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PREPARATION.

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel

of peace. — EPHESIANS vi. 15.

ST PAUL from his Roman prison is looking

forth upon all time and two eternities. Nowhere is his view so entirely free as in this queen of Epistles. Whatever the reason, he is free even from personal memories. He stays not to recall what must have been a more than commonly populous retrospect. That three

years' stay at Ephesus, longer probably than

any other (save perhaps at Tarsus and Antioch)

since he became a Christian, is treated here as if it were forgotten. Like the Twelve, like the

Seventy, in the trial-missions of the days of Christ's flesh, he is so full of his message that he can 'salute no man by the way. The absence of personal reminiscences has led some critics in all times to conclude that the Epistle could

not be for Ephesus. It was a doubt hasty in

many ways. The salutations in St Paul's letters

are by no means proportioned to his intimacy

with his correspondents. The Epistles to the

Corinthians, amongst whom he had spent a year and six months, are destitute of them. The Epistle to the Romans, a Church which he had

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(though it does not really say) that he had never seen them, has half a chapter of greetings. It is certainly noticeable, but only this, that the

sister Epistle, that before us, is perfectly general,

with one single exception, from the first line to the latest. It may be, according to one plausible hypothesis, that it was a circular letter, intended for several Churches, and therefore designedly left impersonal. There may have been

a blank in the first verse, to be variously filled

up or left blank. Yet in the parallel Epistle,

expressly directed to be read in other Churches besides that to which it is addressed, no such

scruple operates. The salutation of Archippus,

the commendation of Onesimus, is no bar to the

transmission of the letter to Laodicea, or to its

public reading in the house of Nymphas. We must look somewhat deeper for the cause of

the phenomenon. We have here an Epistle (if I might use the expression) charged and saturated with Inspiration. In this one instance 'the sword of the Lord' is not 'the sword of

Gideon.

The human element is here almost

lost in the Divine. I know scarcely one Book of Holy Scripture which in this respect rivals it.

If all Scripture had been like this, there would

have been room

for a theory of Inspiration

which (as it is) needs modification. Not only is

a man full of the Holy Ghost writing—that is

true everywhere—but he is writing as such and such alone. He scarcely touches the earth which he illuminates. He is lost in the mys

teries of the Unseen, and testifies, by that

absorption, to the supremacy of things Divine.

nac

ine.

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