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who should honour his perfections and submit to his government: but rather, by the addition of "Amen," he purposely expressed his acquiescence in that which he required from others. Thus, without claiming any exemption for ourselves, we should cordially devote to him the souls which he has purchased with his blood: we should yield to his authority in all that he commands; and seek his glory in all that we perform.] ADDRESS
1. To those who are unmindful of what Christ has done for them
[It scarcely seems credible that such persons should be found in a Christian land: but, alas! they abound in every place. But let them blush for their ingratitude. Let them know too, that the very blood which was shed to cleanse them from their sins, will aggravate, instead of removing, their eternal condemnation.]
2. To those who are doubting whether they be interested in what Christ has done
[We are not to ascertain our interest in Christ first, and then to go to him for salvation; but first to go to him for salvation, and then, from the exercises and fruits of our faith, to conclude that we do indeed belong to him. If the time that is lost in doubting and questioning, were improved in fervent applications to him for mercy, we should soon be enabled to say, "He has loved me, and given himself for me." Instead of asking, Am I washed in his blood? go, and wash in it, and be clean.]
3. To those who are glorying in Christ as their Saviour
[What a heaven upon earth do you enjoy! for, what is the state, what is the employment of those above? They are kings seated on their thrones: they are priests offering their sacrifices before the mercy-seat: they are singing, in one universal chorus, Salvation to God and to the Lamb. Such is your state, such is your employment, at this very hour. It is not said, that you shall be washed, or shall be made kings and priests unto God, but that you already possess these inestimable privileges. Go on then, ever mindful of these mercies, and of him who procured them for you by his blood: and give him glory and dominion for ever and ever, as well in the rectitude of your lives, as in the devotion of your hearts.]
DXCVII. THE STATE OF GOD'S CHILDREN.
Rom. viii. 23. And not only they, but ourselves also who have The first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
MUCH is spoken in the scriptures respecting the happiness of the saints
And doubtless they are on many accounts the most blessed people in the world—
But they also experience in a great degree the sorrows that pervade the universe—
It is not in this, but in the future world, that they are to attain uninterrupted felicity
The apostle is here encouraging the aflicted Christians to endure their trials patiently in expectation of a rich and eternal recompense
He tells them that the whole creation were supported under their present sufferings by a hope of some happier
And that he himself, notwithstanding the privileges he enjoyed, participated with them in the common lotWe are naturally led to consider
I. The state of the creation at large
This is fully described in the four verses preceding the
There are however considerable difficulties in the passage, which are much increased by the inaccuracy of the translation
We shall briefly suggest what we suppose to be the sense of those verses, and then pass on to the consideration of the text
[The words, translated differently, will be more intelligible
a Krisis should be uniformly translated, as it is in Ver. 22. "Creation." Verse 20. (except the two last words) should be in a parenthesis. 'E' aid should connect ver. 19, and 20. "Ort, in ver. 21. should be rendered, "that." The whole should be rendered thus: "For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the Sons of God (for the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same) in hope that the creation itself also shall," &c. &c.
It is not however easy to determine what is meant by creation"
Some think it relates to the Gentile world
And doubtless they are in a state of sin and misery, to which they have been subjected by the fall of our first parents
And there is a period coming when they shall be brought into the light and liberty of God's children—
For this period too they may justly be said to wait and groanb
But the apostle seems to be speaking, not of the millennium, but of the day of judgment, when "our bodies," as well as our souls, will be "redeemed" from death
And that should rather be dreaded as the day of their condemnation, than be desired as a day of salvation
Others apply the words to the brute creation
Certainly the brutes are subjected to much misery by the sin of man
And they may well be said to groan for deliverance from their sore bondage
But no other scripture speaks of their resurrection to a happier life
Much less, of their participating "the glorious liberty of God's children"
It would be absurd therefore to found such a notion on so obscure a passage
The most probable sense of the words is, that they relate to the material world
The earth, with its surrounding atmosphere, has been cursed for the sake of man
Hence have proceeded storms and pestilences in the air, and thorns and barrenness in the ground
The scripture too seems to intimate that the world, after its dissolution by fire, shall be formed anewe
For this period the creation may, in some sense, be said to wait
Such a renovation moreover will have some analogy with "the redemption of our bodies"
And may, though doubtless by a very bold figure, be called a" deliverance from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of God's children"-]
Having thus endeavoured to throw light on this obscure
b As Christ is called "the desire of all nations," not because all nations actually desire him, but because they would desire him if they knew what a Saviour he is; so the millenium may be said to be waited for by the Gentiles, notwithstanding they are ignorant of God's purposes respecting it; because, if they knew the mercy reserved for them, they would wait for it with an earnest desire. d Ib. ver. 18. 2 Pet. iii, 12, 13.
© Gen. iii. 17.
passage, we proceed to speak of (what is both more certain and more important)
II. The state of God's children
It is "not only the material world," or its ungodly inhabitants, that wait for a change—
The very children of God themselves are in a similar predicament
They do indeed enjoy "the first-fruits of the Spirit" [The first-fruits were a part of any produce, devoted to God as an acknowledgment that the whole was from him— And, while they sanctified, they assured also to the offerers the comfortable possession of the remainder
The full harvest of " the Spirit" which we are hereafter to receive, consists in perfect holiness, and perfect happinessThe first-fruits of the Spirit therefore are the graces and consolations which he now imparts to the soul— And these every Christian in some measure already pos
They are to him an earnest and foretaste of his eternal inheritances-]
But, notwithstanding this privilege, they have much reason to " groan within themselves"
[They are subject, like others, to the various ills and calamities of life
Nor, though supported under them, are they insensible to the pain arising from them
But, besides these, they have trials which the world knows not of
They are often harassed with fierce temptations and fiery assaults of Satan
They carry about with them a hateful body of sin and death
Hence, like the holy Apostle, they often exclaim, wretched man that I am!"
Their worldly afflictions are as nothing when compared with this
They can often "glory in tribulation," but always groan under sin-]
There is a time, however, of perfect deliverance awaiting them
[There was a two-fold "adoption" among the Romans, the one private, the other public in the forum
Now God often makes known to his people that they are taken into his family
f Deut. xxvi. 2, 10, 11. Prov. iii. 9.
Eph. i. 13, 14.
But hereafter he will proclaim them his before the assembled
Then they shall be wholly "freed from the bondage of corruption"
Then shall "body," as well as soul, experience a complete "redemption"
And they shall possess for ever "the glorious liberty of God's children"-]
For this period they wait with eager expectation
[They " groan' "h after it, as one bowed down under a load would groan for deliverance
They stretch out the neck, as it were, with holy impatience in looking for it
Yea, they altogether travail, as it were, in the pangs of parturition, till they shall be liberated from their present burthen
Such is the state of every true Christian'
Such is the state which the gospel itself is intended to producem
It is indeed a high and most desirable attainment"— And was eminently conspicuous in the apostle Paul°— Nor will any that experience it ever have reason to regret their pains-]
1. Let us not take up our rest in this world
[The world itself is like one large hospital that is full of patients
All are diseased, and many are dying of their spiritual disorders
Some are convalescent, and in hopes of a perfect cureWhat then is our business here, but to attend to the welfare of our souls?
What should be our great desire, but to be healed before we are dismissed?—
Every thing we see or feel speaks to us in the language of the prophet
Let us then resemble those who lived as pilgrims and sojourners in the world
And cultivate more the views and dispositions of the great apostles-]
2. Let us press forward more earnestly after the happiness reserved for us
o 2 Cor. v. 2-5.
r Ps. xxxix. 12. Heb. xï. 13.
ι Αποκαραδοκία, ver. 19.
12 Pet. iii. 13.
n 1 Cor. i. 7. 2 Thess. iii. 5.
P Heb. ix. 28.
9 Mic. ii. 10.
2 Cor. v. 6, 8.