Ephesians 2:12
remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
Sermons
A Solemn DeprivalCharles Haddon Spurgeon Ephesians 2:12
Dark DepthsW.F. Adeney Ephesians 2:12
Having no HopeT. Guthrie, D. D.Ephesians 2:12
Hope AbandonedEphesians 2:12
Hopefulness and SteadfastnessJoseph Parker, D. D.Ephesians 2:12
Hopes for Eternity, What They Rest OnT. Guthrie, D. D.Ephesians 2:12
Life Without ChristJ. Vaughan, M. A.Ephesians 2:12
Mournful IgnoranceT. Guthrie, D. D.Ephesians 2:12
Practical AtheismW. Nevins, D. D.Ephesians 2:12
Spiritual MiseryPaul Bayne.Ephesians 2:12
The Christless StateC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 2:12
The Misery of Being Without GodT. Watson.Ephesians 2:12
The Religious Position of the HeathenT. Croskery Ephesians 2:12
Without ChristBishop Ryle.Ephesians 2:12
Without ChristEphesians 2:12
Without GodPaul Bayne.Ephesians 2:12
Without God in the WorldJohn Foster.Ephesians 2:12
Gospel Reconciliation - its Subjects, Agency, and ResultsD. Thomas Ephesians 2:11-22
The Spiritual TempleR.M. Edgar Ephesians 2:11-22
Union of Jews and Gentiles in the Christian ChurchR. Finlayson Ephesians 2:11-22
The apostle does not speak of the distinguished place of the heathen as to art and science, culture, and worldly civilization in which they far surpassed Israel - but he describes the utter destitution of their religious life by contrast mainly with the privileged superiority of Judaism. The points of contrast are six in number.

I. THEY WERE UNCIRCUMCISED - were "Gentiles in the flesh." Circumcision, according to the apostle, might mean very little or very much. It might mean very much, in so far as it was a "seal of the righteousness of faith" (Romans 4:11) and was a spiritual thing - "the circumcision of the heart" (Romans 2:29), involving "the worship of God in the Spirit, rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3). But it might mean "the circumcision in the letter," after the habit of those Jews who ascribed objective power to the mere external rite, regarding it as a channel of grace, irrespective of the subjective condition of the recipient. It was only in the spiritual sense of the rite that the Gentiles were disadvantaged by their want of it, not only because it meant the obligation of withdrawing all the relations of life from the dominion of nature, but because it implied a covenant union with God, involving the blessings of redemption itself.

II. THEY WERE WITHOUT CHRIST. The Jews were not without him; for "salvation was of the Jews;" Abraham, the first Jew, saw the day of Christ afar off, "and was glad' (John 8:56); the Jews drank, in the wilderness, of the "Rock which was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:4). But the Gentiles were without him, because

(1) they had no knowledge of him;

(2) they had no faith in him;

(3) they had no union with him;

(4) they were therefore

Without pardon, life, grace, hope, and comfort. How dark and cheerless was heathenism even under its reign of culture! It had no experience of the threefold blessing of the gospel - "Christ for us, Christ in us, Christ with us" - the grand totality of Christianity.

III. THEY WERE ALIENS FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF ISRAEL. They were so civilly as well as spiritually, for the Jews had no dealings with Gentiles.

1. The word "aliens points in the original to a lapse from a former unity or fellowship. Universalism characterized the first dispensation of the race of man: deliverance was to come through the Seed of the woman; but when the race took a direction contrary to the will of God and fundamentally wrong, the circle was narrowed into particularism, which in its turn tended toward a universalistic goal, for all nations of the earth are to be blessed in Abraham's seed. Jew and Gentile thus stood apart for ages, till, in the fullness of times," they met at last round the cross of Christ in an act of supreme rebellion, only to be united in Christ forever in the future development of the kingdom of God.

