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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 Gort: Secondly, A QUALIFICATION OF THE PRIVILEGED; To be led by the Spirit : Thirdly, AN UNIVERSAL PREDICATION OF THAT PRIVILEGE (PON THE PERSONS QUALIFIED; So many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the Sons of God. I need not crave your attention: the innportance 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 chile dren are their fathers; Prov. xvii. 6. How were the Jews putted up with that vain gloriation, that they were the sons of Abraham! and yet they might have been so; and have come from bated 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: Seeineth it a small matter to you, to be the son-in-law to a king? Oh, what then is it to be the trueborn 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 concerning Isaac's tuins, 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 be 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 chailenge 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 earth 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 God 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 compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget ; yet will not I forget thee: Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; Isaiah slix. 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 have 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 Fa her, inherit the kingdoin prepared for you ; saith our Saviour, Matth. xxv. 34. Many a une 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, whom he loves, he loves to the end: on our adversaries' pait, none; Vone shall take the 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 oj God sinneth wi; 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 bis 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 son 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 hearen, 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 feo:fed 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 happr; and to ask, as the Blessed Virgin when she was told of her miraculous conception, “ Quomodo fiet istud? How shall this bc? 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? ho: may I settie my es tate? 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, “Which way 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 svi. 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 contumacie, the sons of wilful disobedience, as the original runs; Eph. ii. 3: and thereby yet worse, the sons of wrath; Eph. ii. 2: andi, 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 Almighty power of grace, that only can make this change. A double grace; the grace of adoption, the grace of regeneration: Adoption ; God hath predestinaled 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, but 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 born

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again: not of water only; so we are all sacramentally regenerated; but of the Holy Ghost. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; 2 Cor. 1. 17. We must not be the men we were. And how shall that be extected? In Christ Jesus I have begotten you, through the Gospel; saith the Apostle, 1 Cor. iv. 15. He hath begotten us by the word of truth; Jaines i. 18. This word is that immortal seed, whereby we are begotten to God. Let this word, therefore, have its perfect work in us: let it renew us in the inner man; mortifying all our evil and corrupt affections, and raising us up to a new life of grace and obedience. Then God will not shame to own us for his; and we shall not presume, in claiming this glorious title of the Sons of God. But, if we be still our old selves; no changelings at all; the same men, that we came into the world, without defalcation of our corruptions, without addition of grace and sanctification: surely, we must seek us another father; we are not yet the Sons of God.

II. But, methinks, ere I was aware, I am falling to anticipate my discourse; anit, while I am teaching how we come to be the sons of God, am showing how we may know that we are so: which is the drift of this scripture, in the QUALIFICATION here mentioned; So many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the Sons of God.

It is not enough for us, my Beloved, to be the sons and daughters of God, unless we know ourselves to be so: for, certainly, he cannot be truly happy, that doth not know himself happy.

1. How SHALL WE, therefore, KNOW OURSELVES TO BE THE SONS OF GOD? Surely, there may be many signs and proofs of it, besides this mentioned in my Text; or, rather, many specialties under this general. As,

(1.) Every child of God is like his father.

It is not so in carnal generation: we have seen many children, that have not so much as one lineament of their parents; and as contrary to their dispositions, as if they had been strangers to their loins and womb. In the spiritual sonship it is not so: every child of God carries the true resemblance of his Heavenly Father: As he, that hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation ; because it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy; 1 Pet. i. 15, 16. Well then, my Brethren, try yourselves by this rule. Our Heavenly Father is merciful: are we cruel? Our Father is righteous in all his ways: are we unjust? Our Heavenly Father is slow to anger: are we furious, upon every slight occasion? Our Heavenly Father abhors all manner of evil: do we take pleasure in any kind of wickedness? Certainly, we have nothing of God in us; neither can we claim any kindred with heaven.

(2.) Every child, that is not utterly degenerate, bears a filial love to his parents; answering, in some measure, that natural affection, which the parent bears towards him.

We cannot but know, that the love of God, our Heavenly Father, toward us, is no less than infinite; Psalm cii. 13. What return do we make of love to him again? We can, perhaps, talk largely of our love to God; but where is the proof of it? Did we

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love our Father in Heaven as children, could we estrange ourselves from his interest? could we endure to see him wronged in all his concernments ? to hear his sacred and dread name blasphemed? to see his ordinances trampled upon; his messengers contemptuously used; his house and his day profaned? Would we not spit at that son, that would put up with such indignities offered to his cainal father? And why will we lay claim to a sonship of God, if we can swallow such spiritual affronts put upon our God?

(3.) Every not ill-natured and ungracious son (as God hath none such) bears a kind of awful respect to his Father; both in what he doth, and in what he suffers.

For his actions, he dares not to do any thing wilfully that may work his Father's displeasure: and, even those things which he would not stick to do before a stranger, yet before his Father he reverentially forbears to do; If I be a Father, where is my honour? Mal. i. 6.° If then we be not awfully affected to the presence of God; if we dare boldly sin God in the face: it argues strongly, that we have no filial relation to him.

For his sufferings: a child will receive that correction from the hand of a father, which he would never abide from a stranger. He, that would be ready to repay blows to another man, takes stripes from a father, and answers them only with tears. Thus, if we be the Sons of God, we do submissly undergo from his hand, what fatherly chastisement he shall be pleased to lay upon us; but, if we be ready to struggle, and groaningly repine at his correction, it shews we do not acknowledge him for our Father.

(4.) A son, as he is wholly at his parent's disposing, so he depends upon his father's provision; expecting such patrimony, as his father shall bestow upon him; and waiting with patience for such child's-part, as he can have no hope of from a stranger.

If we do so to our Heavenly Father; leading the life of faith with him; casting ourselves upon his gracious providence for all good things of either world; and fixing our eyes upon that glorious inheritarice, which he hath purchased for us above: we do evidently show ourselves to be the Sons of God.

(5.) But what need we any other evidence of this blessed condi. tion, than what is here expressly laid down to our hands in my Text? So many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons

of God.


The original is žyovlas; a word, which every grammarian knows to signify both ugi and duci; to be led or driven. So, where it is said by one Evangelist, that Christ was led into the wilderness, to be tempted; Matth. iy. 1: of another, it is read, that he was driven; Mark i. 12. And, though the Vulgate reads it here qui aguntur; yet our Rhemists turn it, Those that are led: noting in the margin, out of St. Augustin's true explication, that God's children are not violently compelled against their wills; but sweetly drawn, moved, and induced to do good;

So as this word then implies; both an act of God's Spirit working

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