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BPHESIANS i. 4, 5, 6
According as he hath chosen us in him, before the
foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in. love, having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise, of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
THE nature of that election or predestination, of which these Ephesians were the subjects ; and that holiness and love, to which they were chosen, we illus. trated in our preceding discourse. We are now,
III. To consider the adoption to which believers are predestinated.
Adoption is a word several times used by this Apostle, to express the high privileges and exalted hopes of Christians in this world, and the superior dignity and happiness reserved for them in another. The word used by him, which we render adoption, properly sig. nifies putting one in the place of a son.
The word suggests to us this idea, that we have no natural right to the privileges of children ; for though we are by our creation the children of God, yet we are become disobedient and rebellious children, and as such are excluded from all title to the inheritance origVol. III.
inally promised to obedience. Our sonship is not our native right, but the effect of God's gracious adoption.
In this adoption are included several important priv. ileges.
i. It implies a state of freedom, in opposition to bondage. T'he Apostle says, We have not received the spirit
of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption.
Believers are free, as being delivered from the bondage of sin.
This freedom they obtain in the renovation of their minds after the image of God. “ As many as receive Christ, to them is given power to become the children of God, for they are born of him.”—They are his children by a heavenly and spiritual birth. They are born from above-born of the Spirit; “and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” They are no more the servants of sin to obey it in the lusts there. of; but, being made free from sin, they are become the servants of God, and they have their fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
They are free, as having near access to God and inlimate communion with him.
Through Christ they have access by the Spirit unto the Father. Because they are sons, God bath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, and given them the spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father.”
Children are usually admitted to that familiar intercourse, which is denied to servants : So they, whom God has called to the adoption of children, may come boldly to his throne. They know where to find him, and may approach even to his seat. They have liber. ty to enter into the most holy place by the blood of Christ. And God makes to them some peculiar commugications of his grace, to help their infirmities, strengthen their good resolutions, comfort them in af. fictions, defend them against temptations, and lead
them in the way everlasting. « The secret of the Lord is with them who fear him, and he will shew them his covenant. The meek he will guide in judge ment, and teach them his way." Christ says to his disciples, “ Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I have commanded you. I call you not servants, for a servant knoweth not what his Lord doth; but I have called you friends, for all things, which I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you."
2. Adoption brings us under the peculiar care of God's providence.
“ God is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.” The just and the unjust partake of his common bounties.
But he is especially good to them who are of a clean heart.
“ His eyes are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry. No good thing will be withheld from them who walk uprightly. Christ is made head over all things for the church."
Good and bad are subject to the common adversities of life ; but the afflictions, which befal the just, are or. dered in a more immediate subservience to their spiritual interest. " Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth ; he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If we endure chastening, God dealeth with us as with sons ; for what son is he, whom the father chasteneth not ? And God chasteneth us for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. And though no af. diction for the present, is joyous, but grievous, yet af. terward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteous. ness."
Needful and seasonable correction is one of the ben. efits of adoption-one of the privileges of God's children. The gracious intention of it is to recover them from their backslidings-to wean them from the world—to quicken them in their duty-to prove their sincerity-and prepare them for heaven. David considered his adversity as a fruit of God's parental faith
fulness and love. “ I know, O God, that thy judgments are right, and thou in faithfulness hast afficted
Affliction, considered in itself, is grievous-considered as the effect of sin, is humbling-but, considered as the allotment of divine wisdom for our eternal advantage, it is matter of thankfulness and joy. .6 Count it all joy," says St. James, “ when ye fall into divers temptations, for the trying of your faith worketh patience." Rejoice," says St. Peter, “ inasmuch as ye are partakers of the sufferings of Christ, that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” The children of God must esteem it a mighty privilege, that they are under the care of a wise and gracious parent, who will always treat them according to their wants; will give them prosperity as far as it is safe, and withdraw it when it would be dan. gerous ; will send correction when it is needed, and remove it when the occasion ceases ; and, in a word, will cause all things to work for their good.
3. Adoption includes a title to a glorious resurrection from the dead, and to an eternal inheritance in the heavens.
So this Apostle explains it in the eighth chapter of the Romans. “ We have received the spirit of adoption—and the spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, If we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified with him; and all the sufferings of the present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory, which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God; for the creature shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. And we, who have the first fruits of the spir. it, groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, even the redemption of the body.” To the same pur.
pose are the words of St. John, 1 Epistle, Chapter iii. i Behold now, what manner of love the father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God ? Now we are the sons of God; and it doth not yet app's what we shall be ; but we know that when Christ shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” So also says St. Peter, 1 Epistle i. 3. " Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath begotton us to a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, fading not away, reserv. ed in heaven for us."
Now if believers are the children of God, then their temper must be a child like temper—a temper corresponding to their relation, condition and character. Let us therefore, as becomes obedient children, be holy in all manner of conversation, for he who has called us is holy. Let us be followers of God as dear children, walking worthy of him, who has called us to bis kingdom and glory. Let us reverence and love our Supreme Parent, trust ourselves in the hands of his goodness, patiently bear the corrections of his love, humbly submit to the disposals of his wisdom, maintain a daily correspondence with him, attend to all the discoveries of his will, and in all things cheerfully comply with his commands, however contrary to our natural wishes. In imitation of his goodness let us do good as we have opportunity ; and, regarding his professed children as our brethren, let us walk in love to them, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace ; for he, who is the God and Father of all, is above all, through all, and in us all.
I proceed to our
IV. Observation : That all spiritual blessings are derived to us through Jesus Christ.
“ God hath chos. en us in Christ-predestinated us to the adoption of children by Christ-made us accepted in the Beloved."