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covenant, or be cast out, we do not now firm and immutable--the nature of the dispute. The covenant itself cannot be covenant requiring it. Thus it was all abolished, because it is confirmed in and over with this theology, and it suffices with Christ, the Mediator; and, there- to have treated it briefly, as it lasted fore, the theology founded on it cannot but a short time, and the doctrine conperish. However, the theologians have, cerning it can be elicited from but very as we shall see, often fallen from the few passages of Scripture. theology; yet this remained absolutely
THE NATURE AND PRIVILEGES OF ADOPTION.
“My faith shall Abba, Father, cry,
And thou the kindred own.' But let us not quote poetry, without are the children of the flesh, these are ascertaining the bearing of such a senti- not the children of God; but the childment on our personal character, and our ren of the promise are accounted for the actual privileges. And who that knows seed." hintself, does not feel willing to submit Now, having drawn attention to this his character to the light of truth, that striking distinction, let us proceed to his enjoyments may be real and perma- examine the real nature of adoption. nent? Come, then, my Christian reader, This is evidently special, peculiar, and under such impressions, let us proceed distinguishing. It is the translation or to our subject.
transposition of a sinner from his natural Definitions are useful, when natural into a spiritual state—from darkness and easy of comprehension; and such is into light-from the power of Satan that relative to this interesting topic. unto God-from the family of Satan into Adoption, then, is an act of God's spe- " the household of faith.” And this cial grace, whereby a person is received translation is accomplished under the into the number of his children, and has authority and by the power of the adora right to all their privileges. The term able Trinity. It is "according to the adoption has a general signification, as it is good pleasure of the Father's will,” usuallyunderstood among civilised nations. Eph. i. 5. And so of the Son it is said, Thus men may take strangers, or young
as many as received him, to friends, into their families, treat them as them gave he power [right or privi. children, and make them heirs to their lege] to become the sons of God," property. Men frequently adopt child- John i. 12. And thus believers are said ren" from caprice, from ambition, or to “have received the Spirit of adopfrom amiable dispositions discoverable in tion,"-as deriving this invaluable prithe party adopted. But God, in his vilege from him, "whereby they cry, adoptions, acts like a sovereign, inde- Abba, Father," Rom. viii. 15. And pendent, and glorious Being. So St. the riches of Divine grace appear the Paul speaks to the Ephesians: "Having more admirable when the adopted childpredestinated_us unto the adoption of ren contrast their present condition with children by Jesus Christ unto himself, their former state of ignorance, darkaccording to the good pleasure of his ness, distance, alienation, and misery. will."
How expressive, too, is the language of The apostle distinctly alludes to a kind the Redeemer, in addressing his Father of visible or national adoption, in speaking on their behalf :-“ All mine are thine; of “the Israelites, to whom pertaineth the and thine are mine; and I am glorified adoption, and the glory, and the cove- in them," John xvii, 10. nants, and the giving of the law, and the The instrumentality of faith appears service, and the promises,” Rom. ix. 4. in our adoption ; hence its reality may But let us attentively mark the distinc- be known. " After that faith is come, tion that he draws between the visible the apostle declares, we are no longer and the inward adoption, between that under a schoolmaster," viz. the law, that which is national, and special or spirit- brought us to Christ: “ for ye are all ual: "For they are not all Israel which the children of God by faith in Christ are of Israel" :.. That is, "they which Jesus,” Gal. iii. 25, 26. The connexion
of cause and effect should be accurately The second privilege of Christians is, ascertained, and the adoption is estab- " the liberty wherewith Christ has made lished. If, by a lively apprehension of them free." Before this, they were the suitableness of Christ, if, by repos- notoriously under the guilt and dominion ing the soul on his infinite fulness; and of sin, the tyranny of Satan, the curse of if, by a cordial reception of his perfect the law, and, consequently, the sting of righteousness, we give evidence of the death. But it is written, “ If the Son believing, confiding spirit, it must be shall make you free, ye shall be free agreeable to the nature of adopting indeed;" most truly, most happily free grace. The glorious design of God and from all. The guilt of sin is purged Christ, in the great plan of redemption, away by atoning blood, while its domiterminates here. For God sent forth his nion is subdued, perhaps slowly, but efSon, to redeem them that were under fectually, by reigning grace; and thus, the law, “that we might receive the too, the tyranny of Satan yields to the adoption of sons." The adoption is power of the Divine Spirit; and as the traced up to the work of redemption ; curse of the law is removed, the sting of and the reception of it to the exercise of death is rendered innoxious; and " the faith. And the apostle confirms this by glorious liberty” will, ere long, be conappealing to the devout and believing summated in heaven. In the meantime, state of the heart : “And because ye and an evidence of this, there will be are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit the activity of faith, working by love, of his Son into your hearts, crying, producing all manner of reverential, Abba, Father, Gal. iv. 4–6. As the filial, holy, increasing obedience; and, believer advances in his heavenly course, where growth in grace is really felt, this or is sometimes favoured with special obedience will be seen