THE HIGH PRIVILEDG Of all True BELIEVERS To be the SONS of GOD. Opened in a Sermon at Suttons Hospital, Novemb. 12. 1654.
John, 1.12, 13.
But as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the Sons of God, even to them that beleeve in his Name, Which were Born not of Blood, Nor of the will of the Flesh, Nor of the will of Man, But of God.
THe dependance of the Words stands thus. First, You have in the beginning of the Chapter a most glorious Description of Jesus Christ, both of his person, and of his Natures, and of his Office, under the Name of the Light that inlighteneth every one that cometh into the World. Then,
Page 36Secondly, You have a description of his Entertain∣ment in the World, when this great Lord submitted to this work, and manifested himself: What was his entertainment? First, He came into the world, and though the world were made by him, Yet the world would not know him, he came amongst his own, that is, his own nation and kinred, who had been instructed a∣bout a Messiah that was to come, and had long pra∣yed for him, Oh! that he would bow the Heavens and come down amongst us; he came amongst them, and they would none of him, they would not receive him. Truly, this is the ordinary lot of Jesus Christ whereso∣ever he cometh, but yet there were a remnant that did receive him and shal receive him, even those that belong to the Covenant of Grace. And what get they by it? That Remnant, that handful that do receive Christ, make the best bargain that ever was made in the world: As many as did receive him, to them he gave this priviledg, that they should become the Sons of God; and so here you have the comprehension of all the happi∣ness that Beleevers do receive by Jesus Christ, they are made the Sons of God; so that the Text hath two things in it. First,
1. Here is the Means whereby Souls are made par∣takers of Christ; that is, upon receiving of him, that is the means and condition or instrument. All that receive him, which is interpreted in the next words, even they who believed in him, Believing in Christ, and Recei∣ving Christ is al one; This though it be a Doctrine of wonderfull comfort I shall speak nothing of it, but of the second; That is,
2. The benefit that they all receive who do par∣take of Christ, what they get by him: They all of Page 37 them have this priviledg or Prerogative, That they are made the Sons of God; and so without any more preparation to the Text, or explication (for the Do∣ctrine I will explain in the handling of it, I say,) with∣out any more preface I lay you down this Doctrine,
Doct. That al who believe in Jesus Christ are made the Sons of God, the Children of God.
And that you may receive this with better attenti∣on, I will (to make you the better understand the Lord's scope) answer a Question, that is this.
Quest. You say it is very cleer in the Scriptures that al Be∣leevers are made the Children of God, that is one of their Pri∣viledges, but what is the reason that no more is named but that one? They are Justified, they are Sanctified, they have the Pro∣mises, they are Reconciled, they have a thousand excellencies in this world, yet here is none named but only this, they are made Sons, Why is no other named but this?
Answ. I Answer plainly, and it will be of great use to understand it, namely, that though somtimes in the holy Scriptures our Sonship is but one of our Pri∣viledges, yet very frequently in the Scripture all that Beleevers do obtain from Christ in this world and the world to come, here and to eternity, all is compre∣hended in this one, That they are made the Children of God. Really you wil see it as cleer as the Sun pre∣sently, that God comprehends all other priviledges in this one; that he that hath this one, he that is made the Son of God, he hath all other that can be imagi∣ned, or that you can find any Speech of, in al the Book of God, so great is this. And I wil give you a little Page 38 light about it, and then you wil receive the Doctrine (I hope) with the more attention, and with the more desire to see your own Interest in it; You shal see (and observe it as a general) that very frequently, when the Lord describeth the Covenant of Grace, the new Covenant what he wil be to his people in the new Co∣venant, he is very frequent in the setting down of this, I wil be their Father (saith he) and they shall be my Sons and Daughters; I know not how often the whol Cove∣nant of Grace is expressed in that word, I wil be their Father, they shal be my Children: but very cleerly you shal see it, if you turn to Ephes. 1.5. where the Apo∣stle doth bless the Lord for all the abundant Grace that is manifested to us in Christ, there he sets it down in this one expression, having predestinated us to the adoption of Children: What is al that? Al the Graces & al the Good that we enjoy from Christ, you have it in this one Sentence, God predestinated us to the adoption of Children; he hath done all when he hath done that. And there∣fore upon that very account it is that you shall see in Rom. 8.23. where the Apostle speaks there of the Groa∣ning of the Saints, the rest of the Creatures groan, & al the Saints groan for the glorious coming of Jesus Christ, To what end? (saith he) That we might receive the Adoption; that is, the perfecting of our Sonship. Now we have Hea∣ven it self when we have but our Sonship made, that is plain; and you wil see it still plainer in the Epistle to the Galatians, Chap. 4 and the beginning, the Apostle there speaking of Christs coming as our Surety, When the fulness of time was come the Lord sent his Son Jesus Christ, made of a Woman, under the Law, and made him a Curse, To what end? that we might receive the adoption of Children; there is all. But that the time would prevent me ha∣ving Page 39 many things to deliver, I might go on to shew you more Scriptures that fully prove this truth, That to be made a Son of God is to have the comprehensi∣on of all that is obtained by Jesus Christ; so that this is no smal Theam that I am entred upon, and I hope if the Lord help me but to make it out to you in this hours discourse, you will before you part, conclude they are happy men that have gotten an interest in Christ by Faith. This premised now I come to the de∣monstration of the Doctrine, That all who have really ac∣cepted of Christ for their Savior, they are all of them made the Sons of God; that is the Doctrine. Now to explain it, You must know that God is said to have Sons, or to be a Father in the Scripture in many senses; I may bring them all to these two heads for my purpose.
