페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

consequences will be found resulting from it, “hy walking in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.” In the prosecution of the subject under these distinct branches, I purpose, as the Lord shall enable, in the first place, to consider the gracious manifestation of Jehovah in his trinity of persons, by those sovereign acts in each towards the church, which denote GODHEAD, and which demand our united reverence, obedience, and love, as dear children. And secondly, how plainly those effects arise out of this cause, when we thereby shew our adoption character, and the Spirit thereby beareth witness to our spirits that we are the children of God.” And I cannot but hope, from the good hand of our God upon all his children which are here before him at this time, that we shall receive the full conviction of this sonship personally, in our hearts, and minds, and consciences, and have a season of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. Vouchsafe, gracious God, to be in our midst, and give each of thine spiritually to hear the divine acknowledgment: “ I will say they are my children; and they shall say, the Lord is my God.”

In prosecuting what I proposed under the first branch of the subject, I begin with observing, that it is essential in order to have a right apprehension of the gracions doctrine itself, to have it impressed upon our minds, and everlastingly to keep it in remembrance, under divine teaching, the unity of the essence of Jehovah, in his trinity of persons. For the perfect equality of each, and the perfect equality of love manifested by each to the church, as the church is in Christ, can only form a suitable foundation for the church, in every individual instance, to be“ followers of God as dear children.” For while I know, and feel, and live upon the love of God the

Father, in those instances of personal grace to me, as I am in Christ; and no less enjoy the indescribably sweet and precious testimony, in all those personal acts of God the Son; and daily experience the quickening and renewing influences of God the Holy Ghost, directing my heart into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ; I possess a constant source leading to the principles inculcated in the text. This is what John means by the expression, “ he that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” (1 John v. 10.) For here is a sure and solid foundation for daily, hourly, having communion with all the persons in the Godhead. And under these circumstances there will be, more or less, an unceasing desire of being “ followers of God as dear children." I cannot, within the limits of my sermon, propose to exemplify the truth of this statement, under many particulars; for the subject is as extensive as it is great; but I will beg to offer a few, and which, if the Lord be your teacher, you will find very sweet and interesting, in proof of what John saith to the regenerated spiritual church, in which every child of God is supposed to be a follower of God, as dear children, in having " fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

In relation to God the Father, here we find such a cloud of witnesses in testimony of his love to his church in Christ, as most blessedly shew that the -objects and subjects of this love are indeed in the “fullest sense of the expression, dear children. For as it is said in the text concerning the personal grace of Christ, that he so loved us as to give himself for us; so the love of the Father was and is manifested in predestinating the church to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself. This personal love of God the Father to the highly favoured objects on whom that love is bestowed, was not and is not to give them empires and kingdoms; or wealth and grandeur; or the mere enjoyment of things without or within ; no, nor heaven; but God himself. “This people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise.” (Isaiah xliii. 21.) The gracious design, will, and pleasure of our most gracious. God and Father, in his adopting the church in Christ, was for himself, and to bring her in Christ into the highest communion with himself. And had you time, or could it be brought within the limits of preaching, to set forth this boundless love of our God and Father, in the numberless, instances of it, you would see the whole church in Christ are dear children. Take however a few proofs by way of sample. The personal love of God the Father to the church began from everlasting. He it was that in his sovereign decree gave being to the church in Christ“ before the foundation of the world;" and so chose the church in Christ, that “ she should be holy and without blame before him in love." (Ephes. i. 4.) By the same grace; the Father who chose the church in Christ

her to Christ, for so the Lord Jesus saith:“thine they were, and thou gavest them me.” (John xvii. 6.) And as the Father gave the church to Christ, so he it is that secretly draws the church to Christ. And so indispensably necessary is this divine act of the Father, that Jesus himself saith, “no man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” (John vi. 44.) Yea, it is the father which teacheth, the church of Christ who Christ is, and what Christ is to his people. (Matt. xi. 27. Luke x. 22.) It is the Father who persuades the church to love Christ. (Ps. xlv. 10.) It is the Father who undertakes to make the church willing to accept Christ. (Ps. cx. 3.) It. is the Father that reveals Christ in the believer's soul. (Gal. i. 15.) All these, with more to the same effect, are in the gracious personal acts of God the Father. And well therefore may every regenerated child of God, conscious of these divine operations, join the apostle in his exultation of praise, and say:

gave

6 Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us!” (1 John iji. 1.)

No less in relation to God the Son. Having betrothed the church to himself from everlasting, and grace being given to the church in him from everlasting, (2 Timothy i. 9.) all those personal acts in which his love bath been shewn, and which the record in the gospel sets forth, are equally demonstrative of his own inherent and eternal power and GODHEAD, by which alone such acts could have been wrought, and by which the equal part he hath taken in all the interests of the church are manifested, in common with the Father and the Holy Ghost. He it is in whom eternal life is for his church, and in whom alone eternal life can be had by the church. (1 John v. 1), 12.) He it is that assures the church “ that all that the Father hath given him shall come to him, and him that cometh he will in no wise cast out.” (John vi. 37.) He it is that declares, “ of all that the Father hath given him he will lose nothing, and that he himself will raise him up at the last day.” (John vi. 39.) “Mysheep, (he saith) shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them out of 'my Father's hand. I and my Father are One.” (John X. 28–30.) And in relation to the recovery of his church from the Adam-fall transgression, the text hath very blessedly stated the infinite salvation he hath wrought in the accomplishment. He so loved his church as to die for her, to shed his blood for her, to wash her from her sins in his own blood, yea to give himself for her, “ an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour." And what then can separate from the love of Christ? (Rom. viii. 35.)

[ocr errors]

And equally so in relation to God the Holy Ghost. The church, which was anointed in Christ by God the Spirit from everlasting, is sealed by the same Almighty power to everlasting. And all those gracious acts of regeneration, quickening, renewing, strengthening, confirming, rendering and making effectual unto eternal salvation, the church in Christ, by divine application ; these are among the sovereign agencies of God the Holy Ghost. And as they prove equal love to the church, with the Father and the Son, so do they decidedly and as plainly shew his eternal power and GODHEAD, since none less than God could perform either. And hence the conclusion is undeniable, that all the persons in the Godhead alike concur in the marvellous work of grace to the church; and the words of the apostle in exhorting the church to be “followers of God as dear children," have equal respect to the unity of the divine essence, in his trinity of

persons, “ Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for these three are One.” (1 John v. 7.)

Having thus, though briefly, yet plainly and scripturally established the divine doctrine proposed under the first branch of my discourse, the 'econd point, and which ariseth out of it, will at once appear ; and the motives which follow will need but little statement, to teach every regenerate and renewed mind to 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.”

It appears most evidently from the whole tenor of Scripture, that the very purpose of Jehovah in his trinity of persons, in raising up a church in Christ, was, and is for communion. The beloved apostle John assigns this motive as the express design for which he wrote to the church under the unction of the Holy Ghost, namely, that the church might be

« 이전계속 »