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God in you.
will the condemnation of those be, who by slighting an offered pardon trample on the blood of Christ, which was shed for the remission of sins !
I shall conclude this use of exhortation with a few directions.
1. Labour to get your hearts wrought up to a deep concern for a pardoned state. And for this cause, believe your miserable state by nature, that ye are once condemned. Take a view of the holy, righteous law, and your innumerable transgressions of it, besides your sinful nature. Look to the flaming justice of God? behold it in the case of the damned, in the case of Christ suffering, and see what a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God.
2. Go to God in Christ, and confess your sins, and condemn yourselves. Lay them out before God with shame and confusion of face, with their several aggravations. Make a full and free confession, insisting most on those sins that have been most dishonouring to
Acknowledge yourselves justly condemned by the law, and God to be righteous, if he should put the sentence into execution.
Lastly, Solemnly and sincerely accept of Christ in the covenant of grace held forth in the gospel. Receive him with his righteousness, and enter under the covert of his blood. And lay all your guilt over on him, believing his ability and willingness to remove it. And accepting of Christ for justification and sanctification, ye shall be accepted and pardoned.
E.chort. 2. To justified persons. This privilege calls you to several duties.
1. Love the Lord, and love him much, for much is forgiven you. This may be oil to that holy flame, and therefore love will continue in heaven for ever.
2. Be of a forgiving disposition, Eph. iv. ult. 'Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you.' The same Saviour that brought in remission of sins, binds us to love our enemies, And the bitter revengeful spirit against those we think have wronged us, is a sad sign that our own sin is unforgivon of God, Matt. vi. 12. 'Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.' They who have found what a dreadful weight sin unpardoned is, and have at length got it removed, will thereby be helped to forgive.
3. Walk humbly. Ye are justified, but it is by the righteousness of another. Ye are pardoned, but it was procured to you by the satisfaction of a Saviour. Your debt is paid, your discharge is got up; but thanks to free grace, not to you, for it.
4. Bear your troubles and crosses in a world patiently.--Your life that was forfeited by sin is safe by grace; therefore take thankfully any troubles you meet with. For why should a living man complain, especially one that deserved to die, and yet is adjudged to life?
5. Lastly, Walk tenderly. God pardoning a sinner, dismisseth him as Christ did the penitent adultress, John xii. 11. 'Go, and sin no more.' Let not your broken bones be forgotten, but walk softly all your years. And if ye be pardoned, show it by your holy and tender walk.
2 Con. vi. 18.—And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my
sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
THESE words do hold forth the singular privilege of those that obey the call of the gospel, ver. 17.— Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing. That call is not a call to separate from a church, but from those that are out of the church, ver. 14. ^ Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers : for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness ? and what communion hath light with darkness ?' not only from outward visible communion with idolaters, but to separate from the unconverted to inward invisible communion with the family of God, ver 18. In a word, it is a call to come out of the world lying in wickedness, and to join the heavenly society.
There are but two families in the world, and to one of the two every man and woman belongs. One is Satan's family, the other God's. And these are the two terms of effectual calling. (1.) The term from which sinners are called by the gospel; that is Satan's family, which they are born in, Psal. xlv. 10. And it is made up of all the unconverted world, and fallen angels. These have a dreadful communion among themselves under one head, the devil. That is the family of unbelievers, unrighteousness, and Belial. And to come out of this the gospel calls you, ver. 17. · Wherefore come out from among them, &c. (2.) The term to which; that is God's family, made up of saints, holy angels, and Christ as the Elder Brother having dominion over the family; he their head, and the head of Christ is God, 1 Cor. xi. 3. That is the family of believers, righteousness, and Christ. And to this the gospel calls you to come.
Thus the text proposes a great privilege of those that are effectually called, that is, adoption into the family of God. And here consider,
1. The family they are brought into; it is that of the Lord Almighty. No body needed to adopt, but he that had something to give. The family which believers are taken into is a rich family, seeing the Head thereof is the Almighty, who because he is Almighty can, and because he is a Father will, make his own perfectly happy.
2. Upon whom this privilege is conferred; that is, those who come out of the world and the family of Satan, and answer the gospel-call. (1.) They are aliens, they are by nature strangers to the family they are taken into; they are of an ill house, that is an enemy to the house of heaven. And whatever house men would pitch on, it would not readily be such an one : but free grace takes people from such a house. (2.) But they are separatists from it, they are such as are sick of their father's house, and people that are their own, and come off from it by faith to the Lord upon the gospel-call. Like Ruth, they leave their natural country and kindred, and come to incorporate with that other society.
