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by Robert Hawker
THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE EPHESIANS
WE here enter upon a portion of the Inspired Writings, in which God the Holy Ghost, by his penman the Apostle, hath brought the Church into an acquaintance with the deep things of God. Every chapter, more or less, brings with it such sublime discoveries, as none but God the Holy Spirit could have indited, and none but his blessed teaching can give the ability to apprehend. Every child of God, under the Lord's instruction, cannot but be constrained, as be passeth through the several chapters, to remark these things, and to be convinced that the mind of the Apostle must have been carried out in a most eminent manner, in spiritual enjoyment, at the time God the Holy Ghost put the pen into his hand, and such a fullness of grace into his heart, when he caused him to write his Epistle to the church at Ephesus.
The Reader for the better apprehension of the distinguishing mercy manifested by the Lord's people among the Ephesians, should connect with this Epistle, the history in the formation of the Church at Ephesus, as related in the Acts of the Apostles. The establishment of the Gospel, among a people like the Ephesians, is among the world's wonder. Here was erected the magnificent building dedicated to the dunghill idol Diana. The city itself, like another Athens, appears to have been wholly given to idolatry. It was a place of much pomp, luxury, and pride in human learning, if we may judge by the destruction of the books of curious arts, which were destroyed when some were converted to the faith in Jesus. See Acts 19:0 . throughout. But here also Christ had a people. And, hence, according to Covenant Promises, the Holy Ghost gathers out his redeemed, to shew forth Jehovah's praise. Jeremiah 32:37 - Jeremiah 38:1 ; Ezekiel 34:12 , etc. and Ezekiel 36:24 , etc. Hence Paul was sent to Ephesus to raise a Church. And, hence, for the confirmation of the Church in the faith, he was afterwards directed to send this Epistle.
But we must not stop here. It was not for the Church at Ephesus only that this most precious portion of the divine word was sent, but for the church of God in all ages. Thousands and tens of thousands, who never have seen, or will see Ephesus, have found cause to bless God the Holy Ghost for Paul's ministry and writings to that people. Yea, ages yet unborn, will find motives of praise for the same !
Concerning the date of this Epistle, writers are divided. Some place it so late as the year 59, corresponding to the 5th year of Nero.
I do not think it necessary in this place, to give an account, however briefly, of the great and essential doctrine of which this Epistle treats. These will meet us in their proper place. The chief features of God the Father's eternal love, it the choice of the Church in Christ, and to unspotted holiness in him, the full, free, and complete redemption by Christ, in the time-state of the Church, and the regenerating grace of God the Holy Ghost, with his several offices and characters; these are opened to us in all their glory, as we pass through the several chapters, and which supersede the necessity of enlarging upon them here.
It may serve, indeed, a good purpose, under God's grace, to endear this Epistle to us still more, and to induce us to receive it with the greater reverence and godly fear, if it be just remarked, that the Church of Ephesus is now no more. The Lord hath fulfilled what he threatened, and long, long since, removed her candlestick out of its place, Revelation 2:5 . And it becomes a loud admonition to our British Ephesus, in the present awful hour! If God spared not a city so once blessed, take heed lest he spare not thee ! The Church of God must stand, and will stand, till time shall be no more. But the Candlestick is a moveable part of the furniture in the house. The Lord may remove this to other nations, as he did by Ephesus, while his Church is the same upon earth, till time shall be no more.
Reader! pause at the threshold of this most blessed scripture, and let us both beg the Almighty Giver of it, to unfold to our spiritual apprehension, the gracious contents of it; that Christ, who is the great object of all contained in it, and the subject of all treated of in it, may appear to us in all his, fullness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency; that in him, and of him, and through him, we may find cause continually, through every part of it, to bless Jehovah in his threefold character of Person, for all our blessings in Jesus Christ. Amen !
the Second Week of Advent