2. Their estrangement from the Israelitish commonwealth was an immense spiritual loss; for to it belonged the oracles of God (Romans 3:2), and "the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises" (Romans 9:4). It was a privilege to belong to a people expecting nothing from their own power or wisdom, but everything from the interposition of their God. It is a great blessing to be born within the pale of the visible Church, so as to partake of her privileges. The Gentiles were outside the whole apparatus of religious instruction provided for the special guidance of the Jews.

IV. THEY WERE STRANGERS TO THE COVENANTS OF PROMISE.

1. The plural reference is to the successive renewals of the covenant with the patriarchs. It was but the one covenant of promise - "the promise made to the fathers" which God fulfilled in "raising up Jesus" (Acts 13:32). The word "covenant occurs two hundred and thirty-six times in our English Bible, and in more than two hundred instances it is a Divine covenant. The covenant with Abraham was the Magna Charta of Israel; the covenant with David rests upon this earlier covenant, marking out mere clearly the line in which the Divine purpose of blessing would be fulfilled to Jews and eventually to all nations. The new covenant of the New Testament, which has in Christ a Mediator greater than Moses and is established upon better promises," is no other than the ancient covenant made with Abraham (Galatians 3:14).

2. Thus we can see how the Gentiles were strangers to the covenant in all its historic developments. They had no national covenant with God, and no land of promise in the present world. As Gentiles, the covenant had never been revealed to them, and, except so far as they may have been included in the Israelitish commonwealth, it could bring them no blessing.

V. THEY WERE WITHOUT HOPE. They had no covenanted hope - no hope of the Messiah and of salvation by him, of a future state of eternal life. "Such as are Christless must be hopeless; such as are without faith must needs be without hope; and such as are without the promise must necessarily be without faith; for the promise is the ground of faith, and faith is the ground of hope." It is a miserable state to be without hope. "If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable." The future to the heathen was a night without a star. In the Roman catacombs hope is the commonest inscription. There is no such word on the tombs of the heathen dead.

VI. THEY WERE WITHOUT GOD IN THE WORLD. This marks the climax of their misery. They were without God, though they were not atheists, for they had a thousand gods that were no gods. And they were not bold deniers of God, for many of them were "feeling after the Lord." But

(1) they were without the knowledge of the true God;

(2) they had no faith in him;

(3) they lived without relation to him; and

(4) they had no consciousness of his presence to bless and guide and comfort them.

They were without God "in the world" - in contrast with the position of the Jews entrenched within their commonwealth privileges - and were thus homeless and forsaken in that world which had Satan for its prince. This is the picture of the heathen world given by the apostle - without Christ, without Church, without covenant, without hope, without God. At the period to which he refers, religion had outlived itself, unbelief mocked at the superstitions of the vulgar, and skepticism gradually became the sole wisdom of the cultured classes. Along with the power of truth the power of morality was irrecoverably lost; and yet there was a deep yearning at the heart of paganism for the God unknown whom it was the high destiny of Christianity to make known to the Gentiles. They were without God, yet were not outcast from his favor, for those Ephesian Gentiles were in due time called by his grace. - T.C.







Without Christ.
1. The head of all spiritual misery is to be without Christ.

(1)Numbers are still in this miserable condition.

(2)If you would have Him, you must take Him as God's free gift.

2. A second degree of misery, is to be barred from communion and fellowship with the Church of God.

3. Naturally, we hate the means of salvation.

4. It is a great misery to be without the doctrine of the covenant of God.

5. The Lord left the Gentiles without the means of calling them to salvation.

6. It is a great misery to be without hope.

(Paul Bayne.)

