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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE
OF PAUL THE APOSTLE
This epistle was written when Paul was a prisoner at Rome; and the design of it was to establish the church at Ephesus in the doctrines which the apostle had before preached to them. It is very evident that some errors had been mixed with the truth ; and that the apostle wished to guard and secure them from their pernicious influence. He displays the excellence and power of the gospel, as exhibiting the counsels of divine love, and as producing all the fruits of righteousness. The language is forcible, and indicates how much the apostle felt the subject.
ccording A. D. 63. Paul treats of election by grace as the only proper foundation to the good
To the 6
to the good pleasure of his will, of a sinners salvution; carnestly prays that they might be able to under- praise of his glorious grace, by which he hath
made us 'accepted in his beloved : In whom 7.. 1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the we have redemption through his blood, the
will of God, to the saints, and to the faithful forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of 2 in Christ Jesus, who are at Ephesus: Grace his grace; Which he hath made to abound 8
and peace be to you, from God our Father, towards us in all wisdom and prudence ; Hay- 9 and from our Lord Jesus Christ.
ing made known to us the mystery of his 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord will, according to his good pleasure which
Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every he purposed in himself, In respect to the dis- 10
spiritual blessing in heavenly things in Christ : pensation of the fulness of times, that he would 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before gather together all things in Christ, both which
the foundation of the world, that we might are in heaven, and which are on earth; In 11 5 be holy and without blame before him: In bim, in whom we have obtained an inheritance
love having predestinated us to the adoption also, having been predestinated according to
CHAP. I. 1. At Ephesus. The exterval authority for this reading is full and decisive; yet there is much internal evidence, that this is the epistle directed to the church at Laodicea, mentioned, Coloss. iv. 16. See Paley's Horæ Paulinæ. Paul's epistles were certainly communicated by one church to another; and as Ephesus was a city of great note, tv Epicw, might be introduced by some transcriber. Some thiok it was directed not only to the Ephesians, but to other christian brethren, to the faithful in Christ Jesus at Laodicea, &c.
3. In heavenly things. In things relating to heaven, and securing to us the enjoyment of the heavenly inheritance. John iii. 12.
4. Chosen us in hiin. As Paul directs his epistle to saints, and to the faithful, or believers, it is only of them that he now speaks, as chosen iu Christ. Some confine this choice to the whole body of the Gentiles being called to be
come the disciples of Christ ; but the apostle was addressing a church in which . were many believing Jews, por du the things said of those chosen a ree to
the Gentiles in general.-Might be holy, fr. Not only separated from the world, but become really ho!y, as one end of his gracious choice. Hence it is evident that they were not chosen for their foreseen holiness, purity, and good works; as they were chosen as sinful, and with the gracious design of making the holy, purs, upright, and finally happy.
5. In love, having, fr. For this punctuation, see Griesb.To the adoption, $e. If this adoption be to admit such into his own family, and treat them as his sons, his predestinating them to it was an instance of the freest love, solely arising from the good pleasure of his will:
6. Glorious grace. This is the end he had in view in the salvation of man. If man be sinful, and deserving of God's just displeasure, it is clear that he cao claim nothing from God on the ground of merit; but must be indebted to bis free grace for every spiritual blessing.
7. Redemption by his blood. From the curse and the guilt of sin, so that we receive the forgiveness of sins freely and fully, and thus manifesting the riches of his grace.
8. Ikich he haih enade, &c. See 2 Cor. ix. 8.-In all wisdom, &c. In conimunicating “wisdom" iu the knowledge of the gospel, and “prudence" in our conduct towards men.
9, 10. Mystery of his will. His purpose to call the Gentiles. In respect to the, &r. As to the dispensation of the gospel, introduced now, the times being fulfilled which he had appointed. Gal. iv. 4.- - All things. All persons; all intelligent beings. See John vi. 17, 19, where ta narra is used.
