godly men should feel disposed to abandon all hope of realised spiritual unity in the presence of existing facts, is only natural; nor does the word of God at all encourage us to look for a complete regathering of the dispersed Members of Christ's body, until the Lord shall come in Person to call them to Himself. But it is the privilege and glory of the believer to confess truth though it should condemn himself, and to stick fast to God's testimonies even when outward facts seem entirely to deride them.

In the present day, there is, no doubt, evil and confusion enough in the nominal Church to appall and sadden any heart that knows the full power of the Gospel. But the abundance of evil cannot quench the light of God. Truth is the same, though times may vary. Nor will it ever be impossible for those who desire to walk godly in Christ Jesus, to glorify the Father by a united confession of His name. It is never in vain to serve God* in the way of simple obedience. A faith which acknowledges, and endeavours practically to act upon, the abiding obligations which are imposed on us by a knowledge of His will, must, indeed, reckon on being sorely tried. But such a trial is to be counted as a joy, and not a grief (James 1:2). Faith must (1 Cor. 11:19) be tried, with loyalty to Christ, and every other quality which characterize the new nature, in order that God's workmanship may be effectually proved. But if that abide in us which we have heard from the beginning, we also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father (1 John 2:24).

{*Compare, for the principle involved, Mal. 3:13, 14.}

It will be sorrowfully acknowledged by most reflecting Christians, that there attaches to us very generally the blame of acquiescing in a state of things which none, who are spiritual, venture to affirm to be a faithful expression of the unity of the Church. In numerous instances, this is owing to a delusive misconception of the right bearing of New Testament prophecy. Predictions, which — whether spoken by the Lord in Person, or still more largely by His Spirit in the Apostles, — relate to and describe the mixed character of professing Christendom during the absence in heaven of the Son of man, are relied on as a sanction for the existing state of the Church.

But, surely, this is to commit a double fault. First, a condemnatory testimony of God against human unfaithfulness is construed as a sanction of the thing condemned; and, secondly, we lose sight of the fundamental principle of Christian worship and service, which is, that the Holy Spirit never ceases to animate the living members of Christ's body; and if so, that He can never acknowledge any system or order of things,* in which that principle is practically contradicted, or which, by resting upon human ordinances, falls below the standard of His own revealed testimonies. When that Spirit warned the Church of its danger and incipient defection, He did not leave the faithful disciple without a steady light, by which his feet might be guided, unerringly, in the way of obedience and peace. Evil would, more and more, corrupt the professing body, assuming new phases in its progress. But the word of God remains The commandments of the Apostles (2 Peter 3:2) would both regulate the walk and cheer the faith and hope, of those who trusted in the changeless grace and power of Christ. If the Church herself should turn a deaf ear to the Lord who admonished her, His gracious words are none the less precious to the soul that looks for its nourishment, not to the body, but the Head.**

{*As for instance the parable of the wheat and tares.

**See the closing words of each of the seven Epistles of the Lord to the Churches, in Rev. 2, 3.}

In a time of general declension, the test of true devotedness is to hold fast that which has been once received from God. Where, therefore, Christ is confessed according to the one faith, and in the power of the one Spirit (whose presence, even to the end, is the Divine security, for faith, against the power of evil), there, in principle and by confession, is the one body of Christ.* Many thousands of His living members may be found elsewhere, and are safe in His keeping, who preserves each sheep for which He died. Moreover, it must be thankfully acknowledged, that much real devotedness to Christ may be found in union with a measure of knowledge insufficient to reveal to its possessor the faultiness of his position. But the truth still remains; and they who love the Lord will not willingly be ignorant of that which He has taught, nor avoid the only way in which we can be practically well-pleasing in His sight (Col. 1:9, 10).

{*Not the least, however, of the many dangers which beset the true disciple in these "perilous times," is the too natural tendency on the part of any, who, in the desire of yielding a fuller obedience to the word of truth, have separated themselves from various unscriptural systems, to contrast their new position too complacently with that of other Christians, and thus to be found practically sectarian in their spirit while professing to contend for what is "common" to the saints (Jude 8). All who are "of God," are also of the Church, which is the one body of Christ. And although there is a special blessing in reserve for all who truly keep the word of Christ's patience, ecclesiastical assumption will never be a mark of those who, while acknowledging the desolations of God's husbandry and the disorder which prevails in the professing Church, still cleave to His unchanging testimonies in the hope of His appearing. God's remnant, whether now or in the coming time of Zion's final visitation, will be "a poor and an afflicted people" (Heb. 13:18; Matt. 5:8, 4; Zeph. 3:11, 12).}

The very great practical importance of the subject seems to justify this digression from the regular order of our exposition. We are living in a day when the spirit of the age* is leading men to re-investigate first principles; and, in the haughtiness of an unbroken will, to cast every cord away but those of its own twisting (Ps. 2:3). The Christian can wait with patience, as an afflicted witness of a madness which he is unable to restrain, until that word which men despise shall receive its full honour in the coming day. But it is most needful for us to remember, that, though intellectual acuteness never led a man to Christ, and never will, yet it is competent to use the word of God as a witness against all that, in the accredited systems of the day, is palpably at variance with that word. Critical acumen can detect a counterfeit, though it may have no disposition to embrace the truth. The devil used Scripture for his purposes, and so do his deluded slaves. Unfeigned subjection to the word of truth can alone either keep our hearts in the enjoyment of God's holy peace, or free our conscience from the heavy blame of helping the work of the destroyer by setting an offence before the world (Matt. 18:7).

{*It is to be feared that few of us are sufficiently mindful of the solemn truth, that the influence, thus popularly described, is none other than that ruling power of evil of which the Apostle has already spoken in Eph. 2. See notes on Eph. 2:2 seq.}

But, as before remarked, these considerations, though morally connected with it, do not belong immediately to our present subject, which is, not the Church in its dispensational character, but the true and living body of Christ — originating with Him, nourished from Him, growing up to Him, and in readiness to be claimed by Him and visibly united to Him, at His glorious appearing. The living Spirit is, meanwhile, the sphere within which all this work of God is carried on, as well as the power which effects it. God's Church is preserved effectually from the power of the destroyer, to be a praise for ever to the God who has created it.

Verse 17. "This I say, therefore," etc. In returning to the main flow of the chapter, it is interesting to compare the opening of this verse with that of verse 1. In the former we have the Apostle inciting us to a worthy walk. It is an exhortation of a positive character leading, in its progress, to further doctrinal testimonies of the deepest and most precious kind. But now that he has set before us the fair picture of God's perfect workmanship, he calls us to look back upon the dark disorder of a Christless world, while he warns us, with such alteration in his language as befits the change of subject, against further conformity to that out of which we have been saved. It will be unnecessary to dwell long on this and the next two verses, as the subject to which they relate has already been more than once touched in the progress of these Notes (ante, Eph. 2:1, seq.; Eph. 2:11, seq.). It may be again remarked, however, that the principle of conduct here enjoined, is quite in keeping with the doctrinal position previously claimed for the believer. They were not to walk as other Gentiles, because they had ceased to be as others from the day they knew the delivering power of the Gospel. While others, therefore, walked in the vanity of their mind, it belonged to the believer to walk according to the light and power of the truth of God.

Verses 18, 19. Gentile iniquity being the exclusive subject of these verses, their scope is more limited than that of the comprehensive testimony delivered in Ephesians 2:2, 3. The Scripture speaks of "sinners of the Gentiles" (Gal. 2:15); and we have here a brief but sufficient commentary on that expression. Lawlessness and recklessness are the habit of a will that has renounced subjection to its Maker. Even the highest powers of mind are the weapons not of truth but unrighteousness, while God remains unknown. The energies of nature when under the guidance of a darkened understanding are but the instruments of a will whose native bias leads it from the way of peace. When the fear of God is a stranger to men's hearts, they outrage both holiness and truth at every step. The corrupt inclinations of a degraded nature are obeyed without restraint, because the power of Divine life, which acts in opposition to the flesh, is quite unknown. It is only necessary to remind the reader that this sad picture of Gentile depravity, although softened in many of its more offensive features by the civilizing influence of Christian doctrine, remains faithful to the present hour as a sample of the darker qualities of fallen humanity. Blindness of heart and vanity of mind are standing characteristics of the natural man. A Christianized Gentile has a no less alien will than his idolatrous ancestors, until, by His effectual power, God brings him, by the new birth, from his native darkness into His own marvellous light.

Verse 20. "But ye have not so learned Christ." The way of the Gentiles was a living provocation of the God of Judgment; but the disciples of Jesus had been brought into another and a better way. They had not so learned Christ. There is a significant emphasis in this expression which implies that there are more ways than one of nominally learning Christ. There are false disciples and false brethren, as well as true ones. There are some, again, who are ever learning but who never come to a knowledge of the truth. There are also those who, by turning the grace of God into licentiousness, deny Him whom they in vain profess to know. There is, indeed, but one way only of receiving Christ, and so of learning Him in truth. It is by living faith in His Person, that He becomes to those who are called, both the wisdom and the power of God. It is with the heart that man believes unto salvation; but the Scripture speaks of those who glory in appearance only, and not in heart (2 Cor. 5:12). While engaged, therefore, in exhorting the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus, he does not fail to express himself in terms which were against all false profession or discipleship.

Verse 21. The marks of a true disciple are now given: "If so be (or, since) ye have heard Him, and have been taught in Him, as truth is (or presents itself) in Jesus."* The Gospel may be listened to, and yet Christ Himself not heard. But, for the believer, the Lord is in His word. Multitudes have heard the report of Him doctrinally, who never gave their hearts to Him in love. "My sheep hear my voice," is a standing description of the manner of God's effectual calling in the Gospel. God's people are all taught of God. They receive an understanding by which they both know Him that is true, and that they are in Him that is true. Christ is, in the language of this verse (as indeed in the Gospel invariably); not the Teacher only, but the Doctrine taught. We know of His doctrine that it is of God, through our reception of Himself by faith. Real faith learns all its knowledge in connexion with the Saviour's Person. For the saint, all truth is found "in Jesus." Whatever the believer learns respecting his own ground of hope or law of conduct, he learns in Christ. We are as He is, in the mystery of finished love. We ought to be in conversation as He was, who sought not His own will but the will of Him that sent Him into the world.**

{*"Taught by Him" is not literal, and expresses only half the truth. Calvin's version is preferable: "In ipso estis edocti quemadmodem est veritas in Jesu." With this, also, agree Diodati, Bengel, and De Wette.

**As to the effective means of this conformity, something has been said at Eph. 2:10, seq.}

The form of doctrine to which they had been delivered (Rom. 6:17, marg.), had taught them how completely they were freed from sin. In Christ who had redeemed them, they had been brought nigh to God. The name of Jesus had been written on the fleshy tables of their hearts by the Spirit, not only as a pledge of their forgiveness, but as the sanction of that new and holy calling which severs those who yield obedience to it from all that is not of the Father. The holiness of Him who loves us is continually kept before our view. Just as the natural mind is habitually careless about sin, because it knows not Him who is the true standard of His children's walk, so the new nature finds its joy in nothing but the consciousness of an interest in Christ, the Righteousness of God. Grace, then, to the man who has been taught in Christ is no sanction of a natural wilfulness, but the way of holiness and peace. Truth seen and loved in Jesus is the power both of life and godliness to the believer.

Verse 22. Proceeding now with his exhortation,* on the assumption of the genuine discipleship of those whom he addresses, he frames his precepts, in this and the two following verses, in strict accordance with the truth of their position, as members of the body of Christ. They were to put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man with its corruptions. The Spirit which dwells in the believer is the Spirit of power, as well as of a sound mind. He is possessed thus of an ability to shape his conduct according to the confession of his faith. "Let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity" is the watchword of the Holy Ghost, addressed to those who build their hope of salvation on the assurance that they are known in love of Him who has redeemed them by His blood (2 Tim. 2:19). The old man is corrupt, and the "lusts of deceit" are the form and manner of his corruption. The heart being essentially deceitful, as well as wicked (Jer. 17:9), the tenor of human conduct is according to the springs which govern it. Man naturally lives in sin. But, because Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, the believer, arming himself with the same mind, assumes the standing of one who has ceased from sin; his flesh, with its affections and lusts, being crucified, through his faith in Him who gave Himself for our sins (1 Peter 4:1; Gal. 5:24). Thus, in the spiritual conflicts of a saint, the fact of Christ's suffering and its results are arrayed against the experience of a fleshly nature, which still lives to struggle against the holy will of God. The grace of God, meanwhile, asserts its practical efficacy, as the controller of the old man, by bringing into captivity to the obedience of Christ (though not without many a struggle) those marked features of the natural character which distinguish men individually from one another. And so it is added:

{*I believe that a period should be placed at the end of verse 21. The order of the entire passage (verses 17-24) seems to be as follows: — The Apostle begins the subject of walk in verse 17: "That ye walk," etc. He then describes the evil way of the Gentiles; in contrast to which the doctrine of Christ, and its moral effect on the believer, is expressed in general terms (verses 18-21). Resuming then his hortative strain, in a similar cast of expression to that with which he had begun, he proceeds: "That ye put off," etc. The proposal more than once made to construe the aor. infin. (apothesthai), by "have put off," is objectionable, as a question of syntax. Certainly it is in no way necessary to the plain meaning of the passage. In Col. 3:9, where our having put off the old man is urged on us as a motive to a godly walk, another construction is employed. That they have both put off the old man and put on the new, is first stated doctrinally; and presently after they are exhorted to put on (verse 12) bowels of mercies, etc. That Christians should be exhorted to act, in a practical sense, according to the truth of their standing by faith, is of the very essence of spiritual exhortation. Compare, in further illustration of this principle, Rom. 13:11-14.}

Verse 23. "And be renewed in the spirit of your mind." It is by his mind that a man is led; while his mind, in its turn, is governed by some ruling object. Self is that object to the natural mind to the renewed mind it is Christ. To live no longer to ourselves, but unto Him who died for us and rose again, is the desire of the inner man. But intuitive desire is aided in its struggle against the contradictory tendencies of the flesh by positive exhortation. The development of the mind of Christ within us is to be effected by obedient watchfulness on our parts. The meekness and gentleness of Christ are habits not to be acquired in a day, though the germ of every practical grace lies hidden in the life we have in Him. Mind and conscience are in a close moral connexion. By the renewal of the one, the other is maintained in purity. "Let every one be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Rom. 14:5) is a maxim of practical conduct, which cannot be too deeply impressed upon us all.

Verse 24. "And that ye put on," etc. To put on the new man is to put on Christ. For as the old man is the first Adam, so the second is the new. Yet there is a difference, inasmuch as the new man, which we are exhorted to put on, is but an image of that God who has created it. It is as the First-born from the dead that Christ is demonstrated to our faith, in His glory and perfection, as the New Man. To put Him on, therefore, is to walk in the power of His resurrection. This putting off the old and putting on the new is to be a matter of practical habit. With the writer of this epistle, both death and life were daily experiences, through faith. A daily death to himself was the condition of his more abundant rejoicing in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 15:31). As to the moral characteristics of this new man, they are summed up in the statement which declares it to be created in righteousness and true holiness.* The whole verse, and especially this last expression, has an antithetical relation to verse 22. To the lusts of deceit, which ruled the old man in his natural corruption, is now opposed "the holiness of truth." In the Lord our Righteousness we are to walk worthy of His name, not belying in our ways the confession of our lips. Christ, who is Himself our Sanctification, becomes thus to the believer through the Spirit, the standard and power of a godly life. We are to walk in Him (Col. 2:6).

{*Or, as the margin better expresses it, "holiness of truth."}

Verse 25. To the general exhortation expressed in the preceding verse there now succeed a variety of special admonitions, bearing on those points in which the every-day intercourse of life would present opportunities of adorning the doctrine of God. Lying, which is the natural though vain resource of the old man, in his ignorance of God, is to be utterly renounced by those who are begotten of the truth, and whose calling is to know no man after the flesh. Moreover, a new and powerful motive to the exercise of practical sincerity and truthfulness is provided by the doctrine of the unity of the body. "We are members one of another." To deceive a Christian is to wrong oneself. As to the origin of falsehood, it is of Satanic, parentage (John 8:44), and has its resting-place in that heart which, having been once seduced from the way of holiness and truth, is become deceitful above all things. Lying is both an instrument of selfishness and a confession of personal wretchedness. No happy spirit can ever be a false one. Being the instinctive refuge of a defiled conscience, it should have no place in the heart that has been sprinkled from an evil conscience by the precious blood of Jesus. Falsehood and faith stand in an essential antagonism. Faith feeds on truth, because it trusts in God; while it is the absence of that trust that gives to a lie its power over the human soul. There is no guile in the heart that is made manifest to God.

Verse 26. "Be ye angry," etc. Anger is allowable in a believer, but must not be suffered to become a settled feeling. It rests only in the bosom of fools (Ecc. 7:9). But the wisdom which is of God is peaceable (James 3:17). There is a holy indignation, which may be excited by the spectacle of shameless evil, and which is far removed from private animosity. Jesus knew this feeling (Luke 13:15), and knew it as we cannot know it; for in Him it was excited by the contact of His own intrinsic holiness with those deep workings of human wickedness, the springs of which lay clearly open to His view, while hypocrisy threw over them her unavailing mask. But personal anger is a very different thing. Provocation may, no doubt, abound, and flesh is weak. And He who has borne unupbraiding witness to its weakness seems, by the limited toleration which His Spirit here allows to the feeling of anger in a Christian, to be rather making a merciful concession to our infirmity, than to approve the sentiment itself. As a rule, it is better to pacify it in another, than to yield to it ourselves (Matt. 5:9). When harboured as a lasting sentiment, it is sin; and in its results is nigher to cursing than to blessing (Gen. 49:6, 7. Cp. Matt. 18:35). The grace in which we personally stand should be the law of our conduct towards others. Love is never angry long, and cannot work evil to his neighbour. It is not easily provoked (Rom. 13:10; 1 Cor. 13:5). While evil of every kind is to be perfectly abhorred, men are always to be loved in God (Matt. 5:44). Vengeance belongs to Him, and not to us (Rom. 12:19). Our anger, therefore, should be slowly kindled, and soon quenched; for the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God (James 1:20).