The greatest event by far in the history of our world was the visit of Christ. From that moment, everything upon this earth measures itself by its relation to the Cross. Could it be otherwise? For he was "the Son of God." What must that man be to God the Father, who treats that death of His dear Son as he would treat a mere matter of business? We may say of the man who is "without Christ," that that man stands before God just as he is in himself, and nothing else. There is nothing to better him; there is nothing to excuse him. There is nothing to palliate or extenuate a fault. There is nothing to add any righteousness to amend. There can be no heaven for him except there be fitness; and there can be no pardon except there be a claim. Now, how would the best of us like to be dealt with on that principle? To stand before God in your own real individual character! No Intercessor to plead for you! No refuge to fly to! And consider this. A man "without Christ" has no motive, no motive sufficient to rule his life. The motive, the only secure and effective motive of life, is love. But you cannot love God unless you believe that God has pardoned you. You cannot love an angry God. But there is no pardon out of Christ. But, out of Christ, there can be no love because there is no forgiveness. So Christ makes the motive of life; and a man "without Christ" must be motiveless. Let me add another thing. All nature looks out for sympathy. Sympathy, in a degree, God has given to every man; but perfect sympathy belongs to Christ. It is His unapproachable prerogative. Therefore, if you do not know Christ, really know Him, as a believer knows Him, you do not yet know what sympathy can mean; for the rest is all very well, but it will stand you in very little stead in some dark hour. But that sympathy is perfect. You cannot find anyone else who has been, and who can be, "touched with the feeling of your infirmity": always tender; always capable; always wise; true to every fibre of your being; matching all its cravings. That is not given to any creature upon earth. That is Jesus. And if you are without Jesus, you are without sympathy. And when that lonely passage comes, which is to take you out into the unknown, we must all die alone. What, if there be no arm — no companionship — no sweet voice to say, "I am with you!" No finished work! No Jesus in the valley! What will it be to die "without Christ?" An awful thing! And the more awful, the less you feel it!

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

I. THE MISERY OF OUR PAST ESTATE.

1. The man who is without Christ is without any of those spiritual blessings which only Christ can bestow. Christ is the life of the believer, but the man who is with. out Christ is dead in trespasses and sins. So, too, Christ is the light of the world. Without Christ there is no light of true spiritual knowledge, no light of true spiritual enjoyment, no light in which the brightness of truth can be seen, or the warmth of fellowship proved. Without Christ there is no peace, no rest, no safety, no hope.

2. Without Christ, beloved, remember that all the religious acts of men are vanity. What are they but mere air bags, having nothing in them whatever that God can accept? There is the semblance of worship — the altar, the victim, the wood laid in order — and the votaries bow the knee or prostrate their bodies, but Christ alone can send the fire of heaven's acceptance.

3. Without Christ implies, of course, that you are without the benefit of all those gracious offices of Christ, which are so necessary to the sons of men, you have no true prophet. Without Christ truth itself will prove a terror to you. Like Balaam, your eyes may be open while your life is alienated. Without Christ you have no priest to atone or to intercede on your behalf. Without Christ you are without a Saviour; how will you do? and without a friend in heaven you must needs be if you are without Christ. Without Christ, though you be rich as Croesus, and famous as Alexander, and wise as Socrates, yet are you naked and poor and miserable, for you lack Him by whom are all things, and for whom are all things, and who is Himself all in all.

II. THE GREAT DELIVERANCE WHICH GOD HAS WROUGHT FOR US. We are not without Christ now, but let me ask you, who are believers, where you would have been now without Christ. I think the Indian's picture is a very fair one of where we should have been without Christ. When asked what Christ had done for him, he picked up a worm, put it on the ground, and made a ring of straw and wood round it, which he set alight. As the wood began to glow the poor worm began to twist and wriggle in agony, whereupon he stooped down, took it gently up with his finger, and said, "That is what Jesus did for me; I was surrounded, without power to help myself, by a ring of dreadful fire that must have been my ruin, but His pierced hand lifted me out of the burning." Think of that, Christians, and as your hearts melt, come to His table, and praise Him that you are not now without Christ.

1. Then think what His blood has done for you. Take only one thing out of a thousand. It has put away your many, many sins.

2. Bethink you, too, now that you have Christ, of the way in which He came and made you partaker of Himself.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. WHEN IT CAN BE SAID of a man, that he is "without Christ.

1. When he has no head knowledge of Him. The heathen, of course, who never yet heard the gospel, come first under this description. But unhappily they do not stand alone. There are thousands of people dying in England at this very day, who have hardly any clearer ideas about Christ than the very heathen.

