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by Dr. John Thomas
But, while he enjoins this unqualified obedience, he exhorts their husbands to return them due benevolence, not to treat them with bitterness, but to love them "even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for it".
If unbelieving wives, however, were disobedient and perverse, and chose to depart, "let them; a brother is not under bondage, in such cases".
The love which should subsist between Christian brethren and sisters in the married state, is such as Christ manifested for the church by anticipation.
"While we were yet sinners Christ died for us," says the apostle.
This is the greatest love a man can possibly show, that he should die for his enemies; and this is the kind of love which Paul commends to the attention of the Ephesians; though always on the supposition, that the wives "adorn the hidden man of the heart with that which is incorruptible, even a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands: even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord: whose daughters such women are, as long as they do well, and are not dismayed at any threat".
As he had introduced the subject of matrimonial love and obedience, and had adduced the love of Christ for them all as his church, by way of illustration; he proceeds to show the object for which he loved htme even unto death; the relationship which was consequently established between them; and the sacrifice which they ought cheerfully to make for him, who had loved them so devotedly.
His object in giving himself for the church before it was formed, was that whose who should afterwards compose it "might be sanctified and cleansed in the laver of the water ( toi loutrwi ton udatos ) BY the word en rvmati, ) that," at the resurrection, "he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but holy and without blemish".
"Ye are clean," said Jesus to his discriples "through the word which I have spoken to you".
This word, which is defnied to be "the law and the testimony," is the great instrument of holiness and purification.
It changes men's minds, lossens their attachment to earthly things; causes them to place their affection on things above; creates a new and right spirit within them; diffuses the love of God abroad in their hearts; separates them from sinners, leads them into Christ; and developes in their lives, fruit characteristic of that repentence which needs not to be repented of.
The Lord Jesus styles it, "the word of the kingdom;" and Peter, the incorruptible seed; and Paul, "the word of the truth of the gospel;" and John, "God's seed;" and by James it is termeed "the word of truth," whith which the invariable and unvacillating Father of lights begets his children, that they should be "a kind of first fruits of his creatures".
It is by this word than an individual is renewed or renovated; so as, in an intellectual and moral sense, to become a "new man;" as appears from what the apostle says to the brethren at Colosse: "Ye have put on the new man, which is renewed by knowledge after the image of him that created him".
This renewing affects the spirit of the mind, which may be known to be renovated, by a man having turned from his natural suserviencey to "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life," to "righteousness and true holiness".
When the mental disposition, called "the heart," is renewed, it becomes a mirror, as it were, in which one skilled in the word of the kingdom, can discren the spirit, or behold a reflection of the Divine Nature.
This image of God in a man's character can only be created the word of the truth of the gospel of the kingdom.
A man may be very "pious" according to the standard of piety set up and approved by his fellow-men; but, if he be ignorant of the renewing elements, -- if he neighter know nor understand, and consequently, and necessarily, be faithless of the law and testimony of God, "there is no light in him".
He iwalking in a vain show "in the vanity of his mind, having his understanding darkened, being alientated from the life of God through the ignorance that is nin him, because of the blindess of his heart".
The law and the testimony are styled by Peter, "God's knowledge;" "whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that BY THESE," i.e.
by the understanding and belief of these, "ye might be partakers of the Divine Nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Now, the "testimony of God" came by the Holy Spirit, by which God testified in his prophets; and, in the last days spoke through his son and the apostles.
Hence, the effects of the word believed are attributed to the spirit; and because the word sets men to breathing in God's moral atmosphere, it is termed "spirit and life".
These remarks will explain the saying of the apostle to Titus, "according to his mercy God saved us through the laver of regeneration, and renewal of the Holy Spirit".