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Ephesus, with the mere pretence that they were apostles—wolves in sheep's clothing, who had, in all probability, made an effort to bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them. The Ephesian Christians had brought these persons, as well as the doctrines they preached, to the test of severe examination, and had found their

pretensions false.

Thus then, for works and labours of love, springing from a vital faith in Jesus Christ—for patient endurance of suffering,—for soundness in the faithand for a determination to discover and to discountenance error, was this Church of Ephesus commended. But here the commendation thus far rested; and here I stop to offer such practical suggestions as the passage already considered, presents to our meditations.

1st. It suggests the necessity, that both ministers and more private Christians should live, as if conscious of the inspection of the Great Head of the Church

As walking in the midst of the golden candlesticks, the Lord Jesus Christ knows every thing which transpires in the Church on earth, as well as the employments of his saints in his kingdom above. And he not only observes the actions, but knows what transpires in the hearts of those who compose the visible communion of the faithful. “How sublime and affecting the thought, that our Saviour is ever at hand, constantly watching over his people, observing their social order, as well as their individual circumstances, and being on all occasions ready to communicate necessary supplies of grace. How greatly ought his name to be revered: nor should

ever.”*

any thing offensive to him ever be allowed among those who profess to be his servants and worshippers. Holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for

Would to God that this idea dwelt more impressively in the minds of all who call themselves Christians, for then there would be in all the concerns of the Church on earth, a caution, a circumspection, and a charity, which would leave the enemies of the cross far less occasion to blaspheme. Then would the ungodly of the world be constrained to exclaim, “See how these Christians love one another," and see how these Christians “adorn the doctrine” of him whom they call their Master. Brethren, remember that as connected with the Church of the living God, you are peculiarly under the inspection of his eye “who searchest the hearts, and trieth the reins of the children of men." And “seeing these things are so, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godli

ness ?"

2dly. We are taught from the commendation of the text, the duty of labouring earnestly for the cause of Christ, and patiently submitting to injury and reproach for his name's sake.

A Christian must be one who, building on the Lord Jesus Christ that one foundation which is laid, is also zealous of good works. If this is not the case, his claims, however loftily urged, may and must, in fidelity to him, be questioned. “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God, be careful to maintain good works. These

• Wadsworth, p. 25.

things are good and profitable unto men.” That faith which lays hold on the Lord Jesus Christ, and appropriates the benefits of his great salvation, is a faith which of necessity brings forth fruit to the glory of God, and it is by this that a living faith is as clearly discerned as a tree is known by its fruit. * To labour, and that with diligence and zeal, for the promotion of the Redeemer's kingdom, is not only a duty inseparably connected with Christian discipleship, but is also one of the most precious privileges of the true believer, and the disposition thus to labour in the cause of Christ, is one of those marks by which the real Christian is to ascertain the sincerity of his professions. Is this your experience, brethren? Are you now zealously engaged in the advancement of your Redeemer's kingdom ? Is it your meat and drink to do the will of your Father in heaven? Are you heartily engaged in those great plans for the advancement of Christianity, which give the character of the present age its unparalelled importance and sublimity? And if you are, is the constraining love of Christ your motive? Look well to this particular; for you may do all these things and more,

have not an eye single to the glory of God, however profitable your labours may be to others, they will bring little substantial comfort to your own souls. Those only were commended who, for the “name's sake" of Christ, had laboured and not fainted. It is intimated in the text, that every individual engaged in labouring for the cause of Christ, will have need of " patience”-meek endurance of suffering. Opposition and discouragements from without, and spiritual weakness from within, are to be expected. There will always be enough to try the patience of every one who will faithfully discharge his duty to God and to his fellow men ; and the more he labours in season and out of season, the more will he have need of patience, because he will not only have the malice of an ungodly world to contend against, but the envy of false brethren reproaching him with the charge of pharisaism, and excusing their own luke-warmness and indifference, by accusing him of being “righteous overmuch.” Our Saviour demands from his disciples patience in suffering as well as continuance in well doing. Opposition must not force you from the cause you desire to advance, neither must apparent ill success dishearten. It is the command of Him who, for your sakes, laboured and fainted not,“ be not weary in well doing," and it is the exalted encouragement, “ for in due time ye shall reap if ye faint not." I hold up before you, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, the commendation of the faithful in the Church of Ephesus, and I demand of you, in the name of Christ, “be ye followers of those who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises."

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See 12th Article.

3dly. We gather from the commendation of the text, the indispensable importance of sound doctrinal opinion, connected with abhorrence of all evil practices.

The example of Ephesus is well worthy of being held up to all who are called by the name of Christ. In these days, soundness of doctrinal opinion is of extreme importance, for in every endeavour which is made to advance the cause of

godliness, the counteracting influence of the enemy of our salvation will be found. It is necessary to watch his devices, and be prepared to meet the plots by which he seeks to continue his empire over the souls of men. Without clear Scriptural knowledge, the people may be led astray by their teachers; and “blind leaders of the blind” may plunge both themselves and their hearers in destruction. There is hardly a greater guarantee for soundness of doctrine in the preacher, than the power of discrimination in the people, and this was the praise of the members of the Church at Ephesus. “I know thy works, and that thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them liars." There are few Churches, at the present day, the members of which could deserve so weighty a commendation; for with all our advances, we have to deplore a most lamentable ignorance as to the soundness and integrity of doctrine. So little are the members of our Churches in the habit of making themselves familiar with the truth as it is in Jesus Christ; so little are the doctrines which are preached brought to the test of Scriptural investigation; and, indeed, so little do the generality trouble themselves about this matter at all, that in many places, heresy the most fatal might be preached, secure from detection, if the preacher would only be careful to disguise the taste of the poison. If the members of our Churches generally, were but as zealous in the investigation of truth as were those of the Church at Ephesus, many a learned and many an eloquent discourse, though now admired, would be found wanting in the fundamentals of Gospel truth; and it is to be feared, that there is many a preacher bearing

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VOL. II.

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