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or stay away, you grievously sin : it is all sin, peril, ruin, and misery all throuys : you should neither come unprepared, nor stay away unprepared ; that is, you should not be unprepared at all. Your want of preparation is in itself a complication of wickedness ; and whatever you do in that state, you are neither safe nor in the way of duty : it is altogether a state of sin and danger. The only way of safety and duty is to seek for preparation immediately, and with the utmost earnestness, and then to come to the Lord's supper.
And (! let me set all this congregation upon this work before we part to day, and make it the business of this week. You have spent many a week about things of less importance, and will you refuse one to this great work ? Now set about it ; now begin to look into the state of your neglected souls ; now recollect your sins ; look in upon your depraved hearts ; look back upon a miserable mis-spent lise ; look forward 10 death, eternity, and the divine tribunal just before you ; look to Jesus in the agonies of crucifixion on Mount Calvary ; and O'! look up to God in earnest prayer for his mercy. Let these things follow you home to your houses ; let them dwell upon your hearts night and day. Do not laugh, or talk, or trifle them away ; for O ! they will rebound upon you with overwhelming weight at last, if you now turn them off. 0! that God may prepare a people for himself in this poor place ! O! that he would visit this barren spot with the showers of divine grace! And may he prepare our hearts for the rich entertainment before us ! Amen.
THE NATURE AND BLESSEDNESS OF SONSHIP WITH GOD.
1 John II. 1, 2.-Behold what manner of love the Father hath
bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God : therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be : but we know that when he shall appear, we sholl be like him ; for we shall see him as he is.
THOUGH the schemes of divine Providence run on with the most consumniate harmony, and will at last terminate in the wisest ends, yet, to the undiscerning eyes of mortals, confusion
reigns through this world, and nothing appears, in this infant state of things, in that light in which eternity, the stale of maturity, will represent every thing. This remark is particularly exemplified in the dispensations of grace towards the heirs of heaven. Though they are not in such unmingled darkness, even in this region of ignorance and uncertainty, as to have no evidences at all of their being the objects of divine love, and regenerated by the holy Spirit, but may, in some shining moments at least, conclude that they are even now the sons of God, yet they can form no adequate ideas of the immensity of that love which has adopted them as the Sons of God, and made them heirs of heaven, who were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. There are indeed such rays of this love, that, like a flash of lightning, break through the cloud that surrounds them, as cast them into a pleasing consternation, and make them stand and pause in delightful astonishment. In a kind of transport of ignorant admiration, they are often exclaiming, What manner of love is this ! how great, how vast, how immense, how unaccount. able, how incomprehensible, that love which has given us, us rebellious sinners and heirs of ruin, the title of the sons of God, and the many privileges of such relation ! Behold what sort of unheard of, unparalleled love is this ! behold it with intense observation and grateful wonder.
Ye trifling sons of inen, abstract your thoughts from the toys of earth, and here fix your attention ; here look and gaze, till you are so transported with the survey of this love, as to be engaged to the most vigorous endeavours to be partakers of it. Our brethren in grace, that share in the same privilege, do you especially pause, behold, and wonder. Let all your admiring powers exert themselves to the utmost in the contemplation of that love which has bestowed upon you so gracious, so honourable a distinction as that of sons of the King of heaven. And ye blessed inhabitants of heaven, who know the import of this glorious title, and the riches of the inheritance reserved for us ; ye angels that are happy in your Maker's goodness, but have not been distinguished with redeeming grace, look down from your celestial thrones, look down to this contemptible earth, and view the greatest exploit of divine infinite love ; for surely no atchievement of Almighty grace among your various orders through the vast of heaven, can equal this, that we rebellious worms should be called the sons of God, the highest title in
which you can glory. Behold, and wonder, and adore with us, and supply our defects of praise. You see farther into the secrets of this mystery of love than we in our present state, who can only pause in silent admiration, or vent our blind conjectures
What manner of love is this! therefore give all your contemplative powers a loose upon a theme you can so deeply penetrate.
