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inheritance, agreeably to their character, as the children of God by adoption ; this is considered as first purchased by Christ, and then put into his hand; in which respect it is sty. led his inheritance, he being constituted, pursuant to his have ing accomplished the work of redemption, heir of all things; and as such, has not only a right to his people, but is put in possession of all those spiritual blessings in heavenly places, wherewith they are blessed in him, Eph. i. 3.
2. From hence it follows, that the sonship of believers, and their right to that inheritance, which God has reserved for them, depends upon the sonship of Christ, which is infinitely more glorious and excellent. As God's adopted sons, they have the honour conferred upon them, of being made king's and priests to him, Rev. i. 6. These honours are conferred by Christ; and, in order thereunto, they are first given to him to bestow upon them : thus he says, I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me, Luke xxii. 29. Christ is first appointed heir of all things, as Mediator; and then his people, or his children, are considered as heirs of God, as the apostle expresses it; and joint heirs with Christ, Rom. viii. 17. Not that they have any share in his personal or mediatorial glory; but when they are styled joint-heirs with him, we must consider them as having a right to that inheritance, which he is possessed of in their name as Mediator: and in this sense we are to understand those scriptures that speak of God's being first the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and then, to wit, in him our Father; accordingly he says, I ascend unto my Father, and your father, and to my God, and your God, John xx. 17. And elsewhere, God is styled the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and then the Father of mercies, or, our merciful Father, 2 Cor. i. 3. And elsewhere the apostle says, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ; zuho hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places, in Christ; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, to himself, Eph. i. 3. compared with 5. and inasmuch as he designed to bring many sons to glory, as being made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; he first' made the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering's, Heb. ii. 10. compared with Col. i. 12. In this respect our right to the inheritance of children, is founded in the eternal purpose of God, relating hereunto, and the purchase of Christ, as having obtained this inheritance for us.
IV. We are now to consider the privileges conferred on, or reserved for them who are the sons of God by adoption. These are summed up in a very comprehensive expression, which contains an amazing display of divine grace; as it is said, He that overcometh, shall inherit all things, and I will be his God,
and he shall be my son, Rev. xxi. 7. It is a very large grant that God is pleased to make to them; they shall inherit all things. God is not ashamed to be called their God; and in having him, they are said to possess all things, which are eminently and transcendently in him; they have a right to all the blessings which he had designed for, and which have a tendency to make them completely happy: in this sense we are to understand our Saviour's words in the parable ; Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine, Luke xv. 31. Nothing greater than this can be desired or enjoyed by creatures, whom the Lord delights to honour. But, that we may be a little more particular in considering the privileges which God confers on, or has reserved for his children, it may be farther observed,
1. That they are all emancipated, or freed from the slavery which they were before under, either to sin or Satan; they who were once the servants of sin, are hereby made free from sin, and become the servants of righteousness, or become servants to God, Rom. vi, 17, 18, 22. have their fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life; the Son makes them free; and therefore they are free indeed, John viii. 36. Before this they are described as serving divers lists and pleasures, Tit. iii. 3. and are said to be of their father the devil, and to do his works, or follow his suggestions, John viii. 44. ensnared, and taken captive by him at his will, 2 Tim. ii. 26. and, as the consequence hereof, are in perpetual bondage, arising from a dread of the wrath of God, and that fear of death impressed on their spirits, by him, who is said to have the power of death, Heb. ii. 14. this they are delivered from, which cannot but be reckoned a glorious privilege.
2. They have God's name put upon them, and accordingly are described as his people called by his name, 2 Chron, vii. 14. This is an high and honourable character, denoting their relation to him as a peculiar people ; and it is what belongs to them alone. Thus the church says, Il'e are thine ; thou never bearest rule over them, Isa. Ixiii. 19. namely, thine adversaries; They were not called by thy name. They have also Christ's name put on them, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, Eph. iii. 15. which not only signifies that propriety which he has in them as Mediator, but their relation to him as the ransomed of the Lord, his sheep, whom he leads and feeds like a shepherd; and they are also styled his children, Behold I and the children which God hath given me, Heb. ii. 13, and indeed, when he is called a surety, or an advocate, or said to execute certain offices as a Saviour or Redeemer; these are all relasive terms; and whatever he does therein, is in their name, and for their advantage; as it is said, of him are ye in Christ Jea
sus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctifcation, and redemption, 1 Cor. i. 31.
3. They are taken into God's family, and dealt with as members thereof; and accordingly are styled fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, Eph. ii. 19. And as the consequence hereof, they have protection, provision, and communion with him.
(1.) They have safe protection; as the master of a family thinks himself obliged to secure and defend from danger, all that are under his roof, whose house is, as it were, their castle ; so Christ is his people's defence, concerning whom it is said, A man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, Isa. xxxii. 2. and, as the consequence hereof, it is added, My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places, ver. 18. They dwell on high; their place of defence is the munition of rocks, chap. xxxii. 16. He who has subdued their enemies, and will in his own time, bruise them under their feet, will take care that they shall not meet with that disturbance from them, which may hinder their repose or rest in him, or render their state unsafe, so as to endanger their perishing or falling from it.
