Ephesians 1:17
and asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in your knowledge of Him.
Sermons
Prayer for the Holy SpiritT. Croskery Ephesians 1:17
Prayer for the Knowledge of GodT. Croskery Ephesians 1:17
Apostolic PhilanthropyD. Thomas Ephesians 1:15-23
Paul's First Prayer for the EphesiansR.M. Edgar Ephesians 1:15-23
Prayer for the EphesiansR. Finlayson Ephesians 1:15-23
God's InheritanceM. Rainsford, B. A.Ephesians 1:17-19
God's Inheritance in His SaintsS. Martin, D. D.Ephesians 1:17-19
Growth in Spiritual KnowledgeA. J. Parry.Ephesians 1:17-19
Spiritual EnlightenmentF. F. Trench.Ephesians 1:17-19
Spiritual EnlightenmentR. S. Candlish, D. D.Ephesians 1:17-19
Spiritual Eye Salve; Or, the Benefit of IlluminationT. Manton, D. D.Ephesians 1:17-19
Spiritual KnowledgeW.F. Adeney Ephesians 1:17-19
The Eye Open to Spiritual ThingsPaul Bayne.Ephesians 1:17-19
The Eyes of the UnderstandingM. Rainsford. B. A.Ephesians 1:17-19
The Eyes of UnderstandingEphesians 1:17-19
The Hope of His CallingM. Rainsford, B. A.Ephesians 1:17-19
The Hope of His CallingR. J. McGhee, M. A.Ephesians 1:17-19
The Presence of the Holy Ghost in the SoulW. H. Hutchings, M. A.Ephesians 1:17-19
The Seat of the Spiritual EyeC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 1:17-19
The Spirit of WisdomPaul Bayne.Ephesians 1:17-19
The Three WhatsC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 1:17-19
Universal Need of EnlightenmentC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 1:17-19
We are Nothing Without God's Wisdom in UsMrs. Prosser.Ephesians 1:17-19
What Young Believers Require to ReceiveA. F. Muir, M. A.Ephesians 1:17-19
Worldly Wisdom WorthlessAuthor of, The Harvest of a Quiet EyeEphesians 1:17-19
The Ephesian saints had already received the Spirit, for they had been sealed by him; but the apostle wishes the Spirit to become a spirit of wisdom and revelation, for further enlargement in a spiritual sense can only be realized in the direction of new knowledge. Some persons say it is wrong to pray for the Holy Spirit, as it seems to imply that he has not already come. The apostle here expressly prays for the Spirit. Our prayers always acknowledge the Spirit as already come, and already operating with power in the Church, and what we desire from time to time is the individual application of his blessings to our hearts. Similarly, the apostle wishes grace and peace to Churches which already rejoiced in the experience of both blessings. "Ye have received an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things." Jesus is the Holy One; his Spirit is the unction; the knowledge of all things the result. This unction imparts the germ and substance of all knowledge. - T.C.







That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the rather of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
I. INCREASE OF SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION. Not so much new objects to contemplate, as clearer and deeper knowledge of objects already discerned. This is attained —

1. Through exercise of faith already possessed. It grows with the using.

2. Through the influence of the Holy Spirit. It assimilates the perceiving power to its own nature, and imparts new knowledge of Divine things. The powers of the spirit in general are heightened and extended — "a spirit of wisdom." Truth not discernible by ordinary human faculties is made known — "revelation."

II. CLOSER ACQUAINTANCE WITH THEIR LORD. "In the knowledge of Him." He is the life book we are to study.

III. ACCESS OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE.

IV. GROWTH IN EXPERIENCE. Amid the vague, new elements that crowd into their knowledge, certain great, central objects are to be realized most intensely.

1. The hope of their calling. Glory, complete salvation, eternal life, etc., are various aspects of this hope, which it is the great object of Christians to attain.

2. The riches of the glory of the Divine inheritance. The Kingdom of God grows in vastness, glory, and privilege, the more it is contemplated and sought.

3. The Divine resurrection power within themselves. The same power which raised Christ from the dead, and set Him at the right hand of God, works in the believer, evokes spiritual life, and sustains and develops it, from grace to grace, and glory to glory. As they compare their spiritual experience with His in resurrection and ascension, they will have grander realizations of the nature of the resurrection power that is working in themselves, and will trust it more intelligently and absolutely. There is no limit to this experience.

(A. F. Muir, M. A.)

I. The two mysteries which exist in the manhood of Christ, and in His mystic body, exist also in the ransomed soul; the presence of the Spirit, and union with the Son of God. You may conceive of the indwelling of the Spirit in Christ's human nature. It was spotless: original sin found no place there. In the foundations of Christ's created nature, there was no intermingling of the taint of the Fall. In His birth no sin, in His temptations no inward response. His soul was the mirror of unsullied holiness, and therefore a fit dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. But we are conceived in sin, born in sin, may have lived in sin, bear still the remains of a corrupt nature, "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit." Who would dare then to speak of the indwelling of Almighty God the Comforter in our souls, had He not unmistakably affirmed it? The New Testament points to it as the characteristic glory of Christian life. The Spirit, who first dwelt in Jesus in His fulness, extends His presence to all in union with that manhood. As the little cloud about the size of a man's hand, when it rose up into the heavens, spread itself out over the whole sky, and there was an abundance of rain, so the Ascended Lord gathers His Saints around Him, and pours down upon the parched earth streams of Divine Life. Each soul in grace is a partaker of the Divine Nature. The pure nature of Christ is the instrument of the Spirit in the soul. There is in every baptized soul, not only the indwelling of the Comforter, but a jet of the Life of Jesus, through which the transformation of our nature is being accomplished, and His character gradually impressed.

