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“ The spirit itself,” says the Apostle, “ bears witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.” What this inheritance will be, we cannot at present fully comprehend. “ We walk by faith, not by sight.” Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be.” “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive what God hath prepared for them who love him.” But of this we may rest assured, that the future inheritance will be rich and ample, every way adapted to the improved capacity of the mind, and worthy of the munificence of the all-bounteous Giver. It will be the eternal and continually improving possession of every thing which can make an intelligent, virtuous, social, benevolent, and pious creature truly happy. It will be the absence of all evil, and the enjoyment of
When or where this glorious order of
things is to take place is a mystery not yet revealed. But the promise is not the less authentic, nor the accomplishment of it in the proper season the less secure. Reason might not have discovered it. Curiosity cannot gratify herself by her researches into it. Scepticism proposes a thousand doubts and difficulties respecting it. And even the sober and rational believer sometimes hesitates, and almost fears lest his magnificent and joyful hope should be ultimately disappointed. But the promises of God shall never fail. They are all yea, and Amen, true and inviolable in Christ Jesus. Because he lives, we shall live also. And the spirit of him who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead, shall also quicken our mortal bodies, and raise up us also by Jesus to a new and endless life. In the present world the sons of God are in a state of minority, not being yet in
possession of the inheritance, but placed under a course of salutary discipline, the necessity and wisdom of which they cannot always discover. But let them patiently
wait the issue, and they shall eventually see and with gratitude acknowledge that all was right.
In the mean time we may take occasion to reflect, how happy is the condition of those to whom God acknowledges the relation of a father, and who are the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.
What obligations are we under to the gospel of Christ, for those just, and honourable, and engaging representations which it exhibits of the Supreme Being.
And finally, how solicitous should we be to cultivate and cherish a filial and a cheerful spirit: to love the Lord our God, with all the understanding and with all the heart, to yield a ready and uniform obedience to his commands, and to bow with unlimited submission to his disposing will.
THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTIANITY, A FILIAL SPIRIT.
Rom. viii. 14.
For as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are
the sons of God.
THERE is an important sense in which the whole human race may be called the children of God, as they derive their existence from him, and are entirely dependent upon him for the continuance of their powers and faculties, and for all the means of improvement, and the blessings of life.
There was a peculiar sense in which the descendants of Abraham and the posterity of Jacob were called the sons of God, because he selected them from the wicked and idolatrous world to be the depositaries of religious knowledge, and the professors of a pure and sublime faith : in order to
which he trained them up under a peculiar and appropriate discipline, and gave
them the land of Canaan for their inheritance.
Under the Christian dispensation, the Apostle declares in the text, that as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God. The spirit of God, in the Apostle's writings, commonly signifies those miraculous powers, which being imparted to the first teachers of the gospel, and to the primitive converts, were the principal cause of the early and rapid success of the Christian religion. Those persons therefore who receive this holy doctrine as of divine authority, upon the evidence of the miracles wrought by Jesus and his Apostles, are said to be led, or conducted, by the spirit of God: these are sons of God. They are entitled to the privileges of the new covenant, and are heirs of immortal life. And if they are dutiful and obedient, if they act up to the high and honourable character which they sustain, if they possess and cherish a truly filial spirit, they shall enjoy the favour of the Almighty, and