« VorigeDoorgaan »
adoption into the family of God. "I AM A CHRISTIAN-WHAT THEN? WHY I AM A CHILD OF GOD, and surely I ought to be filled with filial love, reverence, joy, and gratitude." "And what," says the Apostle in the sixth chapter of his Second Epistle, "What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." The Christian is here described as brought into a nearer and dearer relation to his God; not only redeemed, pardoned, and sanctified, but received as a long lost child. As his living temple God "dwells in his people and walks in them;" as his adopted sons and daughters he "receives them and is a
Father unto them." There is a life and a warmth in this figure which does not belong to the other. We may picture to ourselves the stately temple rising in marble magnificence to the honour of its God; its pavement pure from defilement; its altar free from sacrilege; its shrines devoid of idols, and all within its sacred precincts sanctity and splendour. It is indeed sacred to God, but there is no life, no consciousness, no feeling. It knows not the dignity that belongs to it as that which is holy unto the Lord. The idea of a living temple carries us further, but it has no actual antitype in existence. We may transfer the sanctity connected with the idea of a temple to a living person, but it is only in a figure. The relation is emblematical, not actual. But when God tells us that "he will be a Father unto us, and that we shall be sons and daughters to him," he speaks of that which actually takes place in the fullest sense of the words. He is not only like a Father to
the Christian, but he is a Father to him; and the Christian is not only like a child to God, but he is his child-his by regeneration and adoption-his in disposition and affection. May his Holy Spirit be with us while we consider these precious truths! As the Spirit of truth may he enlighten our understandings; as the Spirit of grace may he touch our hearts; and as the Spirit of adoption may he seal us for his own and give us "an earnest of our inheritance" "in our hearts!"
I. Enquire into the statements of Scripture respecting the filial relation in which every true Christian stands to God; and,
II. Proceed to infer from them the filial feelings and dispositions which belong to the character of a child.
I. When our first parents had transgressed the divine command they were driven forth under the curse and displeasure of their Father and their God. They were made to turn their backs on Para
dise, the place where they had enjoyed the presence and the favour of their Maker and their Friend. "The Lord drove out the man, and placed cherubims, with a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." But this just judgment, with reference to their outward condition, resembled but too nearly that alienation of heart which they had wilfully brought upon themselves. Before their footsteps turned from Paradise, their hearts had departed from God. And the prohibition of the tree of life was the just consequence of forfeiting the favour of him, in whose "favour is life." But the mediation of the Son of God is designed both to reverse the sentence and to change the character.
1. The work of redemption is to reverse the sentence, and restore sinful man to the right of sonship which he has forfeited by sin. "To as many as received him," says St. John, "gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on
his name."* For the word "power," the marginal reading is "right, or privilege." The Son of God is able, by virtue of his mediation, to restore us to our lost privilege of being accounted the sons of God. Behold the whole human race like prodigal sons leaving their Father's home, and living in forgetfulness of him in a far country. They have lost their natural right to his favour, they are no more worthy to be called his sons. But there is one among them who never "transgressed his Father's command at any time," and, unlike the elder brother in the parable, he engages to bring back the lost children, he gives up the comforts and honours of his Father's home, and goes in search of the wanderers into the far country. He submits himself to all their sorrows and shares all their wants. He tells them that their Father yet loves them, and for his sake is ready to pardon and welcome them back. But they heed him not,
* John i. 12.