The Sons of God
James Smith, 1865
Jehovah determined not only to save his people — but to raise them to the highest possible honor and happiness; therefore he predestined them to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto himself, to the praise of the glory of his grace. In the fullness of time, he sent forth his Son made of a woman, made under the law — to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because we are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Thus the Father decreed our adoption, the Son came to redeem us from bondage, and the Holy Spirit takes possession of our hearts, teaching us to call God, "Father."
The purpose of adoption flowed from the Father's grace,
the way of adoption was cleared by the Son's blood, and
the nature and knowledge of adoption are imparted by the Spirit's work.
The Father's love is the source,
the Son's redemption is the channel,
the Holy Spirit is the guide, and
adoption into God's family is the blessing.
The Father chose us to dwell with and enjoy him,
the Son paid our ransom price with his blood, and
the Holy Spirit effects our freedom and leads us to the Father's throne.
Thus we are equally indebted to each of the divine persons in Jehovah, and should daily bless the Father, praise the Son, and adore the Holy Spirit — uniting the Father's purpose, the Son's merit, and the Spirit's power in our thoughts and our songs. Without the Trinity, we can form no scriptural idea of salvation; and no one understands the bible doctrine of salvation, who does not perceive that three divine persons are engaged in effecting it.
The sons of God are sinners! They are convinced of it, they deeply feel it, they mourn over it, and seek to be restored to God's image. They hate sin, love holiness, and daily pray to be made like Jesus — who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
The sons of God love the Savior, placing all their dependance on his perfect work, pleading his name before the Father for every blessing, and endeavoring to copy his example in the world, in the family, and the church of God.
The sons of God look up to God as a father, craving his blessing, seeking all their supplies from his hand, and doing his will from the heart; or, if they cannot claim the relationship, they are ready to envy those who can, and sigh and cry for the Spirit of adoption, that he may hear witness with their spirits that they are the children of God. To them no privilege is so precious, no blessing so desirable, no favor so great — as to he able to claim and enjoy their covenant relationship to God.
The sons of God suffer much from temptation, are often harassed with doubts, and are hated by the world which lies in the wicked one. Here they have no continuing city — but they seek one to come; they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth, as all their fathers were. They live by faith in God's promise, providence, and presence, and expect every blessing from his unmerited love. They know they have no claim on God, because they have sinned — yet they have confidence and hope, because God is gracious and has given them his word. They expect to be chastised, because their Father is wise, and yet often fret and complain when they smart under the rod. They long for their eternal home — yet dislike the way to it. They pray for deliverance — yet cleave to the earth.
The sons of God are all singular characters; they see Him who is invisible, taste that the Lord is gracious, crucify the old man with its deeds, walk with God in friendship and peace, and set their affections on things above, not on things on the earth.
Beloved, if we are the children of God, our privileges are great — but our trials will be great too. Our joys will be peculiarly sweet — but our sorrows will be proportionably bitter.
If we enjoy the friendship of God — we must endure the hatred of the world. If we walk with Jesus in love — we shall be tempted and harassed by Satan. If we have confidence in God's word — we shall be exercised with ten thousand fears. If we have the assurance of faith — we shall be plagued with many gloomy doubts. If our hearts are renewed by grace — we shall be distressed with their hardness and indifference. If we have the spirit of prayer — we shall groan because we know not now to pray, or what to pray for. If we are at peace with God — we shall have a constant conflict in our own bosoms: the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. If we are strong in the Lord — we shall feel that we are not sufficient to think anything of ourselves — but that God must work in us both to will and to do of Lis good pleasure. If we hate sin — we shall feel it working in us, disturbing and distressing us, and often causing us to exclaim, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?"
Our lives will be a paradox, and we shall understand the apostle when he says, "We are . . .
troubled on every side — yet not distressed;
perplexed — but not in despair;
persecuted — but not forsaken;
cast down — but not destroyed;
known — yet regarded as unknown;
dying — and yet we live on;
beaten — and yet not killed;
sorrowful — yet always rejoicing;
poor — yet making many rich;
having nothing — and yet possessing everything."
"How strange is the course that a Christian must steer
How perplexed is the path he must tread;
The hope of his happiness — rises from fear,
And his life — he receives from the dead.
His fairest pretensions must wholly be waived,
And his best resolutions be crossed;
Nor can he expect to be perfectly saved,
Until he finds himself, utterly lost.
When all this is done, and his heart is assured
Of the total remission of sins;
When his pardon is signed, and his peace is procured,
From that moment — his conflict begins!"