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Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary Poor Man's Commentary
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ephesians 2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ pmc/ ephesians-2.html. 1828.
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ephesians 2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
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The Church is reminded of her original State of Nature, in being quickened in Christ. The Apostle extols the Triumphs of Grace. The Chapter closeth, with showing Christ to be the Foundation of his Church.
(1) ¶ And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) ¶ But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
However humbling, the subject is most blessed, with which the Apostle opens this Chapter, in reminding the Church, of her being quickened, when dead in trespasses and sins. There is nothing more profitable, than for a child of God, to have always in remembrance, the Adam-state of a fallen nature, in which we were all born. In Heaven itself, it must tend to heighten all the felicities of the place. And, sure I am, that to the last moment of life, when going to the throne, it will endear God the Father's love, and make precious the Person of Jesus, and his blood, while we keep in remembrance, the rock whence we were hewn, and the hole of the pit whence we were digged. Isaiah 51:1 .
It will serve perhaps, under God the Spirit's teaching, to give the Reader a more quick apprehension, of the importance of the thing itself, in the recovery of our fallen nature by grace, if we take a short view of the awful state, to which the Church of God, as well as the whole nature of man, was reduced, by the fall; in order to behold the greatness of divine love, in the redemption by Christ. The Lord the Spirit bless the review of both, to his glory, and to our happiness.
And first. The lost estate of man, and the whole Church of God, in that lost estate, by reason of the original sin of Adam. It is a blessed thought, that the Church of God, as chosen in the eternal act, and will, and pleasure, of God; was chosen, and created pure, and holy, in Adam, the head, and parent of all mankind in nature. But, it is as sure a truth, that all fell in him, the Church as well as the world, and became sinful before God. It pleased God, as if to marr the pride of nature, and the higher to extol free sovereign grace in Christ, to appoint things so to be. So that, when Adam fell, in that fall he spiritually died. And this was the death, the Lord threatened, and fulfilled, in his own Person and all his seed. He did not die in body: For he lived many years after, and had children. But he died in spirit. He lost all spiritual apprehension of divine things. And all his posterity, are literally born the same. Generation from father to son, is only in nature: and the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:14 .
Secondly. I beg the Reader to attend to this Scriptural statement, of this death in spirit. There is a death of the body, to which by sin, the whole race of man is subject, and which all fall under. But this is not the spiritual death, from which Paul tells the Ephesians they by grace were quickened. And, there is an eternal death, to which every unregenerated sinner is exposed. But neither is, this the death Paul had in contemplation. For, as the former consists in the separation of soul and body, for the body without the spirit is dead, James 2:26 : so the latter, consists in an everlasting separation of soul and body from God in Christ to all eternity. And this is the awful death of all Christless souls. For what the soul of a man is to the body, to give life to it; such is Christ to the soul. But the spiritual death which Paul had in view, and from whence he tells the Ephesians they were quickened; is a death in trespasses and sins. And, it was this which our first parents experienced, and in which their whole posterity are born a life of enmity and alienation to God. And from which none less than God the Holy Ghost, can quicken. John 1:13 .
Thirdly. From what has been said, it will be in some measure easy to infer, the vast work of regeneration; and what high views the Apostle had, of this act of grace in God the Spirit, when he said to the Church: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. I stay not in this place, to enter into the particulars of this gracious act of God. This would lead too far. And, indeed, I have already in this work, somewhat largely considered the subject, to which I refer. See John 3:8 . and Commentary.
I beg, however, to detain the Reader one moment longer, just to call his attention to the expression of the Apostle, when speaking of the former state of the Church, before being quickened by the Spirit; he saith, that they were by nature children of wrath even as others. By which we may suppose, he could not possibly mean, that they were children of God's wrath, when he had before, in the preceding Chapter, said so many blessed things, of their being chosen of God, to be holy, and without blame before him in love; being, predestinated to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ to himself, and accepted in the Beloved. See Ephesians 1:4-6 . It is impossible that such could have ever been the children of God's wrath; though when born in the Adam-nature of a fallen state, were justly exposed, to God's wrath, and but for their sonship in Christ, and acceptation in him, must have suffered the punishment due to sin, But it should seem, that the Apostle's meaning is, they were by nature, children deserving wrath, even as others. And, moreover, by the fall, were also of wrathful, tempers, and dispositions; and, as Paul elsewhere said of himself, and all others like himself, while in a state of unregeneracy, were living in malice and envy; hateful, and hating one another. Titus 3:3 . I thought it proper to state this to the Reader, for some, for want of attention to this grand feature of our holy faith, in our grace-union with Christ, by GOD's choice from all eternity; have been led away with the too common phrase of calling God's children as if once heirs of hell, and children of the devil. Blessed, be God! they never were so, though children deserving wrath; yet in Christ, saved with an everlasting salvation. And the gift of the Spirit is, because they are sons, and not to make them so. See Galatians 4:6 . and Commentary.
