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Believers quickened, raised and exalted with Christ.
EPHESIANS ii. 4, 5, 6, 7.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he love
ed us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us togethe er with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) and haih raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding richa es of his grace in his kindness toward us by Jesus Christ.
In the preceding verses, our Apostle describes the deplorable state in which the gospel found the Ephesians and other Gentile nations, when it first came
In the words now read we shall contemplate, the happy change which the gospel made in them-the rich mercy of God in effecting this change—and the General purpose of God's particular mercy to them.
I. We will consider the happy change which the gospel made in the Ephesians-a change not peculiar to them, but common to all sincere believers. “ He hath quickened us, raised us up, and made us sit together with Christ.
1. He hath quickened us, or made us alive with Christ, in opposition to the state before described, when we were dead in trespasses and sins. Vol. III.
True Christians are alive, as they have spiritual senses and appetites.
The eyes of their understanding are enlightened to discern the things of the spirit of God in their truth and importance. They look at things future and unseen, and regard them as real and present.
The heart of stone is changed into a tender and sen. sible heart. They can now be pierced with the conviction, and pained with the burden of sin ; they feel their weakness and need of grace to help. They tremble at God's word, and are afraid of his judgments. They are watchful against temptations, and when sin surprises them, their hearts smite them with godly
They savor the things which are of God. Having tasted that he is gracious, they hunger and thirst after fresh supplies of his grace, and desire the sincere milk of his word, that they may grow thereby.
They are fervent in spirit, serving the Lord-zeal. ous to repent, and to maintain good works—careful to know, and active to do God's will solicitous to secure his favor, and stand approved in his sight.
They have spiritual 'motions. The divine principle within them directs their thoughts toward God, and their course toward heaven. They walk with God in newness of life-they run the way of his command. ments. Waiting on the Lord, they renew their strength, mount up with wings as eagles ; they run and are not weary ; they walk and faint not.
They have spiritual pleasures, which once they were umacquainted with--pleasures resulting from a sense of God's favor--- from a consciousness of sincerity-from a lope of immortality—from a victory over sin from cominunion with God-and from anticipations of glory."
They possess spiritual powers. Strengthened with might by the spirit in the inner man, they can bear al. flictions with patience—meet dangers with fortitude
" We are
perform duty with cheerfulness--and encounter temptations with success.
They grow in grace. Sensible of the imperfection of all their attainments, they desire to aboud more and more in knowledge; faith, love, and every good work, and to reach the stature of perfect men in Christ.
The Apostle says, “ We are quickened together with Christ."
Our spiritual life comes through him. “ He bare our sins, that we, being dead to sin, should live to righteousness.” It is through his atonement and in. tercession, that God grants the external means of life, and his quickening Spirit to attend them. saved by the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which God has shed on us through Christ.”
The spiritual life in believers is conformed to Christ. They have the same mind which was in him. His life is manifested in them. Hence he is said to be formed in them, and they are said to grow up in all things into him.
2. God hath raised us up together with Christ:
On the certainty of his resurrection depends the credit of the gospel. '“ If he be not risen, our preaching is in vain, and your faith is also vain.” This being the foundation of the christian faith, God took care that it should be firmly established by the circumstances of the fact—by the testimony of angels and men-of friends and enemies—by numerous miracles -and by the fulfilment of divers predictions of the ancient prophets and of the Saviour himself. Hence the Apostle says, “ He was declared to be the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead.
God is said to have raised up believers with him. The past time is used for the future to express the cer. tainty of the event.
His resurrection is the proof and the pattern of theirs.
It is the proof of theirs. * Now is Christ risen and become the first fruits of them that slept.” The first fruits are the pledge of the harvest. " He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first born from the dead.” If the head is raised, the mem. bers united to it will rise also. “ If we believe, that Jesus died and rose again, even so them that sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him.” Christ's resurrection shews our resurrection to be possible, and it con. firms the truth of the gospel, which declares the event to be certain. “God has begotten us to a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ.” On the ground of this assurance, believers are said to be raised with him.
His resurrection is the pattern of theirs. “We look for a Saviour from heaven, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body.” Being planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall spring up also in the likeness of his resurrection.” The Apostle adds,
3. God hath made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ.
Christ's entrance into heaven, is a full proof of the final salvation of believers. He as their friend and pat. ron is gone to prepare a place for them ; to take possession of the purchased inheritance and keep it in reserve until their arrival. They are said to sit with him in heaven, because he sits there for them, to take care of their interest, and in due time will bring them to sit where he is. “ Their life is hid with Christ in God, and when Christ shall appear, they will appear with him in glory.” Their happiness will greatly consist in being with him. This was his prayer for his disciples ; " Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, and behold my glory.” This was St. Paul's consolation in his persecu. tions ; “ If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him ; if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him.” This was his joy in the prospect of death : “We are confident and willing to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord.”
How vast is the change produced in those who have received the gospel with faith and love !-Once dead in their sins, children of wrath, condemned to eternal punishment, they are now quickened with Christ, raise I up and made to sit with him in heavenly places. They have passed from death to life—from guilt to pardon-from enmity to peace with God; and of the children of wrath they are become heirs of glory.
Our text leads us,
II. To contemplate the mercy of God in this great change. “ God who is rich in mercy for his great love hath quickened us with Christ. By grace are ye, saved."
Meroy is a particular branch of goodness, which is a disposition to communicate happiness. Goodness. regards its objects as capable of happiness. Mercy respects them as beings in a state of misery or danger ; and it operates variously, according to their circumstances, by averting, suspending, moderating, or preventing their misery, or overruling it to their benefit.
The mercy of God is in scripture illustrated by that compassion which we feel in the view of others in distress. He condescends to speak after the manner of men, and to represent himself as grieved and even afflicted in our afflictions, and as feeling his heart turned, and his bowels moved, when he inflicts on us his holy corrections. Such expressions are used, not to signify that there is really any commotion in the divine mind, but to give us a more familiar, as well as more exalted idea of the divine mercy.
“ God is rich in mercy.”
His mercies are rich in extent. They are not confined to us : They fill the earth—they are great unto the heavens—they spread over all his works. They are rich in number.
" Fiow precious are God's thoughts toward us! How great is the sum of them! If we would count them, they are more than the sand."