Sermon 1435. Adoption-The Spirit and the Cry
Delivered on Lord's-Day Morning, April 14th, 1878, by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."-Galatians 4:6.
WE do not find the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity set forth in Scripture in formal terms, such as those which are employedin the Athanasian creed; but the truth is continually taken for granted, as if it were a fact well known in the church ofGod. If not laid down very often, in so many words, it is everywhere held in solution, and it is mentioned incidentally, inconnection with other truths in a way which renders it quite as distinct as if it were expressed in a setformula. In many passages it is brought before us so prominently that we must be wilfully blind if we do not note it.In the present chapter, for instance, we have distinct mention of each of the three divine Persons. "God," that is the Father,"sent forth the Spirit," that is the Holy Spirit; and he is here called "the Spirit of his Son." Nor have we the names alone, for each sacred person is mentioned as acting in the work of our salvation: see the fourth verse,"God sent forthhis Son."; then note the fifth verse, which speaks of the Son as redeeming them that were under the law; and then the text itself reveals the Spirit as coming into the hearts of believers, and crying Abba, Father. Now, inasmuch, as you have not only the mention of the separate names, but also certain special operationsascribed to each, it is plain that you have here the distinct personality of each. Neither the Father, the Son, nor the Spiritcan be an influence, or a mere formof existence, for each one acts in a divine manner, but with a special sphere and a distinct mode of operation. The errorof regarding a certain divine person as a mere influence, or emanation, mainly assails the Holy Ghost; but its falseness isseen in the words-"crying, Abba, Father": an influence could not cry; the act requires a person to perform it. Though we maynot understand the wonderful truth of the undivided Unity, and the distinct personality of the Triune Godhead, yet,nevertheless, we see the truth revealed in the Holy Scriptures: and, therefore, we accept it as a matter of faith.
The divinity of each of these sacred persons is also to be gathered from the text and its connection. We do not doubt teethe loving union of all in the work of deliverance. We reverence the Father, without whom we had not been chosen or adopted:the Father who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We love and reverencethe Son by whose most precious blood we have been redeemed, and with whom we are one in a mystic andeverlasting union: and we adore and love the divine Spirit, for it is by him that we have been regenerated, illuminated,quickened, preserved, and sanctified; and it is through him that we receive the seal and witness within our hearts by whichwe are assured that we are indeed the sons of God. As God said of old, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,even so do the divine Persons take counsel together, and all unite in the new creation of the believer. We must not fail tobless,adore, and love each one of the exalted Persons, but we must diligently bow in lowliest reverence before the one God-Father,Son, and Holy Ghost. "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, andever shall be, world without end. Amen."
Having noted this most important fact, let us come to the text itself, hoping to enjoy the doctrine of the Trinity while weare discoursing upon our adoption, in which wonder of grace they each have a share. Under the teaching of the divine Spiritmay we be drawn into sweet communion with the Father through his Son Jesus Christ, to his glory and to our benefit.
Three things are very clearly set forth in my text: the first is the dignity of believers-"ye are sons;" the second is the consequent indwelling of the Holy Ghost-"because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts;" and the third is the filial cry-crying, "Abba, Father."
I. First, then, THE DIGNITY OF BELIEVERS. Adoption gives us the rights of children, regeneration gives us the nature of children:we are partakers of both of these, for we are sons.
And let us here observe that this sonship is a gift of grace received by faith. We are not the sons of God by nature in the sense here meant. We are in a sense "the offspring God" by nature, but this isvery different from the sonship here described, which is the peculiar privilege of those who are born again. The Jews claimedto be of the family of God, but as their privileges came to them by the way of their fleshly birth, they are likened to Ishmael,who was bornafter the flesh, but who was cast out as the son of the bondwoman, and compelled to give way to the son of the promise.We have a sonship which does not come to us by nature, for we are "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor ofthe will of man, but of God." Our sonship comes by promise, by the operation of God as a special gift to a peculiar seed,set apart unto the Lord by his own sovereign grace, as Isaac was. This honour and privilege come to us, according to the connectionof our text, by faith. Note well the twenty-sixth verse of the preceding chapter (Gal. 3:26): "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." As unbelievers we know nothing of adoption. While we areunder the law as self-righteous we know something of servitude, but we know nothing of sonship. It is only after that faithhas come that we cease to be under the schoolmaster, and rise out of our minority to take the privileges of the sons of God.
