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SERMON III.

ADOPTION THE FRUIT OF FAITH AND

REGENERATION.

John, i. 12, 13.

But as many as received Him, to them gave

He power to become the Sons 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.

It is the great and peculiar privilege of true Christians that they “ have received the adoption of sons,' have been taken s into the household of God,” and “ have a name and a place in his family.” Being made members of Christ, they are become the children of God. It is this privilege, of which St. John speaks in the text. He tells us of some, who had “ power to become the Sons of God :" and he tells us also whence they had obtained this power ; by what means they were become the Sons of

God. On this point indeed he enters very fully into particulars. So that in discoursing on this passage, I shall naturally be led to enlarge on the previous Causes, by which our adoption into the family of God under the Christian covenant is brought about and accomplished.

In speaking indeed of the Causes by which our adoption is accomplished, it must ever be remembered that this privilege, like every other blessing of redemption, springs solely from the spontaneous mercy and the rich loving-kindness of the Lord. Admission into his family is exclusively the work and the gift of God. His grace is the first moving Cause of our adoption: and if we receive this adoption, it is solely because He freely bestows it on us. Such is the view exhibited in the text. Those who had the power to become the Sons of God are described as having received this power from Him. It is expressly said, that He “ gave it to them.” Once children of wrath, are they now children of grace ? Once children of darkness, are they now children of light? Once children of disobedience, the slaves of sin and Satan, are they now the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty ? Whence did they obtain this privilege? How was this glorious change in their state effected? Did they merit or purchase it for themselves ? Did they pro

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cure it by their own wisdom, power, or goodness ? No. God, “who is rich in mercy, of his great love wherewith He loved them, quickened them when dead in trespasses and sins ;” “ justified them freely by his grace;" and thus “ translated them out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son." -- But God in thus fulfilling the purposes of his love works by means. He ordains instruments for the accomplishing of his ends.

He employs means for bringing sinners into his family. And these instruments, these means, which He has thus ordained and employs, may be considered as secondary and subservient Causes in effecting the great work of our adoption. Such are the Causes, on which I purpose' to enlarge ; and which the text describes as two :

I. The one immediate, which is Faith : “ as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

II. The other remote, which is Regeneration : “who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of men, but of God."

My brethren, may the Spirit of God be with us in our meditations on this important and interesting subject !

I. In considering Faith, as the immediate

any

Cause of our adoption into the family of God, we may advert, first,

To the particular Act or exercise of Faith, here meant; and, secondly,

To the Way in which it tends to produce the effect ascribed to it.

First, Faith, in order to be of avail in the work of our redemption, must be placed in the heart. This alone can be a saving faith : and this alone is the faith, of which we here speak: not an historical, not a doctrinal, not a notional belief: but a living, a vital faith in the heart; for “ with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” The object of faith is the word of God. Faith generally has respect to every thing which God has either revealed or promised. But the particular act of faith, to which our present attention is directed, has respect to Jesus Christ. He exclusively is the object of that faith, by which we receive the adoption of

« For we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.”* — And St. John tells us in the text, that the persons to whom Christ "gives power to become the Sons of God, are those who believe on his Name.”' Now the Name of Christ signifies Christ himself; or rather Christ in the discharge of those offices, which on our account He has assumed: for His Names are descrip

* Gal. iii, 26.

sons.

tive of His offices. He is “ Emmanuel;' for “ he his God with us." He is the True Light; “ for He lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” He is “ Jesus;" for “ He shall save his people from their sins.” He is “the Lamb of God;" for He “ taketh away the sin of the world.” He is “the Lord our righteousness ;” for “in Him shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory." These are some of the Names of Christ : and to believe on his Name, is to believe on Him as discharging for us those offices, which these Names describe: to trust in Him as the Saviour, the Lamb of God, the Lord our righteousness. - But there is one expression in the text, which will convey a still clearer idea of that particular exercise of Faith, which we are now considering. The apostle says, as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the Sons of God.” Believing in Christ is here represented by receiving Him. This expression of receiving evidently implies the idea of a gift : and such is the view in which Christ is frequently exhibited in Scripture. He is spoken of as a gift. God gives to us his Son. He offers Him to us in all his offices, to enlighten, justify, and save us. To believe then on the Son is to receive this gift. It is humbly and thankfully to acquiesce in the

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