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Those who are sons, are “ heirs of God through Christ."
All our present enjoyments and dignities are only the earnest of our future inheritance; it is not a transient and perishable honour which is conferred upon them; but one which conducts to a glory that is now inconceivable, and that will still continue to shine when this world, and all its splendours, shall be destroyed. Their inheritance is secured to them, not by their own merits; they feel and acknowledge that they deserve it not: not by purchase; they had nothing to pay for it; but by the free gift ånd covenant engagements of their Father. It is sealed and confirmed to them by the blood of the Mediator; and the Spirit of adoption is in their souls as the earnest, the pledge, and the first-fruits of it. We cannot describes the greatness of this inheritance, for it is infinite; nor its worth, for it is inestimable; nor its blessedness, for it is unspeakable; nor its duration, for it is everlasting. Here they are as heirs in their minority; but when they are of age, which with God is measured not by years, but by designation and fitness, they are translated into the full enjoyment of their estates. Death strips off the garments of corruption and bondage, and iminediately they are clothed upon with life and immortality.” [Serle.]
But the text points us to a privilege still more important than their enjoyment of all the glories of the 's third heaven: they are “ heirs of God” himself, at whose will all the splendours of the celestial paradise sprung into being, and who is a treasure infinitely more valuable than ten thousand heavens. have an interest in all the divine perfections. The Lord himself is their portion.
Since there are such blessings in reversion for the children of God, why should we repine when our pious friends are taken from us? The voice from heaven has cried to them, “ Come up hither!” and they have gone to their true country, to their rich inheritance; they have gone to their Father's house, and they now know, what they so imperfectly conceived on earth, all the value of being “ heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.”
Do you ask whether you will share this felicity and glory? The apostle assists you in answering this important question, by giving you,
III. A test whereby to judge of your adoption. All the sons of God have the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, crying Abba, Father.
“ Except we have the Spirit of Christ, we are none of his.” This Spirit is termed the Spirit of adoption, when dwelling in the sons of God, he produces in them those dispositions suited to their filial relation.
Has he then wrought in thee faith in the Redeemer? There is no adoption, except through our blessed Saviour. “ To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." (John i. 12.) 'Has he produced in thee filial love to God; hast thou those tender and reverential sentiments towards the Lord that are the characteristic of all his children? Dost thou cheerfully obey him, not with the temper of a slave, but of a son? “ In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God.” (1 John iii. 10.) " As obedient children, we must not fashion ourselves according to our former lusts in our ignorance.” (1 Pet. i. 14.) Hast thou a desire of communion and
intercourse with God, and filial access to him? Hast thou deliberately and understandingly chosen God as thy Father and Portion, and dost thou adhere to thy choice? Is there in thee a resemblance to thy Father? Dost thou love thy fellow-heirs ? (1 John v. 1.) Hast thou patience under afflictions ? Dost thou frequently solace thyself by meditating on thy inheritance ?
These are some simple tests whereby we may decide whether the Spirit of adoption dwells in us. I have not spoken of the high joys and the clear assurance which he sometimes communicates; but of those operations which are common to all the children of God. Examine, then, with seriousness and impartiality
If, after this examination, you feel authorized to hope that you are indeed adopted into the family of God, then,
1. Meditate often and profoundly on the love of your Father, on your present blessedness, and your future glory. Doubtless the first care of a man who had experienced an astonishing and happy revolulution in his circumstances, who, from a state of
poverty, was raised to opulence, or who, after being condemned to death for his crimes, obtained the affection and favour of some great and good man, would be to know his benefactor, to whom he was indebted for so great a change, and to inquire into the motives which led him to think of him, and to relieve him from misery. He would often think of all the circumstances of the change, and would especially inquire what he must do to preserve the favour of him to whom he had been so much indebted. And we, my brethren, whom God has adopted for his chil-dren, whom the King of kings has delivered from
slavery to sin and death, has introduced into his family; upon whom he has bestowed spiritual riches, and to whom he has assured a heavenly inheritance: shall we not often and profoundly recollect this grace, be anxious to know every thing connected with it, and have ever present to our minds, our privileges, our obligations, our hopes ? Shall we content ourselves with thinking of it, when the subject is presented by the ministers of the gospel ? No; let us, like the angels, desire to look deeper into these things; let them be a sweet and habitual subject of our reflections.
2. But this alone is not sufficient. It is not enough that we often reflect on the adopting love of God, and feel wonder at the contemplation of his grace. . We must besides correspond with the design of our heavenly Father in forming so strict and glorious a bond with his creatures. And what was the design, the end of God? You cannot be ignorant of it, my brethren. It was not merely to lead us to consider and to celebrate his goodness, but to make us holy, to transform us into his image, to attach us to his service by bonds stronger and more sacred than those of nature, to lead us to render to him the love, the reverence, the obedience, that children owe to a kind father. Let us ever, then, consider our adoption as obliging us to consecrate to the glory of God all the faculties of our bodies and our souls. Let us imitate, as far as in our power, the kindness of God; “ be followers of God as dear children, and walk in love as Christ also walked.” Let us nourish high and lofty thoughts, corresponding with the greatness of our hopes, the dignity of our characters, and the sublimity of our destination. Let us scorn the trifles of earth, when put in competition with the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away. With this elevation of soul, let us unite the deepest humility. If earthly distinctions excite pride, spiritual blessings should abase us, since we have nothing that we have not freely received. Let us pity and pray for those who are yet at a distance from God; let us affectionately warn them, and endeavour to lead them to our Father. Let us be contented and resigned in all our trials. Children of God! can you not sustain sickness, affliction, reproach, the loss of your property, the death of your children, when you recollect your privileges ? Learn to judge of yourselves, not by the relations you have with this world, but by those which you have with God and the Saviour; not by the occupations or riches that you here have, but by the great and magnificent hopes which religion presents to you ; not by this little span of time that you have to pass upon earth, but by the eternity that you will spend in heaven; not by the pleasures that you here taste in the society of your friends, your relatives, your children, but by those everlasting delights that are prepared for you in the company of God, of Jesus, of saints, and angels. When these considerations are impressed upon the heart, there is no situation in which
you may not shout that song of triumph, “ Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or nakedness, or perils, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved
And you, my unhappy friends, who are still aliens from the family of God, let me entreat you, with all the tenderness of my heart, to seek this privilege. Have you no 'ambition to acquire it? Is your heart