Owen, Of Communion With God, File 18
    (... continued from File 17)

    Chapter 10. Of communion with Christ in privileges - Of  
                adoption; the nature of it, the consequences of  
                it - Peculiar privileges attending it; liberty,  
                title, boldness, affliction - Communion with  
                Christ hereby. 
        III. The third thing wherein we have communion with
    Christ, is grace of privilege before God; I mean, as the third
    head of purchased grace. The privileges we enjoy by Christ are
    great and innumerable; to insist on them in particular were
    work for a man's whole life, not a design to be wrapped up in
    a few sheets. I shall take a view of them only in the head,
    the spring and fountain whence they all arise and flow, - this
    is our adoption: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God," 1 John
    3: 2. This is our great and fountain privilege. Whence is it
    that we are so? It is from the love of the Father. Verse 1,
    "Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us,
    that we should be called the sons of God!" But by whom
    immediately do we receive this honour? As many as believe on
    Christ, he gives them this power, to become the sons of God,
    John 1: 12. Himself was appointed to be the first-born among
    many brethren, Rom. 8: 29; and his taking us to be brethren,
    Heb. 2: 11, makes us become the children of God. Now, that God
    is our Father, by being the Father of Christ, and we his
    children by being the brethren of Christ, being the head and
    sum of all the honour, privilege, right, and title we have,
    let us a little consider the nature of that act whereby we are
    invested with this state and title, - namely, our adoption.  
        Now, adoption is the authoritative translation of a
    believer, by Jesus Christ, from the family of the world and
    Satan into the family of God, with his investiture in all the
    privileges and advantages of that family.  
        To the complete adoption of any person, these five things
    are required: -  
        1. That he be actually, and of his own right, of another
    family than that whereinto he is adopted. He must be the son
    of one family or other, in his own right, as all persons are. 
        2. That there be a family unto which of himself he has no
    right, whereinto he is to be grafted. If a man comes into a
    family upon a personal right, though originally at never so
    great a distance, that man is not adopted. If a man of a most
    remote consanguinity do come into the inheritance of any
    family by the death of the nearer heirs, though his right
    before were little better than nothing, yet he is a born son
    of that family, - he is not adopted. [In adoption] he is not
    to have the plea of the most remote possibility of succession.

        3. That there be an authoritative, legal translation of
    him, by some that have power thereinto, from one family into
    another. It was not, by the law of old, in the power of
    particular persons to adopt when and whom they would. It was
    to be done by the authority of the sovereign power.  
        4. That the adopted person be freed from all the
    obligations that be upon him unto the family from whence he is
    translated; otherwise he can be no way useful or serviceable
    unto the family whereinto he is ingrafted. He cannot serve two
    masters, much less two fathers.  
        5. That, by virtue of his adoption, he be invested in all
    the rights, privileges, advantages, and title to the whole
    inheritance, of the family into which he is adopted, in as
    full and ample manner as if he had been born a son therein.  
        Now, all these things and circumstances do concur and are
    found in the adoption of believers: -  
        1. They are, by their own original right, of another
    family than that whereinto they are adopted. They are "by
    nature the children of wrath," Eph. 2: 3, - sons of wrath, -
    of that family whose inheritance is "wrath," called "the power
    of darkness," Col. 1: 13; for from thence does God "translate
    them into the kingdom of his dear Son." This is the family of
    the world and of Satan, of which by nature believers are.
    Whatever is to be inherited in that family, - as wrath, curse,
    death, hell, - they have a right thereunto. Neither can they
    of themselves, or by themselves, get free of this family: a
    strong man armed keeps them in subjection. Their natural
    estate is a family condition, attended with all the
    circumstances of a family, - family duties and services,
    rights and titles, relations and observances. They are of the
    black family of sin and Satan.  
        2. There is another family whereinto they are to be
    translated, and whereunto of themselves they have neither
    right nor title. This is that family in heaven and earth which
    is called after the name of Christ, Eph. 3: 15, - the great
    family of God. God has a house and family for his children; of
    whom some he maintains on the riches of his grace, and some he
    entertains with the fulness of his glory. This is that house
    whereof the Lord Christ is the great dispenser, it having
    pleased the Father to "gather together in one all things in
    him, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in
    him," Eph. 1: 10. herein live all the sons and daughters of
    God, spending largely on the riches of his grace. Unto this
    family of themselves they have no right nor title; they are
    wholly alienated from it, Eph. 2: 12, and can lay no claim to
    any thing in it. God driving fallen Adam out of the garden,
    and shutting up all ways of return with a flaming sword, ready
    to cut him off if he should attempt it, abundantly declares
    that he, and all in him, had lost all right of approaching
    unto God in any family relation. Corrupted, cursed nature is
    not vested with the least right to any thing of God.