2. When he has no heart faith in Him as his Saviour. Many know every article of the Belief, but make no practical use of their knowledge. They put their trust in something which is not "Christ."

3. When the Holy Spirit's work cannot be seen in his life. Who can avoid seeing, if he uses his eyes, that myriads of professing Christians know nothing of inward conversion of heart?

II. THE ACTUAL CONDITION of a man "without Christ."

1. To be without Christ is to be without God. St. Paul told the Ephesians as much as this in plain words. He ends the famous sentence which begins, "Ye were without Christ," by saying, "Ye were without God in the world." And who that thinks can wonder? That man can have very low ideas of God who does not conceive Him a most pure, and holy, and glorious, and spiritual Being. How then can such a worm as man draw near to God with comfort?

2. To be without Christ is to be without peace. Every man has a conscience within him, which must be satisfied before he can be truly happy. There is only one thing can give peace to the conscience, and that is the blood of Jesus Christ sprinkled on it.

3. To be without Christ is to be without hope. Hope of some sort or other almost every one thinks he possesses. There is but one hope that has roots, life, strength, and solidity, and that is the hope which is built on the great rock of Christ's work and office as Redeemer.

4. To be without Christ is to be without heaven. In saying this I do not merely mean that there is no entrance into heaven, but that "without Christ" there could be no happiness in being there. A man without a Saviour and Redeemer could never feel at home in heaven. He would feel that he had no lawful fight or title to be there; boldness and confidence and ease of heart would be impossible.

(Bishop Ryle.)

It is not long since that a prominent business man, when closely pressed by his pastor, who had lately come to the church, replied with a calm force which was meant to put an end to further pertinacity, "I am interested in all religious matters; I am always glad to see the ministers when they call; but I have in the years past thought the subject over long and carefully, and I have come to the decision deliberately that I have no need of Jesus Christ as a Saviour in the sense you preach." Only two weeks from this interview the same man was suddenly prostrated with disease; the illness was of such a character as to forbid his conversing with anyone, and the interdict from speaking was continued until he was within an hour of death, A solemn moment was that in which a question was put to him, intimating that he might talk now if he could — nothing would harm him. The last thing, the only thing, he said, was in a melancholy and frightened whisper, "Who will carry me over the fiver?"

Having no hope
Over the huge hideous iron gates of the Prison de la Roquette, in Paris, which is set apart for criminals that are condemned to death, there is an inscription, which sends a thrill of horror through those who read it — "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!"

When John Wesley lay on an expected death bed (though God spared him some years longer to the world and the Church) his attendants asked him what were his hopes for eternity? And something like this was his reply — "For fifty years, amid scorn and hardship, I have been wandering up and down this world, to preach Jesus Christ; and I have done what in me lay to serve my blessed Master!" What he had done his life and works attest. They are recorded in his Church's history, and shine in the crown he wears so bright with a blaze of jewels — sinners saved through his agency. Yet thus he spake,

"My hope for eternity — my hopes rest only on Christ —

'I the chief of sinners am But Jesus died for me.'"

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

I have seen a child in ignorance of its great loss totter across the floor to its mother's coffin, and, caught by their glitter, seize the handles, to look round and smile as it rattled them on the hollow sides. I have seen a boy, forgetting his sorrow in his dress, survey himself with evident satisfaction as he followed the bier that bore his father to the grave. And however painful such spectacles, as jarring our feelings, and out of all harmony with such sad and sombre scenes, they excite no surprise nor indignation. We only pity those who, through ignorance of their loss or inability to appreciate it, find pleasure in what should move their grief.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

