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But awful was the change which sin introduced. While it debased man, the master-piece of Divine skill, the grand object of creating love, for whose benefit this theatre was built and its vaulted ceiling studded with sun and moon and stars,—while it debased man both in his soul and body to a total inaptitude to answer the end of his being with respect both to his Creator and himself, it rendered man the enemy of God, and God the enemy of man, and at the same time armed all the creatures against their earthly lord. Sin, sickness and death, all the disorder that prevails both in the macrocosm and microcosm, all evil moral or natural, constitute “the works of the devil,” and are the effects of that horrible scheme which was fabricated in hell, and carried into execution in paradise against the glory of God and the welfare of mankind.
The dissolution* of the fabrick of sin and misery which that malicious architect of mischief, the devil, has reared--the recovery of mankind from the apostacy into which they were seduced by the temptation of Satan—their deliverance from the guilt, the pollution, and the bondage of sin, and their restoration to the favour, the image and the enjoyment of God, constitute an undertaking worthy of His wisdom, grace, and power. Well might angels sing at its commencement, “Glory to God in the high“ est, and on earth peace, good-will towards
men.” Wonderful as the means Divinely appointed for the execution of this glorious object were, the end to be accomplished justifies their adoption; for eternal glory will thereby be secured for God, and eternal happinses be conferred on an innumerable multitude of rational and immortal beings.
* Ινα λυση τα εργα το Διαβολο. .
The demolition of that infernal fabrick of deformity, of which the foundation was laid in the fall of our first parents, and which has employed all the artifice and power of hell for nearly six thousand years, is already begun—even now the edifice nods to its fall. är The Son of God was “ manifested that He might destroy it,” and He could not engage in its demolition without eventual success. The foundation of the building is already sapped, and the construction of the parts is weakened. For “ we look for a new s heaven and a new earth in which dwelleth
righteousness.” Every vestige of Satanic influence will soon be banished from the sphere of Divine benevolence, and the devil and his children be confined to their own place, where alone any remains of his works will be found. Blessed prospect! May our hearts exult in the contemplation of its completion !
- Accomplish,” Lord Jesus, “the number of thine elect, “ and hasten thy kingdom !"
A further object proposed by the manifestation of the Son of God is our own adoption into the family of God, and our hereditary participation of eternal life.
This unspeakable benefit, although comprehended in the former view of the subject, demands specific mention on account of our personal interest in it. For what would the demolition of Satan's edifice be to us, unless we were made partakers of a share in the final redemption? How miserable would our state have been, if God had determined to sweep the scene of diabolical influence with the besom of destruction, so as to plunge
all those who had joined with the devil in his opposition to holiness and had been defiled by his touch, into the infernal pit, and if He had purposed to create a new race of human creatures for the exhibition of His praise! Or, if the annihilation of His enemies had been part of His plan, though less terrible to contemplate than the former idea, yet is it a subject from which the rational mind shrinks with dread. Nothing but the despair which guilt occasions can reconcile the imagination to it. Whatever glory might have redounded to God from either of these modes of procedure, to us it could have afforded no ground for gratitude or joy.
But “ the Son of God was manifested to “ make us the sons of God.” By the effusion of His precious blood He hath satisfied Divine Justice, atoned for our sin, and fulfilled the law on our behalf. Hereby He hath removed all the obstacles out of the way of our re-admission to the Divine favour; and by His meritorious righteousness He hath procured for all who receive Him as their Saviour, a right of becoming sons of God.* By the influence of His Spirit, accompanying His word we are made new creatures, our connection with the devil and his works is dissolved, and a state of communion between God and our souls is renewed. By the power of Divine grace the rebel is subdued, the enemy reconciled, the heart which bore the impress of hell receives the superscription of heaven; the image of the devil is erased, and replaced by the likeness of God; the child of Satan is transformed into a child of God.
* John i. 12. ETIQY.
O glorious work of Omnipotent grace! May we be witnesses of its reality, and monuments of its glory! May we continually and exultingly say, while we contemplate the progress of the work, “ This hath God wrought.” May we with every breath bless His name, who • was “manifested to destroy the works of the devil, " and to make us the sons of God."*
Connected with our sonship is a patrimony, of which we receive possession by hereditary right: for if we are children, then are we also “ heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” “ Eternal life is the gift of God by Jesus Christ
our Lord.” We derive it by succession from its original proprietor, through Christ Jesus as our elder brother, and in consequence of our relation to Him. The possession of our inheritance, if we are the sons of God, doth not rest on a peradventure; but our right is indefeisible and unalienable. And because we are heirs, our heavenly Father furnishes us, in this state of nonage, with such an education as is suitable to the future dignity and rank of His children and the participants of His glory. Even now He assigns to us privileges of inestimable value, and gives us such tokens of His paternal love as shew that the inheritance is ours, and that it is worthy of our most devout and ardent aspirations.
But may the language of St. John be legitimately addressed to the writer and reader of these pages? May it be said of us, “ Behold,
now are we the sons of God, and it doth not
yet appear what we shall be; but this we know “ that, when He shall appear, we shall be like
* As the doctrine of adoption has been considered in our review of the collect for Christmas-day, the notice here taken of it is brief, VOL. II,
“ Him, for we shall see Him as He is?" Oh! then, “What manner of persons ought we to “ be,” in expressions of admiring gratitude, and « in all holy conversation and Godliness." Let
« followers of God as dear children.”
“ count all things loss and dung for the “ excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus s our Lord,” who “ was manifested to make “ us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life.”
This leads us to the prayer which is connected with the introduction that we have reviewed, and is founded thereon. We implore grace that, “having this hope,” even the hope. . of “eternal life," " we may purify ourselves «s even as Christ is pure; that when He shall “ appear in power and great glory, we may be ss made like unto Him in His eternal and glo“ rious kingdom; where with the Father and - the Holy Ghost He liveth and reigneth, ever 66 one God, world without end."
The first part of our prayer relates to sanctification as a preparative for the inheritance of the saints in light. It is founded on 1 John iii. 3, where the beloved disciple, after that he had exhibited to the view of faith the blessed prospect which Christianity presents, adds,
" And every “ man that hath this hope in Him, purifieth “ himself even as Christ is pure.” The hope of the gospel is not an inert uninfluential principle; no, it produces the most blessed and powerful effects. For it is impossible that any man, who has been awakened to a perception of his natural sin and misery, who has believed in the Son of God for pardon and salvation, in whose heart redeeming love has been shed abroad, and who derives therefrom a well-founded expectation of “ eternal life;" it is absolutely impossible that