    Therefore, -  
        3. They have an authoritative translation from one of
    these families to another. It is not done in a private,
    underhand way, but in the way of authority. John 1: 12, "As
    many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons
    of God," power or authority. This investing them with the
    power, excellency, and light of the sons of God, is a
    forensical act, and has a legal proceeding in it. It is called
    the "making us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the
    saints in light," Col. 1: 12; - a judicial exalting us into
    membership in that family, where God is the Father, Christ the
    elder brother, all saints and angels brethren and
    fellow-children, and the inheritance a crown immortal and
    incorruptible, that fades not away.  
        Now, this authoritative translation of believers from one
    family into another consisteth of these two parts: -  
        (1.) An effectual proclamation and declaration of such a
    person's immunity from all obligations to the former family,
    to which by nature he was related. And this declaration has a
    threefold object: -  
        [1.] Angels. It is declared unto them; they are the sons
    of God. They are the sons of God, and so of the family
    whereinto the adopted person is to be admitted; and therefore
    it concerns them to know who are invested with the rights of
    that family, that they may discharge their duty towards them.
    Unto them, then, it is declared that believers are freed from
    the family of sin and hell, to become fellow-sons and servants
    with them. And this is done two ways: -  
        1st. Generally, by the doctrine of the gospel. Eph. 3: 10,
    "Unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places is made
    known by the church the manifold wisdom of God."  
        By the church is this wisdom made known to the angels,
    either as the doctrine of the gospel is delivered unto it, or
    as it is gathered thereby. And what is this wisdom of God that
    is thus made known to principalities and powers? It is, that
    "the Gentiles should be fellow- heirs and of the same body
    with us," verse 6. The mystery of adopting sinners of the
    Gentiles, taking them from their slavery in the family of the
    world, that they might have a right of heirship, becoming sons
    in the family of God, is this wisdom, thus made known. And how
    was it primitively made known? It was "revealed by the Spirit
    unto the prophets and apostles," verse 5.  
        2dly. In particular, by immediate revelation. When any
    particular soul is freed from the family of this world, it is
    revealed to the angels. "There is joy in the presence of the
    angels of God" (that is, among the angels, and by them) "over
    one sinner that repenteth," Luke 15: 10. Now, the angels
    cannot of themselves absolutely know the true repentance of a
    sinner in itself; it is a work wrought in that cabinet which
    none has a key unto but Jesus Christ; by him it is revealed to
    the angels, when the peculiar care and charge of such a one is
    committed to them. These things have their transaction before
    the angels, Luke 12: 8, 9. Christ owns the names of his
    brethren before the angels, Rev. 3: 5. When he gives them
    admittance into the family where they are, Heb. 12: 22, he
    declares to them that they are sons, that they may discharge
    their duty towards them, Heb. 1: 14.  
        [2.] It is denounced in a judicial way unto Satan, the
    great master of the family whereunto they were in subjection.
    When the Lord Christ delivers a soul from under the power of
    that strong armed one, he binds him, - ties him from the
    exercise of that power and dominion which before he had over
    him. And by this means does he know that such a one is
    delivered from his family; and all his future attempts upon
    him are encroaching upon the possession and inheritance of the
    Lord Christ.  
        [3.] Unto the conscience of the person adopted. The Spirit
    of Christ testifies to the heart and conscience of a believer
    that he is freed from all engagements unto the family of
    Satan, and is become the son of God, Rom. 8: 14, 15; and
    enables him to cry, "Abba, Father," Gal. 4: 6. Of the
    particulars of this testification of the Spirit, and of its
    absolving the soul from its old alliance, I shall speak
    afterward. And herein consists the first thing mentioned.  
        (2.) There is an authoritative ingrafting of a believer
    actually into the family of God, and investing him with the
    whole right of sonship. Now this, as unto us, has sundry acts:
        [1.] The giving a believer a new name in a white stone,
    Rev. 2:17. They that are adopted are to take new names; they
    change their names they had in their old families, to take the
    names of the families whereinto they are translated. This new
    name is, "A child of God." That is the new name given in
    adoption; and no man knoweth what is in that name, but only he
    that does receive it. And this new name is given and written
    in a white stone; - that is the tessera of our admission into
    the house of God. It is a stone of judicial acquitment. Our
    adoption by the Spirit is bottomed on our absolution in the
    blood of Jesus; and therefore is the new name in the white
    stone privilege grounded on discharge. The white stone quits
    the claim of the old family; the new name gives entrance to
    the other.  