Verse 27. "Neither give place to the devil." This injunction follows in a natural order the preceding one. An angry man is but a tool of Satan. Cain who slew his brother in his wrath was of that wicked one. But in a far wider sense the devil is at the bottom of all that agitates the evil feelings and passions of the old nature. The Christian, who is expected to have this truth always in remembrance, is here encouraged to resist him. As to the means of his defeat, it is by steadfastness in the faith that he is overcome (1 Peter 5:9). For it is as the accuser of the brethren that he acts most powerfully, after having first betrayed them into sin. But they shall overcome him through the love of Him who has already made us more than conquerors. By the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony they will certainly prevail (Rev. 12:10, 11). In Ephesians 6, the subject of spiritual conflict will come more fully under our view. This passing admonition, not to give the devil place, suits perfectly the whole tenor of the Apostle's previous doctrine. Christ being the New Man, and we renewed in Him, no place is to be given to our ancient tyrant who still sways the passions of a Christless world. We give him place whenever we obey our natural wills and seek to please ourselves — whenever we are carnal and walk as men (1 Cor. 3:3. Compare Matt. 16:23).

Verse 28. "Let him that stole steal no more," etc. We have here a very lovely practical illustration of the exchange of the old man for the new. As an example of the ennobling effect of that blessed grace which not only changes shame to glory, but confers likewise upon its objects a capacity to share Christ's dearest sympathies and joys, this verse is indeed most precious. To give is, in the eyes of Jesus, more blessed than to receive. The desire that brought Him down from heaven was to give to them that need; and, by a sore travail, He has brought that wish to pass. And now to the once abject slave of Satan there is not only given a complete release from his captivity, but he is addressed by the Spirit of grace as one susceptible of the highest and purest moral aims. He is invited, as a learner in the school of righteousness, to follow Him who will conduct him surely to its highest honours. That a plunderer of others should become Christ's willing and laborious almoner, would be a worthy adorning of the grace that saved him. The Apostle knew well the force of the Divine allurement which he is here presenting for the comfort of one whom men might despise, but whom he loved with a love which knows no man after the flesh.* While he had liberty and strength, he made it his chief boast that he had laboured to support his needy brethren in their temporal distresses, no less than in declaring to them the testimony of God. He knew the grace of Him who loved him, and he only cared to emulate His way. He would have us know it also, that we may share with him his blessing and his boast.

{*Had he the now profitable Onesimus, his son in the Gospel, his "brother beloved" in the face of all men, in his mind in writing this sweet word of exhortation? It is not an unlikely supposition, as he writes from the same bonds in which he had begotten him.}

Verse 29. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth," etc. Edification is to be kept constantly in view, as the main end of the walk of those who confess that they are members of one another. And purity of speech and action can alone conduce to this. The lips of a believer have been purged from their natural uncleanness (Isa. 6:5-7), by the confession of the holy name of Jesus. Instead, therefore, of uttering perverseness, or indulging in the speech of fools, he is to speak as one who knows that both death and life are in the power of the tongue (Prov. 18:21). Our lips are no longer our own, but His who has bought us altogether for Himself.* What is looked for in Christian intercourse is such an habitual remembrance of the Divine presence as shall effectually restrain the ebullitions of natural corruptions. Nothing that we cannot say confidently in that presence is fit for the ears of one another. We shall do well to remember, that if our words do not edify, they are injurious. For whatever does not savour of Christ does savour of the world; and such communications tend not to the strengthening of God's building, but to its dilapidation and destruction (1 Cor. 3:17). Now if the flesh be allowed to act in any way, it is always in derogation of the Spirit; and so it is immediately added:

{*The spirit of natural self-will leads men to claim unfettered liberty of speech. But they who haughtily exclaim, "Our lips are our own," will be found ready, if their hearts are searched, to add the further challenge, "Who is Lord over us?" (Ps. 12:4; compare Jude 8).}

Verse 30. "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby we are sealed unto the day of redemption." The presence of the Spirit, both in the individual Christian, as the seal of Divine appropriation, and in the Church, as the habitation of God, has been already shown in full. The former doctrine is now brought to bear more immediately upon the conscience of the saint, with reference to his personal conduct. In considering it in this relation, it is to be remarked, in the first place, that, while nothing can be conceived more fitted to give to our hearts a tone of habitual soberness and watchfulness than such a doctrine, yet the basis of this holy admonition, as of all others that are addressed to Christians, is the unalterable grace of which the Spirit is Himself the Witness. Hence, the dissimilarity in principle between legal obedience and that which faith renders to the God of all grace, is set in the strongest light by the language of the present verse.

It is as the Witness of redemption that the Spirit seals the saints (notes on Eph. 1:17, seq.); His holy presence attesting their completeness in Christ, and being the earnest of that coming day when the power of redemption will be openly asserted by the transformation of our bodies. Dwelling in us as the power of God's holy calling, and the Lord and Keeper of our conscience, He does not cease to incite us to a holy conversation, Consistency of walk is not only demanded lest the name of God and His Gospel should be blasphemed, but we are reminded of the near and inseparable companionship of One who, as the Holy One, can tolerate nothing contrary to His own nature, and who, if grieved by any allowance of evil on our part, will make us sensible of our folly, by depriving us of the conscious enjoyment of His presence. The blessed office of the Comforter is to shed the love of God abroad in our hearts. He does this, as the rich Revealer of Christ to our souls. But when our wills are practically combating with God's commandments, there is a necessary interruption of this joy. We cannot joy in God while disobeying Him.

To the new nature, the commandments of God are not grievous, because He who commands is known already in the perfection of His love. Grace brings us indeed under the consciousness of moral obligations, which will be felt in proportion to our true appreciation of that grace. But God is not a task-master. Exaction is not the order of His house, though holy obedience is. Grace is an unconditional thing. The receiver of it may, alas! by the badness of his walk, give mournful proof of the scantiness of his appreciation of God's unspeakable gift. But the evil that is in us can never overcome the goodness of Him who loved us perfectly when dead in our sins. It is not through terror, or by means of threats, that the Father of spirits would keep His children in their duty of obedience, although He does not fail to warn us of the consequences of an evil way. If we choose that which He abhors, He uses His prerogative of parentage, to punish us for our choice. But He would rather rule us by affection than by fear.

The manner in which the day of redemption is here mentioned exhibits to us very plainly the moral imminency of that day in the mind of the Spirit of Christ. The day of our death, though it be the welcome moment of departure to be with Christ, is not the day of redemption. That day is one, and is the common expectation of the Church. It will be ushered in by His appearing, who is already the Morning Star of our hope, and who bids us wait with patience till He come forth, as a Bridegroom from His chamber, in the full glory of His strength. He only waits until His Church is made quite ready for His presence (Rev. 19:7). If, therefore, we are walking in the Spirit, we shall be looking for the hope of our calling. We grieve Him when we turn away from that desire to seek our consolation in the world.

Verse 31. As a fitting pendant to the exhortation not to grieve the Spirit, there is now added an enumeration of some of the more familiar features of the old man, that by viewing their hateful deformity in the pure and holy light of Christ, we may be aroused to fresh vigilance and decision in freeing ourselves practically from their dominion. None of the things here mentioned have any place in heaven. They ought, therefore, to be banished from the hearts of those who are partakers of the heavenly calling They are all but varied expressions of the unsatisfied wretchedness of the natural man. But new things belong to them that are in Christ. No one can think or speak with bitterness whose heart is nourished on the love of Christ; nor can we clamorously seek our own if we are kept mindful of the manner of our calling. Malice dies out when faith is strong; for who can be malicious who remembers by what means it was that, when we were enemies, God reconciled us to Himself? Still, although all these things are contrary to the regenerate man, and unhesitatingly condemned by our conscience, they are not to be escaped from without effort. We are exhorted to put them away. And if it be asked how we may best do this? the answer is, By practising the opposite virtues in the energy of the Spirit. Accordingly, this dissuasive from the former things is followed by its hortatory counterpart in the following verse.

Verse 32. "And be ye kind one to another," etc. Kindness and tenderness of heart are comelier ornaments for a forgiven sinner than bitterness and wrath. For it is little that such an one can have to remit to his offending neighbour, in comparison with "all that debt" which God, for Christ's sake,* has forgiven him. The simple but powerful nature of this appeal is immediately acknowledged by both the heart and conscience of the genuine believer. It is by the remembrance of that kindness of God, which is our common portion, that the heart is kept ready for the exercise of fervent charity. Knowledge by itself puffs up; love edifies. Both should be added to our faith, but each should be valued wisely, and according to the estimate of God. But nothing is so dear to Him who gave His Son for our redemption, as kindness and humility of mind Knowledge, being a thing of measure and attainment, tends to sever rather than unite. Divine forgiveness is received by us in equal measure. He has forgiven us in Christ and for His Name (1 John 2:12). A lively recognition of that grace is, therefore, the effectual means of knitting together, in unfeigned love, those hearts which taste its gracious sweetness. We love if we are born of God. If true knowledge grows in us, our love to God increases with it. But He lets us know that the most acceptable proof we can afford of our love to Him is an active kindness to each other in His name (1 John 4:20, 21).

{*More exactly "in Christ,"; en Christoi.}

Ephesians 5.

The existing division of these chapters has not been unwisely made, although, at first sight, it might seem to involve too abrupt a separation of the parts of a continuous subject. The closing words of the last chapter have led us in spirit to the God of our mercy, where, for a moment, we may well pause, to renew our strength in a silent adoration of the grace that saves us. The Apostle, having thus put us in remembrance of the ground of all our confidence, finds, in this mention of the name of God, a fresh starting point, from whence he presently resumes his general exhortation.

Verse 1. "Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children." God becomes the pattern of our imitation (mimetai, t. Th.) the moment we accept, by faith, the gracious declaration of His love to us in Christ. To aim at such conformity while remaining in ignorance of His free forgiveness of our sins, is nothing but the presumptuous folly of a darkened understanding. What God does can be truly imitated by those only who are born of God. Having accepted us in the Beloved, the title which naturally could be only His, is now by grace applied diffusively to all His saints. It is as "dear children" that we are called to show to one another some faint reflection of that love which He has so abundantly bestowed on us in Christ. Let it be noticed, that in making this appeal to our hearts, the Spirit of God encourages us in our appropriation of a greeting, the terms of which are apt to make us stagger under a freshly awakened sense of our own unworthiness, by a direct and simple reference to the cross. It is because God has forgiven us, in Christ, as stated at the close of the preceding chapter, that these words of Divine endearment become rightfully our own. The Son has made us free into the fellowship of His own liberty. In receiving Him by faith, we have received power to become the sons of God (John 1:12)

Verse 2. "And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us," etc. If we imitate the Father, we shall walk in love, for God is love. But the active stimulant as well as the just measure of such love, is to be found in the remembrance of Him who gave Himself to death for our sakes. Love in the Spirit has always something of a sacrificial character. It is thus distinguished from natural partiality. Originating in the new and risen life, it views natural death among the possible tests of its devotion to the name of Jesus. "We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 John 3:16). More difficult, perhaps, though not less acceptable to God, than one such mighty effort of self-sacrifice, is that "patient continuance in well doing," which makes Christ the law of our daily walk; a light which leads far away from the path of self-seeking, to find increase to our happiness in practical conformity to Him.

Christ's loving self-devotion, is here presented to us, though in language susceptible of a far wider interpretation, as the anti-type more especially of the Levitical burnt sacrifice. Like all other bloody sacrifices, the burnt-offering contained in it the fundamental principle of atonement. The leading idea, however, which it expresses is not that of purgation from special defilement, but the acceptance of the worshipper's person, through the presentation to God on his behalf of that which is intrinsically acceptable in His sight.* When, therefore, the love of Jesus is described to us under this comparison, our hearts are led for the moment to think less of what He suffered for our sins, and more of what He gave to God, with a view to our personal presentation in virtue of that gift, both holy, and unblameable, and unrebukeable, in the sight of God.**

{*In the Levitical ordinance, on the day of atonement, the sin-offering preceded the burnt-offering (Lev. 16). The moral bearing of this is very plain. Sin must be purged before the worshipper is accepted.

** Col. 1:22. The burnt offering is no doubt the leading idea here presented, although the Apostle's language is much more comprehensive. The specific term for "burnt-offering" is holokautoma, a word not here used. Christ is said to have offered Himself prosphoran kai thusian, an expression wide enough to embrace sacrificial service of any and every kind. There are sacrifices full of odour in the presence of God which involve no shedding of blood. (Phil. 4:18; Heb. 13:16.) And if God is well pleased with such, when offered by His believing children in the name of Jesus, how much rather did the Father's complacency rest on Him who always did His will — living to God in pure self-renouncing devotedness, even as He closed His work of obedience by offering Himself without spot unto God as the effectual atonement for His people. It is the perfect acceptableness of Jesus both in life and death that is conveyed by the Apostle's words in the text.}

By dying unto sin once for all, Christ made an end of sin for all who should believe. But He, who has wrought that decisive work of sacrificial atonement, abides for ever as the satisfying response on our parts to all the requirements of Divine holiness. He has gone up, from the altar of self-sacrifice, to be an eternal savour of delight to God. He lives unto God. But it was love to us that bound the willing Victim to the altar. For us He suffered, and for us He lives. It is in the odour of the Lamb's perfections that we are blessed of God. The fire of Divine holiness, which fed upon that Offering, is now our holy confidence, instead of our dread. Our God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29). And in the knowledge of that finished love we are taught now to choose the way which pleases Him.

Verses 3-5. By the acceptable sacrifice of Christ, we have been sanctified to God. The habits, therefore, and propensities of our evil nature are to be renounced by those who know that their calling in Christ is from sin to holiness. Yielding ourselves unto God as alive from the dead, our members are to be yielded as instruments of righteousness unto God (Rom. 6:13). No mention is to be made of that which causes shame among those who have been sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:11). Things, also, less glaringly evil, and which men in a natural state deem scarcely reprehensible, are felt now to be unsuitable to those whose calling is to be imitators of God. Thanksgiving should rather fill our lips, than foolish talking or idle and unseemly pleasantry. Nothing is truly pleasant to the Spirit but Christ. The thoughtless gaiety of nature should be superseded in a saint by joy in the Holy Ghost. The mirth, which so often leaves a sting behind it, is to be exchanged for that pure and precious gladness, in which God has Himself a part.

The believer is expected to know the nature of his calling, and to judge wisely of the ways of God. He knows that the kingdom of Him who is both Christ and God (tou Christou kai Theou.), is closed against the wilfulness of man, and that it is accessible to those only whom grace leads into it by the new and living way. The Gospel is the power of God when it is mixed with faith. If we are Christ's, He has our hearts; and, though nothing changes our natural corruption, and vigilance is necessary to the end, yet there is in every saint a conscious desire after holiness, and a refusal to serve the "divers lusts and pleasures" which rule the natural man. Conflict must, of course, result from this, and wounds may often be received in conflict; but the heart of the believer seeks the face of God, and finds in the Lord who bought him the gracious Restorer of his soul.

It should be noticed, that the sin which the Holy Ghost distinguishes as idolatry, is covetousness. It constantly has this evil pre-eminence in Scripture. Mammon is God's rival for the possession of men's hearts. It is a sorrowful consideration, and, at the same time, a striking proof of the contrariety of the thoughts of God to our natural thoughts, that a sin which, under the name of "prudence," enjoys the highest credit among men, is branded by the Spirit with a special mark of condemnation. The Apostle's present subject is the walk of God's saints. When, therefore, he warns them against sin, he very clearly intimates that the dangers which surround our path are not imaginary ones. Humbleness of mind is needful to keep us in a place of safety. The moment we fancy ourselves secure, we are in danger. God will preserve His saints. He knows both how to deliver and to heal; but obduracy of heart is a fatal symptom of ignorance of God. Profession is a lie, if we have no feelings of our own unprofitableness, and no hunger for that righteousness which is of God.

Satan is never weary of the endeavour to place holiness and grace in a seeming opposition to each other. Truth dispels this deception. An awakened conscience knows that God is holy, and in the cross of the Son of God finds the mystery of His holy love unravelled in the demonstration of forgiving mercy. Being thus brought nigh to God, the exceeding sinfulness of sin becomes only the more evident as well as more hateful in the light of that holy love which has eternally redeemed us from it. We loathe ourselves, as we grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. On the other hand, the doctrines of grace may afford to an unregenerate heart a delusive solace and encouragement in the way of sin. This is accordingly noticed in what follows.

Verses 6, 7. "Let no man deceive you with vain words," etc. Such deceivers have abounded from the first. Wolves in sheep's clothing have not spared the flock. We know, alas! that they will abound yet more and more, as the day of evil draws towards its close. But God has recorded for our admonition the example of His former judgments against sin (2 Peter 2:4-9); and He remains unchanged in His hatred of iniquity. These verses present a moral view of the Christian apostasy and its judgment. God is a God of judgment. His wrath is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). Especially is it impending over those who, because they continue in sin against the holy light of Gospel truth, are here styled children of disobedience (or unbelief). The identity in principle of true faith and willing obedience is here distinctly shown. Faith is an active principle, and works by love. It is when men who hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ receive not the truth in the love of it, that they become obnoxious to the special condemnation here denounced.