Faith worketh in us the spirit of adoption, and our consciousness of sonship, in this wise: first, it brings us justification. Verse twenty-four of the previous chapter says, "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justifiedby faith." An unjustified man stands in the condition of a criminal, not of a child: his sin is laid to his charge, he isreckoned as unjust and unrighteous, as indeed he really is, and he is therefore a rebelagainst his king, and not a child enjoying his father's love. But when faith realizes the cleansing power of the bloodof atonement, and lays hold upon the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, then the justified man becomes a son and a child.Justification and adoption always go together. "Whom he called them he also justified," and the calling is a call to the Father'shouse, and to a recognition of sonship. Believing brings forgiveness and justification through our Lord Jesus; it also bringsadoption, for it is written, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to themthat believe on his name."
Faith brings us into the realization of our adoption in the next place by setting us free from the bondage of the law. "After that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." When we groaned under a sense of sin, and were shut upby it as in a prison, we feared that the law would punish us for our iniquity, and our life was made bitter with fear. Moreover,we strove in our own blind self-sufficient manner to keep that law, and this brought us into yetanother bondage, which became harder and harder as failure succeeded to failure: we sinned and stumbled more and moreto our soul's confusion. But now that faith has come we see the law fulfilled in Christ, and ourselves justified and acceptedin him: this changes the slave into a child, and duty into choice. Now we delight in the law, and by the power of the Spiritwe walk in holiness to the glory of God. Thus it is that by believing in Christ Jesus we escape from Moses, the taskmaster,andcome to Jesus, the Saviour; we cease to regard God as an angry Judge and view him as our loving Father. The system ofmerit and command, and punishment and fear, has given way to the rule of grace, gratitude, and love, and this new principleof government is one of the grand privileges of the children of God.
Now, faith is the mark of sonship in all who have it, whoever they may be, for "ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus Gal. 3:26). If you are believing in Jesus, whether you are Jew or Gentile, bond or free, you are a son of God. If you have only believedin Christ of late, and have but for the past few weeks been able to rest in his great salvation, yet, beloved, now are youa child of God. It is not an after privilege, granted to assurance orgrowth in grace; it is an early blessing, and belongs to him who has the smallest degree of faith, and is no more thana babe in grace. If a man be a believer in Jesus Christ his name is in the register-book of the great family above, "for yeare all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." But if you have no faith, no matter what zeal, no matter what works,no matter what knowledge, no matter what pretensions to holiness you may possess, you are nothing, and your religion is vain.Without faith in Christ you are as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal, for without faith it is impossible to pleaseGod. Faith then, wherever it is found, is the infallible token of a child of God, and its absence is fatal to the claim.
This according to the apostle is further illustrated by our baptism, for in baptism, if there be faith in the soul, thereis an open putting on of the Lord Jesus Christ. Read the twenty-seventh verse: "For as many of you as have been baptised intoChrist have put on Christ." In baptism you professed to be dead to the world and you were therefore buried into the name ofJesus: and the meaning of that burial, if it had any right meaning to you, was that you professedyourself henceforth to be dead to everything but Christ, and henceforth your life was to be in him, and you were to beas one raised from the dead to newness of life. Of course the outward form avails nothing to the unbeliever, but to the manwho is in Christ it is a most instructive ordinance. The spirit and essence of the ordinance lie in the soul's entering intothe symbol, in the man's knowing not alone the baptism into water, but the baptism into the Holy Ghost and into fire: andas manyof you as know that inward mystic baptism into Christ know also that henceforth you have put on Christ and are coveredby him as a man is by his garment. Henceforth you are one in Christ, you wear his name, you live in him, you are saved byhim, you are altogether his. Now, if you are one with Christ, since he is a son, you are sons also. If you have put on ChristGod seeth you not in yourself but in Christ, and that which belongeth unto Christ belongeth also unto you, for if you be Christ'sthen are you Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise. As the Roman youth when he came of age put on the toga,and was admitted to the rights of citizenship, so the putting on of Christ is the token of our admission into the positionof sons of God. Thus are we actually admitted to the enjoyment of our glorious heritage. Every blessing of the covenant ofgrace belongs to those who are Christ's, and every believer is in that list. Thus, then, according to the teaching of thepassage, wereceive adoption by faith as the gift of grace.