        [2.] An enrolling of his name in the catalogue of the
    household of God, admitting him thereby into fellowship
    therein. This is called the "writing of the house of Israel,"
    Ezek. 13: 9; that is, the roll wherein all the names of the
    Israel, the family of God, are written. God has a catalogue of
    his household; Christ knows his sheep by name. When God
    writeth up the people, he counts that "this man was born in
    Zion," Ps. 87: 6. This is an extract of the Lamb's book of
        [3.] Testifying to his conscience his acceptation with
    God, enabling him to behave himself as a child, Rom. 8: 15;
    Gal. 4: 5, 6.  
        4. The two last things required to adoption are, that the
    adopted person be freed from all obligations to the family
    from whence he is translated, and invested with the rights and
    privileges of that whereinto he is translated. Now, because
    these two comprise the whole issue of adoption, wherein the
    saints have communion with Christ, I shall hand]e them
    together, referring the concernments of them unto these four
    heads: - (1.) Liberty. (2.) Title, or right. (3.) Boldness.
    (4.) Correction. These are the four things, in reference to
    the family of the adopted person, that he does receive by his
    adoption, wherein he holds communion with the Lord Jesus: -  
        (1.) Liberty. The Spirit of the Lord, that was upon the
    Lord Jesus, did anoint him to proclaim liberty to the
    captives, Isa. 61: 1; and "where the Spirit of the Lord is"
    (that is, the Spirit of Christ, given to us by him because we
    are sons), "there is liberty," 2 Cor. 3: 17. All spiritual
    liberty is from the Spirit of adoption; whatever else is
    pretended, is licentiousness. So the apostle argues, Gal. 4:
    6, 7, "He has sent forth his Spirit into their hearts, crying,
    Abba, Father. Wherefore ye are no more servants," no more in
    bondage, but have the liberty of sons. And this liberty
    respects, -  
        [1.] In the first place, the family from whence the
    adopted person is translated. It is his setting free from all
    the obligations of that family. Now, in this sense, the
    liberty which the saints have by adoption is either from that
    which is real or that which is pretended: -  
        1st. That which is real respects a twofold issue of law
    and sin. The moral, unchangeable law of God, and sin, being in
    conjunction, meeting with reference to any persons, has, and
    has had, a twofold issue: -  
        (1st.) An economical institution of a new law of
    ordinances, keeping in bondage those to whom it was given,
    Col. 2: 14.  
        (2dly.) A natural (if I may so call it) pressing of those
    persons with its power and efficacy against sin; whereof there
    are these parts: -  
        [1st.] Its rigour and terror in commanding.  
        [2dly.] Its impossibility for accomplishment, and so
    insufficiency for its primitively appointed end.  
        [3dly.] The issues of its transgression; which are
    referred unto two heads: - 1. Curse. 2. Death. I shall speak
    very briefly of these, because they are commonly handled, and
    granted by all.  
        2dly. That which is pretended, is the power of any
    whatever over the conscience, when once made free by Christ: -

        (1st.) Believers are freed from the instituted law of
    ordinances, which, upon the testimony of the apostles, was a
    yoke which neither we nor our fathers (in the faith) could
    bear, Acts 15: 10; wherefore Christ "blotted out this
    hand-writing of ordinances that was against them, which was
    contrary to them, and took it out of the way, nailing it to
    his cross," Col. 2: 14: and thereupon the apostle, after a
    long dispute concerning the liberty that we have from that
    law, concludes with this instruction: Gal. 5: l, "Stand fast
    in the liberty where with Christ has made us free."  
        (2dly.) In reference so the moral law: -  
        [1st.] The first thing we have liberty from, is its rigour
    and terror in commanding. Heb. 12: 18-22, "We are not come to
    the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, to
    the whirlwind, darkness, and tempest, to the sound of the
    trumpet, and the voice of words, which they that heard
    besought that they might hear it no more; but we are come to
    mount Sion," etc. As to that administration of the law wherein
    it was given out with dread and terror, and so exacted its
    obedience with rigour, we are freed from it, we are not called
    to that estate.  
        [2dly.] Its impossibility of accomplishment, and so
    insufficiency for its primitive end, by reason of sin; or, we
    are freed from the law as the instrument of righteousness,
    since, by the impossibility of its fulfilling as to us, it is
    become insufficient for any such purpose, Rom. 8: 2, 3; Gal.
    3: 21-23. There being an impossibility of obtaining life by
    the law, we are exempted from it as to any such end, and that
    by the righteousness of Christ, Rom. 8: 3.  
        [3dly.] From the issue of its transgression: -  
        First. Curse. There is a solemn curse inwrapping the whole
    wrath annexed to the law, with reference to the transgression
    thereof; and from this are we wholly at liberty. Gal. 3: 13,
    "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by being
    made a curse for us."  
        Secondly. Death, Heb. 2: 15; and therewith from Satan,
    Heb. 2: 14, Col. 1: 13; and sin, Rom. 6: 14, 1 Pet. 1: 18;
    with the world, Gal. 1: 4; with all the attendancies,
    advantages, and claims of them all, Gal. 4: 3-5, Col. 2: 20;
    without which we could not live one day.  