It is not the eternal judgment that is spoken of in verse 7, but rather the expected crisis of the coming day of Christ, when He will appear in flaming fire, with His holy angels, taking vengeance on the adversaries of His Gospel (2 Thess. 1:7). They, therefore, who love His appearing are exhorted to give diligence to keep themselves unspotted from the world. They should dread to participate, in the slightest measure, in that which provokes the wrath of God. If they gave no heed to such an admonition, they would find that judgment would not spare them. Divine faithfulness will still preserve from ultimate perdition every soul that has been ransomed by the blood of Christ. The Lord is never tolerant of evil in His house, but He deals with it in His unaltered character as the Preserver of His own. When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world (1 Cor. 11:32).

Verse 8. Proceeding still in the same admonitory strain, the Apostle now illustrates the contrasted principles or powers of good and evil, as they operate respectively in the old man and the new, under another comparison "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord." Darkness is natural ignorance of God. If we know Him, we are in the light. His children are the children of light, for God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all. Light, then, is the spiritual atmosphere in which faith lives. But where we live and breathe we are also to exercise the activities of our being. And so it is added: "Walk as children of light." In the Lord the believer is all light; for he stands accepted in Him who is the Light of life. It is by believing in the light that we become the children of light (John 12:36), reflecting in the world what we receive from Him When in her true position, the Church is collectively the light of the world (Matt. 5:14). And if the lustre of that light be turned to dimness, by the departure of the Church from her right standing, still each member of the body is of the light and of the day, and is to trim, without fainting or discouragement, the lamp of his profession; not hiding it, but letting it appear, while we watch patiently until the dawning of the promised day. Men know that our Father is in heaven, when they see us walking in the power of His name.

Verse 9. "For the fruit of the light* is in all goodness and righteousness and truth." The works of darkness are unfruitful; but precious fruits are borne by those who walk in the light as He is in the light. Goodness, and righteousness, and truth, things unattainable to the natural man, are found in the way of those who, through faith, are fashioned. by the Spirit into practical conformity to Christ. He is Himself the essence and fulness of these things; and by abiding in Him, we produce reflectively what we enjoy in Him. Our fruit, whether scanty or abundant, must savour of the Root that bears us. Much fruit is within the compass of a walk of single-heartedness to Christ, the order and sustaining energy of which is not the oldness of the letter, but the newness of the Spirit (Rom. 7:4-6). Such fruits are acceptable unto God by Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:11).

{* tou photos. In the text which our translators used the reading is: tou pneumatos. Hence the version, "fruit of the Spirit." There is now, however, a general agreement in favour of the reading here adopted. In their moral signification, indeed, the words are nearly synonymous. The things here specified are, doubtless, fruits of the Spirit.}

Verse 10. Having shown what kind of fruit results from the active obedience of faith, the great aim of all true service is now stated: "Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord." These words connect themselves more immediately with the close of verse 8, the intervening verse being parenthetical. To please Him who gave Himself for our sins, is both the obligation and the wish of the new man. "Not I, but Christ," is not only the watchword of a justifying faith, which knows and cleaves fast to the righteousness of God, but is the language, also, of sincere devotedness of heart to Jesus. For we are no longer our own, but His who bought us. We please Him when we trust Him and obey His words. A Christian's business in the world is Christ, and nothing else. All lawful varieties of circumstance and calling are comprised within that word. What cannot be done heartily to Him, should not be done at all.

Verses 11, 12. Spiritual energy produces negative as well as positive effects. The renunciation of an evil way is not less important as a result of personal obedience, than the active pursuit of what is good. The subtlety of the deceiver would persuade us that we can be doing much in the way of active usefulness, while habitually clinging to something which our hearts may secretly condemn. But if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things (John 3:20). And God is not mocked. We shall reap in sorrow what we sow in folly (Gal. 6:8). This snare is accordingly anticipated and frustrated. for the watchful. Christian by the present exhortation. Instead of having fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, we are rather to reprove them. What darkness is will be understood most sensitively by those whose habitual dwelling place is in the light. As men, we have had trial of the way of man; and, through grace, have tasted the sweet contrast of the way of peace. The censure of evil, which the Spirit here enjoins on the believer, is widely different in its character from that which belongs to the self-righteous moralist. Thoroughly alive both to the fearful power of the corruption which is in the world, and to the infinite preciousness of the worthy Name which he now bears, he is to show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. Patient continuance in well-doing should mark him both to God and man But while by habitual godliness the believer's life should be a standing condemnation of the way of sinners, he is not to spare direct, and, if necessary, strong rebuke of evil, whenever it is tolerated or excused within the Church of God. Mercy sustains our weakness, but holiness must be the order of His house. To call evil good, is hardly a smaller provocation than to practise it. We may well do what we hesitate to blame.

The cause of moral darkness is unbelief. It is when men say in their hearts, "The Lord sees us not: the Lord has forsaken the earth," that they retire to the chambers of their imagery (Ezek. 8:12). The earnestness with which the Apostle presses these exhortations on the saints is worthy of all attention in the present day, when Christian profession (in this land, at least) costs nothing, and form, without power, is everywhere visible. What formed the nearer object of the Apostle's apprehension as he wrote these words was, no doubt, the moral pravity which grew so luxuriantly under the fostering darkness of a gross idolatry. But man does not change. We are warned not less heavily against a generation owning a nominal subjection to the name of Christ, than were these newly-enlightened. idolaters against a relapse into their former ways. The world is as far from the Father, and as near to tempt the children from the way of holiness, in our day, as when the Apostle was alive. Darkness has not become light, though light has, alas! but too generally faded into darkness. And worse remains (2 Tim. 4:3, 4). The established contrasts of flesh and Spirit are as strongly marked at the end as at the beginning. There can be no peace or agreement between them. The shame of the one will, to the end, be the choice and glory of the other (Phil. 3:18-20).

Verse 13. "But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light," etc. Faithful conviction or reproof is the dissipation of moral darkness by the holy light of truth. It is the property of light to reveal everything; and that which it discloses it shows plainly in its genuine character. A terrific proof of this will be afforded when God, who is Light, shall at His appearing make manifest the hidden things of darkness. The latter clause of this verse will vary in its meaning, as the word translated "manifest"* is taken in an active or a passive sense. Either way an obvious truth is stated. On the whole, the subduing and vivifying effect of the light, in addition to its merely detective power, appears to be intended. This is a principle of constant illustration in the Christian's personal experience. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

{* to phaneroumenon. There are syntactical peculiarities in this verse, which render it difficult to decide as to its literal signification. The moral drift of the sentiment is sufficiently clear. Light, if it acts at all, brings hidden things from their obscurity. The contrast presented by a really spiritual walk to the ordinary ways of men would not fail to exemplify this principle.}

Verse 14. "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest," etc. These words, although given in the usual form of a scriptural quotation, are not strictly such.* We should perhaps regard them rather as a condensation of spiritual sentiment, expressive of the contrariety of the old and new natures, and of the contrast which subsists not only really and intrinsically, but morally, also, and practically, between the believer and the unbeliever. It is the difference between death and life, as well as between light and darkness. Christ is Light, and gives light. Until He is known, all is darkness — the deep sleep of death. Hence the voice of the Spirit (He saith), as the power of Gospel testimony, calls upon the sleeper to awake. It is a summons intelligible only to the ear on which it strikes (by special grace) with an awakening effect. To such an ear it is a sound of warning, indeed, but yet of hopeful promise. Disclosing to the hitherto insensible sinner the real nature of his condition, it makes him know that he is still in the congregation of the dead. But it invites him forth from thence into the light and power of the risen Christ. If the Son of God now wakes the dead, it is that they which hear may also live (John 5:25).

{* Isa. 60:1, is usually referred to as containing the general idea here expressed. Nor is it unlikely that this passage was in the Apostle's mind while he thus wrote, the moral application of that passage to his present subject being both forcible and obvious. Looked at, however, in connexion with their context, the words of the Prophet relate, evidently, not to the awakening of Gentiles, but to the quickening and spiritual resuscitation of the once apostate Israel.}

It is quite evident, however, that this verse has a practical bearing, not only on the case of the unconverted sinner, but on that also of the slumbering saint. If we do not watch with Jesus, we are soon lulled to spiritual listlessness by the influence of present things. The Lord forsakes not His saints, and, though they slumber, He does not forget them. But the arousing of a believer from a state of spiritual deadness may be accompanied by very painful experiences. The eyes of the Lord are as a flame of fire; and when re-awakened by His voice to find ourselves in all our conscious faultiness in the presence of that searching light, death, and not life, may be the first thought of our heart. But when our eyes are fairly open, we perceive that it is Jesus still who speaks to us. A consciousness that we have slumbered when we should have watched, may well fill us with confusion; but we are sustained in our fainting, and re-animated with fresh strength, when we remember, that He who rebukes and chastens, does so in His love; and that we are kept for salvation in the hands of One who died for us, that, whether sleeping or waking, we might live with Him (1 Thess. 5:10).

Verse 15. "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise." Wisdom, as well as light, is a distinctive attribute of the new man. What the Greek vainly seeks for has been brought, unsought, to the awakened sinner. Christ, who is the wisdom of God in the eyes of our faith, has, also, been made of God our wisdom. By the counsels of that wisdom we are taught to walk. If we follow it, our way will be above (Prov. 15:24; Col. 3:1, seq.). Hell is beneath us, and snares of destruction are around us in the world. Our. safety is in setting our faces towards heaven. Moreover, we want wisdom to use rightly what we know. Circumspection is a constant attendant of true wisdom; and such a quality is needed by those whose passage to the kingdom lies through manifold temptations. In a land of danger, we must walk with measured steps.9 Now it is the eye of his father that is the guide of a wise child (Ps. 32:8). We are in the path of folly the moment we begin to walk at our own discretion. The main force of this warning seems to be directed against the Antinomian deception, which would make exactness of conduct an indifferent thing so long as doctrinal soundness be maintained. This basest of fallacies is not so gross as to be without danger to us, if we are not kept near to God in the spirit of our minds.

{*We are to walk (akribos). Not by subtlety, or what the world calls "tact;" but by a diligent tracing of His footsteps, who has gone before us in our way.}

Verse 16. "Redeeming the time," etc. Nothing more plainly distinguishes a wise man from a fool than a right appreciation of his opportunities. Wisdom has an aim, while folly wastes itself in seeking one. Time is precious to the wise, because it is his opportunity of action. Now that which rules the wise believer in his ways is the truth, which he both knows and loves. To have a Christ to live for, is something to a heart that glories only in His cross. If God is teaching us His wisdom, He makes us understand that we are living, while in this tabernacle, in an evil day. Not thoughtless security, therefore, but watchful sobriety, must be the daily habit of our mind. The days are evil, all of them alike, till Jesus comes. But if evil, they are also few. The time is short: and if we rightly know our calling, we shall not feel the weary vacancy of one who has no object. The Lord has hired us to serve Him from the day we knew His love. Each Christian has his talent and his opportunity, together with a Master who will take account of both. He will prove his wisdom, therefore, not by making the liberty into which he has been called an occasion to the flesh, but by giving diligence to make his calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). Loving and trusting the Lord, who has redeemed him, he will not fear the issue of a venture that risks all for Him (Luke 19:12, seq.).

Verse 17. "Wherefore be ye not unwise," etc. The Lord is both His people's Sanctuary and their Light until the evil days are gone. Within the small circle of His true disciples, the secrets of His kingdom are freely disclosed. There, also, because He is sanctified in their hearts, the good pleasure of His will is both inquired for and understood. To be girt and ready for his Master's work is the true attitude of the believer. If we know what He is to us, we cannot be happy without the privilege of serving Him. To be under law to Christ, is to keep danger from our borders, and to enjoy the land of peace (Ps. 37:3). We have known the former bondage, and are invited to make trial of that yoke which Jesus now offers to our necks. He who shed His blood for us is not a cruel task-master. He asks from us such service as a man may look for from his friends (John 15:14). He that is wise will understand these things. "For the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them; but the transgressors shall fall therein" (Hosea 14:9).

Verse 18. "And be not drunk with wine," etc. Natural excitement, its stimulants and effects, are now contrasted with those of the Spirit. Men indulge in excesses as a refuge from the tedium of an unsatisfying life. Having no lasting source of joy in themselves, or in the circumstances which surround them, they seek in the wine-cup a factitious and deceptive solace of their cares. A Christless man has no peace in sobriety. If he reflects, he is unhappy. Something of sufficient power to lull him into forgetfulness of God and of himself, is to an unbeliever almost a necessary of existence. Wine stands in this verse as a special representative of natural indulgence; but there are other kinds of intoxication, which are not less alien to the joy of God. Wine, which is a mocker of the fool, is to be used by the wise-hearted believer, with every other gift of the Divine bounty, in the holy liberty of redemption. We are to use to God what nature might abuse to its own destruction.* But while the old sources of enjoyment are now to be touched warily, and with a new intention, the believer is directed to a spring whence he may drink abundantly, with praise instead of blame. We are exhorted to be filled with the Spirit. We have been already warned not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. That warning stood in close connexion with another, which admonished us to purity of speech. In contrast to that, we are now taught to seek such an experimental fulness of the Spirit as shall find vent for itself in thanksgiving and praise. We have in this sentence a striking confirmation of the doctrine already enforced at an earlier page (notes on Eph. 1:17, seq.), namely that our own concurrence and personal effort are requisite (as a general rule) to our enjoyment of the Spirit's presence as the full river of God. Though He is in us, He withholds the comfort of His presence so long as we walk in a careless forgetfulness of our calling. As the gratification of the flesh afflicts the Spirit, so self-denial sets Him free to comfort us according to the fulness of the consolations that are in Christ. If we seek to God for our pleasures, we shall find no disappointment of our hope.

{*If wine be a mocker, still more fatally so is that covenanted abstinence from wine, which is often, in the present day, set before men's consciences, instead of Christ. A reformed drunkard is no nearer to salvation than an unreformed one, unless the cause of his moral amendment is a living faith in Christ. "I am not as I once was" is not a more acceptable standing in the sight of God, than "I am not as other men." An amended criminal is not, therefore, a forgiven sinner. Faith has a different ground of confidence, while by putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, the believer is empowered to cease practically from his former sins.}

Verse 19. "Speaking to yourselves,"* etc. Personal worship is the first effect of fulness of the Spirit, and the communion of saints its natural sequel and continuance. The Spirit, which comes from Jesus, leads us first to Him; and in Him and with God we find our brethren and His. Psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, are audible expressions of a melody which has its secret beginnings in the heart in which Christ dwells. When we are in the Spirit, if we speak to ourselves, it is of Jesus: if we answer one another, it is in the Lord's song. Joy must be in abundance, when the Spirit is in His unhindered flow, for, next to love, it is His chiefest fruit (Gal. 5:22). Hence the essential pre-requisite of genuine praise is a lively faith. There is no melody for Christ, if our hearts are still estranged from Him, although the words we use may have been indited by His Spirit. Psalms and spiritual songs, if sung without a discernment and believing enjoyment of Him who is their theme, are among the most offensive of those unacceptable offerings which carnal irreverence brings, in its unhallowed rashness, into the courts of God (Amos 5:23, seq.).

{*Or, perhaps, "to one another." The words are — lalountes heautois, which will, of course, bear either rendering. For an example of the latter, see Col. 3:16.}

Verse 20. "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Redemption has set the saint in a position of eternal obligation to the God of grace. Having come to the knowledge of God as the Father, the believer is to settle in his heart the sweet conviction, that goodness and mercy can never cease to follow him All things are, therefore, to be acknowledged thankfully The thing received, whether good or evil, is less to be regarded than the hand which gives it (Job 1:21; 2:10; Heb. 12:5-11). Knowing that all things work for good to those who love God, the simpleminded Christian can find nothing in the changeful experiences of his pilgrimage which can rightly encourage him, though both faith and patience must be tried. It should be noticed, that there is an emphatic precision in the language of this verse, the manifold intention of which is to preserve us from descending, in the expression of our thanksgiving, below the true pitch of spiritual worship. It is, as it were, a prescribed formula of spiritual praise, thanks being given to Him who is our God and Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ. The heart which God fills is bound, indeed, by no form of words. At the impulse of the Spirit, as He shows us one feature or another of the Divine perfection which is revealed to us in Christ, we bless the Father, or the Son, or both together, even as our fellowship is with both. But the Apostle would preserve us, by such words as these, from forgetting that we know no longer any man after the flesh; that our standing is in the light and power of the risen Christ; that while, consequently, we share with men around us those unnumbered mercies which the lavish hand of God pours out upon His creatures, we owe Him thanks after a different fashion from the natural man. While "providential goodness" may be recognized by those who know not our God, it is the joy and glory of the saint to receive all mercies and sanctify all blessings by the name of the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our thanks belong to God for ever, as the Giver of His unspeakable gift (2 Cor. 9:15).

Verse 21. "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." The general exhortation, which has occupied so large a portion of this and the foregoing chapter, is concluded in this verse. Being founded on the doctrine of the unity of the body, it is addressed to the saints in common, as living members of that body, in the edification of which they are both individually interested and personally responsible, according to the measure of the grace bestowed on each (Eph. 4:7, 16). Holding severally to the Head by faith, they were to walk in the power of that grace which both kept them fast in Christ for their salvation and joined them to each other in His love. Above all, it was to be kept in their remembrance that they were God's building and His workmanship. They should submit themselves, therefore, not only to God in their individual relation to Him, but also to one another, in the fear of Him. Christian humility of mind, which takes willingly the lowest room at God's great feast of mercy — conscious of its utter unworthiness of that which it is so freely called to share — yields also a ready precedence to His other guests. If the heart is in its right state, there will always be such a discernment of the Lord in His people as will make deference in love to them an easy and welcome duty. Judging himself in faithfulness, and finding as the result that the description, "least of all saints," suits no man better than himself, the exercised believer will rather put honour on his brethren in the Lord, than seek it for himself. We shall be clothed with humility while God is in our thoughts (1 Peter 5:5, 6; Phil. 2:3). Moreover, it is this habitual reference to God that most effectually secures practical Christian fellowship from degenerating in its character to mere ordinary human intercourse. It is in the fear of God* that holiness is perfected and spiritual increase is attained.

