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assemble at such unseasonable limes. Observe, 5. What a warning the Holy Ghost here leaves upon record for such as sleep under the preaching of the word : Eutychus, when asleep under St. Paul's long sermon, 'falls down from the third loft, and is taken up dead. Here note, The time when he was overtaken with sleep: not at noon-day, but at midnight; and it was not a sermon of an hour long that he was asleep under, but after St. Paul had preached several hours. This is not the case of our common sermon sleepers, who at noon-day sleep under the word; nay, settle and compose themselves to sleep, and do what they can to invite sleep to them! What if with Eutychus any of them fall down dead! here is no Paul to raise them up; or, what if this wretched contempt of the word provoke God to say, Sleep on, and be so stupified that no ordinances shall awake you! Sleep on, till hell flames awake you! Observe, 6. Eutychus is raised to life by a miraculous power communicated to St. Paul, which was matter of great consolation to the spirits, and great confirmation to the faith, of the disciples, ver. 12. They brought the young man alive, and -were not a little comforted; not only for the young man's sake, but especially for their own sakes: for hereby God gave a convincing testimony to the word of his grace, —God did hereby bear witness to it, and many were thereby confirmed in the belief of it .
13 And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. 14 And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylcne. 15 And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios. And the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus. 16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephestis, because he would not spend the time in Asia; for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.
Here an account is given of several travel of the apostle ; namely, from Troas to
Assos, from thence to Mitylene, next day to Samos, then to Trogyllium, and the day following to Miletus, passing by and not touching at Ephesus; for the apostle having an earnest desire to be at Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost, so that he might in that concourse have a larger opportunity of spreading the gospel, he would not now call at Ephesus, lest he should be detained too long by the brethren there. From the whole note, 1. The indefatigable diligence of this great apostle, and his unwearied industry in the service of the gospel; how he travels from place to place, and here from Troas to Assos, on foot all alone by land; he did not afiect to ride with a pompous train and retinue, but he goes on fool, expecting to meet with more opportunity of sowing the seed of the gospel as he passed through towns and villages by land, among those he conversed with; so intent was this holy man upon the work of winning souls; whereas had he travelled by sea, this opportunity had been lost. An happy example for all the ministers of Christ, to prefer an opportunity of doing good to the souls of others, before their own ease or profit. Note, 2. The true reason why St. Paul was so very desirous to be at Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost: not that he placed any religion in observing this abrogated feast, but because that vast concourse of people at such times would give him a fairer opportunity to glorify Christ, and to propagate the gospel. This made him so desirous to get to Jerusalem by the feast of Pentecost. Learn thence, that the ministers of Christ, without the imputation of vain-glory, or seeking popular applause, may warrantably desire, and occasionally lay hold upon, an opportunity of dispensing a word to a numerous auditory, in hopes that, casting the net of the gospel among many, they may inclose some.
17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, 19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befel me by the lying in wait of the Jews: 20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto yott,but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, 21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
The foregoing versei acquainted us how very intent St. Paul was upon his journey to Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost, he hoping then and there to have a precious opportunity for preaching Jesus Christ, and him crucified, to his countrymen the Jews: now, lest he should be hindered in his expedition, he determines slip by Ephesus, without touching there; but could not satisfy himself without seeing of, and speaking to, the ministers of Ephesus, whom for that purpose he sends for to Miletus, and there in a grave and pious discourse, which wanned their hearts, and melted them into tears, he takes his farewell of them. Here note, I. That St. Paul speaks much in his own viudication, but nothing by way of ostentation. A minister, when he is leaving his people, may modestly enough say something in his own vindication; for there are enough, as soon as his back is turned, will say more than is true by way of accusation. Note, 2. That when the apostle here speaks much that looks like self-commendation, it is rather to propound himself as a mirror for gospel-ministers, and a pattern for all pious pastors; that whenever they leave their people they may go off with a clear conscience, and be able to appeal to the consciences of their people as touching their carriage and conversation amongst them. Note, 3. The several particular instances of his ministerial faithfulness: 1. He instances in his own humility; though he was lofty in his ministry, yet was he lowly in his mind; He served the Lord with all humility of mind. The better any man is, the lower thoughts he has of himself. Almighty God renders that man most honourable, that minister most serviceable, whom be finds most humble. 2. In his affectionateness in preaching the gospel, he mingles tears with his exhortation, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears. 3. In his constancy in preaching, and private inspection: publicly in the synagogues, and privately from house to house, like a good shepherd, labouring to understand the state of his whole flock, and of every lamb in it, that no soul might mis
carry through his neglect, for which the great and good Shepherd died. 4. He acquaints them, not only with the manner, but also with the matter of his preaching; namely, Repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; which two graces comprehend the sum of a christian's duty. Ministers must join these two together in their preaching, and our hearers must not separate them in their practice. They who repent without believing, or believe without repenting, do indeed do neither.
