« EdellinenJatka »
for a daughter, and joined in marriage to the only-begotten Son of God. Yet the Scripture has wisely ordered matters, when it declares all these things concerning believers. In order to express the original of spiritual life, and of the image of God in man, it says that he was born of God; to set forth our most delightful union with Christ, which is full of mutual affection, it calls it marriage; and to show the ground and firmness of our inheritance, it declares that we are adopted in Christ. And it is on account of each of these things, that we may be called the children of God.
benefit of the
XV. And this adoption is a most precious blessing of the covenant of grace. But it was very different, Old and New according to the different economies or dispensations of that covenant. It is, however, not to be doubted, that believers, at all times, were the children of God. Elihu, who was not of the people of Israel, called God "his father," Job 34, 36.* To understand this in that diminutive sense in which the heathen called Jupiter the Father of gods and men, is not suitable to the illustrious faith and piety of a man who was commended by God himself. A celebrated expositor has said well on this place: "God is called Father, as Mal. i. 6, 'A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a Father, where is mine honour?" And Isa. lxiv. 8, 'But now, O Lord, thou art our Father.' By this appellation he sets forth the affection of God in this respect, namely, his paternal care; his own affection in requesting his brotherly love; the end of the trial, a filial reverence and confidence."
XVI. All we have thus far said of the grounds of this glorious state, is even applicable to the Old Testament believers. They had likewise a new life by regeneration, and were created again after the image of God. They were, in like manner, betrothed to Christ, Hos. ii. 19, 20: "Their Maker was their husband," Isa. liv. 5. And ver. 1, the church of the Old Testament is expressly said to be married: nor were they without their adoption, "who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption," Rom. ix. 4. And to conclude, "were heirs of all," Gal. iv. 1 heirs of the grace of God in this life, Ps. xvi. 5; and of the glory of God in the life eternal, Ps. xvii. 15.
But in great
XVII. Though the condition of believers under the disparity of Old Testament was very illustrious, if compared with degrees. that of unbelievers, who continue children of wrath, and heirs of the treasures of divine indignation; yet all that splendour comparatively speaking was eclipsed to an almost
In our Version it is, "My desire is that Job may be tried;" but our marginal reading is," My father, let Job be tried!" for some observe, that the same word, , signifies both "my desire" and " my father."
incredible degree, before the august majesty of believers under the New Testament, as the light of the stars before that of the sun: as will appear by comparing them together.
XVIII. Believers under the Old Testament were, The ancients indeed, sons; but sons who were subject to their father, and to the severity and discipline of tutors," who bound heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and laid them on their shoulders;" nevertheless, their father said with respect to these tutors: "All whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do," Matt. xxiii. 3, 4; namely, as long as they commanded nothing that was contrary to, or inconsistent with, the will of the father. They were obliged to be subject to the weak and beggarly elements of the world, and, like children, to be engaged all the day in the trifling ceremonies of the Mosaic institution, which were, in a manner, the playthings of the church. They were taught like infants, without being left to their own choice, not knowing how to conduct themselves, or what was fit for them; "touch not, taste not," Col. ii. 21.
XIX. Besides, they were not admitted to that fami- The father liarity with their father, as to penetrate into the mys- not so fami teries of his will. "The mighty God did then hide covering himself," Isa. xlv, 15. Their tutors, indeed, at times, acquainted them with some things relating to God's purpose of grace, but that only rarely, and in mysterious expressions, and under enigmatical or parabolical representations. And though many prophets and righteous men desired to see and hear many things, yet they were not gratified, Matt. xiii. 17.
to stand at a distance.
XX. None of them was allowed to approach the holy of holies, which was, as it were, the secret place of their father: nay, they had not access to the temple itself, which was the father's house, but by means of the altar, sacrifices, and priests, without which, if they took upon them to approach to God, instead of a blessing, which they sought after, they incurred their father's displeasure. Neither was it lawful for them to omit the constant morning and evening sacrifice, Exod. xxvi. 28, 42.
jected to a
XXI. Their inheritance was the land of Canaan, a pledge, indeed, of the heavenly inheritance, but somewhat obscure, and such as they were commanded to be in some measure subjected to, and which the godly themselves were sometimes obliged to be destitute of, when forced into banishment. However they were to have such a tender regard to this land, that, when banished from their dear country, they were, in their prayers, to turn their faces thitherward, nor were they to pay their vows to heaven, without directing their eyes to that country, 1 Kings viii. 48, Dan. vi. 11. In all this, there was a notable subjection to this pledge..
New Testament be
lievers are delivered
XXII. The case of believers under the New Testament, is quite different. For after our elder brother, having taken upon him human nature, had visited this lower world, and freely undergone a state of various servitude for us, he brought us into true liberty, John viii. 36, removed the tutors, blotted out the hand-writing of ordinances, which was contrary to us, declared us to be dead with himself, set free from the elements of the world, so as they never after should have any dominion over us, Col. ii. 16, 20. He would no longer have us subject to these minute observances, but called us to a reasonable service, Rom. xii. 1, and, having broken and removed that troublesome yoke which was laid on the jaws of the ancients, Hos. xi. 4, laid his own upon us, which is easy and light, Matt. xi. 30.