        That which is pretended and claimed by some (wherein in
    deed and in truth we were never in bondage, but are hereby
    eminently set free), is the power of binding conscience by any
    laws and constitutions not from God, Col. 2: 20-22.  
        [2.] [In the second place,] there is a liberty in the
    family of God, as well as a liberty from the family of Satan.
    Sons are free. Their obedience is a free obedience; they have
    the Spirit of the Lord: and where he is, there is liberty, 2
    Cor. 3: 17. As a Spirit of adoption, he is opposed to the
    spirit of bondage, Rom. 8: 15. Now, this liberty of our
    Father's family, which we have as sons and children, being
    adopted by Christ through the Spirit, is a spiritual largeness
    of heart, whereby the children of God do freely, willingly,
    genuinely, without fear, terror, bondage, and constraint, go
    forth unto all holy obedience in Christ.  
        I say, this is our liberty in our Father's family: what we
    have liberty from, has been already declared.  
        There are Gibeonites outwardly attending the family of
    God, that do the service of his house as the drudgery of their
    lives. The principle they yield obedience upon, is a spirit of
    bondage unto fear, Rom. 8: 15; the rule they do it by, is the
    law in its dread and rigour, exacting it of them to the
    utmost, without mercy and mitigation; the end they do it for,
    is to fly from the wrath to come, to pacify conscience, and
    seek righteousness as it were by the works of the law. Thus
    servilely, painfully, fruitlessly, they seek to serve their
    own conviction all their days.  
        The saints by adoption have a largeness of heart in all
    holy obedience. Saith David, "I will walk at liberty, for I
    seek thy precepts," Ps. 119: 45; Isa. 61: l; Luke 4: 18; Rom.
    8: 2, 21; Gal. 4: 7, 5: 1, 13; James 1: 25; John 8: 32, 33,
    36; Rom. 6: 18; 1 Pet. 2: 16. Now, this amplitude, or son-like
    freedom of the Spirit in obedience, consists in sundry things:
        1st. In the principles of all spiritual service; which are
    life and love; - the one respecting the matter of their
    obedience, giving them power; the other respecting the manner
    of their obedience, giving them joy and sweetness in it: -  
        (1st.) It is from life; that gives them power as to the
    matter of obedience. Rom. 8: 2, "The law of the Spirit of life
    in Christ Jesus sets them free from the law of sin and death."
    It frees them, it carries them out to all obedience freely; so
    that "they walk after the Spirit," verse 1, that being the
    principle of their workings. Gal. 2: 20, "Christ liveth in me;
    and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the
    faith of the Son of God;" - "The life which I now live in the
    flesh (that is, the obedience which I yield unto God whilst I
    am in the flesh), it is from a principle of life, Christ
    living in me. There is, then, power for all living unto God,
    from Christ in them, the Spirit of life from Christ carrying
    them out thereto. The fruits of a dead root are but dead
    excrescences; living acts are from a principle of life.  
        Hence you may see the difference between the liberty that
    slaves assume, and the liberty which is due to children: -  
        [1st.] Slaves take liberty from duty; children have
    liberty in duty. There is not a greater mistake in the world,
    than that the liberty of sons in the house of God consists in
    this, - they can perform duties, or take the freedom to omit
    them; they can serve in the family of God (that is, they think
    they may if they will), and they can choose whether they will
    or no. This is a liberty stolen by slaves, not a liberty given
    by the Spirit unto sons.  
        The liberty of sons is in the inward spiritual freedom of
    their hearts, naturally and kindly going out in all the ways
    and worship of God. When they find themselves straitened and
    shut up in them, they wrestle with God for enlargement, and
    are never contented with the doing of a duty, unless it be
    done as in Christ, with free, genuine, and enlarged hearts.
    The liberty that servants have is from duty; the liberty given
    to sons is in duty.  
        [2dly.] The liberty of slaves or servants is from
    mistaken, deceiving conclusions; the liberty of sons is from
    the power of the indwelling Spirit of grace. Or, the liberty
    of servants is from outward, dead conclusions; the liberty of
    sons, from an inward, living principle.  
        (2dly.) Love, as to the manner of their obedience, gives
    them delight and joy. John 14: 15, "If ye love me," says
    Christ, "keep my commandments." Love is the bottom of all
    their duties; hence our Saviour resolves all obedience into
    the love of God and our neighbour; and Paul, upon the same
    ground, tells us "that love is the fulfilling of the law,"
    Rom. 13: 10. Where love is in any duty, it is complete in
    Christ. How often does David, even with admiration, express
    this principle of his walking with God! "O," saith he, "how I
    love thy commandments! "This gives saints delight, that the
    commandments of Christ are not grievous to them. Jacob's hard
    service was not grievous to him, because of his love to
    Rachel. No duty of a saint is grievous to him, because of his
    love to Christ. They do from hence all things with delight and
    complacency. Hence do they long for advantages of walking with
    God, - pant after more ability; and this is a great share of
    their son-like freedom in obedience. It gives them joy in it.
