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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 the 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 the 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 the 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 of 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 with. in the 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 avouches 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. we are in a state of condemnation, but out of that we are brought in justification; and out of the state of alienation from God, by adoption. So that we are no more aliens and foreigners to the family of heaven, but domestics of it; no more 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 new name, not a new nature, Rev. ii. 17. though it is not an empty title, but has vast privileges attending it.

(2.) It is done in an instant, not carried on by degrees. For it is not capable of degrees, and there is no intermediate state betwixt sonship to God and to Şatan; but as soon as ever a person believes in Christ, he is justified and adopted; as soon as the soul is married to Christ, she becomes a daugh

By nature

ter of the house of heaven, and her relation to that of hell is extinguished, John i. 12. It is true, there will be at the great day a solemn declaration of that adoption, and the adopted will then be perfectly past their minority, and enter to the, full possession of the inheritance in their whole man ; in which sense the apostle says, “ We wait for the adoption,' Rom. viii. 23. But 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,' i John iii. 2.

SECONDLY, I come to shew what are the parts of adoption. These are two. 1. The receiving the sinner into the number of God's children. 2. Giving him a right to their privileges. That we may the more distinctly take up this, we shall take a view of this whole blessed transaction, from the first to the last, together with the parties concerned in it. And,

1. The adopter is God, and in respect of dispensation the Father, the first person of the blessed Trinity, the Father of our Lord Jesus. For as the work of redemption is the Son's, and the work of our sanctification the Spirit’s, so our justification and adoption are the Father's, Eph. i. 3, 5. And hence the Father's love is celebrated in this benefit, 1 John iii. 1. Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestow. ed on us, that we should be called the sons of God;" tho' not excluding that of the Son and the Holy Ghost, who are one God with him, and act their part in this blessed transaction, bringing it about. And because, God is the Sovereign of the universe, therefore he is also the Judge, who passeth the sentence, and adjudgeth the adopted sons to himself.

2. The party adopted is an elect sinner; for it is done in pursuance of God's eternal predestination, and falls on those, and only those, who are elected to it from eternity, Eph. i. 5. God from all eternity foreseeing, that though Adam was to be created a son of God in his own likeness, yet he would degenerate, and all his race be born children of wrath, and of the devil, resembling Satan naturally, and prone to obey him, as children do a father, John viii. 44. decreed, not to lose the whole race, but to bring a certain number of them into his family again by the way of adoption, the way of natural (Adam's) sonship failing, leaving others to continue in their natural father's house and family. And all these elect ones were known from eternity to God, 2 Tim. ii. 19.

3. The natural father is the devil, that enemy of God, John viii. 44. His children they are by nature as well as others. He has a great family, one part whereof dwells in the lower house; these are the damned spirits in hell. And of those that are once got thither, there are no more hopes nor possibility of their ever getting out of his family. These are entered to the inheritance of their father, in almost full tale already. Another part of them are sojourning in the upper house of this world, and that house is very throng with his family. It contains a people that are his, Psal. xlv. 10. Many entire nations and families are there, wherein there are none but that are his. Nay, there is a world of men and women he has in this house, 1 John v. 19; and himself is god and father of the family, 2 Cor. iv. 4. who all can have no hope of a better inheritance than he has given them, even the wrath and curse prepared for him and his. It is out of this part of Satan's family that the adopted are taken.

4. The suitableness of this adoption to the glory of the Adopter, and to his family. We dare not say, he needed to take this way of furnishing himself with children, as in the case of adoption among men. He was happy in himself from all eternity, in his Son by eternal generation, when there was neither man nor angel in his family. And had all been lost together, his happiness had not been one whit diminished. But we may say, that this device of adoption was a device becoming him, and very agreeable to his glory and family:

His family did originally consist of two sorts of sons, angels and men, (not to speak here of his eternal Son). Angels were the one sort, Job xxxviii. 7; man the other, Luke iii. 38; the one as well as the other created after his own image in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. The one were kept in the higher house, the other in the lower. But sin entering among them, many of the family died such a death as quite dissolved the relation betwixt God and them, that they could no more call him Father, nor could he own them for his children. It seized those first of the upper house, and multitudes of them (for in one man was a legion of them) dropt down to the pit, 2 Pet. ii. 4. They infected those of the lower house, and they that received the infection from them, conveyed it to all the rest, so that death passed upon all that part of the family to a man, Rom. v. 12. So that here was an empty house made.

This evinces the suitableness of making up the family again, by the way of adoption, which by spiritual death received such a diminution. As also the suitableness of adoption from among men, which the fallen angels have no share in. For since they were not all' to be recovered that had fallen, but the justice of God was to be glorified in some of them, it was agreeable to the wisdom of God to adopt men, not fallen angels, since the whole mankind was lost, but not the whole angelic kind. Multitudes of angels stood when the rest fell, but all mankind was lost together.

5. But what shall be done for the law that forbids the staining of the Adopter's honour by the meanness of the party adopted? This was a notable impediment in the way of this device of repairing the family. The Adopter can be no higher, for he is the Sovereign King of the world; the adopted no lower, for they are not only the children of base men, but of the devil, the most miserable creature in the universe, No law could be more strict for the honour of the Adopter than the holy law of God is. And he would by no means overlook it, but magnify it, and make it honourable. What possibility then is there of God's adopting children of the devil in inconsistency with his honour?

Wisdom finds out the way, that is, that they shall be adopted in Jesus Christ, Eph. i. 5, 6. Gal. iii. 26, 27. And to let you see that this way makes it consistent with the honour of God to adopt those that by nature are children of the devil, consider three things in the mystery of Christ.

(1.) By the incarnation of the Son of God, the human nature is dignified and nobilitated, raised to a pitch of honour even above that of the angels, Heb. i. 13. So the Son of God partaking of human nature with the elect, owns them as his brethren, by virtue of their common human nature, Heb. ii, 11, 12. And for this very cause he did become man, ver. 14. which takes away the impediment arising from the meanness of the adopted, it being very agreeable to God's honour to adopt those for children who were of the same nature with his own Son, i. e. of human nature. For the Son of God; to make way for this adoption, took to himself a holy human nature, into personal union with his Godhead, Hence,

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