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learn from a passage already quoted, that men should be redeemed from the curse, in order to receive the adoption of sons. They were under a sentence of condemnation for their sins; and appearing to the eye of God guilty and polluted, what could they present to attract his regard?' Like the prodigal, they were covered with rags and bloated with crimes, when he was pleased, in his infinite goodness, to receive them into his family. It is on this account that the A postle John breaks out into the language of admiration when meditating upon the subject : “ Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God."*
In the third place, adoption among men commonly extended only to a single person, or, at most, to a very limited number, for obvious reasons. But spiritual adoption is a privilege enjoyed by thousands and millions. It was the design of God, in appointing Jesus Christ to be the author of our salvation, to bring many sons to glory. To the question, “ Are there few that he saved ?"'+ our Lord declined to return a direct answer, because it was dictated by a spirit of curiosity, which he would not encourage; but when we consult the Scriptures, we find they are not few, but a great multitude which no man can number; how contrary soever this view of the subject may be to the ideas of bigots, who shut the gates of heaven against all but their own little party. If there was a blank made in the celestial society by the fall of the apostate angels, it will be filled up from the human race; the many mansions in our Father's house will be peopled, and the extent of his family will be proportioned to the invaluable price which was paid for its redemption.
Other points of difference might be mentioned; but passing them, I proceed to inquire what blessings believers enjoy in consequence of their adoption.
First, God sustains the relation of a Father to them: “I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." It will be thought, perhaps, that this is so obvious, that there was no necessity to mention it, as a father and son are correlative terms, and the one suggests the other. But what I mean to fix your attention upon, is not the title, but its import, and to remind you that, in consequence of this relation, God is to believers all that is implied in the character of a Father. He bears the most tender love to them; he watches over them with unwearied care; he attends to their interests, and they may repose entire confidence upon his wisdom and goodness. He is a father who knows their wants, who is never mistaken in his judgment of what will be for their good, who is able to do every thing for them, who is always near to succour and protect them, and who will not abandon them even when provoked by their misconduct. The name of Father dispels every fear, and invites respectful familiarity. We feel ourselves emboldened to tell him our sorrows and desires; to apply to him for counsel, to flee to him as our refuge. If his greatness seems to forbid our approach, if his justice and purity are calculated to repress the fervour of our affection and the eagerness of our hopes, the recollection of the condescension and tenderness of a Father re-animates our hearts, and gives us a confidence to draw near to his throne. Who can tell us how great a privilege it is, to have the God of heaven and earth for a Father ?
Secondly, The children of God receive the Spirit of adoption. " Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts."S The purposes for which he is given, are various. The primary design is to inspire them with the temper, as they are now invested with the character, of sons. Human adoption had no effect of this kind. It changed the estate of the person adopted, by translating him from one family to another, and making a person, who was formerly a stranger, his father; but it produced no change
# 1 John iii. 1.
# 2 Cor. vi. 18
& Gal. iv. 6
† Luke xiii. 23.
in his dispositions. Hence it might happen, and we presume that it did sometimes happen, that he who, misled by specious appearances, had adopted him, was disappointed in his expectations, and had reason to repent that he had admitted an unworthy member into his family. But all the members of the spiritual family are distinguished by the resemblance which they bear to their Father. They receive a new nature, as well as a new name. this change, they are represented in the Scriptures as begotten again, and born again, to signify that they receive a new spiritual being, and have new views, and feelings, and desires. They are transformed into the image of Christ, and therefore are made like their Father; for Christ is the express image of his person. This change is the work of the Spirit. If the water of baptism is the sign, the efficient cause is the Spirit, whose province it is to beautify the new, as well as the old, creation. But this is not the only office which he is appointed to perform. There is another of the utmost importance, which is indispensably necessary to their comfort, namely, to enable them to ascertain their relation to God, which is not self-evident, and the reality of which they could not establish without his assistance. Hence he is represented in the Scriptures as giving testimony to the fact. “ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit
, that we are the children of God.”* In what manner this testimony is given, has been the subject of dispute. It is not, we may venture to say, by a voice, or something equivalent to a voice, announcing to the man this proposition, “Thou art a son of God;' or by unaccountable impressions on his mind; but in a way consonant to the Scriptures, and to the regular exercise of our faculties. I'he expression “the Spirit beareth witness with our spirits,” imports that there is a double testimony, by our own hearts and by him. The one is not given without the other. Now, we may understand how the two witnesses concur, if we conceive the Holy Ghost to give testimony by enabling the saints to embrace the promises with a particular application to themselves, and to exercise distinctly the various Christian graces, so that their existence and genuineness shall be unquestionable. By this process they are assured of their sonship; for the fact is placed beyond doubt, when they perceive in themselves the certain marks of regeneration. " We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." “Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.”+ The Spirit bears testimony to the sonship of believers, when he brings to light, by his operations upon their souls, the evidences of their adoption; and thus makes their relation to God as manifest as if he assured them of it with an audible voice. Hence they are enabled to call God their Father; not with the presumption of hypocrites, and the indifference of formalists, but with the confidence of faith, and the ardour of filial affection. They call him Father, not only when his providence smiles upon them and even the sinner persuades himself of his love, but in the dark hour of trouble and sorrow; like our Saviour, who still claimed him in the endearing relation, even when he complained that he had forsaken him. In a word, the hope which sustains the heart of the Christian, the joy which arises within him, the secret refreshment which he experiences in devotional exercises, and the enlargement of his soul in prayer; these are the blessed fruits of the presence and agency of the Spirit of adoption.
