Abbildungen der Seite

using every method of eliciting the true meaning of the Text; and, then, pronouncing it according to the sense and Affection previously and carefully ascertained.

It is presumed, however, that no person will raise any interpretation of Scripture, on the foundation of this, or any other help alone; but apply all rules of Exposition in regular order. He who neglects this injunction, will often deceive others, and be deceived himself.

The punctuation and other distinctions which have, in the course of time, been introduced into the Text, materially affect the pronunciation, and will often lead the reader to attribute Affections, which the passage, when divested of its human appendages, would by no means warrant. On this account, we should lose sight of these arbitrary distinctions, until the Affection be ascertained. Those ancient copies in which the Text is not divided into verses, are, in this view, to be preferred.

8. In examining the Affections, we profit chiefly by an ardent and holy emulation of those sacred emotions which we contemplate in the Inspired Writers.

The more we “put on" their Affections, the more deeply shall we enter into their Writings, and meditate on the truths which they reveal. Whenever the Affections of the Sacred Permen develope and unfold themselves, let us seek to possess the same amiable emo

tions, and, if possible, the same degree of them, in our own bosoms; and let us, by the grace of God, strive to correct every irregularity of temper. The meaning of Scripture, thus laid up in the heart, rather than the head, will transform our souls “ from glory “ into glory;" and we shall experience that "the ( word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than

any two-edged sword; piercing even to the dividing

asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and “marrow; and is a discerner of the thoughts and in66 tents of the heart."

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The Epistle to the Ephesians consists of two parts; of which, the one is comprehended in the first three chapters; and the other, in the last three. The former may be termed Doctrinal; and the latter, Inferential and Hortatory.

The Doctrinal division contains one Principal Doctrine. Special Doctrines there are, indeed, interspersed in various places; but either they are adduced to explain and enforce the Principal one; or, they are derived from it. The Principal Doctrine is as follows:

-Althouglı 6 a difference exists between Jewish and Gentile “converts, inasmuch as the former enjoyed a priority “ of time, in point of expecting and acknowledging “Christ; and, through the grace of God, were a " Church before the Gentiles: yet, now, the latter

[ocr errors]

« are become partakers of the same grace with them;

and, being admitted to this communion of grace,

every real distinction is abolished; Jews and Gen. “ tiles together, forming the body of the Church, under

one head, even Christ.”

It was essentially necessary for the Ephesians, and indeed for all Gentile converts, that this doctrine should be asserted; because the contentious Jews, vain of their national prerogative, would acknowledge none to be brethren, who did not subunit their necks to the yoke of Judaism, observe the law, and trust to that for justification. Hence, the apostle considers the subject, not only in the present Epistle, but in most others; namely, Romans, Chap. i. 16. Philippians, Chap. iii. 1 Tim. Chap. i, and in the Epistles to the Colossians and Galatians. In his mode of handling the doctrine, there is, however, some difference; accommodated to the peculiar circumstances of the several churches addressed. Sometimes, it is the apostle's object to prove that justification is of faith and not of the law; because the false apostles main-. tained the contrary: at other times, he exhorts the brethren to guard against such men, adding his rea-, sons for the admonition: sometimes, he only recalls them from the tenets of these persons, to the true faith, &c. In this Epistle, however, he aims at subverting the very foundation of the opponents' doctrine (though in what Chemnitius terms a catechetical man

ner, which rested on the boasted prerogative that the Jews enjoyed over the Gentiles, in point of time.(a)

The apostle; in order to the more effectual accomplishment of this his object, propounds, in the first place, the proper prerogative of the Jewish nation (which he had likewise done Rom. iii. ;) lest, by passing in silence over those privileges, which might and ought to be claimed in his countrymen's behalf, he should do an injury to himself, who was a Jew; to his own nation; and, which is of infinitely greater moment, to the truth itself. Hence, (Chap. i. to verse 13.,) after the usual salutations, he directs his attention solely to demonstrate the proper privilege of the Jews. At first sight, this position may appear doubtful; but the whole structure of the epistle will evidence its validity, as soon as the mind has comprehended it; and, until that be the case, no just opinion on the point can possibly be formed.

The apostle's arguments have an immediate tendency to this in Chap. i.-for, FIRST, the evident distinction there observed in the application of the personal pronouns, can have no other meaning. After using, as far as verse 12, the pronoun of the first person, we, us, &c. he continually adopts the pronoun of the second, in the following verses. Hence, he thus connects the thirteenth verse—“In whom ye also;" which plainly indicates a diversity in the subjects: and he continues to use this pronoun, until he

« ZurückWeiter »