the secrets of the
XXIII. He introduced us into the father's secret counsels, and, sucking the breasts of our mother, taught Father. us the things he so much desired the spouse should be taught, Cant. viii. 2: declared to us what he had seen in the bosom of the Father, nay, and even the Father himself, John i. 18, and in himself presented the Father to our view, so that we have no longer any occasion to say, "Show us the Father," John xvi. 9. He brought along with him those times, of which Jeremiah prophesied, chap. xxxi. 34. He abundantly poured out upon us "the unction from the holy one, which teacheth all things," 1 John ii. 20, 27. In a word, he does not now account us as servants; "for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth; but he hath called us friends: for all things that he hath heard of his Father, he hath made known unto us," John xv. 15. XXIV. He has also obtained for us a free access to the Father, having "consecrated for us a new and living way," in which we may walk "in full assurance of faith," Heb. x. 20, 22. By his death, the veil of the inmost sanctuary was rent, and all believers are made a royal priesthood, 1 Peter ii. 9; none is excluded the holy of holies; and though the Father still sits on a throne of majesty, yet it is at the same time a throne of grace, to which we are invited to approach with boldness, Heb. iv. 6, without sacrifice, without priests, trusting only in the alone offering of Jesus our High Priest, "whereby he hath for ever perfected them that are sanctified," Heb. x. 14: and this is "that better hope, by the which we draw nigh unto God," Heb. vii. 19.
Have a free access to God.
XXV. Nor hath he burdened us with any subjection called to a to a typical inheritance; but hath called us directly to an inheritance of spiritual and heavenly good things, and "appointed unto us a kingdom, as his Father hath appointed unto him," Luke xxii. 29. There is now no corner of the earth which we should desire, as more holy and more accept
able to God than another; for "the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof," Ps. xxiv. 1. Nor does he disdain an altar in the midst of Egypt, Isa. xix. 19. And thus "he hath made us partakers of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises," Heb. viii. 6.
XXVI. On account of those excellent prerogatives, Therefore believers under the New Testament are eminently and called sons emphatically called "the sons of God," 1 John iii. 2: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God," namely, by a much better right and title than before. To this the apostle has undoubtedly an eye, Gal. iv. 4-7: "But when the fulness of the time was come;" namely, that appointed time, till which the children were to be under tutors, ver. 2, " God sent forth his Son, to redeem them that were under the law," setting them free from the infantile use of ceremonies; " and that we might receive the adoption," not only that adoption whereby we are distinguished from the children of the devil and of wrath, but also that whereby we excel infants, not much differing from servants : "wherefore thou art no more a servant," as formerly, "but a son." That this is Paul's meaning, the whole connexion of the discourse and the scope of the writer evince. For the whole tends to show, that believers under the New Testament are set free from, nor ought they any longer to be oppressed with, the yoke of the old servitude, which the false judaising teachers, with the utmost endeavours, struggled to lay on their necks. XXVII. Certainly the condition of the sons of God is most excellent. If David put such a value on being of the sons of called the son-in-law of such a king as Saul, 1 Sam. xviii. 23, how highly should we esteem it, to be called the sons of the living God! 1st, How unparalleled is that royalty, by which we derive the origin of our pedigree, not from any earthly prince or monarch, but from the King of heaven! 2. What can be more glorious than that divine nature we obtain by a new generation? 2 Pet. i. 4. God himself glories in his sons, as his peculiar property; nay, calls them "the first-fruits of his increase," Jer. ii. 3, who may be to him "in praise, and in name, and in honour," Deut. xxvi. 19. Almost as parents who glory before others in those of their children who are remarkable for their beauty. 3. What can be more desirable than that marriage-relation to the only-begotten Son of God, than which thought itself can conceive nothing more honourable, more advantageous, and, in a word, more glorious? "He is white and ruddy, the chiefest (standard-bearer) among ten thousand," Cant. v. 10. When David, though not yet come to the crown, sent his men to Abigail, to procure her in marriage, that prudent widow "bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the
God most excellent.
servants of my lord," 1 Sam. xxv. 41. And what may our soul say, whenever it reflects that, having broke off the former marriage with Nabal, which was not a state of marriage, but of adultery, it is joined to the heavenly David in a marriage-covenant that cannot be broken? 4, and lastly, Nothing can be more excellent, than that inheritance, which, in right of adoption, the sons of God obtain, and which is bequeathed to them by an irrevocable testament.
The nature of
XXVIII. It will not be unprofitable to insist a little on this point, and, having opened the testament of our Father, to inquire what, and how considerable the goods, and under what stipulations he has bequeathed them By the testament we mean, the last and immutable will of God, recorded in the writings of the Holy Scripture, and ratified by the death and blood of Jesus, whereby he hath declared his chosen and believing people to be his heirs of the whole inheritance. I say the testament is the will of God, or that counsel of his will," Eph. i. 11, by which he has appointed both the heirs and the inheritance, and of which our Saviour was speaking, Luke xii. 32, εvdoкnσev ó Пarǹp, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom :" I add, it is the last and irrevocable will of the Father; for as this is required to a valid testament, Gal. iii. 15, so it is not deficient in this respect: "wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation," Heb. vi. 17, 18. By this his will, he appointed or settled both the inheritance as well of grace as of glory, of which we shall speak just now; and also the heirs, not indefinitely, whosoever believes; but by name, this and the other persons, "whose names are written in heaven," Luke x. 20, and "graven upon the palms of God's hands," Isa. xlix. 16. This his will he has expressed in the sacred writings of both instruments, which for that reason are also called "testament," 2 Cor. iii. 14. In fine, that nothing might be wanting, the whole is confirmed and sealed by the blood and death of the Lord Jesus, Heb. ix. 16, 17. In order to understand this, we must observe, that God the Father did, by testament, give and bequeath that honour to his Son Jesus Christ, to be the head of the elect in glory, and have a right to bestow upon them all his goods, Ps. ii. 8. Jesus again does, by the power made over to him by the Father, dispose by testament of his goods to be communicated to the elect: "and I diarioɛμai, appoint by testament, unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath, SOETó, appointed by testament, unto me," Luke xxii. 29. So that this making of the testament is, indeed, originally from the Father, yet immediately from Christ the medi