Thirdly, Their heavenly Father provides for all their wants. To care for his children, to supply them, according to his ability, with such things as they need, to feed, and clothe, and educate them; these are duties which religion and natural affection prescribe to every parent. He who adopted a son, came under an engagement to act in every respect the part of a father. Certainly,
* Rom. viii. 16.
#1 John üii. 14, 19.
then, they who have been admitted into the family of God, may expect all blessings from his goodness, whether pertaining to this world or to the next. A controversy has been agitated, (and what point, great or little, trifling or important, has not been the subject of dispute ?) Whether Christ purchased temporal benefits for believers ? Those who adopt the negative side of the question, will allow that the blessing which accompanies them is owing to his mediation, and only contend, that the things themselves are not the fruits of his death. It is not easy to conceive what valuable purpose can be served by this discussion, except that it affords an opportunity of displaying nice discrimination in separating two things which common apprehension had blended together. It was not necessary to put us on our guard against ascribing too much to our Saviour, and to count and reckon with him, that we might ascertain the precise extent of our obligations; our grateful feelings towards him have not so strong a tendency to excess, as to stand in need of a check. When we consider that the faithfulness of God is expressly pledged for the temporal provision of his children; that godliness has the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come; that our heavenly Father is represented as knowing that we have need of food and raiment, and therefore as bestowing them; and that our Saviour has taught his disciples to pray for their daily bread, and, consequently, to ask it in his name and for his sake, we seem to be authorized to rank common benefits among the blessings of the new covenant, and, consequently, to say, that we are indebted for them to the same price which was paid for the salvation of our souls.
As nothing on this obscure controversy has ever come under my notice, I know not exactly the grounds on which the purchase of temporal blessings is denied, but presume that it is because they are bestowed upon unbelievers as well as upon believers. This, however, is an argument of no force. The point at issue is, not whether there is any difference between those two classes in the receipt of these blessings, for it is acknowledged that there is none; but, whether there is any difference in respect of right. It is certain that wicked men have no more a right to temporal good things, than a condemned criminal has to the food by which he is sustained till the day of execution. Undoubtedly, he has no claim to it, as he is dead in law, and it is accorded to him solely for the purpose of prolonging his life, till the proper time arrive for subjecting him to the appointed punishment. But believers have a right to the benefits which they enjoy; " for all things,” says an apostle, "are yours, whether things present, or things to come. They have a right to them, from the promise that their bread shall be given them, and their water shall be sure. And how did they obtain this promise? For whose sake was it made to them? “In Christ are all the promises yea and amen, to the glory of God.” It is through him that a distinction is made between them and other men, that they can look up to God for their daily bread, while others have no ground for any such expectation. In a word, their right to this world, or to an adequate portion of it, which is enumerated among the things which belong to them - for the world is yours," says Paul—their right to this world is placed upon its proper basis by the apostle, when he says, “ All things are yours; for ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's;** thus referring temporal, as well as spiritual benefits to his mediation, as the cause for which they are communicated to the saints.
If any person should still think that Christ has procured for us, not the benefits themselves, but the blessing which attends them, he is at full liberty to indulge his opinion; but it may be questioned, whether it will contribute in any degree to his piety. "They that fear the Lord shall not lack any good thing.” Riches may be denied to them, or may be taken from them, but food convenient may be confidently expected. The blessing of heaven is in their portion, however scanty it may be; and “ a little which a righteous man haih, is better than the riches of many wicked." • Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed."'* With respect to the provision which he makes for the souls of his children, we are all agreed. As he gave manna to the Israelites in the wilderness, so he gives them his Word, to be the mean of communicating spiritual good things; and it is sometimes compared to milk, and sometimes to strong meat, to intimate that it is adapted to the diversified circumstances and states of the members of his family, to the babe in Christ, and to the full-grown man. His care of them is represented in a solemn and impressive manner in the Sacred Supper, when they are assembled at his table to eat bread and drink wine, as the symbols of heavenly blessings, and all are reminded that he nourishes their souls by his invisible grace.