11. We have obtained, &c. We believing Jews do enjoy and inherit the promises made to Abraham, especially the adoption of sons, (verse 5,) to which we have been predestinated.- -Purpose of, 8e. God's purpose is ever wise, 17. And revelution, &c. So as to understand revealed truth delivered as well as holy and just, being the counsel of his own will. However inscrut- to you; especially what relates to the glorious Redeemer, and especially may able to us may be the reasons of his counsel, we may be assured that they are understand the perfections and character of the true God, as opposed to the such as in the view of his infinite understanding, wisdom, and perfect recti. vain gods and goddesses, to which some of them had been devoted. tude, as will support and justify his plans and proceedings.
Their faith celebrated.
Paul prays for them. the purpose of him who worketh all things eyes of your 'mind' being enlightened; that 12 after the counsel of his own will : That we ye may know what is the hope of his having
should be to the praise of his glory, having called you, and what the glorious riches of 13 first hoped in Christ : In whom ye also hav- | his inheritance for the saints, And what is 19
ing believed, (after ye heard the word of truth, the exceeding greatness of his power toward the glad tidings of your salvation :) in whom, us who believe,
us who believe, According to the working 20 I say, ye also having believed, were sealed of his mighty power, which he wrought in 14 with the promised Holy Spirit, (Wbich is Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and
the earnest of our inheritance) unto the full seated him at his own right hand in the redemption of his purchased people, to the heavenly places,
heavenly places, Far above all principality, 21 praise of his glory.
and power, and might, and dominion, and Wherefore I also, having heard of
every name that is named, not only in this in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, world, but in that also which is to come: 16 Cease not to give thanks for you ; making And hath put all things under his feet, and 22 17 mention of you in my prayers, That the God appointed him to be the head over all things
of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, to the church, Which is his body, the com- 23
may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and pletion of him who filleth all the members 18 revelation, in the knowledge of him; The with all things.
Griesb. Others, Understanding. REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER 1. | We are taught to ad- dispositions in us, or good works which we might persorm. The only mire the freeness and riches of divine grace. And if we are the happy reason which we can assign for his choice of any sinners is, “ Even so partakers of some of the blessings which are here adverted to, and a Father, because it seemed good in thy sight." well-grounded hope that we shall in due time enjoy the rest, how is it 2. We are admonished also to admire the noble end God had in possible that we should be unaffected, and unthankful. Though these view in forming this holy and divine purpose. While he has abounded things were so familiar to the mind of the apostle, he could not mention towards us in the freest love, he equally displays his wisdom, prudence, them, without breaking forth in the language of gratitude and praise, and holiness. He had in view the renovation and holiness of the ob6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, &c." jects of his choice; and in his own time and way he calls them by bis What blessings are equal or comparable to these? Let us then like grace, and makes them new creatures in Christ Jesus. He chose the holy apostle, bless God as the author and source of all we possess ; them, “that they might be holy and without blame before him;" and and trace them backward to that gracious purpose, which he formed, hence he gives them to his beloved Son, who redeems them by his owa when he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, when he precious blood, and in him they are accepted. Through faith in him predestinated us through him, to the adoption of children. And let us they enjoy the forgiveness of sins ; of sins however numerous and aggraever rememher, that he did this freely of his own grace, according to vated, and shall not perish, but have everlasting life. In this view the good pleasure of his will, and not according to any foreseen good then, we inser that it is only the person called to repentance, renewed
18. Of his having called, $c. I give the sense, with Wakefield and New. 13. Were sealed with, &e. See 2 Cor. i. 22, and potes. The Holy Spirit corne, rather than the idiom. What is the hope arising from his having called does not seal any now by miraculous gifts; but when, by his influence, we are you by the gospel to be his people.—Of his inheritance, $c. See Deuter. instructed and sanctified, so as to love and serve God, we may be said to be xxxii. 9. Which he will finally distribute among them. sealed as his sons, for whom a glorious inheritance is provided.