II. Again, the expansion of the Church into the world finds its counterpart in the progressive development of the Kingdom of God within the soul. The same vital principles in both, if permitted to put themselves forth, will overcome all opposing forces. Of the Kingdom of God, it is said, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. This may be true, too, of the reign of Christ in the soul. The Kingdom of God within has its persecutions to pass through. At its secret beginning, the whole of nature is in revolt; but if we are steadfast, grace will finally gain the ascendency, and sit in calm possession of the throne. The command of the Church, to disciple all nations, is only by degrees accomplished; so the leaven of grace in the soul will only gradually penetrate into our whole being, and in the end produce "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." The treasure of Divine truth, which the Spirit unfolds in the understanding, we will now consider. The understanding, through the Fall, is in a state of darkness as to supernatural things. Reason and conscience are two lights which "rule the night." They are the only guides by which we find our path. The understanding being thus overclouded, much of the sin that is committed may be traced up to some error in this faculty. The Holy Spirit, as the Illuminator, dispels the darkness, and amplifies the view, correcting and ennobling the natural faculty with the grace of faith, and the gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and counsel. Faith is the dawn upon the soul of a supernatural world. It is the first fissure through the cloud. It may be only like the breaking of the day, an imperfect view, like the glimpse of the blind man, the sight of "men as trees, walking"; yet it is a revelation of the Invisible. The Invisible becomes a reality. Hence the gift of faith is the one the Spirit employs against the adversary. It is with the shield of faith we are to "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked," whom we must "resist steadfast in the faith." Why is faith the chosen engine against the Evil One, the shield of our spiritual armour? It is because through it a new set of motives is brought to bear upon our conduct. For instance: a temptation awaits us; the flesh is weak, and some powerful influence is required to prevent a fall. Faith supplies it. In the early stage of the spiritual life, the thought comes, "There is heaven; if I commit this sin, I may lose it"; or fear is excited; "Here is hell; if I commit sin, I may fall into it." If there is a deeper life. the thought of the Cross of Jesus and His constraining love will be felt; "If I commit this sin, I shall be crucifying Him afresh." The light of faith furnishing motives which act either upon our fears or hopes, or rekindle our love, fulfils the office of a shield in the day of battle. Besides this grace, the Holy Spirit provides certain gifts which complete His work in the understanding, and are auxiliary to Divine faith. When the apostle used the words of the text, he was praying not simply for general enlightenment, but that his converts might possess and develop certain specific forms of spiritual knowledge. The gift of wisdom is the chief of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul prays that the Ephesians may be endued with "the spirit of wisdom"; and Isaiah places it first, when he enumerates the gifts as they dwelt in our Lord. It is the highest quality which the Spirit bestows. The apostle links with the spirit of "wisdom" that of "revelation." This may correspond with the gift of understanding, for it is a spiritual insight into the mysteries of the kingdom of grace. The gift of knowledge is another form of light, having for its object not God and His perfections, nor the mysteries of grace, but God as He is seen in created things. It discloses His designs in them, what they are in themselves, what purposes they are intended to fulfil, what portions of His being they reflect, how they may be enlisted in His service, and brought through our instrumentality to minister to His glory, how they may be rightfully used or enjoyed. This gift, too, is important as it relates to our inner life. Self-knowledge is obtained through it. The gift of counsel completes our intellectual equipment. Its name describes its nature. It guides the soul in the choice of the best means to be used for arriving at the desired end. It seeks advice from all past occurrences; teaching us how to use our falls, the various remedies to which we have been directed to resort, those which have best suited our disposition, what have been the occasions of sin, what the results, — in short, the gift of counsel treasures up all the complex experiences of the spiritual life, and puts them to account. There are two thoughts which suggest appropriate lessons on this part of our subject. If it be true, that the Holy Ghost dwells within us; that each one is a temple of His presence, and a member of Christ; that our understanding is now replete with such wonderful powers, supplied with Divine lights for the removal of the darkness which sin has occasioned; that the same gifts which the mind of Christ possesses, are in their measure communicated to all His brethren: then, surely, sin committed in such a state, will have a special heinousness about it. Hence there is a more minute inspection of sin in the new dispensation. The inward presence brings up to light inward sin. What a thought to influence our conduct, "I am the temple of God!" The rebuke of the apostle is not now unnecessary, or out of date — "know ye not that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" Another practical conclusion is to be drawn from what has been said. Life is manifested by action. A Divine life will be manifested by actions which exceed the power of nature. If I possess this life, I am thereby rendered capable of doing works which shall be pleasing to God. Grace, as a new principle of action, enables me to do works, which, by nature, I could not do. A supernatural life bestows on my actions a new value, so that they partake of the Eternity of God. The presence of the Holy Spirit imparts to them, when they are wrought in grace, and with a pure intention for God's glory, an imperishable character. "They are wrought in God."

(W. H. Hutchings, M. A.)

I. THE MEANS WHEREBY THIS KNOWLEDGE IS ATTAINED. "The spirit of wisdom and revelation." Here are two things — the spirit of wisdom and the spirit of revelation. This "spirit of revelation" I understand to mean "inspiration." The prayer for its bestowment upon the Ephesian Church was in effect a prayer for the multiplication of its prophets, the then accredited guides and instructors of the Church, in the absence of the apostle, in all that related to spiritual matters. The spirit of revelation, however, is not a need of the Church now since it has the "revelation of the spirit," for where the revelation of the spirit is, there can be no need for the "spirit of revelation." But the spirit of wisdom is still a need of the Church, and will ever form one of its first necessities.