Again, adoption comes to us by redemption. Read the passage which precedes the text: "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of awoman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." Beloved, prizeredemption, and never listen to teaching which would destroy its meaning or lower its importance. Remember that ye were notredeemed with silver and gold, but with the preciousblood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish. You were under the law, and subject to its curse, for you had broken itmost grievously, and you were subject to its penalty, for it is written, "the soul that sinneth, it shall die"; and yet again,"cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them." You were also underthe terror of the law, for you feared its wrath; and you were under its irritating power, for often when the commandment came,sin within you revived and you died. But now you are redeemed from all; as the Holy Ghost saith, "Christ hath redeemedus from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." Nowye are not under the law, but under grace, and this because Christ came under the law and kept it both by his active and hispassive obedience, fulfilling all its commands and bearing all its penalty on your behalf and in your room and stead. Henceforthyou are the redeemed of the Lord, and enjoy a liberty which comes by no other way but that of the eternal ransom. Rememberthis; and whenever you feel most assured that you are a child of God, praise the redeeming blood; whenever your heart beatshighest with love to your great Father, bless the "firstborn among many brethren," who for your sakes came under the law,was circumcised, kept the law in his life, and bowed his head to it in his death, honouring, and magnifying the law, and makingthe justice and righteousness of God to be more conspicuous by his life than it would have been by the holiness of allmankind, and his justice to be more fully vindicated by his death that it would have been if all the world of sinners hadbeen cast into hell. Glory be to our redeeming Lord, by whom we have received the adoption!
Again, we further learn from the passage that we now enjoy the privilege of sonship. According to the run of the passage the apostle means not only that we are children, but that we are full-grown sons. "Becauseye are sons," means,-because the time appointed of the Father is come, and you are of age, and no longer under tutors andgovernors. In our minority we are under the schoolmaster, under the regimen of ceremonies, under types, figures, shadows,learning ourA B C by being convinced of sin; but when faith is come we are no longer under the schoolmaster, but come to a more freecondition. Till faith comes we are under tutors and governors, like mere boys, but after faith we take our rights as sonsof God. The Jewish church of old was under the yoke of the law; its sacrifices were continual and its ceremonies endless;new moons and feasts must be kept; jubilees must be observed and pilgrimages made: in fact, the yoke was too heavy for feebleflesh tobear. The law followed the Israelite into every corner, and dealt with him upon every point: it had to do with his garments,his meat, his drink, his bed, his board, and everything about him: it treated him like a boy at school who has a rule foreverything. Now that faith has come we are full grown sons, and therefore we are free from the rules which govern the schoolof the child. We are under law to Christ, even as the full-grown son is still under the discipline of his father's house;butthis is a law of love and not of fear, of grace and not of bondage. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christhath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Return not to the beggarly elements of a merely outwardreligion, but keep close to the worship of God in spirit and in truth, for this is the liberty of the children of God.
Now, by faith we are no more like to bond-servants. The apostle says that "the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; butis under tutor and governors till the time appointed of the father." But beloved, now are ye the sons of God, and ye havecome to your majority: now are ye free to enjoy the honours and blessings of the Father's house. Rejoice that the free spiritdwells within you, and prompts you to holiness;this is a far superior power to the merely external command and the whip of threatening. Now no more are you in bondageto outward forms, and rites, and ceremonies; but the Spirit of God teacheth you all things, and leads you into the inner meaningand substance of the truth.
Now, also, saith the apostle, we are heirs-"Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir ofGod through Christ." No man living has ever realised to the full what this means. Believers are at this moment heirs, butwhat is the estate? It is God himself! We are heirs of God! Not only of the promises, of the covenant engagements, and ofall the blessings which belong to the chosen seed, but heirs of God himself. "The Lord is my portion, saithmy soul." "This God is our God for ever and ever." We are not only, heirs to God, to all that he gives to his firstborn,but heirs of God himself. David said, "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup." As he said to Abraham,"Fear not Abraham, I am thy shield and thine exceeding great reward," so saith he to every man that is born of the Spirit.These are his own words-"I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people." Why, then, believer, are you poor? Allriches are yours. Why then are you sorrowful? The ever-blessed God is yours. Why do you tremble? Omnipotence waits tohelp you. Why do you distrust? His immutability will abide with you even to the end, and make his promise steadfast. All thingsare yours, for Christ is yours, and Christ is God's; and though there be some things which at present you cannot actuallygrasp in your hand, nor even see with your eye, to wit, the things which are laid up for you in heaven, yet still by faithyou canenjoy even these, for "he hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ," "in whomalso we have obtained an inheritance," so that "our citizenship is in heaven." We enjoy even now the pledge and earnest ofheaven in the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. Oh what privileges belong to those who are the sons of God!