and read of all manifestations of Divine love, the adoption becomes more certain ; his filial A third privilege of the children of spirit is strongly in exercise ; and his God is, their free, and certain, and pleaconscience also bears its testimony to the sant access to him as thcir Father. Aptruth. In fact, he believes St. Paul's prehending the righteousness of Christ reasoping to be just, while the infer- Jesus, and knowing that he ever liveth ences are all in his own favour. He to make intercession for us, the apostle trusts that he is led by the Spirit of God; assures us, that “we have access by that he has not received the spirit of the faith into this grace wherein we bondage again to fear, but the Spirit stand.” Hence the certain convicof adoption : “ The Spirit itself beareth tion we have of the love, grace, power, witness with our spirit, that we are the and faithfulness of God, in fulfilling all children of God," Rom. viii. 14–16. his promises. Like Abraham, we "are While the Spirit's witness is represented fully persuaded that what he has proas a continued act, how earnestly should mised he is able also to perform.” And, we labour to keep up the corresponding that we may not be wanting in the exerwitness of our own spirits! And if our cise of this privilege, we are exhorted to consciences condemn us not, we surely "come boldly to the throne of grace;" may.
and when we keep within the line of From the nature let us now advance to duty and dependence, and ask according the consideration of the privileges of adop- to his will, our confidence is well founded tion. And, first of all, the names by which and satisfactory: “ we know that we believers are called to express the elevation have the petitions that we desired of and dignity of their present state. They him," 1 John v, 14, 15. had formerly the name of strangers and A fifth privilege of God's people is, foreigners, but are now fellow-citizens their interest in his Fatherly discipline with the saints, and of the household of and correction : “for what son is he God; they were enemies to God, ene- whom the father chasteneth not ?" mies to the cross of Christ, but being But, then, if subject to chastisement, of now reconciled they re become “the which all must be partakers at proper sons and children of God.” They are seasons, this is a proof of love ; for, who not only a chosen generation, but “ a does not see the necessity and wisdom of royal priesthood;" and hence become Divine correction, since it is evident, “kings and priests unto God." And that " whom the Lord loveth he chashowever' unworthy in themselves, " this teneth ?” As the Psalmist assures us that honour have all the saints."
the afflictions of the righteous are many, that is, in number, variety, and pecu- that we may be also glorified together," liarity, so it is the province of faith and Rom. viii. 17. Such, then, is the Divine patience to discern the hand of a Father nature of adoption, and such its glorious in our humiliation, support, and deliver- privileges.
privileges. Happy, indeed, are we, if ance. The Christian reader needs not a we share in the one, and enjoy the other! specification of outward trials, seen and Oh, let us most gratefully, most joyfully felt every where, but the great source of exclaim, “ Behold, what manner of love depression and conflict, when his hea-' the Father hath bestowed upon us, that venly Father seems to desert him. Com- we should be called the sons of God!" paring, past enjoyments with present Let our gratitude, and love, and anguish, how justly and painfully does zeal, and obedience, and self-consecrahe exclaim with David, " In my pros- tion bear increasing proportion to this perity I said, I shall never be moved. glorious relation, and to these immortal Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my hopes ! mountain to stand strong: [settled But there may be some who shall strength, for my mountain:] thou didst glance over these pages, who will feel a hide thy face, and I was troubled." conviction, that if this is adoption, they Now afterwards, if not under the pres- are still ignorant of its nature, and know sure of this desertion, believers, like nothing of these high privileges. Come, Job, see the end of the Lord, and then then, let us reason the point for a mothe rod is made to bud, and it “yieldeth ment. Is not God waiting to be grathe peaceable fruits of righteousness." cious ? Is he not now reconciling the And this is the profit they derive from all world to himself by Jesus Christ ? And their afflictions, that they's might be par- will he, can he refuse his Holy Spirit to takers of his holiness.” Hence, their sub- them that ask him? Then we solemnly, mission and endurance under their trials. yet affectionately, tell you, that the door
But the sixth, and I may surely add, of adoption is open before you. O enter the crowning privilege of the sons of God in, and adoption, and all its present and is, their title to the heavenly inherit- immortal benefits, are yours ! ance ; for the very nature of adoption Are my readers inquiring anxiously demonstrates that this title is good, and after the evidences of their sonship? valid, and indefeasible. “ If ye be Then listen to your Father's voice, and Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, bow to his will; keep up communion with and heirs according to the promise, him ; study how to resemble him; dread Gal. iii. 29. Yes, indeed, the apostle his anger and his absence : bind yourself often repeats this term with peculiar to his altar and his house : love all his pleasure and delight, calling them, heirs people, and be one in heart and spirit of righteousness, heirs of God, through with them all; and aim to promote bis faith in Christ Jesus, and heirs of salva- cause, his kingdom, throughout the tion : and, to comprehend and crown all, world. And let us all remember, that he declares of them, “ If children, then “as many as are led by the Spirit of heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with God, they are the sons of God." Christ; if so be that we suffer with him,
