and at length, through envy and malice, lay hands on him and kill him. But he tells them with his dying breath that he willingly lays down his life, as a proof of the enormity of their guilt, and a means of touching their hearts with compunction and remorse.

This, brethren, is the work of Christ in restoring us to the right of sonship. He was not indeed our brother by nature, but he made himself so that he might both redeem and restore us to God. "Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he himself likewise took part of the same, ,"*"that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people."+ "When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."+ In the parable of the prodigal

*Heb. i. 14. + Ver. 17.

Gal. iv. 4, 5.

son, there is indeed nothing analogous to the atonement: but God is a Sovereign as well as a Father, and it is the honour done to his broken law by the obedience and death of Christ that enables him to exercise mercy to the returning penitent. It is the sacrifice of the pure and perfect Elder Brother that restores the younger members of the human family to their forfeited rights as the children of God. But who are they to whom these rights are actually conveyed? "As many as receive him-even they that believe on his name." "Ye are all" says the Apostle, "the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."* It is faith that justifies, and faith that receives the privilege of adoption by thankfully embracing God's method of reconciliation by Christ. "Go to my brethren," said the risen Saviour, "and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." He is gone into heaven to appear in the ↑ John xx. 17.

* Gal. iii. 26.

presence of God for us, and no sooner does the humble penitent conceive the thought in his heart, "I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son," than the mediation of that gracious Elder Brother procures for him an immediate welcome.

2. But while the merits and mediation of the Redeemer thus prepare the way for the sinner's return to the Father, it is the work of the Spirit, first to prepare the sinner for his return, then to guide him in the way, and finally to bear witness to the reconciliation. He prepares the sinner for returning to his heavenly Father by convincing him of sin, and working in him that "godly sorrow which worketh repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of."* It is he who convinces the wandering prodigal of his guilt and misery, prompting in his heart the thought,

* 2 Cor. vii. 10.

"I will arise and go to my Father." It is he who by his mighty power regenerates the soul, and by a second birth makes it a second time "the offspring of God," and then turns the face of the penitent towards his Father's home, and converts him to God.

And when he has thus prepared him for his return, he leads him in the way. He takes of the things of Christ and shews them unto him; shews him the truth of the Saviour's saying, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me."* He enables him to believe to the saving of his soul, and not only points out Christ as "the way," but gives him strength and inclination to walk in that way. leaves him not till he has taught him by experience the truth of the Apostle's assertion-"Through him we have access by the Spirit unto the Father."† And when this gracious guide has brought the

*John xiv. 6. + Eph. ii. 18.


returning penitent into the presence of his God, does he leave him there to tell his own tale and make his request alone? Oh, no! "The Spirit also helpeth his infirmities, and maketh intercession for him according to the will of God;"* enabling him to utter with his lips the confession that he has conceived in his heart. And then it is that he fulfils the gracious office which procures for him the title of the Spirit of adoption. It is Christ who hath redeemed us and given us a right to the adoption of "And because ye are sons," adds the Apostle, "God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.'"† "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father;' the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are


Rom. viii. 26, 27. + Gal. iv. 6.

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