Once more upon this point of the believer's dignity, we are already tasting one of the inevitable consequences of being the sons of God. What are they? One of them is the opposition of the children of the bondwoman. No sooner had the apostle Paul preached theliberty of the saints, than straightway there arose certain teachers who said, "This will never do; you must be circumcised,you must come under the law." Their opposition was to Paul a token that he was of thefree woman, for behold the children of the bondwoman singled him out for their virulent opposition. You shall find, dearbrother, that if you enjoy fellowship with God, if you live in the spirit of adoption, if you are brought near to the MostHigh, so as to be a member of the divine family, straightway all those who are under bondage to the law will quarrel withyou. Thus saith the apostle, "As then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, evenso it isnow." The child of Hagar was found by Sarah mocking Isaac, the child of promise. Ishmael would have been glad to haveshown his enmity to the hated heir by blows and personal assault, but there was a superior power to check him, so that hecould get no further than "mocking." So it is just now. There have been periods in which the enemies of the gospel have gonea great deal further than mocking, for they have been able to imprison and burn alive the lovers of the gospel; but now, thankGod, weare under his special protection as to life and limb and liberty, and are as safe as Isaac was in Abraham's house. Theycan mock us, but they cannot go any further, or else some of us would be publicly gibbeted. But trials of cruel mockings arestill to be endured, our words are twisted, our sentiments are misrepresented, and all sorts of horrible things are imputedto us, things which we know not, to all which we would reply with Paul, "Am I therefore become your enemy because I tell youthetruth?" This is the old way of the Hagarenes, the child after the flesh is still doing his best to mock him that is bornafter the Spirit. Do not be astonished, neither be grieved in the least degree when this happens to any of you, but let thisalso turn to the establishment of your confidence and to the confirmation of your faith in Christ Jesus, for he told you ofold, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you outofthe world, therefore the world hateth you."
II. Our second head is THE CONSEQUENT INDWELLING OF THE HOLY GHOST IN BELIEVERS;-"God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Soninto your hearts." Here is a divine act of the Father. The Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father and the Son: and God hath sent him forth into your hearts. If he had only comeknocking at your hearts and asked your leave to enter, he had never entered, but when Jehovah sent him he made his way, withoutviolating your will, but yet withirresistible power. Where Jehovah sent him there he will abide, and go no more out for ever. Beloved, I have no time todwell upon the words, but I want you to turn them over in your thoughts, for they contain a great depth. As surely as Godsent his Son into the world to dwell among men, so that his saints beheld his glory, the "glory as of the only begotten ofthe Father, full of grace and truth," so surely hath God sent forth the Spirit to enter into men's hearts, there to take uphisresidence that in him also the glory of God may be revealed. Bless and adore the Lord who hath sent you such a visitoras this.
Now, note the style and title under which the Holy Spirit comes to us: he comes as the Spirit of Jesus. The words are "the Spirit of his Son," by which is not meant the character and disposition of Christ, though that were quitetrue, for God sends this unto his people, but it means the Holy Ghost. Why, then, is he called the Spirit of his Son, or theSpirit of Jesus? May we not give these reasons? It was by the Holy Ghost that the human nature of Christ was born ofthe Virgin. By the Spirit our Lord was attested at his baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove, andabode upon him. In him the Holy Spirit dwelt without measure, anointing him for his great work, and by the Spirit he was anointedwith the oil of gladness above his fellows. The Spirit was also with him, attesting his ministry by signs and wonders. TheHoly Ghost is our Lord's great gift to the church; it was after his ascension that he bestowed the gifts of Pentecost, andthe Holy Spirit descended upon the church to abide with the people of God for ever. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Christ,because, also, he is Christ's witness here below; for "there are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, and the water,and the blood." For these and many other reasons he is called "the Spirit of his Son," and it is he who comes to dwell inbelievers. I would urge you very solemnly and gratefully to consider the wondrous condescension which is here displayed. Godhimself the Holy Ghost, takes up his residence in believers. I never know which is the more wonderful, the incarnationof Christ or the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. Jesus dwelt here for awhile in human flesh untainted by sin, holy, harmless,undefiled, and separate from sinners; but the Holy Ghost dwells continually in the hearts of all believers, though as yetthey are imperfect and prone to evil. Year after year, century after century, he still abideth in the saints, and will doso till theelect are all in glory. While we adore the incarnate Son, let us adore also the indwelling Spirit whom the Father hathsent.