1. To secure an attitude of firm, unflinching faith in this revelation. Just as the force by which the earth is hurled along in its ceaseless course through space has never succeeded in overcoming the force by which it is kept in its orbit, so the spirit of wisdom in the Church will ever prevent the centrifugal force of free thought and free criticism from overcoming the centripetal force of faith in the Divine revelation, humanity's moral sun, the source of its spiritual life and glory.

2. It is not alone in relation to the attitude we are to assume towards God's Word, in view of the modern spirit of unsparing, not to say reckless, criticism, that the spirit of wisdom is needed. It is needed also as the power by which alone we shall be able to unlock the spiritual secrets of that Word, to explore its hidden treasures, to take in fully and sympathetically its deepest teachings.

II. WE COME NOW TO CONSIDER THE SECOND DIVISION OF THE SUBJECT OF THE TEXT, NAMELY, THE OBJECT TO WHOM THIS SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT RELATES — "GOD." It is "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him," "Him" as described in the preceding part of the verse. The full purport of this expression in reference to the Ephesians will be better understood if we remember that they had until very recently been heathens. It is thus reasonable to suppose that their conceptions of God were very defective. They had not as yet succeeded in entirely divesting their minds of the low, degrading notions of God with which their heathen training had impressed them. They had still much to learn concerning His nature and character. They had constant need of instruction whereby their notions of Him might be purified and elevated. Hence the prayer that they might have the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Further, the apostle indicates the particular aspect of the Divine character upon which they were to seek further enlightenment — "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Father of glory." It is a description of God that covers the whole ground of His redemptive relation to men. And it is God in this inexpressibly glorious aspect of His character that the text represents as the great object of Christian knowledge. It is that the Ephesian believers might have a more abundant entrance into the transcendent glories and the ineffable joy of this truth, that the apostle prays that they might have the spirit of wisdom and revelation.

III. WE NOW COME TO THE CONSIDERATION OF THE THIRD TRUTH INDICATED BY THE TEXT, NAMELY, THE FURTHER EXPERIENCES OF SPIRITUAL THINGS TO WHICH THIS KNOWLEDGE OF GOD CONDUCES. The apostle specifies in the text and the next verse three things, to the right and full apprehension of which we come "through the knowledge of Him." These are — "the hope of His calling," "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints," and "the exceeding greatness of His power to usward" and Christward. The first includes God's purpose in relation to men — to call them into glory. The second refers to the glory that shall accrue to Himself through men thus glorified. The third refers to the transcendent character of the means adopted to secure these glorious ends. Here are three matters of knowledge arrived at by the enlightenment of the understanding through the knowledge of Him. They are matters of transcendent glory, and sweep the whole horizon of our salvation. Yes, we are to come into the full meaning of these superlative truths through our knowledge of God, as the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory. The Divine Being, thus apprehended, is the higher plane from which alone the full glory of our salvation can be viewed and comprehended. It forms our coign of vantage for the attainment of an adequate conception of at least three things respecting this salvation.

1. The grandeur of its aim both as regards the individual and the race.

2. It is as viewed from this higher plane of spiritual knowledge that the infinite reasonableness of this munificent gift of grace and love will reveal itself to the mind.

3. Again, we notice that the knowledge of God is our vantage ground for understanding the infallible certainty of the accomplishment of these great ends. From this standpoint we enter into the full apprehension of the exceeding greatness of His power. Whatever fear or doubt may perplex the mind regarding the realization of the redemptive scheme, on the score of the grandeur of its aim and comprehensiveness of its scope, and the vastness of the difficulties in its way, will vanish in the light of this apprehension of the exceeding greatness of His power. This power covers every difficulty, is, in fact, illimitable and absolute in relation to the Divine purposes. He whose eyes have been enlightened knows this, and in this knowledge rests in unshaken tranquility.

(A. J. Parry.)

1. We must so consider God, when we come to Him in prayer, as to see Him in what we desire. St. Paul when about to pray for these Ephesians who had believed on Christ, and to seek the glorious gifts of the Spirit which might help them to know the glory reserved for them, sets God before him as the God of that Christ whom they had now received by faith into their hearts, and the Father of all glory: both of which considerations strengthened his faith; for he could not think that God, the God of Christ, would be wanting to those who were Christ's, or that the Father of all glory would deny those glorious gifts which he was about to ask Him to increase. So here is a lesson for all. Wouldst thou have remission of sin? Consider of God as a God with whom there is plenty of redemption or forgiveness. Wouldst thou have ease in any misery and grief? Consider of Him as a Father of all mercy and consolation, when thou comest to Him; this strengthens faith, and inflames affection. We seek things more securely, when we know them to be where we are looking for them; and we follow them more affectionately, when (so to speak) we see them before us.

2. Even true believers have great want of heavenly wisdom. They have it in a certain measure; but fall far short of what may be attained.(1) Let us labour to find this want in ourselves, and to see our folly, that we may be made wise.(2) Let us not be dismayed by our lack of wisdom. Things are not begun and perfected at once. Wisdom must rise from one degree to another in us.

3. We need light as well as wisdom. To have inward faculty of seeing is one thing: to have outward light, by means of which to see, is another. Light must come to light before we can see; the light in the eye must meet with the outward light of the sun, or a candle, or some other lightsome body, or nothing is perceived: so the light of wisdom which is in the soul must have shining to it this light of revelation, which makes manifest things spiritual; or else, be our sight never so quick, we shall be environed with darkness. The Spirit, therefore, is fitly compared with fire, which has not only heat resolving numbness and making stiff joints active, but also has light grateful to the eye of the body: so the Spirit has both love which warms our frozen hearts and affections, and also this light of revelation which delights the eye of the understanding and manifests heavenly things to its view.

