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or things to come-all, all are theirs. According to that admirable text, 'All things are yours: whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours. But what is more emphatical, and the highest that words can express, the utmost our ideas can reach, the divine Spirit declares that they are 'heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.'+ Each therefore, has a right to say, Jehovah himself is my portion, iny reward, my inheritance. Yea, such is the mutual propriety which God and his people have in each other, that the inheritance is reciprocal between them. For the portion of Jacob is the former of all things, and Israel is the rod of his inheritance; the Lord of hosts is his name.' All the awful, the amiable, the adorable attributes of the Deity will appear glorious in the children of God, and be enjoyed by them to their everlasting honour and unutterable bliss-to the consummation of their sublime happiness in an eternal world. What can the heart of man desire more? Or what good thing will God withhold from them for whom he gave his Son, to whom he gives Himself?
Once more: In testimony to this their sublime relation, and as an earnest of their future inheritance, they receive the Spirit of adoption, by which they cry, with appropriation and confidence, Abba, Father. The Spirit of adoption, as opposed to the spirit of bondage, is a spirit of light and liberty, of consolation and joy. He glorifies Christ in the believer's view, and sheds divine love abroad in his heart. He brings the promises to his remembrance, and enables him to plead them at the throne of grace, according to his various wants. He elevates the affections to heavenly things, and seals him as an heir of the kingdom, to the day of redemption. Such are the privileges of God's adopted sons; in the vouchsafement of which, grace reigns.
* 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22.
+ Rom. viii. 17. So Ar. Mont. Bez. Kastal. and many others, render the passage.
Jer. x. 16.
What a mercy might we esteem it, not to be confounded before the God of heaven! What a favour, to obtain the least indulgent regard from the eternal King! What an honour to be admitted into his family, to occupy the place and bear the character of the meanest servant! But to be his adopted children, who is the Fountain of all bliss; and His espoused bride, who is the Sovereign of all worlds-to have him for our everlasting Father, who is the Former of all things; and Him for our Husband, who is the object of angelic worship-are blessings divinely rich indeed! That sinful mortals, who may justly say to corruption, Thou art our father; and to the worm, Thou art our mother and sister'—that any such should be permitted to say to the infinite God, Thou art our portion; all that Thou hast, and all that Thou art, are ours, to render us completely happy, and eternally blessed-is an astonishing, delightful, transporting thought! These are blessings than which none greater can be conceived, none more glorious granted or enjoyed.
Let the grandees of the earth, and the sons of the mighty, boast of their high birth and large revenues; their pompous titles, and splendid retinues; their delicate fare, and costly array; still the poorest peasant that believes in Christ, is infinitely superior to them all. What though they shine in silk and embroidery, or glitter in gold and jewels; though their names be adorned with the highest epithets that men can bestow, while a profusion of worldly riches is poured into their lap; yet they must soon, very soon, lie down in the dust. On a level with the meanest of mortals, the worms shall' quickly cover them,' and their memory shall rot.' But your name, O weakest of Christians! your new name is everlasting. However neglected or despised among men, it shall stand for ever fair in the book of life, for ever conspicuous in the records of Jehovah. What though you walk in the vale of life; though you are not pointed out as a person of eminence while you proceed on your pilgrimage, nor receive the
acclamations of the people; yet you are high in the estimation of heaven, nor destitute of the sublimest honours. Your praise is not of men, but of God. He. knows the way that you take, and points you out to angels as the object of their regard. Though you cannot boast of illustrious ancestors and noble blood, yet, being born from above, the blood-royal of heaven runs in your veins. Though you are not a favourite of the prince, yet, like a prince, you have power with the God of Israel. Though ever so poor in temporals, the unsearchable riches of Christ are all your own. Though your mansion be a cobwebbed cottage; though you have not a numerous train of attendants; yet the holy angels are your guard, and minister to your good, while the God of glory not only condescends to come under your lowly roof, but even to dwell with you. Yours is the honourable character, yours the happy state. This is happiness which all the wealth of the Indies cannot procure; this is honour which all the crowned heads in the world cannot confer. The Lord of hosts hath purposed to stain the pride of all other glory, but this honour shall never be laid in the dust.* What a shade it casts on every worldly distinction, to be forced to feel how very fleeting it is! How encouraging the remembrance of the durable and exalted happiness of the sons of God! Christianity! it is thine alone, to ennoble the human mind, and make it really great, Grace! it is thine alone, to raise the poor from the dunghill, and the needy out of the dust. Thine it is, to number them among the princes of heaven, and seat them on thrones of glory.