Now notice the place wherein he takes up his residence.-"God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts." Note, that it does not say into your heads or your brains. The Spirit of God doubtless illuminates the intellect and guidesthe judgement, but this is not the commencement nor the main part of his work. He comes chiefly to the affections, he dwellswith the heart, for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and "God hath sent forththe Spirit of his Son into your hearts." Now, the heart is the centre of our being, and therefore doth the Holy Ghostoccupy this place of vantage. He comes into the central fortress and universal citadel of our nature, and thus takes possessionof the whole. The heart is the vital part; we speak of it as the chief residence of life, and therefore the Holy Ghost entersit, and as the living God dwells in the living heart, taking possession of the very core and marrow of our being. It is fromthe heart and through the heart that life is diffused. The blood is sent even to the extremities of the body by the pulsingsof the heart, and when the Spirit of God takes possession of the affections, he operates upon every power, and faculty, andmember of our entire manhood. Out of the heart are the issues of life, and from the affections sanctified by the Holy Ghostall other faculties and powers receive renewal, illumination, sanctification, strengthening, and ultimate perfection.
This wonderful blessing is ours "because we are sons;" and it is fraught with marvellous results. Sonship sealed by the indwelling Spirit brings us peace and joy; it leads to nearness to God and fellowship with him; itexcites trust, love, and vehement desire, and creates in us reverence, obedience, and actual likeness to God. All this, andmuch more, because the Holy Ghost has come to dwell in us. Oh, matchless mystery! Had it not been revealed it had never beenimagined, and now that it is revealed it would never have been believed if it had not become matter of actual experienceto those who are in Christ Jesus. There are many professors who know nothing of this; they listen to us with bewildermentas if we told them an idle tale, for the carnal mind knoweth not the things that be of God; they are spiritual, and can onlybe spiritually discerned. Those who are not sons, or who only come in as sons under the law of nature, like Ishmael, knownothingof this indwelling Spirit, and are up in arms at us for daring to claim so great a blessing: yet it is ours, and nonecan deprive us of it.
III. Now I come to the third portion of our text-THE FILIAL CRY. This is deeply interesting. I think it will be profitableif your minds enter into it. Where the Holy Ghost enters there is a cry. "God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son, crying,'Abba, Father.'" Now, notice, it is the Spirit of God that cries-a most remarkable fact. Some are inclined to view the expression as a Hebraism, and read it, he "makes us to cry;" but, beloved,the text saith not so,and we are not at liberty to alter it upon such a pretence. We are always right in keeping to what God says, and herewe plainly read of the Spirit in our hearts that he is crying "Abba, Father." The apostle in Romans 8:15 says, "Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father," but here he describes the Spirit himself as crying "Abba, Father." We are certain that when he ascribedthe cry of "Abba, Father" to us, he did not wish to exclude the Spirit's cry, becausein the twenty-sixth verse of the famous eighth of Romans he says, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: forwe know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannotbe uttered." Thus he represents the Spirit himself as groaning with unutterable groanings within the child of God, so thatwhen he wrote to the Romans he had on his mind the same thought which he here expressed to the Galatians,-that it is the Spirititself which cries and groans in us "Abba, Father." How is this? Is it not ourselves that cry? Yes, assuredly; and yetthe Spirit cries also. The expressions are both correct. The Holy Spirit prompts and inspires the cry. He puts the cry intothe heart and mouth of the believer. It is his cry because he suggests it, approves of it, and educates us to it. We shouldnever have cried thus if he had not first taught us the way. As a mother teaches her child to speak, so he puts this cry of"Abba,Father" into our mouths; yea, it is he who forms in our hearts the desire after our Father, God, and keeps it there. Heis the Spirit of adoption, and the author of adoption's special and significant cry.