4. It is God, by the Spirit of Christ, who works in us all true wisdom. It is not pregnancy of natural wit that can make us wise unto salvation, nor ripeness of years: but "the inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding." Yet we do attain ripeness of wisdom, under God, by the due use of means.(1) One day teacheth another. As a man grows older, he ought to grow wiser.(2) He tastes, as we say, many waters; finding by experience the good in some things, the evils in others.(3) He becomes gradually weaned from his youthful lusts which, like a back bias, drew after themselves the understanding. We see, then, to whom we must give all thanks for whatever wisdom we have received, and to whom we must fly for the increase of it — even to God, who gives it plentifully, and upbraideth not.

(Paul Bayne.)

Author of, The Harvest of a Quiet Eye.
What does the philosophy of the Agnostic for the despairs of the sinking human soul? Hear the sad summing up of one of the votaries of the cold wisdom of the world, which "knows not God." It is that of Professor Clifford, dying early, with this sad word on his lips, "My researches have revealed to me a soulless universe, looked down upon by a godless heaven."

(Author of "The Harvest of a Quiet Eye.)

"See how much they think of me!" said a lantern to some dips that were hanging, on a nail close by. "The master says he doesn't know what he should do without me these dark nights." "No doubt," said the candle; "but he'd sing a different song if it weren't for one of us inside of you. Did it never occur to you, friend, that you wouldn't be of the least use to anybody if our light didn't shine through you?"

(Mrs. Prosser.)

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened
The special grace here prayed for is illumination.

I. THE EYE IS THE MOST EXCELLENT ORGAN OF SENSE. In a clear eye, the looker sees his own image; so God, in a sanctified understanding, sees a limited resemblance of His infinite Self. God has set two lids to defend the corporal eye from annoyance; and, in like manner, He has given faith and hope, to shelter the understanding.

1. The situation of this spiritual eye is in the soul. God, framing man's soul, planted in it two faculties: the superior, that is the understanding, which perceiveth and judgeth; the inferior, that is the will, which being informed of the other, accordingly follows or flies, chooseth or refuseth. The Scripture, favouring the simplest capacity, compares these two powers of the soul to two known parts of the body: the understanding to the eye, the affections to the foot — the eye directing, the foot walking. Every man is naturally born blind and lame: as Zedekiah, captivated to the king of Babylon; first they "put out his eyes" (2 Kings 25:7), and then they lamed his feet with fetters of brass. So is every man by nature, and therefore easily made a slave to the king of infernal Babylon, if the mercy of Christ should not redeem him. This consideration reacheth forth to us two uses; the one of instruction, the other of reprehension: —(1) This teacheth us to desire in the first place the enlightening of our eyes; and then after, the strengthening of our feet.(2) This reprehends a common fashion of many auditors. When the preacher begins to analyse his text, and to open the points of doctrine, to inform the understanding, they lend him very cold attention. Your affections are stirred in vain without a precedent illumination of your souls. You must know to do before you can do what you know. And indeed he that attends only to exhortation, and not to instruction, seems to build more upon man's zeal than God's Word.

2. I come from the situation to the qualification of this spiritual eye: "enlightened." For this blessing the apostle prays to the "Father of lights, from whom comes every good and perfect gift" (James 1:17): from Him, and from Him only, comes this grace of illumination. I cannot leave this excellent organ, the eye, till I have showed you two things:

(1)The danger of spiritual blindness;

(2)The means to cure it.Spiritual blindness shall appear the more perilous, if we compare it with natural. The body's eye may be better spared than the soul's; as to want the eyes of angels is far worse than to want the eyes of beasts. The want of corporal sight is often good, not evil: evil in the sense, and good in the consequence. He may the better intend heavenly things, that sees no earthly to draw him away. Many a man's eye hath done him hurt (Genesis 6:4). Besides, the bodily blind feels and acknowledgeth his want of sight; but the spiritually blind thinks that none have clearer eyes than himself. He that wants corporal eyes blesseth them that see; this man derides and despiseth them (John 9:41). The blind in body is commonly led either by his servant, or his wife, or his dog: there may be yet some respect in these guides. But the blind in soul is led by the world, which should be his servant, is his traitor. Now the means to clear this eye is to get it a knowledge of God, of ourselves. That the eye may be cured, this knowledge must be procured. Now God must be known by His works, His word, and His Spirit.

II. We have now done with the organ of seeing, the understanding, or soul's eye: let us come to THE OBJECT TO BE SEEN, "the hope of His calling, and the riches of the glory of God's inheritance in the saints." The object is clear and transparent to a sanctified eye. The philosophers propound six necessary occurrences to our perfect seeing; and you shall see them all here met: —

1. Firmness or good disposition of the organ that seeth. A rolling eye beholds nothing perfectly. A Dinah's eye is the prologue to a ravished soul.

2. The spectacle must be objected to the sight: the eye cannot pierce into penetralia terrae, or sublimia caeli; nor can the understanding see into these supernatural joys, unless the Lord object them to it. Hence it is that many neglectfully pass by (sine lumine lumen) the light, for want of eyes to regard it.

3. That there be a proportional distance betwixt the organ and the object: neither too near, nor too far off. A bright thing held too near the sight confounds it: be it never so bright, if too far off, it cannot discern it. God hath sweetly ordered and compounded this difference. Those everlasting joys are not close by our eyes, lest the glory should swallow us up; for mortal eyes cannot behold immortal things, nor our corruptible sight see steadfastly that eternal splendour.

