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abide with them. As in Christ all fulness dwells, so believers are complete in him, and of his fulness they receive grace for grace-grace answerable to their cases, and equal to their necessities.
All his government is managed in reference to the good of the church. He has made the world by his power ; but the church he has purchased with his blood. He therefore has a peculiar concern for her, in distinction from the world ; and, in subservience to her interest, he directs all the affairs of his general dominion. He has promised, that he' will finally make her victorious over all her enemies ; and we may be assured, that all the revolutions of kingdoms, and all the dispensations of Providence will, under his direction, conduce to the fulfilment of this promise.
The church is instituted to train up rational beings in knowledge and holiness, that they may become meet for everlasting felicity in the future world. This must, then, be the most important branch of Christ's government ; and to this all the other parts must be subservient. If the happiness, of men in another state is of more value than all temporal glory and riches ; if that happiness depends on moral qualifications ; and if to form men to these qualifications is the great purpose for which the church was instituted and endowed ; then it cannot be doubted, but that the Redeemer con. tinually exercises his supreme dominion in reference to her edification and safety.
This thought should give us much consolation in the darkest periods of the church.
There are times, when from the approach of exter. nal dangers, or from the increase of internal corrup. tions, her state appears critical and tending to ruin. But Christ will not forget his promise ; “ I the Lord do keep her, and lest any hurt her, I will keep her night and day.” He may visit her transgressions with a rod; but his loving kindness he will not take from her, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail. He knows how
to overrule the most threatening appearances for the advancement of her purity, and the establishment of her safety. The time is coming, when she will arise and shine, and her glory will spread through the earth'; And those circumstances, which in human view look most unfavorable, may, under the direction of divine wisdom, contribute to the introduction of such a hap. py period.
We see how criminal and dangerous it is to oppose the interest of the church.
As the church is Christ's body, which he nourishes and defends, and for which he is made head over all things, they who persecute this, wound him in a most tender part : They who cause divisions in this, make a schism or rent in his body : They who form parties in opposition to each other, and still call ihemselves members of Christ, treat the one Saviour, as if he were divided into as many parts, as there are sects which assume his name : They who, by corrupt doctrines and examples, draw tender minds array from the truth as it is in Jesus, and throw stumbling blocks before the lame and the weak, are destroying thosc for whom Christ died ; and by thus sinning against the brethren, they sin against Christ : 'They who call Christ their Lord, and yet serve divers lusts and pleasures, are enemies to his cross, and their end will be destruction,
If the church is Christ's body, let us honor it; study to preserve unity in it; labor for its edification and comfort ; and, as fellow members of the same body, exercise for each other the same care as for ourselves.
How safe and happy are they, who are the true members of Christ's body, being vitally united to him by faith! They are of that select and distinguished member, for whom he is made head over all things, and to whom all things under his direction, are work. ing for good.
If Christ is the head of the body, and filleth all in all, let us daily look to him for counsel, comfort and sup
port; and, in the continual exercise of faith, derive from him all needed supplies of grace.
If we profess to be members of his body, let us move under his influence and in compliance with his directions. Let us honor and reverence our head, and never presumptuously lift up ourselves against it. And God grant, that, speaking the truth in love, we may grow up in all things into Christ our head, and may make increase, as his body, to the edifying of ourin love.
The Depravity of Human Nature.
EPHESIANS ii. 1, 2, 3.
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins ;
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 ; among whom also we all had our conversation in times fast, in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind ; and were by nature the children of wrath even as others.
IF you will carefully attend to this epistle, you will find that the thoughts expressed in it are closely con. nected, and one thought leads to another through the whole. Paul, both in his preaching and writing, was an accurate reasoner, not an incoherent declaimer. The thoughts in the text and the words following, arise out of those which immediately precede. He had just described the glorious resurrection, exaltation and dominion of Jesus Christ, which, he tells the Ephesian believers, were pledges and earnests of their final glo. rification in heaven. “Now," says he, “ as God has raised up Christ your head, and set him at his own right hand ; so he has quickened you, who once were dead in your sins, and raised you up with Christ, and made you sit together in heavenly places in him. That the glorious hope, the blessed inheritance, and the happy resurrection, of which I have spoken, will be your portion, you may learn from that, which God has already done for you. He has quickened you who were dead in your sins ; he has made you meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints ; he has rais. ed up your head, Christ Jesus, and has placed him, and in him has placed your nature, already in heaven. And if the head is raised, the members will follow. If you believe that Jesus is risen, you must believe, that them who sleep in Jesus, God will bring with him ; for he is the first fruits of them who sleep, and because he lives, they will live also.”
That the Ephesians might have the more admiring sentiments of the power and grace of God in quicken. ing them to a spiritual life, and raising them to a hope of the heavenly inheritance, he leads them to the con. templation of that dismal state of corruption and guilt, in which the gospel found them. A description of that state is contained in the words which I have read. The several expressions, by which he describes their past condition, I shall now explain and illustrate. And let us remember that the description is applicable to other sinners, as well as to those ancient Gentiles. This general application the Apostle teaches us to make..
I. He expresses their state in more general terms. " They were dead in trespasses and sins." What is here said of them, is elsewhere said of all under the power of sin : “ They are dead, while they live." Hence conversion is called " a rising from the dead;" and " a passing from death to life." These expres. sions, however, being figurative, must be understood with proper qualifications.
Sinners possess the natural faculties of men ; and in their worldly affairs they often exercise such prudence and activity, that our Saviour once observed, “the children of this world are, in their generation, wiser than the children of light.” Their deadness consists,