their new birth, they are careful not to grieve him. To his sacred suggestions they listen, not daring to quench the Spirit, as the word is, 1 Thess. v. 19. Know. ing that his influences are as necessary to proinote their advances in the spiritual life, as are those of the sun, rain, or air, to promote vegetation, they lay themselves open unto them in waiting on the ordinances of Divine appointment. Being born of the Spirit, they worship in the Spirit; having as sons received the Spirit of their elder brother, they cry, Abba, Father, Gal. iv. 6. They please not themselves with a lifeless form, far less do they affect Pharisaical parade. But being fervent in spirit, they breathe after communion with God.

3dly. The children of the free woman, love one another. Their love and likeness to one another, are convincing evidences whose children they are. While dis. posed to do good to all men, as they have opportunity, they have a special regard to them who are of the household of faith, Gal. vi. 10. These they consider as born of the same incorruptible seed, as heirs of the same incorruptible inheritance, as having the same friends and foes with themselves, and hence unto them they are knit by peculiar ties. However they may dif- . fer in matters of less importance, yet the self-same Spirit being in them all, they cannoi but love one an. other. In whatever proportion they have that Spirit, in the same do they love. This was the great criterion given by the elder brother himself, John xiii. 35. And hence the beloved disciple could say, We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren, 1 John iïi. 14. This we may safely affirm, that there is not a saint, but could enfold all the mystical body as in the arms of his love. Not one but gives his hearty amen to what our apostle says, Gal. vi. 16. Peace and mercy be upon the Israel of God. The workings of remaining corruption may, on certain occasions, indeed, produce strange effects, as in the contention between Barnabas and Paul, Acts xv. 39, still, however, it is a truth, that love is their

reigning disposition. The seed of the bond woman may persecute them, not they one another. A holy heretic, is not a greater contradiction, than a pious persecutor.

Thirdly. From what was said, the children of the free woman may draw the strongest consolation. I would congratulate all such on the evils they have escaped, the inheritance of which they are heirs, and the absolute certainty that they shall possess it. All hail, my brethren! Time was when ye were the children of wrath even as others: lying as in chains, and pining away in your iniquities. Exposed to the curse of the fiery law, on you there was neither rain, nor dew of Divine influences. Like Hagar and her son, ye were wandering in the wilderness, in a solitary way. Hungry and thirsty, your soul fainted in you. And had not mercy found you out, ye had perished for ever. That law on which you leaned could send you no relief: the cisterns you so painfully hewed, could hold no water. But what the law could not do, the God of grace effectually did. He brought you as from among the lions dens, from the mountains of the leopards. When none eye pitied thee, O precious soul! when none had compassion upon thee, then he in whom bowels of compassion ever roll, stretched out his arm for thy deliverance. Into thee when spiritually dead, he breathed the breath of life, and made thee to live in his sight. Thine eyes he opened, thy sins which were many, he forgave, and from a howling wilderness brought thee into a wealthy place.

I congratulate you that you are not only pardoned, but promoted. Not only brought out of the fearful pit, and the miry clay, but made heirs, heirs of God through Ciirist, Gal. iv. 7. What an ineffable honour this! While multitudes shall be cast out, as not being heirs, your title to the enjoyment of God stands firm as his unchangeable promise. Isaac was not more certainly born heir to Abraham and the land of promise, than

you are in virtue of your new birth, beirs of God and everlasting glory. Ye are begotten unto a lively hope, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 1 Pet. i. 3, 4. Our apostle tells us that God gave the inheritance to Abraham by promise, Gal. iii. 10. viz. not only the typical Canaan, but the better, the heavenly country, Heb. xi. 16. And ye being Christ's are A. braham's seed, and heirs according to the promise, Gal. iii. ult. The inheritance secured by promise is held forth under a variety of names, to intimate its ineffable excellence. Sometimes it is called the hope of righteousness, Gal. tii. 5.; sometimes a crown, 2 Tim. iv. 8. 1 Pet. v. 4.; sometimes a throne, Rev. iii. 21.; sometimes a kingdom, James ii. 5i; sometimes a city, Heb. xi. 16.; sometimes a country, verse 14.; sometimes eternal life, Tit. iïi. 7.; sometimes salvation, Heb. i. ult; sometimes the promise, chap. vi. 17.; sometimes an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glo. ry,

2 Cor. iv. 17. But which is the sum and substance of all, the saints are heirs of God himself. If children then heirs: heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, Rom. vii. 17. If a son, then an heir of God through Christ, Gal. iv. 7. What a happy people! Jehovah him. self is the portion of your inheritance!

I congratulate you on the certainty of your entering on the full possession of your inheritance. Isaac was not more certainly taken from off the altar, Gen. xxü. 9, 13. than ye shall one day in your whole man enter the heavenly Canaan. There are but two ways to prevent possessing an inheritance. Either the heir is torn by death from it, or it by the hand of man from him. But neither of these can take place here. Your inheritance is reserved in heaven for you, and ye are kept by the power of God unto it, 1 Pet. i. 4, 5. Your enemies must scale the battlements of heaven, and conquer Omnipotence itself, before they can deprive you of your inheritance. Unfaithful must be the word of God, and enfeebled his arm, ere ye can totally and finally fall. When the children of the bond woman, ye were by adopting grace made those of the free. And sure as the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, ye

shall not fall back into your former state. The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but his kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of his peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy upon you, Isa. Įiv. 10. A woman may forget her sucking child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb, but your God, Oye children of grace! will not forget you, neither shall his compassions fail, Isa. xlix. 15. Thy Maker is thine husband, Isa. liv. 5, a husband who cannot die, and who will not divorce, His promise bears, not only, that he will not turn away from you, but also that you shall not depart from him, Jer. xxxii. 40. and thus you are secured on every side. To deny the perseverance of the saints is a double robbery. It robs God of his glory, and them of their comfort.

Fourthly and Lastly, on this department of the subject. Let me conclude with a few exhortations to those who are the children of the free woman, and to those who are not. With respect to the former,

1st. See that ye admire that grace which made you to differ from others. By nature ye were the children of wrath even as they, Eph. ii. 3. Ye were equally involved in the guilt of original sin, with all the rest of Adam's posterity. Like other Gentiles ye were walking in the vanity of your mind, serving divers lusts and pleasures, Eph. iv. 17. Tit. iii. 3. There was nothing in you to allure the love of God, but much much to the contrary, Think then, O think what it was that made you to differ from others. Why were ye taken, while they were left? Were ye better than they? No, in

noways, But the same sovereign God who put a difference between Isaac and Ishmael, Esau and Jacob, chose you, while he rejected others. And thus, as our apostle teacheth, election standeth not of works, but of him that calleth, Rom. ix, 11. As it was not for your righteousness ye were chosen, neither was it for their sin that others were rejected. Their sin, though the meritorious cause of their damnation, was not the reason of their rejection. Had any been rejected on

[ocr errors]

that account, all would. A number of subjects have been equally involved in treason, and therefore all deserve to die. Their sovereign, however, graciously par. dons some, while he consigns the rest to deserved pun. ishment. Their guilt is the reason why they die, not why they were passed by. The application is obvi.

2dly. Let your walk be suitable to your high, your kingly birth. Being born from above, let your conversation be in heaven. As born of the Spirit, be spiritually minded. Let the fruits of the Spirit enrich and adorn the whole of life. Grieve not the Holy Spirit whereby ye are sealed to the day of redemption. What awful ingratitude in you to grieve the Comforter! Tremble in yourselves at the thought. As children of the same family love one another. Travelling to the same country, see that ye fall not out by the way. Why be as briars and thorns in one another's sides, as if the enemies were not more than sufficient for that purpose? As heirs of the promise, walk cheerfully. Being on the road to the better country, nay, to your Father's house, go on your way rejoicing. Let not the little and the light afflictions of life discourage you, nor its flatteries lift you up. Remember that ye were born for higher things, than to be dejected by the one, or elated by the other. Walk as the song of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom shine ye as lights in the world, Phil. ii. 15. The men of the world, who have their portion in this life, Psal. xvii. 14. may howl at the spoiling of their goods, for what have they more? But knowing in yourselves, that ye have in heaven a better and enduring substance, rejoice in hope, and be patient in tribulation. What Jehovah said unto your father Abraham, he is saying to each of you, Fear not; I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward, Gen. xv. 1. Thy shield by the way, and thy reward at the end of it. In the belief of this, walk on to the posses. sion of Immanuel's land.

3dly. Pity and pray for others who are visibly the sccd of the bond woman. I may say to you as did God

« ForrigeFortsett »