« PreviousContinue »
acquaintance with himself, how much sin hath darkened the understanding of man, and what a moral midnight broods over all his intellectual faculties; how will he hail the day-dawn and the day-star arising in his heart," and rejoice that“God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in his heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ !" And sensible of bis remaining blindness and ignorance, weakness and guilt, he will still look to this Divine Instructor for all needful wisdom and grace, and continually say, with the Psalmist, “Lord teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: : thy Spirit is good ; lead me into the land of uprightness."
5. Further, God frees believers from the spirit of bondage, introducing them into “ the glorious liberty of the sons of God;" and because they are sons, he sends forth“ the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” This Spirit helpeth their infirmities; and when they have anght to present at the Throne of Grace, either the tribute of filial gratitude, or their supplications for paternal support and deliverance, it maketh intercession for them, with groanings which cannot be uttered.-And soothing beyond expression, my brethren, are those aspirations of fiducial confidence which often rise to heaven from the secret sanctuary of the pious heart. When the trials of life, the assaults of the adversary, or the pangs of a wounded conscience, overwhelm the mind of the Christian with gloomy
despondency and fearful foreboding, very consoling is it to know that he has an Almighty Friend, to whom he can cry, “ Abba, Father!" and say with one in like affliction, “ Be merciful unto me, O God! be merciful unto me; for my soul trusteth in thee : yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast."
Speak, ye who best can tell ; ye elder brethren of the household of the saints ; ye who have almost finished your earthly pilgrimage, and whose feet just press the threshold of your wished-for home, even" that building of God, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens"-say, for what you would exchange that Spirit of Adoption which has enabled you amid the many vicissitudes of lifeso full, perhaps, of cares, and anxieties, and distresses-to forget all your sorrow, to raise the cry of “ Abba, Father,” and to find perfect peace,
because your minds were stayed upon God. For what, thou aged saint! bending beneath the burden of thine infirmities; on whose memory the iron hand of Time has engraven the just complaint of the Wise Man, “ Vanity of vanities, all is, vanity ;" whose heart hath now shut every avenue against that world from which it once derived some transitory enjoyment, because the “ evil days have come, and the years drawn nigh which have no pleasure in them;" for what wouldst thou exchange that Spirit of Adoption which enables thee to lift thy trembling eye to Heaven, and to say, with a sweet assurance
of being heard and answered, “ Now also, when I am old and grey-headed, O God! forsake me not, until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power unto every one that is to come ?" For what would the departing soul, just taking its flight to the other world; its eye shedding its last ray of serene lustre on the weeping friends who surround it; its faultering lips whispering their last accénts of praise ; for what would it exchange that Spirit of Adoption which enables it, in this trying season, to triumph over the king of terrors, and to say, “ Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou, Lord, art with me : thy rod and thy staff they comfort
III. We notice, lastly, my brethren, with regard to the future prospects of such as become sons of God, that death, which fills the heart of the sinner with dismay, discloses to the child of God his brightest views, and ushers him into the enjoyment of his choicest privileges. By it his spirit, freed from its tabernacle of clay, ascends to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect. In this blessed society, satisfied with the fulness of joy flowing from the presence of his God and Saviour, his heart glowing with filial gratitude toward the Author of his salvation, and with brotherly love to all his associates in happiness, he awaits, with delightful anticipation, the august solemnities of the final day.
And when that day shall arrive a day to be for ever so illustrious in the annals of the universe ; bringing a final catastrophe to all the events which have taken place in this lower world ; displaying the character of God, so awful in justice, and so attractive in mercy; filling his friends with joy and his foes with terror, and consummating the glorious work of the Redeemer--then shall the children of God be recognized before an assembled universe, and be formally invested with every privilege, as sons of their Heavenly Father.
What these privileges shall be, in their proper character and full extent, we are not able to say: but the Scriptures communicate enough on this subject to fill the pious heart with the most sublime emotions of hope and joy. Such is that passage :
Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." From this and the like declarations we know, that God's children are the children of the resurrection; that their bodies, which are now corruptible, shall put on incorruption; that, as they have borne the image of the earthy, they shall also bear the image of the heavenly. "For when. Christ their life shall appear, then shall they also appear with him in glory," “He shall change their vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.” Invested with this pure and spirit
ual receptacle, fresh with immortal youth and beauty, and fitted for all the operations and for all the enjoyments of a holy intelligence, the sons of God, after receiving the approving sentence of the Judge, shall enter upon the inheritance of the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. Of the value of this kingdom we can form some faint conception from the consideration, that it is the same which Christ himself receives, who, for the suffering of death, is crowned with glory and honour: for he himself hath promised, “ To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne ; even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on his throne.” Thus does our Saviour receive this kingdom on account of the accomplishment of his mediatorial work. This was the joy set before him, for which he endured the cross and despised the shame. And the degrees of his reward we are to estimate from that shame and that humiliation; from his condescending to divest himself of that glory which he had with the Father before the world was; from his stooping to assume the form of a servant, and to be born in the likeness of sinful flesh; from all the ignominy and reproach which he endured during life, and from the agony of his death. How precious the inheritance bought at this dear rate, and with sacrifices like these!
Thus, my hearers, have I attempted to illustrate the topic proposed at the commencement of my discourse, by exhibiting to you the past condition,