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I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father, &c.—1 John ii. 13, 14.
WE come now to the lowest rank of christians, and they are ‘little children,’ or the babes in Christ: their property is that they ‘have known the Father.’ It is spoken with allusion to little children in a 428natural consideration, who know their parents if they know nothing else, and cry after them, and frame themselves to call them by their names, though imperfectly, and with a stammering tongue; so these spiritual little children hang upon their Father, whatever they are ignorant of. These babes are driven by their necessity to seek a father in heaven, and show their owning of God in that relation, more by their desires and childlike impressions than by any actual and full grown confidence. But the other, the aged, own God as their Father by a more abundant persuasion of his love, and not only by choice, but by sense.
We must distinguish these christians from others, and first from the two former sorts mentioned, then from the carnal.
1. They differ from the fathers in two things—(1.) The object known; (2.) The degree of knowledge.
[1.] The object is diversified, ‘Him that was from the beginning,’ and ‘the Father.’ It is one thing to know God as a creator, another thing to know him as a father. The more old or grown christian takes him up under another notion than the babes do. Nothing more needful for children than to have a father, to whom they may repair in all their wants, and who may take care for them; accordingly they own God as a father.
[2.] The act, ‘You have known the Father.’ This knowledge is an initial knowledge; the act of knowledge is attributed to the fathers and the little children, but yet there is a difference in the degree.
(1.) Little children have but a taste of God’s fatherly love: 1 Peter ii. 3, ‘If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.’ The fathers had a deeper draught and longer experience, by which they are more confirmed in the sense of their adoption: 1 John iii. 1, ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!’ But these babes have but some general and obvious apprehensions of God’s being a merciful father in Christ; the one are skilled in the first principles of christianity, the other are versed in the deeper mysteries of godliness.
(2.) These little children know God as a father, because they have never yet been put upon exercise and occasions to question his love; but when they are tried with afflictions, or conflict with temptations, they are filled with doubts and fears. It is one of the weaknesses incident to this age, that they must be set on the lap, and dandled with comforts; for young children are not as yet acquainted with the rod and the frown of a father: Heb. xii. 5, ‘And ye have forgotten the exhortation, which speaketh unto you as children.’ As soon as they meet with any trouble inward or outward, they fall into heavy damps and discouragements, fearing that all their commerce with God was but a shadow and a dream; whereas the fathers or aged christians have tried him in all conditions, and can look upon him as a father when he smileth and when he frowns, and know that he is the God of the valleys as well as the hills and mountains, and that his love doth not alter with their condition; as Christ said, ‘My God,’ when he was upon the cross and forsaken.
2. They differ from the young men in Christ. Before I tell yon how they differ from them, I must acquaint you that there are two sorts 429of babes or little children. First, Some are as it were in the birth, inter regenerandum: Gal. iv. 19, ‘My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, till Christ be formed in you.’ They are such as have good motions and inclinations to spiritual and heavenly things, but they are so often interrupted by the discovery and breaking out of the carnal nature, that we cannot yet say that Christ is formed in them; yet there are hopeful intimations that the work is a-doing, though the doctrine and practice of the gospel is not so purely and perfectly received. Secondly, The other are such as hang upon the breast, as infants new born: 1 Peter ii. 2, ‘As new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby;’ who have much ado to maintain life between one duty and another. These differ from the young men, partly because they are raw and inexperienced, and so are guilty of many oversights, are more easily deceived by Satan and his instruments: Eph. iv. 14, ‘That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.’ And partly because they are ignorant of the power of corruption, and the many inordinate lusts and passions which lurk in them, and often break out to their dishonour and discouragement. Therefore the apostle mindeth such, 1 Peter i. 14, ‘Not to fashion themselves according to the former lusts of their ignorance.’ Weaknesses and infirmities are most rife then. And partly because they do not understand their duty in their first entrance upon their christian course so well as they do afterwards, and therefore either cleave to things out of blind zeal, or else condemn them out of rashness and indiscretion: Rom. xiv. 1, ‘Him that is weak in the faith receive, but not to doubtful disputations.’ They are easily carried away with a vain show, and either allow or condemn things without due warrant. And partly because they are not so strong as the young men, nor so full of spiritual confidence, but are full of fears, as little children are easily frighted with anything. Their faith being little, doubts arise and fears prevail: Mat. vi. 30, ‘O ye of little faith!’ Mat. viii. 26, ‘Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?’ Mat. xvi. 8, ‘Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith!’ Weak christians are timorous, not being used to conflicts and difficulties, perplexed with doubtful thoughts. Christ saith, John xvi. 12, ‘I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.’ Through their incapacity they cannot take in many truths; they who have the Spirit in some measure may yet remain incapable of some divine truths, and do continue under many weaknesses and errors of mind, and are apt to stumble and quarrel at many truths. As weak shoulders shrink under heavy burdens, so do weak understandings and light and pre-occupied affections under spiritual and heavenly truths; or as weak stomachs cast up the strong meat which they cannot digest. So the apostle: 1 Cor. iii. 2, 3, ‘I could not speak to you as spiritual, but as to babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat, for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet are ye able.’ By ‘milk,’ he meaneth the plain doctrines of the christian religion; by ‘meat,’ the more exact discussion of these points.430
3. We must distinguish these from the carnal or the temporary; for though they be not so heavenly, so prudent, so strong as the more grown christians, yet there is a clear distinction between them and the unconverted.
