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Gal. iv. 6. Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. IF we were to judge by the exterior of men's lives, we should be ready to think that Christianity had done but little hitherto for the world : for it must be confessed, that, of those who profess our holy religion, the greater part differ very little from heathens. But then it must be recollected, that there is much wrought by the Gospel, which, though to a certain degree visible in its effects, is seen clearly only by God himself. There is in every one, who receives the Gospel aright, a change, both in his state before God and in the secret habit of his mind. From an enemy
2071.1 THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTIO . 163 to God, he is made a friend and a son ; and from serving God by constraint, as a slave, he comes to him with a spirit of adoption, as a beloved child. ov\^, the acts of this person may be, in many respects, what they were before ; so that one who looks only on the outward appearance, shall see no great difference between him and others : but God, who has made all this difference, discerns it ; and appreciates the obedience that is paid to him, not according to the mere act, but according to the motive or principle from which it flows. ow, taking this view of Christianity, we must say, that it has been, and yet is, productive of incalculable good: for still, as well as in the
apostolic age, God begets sons to himself by means of it ; and " when they are made sons, he pours forth the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, crying, Abba, Father." In illustration of these words, I will shew, I. The relation which every true Christian bears to God— Every Christian, from a rebel and an enemy, becomes '' a son." In this we have the advantage of those under the law — [The Jews, though God's peculiar people, were not his sons, but his servants : or, if we call them his sons, (for doubtless he was a Father unto them,) still they were only as " minors, who differed very little from servants." They were under severe and burthensome restraints : they had but a small portion of their inheritance in actual enjoyment ; and they performed their duties altogether in a servile spirit ^ But under the Gospel we are regarded as adult sons, who are freed from those restraints, and enjoy a spirit of liberty in the whole of our life and conversation. This is not only affirmed in our text, but taken, as it were, for granted, and assumed as the ground of those further blessings which are bestowed upon us.] And to this we are introduced by our Lord Jesus Christ— a ver. 1—3. m2
104 GALATIA S, IV. 6. [2071.
[He has redeemed us from that bondage in which we were once held. Though, as Gentiles, we have never been bound by the ceremonial law, we have, of necessity, been subject to the moral law, which is equally binding on every child of man : and under that we have been exposed to the most tremendous curses for our violations of it. But the Lord Jesus Christ, by his obedience unto death, has both fulfilled its demands, and suffered its penalties, for us ; and has thus freed us from it as a covenant, and has brought us into a better covenant, the covenant of grace. Hence it is that we receive a Spirit of adoption : for, in this better covenant, God grants all the blessings of salvation to us freely, whether we be Jews or Gentiles ; and, as soon as ever we believe in Christ, admits us into his own family, as his beloved children ^ Thus are we brought to God in the relation of sons, and have all the benefits of children conferred upon us,] But that which we are chiefly to notice, concerning the Christian, is, II. The privileges, which, by virtue of this relation, he enjoys — The Spirit of Christ is sent forth into his heart — [The Holy Spirit is here, as in many other passages of Scripture, called, " the Spirit of Christ^" ot that we are to conceive of the Godhead as consisting of persons of unequal majesty and glory ; for the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are in glory equal, and in majesty co-eternal. But each person in the ever-blessed Trinity sustains a distinct office in the economy of redemption ; the Father sending the Son to work redemption for us ; and the Son sending the Holy Spirit to apply that redemption to us. It is in their official character alone that this subordination consists ; and, agreeably to this distinction, we must go to the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit ; and expect blessings from the Father in the very channel by which we gain access to him"^. ow, if we go to God in this way, he will send his Holy Spirit into our
hearts as a Spirit of adoption ; giving us thereby,] 1. Liberty of access i6 him — [The Jews dared not to draw nigh to God within the limits that were assigned them, w^hether on Mount Sinai, or in the temple. But, at the death of our blessed Lord, the vail of the temple was rent in twain, to intimate to us, that now there * This the Apostle carefully marks, by using the Hebrew word for Father, as well as the Greek ; shewing thereby, that whether we be Jews or Greeks, we are placed on the same footing by the Gospel. " Rom. viii. 9. 1 Pet. i. 11. <' Eph. ii. 18.
