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Following upon, or rather, accompanying regeneration, is ADOPTION. When the beloved John thought on the high privileges of believers, he was led to exclaim, “ Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him ; for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John iii. 1, 2.) “But as many as received Him (Christ), to them gave He

power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (John i. 12.) This act of God the Father delivers also from the state of bondage in which all men are by nature. " For not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Rom. viii. 15.)

“To adopt a person,” as Kennet says, in his Roman Antiquities," was to take him in the room of a son, and to give him a right to all the privileges which accompanied that title. Now the wisdom of the Roman constitution made this matter a public concern.

When a man had a mind to adopt another into his family, he was obliged to draw up his reasons, and to offer them to the college of the Pontifices for their approbation. If this was obtained, on the motion of the Pontifices, the consul, or some other magistrate, brought in a Comitia Curiata, to make the adoption valid. The private ceremony consisted in buying the person to be adopted of his parents, for such a sum of money formally given and taken. Suetonius tells us that Augustus purchased his grandsons, Caius and Lucius, of their father Agrippa.” “It may be added to this account," says Dr. Dick, " that the parties appeared before the prætor, when the intended father said, “ Art thou willing to become my son ?' and the son answered, 'I am willing. The relation was thus formed according to law, and the adopted son entered into the family of his new father, assumed his name, became subject to his authority, and was entitled to the whole of the inheritance, or to a share of it if there were any other sons.”—Dick’s Theology,vol. iii. page 388.

Adoption is of ancient date. We learn from the book of Exodus, that Pharaoh's daughter adopted Moses when he was an infant. This adoption could be annulled. Hence, we find,“ By faith, Moses, when he was come

refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter.” (Heb. xi. 24.) The adoption had taken place when he was an infant, and therefore incapable of choice. Now he is come to years to judge for himself, and having learnt, no doubt, the relation in which he stands to the enslaved Israelites, and recognising in them the people of God, he foregoes his claim to the throne of the Pharaohs. Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season ; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect to the recompence of the reward.” (Heb. xi.

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25, 26.)

This case of Moses may illustrate that which takes place when God adopts the justified sinner into his family. It is with his consent. There is no force used. Both are consenting parties to the adopting act. It is true that when the criminal is taken from the condemned cell, and pardoned by an act of grace on the part of his sovereign, he is only too ready to be adopted into his family.

THE WITNESS OF THE Spirit. There is, according to Wesley, a a double testimony. The Spirit of God witnesses to and with our spirits. It must be admitted, however, that the Wesleyan view is not held by many, who nevertheless cannot be regarded as unsound theologians. Wesley asks, “ But what is that testimony of God's Spirit? How does He bear witness with our spirit that we are the children of God ? It is hard to find words in the language of men to explain the deep things of God. But perhaps one might say, The testimony of the Spirit is an inward impression on the soul, whereby the Spirit of God directly witnesses to my spirit that I am a child of God ; that Jesus Christ hath loved me,

and given himself for me; and that all my sins are blotted out, and I, even I, am reconciled to God.”—Wesley's Sermon on The Witness of the Spirit.

“ The immediate result of this testimony,” as Mr. Wesley remarks in another sermon on this subject,“ is 'the fruit of the Spirit,' namely, ' love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness,' and without these, the testimony itself cannot continue. For it is inevitably destroyed, not only by the commission of any outward sin, or the omission of known duty, but by giving way to any inward sin; in a word, by whatever grieves the Holy Spirit of God.” If this be the case, and the continued testimony of the Spirit depends on the spirit and walk of the Christian, “What manner of persons ought we to be, in all holy conversation and godliness ?” (2 Peter iii. 11.)

Those persons whose Christian experience is not satisfactory and clear, should not rest without the direct witness of the Divine Spirit. If in any matter we have a clear promise, we have it in the promise of the gift of the Spirit. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” (Luke xi. 13.) There are, after all, many sincere but hesitating Christian believers in the church, whom God

It is far preferable to speak modestly of our Christian experience, than to speak too confidently or boastingly. At the same time, if our experience is not so clear as our privilege is that it should be, especially in this matter of the witness of the Spirit, why may we not come to God, and come this moment, breathing to Him the inquiring and supplicating language ?

“ Where the indubitable seal

That ascertains the kingdom mine ?
The powerful stamp I long to feel,

The signature of love divine !
O shed it in my heart abroad,
Fulness of love, of heaven, of God!"





PAPER III.-HIS CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATION. Of the childhood and youth of Christ very little is recorded in our gospels. The reticence of the evangelists concerning this period of his life was doubtless in accordance with the design of the Spirit under whose inspiration they wrote. It might be to show that Christ, in his official relations to us, as our Exemplar, Teacher, and Redeemer, was much more important than Christ as the object of mere historical study or human curiosity. These writers were kept so steadily to their work of revealing Him as the Saviour of the world, that they have recorded only incidentally those events in his life which preceded his public consecration, by baptism, to that mission. The references, however, which they make to his early life are strikingly consistent with the dignity of his fully developed nature, and the greatness of the sublime purposes of his incarnation. It is very different with the accounts of his youth given in those gospels which have been rejected by the Church as spurious. In these, we have descriptions of him in his early days quite derogatory to the Divine majesty of his character, and entirely opposed to the exalted grandeur of his work-descriptions so contrary to the nature which he must have possessed to have been able to influence humanity as he has done, that we instinctively feel that they are imaginary and false. In every incident related in our gospels there are gleamings forth of his after glory. The record of his recognition by a few of the most elevated souls in his own land and from among the heathen illustrates this. These, filled with the knowledge of the true teaching of the old dispensation, were ready to welcome the Creator of the new. Imbued with the expectant spirit of a system, which was pregnant with promise, they lived waiting for the coming of Him who would fulfil its prophetic announcements, and when he came they were ready to receive and acknowledge him. Using the light they possessed, they were prepared for a greater manifestation. These were the watchers on the hills, looking for the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, and their hearts were gladdened by his light ere the dwellers in the vale were awake. We have noticed already the recognition of him by the wise men. Enlightened concerning the promise made by God to the Jewish race, and confirmed in their calculations by the appearance of an unusual star in the heavens, they journeyed from the east into Judea to present him their offerings and worship. Probably, too, they had felt the unsatisfactoriness of their own philosophies, and the reality of their own sins, and were ardently longing for the revelation of the promised Christ from heaven ; and, although it may be impossible to define exactly the moral or spiritual benefit which they received from this visit to him in his infancy, yet their obedience to the teachings of their highest convictions would ensure an increase of heavenly light and

