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spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ; according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before Him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved. And again, In whom also we have obtained an inheritance; being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.35 This doctrine, that all good comes to the children of men from the will of God, is stated in order to encourage us to seek the blessings of His grace at His hands; and not for our discouragement. It is the will of God that the children of men should become His children; and He has shown it to be so, by sending to us His holy word, the revelation of His mercy and grace to fallen man. He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.36 He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. All this proceeds from His infinite goodness, because He delighteth in mercy. The will of God is elsewhere called, The good pleasure of His goodness.38 As to His secret will, with regard to the vessels of mercy, this is a subject with which we have nothing


35 Eph.i. 3-6,11. 36 Luke vi. 35. 37 Matt. v. 45. 382 Thess.i.11.

to do, any further than it respects ourselves individually. It is a subject which, with all our searching, we cannot fathom; and therefore it is useless for us to endeavour to pry into it. The character of the children of God is made known to us in His holy word, in order that we may ascertain our own by the description which is there given. In it we are assured that those who are the children of God, who look up to Him as their Father, become such, because it pleased the Lord to make them His people. Their utmost gratitude is therefore due to Him for His goodness and grace, which have been manifested to their souls. And they are thereby encouraged to expect from Him all the blessings which accompany salvation; and to depend upon Him for the grace which they need for enabling them to act as becometh the children of their Father, and to oppose their spiritual enemies, who are endeavouring, by their various temptations, to subvert their souls, and to hinder them from enjoying that happiness of which it is their privilege to partake, in communion and fellowship with their heavenly Father in Christ Jesus.

The apostle having led Christians to contemplate the source from whence regenerating grace is derived, even from the good will of God to man, proceeds to mention,

Secondly, The means whereby the change which had taken place in them was brought about.

They had been begotten of God, had been made His children, had been adopted into His family; and it was with the word of truth that this new birth had been effected. St. Peter ascribes the same effect to the same cause. He says to believers in Christ, Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth, through the Spirit, being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 39 So St. Paul rejoiced respecting the Colossians, The word of the truth of the gospel is come unto you, and bringeth forth fruit in you, since the day ye heard it, and knew the grace of God in truth.40 And he gave thanks to God for the Thessalonians, because God had from the beginning chosen them to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth. It is by the belief of the word of the truth of the gospel concerning the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, that the children of men become the children of God. This faith cometh by hearing, yet it is the gift of God; and is therefore to be sought from Him in the use of the appointed means of grace. Our blessed Lord commanded His apostles to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,43 that believing on Him, they should not perish, but have everlasting life. Here then we see the great importance of the word of truth, the testimony



391 Peter i. 22, 23. 40 Col. i. 5,6. 412 Thess. ii. 13. 42 Rom. x. 17.

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concerning Jesus Christ as the Saviour of sinners. We may attend to other things, or may disregard them, without being greatly affected by the consequences. But not so with the word of truth. If we receive the truth in the love of it, we become the children of God, and are brought into the way of salvation. But if the word of truth be neglected by us, it is to the danger of our souls; if it be despised and rejected, we are thereby ensuring, as far as in us lies, our own condemnation. So our Saviour said, He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. The word of truth then, as it is the means of regeneration in those who believe it, for they are thereby made the children of God and heirs of glory; so it will be the means of the condemnation of them that reject it. Such is the importance of the revelation of God, that it cannot be heard in vain.


Let us then ask ourselves, To what purpose is it that we have the holy scriptures in our hands, and the ordinances of the house of God to resort to, whereby the word of the truth of the gospel is come unto us? Since the consequences of having these privileges are so important, it becomes us seriously to examine, whether we believe the word of truth or not; whether we are

43 Mark xvi. 15. 44 John iii. 16.

45 John xii. 48.

the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, or not. It is the manifest will of God, by sending to us His holy word, that we should become His children by believing it. Has the end been answered for which the blessing has been vouchsafed to us? Let it be our prayer that the Spirit of God may apply His word to our hearts, that our wills may be subjected to His will, that we may be happy in the knowledge and love of God, that we may be the children of the Father of lights here on earth, and may hereafter receive the inheritance which is reserved for the children of God in heaven. The apostle states,

Thirdly, The object proposed by God in sending the word of His truth to mankind, and admitting those who truly believe it into the number of His children; and that is, That we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures. In this expression the apostle refers to the ordinances of the Levitical law, by which the first of the ripe fruits of the land were every year to be offered up to God; and the first born of the sons of the Israelites were given to Him, to be devoted to His service; instead of whom the Levites were considered to be in a peculiar manner devoted to Him. The setting apart of the Levites to the service of God may illustrate the apostle's meaning. It is much the same as the description. given by St. Peter of believers in Christ. Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy

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