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FOR THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES.

November 10, 1848.

BROTHER BEEBE: – Entertaining a hope that the Spirit of truth will guide both writer and reader into a right understanding of the word of the Lord, I will submit some reflections upon Rom. viii. 17. “And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” In taking up my pen to address you on this subject, I feel almost disheartened, and ready to relinquish the task at the onset; well knowing that my subject is far above my capacity. But when I consider again, that the very ablest writer in existence might for the very same reason lay down his pen in dismay, and exclaim with an apostle, “Who is sufficient for these things?” and also, that the best of us are imperfect vessels of clay; and that a divine blessing sometimes attends the labors of the weakest, I feel encouraged to proceed. The Most High has left in the midst of us “an afflicted and poor people,” and he does not seem to have designed for them to possess and enjoy much of the good things of this world, or the favor or applause of the men of this world; but to pass through this world as strangers and pilgrims, having here no continuing city, and suffering through all their pilgrimage, trials and afflictions, both from the carnal propensities of the flesh, and at the hands of their enemies. But while such is their portion in the earth, a better inheritance awaits them. And their Lord and Master has on the other hand evidently designed that although the world be in battle array against them, in him they shall enjoy a “strong consolation,” that their place of defence should be the munition of rocks: that bread should be given them, and water should be sure. He hath sent a heavenly messenger into the world to comfort them from time to time to the rock of their strength, and in the hour of distress, administer the balm of consolation to their fainting spirits. Moreover he has through his apostles frequently called their attention to the contemplation of that blessed inheritance which is bequeathed to them, to the glorious rights and privileges which are their portion as sons and daughters of the Most High; and they are admonished to comfort one another with his words. Such is the passage we have under consideration. It is one, in which the most forcible figures in nature are brought into requisition to illustrate and exemplify the portion of the saints. And if children. HE has before shown, that their claim to the relationship of children was testified of by the Spirit bearing witness with their spirits, and he goes on from this, to argue the blessed consequences, or fruits of this relationship: then heirs. So that the endearing title, by which it has pleased the Lord to distinguish his people, is not merely nominal, an empty name; but that they will eventually be recognized as, and receive the portion of sons and daughters. As in nature, all the earthly inheritance, whether it be possessions, honors, titles, dignities, or even the sovereignty of nations, descend to the heirs at law; this figure is made use of to set forth the spiritual rights and privileges which are consequent upon, and inseparably connected with the adoption of children. But, like all other figures, it is only a figure; and shadows forth but dimly the riches and glory of that inheritance, which is the portion of them that are sanctified. And, after all that we are taught in the word, by this and the like scriptures, unless we know something of God, and of the purity and holiness of his character, and of his infinite and divine perfections, by revelation of the Spirit, together with our own utter poverty and destitution, we can have but little conception of what it is to be heirs of God. The relationship being spiritual, so is the inheritance. It is not prized among men of the world, nor sought by them; neither is it known, or loved by many who profess an interest therein. The boasted wisdom of this world, with all its researches, has ever been unable to comprehend it: yea, “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered the heart of man.”

Shall we be permitted to draw aside the veil, and for a few moments contemplate the glorious inheritance of the saints. The same apostle informs us that “all things are yours,” and again, “He hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” In what, then, does all spiritual blessings consist? God himself is a spirit, and his children are partakers of the divine nature. He has breathed into them a new spiritual life, that whereas he is love, he is holy, yea holiness itself; a love of God, and a love of holiness is implanted in them. As the living water is said to be springing up into everlasting life, so is the heaven born soul aspiring after God, longing for his presence, for the light of his countenance, and desiring to bear his image; as it is written, “I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.” Nothing less than this, nothing short of an exact resemblance to him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, in all his eternal perfections, will fully and finally satisfy the heirs of God. To be heirs of God, then, is to inherit God himself: nothing less than the infinite and incomprehensible Jehovah constitutes the inheritance. With great propriety, then, may it be called an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.

The heir, however, until the time appointed of the Father, differeth nothing from a servant, from those who are under bondage, and a legal covenant: but when the fulness of time arrives, He sends forth his Son to redeem them from under bondage, that they may receive the adoption of children. – And then it follows; because they are children, he hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into their hearts, bearing testimony to their heirship, giving them an earnest, a foretaste of their inheritance – Crying, Abba, Father. Now from henceforth they live upon the bread in their Father’s house. Their food, though it be but now and then a crumb, is all from their Father’s table; and it is applied according to their need; and at all times, and under all circumstances, will prove sufficient for them.

Christ is the mediator of the new testament, and he is the medium through which all new covenant blessings flow. We can have access to our inheritance only through him; He being the way, the truth, and the life, there is no other means of communication with the Father, but by him. It is in and through him that we have right, and that our right is sealed to this goodly heritage; and it is from him, that we receive of the hidden manna to live upon in our pilgrimage. Hence the apostle has it in another place, “an heir of God through Christ.” But to confirm, and still further establish this point, the sentence under consideration concludes with, “and joint heirs with Christ.” Thus, he who is the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person; who is appointed heir of all things, and in whom dwells all the fulness of the godhead bodily, is presented as one with his people in this heirship. As all joint heirs stand in equal relationship to the testator, and have a common and equal interest in the inheritance: so Christ, as the acknowledged heir of his Father, to the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever, as also in his perfect union and oneness with his Father, in that glory which he had with him before the world was, is here presented as fellow heir to that glory with his people. And as it behooved him in his humiliation to be made like unto them, and in all their afflictions to be afflicted; so it hath pleased him, in his exultation and glorification, for them, as his bride and the members of his body, to be one with him. “If so be that we suffer with him, that we also may be glorified together.” And even when he shall appear in flaming fire, to assert his divine authority, to take vengeance on his enemies, and dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel: even then will he appear in connection with his people, – with ten thousand of his saints, “to be glorified in his saints.” Mark! not of them, but in them; and to be “admired in all them that believe” so completely are they identified with him, so completely are they identified with him, so perfect is the union, that the glory of the one appeared as the glory of the other. The apostle has it again, “that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him.” It is in this sense that the church being dark in herself, and receiving all her light from Christ the spiritual sun, whose countenance is declared to be like the sun shining in his strength, is said to shine forth as the sun. Then will the happiness of the saints be complete, when delivered from the corruptions and carnal propensities of the flesh, all that they desire or wish for here, will be forever perfected in them; and that God, who is the sum and substance of their hope, and the end of their faith, becomes their portion for ever. Yes, then will we be satisfied, when we awake with his likeness, when he shall appear, and we shall be like him: that as it hath pleased the Father that in Christ should all fullness dwell, even so his church shall be filled with the fullness of God. And as he hath entered into his glory, into the bosom of his Father, even there will he receive his people to himself, that where he is there they may be also. When he shall have finished his work, when his elect are all gathered in, and the last enemy is put under his feet – when he shall present his bride before his Father without spot or wrinkle, to be recognized as heirs to the new testament, and to receive their eternal inheritance – then will it appear, that whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, He who filleth all in all, is the refuge of his people, their portion, and a strong habitation whereunto they may continually resort; and that with him they inherit all things.

In view of these things, and of the trials and conflicts, the doubts and gloomy suggestions which afflict the believer in his pilgrimage; we feel constrained in conclusion to adopt the language of the apostle, in the next verse: “For I reckon, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

I remain your servant for Jesus’ sake.
Kingwood, N. J.
E. RITTENHOUSE.

Signs of the Times.
Volume 16, No. 24.
December 15, 1848