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are invited to enter into a more extensive, Serm. as well as fpiritual Covenant,---into the new V. Covenant ratified by Jesus Christ, which gives them a present federal Title to the Adoption of Sons.
This State however, of Dignity and Advantage, though we are introduced into it by the Favour of God and the Charity of Men, yet we cannot be kept in it by Compulsion, without our own voluntary Confent ;---the Relation may be cancelled, as well as at first acquired ; and to those alone is the Character of being the Sons of God continued, who on arriving at Years of Discretion, having been before bound by Covenant unto him, conscientiously attend to the Obligations they are brought under, and often folemnly renew them according to the establidhed Form ---who are not only born of Water, and initiated into the Christian Church by Baptism, but born also of the Holy Ghost ---who are truly sanctified in the inner Man, ever freely led by the Impulses of divine Grace, obtained in the right Use of the Means thereof, and being enabled, are diligent to perform the Terms and Articles they ftand engaged in. These are they, who shall be accounted worthy to possess the eternal In
M 3 . heritance
Serm. heritance of God's Children,---to enjoy the y. Happiness of the World to come, and conn sequently may most truly, be called the
Sons of God, being the Sons of the Resurrection to everlasting Glory. ..
But waving the Privileges of the Sons of God in this place, I shall proceed as I proposed, previously to consider the Duties incumbent on them, to which these Privileges are annexed.
And here, as Christians are the Sons of God, not only by Creation, but Adoption, it is their principal Duty to attempt the nearest Imitation of their heavenly Father, that his infinite Superiority will admit of.. If we are his Children, it is a laudable Ambition to aim at some Resemblance of him in all his communicable Perfections, and these are his moral Attributes of Justice, Truth, Goodness, Purity, the Display of which, and the like, is intended to be à Pattern for us to copy after, and in this Respect we are commanded to be Followers of God as dear Children (x); That a Son should be the very Image of his Father is commonly seen : It is natural for Children to
(x) Ephef. v. 1.
be like their earthly Parents, aš in Person, Serm. so in Behaviour ; and our standing in that V. Relation to God, must call for our Likeness of him in the one View, since there can be none in the other. So that we do very absurdly boast of our divine Original, whilst our Actions notoriously give the Lye to our Words.
PROFLIGATÉ Manners can only argue a Man to be of base Extraction : And what induced our Saviour to brand some of the Jews, who all prided themselves with the Title of the Sons of God,---with being in Reality the Children of the Devil, was their indulg. ing the Lusts in their Hearts, and tranfcribing in their Lives the Works, of such a Father. He rightly concluded, that a proud envious Temper, could be derived but from the Parent of Pride and Envy, and a malicious murdering Spirit from him alone, who was a Murderer from the Beginning (y).
As a Tree is known by its Fruits, so ase the Sons of God by an holy Demeanour, consonant to that most honourable Parențage. They who are sensible of the M4
(9) St. John viii. 44.
SERM. Dignity of their new Birth and of that diV. vine Life, to which they are begotten again,
will be very cautious, how they fashion themselves according to the Carriage of such, as are without God, or without just Notions of God, in the World, ---as instead of re'commending themselves to the Endearments of his Love by studying to resemble him, strive to provoke his Anger by engaging in those vile Courses, which are equally opposite to his Nature and his Will.
But his genuine Children, knowing their Duty, and fixing their Eyes on the Rock from whence they were bewn (Z), will mind nothing so much, as how to shine in their native Brightness, and to behave in an harmless and itreproveable Manner, as the Sons of God without Rebuke. Their great Care will be to discharge their Obligations, in Kind, though not in Degree, arising from this their Lord's Command, Be ye perfect, even as your Father, which is in Heaven, is perfet (a). They will labour to adorn their Souls with the like spiritual Excellencies, though in a vastly inferior Measure,--they will conform their Ways, as much as may be, to the compleat Model placed bęfore them.
(z) Ifai. li. 1.
(a) St. Matth. v. 48.
SERM. ::As their infinite Father is absolutely V. righteous in all his Doings, and holy in all his Works, so will they in their Proportion be no Strangers to Righteousness and true Holiness ;---as all his Proceedings are full of Judgment and Justice, and he is a God of Truth, and altogether free from Iniquity, so will they give earnest Heed to be strictly true and just both in their Speech and Dealings ;---as he is perfectly good and gracious, exercising loving Kindness, and dispensing Mercy over all his Works, so will they studiously display a fervent, unfeigned, universal Charity, whilst they have Opportunity, doing Good unto all Men, and serving one another in Love ;---and, in short, as far forth as they can discover, either by Reason or Revelation, the imitable Excellencies of the God and Father of all, which may never so faintly be copied out by them, will they use all Diligence to draw them forth in their Manners and Behaviour, as becomes affectionate and obedient Children.
AND as the Sons of God must follow his Example dutifully, so must they submit to his Dispensations patiently; nay, whatever Afflictions he is pleased to visit them