1. Sometimes the Lord is said in a Metaphorical sense to be a Father in divers cases, and yet he is not properly a Father, he neither hath the bowels of a Fa∣ther, to those whom he cals Sons in that sense, nor have they the bowels of Children, who cal him Father in that sense, for all the whol Creation he is the Father of them all in that respect, That their being is from him and their dependance upon him and the like: But then Secondly,
2. God is said to have Sons properly, and I explain when I say properly, I mean Sons so that really he is a Father to them, hath the heart of a Father, the bowels of a Father, whatsoever is desirable in a Father; and they on the other side properly are his Children, in being unto him what Children are unto a Father: Now in this sense God is said in the Scripture to have Sons two waies, two sorts of Sons. The one is,
Page 401. Natural, Begotten by him, in which begetting or generation his own essence is communicated, that as we beget a man, so in that begetting God may be said to beget a God, or a Person that hath the essence of God; this is one sense, and in this sense he hath no Son but our Lord Jesus Christ, who was eternally begotten by him, and is God over all, blessed forever; and it is blas∣phemy for any but Christ Jesus to challenge to be the Son of God in that sense; and therefore the Scribes and Pharisees were right when they told Christ, he did blaspheme because he called himself the Son of God they were right (I say) thus far, that had not Christ been the begotten Son of his Father, and so had the same nature, he had blasphemed in calling himself Gods Son in that sense. But then Secondly,
2. But God hath other Sons to whom he is proper∣ly a Father, and those are by Adoption, which you frequently read of in the Scriptures, especially of the new Testament, where all Saints and Beleevers have the Adoption, are the adopted Sons and Daughters of God; Thus I have brought you to it, that Beleevers are the adopted Sons and Daughters of God concer∣ning which I shal (the Lord assisting me) in the Doctrinal part open these three things to you, and the other shall be the Application so far as the Lord shall help me in the compass of the time; Three things in the Doctrinal part: The first is,
- 1. What this means, what it is to be an adopted Son of God. Secondly,
- 2. How this priviledg of being made the Son of God by A∣doption is wrought, that you may see it is not a Fancy, I wil shew you how it is wrought and brought about, and by Page 41 it those that will be willing and Faithfull may be able to judg of their own condition, whether they are the adopted Children of God or not. And then Thirdly,
- 3. I wil shew you, in somwhat a more general way, What this adoption, or being made an adopted Child of God, what infinite priviledges it doth comprehend in it. For the first,
