First part of Sermon LV. for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity.
For as many as are led by the SPIRIT of GOD, they are the sons
of GOD.—ROM. viii. 14.
IN the Epistle for Sunday last St. Paul had been contrasting the service
of God with the service of sin; he touches on the same subject again to-day,
but immediately passes from it to dwell in glowing language, as he ever
delights to do, on the blessed privileges of being in Christ.
Brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit
do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. How great, therefore,
he was about to say, is the debt we owe to Christ; but in speaking
of debt, as if carried away by that expression, he passes on to
say we are under no debt to the flesh. It sometimes seems implied that
we are under a sort of debt or obligation to society, to nature, to the
world; but we have seen what all this comes to— we are delivered from that
bondage which only leads to death. Nature, and the world, and all things
human, have no other end but death; whereas to overcome them through the
Spirit is life.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of
God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but
ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
For this being “led by the Spirit” to mortify the flesh is the very proof
of our sonship. I say "sonship;" for though I have been speaking of the
“service” of God as contrasted with that of sin, yet our state as Christians
is not in fact a service, as was that of the Jews, but a sonship. The spirit
which we have received does not teach us to approach God with servile fear,
but with the spirit of adoption and the name of Father. For the Jews are
described as being under a state of bondage to the law, the full meaning
of which they understood not; but to His disciples our Blessed Saviour
says, “Henceforth I call you not servants, but I call you friends, for
the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth.” And no sooner had He paid
the ransom for us than He says to Mary Magdalene, “Go to My brethren, and
say unto them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father;” fulfilling His
saying in the Psalm, “I will declare Thy Name unto My brethren.” Hence
St. Paul says in like manner to the Galatians, “And because ye are sons,
God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son.” And that this spirit
of adoption is to influence and characterize all our daily lives, our Lord
Himself has taught us, by commanding us to be continually coming to God with
the words, “Our Father Which art in heaven.” For as we ought always to be
using this prayer, so ought we always to be looking to God as our Father.
And confirming all that encouragement which the name suggests,
our Lord says, “If ye being evil know how to give good gifts unto your
children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give good things to
them that ask Him?”
This temper, then, this spirit of adoption influencing our lives, is
to us the proof that we are of the number of God’s children, as the Apostle
adds: The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are
the children of God: and if children, them heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs
with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified
together. “Joint-heirs with Christ,” “if we suffer with Him.”
Thus He Himself says, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with
Me in My throne, as I overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.”
[Rev. iii. 21.] Thus as this loving spirit of filial obedience is
the evidence of our sonship, with that sonship is connected an inheritance
not earthly but heavenly. As in our Prayer, to the Name “our Father” is
added “Which art in Heaven.” The home, the inheritance, the Father’s house,
is in Heaven. For the earthly promise connected with that sonship is that
of suffering, from its being united with ‘the Sonship of Christ, the Captain
of our salvation, made perfect through sufferings.
From hence it is evident, that so far as we value an earthly inheritance
more than an heavenly; esteem riches, honour, or learning, more than holiness;
despise the poor; shrink from suffering and obscurity; think more of the
great in this world than of the sons of God; we have “our portion in this
life,” we are under bondage to the world, and have lost the spirit of adoption.
For the condemnation of the Jews was, that they valued not the promise;
“they thought scorn of that pleasant land, and gave no credence unto His
Word.” And it has been said with awful truth, that “no man can expect to
go to Heaven when he dies, who has not sent his heart thither while he
.... (for the second part, on the Gospel.)