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"And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. "Wherefore, I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.
"For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
"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.
"For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
"Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
"Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with
"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.
"I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.
"Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
"I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts xx. 25-35.)
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
AMIDST the vast subject, with which the mind of the apostle was occupied, in his farewell sermon to the church at Ephesus, however it became a minor consideration in things relating to himself, and to the faithfulness of his ministry; yet, he could not altogether bid adieu; and especially, as he foresaw that parting was final and for ever knowing he should see their face no more, until he had once more bid them recollect that he stood free and un
impeached in his labours, from the blood of all men. A servant of Christ, who hath not shunned to declare to the people committed to his charge, the whole counsel of God, can truly make this appeal. No doubt, on this ground, be the event what it may, it is a solemn consideration, when a church and people is able to charge neglect to the minister; or the minister feels constrained to charge neglect to the church and people. But however painful in either or in both instances; there is to be no hesitation. The affection subsisting between men loseth the very name, when brought in competition to the duty we owe God. It is the Lord's work, not man's, and to the Lord, as his master, the minister standeth or falleth. The tenderest natural feelings can admit of no departure from the unerring line of truth in this particular. Nay, without a constant regard to this, as the first leading principle of obligation; a mistaken tenderness to the people may prompt to a forgetfulness of the Lord. Paul, upon another occasion, hath drawn the line to shew this straitness of conduct-when speaking to servants, he said, "Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service as men pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God: and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not to men; knowing, that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ." (Col. iii. 22-24.)
We have a beautiful illustration of the apostle's faithfulness in his ministry, in the solemn charge he gave to Timothy upon the occasion. Timothy was very dear to Paul; and he called him his dearly beloved son. But the Lord Jesus Christ, and his church, Paul felt to be infinitely dearer. Hence we find the aged apostle, in the very last epistle he wrote, and but a little before his martyrdom, thus addressing
Timothy: "I charge thee, (said he) before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead, at his appearing, and his kingdom; preach the word, be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Tim. iv. 1—4.) He seems by the very solemn expressions here used, and by the manner in which he used them, as if he had summoned Timothy before the very tribunal of God; and in the impending judgment, if he neglected the office he had entered into, to keep in remembrance the almighty witness of God himself, as present at his ordination. It were well, if Paul's conduct, herein, was made the model of all preachers and hearers. And if without offence it may be added, in the present day, yet more strikingly; for the time the apostles predicted is in truth come. The sound doctrine of the holy Three in One, which bear record in heaven, which is the very basis of all divine revelation, is but too frequently kept out of view. The everlasting love of God the Father to the church in Christ; and the betrothing and redeeming love of Christ to his church; with all the saving truths of the work of God the Holy Ghost upon the heart; these are among the sound doctrines, which very many refuse to hear. It appears that Paul, blessed as he was with the spirit of prophecy, foresaw these things hanging over the church. And hence he said: "For I know that after my departing, shall grievous wolves enter in among you, and also of your ownselves shall men arise, speaking perverse things." The Lord look upon his church, and keep her from such awful judgments; and give" pastors according to his own heart;
which shall feed his people with knowledge and understanding." (Jer. iii. 15.)
I cannot refrain from detaining the reader with a short observation upon those striking words of the apostle, in his charge to the elders of the church at Ephesus; when he calls upon them, "to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." I stay not to make any observations on the expression in that the church is called a flock; for this is frequently given to the church in the holy Scriptures. But what is not so generally understood; and therefore, not so highly regarded, as the infinite importance of the subject demands; is the great depth of mystery in the term: when God is said to have "purchased his church with his Own blood." There are very many wonders in the subject of redemption; yea, "God, manifest in the flesh," with which it begins, is in itself a depth of mystery, perfectly unfathomable by the longest line of human intellect. And this, of "purchasing his church with his own blood" is another, among the inscrutable counsels of God. But let us only look at a few of the particulars, among those deep things of God; and mark in it the infinite grace of God.
First God is said to have "purchased his church." We know that the church was given by the Father, before all worlds, to his dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. But it is said no less, that when by sin, our whole nature fell in the Adam-transgression, the church fell into the same condemnation; and therefore, when Christ died for his people, it was to redeem the forfeited inheritance. Hence, the church is called, "the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." (Eph. i. 14.) But this is not all. The church given by the Father, and and when lost, redeemed by the Son, is no less made the subject of the Spirit's love, in the sove
vereign act of grace he wrought in regenerating our ruined and depraved nature. Though marked as the flock of Christ, by the Father, and when enslaved by sin ransomed by Christ; yet, still being in our sins, "and alienated from God, by wicked works," it became necessary to be regenerated, and renewed in the spirit of our minds, by God the Holy Ghost, and this is what is called in Scripture," the earnest of the Spirit." (2 Cor. v. 5.)
Secondly: The subject riseth in sublimity, when it is said, that God, hath "purchased the church, with his own blood." Observe, his own, meaning personally his own; and not another. And the depth of the mystery lies in this; Christ being God, as well as man; and God and man, in one person; what became the property, or act of the one, included the other also, and the infinite preciousness of the price given, for the purchase of the church became so, on this account. The person of Christ, who, in his compound nature, was, and is, and everlastingly must be, God, as well as man; and man, as well as God; by this purchase, gave his own blood, and therefore the expression, marvellous as it is, is perfectly correct; "the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
Thirdly Pause, and contemplate the vast and incalculable price of such a purchase! Not the blood of bulls, or goats, or lambs, or sacrifices, upon a thousand altars. All the offerings of mankind from the garden of Eden, when the first sacrifice was made; to the latest period, during the whole timestate of the world; never could, and indeed, never were designed, to take away sin; but, only a shadowy representation of this one offering, "of the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world." (Rev. xiii. 8.) Not all the ordinances and means of grace, ser. vices, sacraments, prayers, tears, penances, reforms, pilrimages, vows, offerings; and all the fruit of the