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and every day fact. If you have prayed and are praying that he would thus come and make his abode with you, be assured he has visited you and is working in you, for without his presence and agency, you could more be employed as you are, than you could originate your own existence.
3. He may have done something towards preparing us as temples for himself, and yet we be unfit to receive him : the Augean stable is not, perhaps, as yet thoroughly cleansed.
Is the sanctuary decorated with ? Is it illumined with his glory? Is it meet for his abode ?
4. Pray to him, nay, plead with him, to carry on and accomplish his work in you, this being absolutely necessary for your present, future, and eternal welfare. And
5. Permit a word of caution to be given you; take care that you never grieve the Spirit of God; you may not be, and we hope you are not in any great danger of doing so, by yielding to anything grossly sinful and offensive; your danger may be from the indulgence of a light, trifling spirit, leading to unprofitable and empty conversation, and the indulgence of a worldly spirit. And though you in none of these ways should give offence to him, yet if you omit, or but carelessly perform, your pious and devotional exercises, you will as certainly offend, as by indulging open sin.
IMPROVEMENT. Do you say our caution is too late, that offence has been already given by bolting the heart so long against him, or by admitting into it again, those enemies with whom he will not and cannot remain ? Well if such is the case, be afflicted, and mourn,
humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, and look for pardon through the great atonement, and he will forgive you, and purify you, and come into you. Yes, he will now come, if there is but a believing, longing, and obedient heart in you, and will treat you as though you had not offended.
“ To make all men to see what is the fellowship of this
mystery,” etc. (Ephes. iii. 9.)
Much as our curiosity may have prompted us to think hardly of the divine Being for not having made known to us much that we have wished to know; we cannot complain of his having hidden from us those things it concerns us most to know.
And among other things which he is anxious we should know, and which he has taken pains to spread out before us in all its interest and glory, is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning had been hid in God. Here observe,
I. That by mystery is meant the privileges of the gospel dispensation. (See verses 2–6.)
They are thus called, having been kept in a state of comparative obscurity in past ages, but now no longer
2. Christians have fellowship in this mystery; they mutually participate in these privileges, there being nothing exclusive in the economy: all may be pardoned and know it; all may be sanctified wholly, and may enjoy an abiding sense of the divine presence.
As a church, all are joined together by one Spirit, (verse 10,) and are united to Christ, and have fellowship in all means, public and private.
3. All are to see their fellowship in this mystery.
All must understand that such a fellowship exists; a fellowship in holiness, to which all are called; (1. Pet. i. 15;) this is the characteristic of the church; (Ephes. v. 25 -- 27;) those therefore are no true members of the church that are not holy.
It is also a fellowship in happiness or enjoyment. Gloominess is no credit to religion. We are called to rejoice evermore; and to rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. (1 Thess. v. 16; 1 Peter i. 8.)
In short it is a fellowship in love. Christ prayed that all his might be one in love.
“ That they all may be one," etc. (John xvii. 20-23.)
4. The end why this fellowship should be seen is, that the world may know and believe that Christ came out from, and was authorized by God. The fellowship of sinners will not bear the light, for it is a shame to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. (Chap. v. 12.) Free masons, odd fellows, chartists, and ribbon men for instance: but the fellowship of this mystery will bear the light, and courts it. For, observe,
II. The subjects of the heavenly governments are to see the manifold wisdom of God in the salvation and government of the church militant.
They, in all probability see new displays of the wisdom of God in every successive visit they pay to this world. "Which things the angels desire to look into.” We shall not learn everything at once, when we get to heaven.
2. They see manifold wisdom, that is, various displays of it. They see the wisdom of God in the atonement he has provided for sin, which marvellously exhibits the wisdom of his government in reconciling the exercise of his mercy and his justice, his purity, and a relaxation of his right.
3. They see the wisdom of God in the gradual development of his will, allowing the world an opportunity to see whether in its wisdom it could attain to a right knowledge of God; and when it could not, then, in ordaining that man should be saved by the foolishness of preaching, through faith ; (1 Cor. i. 21 ;) thus putting his energy into the gospel, and making it his powerful instrument to save men. (Rom. i. 16.)
4. They see the wisdom of God in governing the world for the benefit of his church, making all events, persons and things, to minister to the church's protection, growth and glory. (Ephes. i. 22; Rom. vii. 28.) In short, -
5. They see the wisdom of God to be so manifold
and consummate, as to justify us in saying that this is Jehovah's masterpiece.
1. The gospel is explained to you, it is a mystery no longer; you see the fellowship of saints is a reality, a benefit, man's glory; enter into it; your judgment approves, why do you hesitate ?
2. Those who have a part in this fellowship, have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, etc. (Chap. v. 11.) Take heed that you have none.
3. Be not content that with the angels you see God's manifold wisdom in the salvation and government of his church, and that you share in the advantages of this fellowship; but endeavour diligently and constantly to bring others, and all, to a participation of the same good.
“ As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom. viii. 14.)
Wuat, and none else ? No; not one
For if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, and that to lead him too, he is none of his. Where observe
1. That we have need of the Spirit of God to guide
1. Many are led by passion and appetite : reason is but their slave, and is only employed in making apologies for their excesses
2. There are others, and many of them, who are wholly led by the world: they must do as other people do, they cannot pretend to be singular; and if they could, they dare not do it
But, after all, the world is a very unsafe, nay, a very bad guide; it is always changing, and the fashion of it passing away. Were it right to-day, in all probability it would be wrong to morrow
And were it otherwise, we are not at liberty to make
it our guide. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” etc. If any man will be a friend of the world, he is the enemy of God.”
3. Some affect to be led by reason, apart from, or independent of revelation. But that we may know what sort of a guide unassisted reason is, let us look at those nations which have no other guide; they are either shockingly superstitious, or they have no religion at all.
4. Some are wholly for being led by impulse : but this must be an unsafe guide while the mind is wholly unenlightened by the word of God, or but very partially so; and it must be a most pernicious and perilous one, while the heart is altogether enmity against God,
And it never can be a safe one, until the heart is wholly governed by perfect love to God and man, and the mind is throughly instructed in the word and will of God
But even then, the word of God, not impulse, is to be our authorized counsellor. But mark it well, it is not.
5. Revelation without the Spirit's light on it, but as opened and applied by him. Some there are who reason thus upon this point: “ The word of God is infallible; and we cannot want two infallible guides; neither can the allwise God have furnished two, where only one is wanted; therefore we have but one that we ought to follow, and that is the unerring word of God alone.”
But in opposition to this hasty, haughty, and most fallacious conclusion, we would observe,
(1.) That men are said to be blind; they cannot read the directions given to guide us in the road; they cannot see the road itself. Hence their need to pray, “Open thou mine eyes,” etc.; and of the like operation as that recorded, Luke xxiv. 45, “ Then opened he their understandings, that they might understand the scriptures." Besides
(2.) They are void of any inclination to walk in God's