2071.] THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTIO . 165 was " opened for us a new and living way into the holiest of all," even for every child of man^; and that the nearer we came to God's mercy-seat, the more certainly we should find acceptance with him.] 2. Boldness to spread our wants before him — [To the Jews there were many things which, however they might desire them, they dared not ask. Korah and his company were consumed for affecting the priesthood, and presuming to offer incense to the Lord. But to our requests no limit whatever is assigned, provided they be in accordance with God's will, and have a tendency to advance his glory. With these obvious and necessary distinctions, we may " ask what we will, and it shall be done unto us :" however wide we open our mouths, God will fill them. If we are " straitened at all, it is in our own bowels :" we are not straitened in God : for he is both " able and willing to do for us exceeding abundantly above all that we can either ask or think."] 3. Confidence in his care —
[A servant may hope for kind attentions from his master in a day of necessity, though still to a very limited extent ; but a son is assured, that whatever relief his father can afford him shall be readily bestowed. His necessities may be great, and his troubles of long continuance ; but he has no fear that the tender sympathy of his father shall fail. ow this is what "a Spirit of adoption" gives to every true Christian. " He knows in whom he has believed ; and that he is both able and willing to keep that which he has committed to him." He knows not, indeed, hoiv God shall interpose for him, or when : but he is persuaded that " God will aiever leave him nor forsake him ;" but " will make all things work together for his ultimate good," and " cause his light and momentary afflictions to work out for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Hence, without doubting of a happy issue to his afflictions, " he casts his care on God, who careth for him."] 4. An assured expectation of his inheritance — [Of this a servant can have no hope. But a son knows that he has a title to his father's inheritance ; and that his father has assigned it to him in his will. But stronger far is the Christian's assurance of his title to heaven, and of his ultimate possession of it. God has promised to him, not grace only, but glory, also ; and has begotten him to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved e Heb. X. 19—22.
166 GALATIA S, IV. 6. [2071. in heaven for him, who is also kept by the power of God for it. And who shall rob him of this inheritance? "Who shall separate him from his Father's love ?" He can look on the innumerable hosts of men and devils, and boldly defy them alF. The Spirit of adoption, which enables him to " cry,
Abba, Father," assures him of the victory, and is to him a pledge and earnest of his future glory.] Observe — 1. How little is the true nature of Christianity understood amongst us ! [Men conceive of Christianity as a system of restraints ; or, at best, as a system of doctrines and duties. But, though it partakes of all these things, it is in reality a system of privileges : it " takes men from the dunghill, to set them among princes ;" and " translates them from the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of God's dear Son." Contemplate Christianity in this view; as taking "strangers and foreigners ; and not only bringing them into the household of God," but making them " sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty." Well might St. John express his wonder, saying, " Behold, what manner of love is this wherewith the Father hath loved us, that we should be called the sons of God ! " Truly, this is the light in which we should view the Gospel ; and this is the end for which we should receive its gracious declarations.] 2. What enemies to themselves are the unbelievingworld ! [It is to bring you to this very blessedness that we preach unto you the Gospel of Christ. For this we set forth all the wonders of redeeming love. For this we invite you to come to Christ, and believe in him. It is not to make you melancholy, as foolish people imagine ; but to make you blessed in the enjoyment of your God and in the possession of his glory. Why then will you put these things far from you ? Why will you pour contempt upon them, as if they did not deserve the attention of any considerate man? Be assured, that, in rejecting the salvation offered you in the Gospel, you are your own enemies : you rob yourselves of happiness, of which not all the universe could deprive you ; and plunge yourselves into misery, which all the universe would be unable to entail
upon you. Tell me, is it so light a matter to be sons of God, that you will despise it ; and to have a sweet sense of this sealed by the Holy Spirit upon your soul, that you will f Koni. viii. 31—39. reject it? Ah! who can make you amends for the loss of these privileges ; or console your minds, when they are irrecoverably placed beyond your reach ? Be wise, I pray you ; and seek these blessings, ere they are for ever hid from your eyes.] 3. How earnestly should we hold fast the blessings thus accorded to us ! [Great as these blessings were, the Galatian Christians were soon prevailed on to abandon the possession of them, and to go back again to the bondage in which they had formerly been held. And the same disposition remains in us. We all have a measure of servility in our minds ; and are ready to bind on ourselves burthens from which Christ has made us free. Legal hopes, legal fears, legal endeavours, are quite in consonance with our depraved hearts. But do not dishonour our blessed Lord by indulging such propensities as these : strive rather to get rid of them, and stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free. Then will you find the service of your God to be perfect freedom ; and the enjoyment of him, on earth, a foretaste of that complete fruition of him that awaits you.] 1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
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