{*Compare 2 Cor. 7:1; Acts 9:31. Perhaps, instead of "God," we should read "Christ," in the present passage, the more approved texts reading Christou, and not Theou. If this be so, the point of the exhortation would seem to bear more immediately on us as fellow-servants of the common Lord. Compare Rom. 14:4.}

Verse 22. "Wives," etc. The doctrine of mutual submission, contained in the last verse, not only crowns the series of admonitions to which it is attached, but becomes the basis of a further exposition of the way of the Lord, with respect to the more important of those natural or social relations to which special obligations are annexed, and in which Christians may find themselves placed. The grace of God cancels no natural tie, but brings it under a new and paramount sanction. Believers are still husbands, masters, fathers, but in Christ, and therefore to Him. There is, besides, a peculiar significance in these specifications of personal duty, in an epistle which treats so fully the subject of the unity of the body, lest occasion should be found by Satan to tempt us in any way to overlook or disregard such duties, under colour of a more reverent observance of that new and abiding spiritual relationship which joins us to each other in the newness of our better life. This fresh series of particular exhortations is continued to verse 10 of the ensuing Chapter. But although the hortatory tone is maintained throughout, the practical admonition becomes in its progress a vehicle for conveying to us a further exposition of the mystery of Christ. Under the beautiful similitude of wedded union, we are presented with one of the richest and most wonderful of the varied aspects, in which the Holy Ghost exhibited that great doctrine to the mind of the Apostle.

Conjugal union, because it is the parent of all the rest, is the first of the natural relationships here reviewed. It will be observed that, in each of the three reciprocal connexions which are treated in succession, the inferior party is the first addressed. To notice first that which is naturally the weaker vessel, or which occupies the lower place, is in the manner of that grace which led the Blessed One to put Himself, in His humiliation, below all human comparison (Ps. 22:6; 2 Cor. 8:9), that He might bring us into the fellowship of His own delights.* The Christian wife is to be subject to her husband, as unto the Lord. Misgoverned affection on the husband's Tart might concede to her the ruling plat*, or force of character on her side might assert it. But the Lord is to be remembered in the relations of His saints.** He who made both man and woman has assigned to both their suited place. Where God is truly owned, His ordinances are observed. It was on this principle that holy women of old obeyed their husbands, Sarah calling Abraham, lord. Still more emphatically binding is this principle of conduct upon those whose rule of walk is Christ in everything. For He who fills all things has put Himself in such relations as to become the standard of our conversation in each several walk of life. And so the wife who knows her calling, and sees Jesus in her husband, will hearken also to her natural guide, and reverence her natural head (1 Cor. 11:3), with a new and especial obedience, for His sake.

{*The same order is also observed in the parallel exhortation in Col. 3:18. Submission for the Lord's sake being the main burden of the Apostle's admonition (verse 21), there is a certain propriety in first addressing those who fill relatively the subject place, independently of the general principle of grace noticed in the text. Compare Bengel, in loc.

**Both the wife and the husband are viewed, in this epistle, as in Christ. The Scripture has elsewhere treated fully the case in which the call of God may have been addressed as yet to one only of the twain (1 Cor. 7:12-17; 1 Peter 3:1, seq.).}

Verse 23. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the Church: and He is the Saviour of the body." In the state of Christian marriage there is reproduced a miniature reflection of the mystery of Christ. The headship of Christ to the Church is here presented as the spiritual and heavenly original, of which married life among Christians should be a faithful copy. As to the origin of this relation of the Church to her Lord, it is His own sovereign grace. He is the Saviour of the body. The Church is, therefore, subject as the creature of His will who has chosen her to be His own in love. Perfect subjection must result, on her part, from a true appreciation of a relationship thus formed. And such subjection is found in the- Church, when contemplated (as she is in this epistle), not in the shame of her practical unfaithfulness, but in the light of Him who has formed her for Himself; according to the pattern of His own perfections. And so it is added:

Verse 24. "Therefore as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." It is evident that the Church is here viewed according to the purpose and intent of her calling, as the chosen spouse of Christ. Although, therefore, the marriage of the Lamb is not yet come, and she is only yet betrothed to Him in grace, through the operation of the Father's Messenger, who seeks and calls her in the name of Jesus, the moral picture of her completeness, both of place and duty, is set here before us as the fit pattern of the Christian wife's submission to her husband. For the living Church is subject to her Head. She calls Him Lord, and loves Him with the uncorrupt devotion of a heart which He has created to be the shrine of His holiness for ever. To confess Him as her Lord is first her salvation, and for ever after her delight. The Christian wife, a partaker with her husband of the grace of life, and who waits with him for that great day of coming joy, is invited to prove her own devotedness to Jesus, by yielding in all things to the will of one whom He has made her ruler and her guide.

Verse 25. "Husbands, love your wives," etc. If wives owe to their husbands all submission, husbands, on their part, are to love their wives according to a pattern which involves an entire self-devotion. Supremacy of place should be practically justified by a more abundant love: "Even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it." The heart of the Christian husband is expected to be well acquainted with the manner of that love. His wife should be endeared to him by all the power of that hope and joy which fill his own spirit, as he thinks upon the love of Jesus to His own. Natural affection, being hallowed and overruled by that which is of God, the inevitable cares of married life are willingly assumed, and lightly borne, by one who walks in the daily enjoyment, by faith, of that better "knowledge," which should be the Christian husband's strength (1 Peter 3:7).

The Apostle, finding himself led by his subject into this last allusion, proceeds to open to us, in the seven verses which next follow, a new and altogether lovely view of the relation in which the grace of Christ has placed Him towards the Church. We have already seen what the Church is, both to God and to Christ, as the elect vessel of Almighty power and mercy, and that under more than one point of view. More especially, we have had opened to us the mystic unity of Christ in His fulness, in which unity the Lord as the Head, and the Church as His body, are found in a spiritual integration, which makes one and the same name applicable to both (ante Eph. 1:22, seq.). We have now to consider the same mystery under a new figure, and one which acts, perhaps, more powerfully on our spiritual affections, inasmuch as it is more directly illustrative of the self-devoting love of Jesus to His people, while the previous doctrine brought rather into prominency the wisdom and power of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was to the praise of His glory that Christ was given to be Head over all things to the Church. For if Christ is the Head of every man, the Head of Christ is God. The new Adam is the image and glory of the invisible God (1 Cor. 11:3).

But there is a sense in which the Church is to be contemplated with an exclusive reference to Christ, and as the object of His peculiar love. The perfect exhibition of this is afforded, not by the doctrine of the one Man, in which the identity of the Church becomes, as it were, merged in the name and glory of Him whose fulness she is, and with whose royal attributes she is invested, because one with Him who is to govern all things, but by the figure of the marriage bond. This figure presents a union of two persons, and not a unity of constituent parts. Viewed in this light, the Church has a completeness of her own, being perfected by Jesus, and for Himself, even as it is our life to know that we are all complete in Him. There is a preparation of the bride for her promised union with her husband, even as He abides for ever the supreme Lord of her affections and her dutiful obedience. What the new man is to God and to creation, is the leading idea of the mystery of Christ in its previous manifestations. What the Lord is to His Church, exclusive of all other objects or considerations, is the blessed truth so marvellously shown forth in the present passage. Let us now consider it in order.

We have, first, a statement in brief of this doctrine of the special love of Christ. He loved the Church, and gave Himself for it. The work of redemption had more than one object, and may be referred to more than one motive. But it is the Christian's peculiar joy to be entitled to see, in the love of Christ to the Church, an especial and decisive personal motive* to His gracious humiliation. To destroy the devil and his works; to become the Security of Israel's covenant, and the saving object of attraction to mankind; to lay the foundation of a new and never-to-be-spoiled creation, were among the objects to be attained through the incarnation of the Son of God. But the redemption of His Church is not to be confounded with these or other ends of the same Divine counsels, and of which the Scriptures speak, though obviously connected with them all. When all other creatures have been assigned their place in the great system of reconciliation, whether thrones and dominions in the heavens, or tribes and nations upon earth, there remains to the Church, as has been already shown(ante Eph. 1:11, seq., Eph. 1:22, seq.), her place and portion with the Beloved, and in Him. And if the spouse of Christ has no other interests but His, He also finds in her His own peculiar joy. For it was to win her for Himself that He became her Surety to the utmost measure of her debt.

{*A full consideration of the scriptural doctrine of the Church seems to justify this statement. For, although it is as true that Christ died for the nation which refused Him, and which will hereafter be brought to confess Him, as that He gave Himself for the redemption of His Church, yet it is manifest that the latter holds in the word of God a peculiar and pre-eminent place. She was foreknown in Christ before creation, and is to be to eternity the temple of His praise. The time is coming when He will perform for Israel what He has already done for the Church. He will purify and cleanse that people for Himself. He will be pacified towards her, whom He has put away for her iniquities (Ezek. 16:60-63, 36:25, seq.). And if it be supposed that, because the love of Jehovah to His nation is as everlasting as that of Christ towards His heavenly spouse (Jer. 31:3), and that predestination and election are as much concerned in the accomplishment of Israel's expectation as in that of the Church, that, therefore, these two objects of the Spirit's contemplation are united in God's ultimate intention, it may be properly replied that such reasoning is gratuitous. For, in things which are the subjects of Divine revelation, we are not left to the doubtful inferences of our own minds from general principles; the Spirit of God has been pleased to treat both these distinct subjects with a very copious fulness of detail. But, within the limits of positive scriptural testimony, we find them kept asunder, and referred to their respective spheres of heaven and earth; while of the revealed futurity, which lies beyond the "end" of the existing order of things, we are quite incompetent to speak. It should be constantly in our remembrance, that all questions relating to diversity of place or calling, are questions affecting the sovereignty of God. If one star differs from another star in glory, and an angel is more excellent than a reptile of the earth, these are but proofs of the power and wisdom of Him, whose good pleasure is the law of all creation (Rev. 4:11). Our wisdom is to listen to the testimonies of His Spirit, and to lay firm hold by faith upon that "better thing," which sovereign mercy has conferred on us in Christ. Ante, Eph. 1:22.}

Verse 26. "That He might sanctify it," etc. The sanctification and purifying of the Church are here referred immediately and exclusively to the act of Christ, and are held up to our adoring admiration as the triumphant effort of His love. when previously contemplated as the workmanship of God, it was seen that the security and perfection of the Church are found solely in the Divine competency of the Workman. Now, it is the self-devotion of the love of Christ that is commended to us as the pledge and assurance of her freedom from all stain. For He "gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works."* The effective means of this purification is here said to be "the washing of water by the word."** If we have heard Him, we are clean (John 15:3. Ante, Eph.4:21, seq.). The power of all true purification is in the word of grace. The laver of regeneration applies its virtue to the soul through the active medium of faith. It is by the word of God that we are born again. The Church, thus cleansed, is clean for ever, being maintained in its sanctification by the grace and power of Him, who for our sakes has sanctified Himself. It is to be observed, that what Christ does for His Church is now our subject, not what He is for her to God. In the latter point of view, He is her Righteousness, her Sanctification, and her Redemption.

{* Titus 2:14. The zeal of His people being provoked by their perception of His love. The true wife is devoted to her husband.

** It is by no means clear that there is any allusion to water baptism in this. It is at least evident, that the efficacy of purification, whatever its external symbol or figurative emblem, is referred directly to the word.}

Verse 27. "That He might present it to Himself," etc. We have here a very strong expression of the doctrine of Christ's appropriative love. The name of the Father is not mentioned. The grand moral result of mediatorial redemption in our fitness for the presence of God not being the prominent idea, but rather the entire contentment and complacency of Christ the Lord in the Church, as the chosen partner of His own blessedness. He has cleansed her from her natural pollutions, to prepare her for her destined place, as the companion of the Lord of glory. He will present her to Himself a glorious Church. She will be a perfect reflection of Himself. Free from all natural deformity, and purged by His precious blood from every acquired defilement, she will be holy and unblemished in His eyes. Neither weakness nor sin will have left any trace or memorial of themselves in that day of light. And she is already beheld in that completeness by His love. What the Holy Ghost now testifies of her perfections was eternally before the mind of Christ. And when by incarnation He had come into the place of weakness and affliction, and hope became his comfort, because grief was His companion, the expectation of this fair fruit of His travail was the chief solace of His lonely sorrow. "For the joy which was set before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame." That she might live, He died. That she might shine in righteousness, He took her sins upon Himself. He has made her comely with His own perfections, and keeps in reserve for her His own new name. Although, in fact, she is neither ready nor complete while the present work of edification is proceeding, yet when the day for her presentation has arrived, because the time for the marriage of the. Lamb is come, she will be found suitably adorned. Fine linen has been granted to her for her raiment in that day, when no sad remembrance of her former state shall remain, to detract from her faultless beauty in His sight. She will be all fair to Him, and He will be to her, for ever, the satisfying portion of her joy.*

{*In Rev. 19, we have the marriage of the Lamb proclaimed rather than described. In Ps. 45 that scene has its earthly counterpart. For a view of the place which the Church holds in the latter description, see Notes on the Psalms.}

It is the certain and triumphant result of the love of Christ to His Church that is set before us in this verse. All is, accordingly, referred to Him. The Comforter, who is not expressed by name, fulfils His gracious office by thus showing us these things of Jesus. The intended effect of such communications is to establish our hearts in the grace wherein we stand, and, in the clear view of our most sure hope, to draw out our love in dutiful devotedness to Him who is to be its everlasting Object. When we surrender our hea,its, in the simplicity of faith, to this sweet and holy assurance of the love of Christ, we find no room for agitating questions or surmisings. All our attention is engrossed by Him. What He does, and how He feels, become the true subjects of interest to our souls. And when we see that the. Church, which He calls glorious, owes all her comeliness and all her praise to Him who first washed her from her sins, the weakest saint may joyfully assure himself that the fellowship of all that rich inheritance of blessing which belongs to Christ's beloved is indeed, through grace, his own. For not merit, but pure mercy, is the order of the Church's blessing. She is represented as the passive subject of the, Saviour's love. It is when she hears in the Gospel the evidences of this love, and sees by faith its tokens, both in the body of the Lamb once slain for her offences, and in the many crowns of glory whioh now rest upon Him as the Lord of lords, and is instructed by the Comforter that all that glory has been won for her participation, — that she becomes aware of the true nature of her calling, and begins to separate herself in readiness for the approaching day.

Verses 28, 29. "So ought men to love their wives," etc. It is interesting to observe the way in which the Apostle is led by the Spirit to unfold this great doctrine of the special love of Christ, by interweaving with it the practical exhortation to the Christian husband. The last verse has set the Church in the full results of the grace of Him who has redeemed her for Himself. That He has loved (egapese, verse 25) her, is shown by what He has suffered for her sake. That He does love her with a gracious kindness which is never to be wearied, is evinced abundantly by the watchful mercy which now waits upon her steps, as she moves slowly, and often painfully, through the present wilderness, towards His rest. It is this present manifestation of His love which is now regarded, and which is set before the married Christian as the pattern of His kindness towards his wife. He is to look on her, not as his own only, but as himself. She is as his body; and no man ever yet hated his own flesh.* But that which is a needed exhortation to men is a fulfilled truth in the mystery of Christ. Men are conscious of their love to their own flesh; and according to the quickness of this natural instinct, they are to estimate the present love of Jesus to the Church. Instead, therefore, of being divided against themselves, they are charged to nourish and cherish that which is their own flesh, even as the Lord the Church. For He also has His gracious instincts, which He willingly obeys. And if He nourishes His mystic spouse, it is upon Himself that she is fed. His very flesh and blood are, to the believing soul, the daily nourishment by which it is preserved alive. By the gracious operation of the Comforter, He cherishes the feeble vessel of His grace.

{*It is well to notice the indirect censure which the Holy Ghost here seems to cast upon the "show of wisdom" which vainly seeks, by an unnatural asceticism, to commend itself to God (Col. 2:23). If we are walking in the Spirit, we shall govern with a firm hand our flesh. Our bodies are the Lord's; to be kept, therefore, and used for Him, according to the dictates of that new and better wisdom which teaches us the nature of the holy liberty into which we have been called.}

The foregoing chapter has shown to us the instrumental means by which this still-continuing care of Jesus is bestowed upon His growing Church. But the doctrine of the present passage tells more immediately upon our hearts, in sanctifying power, by connecting us experimentally with this near and active love.

Verse 30. "For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones." We have been taught this blessed truth hitherto in its bearing on our mutual fellowship in the Spirit, as members of the one body, and united to one common Head. Here we drink more deeply into the mystery of our personal interest in Him. It is not so much the symmetrical perfection of the Divine workmanship that now engages our thoughts, as the portion which we severally have in the Lord, according as our faith is enabled to realize in power His special title of Husband to the Church.. We are married to Him that is risen from the dead (Rom. 7:4). While, therefore, the Church in its unity remains full in our view, it is our individual appropriation of that which in truth is the common portion of all saints that is the prominent idea here. "My Beloved is mine, and I am His," is an expression of particular faith in Jesus, as well as the natural language of the collective Church. "He loved me, and gave Himself for me," is the responsive echo from the heart of each living member of that Church that draws its nourishment by faith from the word of grace, which tells us of His dying love.

The Lord does not hate His flesh. But as many as He loves He rebukes and chastens, when their ways are wrong. His own holiness being the measure of our walk, if we willingly fall short of it, He is too faithful to leave us to ourselves. He is purposed to have His Church worthy of Himself; and He has counted all the cost of that great venture of His love. And because He is wise as well as fervent in His love, He deals practically with His Church, according to His knowledge of her need. He is her Lord for ever, amid all the endearments of His love, and seeks for subjection on her part. Hence words of sharpness may be used to recall her heedless steps from the way of evil. But He can never put away His wife. Grace and not law being the order of the marriage contract, it can never be dissolved. No bill of divorce can be drawn by Divine righteousness against a Church which is a faultless image of its Maker. For that she shall be both spotless and glorious, is the declared undertaking of His grace. Instead, therefore, of disappointment and repudiation, the day of His espousals* will be the consummation of an endless joy.

