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Two particulars follow, yet more, in the Manner. Then, the Persons allowed to this banquet : no uncircumcised might eat thereof. Then, in the next place, we should descend to the Se. cond Head of our discourse, that Christ is OUR Passover. Then, that he is our Passover SACRIFICED; and sacrificed FOR US. Ye see what a world of matter yet remains; and offers itself
, as in a throng, to our meditations : but the long business of the ensuing sacrament forbids our further discourse; and calls us, from speaking of Christ our Passover, to partaking of him: For which he prepare our souls, that hath dearly bought them, and hath given himself to be our True Passover: To whom, with the Father and the Blessed Spirit, One Infinite and Incomprehensible God, be all praise, honour, and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
THE SONS OF GOD LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD:
A SERMON PREACHED ON WHITSUNDAY, IN THE PARISH CHURCH OF
HIGHAM, IN THE YEAR 1652.
ROM. viii. 14. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of
God. This only day is wont to be consecrated to the celebration of the Descent of the Holy Spirit: and, therefore, deserves to be, as it is named, the true Dominica in albis, “Whitsunday."
White is the colour of Innocence and Joy. In respect of the first, this, together with the feast of Easter, was wont, in the primitive times, to be the solemn season of Baptism and Sacramental Regeneration: in respect of the second, it was the season of the just triumph and exaltation of the Church; which was, as this day, graced, confirmed, and refreshed, with the miraculous descent of the promised Comforter. In both regards, every Christian challenges an interest in it: as those, who claim to be the sons of God by Baptism, the Sacrament of Regeneration; and to be endued and furnished with the sanctifying gifts of that Blessed Spirit, whose wonderful descent we this day celebrate. Which, how can we do better, than by enquiring into what right we have to this Holy Spirit, and to that sonship of God, which, in our baptism, we profess to partake of?
We are all apt, upon the least cause, to be proud of our parentage. There are nations, they say, in the world, whereof every man challenges gentility, and kindred to their king: so are we wouit to do spiritually to the King of Heaven. Every one hath the Spirit of God: every one is the son of God.
It is the main errand we have to do on the earth, to settle our hearts upon just grounds, in the truth of this resolution: and this Text undertakes to do it for us; infallibly deciding it, that those, and none but those, that are led by the Spirit of God, are the Sons of God. So as we need not now think of climbing up into heaven, to turn the books of God's eternal counsel; nor linger after enthus siasms and revelations, as some fanatical spirits use to do; nor wish for that holy dove to whisper in our ear, with that great Arabian Impostor: but only look seriously into our own hearts and lives; and try ourselves thoroughly by this sure and unfailing rule of our blessed Apostle, So many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God.
Let my speech and your attention then, be bounded in these three limits. Here is, First, A PRIVILEGE; To be the Sons of God: Secondly, A QUALIFICATION OF THE PRIVILEGED; To be led by the Spirit: Thirdly, AN UNIVERSAL PREDICATION OF THAT PRIVILEGE UPON THE PERSONS QUA PIED; So many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the Sons of God. I need not crave your attention: the importance of the matter challenges it.
I. To the First, then. It is a wonderful and inexplicable PRIVILEGE, this, to be the Sons of God.
No marvel, if every one be apt to claim it. The glory of children are their fathers; Prov. xvii. 6. How were the Jews puffed up with that vain gloriation, that they were the sons of Abraham! and yet they might have been so; and have come from hated Esau, or ejected Ishmael. What is it then, to be the sons of the God of Abraham? Ye know what David could say upon the tender of matching into the blood royal: Seemneth it å small matter to you, to be the son-in-law to a king ?. Oh, what then is it to be the true. born sons to the great King of Heaven? The Abassins pride themselves to be derived from that son, whom they say the Queen of Sheba had begotten of her by Solomon, when she went to visit him: it is enough that it was Princely, though base. How may we glory, to be the true and legitimate issue of the King of Glory? The great lord in the Gospel is brought in by our Saviour, in his parable, to say; They will reverence my Son; and Amnon's wicked kinsman could say to him, Why art thou, the King's son, so sad? as if the sonship to a king were a supersedeas to all whatsoever grief or discontentment.
Neither is there matter of honour only in this privilege, but of profit too: especially in the case of the sons of this Heavenly King; whose Sons are all heirs, as ye have it verse 17. With men, indeed, it is not so. Amongst God's chosen people, the firstborn carried away a double portion: but, in some other nations, and in some parts of ours, the eldest goes away with all: as, on the contrary, others are ruled by the law or custom of Gavel-kind, and the like institutions; where, either the youngest inherit, or all equally. But, generally, it is here with us contrary to that old word conçerning Isaac's twins, the lesser serves the greater. Jehosaphat gave great gifts to his other sons; but the kingdom to the eldest, Jehoram, 2 Chron. xxi. 3. so as the rest were but as subjects to their eldest brother. In the family of the Highest, it is not so: there, all are heirs; all inherit the blessings, the honours.
