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The greatness of the privilege of being permitted to draw nigh to God, and to contemplate Him by faith in this endearing character of our Father, if further intimated by a comparison of the state of the people of God before and since the coming of Christ. Under the Old Testament they were servants, or at best, minors, which, the apostle says, differeth nothing from a servant. This however is a great honour. The Psalmist thought it so, when he said, I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness, 40 or in the most honourable station among the ungodly. But of believers in Christ the apostle says, Thou art no more a servant but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ; which privilege he more fully explained, when he said to the Romans, The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.41 Here is one blessing heaped upon another; a privilege vouchsafed in this life as a foretaste and earnest of future blessedness. So our Saviour said to His disciples, Henceforth I call you not servants ; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth ; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I
have made known unto you.42 Believers in Christ then are not merely servants, who are kept at a distance from their Lord, and employed only in waiting upon Him; they are His friends, who are admitted into His presence to hold intercourse with Him; they are the children of God, who are permitted to call Him their Father; and as such are admitted into His presence at all times, to have communion and fellowship with Him; and to make known to Him all their complaints and desires, as a child makes known his wants to his earthly parent.
But this is not all. Those who partake of this privilege here on earth, who have God for their Father through faith in Christ Jesus, are also heirs of God through Christ, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, who shall be glorified together with their Lord and Saviour in His eternal kingdom; for when Christ who is their life shall appear, then shall they also appear with Him in glory,43 and receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. They are begotten to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them; and for which they are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time 145 and of which they shall assuredly be put in possession when they shall see Him as He is.
42 John xv. 15. 43 Col. iii. 4. 44 1 Pet. v. 4. 45 1 Pet. i. 4,5. Such is the blessedness to which it is the privilege of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to look forward, in the hope of enjoying it when time with them shall be no more. As they receive the adoption of sons in consequence of being interested in the redemption of Christ; as they are adopted into the family and household of faith; they are also sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of their inheritance, the pledge to them that they shall obtain the purchased possession, unto the praise of the glory of their redeem- · ing God and Saviour. How far below our privileges do we live, if we are not looking for the fulfilment of these exceeding great and precious promises47 of God, and believing that He is faithful who hath promised, and will fulfil them to His waiting people. If we put our trust in the redemption of Christ for the pardon of our sins and our justification before God, and implore the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit to be vouchsafed to us, according to our faith it shall be done unto us; and being washed and sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God,48 we shall be enabled to rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS;
THE CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST.
THE SIGN AND THE SEAL.
Romans iv. 11.
AND HE RECEIVED THE SIGN OF CIRCUMCI
SION, A SEAL OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE FAITH WHICH HE HAD YET BEING UNCIRCUMCISED; THAT HE MIGHT BE THE FATHER OF ALL THEM THAT BELIEVE, THOUGH THEY BE NOT CIRCUMCISED; THAT RIGHTEOUSNESS MIGHT BE IMPUTED UNTO
On entering upon a new year, it is natural to review the past, and to look forward to the future. In both these cases, whether we look backward or forward, the declaration with which the Epistle for this day opens is exceedingly appropriate : Blessed is the man to whom the Lord
will not impute sin. To the serious mind a review of the past cannot but cause acute pain, however greatly it may be mingled with gratitude. And future prospects will generally be regarded with some kind of apprehension, even when there is ground for indulging the most lively hope. In retrospective considerations the Christian cannot but feel pain in consequence of the ravages which have been made on his soul and body by sin; which is the bane of his existence. He feels that he carries about with him a body of sin and death; against which it is needful for him to strive and struggle day by day; and that he is surrounded by temptations from without, with which he is naturally in-' clined to comply; but which must be resisted in order to the peace of his conscience. When therefore he considers both his sinfulness and his weakness, his past offences and his liability to be turned aside, he cannot but rejoice that there is forgiveness with God, that He may be feared, that with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption ;49 and that He will vouchsafe these blessings to all those who earnestly seek them in His appointed way. The abounding of iniquity does not lessen the evil of it in the view of the Christian; but will rather cause him to regard it with the greater dread and
49 Ps. cxxx. 4, 7.