This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Eph. iv. 7, 8. Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. FROM the divisions which exist in the Christian Church, it has been said, by the enemies of Christianity, " First agree amongst yourselves, before you attempt to proselyte others to your religion." That divisions do exist, is undeniable : and that they are a disgrace to our holy religion, must be confessed. But still, whilst we mourn over these differences, we believe that there is no society under heaven that is more agreed in all essential points than the Church of Christ. In the great essential points of repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and the necessity of obedience to all the commands of God, there is no difference amongst any true Christians, whether they be found amongst the most enlightened philosophers or the most uncivilized barbarians. In our bodily frame there are many members, which, though widely different from each other in their use and structure, are in perfect harmony with each other, as being all actuated by the same spirit, harmoniously employed for the good of the whole. And this is precisely what exists in the Church of Christ : *' There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit :
2108.1 THE ASCE SIO OF CHRIST. 343 and there are diversities of administrations , but the same Lord: and there are diversities of operations ;
but it is the same God who worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal : for to one is given, by the Spirit, the word oiwisdoin; to another, the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit ; to ^xiot\iex, faith, by the same Spirit; to another, the gifts of healing, by the same Spirit ; to another, the working of miracles ; to another, jjrophecy ; to another, discerfiing of spirits ; to another, divers kinds of tongues ; to another, the interpretation of tongues : but all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will'\" This is exactly what the Apostle affirms in the passage before us : whatever differences there be amongst us, we should " forbear one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace :" for, amidst all those differences, " there is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling ; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all*"." Whatever differences are made, either in respect of gifts or graces, they are all made by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, agreeably to what had been foretold concerning him ; as the Apostle says in our text : " Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ : wherefore he saith. When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men." In discoursing on these words, we shall be led to consider, L The obligations we owe to Christ — On the primitive Church there were many special and miraculous gifts bestowed : in reference to which, the Apostle says of Christ, " He gave some. Apostles ; and some, prophets ; and some, evangelists ; and some, pastors and teachers ^" But, whilst a distinction was made amongst the members of the Church
^ 1 Cor. xii. 4 — 11. ^ ver. 2 — 6. "^ ver. 11.
344- EPHESIA S, IV. 7,8. [2108. in reference to gifts, there were graces bestowed indiscriminately on all, though in different degrees, according to the will and pleasure of the Giver of them all, the Lord Jesus Christ. And thus it is at this time : There is amongst men a great diversity both of gifts and graces — [Some are endowed with richer talents than others originally, at their first coming into the world. In early infancy, a distinction is visible, both in respect to corporeal and mental endowments ; weakness and imbecility being the lot of some, whilst strength and energy are the happy portion of others. Wealth and poverty also place men far asunder, in reference to their station in society; insomuch that, to one who considers only the outward appearance, the most elevated and the most depressed of men seem almost to belong to different orders of creation, rather than to different ranks of the same order. Something of the same may be noticed in reference to the graces of men. I say, something of the same : for, where any portion of real grace is, there is such an elevation of character, that there is a far less distance between the extremes of those who are born of God, than there is of those who are yet in their natural and unregenerate state. But St. John speaks of " little children, young men, and fathers," in the Church ; and consequently there must of necessity be so much of disparity in real saints as will justify the use of these appropriate and characteristic terms.] But, whatever be the measure of any man's gifts, he is altogether indebted to the Lord Jesus Christ, as the true source and giver of them —
[We see the truth of this observation in reference to intellectual powers ; which, even before any means have been used for the improvement of them, are found much stronger in some than in others. And, though I readily acknowledge that talent depends, in some measure, on the cultivation of the human mind, yet I must say, it is God alone who inclines or enables us to cultivate it with effect. In like manner it must be confessed, that much also may depend on our use of the means of grace ; but still I must say, that it is " God alone who gives us either to will or to do;" and, consequently, whatever flows from our willing and doing must be his gift also. Remember then, 1 pray you, to whom you are indebted for every grace you possess. Have you any measure of repentance ? it is conferred on you by the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you any measure oi faith ? "it has been given you by