1. What it is to be adopted, What is Adoption?
I Answer, Indeed the word was never used in the old Testament, and the reason is because that adopti∣on it was not then known, though there was somthing like it, but in the Roman Empire which was at the height when Christ and his Apostles lived, there the thing that we cal Adoption was as wel known, as al∣most any thing that belonged to the government of the Empire, the Nature, the Laws of it, the Duties of it too, they were all stated, that our Lawyers have not more cleer Evidences how to set out things that be∣long to our Law now, than in the Empire of Rome they were acquainted with the whole Laws and Man∣ner and way of adoption, and so because it is of so ex∣ceeding great use to shadow out the unexpressable be∣nefits that we have by Christ, the Lord was pleased (if I may so say) to adopt into the Covenant of Grace; And amongst the Romans Adoption it was after this manner, It was the taking of a Person or Persons, who had no natural right to any inheritance, a taking them into a Lawful right, there are various descriptions of it amongst the Romans, but the best of them is this, A lawful act imitating nature, whereby a Person or Persons who have no natural right to an inheritance, are taken in, into a lawful right, and it was done after this manner in a Page 42 few words, for commonly none but Princes, or Sena∣tors, or great Persons did ever adopt any, but this was the way, When there was an agreement made be∣twixt the Persons that did adopt and the Person to be adopted (for they never adopted those that were unwilling to it, but when there was an agreement it should be so) the adopter did carry the Person be∣fore the Judges, or into some publick and Lawful As∣sembly, and there before them al called the Party Son, This is my Son, and from that day forward he was his Son to all rights and purposes in the Roman Laws, as much as if he had begotten him; (as you will hear more before I have done my discourse,) thus it was amongst them. Now accordingly if you wil know in the Gospel Sense, what is Adoption, I describe it thus, It is a gracious Sentence of God the Father, who cals sin∣ners (if Beleevers) his Sons for Christ's sake; I give you this short description: That it is a gracious Sen∣tence of God the Father, whereby he doth call Be∣leevers though sinners, yet he cals them his Sons for Christs sake; the very Scripture language, We are called Sons: but yet I think a little plainer take this: It is a gracious work of God, whereby he doth take poor sinners who beleeve in Christ, into that Glorious Condition of being his own Children: All this will by and by be more plain, when I come to shew you what it comprehends in it, but the Lord of his free Grace when he hath brought home a Soul, to make it accept of Christ to be its Savior, then doth he, how unworthy soever that Wretch be, he takes him into the condition of his own Children: That is the first, and I am the shorter in it because the next wil explain it more, The second Question is this,
Page 432. What is this work of Adopting, or how is it done? and therein I humbly crave your best attention, because I know to you that are the Lords, I am opening the most glorious Priviledg that Christ Jesus hath bought with his blood for you, and it wil be wel worth your under∣standing, how we that are Children of Wrath come to be made the Children of God. I Answer you then, First,
1. In general, The Adopting of a Soul to be a Child of God is so high a work, that the whol Trinity, the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, every one of the three Persons have their di∣stinct work, in Adopting a poor Sinner to be the Child of God; nor is any man upon Earth ever made the Child of God, til al those three works of the Trinity have pas∣sed upon him, so great a matter is it to be made Gods Child: And this wil I open to you in the second place,
2. What the several works of the blessed Trinity are, in ma∣king a poor unworthy sinner to become the Child of God. First,
1. The work of the Father. God the Father what is his work in our Adoption? It stands in two things, you will find them cleerly if you do but study the Scriptures. The first is,
1. From all Eternity the Lord did choose them to be his Children, that when he did first pitch upon them, (if I may speak of any thing that is first which is eternal) but when the Lord pitched upon poor Creatures and chose them to life, he chose them to be his Children; as you have it in Ephes. 1. verse 5. He hath predestinated us to the Adoption of Children, that although he himself had a naturally and only begotten Son, every way pleasing and delightful to him, yet besides this only be∣gotten Son would he have other Children, who with that Son should enjoy him, and serve him, and under Page 44 that notion he chose to make them his Children; Not only so, but,
2. When he gave them to Christ, which was like∣wise a work from all Eternity, When the Lord gave these to Jesus Christ whom he chose to be Sons, he gave them to him under the notion of Brethren; These are to be thy Bre∣thren, I give them to thee to compleat the work which I have chosen them to, which is to be my Sons, and therefore it is said in that place of the Hebrews, That because the Children were partakers of Flesh and Blood, that is, those that the Lord had chosen and looked up∣on as Children, he that was their Surety must partake of Flesh and Blood: So there is the Fathers work, that from all Eternity he taketh a poor Creature, and saith, This shal be my Son, and he gives him to his Son Christ, These I give as thy Brethren to thee, to bring them to the enjoyment of me; There is the work of the Father, this I hope is plain. Then Secondly,
2. There is a work of Jesus Christ, What is that? The work and Office of Jesus Christ in the point of Adop∣tion, that likewise stands in two things. The First is,
1. He was to purchase their Sonship for them; for though the Father would give it them freely, it should cost them nothing, yet Christ being made their Surety he must purchase it for them, so that the Lord although he was the Heir of all things, yet he condescends by his own Blood, by his own Sufferings, by himself be∣ing made a Curse, He condescends to purchase adoption for those that were given him to bring to life. This is plain in Gal. 4. where i• is said, When the fulness of time was come, God sent his own Son born of a Woman, made under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of Sons, that our Adop∣tion Page 45 as it flows from Christ is the price of his Blood, that is one of the works that Christ doth. The second is this,