Not only does he prompt us to cry but he works in us a sense of need which compels us to cry, and also that spirit of confidencewhich emboldens us to claim such relationship to the great God. Nor is this all, for he assists us in some mysterious mannerso that we are able to pray aright; he puts his divine energy into us so that we cry "Abba, Father" in an acceptable manner.There are times when we cannot cry at all, and then he cries in us. There are seasons whendoubts and fears abound, and so suffocate us with their fumes that we cannot even raise a cry, and then the indwellingSpirit represents us, and speaks for us, and makes intercession for us, crying in our name, and making intercession for usaccording to the will of God. Thus does the cry "Abba, Father" rise up in our hearts even when we feel as if we could notpray and dare not think ourselves children. Then we may each say, "I live, yet not I, but the Spirit that dwelleth in me."On the otherhand, at times our soul gives such a sweet assent to the Spirit's cry that it becometh ours also, but then we more thanever own the work of the Spirit, and still ascribe to him the blessed cry, "Abba, Father."
I want you now to notice a very sweet fact about this cry; namely, that it is literally the cry of the Son. God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, and that Spirit cries in us exactly according to the cry of the Son.If you turn to the gospel of Mark, at the fourteenth chapter, thirty-sixth verse, you will find there what you will not discoverin any other evangelist (for Mark is always the man for the striking points, and the memorable words), herecords that our Lord prayed in the garden, "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup fromme: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt." So that this cry in us copies the cry of our Lord to the letter-"Abba,Father." Now, I dare say you have heard these words "Abba, Father" explained at considerable lengths at other times, and ifso, you know that the first word is Syrian or Aramaic; or, roughly speaking, Abba is the Hebrew word for "father." The secondword is in Greek, and is the Gentile word, "pates," or pater, which also signifies father. It is said that these two words are used to remind us that Jews and Gentiles are onebefore God. They do remind us of this, but this cannot have been the principal reason for their use. Do you think that whenour Lord was in his agony in the garden that he said, "Abba, Father" because Jews and Gentiles are one? Why should he havethought of that doctrine, and why need he mention it in prayer to hisFather? Some other reason must have suggested it to him. It seems to me that our Lord said "Abba" because it was his nativetongue. When a Frenchman prays, if he has learned English he may ordinarily pray in English, but if ever he falls into anagony he will pray in French, as surely as he prays at all. Our Welsh brethren tell us that there is no language like Welsh-Isuppose it is so to them: now they will talk English when about their ordinary business, and they can pray in Englishwhen everything goes comfortably with them, but I am sure that if a Welshman is in a great fervency of prayer, he fliesto his Welsh tongue to find full expression. Our Lord in his agony used his native language, and as born of the seed of Abrahamhe cries in his own tongue, Abba. Even thus, my brethren, we are prompted by the spirit of adoption to use our own language,the language of the heart, and to speak to the Lord freely in our own tongue. Besides, to my mind, the word "Abba" is of allwords in all languages the most natural word for father. I must try and pronounce it so that you see the natural childishnessof it, "Ab-ba," "Ab-ba." Is it not just what your children say, ab, ab, ba, ba, as soon as they try to talk? It is the sortof word which any child would say, whether Hebrew, or Greek, or French, or English. Therefore, Abba is a word worthy of introductioninto all languages. It is truly a child's word, and our Master felt, I have no doubt, in his agony, a love forchild's words. Dr. Guthrie, when he was dying, said, "Sing a hymn," but he added, "Sing me one of the bairns' hymns." When a man comes to die he wants to be a child again, and longs for bairns' hymns and bairns' words. Our blessed Master inhis agony used the bairns' word, "Abba," and it is equally becoming in the mouth of each one of us. I think this sweet word"Abba" was chosen to show us that we are to be very natural with God, and not stilted and formal. We are to be veryaffectionate, and come close to him, and not merely say "Pater," which is a cold Greek word, but say "Abba," which isa warm, natural, loving word, fit for one who is a little child with God, and makes bold to lie in his bosom, and look upinto his face and talk with holy boldness. "Abba" is not a word, somehow, but a babe's lisping. Oh, how near we are to Godwhen we can use such a speech! How dear he is to us and dear we are to him when we may thus address him, saying, like thegreat Sonhimself, "Abba, Father."