22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befal me there: 23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saving that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that 1 might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
Here the apostle proceeds not to boast of himself, but to clear himself of any charge or surmise of ministerial miscarriages, and also to propound himself as a pattern of ministerial faithfulness to the elders of the church at Ephesus. And here again, 1. Our apostle instances in his holy and heroic resolution and activity for God: I know that bonds and afflictions abide me: nevertheless I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, and nothing moves me. As if he had said, " I am fully resolved, by the grace of God enabling, that nothing shall divert me from my duty; neither deterring fear nor deluding favour of men shall ever affect me; but I will go out and go on in the strength of Christ, running my race with patience, and finishing my course with joy." Hence learn, 1. That the apprehension of sufferings must not shake the resolution of a christian, much less daunt the courage of a gospel minister, ver. 24. None of these things move me. True ministerial courage delights in the air of that danger where duty dwells, and will neither be beaten off from doing an incumbent duty, nor be beaten on to a compliance with any known sin. Learn, 2. That the ministers of Christ should endeavour not only to finish their ministry and course of Christianity with faithfulness, but with joy; and that they may do so, let them see that they give up themselves wholly to the service of Christ without restriction or reserve, and live daily by faith on the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here was such a masculine spirit in our apostle, as hid defiance to death and danger; and the argument that excited him was, that he might finish his course with joy. Next, the apostle declares his impartiality in preaching th« gospel, ver. 27, I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Where observe, He doth not say he had declared the whole counsel of God, (for who but God himself can do that ?) but he had not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God; that is, he had not concealed from them any truth necessary to salvation. And this freed him from the blood of souls; if any perished, it was not long of him, but their blood was upon themselves: / take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. It is happy when the ministers of God can appeal to the consciences of their people, and summon them in as witnesses to bear record for them at the bar of Christ.— Lastly, The apostle tells them, they were never like to see his face again; a cutting, killing word. How would it fire the zeal of ministers, and inflame the affections of a people, did they remember, that in a short time they must see the faces and hear the voices of each other upon earth no more! Lord, what fervent prayer for, what yearning of bowels towards, perishing sinners, would be found with us; what zeal for their conversion, what endeavours for theirsalvation, did we believe that the grave was making ready to receive us! how should we louden our cry to God, and how fulfil our trust to man, did we consider our grave and coffin are at hand! our glass has but a little sand; now we are preaching, but anon it will be said of us, we are gone: And now, behold, I kno-w that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching, shall see my face no more.