2. That when the acceptable hour is come, that the Lord is pleased to bring a Sinner home to Christ, Christ is applied to him as a Brother, that when they are brought to Christ by Faith, Christ cometh to be ap∣plied to them as their elder Brother, not only as a Re∣deemer that hath satisfied God and purchased for them, but when he is made over to them, he is made over to them in his Sonship as wel as in the rest of his works; so that as our justification ariseth from Christs righteousness being applied to us, so our Sonship ari∣sing from Christ as the Son, (being the only begotten Son of God and our elder Brother) is applied to us: Yea, I tel you this application of Christ in his Sonship to the Saints is so neer and so close, that although he be the only begotten Son of God, the first born, the Heir of all things, yet by vertue of his application un∣to Beleevers, they likewise come to be called by God himself his first born: These are high things, but the Scripture is cleer in them, for so you read it in the latter end of Heb. 12.23. where it is said, that we are come to the new Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of An∣gels, to the general Assembly, and to the Congregation of the first born whose names are written in Heaven, that all they that are called home to Christ, by reason of their con∣junction to their elder Brother, they are the first born of God: and the Lord speaks thus of all his Saints in that place of Exod. in that sense I am speaking, Go (saith he) to Pharoah, tel him Israel is my Son: What Son? My first born, he is my first born because Israel was comprehended in Christ, and Christ looked upon as Page 46 his Brother, Israel is Gods first born: So here are two of the works of the Trinity in our Adoption, the work of the Father in chusing us to it, and giving us to Jesus Christ as his Brethren, the work of the Son is in purchasing this great priviledg by his Blood, and when the time of Application is come, the making himself over to them in the consideration or notion of an elder Brother, and so they really by their conjun∣ction with him partake of it. There is the second work.
3. There is the work of the Holy Ghost, and til that like∣wise be past over the Soul, never is any man made the Son of God. The Holy Ghost and his work is so emi∣nent and apparent, that he is called the Spirit of Adopti∣on, that when the Lord gives his Spirit unto his Chil∣dren, he cals it by the Spirit of Adoption, because it is the great Office of the Spirit to make that great work of Adoption.
Quest. Now what is the Holy Spirit's work about it?
Answ. I Answer, It stands in three things, and you wil see them all cleer in Scripture, (and I hope I shal have some time for the Application, for I go it over as fast as I can,) the Holy Ghosts work in making us the Sons of God stands in three things, as it is cleer in the Scripture. The one is,
1. When the acceptable time is come, that the Lord means to make a Soul that is by nature a Child of wrath to become the Child of God, He sends the Spirit of Jesus Christ into that Soul to be a band of union betwixt Christ and that soul, that whereas Christ is to be applied to them as a Brother, and they to be mystically united Page 47 unto him, the holy Spirit takes this Office upon him∣self to come and dwel in the heart, as a band of union betwixt Christ and them, that Christ and they should never more be separated, and this work of the pou∣ring out of the Spirit into the Soul, to take possession of him for Christ, and to give the possession of Christ unto him, the Spirit being the band of it, this is the first work of the Spirit as he is the Spirit of Adoption: There is one. The second work of the Spirit is this,
2. That when the holy Spirit comes to make Christ and us one, he as the elder Brother and we as his Bre∣thren inseparably united to him, whereas he findeth us enemies, hateful, hating, that would rather be uni∣ted to Harlots, to the Creature, to any thing, the Spi∣rit of God works a Child-like heart in them, framing and molding their Spirits, that for the time to come they calling God, Father (as they have warrant to do) they likewise shall be made Sons, even in the frame and bent of their spirits, which is very excellently ex∣pressed in the very next words to my Text, wherein it is said, He gave them this Prerogative that they should become the Sons of God, which were born (saith he, mark,) not of Blood, nor of the wil of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God; Now no longer shal flesh and blood sway them, but being born of God, the Spirit of God gives a new birth and a new life, now they come to have the hearts of Children, that as nature hath planted in the heart of a Child toward the Parent, Honor, and Love, and Reverence, and Obedience, where sin hath not utterly perverted it, this is the natural genius of a Child to his Father. So the Spirit of God molds and frames the Soul, and this the Scripture signifies when Page 48 it saith, Because you are Sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, whereby now we can cry Abba Father, now the hearts of them shal stand to God, and be car∣ried to him in Faith and Prayer, as the hearts of Chil∣dren are naturally carried to their Parents That is the second thing. And then the third and last work of the Spirit (and so you have all this indeed as plain be∣fore you as I can set it out, briefly the Third Work) is this,
