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delightful union with the Son of the Highest, we are said to be married to Christ. That we might never forget the misery, of our natural condition, as a state of alienation from God, and at the same time to intimate to us our title to the heavenly patrimony, we are said to be adopted by him. The condition, therefore, of all believers is most noble and excellent. Their high birth, their divine husband, and everlasting inheritance, loudly proclaim it.
The beloved Apostle was so amazed at the love of God, manis fested in the privilege of adoption, that he could not forbear crying out with astonishment and rapture, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!" Here grace reigns. The vessels of mercy were predestinated to the enjoyment of this happiness before the world begau. The great Lord of all chose them for himself, chose them for his children, that they might be heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. This he did, not because of any worthiness in them, but of his own sovereign will. As it is written: "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glo rious grace." Eph. i. 5, 6. According to the good pleasure of his will: this is the eternal source of the heavenly blessing. By Jesus Christ: this is the way of its communication to the sinner. To the' praise of his glorious grace; this is the end of bestowing it,
The persons adopted are sinners of Adam's race: such who, com sidered in their natural state, are estranged from God, and guilty before him, under the sentence of death, and obnoxious to ruin. Their translation, therefore, out of this deplorable condition into a state and relation so glorious, is an instance of reigning, triumphant, boundless grace. That the children of wrath should become the inheritors of glory, and the slaves of the devil be acknowledged as the sons of Jehovah; that the enemies of God should ever be adopted into his family, and have an indefeasible right to all the privileges of his children, is astonishing to the last degree. Our character and state, by nature, are the most indigent, wretched, and abominable; such as render us fit for nothing, after this life, but to dwell with accursed fiends and damned spirits in the abodes
of darkness and despair. But, by the privilege of adoption, we rightfully bear a character, and are brought into such a state, as to render us fit to associate with saints in light, with angels in glory. What but grace, omnipotent, reigning grace, could be sufficient to effect so noble, so astonishing, so divine a change? Booth.
He that is a son, must be also an heir, for by his birth he is worthy to be an heir. There is no work of merit that bringeth to him the inheritance, but his birth only; and so in obtaining the inheritance, he is a mere patient, and not an agent: that is to say, not to beget, not to labour, not to care, but to be born, is that which makes him an heir. So we obtain eternal gifts, namely, the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, the glory of the resurrection, and everlasting life, not as agents, but as patients; that is, not by doing, but by receiving. Nothing here cometh between, but faith alone apprehendeth the promise offered. Like as, therefore, a son in the politic and household government, is made an heir by his birth only; so, here, faith only maketh us sons of God, born of the word, which is the womb of God, wherein we are conceived, carried, born, and nourished up. By this birth, then, we are made new creatures, formed by faith in the word; we are made Christians, children and heirs of God, through Jesus Christ. Now, being heirs, we are delivered from death, sin, and the devil, and we have righteousness and eternal life.
But this far surpasseth all man's capacity, that he calleth us heirs -not of some rich and mighty prince-not of the emperor-not of the world-but of God, the Almighty Creator of all things. This our inheritance, then, (as Paul saith in another place) is inestimable. And if a man could comprehend the great excellency of this matter, that he is the son and heir of God, and with a constant faith believe the same, this man would esteem all the power and riches of all the kingdoms of the world but as filthy dung, in comparison of his eternal inheritance. He would abbor whatsoever is high and glorious in the world; yea, the greater the pomp and glory of the world is, the more would he hate it. To conclude: whatsoever the world most highly esteemeth and magnifieth, that should be, in
his eyes, most vile and abominable. For what is all the world, with all its power, riches, and glory, in comparison of God, whose son and heir he is? Furthermore, he would heartily desire, with Paul, (Phil i. 23.) to be loosed and to be with Christ; and nothing could be more welcome unto him than speedy death, which he would embrace as a most joyful peace, knowing that it should be the end of all his miseries, and that through it he should attain to his everlasting inheritance. Yea, a man that could perfectly believe this, should not long remain alive, but should be swallowed up inconti nent with excessive joy. Martin Luther on the Galatians.
This forms a most interesting word in scripture, in the use that is made of it in allusion to the state of adoption and grace, into which true believers are received, by their union with Christ. They are said to be predestinated to the adoption of children, Eph. i. 5. And the purpose for which Christ is said to be made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, was, that they might receive the adoption of sons. Gal. iv. 4, 5.
