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another, drawn from the example of Christ; he also, as well as God the Father, hath loved us , and the instance given of his love, is the highest that ever was or can be given: He gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour. Observe here, 1. The great duty of the law: Walk in love. This implies the exercise of this grace, not barely to have it in the principle and habit, but to exercise and exert it in the act , and it implies the universal exercise of grace; whatever we do both to God and man, must be done in love, 1 Cor. xvi. 14. Let all your deeds be done with charity. Observe, 2. As the great duty of the law, to walk in love, so the great pattern of the gospel, as Christ also hath loved us. The particle as hath first the force of an argument, and is as much as because Christ hath loved us; and it has also the force of a rule to illdirect us in the manner how we should love one another, with an as of identity, but not equality: not with the same degree, but with the same kind, of love wherewith Christ hath loved us. But why hath, rather than doth love us? Why in the prefer, rather than in the present, tense? Ans. To denote both the priority of Christ's love; that he loved us before we lovul him ; yea, before we loved ourselves; nay, before we had any being in the world, we had a being in his love, even from all eternity. And also to denote the indubitable certainty of his love: He hath loved you; you need not doubt it, nor question it; he hath given actual and undeniable proofs of it; follow him from heaven to earth, and from earth to heaven again, and you will find every step he took to have been in love: Walk then in love, as Christ also hath loved us. Learn hence, 1. That our Lord Jesus Christ hath given an ample and full demonstration of his great and wonderful love unto his church and people. 2. That this love of Christ towards us, should not only be an argument and motive to excite and quicken us to walk in love one towards another, but also an exact rule and copy to direct and guide us in our walking. There are some incommunicable properties in Christ's love, which we cannot imitate. As his love was an eternal love, an infinite love, a free love, without motive, and in despite of obstacles, a redeeming love; such cannot our love be one to another: but as Christ's love was an operative love, a beneficent love, a preventing love, a soul love, a constant love: thus we are to imi
tate it, and walk in love one towards another. Observe, 3. The high instance and expression which Christ has given of his love unto us: He gave himself for us, a sacrifice unto God, SeC He gave; now gifts are expressions of love: he gave himself, that is more than if he had given all the angels in heaven, and all the treasures on earth, for us, more than the whole world, yea, than ten thousand worlds: he gave himself an offering and a sacrifice, a voluntary sacrifice, a meritorious, efficacious, expiatory, and propitiatory sacrifice: and this for us, to be stuck, and bleed to death in our stead. And he gave himself a sacrifice to God, as an injured and offended God; to God, as a revenger of sin; to God, as the guardian and giver of the law; to God, as the assertcr of his truth in the threatenings; he appeared before God as sitting upon a seat of justice, that he might open to us a throne of grace. Lastly, For a sweet-smelling savour, that is, he gave himself with an intention to be accepted, and God received him with a choice acceptation. Our sin had sent up a very ill savour to heaven, which disturbed the rest of God: Christ expels this ill scout, by the perfume of his precious blood. Learn hence, 1. That the sacrifice and sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ were very free and voluntary: he offered himself, and his offering was a free-will offering. Lam, 2. That this voluntary sacrifice and free-will offering of Christ, was acceptable to God, and efficacious for men; it was acceptable to God, because a complete satisfaction for sin's wrong; and efficacious for us, because a discharge from the obligation of sin's guilt.
3 But fornication, and all tincleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints:
The apostle, in this and the following verses, exhorts the Ephesians to shun several sins, which were frequently practised among the Gentiles before their conversion to christianity, as first, fornication, and all sorts and degrees of uncleanness. This was looked upon as an indifferent action, and no sin at all, by the Pagan world. Next, he advises them to beware of covetousness, that is, all irregular and inordinate desires, and lusting after things forbidden in the general, and particularly all insatiable love of riches, which in tradm; cities (such as Ephesus) doth usually very much abound, which sins he earnestly desires may not be named amongst them, that is, not named with approbation, not named without reprehension; nor named, that is, not committed by any of them, yea, not so much as named by them, without detestation. And the argument offered to dissuade from these sins, is drawn ab indecoro as not becoming saints, that is, converted christians, who profess separation from the world, and solemn dedication to God and Christ, anditherefore ought to be holy in heart, chaste in mind, heavenly in desire, undented in body. A life of purity and chastity well becoming saints; they must be pure in heart, pure in tongue, pure in intention, pure in expression, pure in conversation, otherwise they answer not their name, nor walk according to their renewed nature: Let no uncteanness be once named amongst you, at becometli saints.