It will not be necessary, for me to dwell, particularly, on what the Apostle saith in those verses, concerning Satan, whom he calleth, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh, in the children of disobedience. I have at some length, made remarks on his delusions, in the hearts of men: Luke 22:46 . and Matthew 12:30 . I refer therefore the Reader to those Scriptures. And, in addition to what is there said, concerning the empire of Satan, it will only be necessary yet further to observe in this place, that when the Apostle calls him the prince of the power of the air, he doth not mean, that Satan directs the winds or storms, or hath the least influence over the natural air which men breathe. For this would be, to ascribe to him, acts of creation. The sense is, that his principality is over the malignant spirits of the air, devils like himself, for we are told of a legion. Mark 5:9 . Those being airy spirits, live in the air: and over these, Satan reigns, as he doth in the children of disobedience, whose hearts he calleth his house, Luke 11:24 . It is in this sense, I apprehend, Paul calls him the prince of the power of the air.
Having said thus much by way of preface, and for the better apprehension of the weighty subject the Apostle had in view, when he expressed himself in the opening of this Chapter, on quickening the dead in trespasses and sins; I now beg the Reader's attention, to this interesting point, of our most holy Faith.
And first. When Paul tells the Ephesian Church, that the Lord had quickened them, who were, by nature, dead in trespasses and sins; it is evident, that he ascribed the Almighty agency to God the Holy Ghost. It is, indeed, his special, and personal office, in the Covenant of Grace. And before we go further, I beg the Reader to pause, and consider with me, the beautiful order, and harmony, in the gracious acts of love, manifested in the Persons of the Godhead, towards the Church. To God the Father, peculiarly belongs, the sovereign act, of choosing the Church, predestinating the several per sons of the Church, into the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, and accepting them, in the beloved. To God the Son, his province of love, and favor, manifested to the Church, is ascribed, in marrying to himself the Church before all worlds; and redeeming the Church, in the time-state of her being, from the ruin into which she had fallen, in the Adam-nature of sin and corruption. To God the Holy Ghost, in an especial manner, from his office engagements in the Covenant of grace, belongs the glorious act of regeneration: or, as Paul here expresseth it, quickening the dead of Christ's people, which by nature, are dead in trespasses and sins. Think, Reader ! what a beautiful order, and harmony, is here shown, in those equal acts of grace, by the several Persons of the Godhead, as they relate to the Church of Christ!
When the Reader hath duly pondered the blessed subject, in this point of view, I would desire to call his attention to another; namely, that those acts of each Person of the Godhead, are once done, and done forever. When God chose the persons of, the Church, to make up the whole body of Christ, the act, and the will, were instantly together. No alteration could evermore take place, in this purpose, and decree, of an unchangeable God! Hence Jesus, in the days of his flesh, called off his disciples' minds, from being elated with their momentary triumphs over devils, to rejoice at what could never alter, but last forever. Rejoice, said Jesus, that your names are written, in heaven! Luke 10:20 . What a precious consideration is this, to a child of God.
In like manner, when Jesus married his Church, before all time; the deed once done, neither death, nor hell, could after disannul. See Hosea 2:19-20 ; Isaiah 28:15-19 . And when, during the time-state of the Church, Jesus redeemed his Church; by that one offering of himself once offered, he perfected forever them that are sanctified. Hebrews 10:14 , There are a multitude of scriptures to the same amount, which I must not stay to write down at large; but the Reader may refer to. Romans 6:9-11 ; Hebrews 9:25-26 . And, it is in this sense, that sweet Scripture is to be read 2 Corinthians 5:14-16 .