    1 John 4: 18, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love
    casteth out fear." When their soul is acted to obedience by
    love, it expels that fear which is the issue of bondage upon
    the spirit. Now, when there is a concurrence of these two
    (life and love), there is freedom, liberty, largeness of
    heart, exceedingly distanced from that strait and bandaged
    frame which many walk in all their days, that know not the
    adoption of sons.  
        2dly. The object of their obedience is represented to them
    as desirable, whereas to others it is terrible. In all their
    approaches to God, they eye him as a Father; they call him
    Father, Gal. 4: 6, not in the form of words, but in the spirit
    of sons. God in Christ is continually before them; not only as
    one deserving all the honours and obedience which he requires,
    but also as one exceedingly to be delighted in, as being
    all-sufficient to satisfy and satiate all the desires of the
    soul. When others napkin their talents, as having to deal with
    an austere master, they draw out their strength to the
    uttermost, as drawing nigh to a gracious rewarder. They go,
    from the principle of life and love, to the bosom of a living
    and loving Father; they do but return the strength they do
    receive unto the fountain, unto the ocean.  
        3dly. Their motive unto obedience is love, 2 Cor. 5: 14.
    From an apprehension of love, they are effectually carried out
    by love to give up themselves unto him who is love. What a
    freedom is this! what a largeness of spirit is in them who
    walk according to this rule! Darkness, fear, bondage,
    conviction, hopes of righteousness, accompany others in their
    ways; the sons, by the Spirit of adoption, have light, love,
    with complacency, in all their walkings with God. The world is
    a universal stranger unto the frame of children in their
    Father's house.  
        4thly. The manner of their obedience is willingness. "They
    yield themselves unto God, as those that are alive from the
    dead," Rom. 6: 13; they yield themselves, - give up themselves
    willingly, cheerfully, freely. "With my whole heart," saith
    David. Rom. 12: 1, "They present themselves a living
    sacrifice," and a willing sacrifice.  
        5thly. The rule of their walking with God is the law of
    liberty, as divested of all its terrifying, threatening,
    killing, condemning, cursing power; and rendered, in the blood
    of Jesus, sweet, tender, useful, directing, - helpful as a
    rule of walking in the life they have received, not the way of
    working for the life they have not. I might give more
    instances. These may suffice to manifest that liberty of
    obedience in the family of God which his sons and daughters
    have, that the poor convinced Gibeonites are not acquainted
        (2.) The second thing which the children of God have by
    adoption is title. They have title and right to all the
    privileges and advantages of the family whereinto they are
    translated. This is the pre- eminence of the true sons of any
    family. The ground on which Sarah pleaded the ejection of
    Ishmael was, that he was the son of the bond woman, Gen. 21:
    10, and so no genuine child of the family; and therefore could
    have no right of heirship with Isaac. The apostle's arguing
    is, "We are no more servants, but sons; and if sons, then
    heirs," Rom. 8: 14-17, - "then have we right and title: and
    being not born hereunto (for by nature we are the children of
    wrath), we have this right by our adoption."  
        Now, the saints hereby have a double right and title: 1st.
    Proper and direct, in respect of spirituals. 2dly.
    Consequential, in respect of temporal: -  
        [1.] The first, also, or the title, as adopted sons, unto
    spirituals, is, in respect of the object of it, twofold: -
    (1st.) Unto a present place, name, and room, in the house of
    God, and all the privileges and administrations thereof
    (2dly.) To a future fulness of the great inheritance of glory,
    - of a kingdom purchased for that whole family whereof they
    are by Jesus Christ: -  
        1st. They have a title unto, and an interest in, the whole
    administration of the family of God here.  
