Ephesians 1:8
Redemption is a large and exclusive term, implying deliverance from sin, Satan, and death. It includes, not the mere remission of sins, which is, however, the primary element in it; nor the mere adoption, though that is the consequence of it - for "we are redeemed that we may receive the adoption of sons" (Galatians 4:4), but the completed sanctification of our souls and the consummated redemption of our bodies. The price of redemption is the blood of him who is here described as "the Beloved."

I. THE REDEMPTION IS NOT, ANY MORE THAN THE ADOPTION, EFFECTED BY THE INCARNATION, BUT BY THE DEATH OF CHRIST. More was needed for redemption than the mere birth of the Redeemer, else he need not have died. Therefore we preach, not the person of Christ, nor the child born, but Christ crucified, "the wisdom of God, and the power of God." Some lay stress upon his life rather than upon his death. But the one righteousness on the ground of which we are justified, consists at once of the obedience of his life and of the sufferings of his death. Our Savior was our Substitute both in life and in death. Yet Scripture assigns the greater prominence to the death. We are "bought with a price;" "We are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ." Not only is redemption set forth objectively in Christ's person, because he is of God made unto us "redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30), but the ransom price is definitively described as "his blood," considered as the reality of the ancient sacrifices and as procuring the full salvation which they only figured forth.

II. THE REDEMPTION IS NOT A MERE MORAL RENOVATION. Some divines say the work of redemption is wholly subjective, its sole aim being the moral transformation of the sinner, or the rooting of sin out of the soul. They say, indeed, that no such thing as remission of sin is possible, except through the previous extirpation of sin itself. But, according to Scripture, redemption includes everything necessary to salvation, both the change of condition and the change of character - both justification and sanctification. And both these come to us in virtue of Christ's blood. If nothing was required for salvation but the exercise of spiritual power upon us, no person need have come from the bosom of the Godhead, and there need have been no crucifixion. The double aspect of Christ's death is presented in such passages as these: "He bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness" (1 Peter 2:24); "He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14, 15). That is, his ultimate design is to deliver us from sin itself. But the moral power of the cross depends upon those substantial objective benefits which it procures for us. On the theory of some modern divines, the redemption cannot extend to Old Testament saints at all, for they have not seen the manifestation of Divine self-sacrificing love which we have seen in the cross.

III. IT IS A REDEMPTION STILL IN PROGRESS. The original word implies this - "we are having" this redemption. Naturalistic writers give us a dead Christ. But we have a living Savior who, because he was crucified once, is dead no more, but "ever liveth to make intercession for us." He is now carrying on in heaven the work of our redemption. The Holy Spirit applies to us all its blessings, and seals us unto the day of redemption. - T.C.







Wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.
I. From the words before us, the first observation we would make is THAT THE GRACE OF GOD IN REDEMPTION IS ABUNDANT GRACE — "Wherein He hath abounded toward us." The term here used corresponds exactly with the idea expressed by the previous phrase, "the riches of His grace." God is "rich in mercy" and "great in love." By the abundant grace of God, and by that alone, are sinners saved. Riches or wealth is a relative thing, having relation to the individual's actual wants and necessities, amid which he is placed. It is, in fact, that which is over and above, or which superabounds or overflows, after all actual wants have been supplied. From the greatness of the sacrifice which the grace of God made in order to our redemption, even the sacrifice of His own Son, we obtain a grand demonstration of the abundance of that grace, or its overflowing riches. In its original exercise — within the scope of those demands on its treasures which unsullied excellence makes — there is no need for any such sacrifice, but, on the contrary, it seems nothing but natural and every way easy and cheap, so to speak, for God to love and bless the lovely and the perfect. But, as it often happens that the prodigal son in a family costs his parents far more that all the rest in reclaiming him to the ways of decency and propriety, which they never forsook, and the strength of the parental love is tried and proved not so much by the ordinary exercise of it to the decent and well-ordered children of the household, as by its measures of an extraordinary kind in such an exceptional case as that referred to; so, in the redemption of lost sinners, we behold not merely grace, but riches of grace, in the amazing length to which it has gone, to reclaim the wanderers and bring them back to glory. In this, He hath surely given proof of an abundant grace, which is nowhere else to be met with in His vast dominions.

II. In the second place our text speaks of THE REVELATION OR MANIFESTATION OF THIS ABUNDANT GRACE IN AND THROUGH THE GOSPEL — "Abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known unto us the mystery of His will." These words refer, in general, to the outward revelation of His grace which God hath made in the gospel, and also to the inward discovery or apprehension of that grace which God effects in the minds and hearts of believers.

