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set in that constellated firmament of living and eternal splendours, which are all glorious with inherent light, although one star differeth from another star in glory.'
Of that brilliant world, that region where all things shine, and live, and flourish, and triumph for ever, the beauty, the glory, the excellence, is eminently this divinc affection. All are brethren, all are loved as brethren. - All are divinely amiable and excellent friends. Every one possesses the virtue which is loved, and the complacency by which it is loved. Every one, conscious of unmingled purity within, approves and loves himself for that divine image, which in complete perfection and with untarnished resemblance is instamped on his character. Each, in every view which he casts around him, beholds the same glory shining and brightening in the endless train of his companions ; one in nature, but diversified without end, in those forms and varieties of excellence by which the original and eternal beauty delights to present itself to the virtuous universe. Here every one, conscious of being entirely lovely, and entirely loved, reciprocates the same love to that great multitude, which no man can number, of all nations, kindreds, and tongues,' and which fills the immeasurable regions of heaven. Out of this character grows a series ever varying, ever improving, of all the possible communications of beneficence, fitted in every instance only to interchange and increase the happiness of all. In the sunshine of infinite complacency, the light of the new Jerusalem, the original source of all their own beauty, life, and joy, all these happy nạtions walk for ever; and, transported with the life-giving influence, unite in one harmonious and eternal hymn to the great Author of their enjoyment; ' Blessing, and honour, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, be unto him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever.' Amen.
Beloved, NOW ARE We the sons OF GOD.
1 JOHN III. 2.
In a series of Discourses, I have considered the attendants of regeneration : viz. Faith (formerly explained) repentance; love to God ; love to mankind ; and brotherly Love. I shall now proceed, according to the scheme formerly proposed, to examine the consequences of this change of character.
Of these the first in the natural order is adoption. That adoption is a consequence of regeneration will not be denied. The observations which I shall make concerning the subject, will be included under the following heads :
I. The nature,
I. The nature of adoption may be explained in the following manner :
A child is, in this act, taken by a man from a family not his own, introduced into his own family, regarded as his own
child, and entitled to all the privileges and blessings belonging to this relation. To adopt children in this manner has, it is well known, been a custom generally prevailing in all ages, and probably in all nations. Thus children were adopted among the Egyptians, Jews, Romans, and other ancient nations ;-and the same custom exists in the Christian nations of Europe, in our own country, among the American aborigines, and, so far as my knowledge extends, throughout the world.
Or the same general nature is that transaction in the divine economy, by which mankind become the children of God.
II. The reality of adoption may be thus illustrated:
Mankind are originally strangers to the family of God; enemies to him, to his law, to his kingdom, and to all his interests. From this situation they are invited to come, and enter into his family; to take his name upon them, to share in his parental care, tenderness, and blessings. Such of them as comply with the invitation are received into his family, and become entitled to his parental love, and all the offices of affection to which it gives birth. From this period they are styled the children of God. From this period they are permitted and required to address him as their Father, a character which he has been pleased to assume, and to consider themselves as his children, and as entitled to the character of his children.
Of this subject the Scriptures give us the following exhibi
1. God announced the adoption of mankind into his family soon after the apostasy.
At the birth of Enos, we are told, that 'men began to call upon the name of the Lord.' In the margin, and, as it would seem, with greater correctness, men began to be called by the name of the Lord :* that is, they began to be called his children, and to take upon themselves the name of God, being now their parent; just as adopted children take upon themselves the names of those numan parents by whom they have been adopted. The style, by which they began to be known at this early period, has been continued through every
sucoeeding age of the church. In Gen. vi. 1, 2, we read of the sons of God.' These, I apprehend, are persons of the same class with those who in the time of Enos' began to be called by the name of the Lord ; and were now publicly designated by this title. That such persons were meant by the phrase, “the sons of God,' is sufficiently manifest from the use of it elsewhere. In Job i. 6, it is said, “ the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord :' and in Job xxxvïïi. 7, that at the creation, the morning stars sung together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. In these passages, angels are undoubtedly the persons intended. When mankind in those early days received the same appellation, it was designed to indicate that they belonged to the same family, and were by adoption children of the same heavenly Parent.
In the communications made by God to Abraham and his family, the same scheme is more particularly and explicitly pursued. God, in the covenant of grace, declared to this earthly father of the faithful, I will be your God; and ye shall be my people :' phraseology exactly equivalent, in the mouth of the Speaker, to the following, I will be your Father; and ye shall be my children. In conformity to this scheme, Moses was directed, Ex. iv. 22, to preface his image from God to Pharaoh with, · Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn.' In the same manner Moses declared the same relation, Deut. xiv. 1, · Ye are the children of the Lord your God. In Psalm lxxxii. 6, it is said to the rulers of Israel, All of you are children of the Most High. In the latter days of their kingdom, when they had become deeply depraved, they were still called by the title of children. Thus they are styled 'rebellious children ;' corruptors ; ' ' lying children, that will not hear the word of the Lord.'
By the prophet Hosea it was again predicted, that they should be called the sons of God, when gathered again after their dispersion : 'It shall be said of them, Ye are the sons of the living God.'
This character, thus insisted on through the several ages of the Jewish Church, is more particularly and strongly insisted on in the New Testament. Here the important fact of our adoption is declared in the most explicit manner, and in a great variety of forms. In Eph. i. 5, it is said, that Christians were predestinated unto the adoption of children, by Jesus
Christ to God, according to the good pleasure of his will." Agreeably to this determination, it is declared, John i. 12, that 'to as many as received Christ, to them gave he
to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on his name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.' To persons of this character St. Paul says, ' but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.' These passages are amply sufficient to show the scriptural views of the reality of adoption. It would be useless therefore to quote a multitude of others of similar import.
2. The same doctrine is forcibly taught in the ordinance of baptism.
The ordinance of baptism is a solemn symbol of regeneration. By the affusion of the water upon every subject of this ordinance is exhibited, in a very affecting manner, the affusion of the Spirit of grace upon his heart; and by the cleansing influence of the water, the purification of his soul by the blood of Christ. In the administration of this ordinance, every subjeot of it is ' baptized,' by the command of Christ, kis to ovoua, • into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.' In this manner, baptism is a direct exhibition of our adoption into the family of God, and our rightful assumption of the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Accordingly, Christians are in the Scriptures entitled, after those names, Godly, Christian, and Spiritual. The ordimanoo, it is true, is, as from the nature of the case it must bo, external and symbolical. But the symbol is easy, intelligible, and plainly indicative of the adoption of Christians into
the family which is named after Christ.
111. The importance of adoption may be illustrated from the following considerations :
1. The act of adoption produces a real relation in us to
In reading the Scriptures, a book so fraught with figurative language, it is no unnatural and, I believe, not a very uncommon thing for persons to regard whatever is said on this subjuset as a more collection of fine phraseology, intended to exjorons, with strength and beauty, the dignity of the Christian's character, and the desirableness of his situation; and not to