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them. They may, therefore, without fear or danger, partake of them as such; and relish entirely whatever comfort they convey. They are sweetness without a sting; fragrance without a thorn, planted beneath to embitter the enjoyment. The pleasure, which they contain, is also enhanced unceasingly by the delightful emotion of gratitude, with which they are always attended.
2dly. He protects them.
The exposure of mankind, from the cradle to the grave, to evil in an endless variety of forms, even when the danger is wholly unseen and unimagined, has ever been the favourite topic of the moralist, and a standing dictate of all human experience. Every day instructs us, that against this exposure no human foresight can effectually provide. Except the Lord keep the city, the most diligent watchman waketh in vain. But he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. Of his children the Lord is the keeper. The Lord is their shade
The sun shall not smite them by day, nor the moon by night; the Lord shall preserve them from all evil ; he shall preserve their souls. The Lord shall preserve their going out, and their coming in, from this time forth and even for evermore. Therefore, when they pass through the waters, he will be with them, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow them : when they walk through the fire, they shall not be burnt; neither shall the flame kindle upon them. In all the situations of life, his eye is upon them for good. They may fall, indeed, because
, , it is necessary, because it is best, for them; yet they shall rise again, and shall not be utterly cast down. At the same time, means of defence will be provided for them, in seasons apparently hopeless, and in ways utterly unexpected. Enemies are restrained; evils averted; dangers dissipated; friends raised up; the course of Providence changed; and thus, even when they are encompassed with the terrors of death, and the snares of hell, God is their fortress, their high tower, the Rock of their Salvation.
3dly. He Instructs them.
This work he accomplishes by his providence, by his word, by his ordinances, by his ministers, by the life and conversation of Christians, by the divine example of his Son, and by the peculiar communications of his Spirit. In all these ways, He furnishes them with whatever knowledge, and whatever useful impressions, they need to receive; and trains them up as children, in the effectual preparation for the perfect state of manhood, to which they will arrive in his heavenly kingdom.
This, however, is the peculiar office of the Spirit of truth. he originally revealed the truth of God concerning our salvation; so, throughout their earthly pilgrimage, he discloses to the children of God the divine import of his own instructions, and gives them eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to understand and obey, his own glorious precepts. He teaches them the true, Evangelical use of religious ordinances, of trials, of afflictions, and of blessings;
dissolves their doubts; removes their perplexities; shows them the path of life; takes them by the hand, and guides them through the mazes of this earthly wilderness to the heavenly Canaan. All those, who are the Sons of God, are, as St. Paul teaches us, led by the Spirit of God. By him they are kept from all fatal ignorance, and from every ruinous error.
4thly. He corrects them.
Of this necessary and benevolent parental office St. Paul gives us a detailed account in the twelfth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons ; for what son is he, whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh, who corrected us, and we gave them reverence.
Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of Spirits, and live? For they, verily, for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening seemeth for the present to be joyous, but grievous ; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised thereby
In the account, here given by the Apostle, concerning the correction of such as are adopted, summary as it is, we have a complete view of all that is most interesting in this subject. We are taught particularly, that correction is a distinctive privilege of God's children; that those who are not corrected, are not his children; that we are always corrected with an intention to do us good, and not arbitrarily, nor wantonly; that for this reason, as well as on account of the prerogatives and perfections of God, we are bound to receive our corrections with reverence, submission, patience, and fortitude; that the end for which we are corrected is, that we may be made partakers of his holiness, and live; and that, if we receive our corrections in this manner, they will yield us the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and thus terminate in our immortal life.
The corrections, which God administers to his children, are administered in the reproofs, alarms, and threatenings, of his word and ordinances, and the chastisement of his providence; and generally in all their distresses. By these they are checked in their downward progress of sense and sin; warned of approaching danger; quickened to more vigorous efforts in their duty; weaned from the world, and by degrees prepared for heaven.
5thly. In the future world, He provides for them a glorious Inheritance.