{*The Church is a betrothed bride, not yet actually wed. But as the love of Christ is the Apostle's subject, its sure results are administered to our faith as present things. Israel, after the flesh, was married in the law, and therefore put away, to be received again hereafter under the better covenant. The Lord will have His earthly as well as His heavenly bride (Isa. 62:4-7).}

Verse 31. "For this cause shall a man leave," etc. This view of the mystery of Christ is now completed by a reference to the primal institution of the marriage state, which is here presented by the Spirit as a type of the spiritual blessedness of the second Adam and His ransomed bride. The connexion in which the Apostle's quotation stands with his previous doctrine is quite clear. It was when Adam had accepted Eve as God's crowning gift, recognizing in her not only her Creator's fairest handiwork, but also his own flesh, that the Divine sanction of the marriage bond was formally pronounced: "For this cause," etc. The original mystery of creative power should thus be had in a perpetual remembrance by the institution of a relation in which divided being became, in name and interest, and close affection, one. Marriage begins a new estate. Father and mother are to be loved and honoured still, but relied on no longer as protectors. The man departs from his state of filial dependence to become himself the head of a new house. Now the espousals of the first man, Adam, was the type of the joy of Him who was to come. The woman whom the Lord God built up out of the man's substance, to be a help meet for him, was a shadow of her whom Christ now owns and cherishes as Himself. A little meditation on the end and order of this paradisaical marriage will bring out into still richer and clearer distinctness the marvellous blessedness of this calling of the Church.

In considering the Adamic pattern of the conjugal mystery of Christ and the Church, it is necessary to distinguish clearly between the two ideas; 1, of the entire mutual blessedness which attaches to their union; and, 2, the supremacy, which, belonging by original right to the man, is shared by him with the allotted partner of his name. Christ is, in reality and abiding perfection, what Adam was in type — the image and glory of God. The Church is really, and in the power of that life and incorruptibility which Christ has brought to light by the Gospel, the image and glory of the Man. When God created. Adam, it was in pursuance of a purpose which did not contemplate him singly, but in an association which left untouched the unity of his name. This is strikingly expressed in Gen. 1:26: "And God said, Let us make man in our image; and let them have dominion," &a. Presently after, when the blessing is pronounced, which carried with it an investiture of general sovereignty over all terrestrial things, it is upon the man and woman both. "And God blessed them, and said to them," etc. (Gen. 1:28).

In this passage, the eye of Christian faith discerns something more than the general truth of the supremacy of the human species over the beasts which perish. The language of the Holy Ghost has been so conceived from the beginning, as to present, when the time should arrive for its disclosure, fit illustrations and instructive similitudes, by means of which the souls of those who draw their consolations from the word of God might have their hope enlarged. Typical Scripture, when read in the new light of the Comforter's testimony, becomes, in this sense, a fresh volume of prophetic promise. For the truths which these figures indicate being yet future, as it respects their final accomplishment, the earliest record of creation is found to be a prophecy of Christ and His completed glories. The second Adam, and not the first, is in the full sense of the expression, "the beginning of the creation of God."*

*{ Rev. 3:14. He is the "Amen" of Divine promise. He is the "faithful and true Witness," both of the glory of God, and of the utter unprofitableness of the flesh. He is, finally, the Supplanter, in the mystery of His Person, of the former things. Having His goings forth from everlasting, He becomes, in the power of resurrection, the Beginning of that creation in which God will always rest. Ante, p, 74 Eph. 1:20.}

The first and second chapters of Genesis describe, in figure, the two great parts of the mystery of God. Supremacy and dominion are assigned to Adam in the former; while, in the latter, we have the lovely picture of pure wedded peace. The ruler of creation is also the possessor of Eve. If dignity attaches to the place assigned him by his Maker, his personal happiness is filled to its fulness by his association with the fitting partner of his joys Adam was moved to give his spouse a name, which remarkably foreshadows the predestined glory of the bride the Lamb's wife. The names which he bestowed upon the lower creation described faithfully, no doubt, their uses and their habits, but are not recorded in the word. They are written in the dust, to which the creature must return. But the image of the living God conferred a double title on his wife. He called her "Woman" when he claimed her as part of his own flesh. He surnamed her "Eve," when, after the loss of paradise, through her transgression, his faith saw in her the appointed fountain from which the sweet water of redemption should issue in due time. He called her Eve "because she was the mother of all living" (Gen. 3:20). Thus, while the sentence of death was in his flesh, new life was the anticipation of his faith. He found it in the word of gracious promise, which followed immediately the Divine conviction of transgression, and which became from thenceforth the sole stay of all who rightly remembered in whose image man was made.

Both these names receive an antitypical realization in the Church. For the bride, the Lamp's wife, is also the heavenly Jerusalem. But of the latter it is written, that she is the mother of the family of faith (Gal. 4:26). The throne of God and of the Lamb, from whence issues the river of the water of life, is set in her for ever (Rev. 12:1, seq.).

It was for Adam, the appointed head of the terrestrial creation, that a help was sought and found. God said that it was not good for him to be alone. He who created him had also planned his happiness with a perfect knowledge of his wants. Nor was it purposed, in the wisdom of the Divine counsels, that the second and eternal Man should be alone. His grace was given us in Christ before the world began. And although, as we have seen, the mystery of Christ was kept hidden in God until the time appointed for its revelation, it has been foreshadowed from the beginning of God's way on earth. For Adam there was found no suited helpmate in creation, because he was alone of his own kind. And who among the creatures could be found fit to mate with Him, who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His Person? The deep sleep which fell upon the first Adam is a figure of that hour of yet deeper darkness for which Jesus came into the world. The unconscious sleeper yielded to the plastic hand of his Creator the material from which his living likeness was to come. He wakes from sleep to find this new and fair reflection of himself. God brought her to him, and he took her as His gift, naming her rightly according to the intuitive promptings of his love. In like manner, the dead Christ becomes in truth the origin of His living Church. While He lived He was alone; and, had His will been not to die, He must for ever have remained so. The being of the Church is bound up eternally in Him who is the Resurrection and the Life.

The espousals of the first man represent the mystery of Christ as nearly as a natural type can foreshadow a spiritual reality. But it necessarily falls far short of the whole truth. For although it is a part of the truth (and a very precious part), that Christ, who is the appointed Heir of all things, receives His Church at the Father's hands as His most welcome gift, yet it is a further truth, and one much deeper than the former, that His union with the Church is the consummation of his own devoted love. And here it is that the present type is wanting.* The first Adam loved his own flesh, when he beheld Eve in the fresh perfection of her creation. The second Adam, who is the Lord from heaven, loved His spouse in all the wretchedness of her sinful degradation, and gave Himself in love for her redemption. The bride of His election is also the creature of His power, and the spoil of that great victory which exalts His name for ever as the Captain of salvation. That we might become members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, He who is the Quickening Spirit first took flesh, that in nature He might be identical with her whom He had chosen for Himself. He became incarnate, that she might, in Him, become immortal. He took her sins and death upon Himself, that she might reign with Him in righteousness and life.

{* This is supplied, however, by another type. In the recital of the loss of paradise (Gen. 3) we have a perfect figure of this mystery. Adam gives up God to keep his wife. Eve had been created for him in perfection, but was become unfit for his companionship from the moment of her fall. But Adam loved her with a wilful fervour which rejected God's commandment. He was not deceived by the tempter, but was ruined by his fondness. His wife's transgression became his sin, by a deliberate adoption. But what Adam did in guilty wilfulness, Christ has done in the perfection of His grace. An act of rebellious disobedience thus strangely furnishes a type of sovereign love. Adam gave himself to Eve in recklessness, renouncing his Creator for the creature's sake. Christ gave Himself for her whom He confesses as His spouse, that, by assuming all her liabilities in the sufficiency of a self-devoting mercy, He might hide her shame for ever in the glory of His righteousness, and make her beautiful in the perfection of His truth.}

Verse 32. "This mystery is great," etc. The emphasis of the Apostle's language is very remarkable. Although the mysteries of God are the subject of His stewardship, the only other instance in which he speaks of a great mystery is when, under the comprehensive title of the "mystery of godliness," he describes the incarnation of the Living One and its effects, as the truth of which the Church of God is the pillar and the ground. All that relates to the mystery of godliness is great; for in contemplating it, we look upon God manifest in the flesh. He who can be found out by no search reveals thus to His people the treasures of His grace and truth. And only less great than that first wonder of the personal assumption of our flesh by the Son of God is this mystery which declares the Church to be the acceptable spouse of Christ. Less wonderful, though full of glory, was the eternal purpose that He should become, in the effectual power of redemption, the Dispenser of manifold blessings to a reconciled creation. But that, by the power of the Holy Ghost, there should be prepared a Church, while Christ, the second Adam, still hides Himself in Heaven, and is, as it were, the dormant Holder of the title to universal lordship, which Church is owned by Him in spirit as the Bride of His election and the destined sharer of His throne, when He shall awake as a strong man out of sleep, and shall come forth to assume in power irresistible the dominion which He has received, is a mystery which we may well call great.

Verse 33. It is concerning Christ and the Church that the Apostle speaks, when he magnifies the mystery of wedded union. But of this great mystery the married life of saints should be, in some sort a reflection. While the spiritual consummation is but a hope, the believing acknowledgment that such a relationship subsists is to regulate the feelings with which the Christian man or wife is to regard the merely natural connexion. To love from principle, and in the power of faith, is something different from obeying a natural instinct. Passion may lead to the forming of a contract, which spiritual devoteduess must afterwards maintain. Hence reverence and love, which are the necessary pillars of true matrimonial peace, are here enjoined as duties, rather than relied on as things natural and inherent in the relationship described. Doubtless, a marriage without genuine affection would be no true reflex of the love of Jesus to His spouse. What is taught us here, however, is that, among Christians, Christ is to be the one governing and regulating principle of every relationship which a member of His mystic body may be called upon to fill.

In concluding this chapter, it seems desirable to anticipate a possible objection which might be alleged against the special doctrine of the Church, on the ground of the general bearing of Christ's title of second Adam, upon all who are spiritually His descendants. If the general argument of the Apostle in 1 Cor. 15 be considered, we find that the points of contrast are the first Adam and the second, together with the resulting effects upon their respective progeny, of the characters which distinguished each. The position, therefore, stated in verse 22, that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive," expresses a truth which is commensurate, on the one side, with sin and its effects upon Adamic nature, and, on the other., with redemption and its blessed fruits in Christ. But the same chapter, as has already been shown (Ante, Eph. 1:10, seq.), instructs us, in a remarkably clear and emphatic manner, as to the successional order of fulfilment, in which the power of resurrection is to take effect upon its subjects, in connexion with the doctrine of the millennial reign. And subsequently, in verses:16-49, we have a lengthened discussion of the unwise question raised at verse 35, the terms of which are such as to leave ample room for the supposition of permanent diversities of order in the new world of risen and eternal life. All will bear the imago of the heavenly Christ; but that is quite compatible with the additional idea of variety of place. Jew and Gentile were widely apart, though both bore the likeness of their common ancestor(ante, Eph. 1:18, note). Enough, however, has been already said upon a point which seems scarcely susceptible of a complete demonstration. The brighter light of the Divine presence will shortly clear up all these doubtful points. Happy are we if, in the meanwhile, we are enabled to abide with girded loins, expecting that holy presence which the scoffer is beginning already to deride.

Ephesians 6.

Verse 1. "Children, obey your parents," etc. In continuation of the series of particular exhortations, commenced in the foregoing chapter, believing children are now reminded of their duties towards their parents after the flesh. And here, as in the previous instances, the proposed motive and standard of their conduct is, the Name which they profess. Parents are to be honoured in the Lord, whether themselves believers or unbelievers. If partakers of their children's faith, this fact would add new joy to the observances of filial piety, and strengthen the existing bonds of natural relationship, but would create no additional obligation. In obeying his parent, the believing child. confesses God as the original Founder of all natural relationships, and who now, as the God of our salvation, calls on us to adorn His doctrine in all things. In the power of the new and risen life, we are to discharge with readiness, as to the Lord, those duties which continue to carry with them the sanction of His name. And so the will of a parent will be the law of an obedient child, so long as that will demands no sacrifice of a higher obedience. Conscience must ever be the rule of a believer's walk — a conscience lightened and stimulated by the Holy Ghost. Being made free from all men by the truth, which joins us to the Lord, We re-enter the natural relationships, in the power of redemption, to accept them and sustain them with a firmer constancy than natural feeling can supply. For we are to fill them for the Lord, and in His strength.

We are exhorted to obey our parents, not because it is natural, but because it is right. Thus, as in the previous instance of the marriage contract, grace lends its confirmatory sanction and support to what natural instinct has begun. For to be void of filial affection, is to be something less than human. We are walking in the way of practical righteousness, when we faithfully acknowledge God in those relations which He has created for us, and in which His will has set us from our birth. The wisdom and moral necessity of such an injunction as the present verse contains, will be readily acknowledged by the sound-hearted. believer. For Satan is ever on the watch to prevent our adorning God's doctrine, by tempting our flesh to seek pretexts of escape from duties which are often onerous and trying, but which, nevertheless, present themselves in the plain path of Scriptural obedience. We have to watch on our parts against precisely the same baseness of nature, and the same sophistical self-deceptions, as called forth the Lord's denunciation in His day (Matt. 15). To make the word of God. of none effect, by dishonouring a smaller obligation in a pretended zeal for what is greater, is a snare of very common effect among professors of the faith of Christ. Restless natural energy, which is but a disguised. wilfulness, is well pleased to flatter itself to a persuasion that it is serving the Lord in some more eminent way, while evading or negligently fulfilling some nearer but less welcome warning of the Master's voice. And it is well to remember, that when Christian apostasy has grown to its full ripeness for the coming judgment, a form of godliness will disguise the deep wickedness of those who, along with other marks of reprobation, are denounced by the Spirit as "disobedient to parents" (2 Tim. 3:2).

The Christian child has Jesus for his model in this race of duty. Himself the eternal Son of God. He nevertheless accepted, in His self-abasing graec: and love, those obligations which attached to the imputed kinship, which placed Him, in men's eyes. in equal nearness of relation to both his presumed parents. To Joseph, as well as to His mother (Luke 2:51), He rendered the subjection of a son, until the time came for His emergence from that privacy of pure and unobtrusive goodness, into the appointed sphere of His testimony and gracious ministry as the Anointed of the Father. Having come into the world to do the will of God, He submitted willingly to a yoke which, so long as the mystery of godliness was undeclared, belonged of right to the relation which He seemed to fill. But as, in His case, when the moment came for noting in His Father's business, He grew, as it were, strange to His own flesh (Luke 2:49; John 2:4), that the greater glory of the truth might shine, so, also, the believer holds his filial obligation in subjection to a more commanding claim on his obedience. In that sense it is that we are told by Him who is our Pattern, to call no man father upon earth. For, as members of the risen Christ, we know no man after the flesh. Our Father is in heaven. But wherever natural duty does not practically sever us from Christ, it is to be discharged with joyful diligence in His name.

Verses 2, 3. "Honour thy father and thy mother," etc. We have in these verses a rare instance of a direct quotation from the Mosaic table, as a sanction for the Christian conscience. It is described here as the first commandment with promise: "that it may be well with thee," etc. Now this promise, like all other promises of God, is to the believer Yea and Amen in Christ, to the glory of Him who by grace has blessed us in His Son. For Jesus has deserved all promise, and is become the security of all to us. But, in the practical administration of His government, God acts upon immutable principles; and His way is ever to annex a positive blessing to obedience. Thus even they who characteristically are not under law, but under grace (and, therefore, safe from the ultimate mastery of sin), are not the less subject to the positive ordinances of God. They are under law to Christ. As it respects the force and limitation of the present precept, there is no real difficulty. The relationship in question is temporal, and so also is the promise. What the land* was to the Israelite after the flesh, the word of grace now is to the partaker of the heavenly calling. For such, godliness has promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come (1 Tim 4:8). It is well with us, and we consciously enjoy the Father's favour, so long as we are walking as obedient children in His light. A faithful compliance with the written precept will sweeten with the Divine blessing the present term of patience; while the promise, in its fullest import, will, together with all other promises, which make up in their mighty sum the full "recompense of reward," be realized in its perfection only in the day of Jesus Christ.**

{* epi tes ges. By translating these words "on the earth," the R.V. has, perhaps, obscured a little the true meaning of this passage. Compare Ex. 20:12.

**In 1 Peter 3:10-12, we have an interesting example of a somewhat similar use of Old Testament Scripture. Psalm 34 is there quoted in its practical bearing on the walk of a believer as a man of God. The principle on which this turns is very manifest. The Father is a God of Judgment, who does not fail to weigh our actions, though He saves us freely by His grace. He cannot but be true to this His standing character. Pronouncing us unblameable in Christ, He would have us cleanse our ways by taking heed thereto according to His word (Ps. 119:9). Compare 1 Peter 1:14-21.}

Verse 4. "And ye fathers," etc. If God is the Asserter of the parents rights, He lays also upon believing fathers a corresponding obligation. As in the former case, the manifold varieties of filial piety were comprehended in the single exhortation to obedience, so the chief virtue of the Christian parent is here made to consist in a judicious self-restraint. And surely nothing can more forcibly exemplify the peculiarity of the Christian standing, as a thing founded in absolute grace, than the language of the present admonition. A wise and just parental discipline is, no doubt, to be maintained; but its basis is the grace in which the parent himself stands with God. Hence such a system of restraint is to be avoided as would tend to laring the natural will and temper of the parent into collision with that of the child. The standard of conscience for both one and the other is the Lord. If a Christian's household is rightly ordered, it is recognized by all who belong to it that Christ is the real master of that house. On Him and on His love the first thoughts of the infant should be formed; and His sayings are to be the daily admonition of the growing child.