As all are partakers of the divine nature; and, of every one may he said by way of regeneration, that, which was eminently and singularly said by the way of eternal generation of the Natural and Coessential Son of God, Thou art my Son, I have begotten thee: so all are partakers of those Blessings and happy Immunities, which appertain to their filiation. And what are they? Surely great, beyond the power of expression. For,
1. In this name, they have A SPIRITUAL RIGHT TO ALL THE CREATURES OF GOD. All things are yours; saith the Apostle. A spiritual, I say; not a natural, not a civil right, which men bave to what they legally possess. We must take heed of this error, which makes an universal confusion, wherever it prevails. All these earthly affairs are managed by a civil right; which men have, whether by descent, or lawful acquisition: so as it is not for any man to challenge an interest, either ad rem or in re, in the goods of another. But God's children have a double claim to all they possess; both civil from men, and spiritual from God: The carih hath he given to the sons of men; saith the Psalmist; and men, by just conquest, by purchase, by gift convey it legally to each other. Besides which, they have a spiritual right: for God hath given all things to his Son as Mediator; and, in and by him, to those that are incorporated into him: so as now, in this regard, every child of Gort-is-Mundi Dominus, “the Lord of the World;" as that Father truly said.
2. They have, in this name, AN INTEREST IN GOD HIMSELF: for, what nearer relation can there be, than betwixt a father and a son? an interest in all his promises, in all his mercies; in all that he is, in all that flows from him; in his remission, protection, provision. Which of us earthly parents, if we extinguish not nature in ourselves, can be wanting in these things to the children of our loins ? How much more impossible is it, that he, who is all love, i John iv. 16. should be wanting to those, that are his by a true regeneration! Hence is that enforcement, which God useth by his Prophet, Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have com passion on the son of her womb? yea, they muy forget; yet will not I forget thee : Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; Isaiah xlix. 15, 16.
3. Hence follows an unquestionable RIGHT IN ATTENDANCE AND GUARDIANSHIP OF THE BLESSED ANGELS; Psalm xci. 11. They are the little ones, whereof our Saviour, Matth. xviii. 10. the especial charge, whom those glorious spirits are deputed to attend; Heb. i. 14. And, oh, what an honour is this, that we are guarded by creatures more glorious in nature, more excellent in place and office, than ourselves! What a comfortable assurance is this, that we liave these troops of heavenly soldiers pitching their tents about us; and ready to safeguard us from the malice of the principalities and powers of darkness!
4. In this name, they have a certain and unfailable CLAIM TO ETERNAL GLORY. For what is that, but the inheritance of the saints ? Col. i. 12. Who should have your lands, but your heirs; and, lo, these are the heirs of God: and none but they; Come, ye blessed of my Faher, inherit the kingdom prepared for you; saith our Saviour, Matth. xxv. 34. Many a one here is born to a fair estate; and is stripped of it, whether by the just disherson of his offended Father, or else by the power or circumvention of an adversary, or by his own mis-government and unthriftiness. Here, is no danger of any of these. On our Father's part, none; For, whoin he loves, he loves to the end: on our adversaries' part;, none; None shall take them out of my hand, saith our Saviour; The gates of hell shall not prevail against his: on our part, none; for whereby can we lavish out our estate but by our sins, and he that is born of God sinneth not; sinneth not so as to incur a forfeit; he may so sin as to be frowned on for the time, to be chid, yea perhaps to be well whipped of his Father, not so as to be unsonned or disinherited; For the seed of God remains in him. Lo, while he hath the divine seed in him, he is the on of God; and, while he is a son, he cannot but be an heir.
Oh, then, the comfortable and blessed privileges of the sons of God; enough to attract and ravish any heart! for, who doth not affect the honour of the highest parentage; not, under heaven, but in it? who can be but eagerly ambitious of the title of the Lord of the World; so closely to be interested in the great God of Heaven and Earth, by an inseparable relation; to be attended on by those mighty and majestical spirits; and, lastly, to be feoffed in the allglorious kingdom of heaven, and immortal crown of glory?
None of you can be now so dull, as not desire to be thus happy; and to ask, as the Blessed Virgin when she was told of her miraculous conception, “ Quomodo fiet istud? How shall this be? How may I attain to this blessed condition?”
This is a question worth asking; Oh the poor and base thoughts of men! “ How may I raise my house? how may I settle my estate? how may I get a good bargain? how may I save or gain? how may I be revenged of mine enemy?" while, in the mean time, we care not to demand, what most concerns us, should I become the child of God?”
But, would we know this, to which all the world is but trifles? surely, it is not so hard, as useful.
Whose sons we are by nature, we soon know too well. It is not enough to say, Our father was an Amorite, and our mother a Hittite: or, to say we are the children of this world; Luke xvi. 8: or, a seed of falsehood; Isaiah lvii. 4: or, yet worse, the children of the night and darkness; 1 Thess. v. 5: worse yet, we are filii contumaciæ, the sons of wilful disobedience, as the original runs; Eph. ii. 3: and thereby yet worse, the sons of wra!h; Eph. ii. 2: and, which, is the height of all miseries, the sons of death and eternal damnation. · How then, how come we to be the sons of God? It is the Al mighty power of grace, that only can make this change. A double grace; the grace of adoption, the grace of regeneration: Adoption; God hath predestinated us to the adoption of sons, by Jesus Christ; Eph. i. 5: Regeneration; So many as received him, he gave them this power or right to be made the sons of God; those which are born not of blood, or the lust of the flesh, bui born of God; John i. 12, 13; and that, which refers to both, Ye are all the chil. dren of God, by faith in Christ Jesus; Gal. iii. 26.
Shortly, then, if we would be sons and daughters of God (for the case is one in both: the soul hath no sexes; and, in Christ, there is neither male nor female:) we must see, that we be bore
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