WE have considered Justification, the first of those particulars connected with the increase of the regenerate which bear reference to the Father; that which remains to be treated of is Adoption.

Adoption is that act whereby God adopts as his children those who are justified through faith.

In one sense we are by nature sons of God, as well as the angels, inasmuch as he is the author of our being; Luke iii. 38. "which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God." But the sense here intended is that of adopted children, such as those probably were, though in profession only, who are mentioned Gen. vi. 2. "the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair."[1] 1 Chron. <50> xxviii. 6. "I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father." Isai. lvi. 5. "I will give them a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off."

Through faith. John. i. 12. "as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." Gal. iii. 26. "ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Eph. i. 5. "having predestinated us into the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." Heb. ii. 10. "for it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." Gal. iv. 4-6. "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons; and because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."

His children. Rom. viii. 15, 16. "ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father: the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." v. 23. "waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." Philipp. ii. 15. "that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God." 1 John iii. 1. 2. "behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." We are also said to be like God, v. 2. and chap. iv. 17 "herein is our love made perfect, that we may <51> have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world."

From adoption is derived, first, liberty;[2] a privilege which, in virtue of their title as children of God, was not unknown to the posterity of Abraham, Deut. xiv. 1 . even under the law of bondage. In the spirit of this liberty, they did not scruple even to infringe the ceremonies all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way. Josh. v. 5. and David "when he was an hungered did eat that which was not lawful for him to eat," Matt. xii. 4. compared with 1 Sam. xxi. 6.[3] Psal. cxix. 45. "I will walk at liberty, for I seek thy precepts." But the clearer and more perfect light in which liberty, like adoption itself, has been unfolded by the gospel, renders it necessary to reserve the fuller exposition of this privilege to that part of our work in which the subject of the Gospel is considered.

By adoption we are also made heirs through Christ. Gal. iii. 29. "if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." iv. 7. <52> "wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." Rom. viii. 17. "if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ." Tit. iii. 7. "that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." 1 Pet. iii. 9. "knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing." This also confers the title of first-born. Heb. xii. 22, 23. "ye are come... to the general assembly and church of the first-born." And of brethren of Christ. Heb. ii. 11 , 12. "for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren." Hence we are said to be of the household of God. Eph. ii. 19. "now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." Hence even the angels minister unto us. Heb. i. 14. "are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them that shall be heirs of salvation?"

Lastly, we become sons of God by a new generation: by the assumption, as it were, of a new nature, and by a conformity to his glory: Luke xx. 36. "they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection."


This interpretation of the passage, which is now generally received, is adopted in the eleventh Book of Paradise Lost:

To these that sober race of men, whose lives

Religious titled them the sons of God,

Shall yield up all their virtue. 621.

But elsewhere Milton understands it of the fallen angels becoming enamoured of the daughters of men:

Before the flood thou with thy lusty crew,

False titled sons of God, roaming the earth,

Cast wanton eyes on the daughters of men. Paradise Regained, II. 179. Compare also Paradise Lost, III. 463. V.447


'I will now show the wrong it doth, by violating the fundamental privilege of the gospel, the new birthright of every true believer, christian liberty.' Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes. Prose Works, IV. 337...'that they meddle not rashly with Christian liberty, the birth right and outward testimony of our adoption.' Ibid. 341.


'The Scripture also affords us David in the shewbread, Hezekiah in the passover, sound and safe transgressors of the literal command, which also dispensed not seldom with itself, and taught us on what just occasions to do so; until our Saviour, for whom that great and godlike work was reserved, redeemed us to a state above prescriptions, by dissolving the whole law into charity.' Tetrachordon. Prose Works, II. 121. 'Justice and religion are from the same God, and works of justice ofttimes more acceptable.' Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, II. 291.

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Professor Rob Iliffe
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Scott Mandelbrote,
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