A Christian is not his own. His children, therefore, as they were given to Him by the Lord, are to be possessed in Him, and brought up in His way.* The desire of the natural man is to fit his son to play his part creditably and with advantage in the world. The desire of the saint should be, to educate his child for heaven, and not for earth; not failing, indeed, to teach him that which may qualify him to maintain good works for necessary uses (Titus 3:14, margin.), but labouring to instil into his earliest mind the conviction that he belongs to Christ, and not to the present world. His father's God will be his God, if faith and patience have their perfect work in the single-eyed discharge of parental duties, according to the obedience of Christ (Prov. 22:6). It is plain that the responsibilities of Christian parents are of no light kind. To discharge them effectively, a man should be walking very near to God. There are, indeed, few things that put practical godliness to a severer test than the ordering of a man's house. For it is the will of God that the children of His saints should. learn their first ideas of Christ from such reflection of Him as they see in their own parents words and ways. A father, therefore, who ruled his children by the mere force of natural authority would be no true nursing father in the Lord. He would obstruct, instead of transmitting to the heart and conscience of his child, the rays of that blessed and holy Light which he should be reflecting upon all within his house. if the conduct of a parent does not commend itself to the conscience of his child, he is unfaithful to his trust. Personal inconsistency (so quickly penetrated by a child's discernment), especially when combined, as it sometimes is, with a harsh and repulsive system of religious restraint, forms about the strongest possible provocation to angry fretfulness in a youthful mind Discouragement is the effect of this (Col. 3:21). Thorns and briers seem, to the misguided heart, to be the only fruit of a way which it nevertheless hears daily extolled as a way of pleasantness and peace. On the other hand, a firm and resolute control by a parent of his children's wilfulness is no cause of discouragement. Anger may rage for the moment, while the rebellious will is yet unconquered; but conscience secretly approves. the parent's course. Severity is not unkindness, when its justice is appreciated. No father who wisely loved his child would nurture him in wilfulness. To do so would be to encourage him in sin, and to sow for himself a harvest of future sorrow, by despising the commandments of the Lord (Prov. 29:15). The perfect but holy kindness of God towards His children is to be the pattern of the Christian father's way. A fond connivance at his children's faults, on. the one hand, or an unsympathizing arbitrariness of conduct towards them, on the other, would be almost equally remote from the true nurture and admonition of the Lord. We are priests to God through grace; and His priests should make the law of the sanctuary the rule of their own house (Rev. 1:0; cp. 1 Sam. 2, 3.).

{*Compare, as to the principle, Deut. 6:7, 20, seq.; 12:18, seq.}

Verses 5-9. The relation of master and servant* is next examined, and in the same order which has been observed throughout, the servant being first addressed. And it is interesting to notice that, both in this instance and in the numerous other passages in the New Testament in which the same parties are contemplated, the duty of the servant is prescribed with a peculiar fulness and earnestness.** We cannot be at a loss to assign a reason for this; for not only has the servant's place been hallowed. and adorned for ever by the willing obedience of Jesus, but it is manifest that Satan would not fail to tempt men to confound, with a view to their selfish interests, the principles of natural and spiritual liberty; and thus bring the Gospel of Christ into disrepute among the Gentiles, as a revolutionary doctrine, whose progress could not be compatible with the existing framework of society.

{*More exactly "slave." The reader will hardly need to be reminded that the voluntary contract which forms the basis of the modern relation of master and servant was but little known to the social system of the Gentile world when the Apostle wrote. Domestic servants were usually the absolute property of their masters. Wherever servants are mentioned in the Epistles, bond-slaves (douloi) are intended.

**Compare, in proof of this, 1 Cor. 7:21-23; Col. 3:22-25; 1 Tim. 6:1-5; Titus 2:9, 10; 1 Peter 2:18-20.}

In the present passage, the moral power of the Gospel, as the charter of that which is liberty indeed, is very strikingly displayed. The Christian slave is the Lord's freedman. But the grace which has broken the fetters of his spiritual bondage lightens, indeed, but does not necessarily remove, the temporal durance in which the Gospel found him. He is still under the yoke; and possibly that yoke might be a grievous one and hard to bear, when the comfort or discomfort of the slave depended solely on the arbitrary pleasure of his owner. How, then, was the Christian slave to act? Was he, in the new and Divine light of his personal redemption, to view his bondage as an ignominious state, derogatory to his calling as a partaker of Christ, and to which, therefore, he might lawfully demur? On the contrary, he is taught how to adorn God's doctrine in the place and circumstances where the Saviour sought him out and found him. The only but most real and blessed difference which existed between his present and his previous state was, that whereas he once pined hopelessly under the double bondage of both soul and body, he had now his Divine Redeemer for his Yoke-fellow. Being assured that he was called, through grace, into the fellowship of the Son of God, he should not care (1 Cor. 7:21) if, for a season, in his heavenly Master's interest, he had still to wear his bonds. Through grace he might imitate the Saviour in His good confession; for, by the faith of Jesus, he too was an anointed king, though nothing but a captive in the eyes of men. The Spirit who sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts would sustain him in the patient hope of that kingdom and glory which are presently to be revealed, while the irksomeness of his toil is changed to a contented readiness, by the assurance that, in serving faithfully his earthly owner, he is rendering acceptable obedience to the Lord. Beneath the form of his master after the flesh, his faith might discern the gracious presence of Him who had bought him for His everlasting service with His blood.

The Apostle's doctrine has lost none of its importance, nor of its moral bearing on its subject, although the circumstances have, in many respects, greatly changed. The place of the servant is still one of submission and fidelity. The grace of God, which brings salvation to men of all orders and degrees, prescribes no necessary change of station, but teaches how we may adorn them all. Its efficacy is evinced by severing from the world the heart in which it dwells, and knitting it to Jesus in the heavens. If, therefore, Christian faith be lively, its practical effect will be to afford a special testimony in the presence of those circumstances which form the particular occasion of its exercise. It is of Christ that men are forced to think, when they see His people blamelessly and cheerfully discharging, for His sake, the more difficult and wearisome duties of life. What men are incited to do well by motives of self-interest, should be done better, because more sincerely, by a Christian for the love of Christ. Believing servants should ply their vocation "not with eye-service as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good-will doing service, as unto the Lord, and not to men." The Spirit reckons on our good-will to Him who has redeemed us. It is the maintenance of this principle of devotedness to Jesus, that alone sanctifies to the believer any relation of the present life.

But while faith always works by love, fear, also, has its place in the constitution of a sound mind. For if Christ is owned as our Master, the fear of His displeasure will only operate the more strongly, the more deeply we are rooted in His love. To displease those whom we love is grievous even among equals; but when, in addition to the Saviour's standing claim on our affections, we remember, also, that the judgment-seat of Christ is set for the day in which He will pronounce in holiness upon the value of all conduct which we have not already confessed in His name as sin, it is plain that such an expectation tends to invest every allowed action of a believer's life with a new and peculiar importance. Thus hope and fear have each their salutary influence as regulating springs of conduct. As it respects the former of these, the general principle is stated clearly in verse 8. The Christian slave is reminded, for his encouragement in well doing, that "whatsoever good thing any man does, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free." On the other hand, the master is admonished, in the following verse, that there is One in heaven whom he also serves, and who is no respecter of persons.

The exhortation here addressed to Christian masters is very general and wide. As it respects their bearing towards a believing servant, it might well be supposed that a remembrance of their common relation, as members of the one body of Christ, would of itself incline their hearts to kindness and considerate gentleness towards their brethren whom God had thus left for a time at their discretion. Moreover, if they thought of Him who is their Pattern, they would seek" to imitate Him in His way. Example, therefore, rather than compulsion, would be the rule of their administration. Threats of vengeance would come strangely from the lips of one who owed himself to grace as a forgiven sinner. But, as we have seen, a more stringent motive is not wanting to arouse an indolent or inconsiderate master to a just sense of his responsibilities. If he neglected to do rightly, there was One above him who both knew and judged. Both the oppressed and the oppressor are the Lord's.* His ear is always open to the cry of the afflicted; and no transgressor of His own unvarying rule of equity will go unrecompensed. Very real will be their loss, in the coming day, who then discover that their ways in this life have found no approbation in the Master's eyes.

{*The margin of verse 9 gives, "both your and their master." According to the reading chosen, the application of the precept will be general, or limited to the mutual relation of believing master and slave. Compare, as to the latter, 1 Tim. 6:2; Philemon 16.}

The principle of compensation here asserted in no way trenches on or overshadows the doctrine of pure saving grace. Grace, which destroys our old responsibilities, creates new ones for those whom it has saved. We serve the Lord Christ — a Master worthy of all duty, and who is perfect in that character, as in every other that He sustains. It ought not to be necessary to insist upon a principle so simple. For, surely, to approve ourselves to Him must be the desire of every heart which He possesses. Yet there is not infrequently to be found among Christians a morbid shrinking from the idea of future compensation or loss, as the result of our walk below. Where this feeling exists in a mind really honest and sincere, it arises from an inadequate appreciation of the true nature of the believer's standing. A wise dread of cherishing a legal temper may easily produce such an effect upon a mind: not yet taught perfectly the way of the Lord, while the heart is still kept in the practical exercise of its gracious affections. Far more commonly, however, the feeling in question is a mischievous self-deception, tending only to blunt and harden the active sympathies of the inner man, by nourishing the flesh in an indolent security. God, who rejects our natural works as dead, could never exhort us to work for Him, if He had not first wrought us for Himself in Christ as the vessels of His saving mercy.* But, having done so, He both marks out our way and stimulates us to maintain it, not only by keeping us in memory of the hope of our calling, but by the allurement of special promise, as well as by warning us of loss if we are forgetful of His word. To evade the application of plain scriptural precepts on the alleged pretext of avoiding legalism, is to despise the sure testimonies of the Holy Ghost in favour of a one-sided and faulty conception of the grace of God.

{*On the subject of Christian works, see further, Eph. 2:10, seq.}

Verse 10. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord," etc. Having thus brought the practical power of the doctrine of Christ to bear, successively, upon the principal relations of human life, the Apostle, instead of immediately closing his Epistle, returns again to the more general subject, in order to instruct and warn his brethren as to the nature and requirements of that spiritual conflict which all who believe are called to wage. Few passages of Scripture are more valuable to the saint who rightly apprehends his calling, than the exhortation which commences at this verse, and which is grounded chiefly on the doctrine laid down in chaps. 1 and 2.

The first thing to be noticed is the all-important consideration, that the very occasion of spiritual conflict, in its proper sense, arises from the fact of our being ourselves no longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit, as anointed members of the body of Christ. Believers are exhorted to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. If we have heard Him, and been taught in Him, we have learned that in ourselves we were powerless for anything but evil; for we were sinners. It was when we were without strength that Christ died for our deliverance. But as saints, also, we are just as little able of ourselves to do anything to the praise of Him who has redeemed us. Without a constant remembrance of this double truth, there is no such thing as fighting the good fight of faith. We are not even aware of the nature and manner of our adversary's opposition to us, until we are brought to understand that the power by which God's saints are enabled to adorn the doctrine of their Saviour is their continuing, by faith, in Him. The battle is not ours but His. By standing fast in Him, we learn by degrees, in an experimental way, that His strength is perfected in weakness.

Verse 11. "Put on, therefore, the whole armour of God," etc. Our personal acceptance in the Beloved exposes us severally to the assaults of the adversary; while, for a similar reason, he acts as the deceiver and corrupter of the Church at large (2 Cor. 11:3). To repel such an assailant, we have need of weapons suited to the methods which he practises against our peace. We have to bear constantly in our remembrance, that what we are called to contend for is nothing of our own. It is because we belong to Christ, and in Him to the God who gave Him for our sins, that we are parties in this spiritual strife. We have to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, confessing and maintaining, by faith, the position which Divine truth has assigned to us as partakers of His promise by the Gospel. Now it is because God has openly declared Himself on our side, in the Gospel of His grace, that the devil is avowedly our adversary. As he vainly plotted against Christ, the Captain of our salvation, so he now practises against us; vainly while we withstand him in the power of God, but only too successfully the moment we cease to be conformed to Him in the spirit of our minds. Satan is not and cannot be (in the same sense) against the natural man. On the contrary, he manages, and soothes, and tries to interest him with the vanities of life, in order to keep him in that state of spiritual torpor and deadness which is his natural condition. He is his destroyer only the more effectually by stimulating, instead of opposing, his natural will (ante, Eph. 2:2, seq.). It is in opposition to the claims of Christian faith that he exerts his power as the adversary. The Christian is the creature and the servant of the will of God. To meet, therefore, and withstand our enemy, we have need of such arms as God alone can give. By yielding ourselves to Him, we shall become thoroughly equipped for this otherwise unequal contest. We know our adversary when, by faith, we discern the love of our Friend (John 4:13. Cp. James 4:4). But while unestablished in the grace of God, we think and feel as if both God and Satan were against us. Afflicted by the working of indwelling sin, while unacquainted with the power of effectual redemption, we are in conflict with we know not what. Confusion and despondency are our portion until Christ is appropriated, in simple faith, as our Righteousness and our Strength. When we have submitted. ourselves to the righteousness of God, we become capable of acting in His name, He is Himself the glory of our strength, when we lie down securely under the shadow of that mighty Rock. Subjection to God is our sole practical defence against the enemy. He laughs to scorn all other muniments but that great Name of refuge into which the righteous flees, and is safe (Prov. 18:10).

Verse 12. "For we wrestle not with flesh and blood," etc. The quality of our adversaries, and the manner of our warfare, are now further opened to us. First, we wrestle not with flesh and blood, According to our birth and lineage, so is our conflict. We are born, as believers, not of flesh and blood, but of God. Hie enemies are, therefore, ours. We inherit, with the treasures of His love, His eternal enmity against the Wicked One (Ex. 17:16). As it respects personal enmities, dead men can have none. And we are dead with Christ. It is because we are also risen with Him that we find ourselves exposed to the enmity of that which crucified Him, and still disallows His name. Of the enemies arrayed against us, there is, indeed, a fearful number, and of mighty power. When we consider them under the names and descriptions which they here receive, we may well feel as grasshoppers in their sight. But they are in the land which is the Lord's, and our calling is to dispossess them by the power of His might (cp. Num. 13:30-33).

The conflicts of God's people are according to the nature of their calling. When Jehovah owned a people in the flesh, they fought in His name against fleshly adversaries. Israel was led to battle after quite a different manner from the Church. It is because our calling is a heavenly one, that the scene of our conflict is laid there. "Wicked spirits in heavenly places"* are appreciable as antagonists to those only who by faith have present access into heaven. Our heritage is there; and there, consequently, the adversary as yet disputes our right. In the present enumeration of our enemies, we have to distinguish between the rulers of the darkness of this world, and the efforts of spiritual wickednesses in heavenly places. Satan has no rule there. He and his angels are not yet definitively banished from the heavens. They are permitted still to infest them, until the decisive moment comes for the open manifestation of the kingdom of God and the power of His Christ. But he, whose presence as the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:7-11) in heaven is endured yet a little while, is the ruling power in the world. As opposed to Christ, the true Light of the world, he is styled the ruler of its darkness.** In the preceding verse the devil, in his unity, is shown to be an adversary; as was also the case in chap. 2:2, where we have had him described, in his working, as the prince of the power of the air. In the present passage, the doctrine of Satanic power is stated distributively, adverse agencies and energies being enumerated, all of which are to be referred to that one pre-eminent power of evil, of whose existence and working we have such abundant testimony in the word of God.*** Accordingly, separate mention is made of principalities, powers, and spiritualities of wickedness. They stand thus in evil contrast to those other principalities and powers whose abiding seat is in the heavens, and who learn with joyful admiration the manifold riches of the Divine wisdom, as witnesses of the present work of God in the salvation of His Church.

{*Such is the marginal translation in E.V., and, no doubt, the more correct one. ta pneumatika tes ponerias means, literally, "the spiritualities of wickedness." These are described as being in the heavenly places, where the Church has been already set, in chap. 1. As to the peculiarity of the language, Bengel's remarks seem both interesting and just. Compare Gnomon, in loc.

**In all the later critical editions, the words, tou aionos, are omitted. The meaning remains the same, with the addition of a stronger emphasis. "Rulers of this darkness," is an expression which describes, with a fearful energy and comprehensiveness, the thraldom in which the natural man is held. Whatever is not "light in the Lord" remains still under the power of darkness.

***This distinctive supremacy is frequently recognized in Scripture. We have "the devil and his angels," "the dragon and his angels," "the ministers of Satan." That Satan is comprised among "the angels that kept not their first estate," would be hard to prove. They are represented as held, until the day of judgment, in chains of darkness; while he and his angels are both at large and dominant, within the sphere allowed them, until the day when they will be consigned to the place prepared for them. Our wisdom, meanwhile, is not to pry into things unseen, but to accept the sure testimonies of God, well assured that the Holy Spirit of Truth is not setting before us an imaginary phantom, when He teaches us the doctrine of Satanic agency and power.}

There are two principal ways in which Satan add against God's saints. The one is, by endeavouring (often through false applications of Divine truth) to influence the conscience in such a manner as to depress the soul below the true hope of its calling. The other is, by setting delusive objects of enticement in our view, by means of which our hearts may be betrayed into practical unfaithfulness to the Lord. The prince of this world will not lightly waive his claim to that over which he once held an undisputed sway. In cases where the power of the Gospel has brought its subjects very suddenly from darkness into light, so that the sinner, on his first awakening, finds himself, almost without a struggle, in the enjoyment of full spiritual liberty, the aim of the deceiver is, to spread some snare for him, which may be sufficient to re-entangle him (if unwary) in the former things of which he is ashamed. As a rule, the danger of practical relapse is more imminent in examples of sudden conversion than where the process has been more gradual; though none are for a moment safe from the power of temptation, if not walking humbly with the Lord. Moreover, Satan is to be watched against, not less as a corrupter of doctrine, than as an instigator to an evil way. As the spirit of error, he seeks to counteract the testimony of the Spirit of truth; while, as the spirit of wickedness, he incites the flesh to practical rebellion against the holy commandment of the Lord.

