That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven…
I. GOD HAS SET SEASONS IN WHICH HE WILL ACCOMPLISH ALL HIS WILL (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 17). As He brings things natural, spring, summer, autumn, winter, everything in season, so all the works He will do about His children, whether it be the punishing of wickedness for their sake, the delivering of His children from evil, the giving them benefits, He will bring them all forth in the fit appointed seasons.
1. To design times is His prerogative: as a master of a fatally has the right to fix the particular time at which this or that shall be done.
2. He only knows the fittest seasons for the accomplishment of His plans.
(1) Let this reprove our weakness in thinking God sometimes delays too long.
(2) Let us learn to wait on God. We would not in winter have midsummer weather, for it would not be seasonable; so in the winter of any trial with which we are visited we should not wish the sunshine of this or that blessing before God sees it may be seasonably bestowed, remembering that the man who believes does not make undue haste.
II. GOD, BY OPENING THE GOSPEL, BRINGS US HIS CHRIST.
1. By nature we are severed(1) from God: prodigal sons;
(2) from Christ, like sheep in the valleys of death, running after the wolf, and leaving the Shepherd of our souls;
(3) from one another, a man being by nature a wolf to his brother-man, his feet swift to shed blood.
2. The order in which we are gathered.
(1) The opening of the gospel gathers us into one faith.
(2) By faith, as a spiritual sinew or nerve, it unites us to Christ, making us one person with Him, as in law man and wife are one.
(3) It unites us with God, inasmuch as we are one with His Son.
(4) By being gathered to Christ, we are gathered to the whole Body of Christ, to all who exist under Him. What a wonderful power of union is there in the gospel!
III. ALL WHO SHALL BE GATHERED TO CHRIST ARE BROUGHT TO HIM BY THE GOSPEL. Only one gospel, and that gospel is for all.
II. Observe — WHO IT IS IN WHOM WE ARE GATHERED. In Christ, who —
1. Has abolished the enmity between God and us, and so removed that which divided us; and —
2. He calls us, and effectually draws us home in His time.
(1) Let us then, to preserve our union, walk with Christ, and keep by Him. Even as it is in drawing a circle with compass and lines from the circumference to the centre, so it is with us: the nearer they come to the centre, the more they unite, till they come to the same point; the further they go from the centre in which they are united, the more they run out one from the other. So when we keep to Christ, the nearer we come to Him, the more we unite; but when we run forth into our own lusts and private faction, then we are disjoined from the other.
(2) Since in Christ, our Head, we are joined as members of one and the same body, we mug act as members. The members of one and the same body have no mutual jealousies; they communicate with each other; the mouth takes meat, the stomach digests, the liver makes blood, the eye sees, the hand handles; they wilt not revenge themselves one against another, but mutually bear each others' burdens, so that their affection each to other is not diminished. God, who is love itself, teaches us these things.
Parallel VersesKJV: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: