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Of Adoption. 1. WHOM God has admitted into a state of peace and friendship with himself, he has also adopted for his sons; that they may enjoy the benefits both of grace and glory, not only by the favour of friendship, but also by a right of inheritance. There is no friendship more familiar than that between a father and his children. Or rather that natural affection between these exceeds in familiarity and sweetness, every thing that can be signified by the name of friendship. There is not any one word, any one similitude, borrowed from human affairs, that can sufficiently express or represent this most happy band of love; which can hardly be explained by a great number of metaphors heaped together. To express tranquillity of conscience, the scripture calls it peace: to shew us the pleasantness of familiarity, it calls it friendship: and when it illustrates a right to the inheritance, it speaks of adoption ; which is to be the subject of this chapter. II. We assert that believers are the sons of God. The
apostle John proclaims it, saying, “ behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: beloved, now are we the sons of God," i John iii. 1, 2, This is God's covenant with them : « and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty," 2 Cor. vi. 18
III. But they are not so, only on this account, that God, as creator, gave then being and life, Mal. ä. 10. and as preserver, supports and provides them with all necessaries, Acts xvii. 25, 28.
IV. Neither are they called the sons of God, on account of any external prerogative only; whether political, as magis. trates are called the children of the Most High, Psal. Ixxxi. 6. or ecclesiastical, in respect of an external federal communion; according to which some are called the sons of God, Gen. vi. 7. and the children of the kingdom, Mat. väi. 12.; in this sense also the Lord commanded Pharaoh to be told concerning Israel, Israel is my son, even my first born, Exod. iv. 22. For this regarded that national covenant which God entered into with the children of Israel, according to which he preserved them above all other nations, and heaped many blessings upon them, both of a corporal and spiritual kind, which he did not vouchsafe to other people, Deut. vii. 6. He called them his sons, because he managed their concerns with as much solicitous care as any
father could possibly do those of his own children, Deut. xxxii. 10, 11.: Nay, be called them his first born, not only because he loved them far better than other people, beyond the measure of common providence, shewing his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto lorael, Psal. cxlvü. 19. as the first born had a double portion in the paternal inheritance, Deut. xxi, 17., but also because he had apointed them to have a kind of domi nion over other people, id people serve thee, and nations bom down to thee, be Lord over thy brethren, &c. Gen. xxvii. 29, Though these words were indeed spoken to Jacob, yet they were to be chiefly verified in his posterity: of which we have illustrious evidences in David's time, 2 Sam. vui.
V. But however excellent these things were, yet they are very far below that dignity for which believers are called the sons of God: for most of those, who were called by the name of Israel and the first born, were such, with whom, God was not well pleased, and never were promoted to the inheritance of the land of Canaan, much less the heavenly inheritance, but were overthrown in the wilderness, 1.Cor. x. 5, That very people to whom Moses said, "is not Jehovah thy Father, hath he not magnified (established) thee ?" are in the same breath called a foolish people and unwise, Deut. xxxi. 6. Nay, they are of "the children of the kingdom, who shall be cast out into utter darkness," Mat. viii. 12. For that national covenant, without any thing else, did not beslow saving grace, nor a right to pos. sess the heavenly inheritance.
VI. The elect and believers are therefore in a far more emi. nent sense, the sons of God: wherein John observed a love pever enough to be commended, 1 John ü. 1. Angels indeed, have the glorious appellation of sons of God, Job xxxvi. 7. with which the Lord hopours them, not only because be formed them, but also because he imprinted upon them the image and resemblance of his own holiness, Job iv. 18. and because, as children of the family, they familiarly converse with God in his house, which is heaven, Job i. 6.: in fine, because something of the dignity and authority of God is youchsafed unto them, as we have just said that magistrates are also called the children of the Most High. These are thrones, dominions, principalities, pozo ers, Col. i. 16.: Day they are also called Gods, Psal. xcvi. 7. compared with Heb. i. 6.
VII. In almost the same sense, Adam seems also to be called the son of God, Luke i. 36. for seeing that name which has the article sa set before it, denotes father in all the foregoing verses, as the Syriac in place of re always putz 993 no reason can be assigned why here, altering the phrase, we should
translate with Bera, who was of God; in which he has fol-
IX. But the elect obtain this degree of children of God several ways. First, They become the sons of God by a new and spiritual generation, descending from above: John speaks of this chap. i. 12, 18. “But as many as received him, to them gave he
power to become the suns of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." This illustrious passage, which is variously explained by interpreters, requires some particular consideration.
X. The apostle describes this generation, or birth, whereby the elect become the sons of God, both negatively and positively: he denies it to be of blood, that is, natural or ordinary, like that, whereby the children come to be partakers of flesh and blood, Heb. ii. 14. and which is judged to be of blood : neither is it of the will of the flesh, that is, from any carnal desire of having children by any means; hence it is, that one, by giving too much indulgence to the corrupt reasoning of the flesh, makes use of means for that end, which God never prescribed:
something like this we may observe in Sarah, when from a desire of having children she gave Hagar to Abraham: nor in fine is it of the will of man, who, for certain reasons of his own, loves one above others, and so appoints him to the principal part of the inheritance : just as this was the will of Isage with respect to Esau. Nothing buman can give being to this spiritual generation, which is only of God, who decreed it from eternity, and actually regenerates at the appointed time.
XI. To those, who are thus born of God, he gave porder to become the sons of God. Běxçia bere denotes right and power,
Bčasía Rev. xxii. 14. that they may have očxoia right to the tree of life But it may seem strange, how they who are born of God, may have a right to become the sons of God 3 seeing, by their very nativity from God, they are already become his children. To remove this difficulty, three things chiefly have been observed by very learned men : 1st. As yerslas, to become, is the second Aorist, it may fitly be taken for the preterperfect ; to this effect, he gave them that power, that right, that dignity, that they might become the sons of God, and enjoy the privileges which are suitable to that condition. 2dly. Tiesiai rožrov denotes in scripture phrase, to be such a one, or to behave, as becomes such a one. Thus it is used, Mat. v. 45. oTaç yeynsbe vio rx valgos
а ww, that ye may be the children of your Father, that you may behave yourselves, as becomes the children of God, see 1 Thess. ü: 1, 10. Bdly. It might also be referred to that perfect filial state, which shall be conjoined with the redemption of our body, and which the apostle, Rom. viii. 23. enjoins us to wait for: and so the meaning may be, that God has granted those who are born of him, a right to the heavenly inheritance, and that unparalleled honour,
by which, both in soul and body, they shall rejoice, as children of the family, in the palace of their Father: in such a mapper, that it shall not be in the power of any creature to strip, diminish, or cut them off from that dignity. The reader may choose which expositions he has a mind. We are not a little pleased with the last; but wherein this new birth consists, we have explained at large, Chap. VI. of this book.
XII. And this is the first foundation of that glorious state, Secondly, We become the children of God by marriage with the Lord Jesus; for when we become his spouse, then we pass with him into his Father's family, and the Father calls us by the eur dearing name of daughter, Psal
. xlv. 10.: and the Lord Jesus calls her also his sister, whom he names his spouse, Cantic. v. 1, %. God had provided by his law, that if "a man betroth bis maid-servant unto his son, be sball deal with her after the mannet
of daughters," Exod. xxi. 9.: in the same manner, he is pleased to deal with elect souls. By nature, they were as maid-servants to sin and Satan; lay exposed in the open field, and were a lothing to all. However, he graciously offers them a marriage with his only begotten Son: they, by faith accept the proposal, almost in the same manner that Abigail did, when she was invited to marry David, 1 Sam. xxv. 11. And thus, by the same act, by which they become “the spouse of Christ, they also become the
“ daughters of the living God," 2 Cor. vi. 18.
XIII. Thirdly, By adoption, which is “an economical act of God, whereby they who are regenerated after his image, and betrothed by faith to his only begotten Son, are received into his family, and obtain the right and privileges of children, and the inheritance itself, by an immutable testament. They are of the household of God," Eph. ii. 19.; if children then heirs, Rom. viii. 17.; for the communication of the image of God alone does not give a right to the heavenly inheritance. This appears with respect to Adam in his state of innocence, who, indeed, was in the
way of acquiring a right; but had not yet obtained it. The alone foundation of that right is the perfect and constant obedience, either of man himself, or of his Surety. Christ therefore having appeared for us, fulfilled all righteousness, and was appointed heir of all things, Heb. i. 2. The elect being regenerated receive, and claim to themselves, by faith, Christ and all his benefits, even his perfect righteousness: and being thus adopted by the Father, and become the brethren of Christ, they are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, Rom. viii. 17. And in this sense principally we think John speaks, " to them which are born of God, he gave power to become the sons of God," as explained above, XI.
XIV. For the better understanding what has been said, we are now to observe, that the Spirit of God, in order to explain these mysteries, uses metaphors, borrowed from human things. But these metaphors are to be so adjusted, as one may not destroy but rather supply the defects of the other. It would seem, in other respects absurd, that the soul, which is born of God, should be adopted for a daughter, and joined in marriage to the only begotten Son of God. Yet the scripture has wisely ordered matters, when it declares all these things concerning believers. In order to express the original of spiritual life, and of the image of God in man, it says, that he was born of God: to set forth our most delightful union with Christ, which is full of mutual affection, it calls it marriage : and to shew the ground and firmness of our inheritance, it declares that we are adopted in Christ.