Verse 13. The repetition in this verse of the previous exhortation to put on the whole armour of God serves to impress on us more forcibly the reality of the dangers with which we have to cope, and also to confirm us in the happy assurance that, let what will be found in array against us, God is irrevocably on our side. After such a recital of the names and quality of our adversaries, it is not at all superfluous to remind us thus distinctly of the terms on which we enter on this conflict. God's armour is for His friends, not for His foes. The day to us is evil, only because of our belonging to Him who is good. If we are of God, the day of man must be an evil day to us. It is especially to be remembered that the question to be decided in this conflict is not the eventual salvation of our souls. That battle has been fought for us by Him whom we confess as our Life, while we worship Him as the Lord upon the throne. It is in the strength of Him who has led captivity captive, and spoiled principalities and powers, that we are encouraged now to arm for the assertion of those rights which Divine grace has freely given us in Jesus. It is as bearers of that worthy name among men that we are called to vigilance and readiness of mind. We have a work to do — the work of faith and practical obedience. It is after we have done the will of God, that we inherit the promises. We are exhorted to work out our own salvation, because, until we pass from hence to be with Christ, we are secure indeed in Him, but only "saved by hope." But this work of our obedience must be wrought in us of God His strength is needed to perform His will. And that strength is our own, while we abide in Him by faith. If we walk in this confidence, we shall not fail nor seem to come short of the promise of His grace. Armed by His hand against His enemies and our own, we shall be found standing when the day is done, instead of falling among them that fall (Heb. 3:17; 4:1, seq.; Jer 6:15).

Verse 14. We have now placed before us in detail the several instruments and weapons, both of protection and offence, which make up together the whole armour of God. But before the warrior is armed, his place and attitude are assigned to him. He is to stand. It is not when composing themselves to slumber that men put on their armour, but when newly awakened by the trumpet of alarm. That warning is uttered, both loudly and with no uncertain sound, by the Spirit of Jesus, during the continuance of the evil day. Being then set upon his watch, the first essential in the equipment of a good soldier of Christ is, that his loins be girt about with truth. They whom he addressed had "heard the word of truth, the Gospel of their salvation." In that confession they are exhorted now to stand. Truth is the power which creates a Christian, and his walk (Gal. 5:7; 3 John 3, 4) and work (John 3:21) should be according to his standing in the sight of God. By the knowledge of the truth we were made free. We continue so while we abide in that which first gave liberty to our souls. If we relax that girdle, our strength is gone, and we are ready to be again entangled with the yoke of bondage. Simplicity in Christ is the best preparation for fidelity to Christ. The force of the figure used is easily perceived. The girdle of a man is that which strengthens him. It is when we brace our feeble minds with the sure testimonies of salvation that we are filled with calmness and assurance. Nothing can confer on us stability and fixedness of heart but unqualified reliance on the truth of God. Natural sincerity of character is no safeguard against the wiles of spiritual deceit. Truth disallows self-confidence, while it settles the believing soul in Christ. Moreover, it is truth alone that sanctifies the soul (2 John 17:17), and keeps it in the way of holiness and peace.

This direction to gird ourselves with truth suggests at once the characteristic quality of the adversary against whom we are called to arm. Satan is a liar always. If he prevails, it is by guile. On the other hand, Christ is the Truth. If we walk in Him, we have both strength and light. The deceiver has no power over those who, in the spirit of their minds, confine themselves habitually within the truth of God. The simplicity of Christ disperses as a cloud those manifold delusions by which the pure minds of God's children might be otherwise defiled (2 Peter 1:13; 3:2). If the girdle of truth is on the loins of our mind, our expectations, both of good and evil, will be regulated by the word of God. Afflictions, therefore, will not take us by surprise, nor shall we count it a strange thing if even fiery trial come upon us, as a consequence of our endeavour to maintain a godly walk. We shall not cast away our confidence in the day of tribulation, nor be drawn away from Our steadfastness by the error of the wicked. The word which searches us will also stablish us and hold us up. We shall both know the hope of our calling, and be strengthened to occupy with patience until the closing of the evil day.*

{*As to the important consideration of practical truthfulness, see Eph. 4:15, seq., Eph. 4:25, seq.}

"And having on the breast-plate of righteousness." As Gentiles, their natural description was, that they followed not after righteousness; but, through grace, they had attained to the righteousness which is by faith (Rom. 9:30). Christ the Lord was now confessed by them as their righteousness; and in Him they are exhorted to abide. He is to be worn by them as the armour of their trust. A breast-plate emboldens the heart which it protects; it is the warrior's confidence. If, therefore, righteousness be this, it is the righteousness of God; our own can be no part of God's armour. Filthy rags bear no resemblance to a breast-plate. That which is our justification in the presence of God, is our reliance also in conflict with the enemy. Believers are addressed as already having on this armour. Nothing can enable a Christian to hold his ground against Satan, but the assumption, by faith, of Christ as the imputed righteousness of God. When He is dwelling in our hearts by faith, we are bold in the confession of Ins name. It is the Lord Himself who is the Confidence and Shelter of His people. In Him, and not in themselves, they have both righteousness and strength. Our calling is to go in that strength, making mention of His righteousness, and His alone (Isa. 45:24; Ps. 71:15, 16). )

When the Lord makes Himself ready for the battle of His people's deliverance, He puts on righteousness as a breast-plate (Isa. 59:17). His glory, as the Righteous One, becomes thus openly asserted to the confusion of all gainsayers. And such is the completeness of the union of His believing people with Himself, that what belongs to Him essentially, is theirs also by imputation. They prevail in their conflicts by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. But it is evident that, in order to keep our ground as confessors of the Divine righteousness, we have need of practical vigilance and uprightness of walk. With purpose of heart, we must cleave to the Lord (Acts 11:23). Righteousness is to be followed after, while all evil is to be eschewed (1 Tim. 6:11). The Lord, who restores our souls, leads onward in the path of righteousness. Hence, in a secondary sense, the consciousness of personal singleness of eye, and practical godliness of conversation, never fails to add both confidence and joy to the devoted saint. The Apostle well understood the mutual bearing on each other of justifying faith and personal devotedness to Christ. He was always confident, because the Lord was ever kept before him as the one aim of his life. To him to live was Christ. As a minister of God, he approved himself "by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left" (2 Cor. 6:7). His rejoicing was thus the testimony of his conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, he had his conversation in the world (2 Cor. 1. 12). In the same joyous abundance of assurance he prepares, at the close of his career, to present himself before the Righteous Judge, that he might receive the crown of righteousness laid up for him; adding, as became one who knew no man after the flesh, and whose glorying was in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ alone, that not for him alone, or as a recompense of his apostolic fidelity, was that crown prepared, but for all who loved the appearing of the Lord as partakers of like precious faith. The good fight which he had fought had not been his, but of the Lord. Walking in the truth of His Gospel, he had kept the faith (2 Tim. 4:7, 8).

Carelessness of walk deprives this breast-plate of its lustre, and may even, in a practical sense, remove it from its place. A good conscience must be held with faith, or faith will languish, and put forth no fruits of righteousness. The Scripture speaks of some who, through a negligent walk, had lost their peace, as well as their first love, having forgotten that they were purged from their old sins. In such a case, the heart is painfully aware that its defence is gone. To recover it, and thus regain our right position as good soldiers of Christ, we must have recourse to Him, who, in His unfailing grace, is the Healer and Restorer of our souls. His sympathies are swift and ready for the effective succour of the really contrite spirit. But never can He sympathise with sin. He hates it, and will surely judge it in His people if they do not judge themselves. Self-confidence, whether fostered by doctrinal knowledge, or based upon natural uprightness of character, is the surest prelude to spiritual failure. God will protect His children from destruction, but He will not suffer them to prosper spiritually while trusting in anything but Himself.*

{*It is with a similar reference to our practical efficiency, as witnesses for Jesus, that we are exhorted, in 1 Thess. 5:8, to have on the breast-plate of faith and love.}

Verse 15. "And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace." As Divine righteousness is the believer's confidence, so the peace of God is the sole footing upon which he can stand firmly as a witness for the truth. Christ is our Peace. It is by our reception, through the Spirit, of that blessed truth, that we are prepared to begin our walk with God. What we stand in, is the true grace of God (1 Peter 5:12) Our preparation for that standing is the Gospel of peace. Having been reconciled to God by the death of His Son, the saint is at war with that only which is contrary to Him. With feet thus shod, we are prepared to run the way of His commandments; a way which is, to them that keep it, evermore the way of peace. That which the natural man can never find, is now the prepared path of our obedience. Our sanctification is the work of Him who is the "very God of peace" (1 Thess. 5:23).

There is a double sense in which a Christian should have his feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. First, as we have seen, peace is the practical effect of his standing by faith in the righteousness of God. But he is, also, furnished as a messenger of peace to others. In this sense, every saint is an evangelist. If we walk in the power of the Gospel, we hold forth the word of life to others (Phil. 2:15, 16). Belonging to Him who is the God of peace, we should be faithful witnesses of Him. Nature is contentious; but the servant of the Lord should not be so. In a world of strife, he is to be a man of peace. His animosities are buried with his other sins. lie is now at large, among his fellow-men, in the new and gracious liberty of Christ. Having in him, through the faith of Jesus, the springing well of life, he is to let that fulness go forth as a river in the streets (Prov. 5:15-17; John 7:38, 39).

Men dream of peace on earth while willingly ignorant of the peace of God. The Christian knows its blessed power, by fellowship with Him who is in heaven. Peace of conscience, through the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, sets him free to speak of peace to others. When men of the world say "peace," they mean personal advantage and natural abundance. What the heart desires is uttered by the mouth, which will not cease to speak perversely till destruction comes suddenly, to drown that watch. word of Satanic delusion in the thunder of the God of vengeance (1 Thess. 5:3). Feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, will take the road to heaven. They seek a better country, having here no continuing city. There is, indeed, a time to come, when peace will overspread this earth, grown waste and weary with the vain contentions of many generations. The government will rest in that day upon the shoulders of the Prince of Peace, who will then be confessed, also, to be the King of kings, and Lord of lords. But, while He sits upon the Father's throne, He is the peace of His believing people. We are called in one body to the enjoyment of that peace (Col. 3:16). If we walk in the way of truth, we must, alas! be men of contention in a world that seeks not after God; not willingly, but by means of our testimony. The afflictions of the Gospel will become our portion. For tribulation is the appointed lot of all who seek the Master's footsteps; but in Him we have abiding peace (John 16:33).

Verse 16. "Above all taking the shield of faith," etc. Hitherto we have had to do rather with that which constitutes the believer's standing and readiness for the contest he is called to wage, than with the positive energies which are called forth into active exercise by means of this spiritual conflict. Troth, righteousness, and peace, are words which are more expressive of quality and condition than of action. But the man who stands in grace, is to maintain that ground against all comers. In addition, therefore, to the defensive armour, which protects his person, he is to take and use such weapons as God gives to His children, that they may not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. Of these, the first mentioned, and, in one sense, the most important, is the shield of faith. This is to be held firmly and warily over the believer's person. For as the shield was that essential defence, without which the other armour would be insufficient to protect the soldier from the effects of missiles, so, also, in our spiritual warfare, neither truth, nor righteousness, nor peace, can be effectively enjoyed without an active exercise of faith.

It is to enable us to quench the fiery darts of the Wicked One that we need this shield of faith. Without it, we are vulnerable by any of these; while with it, we may quench them all. The name of the prescribed defence, as has been well observed, declares the nature of the assault. Faith can quench nothing but its opposite, which is unbelief. All the darts of the Wicked One, fiery as they are, belong to this description. Since God saves and comforts us in Christ by means of truth, Satan seeks to work for us destruction and misery by acting on the evil heart of unbelief. All his varied machinations, as the "Wicked One," conduce to this. If sinful thoughts arise, or acts of sin are perpetrated, his object in inciting us to evil is to defile our conscience, and so to take away our peace. The most cruel wounds which can be inflicted on the soul are suggestions of unbelief. External trials are as nothing in comparison with that which is not only fiery in its nature, but the heat of which dries up the moisture of the spirit by interrupting our view of Him who is our only confidence and joy.

These darts are flung at us from diverse quarters, from above as well as from beneath. By positive temptation and betrayal into sin; by false applications of Divine truth to the conscience; by covert insinuations, tending to weaken in our minds our reverential interest in the word of God as such. By these, and many other similar means, the adversary endeavours to sap the strength of the new and inner man, and to wither the plant of righteousness which God has planted. Against all such attempts our sole, but effectual, defence is faith. None of his efforts are of any power against that. For faith finds in Christ an answer to every doubt that Satan can infuse into the soul, and hears in the voice of our Advocate an effective refutation of every charge which can be urged against us by the accuser. Hence to those who are elsewhere warned by the Spirit against the vigilance and ceaseless activity of the adversary, the word is still, "whom resist, steadfast in the faith" (1 Peter 5:9). That Wicked One touches not those who keep themselves, through faith, in conscious fellowship with God (Isa. 59:19; 1 John 5:18). His darts are quenched, and utterly extinguished, when met by a simple reference to the name of Jesus. If therefore we would walk in peace, we must bear with us this shield of faith. Having its rest in God, faith brings His strength within the heart of the believer. God thus becomes Himself the Buckler of the soul that trusts in Him. He has made Himself in Christ our everlasting Refuge and Defence. He is mightier on our side, in the power of His finished love, than Satan can be against us, in the restless malice of his hate. Doctrinal knowledge is no shield. Faith is; and, when it works, it brings the heart to an implicit dependence upon God. It is by faith that we are made strong out of weakness (Heb. 11:34), and know that we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.

It is by faith that we are justified; and by faith, also, that the just man, practically, lives. If faith is inactive, spiritual life is dormant, and, as it were, extinct. It is the word of grace that nourishes true faith; and that alone has power to revive it when languishing and low. It is well also to remember, that faith, when in action, never thinks upon itself. Among the manifold wiles of the adversary, one is to endeavour to get Christians to make much of their own faith. Now faith is not Christ; but may (in name, at least), most mischievously take His place. Real faith sees Jesus, and finds all its strength in Him. It thus feeds the soul upon the milk and honey of Immanuel's land. That faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen. "Looking to Jesus" is its instinct and its end.

Verse 17. "And take the helmet of salvation." That which is the natural ornament and glory of the Saviour, is to be assumed by the believer in His name. We cannot lift up our heads, except in the confidence of complete salvation as our present standing before God; and true confession of the name of Jesus is salvation (Rom. 10:9). If our hearts are not established in the grace of Christ, we cannot look the adversary in the face. But the Lord is our Glory, and the Lifter up of our heads. It is The name that covers safely the heads of His brethren in the day of battle. The word "salvation" is used by the Spirit in two senses. Already, the believer has received, in Christ, the end of his faith, even the salvation of his soul. Knowing the Saviour, He is safe in Him. On the other hand, since we hold our blessings by promise only, and through faith, salvation must continue to be still prospective, until we have attained, personally, to the resurrection of the dead. It is in this latter sense that the experiences of our pilgrimage are said to turn to our salvation (Phil. 1:19). Being saved by hope, we are kept, meanwhile, by the power of God, through faith, unto a salvation which is ready to be revealed. Hence the same Apostle elsewhere exhorts us to take for a helmet the hope of salvation (1 Thess. 5:8). It is the differente between Christ now known and enjoyed in the power of the Spirit, and Christ known perfectly and openly in the coming day of glory. He who is our Salvation is also our Hope.

The helmet protects the head, which is the noblest part of man. In Christ we can lift up our face to God, and, therefore, to His enemies. When a Christian's conception of his standing is below the truth of God's testimony to the believer's full salvation in His Christ, he is like a warrior without ft helmet, in the midst of his surrounding foes. We cannot glorify the Saviour by anything less than the assertion of His triumph in His own peculiar work. By accepting a doubtful standing, we both degrade our own position and involve the name of Jesus in our degradation. We listen to the enemy, who would deprive us of our helmet, instead of to the God of grace and truth, who set it on our heads. The name of Jesus carries with it its own blessed meaning. But if He is our Saviour, we are safe. Now He is the Saviour of believing sinners. If, therefore, by the grace of God, we accept the faithful saying which declares Him to be this, then we are safe by the conclusive witness of the Holy Ghost. Timid believers do not reflect upon the dishonour that is done to the name they love, by their deferring to their own misgivings rather than to God's sure word of grace. Let it be remembered, that we are considering the armour of God. It is because the Son of God has saved us, and delivered us from the wrath to come, that we are exposed to the rage of the adversary. Now God does not arm His children with delusions, but with truth. If He bids us take salvation as a helmet, it is because He is Himself our Saviour in His Son.

An unsaved Chrisean is a contradiction and an impossibility. The power of the enemy in heavenly places is shown, perhaps, in nothing more strikingly than in the facility with which he persuades believers often to continue in a state of uncertainty as to their present acceptance with the God who has redeemed them by His Son. He is well aware that, so long as he can intimidate a feeble Christian sufficiently to deter him from taking the place which grace has assigned to him in Christ, he disables him from bearing in the world the testimony which belongs to his vocation. For our conversation as believers is to be ordered according to the doctrine which unites us, through faith, to our risen Head. In many minds, the ideas of justification and salvation are unskilfully confounded. God does not adorn His people with a hope of justification, but makes present justification their sure hope of an eventual salvation. To confess Christ as our Righteousness, and yet doubt our final security, is to impute either imperfection to the blessed work of Jesus, or variableness to Him who has declared Himself to be the Justifier of him that believes. If we are called to arm ourselves for spiritual conflict, it is under the conduct of One who is already known to our faith as our Captain of salvation. They who are elsewhere exhorted to work out their own salvation (ante, Eph. 2:10) with fear and trembling, receive, in the same epistle, a reiterated exhortation to rejoice without ceasing in the Lord. It is their characteristic description that they rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Phil. 2:12; 4:4; 3:1, 3).