I have read of a tribe of savages that bury their dead in secret, by the hands of unconcerned officials. No grassy mound, no memorial stone guides the poor mother's steps to the quiet corner where her infant lies. The grave is levelled with the soil; and afterwards a herd of cattle is driven over and over the ground, till every trace of the burial has been obliterated by their hoofs. Anxious to forget death and its inconsolable griefs, these heathen resent any allusion to the dead. You may not speak of them. In a mother's hearing, name, however tenderly, her lost one, recall a dead father to the memory of his son, and there is no injury which they feel more deeply. From the thought of the dead their hearts recoil. How strange! How unnatural! No, not unnatural. Benighted heathen, their grief has none of the alleviations which are balm to our wounds, none of the hopes that bear us up beneath a weight of sorrows. Their dead are sweet flowers withered, never to revive; joys gone, never to return. To remember them is to keep open a rankling wound, and preserve the memory of a loss which was bitter to feel and still is bitter to think of: a loss which brought only grief to the living, and no gain to the dead. To me, says Paul, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. They know nothing of this; nothing of the hopes that associate our dead in Christ with sinless souls, and sunny skies, and shining angels, and songs seraphic, and crowns of glory, and harps of gold.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

A good Methodist in a prayer meeting said that when, many years since, he crossed old ocean he was much in the habit of looking over the ship's side, particularly near the prow, and watching the vessel as she steadily ploughed her way through the waves. Just under the bowsprit was the image of a human face. This face to him came to be invested with a wondrous interest. Whatever the hour, whether by night or by day; whatever the weather, whether in sunshine or in storm, that face seemed ever steadfastly looking forward to port. Sometimes tempests would prevail. Great surges would rise, and for a time completely submerge the face of his friend. But as soon as the vessel recovered from its lurch, on looking again over the ship's side, there the placid face of his friend was to be seen, still faithfully, steadfastly looking out for port. "And so," he exclaimed, his countenance radiant with the light of the Christian's hope, "I humbly trust it is in my own case. Yea, whatever the trials of the past, notwithstanding all the toils and disappointments of the present, by the grace of God I am still looking out for port, and not long hence I am anticipating a joyful, triumphant, abundant entrance therein." Without God. — I am told to believe that there is no God; but, before doing so, I want to look on the world in the light of this solemn denial In giving up this idea, several sacrifices are involved. Let us see what they are.

1. I shall have to part with the most inspiring and ennobling books in my library.

2. I shall have to banish the earliest and tenderest memories which have gladdened my days.

3. I shall have to give up the hope that in the long run right will be vindicated and wrong be put to eternal shame.

4. I shall have to sacrifice my reason, my conscience — in a word, myself. My whole life is built upon the holy doctrine of God's existence.

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

It is not speculative atheism that I lay to your charge; I am far from asserting or supposing that you are intellectually without God. But of practical atheism, of being virtually without God, I must and do accuse mankind and some of you. By practical atheism I mean the believing that there is a God, and yet thinking and feeling and acting just as if there were none.

1. I adduce forgetfulness of God as a proof, or rather as one form of practical atheism.

2. As an evidence of practical atheism, a neglect to worship Him and to maintain friendly and filial intercourse with Him.

3. I state as another evidence of practical atheism, the general conduct of mankind under the various dispensations of Divine providence. Does not the rich man say in his heart, "My power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth"? Or, if he cannot ascribe it altogether to his own industry and prudence, he divides the credit of it with fortune, and speaks of the lucky throw, the fortunate speculation, or the prosperous voyage, to the success of which many things conspired, but He whom the winds and waves obey is not supposed to have contributed anything.

4. As another proof of practical atheism, that men are in the habit of forming their plans and purposes, without respect to their dependence on God for the accomplishment of them, and without consulting Him. They resolve with themselves where they will go, what they will do, how much they will accomplish, just as if they had life in themselves, and were independent in wisdom and power.

5. The conduct of many, in seasons of affliction, evinces that they are without God in the world.

6. Finally, mankind, in their pursuit of happiness, evince their practical atheism. Whither should a creature in quest of joy go to obtain it, but straight to Him, who made, and who sustains both that which enjoys and that which is enjoyed, his Maker and Preserver, and the world's? Yet men fly from God for happiness. Whence have you your joys and comforts now? — from your family? — it shall be broken up; from your business? — it shall be discontinued, and you shall leave the world, and the world itself shall be consumed, and nothing will be left but the soul and God. You cannot be happy in anything else; and, if you love Him not, you cannot be happy in Him.