[1.] They have the common spirit of all christians. God’s favour is all in all to them, insomuch as they cannot be satisfied without it: Ps. iv. 6, 7, ‘Lord, lift up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time when their corn and wine increased.’ This is that they long after, and labour after, and wait for, that they may understand how God is affected towards them. About this their thoughts are chiefly occupied, and upon this they lay out their time and care: Ps. xxvii. 4, ‘One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.’ Now the temporary have never this high esteem of the favour of God as to prefer it simply and comparatively above all other contentments whatsoever.
[2.] Though their main care be about getting off the guilt of sin for the present, yet there is an unfeigned purpose that they may not in the smallest matters offend and displease God, but to the utter most of their knowledge they are careful to perform their duty. There is in them that good and honest heart: Luke viii. 15, ‘But that on the good ground are they who in an honest and good heart have heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience;’ though there be many weaknesses and inadvertencies, because they know not the corruptions of their own hearts, nor the force of temptations, and it may be do not so fully understand their duty.
[3.] These weak christians do or should remember that God will not always bear with their weaknesses, and from time to time dispense with their follies, and wink at them. They must grow more solid and prudent, more settled into an heavenly frame and temper: 1 Thes. iv. 1, ‘We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so you would abound more and more;’ 2 Cor. iv. 16, ‘For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day;’ Ps. lxxxiv. 11, ‘They go from strength to strength, till they appear before God in Zion.’ They must come out of their childish state in time; as the grain of mustard-seed when it is once rooted must grow up into a tree. We must go on from one degree of grace to another.
[4.] Their knowledge of God as a father differeth from that knowledge which temporaries have, because it is an active and operative knowledge: God’s being a father implieth both duty and privilege, and none, know him aright but those that perform the duties of children, and depend upon him for the privileges of children.
(1.) This knowledge implieth the performance of the duties of children, which are to love, please, and honour their father: Mal. i. 6, ‘A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master. If I be a father, where is mine honour? if a master, where is my fear?’ 1 Peter i. 14, ‘As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance.’ In the 17th verse., ‘And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.’ There must be a tenderness and a fear to offend their heavenly Father; for God will not be flattered with empty titles. That is a dishonour and a mockage, as it was for them to call Christ ‘King of the Jews,’ and to spit upon him, and buffet him. Therefore there is no true owning and knowing of him as a father unless we be thereby strongly moved to a care of obedience.
(2.) There are the privileges of children, and this knowing of the Father implieth trust and dependence: Ps. ix. 10, ‘They that know thy name will put their trust in thee.’ And therefore little children do so know the Father as to depend upon him for protection in all dangers, and provision of all necessaries, and finally for the heavenly in heritance and their everlasting portion; for they are begotten to a lively hope, 1 Peter i. 3; and therefore, as soon as they are born again, they begin to look for a child’s portion, and to apply their minds to heavenly things; and so, because of their weakness, put themselves under the conduct and government of God as their everlasting father. From this the character of these little children or babes in Christ may be sufficiently understood.
Doct. That even the lowest sort of christians do know God as a father.