And now, reader, what is your character? You very probably call yourself a Christian. If you are so in reality, you are a child of God, and an adopted heir of immortal glory. Do you know, then, by experience, what are the privileges attendant on such a state, and connected with such a character? If not, you bear the
* M'Ewen's Essays, vol. ii. p. 309, 312.
name in vain. So far from being a Christian, you are -how shall I speak it? can you believe it? can pride forgive it? you are an enemy to God, and a child of the devil. For these two characters, the children of God, and the seed of the serpent, include all mankind. Consider, then, where to class yourself, and what is your proper name..
Are you a believer? a child of God by adoption, and an heir of eternal riches? Be careful, then, to act agreeably to your high character and exalted privileges. Let the children of this world satisfy their little minds, and be captivated by the low enjoyments and perishing vanities of the present state; but you should disdain to act upon their principles, or to be governed by their maxims. The riches of the world, which engross the cares of the covetous; the honours of the world, which are so earnestly pursued by the ambitious; and the pleasures of the world, in which the sensualist delights, you should be far from desiring. Why should you be discontented at the want of that which, though enjoyed in all its fulness, could not make you happy? Equally far should you be from performing religious duties on the same principles, and with the same views, as the legalmoralist and selfish Pharisee, which generally are either the applause of men, or their own acceptance with God. That is the most abominable hypocrisy in the sight of Him who searches the heart, and stands abhorred by every generous mind; this is a criminal usurpation of the office of Christ, and the highest dishonour to his undertaking: for it proceeds on a supposition that the work of our Lord is either not perfect in itself, or not free for the sinner. The former reflects on his power or faithfulness, and the latter on his grace; both which are equally far from honouring the adored Redeemer, under his sacred and cheering character, JESUS. The children of light should act from the most generous motives, and for the sublimest end. Love to their heavenly Father, and gratitude to the bleeding Saviour, should ever be the
fruitful source of all their obedience, and the glory of the eternal God the exalted end.
Again: Are you an heir of the kingdom? You should be careful to preserve a steady conduct in the church of God and in the world; not only to be zealous for your Father's honour for a season—or, as we vulgarly say, by fits and starts-but maintain an uniform and consistent behaviour through the whole tenor of your conduct. Endeavour to make it appear that you are a diligent servant, as well as a dignified son of God. Your practice should be, as much as possible, agreeable to your holy profession and glorious hope. Remember that as your gracious Father and loving Husband, your glorious relatives and bright inheritance, are all above, there also should be your heart and your conversation. For though you are an heir of a kingdom, it is not of this world; and though you are in, you are not of the world. Nor will you have any reason to be surprised or ashamed, if the world should hate you. Whatsoever things are true; whatsoever things are honest,' grave, or venerable; whatsoever things are pure; whatsoever things are lovely; whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,' the children of God undoubtedly ought, above all others, to think on these things. For no man can free himself from the odious charge of being a dishonour to Christ, and a reproach to his Christian profession, if he live under the dominion of sin, and be a servant of Satan. Such a person, whatever speculative knowledge he may have of the doctrine of grace, or whatever his professions of love to it may be, is destitute of the faith of the gospel, and an enemy to the cross of Christ; is a stumbling-block in the way of weak souls; and, dying in such a condition, will feel a severer vengeance, will fall under double damnation to all eternity