(W. Nevins, D. D.)

Three ways a man may be said to be without God.

1. By profane atheism.

2. By false worship.

3. By want of spiritual worship.Great is the misery of those who are without God. God is a fountain of life; whoso is far from Him must perish.

(Paul Bayne.)

The misery of such as have not God for their God, in how sad a condition are they, when an hour of distress comes! This was Saul's case: "I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and the Lord has departed from me." A wicked man, in time of trouble, is like a vessel tossed on the sea without an anchor, it falls on rocks or sands; a sinner not having God to be his God, though he makes a shift while health and estate last, yet, when these crutches, which he leaned upon, are broken, his heart sinks. It is with a wicked man as with the old world, when the flood came; the waters at first came to the valleys, but then the people would get to the hills and mountains, but when the waters came to the mountains, then there might be some trees on the high hills, and they would climb up to them; ay, but then the waters did rise up to the tops of the trees; now all hopes of being saved were gone, their hearts failed them. So it is with a man that hath not God to be his God; if one comfort be taken away, he hath another; if he lose a child, he hath an estate; ay, but when the waters rise higher, death comes and takes away all; now he hath nothing to help himself with, no God to go to, he must needs die despairing.

(T. Watson.)

"Without God in the world." Think! — what a description! — and applicable to individuals without number! If it had been without friends, shelter, or food, that would have been a gloomy sound. But without God! without Him (that is, in no happy relation to Him), who is the very origin, support, and life of all things; without Him who can make good flow to His creatures from an infinity of sources; without Him whose favour possessed is the best, the sublimest, of all delights, all triumphs, all glories. What do those under so sad a destitution value and seek instead of Him? What will anything, or all things, be worth in His absence? It may be instructive to consider a little to what states of mind this description is applicable; and what a wrong and, calamitous thing the condition is in all of them. We need not dwell on that condition of humanity in which there is no notion of Deity at all — some outcast, savage tribes — souls destitute of the very ideal Not one idea exalted anti resplendent above the rest casting a glory sometimes across the little intellectual field! It is as if, in the outward world of nature, they had no visible heaven — the spirit nothing to go out to, beyond its clay tenement, but the immediately surrounding elements and other creatures of the same order. The adorers of false gods may just be named as coming under the description. There is, almost throughout the race, a feeling in men's minds that belongs to the Divinity; but think how all manner of objects, real and imaginary, have been supplicated to accept and absorb this feeling, that the true God might not take it! It is too obvious almost to be worth noting, how plainly the description applies itself to those who persuade themselves that there is no God. The Divine Spirit and all spirit abolished, he is left amidst masses and systems of matter without a first cause — ruled by chance, or by a blind mechanical impulse of what he calls fate; and, as a little composition of atoms, he is himself to take his chance for a few moments of conscious being, and then be no more forever! And yet, in this infinite prostration of all things, he feels an elation of intellectual pride! But we have to consider the text in an application much more important to us, and to men in general; for, with a most settled belief of the Divine existence, they may be "without God in the world." This is too truly and sadly the applicable description when this belief and its object do not maintain habitually the ascendant influence over us — over the whole system of our thoughts, feelings, purposes, and actions. Can we glance over the earth, and into the wilderness of worlds in infinite space, without the solemn thought that all this is but the sign and proof of something infinitely more glorious than itself? Are we not reminded — "This is a production of His almighty power — that is an adjustment of His all-comprehending intelligence and foresight — there is a glimmer, a ray of His beauty, His glory — there an emanation of His benignity — but for Him all this would never have been; and if, for a moment, His pervading energy were by His will restrained or suspended, what would it all be then?" Not to have some such perceptions and thoughts, accompanied by devout sentiments, is, so far, to "be without God in the world." Again, the text is applicable to those who have no solemn recognition of God's all-disposing government and providence — who have no thought of the course of things but as just "going on" — going on some way or other, just as it canto whom it appears abandoned to a strife and competition of various mortal powers; or surrendered to something they call general laws, and then blended with chance; who have, perhaps, a crude Epicurean notion of exempting the Divine Being from the infinite toil