Farther, As the sons of God in their present state cannot comprehend that love which has conferred this title upon them, so they know not fully the glorious import of the title : they only know in general, that when their Father appears they shall be like him, but they do not exactly and fully know what that likeness is : il doth not yet appear, even to themselves, what they shall be. Their liveliest imagination can form no adequate ideas what glorious creatures they will ere long be : they are utter strangers to their future selves. They know themselves only at present in their infancy ; but when these little children of God, these babes in grace, arrive at their adult age, and grow up to the fulness of the stature of Christ, they will be prodigies to themselves, and mysteries which they cannot now conceive. In this world we are accustomed to little and obscure things, and our thoughts are like their objects ; we see nothing sufficiently glorious to suggest to us any proper images of the glory of the sons of God, when they come to maturity, and enter upon the inheri. tance to which they are born. The splendour of the meridian sun, the grandeur of kings, and the parade of nobles, are but obscure shadows of the glory and magnificence of the meanest pious beggar, of the poorest Lazarus that ever languished upon earth, and is now arrived at heaven. The difference is greater than that between Job upon the dunghill, lying in ashes, and covered with ulcers, and Solomon in all his glory. However, amidst all our ignorance, we may rest confident in this, that it we are now the children of God, we shall be conformed to him when he appears to us in all his glory on the other side of death, and especially when he appears in the clouds in all the majesty of the universal judge, when every eye shall see him : and though we shou.d know no more than this in general, we may rest implicitly satisfied that we shall be inconceivably glorious and happy, since the perfection of our nature consists in conformity to God. We may be sure that that state which the apostle here, VOL. II.
by unerring inspiration, calls a likeness to God, the standard of all excellency, must be as perfect as our nature can bear. The apostle having said, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, subjoins, for we shall see him as he is. This vision of the blessed God in his unveiled glory may be here mentioned, either as the evidence, or as the cause of our likeness to God when he shall appear. Considering it as an evidence, the meaning is, ' It is evident that we shall be in some measure like to God when he appears, otherwise we could not bear the full vision of his glories! we could not see him and live.' It is also evident the apostle here speaks of the vision of God as an happiness, and the blessed privilege of his sons. Now to see God could afford no pleasure to such as are not like to him : they would be shocked and confounded at the sight, and shrink from it, and by how much tbe clearer the vision, by so much the more they would hate him, because by so much the more they would discover his contrariety to them. Therefore it is a sufficient evidence of our likeness to God, that we can bear the vision of his naked perfections with pleasure, for none that are unlike to him can bear it, Considering the passage in the other view, which probably was what the apostle intended, as the cause of likeness to him, it means, that the full and direct views of him will be transformative and efficacious to change the beholders into his likeness. As the light shining upon glass renders it transparent, or as the sun diffuses its lustre into a diamond, and gives it an intrinsic radiency, so the discoveries of the divine perfections will impress their image upon the minds they illuminate. Their views will not be superficial and speculative, nor attract an idle gaze, but they shall be vital, efficacious and impressive; and no wonder if such views, which we now know so little of, should produce a perfection we can now so little conceive.
If the sons of God are such strangers to the riches of their present title, and the dignity and glory of their future selves, no wonder a blind world should not know them. If it does not yet appear to themselves what they shall be, much less does it appear to others, who are strangers to their heavenly Father, who know not his lineaments, and therefore cannot discern his children by their resemblance to him. This the apostle may intimate when he says, It doth not appear (that is, it doth not appear to others) what we shall be ; and we are led 10 this sense by the former verse, therefore the world, the general run of mankind, who are strangers to God, know us not ; that is, do not distinguish, love, and honour us, who are the children of God, because they know him not. As they are ignorant of our Father, and disregard him, so they accordingly treat us. They look upon us with contempt, and are wholly ignorant of our heavenly extraction and dignity, and thus it will be till we shine in all the glory of the children of so illustrious a king, and possess the inheritance of the saints in light : then, to their confusion, they shall discern the difference between the righteous and the wicked. Mal. iii. ult. I shall,
1. Show you what is the import of the glorious title, the sons of God.
II. Mention some instances of the present ignorance of the sons of God, with regard to their future state. And,
III. Show in what respects they are mistaken and unknown to the world.
1. I shall show what is the import of this glorious title, the sons of God.
It is evident that the title is used here, not in so general a sense as elsewhere, where it signifies no more than the creatures of God, Luke iii. ult. (Acts xvii. 28, 29,) for here it is mentioned as the peculiar privilege of true christians, in which the world in general does not partake. In the sense of the text, it implies that believers are born again of God ; that they are admitted to enjoy the privileges of children ; and that they are the heirs of heaven.
1. To be the sons of God, implies that they are regenerated, or born of him.
He is a son who is begotten and born ; and therefore to be a child of God, supposes that we are begotten by him. This seems to be the peculiar foundation of that sonship the apostle here has immediately in view ; for it is the thought of being born of God, mentioned in the last verse of the foregoing chapter, that seems to introduce the text, and wraps him away, in the fourth verse of this chapter, into that transported exclamation, Behold! what manner of love is this, that we should be called the sons of God !
This new birth you have often heard mc describe, as a thor. ough universal change of a corrupt rebellious sinner into an af. fectionate, penitent, obedient servant of God. His views of things, and dispositions towards them, are happily altered, which produce a correspondent change in his practice. But I cannot enlarge without excluding the other subjects of my discourse.