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Eph. ii. 19 — 22. ow therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, hut fellotv-citizetis with the saints, and of the household of God ; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone ; in whom, all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord : in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. IT is well for Christians to contemplate their high privileges. But, in order to estimate them aright, it is necessary that they should bear in mind the state in which they were, previous to their embracing the Gospel. The difference between the Jews and Gentiles was great ; yet scarcely greater than that between the nominal and the real Christian. The nominal Christian, though possessed of many external advantages, is, with respect to the spiritual enjoyment of them, on a level with the heathen ; or rather, I should say, below the heathen, inasmuch as his abuse of those advantages has entailed upon him the deeper guilt. We may therefore apply to the unconverted Christians what St. Paul speaks of the Ephesians in their unconverted state ; " They are 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^" From this state however they are delivered, as soon as they truly believe in Christ. They are then, as my text expresses it, " no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow -citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." The exalted state to which they are brought is represented by the Apostle under two distinct metaphors : they are
made, I. The people of God, amongst whom he dwells — They are "fellow-citizens with the saints" — a vcr. 12.
2102.] EXALTED PRIVILEGES OF TRUE CHRISTIA S. 313 [Bodies that are incorporated, whether in cities, boroughs, or societies of any kind, have their peculiar privileges, to which others who belong not to them are not entitled. Thus it is with the saints, who are formed into one body in Christ, and have the most distinguished privileges confirmed to them by a charter from the court of heaven. That charter is the Gospel, in which all their immunities and all their claims are fully described. What externally belonged to the Jewish nation at large, is internally and spiritually made over to them : " to them belong the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises":" yes, all that God has revealed in his Gospel, all that he has promised to his believing people, all that he has engaged to them in his everlasting covenant, all that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob enjoyed on earth, and all that they now possess in heaven, all without exception is theirs ; "All things are theirs when they are Christ's." They are " citizens of no mean city," seeing that " they are come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God'':" and whatever pertains to that is the lot of their inheritance.] They are also *' of the household of God" — [As in the days of old there was an outer court for the Gentiles, and an inner court into which the native servants and children of Jehovah were privileged to enter, so now believers have access to God as his more immediate children and servants. They go in and out before him with a liberty unknown to the natural man ; they hear his voice ; they enjoy his protection ; they subsist from day to day by the provision which
he assigns them : the family to which they belong comprehends " an innumerable company of angels, and the general assembly and Church of the first-born which are written in heaven," together with myriads who are yet on their way to Zion : but all regard him as their common Head, their Lord, their Master, their Father and their Friend.] Exalted as this privilege is, it is far surpassed by that which is contained under that other metaphor, II. The temple wherein he dwells — The whole body of true believers is the temple of the living God — [Their foundation properly is Christ. But, in the text, the Church is said to be "built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets," because they with one voice testified of Christ ; and on their testimony the Church is built. This *> Rom. ix. 4. <^ Hob. xii. 22.