        The supreme administration of the house of God in the hand
    of the Lord Christ, as to the institution of ordinances and
    dispensation of the Spirit, to enliven and make effectual
    those ordinances for the end of their institution, is the
    prime notion of this administration. And hereof they are the
    prime objects; all this is for them, and exercised towards
    them. God has given Jesus Christ to be the "head over all
    things unto the church, which is his body," Eph. 1: 22, 23: he
    has made him the head over all these spiritual things,
    committed the authoritative administration of them all unto
    him, to the use and behoof of the church; that is, the family
    of God. It is for the benefit and advantage of the many sons
    whom he will bring unto glory that he does all these things,
    Heb. 2: 10; see Eph. 4: 8-13. The aim of the Lord Jesus in
    establishing gospel administrations, and administrators, is
    "for the perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry,"
    etc. All is for then, all is for the family. In that is the
    faithfulness of Christ exercised; he is faithful in all the
    house of God, Heb. 3: 2. Hence the apostle tells the
    Corinthians, 1 Cor. 3: 22, 23, of all these gospel
    administrations and ordinances, they are all theirs, and all
    for them. What benefit soever redoundeth to the world by the
    things of the gospel (as much does every way), it is engaged
    for it to the children of this family. This, then, is the aim
    and intendment of the Lord Christ in the institution of all
    gospel ordinances and administrations, - that they may be at
    use for the house and family of God, and all his children and
    servants therein.  
        It is true, the word is preached to all the world, to
    gather in the children of God's purpose that are scattered up
    and down in the world, and to leave the rest inexcusable; but
    the prime end and aim of the Lord Christ thereby is, to gather
    in those heirs of salvation unto the enjoyment of that feast
    of fat things which he has prepared for them in his house.  
        Again: they, and they only, have right and title to gospel
    administrations, and the privileges of the family of God, as
    they are held out in his church according to his mind. The
    church is the "house of God," l Tim. 3: 15; Heb. 3: 6; herein
    he keeps and maintains his whole family, ordering them
    according to his mind and will. Now, who shall have any right
    in the house of God, but only his children? We will not allow
    a right to any but our own children in our houses: will God,
    think you, allow any right in his house but to his children?
    Is it meet, to "take the children's bread and cast it unto the
    dogs?" We shall see that none but children have any right or
    title to the privileges and advantages of the house of God, if
    we consider, -  
        (1st.) The nature of that house. It is made up of such
    persons as it is impossible that any but adopted children
    should have right unto a place in it. It is composed of
    "living stones," 1 Pet. 2: 5; - a "chosen generation, a royal
    priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people," verse 9; -
    "saints and faithful in Christ Jesus," Eph. 1: l; - "saints
    and faithful brethren," Col. 1: 2; - a people that are "all
    righteous," Isa. 60: 21; and the whole fabric of it is
    glorious, chap. 54: 11-14, - the way of the house is "a way of
    holiness," which the unclean shall not pass through, chap. 35:
    8; yea, expressly, they are the "sons and daughters of the
    Lord Almighty," and they only, 2 Cor. 6: 17,18; all others are
    excluded, Rev. 21: 27. It is true that oftentimes, at
    unawares, other persons creep into the great house of God; and
    so there become in it "not only vessels of gold and silver,
    but also of wood and of earth," etc., 2 Tim. 2: 20; but they
    only creep in, as Jude speaks, verse 4, they have no right nor
    title to it.  
        (2dly.) The privileges of the house are such as they will
    not suit nor profit any other. To what purpose is it to give
    food to a dead man? Will he grow strong by it? will he
    increase upon it? The things of the family and house of God
    are food for living souls. Now, children only are alive, all
    others are dead in trespasses and sins. What will outward
    signs avail, if life and power be away? Look upon what
    particular you please of the saints' enjoyments in the family
    of God, you shall find them all suited unto believers; and,
    being bestowed on the world, [they] would be a pearl in the
    snout of a swine.  
        It is, then, only the sons of the family that have this
    right; they have fellowship with one another, and that
    fellowship with the Father and the Son Jesus Christ; they set
    forth the Lord's death till he come; they are intrusted with
    all the ordinances of the house, and the administration of
    them. And who shall deny them the enjoyment of this right, or
    keep them from what Christ has purchased for them? And the
    Lord will in the end give them hearts everywhere to make use
    of this title accordingly, and not to wander on the mountains,
    forgetting their resting-place.  
        2dly. They have a title to the future fulness of the
    inheritance that is purchased for this whole family by Jesus
    Christ. So the apostle argues, Rom. 8: 17, "If children, then
    heirs," etc. All God's children are "first-born," Heb. 12: 23;
    and therefore are heirs: hence the whole weight of glory that
    is prepared for them is called the inheritance, Col. 1: 12,
    "The inheritance of the saints in light." "If ye be Christ's,
    then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the
    promise," Gal 3: 29. Heirs of the promise; that is, of all
    things promised unto Abraham in and with Christ.  
        There are three things that in this regard the children of
    God are said to be heirs unto: -  
        (1st.) The promise; as in that place of Gal. 3: 29 and
    Heb. 6: 17. God shows to "the heirs of the promise the
    immutability of his counsel;" as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
    are said to be "heirs of the same promise," Heb. 11: 9. God
    had from the foundation of the world made a most excellent
    promise in Christ, containing a deliverance from all evil, and
    an engagement for the bestowing of all good things upon them.