blessedness, and they would return to their own land filled with satisfaction and joy. There were also two of these waiting spirits in the temple at Jerusalem, when Mary took him there to do for him after the custom of the law. Joseph and Mary, as Jewish people, would feel it incumbent upon them to do this; they, in their pious simplicity, would be anxious not to omit any religious ordinance for his childhood, as parents in this Christian land feel it to be their duty to present their children to God in the ordinance of baptism ; though as Christ was to be set apart to God, even to the highest summit of the priesthood, it was not necessary to ransom him from that obligation, nor was it necessary for the purification of Mary under the circumstances of her divine conception; but in this, as in after scenes in his life, in which he came in contact with Judaism, we see the respect which was to be given to its institutions in the transition then about to take place from its ceremonial restraint to a more free and spiritual dispensation. They were of divine origin, and he himself always treated them with reverence. In the smallness of the sacrifice brought on this occasion, the lowliness and poverty of the parents of Christ were revealed. But Simeon and Anna, taught by the Holy Spirit, could penetrate this veil of abject penury, and behold in that lowly babe the longsought hope of Israel. Simeon took him up in his arms, and, praising God, said, “ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people: a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." And he also reminded Mary that she, who probably was just then elated with the distinction that had been conferred upon her, would be pierced to the soul with sorrow—that with her, as well as with her son, suffering would attend renown. Anna, also, the devoted prophetess, coming in at that instant, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. To these two prepared hearts, and not to the priests or scribes, was given the privileged honour of recognising and welcoming him to his Father's holy temple. And so it ever has been. The priestly and learned classes have not been the first to recognise him, but those who have lived nearest in spirit to heaven.

In the persecution by Herod we see principles at work which again and again manifested themselves during Christ's life, and which have often been in operation during the history of his church. The fear that the power of Christ should be ascendant has often been a source of trouble to earthly rulers, and has led them into many duplicities and cruelties; and also by marvellous interpositions of God's providence

, his people have been preserved and delivered from their persecutors' hands. It is impossible to estimate the furious rage of Herod when he found himself outwitted by the wise men. A blood-thirsty nature like his, to which no sanguinary deed came contrary,-a man whose hands were dyed with the blood of his own kin,-a man whose whole course of



life was one of unrestrained license and brutal cruelty,—would have an anger like a fiend. Slay all the children of Bethlehem and of the places round about it,” was his fierce command. Of what consequence, was it to him the bitter wail of a few grief-stricken mothers ? What to him the blood of innocent children, and the anguish of bereaved parents ? Just nothing. So “in Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation and weeping, and great mourning; Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted because they are not.” But his malice was spent in vain. His cruel cunning failed. In a dream Joseph was warned of this danger, and commanded to take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt; and in that land they found a hiding place till the fury of the tempest had swept by. God's Anointed was safe—unscathed by the flashes of the tyrant's anger; not a finger of the tyrant's power had touched him. So soon was the kingship of the world in opposition to Christ, and so completely was he delivered from it. How often since have the kings and rulers of the earth set themselves in opposition to the Lord and to his Christ, thinking, in the blindness of their rage, that they could crush out and entirely destroy his reign among men ; but, as in this instance, He who sitteth in the heavens has laughed them to scorn; the Lord has had them in derision; no weapon formed against him has prospered.

On the death of Herod, Joseph, instructed again in a dream, returned with Mary and the child Jesus into the land of Israel, apparently intending to go and reside at Bethlehem, as the most proper dwelling place for the heir of the house of David; but hearing that Archelaus was reigning in the room of his father Herod, and supposing that he might be actuated by the same spirit as his father, Joseph listened to the warning given to him by God, and went into Galilee and dwelt in Nazareth, where Christ was brought up. Here he spent his childhood, youth, and early manhood. Here took place the gradual developement of his human nature. Here he “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” In this village there were but few facilities for education. It is probable that there was only the hazzan, or reader in the synagogue, to give instruction in the simplest elements of knowledge. Jesus might have been taught to read by this schoolmaster with the rest of the children of the place, or he might have been instructed separately by his own parents; but to read the ancient scriptures was probably all the instruction he received. There is no evidence that he attended the schools of the Rabbies. What is recorded rather proves the contrary. We find on one occasion, when he had astonished the people with the profundity of his knowledge, they exclaimed, “ How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” and at another time, when in his own country, and teaching in the synagogue, he amazed them by the wisdom of his speech, they asked, “Whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? and his sisters, are they not with us?

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