2108.] THE ASCE SIO OF CHRIST. 345 him to believe." Have you any measure of holiness ? this also has come from Him, " who is w^onderful in counsel, and excellent in working." Yet we must not suppose that no guilt attaches to us for the want of these graces : we are bound to repent, and believe the Gospel, and to obey the commands of God ; and shall be justly doomed to punishment, if we abide in impenitence or unbelief. Yet, for all these graces, so far as we possess them, we must confess our obligation to the Lord Jesus Christ, who, in the distribution of them, acts according to his own sovereign will : so that we have no ground for glorying, if we possess a larger measure ; nor for repining, if we possess a less. We may " covet earnestly, indeed, the best gifts ;" but, whatever be the measure of them which has been conferred upon us, we must be thankful for them, and improve them diligently, for the benefit of man, and the honour of our God.] Whilst we acknowledge our obligations to Christ, it will be proper to inquire,
II. Whence it is that he is empowered to confer them — Respecting this we are informed by David, who prophesied concerning our blessed Lord, and foretold that he should be invested with the power which is here ascribed to him. Let us first understand the prophecy itself — [The psalm, from whence it is taken, was written by David, on occasion of his carrying up the ark to Mount Zion. David, having subdued all his enemies, desired to honour God by bringing up the ark from Kirjath-jearim to Mount Zion, and placing it in the tabernacle there, as its permanent abode. In celebrating this event, he goes back to the days of Moses, when all the hosts of Egypt were destroyed in the Red Sea ; and the Hebrews, enriched with the spoils of Egypt, formed with them a tabernacle for the service of their God. In both events, the triumphs of Israel's God were seen, and the work of their Messiah was prefigured : " Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive : thou hast received gifts for men ; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell am_ong them "^."J ow let us see the application of it to the Lord Jesus — •^ Ps. Ixviii. 18.
346 EPHESIA S, IV. 7, 8. [2108. [Our blessed Saviour had now vanquished all his enemies upon the cross : " by death he had overcome death, and him that had the power of it, that is, the devil ;" and "having spoiled principalities and powers, he triumphed over them openly upon the cross ^" In his ascension, like a mighty con-
queror, he " led them captive," as it were, at his chariotwheels : and as conquerors, in their triumphs, were wont to scatter gifts and largesses among the people, so he received from his heavenly Father the Holy Spirit, and poured him forth upon the Church, in all his gifts and graces, in order that *' the most rebellious" of men might be converted to the Lord, and " the Lord God might dwell among them." The right to confer these gifts was founded on his previous conflicts and victories : and, when they were completed, the right was exercised, to the unspeakable benefit of the Church at that day ; and not at that day only, but in all subsequent ages, even to the present hour.] ow, then, see, 1. What reason we have to bless God for the events which are this day^ commemorated amongst us — [The Apostle tells us, in the words following my text, that " Jesus ascended up far above all heavens, that he might Jill all things" This was the very end of his ascension. He had come down from heaven, that he might procure for us these blessings : and now he ascended up to heaven, that he might confer on us the fruits of his victories. The sun arises on the earth, that he may diffuse his benefits through the whole material creation : and in like manner the Sun of Righteousness is risen, to scatter forth his blessings upon fallen man. Does any one feel his need of grace, or mercy, or peace ? let him remember, that the Lord Jesus Christ is ascended to heaven on purpose to bestow thevi. Had he not ascended, the Holy Ghost would never have been sent down to us : but now that Jesus " has received from the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost," no one needs to remain destitute of any spiritual blessing whatever. If it be said, we have been rebellious ; I answer, our past rebellions will be no bar to the communication of his blessings to us, if only we be willing to lay down the weapons of our warfare, and to implore mercy at his hands. It is " for the rebellious" that he himself has received the gift; and on the rebellious he is willing to confer it. Let all then, without exception, rejoice in
the evidence they have, that Christ has vanquished all their enemies ; and in the certainty, that all who look to him shall « Col. ii. 15. f Ascension Day.
2109.] THE USE OF A STATED MI ISTRY. 347 be enriched " out of his fulness, receiving grace" upon grace, and grace corresponding with the grace which there was in him.] 2. What rich measures of grace we are authorized to aspire after — [Though we all ought to be thankful for the smallest measure of grace, we should never be satisfied till we have attained the largest. We are told by the Apostle, that we should " grow up into Christ as our living Head," even " unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ himself =." What a glorious object for our ambition is here! O brethren, be not straitened in your own bowels; for ye are not straitened in your God ! The Lord Jesus, who first descended from heaven, and became incarnate for you, is now ascended to heaven in the very nature that he assumed for you : and well does he know all your wants and necessities, which he is as ready, as he is able, to supply. Open wide, therefore, your mouth, in supplication to him ; and be assured, that he will give you a more abundant supply of his Spirit ; nor will ever withhold his hand, till you are filled with all the fulness of God.]
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITI GS
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.