    It contains a deliverance from all the evil which the guilt of
    sin and dominion of Satan had brought upon them, with an
    investiture of them in all spiritual blessings in heavenly
    things in Christ Jesus. Hence, Heb. 9: 15, the Holy Ghost
    calls it a "promise of the eternal inheritance." This, in the
    first place, are the adopted children of God heirs unto. Look,
    whatever is in the promise which God made at the beginning to
    fallen man, and has since solemnly renewed and confirmed by
    his oath; they are heirs of it, and are accepted in their
    claim for their inheritance in the courts of heaven.  
        (2dly.) They are heirs of righteousness, Heb. 11: 7. Noah
    was an heir of the righteousness which is by faith; which
    Peter calls a being "heir of the grace of life," l Pet. 3: 7.
    And James puts both these together, chap. 2: 5, "Heirs of the
    kingdom which God has promised;" that is, of the kingdom of
    grace, and the righteousness thereof. And in this respect it
    is that the apostle tells us, Eph. 1: 11, that "we have
    obtained an inheritance;" which he also places with the
    righteousness of faith, Acts 26: 18. Now, by this
    righteousness, grace, and inheritance, is not only intended
    that righteousness which we are here actually made partakers
    of, but also the end and accomplishment of that righteousness
    in glory; which is also assured in the next place, -  
        (3dly.) They are "heirs of salvation," Heb. 1: 14, and
    "heirs according to the hope of eternal life," Tit. 3: 7;
    which Peter calls an "inheritance incorruptible," 1 Pet. 1: 4;
    and Paul, the "reward of the inheritance," Col. 3: 24, - that
    is, the issue of the inheritance of light and holiness, which
    they already enjoy. Thus, then, distinguish the full salvation
    by Christ into the foundation of it, the promises; and the
    means of it, righteousness and holiness; and the end of it,
    eternal glory. The sons of God leave a right and title to all,
    in that they are made heirs with Christ.  
        And this is that which is the main of the saints' title
    and right, which they have by adoption; which in sum is, that
    the Lord is their portion and inheritance, and they are the
    inheritance of the Lord: and a large portion it is that they
    have; the lines are fallen to them in a goodly place.  
        [2.] Besides this principal, the adopted sons of God have
    a second consequential right, - a right unto the things of
    this world; that is, unto all the portions of it which God is
    pleased to intrust them here withal. Christ is the "heir of
    all things," Heb. 1: 2; all right and title to the things of
    the creation was lost and forfeited by sin. The Lord, by his
    sovereignty, had made an original grant of all things here
    below for man's use; he had appointed the residue of the works
    of his hands, in their several stations, to be serviceable
    unto his behoof. Sin reversed this whole grant and
    institution, - all things were set at liberty from this
    subjection unto him; yet that liberty, being a taking them off
    from the end to which they were originally appointed, is a
    part of their vanity and curse. It is evil to any thing to be
    laid aside as to the end to which it was primitively
    appointed. By this means the whole creation is turned loose
    from any subordinate ruler; and man, having lost the whole
    title whereby he held his dominion over and possession of the
    creatures, has not the least colour of interest in any of
    them, nor can lay any claim unto them. But now the Lord,
    intending to take a portion to himself out of the lump of
    fallen mankind, whom he appointed heirs of salvation, he does
    not immediately destroy the works of creation, but reserve
    them for their use in their pilgrimage. To this end he invests
    the whole right and title of them in the second Adam, which
    the first had lost; he appoints him "heir of all things." And
    thereupon his adopted ones, being "fellow-heirs with Christ,"
    become also to have a right and title unto the things of this
    creation. To clear up this right, what it is, I must give some
    few observations: -  
        1st. The right they have is not as the right that Christ
    has; that is, sovereign and supreme, to do what he will with
    his own; but theirs is subordinate, and such as that they must
    be accountable for the use of those things whereunto they have
    a right and title. The right of Christ is the right of the
    Lord of the house; the right of the saints is the right of
        2dly. That the whole number of the children of God have a
    right unto the whole earth, which is the Lord's, and the
    fulness thereof, in these two regards: -  
        (1st.) He who is the sovereign Lord of it does preserve it
    merely for their use, and upon their account; all others
    whatever being maalae fidei possessores, invading a portion of
    the Lord's territories, without grant or leave from him.  
        (2dly.) In that Christ has promised to give them the
    kingdom and dominion of it, in such a way and manner as in his
    providence he shall dispose; that is, that the government of
    the earth shall be exercised to their advantage.  