(2.) They enjoy the plentiful provisions of God's house, and therefore Christ is called their shepherd, Psal. xxiii. 1. not only as leading and defending them, but as providing for them; He shall feed his frock like a shepherd, Isa. xl. 11. As all grace is treasured up in him, and there is a fulness thereof, which he has to impart to the heirs of salvation, that is sufficient to supply all their wants ; so they shall never have a reason to complain that they are straitened in him; the blessings of his house are not only exhilirating, but satisfying, and such as have a tendency to make them completely happy.
(3.) They are admitted to the greatest intimacy, and have sweet communion with Christ; the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, Psal. xxv. 14. he deals with them as with friends, and in this instance in particular, (as he tells his disciples,) that all that he has heard of the Father, John xv. 15. that is, whatever he had a commission to impart for their direction and comfort, he makes known unto them, which must needs be reckoned a very great privilege. As the queen of Sheba, when beholding the advantages that they who were in Solomon's presence enjoyed, could not but with an extasy of admiration, say, Happy are thy men; happy are thy servants, which stand continually before thee, that hear thy wisdom, 1 Kings X. 8. much more may they be happy who are admitted into his presence, in whom are lid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Col, ii, 3.
(4.) Another privilege which they enjoy, is access to God, as à reconciled Father, through Christ; they have a liberty to come boldly to the throne of grace, that they obtain mercy, and find gruce to help in time of need, Heb. iv. 18. Whatever their straits and difficulties are, God holds forth his golden sceptre, invites them to come to him, asks, What is thy petition and gives them ground to hope that it shall be granted, so far as it may redound to his glory and their good. And, inasmuch as they are often straitened in their spirits, and unprepared to draw nigh to him; they have the promise of the Spirit to assist them herein; upon which account he is called the Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry Abba Father, Rom. viñ. 15. This privilege is said to be a consequence of their being sons; Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father, Gal. iv. 6. By this means they have becoming conceptions of the Divine Majesty, a reverential fear of, and a love to him, earnest desires of communion with him, and of being made partakers of what he has to impart. They have a right to plead the promises; and in so doing, are encouraged to hope for the blessings contained therein.
(5.) As God's children are prone to backslide from him, and so have need of restoring grace, he will recover and humble them, and thereby prevent their total apostacy : this he sometimes does by afflictions, which the apostle calls fatherly chastisements, and reckons them not only consistent with, but evidences of his love: Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth; and if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons, Heb. xii. 6, 8, 11. The apostle does not here speak of afflictions as considered absolutely in themselves, but as proceeding from the love of God, the design whereof is to do them good, and as they are adapted to this present state, in which they are training up for the glorious inheritance reserved for them in heaven, and need some trying dispensations, which may put them in mind of that state of perfect blessedness which is laid up for them: and they are rendered subservient to their present and future advantage, as the afflictions of this present time bring forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them; and when they are, in the end, perfectly freed from them, will tend to enhance their joy and praise; which leads us to consider another privilege, which is so great that it crowns all those that they are now possessed of, namely,
(6.) They shall, at last, be brought into God's immediate presence, and satisfied with his likeness. The apostle calls the perfect blessedness of the saints, when raised from the dead, and so delivered from the bondage of corruption, and made
partakers of the glorious liberty of the Sons of God, by way of eminency, the adoption, to wit, the redemption of their bodies; which signifies not only the full manifestation of their adoption, but their taking possession of their inheritance, which they are now waiting and hoping for, which is too great for the heart of man to conceive of in this present state ; for the apostle says, Now are we the sons of God; and it doth not appear what we shall be: but we know, that when he shall appear we shall be like him ; for we shall see him as he is, 1 John iii. 2. So that all the blessings which we have, either in hand or hope, the blessings of both worlds, which are conferred upon us from our first conversion to our glorification : these are privileges which God bestows on those who are his adopted children.
From what has been said concerning adoption, we may take occasion to observe, how, in some respects it agrees with, or may indeed, be reckoned a branch of justification, and in other respects it includes in it something that is an ingredient in sanctification. We have before observed, in treating on the former of these, viz. justification, that when God forgives sin, he confers on his people a right to life, or to all the blessings of the covenant of grace, in which are contained the promises
that belong to the life that now is, and that which is to come. These are the privileges which God's adopted children are made partakers of; and in this respect some divines suppose, tion is included in our justification. *
And if justification be explained, as has been before observed, as denoting an immanent act in God, whereby the elect are considered, in the covenant between the Father and the Son, as in Christ, their federal head; so they are considered as the adopted children of God, in Christ, and accordingly as they are described as chosen in Christ, unto eternal life, they are said to be predestinated unto the adoption of children, Eph. i. 6. which is a privilege to be obtained by Jesus Christ: in this respect all the elect are called Christ's seed, that shall serve him, Psal. xxii. 30. whom he had a special regard to, when he made his soul an offering for sin, and concerning whom he had this promise made to him in the covenant, that passed between the Father and him, that he should see them, and the pleasure of the Lord, with respect to their everlasting salvation, should prosper in his hand, Isa. liii. 10. Now when Christ is considered as the head of the elect, who are in this sense called his sons, whom he has engaged to bring to glory, faith is the fruit and consequence of adoption ; accordingly the apostle says, Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father, Gal. iv. 6. But as justification is a declared act, and is said to be by
• Vid. Turreti. Theol. Elenct. Tom. 4. Loc. 16. 97.