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also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” All this distinctly shows us how these Ephesians were brought to a knowledge of the truth, and “ turned from dumb idols to serve the living God.” They embraced the doctrine of reconciliation, by which they were made the friends of God, separated from the world to his service; and in that delightful state were they found when the apostle thus wrote to them as a church. We cannot sufficiently remark, how plainly he alludes to their transition from a state of darkness to a state of light; and from being in the hands of the wicked one, to their being the children of regeneration. “But now,” says he, “ in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Thus every barrier which separated them from God was completely removed—they were instructed in the knowledge of his character—their sins were cancelled-the wrath of Heaven was quenched, and their names were registered among the saints! All this was effected by divine grace through Jesus Christ; and therefore in the following verse he is spoken of in the character of a Peace-maker ; — For he is our peace who hath made both one.”—God and the Ephesians, formerly at a distance, were brought together; and so intimate was now the connexion that they were said to be one. Or if applied, in another sense of the apostle, to the union effected between Jews and Gentiles, it still remains a truth, that that union was by Jesus Christ : “ For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” The middle wall of partition was thus broken down. The law of commandinents was fulfilled in the person of Christ, and the Ephesians accepted in Him, who is equally the Saviour of the Gentiles as he is of the Jews.
Again.—This state of the Ephesians, here spoken of as a state of nearness to God, included the privilege of approaching Him by prayer.
And here the great difference was seen between their former idolatrous condition and their gospel condition. If in former times they were accustomed to pray; to whom or to what did they pray? The goddess Diana was incapable of either hearing or answering them! In plainer phraseology if possible, where was the sense, or the use, of invoking gods that could neither see, nor hear, nor speak, nor act? The creature was better than such gods. These had no throne in the heavens, nor power or earth ; nor was one of the elements of nature ever subject to their control! But now, in their gospel state, they had an Almighty Being to look to, and who encouraged them to seek his face. “In Christ,” and by him as the way they had the privilege of drawing near to God. It was by this that they realized their being “nigh” to Him in their spirit. A throne of grace was always open to them, where they might converse with God, and experience an endearing fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. Now we say that this was a proof, both of their
friendship with God, and of their happiness in his favour. None but those who are in this state of reconciliation with Heaven can appreciate the value of the privilege; so true is it that “the favour of the Almighty is life, and his lovingkindness is better than life.” It is the same as feeling that 5 This God is our own God; and he will be our guide, even unto death.” We may readily suppose that these Ephesians often looked back upon their former condition of darkness and alienation from the Creator, to contrast it with their reversed one, in which they could now call
God their Father by the Holy Spirit; and then, in addressing his throne, did so as his spiritual children. To them it was certainly said—“Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find.” They were thus guided by the Spirit of God in their approaches to his mercy-seat.—He assisted their infirmities; and witnessing with their spirit that they were the children of God, they had the happiness of knowing and delighting in Him as the fountain of life. Where were now their former feelings, their former idolatry, their former superstition? In fact their present enjoyment was enhanced by reason of the contrast. As light is better than darkness-as holiness is the representative of God himself-as a state of peace sounds sweeter, and is certainly better than a state of strife ;-and as nearness to the joys of heaven is a condition of safety as well as of happiness; whilst a moral kind of distance from our Maker cannot but involve the condemnation of the soul; so if the Ephesians were at one time surrounded with all the repulsive elements of disorder and apostacy; if at one time they were “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked”-ignorant of God and wanderers from happiness; they were now in a capacity not only to contrast the two states, but to tell, that until they were brought to Christ by the gospel, happiness was a stranger to their bosom. God was now their Father, and heaven the home of their affections and desires. Hence in the beginning of this same epistle we find that they are spoken of as "saints," and 66 the faithful in Christ Jesus.” A title of this kind additionally shows us how high was their character, and how completely changed was their condition.—“No more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God.” To them belonged the
sweetest privileges of adoption.—Every benediction of “Grace, mercy, and peace” was theirs.—“Mercy” had been shewn to them—“grace” was in their hearts,—and peace ” with God was the foundation of their happiness.
But still further to mark the completeness of the contrast between their present and their former condition—as in a state of alienation from God they were without hope, so in their state of conversion by the gospel, they were possessors of a hope, which directed them to future glory.
It was much that they were admitted into the visible church of Christ on earth, but it was infinitely more, so to speak, to have a title to the blessedness of heaven! The grace of God which brought them “nigh,” was a pledge that they should one day see God. The change, in fact, of which we have been speaking so much, would not have been complete without this hope. Salvation, as well as being a present blessing, points us to futurity; and therefore it is that believers are represented as “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the Great God, even our Saviour Jesus Christ;" when the fulness of happiness is to be given us, both as to soul and body, in the eternal enjoyment of God in a better world. Interested then as these Ephesians were in the covenants of promise,” though once they were strangers” to them; they had now something to cheer them when in sorrow-to strengthen when in weakness, and to animate and encourage if at any time “cast down.” And how equally well it is for believers in the present day, that Christianity is still the same. If we have been savingly enlightened in the character of the true God, and renewed in the spirit of our mind,” we also are changed as the Ephesians were, we also possess the feeling of God's reconciling love in our hearts,—the privilege and the liberty of drawing near to his throne, and the hope of seeing him in heaven! It is for us to contrast our present with our former condition. The change is complete, for every thing is reversed! Our enmity to God is subdued.-Our ignorance is removed. Once we were blind, now we see ; and, from being hopeless, we are now the children of a bright and glorious expectation ! Not that every thing in this life is perfectly complete, excepting so far as a state of conversion implies a state of safety; a state of safety on earth, and of prospect beyond the grave! Why is all this? Is it not 6 the doing of the Lord and marvellous in our eyes ?” It is because God has had towards us thoughts of love, and not of evil:-And we therefore 66 Who sometimes were far off are made nigh in Christ Jesus.” We have to do with all the privileges of the visible church, and are encouraged to anticipate the joys of the church triumphant. 0! the happiness of being found in Christ! Every thing in nature seems then to wear a different aspect. The trees put on a brighter foliage! The flowers, always lovely, then exhibit fairer tints, and emit a sweeter fragrance ! The elements of nature utter a different sound—they are the accents of our Father's voice! The calm of nature is -The 66
stormy wind” and tempest are but the “fulfilling of his word !" His glory is seen to sparkle in every upper luminary, and his wisdom is conspicuous in all things! The seasons proclaim his bounty-benevolence attends their
walks attended with other thoughts and other feelings than we were wont. Solitude is not only cheered, but improved by a sense of his presence. We
not alone, for the Father is with us.” Is our journeying by land ?