3. The relation they are put into in God's family. It were much if they of the house of hell might be received into the house of heaven, in the quality of sojourners to lodge a while there ; more, if in quality of domestic servants; and more, if in quality of friends : but they are received in quality of children of the family. And as all relation is mutual, upon the one hand, God becomes their Father. That is a kindly word, and that he is to them. On the other, they become sens and daughters. Observe, how particular this promise is, expressly made to both sexes. Whatever privileges in external things men had of old, or yet have above women; yet in respect of spiritual privileges in Christ they are alike. The one are sons, and the other daughters, both children equally dear to our heavenly Father.
4. Lastly, The confirmation of this privilege, and the promise thereof, saith the Lord. If a man or angel had said it, it could hardly have gained credit, that there should be such an adoption. But God himself says it; and it is impious therefore to disbelieve it.
The sum of the words may be comprised in the following doctrine, viz. Doct. 'As adoption into God's family is the peculiar privilege of
these that are effectually called, so whosoever will comply with the gospel-call, and come away, shall be adopted into God's family: God will be a Father to them, and they shall be his sons and daughters. This doctrine has two branches.
I. Adoption into God's family is the peculiar privilege of those that are effectually called.
II. Whosoever will comply with the gospel call, shall be adopted into God's family; God will be their Father, and they shall be his sons and daughters.
I shall prosecute these two in order.
I. Adoption into God's family is the peculiar privilege of those that are effectually called. Adoption follows our justification; and is 'an act of God's free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.'
Here I shall endeavour to shew,
FIRST, I shall shew what adoption in the general is.—That we may understand this, we must consider, in the first place, what adoption among men is; and that is twofold.
1. Proper adoption, much used among the ancient Romans and Greeks, was a legal act, imitating nature, introduced for the comfort of those who wanted children, whereby one that was the natural child of another man became the son of the adopter. It was a judicial action done in presence of the magistrate ; among tho Greeks by way of a testament, signed and sealed in his presence; among the Romans, the adopter, the natural father, and the son, appearing before the magistrate, the adopter taking hold of tho son, said, 'I avouch this person to be my son, and I have bought him with this money. The natural father judicially yielded up his right to the adopter. And the magistrate adjudged him to be the adopter's son. The party being adopted, was made free of the city, and not only taken into the adopter's family, but ascribed into the tribe or fraternity of the adopter. It had place among those that either had no children at all, by their death or otherwise had no lawful children. But the law restrained them that they might not adopt, but in a suitableness to the quality of the adopter; so that a nobleman might not adopt a commoner, lest the dignity of the adopter should be stained by the meanness of the adopted.
2. Metaphorical adoption, which is ingrafting. Thus the stock adopts the branch that is cut off another tree, and put into another branch of it. For as the adopter takes another man's child, and nourishes him as his own; so the ingrafted branch is counted among the natural branches, and partakes with them of the sap of the stock. Hence you may see, that
Divine adoption is an act of God, whereby he does judicially take (and constitute) those that are by nature strangers to him, and none of his family, members of his family, and his own children, giving them the privileges of his children, or of his house as children. And it is twofold.
1. External and federal which is common to the members of the visible church, which is a society gathered out from the rest of tho world, the visible family of God on earth, enjoying peculiar privileges, beyond the rest of the world. This adoption belonged to Israel of old, Rom. ix. 4. And God owned them as his sons in the midst of Egypt, Exod. iv. 22, 23. But now it is extended to us Gentiles, Gal. iii. 26, 27. This family has always, since Cain was cast out, been a separated family in the world, chosen out from among the rest; so that they are called the sons of God,' Gen. vi. 2. And so it is still, and will be to the end.
This adoption, though it is really in itself a high dignity, so that, in comparison of them, the rest of the world are but as dogs to children, Matth. xv. 26. yet it is not a saving relation to God. And it may be lost, as the Jews rejected did theirs. Nay one may retain it; and yet his natural relation to the devil remain, as to his internal state, so as he may be lost for ever notwithstanding it, John. viii. 44. But this is not the adoption we inquire into; but,
2. An internal and saving adoption, which is peculiar to believers, or those effectually called and converted, which make up the invisible church and family of God on earth, enjoying spiritual privileges, beyond all others without or within tho visible church. These are they that are chosen out from the unconverted world lying in wickedness, according to the decree of election, and brought and ingrafted into Christ, and made real members of his body, John i. 12, 13. These God adopts, judicially a vouches them to be his sons and daughters, and Satan, their natural father, is obliged to quit his right to them; and they thereby are, and are accounted, no more of his family, but children of God, and have a right to the saving special privileges of the children of his family, Gal. iv. 5. Eph. i. 5. Hence,
(1.) Adoption is not a real change of the sinner's nature; but, as justification a relative change of his state. By nature we are in a state of condemnation, but out of that we are brought in justification; and out of tlie state of alienation from God, by adoption. So that we are no more aliens and foreigners to the family of heaven, but domesties of it; no more the children of Satan, but of God, Eph. ii. 19. Our names are enrolled among those of the family; and though a new nature accompanies it, yet adoption itself is a