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the law of commandments 3rdly, Of the peace of
abolished in his flesh the enmity, even contained in ordinances," Eph. ii. 15. God granted likewise to the Gentiles. This is expressly mentioned, Zech. ix. 10.
I. WHOM God has admitted into a state of peace and friendship with himself, he has also adopted for his the doctrine sons; that they may enjoy the benefits both of grace and glory, not only by the favour of friendship, but also by a right of inheritance. There is no friendship more familiar than that between a father and his children; or rather, that natural affection between these exceeds, in familiarity and sweetness, every thing that can be signified by the name of friendship. There is not any one word, any one similitude borrowed from human affairs, that can sufficiently express or represent this most happy band of love; which can hardly be explained by a great number of metaphors heaped together. To express tranquillity of conscience, the Scripture calls it peace; to show us the pleasantness of familiarity, it calls it friendship; and, when it illustrates a right to the inheritance, it speaks of adoption; which is to be the subject of this chapter.
sons of God.
II. We assert, that believers are the sons of God. The apostle John proclaims it, saying: "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! Beloved, now are we the sons of God," 1 Epist. iii. 1, 2. This is God's covenant with them: "And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty," 2 Cor. vi. 18. III. But they are not so only on this account, that God, as Creator, gave them being and life, Mal. ii. 10 and, as Preserver, supports and provides them with all necessaries, Acts xvii. 25, 28.
Not only on
account ofcreation or
Nor of any
IV. Neither are they called the sons of God on account of any external prerogative only; whether poli- external tical, as magistrates are called "the children of the prerogative. Most High," Ps. lxxxii. 6; or ecclesiastical, in respect of an external fœderal communion; according to which some are called
"the sons of God," Gen. vi. 2, and "the children of the kingdom," Matt. viii. 12; in this sense also the Lord commanded Pharaoh to be told concerning Israel, "Israel is my son, even my first-born," Exod. iv. 22. For this regarded that national covenant which God entered into with the children of Israel, according to which he preserved them above all other nations, and heaped many blessings upon them, both of a corporeal and spiritual kind, which he did not vouchsafe to other people, Deut. vii. 6. He called them his sons, because he managed their concerns with as much solicitous care as any father could possibly do those of his own children. Deut. xxxii. 10, 11. Nay, he called them his first-born, not only because he loved them far better than other people, beyond the measure of common providence, "showing his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel," Ps. cxlvii. 19, as the first-born had a double portion in the paternal inheritance, Deut. xxi. 17; but also because he had appointed them to have a kind of dominion over other people: "Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren," &c. Gen. xxvii. 29. Though these words were, indeed, spoken to Jacob, yet they were to be chiefly verified in his posterity: of which we have illustrious evidences in David's time, 2 Sam. viii.
no connexion with sal
V. But however excellent these things were, yet they are very far below that dignity for which believers are vation. called the sons of God; for most of those who were called by the name of Israel and the first-born, were such, with whom God was not well pleased," and never were promoted to the inheritance of the land of Canaan, much less the heavenly inheritance, but "were overthrown in the wilderness," 1 Cor. x. 5. That very people, to whom Moses said, "Is not Jehovah thy father? hath he not magnified [established] thee?" are in the same breath called "a foolish people and unwise," Deut. xxxii. 6. Nay, there are of "the children of the kingdom," who "shall be cast out into utter darkness," Matt. viii. 12: for that national covenant, without any thing else, did not bestow saving grace, nor a right to possess the heavenly inheritance.
But in a
VI. The elect and believers are therefore in a far more eminent more eminent sense the sons of God: wherein John the sons of observed a love, never enough to be commended, God. 1 John iii. 1. Angels, indeed, have the glorious appellation of sons of God, Job xxxviii. 7; with which the Lord honours them, not only because he formed them, but also because he imprinted upon them the image and resemblance of his own holiness, Job iv. 18, and because, as children of the family, they familiarly converse with God in his house, which is heaven, Job i. 6: in fine, because something of the dignity and authority of God is vouchsafed unto them, as we have just said, that
magistrates are also called "the children of the Most High." These are 66 thrones, dominions, principalities, powers," Col. i. 16: nay, they are also called, Gods, Ps. xcvii. 7, compared with Heb. i. 6.
,דמן אלהא lated
VII. In almost the same sense, Adam seems also to Adam, by be called "the son of God," Luke iii. 38: for seeing creation, emithat name, which has the article rov set before it, denotes father in all the foregoing verses, as the Syriac, in place of rou, always puts ; no reason can be assigned, why here, altering the phrase, we should translate, with Beza, "who was of God," in which he has followed the Syriac, who trans"who is of God." For no doubt can be made, that Adam may be fitly called the son of God, the reasons of which Philo elegantly explains in the passage adduced by the illustrious Grotius on Luke iii. 38; in the manner Josephus has also written, that men were born of God himself:" namely, 1. God created Adam. 2. In his own image. 3. Eminently loved him. 4. Gave him dominion over the creatures. For these reasons he is deservedly called the son of God, though God had not yet declared him heir of his peculiar blessings. Nor does he seem without reason to mention Adam as the son of God. For this tends, as Grotius has learnedly observed, to raise our mind, by this scale, to the belief of the birth of Christ. For he who from the earth, without a father, could produce man, was able in like manner to make Christ to be born of a virgin without a father.