4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks.
Here our apostle advises Christians to guard against the sins of the tongue, to avoid all filthy discourse, and all foolish discourse, all scurrilous and obscene jesting', all excess in drollery, which is nothing but the foam of a frothy wit. Moderate mirth, by innocent and inoffensive jesting, is not here forbidden: but when we jest by tart reflections upon the way, gesture, or natural imperfections of others, especially when we furnish out a jest in scripture attire, and in a jocular humour make light and irreverent application of scripture phrases! Lord! what an impious liberty do some men take, to bring forth scripture, as the Philistines brought forth Samson, only to make them sport. These men ere long will find Almighty God in earnest, though they were in jest when they played the buffoon with the most serious things in the world. Observe farther, Our apostle's argument to dissuade from such talk, is this, they are not convenient: not convenient in themselves, not convenient for the speaker, not convenient for the hearers, for they poison instead of profiting the company, and pollute both the minds and manners of the hearers. O, what a great and common instrument of sin is the mouth or tongue of man! The tongue of a good man is voi- n,
his glory, the tongue of a sinner is his shame; there is no member of the body that doth so much service for the devil as the tongue, especially in common conversation; then it is that men let their tongues run riot, then they utter oaths and biasphemies against God, censorious, opprobrious, slanderous words, against their neighbours, to prevent all which, the apostle exhorts, in the last words of the verse, that when we meet together, we should rather recount the lavours received from God, and bless him for-them: But rather giving of thanks. As there is at all times, and in all places, cause of thanksgiving administered to us by God, so it is our duty to take all occasions and fit opportunities to excite both ourselves and others to the practice of it, who are naturally very averse and backward to it. From the whole note, That so quick and easy is the passage from what is lawful and allowed, to what is sinful and forbidden, that it is a task of no small difficulty to keep within the bounds of lawful and allowed mirth, especially by recreating our spirits by pleasant and delightful discourse, so that we exceed not either in matter, manner, oc measure. Well might St. James says, chap. iii. 2. If any man offend not in word, he is a perfect man: intimating, that there are many, very many, that do thus offend; and such as do not, are christians of no common attainment, but great proficients in grace, persons of extraordinary measures both of piety and prudence.
5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be ye not therefore partakers with them:
Our apostle, considering how exceeding common the fore-mentioned sins wereamong the Gentiles, and how ready persons were to esteem lightly of them, advises the Ephesians here not to entertain in their minds light thoughts of them, or to believe any libertines which should represent them as small and inconsiderable matters; for how can a little sin be committed against a great God: or that sin be accounted light, which brings down the heavy wrath of God upon the person, and shuts him out of the kingdom of God? Note here, 1. The description of heaven ; it is a kingdom, for its eminence and glory, for its fulness and sufficiency, for its safety and security, for its duration and perpetuity, so called ; and it is the kingdom of Christ, and of God, that is, either the kingdom of Christ who is God, or the kingdom of Christ by purchase, and the kingdom of God by free donation. But mark, The kingdom of Christ and of God; of Christ first, because there is no coming into the kingdom of God but by Christ. Christ is first named, because we enter by him into the kingdom, and in his right. Note, 2. The sins enumerated, which will assuredly shut persons out of his kingdom; and they are not external and corporeal sins only, as whoredom and uncleanness, but internal and spiritual; covetousness, which is idolatry. As a man may be guilty of adultery, and yet never touch a woman, and of murder, yet never strike his neighbour; so he may be guilty of idolatry, and yet never bow his knee to an idol: secret idolatry, soul idolatry, will shut out of heaven, as well as open idolatry. Any thing that has our highest esteem and regard, our extreme love and delight, and is the special object of our hope, our affiance and trust, of our fear and care, this we make our god. And thus, the covetous man is an idolater, for he gives these acts of soul-worship to the creature, to something in the world which is not God. Every natural man is an idolater; either the world, or some worldly lust, is his god, and no idolater can have, while such, any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Note, 3. The seasonable advice which St. Paul gives the Ephesians, and us in them, not to be partakers of other men's sins: Be not ye therefore partakers with them, lest ye be also partakers with them in their plagues and punishments. Suest. But when may we be said to be partakers of other men's sins? Ans-w. When we consent to them, connive at them, rejoice in them, give counsel or command for them, by not hindering of them, by not publishing and punishing of them, if in our power, by not mourning over them, but especially by joining with them in the sinful practice of them; all these ways are we partakers of other men's sins.
