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fore conversion; declaring, that their natural heathenish estate, was a state of spiritual darkness. Tea, of spiritual death, they being dead to trespasses and sins. Td which they, and the whole heathen world with them, did generally then lie, before the publishing of the gospel, as appeared by their manifold idolatries, which the grace of the gospel had both convinced them of and turned them from. Accordingly the apostle thos bespeaks them:
A ND you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins ;
Observe here, 1. The deplorable condition which the Ephesians were in by nature, and all persons with them before their conversion from sin to God. It is a state of spiritual death; the natural and unregenerale man is a dead man, spiritually dead in sin. Our apostle doth not say they were in a dying, but in a dead condition; not half dead, but altogether dead. But how so? Not dead as to natural actions, they can eat and drink , not as to rational actions, they can reason and discourse; not as to civil actions, they can buy and sell, bargain and trade. Nor is the natural man dead to moral actions; he can pray, read, and hear the word, meditate upon it, and discourse of it; if he please, he can hearken to the voice of God's judgments, consider and call his own ways to remembrance. But as to spiritual acts, to be spiritually performed, here he is dead, till quickened by a vital act of the Holy Spirit, whose office it is to enlighten blind eyes, and whose delight it is to quicken and enliven dead souls. But what doth this state of spiritual death imply? Answer, It doth suppose and imply a state of separation from God, insensibility of that dismal state, an impotency and inability to recover ouri out of that condition, and our loathand ofFensiveness to Almighty God, whilst we continue in it. In short, every unregenerale man is a dead man, in a double sense. He is, 1. Legally dead, being under the condemnatory sentence of the law; we call a man under the sentence of death, a dead man. 2. Spiritually dead, as being destitute of a principle of spiritual life, a quickening principle to enable the soul lo perform spiritual operations. Thus before regeneration are we dead, in opposition to justification: and dead in opposition to sanctification also; and the fatal instrument, by which our souls die, is here discovered, dead in or by trespasses and sins. This is the sword that kills souls, and cuts them off from God. You hath he quickened, being dead in trespasses
and sins. Observe, 2. The choice and singular privilege and favour vouchsafed to the Ephesians, in and under the power of spiritual death: they were quickened; that is, made spiritually alive by the quickening or life-giving power of the Spirit of God. A regenerate man is a living man; he lives a life of justification, which consists in pardon of sin. A condemned man's pardon is his life; and he lives a life of sanctification, having received from the Holy Spirit a vital principle of grace in all the powers and faculties of the soul: justification reconciles God to us, sanctification reconciles us to God; justification takes away the legal enmity, sanctification the natural enmity between God and us. Here note, That the person who is spiritually quickened, is universally quickened; there is not a faculty in the soul but is spiritually dead, and therefore not a faculty but must be spiritually quickened. As there is an universal pollution in every faculty, so must there bean universal renovation; for no spiritual duty can be performed without il, no spiritual privilege can be enjoyed without it, and we can never be saved hereafter, if not spiritually quickened here: but if quickened aright, we live a divine life, the life (in some measure) which God himself lives; and this must needs be an excellent life and a pleasant life here on earth, and shall be an everlasting life with Christ in heaven: Whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die. Observe, 3. The person quickening described: You hath he quickened; that is, God the Father, who, chap. i. 17. is said to have given them the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of himself. Man, in his natural state considered, is unable of himself to quicken himself; he doth not so much as desire the quickening grace of God, till God gives the grace of desire. Alas! the understanding is naturally so blind, the heart so hard, and the will so stout and stubborn, that none but a divine power can enlighten the one, and efficaciously incline the other: it is a change of stone into flesh, of a dead sinner into a living saint. A change front nature to grace requires as much or more divine power, than a change from grace to glory. To see a creature naturally filthy, now to delight in purity; to see a sinner that by nature drinks in iniquity like water, now thirsting after righteousness; to see a man that loathed the holy law and holy ways of God, now longing to walk in them,
and to come to an exact conformity to God in them; these acts are above nature, contrary to nature, and consequently the God of grace is the author of them: You hath he quickened.