Affectionate parents, in the present world, not only prepare their children to live usefully, by giving them a proper education, but to live comfortably, by furnishing them, when it is in their power, with sufficient means of subsistence. God, in the same manner, takes a parental care of his own children, and provides the means of enabling them to live happily for ever. To this end, he renders them perfectly holy; and thus furnishes them with dispositions, in possession of which they can live happily; dispositions, which prepare them to be useful, amiable, honourable; esteemed, and loved by all wise and good beings; particularly by himself; dispositions, which ensure them peace of mind, self-approbation, and the consciousness of being excellent and lovely. To a mind thus purified and exalted, he unites a body, spiritual, incorruptible, glorious, and immortal; the proper tenement of so noble an inhabitant. Thus formed, and perfected, he removes them to his heavenly kingdom, and there places them in circumstances, and amid companions, of such a nature, as to enable them to improve in knowledge, excellence, honour, and happiness, for ever.
CONSEQUENCES OF REGENERATION.-SANCTIFICATION.
1 THESSALONIANS v. 23. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.
HAVING considered, in the preceding discourse, the Nature, Reality, Importance, and Consequences of Adoption, I shall now proceed to the next subject of inquiry, in a theological system; viz. Sanctification. That this is a consequence of Regeneration is too obvious to every one, who reads his Bible, to be questioned.
The word Sanctify, used in the text, and elsewhere in the Scriptures abundantly, is employed to denote two things, which are commonly and properly, made distinct objects of consideration in Moral science: the Act of Regenerating man, or making him holy in the first instance, and the Combination of all successive Acts, of a similar nature, by which man is improved in holiness through life. It is scarcely necessary to be observed, that the latter of these subjects will now be the theme of investigation.
The text is a prayer of St. Paul, for the Sanctification of the Thessalonian Christians. As he prays, that they may be wholly sanctified; it is evident, that they were sanctified in part only, at their Regeneration; and at the time also, in which this prayer was uttered. It is further evident, that they were to be sanctified in a still greater degree; because this event is prayed for by the Apostle, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. The reality of this work is, thus, completely evident from the text; and is indeed so generally acknowledged by Christians, that it would be superfluous to attempt a proof of it, at the present time. I shall, therefore, proceed directly to the consideration of this subjeci under the following heads :
1. The Agent ;
This truth is amply declared in the Scriptures. God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through the sanctification of the Spirit. 2 Thess. ii. 13. Elect, says St. Peter, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience. 1 Pet. i. 2. But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor, vi. 14.
The most extensive and complete account, however, which is given us of this subject in the Scriptures, is contained in the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. Here Christians are said not to walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit: to be under the law of the Spirit of life: to be after the Spirit: to mind the things of the Špirit : to be spiritually minded ; and thus to possess life and peace : to have the Spirit dwelling in them: to be led by the Spirit ; which to them becomes the Spirit of adoption ; that is, the Spirit by which they are children of God, and cry unto him Abba, Father : to have the witness of the Spirit: to have the first fruits of the Spirit : to have the assistance of the Spirit in their prayers : and, universally, to be under his guidance, and influence, through the whole Christian life.
The same agency indeed, like that which was exerted in the creation of the world, and like the divine agency generally considered, is attributed to the Godhead universally; to the Father; and to the Son. The text is an example of the first of these forms of ascription. The
God of peace sanctify you wholly! Of the second we have an instance in the beginning of the Epistle of St. Jude. Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called. Of the last of these forms of ascription we
, have a specimen in 1 Cor. i. 30, Jesus Christ, who unto us, of God, is become wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: and another in Heb. ii. 11, For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one : wherefore he is not ashamed to call them brethren.
The reason, why this work is thus differently ascribed, is, that it is considered in these canonical discourses, in different manners, and with relation to different objects.
By the Father we are sanctified, as we are chosen by him unto sanctification, as by his good pleasure, and free grace, the atonement of Christ, and the sanctifying agency of the Spirit, exist. By the Son we are sanctified, as his death is the only means by which we ever become holy: and by which the Spirit came into the world, for the benevolent purpose of making us holy. By the Spirit we are sanctified, as the immediate Agent in applying to us the blessings of Christ's Redemption; particularly in renewing, and purifying, our hearts and lives.
Thus, although this work is immediately performed by the Spirit, as the proper Agent; yet we are truly, though more remotely, said to be sanctified by the Father, by the Son, and by the Godhead universally considered.
The manner in which this work is performed in the mind of man, must, like other questions concerning the Agency of Intelligent beings, remain in a great measure concealed from such minds as ours. My observations concerning it will, therefore, be very few. In my own view, the work of sanctification, so far as the Agent is