Page images

admonishes us to enter into our sanctuaries, and beseech God to maintain our cause.

We cannot conclude our remarks on the present subject without adverting for a moment, to a wide spread, and we believe increasing feeling after peace-honorable and lasting. We have entered upon this struggle to obtain for Europe and for the world, principles and conditions of peace; but let us remember the great well-spring of this desolating stream of war, is the native corruption of the human heart. Nations may hush up quarrels by negociations but they have not destroyed the germ of the bitter tree whose fruits are desolation and death; they have but suppressed the flame which may burst forth in stronger power in the next eruption. The peace societies may advocate their principles of expediency, paint the horrors of

war, and shock human nature by the recital of its own deeds, but all in vain. We have no confidence but in the Gospel, this power alone reaches the mainspring of action : the principles of Christianity diffused throughout the world can alone secure peace, like the tree cast into the bitter waters, and convert the distasteful elements into sweet

Don't talk of universal peace so long as war is in your own breast between passion and principle, nature and grace ; don't dream of general peace long as there is disunion amongst families, neighbours and churches. Come to Christ and he will convert all the elements of discord in your own souls into quietness and assurance. seek the establishment of peace abroad, send out those agencies which alone can ensure and secure the blessing; the Bible and the missionary. If you long to call every man brother, pray that God would change the hearts of tyrants and aggressors, and that Christ would set up

his own kingdom which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.


If you






THE WILL OF THE LORD is.”—Eph. v. 15, 16, 17.

This exhortation pre-supposes the possession of one kind of wisdom, and enforces the necessity of another. It appeals to the Ephesians as having received light in their understandings, and urges them to use that light in the discreet direction of their life. Their eyes having been opened to see what is the hope of their calling, they are bidden to use their recovered sight in tracing circumspectly the intricate path of their probation. Being, through the impartation of divine knowledge, no longer fools but wise, their obligation is impressed upon them to use all their sagacity in preserving the integrity of their christian character amid the unfruitful works of darkness, in extracting their own advantage from the evil days, and in discerning the will of God through all the manifold contingencies and perplexities of a disordered age. The wisdom which they had received from heaven must dwell with prudence on earth.

The former part of the epistle has amply shown us what were the new relations to time and eternity in which this imparted wisdom had placed them. They had been taught the mystery which from the beginning of the world had been hid in God; they had received, through the hearing of faith, that highest and all-embracing knowledge, the knowledge of Christ; the spirit of wisdom and revelation had begun to open the eyes of their understanding, and had disclosed to them the sublime hope of the Christian calling ; they had been quickened into new life, redeemed by the power of grace from the course of this present evil world, enrolled in the commonwealth of Israel, and blessed with the earnest of an eternal inheritance, for the consum mate enjoyment of which they were taught to regard this life as a preparation. The contrast between the light which Christ had given them, and the darkness in which He had found them, is recalled to their remembrance again and again. The strongest terms are used to describe the utter vanity of their former Gentile condition, wherein they had fed their minds with the delusions of darkened understandings; living in a world unenlightened by the countenance of God : the present all sensuality, the past a chaotic mystery; and the future, unrelieved darkness. But the entrance of the word which announced eternal life in Christ, had released them from the blind bondage of heathenism : it had shed its sufficient light upon this world, and opened up to their hope another. They had awakened from their long and troubled sleep; they had arisen from among the dead of a thousand generations; and Christ had given them light. The Apostle impresses all this upon their minds throughout the former part of the Epistle ; and thus labours to elevate to the highest point their conception of the unlimited change which had passed upon them, and their grateful adoration of that manifold wisdom of God which had wrought the change.


But in the latter part of the Epistle, they are regarded as still living in the midst of the heathen generation, from which they had been saved and severed ; their probation is exhibited as to be accomplished in that world out of which they had been redeemed. The Apostle had been dilating upon their elevation above the world, he now brings them down to it again, and shows them what is that manifold wisdom of the Christian's practical life, which will correspond with the manifold wisdom of God in his salvation, and secure its glorious object. The words which we have read, reduce to a compact and comprehensive precept the spirit of the whole of his exhortations. They exhibit the wisdom which is enforced in relation to the world under three aspects; the evil of the days being the central point, or rather the common foundation of them all. The days are evil : walk as it becometh the wise, taking circumspect heed lest ye contract their evil. The days are evil : seek to redeem your own portion of time in them, and from them, for good. The days are evil : let it be your wisdom to discern and to follow the will of God as your unfailing standard of right and wrong. In other words,—first preserve yourselves from the evil of the days by the circumspection of wisdom, but not only so, seek to subordinate their evil to your own good, by the prudent forethought of wisdom, and in doing both, remember that the will of God is the only and supreme rule.

Brethren, the exhortation addresses us as members of the household of faith, redeemed by the power of Divine grace from the evil world, but working out our probation amid evil days. It is an injunction which will never fail to be applicable while God's people are found in a disordered and unsanctified world. The days of time have never yet been other than evil in their influence upon the interests of religion. In many respects, doubtless, they were especially malignant and unpropitious when St. Paul wrote: but it can scarcely be questioned that there is enough of common and of special evil in the times in which we live, to place this threefold precept among the most necessary to be heard by the Christian Church. While we hear it this day, let us lift up our hearts to God, who giveth wisdom to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.


The scene and the age of our probation are essentially evil; in themselves, as under the dominion of sin, and in relation to the servants of God, as being full of the elements of temptation and danger. The course of this world is directed by the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. His agents rule the darkness of this world ; they have perverted the way of man from the beginning, and have moulded the character of every age. The course of human affairs is contrary to God's will, and it is the great object of the work of Christ to redeem the time from its corruption. This He is accomplishing gradually, but surely; He is bringing all things under His control; but we know not, if, during the present constitution of things, it shall be ever said of the days that they are evil no longer ; or, whether before its corruption and disorder are finally removed, time shall be no more. We can imagine the course of things in general harmony with the will of God, and the days of human life altogether favourable to godliness. We can imagine a good time, when all in

« PreviousContinue »