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"The secret of the
them in the way everlasting. Lord is with them who fear him, and he will shew then his covenant. The meek he will guide in judgment, and teach them his way." Christ says to his disciples," Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I have commanded you. I call you not servants, for a servant knoweth not what his Lord doth ; but I have called you friends, for all things, which I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you."
2. Adoption brings us under the peculiar care of God's providence.
"God is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works." The just and the unjust partake of his common bounties. But he is especially good to them who are of a clean heart. "His eyes are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry. No good thing will be withheld from them who walk uprightly. Christ is made head over all things for the
Good and bad are subject to the common adversities of life; but the afflictions, which befal the just, are ordered in a more immediate subservience to their spir itual interest. "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth; he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If we endure chastening, God dealeth with us as with sons; for what son is he, whom the father chasteneth not? And God chasteneth us for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. And though no affiction for the present, is joyous, but grievous, yet afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteous.
Needful and seasonable correction is one of the benefits of adoption-one of the privileges of God's children. The gracious intention of it is to recover them from their backslidings-to wean them from the world-to quicken them in their duty-to prove their sincerity-and prepare them for heaven. David considered his adversity as a fruit of God's parental faith
fulness and love. "I know, O God, that thy judg ments are right, and thou in faithfulness hast afflicted
Affliction, considered in itself, is grievous-consid. ered as the effect of sin, is humbling-but, considered as the allotment of divine wisdom for our eternal ad• Count vantage, it is matter of thankfulness and joy. it all joy," says St. James," when ye fall into divers temptations, for the trying of your faith worketh patience." "Rejoice," says St. Peter, "inasmuch as ye are partakers of the sufferings of Christ, that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." The children of God must esteem it a mighty privilege, that they are under the care of a wise and gracious parent, who will always treat them according to their wants; will give them prosperity as far as it is safe, and withdraw it when it would be dangerous; will send correction when it is needed, and remove it when the occasion ceases; and, in a word, will cause all things to work for their good.
3. Adoption includes a title to a glorious resurrec tion from the dead, and to an eternal inheritance in the heavens.
So this Apostle explains it in the eighth chapter of the Romans. "We have received the spirit of adop tion and the spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. If we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified with him; and all the sufferings of the present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory, which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God; for the creature shall be delivered from the bond. age of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. And we, who have the first fruits of the spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, even the redemption of the body." To the same pur
pose are the words of St. John, 1 Epistle, Chapter iii. "Behold now, what manner of love the father hath be.. stowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God? Now we are the sons of God; and it doth not yet appr what we shall be; but we know that when Christ shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." So also says St. Peter, 1 Epistle i. 3. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath begotton us to a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, to an inherit ance incorruptible, undefiled, fading not away, reserv. ed in heaven for us."
Now if believers are the children of God, then their temper must be a child like temper-a temper corresponding to their relation, condition and character. Let us therefore, as becomes obedient children, be holy in all manner of conversation, for he who has called us is holy. Let us be followers of God as dear children, walking worthy of him, who has called us to his king. dom and glory. Let us reverence and love our Supreme Parent, trust ourselves in the hands of his goodness, patiently bear the corrections of his love, humbly submit to the disposals of his wisdom, maintain a dai ly correspondence with him, attend to all the discover. ies of his will, and in all things cheerfully comply with his commands, however contrary to our natural wishes. In imitation of his goodness let us do good as we have opportunity; and, regarding his professed children as our brethren, let us walk in love to them, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace; for he, who is the God and Father of all, is above all, through all, and in us all.
I proceed to our
IV. Observation: That all spiritual blessings are derived to us through Jesus Christ. "God hath chosen us in Christ-predestinated us to the adoption of children by Christ-made us accepted in the Beloved."
It is the grand theme of the gospel, that "God is in
The wisdom of God saw fit to exercise mercy to sinful men through the mediation of his Son, who came into our world, assumed our nature, and suffered death on the cross for our sins. What were all the reasons, which, in the divine government, made such a scheme of redemption necessary, it may be difficult for us to determine, and it is needless to inquire. We may, however, easily discern some important ends, which it answers. It clearly displays the holiness, justice and mercy of God, the evil and demerit of sin, the punishment which it deserves, the grace of God to pardon it, and the amazing danger of continued impenitence in it: We must therefore suppose, that these were among the reasons why it was adopted.
As Christ is the Mediator, so all the blessings, which we enjoy and hope for, are represented as coming to us through him. We are justified through his bloodadopted in him-obtain the promise of the Spirit and are sanctified in him—are admitted to the means of salvation, called to the privileges of the gospel, and made partakers of eternal life through him.
The Apostle says, God has chosen us in Christ, before the foundation of the world. It was the eternal plan of divine wisdom to save sinners through Jesus Christ, who, in the purpose of God, was a lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Their salvationtherefore cannot originate from any worthiness in themselves, but must depend on the interposition of the Saviour; for every thing which God has done, and which, even before the foundation of the world, he purposed to do for the recovery of sinners, was in consideration of that all perfect sacrifice which has been offered on the cross.
Now if all spiritual benefits come to us only through Christ, it is an obvious conclusion, that we must seek and expect them in his name: For we must evidently
apply for them in the way in which God bestows them. Faith in Christ, therefore, becomes a necessary condition of acceptance with God. However God may see fit to deal with some, who enjoy not our light, yet to us, who have known the mystery of his will, faith in Christ is a necessary principle of religion." For as much as we know, that we are not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ, who was ordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in these last times for us, we must come to God by him, and by him believe in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, that our faith and hope might be in God."
V. The Apostle farther teaches us, that the reason of God's choosing believers in Christ, and predestinating them to adoption, is the good pleasure of his will.
If we admit that we are sinful, fallen creatures, unworthy of God's favor, and insufficient for our own redemption, which is a plain doctrine of the gospel, and an evident dictate of experience, then our salvation must ultimately be resolved into God's good pleasure. There is no other source from which it can be derived. If death is our desert, our deliverance must be by grace.
Final salvation is suspended on the condition of our repentance, faith and holiness; but it is not the less grace; for these previous requisites are not merely of ourselves; they are the gifts of God. The original plan of salvation is from him, not from us: The gospel itself is a divine gift, not a human discovery: Our being under circumstances to enjoy it is not the effect of our previous choice, but of God's sovereign goodness: It is the good Spirit of God, who awakens the attention of sinners to the gospel, excites them to the use of the means in their hands, and makes these means successful. The gospel considers and treats us as free, but not as independent agents. In common life, the success of our labors, as well as our ability to labor,