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ceremonies with a view of earning or obtaining God's favour. They obtain some self-satisfaction from the belief that they are doing their duty; and sometimes they look forward to the possibility of their being some day sufficiently advanced in their religion to be reckoned children of God; but they remain at present nothing more than servants, though God would have them now as His sons and daughters in and through Christ. They forget the words of the apostle John, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God ;"1 and again, “ To as many as received Him, to them gave He power” (privilege) “ to become the cons of God, even to them that believe on His name." 2
Have you ever, dear reader, considered the teaching of the opening words of the Lord's Prayer ?" How can we use the two first words of that prayer unless we have accepted (not intend to accept some day) God as our Father in Christ, and acknowledge ourselves to be His children now? Must it not seem a mockery to the heart-searching God to hear so many lips giving utterance to tlic words “Our Father," without in any way looking upon themselves as His children? The “Lord's Prayer” was given by Jesus Christ, both as a model of what our prayers should be and as a distinctive mark of discipleship. It is emphatically “ the children's prayer," and it is dishonouring to God's love and goodness, and destructive to our peace and joy and usefulness, when we repeat that prayer without regarding God as our Father, and ourselves as His adopted children in Christ Jesus.
But further to illustrate this important truth of our adoption, let us consider the position in which Adam stood before the fall. He was a son, receiving, realising, and enjoying all the privileges of a child of God : this not in consequence of anything he did to merit such love and goodness, but all of the free sovereign will and grace of God. Adam threw away all these privileges; he lost his sonship, and punishment and death followed., But “as in Adam all die, even so 1 1 John iii. I.
2 John i. 12.
in Christ shall all be made alive.” Everything that man lost through the fall of the first Adam and his own sin is freely and fully restored by the second Adam, the man Christ Jesus, to His children ; and of all privileges thus restored—in fact, the one privilege which includes in itself all others—is their complete reconciliation with God as their Father, their full restoration to His favour and love, and their eternal inheritance as His children.
Reader, if you are a Christian in any true sense-if you have accepted Christ as your Saviour—if you truly believe in Him, though your faith be as a grain of mustard seed, you are a child of God. The lines in Scripture are clearly marked and defined: you are either an unbeliever under the curse of sin, and in the bonds of Satan, or you have laid hold of the salvation so freely offered to all in Christ Jesus, and have become a partaker of the blessings of the new covenant, a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.
There seems a very special need for insisting upon the reception of this truth in these days of nominal Christianity, as it cuts at the root of all Romish error, all sacerdotalism, and excess of outward show. It takes us direct to God our Father, in and through Christ's merits. We then need no so-called or supposed helps by way of incense, pictures, processions, and such like; we then need no father-confessors nor priestly absolvers, as we can go, sprinkled with the blood of Christ, straight to our Father, who alone can pardon and absolve from sin, and who has pardonei and graciously received all those who have accepted His salvation through Jesus Christ.
But it will be said by some that the reception of this doctrine would lead to presumption and irreverence. No thoughtful reader of the New Testament will come to this conclusion. It cannot be presumption to accept the express promises of God's favour and blessings in and through Jesus Christ. Consider at what cost these were purchased for us! Had it not been for the perfect righteousness and all-sufficient sacrifice of our dear Redeemer, we could, indeed, never have received the title and privileges of God's children. But as Jesus has bought them for us with His most precious blood, it is not presumption to accept-nay, it is madness to refuse—the blessings God has bestowed upon us for His sake. Surely there is far more risk of our losing heaven through unbelief and backwardness in receiving the promises of grace in Christ than there is in applying them to ourselves unwarrantably. Man's part in the covenant of grace is to receive gifts freely bestowed ; and every page of the New Testament echoes our Saviour's words, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” In God's eyes it is base ingratitude and sin to refuse the blessings He is so ready to bestow. See how the non-acceptance of His free and gracious promises is classed with other sins of the deepest dye : “ But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone : which is the second death.” 1
Dear downcast and half-despairing believer, no longer doubt your adoption ; accept the gracious promises of God, receive them into your heart, and live in the full realisation of God's favour and love to you in Christ. There is in the assurance of your adoption that which will enable you to bear every trial and sorrow with patience, yea, to rejoice in tribulation, as these very chastenings are marks of your sonship; “for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?" It is this assurance which will conduce more than anything else to a holy life ; for, as St. John saith, “ Every one that hath this hope in him” (this hope of sonship here and hereafter) “purifieth himself, even as He” (the Son of God) “is pure.” In a word, the reception of this truth will heighten every joy, sweeten every sorrow, will give a reality to your prayers, and will make you happy, holy, and useful.
1 Rev. xxi. 8.
Preparing the Way. “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.” T has been truly remarked that customs and manners
do not change in the East, and a great confirmation of the truth of Scripture lies in the fact that
travellers find the identical habits and customs now prevailing in the Holy Land as when our Lord lived and taught there, and which He made use of to illustrate His teaching.
Many such illustrations have been verified, such as those of the shepherd and the sheep, the invitations to feasts, and preparing the way for the progress of kings and eminent persons.
The spiritual meaning of such illustrations, stories, and parables came home with far greater force to the Eastern mind than the mere statement of the truths they signified, and it is the same with mankind in general; the Bible being written by inspiration of God, for all time and for all nations, retains, therefore, most wisely this mode of instruction, and we bless God every day for the simplicity thereof, so that truly may it be said of His Word, under the teaching of the Spirit, “He that runneth may read :” another illustration, by the way, very interesting to travellers who have observed the runners or messengers so often alluded to in Holy Writ.
And now as to the illustration above mentioned—that of making a path or road for the progress of some great personage. How accurately does it figure the godly sorrow for sin which John the Baptist specially taught when he cried, saying, “ Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand !" We have the idea fully detailed and carried out in the fortieth chapter of Isaiah ; we can there almost see the multitudes at work under the eye of some skilful overseer, exalting the valleys, bringing down the hills, and making a road where none existed before.
So with the sinner's heart! What exalted proud notions have to be beaten down, and in their stead the humble, contrite spirit raised up. A road to Jesus to be made over all the obstructions put in the way by Satan and the corrupt nature, and then, a fitting path being constructed, the Saviour walks along and conveys peace, happiness, and light over the barren landscape of the old man, while in His train follow all those graces which the Spirit works, so that the hills rejoice on every side, and the valleys laugh and sing. This illustration is not without its counterpart among ourselves.
Like all other matters, roads are being greatly improved in our land, and what may perhaps be considered as the very latest invention are the noiseless smooth streets which are now provided for us in the great metropolis.
Many difficulties had to be overcome, the poor horses slipped, and accidents occurred; but now it would appear that all the requisites of a good and safe road where enormous traffic has to pass are to be attained. One of these in process of construction is worth observation, and the spiritual meaning of which it is capable will readily occur to the mind. No less than six or seven different processes have to be gone through before this perfect modern highway, with all the most recent improvements, can be presented to the public, to be used by all kinds of vehicles and be, at the same time, safe for foot-passengers to pass across without danger.
First, we have the old faulty road, which has to be broken up and succeeded by a new one. How true and apt a figure of the old man being crucified, and the new man raised up within us !
Here is the picture of the old road-slippery, rough stones, inequalities, and hollows filled with dirty water after the rain; the noise, too, caused by carriages and heavy waggons making a ceaseless din in the ears of the inhabitants. But see, here are the workmen picking up the whole surface: the old, hard stones are uprooted and uplifted, and cast away; the ground underneath, long encumbered with them, is now made fit for the reception of the concrete carefully placed