and care of such a charge. The text is a description of those who have but a slight sense of universal accountableness to God as the supreme authority who have not a conscience constantly looking and listening to Him, and testifying for Him; who proceed as if this world were a, province absolved from the strictness of His dominion and His laws; who will not apprehend that there is "His" will and warning affixed to everything; who will not submissively ask, "What dost Thou pronounce on this? To be insensible to the Divine character as Lawgiver, rightful Authority, and Judge, is truly to be "without God in the world," for thus every emotion of the soul and action of the life assumes that He is absent or does not exist. This insensibility of accountableness exists almost entire (a stupefaction of conscience) in very many minds. But in many others there is a disturbed yet inefficacious feeling; and might not some of these be disposed to say, "We are not 'without God in the world,' as an awful Authority and Judge; for we are followed, and harassed, and persecuted, sometimes quite to misery, by the thought of Him in this character. We cannot go on peacefully in the way our inclinations lead; a portentous sound alarms us, a formidable spectre encounters us, though we still persist." The cause here is that men wish to be "without God in the world" — would, in preference to any other prayer, implore Him to "Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of His ways." They would be willing to resume the enterprise of the rebellious angels, if there were any hope. "Oh, that He, with His judgment and laws, were far away!" To be thus with God is in the most emphatical sense to be without Him — without Him as a friend, approver, and patron; each thought of Him tells the soul who it is that it is without, and who it is that in a very fearful sense it never can be without. The description belongs to that state of mind in which there is no communion with God maintained or even sought with cordial aspiration — no devout, ennobling converse held with Him — no conscious reception of delightful impressions, sacred influences, suggested sentiments — no pouring out of the soul in fervent desires for His illuminations, His compassion, His forgiveness, His transforming operations — no earnest, penitential, hopeful pleading in the name of the gracious Intercessor — no solemn, affectionate dedication of the whole being — no animation and vigour obtained for the labours and warfare of a Christian life. But how lamentable to be without God! Consider it in one single view only — that of the loneliness of a human soul in this destitution. All other beings are necessarily (shall we express it so?) extraneous to the soul; they may communicate with it, but they are still separate and without it; an intermediate vacancy keeps them forever asunder, so that the soul must be, in a sense, in an inseparable and eternal solitude — that is, as to all creatures. But God, on the contrary, has an all-pervading power — can interfuse, as it were, His very essence through the being of His creatures — can cause Himself to be apprehended and felt as absolutely in the soul — such an inter-communion as is, by the nature of things, impossible between created beings; and thus the interior central loneliness — the solitude of the soul — is banished by a perfectly intimate presence, which imparts the most affecting sense of society — a society, a communion, which imparts life and joy, and may continue in perpetuity. To men completely immersed in the world this might appear a very abstracted and enthusiastic notion of felicity; but to those who have in any measure attained it, the idea of its loss would give the most emphatic sense of the expression, "Without God in the world." The terms are a true description also of the state of mind in which there is no habitual anticipation of the great event of going at length into the presence of God — absence of the thought of being with Him in another world — of being with Him in judgment, and whither to be with Him forever; not considering that He awaits us somewhere, that the whole movement of life is absolutely towards Him, that the course of life is deciding in what manner we shall appear in His presence; not thinking what manner of fact that will be, what experience, what consciousness, what emotion; not regarding it as the grand purpose of our present state of existence that we may attain a final dwelling in His presence. One more, and the last application we would make of the description is to those who, while professing to retain God in their thoughts with a religious regard, frame the religion in which they are to acknowledge Him according to their own speculation and fancy. Thus many rejecters of Divine revelation have professed, nevertheless, a reverential homage to the Deity; but the God of their faith was to be such as their sovereign reason chose to feign, and therefore the mode of their religion entirely arbitrary. But, if revelation be true, the simple question is, Will the Almighty acknowledge your feigned God for Himself? — and admit your religion to be equivalent to that which He has declared and defined? If He should not, you are "without God in the world."

(John Foster.)

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