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brought into this fellowship; and truly added John, our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." (1 John i. 3, 4.) And the imagination cannot conceive any joy equal in a life of faith, to that of communion with the holy Three in One; it is a prelude and foretaste of that which will constitute the whole joy and blessedness of the open vision in glory, when we shall see God in Christ, and know even as we are known.
And it is very precious to observe in the Scriptures, of eternal truth, the many and abounding provisions the Lord hath made for opening and keeping open this communion, when by regeneration we are brought into our new and spiritual life, and to make us every day, and all the day, "followers of God as dear children." A throne of grace is erected, and the Lamb is in the midst of the throne, accessible in every direction all around, unto which the children.
may come boldly to obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. iv. 16.) Helps are given to the Lord's people both for prayer and praise, so that all bondage frames are taken away; and a spirit of adoption is imparted to them "because they are sons; and God sends forth the spirit of his Son into their hearts, whereby they cry Abba Father; the Spirit bearing witness with their spirits that they are children of God." (Gal. iv. 6. Romans viii., 15, 16.) Yea, the very desire of communion awakened in the soul by the Lord, as it comes from the Lord, leads to the Lord; and is known and answered even sometimes before it is made. For so that sweet Scripture shews: "And it shall come to pass that before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear." (Isaiah lxv. 24.)
And to all the seeming preventions which from indwelling corruption, coldness, and deadness to divine
things; worldly cares, and the numberless other causes thrown up by fear, to cloud the way to the mercy-seat; the Lord in his promises hath made such an ample discovery of his love, as, if had recourse to in the moment of need, would brighten up the path and shine over all. The consciousness of " dear children" acts as an everlasting cordial of encouragement under the most distressing circumstances. True, we are rebellious children, ungrateful children, wayward children: nevertheless we are still children. Nothing can destroy this relationship. It was formed in Christ before the world began, and must continue in Christ when the world is done away. And God himself hath owned the relationship under the worst of circumstances. In a season of great departure, we find the Lord thus speaking: "But I said, how shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? And I said, thou shalt call me, my Father, and shalt not turn away from me." (Jer. iii. 19.) Here is the never-failing remedy, their relationship in Christ. So that have they backslidden? "the Lord saith, turn, O backsliding children, for I am married to you. I will heal your backslidings." (Jer. iii. 14. Hosea xiv. 4.) Doth the Lord behold them like Ephraim bemoaning their transgressions? the Lord saith, "Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still; therefore my bowels are troubled for him : I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.” (Jer. xxxi. 20.) Such are the provisions made by the Lord.
Shall I in conclusion put the question to those that are present, and affectionately enquire, who among you "are followers of the Lord as dear children?"
Allow me to express my fears that few of the Lord's people know the blessedness, or exercise
themselves day by day in the enjoyment of the endeared and endearing character of God's dear children. The sweet word, Abba Father! doth not drop from the lips as often as it should, though more blessed than honey and the honey-comb. Earthly parents know what it is to hear their children calling them affectionately by name; yea, the very lisping of their little ones when they can but just say "Father!" hath a charm in it which none but parents know. And who shall say what is in the mind and pleasure of Jehovah in his trinity of persons, when the redeemed and regenerated children of God, in, and through Christ, by the teachings of the Spirit, call him Father, "by whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." I add no more, but a prayer to God to bless to us his divine word, that we may be followers of God as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour."
BEING THE SUBSTANCE OF A SERMON, PREACHED IN THE
PARISH CHURCH OF CHARLES, PLYMOUTH, ON THE
FIRST DAY OF THE NEW YEAR 1826, BEING
ALSO THE LORD'S DAY.
THE spiritual part of our cottagers present (and I hope that they are not a few in number) are here called upon to the contemplation of one of the most sublime views of Jehovah in his trinity of persons, the word of God proclaims. And what endears it to the affection of his people with the infinite love of all that can endear it to them is, that God himself recommends it, and by his divine teaching, wills them to know it. The Lord seems (if the expression be warrantable) to impress it upon the church, that when his faithfulness is known, received into the redeemed and regenerated heart, lived upon, acted upon, and under the unction of the Holy Ghost made their daily confidence, it enables them to live down the daily workings of their unfaithfulness; for it calls them off from self, that idol which is more or less in every man's heart, and which mingles up with our most spiritual offerings, and fixes their thoughts on Jehovah and his faithfulness.
The Lord, in his boundless love, open the subject to our spiritual apprehensions at this time, and open our souls to his own, and not to our conception of the infinitely precious truth. Glorious Lord! I would say for myself, and for you, and for all the church of Christ, let thy presence, in thy trinity of persons, be so graciously manifested in thy word, that the faithful God be engraven in the living tablets of our hearts, that each child of God having received the Lord's testimony, "may set to his seal that God is true." (John iii. 33.)