3. This Holy Spirit even as it is the Spirit of Adop∣tion, doth not only unite them to Christ, and frame a sutable disposition in them towards God and Christ, But it abides in them upon all need to witness to their Spirits that this is their condition, to give not only the Seal of it by changing their hearts, but by giving them the comfort of it as they need it in their necessities; which the Apostle expresseth in those words, it is in Rom. 8. And the same Spirit witnesseth to our spirits that we are Gods Children, it carries our hearts to God, and testifies to the Soul that God is their Father. There is the se∣cond. Now I have been larger in that, because in truth the world doth not ponder these things, nay few of Gods own Children do ever consider what a strange work it is, that none but the blessed Trinity can un∣dertake, and each of them have their distant work in it, of bringing a poor Child of Wrath to become the Child of God. That is the second. You hear now what Adoption is, and how it is wrought. Now the third thing in the Doctrinal part (and then I hasten to the Application,) is,
Wel, What are the benefits of it? Now what are the benefits of our Adoption? That when the Lord hath took this strange course, and brought about this strange Page 49 work, Wherein doth the worth of this Priviledg stand? I answer, You wil receive a great deal of light of it, at least it wil help you to remember it, and understand it the better, if I do illustrate it, by the practice that was amongst the Romans: So their Adoption and the Ro∣man Adoption had three things in it, it carried three things (as all learned men that have read their Sto∣ries and Laws do know) The first is,
1. When a man was Adopted into a Family, the Fa∣mily of a Caesar, or the great men, by his Adoption he was cut off from the Family from which he sprung by his natural birth, cut off from it, not simply, but from whatsoever was base or unworthy in that Fami∣ly, that if his Father were a Slave, and himself by his birth a Slave, it was hereditary to him, or if any blot or infamy stuck upon his family, whatsoever it was, the Adopting of this Person into another Family, wholly cut him off from al the base ignominious slavish bondage, and dangers which belonged to the Family, from which he sprung by his natural birth; That was the first. The second was,
2. That by his Adoption he was taken as belonging to the Family into which he was Adopted, as much as if he had been begotten by him, he was to have (by the Laws of the Empire) the same respect from his adop∣ted Father, the same provision, the same protection, the same immunities whatsoever, that his own begot∣ten Son might claim by nature from the Roman Laws, the adopted Child was instituted in them all. And Thirdly,
3 By his Adoption he had the same right to the in∣heritance that the begotten Child had; if there were no other begotten Children, the whol Inheritance sel Page 50 to the Adopted Child, if there were another begot∣ten Child though beloved, the Adopted shared with him in it, Look how the inheritance was to go a∣mongst the begotten Children by the Laws of the Em∣pire, so by the same Laws it was to go amongst them that were adopted: Thus it was amongst them, but whether any Lawyers can except against it or no I will not much dispute it, but I shal make it cleer to you, that it is thus absolutely and fully in our adoption; Absolutely and fully in the adoption of a Child by Faith, all these three things meet. First,
1. We are hereby cut off from the Family from which we sprung by nature, I speak not now of our Civil birth or rights, but of our spiritual standing, which is to be Children of wrath, Children of Belial, Children of old Adam, Children of Sin and Death, we are cut off from that Family, no longer to be recko∣ned of it, the Bondage, Baseness, Obligations, Curses, whatsoever lay or doth lie upon Adams Family, or up∣on any that spring from it, assoon as ever the Lord cals him Son through Christ, he is wholly cut off from all, that is plainly thus, (and because I cannot possibly open these in a short discourse, I wil commend it to your studies)
1. We are (for example) all of us by nature under the Dominion of sin, that is our birthright, sin and the curses of it, we are al under it, assoon as ever the Lord cals a Beleever, Child, that he hath let his adoption pass upon him, the bondage of sin, the curse of sin, the dominion of sin, it is wholly removed from him; ye 〈◊〉 not under sin, sin cannot have dominion over you▪ because you are now brought under Grace; And then likewise,
Page 512. The Law whereby sin is irritated and animated, the Law that in the Rigor of it, and the Curse of it, that lies upon all the Sons of Adam, we are cut off from it assoon as ever we are Gods Children; and therefore the Apostle expresseth it thus to the Galatians, that he made his Son born under the Law, that he might Redeem us that are under the Law, that we might have the Adoption of Children, I hope no Body will mistake me, for it is most clear in the word, that the Law remains as a rule to Gods Children, and that is their priviledg, but as for the Rigor and curse of it, they are wholly cut off from that when they are made the Sons of God by Adoption; That is the First, That the Lord calling Sons to Jesus Christ, and owning them as his Children for the sake of Christ, they are deli∣vered from all the Curses and bondage that belongs to Adams Family, and which all the Rest of the world lie under: But then the Second is greater then this. And that is,
2. That by our Adoption we are really (I speak of Beleevers not nominal Christians, but real Christians, they are all of them) taken into Gods Family as his Sons and Daughters, that is, he owneth them to be his Children, and hath the Bowels of a Father to them really, that they are now under his care, under his provision, under his Protection, under his indulgence, and whatsoever he hath commanded the most Holy Parents to exercise towards their own Children that fear them, he hath ingaged himself perpetually for ever, to do all these things unto those whom he is pleased to cal his Sons and Daughters by Adoption; There is nothing so ful, no pearle so ful of excellency, there is nothing so ful of any thing that is good, as Page 52 this is ful of consolation to the saints of God, that can but understand it, therefore he must needs bear with them, therefore he must needs provide for them, therefore if he correct them it must needs be in Love, with no∣thing but a Fatherly rod, for we are all taken into his Family, and may go to him as to a Father in all things wherein we have need of a Father; that is the Second, A great comprehension of Priviledges not to be ut∣tered; And then the Third branch is as clear.