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For 1 know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years 1 ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
The blessed apostle having, in the former part of his farewell sermon to the elders of Ephesus, vindicated his own sincerity among them, both as to his doctrine and practice, and cleared himself by close addresses and smart appeals to their consciences; he now urges them in a rousing and heart-melting exhortation to the utmost care and diligence in the exercise of their pastoral charge; and to take heed to themselves and the flock, to the whole flock which Christ had purchased with his blood, and the Holy Ghost had committed to his care, ver. 28. Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers. Here observe, A two-fold duty, and a three-fold motive to enforce that duty: the first duty is to take heed to themselves: the second is to take need to all the flock. The first part of a minister's duty is to take heed to himself: Committe animam diligentibus suam, says St. Bernard: He that neglects his own soul, will never take a faithful care of the souls of others. We must first look to ourselves, that our judgments be sound, our hearts holy, and our lives exemplary: we must take heed to ourselves, that we be fit for the employment which we undertake. This is not a burden for a child's shoulder; he that is himself a babe in knowledge, is altogether unfit to teach men the mysteries of salvation. Take we heed that our example doth not contradict our doctrine, that our practice doth not give our profession the lie; that we do as well as teach; not preach angelical sermons, and lead diabolical lives; but securing that grace to ourselves which we offer unto others, and shunning that sin ourselves which we condemn in others; and this, because we have a depraved nature and vicious inclinations in us, as well as others; because we have a heaven to win, and a soul to save, as well as others; yea, when others have only their own souls to account for, we have not only our own, but others' too; in a word, because our sins do more dishonour God, discredit religion, more gratify the devil, more harden sinners, and have more of wilfulness in them, more perfidiousness in them, and more hypocrisy in them, than other men's; and we shall certainly be adjudged by God to a double damnation for them. Well therefore might the apostle say to the Ephesian elders, Take heed unto yourselves; next he adds, and to all the flock. That is, with a constant care and laborious diligence acquaint them with their duty, inform them of their danger, show them where their happiness lies, and the way and means for attaining of it; and, in order to this, all the flock must be known, that it may be heeded, and we must labour to be acquainted with the state of all our people as fully as we can; we must, as the apostle before us did, visit our people from house to house, that we may know their persons, know their inclinations, and know the manner of their conversation; what sins they are most in danger of, what temptations they are most liable to, and what duties they neglect, either for the matter or manner of them ; and give them the best encouragement, directions, and assistance, we are able. This is the sum of the apostle's exhortation to the elders of Ephesus; Take heed unto yourselves, and unto all theflock. The motives to enforce the duty follow; and they are, 1. Drawn from their office; they are overseers of the flock, that is, officers appointed by solemn ordination to teach, to guide, to govern the churches committed to their care, and under their charge. 2. From the authority and excellency of him that called them to their office, the Holy Ghost. We read of some that were nominated by the special and immediate instinct of the Holy Ghost, as Acts i. 24. and xiii. 2. Others were ordained by the apostles, who were guided by the Holy Ghost then: and whoever is set apart to that office now, according to the rule of God's word, may truly be said to be made an overseer by the Holy Ghost; Almighty God concurring to own and bless his own institution. 3. From the dear purchase which Christ paid for, and llic tender regard he bears to, this his
flock: Feed the church of God, -which kc hath purchased with his blood. Where observe, The divinity of Chnst asserted; he is expressly called God, in opposition to the Arians, and their unhappy spawn the Socinians, who will allow him to be only man; but then his blood could never have purchased the church, which it is here said to do, being God and Man in one person: Man, that he might have blood to shed; and God, that his blood might be of infinite value, and inestimable precioosness vhen shed. Observe also the force of the apostle's argument: "If the church be thus dear to Christ, the chief Shepherd, she ought to be very dear to all uodershepherds; if Christ judged her salvation worth his blood, well may bis minsters judge it worth their sweat." 4. From the danger which the church is in by seducen and false teachers, ver. 20. Grievous wolves will enter, not sparing the flock; and even from among yourselves shall arise hereties, who will vent their unsound doctrines to debauch men, first in their principles, and then in their practices: therefore take heed to all the flock.
Now, from thewhole, note, 1. Thecnurch is Christ's flock, consisting of sheep and lambs: Christ himself is the great and good Shepherd: his ministers, urider-shepherds and overseers: bloody persecutors, heretical seducers, and false teachers, are wolves which worry and divide the flock. Note, 2. That every flock should have its own pastor, and every pastor his own flock. Note, 3. That the flock should be no greater ordinarily, than the overseers are capable of taking heed of. Note, 4. That every overseer of Christ's flock ought to take great heed, both to himself and to the whole flock, in all the parts of his pastoral work, particularly public preaching and private inspection.
