« הקודםהמשך »
pose him; and, as you justly observe, God will avenge the violation of his laws.--Matrimony is God's institution; himself is concerned in it, and he will punish the violators of it as contemners of him. But pray proceed with your account of Prodigalis. As for the base proceedings of the ungodly, they can afford us no entertainment, unless it be to set us to wondering at the discriminating grace of God, that has caused us to differ. I
you the glorious renewal of the poor prodigal to be his new birth, do
not? Cushi. Certainly I do. After Prodigalis believed, he was “sealed with that holy spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance,” Eph. i.13,14. And born of God he certainly was, for every faculty of his soul was renewed by the Holy Ghost, Tit. iii. 5; and “ that which is born of the Spirit is spirit," as “ that which is born of the flesh is flesh,” John iii. 6. He was enabled to believe in the Saviour to the salvation of his soul; and he is a child of God by his faith, Gal. ïïi. 26. His father received him graciously, and blessed him, which is a sufficient proof of his being “predestinated to the adoption of a son,” Eph. i. 5. Besides, God the Father called him his son when he said, “ This my son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found;” and because he is a son “God has sent forth the spirit of his Son into his heart, crying, Abba, Father; wherefore he is no more a servant, but a son; and, if a son, then an heir; an heir of God through Christ,” Gal iv. 6, 7.
Ahimaaz. Pray, my brother, shew me some . scriptural marks of a child of God; and, as you say a son is an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ,
explain them to me, for I have had many doubts, fears, and temptations, about my interest in these things; 'though I believe, by the access that I find to God in prayer, and by the familiarity I am indulged with, that the whole of them are in my heart.
Cushi. If I can be of any use to establish and settle thy judgment, I shall be very willing to serve thee according to my abilities; for I know that a gifted man is as much accountable to God for the husbandry of his gift, as the wealthy man is for the husbandry of his wealth; both are stewards, and both are accountable to their master; for God is the God of providence as well as of grace; and the father of creation as well as of regeneration.
When God brings a poor penitent sinner into his family he makes him sensibly feel a reconciliation take place between God and him. His conscience, which before was the seat of strife, becomes the principality of divine peace. All the elect are preordained to this peace and reconciliation, Isa. xxvi. 12; hence they are called sons of peace, even before peace is revealed to them: “ Into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house; and, if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it; if not it shall return to you again,” Luke x. 5, 6.
Secondly. Such are enabled to call God father, with the testimony of the word, the Holy Ghost, and consience, on their side: “ Thou shalt call me, My father, and shalt not turn away from me,” Jer. iii. 19. This they are enabled to do by the Spirit: “ Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father: wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son.” The poor prodigal claimed this privilege in a far country:
« I will arise and go to my father.” And God owns him: “ This is my son.”
Thirdly, Their sonship is often made plain, and cleared up to them, by sharp trials and conspicuous deliverances, by severe chastisements and strong consolations: My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for, whom the. Lord loveth he rebukes and chastens, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If therefore ye are, without chastisements, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons; for what,son is he whom the father chasteneth not."
Fourthly. Their sonship is made plain to them by the love of God that is shed abroad in their hearts, which encourages them to a holy freedom with God, finding at times their doubts and fears removed, insomuch that their faith seems settled. A sense of love casts out servile fear, and gives a man a holy boldness at the throne of grace; and faith works powerfully by love, for "he that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God," 1 John iv. 7. Thus he may prove his spiritual birth, and his saving knowledge of God, by the love that he feels to him; and, though at times the young Christian may find the love of God greatly to abate, according to his feelings, so that he cannot rejoice as usual, yet even then it may be perceived; because nothing in this world will repair the loss to him, nothing will fill the vacancy; his heart is still breathing after God; and truth has said, that where his heart is there is his treasure, Matt. vi. 21.
Fifthly. He finds a real love to God's family more than to all earthly friends and relatives, however
near by blood. A divine tie is by far stronger than all the ties of nature; and when this is the case with a poor soul it is a plain proof that his carnal enmity is slain, and that reconciliation has taken place by the Spirit. John brings it in as a proof of divine life: “ We know that we are passed from death unto life because we love the brethren," i John iii. 14.
Sixthly. His sonship appears by the reverence and respect that he has for the word and worship of God. God's house is his Bethel; the promises are sweet to him; blessed entertainment, and sweet satisfaction, he often finds in them;--and as he finds life and comfort in the word, he may say, with the psalmist, “ This is my comfort in my affliction, for thy word hath quickened me,” Psalm cxix. 50. It is common for an heir to love his inheritance, and so does the believer, who is an heir of promise, Heb. vi. 17.
Seventhly. If any part of God's word goes against the weak believer, so that it discovers his sins, and wounds him in the tenderest part, yet he will not flee from it; he comes to the glass that discovers his deformity, and seeks the very sword that wounds him; while the false heart shuns the rays of truth, and skulks into the gloomy shades of darkness, as best suiting his complexion: he hates the light, nor will he come to it,“ lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds made manifest, that they are wrought in God,” John iii. 20, 21. This proves the believer to be a child of light, because he loves it, and comes to it, and seeks direction from it: “ while ye have the light believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light,” John
xii. 36. And as they are children of light, so they are heirs; “ heirs of God (who is light), and joint heirs with Jesus Christ ”(the true light), Rom. viii. 17,
Ahimaaz. I bless God that I have felt more or less the operation of all your scriptural marks; and I see my sonship as clear as the noon day. But pray give me a little account of the believer's inheritance; for I am determined to keep your heart springing, and your tongue going, if asking questions will do it. But before you begin to describe the believer's inheritancé be so kind as to shew me whether a soul thus justified, and adopted into the family of God, be for ever delivered from condemnation. Have patience with me, my brother, for possibly I never may be favoured with such an opportunity again.
Cushi. As soon as Prodigalis was cleansed, enrobed, and crowned, you know that both law and justice were on his side. The holy law of God, and sin-avenging justice, are those that the guilty sinner is afraid of. As for Moses, he was content as soon as the Saviour put the robe on him; and he must be so, or else contradict his own law: “ Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh living be justified in God's sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto and upon all them that believe,” Rom. iii. 20, 21, 22. Thus you see this righteousness is witnessed by the law itself, and from the mouth even of Moses; for Christ " is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of