“THAT we should be to the praise of His glory who first trusted in Christ.” - Ephesians i. 12.
BROTHER BUTTS has called on us to give our views upon the the above passage; and particularly as to who first trusted in Christ. We are aware that it is the opinion of some brethren that Paul designed to be understood that we should be to the praise of the glory of God, and that God the Father was the first that trusted in Christ. That the whole responsibility of redemption was rested upon and sustained by Christ as the head of the church, and that too before any of His elect were brought experimentally to trust in Him, is a most glorious and heart cheering truth, and that the whole economy of grace shall eventually redound to the praise of the glory of God is equally certain and cheering to saints who cease not to cry, “Not unto us, Not unto us, O God; but unto thy name give all the glory.” Nevertheless the meaning of the text at the head of these remarks is in our opinion obviously to show that we, viz: the primitive saints, who were the first that trusted in Christ after His revelation in the flesh, and that their experience was ordained to the praise of God’s glory. In this chapter the inspired apostle shows that the whole church was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, predestinated to the adoption of children and all to the praise of the glory of God’s grace, wherein he hath made us acceptable in the beloved. The purpose of that grace is also considered - viz: “That in the fullness of the dispensation of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ. That all who were thus chosen in Him had a spiritual life given and secured to them in Him before all time, should in time, be brought experimentally into union with the mystical body of Christ, and enjoyment of that divine inheritance of life and glory mentioned in the preceding verse. “In whom we have received an inheritance, being predestinated,” &c. But who had at that time received their inheritance experimentally upon the principle of this divine purpose and grace given them in Christ Jesus before the world was? Certainly the apostles and primitive church. The manifest reception of their inheritance brought them to trust in Christ, as a kind of first fruits unto God. These were therefore the first who in the sense of the subject, had trusted in Christ. The above views are evidently sustained by the subjoined remark of the apostle: In whom ye also trusted after that ye heard, &c. While Hebrew disciples were the first brought in to the gospel kingdom, these Ephesian Gentiles were afterwards brought into the enjoyment of the same inheritance. Even as this gospel was to be preached into all the world, beginning at Jerusalem, “To the Jews first, then also to the Gentiles and all, that the redeemed family may be to the praise of God’s glory, by being made holy and without blame before Him in love.
Indeed the whole connection is in harmony with the view we have taken of the text. After having shown that the trust and confidence of the first disciples were to them an inheritance based upon and proceeding from their being chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, and predestinated to the adoption of children; upon their revelation as children, is made manifest their heirship to the inheritance by which they were brought to trust in Christ. Also the experience of these Ephesians, after they had heard the word of life, the gospel of their salvation, and were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, was an earnest of their inheritance; not the procuring cause of it, but the earnest or evidence of it, until the redemption of all the purchased possession unto the praise of His glory. Wherefore, says the apostle, I also, after I heard of your faith (or trust) in the Lord. Jesus Christ, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks, making mention of you in my prayers.
The doctrine of the gospel, although in the opinion of arminians tending to licentiousness, to all who are brought to trust in Christ, exerts an influence on their life and conversation, bringing them into conformity to the divine image. Who that has thus received their inheritance as set forth in This chapter, that does not find his heart and soul drawn out with Paul, after holiness, with ardent desire to bear the image of that blessed Savior through whom they are made acceptable.
“Such beauties in my Savior shine,
I would transcribe and make them mine.”
NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
April 15, 1840.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 608 – 610