« PreviousContinue »
Jesus.” And thus they have “Redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Here is their peace with God—their charter for Heaven, and the ground of their confidence amid the solemnities of the Judgmentseat. How sweetly sings the Poet ;
“ Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
With joy shall I lift up my head.” And though then the rocks may rend—and nature be convulsed, the security of the soul is in the blood that has inade such ample atonement.
THE APPLICATION OF THE ATONEMENT IN THE EXPERIENCE OF
THE CONVERTED EPHESIANS.
But now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
EPH. 11. 13.
Ephesus was a city of Asia Minor. The inhabitants of that city before the light of the gospel had arisen upon them, were famous for human wisdom and learning ; but at the same time equally remarkable for idolatry, lasciviousness and niagical arts ; so true is it that the world by wisdom knows not God, and is unacquainted with the way of approach to Him. We have said that while unconnected by the power and the light of the gospel, the Ephesians were remarkable for the things specified above; and this is confirmed by certain allusions made to them in the fifth chapter of the same Epistle, and still further in the nineteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. They were people estranged from God, and ignorant of the way of life. But whenever divine grace is put forth, its riches and its efficacy are equally proved. It was eminently so in the case of the guilty Ephesians. From amongst individuals of this description, sovereign grace originated a church ; the greatest part of whom were Gentiles, converted to the truth by the ministry of the apostle Paul, who laboured amongst that people for about the space of three years. In the immediately preceding context, he alludes to their natural state, and distinctly reminds them of it. Therefore," says he, “remember that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncir. cumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”—This you will observe was their character and their condition when the apostle first went amongst them. Darkness covered their mind as to spiritual things, and gross darkness the people. In fact they had no understanding of the things of God. Now the gospel of salvation was preached to them in that state, but preached to them with the power and the demonstration of the Holy Spirit ; and mark the consequence! From children of nature they became children of grace. From idolaters they became worshippers of the One God-from wicked, they became holy characters, and from hopeless, they became the pos. sessors of a hope, full of immortality! The change, as you will perceive, is distinctly stated in the words of the text. There is a beautiful transition here-Once ye were such and such
who times were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Who after this shall attempt to limit the workings and the operations of divine grace? Or who is likely to dispute its efficacy; or question its freeness, combined with its sovereignty? But why speak we of the Ephesians only ?
What were some of us ? 66 Such were some of ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Thus it appears that a transforming influence has passed over our hearts. These hearts are changed, and now we stand forth the monuments of God's
The language of the text therefore may be applied to many of us in the present day—“But now in Christ Jesus, we who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Every thing of personal salvation is comprehended in this language. Our state of sin and distance from God is morc than indirectly noticed, whilst the pleasing and salutary effect of the reception of the Gospel is distinctly proclaimed. And did we not therefore speak truth, when in our former discourse we stated the necessity of an atonement for sin ? The guilty Ephesians were brought near to God, but how were they brought near ? their moral distance reduced ? Not by the application of any power which rested with themselves-not by their own wisdom or ingenuity; 'but by the operations of a power, which, while it enlightened their minds, created them anew in Christ Jesus. Thus they are represented as being made nigh by the blood of Christ, as the only ground of the operations of the Spirit on behalf of guilty man ; so true is it again that we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
Let us more particularly notice
II. Their new condition at the time of the apostles' writing to them; and
III. The medium of the change wrought upon their hearts and feelings.
I. The former condition of the Ephesians.— They are said to have been at one time “far off.” As the guilty descendants of Adam, these Ephesians, like all other men, were born into the world in a state of moral alienation from God. Nothing can more decidedly describe their natural condition than the language of the Psalmist, “Born in sin and shapen in iniquity.”—They were all of them so—there was not one better than another-all were originally depraved, and all had actually sinned, and come short of the glory of God. You will therefore mark the emphatic import of the expression before us—they
6 far from God.” They were not so in a local sense, for God is every where present. He was equally so in the days of the Ephesians. He was present in his works. The same magnificence adorned the sky and garnished the heavens.— The beauties of nature were just as fair, and the displays of His omnipotence were just as grand and sublime. But there wanted an eye to see God, in his works, and an ear to hear Him amid the thunder of his operations. Or if we consider them as wholly given up to idolatry, it will then appear that the homage which should have been rendered to the only Deity was addressed to them that were no Gods. It is not enough therefore for scriptural purposes, that God be present in his works. All this may be, and yet his creatures be deplorably ignorant of Him; or if they know any thing of his name and his power, may nevertheless be enemies to him " in their inind and by wicked works.” It appears, however, that the Ephesians in their natural state had not the most distant knowledge of the true God. The mind was darkened by reason of superstition, whilst the body was made the vehicle of prostration before the shrine of a most foolish