1. How true is it that without an external and positive revelation man could never have attained to any certain or reliable knowledge of God as the Redeemer and Saviour of guilty man! At best the idea of such a God could only have been conjectural, leaving the mind in doubt and fear, since it is met by the opposite idea of God as the avenger of wrong — the punisher of sin.

2. But how true is it, also, that without the illuminations of grace, the Bible itself is of no avail! "The natural man receiveth not the things of God."

3. Hence the line of our duty, as well as privilege, is clearly set before us. Study, then, that word with diligence and prayer; rely on the aids of God's Spirit.

III. In the third place, we may briefly notice the last clause of the passage before us, as again bringing into view THE SOVEREIGN GOOD PLEASURE OF GOD. Here it is yet more strikingly held forth, as the true and original cause of all our mercies. It is described as "His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself."

1. This purpose is one of supreme sovereignty.

2. It is one of infinite benevolence.

3. It is one of all-sufficient power.

(W. Alves, M. A.)

I. THE IMPORTANT TRUTH STATED. God has caused His grace to abound in all wisdom and prudence.

1. In the formation of His plan (Ephesians 1:4-6).

2. In His conduct to us (1 John 4:10; Galatians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 4:7).

3. Suspending His justice in the acceptation of a Divine mediation (1 Timothy 2:5).

4. In the application of His grace (1 Corinthians 1:4).

5. In the instruments employed (1 Corinthians 1:27, 28).

II. THE MEANS OF COMMUNICATING THIS GRACE. "Having made known unto us the mystery of His will."

1. It was eternally concealed in the mind of God, and but faintly promulgated by types (Hebrews 10:1).

2. It is still concealed from many, both heathens and professed Christians (Isaiah 55:2).

3. It has mysteries which the enlarged mind of a Christian has not conceived (Romans 11:33).

4. The Christian feels more than he can express (1 Peter 1:8).

5. All this is made known to the soul by means of preaching (1 Corinthians 1:21).

III. THE REASON OF THIS COMMUNICATION OF GRACE. To show "His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself."

1. In giving us all things necessary to salvation (Ephesians 1:3).

2. The adoption of our souls (Ephesians 1:2).

3. The knowledge of forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7).

4. That His glory should be promoted in us and by us through Christ (Ephesians 1:12).

IV. THE DESIGN OF ALMIGHTY GOD IN THE DISPLAY OF HIS GRACE BY CHRIST. "That He might gather together," etc.

1. It was to collect all God's people (John 11:52).

2. To advance Christ's honour. The one Head (Ephesians 5:23). He is the Head of confirmation to the angels, hence called "elect angels" (1 Timothy 5:21; Ephesians 1:22; 1 Peter 3:22; Hebrews 1:6).

3. The Head of representation to the Church; for the Church died, rose, obeyed, and suffered in Christ, and must finally live with Him (John 14:19).

4. He is the Head of influence; for as all nerves are connected with the brain, there is no motion in the body without this. And without Christ there is no light, exertion, taste, or sensibility (John 1:16).

5. The Spirit acts upon the soul, and shows what Christ has done for His people (John 16:14).

6. The Head of union between Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:16).

V. THE IMPROVEMENT.

1. From this subject we learn that infinite wisdom contrived the plan, and infinite prudence accomplished it.

2. What a high value should believers put upon Christ! For in Him the law and the gospel, the promises and the blessings, God and man, heaven and earth, are united.

3. What a high estimation ought we to have of the blessed gospel of Christ!

4. It shows us that human merit has nothing to do in moving God's good pleasure to save our souls.

5. It further shows us how happy true Christians are privileged to be.

(T. B. Baker.)

I had long wished to be the bearer of life to some condemned cell. My wish was granted me. It was on a Tuesday that a poor sentenced criminal was to be hanged. He was within one day of the fatal drop. But on the Monday, all unexpectedly, I was summoned to take him his life! I had obtained a reprieve for that man — a paper signed by our gracious sovereign giving him back his forfeited life My first thought was, "Where is the train that can bear me swift enough to the cell?" Delay appeared cruel; until, at the very threshold of the prison, I bethought me thus — "How can I tell him? The man will die, so great will be the revulsion. He has died, so to speak. He is dead in law. And he is already in the bitterness of death." So, with life in my hand, I stand before the victim in his cell. His face is wan, his knees feeble, his vacant eyes have no tears. "My poor man, can you read?" "Yes," was the reply. Fearing to break the royal pardon to him too suddenly I added, "Would you like your life?" "Sir," he responds, "do not trifle with me." "But life is sweet — is it not?" "Sir, I would rather you would not speak to me." "But would you not like me to procure your life?" "It is of no use, sir; I'm justly condemned. I'm a dead man." "But the Queen could give you your life." He looks inquiringly at me, but is silent. "Can you read this?" And now those hot eyes are directed down upon the paper. As he intently reads, putting my arm around his shoulders, I say, "There, my poor fellow, there is your life!" No sooner had I uttered the words than, as I expected, he dropped down at my feet. There he lay, as it were, dead! It was more than he could bear.