3. That when God calls us to be his Children, we are thereby made his Heires, we are Heires of God; indeed in the Civil Law inheritance it is by a succession into the right of the Dead, but now as the Lord is pleased to apply it to his Children, it signifies a cer∣tain inheritance, but certainly the inheritance that the Lord of Heaven is to give to any, or that he hath given to his Son Jesus Christ, all his Brethren the Brethren of Christ, and the Sons of God have a share in it; If you wil have it a little more fully, I will tell you in a few words thus, for you have the proof of it in Rom. 8.16. That the Spirit witnesseth with our Spirits that we are the Children of God, and if Children then Heirs, Heirs of God and Coheirs with Christ: But I mean these two things by it. First,
1. The Heir while he is a Child is Lord of all, he is Lord of al before he comes to the injoyment of it, he is the Lord of it, so now while Gods Children are in their minority, while they are poor ones in this world, they are Heirs of the world, the Lord hath called his Chil∣dren to be Heirs of the world, that is, whatsoever is in this world is for their sakes, the Angels, the World the Devils in Hel, in spite of their Hearts they are al under the Saints, and are compelled by the Lord, they against Page 53 their wills, and the Angels with their good wils, they all of them are subservient to those that are the Sons of God by Adoption, and whatsoever is in the wide world, and may be enjoyed any waies for the good of his People, they are the Heirs of all; this is their Por∣tion while they are in this world; the Scripture saith it plain, All is yours, and you are Christs, and Christ is Gods, and therefore Paul, and Apollo, or Cephas, or whatsoever is in the world, all is yours, the Saints of God have a real right to al by vertue of their Sonship, not in the Law of man but in the spirituall sense that the Scripture holds out. And then,
2. For the other life, where the prepared possession which was cast by God from all Eternity, all the Glory of Heaven, such as Eye never saw, nor never entred into the heart of man to conceive of, it is all kept to be the everlasting inheritance of all those that are called the Lords Children. Thus (Brethren) I have as briefly as I could, and yet I have through Gods good∣ness plainly opened to you this great priviledg of all priviledges, that whosoever doth beleeve in Jesus Christ, really accepts him to be their Savior, they are upon their beleeving in Christ made the Sons and Daughters of God: Now let me make some Applica∣tion before I dismiss you, and one thing that I would fain have you think upon alone, is,
1. To take heed you be not deceived about it (this would require a Sermon whensoever I should treat of it, and therefore I wil but commend it now to you in a few words, be not you deceived about it) I pray do not Page 54 all of you take this for granted (now I have opened so glorious a Priviledg) that every one of you because you are called Christians, are all made the Sons and Daughters of God, take heed you be not deceived, you see it is a mighty work of the whol Trinity to make it, and therefore your own fancy and conceit will not give you a share in it, No, it is here as it is in Saintship, many a man is owned as a Saint, yea, and ought so to be owned by them that converse visibly with him, and yet God wil not own him, but look upon him as a De∣vil, as he did upon Judas: So it is with Adoption, there is a visible kind of Adoption that men partake of, when they visibly own the Covenant, and I think this is the sense the Apostle speaks of, when they de∣mand what Priviledges the Jews had above others, very much, to them belongs the Adoption, that is, visibly they were owned as Gods people in the face of the world, and yet I tell you, when many of them came and pleaded their adoption and said, God is our Father, saith Christ to them, The Devil is your Father, and you do the works of your Father the Devil; So you may say when you come home after the Sermon, here is a great priviledge indeed, are wee Gods Children? I you may say so, but God wil say to you, you are of your Father the Devil; look to your hearts then and examine very much, whether this be wrought in you, and you shall need no other direction, if you will be faithful (for this I tel you is not the use I intend to insist upon) therefore do but ask whether these works of the Trinity be passed upon you or no, and chiefly that of the Holy Ghost, Is the Holy Ghost come to dwel in you to unite you to Christ? Doth the Holy Ghost work a Childs heart in you? Can you honor Page 55 God, and reverence him, and turn to him? And can you walk before God as obedient Children, at least in the constant bent and tenure of your Souls? You had best examin that, if you wil conclude all is wel. Now many force themselves, How came you a Child of God? By my Baptism (as it is in the Catechism) be∣cause you were once washed, Oh! beware of these things, it is a hard thing to know that you are the Children of God, therefore be not deceived in it (but this I say, I purposely wave the entring into this, be∣cause I cannot speak of it in so little a time) but that which I wil open to you shal be but two Instructions that flow from this, but are likewise very ful of conso∣lation to all Gods People.