8 For ye were sometimes darkness; but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
Here the Ephesians are put in mind of the darkness and blindness of their heathen state, before the light of the gospel came among them; they were not only dark, very much in the dark, but darkness itself: he next acquaints them with their happy condition, by entertaining of the gospel of Christ; they therefore became light in the Lord, they were savingly enlightened by the word and Spirit of God; and accordingly he urges them to walk answerably to their Christian profession, Walk as children of light. Note here, 1. That the state which every soul is in by nature, and before conversion, is a state of spiritual darkness; like men in the dark, they go they know not whither, they do they know not what, they stumble and fall they know not how and when. Note, 2. That all those whom God calls effectually out of the darkness and ignorance of their natural and unrcgenerate state, he doth enlighten them by bis word and Holy Spirit. Note, 3. That such as are so called and enlightened, ought to walk suitably to their privilege, and answerably to their high and honourable profession. Walk as children of light ; that is, holy, humbly, cheerfully, thankfully, before God; exemplarily and unblamably before the world.
9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth o 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
These words contain a reason why the Ephesians, who were once darkness, but then enlightened by the Holy Spirit, should walk as children of the light; namely, because the fruits of that light, or of the Holy Spirit, the author of that light which they had received, is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth, that is, it consisted in these things, these are the fruits of the enlightening and enlivening Spirit of God. So that the force of the argument lies thus: such a walking as is here directed to, namely, in the love and practice of universal righteousness and goodness, is the genuine fruit and natural result of the Holy Spirit, and accordingly as such they were obliged to it. None can walk as children of the light, but such as are renewed and quickened by the Holy Spirit of God, and made children of light. and such will be found in the practice of those duties, wherein that walk consisteth. Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord: that is, 1. To study the word, and find what is pleasing unto God. 2. To embrace with our hearts what we find to be so. And, 3. To practise in our lives what we embrace with our hearts. The scripture acquaints us with some persons and some performances which are very acceptable unto God ; such persons as live most by faith, as are very upright in their walking, very sincere in all they do, such are greatly acceptable unto God; so the performances are also acceptable, namely, when we do justice and judgment, tins is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice ; both commutative and distributive justice betwixt man and man, more pleasing to God than the highest acts of worship performed to him without this, Prop. xxi. 3. To serve Christ with a pure intention, with good-will, or a willing mind, and to suffer patiently for -weil-doing, this is highly pleasing and acceptable unto God, 1 Pet. ii. 20.
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Observe here, 1. The odious character wherewith sin in general is branded: it is styled darkness, a work of darkness, works of darkness, and an unfruitful work. Sin is styled darkness, because it originally springs from darkness, it naturally delights in darkness, it ultimately leads to eternal darkness. Sin is called a work of darkness, to imply the drudgery and toil, the labour and pains, that the sinner is at in the service of sin: the work of sin is a mere drudgery; it is not a pleasurable service, but a laborious servitude. And the apostle calling sin by the name of works, doth intimate to us, that one sin never goes single and alone, but has a dangerous train and retinue. Finally, Sin is an unfruitful work; not materially and subjectively unfruitful, for the corrupt nature of man is a rank soil in which sin thrives apace; but terminatively and ultimately, it is unfruitful in the conclusion, in the event and issue, Rom. vi. 21. What fruit, Src. Observe, 2. A dehortation, or negative precept: Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness: it is both the duty and interest of every christian to have nothing to do with any sinful work; the preceptive will of God re
this, sin being contrary to the holiness of his nature and will; and the dignity and purity of the gospel calls for this, which is a law of holiness, and a rule of holy living. Observe, 3. A positive injunction: But rather reprove them. How are we to reprove the unfruitful workers and works of darkness Two ways: 1. By our lips , with plainness, but yet with prudence; with faithfulness, but yet with meekness; in reproof never use sharp words, if soft words will serve the turn. 2. With our lives; thus Nehemiah, by his princely demeanour, did reprove the covet ousness of former governors, Neh. v. 15. So did not I, because of the fear of the Lord; a holy life is a visible and daily reproof given both to sin and
12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
Here our apostle assigns particular reasons why the Ephesians should have no fellowship with the unfruitful workers and works of darkness, but reprove them; namely, 1. The abominable filthiness of those sins which the wicked pagans committed, especially in their heathen mysteries, prescribed by the devil as parts of his worship; such things done in secret, as it was even a shame to speak of. 2. Because admonitions and reproof make the works of darkness manifest to the sinner's conscience, set sin forth in its black and ugly colours. A discovery of sin in its vileness, odiousness, and ugliness, is necessary to a sinner's conviction of it, and conversion from it; and God doth not only bless the ministry of the word from the pulpit, but sometimes by a word of reproof from the mouth of a private christian, and the light of his holy example for this great end. A reproof piously and prudently given to open sinners, by private christians, shall not miss of its end , it will certainly have its effect, either in the sinner's conversion and salvation, or in his obduration and condemnation: as all things reprovable are made manifest by light, so a prudent reproof and pious conversation put sin to shame, if not to silence.