4. It is required that the objected matter be substantial; not altogether diaphanous and transparent, but massy, and of a solid being. But this object here proposed is no empty chimera, or imaginary, translucent, airy shadow, but substantial: "the hope of God's calling, and a glorious inheritance"; which though nature's dull eye cannot reach, faith's eye sees perfectly.

5. Clearness of space betwixt the organ and the object; for the interposition of some thick and gross body prevents the faculty of the eye. The quickest eye cannot see through hills; and a crass cloud is able to hide the sun from us at noonday.

6. Lastly, the object must be stable and firm, for if it move too swiftly, it dazzleth the eye, and cannot be truly (according to the perfect form of it) beholden.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

Already, as believers in Christ, we are entitled in Him to all the spiritual blessing and Divine fulness laid up in Him; but for a fuller revelation of Him and of them the apostle prays. If we may use an illustration, it is as if a man were taken during the night to some lofty eminence shrouded in darkness and mystery. Suppose him surrounded on every side by a landscape of surpassing beauty and glory as yet unseen. But presently the morning dawns, the sun arises, the shadows flee away, the mists disperse in all directions, rolling up the mountain side in curling wreaths, and disclosing to the man's delighted vision the glories of the inheritance that unfolds itself. Such is the case before the apostle's mind.

(M. Rainsford. B. A.)

To grow up in the acknowledging of Christ is the way to attain fuller measure of the Spirit in every kind. Everything which respects life or godliness is said to begiven us through the knowledge or acknowledging of Christ. When we first come to know Him as the truth is in Him, we partake according to our measure in His Spirit; when we grow to behold Him as in a mirror or glass, more clearly, we are turned into the same glorious image by the Spirit of the Lord more and more; when we shall see Him and know Him evidently and fully, we shall be as He is. The more we know Him, the more fully He dwells in us, the more we enjoy the influence of His Spirit; even as this bodily sun, the nearer it approaches to us, the more we have the light and heat of it.

1. They whose spiritual sight is restored, have need still to depend upon God, that their eyes may be more and more enlightened by Him. As it is with bodily sicknesses, when we recover from them, health comes not all at once, but by ounces (as we say): so in spiritual. When God raises us up from our death, we neither are fully sanctified, nor yet fully enlightened; it is with us as with the blind man (Mark 8:24); we see, but confusedly and indistinctly. Now this enlightening comprehends these four things, which we have still need to ask God for.(1) The removal of those things which impede our sight. Mists of ignorance. Clouds of lust. Veils of hardness of heart.(2) The inward light of knowledge augmented in us.(3) The light of revelation.(4) A direction and application of the mind's eye, to behold spiritual things. If the natural man and all his faculties move in God, much more the spiritual. God is said to make the eye seeing, and the ear hearing; i.e., not only to create them, but govern and apply them to what they do; otherwise we might be like Hagar, not seeing that which was before our eyes. Even as it is not so much the eye that sees, as the soul in and by the eye, whence it is that if the mind be abstracted in serious thought, men see not that which is before them; so it is not so much the eye of our understanding, as the Spirit of Christ, which is the soul of all the Body Mystical, which causes sight in us.

2. Even true believers know not at first, in any measure, those hopes which are kept in heaven for them.(1) The reason why these hopes are not fully known is partly because of their excellence, and the abundant light which is in them.(2) The weak sight of younglings in Christianity, is not proportioned and fitted as yet to so high an object as this. Bring the light of a candle near to the natural babe, and it cannot endure to look up against it.(3) Even as children are so taken up with their childish affairs, that they cannot bring themselves to the serious consideration of more important matters; so believers are long so carnally affected that they cannot set themselves steadily to this contemplation.(4) As those possessed of valuable earthly goods are surrounded by crafty companions who will keep them from knowing the value of things belonging to them; so the devil tries hard to keep us hoodwinked this way.

3. There is no grounded hope, but of such things as God has called us to obtain.(1) This calling is such a revealing of His grace within our heart, as makes us come to Him and follow Him for the obtaining of life through Christ.(2) To those called, God reveals His will. We may know that we are called if our hearts answer God, and our wills respond to the indications of His will.

4. The inheritance kept for us is abundantly glorious. We are passing through this vale of misery to an excellent eternal weight of glory. Let this draw up our hearts. Riches and glory, what do they not with mortal men? But, alas, these worldly riches and glorious dignities are but pictures, not having the substance of what they show for. Men will sue upon their knees to recover small inheritances on earth. While time lasts, seek this inheritance. Let us think what a heart break it is to a man when he finds that by some default he has forfeited some earthly matters which he might have held had he been wary; but what a grief and confusion will this cause, when men shall see that through carelessness they have lost an everlasting inheritance of glory which they might have attained. There is but one life between us and possession; why should we be so negligent as we are?

5. It is to the saints that this inheritance belongs — those who are not only cleansed from the guilt of dead works, but by the Spirit of Christ renewed to true holiness.(1) See how those deceive themselves who expect to be saved, but love not holiness; who love to live after their ignorance and lusts, and mock at men who will not run to the same excess of riot that they do. Know this, that just as wise men will not leave their substance to the children of an adulteress, so God will never give thee the inheritance of glory while thou continuest a child of this world, loving nothing so much as its pleasures, pomps, and profits.(2) Labour for holiness. True holiness is not a good nature, nor moral justice, nor external profession of religion so far as fits in with our own will. No; where we first renounce our will, there we first begin to be holy. We must strike at the root, by getting purged of sin, and seeking all things from God.

(Paul Bayne.)