Is this the Lot of al the Lords People? all beleevers in Christ, are they all made the Sons and Daughters of God? Then I pra'y be informed of these two things▪ First,
1. The infinite love of God to poor sinners: Bre∣thren, were I able to speak of it (though I should bor∣row half an hour to speak it, you could not grudge the time, if I could speak of it) as it deserveth, it would astonish you, Behold what love the Father hath she∣wed to us, that we should be called the Sons of God, saith the Apostle in 1 John 3. and the beginning, Oh! here is love indeed! God hath shewed a kind of Phylanthropia, a love to man in many things, but could we consider what love the Lord shews to a poor Soul, when he doth but cal Child in the Covenant of Grace, I am as∣sured Page 56 it would make you all be swallowed up in admi∣ration; I wil open it in three things,
- 1. What is the love that God the Father shews.
- 2. The love that God the Son shews.
- 3. The love that God the Holy Ghost shews to thee a poor sin∣ner who beleevest, when each of them have this work upon thee as to make thee his Son.
1. As for God the Father. Was it not a strange love that made him from al Eternity choose thee to be his Child? especially this love wil swallow thee, if thou wouldest but take in these three Considerations. First,
1. His Majesty, How great and Glorious a Majesty he is, that He should condescend: This Glorious Ma∣jesty could condescend after this manner. And Se∣condly,
2. To whom? To thee a Worm, if he looked upon thee at the best, as a thing made of a piece of Clay, that hast a heart ful of enmity against him, And Thirdly,
3. If we could but take in, upon what motives or considerations the Lord hath done it (for if we mark it) Amongst men, when any mortal man hath at any time Adopted one to be his Child, it was because either they had no Child, or no Child that pleased them, or because they would perpetuate their Name, that their name might continue after them, or because there was some worth or excellency in the person that might be an honor to them, some such things as these have led all mortal men, when they Adopted any to be theirs, but why did God chuse thee? Did he want a Child? Had not he a Son from everlasting? Is Page 57 his comfort increased by it? I remember the Romans said, It was an imitating of Nature, found out for the Solace of the Father, But didst thou Solace God? Did he need any? No, but meerly out of his good will to thee; and as for the perpetuating his Name, thou addest not to it; so that it is meer mercy and meer Grace to thee and me, and whomsoever he hath set his Heart upon, that the Father would condescend after this manner. And,
2. Is it any less in Christ Jesus the Son of God? That he would die to purchase Coheirs with him? Amongst men this is not usual, an Heir is seldom troubled that he hath no more Brethren and Sisters to share in his Inheritance, he is rather afraid that there should be too many to get some of it away from him, but that the Son of God when this was his Inheritance from all Eternity, should be come in the form of a Servant, die, undergo the wrath of God to this end, that he might purchase poor worms to be Coheirs, and a Brother with himself, and that he would likewise give him∣self to thee as a Brother, that thou shouldest be one mistically with him. And in the Third place,
3. The Holy Ghost, That he would condescend to come and dwel in thee, to unite us to Christ, to alter & frame our cursed natures, and (as need shal require) to be a constant supplication of comfort and refreshing to us, Oh Brethren! these things surpass the thoughts of man, utterly surpass them, but could we ponder them seriously we would say, Oh Lord! Who am I that thou shouldest remember me? it would make us so settled upon the love of God; and I the rather press it, because when a Servant of God is but perswaded of Gods love, he wil interpret every thing Page 58 wel that God doth to him, and he will then trust him, and then fear him, when he is but perswaded of his love; and therefore learn this Lesson, here is love in∣deed, here is love the like was never heard of, that the Lord should rear poor Worms, and let such a work pass upon them, to make them the Sons of God: That is one collection, that therefore the love of God is wonderful great unto those that do beleeve in him: And Secondly I have but one Collection more that I will give you at this time, and that is this,