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from
the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
The last argument which our apostle offers to consideration, for enforcing the duty of reproving the unfruitful workers and works of darkness, is drawn from the example of God himself, whose great design it is, by his holy word, to awaken men out of the deep sleep of sin and death, that Christ may give them light. Here note, The dangerous and deplorable, though not hopeless and desperate state, of an unconverted and impenitent sinner, namely, spiritual sleep and death. Every man by nature is in a dead sleep till the renovating change; he apprehends things as a man asleep; all his thoughts of God and Christ, of heaven and hell, of sin and holiness, are slight and hovering notions, not real and thorough apprehensions; the most substantial realities are with them but phantasms and imaginations. Imaginary dangers startle them, like men in a dream; but real dangers, though never so near, do not affect them. As in natural sleep, all the senses of the body, so in spiritual sleep, are all the senses of the soul bound up; and accordingly, this sleep is not casual, but connatural, to our present sinful slate; a soul drenched in sensuality sleeps, as it were, by choice, and not by chance. But how, O sinner, canst thou sleep under such a load of sin and guilt, with so many wounds in thy conscience, with so many ulcers in thy soul? Can a diseased man sleep? Can a condemned man sleep} Can a man in debt sleep i All this the sinner is: and yet though God thunders above, and hell gapes from beneath, and the sinner hangs over it by the fretted thread of this life, yet he is in a profound sleep; but his damnation slumbers not, if he doth not speedily awake, and arise from the dead, that Christ may give him light.
15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.
These words may be considered two ways; either, 1. As a direction to those, who, according to the foregoing exhortation, do reprove sinners for their unfruitful works of darkness, namely, to walk very circumspectly themselves. '' See then how circumspectly you walk," so the words may be rendered; and it intimates to us, that those only are fit to reprove sin in
others, who walk very circumspectly and unblamably themselves; such only have authority to reprove, and such only can hope for success in reproving, ver. 11. Rather reprove them: see then that ye wait circumspectly. Secondly, The words may be considered as anew precept, added by St. Paul to the former given in this chapter, for directing the Ephesians to an holy life; he assures them, that if they will walk holily, they must walk circumspectly, and that circumspect walking is wise walking. Observe here, 1. The necessity of circumspect walking: See that ye walk circumspectly. Learn hence, That it is impossible for a christian to maintain a holy course of obedience to the commands of God, without great care and caution, oeedfulness and circumspection; none can walk holily, that do not walk circumspectly and watchfully. Such is that weakness and inconstancy of our nature, so many and so subtle are our spiritual enemies, and so intimate with us, so strict and exact is the law of God we are to walk by, and so holy and jealous is that God we are to walk before, that it is impossible to walk before him acceptably, if we do not walk circumspectly. Observe, 2. As the necessity, so the excellency, of circumspect walking: it is not toolish, unadvised, and unaccountable walking ; but it is truly wise walkmg; such walking as the wisdom of God recommends to us, and such walking as bespeaks us truly and really wise. Such as walk loosely, walk foolishly: careless walking is foolish walking; but circumspect walking is wise walking; for it is to be wise for ourselves, and wise to our best and true interest: it is to be wise for time, and wise to eternity; wise both for this, and for the coming world. See that ye wait circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Observe here, 1. A most important and necessary duty exhorted to; namely, to redeem the time. This cannot be done in a natural sense: lime, once past, is irrecoverably lost, we can no more recall it; bat in a moral sense, lime may be said to be redeemed, when our diligence to improve it is redoubled, when we do much work in a little time. To redeem time, supposes and implies a right knowledge of the use and end of time, and high valuation of the worth and excellency of time, and resolu