* 1 Cor. iii. 21. 23.
The design of all his institutions is, that they may come, " in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”+
In the fourth place, The children of God are subjected to paternal discipline. When we judge according to our feelings, this may seem to be a punishment rather than a privilege, for “no chastening for the present is joyous, but grievous.” But as in a human family, he that spares the rod hates his son, because, through mistaken tenderness, he suffers him to escape with impunity when he has committed a fault, and thus permits his wayward inclinations to gather strength, and vicious habits to be formed which will entail misery upon him here and hereafter; so, in the family of God, the want of discipline would be an evidence, not of love, but of neglect and indifference to the interests of the members. The Scripture therefore says, “ Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."| He chastises him because he loves him; and, however paradoxical this may appear upon a super. ficial view, its truth will be manifest to those who consider the end proposed and the effect produced. God chastises his children, that they may be partakers of his holiness; and holiness is not only the dress and ornament of the members of his family, but is indispensably necessary to their peace and happiness, both in this world and in the next. Men may think, and even the saints themselves may suspect, when their trials are manifold and severe, that their heavenly Father has disowned and forsaken them. But this is not the only instance in which human reason egregiously errs. What seems to our hasty and limited observation to betoken ill, is the surest proof of his favour; and a state of uninterrupted ease and enjoyment, which we would prefer, would furnish a more solid ground of apprehension. “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."'S
Lastly, God will bestow upon his children an eternal inheritance. “If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.”|| Children, by the law of nature and nations, inherit the property of their father; and an adopted son possessed all the rights and privileges of a son by descent. At the death of the person who adopted him, he was legally entitled to his property. There is an inheritance which belongs to the family of God, and every man who is received into it is an heir. The expression, “joint heirs with Christ,” imports that the inheritance originally pertains to our Redeemer, who obtained it for himself and those whom he calls his brethren by his meritorious obedience, and that their right to it is founded on their connexion with him. It is an inheritance of glory and felicity, "incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” for them. Whatever God now is to angels and glorified saints, and whatever he will be to them through an endless duration, in which their faculties will be continually expanding, and they will be filled with bliss to the utmost extent of their capacity ;—for all this, "which eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, nor hath it entered into the mind of man to conceive,” the adopted sons of God are authorized to hope. Even in this world, how happy does the earnest of the inheritance make them! How divine the peace which sheds its influence upon their souls! How pure and elevating the joy which, in some select hours, springs up in their bosoms! How are they raised above the pains and the pleasures of life, while, in the contemplations of faith, they anticipate their future abode in the higher regions of the universe! But these are only an earnest. Their hearts beat high with the expectation of something too sublime to be uttered or adequately conceived; and, while their breasts heave with the vehemence of desire, they breathe out, in broken and impassioned accents, their longings for the time when they shall be delivered from the infirmities of the flesh and the imperfections of the present state, which prevent the full enjoyment of infinite good. “ We know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now: and not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?' But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it,"'*
* Ps. xxxvii. 16. 3.
Heb. xii. 7, 8
1 Heb. xii. 6.
+ Eph. iv. 13.
Scriptural meaning of the term, Sanctification–Difference between Justification and Sanc.
tification-Sanctification viewed as a Privilege, and as a Duty-Implies the Mortification of Sin, and the Increase of Positive Holiness—Extent of Holiness attainable in this Life.
The blessing which in the next place claims our attention, is Sanctification. But before I proceed to explain its nature, it is necessary to ascertain the Scriptural meaning of the term.
The word, to sanctify, bears a variety of senses which are considerably different. It sometimes signifies to separate a person or thing from its common use to some particular purpose, even when there is no reference to religion. Thus, in the seventh verse of the twenty-second chapter of Jeremiah, God says, in our translation, “I will prepare, but according to the original, “I will sanctify destroyers against thee, every one with his weapons; and they shall cut down the choice. cedars, and cast them into the fire." Again, to sanctify, often signifies to separate from a common to a sacred use, or to dedi. cate to the service of God. In this sense, the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry were holy; the priests and Levites were holy; the temple erected on Mount Zion was holy; and Jerusalem was called the holy city.