314 EPHESIA S, 11. 19—22. [2102. is the import of what our Saviour said to Peter ; " Thou art Peter, and on this rock will I build my Church :" he did not mean, that he would build it on the person of Peter, but on the testimony of Peter just before delivered, namely, that " Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God ^." Of the Church Christ is also " the chief corner-stone," which, whilst it supports the building, connects the parts of it together, and gives it stability through the whole remaining superstructure. The building raised on this foundation consists of " living stones %" all selected by sovereign grace, and with unerring wisdom " fitly framed together," so as mutually to confirm and strengthen one another, and collectively to constitute an edifice for the Lord. Various degrees of labour are bestowed on these, according to the situation they are to occupy. Some,
which are designed for a more conspicuous place in that building, have many strokes : others, which have a less honourable place assigned them, are sooner and more easily brought to the measure of perfection which is necessary for them. But, in all, this work is carried on silently, and in a way unnoticed by the world around them. As in the temple of Solomon, " every stone was made ready before it was brought thither, so that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron, heard in the house while it was in building^;" so it is in this spiritual building : every stone is fitted in secret : the work is carried on in each, without attracting the notice and observation of men : but all will at last be found so precisely fitted for their respective stations, as to demonstrate the infinite skill and unerring wisdom of the Divine Architect.] The end for which this structure is raised, is, the inhabitation of the Deity — [For this end fresh converts are " added to the Church daily, even such as shall be saved." For this end the work is carried on and perfected in the heart of every individual believer. For this end all the means of grace, like the scaffolding, are continued, till the whole shall have received its final completion. For this end the Holy Spirit is imparted to all, so that all are compacted together, standing firm on the one foundation, and united to each other by indissoluble bonds. And at last the Deity shall take possession of it, as he did in the days of Solomon, when by the bright cloud he filled the house, so that the priest could no longer stand to minister before him^. In all this honoiu* every saint partakes. Every one, even in his individual capacity, is a temple of the Lord*^, and has the ^ Matt. xvi. 16—18. « 1 Pet. ii. 4, 5. f 1 Kings vi. 7. 8 1 Kings viii. 10, 11. '> 1 Cor. vi. 19.
2102.1 EXALTED PRIVILEGES OF TRUE CHRISTIA S. 315 Spirit of God dwelling in him'. " In his heart Christ dwells by faith ^ :" and, through the effectual operation of the Holy Spirit, " he grows continually, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Yes, this honour has the Church at large ; and this honour have all the saints of every successive age.] Reflections — 1. How^ thankful should we be for such inestimable privileges ! [Believers, whoever ye are, ye were once lying in the quarry, as insensible as any that are still there. It was not by any agency of yours, no, nor for any superior goodness in you, that ye were taken thence ; but purely by God's power, for the praise of the glory of his own grace. He it is that has made the difference between you and others, between you also and your former selves. O! "look unto the rock, whence ye have been hewn, and to the hole of the pit, whence ye have been digged." ever forget what ye once were, or what ye would still have continued to be, if God, of his own good pleasure, had not brought you thence, and made you what ye now are. Be thankful also for the means which God, of his own infinite mercy, is yet using with you, to carry on and perfect his work in your souls. If ye have many strokes of the hammer, complain not of it: you have not one too many, not one that could be spared, if you are to occupy aright the place ordained for you. Lie meekly and submissively before your God ; and let him perfect his work in his own way. And contemplate the end for which you are destined, even " to be an habitation of God, through the Spirit," to all eternity ! Shall not this prospect make you " joyful in all your tribulation ?" Shall so much as an hour pass, and you not give
praise and thanksgiving to your God ? Look forward to the end, even to " this grace that shall be given you at the appearing of Jesus Christ ;" and beg of your God and Saviour not to intermit his work one single moment, till you are rendered completely meet for the station you are to hold, and the honour you are to enjoy in the eternal world.] 2. How studious should we be to walk worthy of them ! [This improvement of our privileges we should never overlook: it is the use which the inspired writers continually teach us to make of them. Are we the temples of the Holy Ghost? we must be far removed from all connexion with ' John xiv. 17, 2'.i. ^ Eph, iii. 17.
ungodly men ' and from all hateful and polluting passions "" And in us must be offered up continually the sacrifices of prayer and praise"; from which " God will smell a sweet odour," and by which he will eternally be glorified. Surely " holiness becomes God's house for ever;" and " this is the law of the house," that every part of it, and its very precincts, even to " its utmost limits, should be holy"." Labour then for this. Consider "what manner of persons ye ought to be in all holy conversation and godliness:" and, as every vessel of the sanctuary was holy, so let your every action, your every word, your every thought, be such as becometh your high calling and your heavenly destination.] 1 2 Cor. vi. 16, 17. "^ 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17n 1 Pet. ii. 4, 5. o Ezek. xliii. 12.
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