I see there is a rendering of the text which runs thus, "The eyes of your heart being enlightened," and it strikes me that this version has about it the appearance of being the correct one, because Divine things are usually better seen by the heart than by the understanding. There are a thousand things which God has revealed which we shall never understand, and yet we can know them by a loving, trustful experience. Our Saviour says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." The purifying of the heart is the enlightening of the spiritual eye. Strange as it may seem, the true eye of the renewed man is seated rather in the heart than in the head: holy affections enable us to see, and as far as possible to understand Divine things.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

This prayer was offered for Christians. He who sees most needs to have his eyes enlightened to see more, for how little as yet of the glory of God have any of us beheld! Even that favoured pilgrim who has been led by the shepherds to the top of Mount Clear, to stand there with telescopic glass and gaze into the glories of Immanuel's land, has yet only commenced to perceive the things which God has prepared for them that love Him. I pray God that if we do already see, we may see more, until our eye shall be so strengthened that the light of the New Jerusalem shall not be too strong for us, but amid the splendour of God which outshines the sun we shall find ourselves at home. But if believers need to have their eyes enlightened, how much more must those who are unconverted. They are altogether blinded, and consequently their need of enlightenment is far greater. They were born blind, and the god of this world takes care yet further to darken their minds. Around them there broods a sevenfold midnight, the gloom of spiritual death. "They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night." O blind eye, may Jesus touch thee!

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Myra used to be entertained by her grandfather, who likened her to a fresh bud, that would soon burst into a flower, and himself to a faded leaf, which was almost ready to fall from the tree. One day, after Myra had taken a pleasant walk with her grandfather, she sat down with her mother, and then they talked together in the following manner: "I wish I had grandfather's eyes, mother! What can you possibly want with the eyes of your grandfather, Myra?" "Oh, if I had his eyes I should see all that he sees when we are walking together; but now I cannot see half as much as he does." — "How is that, when you are young and he is old. He often says that his sight is not what it used to be; and though the Bible is in large print, he is obliged to use spectacles." "Yes, mother, but for all that he can see more than I can." "Tell me what you mean, my child, for I do not understand you." "Why, when we walk out in the fields and lanes, let us look at what we will, he says he sees the goodness of God in everything." "Ah, Myra! it's not grandfather's eyes, but grandfather's faith that you want. Pray to God to open the eyes of your understanding, to give you a heart to love and trust Him, and you will then see Him, not only in all the works of His hand, but in all the events of life."

"I remember once being present," says Captain Basil Hall, "at a meeting of the Geological Society, when a bottle was produced which was said to contain certain zoophytes (delicate water animals, having the form of plants). It was handed round in the first instance among the initiated on the foremost benches, who commented freely with one another on the forms of the animals in the fluid: but when it came to our hands, we could discover nothing in the bottle but the most limpid fluid, without any trace, so far as our eyes could make out, of animals dead or alive, the whole appearing absolutely transparent. The surprise of the ignorant at seeing nothing was only equal to that of the learned, who saw so much to admire. Nor was it till we were specifically instructed what it was we were to look for, and the shape, size, and general aspect of the zoophytes pointed out, that our understandings began to cooperate with our eyesight in peopling the fluid, which, up to that moment, had seemed perfectly uninhabited. The wonder then was, how we could possibly have omitted seeing objects now so palpable." How many are the things which appear to the illuminated Christian to be palpably revealed, which the unconverted cannot discover to have any place at all in the Scriptures of Truth; and how very much surprised does he feel, that he could ever have at any former time overlooked them!

(F. F. Trench.)

What is the hope of His calling
Dwell for a moment on —

1. The ground of this hope. His calling! May He not do as He will with His own?

2. The grace of this hope. "The God of all grace has called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus" (1 Peter 5:10). When the Lord Jesus Christ "called blind Bartimeus" (Matthew 20:32), He also "commanded him to be called" (Mark 10:29); and He further commanded him to be brought unto Him (Luke 18:40). And thus it was with our apostle himself. "It pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me" (Galatians 1:15).

3. The objects of this hope. "Whom He did foreknow, them He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified" (Romans 8:29, 30).

4. The subject of this hope. "Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus" (Colossians 1:27, 28).

(M. Rainsford, B. A.)

This may be taken either in the sense of the hope which God inspires into the hearts of His people, by the Spirit; or it may be taken for the object of hope. In either case it is scriptural, and might be suitable in this passage; the first includes the second, for when that hope which the Spirit inspires is given to the heart, the "hope laid up for it in heaven" is the object of its anticipation. I therefore take this as being the fullest sense: as the hope to which He calls His people, that is the hope which those who are called by the Lord are privileged to possess and enjoy. God works in the mind, through the medium of its natural feelings. Hope is the great, animating principle of all human conduct. Hope is the expectation of a good to be attained, founded on a belief that we can attain it.

I. THE NATURE OF GOD'S CALLING.

1. It is a calling to peace (Colossians 3:15).

2. Through peace to hope. Called to inherit a blessing, and so to hope for the inheritance (1 Peter 3:9).

3. It is a sure calling. Those who are called by the Spirit of God are never left to perish.

II. WHAT IS THE HOPE FOUNDED UPON THIS?

1. It is a hope that springs from faith. Founded on the belief of the truth — the only sure foundation.

2. A sober hope, drawn from the source of God's truth. The hope of the gospel.

(R. J. McGhee, M. A.)