Now let the Reader behold, the sweet and blessed office-work of God the Spirit, in regeneration; which like those of the Father and the Son, when once done, is done forever. You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. And, being quickened, the spirit can die no more. For it is made a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4 . It is born again, not of corruptible seed, but of in corruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. 1 Peter 1:23 . Behold; Reader! what a beautiful order, and correspondence, there is here again also, in relation to those gracious acts of the divine Persons; and the everlasting nature of them. As the Father's choice, once done, can never be lost; so the Son's marriage, and redemption, is but once done, and is forever; and the regeneration of the spirit by the Holy Ghost, is but one act, and which can never be liable to any possibility of dying, or death, forever. So precious, so very precious, are those great truths of God!
One word more. This quickening of the child of God, who by nature in the Adam-fall, was before dead in trespasses and sins, though the last in point of order, from the gracious acts of the Godhead; (the being chosen in Christ, and redeemed by Christ having before taken place,) is nevertheless, the first in point of discovery, of our high privileges, either of the Father's love, or the Son's grace, towards his Church, and people. Until my soul by regeneration was quickened, into this new, and spiritual life; I had no consciousness of my high birth-right, leading to my high calling, in Christ Jesus. But no sooner did the Lord the Holy Ghost call me out of nature's darkness, and the shadow of death, by breaking my bands asunder; than I discovered, whose I was, and to whom I belonged, in Christ Jesus. Reader! think of those mercies; and may both you and I have grace, rightly to value them. If, as an Apostle saith, he that converts a sinner, from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death; though in all this, he can only act as an instrument, and not the principal, to do this: what multitudes of souls doth God the Spirit save from everlasting death, who is both the principal, and cause, in every instance, where this mercy is wrought, and the great source of spiritual life to every sinner that He quickened ? James 5:20 . Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift !
Reader! let me only and from the whole, how blessed it is, when God's children prove their being chosen by God the Father in Christ; and their being both married to Christ, and redeemed by Christ; when God the Spirit hath quickened them, to this new and spiritual life, who were before dead in trespasses and sins! Peter the Apostle, in allusion to this change, (and a wonderful change it is, the greatest ever made, in time, or in eternity;) saith, that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. And what can be more suited to a truly regenerated soul? In time past, (saith the Apostle,) ye were not people; but are now the people of God. Which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10 . Not that the Apostle means, that before regeneration, they were not a people in Christ. For they were always his people: God from the beginning having chosen them to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 . But the sense is, that before they were regenerated, they knew it not. So, in like manner, they had always mercy, but had no consciousness of that mercy; nor a consciousness of the want of that mercy, while they remained dead in trespasses and sins. But, all these blessings were discovered, and enjoyed by them, after the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared: not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. Titus 3:4-5 . So that, this saving act of God the Holy Ghost, brings the child of God into life, and the enjoyment of those vast privileges, which God the Father appointed, in choosing him, and adopting him in Christ; and God the Son bestowed upon him, in uniting him to himself, and redeeming him from the ruin of the present time-state of his Church. Of such unspeakable moment it is, in the life of every child of God, to be quickened, from the death of sin in Adam, to the life of righteousness in Christ. Well may we again exclaim, with the Apostle: Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift !
(7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
I admire what the Apostle saith, in the first of these verses, of God's design, in the display of his grace, by the permission of evil. Let men soften the subject as they please; but certainly, the introduction of evil into the creation of God, though none will make God the author of it, is nevertheless, made subservient to the promotion of God's glory. And this is among the highest proofs of God's sovereignty. When God makes good spring out of evil; and that, which in itself strikes deepest against the Lord's glory, even sin, is ultimately made, by his overruling wisdom, and power, to produce the very reverse to what is intended by Satan. This manifests a divine hand, and is to the Lord's praise!