R. S. A.
LETTERS TO THE AGED.
BY THE REV. DR. ALEXANDER, OF AMERICA.
LETTER II. As an aged man, I would say to my still we have some advantages not pos. fellow-pilgrims, who are also in this sessed by the young. We have received advanced stage of the journey in life, important lessons from experience, which, endeavour to be useful, as long as you if they have been rightly improved, are are continued upon earth. We are, it is of inestimable value. The book of Divine true, subject to many peculiar infirmities Providence, which is in a great measure both of body and mind, to bear up under sealed to them, has been unfolded to us. which requires much exertion, and no We can look back and contemplate all small share of Divine assistance; but the way along which the Lord has led us. We can now see the wise designs of To comply with this, you should, in the our Father, in many events, which, at first place, guard vigilantly against those the time, were dark and mysterious. The faults and foibles, into which old people knowledge to be derived from studying are apt to fall. We must be careful not the book of God's providence, cannot be to mistake moroseness for seriousness, communicated to another; the lessons austerity for gravity, or discontent with are like the name upon the white stone, our condition for deadness to the world. which none can read but he that has it. Why should the aged be more peevish The successive events of our lives we and morose than others ? If they are can make known, but the connexion pious, there can be no good reason for which these events have with our cha. it; but it is not difficult to account for racter;-our sins, and our prayers, can be the fact. In the decline of life a gradual fully understood only by ourselves. He change takes place in our physical syswho neglects to study the pages of this tem, by which the mind is considerably book, deprives himself of one most im- affected; and often positive disease is portant means of improvement; yet many added to this natural change. The nervprofessors of religion appear to pay little ous system is debilitated and shattered ; or no attention to the providence of God, and in consequence, the spirits are apt to in relation to themselves. If they meet sink, or to become irregular. To these with some severe judgment, or some may be added, the afflictions and disap
great deliverance, their attention is ar- pointments which most experience in · rested, and they acknowledge the hand the course of a long life, by which the of God in the dispensation ; but as to temper is apt to be soured. And when the succession of ordinary events, they men, by reason of the decay of mind and seem to have no practical belief that body, become disqualified for the same they are ordered by Divine Providence, active services which they were long or have any important relation to their accustomed to perform, and these fall duty or interest. I would affectionately into the hands of juniors, whom they entreat my aged brethren to make the knew when children, it is very natural dealings of God's providence towards to feel as if every thing was going themselves a subject of careful study. wrong. Old men have always been wont There is within our reach, except in the to laud the times long past, when they Bible, no source of instruction more were young, and to censure all the innoimportant. And to aid you in this busi- vations which have come in since. ness, permit me to recommend to your Sometimes, also, the aged experience a careful perusal two little volumes on neglect from the young, and even a want Providence, which I have found useful of respect from their own children, and comfortable to myself. The first is, which is exceedingly mortifying, and Flavel's “Mystery of Providence Open- tends much to foster that acerbity of ed;" and the other is, Boston's “ Crook temper so frequently found in the aged. in the Lot." These excellent treatises But although these and other similar may be read over and over again with things may be truly pleaded in extenuaprofit. Perhaps the best method of tion of the fault under consideration ; studying such books is not to read the yet they do by no means amount to an whole at once, or in a short time, but to apology which exculpates us from blame. peruse a few paragraphs at a time, and And that old age is not necessarily acthen reflect upon the subject, and make companied by these unamiable traits of application of what we read to our own character is proved by many happy case. And while I am recommending examples. Some aged persons exhibit works on this subject, I ought not to an uniform cheerfulness and serenity of omit mentioning Charnock's treatise on mind; and the remarkable fact has been “ Providence." I confess I am not so recorded in regard to a few, that a natufamiliar with this as the treatises before rally irritable temper has been softened mentioned, but I found his other writ- and mellowed, instead of being exaspeings, especially those on the Divine at. rated by old age. If I recollect rightly, tributes, so surpassing in excellence, that this is mentioned as true in relation to I feel willing to recommend any thing the Rev. Dr. Rodgers of New York, by which ever proceeded from his pen. his biographer, my respected colleague,