19-23. Of his power. In the miracles and operations, by which me 14. Redemption of his, $c. As it is certain that περιποιησεως may be and were called to believe, and by which our faith is now established; which is applied to people (1 Pet. ii. 8,) and as it is generally so understood here, I power resembles that exerted, when Christ was raised from the dead. Far have supplied to make the sense more obvious. Acts xx. 28, and I Tim. iii. above all, &c. Whatever rank celestial beings enjoy, they have no pame or 13. The meaning I consider to be, that they are sealed with the promised honour like Jesus, whom the Father, on account of his suffering death, bas Spirit, unto the final deliverance from all evils, and unto the enjoyment of thus highly exalted.- Which is the completion, $c. That the term an opera glory and happiness in heaven.
has this sense, see Dr. Chandler and Parkhurst. Christ is mentioned as the 15. Having heard, &c. Since my preaching among you, how much your head of the church; but he could not be a head without there was a body; and faith has increased, and your love to all the saints, &c. What a pleasure did the body may be said to fill up, or make complete, this mystical persou. he experience in hearing this good report.
Filleth all. All bis members, with all their gifts and graces.
Their past sinful state.
Riches of grace displayed. CHAPTER II.
gether, and made us sit together in heavenly
places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to 7 A. D. 63. What we are by nature and practice, and what we become by
, grace; we are created to good works, citizens with the saints and of the come he might show the exceeding riches of family of God.
his grace, in his kindness towards us through 1. And you hath God made alive, who were Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved 8 2 dead in trespasses and sins; In which ye through faith ; and this not of yourselves : it
formerly walked, according to the course of is the gift of God: Not by works, so that 9 this world, according to the powerful prince no man can glory. For we are his work man- 10
of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in ship, created by Christ Jesus to good works, 3 the sons of disobedience: Among whom even for which God hath prepared us, that we
we all in time past lived, in the desires of might walk in them.
of our minds; and were by nature the children ye were Gentiles in the flesh, (called the 4 of wrath, even as others : But God, who is Uncircumcision by that which is called the
rich in mercy, for his great. love wherewith Circumcision in the flesh made by hands ;) 5 he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, That at that time ye were without Christ, 12
hath made us alive together with Christ, (by being aliens from the community of Israel, 6 grace ye are saved ;) And raised us up to- and strangers from the covenants of promise,
in bis mind, made in some degree holy, and seeking the full perfection he had wrought in them, and 10 mingle his petitions with theirs for an of holiness, that can be sure of his election of God.
increase of every spiritual blessing. How desirable it is, to receive 3. Blessed as these Ephesian believers were in Christ, we learn the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of Christ, that that they had not yet attained the end of their christian calling, nor the eyes of our minds may be enlightened, to see the surpassing exwere afready perfect. They were indeed united to Christ, through cellence of the object of our hope, the glorious riches of our everlasting faith and trust in him, in whom things in heaven and earth are gather- inheritance. And what a pledge have we of our interest in that inhered together ; but still their knowledge, faith, hope, joy, and holiness, itance, in the faith wrought in us by the same power which raised were imperfect. Their faith in Christ
, was a real active principle; Christ from the dead, and exalted him to the throne of the universe ; and their love to the saints abounded in some good degree; so that they this same power shall keep every believer, and raise and exalt bim to were celebrated for these christian graces among the churches ; and the glory and happiness as a member of Christ ; for every member shall hearing of this exeited the apostle both to give thanks to God for what share in the glory and happiness of him as the head.
CHAP. II. 1. God made alive. Hallet, Dr. Chandler, and others would gard bis resurrection, ascension, and glory, as a pledge and security, that he connect this verse with the close of the first chapter. “Filleth all with all. himself shall, in like manner, be raised, exalted, and glorified. Even you who were dead, &c.” The words which begin this verse are so 8. This not of yourselves. The salvation which you now in a sense enevidently resumed in the fifth, that I agree with most critics in thinking both joy, and which will be finally completed is, in its origin, means and end, all of governed by the same verb.-~Dead in trespasses, &c. Wholly given up to grace; and your personal interest in it is by faith ; and this faith itself is not them, and strangers to the principle and operation of spiritual life.