The principal feature in the great points of our holy faith, is of this, kind; and beautifully illustrates the whole. The Church, during her time-state falling into sin, and, consequently, sorrow; only afforded a better opportunity for the manifestation of Christ's love. Jesus had married her from all eternity. And, when he married her, she was presented to him, in all that original glory and holiness in himself, which she had derived from him, and in which she appeared most lovely before him. When, therefore, Christ's Church falls, as she did immediately fall, soon after creation, into sin, and sorrow; this afforded a blessed occasion to her Husband to bring her out of both. And which he did, most completely and effectually. And this is what Paul calls, the exceeding riches of his grace; and fully proves, that all salvation is of grace, and the gift of God. Not of works indeed; for the very idea, wholly sets aside free grace: but it is wholly of God. Yea, saith Paul, we are his workmanship. Beautiful thought! because the whole Persons of the Godhead, concur in the gracious design; and, from the drawings of the Father, the manifestations of the Son, in his visits to his people; and the indwelling residence of the Holy Ghost, the best, yea, the only way, of securing the fruits and effects of the Holy Ghost, is most effectually provided for!
(11) ¶ Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; (12) That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: (13) But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (14) ¶ For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; (15) Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; (16) And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: (17) And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. (18) For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
I cannot sufficiently admire, neither sufficiently recommend, to myself, and Reader, the blessedness of this sweet advice of the Apostle's. Apostle's, did I say, nay, it is God the Holy Ghost, which so tenderly, and affectionately recommends the Church, to remember her former state, when in unregeneracy, and her present state, when brought nigh, by the blood of Christ. And, therefore, blessed Spirit of all grace, give me grace, to keep in remembrance this precious teaching of thine?
First: the Lord bids the Church to remember, what they once were, when in a state of unawakened nature, and dead in trespasses and sins. The Church at Ephesus, Paul reminds them, were Gentiles, not as a nation only, for in this sense they were Gentiles still; but when without Christ, and strangers to the Covenants of promise. In short, as far remote from any apprehension of the nature and being of God, as the brute that perisheth. Reader! pause over this account. Nothing serves more to magnify the riches of God's grace, than when the Lord displays it, on such characters. And may not you, and I, take to ourselves, in the recollection of the days of our unregeneracy, what Paul once said to the Corinthian Church, when speaking of the same things ? And such (said he) were some of you! And, oh! how blessed, if to us may be said, what followed. But 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. 1 Corinthians 6:11 .
Reader! let you and I take to ourselves what is commanded. It will be always profitable, to remember, the wormwood, and the gall, of a state of unregenerated nature. To look to the rock whence we were hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence we were digged. Isaiah 51:1 . Oh! what a stranger was I to God, and to Christ, all the long time of my unregeneracy ? Stranger to the word of his grace, to the sweet sound of salvation yea, a stranger to my own heart; unconscious of the want of Christ; ignorant of the love of God; and, like this Church of Ephesus, when first Paul came among them, I had never so much as heard, as to any saving knowledge in the soul, whether there was any Holy Ghost. Acts 19:2 . Reader ! what are your views of these things?
But, secondly. Paul sweetly adds: but now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace ! I pray the Reader to mark, with suitable observation, the whole cause of the Church's recovery. All in Christ. All by Christ: and wholly for Christ's sake. Here Paul evidently runs back, to the first, and original thought, with which he opened this Epistle. Chosen in Christ: adopted, and predestinated, to a son-ship in Christ to himself: and accepted in Christ: and all to the praise of the glory of his grace. And, what I pray the Reader not to lose sight of is the very sweet close of this paragraph: that through Him, that is, Christ, we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father! There is not, as far as I recollect, a verse in the Bible, so short as this, where the office-characters of the Three glorious Persons of the Godhead, are so sweetly joined together, and brought within so narrow a compass. And yet, what can more fully show, the constant access the children of God have always to the throne, in, and through Christ, when God the Spirit leads, and directs the heart into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ?
Reader! do not dismiss this blessed portion of the chapter, before that you have gathered one or two sweet improvements, which, under the Lord's teaching, it brings with it.
First. The remembrance of our former state of unawakened nature, while it tends to keep our souls low in the dust before God, will always at the same time, heighten our views of the divine mercy: The one acts in opposition to the other. That I, who, as Paul said of himself, was once a blasphemer, persecutor, injurious; should obtain mercy ! Oh! what sweet encouragement to all that hear of it!