I shall illustrate this point by three considerations—
1. That God standeth in the relation of a father to his people.
2. That the lowest sort of christians do know him under this relation.
3. How this is the point which constituteth the difference between them and others.
I. For the first consideration, that God standeth in the relation of a father to his people. God is a father either in a general respect by creation, or in a more special regard by adoption.
1. By creation. He gave being to all things, but to man and angels reason. To establish the relation of a father, there must be communication of life and likeness. A painter that maketh a picture like himself is not the father of it, for though there be likeness, yet no life. The sun in propriety of speech is not the father of the frogs and putrid creatures which are quickened by its heat. This relation is applied only to univocal generations and rational creatures. A bull that produceth a calf like himself is not called the father of it; in ordinary speaking we call it the sire, and the heifer the dam. Now God is the Father of angels, and angels are the sons of God: Job xxxviii. 7, ‘When the morning-stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy.’ So men. Adam was the son of God, Luke iii. 38. Once more, though we have deformed ourselves, and are not the same that we were when we were first created, yet still in regard of some sorry remains of God’s image, and the light of reason yet kept, we are called the sons of God, and God is called ‘our Father;’ yea, more a father than our natural parents are. Our parents concur to our being but instrumentally, but God originally. Now, as the writing is the work of the penman rather than of the pen, so are we the workman ship of God rather than of our parents. He forms us in the womb; 432our parents know not whether the child will be male or female, beautiful or deformed, cannot tell the number of the bones, muscles, veins, arteries; this God appointeth. The soul, which was the better part of man, is of his immediate creation; therefore he is called ‘the Father of spirits,’ Heb. xii. 9, ‘Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits?’ they do not run in the channel of carnal generation or fleshly descent. In this general sense, by virtue of creation, God is the Father of all men, good and bad.
2. More especially, there is a particular sort of men to whom God is a father in Christ, and they are his children. This title is not by nature, but by grace: John i. 12, ‘But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name.’ As many as believe in his name have this privilege, to be called ‘the sons of God.’ Although the best that ever lived have reason to judge themselves to be unworthy to be in the rank of servants to the Lord, yet it pleaseth him to advance the meanest that receive Christ by faith to the dignity and privilege of being his children. All such, even the meanest believer not excluded, may call God father. The thing itself, nakedly considered, is a greater dignity than the world can afford us; as a thing to be wondered at rather than told: 1 John iii. 1, ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!’ Admire it we may, express it to the full we cannot. It was said, 1 Sam. xviii. 22, ‘Seemeth it a light thing to you to be a king’s son-in-law?’ We may with better reason say, Is it a small matter to become sons and daughters to the most high God? But if we consider how it was brought about, it doth more heighten it in our thoughts. The foundation of it was laid in the election of God; for ‘we were predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,’ Eph. i. 5. But before his decree could be executed and take place, the redemption of Christ was necessary. For we read, Gal. iv. 4, 5, ‘But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.’ Sin needed to be expiated by the Son of God in our nature before God would bestow this honour upon us. Christ was to be our brother before God would be our father; and to take a mother upon earth, that we might have a father in heaven; yea, to be made ‘under the law,’ to endure the law’s curse, before we could be instated in this blessing. What need had God to be at such expense for poor worthless creatures? He had a Son of his own, in whom his soul found full complacency and delight. Men adopt in orbitatis solatium; it is a remedy found out for the comfort of them who have no children. It was never heard of that a father who had a son should adopt a son. Now that the Lord should adopt and take us into his family, who are the children of the devil by nature, this dignity, as it imports great privilege to us, so it calleth for great duty at our hands.
[1.] It importeth great privilege to us. There are great benefits accrue to us thereby.433
(1.) The gift of the Holy Ghost. God, as a father by creation, gave us our natural endowments; but as a father by adoption, he giveth us the supernatural grace of the Spirit. It was given to Christ without measure, that all God’s children and the members of Christ’s mystical body might receive it from him as the head and fountain of their life: ‘Because we are sons, he hath sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father,’ Gal. iv. 6. Whosoever hath this high privilege of adoption conferred upon them, they have the Spirit of God given to them, to reside and dwell in their hearts, as their sanctifier, guide, and comforter, to sanctify and to transform them into the likeness of Christ: 2 Cor. iii. 18, ‘But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.’ To guide them in all their ways: Rom. viii. 14, ‘For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.’ To comfort them with a sense of their gracious estate for the present: Rom. viii. 16, ‘The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God;’ and to assure them of a blessed estate for the future: 2 Cor. i. 22, ‘Who hath sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.’ The residence and dwelling of the Holy Ghost in our hearts is most felt in prayer: Rom. viii. 26, ‘Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered;’ Jude 20, ‘Building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost;’ teaching the saints to address themselves to God as a father, with a familiar and childlike confidence, and yet with a holy reverence; with a humble submission, and yet with a holy vehemency and earnestness, opposite to that careless formality and deadness which is in other men’s prayers.