I. WHAT IS TO SEEN AND KNOWN ACCORDING TO THE TEXT? Three "whats."

1. What is the hope of His calling? Brethren, let me describe the hope of those of us who have come out to walk by faith in Christ Jesus. We have already obtained enough abundantly to reward us for obedience to the call, and even if nothing were shut up in the closed hand of Hope, her open hand has greatly enriched us. Christian man, you have in possession already the forgiveness of your sin, acceptance in Christ, adoption into the Divine family, and the nature, rank, and rights of a child of God. Still our main possession lies in hope. We carry a bag of spending money in our hands, but the bulk of our wealth is deposited in the Bank of Hope. What then is the Christian's hope?(1) He hopes and believes that he shall be under Divine protection forever and ever, that he shall be the object of Divine love time out of mind, and when time shall be no more. He expects a stormy voyage, but because Christ is at the helm he hopes to come to the fair havens at the last. Sustained by this hope he dreads no labours and fears no difficulties.(2) We hope also, and have good ground for it, that after death at the day of judgment we shall have, as we believe we have now, a perfect justification.(3) We hope also for absolute perfection. The God who has changed our hearts will continue the good work of sanctification till He has taken every sin out of us, every desire for sin, every possibility of sin.(4) We hope also that this body of ours will be perfected. Raised — changed, but still the same as to identity. Perpetual youth.(5) We hope that being thus cleared in judgment and made thus absolutely perfect, we shall forever enjoy infinite happiness. We do not know what form the joys of eternity will take, but they will take such form as shall make us the most happy.(6) Nor even now have we come to an end, for something more yet remains. You say, "Can more be?" Yes, we expect forever to be in a condition of power, and honour, and relationship to God. This is the hope of our calling.

2. What are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints?(1) He has spent riches of love upon them, for He loves them, poor as they are, and sick and sorry as they often are.(2) Moreover, the Lord has spent a wealth of wisdom on His saints. This enhances their value in His eyes.(3) He has expended a life of suffering upon them.(4) There comes great glory to God from the workmanship which He puts into His people. An artisan can put into a small piece of iron, of no worth at all, so much labour that it shall be valued at scores of pounds, and the Triune God can expend so much workmanship upon our poor nature that a man shall be more precious than the gold of Ophir. Valued thus, the Lord may well speak of "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints."

3. What is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe? Now, learn ye this and know it — that in the conversion, preservation, and salvation of any one person God exhibits as great power as He manifested when He raised Jesus Christ from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places. The salvation of no man in the world is by his own strength. It is by the power of God, "for we are His workmanship."

II. WHY WE WISH YOU TO SEE AND KNOW ALL THIS.

1. That you may not neglect it, nor set anything in competition with it.

2. That you may see where your hope lies. Not in being your own any more, but in being the Lord's. If you are His, He will take care of you.

3. That you may not doubt, or despond, or despair, but cast yourselves before the incarnate God, and let Him save you.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

1. The source of spiritual enlightenment is God.

2. The agency is that of the Holy Spirit.

3. The end sought is the owning of the glory of God. For the marginal reading seems preferable here. "For the acknowledgment" of God, that in this whole matter He may be known, owned, glorified, is this prayer for the enlightenment of His people offered. But now, what is it that in terms of this apostolic prayer we are thus to know? Three things are specified, embracing three aspects of the religious life.

I. "WHAT IS THE HOPE OF HIS CALLING." The hopefulness of God's calling; what hope there is in it; how full of hope it is.

1. Consider who it is who calls, and in what character. God, in the character of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory; the God who gives grace and glory.

2. Consider who are called. Men; all men, such as they are.

3. Consider the nature of this calling.(1) The calling of God is hopeful; there is hope in it for sinners, because it is on the one hand absolutely free, and on the other hand peremptorily sovereign and commanding.(2) The calling of God is hopeful, because it is on the one hand earnest, in the way of persuasion; and on the other hand effectual, as implying a Divine work of renewal in the will within,(3) The calling of God is hopeful, because it is, on the one hand righteous, and on the other hand holy: righteous, as proceeding upon provision made for the righteousness of God, the righteousness of His character and government being maintained without compromise; holy, as making provision for our becoming personally righteous — upright, pure, holy.

4. There is hope in this calling of God; as being on the one hand sure on His part, and on the other hand capable of being made sure on our part.

II. "WHAT ARE THE RICHES OF THE GLORY OF HIS INHERITANCE IS THE SAINTS"; its rich glory; its glorious richness. God takes us to be His inheritance.

III. "AND WHAT IS THE EXCEEDING GREATNESS OF HIS POWER TO USWARD WHO BELIEVE." That is the third thing to be known. And here the apostle gives us a measure. It is "according to the working," etc. It is a measure of amazing compass. It is nothing short of this, that you who believe may rely and reckon upon the power of God as available on your behalf, to the full extent of its exercise on behalf of Christ; in His victory over death, His resurrection to life, His ascension to the right hand of God, and His investiture with dominion over all. Application:

1. The knowledge for which Paul prays is altogether Divine; coming from a Divine source, through a Divine agency, for a Divine end. It is meant to be a knowledge both assured and assuring. But it cannot be so unless these conditions of it are duly observed.

2. The highest point in this threefold knowledge of God is the centre, and that implies your being His saints, His holy ones. It must be as His holy ones that you reach and realize the knowledge of the riches of the glory of His inheritance in you. Let no false humility come in here.

3. The exceeding greatness of God's power is put forth in your exercising faith: it is "to usward who believe."

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

What the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints
Among men there is possession and inheritance, in beings as in things. The husband has a portion in his wife, and parents have a portion in their children. "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord." And, according to the text, God has His inheritance in the saints. He who is the first cause of all things owns all things, and all things are His inheritance, and as part of this vast possession, living beings are God's peculiar treasure. That God has an inheritance in the things which He has made, is a fact asserted sometimes by Himself (Psalm 50:10-12; Psalm 127:3; Exodus 19:5; Haggai 2:8; Job 41:11, etc.) The redeemed of mankind — men, women, children — are God's estate, His riches, His wealth.