the effect of your own reason and attention, but the gift of God, through his 2. Course of this world. The common practices and vices of meu. influence on the heart, in connexion with the gospel. That Toyto may refer Pororful prince, &c. Mede bas observed, that it was an opinion of the Jews to auctis, faith, see Ch. vi. 18. Phil. i. 28. Gal. iii. 17; iv. 12. Some would that the air was inhabited by evil spirits; and the apostle alluding to this opi. refer it to salvation, owincia, which contains the same anomaly. Griesbach vion observes, that their conduct was such as the prince of these evil spirits | points, (This not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not from work.) I see might be supposed to approve, as the Spirit that now worketh, &c. powerfully no reason to change the punctuation. operating on their depravity, and tempting them to all kinds of vice. Sons
9, 10. Not by works, &c. Were it so, a man might glory; but as it is of disobedience. A Hebraism for disobedient.
by grace, all occasion of glorying is removed. The change wrought in us is 3. Among whom even, &c. We Christians, whether sprung from Jews or not from ourselves. For we are his workmanship, &c.-For which God Gentiles; even we lived in the manner they now do, gratifying the desires of
hath, &c. Fitted and disposed us, as well as appointed us, hy effecting so rethe flesh, &c, The Jews, though they enjoyed divine revelation, were as car- markable a change in our views, tempers, and hearts, through the mediation nal and sensual as the Gentiles Were by nuture. By our fallen state, and of Christ, and the preaching of the gospel. evil dispositions and habits, we “were children of wrath," deserving of wrath, 11, 12. Remember, $c. Remember the condition you were in as heaand exposed to it, even as all such sinners now are.
thens and sinners, not only uncircumcised, but without any knowledge of 4-7. Rich in mercy, &c. Naturally and eternally so; and expressing it Christ, and even destitute of all the privileges belonging to the Israelitestowards us by his amazing love, in making us spiritually alive with Christ, " the covenants of promise,” the patriarchal and Mosaic, which promised the and raising us and causing us to sit with him on high, that in all ages he may Messiah-“ baving no hope," either of a resurrection, or of a future life-and manifest his rich and free grace. In these verses our Lord is considered as
without the knowledge of the only living and true God. the head of his body, the church, and every believer as a member, may.re. 13-18. Were ajar of, ge. From God and his service.- Are made nigh, VOL. III. PART XXIII. X X
Believers united in Christ.
They are fellow-citizens. having no hope, and without God in the Now therefore ye are no more stravgers 19 13 world. But now in Christ Jesus ye, who for- and sojourners, but fellow-citizens with the
merly were afar off, are wade nigh by the saints, and of the household of God; Hav- 20 14 blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who ing been built upon the foundation of the
hath made both one, and hath broken down apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself
the middle wall of partition between us; being the chief corner-stone; By which the 21 15 (Having abolished in his flesh the cause of whole building, being fitly framed together,
enmity, the law of commandments consisting groweth to a holy temple through the Lord :
in ordinances, to form in himself the two into By which ye also are builded together, for a 22 16 one new man, thus making peace; And to habitation of God through the Spirit. reconcile both to God in one body by the
CHAPTER III. 17 cross, having slain the enmity thereby :) And hath come and proclaimed the glad tidings A. D. 63. The mystery of calling the Gentiles revealed to Paul; on him
was conferred the office of preaching the gospel lo them ; his prayer, &c. of peace to you who were afar off, and to those 18 that were nigh. For through him we both For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus !
