Imatges de pàgina
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given. These purposes may be distinguished, and one may come in order after another ; but they must not be separated. Were it possible to receive him as an atoning sacrifice without yielding ourselves up to his authority, or to yield ourselves up to bis authority without relying on his sacrifice, each would he vain ; and, could both of them be united without sitting at his feet as little children, to be instructed in his will, it were still in vain. The invitation of our Lord, in the eleventh chapter of Matthew, shows both the order and connexion of these things : Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and burden is light. The first concern of a sinner is to come to Christ as the Saviour of the lost : but, at what time he does this, be must also take his yoke upon him as his Lord and Lawgiver. Nor is this all : he must take him for his example; learning his spirit, and following his steps.

II. Consider THE PRIVILEGE ANNEXED TO RECEIVING CHRIST : To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God. The relation of sons seems to be ascribed to belierers, in the text and context, on two accounts; viz. their regeneration, and their adoption. The one is expressed in verse 13: Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. This consists in a re-impression of the divine image, and is introduced to account for some having received Christ, while others received him not. The other is denominated a power, or privilege, and belongs to our restoration to the divine favour.

It was a high honour, conferred on our species from the beginning, for God to call himself tbeir father; an honour extended. as it would seem, to no other part of the lower creation. His tender mercies, indeed, are over all his works ; but man was created in his image: In the image of God created he him. Men, therefore, are ranked among the children of the Most High. Nor was it a mere name : the love of the Creator was truly that of a father. We see this expressed in the strongest manner, even in the punishment of the wicked ; as though it were against the grain of his Vol. VII.

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native goodness, and as though nothing but a conduct exceedingly offensive could have induced him to do what he did. Such arer the ideas in the following passages : And the Lord said, I will destroy man, WHOM I HAVE CREATED, from the face of the earth.HE THAT MADE THEM will not have mercy on them, and HE THAN FORMED THEM will show them no favour. And though it sometimes appears as if sin had, in a manner, extinguished his paternal goodness, yet, in exercising mercy through his Son, he still calls to remembrance the original relation : I will not contend

forever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit should fail before me and the souls which I HAVE MADE. What an evil and bitter thing, then, must sin be, to have induced so good a God to disown us as aliens, and to require, that, if we be again admitted into his family it shall be by adoption ; a proceeding to which men bave recourse, when they wish to favour children that are not their own!

The kindness of God toward Israel is described as an adoption. Their deplorable condition in Egypt is represented by that of a a helpless infant, left to perish in the open field in the day that it was born, and by the favour conferred upon them by the kindness of a benevolent stranger, who, passing at the time, bad compassion on it, and adopted it as his own. This, however, though an act of grace, and through a mediator, yet was only a shadow of that blessing which is bestowed on them who believe in Jesus Christ. It separated them from other nations, and conferred on them distinguished privileges, but it ascertained no inheritance beyond the grave. This, on the contrary, not only puts us among the children, but gives us an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away. The depth of alienation and disgrace from which it takes us, with the height of glory to which it raises us, accounts for that strong language which is more than once used in describing it : But I said, How shall I put thee among the children?

- Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!

The adoption of children is reckoned among those spiritual blessings wherewith the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath blessed them that believe in him, baving predestinated them to it by Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure

of his will. With all other spiritual blessings, its bestowment is in consequence of our having been predestinated to it; but the thing itself, like justification, is a blessing of time, and follows on believing. It were absurd, to speak of our being predestinated to that which was, in itself, eternal. The privilege itself is held up as an inducement to forsake the family of Satan, and be separated from them : Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

But the connexion between receiving Christ and having power to become the sons of God, is designed to mark, not only the order of time, but that of nature ; or to show the influence of the one upon the other: We are all the children of God BY FAITH IN CARIST Jesus. This is exactly the same language as is used of our justification : and the blessing obtained in the same way; not in reward of the act of believing, but out of respect to him in whom we believe. He that believeth on the Son is joined, or united, to him, and as such, by the constitution of the covenant of grace, becomes interested in all his benefits. It is thus that we are justified by faith, and it is thus that we are adopted. Christ, in reward of his obedience unto death, is appointed heir of all things ; and we, receiving him, are received into God's family for his sake, and become joint-heirs with him. Such is the delightful harmony of the gospel, and such the way in which the adoption of children is By JESUS CHRIST to himself, TO THE PRAISE OF THE GLORY OF HIS GRACE.

