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THE BEST OF FATHERS, AND HIS COMMAND;
THE MYSTIC MOTHER, AND HER LAW.
PROVERBS vi. 20-22.
“My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the
law of thy mother : bind them continually upon thine heart and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thec." :
The first thing that I have to treat on in this text is the character or title, which is that of a son; My son, &c. In the proverbs, says Paul, God speaks to us as to children; “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord; nor faint when thou art rebuked of him," &c. But, as there are various classes of sonship in scripture, I must distinguish this from others.
Angels are called sons, being so by creation. "The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.”
In this sense all mankind are the sons of God. “ Have we not all one father; hath not one God created us?"
Israel was a son; but then it was only by na
tional adoption, and not in the best sense.
And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn. And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.”
Magistrates are called children of God; but then it appears to be in office only, as the words show. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are out of course. I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men and fall like one of the princes.”
There is another rank of sons, which obtain this character by profession only. “ And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh."
There are sons who are pre-appointed to bear this character, and that from everlasting. “ Haying predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved,” Eph. i. 5, 6. And it is on this account that the poor Gentiles were called sons,
long before they had any real knowledge of their Father. “I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.” “ And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.”
But now I will come nearer home, and descend as low as the word of God will bear me out, and keep me company. And it is not in my power, according to my present light, to come any lower than Paul does in the following passage: “Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord God Almighty.” Here is the same call that God gave to Abraham, Come out from among them. And here the apostles begun; as soon as a sufficient number were discipled, they were separated, and formed into congregations or churches by themselves. But then, it may be asked, What is the unclean thing that we are forbidden to touch ? I answer, it is either idolatry, which then prevailed in every place, according to God's charges which he brings against Israel, calling idolatry, fornication, whoredom, and polluting themselves with idols; or else what Peter calls escaping the corruption that is in the world through lust, which is prevalent in all by
nature, as all flesh hath corrupted its way. Some lust after wealth, others after honours and pleasures, others after empire, and others after the gratification of every unhallowed desire. Come out from among these people, and leave these things, and he promises to receive
you. But the secret of our adoption to sonship is made manifest by our being enabled to believe in Christ; for “To as many as received him, to them gave
he power to become the sons of God, even to them which believe on his name.” And the first appearance of this work, called receiving him, discovers itself by having the heart touched with love to his children. For he that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me, Matt. x. 40.
Sonship is to be discovered by love; for all God's children are taught of him; and one of the lessons which he teaches, the apostle says, is this, “ Ye are taught of God to love one another.” And love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and discovers itself by a love to the truth, a love to the brethren, and by love to God and his ways.
There are many appellations which attend this character of sons, which are intended to assist the believer in making his adoption clear. When the Spirit of God has rent the vail of ignorance, darkness, and confusion, from their heart, and illuminąted their understandings, they are called the children of light. “For the children of this world are, in their generation, wiser than the children of light.”
It is discovered by the honesty of their hearts and by their coming to the light, and by loving the truth, and adhering to it, hating flattery, daubing, and being built up in falsehood. They are not like the hypocrites, who, as Peter says, are willingly ignorant, and love to be deceived. But God makes his people revere and embrace his word; “ For he said, surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour.”
Sonship appears in the peace which is found and enjoyed in the ways of God. “ 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.”
It appears by the reverence, awe, and fear, the believer has of God. “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour?”
“My son, keep thy father's commandment." This commandment is the word, or promise of life; and this I shall endeavour to make plain; and do you observe.
observe. “He hath remembered his covenant for
the word which he commanded to a thousand generations: which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; and confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, saying, Upto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance: when they were but a few men in