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Our apostle having in the former verse described the Ephesians by their natural slate and inward condition, as dead in trespasses and sins, doth in this verse set forth their misery in respect of their outward conversation ; they walked in and made a constant trade of sin. Wherein in time past ye 'walked according to the course of this 'world. Sec. Here note, 1. Their constant and continued course of life, set forth by walking: a metaphor frequently used in scripture, to set forth the tenor of a person's conversation; wherein, that is, in which sins in time past ye walked. Note, 2. The path in which they walked, in sins and trespasses: this denotes the abundance of sin that was in them, and committed by them with facility and ease, with satisfaction and delight. Walking is a motion, a voluntary motion, a progressive motion, a pleasant and delightful motion: it is natural to men, whilst unrcgenerate, to walk in sin with some sort of delight and pleasure; but alas! it is the pleasure of the beast, and not of the man, a sensual, and not a rational satisfaction. Note, 3. The guides which they are said here to follow: the world and Satan. 1. The world; that is, the corrupt course and sinful customs of the men of the world, according to the time and place in which they live; for though the world alters in the course and fashion of it, from time to time, yet it is, and ever will be, the world still; and the unregenerate part of mankind will always walk according to the course of this world. The second guide which the Ephesians followed, was Satan, styled here a prince, in regard of that mighty power which he has in and over the men of the world ; and the prince of the power of the air, because he exercises his power (by God's permission) in the lower regions of the air. All the elements and meteors stoop to his direction; when God gives him leave he can command the fire, the
water, the winds, the thunders; all these powers that are in the air he can command, and therefore he is called their prince; yet here is a matter of comfort to us, Satan is the prince of the air only; if so, when the air shall cease, his kingdom shall cease; when the world is ended, his dominion and power is ended. Again, there is farther comfort in this, Satan is prince of the air, but Christ is prince of heaven and earth, and the air too: both our prayers whilst we live, and our souls when we d", pass through the air, but Satan can neither intercept the one, nor stop the other, in their passage thither. Christ, when he ascended into heaven, went through the air, this kingdom of devils, and spoiled their principalities and powers; he entered heaven in the sight of them all, and led them all captives in triumph at his chariot, so that they shall never hurt llie souls of his people, nor ever keep them from heaven. Again, the devil is here described by the influence he has upon the minds of sinners: he works in the children of disobedience. Satan's way of working in and upon obstinate and impenitent sinners, is very powerful and efficacious. Hence it is said here, 1. That they arc led by Satan, they walk according to the prince of the power of the air; that is, according to his guidance, according to his mind and will. He has them at his beck: he says to one sinner, Go, and he goeth ; and to another, Come, and he cometh. 2. They are excited and assisted by Satan : he works in them, and suggests evil thoughts to them ; he filled the heart of Ananias and Sapphira to lie unto the Holy Ghost; he put a he first into their hearts, and then into their mouths. Now from hence we may infer, that the Holy Spirit of God doth also inwardly work in pious persons, enabling them to will and to do according to his own good pleasure. For it is unreasonable to conceive that the evil spirit should have more power over the children of disobedience, in whom he dwells, than the good Spirit has in those pious persons, in whose hearts he is said to dwell. Surely the Spirit of God doth more to the saving of souls, than the devil can do to the damning of them.
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Our apostle in these words is supposed to set forth the condition of the Jews by nature, as he had done before of the Gentiles; and that he declares, that even they had their conversation amongst the number of disobedient persons, and were no less obstinately rebellious against God than the disobedient Gentiles, following the motions of their corrupt lusts and vile affections: nay, he affirms roundly, concerning himself and all the Jews, without exception, that as to their way and course, whilst unregenerate, they did whatsoever their corrupt minds willed, liked, and inclined to; and as to their state, were by nature children of wrath, as much as others; yea, even as much as the despised Gentiles were. Here note, 1. The case of all men, Jews and Gentiles, alike described, children of wrath ; that is, our estate and course is such by nature as deserves destruction, as tends to and will end in destruction, without the renewing grace of God. Note, 2. The rise of this case, expressed by nature: which implies, I. The term from which this commences, namely, from the first receiving of our beings and natures from our immediate parents, and together with the depravation of our natures we received an obnoxiousness to the wrath and curse of God. 2. It implies the ground for which this wrath doth impend and hang over us, namely, for that depravity of nature which since the fall is found with us. Learn hence, 1. That original corruption is universal to all mankind, both Jew and Gentile. 