Regeneration gives us a new nature ; and adoption adds to it a a new name, even that of sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. Nor is it a mere name ; for the richest blessings both in this

j world and that wbich is to come are attached to it. Of these we may reckon the following, as the principal :

1. Access to God as our own God and Father. During our unbelief, whatever were our necessities or troubles, we had no access to God. Though under the pangs of woe, we might cry for mercy, yet it was unavailing. How should it be otherwise, when we set at nought the only dame by which a sinner can be introduced, and his cause obtain a hearing? But believing in Jesus, we

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draw near to God, and God to us. The term apodaywy, rendered access, in Ephes. iji. 12, signifies as much as introduction, manuduction, or a being taken by the hand, as one who is introduced to the king by a third person ; teaching us, that we cannot be admitted to the divine presence by ourselves. While obedient, we had free access to our Creator; but, having sinned, the door is shut

upon us, and not a child of Adam can see his face, but as introduced by the Mediator. As Job's friends whose folly had offended the divine Majesty, were required to bring their offerings to Job, that he, as a mediator, might present them, and pray for the offenders, so it is with us in drawing near to God. All our offer. ings must be presented by the great and gracious Intercessor. Him will God accept. Coming in his pame, we have boldoess and access with confidence by the faith of him. The spirit which is congenial with the gospel-dispensation is not that of bondage, that we should be held in slavish fear, but that of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father; and, if we do not actually possess it, it is because we are wanting to ourselves. A promise is left us of entering into rest, of which if we seem to come short, it is owing to unbelief. Did we but act up to our privileges, guilt would not lie rapkling on our consciences in the manner it often does, nor would care corrode our peace, por morbid melancholy eat up our enjoyments. Having God for our father, we should confess our sins to him, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son would cleanse us from all sin ; we should cast all our care on him who careth for us ; we should be inordinately careful for nothing, but in every thing, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let our requests be made known unto God ; and the effect would be, that the

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of God, which passeth all understanding, would keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

2. Access to all the ordinances of God's house, and to the felloze ship of his people. From being strangers and foreigners, we become fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. The church of God is here described as a city, and as a a household. As a city, God is a wall of fire round about her, and the glory in the midst of her, blessing her provision, and satisfying her poor with bread. To be made free of this city, is no amall favourr.

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As a household, God is the father of it; and as many as receive Christ receive power to become its members, and to share in all the privileges of the family. There are believers, no doubt, whose situation does not admit of these social advantages, and others who are prevented, hy something amiss in the state of their own minds, from embracing them; but such do not excel in spirituality or in usefulness. It is as being planted in the house of the Lord, that we may hope to flourish in the courts of our God.

3. A part in the first resurrection. The resurrection of the saints is called the manifestation of the sons of God; the glorious liberty of the children of God; the adoption; the redemption of our body. It is the grand jubilee of the church, and even of the creation. Till then, the former, as well as the latter, will be held under a degree of bondage, as being yet subject to the effects of sin : but then Christ's promise shall be fulfilled, I will raise them

up at the last day; and the deliverance of the saints will be the signal for that of the creation, which, during the apostasy, has been unwillingly compelled to subserve its Creator's enemies, and which is, therefore, represented as waiting for, and earnestly expecting, the moment of deliverance. The last enemy being then destroyed, the war will be ended : death will be swallowed up in victory.

4. An interest in the eternal inheritance. The natural inference from this divine relation is this : If children, then heirs; heirs af God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if 80 be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. With such thoughts our minds are overwhelmed ; and no wonder, for an inspired Apostle had no adequate conception of it. Beloved, says he, now are we the sons of God; and it NOTH NOT YET APPEAR WHAT WE SHALL BE : but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him ; for we shall see him as he is.

Such are the leading privileges included in the power of becoming the sons of God; which are sufficient to show, that, though many reject the Saviour, yet it is not for want of kindness on his part towards those who accept of him.

III. Let us observe THE WISDOM OF GOD IN RENDERING THE RECEPTION OF CHRIST THE TURNING POINT OF SALVATION. When a

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