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Now, I said, that as Isaac was born of the free-woman, fo are believers free indeed, because the Son makes them free; they are from Jerusalem which is above, and is free, ver. 26. They are not under the law, but un
8. Ifaac was no sooner born, than he was mocked and perfecuted by Ishmael, the son of the bond-woman; “ As he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, so it is now," said the apostle in his day, Gal. iv. 29.; and so it is now, say I, in our day; and fo it will be to the end of the world. Our apostle here designs to prevent the believing Galatians their stumbling at the opposition they might meet with from the Jews, who were so tenacious of their law, as to be ready to persecute these that would not submit to it; he tells them, that this was no more than what was pointed out in the type; and, as it was betwixt Ifaac and Ithmael, fo will it be betwixt believers and unbelievers, these that are under the law, and there that are under grace. The seed of the woman, and the feed of the ferpent cannot agree ; “ All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, must fuffer persecution,” 2 Tim. iii. 12.
2 ALL, without exception, that will live godly in Christ Jesus, must lay their account with persecution ; and more efpecially these that preach and profess the gospel, must look to be hated and reproached ; “You shall be hated of all men for my name's sake,” Luke xxi. 17. Mat. x. 22. Of all men; that is, of all that do not embrace the gospel, you in particular shall be hated; for, the devil Moots his arrows at the whitest marks. The apostle here seems to point at secret enemies, and false brethren, that pretend to religion, and are seemingly holy, Gal. ii. 4. compared with chap. i. 6, 7., And here it was a circumcised Ishmael thai fcoffed at Isaac, Gal. vi. 29. compared with Gen. xxi. 9. The most deadly enemies of Christ, were these who stiled themselves Abraham's feed, and were so according to the flesh: hence the church complains, Song i. 6. “My mother's children were angry with me;" i.e. my mother's children by external profession. The greatest enemies of the church, for the most part, are these vipers that ly in her own bow
els : :
els : the children of the promise may look to be cast out by their feeming brethren, Ila. lxi. 5.; and to be counted as montiers, figns, and wonders, and that even in Ilrael, Isa. viii. 18. and men wondered at, Zech, jii. 8. If it be fo to this very day, think it not strange, for the world will be like itself. " I would be offended,” said Luther, " if the world were not offended at me.” There is persecution in reproachful words; Ishmael's mocking of Isaac is here called persecution. We read of fourteen or fifteen feveral trials that the OldTeila. ment martyrs endured, Heb. xi. 35,-38. whereof this was one, cruel mockings. To be fmitten with the tongue, is sometimes a very cruel thing; to be called mad, drunk, pestilent, turbulent fellows, as the apostles were, Acts. ii. 13. xvii. 18, 19. xxvii. 24. xxviii. 22.; to be counted the off-scourings of all things : yea, and firebrands of contention, are grievous charges, and afflicting to the godly: “ Wo is me, my mother, that thou hast born me a man of strife, and a man of contention to the whole earth?” Jer. xv. 10. The best cordial for a child of God in that case, is the like of that word, “ If ye proached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth on you,” i Pet. iv. 13, 14. " On their part, he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified,” Mat. v. 11, 12.
9. Ifaac was the heir by promise, tho’ thus persecuted, Gal. iv. 30. compared with Gen. xxi. 10. XV. 3, 4. Even so, believers, the children of promise, are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Chrift; “ If children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if fo be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together,” Rom. viii. 17. They are born heirs of the crown of glory ; as children of the promise, they are just begotten to a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away, 1 Pet. iii. 4, 5. They that are effectually hooked by the promise, though they may swim for a while in the sea of this sinful and troublesome world, yet the line on which the hook of the promise hings, will draw them at length to the shore of
glory: Faithful is be that promiferb, who also will do it. Yea, the gospel-believer only is the heir, Rom. iv. 14.
10. The trials and difficulties that encountered Ifaac in the way of the accomplishment of the promise, were very great; and fo may it be with all belicvers, the children of promise, before they be put in full poffeffion of the promised inheritance. We touched already the trial of Abraham's faith with respect to the birth of Ifaac, and the difficulties that stood in the way of that promise, Abraham's body being dead, and Sarah also being of a barren sterile constitution, naturally, and now past the prolific age. But after Isaac was given in this extraordinary manner, and entered heir of the
promise, such difficulties presented themselves as feemed, at one blow, to cut off the intail of the promise for ever: Behold, Abraham is ordered to go and sacrifice Isaac, Gen. xxii. 2. compared with Heb. xi. 17, 18, 19.
A greater trial was never put upon any creature after he had received the promise : what promise ? that in Isaac should his feed be called ; that he thould be one of the progenitors of the Messias, and all nations be blessed in him: so that, in being called to offer up his Isaac, the hope of his family, his only son, whom he loved; he feemed at the same time, to be called to go and cut off the promises of God, to prevent the coming of Christ, and fo destroy the whole world; to facrifice his own soul, and his hopes of salvation in Christ, promifed to come of Isaac; and to cut off the church of God at one blow: a very terrible trial! Isaac was the only one that he was to have by his wife Sarah, the only one that was to be the child and heir of the promise ; the only fon that could convey to all nations the promised blefling; a fon for whom he waited fo long, received in fo wonderful a manner, on whom his heart was set ; and to offer up his son as a facrifice, and that by his own hand, which looked like the murder forbidden in the sixth command; it was a trial that would have overset the firmest and strongest mind that ever informed a human body: Yet he offered up Isaac by faith ; he did it intentionally, and was ready to have done it actually, and went as far in it as the critical moment, and would have gone through with it, if God had not prevented him ; for the ground of his faith was, that he accounted that God was able to raise him up from the dead; so that it would seem that Abraham had no expectation of being countermanded. Thus the trial went to the last extremity; and then, you know, how the Lord appeared.--Now, in like manner, the children of promile, believers in Christ, after they are entered heirs of the promise, extraordinary difficulties may appear, which their faith will have to struggle with ; providences may run fo cross to the promise, as that the fatal knife may seem to be at the very throat of the promise, to cut it off for ever from being accomplished. Ifaac was given up for dead; and Abraham received him, as it were, from the dead, Heb. xi. 19.: His return to him was no less than a resurrection. The children and heirs of the promise are not then to think strange concerning the fiery trial, that is to try them, as tho' some strange thing happened to them, i Pet. iv. 12.; but are to believe that the promise will make its way thro' fire, and water, and death, and dreadful extremities; “ That the trial of faith being much more precious, than of gold that perifheth, tho' it be tried with fire, may be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Christ Jesus," 1 Pet. i. 7.--Thus you may observe the parallel, in manifold particulars, betwixt believers and Ifaac; and fee how, as Ifaac was, they are the children of promise.
IV. The Fourth general Head, which was, To offer the grounds and reasons of the doctrine, whence and why it is that the children of God are the children of promise. And here three distinct questions may be accounted for : I. Whence it is that the promise hath such a prolific virtue for begetting children to God? 2. Why God will have his children to be so by the promise? 3. Why will he have them, and them only, to be the children of the promise ?--A word to each of thefe.
1/1, Whence it is that the promise hath such a prolific virtue 'for begetting children to God? or, how it is the mean of bringing forth children? In general, it is by
divine destination and appointment made the great initrument of begetting God's children ; “ Of his own will bəgat he us, with the word of truth," James i. 18. And more particularly, it hath virtue for producing this effect, in the following respects.
1. As it is the discovery of divine love, the manifestation of divine grace, in Chrift; “ The grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared unto all men,” Tit. ii. 11. and this revelation is the channel of divine
power; • I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto falvation, to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek : for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith,” Rom. i. 16, 17. The riches of God's grace and love to finners are manifested in the gospel-promise, and the freedom thereof, namely, his loving them because he loves them, Deut. vii. 6, 7, 8. and that he will pity for his own name's fake, as is often intimate in the promife. And when the Lord offers, in the promise, to break thro' all the unworthiness and deservings of the creature, this tends to melt the greatest finner to the greatest felf-abasement, and the deepelt sense of his own nothingness, saying, “ Lord, what am I ?” It tends also to make the soul break forth into the highest admi. ration of God, saying, 06 O! who is like unto thee ?" and to fall in love with that wonderful device of fal. vation by free grace, thro' Christ Jesus, as the Lord our righteousness; and thus to bring the soul to God, as a child of promise, conquered by the irresistible grace thereof.
2. The promise hath prolific virtue, as it is the object of faith, and the mean thereof; Rom. i. 16. is revealed to faith ; that is, to be believed: there is the immediate object of faith ; and it is this revelation that is appointed of God to be the very mean of faith; therefore it is said, Rom. X. 17. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God:” and when faith comes this way, then persons are the children of God by faith in Chrift.
3. The promise hath this prolific virtue, as it is the ground of hope to the poor perishing finner; and when