2. Hence it follows, That they who beleeve in Jesus Christ are exalted to the highest dignity that a∣ny Creature is capable of, that as here is a magnifyng of Gods love to them, so here is a magnifying of their State: That I hence collect, that there are no People under the Heavens, Nay let me ad not in the Heavens, there are no Creatures so highly exalted as Beleevers, and why? Because they are the Sons and Daughters of God, not in a name only, not metaphorically as all the Creatures are, but really, God hath the heart & the Bo∣wels of a Father to them, and they the hearts of Chil∣dren, Yea, the State & Adoption of Children, the grea∣test exaltation that is in this world. I remember what David said when some of his Courtiers came to him, & told him of Sauls good opinion of him, to give him his Daughter, and wished him to be thankful for it, Oh! but (saith he) is it a smal thing in your eyes, for a man of so mean a stock as I am, to be made the Son in law of a King? So if there be any Beleever here, that thy heart tels thee that thou acceptest of Christ to be thy Savior, & that his Spirit hath laid hold upon thee, Is it a smal thing in thy eyes that thou art really the Child of God? Is there any thing in Heaven and Earth Page 59 to compare with it? I remember David in 1 Chron. 17. when he had Nathan came to him with a message from God, and told him to this purpose (saith he) I wil raise up thy Child after thee and I will set him upon thy Throne▪ and I wil be his Father and he shal be my Son, and thus I wil do to thee, David could not hold but runs and sits him down reverently before the Lord, Oh Lord! (saith he) who am I? What comparison is there? Wilt thou be my Father and the Father of my Child? Is it true Lord? Can this be? Oh! it so amazed him that God should be his Father, Oh! could we think of it, I beseech you tel me, to which of the Angels said God at any time, thou art my Son? he saith to the poorest Beleever in the world, thou art my Son: It is not only a name that expres∣seth good wil, but a state and condition that the Lord hath set him in, so that I dare boldly say (I will draw to a Conclusion with it, but I would have you study it when you are at home, I dare boldly affirm) that the meanest Beleever though (as we say in the Country) he go with his Flail, or a Rake, or (as you wil say in the City) he carries the Tankard, the meanest Belee∣ver that hath Christ for his Lord and Savior, he is exal∣ted to a higher condition than Ahasuerus was, when he was made the Emperor of a hundred twenty & seven Provinces; for let them take al the Pomp, Wealth, & State that is in this world, let them have it all, if they have not Christ, God looks upon them as Satans slaves, and over a few daies they wil perish among the Dogs, I mean among the Devils, & be base, and be miserable for ever; wheras the poorest servant of God that belie∣veth in Christ, the Lord tenders him as his first born, O! I would fain (if it were Gods wil) that Gods People Page 60 would lay this to heart, it would comfort them against all the Scorns and Reproaches of the world. It is with many of Gods People as it was with Christ when he was upon Earth, when he was called King, How was he jeered for it? Art thou a King? (saith Pilat) when he had a seamless Coat on and bound with Halters, belike you are a King: So they are rea∣dy to jeer the Children of God, belike you are the Childrdren of God, I, let them scorn, I have read of Princes that when for some ends, they could be strangers from their own Countries a while, they could bear the Scorns and Jeers of People, but when I am at home I am known what I am: So a poor Child of God may say, I go in a russet Coat, and have never a penny of Mony in my purse, and undergo ma∣ny afflictions and troubles, Wel, but God is my Father, and the very thought of the dignity that God hath ex∣alted him to, will make him quietly and contentedly undergo all the afflictions of this world, These are but general Collections, had I time to enter into the Parti∣culars, to shew what Gods Children by Adoption are delivered from, Sin, and the Law, and what they are instated into, under his Family, under his Provision, Protection and the like, truly I might set that before you, that if a man could hold to it by Faith, and the Lords spirit help him to apply it to his heart, he would live comfortably here al his daies.