(J. D. Smith.)

In all wisdom and prudence
1. God gives pardon of sins to none to whom He has not first given wisdom and understanding. We must be made to understand before we can come to Christ. We must look before we can be healed.

2. True wisdom and understanding are gifts of God's grace in Christ Jesus.

(1)Freely bestowed on us.

(2)No other benefit is of greater use.

3. God gives wisdom and understanding plentifully to those whose sins He forgives.

(Paul Bayne.)

The only difficulty in the words is, What is this wisdom and prudence spoken of? Whether it imply the wisdom of God, or the wisdom wrought in us by the Spirit in conversion? Many interpreters go for the last. The former, I suppose, is here meant, which is eminently discovered in the mysteries of the gospel (Romans 11:33, "Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!"). Surely it is not meant of wisdom in us; for how little a portion have we of true and heavenly wisdom. Now, the two words used: wisdom noteth the sublimity of the doctrine of the gospel, and prudence the usefulness of it. That in the dispensation of grace by Christ God hath showed great wisdom and prudence. When His grace overflowed to us, He showed therein not only His goodness, but His wisdom. Now, though we can easily yield to this assertion, yet to make it out needeth more skill. "The manifold wisdom of God" is better seen to angels than to us (Ephesians 3:10). They have more orderly understandings, whereas we are confused and dark. Yet to discover it to you in a few particulars, the grace of the Redeemer may be considered three ways.

1. As to the purchase and impetration of it by the Incarnation and death of the Son of God.

2. The publication of it in the gospel or covenant of grace.

3. The application of it to particular believers. In all these God hath shown great wisdom.

I. AS TO THE PURCHASE AND IMPETRATION OF GRACE BY THE DEATH AND INCARNATION OF THE SON OF GOD.

1. There is wisdom in this, that in our fallen estate we should not come immediately to God without a mediator and reconciler. God is out of the reach of our commerce, being at such a distance from us and variance with us. The wise men of the world pitched on such a way (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6).

2. That this Mediator is God in our nature.

3. That being m our nature, He would set us a pattern of obedience by His holy life; for He lived by the same laws that we are bound to live by.

4. That He should die the death of the cross to expiate our sins.

5. That after His death He should rise from the dead, and ascend into heaven to prove the reality of the life to come.

II. THE PUBLICATION OF IT IN THE GOSPEL OR COVENANT OF GRACE. The wisdom of God is seen —

1. In the privileges offered to us, which are pardon and life.

2. The terms He hath required of us.(1) Faith in Christ. The world thinks faith quits reason, and introduceth fond credulity. No; there is much of the wisdom of God to be seen in it. For faith hath a special aptitude and fitness for this work.(a) Partly in respect of God. For He having designed to glorify His mercy and free grace, and to make our salvation from first to last a mere gift, and the fruit of His love to us, hath appointed faith for the acceptance of this gift (Romans 4:16).(b) As it is fittest to own Christ the Redeemer, the Fountain of life and happiness, and our Head and Husband, whom we receive, and to whom we are united and married by faith.(c) With respect to the promises of the gospel, which offer to us a happiness and blessedness, spiritual, and for the most part future. Unseen things are properly objects of faith, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).(d) It is fittest as to our future obedience, that it may be comfortable and willing. Now, we owning Christ in a way of subjection and dependence, and consenting to become His disciples and subjects, other duties come on the more easily (2 Corinthians 8:5).(2) For repentance. This is the most lively and powerful means of bringing men to new life and blessedness.(a) It is most for the honour of God that we should not be pardoned without submission, confession of past sin, and resolution of future obedience.(b) The duty of the creature is best secured, and the penitent person more bound to future obedience, by the vow itself, or the bond of the holy oath into which he is entered, and the circumstances accompanying it, which surely induce a hatred of sin and a love of holiness.(c) It is most for the comfort of the creature that a stated course of recovering ourselves into the peace and hope of the gospel should be appointed to us, which may leave the greatest sense upon our consciences. Then again, for continuance in the new covenant, and delightful obedience unto God. The remedy is not only suited to the disease, but the duty to the reward. Our duty is to know God and to love Him; and our reward is to see Him, and be like Him (1 John 3:2). There is a marvellous suitableness between the end and means, holiness and happiness, conformity to God, and our communion with Him; the holiness required of us now, and the happiness we expect hereafter; perfect conformity and uninterrupted communion; and they differ only but as the bud and the flower, the river and the ocean; here it is begun, hereafter perfected.

