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The heathen of old had a dim vision of it. We find there always has existed in all ages, an idea of a great God—the Father of all men-of gods as well as of men. But this idea was turned into reality when God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
It is because ye are sons (says St. Paul) — because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father !
The relation then of God to man as a Father, is connected with our redemption by the life and death of Jesus Christ. Christ, the true Son of God — begotten from everlasting – took our nature upon Him, the nature of all
Christ is our elder brother. now call His Father, our Father.
His Spirit witnesses with our spirit, that we are the children of God!
And brethren, be sure of this —that this high privilege is not an empty, vain thing. It is not as a matter of form, or Church regulation, that we now call God our Father.
The name indicates what God is to us — whatever of strength, whatever of comfort, whatever of counsel, whatever of love and reverence we usually attach to the word father, when we employ it of an earthly parent, that, and a
thousandfold more than that, there is in the word when we use it of our relationship to the Almighty.
And this leads me to point out the practical benefit of this revelation-God is our Fatherthat is the word He would have us use when we
pray to Him.
It is a word of encouragement-a word of support-a word to lift us up when we are down. It tells us that the Great Being to whom we are addressing ourselves, is a Being full of pity, full of compassion, of great forbearance, of great longsuffering, full of resources, able and willing to do for us, His petitioners, above what we ask or think.
If, then, any amongst you lack strength, or wisdom, or judgment, or the power to do what is right— let him ask it, and ask it boldly, of Our Father Which is in heaven.
Let him ask, I say, of God, the thing that he most needs; just as a son might ask help, or counsel from a parent. Let him ask in faith, nothing doubting, and he will have what he seeks. For-reasons our Lord in the Gospel — if ye, being evil, ye earthly fathers, with all your inborn infirmities—if ye yet know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall my Heavenly
Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask
all hard notions respecting Him. Learn to think of Him, and to feel towards Him, as you might feel towards the best, and kindest, and wisest of fathers. Even in sorrows and afflictions that
may come upon you, do not doubt of the love that God hath
For sorrows and afflictions and disappointments are often the instruments in God's hand to bring about our real good. It is a foolish, and not a wise father who never corrects an unruly child. My son, is the exhortation of the wise king, my son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His co rection. For whom the Lord loveth He correcteth ; even as a father
; the son in whom he delighteth.-If-says St. Paul
•ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with 80n8 ; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Lastly,-look at the value of this great name, Father, in the hour of our sorest need, when we are smitten with a sense of our sins. What but this was it, that lifted the poor prodigal out of the mire? what was it that kept him from utter despair, when he came to himself in that far
country, and saw his folly ? what but the recollection of one in the old home that he had left, whom in his days of innocence he had loved ; who had treated him with the tenderest kindness? I will arise, and go to my Father! That was the thought that saved the prodigal; that was the first step to his return.
And that must be our first step when we have gone astray. If we are ever to get back, ever to escape from our life of error, ever to know again peace of heart, it must be through this means - by laying hold of the gracious name of Father!
Let the sinner who feels his sins only make trial of this; let him turn his face homewards; let him lift up the prodigal's cry— Father, I have sinned! Let him cast himself with all his burden, all his misery, all his unworthiness, upon the love of God revealed to him in that tender word ; and if there be truth in Holy Scripture, if there be truth in the recorded experience of past penitents, he will not be rejected. Lo, while he is yet afar off, his Father's eye will be upon him, and his Father's heart will go forth to meet him ; and a welcome will be offered above what he dares ask or think—that welcome typified in the parable, where, under an earthly emblem, is figured to us the joy that is in heaven; the unbought grace of God's full, and free forgiveness. Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again ; he was lost, and is found !