1. God's inheritance in the saints is possession of the highest kind. That which lives is superior to that which is inanimate. That which is moral and religious in its constitution is superior to that which is without moral sensibility. And the highest and best beings are they which are most like to God, possessing His image and wearing His likeness. God's inheritance in the worlds upon worlds which He has made is inferior to His inheritance in the saints.

2. God's inheritance in the saints is His own original possession. It is underived from any ancestor. He never was heir to it; He holds it in no succession. The saints are His from the beginning, and His alone.

3. While the saints are God's inheritance naturally, He has a second or double title to the possession (Exodus 15:16; Psalm 74:2; Ephesians 1:14; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20, etc.). The sick child lifted up from the gates of death is a special inheritance to the mother who has fondly nursed it. The prodigal son restored to his father is a special inheritance to the parent, whose life was a blank until the lost one was found. A forgiven transgressor, an ungodly man justified, a bad man regenerated, a man in a second sense God's child, is His peculiar treasure.

4. This inheritance, looked at from the God side and from the heaven side, is a rich and glorious inheritance. Considered from the human and earthly side, the possession is very poor. What can we see in ourselves that can make God rich? But God considers Himself rich and exalted and renowned, in being able to say of His saints, "They are mine." The state of God's heart toward His inheritance makes it appear to Himself as rich and glorious. We have seen that God has a rich and glorious inheritance in the saints.Upon this fact we proceed to make a few practical observations.

1. If God have a rich and glorious inheritance in the saints, He will claim it. He will not leave it alone, as though it did not belong to Him, or as though it were worthless. And God does claim it. He claims it by the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking in the hearts of the saints. He claims it by the Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God. He claims His inheritance by His work upon it. He claims it by His providence over it. He claims it by His conduct, when this inheritance is defiled or given to another. He claims it by frequently reminding His saints that they are not their own.

2. If God have a rich and glorious inheritance in His saints, He will take care of His possession. All the looking to and attention and regard and oversight, which it requires for its safety and prosperity, cannot but be bestowed. And this care will partake of all the qualities of His own nature. It will be independent care, almighty care, righteous care, loving care, sufficient care, perfect care.

3. If God have a rich and glorious inheritance in His saints, He will make use of that inheritance. The little in God's hand shall produce more, and the more much, and the much a greater abundance. Christians are not senseless ornaments in God's house, but servants.

4. If God have a rich and glorious inheritance in His saints, He must take pleasure in it. Although this delight may be disturbed by sin and by sorrow, without doubt it exists with no variableness or the shadow of turning.

5. If God have a rich and glorious inheritance in His saints, He will not forsake it. His natural and His special title to it, His having claimed it, His use of it, and care for it, and delight in it, are all so many reasons for retaining it. And He has the capacity and ability to retain it. The inheritance which husbands and wives have in each other, is an inheritance which by reason of death fades away. The inheritance which parents have in children, is one which by reason of death in some cases, of removal from home in other cases, and of other circumstances, either partially or entirely fades away. But in this case the heritor lives, and the inheritance itself is everlasting. And while He lives He changes not.

6. If God have a rich and glorious inheritance in His saints, and if He claim His inheritance, care for it, make use of it, and take pleasure in it, and if He will not forsake it, the saints themselves should think and feel and speak and act and live in harmony with this position. They who come suddenly into a fortune, or rise unexpectedly to a high social position, do not at first see and understand all that is required of them. And thus the appreciation of their position by the saints is a gradual experience.

7. If God have His inheritance in the saints, we ought to esteem it highly, and to cherish a living and loving care for it. Christians should care for themselves, because they are not their own, and should care for themselves for God's sake. To defile or degrade or debase themselves, or to waste their energies, is to defile and debase and waste the inheritance of God. What motives are here to the cherishing of purity and righteousness and Christ-likeness! And how careful should saints be of each other!

(S. Martin, D. D.)

Our inheritance in God is Christ, life, righteousness, peace, fulness, acceptance, Fatherhood, grace, and glory! But what can we say of His inheritance in us? Only this. That it is by His saints God intends to make known to principalities and powers in heavenly places His manifold wisdom, tenderness, long suffering, patience, and the boundless and inexhaustible abundance of His mercies and pardoning love. For even as this dark world needs the sun, so doth the sun need a world such as ours to shine upon, else his fulness of light and quickening, gladdening power would be unrevealed. And as the fulness of the earth sets forth the beauty and resources of the sun, so shall His vessels of mercy and His monuments of grace set forth the glory of our God. You may remember God speaks of His people as His "garden." The figure is very instructive and very beautiful. What our gardens are to the sun, God's children are to Him. As each flower attracts and absorbs the sun's rays, receiving and reflecting his light and heat, and giving forth fragrance and fruit according to its nature, absorbing some rays and reflecting others, but all together setting forth in a variety of tints and shades, and fragrance and fruit, the infinite fulness and beauty of the light in which they dwell, — even so it shall be by and by when "the Sun of Righteousness arises on us with healing in His wings." Each saint shall reflect some blessed aspect of His fulness of grace and glory. One shall set forth His patience, another His tenderness, another His faithfulness, another His strength, another His fulness, another His fruitfulness, another His loving kindness and tender mercies, but all together shall show forth the praises of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvellous light.

(M. Rainsford, B. A.)

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