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heart, and deepest in His counsels. We do not find the election of the worthies of old spoken of in that way of mysterious beauty and intimacy. It was hid in God from all ages, up to the ministry of Paul. The Epistle to the Ephesians is an instance of accumulation of language. Language grows on the thoughts of the Spirit Himself. Will you tell me if your soul is bubbling up with some commanding thought, that you will not tell it out again and again, multiply words about it, and even become eloqnent? For the heart, not the head, is the parent of eloquence. That is the style of the Spirit, in bringing out this secret in this epistle. We get “the praise of His glory;" and “the riches of the glory;" and "the praise of the glory of His grace;” and “the exceeding riches of His grace.” So in chap. ii., when He comes to show those who are the objects of this calling. When He shows their death-estate, description after description is given of thern ; and when you are brought to see your nearness, again the Spirit multiplies descriptions of what
The consummation of revelation waited on Paul's ministry, the Gentile apostle. When he brought out this secret, it was the last in the revelation of God, and it was the crown of all the divine purposes. Let me refer you to a little analogy; how did the work of the old creation proceed? One thing after another was created in its beauty, and man came at the last. He was put in the garden; and what was his condition there? He was at home there; but when the cattle were brought up to be named by him, he was not only at home in his own proper place, but he gets the lordship of everything before him. He was in his dominions. "Was that all? There reinained a thing behind, and that thing was the chiefest. He had everything before he got the woman. It was the last thing revealed, and the tip-top of his happiness. It opened his lips, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Adam was happy before, but he was not abounding. When the woman was given to him, it was the height of his joy. So we ought to be prepared for the Church waiting for the ministry of Paul. "I shouk be prepared for the last ministry bringing out the riches thing in the counsels of God.
I get the same thing in the story of Jerusalem. When Israel went into Canaan, the sword of Joshua reduced the land to their possession. So it went on in the days of the Judges; and in the days of King Saul, they still remained in possession; but all that time Jerusalem was a Jebusite city, all through that season, this favoured spot, this chief spot in the land—this queen, destined to fix the eye of God-was in the clutches of the Gentile; and it was not till the days of David, God's own king, that it became the chief absorbing centre of every thing in the land, the sanctuary, the throne, the place where the tribes went up. It was the chiefest of everything, and it came last. Do we not get there an image of Ephesian truth? God delights Himself in analogies. What are parables but divine analogies? And so, in the very end of the Book, we see the woman re-appearing as the last and chiefest. The victories have been wonthe kingdom seated in dignity; the very last thing in the book, is the revelation of the Church coming down to shew herself in her beauty (Rev. xxi.).
So I am prepared to listen to Paul without charging him with arrogancy, when he says, he fills out the word of God.
Again. The revelation of the Church is the richest display of God in grace, glory, and wisdom. The calling of Israel was a rich display of Him. Be it so. God cannot put His hand to anything without displaying Himself thus. But when we come to listen to the mystery of the Church, the Body and Bride of Christ, we are instructed to know, that grace, in its glory-in its riches, in its exceeding riches — has been manifested, and manifested in the face of creation--in the hearing and seeing of principalities and powers in heavenly places; and there is a simplicity about all this. Does magnificence touch simplicity? It would not be simply divine, if it were not unutterably glorious. If it lay deepest in the divine inind, it was most full of grace, glory, and wisdom. Principalities and powers shall hold their breath while listening to the story that the calling of the Church is rehearsing
Now, what are its titles? It is called the Body and
the Bride; and what do they mean? The Body, is the expression of this—that the Church is set in the highes place of dignity. As the Bride, she is set in the neares place of affection. As the Body of Christ, occupying the chiefest point in dignity, all that is in this world, and in that which is to come, will be beneath her. He will be seated above all; and the Church, which is His body, i the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. As the Bride she will be in the nearest place of affection. You canno be too near to the person you love. As the Bride of Christ, the Church is set close to His heart. The Church is destined to be to the heart of Christ, what the woman was to Adam. Chap. v. is as the utterance of Adan over the woman: “We are members of His body, of Hs flesh, and of His bones," is a re-echoing of the ecstatic utterance of the first man over the first woman.
