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the blessed change that their meditation on it may be sweet.
When, therefore, the Apostle reminds his Ephesian converts of their former misery, he is not to be considered as aiming so much to produce humiliation as to awaken affection. He gives a clear and express representation of what Christ had done for them. They had been as all the Gentiles were, without Christ, without God, without hope: but now they were made nigh by the blood of Christ. "Now therefore, he adds, ye, Gentiles, are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.
In these words the society of true believers is compared to a great building. To preserve this idea of the text distinct in our minds, it will be necessary to remember that the church of God is sometimes compared to the human body, the head of which is Christ-sometimes to a family over which he presides--sometimes to a city-at other times to Mount Zion, but here to a single building which rests on Jesus Christ as its foundation. In conformity to the Apostle's idea, we must call your attention first, to the materials; secondly, to the foundation; and thirdly, to the building itself.
I. The materials.-Every stone which is taken to construct a building, however it may have heen polished by the hand of the work. men, was once we know rough and unsightly,
and buried in the bowels of the earth. And
He only was able to force us and the world asunder. Thus we lay with the world, in the same darkness, like the rock buried beneath the surface of the earth; no ray of heaven illumined us; but year after year rolled away and left us the same dark, inactive, unformed mass.
While that state of things continued we could manifestly not be applied either for use or ornament in the church of God. Till every stone be cut and smoothed, they cannot be made to fit one another in a building: so we were unsuitable to the saints who compose the Church, and incapable of lasting union with them. In
1* Chap. li, 1,
deed, so far from desiring union with them, we felt indifference and dislike to them. We were as the text declares, entirely strangers, and foreigners among them. A person who comes as a stranger into a family can be supposed to know nothing of its regulations and economy, nor participate the affection that subsists between the different branches of it. If he discourse with them, it is with cold and distant reserve, on subjects which are uninteresting to both; and the reason is that they know little about one another; and the persons whom they love, and the things in which they have been conversant, are altogether different. Thus we were strangers to the household of God. We knew indeed of them as of a company
persons who were distinguished by the superior strictness of their lives, but never conceived that they formed one family, because we saw not the bond of union, nor perceived the Head under whom they were united; still less could we believe that it was a happy family, when their pursuits and employments were so different from our own. In short, we were strangers to the communion of saints: and not only so, but foreigners: we had as little to do with the kingdom of God as men in general have to do in a foreign country; we spoke another language; we were not governed by its laws; we did not acknowledge its sovereign; we submitted to none of its restrictions, and enjoyed none of its privileges; we were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. But now if we have become the servants of God, we are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, we are come unto Mount Zion, the city of the living God. “Once our guilt and corruption formed an insurmountable barrier; but now having found Christ who is the only way to the Father, we have entered through the gates into the city, and become denizens of that city where light, and beauty, and grandeur, and safety, and pleasure, meet together.” We are partakers with the saints of the presence of their sovereign-participate the safety they find in his protection—and share the happiness they enjoy under his gov. ernment. Do their eyes behold the King in his beauty? we also have access to his palace. Is there a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God? we also have tasted of the stream, and dwell in peaceful freedom on its banks. This is the happy state in which we are now in the kingdom of grace, before we ascend to the kingdom of glory.
But we are not only fellow-citizens with the saints, we are of the household of God; we compose a part of his family, as well as live the subjects of his kingdom. It were a great honor to be like the Gibeonites, only drawers of water to that house, to which king David thought it so desirable to be a door-keeper. But beloved, now are we the sons of God! What manner of love is this, says St. John, that we should be called the sons of God? yet so it is
! If we have received Christ, to us hath he given
power, or privilege, to become the sons of God. Though we were not by natural birth the children of God, we have received a second natute—have been brought out from the worldhave entered into his house—have been adopted, and become the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. We have been introduced to all the rights of children: that is, we are made heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. Under him we all live: children of the same family; keeping the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace; taught of God and led by his Spirit; and forasmuch as it is promised, All the children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children, so we enjoy the peace of God in our own hearts, and among one another. Notwithstanding a few partial, and temporary disorders in our intercourse with each other, we can aver that the whole church of God, like a happy family, is preserved in harmony and order; we form one body; we are animated by one Spirit; we have one hope, one faith, one Lord; we love as brethren, united under Christ as our elder brother, and under one God and father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all. Now on comparing this our happy condition with our former, when we wandered to and fro as sons of the stranger; on considering what a change we have undergone in temper, disposition, and external state; on contrasting our condition in times past with that which we now enjoy in the church of God, we know no