VIII. But Adam did not long maintain that dignity, But kept not on account of which he was called the son of God; long that for neglecting holiness, and, losing that excellency in which he was created, and suffering himself to be overcome by the devil, he became the servant of Satan, by whom he was foiled, 2 Pet. ii. 19; and, at the same time, " a child of wrath,' Eph. ii. 3, together with all his posterity. But what the elect have lost in Adam, they recover in Christ ; namely, the same, nay, a far more excellent degree of rank among the children. For let the disparity between Christ and believers be ever so great, yet "he is not ashamed to call them brethren," Heb. ii. 11.
elect recover in Christ.
IX. But the elect obtain this degree of children of 1. By a new God several ways. First, they become the sons of God by a new and spiritual generation, descending from above. John speaks of this, chap. i. 12, 13: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." This illustrious passage, which is variously explained by interpreters, requires some particular consideration.
12, 13 explained.
X. The apostle describes this generation, or birth, whereby the elect become the sons of God, both negatively and positively. He denies it to be "of blood," that is, natural or ordinary, like that whereby the children come to be partakers of flesh and blood, Heb. ii. 14, and which is judged to be of blood. Neither is it " of the will of the flesh,” that is, from any carnal desire of having children by any means; hence it is, that one, by giving too much indulgence to the corrupt reasoning of the flesh, makes use of means for that end which God never prescribed: something like this we may observe in Sarah, when, from a desire of having children, she gave Hagar to Abraham. Nor in fine, is it "of the will of man," who, for certain reasons of his own, loves one above others, and so appoints him to the principal part of the inheritance: just as this was the will of Isaac with respect to Esau. Nothing human can give being to this spiritual generation, which is only "of God," who decreed it from eternity, and actually regenerates at the pointed time.
XI. To those who are thus born of God, he "gave power to become the sons of God." Εξουσία here denotes right and power. Rev. xxii. 14, "That they may have ovota, right, to the tree of life." But it may seem strange, how they who are born of God may have a right to become the sons of God, seeing, by their very nativity from God, they are already become his children. To remove this difficulty, three things chiefly have been observed by very learned men. 1st, As yEvEolai, to become, is the second aorist, it may fitly be taken for the preterperfect; to this effect: He gave them that power, that right, that dignity, that they might become the sons of God, and enjoy the privileges which are suitable to that condition. 2dly, reveσ0α TOLOŪTOV Γενεσθαι τοιοῦτον denotes, in Scripture phrase, "to be such a one," or "to behave as becomes such a one." Thus it is used, Matt. v. 45: "'OπWс γένησθε υἱοὶ τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν, that ye may be the children of your father," that you may behave yourselves as becomes the children of God. See 1 Thess. ii. 7, 10. 3dly, It might also be referred to that perfect filial state, which shall be conjoined with "the redemption of our body," and which the apostle, Rom. viii. 23, enjoins us to wait for:" and so the meaning may be, that God has granted those who are born of him a right to the heavenly inheritance, and that unparalleled honour by which, both in soul and body, they shall rejoice, as children of the family, in the palace of their Father; in such a manner, that it shall not be in the power of any creature to strip, diminish, or cut them off from that dignity. The reader may adopt which exposition he prefers. We are not a little pleased with the last; but wherein this new birth consists, we have explained at large, Chap. VI., of this Book.
XII. And this is the first foundation of that glorious 2. By marstate. Secondly, We become the children of God by riage with the marriage with the Lord Jesus; for when we become his spouse, then we pass with him into his father's family, and the Father calls us by the endearing name of "daughter," Ps. xlv. 10 and the Lord Jesus calls her also his sister, whom he names his " spouse," "Cant. v. 1, 2. God had provided by his law, that if" a man betroth his maid-servant unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters," Exod. xxi, 9: in the same manner he is pleased to deal with elect souls. By nature, they were as maid-servants to sin and Satan; lay exposed in the open field, and were a loathing to all. However, he graciously offers them a marriage with his only-begotten Son; they, by faith, accept the proposal, almost in the same manner that Abigail did, when she was thus invited to marry David, 1 Sam. xxv. 41: and thus, by the same act by which they become the spouse of Christ, they also become "the daughters of the living God," 2 Cor. vi. 18.
XIII. Thirdly, by adoption, which is an economical 3. By adopact of God, whereby they, who are regenerated after his image, and betrothed by faith to his only-begotten Son, are received into his family, and obtain the right and privileges of children, and the inheritance itself, by an immutable testament. They are "of the household of God," Eph. ii. 19; and "if children, then heirs," Rom. viii. 17; for the communication of the image of God alone does not give a right to the heavenly inheritance. This appears with respect to Adam in his state of innocence, who, indeed, was in the way of acquiring a right, but had not yet obtained it. The alone foundation of that right is the perfect and constant obedience, either of man himself, or of his surety. Christ, therefore, having appeared for us, fulfilled all righteousness, and "was appointed heir of all things," Heb. i. 2. The elect, being regenerated, receive and claim to themselves, by faith, Christ and all his benefits, even his perfect righteousness; and, being thus adopted by the Father, and become the brethren of Christ, they are " heirs of God, and jointheirs with Christ," Rom. viii. 17. And in this sense principally we think John speaks: "To them which are born of God, he gave power to become the sons of God," as explained above, sect. xi.
the abund ritual grace.
ance of spi
XIV. For the better understanding of what has been said, we are now to observe, that the Spirit of God, in accumulated, order to explain these mysteries, uses metaphors borrowed from human things. But these metaphors are to be so adjusted, as one may not destroy, but rather supply the defects of, the other. It would seem in other respects absurd, that the soul which is born of God, should be adopted