        3dly. This right is a spiritual right, which does not give
    a civil interest, but only sanctifies the right and interest
    bestowed. God has providentially disposed of the civil bounds
    of the inheritance of men, Acts 17: 26, suffering the men of
    the world to enjoy a portion here, and that oftentimes very
    full and plenteous; and that for his children's sake, that
    those beasts of the forest, which are made to be destroyed,
    may not break loose upon the whole possession. Hence, -  
        4thly. No one particular adopted person has any right, by
    virtue thereof, to any portion of earthly things whereunto he
    has not right and title upon a civil interest, given him by
    the providence of God. But, -  
        5thly. This they have by their adoption; that, -  
        (1st.) Look, what portion soever God is pleased to give
    them, they have a right unto it, as it is reinvested in
    Christ, and not as it lies wholly under the curse and vanity
    that is come upon the creation by sin; and therefore can never
    be called unto an account for usurping that which they have no
    right unto, as shall all the sons of men who violently grasp
    those things which God has set at liberty from under their
    dominion because of sin.  
        (2dly.) By this their right, they are led unto a
    sanctified use of what thereby they do enjoy; inasmuch as the
    things themselves are to them pledges of the Father's love,
    washed in the blood of Christ, and endearments upon their
    spirits to live to his praise who gives them all things richly
    to enjoy.  
        And this is a second thing we have by our adoption; and
    hence I dare say of unbelievers, they have no true right unto
    any thing, of what kind soever, that they do possess.  
        They have no true, unquestionable right, I say, even unto
    the temporal things they do possess; it is true they have a
    civil right in respect of others, but they have not a
    sanctified right in respect of their own souls. They have a
    right and title that will hold plea in the courts of men, but
    not a right that will hold in the court of God, and in their
    own conscience. It will one day be sad with them, when they
    shall come to give an account of their enjoyments. They shall
    not only be reckoned withal for the abuse of that they have
    possessed, that they have not used and laid it out for the
    glory of him whose it is; but also, that they have even laid
    their hands upon the creatures of God, and kept them from them
    for whose sakes alone they are preserved from destruction.
    When the God of glory shall come home to any of them, either
    in their consciences here, or in the judgement that is for to
    come, and speak with the terror of a revengeful judge, "I have
    suffered you to enjoy corn, wine, and oil, - a great portion
    of my creatures; you have rolled yourselves in wealth and
    prosperity, when the right heirs of these things lived poor,
    and low, and mean, at the next doors; - give in now an answer
    what and how you have used these things. What have you laid
    out for the service and advancement of the gospel? What have
    you given unto them for whom nothing was provided? what
    contribution have you made for the poor saints? Have you had a
    ready hand, and willing mind, to lay down all for my sake?"
    when they shall be compelled to answer, as the truth is,
    "Lord, we had, indeed, a large portion in the world; but we
    took it to be our own, and thought we might have done what we
    would with our own. We have ate the fat, and drank the sweet,
    and left the rest of our substance for our babes: we have
    spent somewhat upon our lusts, somewhat upon our friends; but
    the truth is, we cannot say that we made friends of this
    unrighteous mammon, - that we used it to the advancement of
    the gospel, or for ministering unto thy poor saints: and now,
    behold, we must die," etc.: - so also, when the Lord shall
    proceed farther, and question not only the use of these
    things, but also their title to them, and tell them, "The
    earth is mine, and the fulness thereof. I did, indeed, make an
    original grant of these things to man; but that is lost by
    sin: I have restored it only for my saints. Why have you laid,
    then, your fingers of prey upon that which was not yours? why
    have you compelled my creatures to serve you and your lusts,
    which I had set loose from under your dominion? Give me my
    flax, any wine, and wool; I will set you naked as in the day
    of your birth, and revenge upon you your rapine, and unjust
    possession of that which was not yours:" - I say, at such a
    time, what will men do?  
        (3 ) Boldness with God by Christ is another privilege of
    our adoption. But hereof I have spoken at large before, in
    treating of the excellency of Christ in respect of our
    approach to God by him; so that I shall not reassume the
    consideration of it.  
        (4.) Affliction, also, as proceeding from love, as leading
    to spiritual advantages, as conforming unto Christ, as
    sweetened with his presence, is the privilege of children,
    Heb. 12: 3-6; but on these particulars I must not insist.  
        This, I say, is the head and source of all the privileges
    which Christ has purchased for us, wherein also we have
    fellowship with him: fellowship in name; we are (as he is)
    sons of God: fellowship in title and right; we are heirs,
    co-heirs with Christ: fellowship in likeness and conformity;
    we are predestinated to be like the firstborn of the family:
    fellowship in honour; he is not ashamed to call us brethren:
    fellowship in sufferings; he learned obedience by what he
    suffered, and every son is to be scourged that is received:
    fellowship in his kingdom; we shall reign with him. Of all
    which I must speak peculiarly in another place, and so shall
    not here draw out the discourse concerning them any farther.

    Owen, Of Communion With God
    (continued in File 19...)

    file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owcom-18.txt