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We have seen, in what respects the saints in heaven and earth constitute one family.
Let us attend to the reflections which this subject suggests to us.
1. If we estimate the dignity of men from the families with which they are connected, how honorable is the believer? He belongs to the family in heaven. He is a son of the most high God. He is a fellow servant with angels. He has an inheritance with the saints in glory. He has a possession purchased for him, not with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of God's beloved Son. He has a house in reserve for him, which is builded, prepared and furnished, not by human hands, but by a divine power. How should all earthly riches and honors be despised by the Christian, who is born to such noble prospects, and entitled to such glorious possessions? May he not be contented in poverty, and patient in adversity, when he believes, that heavenly riches and ev. erlasting felicities nearly await him, and that his present light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are working for him a far more exceeding, and eternal weight of glory!
2. We see our obligations to mutual condescension, peaceableness and love.
The family in heaven are all of one heart, and one soul. They are united in the worship and service of God, and in the designs of benevolence toward one another. If we profess to belong to that noble family, let us learn to imitate their temper and manners. Let us love one another with a pure heart fervently, and keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. If the church of God on earth is one family, and a part of the great family which is in heaven; if even the angels are willing to be ranked with the saints below, as members of the same household, and employed as fellow servants with them, and even as ministering spirits to them; how unchristian, how unheavenly,
are pride, contention, disunion and separation among professed believers! How contrary are such tempers to their character as children of that Father, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named! This is a thought which our Apostle often suggests, and which meets us in almost every paragraph of this excellent epistle.
3. If we are God's family, how careful should we be to attend on the orders of his house?
Angels and saints worship God, day and night, in his temple above. It is their joy to come into his presence, bow themselves before him, receive and execute his commands, and celebrate his perfections and works. Let us here imitate their zeal, devotion and piety, that we may be better prepared' to join with them hereaf ter. they who contemptuously forsake the worship, and carelessly neglect the ordinances of God's house, absurdly profess to be the children of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heav en and earth is named.
4. Let those who are not of this family be solicitous to obtain a place in it.
Unless you become members of it here on earth, you cannot expect admission into it in heaven. The door of God's house is now open. He sends forth his servants to compel you to come in, that his house may be filled. But know this door will not stand open always. When, by the order of the master of the house, the door shall be shut, you will in vain stand without and knock at the door, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us;" for he will answer, I know you not whence
While you live in the indulgence of your sins, you are far from God; you have no portion in the blessings designed for his family. You must be renewed in the spirit of your mind, before you can become fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, and be incorporated with his family in heaven. He
now invites you to come in, and take a place among his children. Those who come he will graciously receive, and freely love. But if you spurn this kind invitation, and choose still to remain in the society of the ungodly, you will forever be excluded from the fellowship of saints and angels, and finally be turned over into the place prepared, in God's justice, for the punishment of rebellious spirits.
5. Let such as profess to be of God's family, walk as becomes so honorable a relation.
Let them emulate the temper of the blessed above, and aspire to that perfection, which makes them blessed. Let them seek a nearer conformity to, and closer union with the branch of their family, which is already in heaven. And let them daily bow their knees to him, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, "That he would grant them to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in their hearts by faith, and that, being rooted and grounded in love, they may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, and may be fil led with all the fulness of God."
Christ dwelling in the Saints; and the boundless dimensions of his Love to them.
EPHESIANS iii. 14-19.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to coma prehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, and that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God.
THE Apostle, now in bonds, for the gospel, was concerned for his new converts in Ephesus, lest, disheartened by the persecutions which had befallen him, and which threatened them, they should turn away from the faith: He cautions them, that they faint not at his tribulations; and, for their encouragement, he tells them, that he remembered them in his prayers, and bowed his knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in their behalf. The things which he principally requested for them, are related in the words which have just been read; That they might be strengthened in the inner man-that Christ might dwell in their hearts-that they might be rooted and grounded in love-that they might comprehend the love of
Christ which passeth knowledge and that they might be filled with all the fulness of God.
These things will be the subject of our present me. ditations. And while we contemplate the blessings which Paul sought for the Ephesians, let us seek the same for ourselves.
I. He prays, that "God would grant them, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man."
It was not bodily strength, civil power or worldly distinction, which the Apostle requested for these Christians; it was something far more desirable :→→→→ It was the strength, which belongs to the inner manwhich comes from God's Spirit-which is granted ac cording to the riches of his glory.
It was the grace of fortitude and patience, that they might persevere in religion, whatever dangers and difficulties should meet them. Thus our Apostle prays for the Colossians, "that they may be strengthened with all might, according to God's glorious pow er, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness."
Christians, weak in themselves, need the power of Christ to rest upon them. In the course of the religious life, they are exposed to dangerous temptations, exercised with great afflictions, and called to difficult services. In such cases they have peculiar need of strength in the inner man.
We are to obtain this strength by "bowing the knee to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." If it comes from his Spirit and from the riches of his glory, we must trust in him and look to him for it. That we may hope and ask with greater confidence, we should contemplate his wisdom, goodness, power and faithfulness, our past experience of his care and love, and especially his wonderful grace displayed in the gospel dispensation.
That we may obtain a supply of strength, we must watch over our hearts, shun known temptations, avoid