The word adoption is borrowed from a custom well known among the Romans, under whose government Judea became a province, who adopted the children of strangers, and acknowledged them for their own, when they themselves were childless. But though the term is applied to believers, from being openly adopted and acknowledged in the family of Christ, yet, strictly and properly speaking, this is not done, because they were not of the family of Christ before; for in faet they always were: but it is done in a way of publicly confessing and acknowledging it. They Holy Ghost by the Apostle is express to this purpose, when he saith, And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his son into your hearts, whereby ye cry, Abba, Father! Gal, iv. 6. And all the Scriptures are express to confirm this most unquestionable truth; Isa. xliv. 3. lix. 21. Ezek. xxxvii. 5–14. Zech. xiv. It is most blessed, when we consider the privileges of adoption, and know in ourselves that we are made, through grace, the happy partakers of it. By adop tion, the children of God in Christ are brought out of the spirit of bondage into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, They are
translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Hence they are regenerated, illuminated, justified, sanctified, and made partakers of grace here, to be made partakers of glory hereafter. Sweetly the Spirit witnesseth to their spirits, that they are the children of God. And if children, saith the Apostle, then beirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we also may be glorified together. Rom. viii, 16, 17. Dr. Hawker.
Adoption is a blessing extending from everlasting to everlasting, a decree which cannot be revoked; many of the children of God are indeed very perverse and ungrateful; but all this their Father knew before he adopted them: bence he chastens those whom he loves, and scourges every son whom he receives, but never abandons them, Satan shall never have to say of a sinner in torment, “This is a wretch turned out of the family of God!" No: the Father will not cut off an heir of glory from his inheritance, nor suffer his most rebellious children to ruin themselves. John x. 28, 29.
This security arises from the nature and antiquity of adoption, as an act of the Divine Mind, which is distinct from the reception of the spirit of adoption into a sinner's heart. The whole family of God were adopted in Christ, when he was chosen as their covenant head; and then God the Father considered them his own children, registered their names on high as such, and prepared a kingdom for them before the foundation of the world.
Hence their reception of the spirit of adoption is said to be owing to this eternal relation: "Because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts," Gal. iv. 6.
The spirit of adoption is the witness, not the cause of our being the children of God; and surely, my dear Abiah, you will derive unspeakable comfort from this view of the subject, if you feel but one spark of filial affection to God glowing in your soul; and connect with it the sweet thought that it is your Father's love shed abroad into your heart by the Holy Ghost: you will then come to the delightful conclusion, that the Father has from all eternity adopted you into his family, and has, in the fulness of time, made it known to you, by causing you to receive the adoption of sons.
The Son of God has also a hand in this affair; for through his espousing their persons, they become the sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty; and through his assumption of their nature, they become his brethren; and so to be in the relation of sons to God. Through his redemption, they receive the adoption of chil dren, and at his hands the privilege, the power itself, to become such. The Spirit of God not only regenerates them, which is an evidence of their sonship, but as a spirit of adoption manifests it to them, works faith in them to receive it, and frequently witnesses to the truth of it; all which show how any come, and are known to be the sons of God. This is a privilege that exceeds all others; it is more to be a son than a saint; angels are saints, but not sons; they are servants. It is more to be a child of God, than to be redeemed, pardoned, and justified; it is great grace to redeem from slavery, to pardon criminals, and justify the ungodly; but it is another and an higher act of grace to make them sons, and which makes them infinitely more honourable, than to be the sons and daughters of the greatest potentate upon earth; yea, gives them an honour which Adam had not in innocence, nor the angels in heaven, who, though sons by creation, are not by adoption. The consequence, and so the evidence of it, follows: "God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."
Dr. Gill. At the final conquest of the disciples of our Lord over all their enemies, he will give to each of them a white stone of acquittal be fore an assembled world. It is the opinion of some expositors, that our Lord refers to absolution, which he grants his people, and which blessing they realize and enjoy in this life; and that the new name written in the stone refers to adoption. Pardon of sin and adoption into the family of God are blessings of inestimable value, and they are inseparably connected. They are blessings which none can properly estimate, but those to whom they are given. There is a reality in religion, which can be known only by those who enjoy its inestimable privileges. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant." The Holy Spirit bears testimony in the conscience of a regenerate man, he is pardoned through the blood of Jesus, and adopted by grace