III. IN THE APPLICATION OF HIS GRACE TO PARTICULAR BELIEVERS HE HATH ABOUNDED TOWARDS US IN ALL WISDOM AND PRUDENCE.

1. In the way God taketh to convert souls to Himself, there is a sweet contemperation and mixture of wisdom and power. There is a proposal of truth and good to the understanding and the will, and by the secret power of His grace it is made effectual.

2. In the persuasive and moral way the wisdom of God is seen as taking the most likely course to gain the heart of man, discovering Himself to us as a God of love, kindness, and mercy.

3. In the effect itself, the new creature, which is the wisest creature on this side heaven. To evidence this to you, I shall show you that all wisdom and prudence consisteth in three things —

(1)In fixing a right end.

(2)In the choice of apt and proper means.

(3)In a dexterous effectual prosecution of the end by those means.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

Take the smallest, most insignificant, most unnoticed object in nature — the particle of sand, the blade of grass, the drop of water — the worm, the insect — whatever hides in the crevice of the rock or wheels imperceptible in the eddy of the air — add to these whatever is most vast and stupendous, the mountain, the ocean, the glorious handiwork of the firmament, moons, planets, suns, vibrating in boundless space through their range of sweep and with their precision of revolution, inlaid as in a texture, marshalled as a host; all, when presented to our eye and explained to our reason, exhibit such traces of design, such accuracies of contrivance, such wonders of adaptation. "O Lord! how manifold are Thy works; in wisdom hast Thou made them all." The text speaks of an abounding, a lavish munificence. It is of the exceeding riches of God's grace. With these He is thus infinitely profuse. But there is nothing of an ill-considered waste Wisdom and prudence are seen in the supply of adequate means, in providing for probable difficulties, in guarding against probable abuses. Glorious are the gifts; but their right application is jealously secured. This wisdom and prudence are manifested —

I. BY SHOWING WITH EQUAL DISTINCTNESS THE DIVINE JUSTICE AND MERCY. These are not rival attributes, nor can they have needed reconciliation. Justice does not arrest the hand of mercy; mercy does not restrain the hand of Justice. Neither is the more prompt or slow; neither is the more earnest or jealous. An infinite placability is anterior to the exercises of both. God is not merciful because Christ has died, but Christ has died because God is merciful. Is justice the first care of His government? Mercy is earlier in its purpose than any government. In Redemption they are mutually administrative. "To declare His righteousness in the remission of sin." They act with no partiality; they come into no collision. The impression on the believing sinner's mind must correspond. It might be that in another proportion of these attributes our mental balance would have been endangered. This Wisdom and Prudence promote the state of mind we describe.

II. BY EXHIBITING THE INCARNATE SON OF GOD AS ALIKE THE OBJECT OF LOVE AND ADORATION. That Christ should be made flesh was necessary to His becoming an atonement, scarcely less that He might be the way by which we understand and approach the Divinity. He was thus made like unto us. Blessed admixture of emotions! It is tenderness, it is gratitude, it is complacency, without a lowering thought; it is humiliation, it is subjection, it is homage, without a disconcerting fear! The gospel in its wisdom and prudence produces this moral adjustment of our principles and feelings.

III. BY INSISTING MOST UNIFORMLY ON DIVINE GRACE AND HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY. In its treatment of man the doctrine it preaches is most abasing to him, but only because it represents the true facts of his case. It does not lay him low, but shows how low he lies. This state of mind is secured —

IV. BY THE PROPOSAL OF THE FREEST TERMS OF ACCEPTANCE, AND THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE MOST UNIVERSAL PRACTICE OF OBEDIENCE. The reign of grace, though its very name supposes that it acts in consistency with moral government, necessarily must be brought to the simplest idea of gift and its acceptance. It is "the gift by grace." This medium, so true to the wisdom and prudence of the Christian system, is maintained —