2. That this original corruption leads to, and will lodge under, eternal wrath, every person in whom regeneration and transplantation into Christ are not found : We were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in cms, hath quickened us together with Christ; (by grace ye are saved ;)
St. Paul having set forth that miserable state, which both Jews and Gentiles were io by nature, namely, dead in sins, and children of wrath; he doth next set forth their deliverance from that woeful estate, by the rich mercy and free grace of God: God, -who is rich in mercy, Sec. Here observe, 1. The author of our deliverance, God:
and the moving or impulsive cause of it, rich mercy and great love. Where note, That God hath done more for us, infinitely more, than he did for the angels: he showed love to them, but mercy to us . they are vessels of honour, but we are vessels of mercy: the object of mercy, is a creature in distress and misery.—Note farther, That all the attributes in God are subjected to his love; this is the great prevailing attribute which sways all the rest: which way love goes, all attributes go; mercy, power, justice, and wisdom, they all work in subordination to love, they are all at love's beck, and love sets them all on work for the good and benefit of the object loved. Note, 3. That the love which God bears to the children of men, is a great love: and the mercy which was set on work by it, is rich mercy: his love so great, that it can never be expressed; his mercy so rich, that it can never be conceived: rich mercy is abundant mercy, inconceivable mercy, inexhaustible mercy, sure mercy. Note, 4. The blessed effects and fruits of this great love and rich mercy in God towards the Ephesians, in quickening them when dead, in saving them when lost, in doing all things for them when they had undone themselves; God, who is rich in mercy— even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ. Learn hence, That poor lost sinners do stand in need of all the riches of mercy that are in God, in order to their regeneration and salvation: if ever we be saved, it is the riches of mercy that must save us. Note, 5. How the apostle ascribes the whole work of their salvation to God's free grace, in opposition to any merit or worth in the persons to be saved: By grace ye are saved. Learn hence, That the dependency our salvation has in the whole, and in all the parts of it, upon the free grace of God, is the great thing which St. Paul delighted to discover and make known to us here: By grace ye are saved; and he asserts it again, verse 8. By grace, Sec .
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus;
The apostle here instances in two branches more of that salvation, which he had in the foregoing verse affirmed to be of grace, namely, that of our resurrection and glorification; both which are yet to come, and yet they are spoken of as already past: when the Father raised and glorified Christ, all believers were raised and glorified in him; for in his resurrection and glorification he did sustain the quality of a public person, representing his whole church as their head and husband; and, accordingly, believers are and may be said to be raised already, and glorified already, pot in their own persons, but in Christ their head. The apostle says, God has raised us up, and has made us sit together; not, he shall raise us, and will make us sit; to denote the dependency which our resurrection and glorification has upon Christ's, as the effects depend upon the cause, and also the undoubted certainty that they shall come to pass, Christ's resurrection and glorification being a pledge of ours. Learn hence, I. That Christ rose from the dead, and ascended up into heaven, not as a private person, but as the common head and parent, root and representative, of his church and people; so that what he has done, they may be said to have done: they rose in him, and are set down in heaven in him; and blessed be God for the well-grounded hopes, that as we now sit together in Christ, so ere long we shall for ever sit together with Christ. Learn, 2. That Jesus Christ is the cause of our resurrection and glorification, he is the efficient cause, the meritorious cause, and exemplary cause, of our resurrection and glorification. Lam, 3. From the phrase here used of sitting, and of sitting together in Christ, that believers shall certainly partake of the same kingly state and dignity, of the same honour and glory, of the same delight and pleasure, of the same rest and tranquillity, of the same state and security, with Christ in heaven. He hath made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness toward us, through Christ Jesus.
