« PreviousContinue »
tle John also declares, that "those who deny the Son, have not the Father; he that acknowledgeth the Son, hath the Father." Our fellowship is with the Father and the Son." Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God."
The above will be considered, by all those who are conversant with the New Testament, as small specimens of the language familiarly used by the primitive disciples of Christ; but it is a language which no one, not even the most distinguished Prophets, were authorised to use, with similar boldness and currency, under the former Dispensation.
The Paternal Character of the Deity is represented to us, in the sacred records, in different points of view. He is our Father, as we arè, in our moral and intellectual nature, created in his own Image. Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us? The disciples and followers of Jesus Christ, and all who were disposed to be instructed by him, were more particularly encouraged to consider God as their Father, and to pray unto him under that venerable character. The injunction was to all his hearers indiscriminately, "When ye pray, say, "our Father who is in heaven." But those who yield unto him the cheerful obedi
ence of Sons, he regards with the complacency of an affectionate and approving Parent. They áre his, in the true spirit of adoption, and for all its purposes. "These he hath predestinated into the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." "Blessed are the peace-makers," saith our Saviour, "for they shall be called the children of God." "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, that ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise," &c. &c.
On the Parental Character of the Deity, revealed to the World in the Gospel of Christ.
THE Supreme Being, by thus assuming the character of a Parent, presents us, in that single term, with an epitome of his designs respecting us, and expectations from us; and every explicit doctrine of Christianity, presents us with the most encouraging and consoling developement of the character.
The ideas universally entertained of an earthly Parent, who possesses every title to respect, is, not only that he is the source of existence to his offspring, but that he hath an affectionate concern for their welfare; which he assiduously endeavours to promote to the extent of his abilities; and according to the conceptions he may have formed of the nature of wellbeing, and of the means by which it can be obtained.
A wise and affectionate Parent makes a suit
able provision for the sustenance of his family; --is most willing to pardon the faults and imperfections of his children; consults the interest of every member; gives them the best advice in the most proper manner;-he instructs them in every thing he deems to be useful; and bestows upon them such an education that they may exist in the world, with comfort and honour to themselves, and usefulness to others. He carefully studies their characters and dispositions, that he may exert a directing, encouraging, or controuling influence over them. He is grieved, without being greatly surprised at the aberrations of thoughtless and impetuous youth; which he is even more inclined to pity than to resent. He contemplates their docility and improving virtues, with affectionate complacency and delight. Their insensibility to all his anxious endeavours, and the perverse returns of obstinate disobedience, may justly excite his anger; but it is the anger of a Parent, it proceeds from affection. It is a stranger to a spirit of revenge, and implacable resentment. His severest chastisements are with a view to reformation; and they are inflicted with an agonizing reluctance. He views reformation with delight; and the anxious resentments he suffered, during their continuance in the paths of folly, are succeeded
by transports of joy. He cheerfully pardons, and readily forgets, their preceding misconduct; and his whole attention is directed to the promotion of their future welfare. In proportion to the degrees of wisdom and goodness in a parent, do these sentiments and dispositions prevail; in proportion to the success of his endeavours, does he enjoy satisfaction and complacency: for the prosperity of his Children constitutes the happiness of a Father.
Such are the characteristics of a wise and good Parent, and correspondent with such principles does the Supreme Parent represent himself as acting towards us in the gospel of his Son.
Although he is far exalted above the cares and fears, the transports of vexation or of joy, which agitate the mind of man, yet he has in this, as well as in many other instances, adopted the language of man, to convince us that perfect benevolence, in union with perfect wisdom and knowledge, are operating for purposes which require the aid of passions and affections in the human breast ; these being in us the appointed stimulants to action. Thus are we assured, that "like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth