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2. Are we to understand by it, a Son of God by Creation; for in this fenfe, the Angels and all Mankind, even thofe without, as well as within the Church, are the Sons of God. What then muft this Title or Appellation of a Child of God mean? Why, there is a double Senfe in which we are faid by Baptifm to be made the Children of God; namely, by fpiritual Regeneration and Adoption, both which, are invaluable Favours and Bleffings; and being both imply'd here in our Catechifm, must be particularly spoken to.

(1.) We are in Baptifm made the Children of God by fpiritual Regeneration: this St. John expreffes, by being born again of Water and the Holy Ghoft; St. Peter, by being begotten again to a lively Hope. By our natural Generation we are born in Sin, and are thereby the Children of Wrath; but by Baptifm are we regenerated or born again, and are thereby made the Children of Grace. By this new Birth old things pafs away, and all things become new : the Original Guilt and Pollution we derive from our first Parents, are wafh'd away in the Waters of Baptism, and we are thereby cleans'd and purify'd into new Creatures. This St. Paul told the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 6. 11. where after he had reckon'd up the vileft of Sinners, and the Corruption of our natural State, Such (faith he) were fome of you, but ye are washed and fanctified by the Name of Chrift and the Holy Spirit; meaning, That they were cleans'd by Baptifm from their natural Impurities; and elsewhere, we are faid to have our Hearts Sprinkled from an evil Confcience, and our Bodies washed with pure Water. By this new Birth, we are here faid to be made the Children of God. This is the frequent Language of the Holy Scriptures, where Baptifm is declar'd the Inftrument of our new Birth, and the Font the Laver of Regeneration. This was likewife the Doctrine of the primitive Fathers and Councils, tho fome modern Syftems have taught otherwife, and mifled unwary Perfons in this point.

(2.) We are herein made the Children of God by Adoption and Grace, by which we are taught and enabled to cry Abba, Father: for fo the Apoftle tells us, Gal. 4. 6, being thus made Sons, God bath fent forth the Spirit of his Son into your Hearts, crying, Abba, Father; and Rom. 8, 15. Ye have not receiv'd the Spirit of Bondage again to fear, but ye have receiv'd the Spirit of Adoption, whereby ye cry Alba, Father, Now Adoption (you know) is the receiving

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or engrafting a Stranger into another's Stock or Family, and allowing him all the Favours and Privileges of a natural-born Child. And this is commonly upon the Death or Defect of natural Iffue; of which many Inftances may be given in all Ages and Countries. In like manner, God Almighty vouchlafes to admit us that were Strangers into his Family, and to call us to the Adoption of Sons; and that not to fupply the Defect, but to increase the Number of his Children. The Jews before were the only People or Children of God, Deut. 14. 1, 2. for to them appertain'd the Adoption, the Covenant, the giving of the Law, and the Promifes; Rom. 9. 3, 4. But God hath now enlarg'd his Family by receiving the Gentiles into it, and adopting them to the Privileges of Sons: for fo faith St. John, As many as receiv'd him, to them gave he Power to become the Children of God, John 1. 12. By which means, we that were afar off, Aliens from the Commonwealth of Ifrael, and Strangers to the Covenant of Promife, are now made nigh by the Blood of Chrift; and from Strangers and Foreigners, are become Fellow-Citizens with the Saints, and of the Houfhold of God, Eph. 2. 12, 13, 19. And all this not for any Merit or Intreaty of ours, but merely of his own free Grace and good Will, having predeftinated us to the Adoption of Children by Fefus Chrift to himself, according to the good Pleasure of his Will; accepting us in his Beloved, to the Praife and Glory of his Grace, Eph. 1. 5, 6.

In fhort, We are the Children of God by our new Birth, and a certain Covenant-Relation contracted thereupon: for God hath thereby enter'd into a new Covenant with us, in which he hath promis'd to be to us a God, and we are to be to him a People; and elsewhere, that he will be to us a Father, and we are to be to him as Sons: which is a fignal and inexpreffible Favour. And this will lead us,

Secondly, To confider the many and great Benefits and Privileges contain'd in, and convey'd by this Relation; for as we are the Children of God, we are intitled to many rich and precious Promifes, and invefted into many great and glorious Privileges. I fhall mention fome of them,

And ift, As Children of God we receive the Remiffion of Sins. Our Original Sin is done away in Baptifm, and wafh'd off in the Laver of Regeneration: fo that for Infants dying before the commiffion of any actual Tranfgref fion, there can be no reafon to doubt of their Salvation;

and

and for all actual Sins committed after, we are fecur'd of a Pardon upon fincere and hearty Repentance. This is a Privilege that belongs to all within the Covenant, of which they that are out of the Church have no fhare. St. Paul plainly specifies this as a Privilege of the adopted Sons and Children of God, telling us, that fuch have, by Redemption in Chrift, the Forgiveness of Sins, according to the Riches of his Grace, Eph. 1. 3, 4, 7. and the Nicene Creed teaches us to believe one Baptism for the Remission of Sins. Again,

2dly, By this new Relation of Son-fhip, we are fecur'd from the Rigour of the firft Covenant; for that exacted a perfect and unfinning Obedience, and pronounc'd a Curse on every one that continu'd not in all things that are written in the Book of the Law, to do them: whereas our indulgent Father who confiders our Infirmities, accepts our good Will where our Endeavours are not wanting, and will not withdraw his Kindnefs and Affection for any involuntary Mifcarriages. Like as a Father pitieth his own Children (faith Holy David) even fo the Lord pitieth them that fear him, Pfal. 103. 13. The Prophet Malachi brings in God Almighty declaring, that he will remember them in the day that he maketh up his Fewels, and will spare them as a Man fpareth his own Son that ferveth him, Mal. 3. 17. which is a Mercy extended only to his own Children.

3dly, As we are the Children of God, we are intitled to his peculiar Care and Protection; for if earthly Parents know how to give good Gifts to their Children, how much more will our heavenly Father give good Things to them that ask them? Mat. 7. II.

God Almighty indeed exercifeth a general Providence over all his Creatures, whereby, like the fupreme Lord of the Universe, he makes Provifion for the whole Family of Heaven and Earth: but he hath a more especial Care of the Houfhold of Faith, and bears a more tender regard to his own Children. He that toucheth thefe, toucheth the Apple of his Eye: And, Who hall harm you (faith the Apoftle) if ye are Followers of that which is good? 1 Pet. 3. 13. The Lions may lack and fuffer hunger, but they that fear the Lord, fhall want nothing that is good, Pfal. 34. 10. He may indeed find it neceffary fometimes to correct his own Children, as a Father chafteneth a Son whom he loveth ; but this is always for their good, to prevent their Wandrings,

drings, and make them more fenfible of their Duty and Dependence on him.

In a Word, God is pleas'd fo to order matters for them, that all things fhall work together for good to them that love him, who are the Called according to his purpose, Rom. 8. 28. He takes this Courfe only to quicken their Grace, and to fit them for Glory; which is an Inftance of the tender Love and Care he bears towards them as his own Children.

4thly, As we are the Children of God, we may have the freer accefs to him, and come with greater boldness to the Throne of Grace, for help in time of need. A Child, you know, may go freely to his Father for the fupply of his Wants, and may ask with Confidence what is neceffary and convenient for him. In like manner we may addrefs with boldness to our heavenly Father in all our Exigences, who is fill ready to hear and help us when we call upon him; being adopted into his Family, we are part of his Care, and may freely acquaint him with all our Neceffities. The Jews addrefs'd to God rather as Servants than Sons, and accordingly worfhip'd him in a fervile manner; if they had offended, they were to bring their Sacrifice to the Prieft, who was to offer it for them, whilft they stood at a distance: But we have a new and living way confecrated for us through the Blood of Fefus, by which we may enter freely into the holy Place; and having fuch a HighPrieft over the House of God, we may henceforward draw near with a true Heart, in full affurance of Faith, having our Hearts Sprinkled from an evil Confcience, Heb. 10. 19, 20, &c. Hence the Apoftle declares, That we have not receiv'd the Spirit of Bondage again to fear, but we have receiv'd the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father; Rom. 8. 15. meaning, that being no longer Servants, but Children, we may have free accefs; and if we come with the Duty of Sons, we cannot mifs of the Bowels of a Father. And is not this a high and ineftimable Privilege, to have the liberty of approaching the Divine Majefty upon all Occafions, and to have our Requests fo eafily heard and anfwer'd in the Court of Heaven?

Certainly, this cannot but be thought fo, by all that are fenfible of their Wants, and their own Inability to fupply

them.

Laftly, As the Children of God, we are intitled to a glorious Inheritance in Heaven. The Inheritance of the

Father,

Father, we know, is by Birth entail'd upon the Son: And if Children, faith the Apoftle, then Heirs. But this must be difcours'd of under the next Head, wherein we are faid to be Inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven: and therefore must be refer'd thither.

These are fome of the many invaluable Benefits and Privileges that appertain to us as the Children of God: All which are promis'd and confign'd over to us in our Baptifm, which is one of the Seals of the New Covenant, and that facred Right by which we are inftated in the Privileges of the Gofpel, and the Liberties of the Sons of God.

From this Difcourfe then, we may learn,

First, To admire and adore the infinite Goodness of God in admitting us thus into his Family, and receiving us into fo near and dear a Relation to himfelf. St. John, like one aftonifh'd at the thoughts of it, cries out, Behold! What manner of Love is this, that the Father bath bestow'd upon us, that we fhould be call'd the Sons of God! 1 John 3. 1. And St. Paul, like one in a rapture breaks forth, O the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of this Love of God that paffeth Knowledge! Eph. 3. 18. Where the Apostle found himself at a lofs, and was wholly fwallow'd up in Amazement and Admiration. Indeed, that we who were not only Aliens but Enemies, fhould receive the Adoption of Sons; and from Out cafts and Rebels be taken into his Bofom, and made the Darlings of his Care and Affections; is a Mercy too big for Words, and 'tis to be exprefs'd only with Extafy and Wonder,

Moreover, we learn hence, what infinite reason we have to praise God for such a fignal Inftance of his Goodness, in taking us for his Children, and reckoning us in the Number of his Sons. What can we do lefs than upon all Occafions, magnify and extol fuch his infinite Condefcenfion and Kindness; and likewife, with all poffible Thankfulness, acknowledge our unfpeakable Privilege and Dignity therein ? This St. Paul teaches all Chriftians to do, Eph. 1. 3, 5. Bleed be the God and Father of our Lord Jefus Christ, who bath bleffed us with all fpiritual Bleffings in heavenly Places in Chrift Fefus, having predeftinated us in him to the Adoption of Children.

Laftly, This vaft Privilege of being made the Sons and Children of God, fhould teach us to live worthy of, and futable to, fo high and noble a Relation.

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