Ephesians 6* The duties of children and parents. (1-4) Of servants andmasters. (5-9) All Christians are to put on spiritual armouragainst the enemies of their souls. (10-18) The apostle desirestheir prayers, and ends with his apostolic blessing. (19-24)1-4 The great duty of children is, to obey their parents. Thatobedience includes inward reverence, as well as outward acts,and in every age prosperity has attended those distinguished forobedience to parents. The duty of parents. Be not impatient; useno unreasonable severities. Deal prudently and wisely withchildren; convince their judgements and work upon their reason.Bring them up well; under proper and compassionate correction;and in the knowledge of the duty God requires. Often is thisduty neglected, even among professors of the gospel. Many settheir children against religion; but this does not excuse thechildren's disobedience, though it may be awfully occasion it.God alone can change the heart, yet he gives his blessing to thegood lessons and examples of parents, and answers their prayers.But those, whose chief anxiety is that their children should berich and accomplished, whatever becomes of their souls, must notlook for the blessing of God. 5-9 The duty of servants is summed up in one word, obedience.The servants of old were generally slaves. The apostles were toteach servants and masters their duties, in doing which evilswould be lessened, till slavery should be rooted out by theinfluence of Christianity. Servants are to reverence those overthem. They are to be sincere; not pretending obedience when theymean to disobey, but serving faithfully. And they must servetheir masters not only when their master's eye is upon them; butmust be strict in the discharge of their duty, when he is absentand out of the way. Steady regard to the Lord Jesus Christ willmake men faithful and sincere in every station, not grudginglyor by constraint, but from a principle of love to the mastersand their concerns. This makes service easy to them, pleasing totheir masters, and acceptable to the Lord Christ. God willreward even the meanest drudgery done from a sense of duty, andwith a view to glorify him. Here is the duty of masters. Actafter the same manner. Be just to servants, as you expect theyshould be to you; show the like good-will and concern for them,and be careful herein to approve yourselves to God. Be nottyrannical and overbearing. You have a Master to obey, and youand they are but fellow-servants in respect to Christ Jesus. Ifmasters and servants would consider their duties to God, and theaccount they must shortly give to him, they would be moremindful of their duty to each other, and thus families would bemore orderly and happy. 10-18 Spiritual strength and courage are needed for ourspiritual warfare and suffering. Those who would provethemselves to have true grace, must aim at all grace; and put onthe whole armour of God, which he prepares and bestows. TheChristian armour is made to be worn; and there is no putting offour armour till we have done our warfare, and finished ourcourse. The combat is not against human enemies, nor against ourown corrupt nature only; we have to do with an enemy who has athousand ways of beguiling unstable souls. The devils assault usin the things that belong to our souls, and labour to deface theheavenly image in our hearts. We must resolve by God's grace,not to yield to Satan. Resist him, and he will flee. If we giveway, he will get ground. If we distrust either our cause, or ourLeader, or our armour, we give him advantage. The differentparts of the armour of heavy-armed soldiers, who had to sustainthe fiercest assaults of the enemy, are here described. There isnone for the back; nothing to defend those who turn back in theChristian warfare. Truth, or sincerity, is the girdle. Thisgirds on all the other pieces of our armour, and is firstmentioned. There can be no religion without sincerity. Therighteousness of Christ, imputed to us, is a breastplate againstthe arrows of Divine wrath. The righteousness of Christimplanted in us, fortifies the heart against the attacks ofSatan. Resolution must be as greaves, or armour to our legs; andto stand their ground or to march forward in rugged paths, thefeet must be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.Motives to obedience, amidst trials, must be drawn from a clearknowledge of the gospel. Faith is all in all in an hour oftemptation. Faith, as relying on unseen objects, receivingChrist and the benefits of redemption, and so deriving gracefrom him, is like a shield, a defence every way. The devil isthe wicked one. Violent temptations, by which the soul is set onfire of hell, are darts Satan shoots at us. Also, hard thoughtsof God, and as to ourselves. Faith applying the word of God andthe grace of Christ, quenches the darts of temptation. Salvationmust be our helmet. A good hope of salvation, a Scripturalexpectation of victory, will purify the soul, and keep it frombeing defiled by Satan. To the Christian armed for defense inbattle, the apostle recommends only one weapon of attack; but itis enough, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Itsubdues and mortifies evil desires and blasphemous thoughts asthey rise within; and answers unbelief and error as they assaultfrom without. A single text, well understood, and rightlyapplied, at once destroys a temptation or an objection, andsubdues the most formidable adversary. Prayer must fasten allthe other parts of our Christian armour. There are other dutiesof religion, and of our stations in the world, but we must keepup times of prayer. Though set and solemn prayer may not beseasonable when other duties are to be done, yet short piousprayers darted out, always are so. We must use holy thoughts inour ordinary course. A vain heart will be vain in prayer. Wemust pray with all kinds of prayer, public, private, and secret;social and solitary; solemn and sudden: with all the parts ofprayer; confession of sin, petition for mercy, and thanksgivingfor favours received. And we must do it by the grace of God theHoly Spirit, in dependence on, and according to, his teaching.We must preserve in particular requests, notwithstandingdiscouragements. We must pray, not for ourselves only, but forall saints. Our enemies are mighty, and we are without strength,but our Redeemer is almighty, and in the power of his mighty wemay overcome. Wherefore we must stir up ourselves. Have not we,when God has called, often neglected to answer? Let us thinkupon these things, and continue our prayers with patience. 19-24 The gospel was a mystery till made known by Divinerevelation; and it is the work of Christ's ministers to declareit. The best and most eminent ministers need the prayers ofbelievers. Those particularly should be prayed for, who areexposed to great hardships and perils in their work. Peace be tothe brethren, and love with faith. By peace, understand allmanner of peace; peace with God, peace of conscience, peaceamong themselves. And the grace of the Spirit, producing faithand love, and every grace. These he desires for those in whomthey were already begun. And all grace and blessings come to thesaints from God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Grace, that is,the favour of God; and all good, spiritual and temporal, whichis from it, is and shall be with all those who thus love ourLord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and with them only.
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