(2.) We have a blessed and excellent inheritance to look for here; all the children are heirs and ‘joint-heirs with Christ,’ Rom. viii. 17, as soon as we are adopted and taken into God’s family, though little of this dignity appeareth or maketh any fair show in the world: 1 John iii. 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 knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Behold, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.’ We only know who are the sons of God, but not what it is to be the sons of God; yet that right and hope that we have may allay all our cares, and fears, and sorrows, during the time of our abasement and humiliation: Luke xii. 32, ‘Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’
(3.) In all his dealings for the present, God retaineth a fatherly affection to us, pitying our miseries, and pardoning our failings: Ps. ciii. 13, ‘Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.’ We need not much ado, or much entreat, or hire a father to pity a child in misery. So he pardoneth our failings: Mal. iii. 27, ‘I will spare them, as a man spareth his only son that serveth him.’ A parent will not be inexorable, nor severe upon every failing of a dutiful child and an only son. We often forget the duty of children, but God will not 434forget the mercies of a father. As a parent saith, He is my child, though a faulty child or stubborn child, so will he spare us notwithstanding infirmities, supplying all our necessities: Mat. vi. 25, ‘Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on: is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?’ ver. 30, ‘Wherefore if God clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?’ ver. 32, ‘Your heavenly Father knoweth ye have need of all these things.’ God is not ignorant of our condition, nor mindless of it. Carking taketh his work out of his hands; but the remembrance of a father dasheth all our distrustful thoughts. So protection in dangers, both for the inward and outward man. The soul is guarded by the Spirit: 2 Peter i. 3, 4, ‘According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’ The body by the angels; their charge is not cura animarum, but custodia corporis, not the care of their souls, but the safety of their bodies. God’s children are well guarded and guided till they come to their final estate. Heaven is kept for them, and they for it.
[2.] It calleth for great duty at our hands. I must mention that, because we are very apt to challenge the privileges when we neglect the duties which belong to God’s children. It calleth for conformity and likeness to him in all divine perfections.
(1.) In holiness and purity: 1 Peter i. 15, ‘But as he who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.’ Com passion, mercy, and goodness: Eph. v. 1, ‘Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children.’ Compassion and mercy: Mat. v. 44, 45, ‘But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain upon the just and unjust;’ Luke vi. 35, 36, ‘But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for no thing again, and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.’ So for truth: Isa. lxiii. 8, ‘Surely they are my people, children that will not lie.’ There is no divine virtue but there should be some representation and shadow of it at least found in us. God’s dear children should be like him. All graces should be made lovely and amiable to us by his pattern and example.
(2.) In ready obedience to his laws. In one place we read, ‘dear children,’ Eph. v. 1, in another, ‘obedient children,’ 1 Peter i. 14. God taxeth his people for their unsuitable walking to this relation: Jer. iii. 4, 5, ‘Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father? Will he reserve his anger for ever? will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldst.’ Can we call him father whom we care not continually to displease?435
(3.) Subjection and humble submission to his correction: Heb. xii. 5-10, ‘And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor fault when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If yon endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? for they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.’ God hath castigations for all his children. It is consistent with the love of good-will and with the love of complacency. After that he hath made us amiable, the rod of correction will not wholly be laid aside while God’s children are in the flesh. In heaven, where there is no danger, there is no use of it any more, because then they are fully and perfectly sanctified. Those whom God suffereth to go on in their sins to their own eternal undoing, they have not the privilege of sons, and therefore not the discipline of God’s family; they are bastards. Νόθοι there doth not bear the notion of an illegitimate, but a degenerate son. Many profess themselves the children of God, but they are not owned as such. It is a sad and woful thing for a child to be left to himself, and to be suffered to go on in untoward courses; but far more sad it is for a man to be suffered to go on in sin without any chastisement and correction. God seemeth to cast them off, and to leave them to their own lusts, that they may perish for ever. Children, though they take it ill at the hands of others, yet take it patiently when beaten for their faults by their own parents, who under God are the cause of their being, and maintain and love them, and even in correcting seek their good, much more their souls’ good hereafter. Earthly parents may err by wanting wisdom, and out of passion and rashness their chastisements may be arbitrary and irregular, but God never mingleth passion with his rod; there is more of compassion than passion in it; it is but only medicinal. His chastisements flow from the purest love, and are regulated by perfect wisdom, and tend to and end in holiness and happiness. Therefore, John xviii. 11, ‘The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink of it?’ I speak the more in this case, because the comfort of adoption is for such a time; and because the great error of these children is, that they had known the Father, yet would be dandled and never feel the rod.