have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Christ on account of you Gentiles, (Since ye 2
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER 11. 1. We have need of being to believe that God is rich in mercy, and that his love is great, infinitely often reminded of our state and condition as fallen, depraved sinners. great, as manifest in the gift of his Son, and in his sufferings and death In what misery and crimes is human nature plunged ! Not Gentiles for the salvation of the chief of sinners. Cleaving to this adorable Saooly, but men born where the light of truth shines with the brightest viour, they find pardon and peace, and rise to the hope of a happy rays, give sufficient evidence that they are dead in sins and trespasses, resurrection and of everlasting lite. Thus as the workmanship of God, wholly given up to the practice of thein, and without desire or relish
are they formed unto good works ; and possessed of new principles and for what is good, holy, and spiritual. They walk according to the of a new spirit, they walk, not any longer according to the course of course of this world, of the men of it, and pursue the same vanities this world, but according to the will of God, acknowledging that it is and follies. These are the sons of disobedience, and subjects of the by grace that they are saved. powerful prince of the air ; and the works of their ruler they will do, 3. We are taught that the blessed design of the gospel-dispensation in fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind. 'They are not re- is to abolish the distinction between Jew and Gentile, and unite both in strained from any vice or sinful indulgence, from regard to God or one holy and happy community. The partition-wall is broken down duty; but, as far as possible, they gratify every appetite, living in by the cross; the carpal ordinances are done away, and peace is sethe most debasing sensuality. This shows our awful depravity, and cured. Those who had been afar off are brought nigh; and they who justifies the inference, “ that by nature all are children of wrath." had no hope, and were without God in the world, are, by the gospel, What matter have we for deep humiliation and debasement before and by faith in Christ, sellow-citizens with the saints and of the houseGod. How are we become the degenerate plants of a strange vine ! hold of God. We Gentiles are built by faith upon the foundation of
2. We learn what a glorious change divine grace makes in the apostles and prophets ; and let us maintain a proper regard to their heart and life. By this divine life is imparted to the soul; and its writings, which are so well calculated to promote our edification. But existence is ascertained by the feelings of the heart, and the operations above all let us fix our regards upon Christ, the chief corner-stone; as it of the mind and conscience. Those who are made alive, behold them is on him we must rest all our hopes. And it is only in him, that selves as ready to perish and as deserving the wrath to come ; and both individuals and the whole church groweth up to a holy temple. Let their judgment and conscience approve the just, but tremendous sentence us ever consider ourselves as designed for this use, for a habitatjon of of the law which they have violated. Alarmed and confounded, the God through the Spirit; and be deeply and constantly concerned to gospel exhibits the only ground of hope to them; and they are enabled cultivate and maintain that purity which becomes this relation.
8c. The blood of Christ having expiated your sins, and the gospel having called you to be the people of God, as well as believing Jews.—He is our peuce. The cause of peace and union, by having abolished the Mosaic rites, which he mentions in allusion to the wall in the temple, which no Gentile was allowed to pass.--to form in himself, &c. In their union to him, the two, the Jew and the Gentile, into one new man, as his members, united in the closest bonds of love and coucord, and to effect this union to each other and to God, he suffered on the cross, by which he slew the enmity which had subsisted between them. -Hath come, &c. By his ministers, &c. both to you, Gen. tiles, and to the Jews; and all believers, of whatever nation they may be,
have access through him, to God as their father, and are assisted in their approaches by the Spirit.
19-22. No more strangers, 8c. No more what you were in your sids and idolatry, verse 13, but are now fellow-citizens with other saints, and of the household or family of God.- -Having been built, 8c. Apostles and prophets of the christian church, (Ch. iii. 5.; iv. 11,) are called the foundation, because on their miracles and predictions, and explanations of the Jewish prophets, believers are built.-Chief corner-stone. See note, Ps. cxviii. 22. By which, $c. By which corner-stone, the whole building, the edifice of the church, formed of various materials, but fitly frapued, groweth into a holy
The mystery of calling
the Gentiles revealed. have heard of the dispensation of the grace the manifold wisdom of God might now be 3 of God which is given me towards you : How made known through the church, to the
he made known to me by revelation, the principalities and powers in the heavenly
mystery; as I have written before in few places; According to the eternal purpose 11 4 words; , ,
By which, when ye read, ye may which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord ; understand my knowledge in this mystery of Through whom we have freedom of speech 12 5 Christ, Which in other generations was not and access with confidence by faith in him.
made known unto the sons of men, as it hath Wherefore I intreat that ye faint not at my 13
now been revealed to his holy apostles and afflictions for you, which are your glory :) I 14 6 prophets, by the Spirit ; namely, That the
namely, That the say, for this cause I bow my knees to the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom 15
same body, and joint-partakers of his promise the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 7 in Christ, by the gospel: Of which I was That he would grant you, according to his 16
made a minister, according to the gracious glorious riches, to be strengthened with might
gift of God bestowed on me by the effectual by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ 17 8 working of his power: On me, who am less may dwell in your hearts by faith; so that,
than the least of all saints, hath this grace being rooted and grounded in love, Ye, with 18 been bestowed, that I should preach among all the saints, may be able to comprehend
the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; what is the breadth, and length, and depth, 9 And should make manifest to all what is the and height; And to know the love of Christ, 19
'dispensation" of the mystery, which, from the which indeed surpasseth knowledge, so that
beginning of the world, was hidden in God, ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God. 10 who created all things by Jesus Christ : That Now unto him that is able to do very abun- 20
temple through the Lord, through his powerful and effectual operation; and ye believers at Ephesus are built on the same foundation, for an habitation of God, &c. dwelling by his Spirit in you.