To complete the saint's equipment, and that he may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works, he is to take "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." This precept furnishes a convincing proof of the personal completeness of the believer, as brought nigh to God through faith. For none can handle such a weapon, who is still carnal in the sight of God. It is because the Holy Ghost is given to be the indwelling power of our walk, that we are exhorted to use His sword in our conflict with the enemy. As we read elsewhere, with reference to the same subject, "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world"(1 John 4:4). Before, therefore, we can use this sword in our own defence, or for the rescue of our brethren in the same conflict, we must first have known its power on ourselves. The word of God is quick and powerful. The effect of its action on the human conscience is to lay open everything to God — to make us know with whom we have to do. The Apostle understood this, when he spoke of himself and his fellow-servants as having been made manifest to God (2 Cor. 5:11). Having known the quickening power of the word in his own soul, the believer is to gird it on him, that he may be valiant for the truth by which he lives.

It is the sword of the Spirit, not our own, although it be committed to our handling by the grace of God. Our capacity to wield it rightly consists in our walking habitually in the Spirit. We shall be skilful in its use in proportion to the closeness of our walk with God; for it is He who teaches our hands to fight. His word cannot be lightly handled with impunity. The enemy is on the watch, to snatch that weapon from our grasp, and will do so, if held negligently on our parts. It is by sticking to His sure testimonies that God's saints prevail. Once when the Lord wrought mightily in His former wars, the hand, we are told, of His most worthy champion clave, in its weariness, to the sword which he had used so well (2 Sam. 23:10). So likewise, in our spiritual warfare, we are entrusted with a weapon of resistless power to the soul that is instructed in its use, All that exalts itself against the knowledge of God may be brought lew by its means; but it can be safely wielded only by the lowly. If we grasp it in the eagerness of carnal confidence, it will surely wound ourselves. Its first use must be in self-judgment, that every thought within us may be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; When the Lord is sanctified in our hearts, we are able with meekness to refute the gainsayer, and to give a reason for the hope that is in ourselves.

With the sword of the Spirit in our hands, we may sometimes find ourselves engaged in a war of points with the deceiver. For he, too (though wrongfully), assumes the same weapon in his attempts on our souls. The Lord Jesus is our great Example in this species of conflict. Before the Christian is firmly established in grace, this is a common, and often partially successful, mode of attack. Hence the earnestness of the warning, which is addressed by the Spirit to the babes in Christ. The description of the "young men" is, that they "are strong, and the word of God abides in them, and they have overcome the Wicked One" (1 John 2:14). But even when the heart has received the knowledge of full peace, this species of conflict does not cease. But, in the latter case, the object of attack is changed. When we are established in the faith, the aim of the adversary is to sap our constancy to Jesus, by suggesting to us such parts of Scripture as may be construed by the flesh into a sanction of indolence or self-seeking. One of the commonest temptations when the soul of a believer is in a low condition is to seek for some text, by way of countenancing that which is, nevertheless, felt in the heart's secret to be inconsistent with our calling. Satan is dexterous, and finds us often only too facile in thus corrupting, instead of using faithfully, the word of God. But while Christ is dwelling in our hearts by faith (ante, Eph. 3:17, seq.) we cannot deal thus treacherously. We are as strong men armed only so long as, in a full sense of our personal weakness and unworthiness, we are glorying in Him. If we are walking in the light of His countenance, we shall know both how to value and to use the word of God.

A principal use of the sword of the Spirit is in detecting and defeating the arts of Satan, as a corrupter of Divine truth. Those "winds of doctrine" (ante, Eph. 4:13, seq.), which have power to disturb and agitate a heart not established firmly in the grace of God, are all under the direction of that mighty spirit of error, whose ministers are everywhere to be found furthering the general work of corruption. It is never to be forgotten by the Christian that Satan is the ruler of every mind that is not kept, through grace, in willing subjection to the Lord. Hence when the various perversities of the human will, as they exhibit themselves in those guilty tamperings with the truth and holiness of God, which bring upon their authors a swift and sure destruction (2 Peter 2:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:6-9), are spoken of with reference to their originating source, they are characterized by the Spirit as "doctrines of devils" (1 Tim. 4:1, seq.). Traditions of men, fables, genealogies, etc., are all comprised under this general description. For the conflict is between the one Spirit of truth and the many spirits of Anti-Christian error; and the human soul is the moral stage of that conflict. The wisdom which lies against the truth, and works confusion in the spiritual house of God, is "natural," indeed, as respects its manner and intention (for it carries with it heartily the assent of man's evil will), but in its source and principle it is "devilish" (James 3:13-16).

This consideration, if more generally borne in mind, would give to controversial testimony of any kind a very solemn character. A Christian has no business with controversy, in the popular sense of the word. If he is measuring his strength with some other man, he is on entirely false ground. If the truth of God be assailed, then let him not be slack to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, but let him take heed how he arms for that contest. It is God who should be heard, and not His servant. His holy word is as a hammer against all that lifts itself against it, though for a while the stroke of its power may seem to be delayed. Meanwhile, they who love Him are called to confess, and, if need be, to suffer for the truth; but in no case must the servant of the Lord be willingly a man of strife (2 Tim. 2:24).

Verse 18. "Praying always," etc. This verse divides itself into two parts. The subject being Christian prayer, we have, first, a reference to that which determines the character of all genuine worship; we are to pray in the Spirit. Secondly, the subject of our unceasing intercession is to be the entire Church of God; we are exhorted to pray for all saints (cp. Col. 4:2). This last injunction is a consequence of the former. The Holy Ghost, if leading our prayers, and holding undisturbed dominion in our hearts, cannot allow our sympathies to be confined within a narrower range than the whole number of His saints. The relation in which this exhortation stands to the main doctrine of this Epistle is very plain.* The unity of the body, being the practical workmanship of the Spirit, is ever before His mind. Let us now endeavour to understand the bearing of the present admonition on the general doctrine of the armour of God.

{*This exhortation to continued prayer connects itself morally with the previous one to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 4:18, 19); for the prayer of faith is always in the Spirit. What direction spiritual prayer would take has been practically exemplified by the Apostle's own intercessory utterances, in chaps. 1 and 3.}

Christian prayer is the language of a heart already. brought nigh to God in Christ. We call upon the Father because we are already sons. Its natural tone is, therefore, one of holy confidence and trust. For it is by means of prayerful communion that the soul maintains itself in a conscious enjoyment of its standing in the grace of God. When we make known our requests to God in singleness of heart, we do not fail to have (while kept waiting still for special answers to our prayers), a fresh accession of His peace in our hearts (Phil. 4:6, 7). If we sincerely trust His love, we can abide His pleasure. We know that we have the petitions which we ask of Him, when our hearts assure us in His presence (1 John 3:21, 22). Prayer is essential to the well-being of the saint, for without it he could use with effect no other part of the whole armour of God. If faith speaks to God, it is in prayer, in confession, or in praise. And according to the frequency of this intercourse, is the believer strengthened to walk worthy of his calling. God's saints are left at much liberty as it respects this habit of prayer. We are counselled and directed, but constrained by no legal ordinance. For true prayer is something more than a tax for conscience to discharge. It implies a nearness of the heart to God. "When ye pray," said the Lord to his disciples, without prescribing times or seasons. Yet it is He who has set us the example in this exercise. For prayer is the language of a dependent soul; and Jesus, who came to glorify the Father in obedience, gave Himself continually to prayer. It was while He prayed that heaven opened, and the Holy Ghost descended to anoint Him as the Holy One of God. It was in answer, also, to His prayers, that He both glorified the Father's power by recalling Lazarus to life, and became transfigured, from His lowly fashion as a Servant, into the glorified Possessor of the kingdom of God. If we understand the manner of our calling as His disciples, we shall desire a large initiation into this secret of real blessing.

With reference to the injunction that our prayer should be "in the Spirit," it is well to call to mind what has already been taught us, in the course of this Epistle, as to the relation in which the Holy Spirit stands to the believer, as a member of the body of Christ. Having been given to us as the seal of our acceptance in the Beloved, He has become the efficient spring and power of all practical godliness on our parts. By Him it is that we have access, in the name of Jesus, to the Father. We have already seen how the Spirit Himself becomes a subject of prayer on the part of those who are nevertheless indwelt of Him (ante, Eph. 1:16, seq.), and we are now exhorted to pray always in the Spirit. Evidently there is an important moral connexion between these two positions. What men call pious wishes are not always godly desires. The latter, if really such, are regulated by the testimonies as well as encouraged by the promises of God. Prayer, therefore, in the Spirit, will be according to the measure in which we are ourselves filled with that Spirit, as the spirit of wisdom: and revelation in the knowledge of God — the spirit moreover of love, of power, and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). To pray, for instance, as is done by so many of God's people, for the conversion of the world by the Gospel in the present dispensation, would not be a sound-minded supplication, because the Spirit has expressly taught us, that the last days of this period of Gentile mercy will also be the worst (Notes on the Romans, chap. 11). That the will of the Father may be done must ever be the beginning and the end of all supplication in the Spirit (Matt. 6:10). Thus Jesus taught His disciples, while as yet the truth of their filial position was but little apprehended on their parts; and the same object is now kept by the Spirit before the hearts of those to whom as the full Revealer of Jesus He now imparts a knowledge of the mystery of that will (Eph. 1:9).

The Spirit of God, who knows our need, and the nature of those obstacles which everywhere beset our path, exhorts us to pray always. The Apostle's language in this verse is descriptive of a habit of communion, and has reference to a right estimate of the obedience unto which we have been sanctified, as well as the grace in which we stand. Watching unto prayer is the appointed preservative against our entrance into temptation (Matt. 26:41; 1 Peter 4:7). It is, moreover, by this practical tillage of the soul, this upturning in secret of the ground of our hearts (Ps. 139), that we are saved from the hardening effects of barren knowledge. A man who is puffed up is seldom on his knees. But a prayerless Christian cannot be a happy man. Only they who tarry patiently for God can taste the true enjoyment of His love. Prayer is the main strength of the soul in all service that is really wrought in God. No man who prays but little can walk well. The same Lord, who once set for His disciples that brief but wonderfully comprehensive form of words, which, alas! is so often muttered as a vain incantation by those who never felt its meaning, now casts us on the teaching of the Spirit for a fitting utterance of the desires which He gives us when, with all prayer and supplication for all saints, we make known our requests to God.

When our hearts are set on something which is not in our own power, we are apt to be importunate in making our requests. And the Father is never weary of listening to the truthful expression of our private wants. But the Spirit would lead us farther than ourselves. He would have us ever mindful of the truth of our position as members of the body of Christ. To have our hearts fixed constantly on objects which interest the heart of Jesus, is, in the right sense of the expression, to be "spiritually-minded." Now we know the Lord's mind about His own. The existing state of the professing body ought not to discourage us from persevering prayer, because the Spirit never views the body in separation from its Living Head. We cannot think rightly about the calling of the Church, without feeling impelled to seek the blessing of all those who are partakers of like precious faith with ourselves. If we cannot make prayer a means of endeavouring to keep the Church in its true place in the world, because it has long ago lost it and become divided and disorganized, we can continue, nevertheless, to pray for all saints as the living stones of God's true building. For God takes pleasure in her very dust; and if His Spirit leads us, we shall assuredly be found hastening by our prayers the coming of that day when the shame of her rebuke shall be no more remembered, in the brightness of the glory which is to be revealed. Diligence in service will result from this. We shall remember that we have our part in the work that still remains to be accomplished, until Christ's body is built up to its appointed stature. But if we are not in heart desiring that day, then, beyond question, we shall not be seeking, with a fervent perseverance, the blessing of all saints. It is a cold love that misinterprets the reason of the Lord's delay (2 Peter 3:9).

A consideration of the subject of prayer is one which may well tend to self-judgment on our parts. For perhaps there is nothing in which God's people are more ready to confess their shortcoming than in the maintenance of persevering intercession for His saints. Yet without this habitual exercise of its sympathies, love will certainly wax cold. But such is the natural indolence of our hearts, and so numerous are the private interests which we allow to occupy our thoughts, that it is a rare thing to find Christians habitually and fervently in prayer for all saints. Always, however, there remains the happy reflection, that thousands of hearts may be secretly communing with God when the eye even of a prophet can discover none. Very blessed is it to remember, also, that there is One at least who faints not in His intercession for all saints. Having prayed for us all, in our hearing, when upon earth, He is gone on high to intercede for us in heaven. It is the addition of His incense to our prayers that makes the weakest utterances of our faith go up with welcome from the altar of our worship (Rev. 8:3). We do well to remember, that the acceptable occupation of God's saints, in the closing hours of this evil day, is to be building themselves up on their most holy faith, and praying in the Holy Ghost (Jude 20).

Verse 19. "And for me also," etc. Continual supplication for all saints is quite compatible with special intercession for particular need. We have in this verse one of the many striking proofs, which his epistles afford, of the value which the Apostle attached to prayer as a medium of spiritual fellowship and a positive means of spiritual blessing. It was his habit to make mention of them in his prayers; and he would not willingly be forgotten on their parts. Doubtless he was, as an apostle of Christ, in one sense independent of their prayers. The God whom he served knew how to lead him about in a continual triumph, as the chosen minister of His Gospel, and to make manifest by him the sweet savour of Christ in every place (2 Cor. 2:14). But, on the other hand, he felt too keenly both the reality of his personal weakness, and the blessednesb of spiritual fellowship, not to prize most sincerely every expression of genuine sympathy towards himself.

Where his heart was, may be gathered from his expressed desire. He asks them to pray that utterance might be given to him, that his mouth might be boldly opened to make known the mystery of the Gospel. We may learn from this how much more is needed for the prosperous exercise of Christian ministry than the presence of a specific spiritual gift. The profound feeling of self-mistrust which (often, no doubt, to a very painful degree) continually attended this chosen vessel of God's grace, was, in reality, his great moral preservative. Without some such bridle on the flesh, no man could have exercised, without presumption, the calling which he had. We know how he confesses, in another place, the tendency of his many revelations to exalt him above measure (2 Cor. 12:7). He was well aware of the necessity that existed for his being so continually reminded that it was an earthen vessel which contained such priceless treasure. While, therefore, he knew how to rejoice in tribulations, because of the abundance of the comfort with which he was comforted of God, he both sought an increase of that comfort and of the boldness which he needed to enable him to declare, without reserve, the whole counsel of God. By the expression, "mystery of the Gospel," we are to understand the full doctrine of the grace of God in the calling of the Church, which is its most striking manifestation. Boldness was needed to state thoroughly a doctrine, the declaration of which might well expose him to the charge of folly and madness from the wisdom of this world. To be a fool for Christ, requires special strength from God.

Verse 20. "For the which I am an ambassador in bonds," etc. His bonds were no cause of repining, either to him who wore them or to them. They were rather their common boast (Eph. 3:13). All he desired was to be enabled and emboldened to fulfil, worthily, the embassy of Christ with which he was entrusted. He had a mission. Necessity was laid on him to preach the Gospel. But how much depended on his speaking in a fitting way the truth of God! There is much meaning in the last clause of this verse. It is not a mere knowledge of the doctrine that qualifies a man to act as an ambassador of Christ. Flippant self-complacency may be substituted in the place of godly fear; and God, who is sovereign, may even bless the word thus desecrated in its passage through uncircumcised lips. But it will go ill with the messenger who allows himself to lean upon a gift bestowed on him, instead of on the Lord Himself. Truth may be spoken as it should not be, and still be truth. The Apostle knew of some who preached Christ of contention. In such a case, he could still take comfort in the thought that Christ was preached, while the preacher who thus grieved the Spirit would have to account for his work in due time to the Lord (Phil. 1:15-18; Rom. 14:12; 2 Cor. 10:17, 18). It may, perhaps, be assumed as a principle, that where no difficulty or hesitation has been experienced in the contemplation of a public ministry of the word, we have not yet heard the true call of the Master to that work.

Verses 21, 22. The mission of Tychicus was not only with a view to the safe delivery of this Epistle, but that, by the presence of a faithful minister in the Lord, the saints at Ephesus might enjoy the double comfort both of a fuller account of Paul's affairs from the mouth of one who had so lately quitted him, and by his own ministry in the Gospel while he stayed among them. The language of these two verses is interesting, also, as intimating the broad distinction which there was between what the Apostle wrote, as under the direct inspiration of God, and what he might verbally communicate to his brethren by a familiar messenger. Great, without doubt, was the eagerness with which they listened to what Tychicus might say of Paul and his fellow-saints at Rome; but his Epistle was of another kind of interest. In reading that, they read the word of God.

Verses 23, 24. A double farewell closes the Epistle. First he wishes peace with love to them whom he immediately addresses, and then extends more widely the scope of his concluding benediction. And well it is to notice in this salutation the significant addition of the words "with faith." It is thus that the Spirit would continually remind us of the true nature of our blessings and enjoyments as a part of the heritage of God. Without the active exercise of faith there can be no felt participation either in the love of God or in His peace. Both are our own in Him who gave them to us in His Son; but to enjoy them, and so to be habitually raised above both the corrupting and the discouraging influence of the present things, we must have our daily walk by faith and not by sight.

Faith is the origin and sole preservative of purity, and so his latest blessing is pronounced on all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. According to the eternity and incorruptibility of their heavenly inheritance, should be the undivided fervency of their love towards Him who had redeemed them for Himself.*

{*The margin gives the more exact translation. As to the sentiment, see Eph. 4:20; 5:8.}