Secondly. And, while it acts as a motive to encourage others, what strength it brings with it to all future acts of faith in ourselves? If I found grace, the poor sinner may say, when dead in trespasses and sins, what may I not hope for now, amidst all my own dying frames, and circumstances ? It was nothing but grace then; and why not grace now ? If when dead I was quickened; now when brought low, will not the Lord help me?
Thirdly. Nothing will more powerfully tend, under the Lord's blessing, to hide all pharisaical pride from the eyes, and to keep open a constant spring of true humbleness and sorrow, than the remembrance of what we once were, and what through grace we now are. Oh ! when our mercies, and especially our spiritual mercies, are traced to their source, and the free, unmerited, unlooked for, yet untaught of love of God, is seen, in all our path along, from first to last; how low the child of God lays before God; how small his own attainments, and how high he values divine mercies in Christ!
And, lastly, to mention no more; (though many more might be added:) what views will the child of God have, of the Person, love, grace, blood-shedding, and righteousness, of Jesus Christ, who unceasingly remembers his former ruined, and undone state, out of Christ; and his present everlastingly blessed; and secure state, in Christ? Oh! the preciousness of Jesus, when the daily sense, of a daily need of Jesus, is felt in the soul.
(19) Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; (20) And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; (21) In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: (22) In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Let the Reader observe, how delightfully the Apostle calls off the attention of the Church, from what they once was, to what they now are. No more strangers, but friends: no more foreigners, but fellow-citizens; made free of that city whose builder and maker is God. Oh! what trouble, and vexation, men of this world have, in their freedom as they call it, of the perishing cities of the earth. Here is an inheritance, in the citizenship of heaven, yea, the household of God. And all such are in sweet communion and fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. No strangers to the love of God, to the Person, glory, and grace, of Christ; nor to the regenerating, renewing influences, of God the Holy Ghost. Oh ! the felicity, even now, of an heir of heaven ! Oh! the glory, that soon shall be revealed!
But the Apostle proceeds. Ye are built (saith he) upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. Yes ! built upon the same foundation, as the Apostles and Prophets. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11 . God the Father laid this foundation-stone in Zion. Isaiah 28:16 . And, both the Prophets of the Old Testament, and the Apostles of the New, acted only as servants in building the Church, on this Rock of Ages. Neither the persons, nor the doctrines, of the Apostles, and Prophets, are the foundation; but Christ in their doctrines: and, therefore, said to be their foundation.
I beg the Reader to observe with me, how blessedly Paul introduceth the whole Three Persons of the Godhead, as concerned, and engaged, in this building. God the Father layeth the foundation. Christ is the foundation, and the Chief Corner Stone, to knit together the whole building. And the building is, for an habitation of God, through the Spirit.
It is probable, I think, that while Paul makes use of such a beautiful similitude, as that of a Temple, to teach the Church the blessedness, of the Lord's people forming one grand body, of a spiritual nature, as hereafter to be completed in heaven; he had in view, the magnificent building the Ephesians had erected, to the honor of their dunghill idol, Diana: which, we are told, was, in point of splendor, one of the world's wonders. It is, therefore, as if he had said: behold that superb structure! See how it is desecrated, to a mere idol! Then turn your thoughts, and contemplate that temple, which is founded on Christ, for an habitation of God, through the Spirit! And think, what unknown glories must result, from such an inhabitation, here in grace, and hereafter in glory ! 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 .
If the Reader will indulge me but a few moments longer, on this sweet subject, I will venture, under the hope of divine grace, to touch at the outlines of it, with reverence, and godly fear. More than the out lines, I cannot propose. We must be favored, both Writer and Reader of this Poor Man's Commentary, with the vision John had, and see what he saw, and hear what he heard, before we can go further into the subject. H e saw (he tells us) the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, as a bride adorned for her husband. And, he heard a great voice out of heaven, saying: behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them. Revelation 21:2-3 . But, though we neither hear, nor see, in visions, as John did; we derive instructions, under God the Spirit's teaching, from what he saw, and heard, for he was directed, to make known the revelation to the Churches. And the Lord Jesus, who sent his servant, pronounced a blessedness on those, who read, and hear, the words of his prophecy. Revelation 1:3; Revelation 1:3 .