CHAP. III. 1. For this cause. For maintaining and preaching that beliering Gentiles are no more foreigners, but admitted to all the spiritual privileges of the gospel, I am a prisoner of or belonging to Christ, on account of you Gentiles, Acts xxi. 28.; and for this cause, I bow my knees, verse 14.
3. By revelation. This was peculiarly revealed to Paul, because he was the chief instrument appointed to accomplish God's desigo.Wrilten before, fc. He refers to what he had said, Ch. i. 4-10.; ii. 13–21.
5. Which was not, &c. It was a predicted event, yet still imperfectly known, until the gospel was actually preached among the Gentiles.
6. Of his promise in Christ. Of the promise made to Abraham, which was to be fulfilled in Christ, he being the seed in whom all nations were to be blessed; and he having come, the Gentiles are fellow-heirs with the Jews, of all the blessiugs of his kingdom, and members of his body the church.
7. Made a minister, &c. By the immediate call and authority of Christ.
Gracious gift of God. The apostolic office, bestowed on me as an instance of free grace, and manifest by the effectual working of his power by me, en. abling me to preach and work miracles, &c.
Less than the leasl, &c. He uses this expressive and humble language, for the reason he has stated, I Cor. xv. 9, and i Tim. i. 10.-UnRearchable riches, &c. His unsearchable perfections and merits, whereby he is able to save the chief of sinners, and to bestow on them the greatest spiritual blessings, which are the only true and durable riches to an immortal mind.
9-12. Dispensation of, 8c. What is the nature of the gospel, which reveals and makes manifest the mystery of calling the Gentiles, which, in a great measure, had been hidden in the purpose of God; that the manifold visdom of God might now be made known through the church-that wisdom which exerts aud displays itself in such a variety of ways, and is especially
X X 3
manifest in the person, sufferings, and death of Christ, and in the whole scheme of saving sinners of all nations by him, and forming them into one holy and harmonious body through faith in him. This wisdom is now manifested to every order of angels, and superior powers, in such a manner as it never had been done, according to God's eternal purpose.
13. Afflictions for you. This seems to discover a personal regard and knowledge of those to whom he was writing. Your glory. Because endured on your account.
14. I say for this cause. I consider all from verse 2nd to here, parenthetical. See Middleton. Of our Lord Jesus Christ. Griesbach thinks it probable that these words should be omitted; but the authorities in their favour are considerable, and they often occur elsewhere.
15 of whom the, 8c. Of whom as their father also, the whole family of intelligent things, both in heaven and earth is named.
16. Glorious riches, &c. The glorious abundance of all spiritual gifts and blessings which he can impart.- Strengthened with, &c. Enlightening you that you may know your privileges, and giving you courage to maintain them. Rom. vii. 22, and 2 Cor. iv. 16.
17. By faith. By faith in him as your bead and Saviour, let him be ever present to your thoughts, and may be govern and direct all your actions.
-Rooted, fc. Firmly fixed and established in the love of Christ, and of each other.
18, 19. May be able, 8c. As the apostle had compared the Ephesians to a temple, or to a part of one, in which Christ dwelt by faith, some think that “the breadth, and length, and depth, and heigbt," refer to the dimensions of this temple, as comprising men of all ages, nations, and people. Though this be admitted, I cannot but conclude, that the subject in his thoughts vas the love of Cirist, that love, whose dimensions are so vast as to surpass all human knowledge; that love, which in the depth of its origin, in the breadth of its comprehension, the length of its duratiou and happy effects, and the