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are to be the thankful children of their heavenly Father, the God of all grace, who hath called them to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus.97 It is because He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He acknowledges Himself to be the Father of those who believe in the name of His only begotten Son. If we know Him by faith to be our God and Father, reconciled to us, and acknowledging us as His children in Christ Jesus, we shall be disposed to give thanks to His holy name continually for His goodness and mercy vouchsafed to us. We shall praise Him with our whole hearts. The language of our souls will be, What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me? We shall say with the Psalmist, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.98 Thus we shall give thanks to His holy name and praise Him for His benefits conferred upon us, being sensible that we are not worthy of the least of all His mercies. A thankful heart is an inestimable blessing. When we consider what reason we have for giving thanks to God as our heavenly Father in Christ Jesus, if we are indeed His children, we shall not only praise Him with our whole hearts; but we shall cheerfully acquiesce in all His dealings with us. If we believe
96 Heb. xiii. 15. 97 1 Pet. v. 10. 98 Psalm cxvi. 12.; ciii. 1, 2.
Him to be our Father, we shall acknowledge His right to dispose of us as He pleases. We shall commit our way to Him, and beseech Him to direct our steps. We shall desire to please Him in all our conduct.
Let us ask ourselves, Is this indeed the case with us? Do we thus manifest our gratitude for the mercies of which we are partakers through Jesus Christ our Saviour? Do we think of the love of Christ with thankfulness of heart, and do we seek to love Him in return for it, and to live in obedience to Him, to do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus, regarding Him as our rightful Sovereign and Lord, whom we are bound to obey in all things, in word and deed? If so, the exhortations of the apostle in the portion of the word of God to which our attention has been directed in the Epistle for this day, will not be disregarded by us. We shall earnestly implore the grace of the Holy Spirit to enable us to act as becometh those who are the elect of God, holy and beloved of Him, that we may show forth His praise, and honour His holy name and His word, and partake of His blessing day by day, and that we may also look forward in hope of receiving it hereafter, in His eternal kingdom and glory.
SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.
THE LOVE OF THE FATHER.
1 John iii. 1.
BEHOLD WHAT MANNER OF LOVE THE FA
THER HATH BESTOWED UPON US, THAT WE SHOULD BE CALLED THE SONS OF GOD! THEREFORE THE WORLD KNOWETH US NOT, BECAUSE IT KNEW Him not.
The object proposed by the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ to the world, or by His appearing among mankind in the likeness of sinful flesh; and the blessings conferred thereby upon the children of men, are the topics brought to our notice in the Epistle for this day. That such great and inestimable blessings should be bestowed by Divine goodness and mercy upon our ruined race, excited the admiration and astonishment of our Lord's beloved disciple, and caused him to express his feelings in these words; in which the blessings described are said to flow from the love of the Father of
heaven to His rebellious creatures. This love led Him to adopt into His family those who had transgressed His holy law; to put them among His children, to reinstate them in His favour, to promise that He would be a Father unto them, and would acknowledge them as the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty."
The blessings consequent upon this wonderful act of love are next stated. The privilege first mentioned is a prelude to many others. The apostle says, Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be ; but we know that when Fle shall appear we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as Heis. It is the privilege of those who are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, to look forward with a good hope to future blessedness, to what they shall be hereafter. This is a matter of vast importance to ús dying creatures. What will become of us when we leave this world, is an enquiry to which the attention of all should be directed. We must all die, because we have all sinned against God. This is the inevitable lot of every individual of the human race. If we die without being reconciled to God, into His blissful presence we cannot be admitted. But it is the privilege of the believer in Christ to look forward to death as the time when his Lord and Saviour will receive him unto Himself, that where He is, His people may be also. And the sight of his Saviour will have a transforming power upon his soul; for when he shall see Him as He is, he shall be like Him, at once perfectly conformed to His holy image, and will bear His resemblance in holiness for evermore.
1 2 Corinthians vi. 18.
2 Galatians iii. 26.
Such being the prospect of the true Christian with regard to futurity, to which he looks forward with pleasing expectation, the apostle adds, Every man that hath this hope in Him, purifieth himself, even as He is pure. A hope in Christ of perfect conformity to Him hereafter, will produce a desire of being in a measure assimilated to His image, or made like Him, while we are here on earth. The purity which was manifested in all the conduct of our blessed Saviour while He appeared as a man among men, will be the pattern that His believing people will set before them, that they may be as far as possible conformed to it. Sin will be the object of their hatred and aversion; as that which is opposed to Divine purity, and because of which cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. The law of God, which is holy and just and good, a transcript of His mind and will, will be the rule of their conduct, while they pray with the Psalmist, Oh that my ways were directed to keep Thy statutes !
3 John xiv. 3. 4 Eph. v. 6. 5 Rom. vii. 12. 6 Ps. cxix. 5.