II. For the second consideration, that the lowest sort of christians do know God in the relation of a father.
1. Christ hath taught all his disciples to say, ‘Our Father,’ Mat. vi. 9. There is none that cometh to pray with any confidence but taketh him up under this relation. We must all own him as a father, either by sense or by choice; either by a sense of his fatherly love in Christ, or else we must choose and esteem him as a father, resolve to have no father but God, and depend upon him, and obey him as such: Jer. iii. 19, ‘Thou shalt call me, My father, and not turn away from me;’ 436that is, take him and acknowledge him as a father, and promise to continue loyal to him.
2. Adoption is one of the first privileges. As soon as a man owneth Christ, he is adopted and taken into God’s family: John i. 12, ‘To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God;’ John xx. 17, ‘I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.’ The state of the person is altered; past sins are forgiven, and ground is laid for a future pardon. It is one of the first privileges we have as soon as we belong to Christ. What Christ is, he maketh his people to be in their proportion and measure.
3. It is God’s covenant He hath promised that all his ‘shall know him, from the least to the greatest,’ Heb. viii. 11. God hath no child so little but he knoweth his Father, though he be of little experience in the world. God hath showed himself to be a father in Christ. God hath elsewhere promised to give his people ‘a heart to know him,’ Jer. xxiv. 7. They cannot else belong to him, nor he be their God, nor they his children.
III. For the third consideration, how this is the constitutive difference. This was spoken to before.
Use 1. To inform us what care ought to be taken for the institution of little children; for though spiritual growth be mainly intended, yet natural age is not excluded or exempted. Some little ones may have a strange knowledge of God, and a sense of religion: Prov. xxii. 6, ‘Train up a child in the way that he shall go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.’ The tender twig is soonest bowed. We tame a lion when he is young, and a horse when a colt. What we learn young is most easily received, and firmly retained, before the mind be forestalled. Seneca took notice of it, Omnes praeoccupati sumus—our minds are wedded to evil, before set right toward God; thence cometh the difficulty. Consider they are children of the covenant, and should be entered betimes, Deut. xxix. from ver. 10 to 14. Christ hath great respect for little children, and he blameth those that kept them from him. God commandeth us to teach our children: Deut. vi. 7, ‘And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up;’ and we are commanded to ‘bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,’ Eph. vi. 4. He that gave the precept will find the blessing. He expecteth it, and reckoneth upon it: Gen. xviii. 19, ‘For I know that he will command his children, and his household after him; and they shall know the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.’ Men promise this when they bring their children to baptism. They dedicate their children to the Lord, and educate them for the world and the flesh. Call upon your children as David doth upon Solomon: 1 Chron. xxviii. 9, ‘And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy Father, and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind.’
Use 2. If the lowest sort of christians do know God as a father, do we know God as a father? have we a Father in heaven? are we reconciled to him by Jesus Christ? You will know it mainly by this, 437the state of adoption; there is a spirit of adoption that doth accompany it. There is a state of adoption, and a spirit of adoption: ‘Because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father,’ Gal. iv. 6. It discovereth itself in prayer, because it maketh us come in a familiar and childlike manner to God. A spirit of grace breaketh out into a spirit of supplication: Zech. xii. 10, ‘I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications.’ But as to your constant frame, have you the spirit of a son, the spirit of an heir? The spirit of a son, that will discover itself in prayer. And it is a spirit of obedience; there is a childlike reverence and dread of God; they dare not offend him; as the Rechabites, Jer. xxxv. 5, 6.438
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