I began this letter with an exhortation, the Rev. Dr. Miller. The late venerable to endeavour to be useful while you live. Dr. Livingston of the Dutch Reformed Church, president of their college and no longer recognise their own children, seminary, was distinguished by uniform religion, where it was possessed, still cheerfulness to a very advanced age; remains. Jesus Christ is never forgotten, and his cordial and affectionate manners Pious sentiments are never obliterated. were remarked and felt by all who ap- Cicero, in his beautiful treatise on old proached him. The Rev.John Newton, of age, in which many judicious and London, seems to have possessed, with pleasing sentiments are expressed, when large measures of Divine grace, a very speaking of the decay of the memory, happy physical temperament. It is delight- says, that he never heard of a miser ful to contemplate the old age of such a forgetting the place where he had buried man. And while I am mentioning re
his treasure. What the mind prizes corded examples of a temper in old age most is longest retained in memory. It deserving of imitation, I would recall to is often remarked, and justly, “ How the remembrance of my readers the beautiful does unaffected piety appear in case of the Rev. Dr. Thomas Scott, who, youth !" But it may as truly be said, at a period of life when most men relin- « How amiable and venerable is exalted quish all severe labour, actually under- piety in old age !" took to learn the Arabic language, that It has been said that avarice is pecuhe might be able to give instruction to liarly the sin of age : we often hear of an the missionaries going to the East. old, but scarcely ever of a young miser.
It has often been noticed, that piety is This may be true in regard to those who apt to decline with the decline of manly have cherished the love of the world all vigour. If this really be a common their lives. They will hug their treaevent, it is exceedingly to be deplored. sures with a closer grasp, and their affecBut, perhaps, it is more in appearance tions be more concentrated on them than reality. It requires much stronger when other objects are removed; but faith, and feelings of warmer piety, to this vice does not originate in old age, it enable an old man to go forward in his is only the mature fruit of the seed plantcourse with zeal and alacrity, than for a ed in early life; and though it becomes young man who is buoyed up and borne deeply radicated in old age, it is not now along by the vigour of youthful passions, so much the desire of acquiring wealth, to do the same. But I rejoice to know, as of holding fast what they have got. that piety does not always even appear to The folly of the miser who hoards his grow cold by the descent into the vale of money without a thought of using it, is years. In some Christians it evidently easily shown, and has often been ridigoes on advancing; and their growth in culed. But the truth is, that all ardent grace is much more rapid in this period pursuit of worldly objects, beyond what is of life than any other. As they approach necessary for the real wants of nature, nearer to heaven, their hearts and their might be demonstrated to be equally abconversation are more in heaven. Oh surd. But whatever men of the world that it might be thus with us all! As may do, let not Christians dishonour these letters are intended also for my their holy profession by an inordinate aged friends of the female sex, I would love of the world. Especially, let not recommend to their notice and imitation the aged professor bring into doubt the the old age of Mrs. Hannah More. From sincerity of his religion, by manifesting her first appearance as a Christian, she a covetous disposition. "Take heed," seems to have gone on advancing in said the Great Teacher, “ and beware evangelical knowledge and ardent piety, of covetousness; for a man's life conuntil she was completely superannuated. sisteth not in the abundance of the things And even then she lost nothing of the which he possesseth.” Many begin the respect and affection, which by her pious world with little, and the claims of an and benevolent labours she had gained; increasing family render it necessary to for still, when her memory was so im- exercise much diligence and economy to paired that she did not remember the make a living; but thus it often happens, books she had written, the elevation that an avaricious disposition, under the of her piety and the enlargement of her semblance of necessity, and even of duty, benevolence remained unimpaired. And strikes its roots deep into the soul, ere the it is a truly delightful thought, that when man is aware of any danger. Indeed, it in the wreck of mind the whole
cargo of is almost impossible to convince a man of knowledge seems to be lost, and parents the sin of covetousness, while he avoids