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The elect of God are not only justified, but adopted. They are made children.
This divine purpose touching us began to disclose itself in earliest days. Under the patriarchs, or in the times of the book of Genesis, there were many notices of it. The barren wife becoming a mother, and keeping house; the free-woman's child casting out the bond-woman's; the servant set aside, and one out of the patriarch's loins made heir; the feast over the weaning of the child of promise; and Jacob, by a solemn ordinance, adopting the sons of Joseph into the family of Abraham: all these things bespeak this mystery. They let it be beard, (though faintly, as with an infant's voice,) that God would be a Father to His elect, that He would have children, and not merely servants, in His house.
Thus was it under the Patriarchs, or in the times of Genesis. The purpose of God to have us in the adoption of children was thus signified-not distinctly or doctrinally taught, but intimated in ways which suited these early infant days.
Under the law, this mystery, I may say, is lost sight of. The elect are no longer at home, as in the Father's house, but they are at school, under tutors and governors, differing nothing from servants. The spirit of bondage is received by them through Moses, the covenant, of which be was the mediator, gendering to bondage. But God in His proper blessedness in Himself, as I may say, was not there. His demands in righteousness, as Lawgiver, addressed themselves to man through Moses; but this was not a revelation of God. Man, in self-confidence, led the Lord thus to deal with him. By the law God, if I may speak in such a way, had to take up man as his object, instead of making Himself man's object. For law was not a revelation of God. It did not discover God in His full proper glory to the soul.
Law was a new thing; and it was a great change; and among other results it operated after this manner, to hide away this mystery of adoption, or relationship, which had, as we saw, begun to tell itself out in Genesis-days, among the fathers. And thus was it under the law. The law put man in an independent attitude, instead of setting him in personal family relationship to God.
Under the ministry of Christ a change again takes place. This relationship, of which we now speak, begins to be testified afresh; in its measure to be dispensed. " As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." In John's gospel, this is written, and throughout that gospel the Lord is manifesting the Father. This may be perceived by the soul that is attentive. "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father," is again the Lord's word in that gospel. His works and His words were the Father's, expressions in Him or through Him of what the Father was. "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works," says Jesus, of all that He Himself was doing and saying. And at the end, surveying His accomplished ministry, He again says, speaking to the Father, " I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world." (Chapter 17)
This great divine purpose, the manifestation of the Father, leading the elect into family relationship, is thus found very specially in John. In the course of that gospel, the Lord is constantly biding Himself that the Father may be seen. He calls Himself advisedly, again and again, " the Son of man;" and keeps Himself before us under titles that bespeak subordination, such as the " sent " one, the "given" one, the "sealed" one, the "sanctified" one, in order that the Father may be apprehended. He is careful ever to bear witness to the Father, to bring the Father before the thoughts and affections of His disciples. He would have us learn this happy secret, that the Father seeks to be known by lie, and that His business, the business of the Son, is to fulfill this pleasure of the Father, by bringing us into that knowledge.
And thus was it, I may say, under the Lord's personal ministry, very specially however marked in John's gospel. Now, in this present time, under the Holy Ghost, relationship, or the sense of the Father, is made good to the soul, fully, perfectly given, in abiding life and certainty, to the heart of the elect. For the Spirit given to us is a Spirit of adoption. Not only are we sons, but we are made to know that we are so. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." We are delivered from the bondage of the law, as well as from the curse of it. All St. Paul's epistles assume this, I 'nay say; but that to the Galatians clearly and fully teaches it. It is no longer, as it was in patriarchal days, by indistinct notices, or as with an infant's voice, that the mystery of adoption, or relationship to God as a Father, is told, but the power of it is inlaid in the heart, where the Spirit of the Son cries,
Abba, Father. The early pledges of this great mystery, which we noticed in the Book of Genesis, are all made good. Nay, they are exceeded. We are now taught that we were predestinated to the adoption of children; and that our adoption is of the highest order, "accepted in the beloved," made one with the Son. The barren woman made a joyful mother may be said to be now realized in this, that we have received power to become the sons of God, being born "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Abraham's zeal to have children, and Sarah's joy over her child, are alike surpassed now; for the Father makes a feast to celebrate His own joy, and the joy of heaven with him, over His regained child. And Ephraim and Manasseh set, during patriarchal days, in the rights of the first-born, is now out-done, through exceeding riches of grace, in the elect being made heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.
It is therefore relationship which is dispensed in this present time, for the Spirit given is a Spirit of adoption. It is not pledged merely, or published, or sought for, but in the power of the given Spirit it is dispensed, established in the soul. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God."
And John in his epistle would have us know that the establishing of the elect, in the joy of relationship, was the great end of the grace of God in this present age. The manifestation of the eternal life of Him who was with the Father, has been made, that we might have fellowship with the Father and the Son. The conclusion is, "now are we the sons of God." That is settled. The elect are set in this relationship of children, and they -wait only for full likeness, conformity in glory. "Now are we the sons of God, and it Both not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear we shall he like him, for we shall see him as he is."
We are on the work, but we are also in the person of the Son, and this relationship is both the title and the secret of "fullness of joy." (1 John 1:44And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:4).)
There is no personal condition beyond this. The only thing that can be added to it is the outward or circumstantial state of glory. And the two regions lie near each other. "If children, then heirs." The kingdom of the dear Son is next door, may I say, to the inheritance of the saints in light. (Col. 1:12, 1312Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: (Colossians 1:12‑13).)
What a grief it is to see this grace of adoption, in which we are set, either clouded or deserted! The Galatians had been beguiled, bewitched. They were observing days, and months, and times, and years. This was contrary to their condition as children of the free-woman; for subjection to ordinances generates bondage, and keeps us as servants in the house, and as Levites outside the vail. Therefore the apostle had to travail in birth again with them till Christ was formed in them, till the Spirit of the Son filled them to the exclusion of the spirit of bondage-as Isaac, in due time, was brought forth to fill the house of Abraham all alone.
Thus have we rapidly glanced at this precious mystery, as it is seen in scripture, from beginning to end; under the patriarchs, under the law, under the ministry of Christ, and now in this time of the Holy Ghost.