This leads me to observe that this cry in our hearts is exceedingly near and familiar. In the sound of it I have shown you that it is childlike, but the tone and manner of the utterance are equally so. Note thatit is a cry. If we obtain audience with a king we do not cry, we speak then in measured tones and set phrases; but the Spirit of God breaksdown our measured tones, and takes away the formality which some hold in great admiration, and he leads us tocry, which is the very reverse of formality and stiffness. When we cry, we cry, "Abba": even our very cries are full of the spiritof adoption. A cry is a sound which we are not anxious that every passer-by should hear; yet what child minds his father hearinghim cry? So when our heart is broken and subdued we do not feel as if we could talk fine language at all, but the Spirit inus sends forth cries and groans, and of these we are not ashamed, nor are we afraid to cry before God. Iknow some of you think that God will not hear your prayers, because you cannot pray grandly like such-and-such a minister.Oh, but the Spirit of his Son cries, and you cannot do better than cry too. Be satisfied to offer to God broken language,words salted with your griefs, wetted with your tears. Go to him with holy familiarity, and be not afraid to cry in his presence,"Abba, Father."
But then how earnest it is: for a cry is an intense thing. The word implies fervency. A cry is not a flippant utterance, nor a mere thing of the lips,it comes up from the soul. Hath not the Lord taught us to cry to him in prayer with fervent importunity that will not takea denial? Hath he not brought us so near to him that sometimes we say, "I will not let thee go except thou bless me"? Hathhe not taught us so to pray that his disciples might almost say of us asthey did of one of old, "Send her away, for she crieth after us." We do cry after him, our heart and our flesh criethout for God, for the living God, and this is the cry, "Abba, Father, I must know thee, I must taste thy love, I must dwellunder thy wing, I must behold thy face, I must feel thy great fatherly heart overflowing and filling my heart with peace."We cry, "Abba, Father."
I shall close when I notice this, that the most of this crying is kept within the heart, and does not come out at the lips. Like Moses, we cry when we say not a word. God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, whereby we cry, "Abba, Father." You know what I mean: it is not alone in your little room, by the old arm-chair, that youcry to God, but you call him "Abba, Father," as you go about the streets or work in the shop. The Spirit of his Sonis crying "Abba, Father," when you are in the crowd or at your table among the family. I see it is alleged as a very gravecharge against me that I speak as if I were familiar with God. If it be so, I make bold to say that I speak only as I feel.Blessed be my heavenly Father's name, I know I am his child, and with whom should a child be familiar but with his father?ye strangers to the living God, be it known unto you that if this be vile, I purpose to be viler still, as he shall help metowalk more closely with him. We feel a deep reverence for our Father in heaven, which bows us to the very dust, but forall that we can say, "truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ." No stranger can understandthe nearness of the believer's soul to God in Christ Jesus, and because the world cannot understand it, it finds it convenientto sneer, but what of that? Abraham's tenderness to Isaac made Ishmael jealous, and caused him to laugh, but Isaac had nocause tobe ashamed of being ridiculed, since the mocker could not rob him of the covenant blessing. Yes, beloved, the Spirit ofGod makes you cry "Abba, Father," but the cry is mainly within your heart, and there it is so commonly uttered that it becomesthe habit of your soul to be crying to your Heavenly Father. The text does not say that he had cried, but the expression is"crying"-it is a present participle, indicating that he cries every day "Abba, Father." Go home, my brethren, and livein the spirit of sonship. Wake up in the morning, and let your first thought be "My Father, my Father, be with me thisday. Go out into business, and when things perplex you let that be your resort-"My Father, help me in this hour of need."When you go to your home, and there meet with domestic anxieties, let your cry sill be, "Help me, my Father." When alone youare not alone, because the Father is with you: and in the midst of the crowd you are not in danger, because the Father himselfloveth you. What a blessed word is that,-"The Father himself loveth you"! Go, and live as his children. Take heed thatye reverence him, for if he be a father where is his fear? Go and obey him, for this is right. Be ye imitators of God as dearchildren. Honour him wherever you are, by adorning his doctrine in all things. Go and live upon him, for you shall soon livewith him. Go and rejoice in him. Go and cast all your cares upon him. Go henceforth, and whatever men may see in you may theybe compelled to own that you are the children of the Highest. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called thechildren of God." May you be such henceforth and evermore. Amen and amen.
PORTIONS OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Galatians 3:22-29; 4; 5:1-6.
HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-728, 468, 221.