The first, and great, and ultimate object, which I beg the Reader. everlastingly to keep in view, as he ponders this beautiful similitude of the Apostle, is, that the glorious structure is the joint result of the Holy Three in One, as hath been before noticed. How blessedly doth Jehovah, in his Personalities, endear himself to the hearts of his people, by such united views, of his love, and grace and favor, towards the Church in Christ! Surely it is, that his people might have somewhat in their apprehensions, to lean upon, in their drawing nigh to the Lord, for communion in, and with, and by, Christ. Without this, in discovering the special acts of grace, from each glorious Person in the Godhead, the soul would be overwhelmed, and lost, in the contemplation of the divine essence!
When the Reader hath duly pondered these things, I would beg him to, consider also, the proposed object of this spiritual building, which is said to be for an habitation of God through the Spirit. And, as the whole efficiency of the work, is now with the Spirit; we are here plainly taught, that it is to his Almighty agency, the whole structure is committed; and from his sovereignty in the communications of grace, from first to last, the whole building must be formed. If the Church of God, in the present day, was more alive to the apprehension of the Person, and Godhead, and work, and offices of God the Holy Ghost; how would the minds, both of ministers and people, be waiting for his directions, in all the several means of grace, that they might hear, before they entered upon them, and as they passed through them, what the Spirit saith unto the Churches!
That God the Holy Ghost is the Almighty Founder and Architect, of the whole spiritual building, is too plain a truth, to require arguments to establish. His is the whole Scripture, for the edification of the Church. His every dispensation in ordinances. His, the whole appointment of sacrifices. For when the High Priest went once every year with blood, into the holy place, we are told, that the Holy Ghost hereby signified his intentions by that service, See Hebrews 9:6-8 . And, as the several ordinances, and means of grace, are of his express appointment; so the blessed effects intended from them, in spiritual fruits, are wholly his gift. It is He which lays the foundation of the temple, in the hearts of the Lord's people, by quickening, and regenerating the dead in trespasses and sins. He carries on the work, from grace to grace, in the soul. He it is which forms Christ in the heart, the hope of glory. In short, the Lord the Spirit is the founder, builder, and finisher, of the whole spiritual temple: and He, which enables the lively stones to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5 . All these worketh that one, and the self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 1 Corinthians 12:11 . Reader! ponder well the vast subject. It is indeed, too vast, too sublime, for the perfect apprehension of our unripe faculties. But, when the Lord shall bring home his glorious Church, from earth, to heaven; and present it to himself, a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, nor any such thing, but to be holy, and without blemish; and the whole building is fully prepared, in body, soul, and spirit, for the everlasting glory of God in Christ: then will it be, indeed, for an habitation of God through the Spirit! Oh ! God the Holy Ghost! do thou build up thy people, in the Lord our righteousness. Make our bodies thy temple: and direct the hearts of all thy redeemed, into the love of God, and patient waiting for Christ!
READER! while you, and I, hear what God the Spirit hath here said, to the Church at Ephesus; can we both, from the same divine assurance, say: the Lord hath quickened us, who were by nature, dead in trespasses and sins? Can we look back, and remember, how the prince of the power of the air, once wrought in our mind, as he doth now, in the children of disobedience ? Had we our conversation in times past with such, and when we were dead in sins, were we quickened together with Christ? Oh ! what a melting sense ought we to have, of divine mercies, in calling to mind, what we once were; and what, through grace, we now are ? Oh ! the blessedness of ascribing all to grace, and giving to God all the glory. And, must it not be God's workmanship, and not our's? Hath not God ordained all our works in us, and made both the preparation, and the performance of them, his own ? And shall we seek acceptance in them, when they are not our's; or expect to be saved by them, when we are wholly saved in the Lord?
Precious LORD JESUS! It is thou, and thou alone, which hast brought us nigh by thy blood, when we were afar off, and enemies to God, by wicked works ! Oh ! Lord, keep us ever nigh, by thy power; that through Thee, we may always have access, by One Spirit unto the Father!
Lord! bless thy whole building the Church, in heaven, and earth; all founded on Christ, and all one in Christ. Dwell in thy mystical body thy temple, and make it by grace, a suited habitation for thy self: Father, Son, and Spirit, both here, and hereafter ! Amen.