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be the case, we begin to cavil and contend with the Saviour, and to ask why he has withdrawn his former loving-kindness from us? And, he being the injured rival, disputes the point with us, and we impiously maintain a contention with him, rather than bear the indignation of the Lord, against whom we have sinned, Mic. vii. 9. Thus, sin having separated between Christ and the soul, Isaiah lix. 2; a contention with him seems to fasten the bar of infidelity; as it is written, “ A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city; and their contentions are like the bars of a castle," Prov. xviii. 19. If a contention with Christ is as the bars of a castle, how much more so when rebellion strengthens them?
The apostle, knowing that this would unavoidably be the case where sin is indulged, earnestly prays that God would fortify each power of their renewed souls with spiritual might against all the invasions of the devil, Ephes. iii. 16. For he well knew that, if their souls were strengthened with divine might, the dear Redeemer would keep his residence in their hearts, without any rival being let into their affections; which he hints at in the seventeenth verse, by praying that Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith.
The apostle desires that Christ, as their king, might have his laws loved, obeyed, and meditated on in their minds; and, as king of righteousness, that his blessed sceptre might be swayed in their affections and consciences; and as he was their
atoning Saviour, that peace and pardon might be sensibly enjoyed in their souls; and that the altogether lovely Saviour might be enthroned, exalted, and admired, in the throne of their hearts; “ That Christ,” said he, “ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye may be rooted and grounded in love."
The apostle well knew that Christ, as king of righteousness and king of peace, did not reign in the world; as it is written, “ I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword and a fire; and what will I if it be already kindled?” The whole world is not under the blessed sway of the sceptre of grace; Christ reigns on mount Zion; but all men are not come to mount Zion, and the heavenly Jerusalem. The elect, and them only, constitute the gospel mount Zion; as it is written; “ The Lord hath chosen Zion, he hath desired it for his habitation.” And from hence it is that he displays his admirable beauty and omnipotent power; as says the Psalmist; “ Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.” But there are some who plainly affirm, and still adhere to this, that they will not have this man to reign over them, And, if the Lord hold his peace at them when they make these vows, it is a dreadful sign that they are not elected; and consequently all their vows are established that they have bound their souls with, and all their vows shall stand. None can make their vows void but a father and a husband; and Christ is that father and that husband, who
can make them void, so as for the Lord to forgive them, Numb. xxx. 4-8.
But to proceed: the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, therefore it is not to be taken or defended by carnal weapons. It is true that Christ is the King of kings, and Lord of lords; and by him kings reign, and princes decree justice. But this is under his uncontroulable power as the universal monarch of nations.
But his spiritual kingdom is not of this world; the throne of grace is in heaven; his laws are from heaven, and written in the minds of all his subjects; his sceptre is swayed over every justified soul that believes in his name for justification, and takes him for his everlasting righteousness and strength; his kingdom is set up in the souls of believers, as it is written, “ The kingdom of God is within you.” This kingdom is altogether spiritual; for the kingdom is not in word, but in power; it is righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Ghost. Thus, my friends, the Saviour's laws are written within us, and he must have the pre-eminence in our affections, and sway his peaceable sceptre in our consciences, which I trust is our soul's delight. But, if we speak of this, it appears a bane to the world; they cannot endure his binding laws; therefore they say, “Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.” But why? What are his cords and bands, that are so offensive to those who are so violent? Why one of the bonds is the binding cord of everlasting love, which the
carnal mind, fortified with infernal enmity, cannot brook; as it is written, “ The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” The other bond is the bond of gospel peace; as it is written, “Keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” But the sinner had rather have peace with his sins, and continue to maintain war with God than cast down his rebellious arms, and send an ambassage, desiring conditions of peace. The other cord or girdle is truth, intended to gird up the loins of the mind, in order to make the sinner watch and be sober.
However, the ungodly say, Let us break these bonds asunder, and cast away his cords from us. Well, if this must be the case, he that dwells in heaven shall laugh at such, “Then shall he speak to them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill.”
And now we will proceed to consider the words of my text; “ That ye 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.” In these words there seems to be something like a contradiction. In the first clause he wishes us to comprehend, and in the last clause he says it passeth knowledge. But does the apostle contradict himself here? By no means. He would wish that the Ephesians should comprehend with all saints, &c. He means, he would wish that the Ephesians, who were chil
dren in the faith, should arrive to as high a pitch of knowledge, experience, and enjoyment of God's eternal love, as any other saints whatever. That ye may comprehend with all saints; that you may see eye to eye with the best of them. And yet he insinuates to them that, when they have arrived to the highest pitch of knowledge, they would then know but in part; for the whole of Christ's love passeth knowledge. His plain meaning seems to be this; I would wish you to know, to your soul's establishment, as much of Christ's love as can be known: but I must tell you that the greatest part is to be known only in the bright regions of eternal day; as it is written, “ For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away,” i Cor. xiii. 9, 10. The apostle's meaning then amounts to this; he would wish that the Ephesians should know, or comprehend, as much as other saints ever did; and yet would intimate that their knowledge and enjoyment was nothing, when compared to that knowledge and enjoyment which the saints will have in the world to come.
Having thus briefly opened my text, I must beg leave to invert the order of it a little. The words are, “ That ye 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.” If I have ob