These words are expressive of the final cause, or special end, of that salvation which God propounded in his gracious workings upon the hearts of these Ephesians; namely, that in all present and succeeding ages, to the end of the world, he might give a convincing proof and example of the exceeding riches of his grace, for the encouragement of the greatest sinners to hope for mercy in and through
our Lord Jesus Christ. Learn hence, That the instances and examples of God's mercy, grace and goodness, love and kindness, towards lost sinners, in one age, are and ought to be an encouragement to future generations to hope in the same mercy, to draw nigh to the same fountain of rich grace, for pardon of sin, and salvation by Christ. O! when we consider that others as unworthy as ourselves (these Ephesians, for instance) have been admitted to the participation of such divine favours, Lord, what encouragement is it to us, and to others, to venture our salvation upon the same grace! Verily, the primitive christians were intended by God as patterns of grace to succeeding christians; nay, God did not only design them as patterns, but as pledges, that he would go on as he had begun, in after-ages to magnify the riches of his grace, in the conversion of the vilest and worst of sinners.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it it the gift of God; 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast:
In these words our apostle informs the Ephesians, and in them all succeeding christians, that their complete salvation, from the first to the last, from the lowest to the highest step, depends upon God's free favour and grace in Christ, and not upon any merit or desert in ourselves; works having no meritorious or causal influence upon our salvation, (for they are not causes, but effects, of that grace by which we are saved,) to the intent that all boasting may be excluded, and that all the saints' glorying may be in God, and not in themselves. Note here, 1. That believers are saved already, in some sense; not only because they have salvation begun in their new birth here, but they have already a right and title to, yea, a pledge and an earnest of, complete salvation: believers are saved here. Note, 2. That the believers' salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ. Note, 3. That faith, by and through which they are said to be saved, is not of themselves, it is the gift of God: faith is the gift of God as well as Jesus Christ, and the one as necessary as the other; for as the only way to heaven is by Christ, so the only way to Christ is by faith; as sin has put a vanity into the creature, so unbelief puts a vanity in Christ, that he should profit us nothing. Wrestle we then with God in prayer for a believing heart.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Our apostle having in the foregoing verses asserted the whole of our salvation to be of grace, and not of works, lest by magnifying of grace he should seem wholly to set aside good works and the necessity of a holy life; he declares in this verse, that christians are ordained to them, created and prepared for them, and consequently they are effects flowing from grace, though not causes producing grace. We are his workmanship; 1. In our natural capacity, as men. 2. In our civil capacity, as such or such men, high or low, rich or poor. 3. In our spiritual capacity, as saints; this is intended here: believers are God's workmanship, as such, by supernatural renovation and spiritual regeneration; they are not only once made, as other persons, but they are new made, as saints; not by receiving new faculties, but new qualities; for grace is not a substantial, but a qualitative, change. Lord, as we are all thy workmanship by natural creation, let us be so by gracious renovation likewise! Created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Observe here, 1. The manner of this workmanship, created: this denotes two things; 1. That in their new making, they were intended to good works: this was God's mind and meaning in fore-ordaining that they should walk in them. 2. That in their new making they were fitted and prepared for good works, therefore did they receive a new nature from God, new principles, new affections, new dispositions and inclinations, on purpose to fit them for an holy life, fruitful in good works. Here note, That as good works are antecedently necessary to salvation, so renewing grace is absolutely necessary to good works ; therefore before there can be a good work, there must be a good workman, and that good workman must be God's workmanship, created anew through the power of God. Observe, 2. The meritorious cause of this spiritual workmanship; and that is, Christ Jesus; We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus ; that is, through the intervening mediation of Christ Jesus. The life which we live in this new-creation state, namely, a life of holiness, it is pur
chased by his death, produced by his Spirit; all spiritual life comes from God, through Christ as a Mediator; he is a quickening head and life-giving spirit; 1 John iv. 9. God sent his Son that we might live by him : Christ is first our ransom, and then the fountain of life unto our souls: created in Christ Jesus. Observe, 3. The final cause of this divine workmanship; and that is, to good works; all those that are new creatures are created unto good works; so that a holy life is the necessary fruit of their new creation. New creatures arc not to live idly, much less to live wickedly; but to make conscience of every duty, to bring forth fruit of piety towards God, of righteousness towards our neighbour, of love and universal charily towards all mankind. Which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them: that is, God hath before prepared these works for us, and also prepared us for them: he has prepared these works for us, first by his decree and purpose; he that ordained the end, salvation, hath appointed good works as the means thereto, by his precept and command. Mic. vi. 8. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good, Sec. And as God hath prepared these works for us, so he hath prepared us for them by his Holy Spirit, making our hearts fit for our work, by enlightening our minds, and inclining our wills. Learn hence, That new creatures are both otdained and obliged to, and also fitted and prepared for, good works: God will have his children distinguished from others by the good they do, as well as the devil's children are characterized by the mischief which they do. Observe, lastly, The constancy of the christian's duty declared, with reference to good works: he is to walk in them. Now, walking denotes and implies both a way and action. Walking, 1. It implies a way; and intimates plainly to us, that good works are the way and means to obtain salvation: we can never come at heaven as the end, but by walking in the path of good works as the way and means. 2. An action: walking denotes spontaneity in the principle, progress and perseverance in the motion; he that walks, goes forward, gets ground, gives not over till he comes to his journey's end. A good man is as diligent and zealous, as constant and persevering, in good works as if he were to be saved for them and by them; and at the same time relies by faith on the merits of the Mediator for his acceptance