V. BY INSPIRING THE MOST ELEVATED JOY IN CONNECTION WITH THE DEEPEST SELF-ABHORRENCE. There is the joy of faith. Do we not sit with Christ in heavenly places? Have we not come to the heavenly Jerusalem? These are gratulations and hopes which fall little short of ecstasy. But lest we should be exalted above measure, there is ever present to us our fallen nature, our long unconversion, our indwelling corruption, our strange perverseness, our slow proficiency; our ungrateful, deceitful, unbelieving heart. God has forgiven, but we cannot forgive ourselves. We will go softly all our years in the bitterness of our soul. We remember our ways and are ashamed. We are confounded, sad will not open our mouth when He is pacified toward us. It is not fear. It is not abject sorrow. It is the struggle of alternate dispositions. That mean of feeling, which is equidistant from extremes, is preserved —

VI. BY DISPLAYING THE DIFFERENT CONDUCT PURSUED BY THE DEITY TOWARDS SIN AND THE SINNER. This congruity of conflicting sentiments is upheld —

VII. BY COMBINING THE GENUINE HUMILITY OF THE GOSPEL WITH OUR DIGNITY AS CREATURES AND OUR CONSCIENTIOUSNESS AS SAINTS. This mellowed habit of mind is supported —

VIII. BY CAUSING ALL SUPERNATURAL INFLUENCE TO OPERATE THROUGH OUR RATIONAL POWERS AND BY INTELLIGENT MEANS. The principle of life is subtle and unscanned. But after its kind, it is always developed in the same succession of fixed, classified, manifestations. The intellectual, the highest, life follows the same law. It is known by its respective conditions. It is always and in every place, without forgetting the degrees of its expansion, the same. Having found one such creature, you have a general knowledge of all. But it is a very primary doctrine of revelation, that the work of a sinner's salvation involves the necessity that he be enlightened and puff. fled by a power from on high. The wisdom and prudence of the gospel discover themselves in this respect.

IX. BY RESTING OUR EVIDENCE OF SAFETY AND SPIRITUAL WELFARE UPON PERSONAL VIRTUES. Moreover, to save the mind from those violent alternations to which it tends, the religion of Christ asserts its wisdom and prudence.

X. BY SUPPLYING THE ABSENCE OF ENSLAVING FEAR WITH SALUTARY CAUTION.

XI. THE ACTUAL EXISTENCE OF OUR DEPRAVED NATURE, AND THE WORK OF SANCTIFICATION IN US PRESSING FORWARD TO ITS MATURITY, TEND TO THAT REGULATED TEMPERAMENT OF MIND WHICH WE URGE.

XII. AND CERTAIN VIEWS OF PERSONAL CONDUCT ARE SO COUPLED IN THE GOSPEL WITH THE NOBLEST VIEWS OF GRACE, THAT ANY IMPROPER WARPING OF OUR MINDS IS COUNTERACTED. The works of believers are rewardable. God accepteth them and is pleased with them. He is glorified in themselves. Promise of a return or recompense is made to their acts, partly growing out of the quality of those acts, but chiefly as actual additions of happiness. He is not unrighteous to forget the work of faith and the labour of love. He covenants with us. We, knowing His word and trusting His assurance, may always have respect unto this recompense of reward. But do we boast? Is it not a constitution of grace which alone could render our deeds praiseworthy and remunerable? which can speak to us, Well done? Is it not a new, independent, and most merciful consideration and treatment of our moral agency? It is the work of God by which we exclusively can work the works of God.

XIII. WHILE THE DISTINCTIVE BLESSINGS AND HONOURS OF THE CHRISTIAN MIGHT TEND TO ELATE HIM, HE IS AFFECTED BY THE MOST OPPOSITE MOTIVES. The people of God! The sons of God! Kings and priests unto God! This can only awaken the more ardent gratitude and more profound humility. The cause of choice is not in themselves. If intimation is ever given of the cause, it is the greater sinfulness of the object. It is some design to illustrate the freeness and power of grace in restoring the most wretched outcast. And who is this restored one, that he should glory in himself? He is the undeserving subject of all. He is a brand plucked out of the fire. He is the chief of sinners. This is his utmost praise and claim, "Howbeit I obtained mercy." He owes, he must still owe, he must owe forever! God abounds in this wisdom and prudence towards us, and thus unites our hearts.

XIV. BY MOST STRONGLY ABSTRACTING US FROM THE THINGS OF EARTH, AND YET GIVING US THE DEEPEST INTEREST IN ITS RELATIONS AND ENGAGEMENTS.

(R. W. Hamilton, D. D.)

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