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God calls them out of darkness, and makes them “partakers of his divine nature,” by regeneration; and thus they truly become his children, by a “death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness.
Adoption both recognises their title, and admits them to the fruition of the privileges belonging to such a relation.
Surely they who receive this inestimable gift of Heaven are the happiest men in the world! Their joy is as much superior in its nature to the highest earthly gratification, as light is to darkness, and health to disease. Have not they cause to cry out, in joyful admiration, « Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God •" What a dignity and honour, to be adopted into a filial and covenant relation with the Most High, which makes them rich and happy to all eternity! “For all things," saith the Lord, speaking by his Appstle to true believers, "are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos,or Cephas,"--all means, ordinances, and Ministers, for your spiritual good; or the world, all things in it, as far as they can be of any real service ; or life, as long as its continuance can be a favour,--and, when it ceases, death shall be gain ;
things present and things to come, all temporal and eternal inercies, are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's?,” How rich the charter of blessings! how vast the inheritance conveyed to the people of God! They who know it is their own by the free gift of God, cannot but rejoice in his love towards them. And this assurance is, in a greater or less degree, vouchsafed to the minds of his sons : “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs ; heirs. e 1 John iii. 1.
I Cor. iii. 21-23.
of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
The joy of God's chosen servants is inspired and supported by the spirit of adoption, which the new covenant connects with the privilege of adoption. Men are fallen to a great distance from God, which is increased by their wilful offences against him, of which their consciences accuse them. The consequence is, that they often stand in doubt concerning the intentions of their Maker respecting them This distrust of God aggravates their misery, and prevents their receiving consolation from above, at the time when it is most needed. Hence, carnal men approach him, in their afflictions, not with filialaffection, but with a faultering tongue and trembling heart.
The case is happily the reverse with believers. They look up to God with the sweet confidence which children have in their beloved parents. Instead of sinking under the weight of distress, or flying from the Lord as the wicked do, they come before him as a tender father, make known to him their wants, and obtain relief. Emboldened by his past kindness, they place unshaken affiance in his promises, and wait in humble patience, until he sees fit to remove them from this vale of sorrow, to the land of peace and joy above. There they will be favoured with immediate access to God, enjoy his paternal sınile, and realize the accomplishment of that word in which he hath caused them to put their trust. Their privileges on earth distinguish them from all others. The state of their minds is thus described : “Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear ; but ve have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we
Rom. viii, 16-19.
cry, Abba, Fatherh.” But, oh ! how enviable their condition in heaven, where they will
possess fulness of joy and pleasures evermore! No gratification can equal that of believing souls, which delight themselves in serving God, and knowing that he is their great and all-sufficient friend. “The calm of mind, the blissful sunshine, and the entire complacency in God, which the spirit of adoption creates, is called the kingdom of God within.' And the more believers grow in grace, and in the love and knowledge of Christ, the more they are sure to enjoy of the spirit of adoption, in all his sanctifying, consoling, and beneficial influences.”.
2. The preservation of the saints in Christ, their living Head, is a spiritual gift, which sweetens the enjoyment of every other favour conferred upon them. God so keeps his regenerate, elect people, (who in themselves are weak and apt to fall away) internally, by the most powerful efficacy of his Spirit; and externally, by means appointed for that purpose, that they never entirely lose the principle and habits of those graces once infused into them, but shall be certainly brought, by a stedfast perseveránce in well-doing, to eternal salvation.
It is true, that, overcome by the power of indwelling sin, and the violence of temptation, the righteous may grievously offend God, and provoke his displeasure ; still, as the hcly seed sown in their hearts is an incorruptible principle which liveth and abideth for ever', though it may lie, for a season, dormant within them, yet it cannot totally perish, but will bring forth fruit that remaineth to everlasting life. The children of God, then, may, for a time, “fall from their stedfastness ;" yet, by the grace of God, they * Rom. viii. 15.
11 Pet. i. 23.
will rise again, as David and Peter did, amend their conduct, and so regain those tokens of Divine regard, of which they had been for a time deprived.".
“God will keep the feet of his saints",” and preserve them from final apostacy, in order that his “eternal purpose” of mercy towards them in Christ may be fully accomplished, by their unending glorification in heaven.
God mercifully engages to be with his people whilst they pass through the troublesome ocean of this life, to deliver them from all its storms and dangers, and at length to bring them to the haven of rest, where their souls would be. Thus speaks the Living God: "I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put iny fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me kk.” This covenant, which secures the bestowment of constraining and preserving grace to the elect people of God, has been solemnly ratified by the oath and promise of the Lord; “that by these two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us'.
Will, then, the infinitely wise God, who is also faithful and just to fulfil his word, make so many promises in vain? Will he deceive those who confide in his veracity? The perfections of his nature, and the tenor of his dealings with his Church, forbid the unjust supposition. “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent. Hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good m?” # Article 16.
Ki Sam. ii. 9. ** Jer, xxxii. 38–41. 'Heb. iv. 18-20.
* Num. xxiii. 19. VOL. I.
Moreover, has God of his unconstrained mercy chosen his people, and will he abandon the objects of his love ? Did he choose them that they might "be holy, and be made conformable to the image of his Son" ;” and will he give them up to sin, instead of saving them in a way of holiness? No: for he hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Because God is unchangeable in his regards, he will preserve them for ever. Under a firm persuasion of this animating truth, the Apostle of the Gentiles challenges 'the enemies of our salvation to do their worst, with a certainty of victory over them all. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord P."
Further, as each of the Sacred Persons of the Trinity performs a distinct office in the salvation of the elect, and as Christ claims his people for a “purchased possession," it is not credible that he will consent to lose those for whom he cheerfully endured
his bloody sweat, cross, and passion. His love to his chosen flock is as great as his care and power to defend them from every peril of their probationary state. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know thein ; and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” » Rom. viii. 29.
Heb. xiii. 5. » Rom. viii. 35–39. 9 John x. 27-30.5