32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
Here the apostle takes a very solemn farewell of the elders of the church at Ephesus. commending them to the guidance and protection of the grace of God, which was able to build them up in holiness here, and bring them to heaven hereafter. Where observe, 1. His courteous competition, and therem his great condescension. Although he was an apostle of the highest eminency, yet he disdains not to call these elders, who were both in office, and also in gifts, and graces, much inferior to him, by the name of brethren: And now, brethren, says the apostle to the elders of Ephesus. But probably together with the elders of Ephesus here were some of the church and people of Ephesus, who came to take their last leave of their departing apostle; and then we may remark that there is a near relation, even that of brethren, between ministers and people, as well as between the ministers themselves, and this founded upon the account of religion and grace. Observe, 2..The apostle being now to take his last leave and farewell of the ministers and people at Ephesus, he commends them to God. It well becomes the faithful ministers of Christ at all times when they are with their people, but especially then when they are about to leave their people, to commit and commend them unto God; that is, to recommend them to God's care and keeping, and to commit them to his conduct and guidance; and this as a testimony of our faithfulness to God, whose our people are, and for whom we must become accountable to him ; and also as a testimony of our love to our people, and of our fervent desires for their salvation. Observe, 3. As the apostle commends them to God, so likewise to the word of his grace. To God as the efficient cause, and to the word of his grace as the instrumental cause, of their building up: I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up. Here note, 1. That the gospel is the word of God's grace; so called, because it is the effect, the fruit, and product of rich mercy and free grace; because it reveals the free grace of God in Christ to poor sinners; because it works inherent grace and holiness in the hearts of sinners; and because it carrieth on and perfecteth the work of grace unto glory. Note, 2. That believers, who are in a state of grace, have need of the word of God for their edification and building up. Note, 3. That the word of God is able to build up believers; it is able to preserve them and keep them from decaying in grace and holiness, and it is able to further their growth in grace, and to bring it to perfection. Well and wisely therefore doth the apostle say, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace; he doth not say, T commend you to God, and the impulse of his Spirit: or, I commend
you to God, and to the light within; or, I commend you to God, and to the traditions of the church; but, I commend you to God, and to the word o f his grace, which is able to build you up. Observe, 4. A superadded commendation, which is here given of the word of God's grace; it is not only able to build us up, but to give us an inheritance amongst them that are sanctified; that is, the word of God, if we follow the dictates and directions of it, will infallibly bring us to the glorious inheritance which God hath provided for all his saints, or sanctified ones. Here note, 1. That heaven is an inheritance, not like an inheritance on earth; but it is the most sure, the most satisfying, the most durable, and the most delightful inheritance, an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeih not away. Note, 2. That heaven is the inheritance of saints, of all sanctified or holy persons, and only of such; it is purchased for them, it is promised to them, it is taken up in their names, and possession of it kept for them by their forerunner; in a word, heaven is prepared for them, and they are daily preparing for it; and it shall be adjudged to them at the great day. Note, 3. That this inheritance of heaven is a gift, and free gift: Luke xii. 32. It is your Father's I'leasure to give you the kingdom. This inheritance is all of grace, our right and title to it is of grace, our fitting and preparing for it is of grace; all of grace, nothing of merit; all of God, nothing of ourselves; nothing in a way of meritorious causality, but only in the way of ministerial endeavour. Note, lastly, That God gives this inheritance by his word: To the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance. The woid reveals to us the notice and knowledge of this inheritance; the word makes an offer of this inheritance to every one of us, yea, it calls us to the acceptation, and invites us to the participation of it. Finally, God by his word begets his people to a lively hope of this inheritance, 1 Pet. i. 3, 4. And also prepares and fits them by the word for the participation and possession of it; Col. 1. 12. Giving thanks to the Father, who has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. And how doth our Father make us meet for this inheritance in glory, but by the word of his grace? / commend you therefore, brethren, says the apostle, to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to give you an