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idolatry. You will bear it in remembrance that it was at Ephesus, where the great goddess Diana was worshipped, and for whose pretended glory there was at one time so much contention ! What must have been the state of the people at such a time? Is it saying too much to say, that they were emphatically far from God ? His worship was unknown! His glory was never thought of! There was here in this splendid Ephesus no school of the prophets, and no instruction for the Ephesian youth, but in the rites and ceremonies of a debasing superstition! At your entrance to the city, the vision might be bright. Science might be there. And splendour was there. And every fascinating appearance was there. But where was God ? The apostle at his entrance re-echoed the enquiry, Where is God? He saw nothing in their light but darkness—nothing in their splendour but vice and crime! And hence in the fifth chapter of this same Epistle he represents the inhabitants of Ephesus as in a state of darkness—6 Once ye were darkness ;” and the expression implies that they were destitute of every species of knowledge, calculated to lead them to God. They saw the true God, neither in his works, neither in his power. They heard not his voice in the thunder-they knew not his pencil in the rainbow's tints ! Famous as they were for human wisdom and human ingenuity, they thought not of the God of wisdom; and in a word, they were engrossed with their own idolatries, and sunk in sin !
Of course they were far from the church and covenant of Christ. Like
every other nation they maintained some kind o. religious worship, and pretended to believe in some kind of Deity. Their worship, however, was idolatrous worship,
and like every other kind of idolatry, it was sin in the sight of God, and totally unavailing for themselves. It brought no comfort to the soul! It imparted no solid hope! It might operate npon
but it never tended to hallow the feelings! How different when we are enlightened by the Spirit of God, and brought into the true sheep-fold of the Redeemer. The church of Christ forms a most interesting part of the objects of his care. It has always done
The Israelitish church in the wilderness did so. Its journeyings were guided by the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. And after the manifestation of Christ in the flesh, it was still more obvious that his church was his care. They who belonged to it were the partakers of the most distinguished blessings, secured to them as the privileges of the New Covenant. And hence it was that they who were the people of Christ were represented as longer strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Now it was to all these high and distinguished privileges that these Ephesians were strangers, and were far from in their natural condition. Without the knowledge of God, they were equally without the knowledge of Christ. They knew nothing of being blessed in him. Up to the time of their conversion they resembled those who have no proper food to live upon. They were far from the children's table, and tasted not the children's bread. It is true they might Fancy themselves happy, and they might act as if they were so ; but this was but another proof of their ignorance of God, and of their distance from the happiness of his people! Call to your remembrance your own distance from God and from the privileges of his church.—Call to your remembrance the kind of happiness which you then valued, and
you then pursued. And contrast all this with your present converted state; and then you will have some idea of the unconverted Ephesians. They needed to be told that there was no happiness but in God, and no spiritual blessings but in the gospel of Christ; nor was it until they were introduced into the visible church by conversion that their condition was changed; so that from being strangers to God and to his people, they were brought home to both; and from being enemies to Him in their mind and by wicked works, they were led into the enjoyment of his reconciling love.
The same expression “far off” may be further intended to imply as another characteristic of their natural condition, that they were removed from every thing like a hope of salvation.
Indeed it is questionable whether they had any correct conception, either of the character, or of the name of a Saviour ; and certainly to be destitute of a knowledge of what we are, must ever stand connected with a removal from the enjoyment of salvation. An individual must know himself and feel himself to be a sinner, before he will make any application to Christ as a Saviour. But these Ephesians in their distance froin God were equally ignorant of their need of Christ. Their religion was superstition, and their superstition was hateful in the sight of Heaven. How significant, and yet how awful is the representation of their unconverted state as given us by the apostle himself in the preceding verse : “ That at that time,” says he,-the time of their moral apostacy from their Maker,— 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 may
give us an idea of what was included in their distance from every thing holy and hopeful. They had no interest it is said in the covenants of promise-no connexion with the church of Christ, and no well-grounded hope of a happy immortality! They were equally without the knowledge of the true God as any part of their religious belief-they were without God in their manner of living—they were in the world but knew nothing of its Creator-they were hastening into eternity, but without any preparation for it ! The hope that cheers the Christian on the bed of death was not their hope! It became the property of the converted Ephesians, as converted, and in the day of their espousals to Christ. And such was once the condition of all, who are now brought near to God.—just as far removed from the privileges of the Christian church, and equally destitute of Christian hope! Let us never forget moreover that we might still have remained such ; and how dark and hopeless must have been our condition! But God, who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he loved us, “ hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away." How reversed was the state of the Ephesians : reversed too for the better--no longer dark but light in the Lord—no longer devoted to superstition, but in love with their Maker. But it may now be time to notice a little more particularly,
II. The condition of the Ephesians at the time of the Apostle's writing to them.
Having spoken of their unconverted condition he next reminds them of their change. It is strikingly represented by way of contrast.—Once ye were “far off,” now ye are “Made nigh”-so nigh as to be “ in Christ Jesus.” You cannot fail to perceive that their condition at this time was directly the reverse of their former one.— The one was a state of distance from God, the other a state of nearness to God. Their being “made nigh” supposes them to have been brought into a state of reconciliation with their Maker. Enquire we into the design of the new covenant? It was simply to effect that reconciliation between Heaven and earth—“God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them."-And for the effectual accomplishment of that purpose,it is further said, that “He who knew no sin was made a sin-offering for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." When therefore the apostle made his appearance amongst the Ephesians as an ambassador for Christ, the gospel was brought home to their hearts in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. And the consequences were these ;-their eyes were enlightened-their hearts were changed; and henceforth they became the servants of the Most High. The apostle, alluding to the riches and the freeness of Divine
66 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having inade known unto us the mystery of his will, according to the good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself,” – that, as the result of all this, “we should be to the praise of his glory who first trusted in Christ.” This might apply principally to the apostles themselves as the chosen vessels, to make known the Divine will to their fellow men; but it certainly has an application also to the converted Ephesians as the fellow heirs of the same promise of eternal life; and hence it is further stated with distinct reference to these Ephesians,“ In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the wordoftruth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom