« AnteriorContinuar »
such discernment, that the minutest fault cannot escape his notice; and so perfectly holy, that the least spot of defilement is infinitely abhorrent in his sight. It is therefore absolutely impossible that I should answer him; plead my cause and gain acceptance, on the foundation of my own obedience; or that we should, on any such footing, come together in judgment, without inevitable ruin to my person and all my immortal interests. Job xl. 4, xlii. 6, ix. 20, 21, 30, 31, 32.David, the man after God's own heart, made it his earnest request, that God would not enter into judgment with him according to the tenor of his own obedience: being well aware that neither he, nor any other man living, could be justified in that way. To rebuke the pride of self-righteous confidence, with emotions of holy reverence and sacred awe, he asks, If thou, Lord, shouldst mark ini. qulties, O Lord, who shall stand, who can be acquitted ? Psal. cxliii. 2, cxxx. 3.—Isaiah also, though an eminent prophet, and a distinguished servant of God, when he beheld Jehovah's glory, and heard the seraphim proclaim his holiness, loudly exclaimed, Wo is me! for I am undone! because I am a man of unclean lips. Nor was his consternation removed, or his conscience relieved, till pardon through the atonement was applied to him. Isa. vi. 2, 7.
Now, is it prudent, or can it be safe, to trust in your own imperfect duties, when persons of such eminent character and exalted piety made these acknowledgments, and had such views of themselves and of their own attainments? If their personal obedience would not bear the divine scrutiny, what
a wretched figure must yours make before the heartsearching God? If Jehovah charge his angels with folly, and if the heavens be not pure, in his sight; what then is man, who drinketh iniquity like water, that he should pretend to be clean? or the son of man, that he should presume to be righteous ? For, between human obedience and angelical holiness, there is no more comparison, than between a clod of the field and a star in the firmament.
Vain man would be wise, though he is born like a wild ass's colt: proud man would be righteous, though loathsome with sin and obnoxious to ruin.-But, however highly the self-sufficient may think of their own obedience, the sinner, whose conscience is pressed with a sense of guilt, and every real Christian will deprecate appearing, in their own righteousness, before the final Judge. Yea, the man who is taught of God will ardently cry, Fall upon me, ye rocks! cover me, ye mountains! yea, rather let me lose my existence, than appear before the Most Holy in the filthy rags of my own duties; or in any righteousness but that which is perfect, in any obedience but that which is divine,
Of Grace, as it reigns in our Adoption.
THOSE whom God has justified, and admitted into a state of reconciliation with himself, he has also adopted for his children. Hence their interest in all the blessings of grace, and in the unknown
riches of glory, depends not merely on the favour of friendship, though that be of the noblest kind; but also upon an indisputable right of inheritance, which right they have in virtue of adoption.
The word Adoption signifies that act by which a person takes the child of unother, not related to him, into the place, and entitles him to the privileges of his own son. In the Grecian and Roman states, it was customary for a man of wealth, in default of issue from his own body, to make choice of some person upon whom he put his name ; requiring him to relinquish his own family, never to return to it again, and publicly declared him his heir. The person thus adopted was legally entitled to the inheritance, upon the decease of his adopter; and though previously void of all claim to such a benefit, or any expectation of it, was invested with the same privileges, as if he had been born an heir to his benefactor.*
The spiritual and divine adoption about which we treat, is, God's gracious admission of strangers and aliens, into the state, relation, and enjoyment of all the privileges of children, through Jesus Christ: according to that glorious promise of the new covenant - I will be a Father unto you, and shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.Reconciliation, justification and adoption, may be thus distinguished. In reconciliation, God is considered as the injured party, and the sinner as an enemy to him.
In justification, our Maker sustains the character of supreme Judge, and man is considered as a criminal standing before his tribunal. In adoption, Jehovah appears as the fountain
* Mr. Venn's Complete Duty of Man, p. 470, 471. edit. 20.
of honour, and the apostate sons of Adam as aliens from him—as belonging to the family of Satan and as denominated children of wrath. In reconciliation, we are made friends ; in justification, we are pronounced righteous; and in adoption, we are constituted heirs of the eternal inheritance.
That believers are the children of God, the scriptures expressly declare. They may be so called, as they are begotten and born from above; as they stand in a conjugal relation to Christ ; and as they are adopted into the heavenly family. These different way in which the scripture speaks of their filial relation to God, are intended to aid our feeble conceptions when we think upon the grand, ineffable blessing: one mode of expression supplying, in some degree, the ideas that are wanting in another.—To express the original of spiritual life, and the restoration of the divine image, we are said to be born of God. To set forth in the liveliest manner, our most intimate union with the Son of the Highest, we are said to be married to Christ. And, that we might not forget our natural state of alienation from God, and to intimate our title to the heavenly patrimony, we are said to be adopted by Him.— The condition, therefore, of all believers are most noble and excellent. Their heavenly birth, their divine Husband, and their everlasting inheritance, loudly proclaim it.
The beloved apostle, amazed at the love of God manifested in the privilege of adoption, could not forbear exclaiming with astonishment and rapture, Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called THE SONS OF GOD! Here Grace reigns. The vessels of
mercy were predestinated to the enjoyment of this honour and happiness before the world began. The great Lord of all chose them for himself, chose them for his children, that they might be heirs of God, and joint heirs of Christ. This he did, not because of any worthiness in them, but of his own sovereign will. As it is written, Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace. According to the good pleasure of his will; this is the eternal source of the heavenly blessing. By Jesus Christ; this is the way of its communication to sinners. To the praise of his glorious grace ; this is the end of bestowing it. The persons adopted are sinners of Adam's race; who, considered in their natural state, are estranged from God, and guilty before him; under sentence of death, and obnoxious to ruin. Their translation therefore out of this deplorable condition, into a state and relation so glorious, is an instance of reigning grace. That the children of wrath should become the inheritors of glory, and the slaves of Satan be acknowledged as the sons of Jehovah: that the enemies of God should be adopted into his family, and have an indefeasible right to all the privileges of his children, are astonishing to the last degree. Our character and state, by nature, are the most indigent, wretched, and abominable; such as render us fit for nothing, after this life, but to dwell with damned spirits and accursed fiends, in the abodes of darkness and of despair. But, by the privilege of adoption, we are invested with such a character, and are brought into such a state, as