If we love a person, we love to see them in dignity and glory. There you are set in the tip-top place of dignity, and, as the Bride, in the nearest place of affection. You might be surprised to hear me say, that the Lord Jesus did not complete the revelation of God When you read the four gospels, do you read them a the full picture of gospel grace? The Lord's ministry was a transitional time. Till His death was accomplished, He had not the platform for the display of full gospel grace, or the instrument for forming the Church. HOW could you form a thing without the instrument? The Spirit was not given; and the Head was not yet glorified. The opening of the Book of God prepares me for the mystery, and the close of the Book shuts me up to it, and seals it on my apprehension, as we now see.
But, in the Epistle to the Ephesians, we get, no merely the Church, but saints individually (chap. v. an: vi.). We do not lose our personality. This is said to be the meaning of ver. 12 of chap. iv. That is an individus thing. The business of gifts is with you individualls “ He gave some apostles, etc., for the perfecting of the saints. There is a deep intimacy and personality betwee me and Christ, that nothing can ever touch. So the firs business of gifts was with each individually, “For tk perfecting of the saints.” Then, let the perfected sainis
set themselves to the work of the ministry, and to the edifying of the Body. Consequently, in Corinthians, when he had the mystery to bring out, he says, “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect.” So, when we come to practical details, we are addressed individually: “ That ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk," and so on; “Who, being past feeling,” etc., that is, a seared and hardened conscience, with no sense of their own lasciviousness. “But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus."
The introduction of the word Jesus here, shows personality; and do not you love a personal lesson? Do not you delight to think that you and Christ have a business that none can interfere with? Look at John's Gospel, as a beautiful picture of the sinner and Christ together. We do not find the Lord in John as a social man, working with apostles. He works alone with the sinner. It is very sweet to see the Spirit refusing to lose sight of the individual. “And that ye put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness.” This is a much richer creation than the first. Adam was the only object in the first creation that carried an understanding; but you could not say he was created "after God, in righteousness and true holiness." We are told to put away lying, as being members one of another. "Be ye angry, and sin not.” Anger may be as holy a feeling as any other; but do not retain it, so as to let it degenerate into nature. Then, “ Resist the devil;—and let him that stole, steal no more," etc. This is very beautiful. He is not merely to cease from stealing, but to become a workman for others. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth-and grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.” Our works are looked at our words; and now our tempers.
Are you not thankful that Christianity legislates for every bit of you. But what dignity! Your lips may be employed in communicating grace to the hearers; and your thoughts, either in refreshing or grieving the Holy Spirit of God!
“Forgiving one ancther, even as God, for Christ's
sake, hath forgiven you." This is a change from - T:2 Lord's Prayer." There you are instructed to know, th God will measure Himself by you. “Forgive ... as . forgive." Here is quite the reverse; I am to measur myself by God; “forgiving, as God hath forgiven you. This shows, as we were observing before, that the Lord ministry was a transitional thing; it had not come os into the full glory of salvation. Now, a ministry has gon forth for the perfecting of us individually, and for or edification as the Body of Christ.
CHAP. 5 We have observed that the doctrinal part of the episte closed at ver. 16 of chap. iv. Then, from that to ver. 9 of chap. vi., we get the practical part, and we get conflic in the end.
Read now chap. v., and to ver. 9 of chap. vi.; the practical details of Christian life. I should like, first, to say a little about precept.
If we consult the 'Epistles to the Romans and the Colossians, we shall find in them a different construction from the Philippians. There the apostle is eminently a pastor; looking at the souls of the Philippians. But in the Ephesians, Romans, Colossians, he is a teacher; therefore, in them we get doctrine, followed by precept. Now why do we get precepts in the epistles? Do you always get your conduct directly from precepts ? No; but by putting your mind in connexion with Christ Himself and the grace of God in your calling. So we get in Titus, " The grace of God... hath appeared unto ai men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldl lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly; that is, if I know the moral virtue of the grace in whic I stand, I shall be taught, without precepts, to live soberls righteously, and godly. Peter tells us exactly the sam thing. “Seeing, then, that all these things shall be d